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F1 getting self-conscious (09:00)
McLaren ready to go (09:00)
Lotus brain drain continues (09:00)
Bar Exam Reminder (09:00)
Williams bares it all (09:25)
2014 Car design and launches (11:39)
FIA meeting in Geneva (12:17)
F1 getting self-conscious
When I had a jolly good rant yesterday about the Miss Quasimodo contest that is currently going on in F1, one reader accused us of ‘engaging in FUD’. For those unfamiliar with the term: FUD describes a foul tactic in economic competition called “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt”. The most prominent example of such tactics is Microsoft’s crusade against the opensource movement about a decade ago. The gory details can be read in the Halloween Documents.
Needless to say, such an accusation was as well received as a slap in the face with a wet fish. First of all FUD is targeted at destruction and chasing off customers, which implies that we have the goal of discrediting Formula 1 with the goal of chasing people away from it. Since we don’t have a habit of waking up in the morning thinking that we are an onion, such an idea is pretty silly as we would basically just chase off our own readers. Seriously, not even a fat hippo is that thick.
The most important thing to remember about the Fat Hippo Rant’s: They are not to be taken literally. To a degree they are meant for comic relief while still trying to convey a message. We have enough cringe-worthy and downright sad stuff to deal with that a little light-hearted content isn’t the worst idea. I may not always get it right, as English is not my native language, but there’re always helpful souls, who point out if I make a dog’s dinner of some phrase or other, so even the obese river dweller is learning new tricks along the way. But that’s not even my main point.
The reason why we keep talking and writing about it so frequently is, because the world of F1 has been preparing us for it with all the subtlety of a clown at a funeral for over half a year. That is quite unprecedented. Even the hideous stepped noses of 2012 didn’t leak out until a few weeks before the season. For someone like Adrian Newey to come out and say ‘our car will be a minger’ at summer time is quite telling. It goes against everything he used to do. By saying that, he basically sent a big honking memo to all other designers, saying “if your car makes you hurl, you’re on the right track”. That is coming from a man, who is super secretive about his solutions.
The people in F1 aren’t stupid, not even the toad from Suffolk, he merely doesn’t give a flying expletive. They know that the shift towards pay-TV, gimmicks like DRS and things like the much hated double-point idea have stretched the patience and equanimity of the viewers past the breaking point. They all know that the fugly noses are the aerodynamically best solution, but nobody really wants it. Everybody hopes and waits that someone else comes up and says “Come on folks, let’s not go there”.
A first step in that direction has been made by the lately quite vocal Cyril Abiteboul of Caterham, who urges his fellow competitors to stop the impeding train wreck. “I think F1 is still show business and it should still be attractive to people. Kids should be dreaming when they see an F1 car – I don’t know about the dream or nightmare you will be having when you look at those cars. It does remind me of the ‘Alien’ film with it coming out the mouth.”
Further indication of people being utterly uncomfortable with what they are about to do to people’s eyeballs can be found on the surprise picture that Force India sprang on us yesterday. The car is extremely carefully tilted at an angle to hide the ugly bits. The right front tyre hides the ugly drop-off of the chassis and the front-wing endplate covers up the willy that’s hanging out of the trousers.
Let’s hope that the teams have mercy on us and come to a late agreement not to go there…
McLaren ready to go
When McLaren failed a FIA crash test last week, a lot of people came out of the woodwork and Nostradamus’ed that the Woking gang would be a no-show at Jerez, but the opposite seems to be true as the team fired up the Mercedes engine in the back of their car for the first time. I’d say that sounds quite ready to go.
Lotus brain drain continues
It appears that Red Bull and Lotus are becoming the unofficial employment agency of F1, with other teams poaching staff by the bucket load. In the case of Lotus, one can only imagine that it isn’t a major difficulty to lure people away from a team that has major problems performing simple tasks, like paying wages.
