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Photos from Melbourne Updated
11:11 12:46 GMT
The month of March
The 1982 March 821 was to be the last March F1 entry until 1987. The team had acquired tobacco sponsorship with Rothmans for the season but it arrived too late for designer Robin Herd and chief engineer Adrian Newey to develop the car properly. The drivers throughout the year would be Jochen Mass, Raul Boesel, Rupert Keegan and Emilio De Villota. Powered by a Ford Cosworth DFV engine it never troubled the leading teams for points finishes and perhaps its most tragic contribution to the season was when Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari launched off the rear wheel of Mass’s car at Zolder in May that year.
In a bitter twist of fate, when Rothmans returned as sponsor of the 1994 Williams team, another driver was fatally injured – Ayrton Senna.
Free practice 1 & 2
Fernando Alonso managed to go fastest in FP1 this morning in Melbourne with a time of 1m31.840, more than 4.5s slower than last years FP1 best. He was followed by the McLaren of Jenson Button and the two Williams’ of Bottas and Massa.
Hamilton did not manage to complete a timed lap as he stopped on track after one lap which was put down to an oil pressure alarm causing the precautionary engine shutdown. The team were unable to override the auto-shutdown which caused immense frustration for all involved.
He did make amends in FP2 though when he went fastest with a 1m29.625. He was followed by teammate Rosberg in 1m29.782 and Alonso in 1m30.132. The world champions were not too far behind with Vettel managing a 1m30.381.
In the long runs later in FP2 we saw the Red Bull divers install some faith in their 2014 package with a solid, if not spectacular showing. Averaging half a second off the Mercedes’ of Rosberg and Hamilton, there will be little doubt in Milton Keynes that there is still work to be done there.
In a classic showing of Red Bull interpretation of the rules, the ingenious placement of the camera saw it mounted inside the nose cone minimising the aerodynamic loss. Furthermore, the SKYF1 commentators mentioned the high downforce levels of the RBs, which given the rain tomorrow could play into their hands. What a difference 2 weeks can make!
Button dragged his McLaren into the top 5 with 1:30.510 and Daniel Ricciardo finished 6th in 1m30.538. Raikkonen finished 7th in 1m30.898 with Bottas, Magnussen and Hulkenberg rounding out the top 10. A fairly low-key for day for Sauber saw them complete laps without a great deal of media attention.
The worst day of all was felt by Team Caterham. Managing few laps of little importance in FP1 and then writing off FP2 before it had even begun showed the dire straits they find themselves in. Lotus were also in a rut, with SKYF1’s David Croft saying this weekend will be no more than a practice session for them. No regrets Pastor?
Photos from Melbourne
We have received more photos from Melbourne this morning. One of our men “on the ground” got some cracking shots of the Mercedes underbody.
Now updated with more photos from FP1 & FP2 including some V8 racing cars.
Ferrari warns FIA about team ‘trickery’ in 2014 GMM
Ferrari has warned F1’s governing body to be ready to pounce on cheating as the revolutionary V6 era begins in 2014.
In an open letter, team president Luca di Montezemolo said the vastly different rules has opened up “some grey areas” in the subject of “fuel, software” and “consumption“. “In these I am fully expecting the FIA to be vigilant – as I’m sure they will be to avoid any trickery, which has also taken place in the recent past but must not happen anymore for the good of this sport,” he wrote.
Interestingly, Ferrari has been at the centre of one of the first technical controversies of the season. Engine rivals Mercedes and Renault are unhappy that the Maranello marque entered 2014 without a safety shield to cover its new turbo unit in the event of a dangerous failure.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports that Ferrari successfully argued to the FIA that its turbo is safe enough to be used without a heavy cover, but Mercedes and Renault continued to resist. So “Ferrari is apparently voluntarily designing a protective casing,” the magazine reported from Melbourne, “but there will be a few races delay before it is ready.”
TJ13 reporter Adam Macdonald has always been keen follower of the trials and tribulations of Max Chilton. Ever the optimist he said that Chilton was just lulling everybody into a false sense of security, after finishing 15 seconds off the pace in FP1, before charging back up the timesheets.
