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US track boss says Ecclestone ‘foolish’ (GMM) + UPDATE (13:52) TJ13 comment
Comment of the day
I’m not sure we have the depth of comment to do this daily yet, or maybe you lot just ain’t competitive for such a thing. Anyway, when a comment jumps out we’ll award it the TJ13 stamp of approval.
Some days, TJ13 posts articles and news with up to 15,000 words. This site is by the fans for the fans, with me directing proceedings. So the odd spelling mistake will occur.
Sharl Peak yesterday found an amusing way to draw our attention to an error when commenting,
“Williams are a “historic British racing marquee”???
Truly the F1 coverage this site is providing becomes more in-tents every day!!”
We thank you Sharl for your witty observation and compliment 🙄
Because sometimes 4 wheels are just too much!
Mark Webber may have retired from F1, but his Aussie ass will be in Albert Park imminently. “It’s been twelve months since I was last in Albert Park, but instead of being behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car, I’m going with my running shoes and a vivacious group of teenagers in the starting line-up are,” says Webber.
This is part of the ‘Champions Edge’ campaign which hopes to encourage Aussie teenagers to exercise more.
So Webber will be in Melbourne for the F1 GP weekend but he realises, “it will be a big difference for me, during the Grand Prix week to be in Melbourne, but not as a race driver. But I am looking forward to complete a lap on the track – albeit at a slower pace”.
In light of Renault and Red Bull’s problems, did Mark leave F1 just a year too early? Still he may yet complete his lap faster than his former team-mate.
‘Humility not jubilation’ says Mercedes’ Wolff (GMM)
Amid claims Mercedes is the overwhelming 2014 favourite, boss Toto Wolff says the Brackley team is heading into the season with “humility“.
Admitting he is “cautiously optimistic“, Wolff told the German news agency DPA he is sure that if Mercedes has a big advantage now, it will not last long.
“We are very aware that Ferrari and the Renault teams will come back. It is only a matter of time and I don’t doubt that for a second,” said Wolff. He said world champions Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel in particular – despite their huge problems with the Renault-powered RB10 – cannot be ruled out.
“This team (Red Bull) has won the world championship four times and has one of the best drivers in the field,” said Wolff. But he agreed that, in total contrast, Mercedes has had a fairly smooth winter despite the massive challenge of the all-new 2014 rules.
Wolff insisted: “Humility is the word that comes to mind. There have been many ‘test world champions’ in the past.” And he said even the dominant Mercedes W05 has not been perfect.
“The issue of reliability is far from solved,” said Wolff. “I assume that the first issue has to be getting to the end of the race. We have had some good tests but we have no reason to fall into jubilation,” the 42-year-old added.
Marko not sure Red Bull crisis near end (GMM)
After the dizzying heights of utter domination late last season, Red Bull finds itself in deep crisis just two weeks before the 2014 opener. Not only has the new RB10 struggled merely for laps amid engine supplier Renault’s obvious problems, the Adrian Newey-penned car has also been slow.
In an analysis, Speed Week found that if the times in Bahrain testing last week was actually qualifying in Melbourne, both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo would have failed to meet the 107 per cent qualifying rule.
“We are in complex difficulties,” Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko admitted to Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper. “We can solve it only in conjunction with Renault. Unfortunately, we are going from problem to problem and are clearly behind schedule.”
The reigning world champions only have four more official test days, in Bahrain this week beginning on Thursday, to prepare for the Melbourne season opener. Asked if the problems can be solved by then, Marko answered: “That is open and cannot be predicted. We will have developments in Bahrain for the third test but, as I said, everything is very complex.”
Marko said it is not the first time Red Bull could head into a new season without having even completed a single race distance with its new car.
“Yes, we’ve had that once, but I repeat: we cannot hang our heads,” he insisted. “We need to look and think ahead.”
Pic admits Caterham axe ‘a surprise’ (GMM)
Charles Pic has admitted being dropped by Caterham ahead of the 2014 season was “a surprise“.
In the wake of the blow, the Frenchman will try to put his race aspirations back on track for 2015 by testing this year for the Lotus team. “I’ll have days of private testing as well as free practice sessions,” he told the French-language F1i.
“All I can say is it will be a good number of Fridays and the right number of test days. I’ll let the team say more but I think it is a very good programme for me.” Pic, 24, admitted it was a challenge to put the Lotus programme together after being told his services were no longer required at Caterham.
