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The precursor to GP2 was known as International Formula 3000. This category was originally run in 1985 as a replacement for the expensive Formula Two championship. It’s third champion was the enigmatic Stefano Modena seen here driving his Onyx Marlboro March 87B-Cosworth to victory at the 1987 Birmingham Superprix meeting. His victory here formed part of his successful campaign which culminated in his being crowned the 1987 F3000 champion.
Alonso ‘very happy’ to share Ferrari with Raikkonen (GMM)
Fernando Alonso insists he is “very happy” to have a “strong opponent” to fight against at Ferrari this year.
Some believe the Spaniard cannot possibly have supported the team’s decision to replace the subordinate Felipe Massa with the former Ferrari champion Kimi Raikkonen. But Alonso insists Massa was no pushover. “Sometimes he was even faster than Michael Schumacher when they were together,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “But my four years were fantastic with Felipe, so I expect nothing other than my coming years with Kimi to be fantastic too.”
Finn Raikkonen had a poor race return with Ferrari in Australia, but Alonso tipped him to get up to speed quickly. “He’s very, very fast, perhaps the fastest of us all, or at least he is considered as such by some,” he said. “Last year, he battled for the title with a Lotus, an achievement I rate highly because I do not think Lotus are so strong,” Alonso added. “I have a very strong opponent in the team and I am very happy about that, whether you believe me or not.”
He said all the recent speculation about their relationship was “understandable”, given the new season and a “winter in which nothing much happens”. “This has become a routine for me, especially since I’ve been with Ferrari, because it was also said it would be very difficult for me with Felipe,” said Alonso.
Aussie GP furious with F1’s purring engines (GMM)
Organisers of the Australian grand prix are furious with F1’s new low volume. Even some of the sport’s stalwarts were alarmed in Melbourne when the 22 cars purred towards the first corner in Melbourne on Sunday.
“At first I said ‘Just take out your earplugs, it’s the same as before,” triple world champion Lauda told the German broadcaster RTL. “But I have to honestly say I was slightly disappointed today on television, especially at the start. Simply something was missing,” he added. “Before, it (the sound) was right down to the marrow. We need to get used to it but it has lost some of its attraction,” said Lauda.
World champion Sebastian Vettel said driving in Melbourne felt more like being at the wheel of “a vacuum cleaner than a racing car”.
F1’s most experienced active driver Jenson Button is also worried, especially after a V8-equipped demonstration car did laps at Albert Park at the weekend. “Oh my god I miss that,” he said. “It sounded amazing. Those were great years for the sound of the engine, but that is no more.”
Most in the F1 paddock are disappointed, but Australian Grand Prix corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott has revealed he is actually angry. “We pay for a product, we’ve got contracts in place, we are looking at those very, very seriously because we reckon there has probably been some breaches,” he told Fairfax Radio on Monday.
But Lauda, who is dominant Mercedes’ F1 chairman, said it would be wrong to tinker with the engine rules just because the sport is now quieter.
“Everyone wants to do something about it, but you can’t just change the exhaust pipe, you’d have to redevelop the whole engine and the mapping,” he said. “That’s just way too expensive. Please do not change the engines just to make a bit more noise,” he exclaimed.
Rivals face struggle to catch Mercedes (GMM)
Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification aside, the Red Bull ‘crisis’ appeared far less severe in Melbourne than it did over the winter. Together with struggling engine supplier Renault, the reigning world champions have made a big step forward with the RB10, but boss Christian Horner warned that there is still a mountain to climb.
“We have one second per lap to catch up,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, after Ricciardo finished behind Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg on Sunday. But Horner agreed that Red Bull has finally emerged from the dark and now has a base to build upon for the remaining 18 races of the season. “Our season began here in Australia,” he is quoted by Italy’s La Stampa. “We basically skipped winter testing.”
That winter season showed that the expected favourite, Mercedes, is currently on track for the 2014 title. “We knew they would be in front when we got here,” Williams’ Felipe Massa is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace. “But the race also showed a strong Red Bull. When they solve their problems with the engine, they will have a car to fight with. McLaren showed that they have a good car too, but the race also showed that we have a car to be fighting with them,” added Massa, who was punted into retirement by Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi at the first corner.