If the phrase start as you mean to go on rings true, the omens are not good for the man from Reigate, Surrey. Still, it could be worse – the green team are struggling to even leave the pit lane at the moment.
Pirelli denies new approach to avoid criticism (GMM)
Pirelli has denied it decided to ‘go conservative’ for 2014 after the tyre-exploding criticism of last season.
After 2013, when the quality and degradation of the tyres were regular paddock buzzwords, the Italian marque has had a low-profile start to F1’s new era with reportedly a better and more durable product.Even the compound choice for Melbourne, where usually the very softest tyres can be used, has raised some eyebrows, but boss Paul Hembery denied Pirelli has gone conservative simply to quieten the damaging criticism of 2013.
“No,” he insisted. “We did not take our decisions out of fear of criticism,” the Briton told German-language Spox. “It was just logical, because even now no one really knows how the cars with the new engines, the higher weight and less fuel will react with the tyres.”
As for the obviously more conservative tyre choice in Melbourne, Hembery explained: “It is true that the choice appears cautious. But it is so the teams can focus on their programmes rather than having to work so hard on understanding the tyres.”
Hembery said the criticisms of 2013, particularly those made by world champions Red Bull, have not affected Pirelli’s paddock relationships. “Last year is over,” he insisted. “We learned a lot, made changes. What was expressed in the media is not always what is said behind closed doors,” added Hembery. “So we should let it go and instead look forward to the new season.”
No team orders despite Mercedes dominance (GMM)
The Mercedes drivers’ charge for victory in Melbourne will be unfettered by ‘team orders’.
16 years ago, McLaren enraged the spectators at Albert Park, having arrived for the 1998 season opener with its totally dominant car. Now, the similarly-silver Mercedes cars are the class of the early 2014 field, but Nico Rosberg insists there will be no McLaren-style controversy this time.
“Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard had a deal in place in whichever driver got to the opening corner first would be allowed to win the race,” he wrote in a column for the Daily Mail newspaper. So when Hakkinen ran into mid-race trouble, Coulthard pulled over on the straight to let him back into the lead. “I wouldn’t like that,” German Rosberg added, “and I don’t think the team would either, so we are going to try and avoid such measures.”
Team chairman Niki Lauda agrees that Rosberg and his teammate Lewis Hamilton will be free to race throughout the 2014 championship. “They can race against each other and collect as many points as possible for the team,” he told Germany’s Sport1.
There have already been some signs of strain between the silver-clad duo, but Briton Hamilton insists he and Rosberg will cope with a heightened rivalry in 2014. “Nico and I have known each other since we were 13,” he is quoted in Melbourne by the Mirror. “We’ve raced and won and lost championships together. We will remain professional,” he insisted.
Brake by Wire explained by Brembo
As the new era of F1 dawns lot has been said by the Brake by Wire (BbW) systems, an important part of the new Formula 1. While TJ13 contributor Lorenzo speculated that it will only be a short while before engineers start exploiting the BbW for more than just braking.
Brembo will be supplying 7 of the 11 teams in this year’s Formula 1 championship. This includes the current World Champions Red Bull Racing as well as arguably their biggest challengers for the title this year in Mercedes and Ferrari.
For 2014, a greater proportion of braking force will be transferred to the front axle with the maximum brake torque ideally decreasing due to the reduction of downforce and speed of the cars. Stopping distance, on the contrary, will be greater and, consequently, time spent under braking increasing. Those TJ13 readers who watched FP1 and FP2 this morning would have seen the brakes of Hamilton’s Mercedes give off a great amount of smoke when he came into the pits.
It also appears that Raikkonen were having trouble with finding confidence in his breaks as he braked much earlier than his teammate Alonso and could be seen locking up numerous times. This may have been a balance issue but it is safe to say that the drivers will need to get used to braking at the rear getting done by electronics and it could cause twitchy cars, as seen when KERS was initially introduced.
