Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 14th Feburary 2014

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Martini deal finalised?

The perils of being a McLaren mechanic

Sochi will be ready to race but when? (GMM)

Red Bull not to Infinity and beyond? (GMM)

Villeneuve the outspoken – new era will destroy F1 (GMM)

Webbuary contribution

Woman on the grid for 2015?

Caption Competition – who is saying what?

Schumacher wins fight against pneumonia (GMM)

How fast is the F1 4T Ferrari really? (GMM)

Renault behind Ferrari and Mercedes but it’s not fatal… apparently


Martini deal finalised?

About a month ago TJ13 reported that Martini is planning on a return to F1. Considering that at the time Brazilian sources were the only ones making that claim, it appears that the info came from somewhere within Felipe Massa’s posse.

Motorsport-Total reports that the deal between Williams and Martini has now been finalised. A shirt bearing the iconic Martini colours appeared on a fanshop’s website, but was taken off again in a matter of minutes. Reasonable doubts remain over the authenticity of the shirt as it showed most of the current sponsors, but was missing any Mercedes-Benz markings. On the other hand there are no Mercedes-Benz markings on the Force India VJM07 shown in Jerez either, so the German engine manufacturer might not be as demanding of exposure, like Renault for instance.

According to Motorsport-Total, Martini had been in talks with McLaren and Ferrari as well, however the prospect of not only being the title sponsor, but also getting to decide the main livery made Williams the favourite for the deal. The final livery is still being decided as new sponsors are still signing on. Genworth is the latest new partner and an announcement of a major deal with Petrobras is expected shortly.

artist impression of a possible martini livery by Istvan Kalmar

Artist impression of a possible martini livery by Istvan Kalmar

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The perils of being a McLaren mechanic

Being a mechanic for a Formula One team is a demanding job, but for some lads, who find themselves on the payroll of McLaren, the job just got a wee bit harder. It appears Jenson Button thought it may do his mechanics good if they embrace the life of a bunny!

Jenson is the ‘Energizer Bunny’ among current F1 drivers, regularly participating in triathlons himself and he now wants to race his own mechanics in the Jenson Button Trust Triathlon, a charity race that is held for the third time and donates its earnings to Cancer Research UK.

“‘I drive for the best team in the world and I have the most fantastic mechanics around me,” he defends his cheeky action to the Daily Mail. “I may have actually signed some of them up for it already without them knowing – I am sure they will thank me for it! As will Cancer Research UK who we are raising money for this year.”

Nice one Jense, not telling them eh?

Anyway, if you have nothing to do on July 12th, take your family to Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire to watch some poor McLaren mechanics die a hero’s death.

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Sochi will be ready to race but when? (GMM)

The promoter of the all-new Russian grand prix insists the Sochi venue will be ready for the inaugural race in October. With the questionable readiness of the facilities for the winter olympics currently in the media spotlight, concerns have also been expressed about the new F1 venue.

A double-asterisk on the FIA calendar means the Autodrome Sochi’s October race date is “subject to the homologation of the circuit“. And a report by the Reuters news agency this week described the track as a “fenced-off building site“, littered with “lines of skips and diggers” and “rubble-strewn fringes“.

The pitlane, detailed correspondent Alan Baldwin, “is roughly surfaced, the staircases and corridors above the garages littered with building materials and detritus. Wires dangle from the ceilings, empty shafts await their elevators,” Baldwin explained, adding that the grandstands and VIP suites “are empty shells“.

But promoter Oleg Zabara insists: “Construction of the autodrome in Sochi keeps moving forward.

All works are being carried out according to the schedule. The racing track is 91 per cent complete. Everything is according to plan, and there aren’t any problems during olympic period,” said Zabara, adding that the team buildings and medical centre are already complete.

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Red Bull not to Infinity and beyond? (GMM)

World champions Red Bull could be on the market for a new engine supplier. That is the belief of ex F1 team owner and boss Gian Carlo Minardi, whose former Faenza based team, now called Toro Rosso, is owned by the energy drink company.

Out of troubled engine supplier Renault’s four F1 partners, including Toro Rosso, the senior Red Bull team managed the least mileage of all at the recent Jerez test. Minardi, however, observed that – officially – the Red Bull-owned teams are sending out messages of “tranquillity and calm” about what many others believe is a crisis.

According to circulating information, the situation seems more difficult than that and not easy to solve,” the 66-year-old wrote in a posting in Italian on his website.

It seems that Red Bull are exploring a possible change of engine for 2015,” added Minardi.

He said he has also heard that Renault, struggling to solve the obvious problems with its turbo V6 ‘power unit’, has gone beyond the walls of its Viry factory and is now “shopping” around for technical fixes.

That has practically never happened before as, quite rightly, Renault has always sought to preserve its technology,” said Minardi.

This news can only feed suspicions of structural problems in the engine that are not easy to solve in the short term.

Obviously, I hope to be proved wrong as soon as the testing in Bahrain, but undoubtedly we are living through a chaotic time in Formula One,” he added.

