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A Fuzz about nothing? UPDATE – reader poll added 19:18 GMT
The month of March
After the successful 6-wheel Tyrell, several teams – Williams and Ferrari among them – experimented with six-wheelers. March created the experimental 2-4-0 in late 1976 and tested it in 1977with Jody Sheckter.
Bouillier denies Dennis already interfering (GMM)
Eric Boullier insists McLaren ‘supremo’ Ron Dennis is letting him get on with his new job.
Boullier, previously in charge at Lotus, was drafted in to replace the ousted Martin Whitmarsh after McLaren’s disastrous 2013 season. The Frenchman’s first race in charge was in Melbourne, but lurking nearby was the McLaren supremo Dennis, who has returned to the formula one paddock on a mission to rescue his beloved team that “lost its way” last year.
66-year-old Dennis will not wear a team uniform at the races and, during the pre-season, he insisted “he is not going to be on the pitwall”, according to the Daily Mail. But “What’s the betting he will be (on the pitwall) before the season is over?” said correspondent Jonathan McEvoy.
Indeed, in Melbourne, Dennis was spotted walking to the pitwall, apparently to tell Boullier what to do. “He was not (telling me what to do),” Boullier insisted to the Telegraph. “He came to visit a couple of times.”
Dennis said he is just an observer at the races this year. “I’m a racer, so the thought of not understanding and contributing doesn’t come across my mind,” he said. “When you observe things it’s good to say ‘why not this?’ or ‘why not that?'”
The bigger McLaren-themed story after Melbourne was the surprisingly good debut performance by rookie Kevin Magnussen.
But another F1 rookie, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, also caught the attention of the experts, like triple world champion Niki Lauda. “These guys are, first of all, huge talents,” he said. The old guard is impressed at how the youngsters are arriving on the grid with almost no track testing and performing at the highest level. Lauda says it’s a generational thing. “It’s like my kids, who are four and a half and already better at computer games than me. They are made quite differently than in my day,” he smiled.
Ricciardo hopes to win back Melbourne podium(GMM)
Daniel Ricciardo thinks he has a good chance at winning back his Melbourne podium. Red Bull has vowed to appeal the stewards’ decision to throw out the Australian’s popular home race result due to irregularities with fuel flow into his Renault engine.
Early on Monday, having learned the bad news only at midnight after Sunday’s race, the 24-year-old told the local Herald Sun: “I’m not really in a place … not in the mindset to talk about it right now.”
But after jetting from Melbourne to his native Perth for a few days of training before Malaysia, Ricciardo told the West Australian newspaper that he is confident Red Bull will prevail. “Otherwise they wouldn’t (appeal). It’s a lot of time for them and some money as well so they have confidence that we can turn it around, but it’s going to take a while until we know,” he said.
F1’s other two engine suppliers, however, are siding with the FIA, despite Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insisting all three manufacturers had trouble with the mandatory fuel flow sensor in Australia. But Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali said: “We need to rely on the fact that it is a situation that is well managed by the FIA.” And Mercedes’ Toto Wolff was also quoted by the Guardian newspaper: “The FIA is obviously controlling fuel flow and checking with all the teams, and it is a question of learning by doing it between the FIA and the teams.”
But Ricciardo said he thinks Red Bull has solid grounds to be unhappy with the Melbourne ruling. “They feel that it’s not black or white, it’s a little bit shaded, so that’s why they’re going to fight it and we’ll see how they go,” he said. It could take some time before the FIA schedules the actual appeal hearing.
But Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko thinks the matter needs to be at least clarified urgently. “The device that measures the flow rate has weaknesses,” he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper. “In our opinion we were within the regulations.”This has to be clarified by the next race, because at the moment there is not a reliable measurement,” Marko insisted.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, meanwhile, thinks the entire rule limiting the flow of fuel into the engine should be scrapped. “The whole regulation, to me, seems a bit of a joke,” he told the Mirror. Ecclestone said he thinks the rule limiting each car to just 100 kilograms of fuel per race is enough.
“If you use too much you are going to run out of fuel. It seems to be that simple and if it isn’t, it should be,” he said.
Sauber patient amid slow-moving Russian deal (GMM)
Sauber insists its Russian rescue deal remains on track.
Originally set to feature the teen Sergey Sirotkin on the 2014 grid, talk of the Swiss team’s Russian buy-in has now quietened in the F1 paddock. Asked if the deal is still on track, team boss and co-owner Monisha Kaltenborn insisted: “Yes. We are continuing to move in that direction.” She told the Russian website f1news.ru that “active negotiations” are currently taking place with Russian companies.
“The lesson we have learned in recent months is that when you are dealing with organisations such as this, you have to understand their notions of time. We also need to understand that in these negotiations, sometimes other circumstances that are maybe more important to these companies than formula one will interfere,” Kaltenborn added.