Rear brake discs can be smaller in diameter compared to last season resulting in less weight and an increased speed of response to pressure. Their thickness are also thinner (25mm), due to the reduction of the energy to dissipate.
Due to the increased drag of the ERS on the car under braking their is greater requirement for electronic control of the rear brake pressure to insure stability. To accomplish this the BbW electronic controller provides the high-pressure hydraulic system with the proper braking force to the rear axle. In case of failure, the master cylinder remains connected to the brake pedal and the hydraulic connection directly to the calipers for the driver to operate, however this only functions when the BbW fails.
The brake material has also changed considerably. The new material CER, an evolution of CCR material, reduces wear, guaranteeing more effective thermal conductivity. Compared to previous material, CER offers excellent warm-up time; that is, maximum rapidity in reaching more efficient operating temperatures; a wide application range in terms of both pressure and temperature, and very smooth friction performance. All these features provide the driver with a perfect modulation of the braking system. The incredibly low wear results in more reliable performance from the start to the end of race. Disc material is the same for all teams supplied by Brembo, who continues to research and develop composite materials that are more manageable.
- 10 sets of calipers (i.e. 4 x 10 components)
- From 140 to 240 discs
- From 280 to 480 pads
Some ten hours of continuous manufacturing activity are required to produce a caliper, although in reality the process is interrupted by other steps including various surface treatments, hand assembly and subsequent testing. Both the materials and the steps of the entire process are always 100% tested.
Red Bull breaths a sigh of relief or is it too soon?
‘7 tenths‘ That term must have been music to the ears inside the Red Bull garage late on Friday, after a disastrous winter for the reigning world champions. As the scale of the crisis became clear, Red Bull threw its vast resources behind struggling engine supplier Renault in the two weeks between the Bahrain test and now.
Friday in Melbourne showed that the RB10 has made a giant step from the back of the grid towards the front, as both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were just 7 tenths off the leading pace in the two 90 minute sessions, and also surprisingly reliable.
“That’s extremely encouraging for our team,” said team boss Christian Horner. Continuing he said, “In many respects this is where we would have ideally liked to have been at our first test. Now we have some ground to make up.”
World champion Vettel, having reportedly thrown a ‘hissy fit’ at one point during the winter, was wiping the figurative sweat from his brow in Australia.
“In a way it’s a relief,” agreed the German in a masterstroke of understatement.
“It was a huge step forward compared to two weeks ago in Bahrain. I have no doubts we will eventually be at the top — the only question is how long it takes,” Vettel added.
Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko raised hopes even higher when he said the RB10 is not even being run at its full potential in Melbourne. “We are not yet at the point where we can use the full performance of the power unit,” he said.
Renault chief Rob White told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport: “We are not yet where we want to be, but we’ve made a good step.” Marko said Red Bull has been helping Renault to improve the troublesome engine software. “We have been working in shifts and are now reaping the first fruits,” he revealed.
Horner said: “I think we are faster than Mercedes in the corners.” Vettel explained: “I can now use full power when accelerating. There is still a power dip, but not nearly as bad as at the tests.”
Daniel Ricciardo agreed that the team can be “very, very happy with what we did” on the opening day at Albert Park. “We were probably expecting to be a bit further off the pace — there’s not too many guys in front of us for now,” he grinned.
Ricciardo’s predecessor Mark Webber is trackside this weekend, but he has been warning consistently throughout the winter that his highly successful former team will ultimately get back on track. AAP news agency quoted him saying on Friday: “It would be a very brave man to underestimate Red Bull.”
Bottas prefers Massa over ex-teammate Maldonado (GMM)
Valtteri Bottas says he is enjoying working with his new teammate Felipe Massa. Last year, the Finn made his debut with Williams alongside the often bad-tempered Pastor Maldonado, who has now switched to Lotus.
Venezuelan Maldonado left Williams with his PDVSA millions in a highly-critical mood, but Williams is now regarded as a 2014 title dark horse while Lotus is struggling merely to run its E22. “From an aerodynamic point of view,” Maldonado said in Melbourne, “the (Williams) car is very similar to what we had last year. It’s the (Mercedes) engine making the difference at the moment.”