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Villeneuve the outspoken – new era will destroy F1 (GMM)

F1’s all-new era risks “destroying” the sport, according to outspoken 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. The French-Canadian, often referred to as an F1 ‘purist’, admitted he is no fan of the radical new rules, featuring energy recovery-bolstered V6 engines.

I think personally the rules are too restrictive; it’s not formula one,” he told the Telegraph.

42-year-old Villeneuve, whilst announcing his participation in the FIA world rallycross championship this year, said the rules are even a step back from 2013, when drivers often nursed fragile Pirelli tyres to the flag.

Now, the major challenge will be getting a limited amount of fuel to the finish, but the former Williams and Sauber driver said: “It’s not even the driver who determines how much fuel he’s saving — it’s all done electronically.

I don’t see the point. I know it’s the concept of trying to make it look ‘greener’ because people will be happier, but ultimately it’s not greener. It’s not F1. It’s just a perception, that is destroying Formula One a little bit.

Villeneuve also said the recent Jerez test showed that the new technology is too complex, while the cars are too slow. “The lap times (at Jerez) were barely faster than what we did in 1997 in Jerez … that’s 17 years ago. I’m not sure why it has become so important to keep going slower,” he said.

Villeneuve was also scathing of the unpopular ‘double points’ innovation for 2014, designed to keep spice in the title fight until the very end.

It’s turning F1 into a non-epic show, or a game, instead of a proper sport,” he said. “In a way it’s saying, ‘We’re losing fans, how can we make it fakely more exciting?’

Amid all the speculation about F1’s new era, however, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali thinks it is too early to draw any dramatic conclusions.

The Italian insisted “a propensity for self-destruction serves no purpose“.

We have only had one test so far when there were never more than four or five cars on track at the same time. Let’s wait until we see all 22 together before saying that everything’s gone wrong,” said Domenicali.

Once a path has been chosen, one has to move forward in a constructive manner,” he added.

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Webbuary contribution

Due to a mix-up in the archives, today’s news accidentally didn’t mention Mark Webber. We take this opportunity to correct that: Mark Webber. As a companion piece we found a historic picture of Mark’s new employer buried deep in the archives.

porsche

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Woman on the grid for 2015?

Simona de SilvestroSauber F1 announced on their website that Swiss Indycar driver Simona de Silvestro becomes a Sauber affiliated driver with the goal of earning the FIA super license and a possible race seat for 2015. If the plan works out, we might see the first woman in F1 since Flavio Briatore’s maîtresse Giovanna Amati tried to qualify an ailing Brabham car in vain for every race she entered in 1992.

Unlike Amati, de Silvestro proved her mettle on the track rather than Flavio’s bedroom. Unable to secure a seat in male dominated Europe de Silvestro went were women get a realistic shot at serious racing – the US of A. A win in Formula BMW USA and 5 wins and a 3rd place in the title standings of the Atlantic championship, USA’s equivalent to GP3, convinced HVM racing to promote her straight to the top tier Indycar series, where she scored 14 top 10 results in 4 season with a second place finish on the street course of Houston, TX standing as her best result.

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Caption Competition – who is saying what?

On the subject of “early years” – what are these two saying to each other?

Hamilton and Rosberg Karting
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Schumacher wins fight against pneumonia (GMM)

Michael Schumacher has won his fight against pneumonia, according to the major German daily newspaper Bild. Earlier, the seven time world champion’s manager Sabine Kehm played down rumours the lung infection had interrupted efforts to wake Schumacher from his long coma.

She said the great German “still is in a waking up process“. Now, Bild says its sources indicate pneumonia is no longer posing “an acute danger” to the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver’s health.

Schumacher has already won the fight against pneumonia,” the report claimed.

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How fast is the F1 4T Ferrari really? (GMM)

Was Ferrari sandbagging at Jerez?

4c443-noseGermany’s Auto Motor und Sport on Friday revealed that, having studied the data from the recent opening winter test, the top five places in terms of top speed were occupied by Mercedes-powered cars. Topping the lot was the newly Mercedes-powered Williams’ Felipe Massa, who tripped the radar at 286kph on the front straight, and 307 on the fastest part of the southern Spanish circuit.

In contrast, the nearest Ferrari-powered car was the works F14-T driven by Kimi Raikkonen, with just 268 on the straight and a top speed of 289 — considerably down on the leading Mercedes-Benz machine. Auto Motor und Sport’s Michael Schmidt said Ferrari has admitted it did not deploy full power at Jerez, where the all-new and sophisticated V6 ‘power units’ were getting the first real running.

Mercedes’ Niki Lauda, however, said there was no sandbagging in the silver camp. “We went to the limit that we could, as it makes no sense to go deliberately slowly. You learn nothing (from that),” said the great Austrian and Mercedes team chairman.

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Renault behind Ferrari and Mercedes but it’s not fatal… apparently

Remi Taffin _ MWAfter what can only be described as a disastrous Jerez test, where the Renault teams completed less laps than anyone else, Lotus’ ‘filming day’ was described by Renault as a sign of progress. This, however, was quickly followed by Torro Rosso having a ‘filming day’ at Misano which was also highlighted by the new Renault V6 turbo not being able to keep itself together.