So while an earlier priority was to quickly get Sirotkin a super license and push him onto the grid, Kaltenborn said the 18-year-old is now more focused on the Formula Renault 3.5 series. “At the moment, everything is going according to plan,” she said. “He has a seat with Fortec, I am sure he can get great results, and then we’ll think about the next step.”
A more immediate priority for Sauber is to improve its 2014 car, after the Ferrari-powered machine struggled badly on the straights at Albert Park. Switzerland’s Blick newspaper said the car is significantly overweight and underpowered.
“Last year we managed to turn the corner,” Kaltenborn said, “and we will do it again.”
Ecclestone to push for louder F1 engines (GMM)
Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to get to work on making Formula One loud again. The F1 chief executive said he is “horrified” by the purring tones of the new turbo V6 era, arguing it will drive race promoters and spectators away.
Ecclestone was critical of the new engine formula long before the first 1.6 litre ‘power unit’ was fired up, but his latest comments follow Melbourne race organisers’ claim the low volume may even be a breach of contract.
“It’s not what we paid for. It’s going to change,” Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker told Melbourne’s Age newspaper. Walker said he has spoken to his friend Ecclestone already, while Ecclestone admitted he has been on the phone to FIA president Jean Todt.
“What I’ve said is that we need to see whether there is some way of making them sound like racing cars,” the 83-year-old Briton told the Telegraph. “I don’t know whether it’s possible but we should investigate I think let’s get the first few races out of the way and then maybe look to do something. We can’t wait all season. It could be too late by then,” said Ecclestone.
A Fuzz about nothing?
Having heard the cars on track, the noise was most surprising when watching back the TV footage of the race this weekend. Many fans who attended the Melbourne race have commented on various forums that whilst the noise of the new V6 turbos is different, it was not disappointing. One fan suggested his seat vibrated during the downshift – and was pleased with this unexpected effect.
Jenny Gow told BBC radio 5 live today that there was indeed a large difference in the pitlane, as for the first time she was able to hold a conversation – something impossible when the V8’s were running.
Yet the TV coverage appears to have significantly failed to represent the sound fans were actually hearing on track. Whether there is some mischief afoot with the Ecclestone owned FOM TV only time will tell, A source I know engaged in outside sports broadcasting believes the mix between the volume of the commentators and the track microphones was simply incorrect.
Yet this factor is surely controlled by the broadcaster and not FOM.
Of course the frequency of the V6 is different from the V8, and there is always the possibility that FOM TV requires different/improved sound recording equipment to properly convey to the TV audience the sound being heard live at a race.
However, the Bernie Ecclestone and Ron Walker stand up double act is fairly amusing. Bernie is sneering “ya boo – I warned you all” whilst his old buddie threatens him with legal action for a “breach of contract”.
When asked whether Walker had a point, Ecclestone responded, “I don’t know whether he has. Let’s assume he hasn’t got a point as far as the legal side is going. Then you have to look at it from a moral side. If you went into the supermarket today and bought some strawberry jam and you got peanut butter you’d probably be a bit pissed off.
It’s good quality peanut butter, but he’s saying it isn’t what he bought,” Ecclestone adds though, “whether the contract describes what he’d bought, the strawberry jam with so many strawberries, I don’t know. I doubt it. I think he bought the FIA Formula One world championship. Which is what he’s got.”
Clearly it is a nonense to suggest any Formula 1 hosting contract would have sound level and pitch clauses as part of the service standard agreed. Further, Walker is merely being disingenuous as when he signed up the current deal for the Aussie GP in 2010, the plan was for 4 cylinder engines, restricted to a mere 12,000 rpm – which would have been even quieter.
There are questions as to whether the Australian GP will survive past 2015. Ecclestone wants them to move to a night race and Walker is resisting because of the cost of installing lighting. The local government is not enamoured with paying F1 the amount it does at present, and each year has received complaints from resident’s miles from the circuit about the noise of the cars.
Yet with the new engines and reduced noise pollution, maybe the government would agree to running a night race in Melbourne. How very F1 – divide and conquer. That idea would pitch Ron and Bernie on opposite sides of the fence.
Anyway, so Bernie says he’s been on the blower to Jean Todt? And Todt replied, “What’s all the fuzz about?”
Seriously, does Ecclestone really believe Jean and the FIA will regulate to enforce the cars should bolt on some sub-woofers and produce a fake sound like the BMW M5?
The fact is the engines are now smaller, the combustion is also smaller and the turbo flattens out the sound waves creating a smoother and less pitchy sound wave – and that is the way it is. “Noise is unused energy” – said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (head of Audi Motorsport).
One apparently well informed fan believes that the sound could be enhanced, “An ICE sound is mainly composed of the fundamental frequency and its harmonics, plus the formant (resonance frequency). Formant is the frequency at the exhaust resonate the most, and the sound energy becomes the maximum. There is also anti-resonance frequency. It is the frequency component that weakens the sound energy extremely.
The volume could be altered at specific frequencies by modifying the formant, thus modifying the amplitude of the soundwave”,
All this can apparently be done by modifying the exhaust. Maybe this will be done, when the concerns over reliability are diminished and/or if Mr. E throws some cash in the direction of the teams.