Winner Rosberg, however, tipped Mercedes to only get stronger from now, revealing the Brackley team will use the two weeks before Malaysia to make the W05 “even faster and more reliable”. Niki Lauda said the German drove “like a god” in Melbourne, while the Welt newspaper said “Rosberg is the new Vettel”.
World champion Vettel’s Red Bull failed in Melbourne, and the team’s Dr Helmut Marko pointed a clear finger of blame at Renault. “They have underestimated some of the problems (in preparing for the 2014 rules),” he said, “and also not correctly calculated the necessary time frame”. Marko said he hopes the problems are all solved by “the summer”, when Red Bull wants “to be close to Mercedes”.
Indeed, Mercedes’ Lauda said the German squad cannot relax in the face of Red Bull’s problems, saying the RB10 is clearly already “really fast. That is why we need to develop our car quickly, so that what happened last year does not happen again,” he told German television RTL, referring to how Red Bull recovered an early-season dip to utterly dominate in 2013. Lauda said “thank god” when contemplating that Renault is still grappling with its turbo V6.
Also struggling to face up to Mercedes’ current dominance is Ferrari, after Fernando Alonso finished just fifth on the road on Sunday. “I would have liked to be closer to the podium,” the Spaniard is quoted by El Confidencial, “but it was impossible. With the Mercedes engines … it was almost like another category,” said Alonso. “I was behind a Force India and it was impossible to overtake. Before the race, I could sense that we were behind Mercedes, but maybe not so far,” he added.
Red Bull confident of winning fuel flow appeal (GMM)
Former F1 team owner and boss Paul Stoddart has tipped Red Bull to win its appeal against Daniel Ricciardo’s Melbourne disqualification.
In a complex ruling, Ricciardo’s car was excluded after the team rejected the accuracy of an FIA sensor and relied on its own measurements to comply with the rule governing the maximum allowed flow of fuel into the engine. “We wouldn’t be appealing if we weren’t extremely confident we have a defendable case,” said team boss Horner.
Stoddart, who sold his Minardi team to Toro Rosso owners Red Bull in 2005, tipped Red Bull to prove to the FIA that it didn’t cheat. “The Renault engineers would’ve known exactly how much fuel was going into that engine,” the Australian told Melbourne radio 3AW on Monday. “We’re talking teams with budgets of $400, $500 million here — they have far better equipment than the FIA.” The correspondent for the London newspaper The Times, Kevin Eason, wrote: “In the other corner (to Red Bull) is the FIA, essentially an amateur organisation with a budget a fraction of the F1 teams.”
Stoddart tipped Red Bull to be able to prove that Ricciardo “did not gain any advantage” and that it decided to ignore the FIA because it was the “right” thing to do in the circumstances. Horner explained: “We could see a significant discrepancy with what the sensor was reading and what our fuel flow was stated as. These (FIA) fuel flow sensors have proved problematic. So we relied on our own data, because otherwise we would have lost a lot of engine power,” he is quoted by Speed Week.
The FIA’s Charlie Whiting, however, said he advised Red Bull repeatedly throughout the race weekend to “take the necessary steps” to comply with the rules. “If they had followed the advice we gave them at the time, we would not have had a problem and they would not have been penalised,” he said. “If their sensor was kaput, then things would have been different,” Whiting added. “It is a human thing because they have the ability to do what was needed to comply.”
Red Bull’s case is further weakened by the words of Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell, who said the way the fuel flow is measured is “accurate and reliable”. “All the teams have their own consumption measurements via the injection data,” he is quoted by the German-language Spox. “In the case of irregularities, the FIA will compare its values with those of the team. So we have a safety net.”
Another Red Bull storm in F1
Leopards and spots…. dogs and tricks… Mmm…
Amusingly, I wrote the first section of this article on Thursday – of course under a different working title – but the events of the weekend overtook me. I will indicate the point at which I pick it up again today.