Maldonado insists he has no regrets about joining Lotus just as the respective teams’ fortunes switched so dramatically, and continuing Williams driver Bottas indicated he too is happy with the move.
“I believe this season is an opportunity for me to learn from a team guy a little bit more than last year,” Bottas, 24, is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3. “This year the team has a more experienced guy (Massa) and he is quite different (to Maldonado) — a little more open and more willing to be more of a team player and to provide more information,” added Bottas.
He said the sort of openness being shown by Massa is what a team needs. “I think if you are sharing information in the team meetings and both trying to contribute to the team’s performance and providing the best possible feedback – it always helps, of course,” said Bottas.
After a particularly bad 2013, Williams is emerging as a surprise force in 2014, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton even nominating the Grove team as his pick for the title.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, however, said he doesn’t believe Red Bull can be written off, despite the perception the reigning world champions are struggling with the new Renault ‘power unit’. “In the past we saw it many times before,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “Red Bull were behind but in the end their car was usually the fastest of all. I think in two races they can be back at the top,” Spaniard Alonso added.
Hamilton and Rosberg relationship starting to implode?
Emerging from inside Mercedes is the news of tension between their two drivers. Despite their long-standing friendship, since childhood, it appears sitting in title winning equipment is putting strain on their relationship.
Reports from the German media suggests Rosberg has a greater grasp of the new 2014 technical regulations than Hamilton. In his time at Williams, Rosberg continuously scored the highest marks with his engineering feedback in tests – a particular nugget that members of the press have been quick to offer to Hamilton.
Spending less time with engineers than his German team-mate Hamilton has been forced to defend himself recently saying, “Nico often spends much more time with the engineers than I do, but we come to the same findings in the end. It’s a strange perception that one driver (Rosberg) is massively technical and another is not”. Continuing he says his 2008 championship was not “sheer luck”.
It appears Rosberg, remember, friends since childhood, has not been impressed by Hamilton’s remarks about getting more done in the same time. Although both live in Monaco and despite having been friends for years Hamilton has not been invited to Rosberg’s upcoming wedding.
This also happened over thirty years ago between two team-mates. They were both considered favourites for the championship and supposedly good friends. Villeneuve found out later that Pironi had got married before the Imola race and that Ferrari’s team manager – Marco Piccinini was his best man. This is not to suggest history repeating itself but factions within the team can be destabilising in times of battle.
Has Ross Brawn’s departure brought about a significant rebalancing of the team and is Hamilton starting to feel the strain in the German team?
Renault giving teams full power in Melbourne (GMM)
The French marque is still grappling to solve the serious problems encountered during the winter test sessions, where the new Viry-made turbo V6s were ‘turned down’.
“We did not have the necessary experience with well-functioning software,” said Renault’s Remi Taffin, “so we had to be careful, limiting the engine power. “But now I’m not worried about it,” he is quoted in Melbourne by Russia’s f1news.ru.
“We have done a huge amount of work, we feel a lot more confident here and our customers will be able to use the engine to maximum capacity,” added Taffin. “Progress has been made, but we will not rest until we are winning races again.”
Lotus promote from within for new team boss (GMM)
Lotus’ new team boss is Federico Gastaldi.
It had been reported that Citroen rally chief Olivier Quesnel, or perhaps even ousted McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, would be drafted in to fill the hole left by Eric Boullier’s departure. But the Enstone team announced on Friday that Argentinean Gastaldi has in fact secured the job, with his role officially ‘deputy team principal’.
Team owner Genii’s Gerard Lopez is still the chairman and, at least nominally, the team principal.
Gastaldi has been promoted from within, having served until now as director of business development, but his history dates all the way back to the Benetton days. “Federico was instrumental in nurturing our relationship with PDVSA and he continues to be a vital link for us with Venezuela,” said Lopez.“As a figurehead, no one better embodies the Lotus team spirit.”