Today Renault’s head of Renault Sport F1 track operations, Remi Taffin, addressed the media in a bid to ‘calm’ the fears of teams and fans alike. Speaking to reporters on a conference call Taffin admitted they “left the first test with a lot to do on our [Renault] side, mainly facing hardware and software issues.

He continued, “With regard to the hardware we are now confident the problem we had in the first test has been solved and we will be in a position to go out in Bahrain without all these issues.

As for the software we’ve improved our level. We’re still behind our initial schedule, but now beyond what we would have done in the first test.

Again we should be okay in Bahrain to go out on the first day with a car that should be working.

We are ready to do what we would have liked to have done in the first test, which is to properly test the power unit and give our customers a way to discover their cars.

So that is the whole powertrain then right? And you hope to have it ready for the teams to ‘discover’ their cars? Mr Taffin, may we kindly suggest you seek out a recovery vehicle at Bahrain as we can be certain you will ‘discover’ a few teapots in very close proximity.

It appears Renault have been caught napping in the race to develop these new breeds. Not only are they having problems with structural issues in their engine (now fixed apparently) but software issues as well. And the challenge Renault engineers are facing is getting them to work together.

Not doing much to instil confidence Taffin continues, “It’s not a fatality, but that’s where we are. We are trying do everything at the same time, but then sometimes we have to prioritise so it’s not easy to have everything altogether at once.

It’s not a communication problem. It’s how you make them work together. It’s not like one is not talking to the other, it’s basically the language they use.

So one is talking French and the other? Renault hopes to have their engine running without problems by Bahrain but admits they (and their customers) are behind others, but not months… only weeks…

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93 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 14th Feburary 2014

  1. i love reading the reports of possible new sponsorships as much as the next guy, but i wonder if F1 sometimes might appear a bit shambolic or Mickey Mouse to outsiders or the public-at-large?!

    lol…

  2. Villeneuve also said the recent Jerez test showed that the new technology is too complex, while the cars are too slow. ”The lap times (at Jerez) were barely faster than what we did in 1997 in Jerez … that’s 17 years ago. I’m not sure why it has become so important to keep going slower,” he said.

    JV comes in for a lot of stick, but superficially at least, comments like these must resonate w/ more sophisticated (and cynical?) fans?

    Mr. E himself has pointed out the farce that is any F1 “Green” initiative focused on the racing cars, as the carbon footprint of the teams is ginormous, and the ‘payoff’ from eco-friendly tech like the new engines is dubious/uncertain, at best.

    Idk if JV’s complaints withstand the scrutiny of the Market though, or not.

    Thoughts?

    • I agree to some extent, although Mr E’s solutions were focused primarily on the footprint of the teams, as are most detractors, and in the grand scheme of things making the F1 circus itself green is a pebble in the ocean. Where I do think F1 can bring things to the table is in the development of technology and, perhaps more importantly, the perception of technology, and this is where its ‘green’ focus should, and is to some extent, be. I would much rather the teams individuals ‘footprints’ are ignored, and those restrictions limiting the development of this technology are lifted. I like the idea behind the new PU, but lets allow them to use as much fuel as possible, but don’t restrict energy harvesting and use… then we’ll see what they can do to make the fastest/most efficient hybrids.

      • F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of engineering. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen aerodynamics rule the roost and in terms of innovation and driving (no pun intended) the automotive industry forward it was not really the “pinnacle” any more was it?

        These news rules, love them or loath them are forcing engineers to think again. I am with you re the energy harvesting Adam. But I would still say limit the fuel and let them harvest as much energy as they want.

        What that will do is get teams to run less fuel because they are developing super efficient ERS systems and hence can run lighter and win 🙂

      • Except that F1 is everything but green. The carbon footprint of the ERS batteries alone makes the internal combustion engine look eco-friendly. Production of current hybrid systems has a devastating ecological profile.

        • Very true but if F1 use them more the profile of how they get made gets raised and then engineers will have to figure out how to do it better.

          By not pushing forward (or being pushed) we’ll become extinct like the dinosaurs 🙂

          • The F1 engineers can’t really change how they are made. The making of a battery involves several chemical processes with very toxic materials or byproducts. Unless we go the full mile and run electric cars with hydrogen fuel cells, electric and hybrid cars are devastating to the environment. Not by emissions, but by the production process.

          • But thats the point, to understand what can be done you need to push boundaries and innovate, as DQ says, to try to find the limits and extents of what can be done.

            To make batteries you have to use several chemical processes, that is how you make a battery everyone knows that, but as my friend who works in engineering at Newcastle University is always telling me, it was also ‘known’ that it was not possible to make certain colours of LED’s, and now look at LED technology.

        • Danielo, JV, and Mr. E,

          F1 is not trying to be more green, or eco-friendly.

          F1 has added fuel efficiency as a challenge.

          It’s been welcomed by the automobile manafacturers because it’s relevant to the real world and enables them to justify their particpation in F1.

          It’s been welcomed by those of us who live in 2014 and are not afraid of technology.

          If you’re looking for an eco-friendly sport to follow, I’m sure you can find one, but won’t be F1.