“Their (Caterham’s) decision was taken very late, and I still had a contract running for 2014. So it was difficult to bounce back from that,” he said. “So, yes, it was a surprise.
“On the other hand, I am very happy to have found this solution with Lotus. It was important to find a third driver role that allowed me to drive a lot, and this is the case with Lotus, a super team. I am very happy,” he said.
Pic admitted however that his real ambition is to return to the grid in 2015. “Of course,” he said, “but I think we should do everything in its time. When we approach the end of the summer, that will be the time to start looking around for 2015.”
US track boss says Ecclestone ‘foolish’ (GMM)
An American motor racing personality has accused F1’s Bernie Ecclestone of being repeatedly “foolish“.
Eddie Gossage, the president of the Texas Motor Speedway, has blasted the F1 chief executive for scheduling this year’s US grand prix on the same November date as the major Nascar sprint cup race in the same state.
“I absolutely think it’s foolish,” Gossage is quoted by AP news agency. “I can’t say I was surprised because Bernie Ecclestone does a lot of foolish things,” he said.
“It’s just not smart,” said Gossage. “There’s 52 weeks in the year. But that was the only weekend that formula one could make it work in Austin? Give me a break.”
TJ13 comment: This is a re-run of the same old tosh spewing from Gossage’s mouth in the inaugural year of the Austin GP. Last year the clash didn’t occur, though F1 did clash with a Saturday big football match in Austin with a crowd of over 50,000.
Formula 1’s business model developed by Mr. E doesn’t need fans to turn up to races, Bahrain is going strong and is usually watched by a nomad, his camels and goat. In fact with the cancellation of FanVision, Mrs E appeared to be actively dissuading all but local nationality fans to attend an F1 event.
NASAR’s model is stack em high and sell em cheap. It is crucial enough people turn up.
It may be Mr. Gossage just likes the sound of his own voice in the media, yet this rhetoric smacks of concern for his own sport – a kind of “get off my patch”. This response is only required if one feels under threat.
Further, the NASCAR race calendar has about a gazzilion races each year, so finding a weekend where saloon cars are not bashing their competitors off track and drivers punching the living daylights out of each other – is fairly tricky.
Maybe Mr. E’s obsession with exclusivity is over the top, but equally NASCAR has dropped its pants in the other direction for commercial reasons. Finding some NASCAR on TV or a race to attend is like choosing a flavour of chips (crisps) in a supermarket which only sells chips.
Lotus hopes Renault can power winning car (GMM)
Lotus is pinning its high hopes for 2014 on trouble engine supplier Renault.
Technical boss Nick Chester is confident the Enstone team has produced a winning car, with respected Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt agreeing the double-tusked E22 is the most “courageous” in the field.
“The wind tunnel numbers are incredible,” Chester is quoted by the German magazine. Our measurements at the test in Bahrain have confirmed that we have a really fast car.”
He said Lotus’ biggest concern is that Renault might be unable to resolve its obvious technical crisis with the new French-made V6 ‘power unit’. “It would be a pity,” said Chester, “if the engine is what determines the order on the track.”
The most noticeable innovation aboard the E22 is the asymmetrical, tuning fork-style double-tusk nose, which has attracted envious glances up and down pitlane. Chester said: “The other teams could copy it, but that alone won’t help them much. If they want to take advantage of the (double) nose then they’d also have to change the rear of the car. And that would take them a lot of time,” he warned.
“Some engineers left us last year taking the knowledge of the benefits (of the nose) to our competitors, but I imagine they had difficulty passing the crash tests,” said Chester.
Frijns making his mark
Robert Frijns for some is like marmite – you love him or you hate him. Dutch readers on this site appear to get rather hysterical whenever young Robin get’s a mention – with comments like FRIJNS FRIJNS FRIJNS!!!
Of course he goes down in aspiring F1 driver folklore for turning down Red Bull’s invitation to join their programme and forge his own path. One of Frijns national publications suggested Robin had accused Red Bull of treating young drivers like dogs – this was later refuted.
Yet, Frijns told Herr Marko where to get off and that takes balls.
With Estaban Gutierrez looking like a lost lamb on the grid early 2013, it appeared Frijns may get his F1 drive sooner rather than later. Then the team ran into financial difficulties and released their Dutch reserve driver.
Again Frijns was very close to making his F1 debut in 2014. Tony Fernandes admitted, “Robin is the most exciting young driver,” adding, “We think he has a huge future ahead and we hope we have a long relationship with him.