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about absolute fuel usage this weekend, with Melbourne being one of the more fuel hungry tracks. For any F1 follower of more than a passing interest, the message is clear that the cars now have 100kgs of fuel per race, not the previous 150kgs.
Yet for the first time in F1, fuel FLOW – the rate at which fuel is used – is also being capped. The teams will be restricted to a maximum intake of fuel to their engines of 100kg/hour.
In the Autumn of last year, we discovered the fuel flow sensors commissioned to regulate the 2014 cars, were not working properly; this despite some 18 months of design and development.
Then in January, the FIA announced the fuel flow sensors produced by Gill sensors had been homologated and the previous error of +/- 1.5% has been reduced to fall in line with the FIA’s specification.
The fuel flow is monitored by ultrasonic wave pulses and the faster the flow, the more quickly the sensor receives a signal.
In January, Rob White gave us some indication of the impact of this regulation. “The instantaneous fuel consumption will be limited to 100 kilos per hour above 10,500 rpm. Last season there was no limit and typically a 2.4-litre V8 ran about 160 kilos per hour at the end of the straight.”
There is some concern that the sensors are not completely 100% reliable, and Luca di Montezemolo has this to say in an open letter to Ferrari fans on the team’s website. “Such an important set of changes to the regulations is bringing some grey areas, for example fuel, software, consumption,” said Il Padrino. “In these [areas] 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 any more for the good of this sport.”
It has been suggested to TJ13, that the fuel flow rate may in fact be relaxed for 2015, when the exact nature of the racing in F1 with the new V6 turbos becomes more apparent.
If this is the case, the restriction of the rate of fuel flow may have been a measure designed to mitigate against the possibility of one engine manufacturer building an engine that was so superior the championship would become a foregone conclusion after a handful of races.
However, the restriction of fuel and the rate of flow is indeed a game changer for F1. Numerous engineers and drivers have suggested sentiments similar to these from Sutil. “There will be a lot of fuel-saving early in the race,”
This being the case, the importance qualifying and attaining of pole position will diminish, what is certain is that the the radio messages will be dominated by fuel discussions between the driver and the pit wall and deciphering their codes will be a cryptic puzzle for us all to play over the next month or so.
And now I pick it up again…
So what do we know? Firstly, following Il Padrino’s comments in advance of the weekend, fuel flow had already been identified as a ‘gray area’ where there may be trouble ahead. Il Padrino’s sources are clearly as impeccable as always.
Secondly, we were spared excessive fuel saving radio conversations due to the aborted start and laps under the safety car.
On the broader issue of retrospective punishments post the chequered flag, TJ13 has previously engaged directly with the FIA. TJ13 argued it is unnecessary and brings the sport into disrepute.
The farce that ensued following the opening F1 race of the season is exactly the kind of scenario presented to the FIA. It is unacceptable that some 5 hours after the event has finished, the fans and the competitor’s are informed there has been a revision of the final result of the race in Melbourne.
Were this a driver ranked 12th, the impact would have been minimal. Even had the driver concerned been placed in the minor points, again the drama would not be so great.
Yet we have our first Aussie on the podium in Melbourne, he is the new kid on the block at the team which is world champions, it is his first ever F1 podium and he was presented with a second place trophy in front of the entire world.
The stewards were informed that Red Bull were regularly warned during the race to comply with fuel flow rate instructions and they carte blanche refused. Clearly, if Ricciardo was running at a higher flow rate than the others, he gained an unfair advantage and given the distance from him to his McLaren pursuers, he would not have made the podium.
The use of a black flag has all been but dismissed from F1, yet in this scenario, it would have been a better solution for all. However, TJ13 has suggested repeatedly, that Charlie Whiting – whilst a nice bloke – is not the man to be administering the technical and sporting regulations in F1. He is fearful of litigation from the teams and sanction from his employer.
So the decision made during the race was not to ‘pervert’ Red Bull’s opportunity to achieve a finish and a result – and to fight it out later – despite the farcical nature of the post race interviews and punter comments.