          Full credits to you three for mediocre strawman arguments, in any case…

          • I’m not afraid of technology, but F1 is supposed to be poinnacle of motorsport. It should be about guys racing each other flat out. F1 should guzzle all the world’s oil and laugh about it while clubbing baby seals. That’d be more honest than pretending to be green when you’re not.
            I don’t want ‘Greenpeace memorial’ fuel saving runs. That’s not racing. That’s just utterly boring.

          • You have something of a point DS/FH, BUT………….F1 has very rarely been about racing flat out. About the only time it has been in the last, what, 30 years was during the re-fuelling days.

            At just about al other times, drivers have had to do some level of nursing their equipment to look after engines/tyres/fuel/gearboxes etc.

            I’m not sure it was boring back then, either…

          • Full credits to you three for mediocre strawman arguments, in any case…

            Aww, c’mon. ¡No seas malo!

            Strawmen are fun to build, and easy to knock-down!! ✌

        • I disagree. The production of the batteries may damage the environment, but the impact is either spread around the world or localized in areas where no one lives. On the other hand, the emissions from internal combustion engines in small densely populated areas like Los Angeles has real effects on human health right now. If by switching to full electric or hybrid cars, the pollution to places with significantly lower population density, the benefits to human health can be huge.

          And the point of switching to new engines is not to lower the environmental impact of F1. It’s to push the boundaries of the technology. The hybrid tech is not perfect. That’s fine. That’s why we need Formula 1 and Formula E adopt it or related technologies in order to improve them.

      • Hi Adam, I’ll go you one better, give the teams a fuel budget (and tires etc) and let them use it over the whole season, instead of on a race by race basis. That should see some innovating 😉

        • All good stuff Matt! You hit the nail on the head, the specifics can be refined and argued over, but the point is getting them to innovate as much as possible, I feel restrictions on harvesting, use, and fuel as they are won’t encourage that enough.

      • haha yes, so true. I wish I could remember what JV said to David Coulthard when DC grabbed him after a GP in either 2012 or 2013 where Villeneuve was doing commentary. Does anyone remember this?

        I can’t remember if it happened in 2012 or 2013, but I think it was 2012 on the BBC, pre-Suzi Perry (ie, “The Good Ol’ Days), maybe in the post-race or forum show, and the three BBC’ers were walking along when they came up on JV and DC grabbed him for an impromptu interview, and I think JV said some really incendiary or otherwise unfiltered/unscripted stuff and it was classic lol.

        I’ve been searching online for like 15min for it and can’t find it, so I give up – but someone help me out if they remember this!!

        Cheers DQ!

    • Everything free, except amount of joules used. Diesel? Solid fuel? Nuclear or solar power? All ok. Just stay within the 107%.
      Not sure about reintroducing refuelling but that might attrack innovation as well (change batteries).
      However on the aero Side I probably would add restrictions, to make sure it’s all about engines again.

    • Well, in my casual reading it seems that (quelle surprise) turbos are not returning expected real world mileage, put down to people stomping the go fast pedal in order to access boost for acceleration. Using the ERS to keep the turbo spooled as F1 is doing to obviate lag would have both an immediate and large impact for real world mileage should it make its way to road cars. Yes, in many ways the “greening” is a big fat publicity ploy, but the doesn’t mean that useful tech might not come from it nonetheless. 🙂

    • “JV comes in for a lot of stick, but superficially at least, comments like these must resonate w/ more sophisticated (and cynical?) fans?”

      I’m not very sophisticated but candidly I’m cynical about JV. I’m a North American, and so I’ve followed various North American F1 racers (including from Mexico of course). I noticed JV in his Formula Atlantic years, and have followed his career since then.

      He was a talented guy behind the wheel, (particularly before his concussions), but his logic became more obtuse over time. In recent years his thinking resembles the songs from his renowned music career, which is to say both fuzzy and dull.

      JV has consistantly held on to four delusions about modern F1 which is that F1 should:
      1) Always spend unlimited amounts of money
      2) Corner faster
      3) Build continually more powerful engines
      4) Become more dangerous

      At the end of his interview in the Telegraph he dismisses the modern F1 fan by surmising, “you cannot keep their interest for more than five minutes.”

      Given that thinking, “JV World” is a very appropriate term…

      • I’m cynical about JV.

        As I said, “Idk if JV’s complaints withstand the scrutiny of the Market though, or not.”

        I think he’s often deliberately provocative, whether to promote himself, or simply for his own entertainment. I’ll have to go back and re-read the Telegraph piece, but I thought his disparaging remark concerning the attention span of ‘fans’ was directed towards the “wrong” kind of fans (the ones he implied F1 shouldn’t be pursuing).

        Yeah, I’ll have to go back and re-read the interview, but appreciate your sharing your perspective regardless.

        Cheers!

  3. Red Bull-Peugeot ? Or they have a super secret plan B, or I really doubt they could switch engine in 2015. Ferrari and Mercedes will never supply a direct competitor for the title

    • I wouldn’t put it past them to buid an own engine. They could also try to lure in a engine manufacturer from a market they’re interested in – Red Bull-Lada :mrgreen: 😉 I’m sure there would be engine manufacturers willing to take a punt if RB is providing the funding for the project. Or, as I said they could hire someone like Osamu Goto or Mario Ilien and start an own project. That wouldn’t come to life until 2015 though.
      Cosworth seems to have a V6 turbo prototype, but no funding and customers. A whole year of RB funding and secret testing could be a mucho viable Plan B.