There was a lot of debate about bringing him in straight away, and we erred a little bit on the side of caution. We thought we would be a little bit conservative in giving him time to get used to F1 and all the other changes.”
ESPN put this young driver’s pedigree into perspective. “Having previously dominated championship after championship – Frijns estimates he’s won around 300 trophies since he first started karting as a child.”
Robin was awarded the Caterham drive for the first day of the Bahrain test I. Much to the relief of Renault, he was their most productive driver by far, completing 68 laps and providing Viry-Chatillon’s with ream upon ream of data – unlike their other customers.
Today Timo Gans, the young Dutchman’s manager confirms, fans of Frijns will not be seeing him test in Bahrain II 2014. “Unfortunately, @RFrijns will not be driving at T03 in Bahrain this week, But no reason to be sad – quite the contrary. He’s had 2 outings already as a test driver without money. This is unique now in F1, it probably didn’t happen in the last 3 years.
[This} shows the great truct @CaterhamF1 have in him, which is much appreciated. Wecouldn’t be happier than where we are.”
If you’re on twitter why not follow @rfrijns. TJ13 is trying to help boost this exciting young F1 prospect from the 12,200 followers he has, ahead of TJ13’s own 12,500 😉
Renault already cap in hand to the FIA (From Adam McDonald)
When a friend or associate puts you in a difficult position in life, it can lead to difficult decisions becoming necessary. Should you deny a request of that associate, they may resent you and in turn the event may come back to haunt you later.
Conversely, should you grant their wishes despite reservations, then others could question your intentions and whether you have a vested interest. If you have a history of making a favourable decisions despite them breaching a line of acceptability, then the matter becomes highly polemic.
A TJ13 source has informed us of a certain French manufacturer that is having problems with their powertrain have requested an extension of the veto placed on the engine development freeze starting midnight this Saturday morning. With a history of acceding to such a request, the FIA are indeed caught between a rock and hard place.
Having lived through a period of Renault dominance during the V8 era of F1, many would be happy to see a change in pecking order and different regular feature on the top step of the podium. However, seeing the mighty fall to such depths as not even being able to consistently finish Grand Prix is not something anyone will cherish – even if only for the good of the sport. It is unthinkable that the Renault teams will be forced to trail far behind the rest of the field until 2020, when the proposed engine freeze expires.
The 1st March is the date set for engine homologation, which would not allow Renault to correct the deficiencies their powertrain is currently experiencing. TJ13 has reported that it is problems with specific components causing the issues we have witnessed in Jerez and Bahrain; which we still believe to be the case.
Unsurprisingly, Renault and their customers have been on message that the problems are with the whole powertrain because then any development extension granted would allow them greater latitude. Were Renault to merely declare they had specific component problems, they would be restricted re-working them alone.
A danger of accusations
Jean Todt has been keen to give the impression, the FIA under his governance can in no way be described as the ‘Ferrari International Assistance’ organisation. The governing body of world motorsport must tread carefully on this controversial issue which could shape the sport for years to come.
Furthermore, Jean Todt finds himself in a perplexing position because should Renault be granted undue latitude, this would bring accusations of French favouritism.
The 2014 regulations define the freeze periods, with certain parts of the engine locked from 2014, 8% of the power unit frozen by 2015, 23% by 2016, 35% by 2018 and 95% by 2019.
The now dearly departed McLaren boss, Martin Whitmarsh said back in October, “I think one of the concerns for the sport is that it becomes a powertrain race. We are mindful of the fact that we currently have three and will shortly have four auto manufacturers.” With hindsight, sage words indeed, as the Mercedes teams would appear to have a great advantage.
He continued, “If one of those manufacturers doesn’t do a good enough job at the start of next year, and doesn’t have the scope by which they can become competitive, then there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be in Formula One for very long, which wouldn’t be good for the sport.”
To deny Renault the chance to have some kind of relatively competitive and reliable engine could see Formula One lose another manufacturer. Conversely, allowing Renault to continue to develop and re-design significant aspects of the powertrain would seem sensible, even if only to maintain their interest in the sport.
Now then… rules are rules
Renault, aided by Horner and Newey, have managed over the past years to sail close to the wind if not circumnavigate certain regulations pertaining to engine mapping. Yet during 2013, Newey repeatedly asserted that he did not believe in the spirit of the rules – only the black and white of the rulebook.
It would appear the rule book forbids Renault further development time beyond the next few days. Further, it would be clearly wrong to allow the French engineers to continue their engine development such that they can outperform Mercedes and Ferrari.