Seeing as Charlie recommends the processes and procedures by which the rules are administered, he can find no solace should it later be discovered that the technical delegate can only report any such breaches to the stewards following the chequered flag.
Why Red Bull?
Christian Horner claims in his interviews that faulty fuel sensors have been a problem “up and down the paddock”. It may be that this comment will be the undoing of the usually sure footed individual when it comes to inter-team/FIA politics. The question is now…. why did everyone else comply with the edicts from the FIA – faulty sensors or not- but Red Bull refused?
Mr. H claims he wouldn’t be appealing the decision to disqualify Ricciardo unless he believed he had solid grounds for such action. In substantiation of this, he cites the fact he can prove their car was in fact under the 100kg’hr.
“These fuel flow sensors that have been fitted by the FIA to measure fuel have proved problematic throughout the pit lane, and since their introduction at the start of testing, there have been discrepancies.
“That offset we didn’t feel was correct, and as we got into the race, we could see there was a significant discrepancy between what the sensor was reading and what the fuel flow, which was the actual injection of fuel into the engine, was stated as.
“That’s where there was a difference of opinion. It’s immature technology, and it’s impossible to rely 100 percent on that sensor, which had proved to be problematic in almost every session that we’ve run in.”
Yet the stewards are crystal clear, “That regardless of the team’s assertion that the sensor was fault, it is not within their discretion to run a different fuel flow measurement method without the permission of the FIA. The stewards find that car #3 was out of compliance with the technical regulations and is therefore excluded from the results of the race”.
Open and shut case. The appeal is a nonsense – and there is another agenda here. Newey’s calibrations and calculations will not be accepted in mitigation of the team’s breach of the technical regulations.
Whilst the FIA do not issue technical regulation instructions at each event, they are made more often than people may know. Some of them never reach beyond the team and the technical delegate, though one such public occasion occurred recently where Red Bull were given orders to cover them up holes in the floor of the RB8. This was during the 2012 Canadian GP weekend and they did so without debate or appeal.
The decision to be in breach of instructions issued by the technical delegate was clearly pre-meditated and it begs the question whether there are bigger fish to fry as part of the appeal, than merely one race result.
Were Ade and Chris of the opinion that by making a big fuss over the general topic of fuel sensors they could gain some longer term advantage, they would act without hesitation. Are Red Bull in fact trying to get the sensors kicked out of F1?
This would be logical were the Renault/Red Bull engineers be of the opinion that their engine/car combination would perform relatively better in comparison to the others were a different fuel flow rate or method of measurement be adopted. Throw enough juice at the Renault engine and it could well be up there with the others.
On the other hand this could merely have been Red Bull testing what the technical delegate can see. Knowing that Ricciardo would be nowhere if they complied with the fuel flow instructions, there was nothing to lose. This would then be exactly the kind of ‘trickery’ against which Il Padrino warned.
However, stranger things have happened, but Ferrari could become Red Bull’s bedfellows should Christian seductively remind Il Padrino of the Italian’s recent comments. “I, like all of you, love an extreme Formula 1 where technology and drivers are always on the limit.” – So chuck out the fuel flow regulations.
Short term – the FIA stands firm, Ricciardo is excluded and the black flag is dusted down and ready for Sepang.
Long term – Charlie is sent fishing indefinitely with Ross.
The sensors have to stay. There is no widespread accusation that their inaccuracy is giving one team a significant advantage. Given time to develop, their performance will improve or next year an alternative must be found.
Further, Red Bull should be sanctioned with a 3 race suspended ban for bringing the sport into disrepute and wilful disobedience of the regulations. Under article 1.3.2 “Acquaintance with and Submission to the regulations”, It states, “In a case of non-compliance, any person or group… may have the license which is issued to them withdrawn, and any manufacturer may be excluded from the FIA championships on a temporary or permanent basis.”
We cannot allow the F1 news agenda for the next weeks and months to be set by Red Bull’s ‘trickery’. This happened in 2013 over tyres which were not sympathetic to Newey’s design and nobody can surely bear all the debates about “F1 being broken” AGAIN… and simply because Horner et al don’t like the regulations regarding sensors, double diffusers, tyres or whatever adversely affects their car.