        • PURE was just a pipe dream, but Cosworth has a real engine, so if they were to start testing/developing now with RB funding, the thing could be ready by 2015.

          • I wonder how much longer Red Bull Racing will be around as a team?

            I don’t have any direct insight into this, but I do recall reading a piece by Rencken last year in which he suggested that Red Bull’s commitment to Formula 1 in the future may be more likely as a series sponsor than a team owner/operator, given how much dominance they’ve exerted and the media saturation that’s resulted.

            idk tho…

      • I believe the ‘Fat Hippo’ already mentioned Red Bull/Cosworth as an almost viable solution. Could be interesting, it will also show anyone who still has doubts, that when RedBull are not winning regularly they will pull the plug on the project. If they won’t stick by the engine partner who powered them to 4 conservative titles and who also developed team specific engine maps so the whole blown floor thing would work correctly, then why would they stick in F1 if they are seen to be loosing that winning edge and that in turn has an effect on brand image.

        • That’s quite a strange reasoning. F1 is a business. RB have no obligation to keep ordering their engines from Renault. If Renault don’t get it right, why shouldn’t they be allowed to change the supplier? McLaren too switched away from a supplier that gave them championship titles and nobody bats an eye. It’s pretty obvious that the Renault engine is a pub, why should they be required to keep them?

          • I know business is business, McLaren have not had a title in any form since 2008 but Renault really went the extra step for RB over the last 4 seasons and the moment they have an issue there is talk of dumping them. I just feel a bit for Renault, yes they had the same time as the rest and yes they chose the resources to throw at it, but considering that RB are a “works team” why is there more team specific problems with them than the others? Have Renault been tested to the limit of the relationship by Newey and co refusing to fully acknowledge the need for cooling and sensible packaging. I just think that talk of changing an engine supply after 1 pre-season test is laughable a best. There is no way Ferrari or Merc will give them a supply, I doubt Honda will do it in their 1st year back so they would have to find an independent supply which is no mean feat. From prototype to race engine in 12months is pushing it a lot, especially is you only have 1 team to supply, you know you won’t recoup costs ever, so unless RedBull open the wallet with no questions this who thing is a non-starter, even with all the money you need to get an engine in a car on the grid at Melbourne for 2015 is really going to take some monumental efforts and epic levels of collaboration between team ans supplier.

            I really think this story is news, for news’ sake.

          • Mind you though that all the talk about dumping Renault has been done by Minardi, not RB.
            And we are not privy to what’s happening behind closed doors. The relationship might have turned sour way earlier than we think. And Renault ‘going the extra step’ is a bit exaggerated. They didn’t do that because of charity towards RB. They wanted to have their name on the winning car, so they had every reason to indulge RB and in the end it was Vettel’s ability to adapt his driving style accordingly that made it work, else the 4-cylinder mode would have ended up a useless gimmick. It certainly didn’t work for Webber.

      • Red Bull – Lada would be the tops! Starts in -40°C without problems, has a powerful heater, runs on 86 octane fuel and the aerosuite is designed by a cubist. Another great feature is that any village smith can fix it with jesus-tape, a coat hanger and some bubble gum.

      • Doubt that. McLaren is the Honda works team. RB would only change if they get works team status.

        • I can’t see them dropping Renault as quickly as 2015, unless they have a viable engine partner lined up. Cosworth with the right funding could probably produce a nifty engine. Depends on what Red Bull want to do really.

      • Thats what I thought as well but don’t think McLaren will like that, especially if they have a ‘works’ deal with Honda.

        Interesting point Luca raises though. We are trying to get more manufacturers into F1 but what happens if the ‘works’ team get beaten by a customer team? As Luca says, will they want to supply a team that can and does beat them?

          • But Mclaren was Mercedes powered well before Mercedes enetered in F1 as a team, there are contracts that needs to be complied.

            Fat Hippo said an interesting thing, they could buy an engine from Reanult, and then developing it all by themselves and calling it Infinity engine…they have the resources to do it, and this could help them in the process of developing the car.

        • Toyota announced that they are entering WRC not F1.

          They’re already using their Cologne centre to produce prototypes.

    • Personally, I think a return to a Ford-Cosworth partnership could be kind of exciting. Ford have extensive turbo experience from WRC, and if Renault truly fail this season it might be a good time to pick up new customers for a new engine supplier. /baseless speculation

      • Ford have extensive experience in LOSING in WRC.

        They haven’t won a drivers championship since 1981 – and that was a normally aspirated car.

    • There are two different TJ13 threads to tie-in together here…

      First is that Gian Carlo Minardi stated publicly on his blog yesterday, http://www.minardi.it/tra-conferme-e-supposizioni-si-va-verso-il-bahrain/
      that he is hearing there is a serious long lead-time problem for our friends at Renault Sport F1. This is perhaps the first public confirmation what TJ13 reported track-side from Jerez. I’m not a materials guy, but other folks have noted that crankshaft problems, and long lead-times for resolutions point to a problem with their hard forging tooling.