Ciaron Pilbeam, former race engineer of Mark Webber at Red Bull is setting up shop at Woking after only one year with the Enstone squad. He is supposed to take up the role of Chief Race Engineer.
Like Mercedes, McLaren seems to poach whoever doesn’t run fast enough. They already signed Peter Podromou, Chief Aerodynamicist at Red Bull and his 2IC Dan Fellows, Ferrari aerodynamicist Matteo Sansavini and Sauber designer Matt Morris.
Bar Exam Reminder
In about 9 hours time, the new Bar Exam is coming out, so please make sure you’ve finished last week’s edition. We are currently finalizing the leaderboard widget, which will appear on the right side of the page.
Rumour: Martini Williams-Mercedes?
Brazilian website diariomotorsport.com.br posted a short news snippet in Portuguese, claiming that drinks company Martini, which gave us one of the most iconic liveries in history on the Lancia Delta Integrale Rallye Cars of the late 80s, might return to the big stage as Williams F1’s title sponsor this year. So far, only a Hungarian, some brazilian websites and a reddit user have picked up on the story, so one should take the info with a grain of salt, but the sheer thought of a Martini livery in F1 is truly mouthwatering prospect, even if the car has it’s genital hanging out.
Rendering by Martini Paddock Racing. Original design is by Monil Santilal and it was repainted by Maikel de Boer
Williams bares it all
A Williams pre-launch rendering has just appeared on Twitter. It’s probably the best-looking of all renderings so far, in the same way like Syphillis is the best of sexually transmitted deseases. The solid blue unpainted car would hint at a major surprise yet to come in terms of the paint job. Could the Martini rumours be true?
“I’m confident that we’ll be closer to the front aerodynamically than we were last year,” says technical boss Pat Symonds. “Our ambition for the year ahead is to have a strong 2014 season.” The team have set a target to challenge for the F1 titles in 2016.
Notice the new Williams branding, reminds me of a certain hotel chain.
2014 Car design and launches
I arrive in chambers and I see the docket is filled with matters surrounding the 2014 F1 cars. The courtroom is buzzing awaiting the first of the ‘reveals’ from the McLaren team tomorrow at high noon GMT.
As we know this year brings a seismic change in regulations. The powertrains are – to be honest – a mystery to most, and even those building the respective drive units have absolutely no idea how theirs will compare to the others.
Renault have been briefing on matters of the heart of an F1 car this week, and head of track operations, Remi Taffin explains the main difficulty for the French powertrain as he sees it. “First of all it will be how to dissipate the heat. The turbo and the electrical motors generate huge temperatures but the internal components will be running very hot too. Of course making everything work together – without interference – is a major challenge. The electromagnetic forces will be very high so managing all the systems simultaneously will be somewhat stressful.”
For those who believe they are F1 purists, celebrations will be breaking out due to the fact that we are talking about proper automotive engineering challenges this year. However, do be not deceived, over the next few days the aerodynamicists will take centre stage before the cars roll out on track on Tuesday.
TJ13 has been musing over the regulations and in collaboration with a well known F1 tech analyst believe we may see a nose solution, something like this
The thinking man’s designer may well increase the severity of the curve of the nose from where it joins the chassis and the aerodynamic device often found on the front of a ships keel may be smaller (for the sake of simplicity – we shall call this ‘the bollock’).
Another solution would be to run the curve of the nose over the bollock, thus creating the much discussed ‘hooked nose’ effect.
All will be revealed over the next 5 days, however TJ13 is confident some whiz out there will have realised this solution with the ‘bollock’ offers some excellent wake management properties, particularly with the new front wing regulations.
FIA meeting in Geneva
We reported a couple of weeks ago, Luca Montezemolo’s proposed symposium in Maranello for the teams this month was hijacked by the FIA who called them to gather yesterday in Geneva.