Any leniency on the 1st March deadline will inevitably be protested by Mercedes and Ferrari, and rightly so. However, as outlined above – for the sake of the sport – Renault teams must at least be able to complete races on a consistent basis or people will question the point of them bothering to turn up.
As with the Pirelli 2013 tyres, TJ13 has learned the Renault camp are arguing for latitude based upon safety. Images of drivers such as JEV carefully launching himself from his broken down machine conjure up all kinds of frightening thoughts about electrocution, and surely Jean will not withstand the pressure.
Past lessons not learned
One has to wonder whether the FIA has been too keen to seal off the engine homologation too early. Lessons have not been learnt from years previously, when in 2006 teams agreed to homologate the engines from the 2007 Japanese GP onward. Renault’s power deficit then forced a reversal of this decision and ultimately allowed Renault to perform incremental development of their motor.
The original homologation of the V8 engines had been planned for 2008, but the FIA tried to bring it forward in an effort to reduce spending. 2015 would surely have been the sensible call for this change in regulation allowing 2014 to be the year for technological innovation beyond belief.
Honda in effect have free licence to develop as they please until 2015 when they officially return to the sport. Indeed TJ13’s man on the ground in Woking believes there has been a fivefold increase in planning applications for restaurants offering sushi. It is inevitable that Honda will learn from the mistakes of others before they even hit the circuit in 2015 winter testing.
Even the pro’s missed this one coming
James Allen recently stated, “If one manufacturer has a clear advantage over others, they will be able to enjoy that for a while but discussions will inevitably ensue to allow some retuning, as happened when F1 switched to V8s after 2006.”
James is not usually known to be a master of the understatement…. “Re-tuning”…. Big Lols. Citing this as THE issue facing Renault post homologation, now seems a particularly ironic notion.
The logical decision is to level the playing field and when the RB10 takes to the track in less than 2 days, the Newey tight rear end will tell a tale.
If this has little modification, it suggests Red Bull and Renault expect the French manufacturer to be allowed to develop away its problems. A significant re-design would suggest Newey will have to accommodate his packaging to allow further cooling to the troublesome engine.
Given the fantastic aero performance the Milton Keynes outfit enjoyed last year, if the FIA give Renault dispensation to modify their engine design carte blanch and not restrict it to specific faulty components, we could soon see Red Bull once again becoming a force to be reckoned with.
A scary thought for fans and rival teams alike, yet the bookies still believe in the dream from Milton Keynes.
New teams for 2015
Not only is Friday the date set for the homologation of the V6 turbo engines, the FIA is set to announce the new entrants to Formula 1 for 2015.
The minute I heard of the truncated process the FIA established for new applicants to the sport, I penned this smacked of a team well on the way to be ‘good to go’.
NASCAR race team boss, Gene Haas and technical director Günther Steiner, have been in Europe this week, specifically in meetings with the FIA to explain his business plan for an F1 team. They have also visited Maranello to discuss arrangements for the powertrain for their 2015 F1 car.
Haas is now expected to be given the green light to compete in F1 next year, with a chassis designed by Dellara and a Ferrari engine. The last Formula 1 race car from Dallara was run by the now defunct HRT team.
The big question is how closely associated will the venture be to the expertise in Maranello. Ill Padrino has been irked for some time by the fact that Red Bull have two teams, even though the regulations forbid them to use certain common components.
With the topic of teams running a 3rd car and the associated issue of customer teams continually on the agenda, you can see why Ferrari would want to be good to go and enhance the stable of the prancing horse.
Then again, maybe Haas is just crazy and believes a start up F1 team under his tutelage can do a better job than Caterham and Marussia and be on the pace in just a couple of years.
Tony Fernandes has realised the negative value on his brand of trailing around at the back of an F1 pack and the existence of the team from Leafield is under threat should they fail to progress more quickly towards the midfield during 2014. A challenge made more difficult by their choice of engine partner at present.
Just 4 cars for McLaren this year
Funny how the longer you watch F1 the more you see of the same. TJ13 has been critical of ‘Crashtor’ for a number of reasons, but primarily for using his high specification prototype racing car as a weapon to beat Lewis Hamilton.
Yet long before Crashtor and Grow-up-Jean were even a twinkle in the eyes of their parents, there were others who regularly displayed similar skills.