      Neither Rob White two weeks ago, nor Remi Taffin mention the problem directly, which is interesting. Yet Minardi hears that RB are evaluating alternative engine suppliers for 2015. Given that Newey attempted to leave McLaren not once, but twice to work with Renault instead of Mercedes (he was successful the 2nd time), and that they’ve won 4 WCC’s in a row (would’ve been 5 if not for Brawn’s clever double diffuser in ’09), indicates that they see a problem so serious that they need to look elsewhere for a power-unit.

      The 2nd TJ13 thread to tie-in here is that the good Judge has written a few articles that speculate as to the underlying purpose of the FIA suddenly opening up bids for a spot on the F1 grid.

      The immediate thinking was there is a significant organization who wants a spot on the grid. I wonder if we should perhaps instead be looking at a new engine manufacturer (or two) who want to join F1? Supplying a new team may be easier than poaching existing teams away from other PU suppliers…

      In which case it may merely be a coincidence that Renault are having various teething issues, and Red Bull are (rumored by Minardi to be) evaluating an alternative PU supplier for 2015. RB may have been approached by a new supplier prior to Jerez perhaps.

      • Not so sure about forging problems – I think the cranks are machined from billet. Although the billet may be forged for grain alignment, I wouldn’t see that as an extremely long lead time (with enough money).

        • I appreciate those thoughts.

          I’m inclined to speculate about the specifics of this crankshaft problem.

          Minardi’s article saying that Renault Sport F1 must be significantly desperate to shop outside their own walls for a solution indicates the performance penalty is significant, just as the Judge learned at Jerez.

          Since it appears that neither Renault, nor their teams, are likely to share any information about this problem, speculating as to the specifics of this problem is worthwhile.

          • I heard Mercedes had a problem getting all the components to work together, this was in December. From what I heard the challenge is not just getting the components to work together, but also the vibrations of a V6 is much harsher than that of a V8 so the turbo kept on breaking (hence the cover they built).

            Ferrari has invested heavily in their electronics and are actively trying to recruit the ERS boffins from the likes of Mercedes. Ferrari does not have this protective cover and one can only assume they have it nailed down to a micron.

            What I’m getting at is Renault is so far behind it is unreal. I recall TJ mentioning on the eve of the test that Renault has a severe crank problem which they played down as a “bad batch”. Today Taffin said they have to prioritise so what does that mean? Reliability before performance? A super heavy durable engine that weights a ton?

            5 days to Bahrain and 4 weeks till the fun starts 😛

        • No, maybe not a long lead time but with machining likely fully committed can’t see any surprise with looking beyond their own house to have critical work carried out.

          • I did write from Jerez 20 weeks for a fix…. TJ13 doubters be banished… Not you of course PS…

            But when there are design problems for components that have machine production lead times of weeks, it’s clearly a huge problem.

            With existing engines this doesn’t happen as you can always revert to the previous iteration of component as a ‘get you through’ kind of measure.

            Anyway, the snow is awesome and the Italian girls look like beautiful Ferraris….

            Mrs J has been banished off to lessons 😉

          • I understand the honour’s sentiments about the Italian ladies, and will confess that my wife’s ancestry is half Italian, and she is lovely.

            I’ve been doing some background research on this story of Renault’s crankshafts, and quickly waded in over my head, candidly. One of the articles I found illustrates the various parameters that would go in to crankshaft design, touches upon the exotic materials and methods that the F1 engine manufacturers might have employed, and most importantly gives us some ideas as to why there can be a 20 week lead time to rectify a crankshaft problem.
            http://www.epi-eng.com/piston_engine_technology/crankshaft_design_issues.htm

            I’ve been curious about the implications of this problem for the Renault teams between now and mid-June. To mitigate against this problem, will we see for example lower revs, or boost turned down, (etc.)? I’m guessing the soonest we see those details will be Bahrain 2, or Australia, but that is wild speculation.

            Who here speaks Italian well enough to interpret Gian Carlo Minardi’s article of Feb. 13th?
            http://www.minardi.it/tra-conferme-e-supposizioni-si-va-verso-il-bahrain/

            I’m particularly interested in translations of Gian Carlo’s second paragraph…

          • Thank you VM that crankshaft piece was interesting reading.
            And with a rough translate on Minardi’s piece, that second para does warrant further and accurate translation.

  4. “Sochi will be ready to race but when?”
    Is this a bit of a scare story…? – The facility is 91% complete, with 8-9 months to go… And building works are bound to be slow at this time of year in Russia…

    • The building works are currently on hiatus due to the Olympics, but I’ve seen Russian building works when I lived there. The thing WILL be ready. The other infrastructure, like … ahem… toilets … might be a different matter, but the track will definitely be ready or a lot of people will be relocated to the Sakha republic.