TJ13 stated then, the double points matter was a red lined by Ecclestone who in fact is pressing for this to be extended to the final three races of 2014. The BBC cite an anonymous leading team stating prior to the meeting, “most participants would agree to ditch it”, adding, “ that Ecclestone and the FIA had “completely misjudged the predictable negative response from the public”.
It appears there was little discussion over this, as the teams focused on the issue of costs in F1.
The idea of a budget cap has been gaining ground over recent weeks, and it appears the teams have agreed on a way forward – whilst the actual number of the upper spend limit is to be discussed further at a meeting of the team’s directors of finance.
The FIA World Council will next Thursday will rubber stamp the decisions made yesterday.
It appears el Presidente had some red lines of his own, as expectations were low of any agreement on cost reduction emanating from the Geneva meeting. The implementation of spending limits will initially be set at a high figure, but tapering down each year to a much smaller amount then the top teams are spending at present.
The FIA support Ecclestone over double points, and Ecclestone weighs in support on matters of cost. That’s how the new rules of the game appear to be operating.
This could be another Richter 9 moment. Is common sense breaking out to ensure the barriers to entry are not too high for new teams and the competition is improved for those outside the big 4?
Strange times indeed….
McLaren renew Santander deal
After weeks of debating the origins of the universe and humanistic world views, the news is coming thick and fast at present – and testing is still 5 days away.
There has been concern about the ability of McLaren to be competitive in 2014 since the team confirmed that the unveiling of the MP4-29 chassis will not be accompanied by any new major backing as had been expected.
Yet Jonathan Neale insisted the teams finances are in good order due to the numerous long term sponsors which include, Hugo Boss, Tag Heuer and Hilton. Further, the McLaren group will be investing profits into the F1 team as shareholders will forgo their dividends this year.
Neale claimed the 2014 budget is the biggest in the history of the team and today the team announce an extension of their relationship with Santander.
“In such a competitive international sponsorship market, the fact that such a prestigious company has chosen to partner with McLaren Mercedes is a reflection of the strength of our brand,” said Ekrem Sami, managing director of McLaren Marketing.
Jenson is set to continue to visit UK TV watches screens during prime time viewing, as the adverts for the Spanish owned Bank continue to be rolled out.
Dare you look? More FIA changes to the Sporting/Technical regulations
An extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) took place today (23 January) in Geneva, Switzerland. The following decisions were taken:
Changes to the 2014 Sporting Regulations, which are subject to the rubber stamp of the F1 commission and teams are:-
1) The Stewards may now impose a five second time penalty which can be taken before work is carried out on the car in a pit stop
2) Team personnel must also wear helmets during qualifying, as well as the race
3) Drivers may not stop on the slowing down lap to save fuel for sampling and subsequent analysis; this will not be considered justifiable reason for stopping
4) For 2014 only, each team will be allowed six curfew ‘jokers’, previously there were two permitted. This is to allow more flexibility for working on the new engines and cars
There are also amendments to the 2014 Technical Regulations, subject to agreement of the F1 Commission and teams:
1) The weight of the car, without fuel, must not be less than 691kg at all times during the Event. The weight limit has increased by 1kg to take into account the difference in weight between the tyres in 2013 and 2014
Looking forward, the FIA are legislating for changes in the 2015 Sporting Regulations, again subject to agreement of the F1 Commission:
1) To be considered as a constructor, teams will now not need to design and manufacture suspension and brake ducts
And here are the 2015 amendments to the 2015 Technical Regulations, also subject to agreement of the F1 Commission:
1) The car minimum weight has been increased by 10kg, to 701kg, for 2015
2) All tyre heating devices will be prohibited in 2015
3) For safety reasons, the front part of the chassis will not be able to climb too steeply rearward of the front of the chassis.
The FIA’s plan to introduce cost control regulations was also advanced with teams agreeing unanimously to prepare draft regulations to go before the World Motor Sport Council in June.
No mention was made of any change to the rule to award double points for the final race of the season.
Chew on that TJ13 courtroom commentators