In 1981, whilst driving for McLaren, “Andre de Crasheris” had some 21 accidents in what was then a 15 round series. Technology was not what it is now and so the teams each year built a small army of cars though not just to replace the handiwork of Kamikaze drivers.
In the days when testing was unlimited, you could have 2 cars and a T-car being sent to race in Imola, another tyre testing in Barcelona and a fifth car performing aero work at Paul Ricard. It was not uncommon for teams to build 8 tubs a year.
McLaren in fact built 11 MP4-6 chassis in 1991, the most ever for them in a single season.
This year, technology means they intend to create just 4.
Chassis one tested in Jerez and following a refurb will become a race car in Melbourne together with untried chassis number 4.
Chasis number 3 has been used in Bahrain and will be so again this week. It will arrive in Melbourne 5 days later than the race cars and sit as a stripped down tub in the rear of the garage as a spare.
Chassis 2, is not scheduled for track action until a test following the Bahrain GP weekend.
Who, where and what car?
The Elephant not in the room
It’s been a busy time for F1 fans this pre-season with plenty to discuss, yet one topic has been conspicuous by its absence particularly in contrast to 2013.
The teams in Jerez were more interested in shaking down their systems, and making sure vital parts were functioning – or not as was the case for those we shall not mention.
Bahrain test 1, was a continuation of this though some teams began their tyre analysis as confirmed by Paul Hembery of Pirelli. “We saw more work on tyres at the recent Bahrain test than there had been at the very first test in Jerez, and with teams likely to be attempting more qualifying and race simulations this week in preparation for the opening grand prix, we would expect this upward curve of tyre work to continue over the final four days in Bahrain.”
Following the horrors of 2013, Pirelli had threatened to build bullet proof tyres for his season, though this kind of over-reaction has not been seen from the testing so far. Hembery explains, “It’s still early days, but so far we’ve seen both performance and durability from our latest P Zero tyres, which all feature new compounds and structures to maximise the unique power characteristics of the latest-generation cars. The contact patch is greater, to help put down the extra torque, and the working ranges are wider to reduce degradation”.
There was an air of panic expressed by some following the Jerez test which saw cars way off the pace they had delivered down in Southern Spain in 2013. It was expected that lap times this year would be some 4 seconds slower than in 2013, however, the certain teams appear to have already made that projection look farcical.
“As the lap times in Bahrain have shown, we’re already very close to 2013 levels of performance, despite much smaller capacity engines and a completely fresh set of technical challenges,” Hembery concludes.
The drivers appear to have mixed feelings over this year’s Pirelli rubber.
Adrian Sutil is positive. “They are reacting a lot better and more consistently than they were last season. There’s not such a drop in performance, or at least what I can see at the moment. All the laps you do are closer together but they are really hard, construction is of course stiffer than last year, so the tyre is holding on better. The most important thing is the tyre is consistent because losing three or four seconds a lap last season just because of the tyres too much.”
Nico Rosberg, however, believes by improving the degradation factor of this year’s construction is having an adverse effect on grip.
“There’s less downforce so you are working the tyres a lot less, so here [in Bahrain] for instance often you are struggling to make the tyres work,” he said. “Getting enough temperature in the tyres will be the issue, whereas last year mainly always [the problem] was overheating the tyres. So it’s an ongoing process and we need to know all the tools that there are to influence the tyres and use them according to the conditions.”
In stark contrast, Nico Hulkenberg believes degradation will still be a major issue at some of the hotter circuits because of the increase in torque.
“They are pretty tricky to handle [in Bahrain] in terms of degradation,” he said. “It’s very easy to have rear degradation, especially with the torquey engines, very easy to spin up the rears and thermally degrade them so I can see that being a bit of a challenge for sure.”
Something fans and drivers alike will be glad of is that the new tyres are leaving far less marbles on the track and therefore not restricting the width of the line of grip. This should improve overtaking opportunities on circuits where the marbles had previously created problems for cars passing off line.
TJ13 F1 calendar
After I had a spat in the comments section with some gargantuan water based monster, wallowing in mud, the idea of Webuary was born. Some of you are suggesting we attempt to keep the calendar going, and to be fair the USHER is a lazy git and needs something to keep him entertained as he doodles in his ledger.
So Whitmarch is so far the favourite for next month. If you have any ideas for Whitmarch please send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org and the USHER will discuss them with you. Alternatively you can send them to email@example.com and I will forward them on.
We will give you credit for your contributions of course….
Now then… April….. A-.. er…..Mmm…