      • Toilets, specially in public areas like high schools or malls, have always been an embarrassing subject in Russia. This dates back to Soviet times. For some reason, no one ever cared to maintain those facilities and among most Russians it’s always understood that you’re always better off by visiting a restroom in a private home before going on a long trip.. Most Russians are fascinated with the cleanness of public toilets in the west. I have heard so many times from Russians who just came back from their first trip to the west: “Can you believe it, I visited a restroom in the airport, and it was nice and clean and there was music playing..”

  5. In terms of the Renault issues I’m not shocked that they’re seeking refuge from outside resources in time of need. We’re less than a month away from the season opener and if it means getting their 4 customers on the grid or not then they have to save face. On the other hand I have little to no doubt that GMM/Minardi are inflating the ‘crisis’ as a way of heaping pressure on Renault. Lest we forget a manufacturer that were by far and away the most successful in the V8 era.

    I think some of the issues faced by Renault have been circumnavigated by both Mercedes and Ferrari as they have a works team in order to work on installation issues with. Ferrari have already boldly claimed that the fact they are both a constructor and (ICE) manufacturer has aided them in their design processes.
    I’d assume as defacto works team, Red Bull have worked alongside Renault on such intricasies too but perhaps the Red Bull ethos of pushing the boundaries has crept too far into the minds at Viry and now they’re paying the price.

    Although some of the issues faced by Renault are intrinsic to the PU and moreover the ERS this won’t be helped by the way Red Bull run the packaging margins and so perhaps all parties will have to crank back a little… With Lotus running fairly trouble free in Jerez on their promo day there is a glimmer of hope that things are on the up..

    Ferrari have also been seeing issues with the cabling heating beyond the optimum threshold due to the excessive charge rates when compared to the outgoing KERS systems. On top of this we have to consider that the controllers job has now been increased exponentially with AC coming from the MGU-K and H and needing to be converted to DC to be stored by the ES, or the controller acts as the middleman transporting AC from K to H or vice versa. This makes cooling the ES/Controller and cabling a top priority IMO as degradation could be a big factor. This of course is a massive problem for the teams as they want to reduce the packaging element as much as possible… Ferrari have worked with MEZZO technologies on new cooling rads and so this is where they could have the upper hand… (Especially as it’s clearly visible that the Ferrari powered cars have much smaller cooling apertures)

    Exciting times…. (Technically 😉 )

    • Hi Matt

      I listened to Sam Collins (Racecar Engineering) on Midweek Motor sport last Wednesday and he alluded to the fact that Renault have got their heat numbers grossly wrong, particularly on the ERS side, evidenced by the wild sidepod and body shape differences on all the Renault runners. Caterham obviously going for the least aero, most likely to finish a race layout.

      Kudo’s to TJ13 as he also admitted that this problem could never be resolved without some negotiation being done on the Feb homologation as it’s touch and go that they’ll resolve the issue by Bahrain.

    • Renault could ask for reliability break ( AutoSport )

      Renault has not ruled out applying to the FIA for permission to make modifications to its engine for reliability reasons once the 2014 Formula 1 season gets underway.

      On February 28, each manufacturer must have homologated a single-specification of its engine, which will be locked for the season, although Appendix 4 of the F1 sporting regulations does leave the door open for modifications after that date should they be for “reliability, safety or cost saving reasons”.

      Although Renault is confident it has made major strides with its engine since the Jerez test, head of track operations Remi Taffin accepts that it is possible it could need to make such an application.

      Given the extent of the engine change this year, it is possible all three engine manufacturers will have to make such requests.

      “If we have any reliability issues it’s more difficult after you have applied for an engine for the year to make some changes,” said Taffin.

      “But there is still a ‘fair and equitable’ rule that exists that allows us to change any parts if we have any reliability problems, which we did in the past and I think we will still do it.

      “Having said that, we are not saying we have massive issues on reliability because we have done some good tests on the dynos and we know that each part is working fine, we have to make it work together.”

      Despite Renault’s difficulties to date, Taffin has no doubts that the marque’s 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engine will prove competitive as the problems have prevented it showing its true potential.

      He is adamant the hardware problems, particularly relating to the energy store, have been solved meaning that the key is getting components that work well individually to work together.

      “Where we are struggling is where we put everything into the car and have to get the most out of it.””Because we are struggling to make everything work together, we have not actually got the performance we have from each [individual] component in terms of level of competitiveness.

      Taffin also downplayed the extent of Renault’s problems, suggesting they look worse to the outside world than they really are.

      “The situation is definitely worse from the outside than from the inside,” said Taffin.

      “It’s a difficult moment we will get through. We always said that it was so complex that if we have one or two problems that we have got to fix it is going to prevent you doing calibration or software development or so on.

      “We have been facing problems which are not hundreds of problems, it’s a few that we need to solve and as soon as we have done that, and I think we are 90 per cent into it.”

    • Exciting times…. (Technically)

      Matt, I just want to say how much I enjoy your comments and I’m so glad you continue posting here in the Judge’s chambers/court, even as you operate your own blog, b/c I don’t always remember to check everywhere else – so it’s great to find your insights here! They’re like little golden nuggets in a comments section that’s already strewn with great posts!

      Please keep it up! 🙂

    • Clever pun, I thought (and hope it was intended not a miss-hear).