Ferrari just tweeted their opinion on the latest Red Bull F1 storm
Disqualification not unusual for Australia
In 2011 both Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi in their Sauber’s were DQ’d following post race scrutineering where their rear wings were discovered to be illegal. They had finished the race seventh and eighth.
Australia 2009 saw a more controversial DQ. Lewis Hamilton was thrown out of the race when the stewards decided that McLaren and Hamilton had misled them.
Following the race, Jarno Trulli’s third place investigated and the stewards decided that the Italian regained his position overtaking Hamilton during a safety car period, Trulli was penalised 25 seconds, moving him down to 12th place.
Trulli’s explanation of the incident was: “When the safety car came out towards the end of the race Lewis Hamilton passed me but soon after he suddenly slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. I thought he had a problem so I overtook him as there was nothing else I could do.” [Autosport].
Hamilton corroborated this, stating that the McLaren team had told him to let Trulli re-pass. When in front of the stewards, Hamilton contradicted this position denying he had been instructed to allow Trulli though.
Toyota appealed the penalty firstly to the stewards, that appeal was rejected, as time penalties were not subject to appeal during the final 5 laps of a race. [Article 16.3 of the Sporting Regulations].
Toyota then appealed to the clerk of the course, but later retracted this appeal stating that: “Having considered recent judgements of the International Court of Appeal, it is believed any appeal will be rejected.”
Realising their mistake, the FIA re-opened the matter in Malaysia as ‘new evidence’ had come to light. Hamilton continued to insist he had not been instructed to allow Trulli through and was then played and audio of the team radio instruction.
The stewards decided that Hamilton and McLaren had misled them, having contradicted the available evidence. Hamilton was disqualified and McLaren stripped of their constructors’ points. Trulli was re-instated into third place.
McLaren’s Sporting Director, Dave Ryan, was subsequently suspended by the team the day after Hamilton’s disqualification was announced. McLaren were summoned to appear before the FIA on 29 April 2009 to answer charges of breaching the International Sporting Code. At this meeting, McLaren were given a suspended three-race ban, which would only be applied if a similar offence occurred within the next twelve months.
Dave Ryan was sacked by McLaren.
In Melbourne 2008, Rubens Barrichello in his Honda was disqualified after the race for exiting the pitlane whilst the red light was illuminated during a safety car period. He had initially finished sixth.
German fans ‘turned on’ to new F1
RTL is reporting its preliminary audience figures averaged 3.12m. This peaked towards the end of the race at 3.84m – some 250,000 more than in 2013.
Of course, this for many was the first opportunity to see and hear the new cars, yet if Mercedes begin to dominate proceedings, will the TV audiences still stack up.
Mercedes utterly dominant
It’s not just the teams and the FIA who are suffering from dodgy components,. It appears there were problems with the new graphics we were supposed to be seeing from FOM TV.
Even basic lap time information and gaps between drivers appeared to be a struggle from time to time for the broadcaster.
However, the utter dominance of the Mercedes when considering the following is scary.
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso-Renault||0.156||38|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||0.588||49|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||0.732||56|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||0.888||34|
|11||John-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Renault||1.386||35|
|20||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||17.469||2|
Rosberg sets his fastest time on lap 19, when he was circulating about 1.4 seconds quicker than anyone else. It took another 15 laps of fuel burning off for another car to get within 1 second of this time.
Nico built his 24 second winning margin time over the 41 laps following the safety car, yet this could have been over a minute had he maintained his fastest rate of separation between himself and the rest of the field.
For those who are mystified over the effects of a safety car – check this out. Most people think Bottas lost loads of time due to his collision with the wall.
Lap Rosberg Bottas Bottas defecit
9 94.22 95.73 -1.51
10 94.36 156.29 -61.93
11 95.19 122.86 -27.67
12 134.27 118.20 16.07
13 149.95 100.34 49.61
14 141.21 116.98 24.23
15 134.49 126.69 7.8
16 93.98 98.55 -4.57
17 94.04 95.05 -1.01