      “Fakely more exciting” is my new F1 catch-phrase 🙂

  6. Lewis: “Hey Nico, is your hair always going to look so stupid”?
    Nico: “I PROMISE that that comment will come back to haunt you, dude…. “!!

    • Lewis: Hey Britney, when I grow up I want to date a pop star and be gangsta.
      Nico: No way you would ever find someone prettier than me…
      Lewis: Are you saying that ’cause I is black?

      • Wait… wtf?

        This one was kind of funny till that last line, “…I is black?”

        Being a hater isn’t funny… It’s just sad, and inappropriate.

        • Take a chill pill Vortex Motio. This was a dig at Lewis saying that himself when he kind of left the reservation at various times in 2012. The particular occasion was after he felt he had been unfairly fined by the FIA for some issue.

          • What Lewis said in 2011 at Monaco was “Maybe it’s because I’m black. That’s what Ali G says.” Afterwards he apologised for “a bit of a joke, which wasn’t funny at the time”.

            It’s still not funny.

            Nor is it funny that you’ve changed it to “I is black” instead.

        • Joe, Vortex – I think you’re both seeing racism, where there is none. The line is a Ali G line and if you remember 2011, Lewis used a slightly different line himself, but hinted at this Ali G quote and embarrassed himself with this and his subsequent appology.
          I think it is fair game to poke fun at that moment and in no way is that racist. Aren’t I the one, who is usually accused to having a too thin skin? 😉

          • FH (& nambo) – I’m glad you took a moment to share those thoughts, and I apologize that I didn’t notice FH’s comments till a few hours ago.

            Let me concede that it is possible that you and nambo are correct, that perhaps Joe and I are over-reacting. But I think you’re wrong for two different reasons.

            First, I don’t think it is a coincidence that the folks who called this out the racism of that post are two Amercians who care about the high quality new journalism that the Judge is doing here. While I shouldn’t speak for Joe, I think it’s fairly safe to say that both of us would like to see the TJ site continue to grow, and gain readership through out the world.

            Personally, I’ve long wanted to see the beautiful sport of Formula 1 become more popular in the U.S. I’ll suggest that both Joe and I are seeing that statement from American eyes that are more sensitive to racism. I’m suggesting that we’re both calling it out as such because we know that other (potential) readers of this site may also see it as racism and not want to continue reading this site because it appears that racism is OK here.

            Again, whether it’s racism or not, is one question, but both Joe and I quickly recognized it as racism, and we won’t be the only ones.

            Second, to your point of bringing up the Ali G context. I find it ironic that you and others justify that humor as contextual to some of Sasha Baren Cohen’s oevre. Much of Cohen’s career has been focused on parodies of the subtle racism, discrimination and hatreds that prevade our societies.

            So when one justifies a racist statement in the context of Ali G humor, it appears that the Cohen’s joke was on you yet you don’t even realize it.

            Hope that helps.
            Best regards,
            VM

          • Thank you Mr Hippo. You hit the nail exactly on the head. I deliberately used Ali G’s exact wording to play on the gangsta theme and Hamilton’s own allusion to it in 2011.

    • I saw that. Do you think it is relevant though? Why would Kimi find it easier? What about Chilton or Gutierrez?

      Neither one of them look like the can harm a match stick…

  7. Re Caption Comp

    Lewis- I can’t believe I ran out of fuel man!
    Nico- it’s a thinking man’s game these days mate.

    Or
    Lewis- if you could shagg any celebrity who would it be?
    Nico- it would have to be that Nicole from Pussycat Dolls.
    Lewis- Yeh, she is fit……when I’m an F1 driver she”ll be begging me to father her kids.

  8. Hey nico, I kid you not, one day there will be a guy from Wigan called TJ13 who will rewrite the rules of F1 journalism…….. You’ll see….

    • Nico: Dude, I almost had you..

      Lewis: Almost had me? You never had me.. You never had your kart…..

      lol. well done. for some reason that was the funniest to me, imagining their voices saying those lines haha.

      cheers!

  9. In the end, you can’t make the cars go faster forever. At some point you can get to the point where the car is moving so fast that drivers get dizzy. IndyCar has run into this problem on Texas Speedway in the 90s. So, there is really a limit how fast the cars can go before the drivers start passing out. Another issue is the chassis technology. The chassis are getting better and better, and are more than capable of increasing lap times without any increases in engine power. This is why the 700hp cars kept up with the 1000hp turbo cars from the 80s, and I wouldn’t be surprised if 500hp cars could match the same speeds some day. The engines in GT racing are facing the same problem. A lot of GT cars in Le Mans GT class now have less horse power than their production counterparts. Finally, you have to take into account the reliability and cost considerations of the new engines. The 1000hp engines of the 80s probably had to be replaced after every race. These days one engine has to last for many races.

    • The engines in GT racing are facing the same problem. A lot of GT cars in Le Mans GT class now have less horse power than their production counterparts.

      That’s interesting. I haven’t followed LeMans GT racing that closely…I guess an example might be…idk, a Porsche 991 GT3 RSR or somthin’? lmk, m’k?

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