What do you think? Should the noise of the current cars be altered – or is this all just a fuzz about nothing?
Hamilton still on track to beat Rosberg – Lauda(GMM)
Lewis Hamilton is still in the hunt for the world championship despite failing even to finish in Australia. That is the view of Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda, who revealed he consoled the Melbourne pole-sitter by harking back to his own F1 history.
After Hamilton retired at Albert Park only to see his German teammate Nico Rosberg go on to win, Lauda said: “I hugged him (Hamilton) and said ‘This was only the first race. “‘In 1984 I also failed in the first race but I was world champion in the end’,” Lauda recalled telling Briton Hamilton. Indeed, while Lauda retired in the pits at Jacarepagua in Brazil, his McLaren teammate Alain Prost won the race. But Lauda went on to win the 1984 title by half a point.
Asked how Mercedes has managed to get off to such a strong start in 2014, Lauda told the Osterreich newspaper: “Because we have been best with the new engine regulations. “Also last summer, when Red Bull was still focusing on the 2013 season, we were already developing our new car,” he added. Italy’s La Repubblica declared after Sunday’s Australian grand prix: “The F1 revolution has its leader.”
But Mercedes chief Toto Wolff expects Red Bull to catch up. “With these new cars,” he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper, “the development curve is much steeper than usual.” He said the reigning world champions had already “caught up massively” between the winter season and Melbourne.And Red Bull’s increasingly confident Dr Helmut Marko said: “We know what is still to come in our car and the (Renault) engine. “On the engine we are still nowhere near the maximum,” he insisted.
McLaren’s Jenson Button, however, thinks that at the moment, F1 has a clear leader. He said: “Right now we seem to be able to fight against everyone — except one.”
Why restrict fuel flow?
It appears for now at least, Red Bull have seized the F1 news agenda, and we must all comply and discuss fuel sensors and fuel flow; this being the case, then let’s explore the issues.
It has been suggested that for 2014 the FIA should have merely prescribed a 100kg of fuel for each race and let the teams do what they want with it. This is an appealing and simple solution, However, F1 technical regulations are often highly complex and it is they which provide they grey areas where teams have for time and memorial exploited cutting edge technology.
If simplicity was they objective, then a spec series like Indycar is the ultimate solution.
So why did the FIA include fuel flow limits as part of the regulations?
Firstly, it is important to recognise it was not Ms. Jean or even Charlie W who in a orgy of red wine and escargot dreamed up some silly ideas. The FIA technical working group – made up of F1 people, mechanical engineers, car designers etc… explored the issues and delivered the final regulations for rubber stamping in Paris
Ex-Williams engineer, Mark Gillan, was part of that working group and he explains why fuel flow limits were introduced. “in order to ensure that a significant emphasis was placed on both improved whole vehicle efficiency and on reduced fuel consumption. These limits, coupled with the move to the downsized 1.6L v6 engine, would ensure that suitable R+D resource was put into the new ERS which, with the addition of the MGU-H, are at the forefront of a potential technology revolution for new highly efficient down-sized road car and commercial vehicle power units”.
So the FIA want to emphasise the ERS systems for boosting performance, and not resort to the engine mapping and fuel manipulation of recent times.
The regulation on fuel flow limits was passed without objection.
Articles 5.1.5 and 5.1.5 prescribe a maximum fuel mass flow rate of 100kg/h at, and above, 10500rpm with this maximum reducing as the rpm decreases in line with the formula outlined in 5.1.5. These are maximum values and there is no margin for error if one exceeds these values.
In actuality the fuel flow limit improves reliability, as it prevents teams from running engine maps which in a high pressure injection system as part of a turbo unit could literally explode given enough juice – this is something we often saw in the 1980’s.
Further, fuel flow limits restricts excessive engine mapping. Without a fuel flow limit a team could design a PU scheme to run in qualy where they deliver a huge increase in input boost pressure – battery-boosting the MGU-H, increasing amount of air, pumping in vast quantities of fuel, battery-boosting MGU-K output… which would drain the entire battery bank in an ‘do or die’ single lap.
Now this may be interesting for those with an engineering eye amongst us, but it flies in the face of what the FIA intend which is greater reliability, long term cost reduction and efficiency.
A number of teams had conversations with the FIA’s technical delegate over the Melbourne weekend, and all were concluded in a satisfactory manner. Red Bull chose to go it alone. It is true that teams have been having problems during testing with the sensor readings, however the end is apparently nigh.
Gill sensors now claim that 52% of their sensors are accurate to 0.1%, 92% of their sensors are accurate to 0.25%.
Gerald Durnbeck writes that Mercedes would have preferred there to be no fuel flow restrictions as this plays against a specific strength of their engine. However, Toto Wolf admits during practice, the sensors fitted to their car were showing “excessive peaks”. He adds, “We voluntarily turned down the flow and as a consequence gave away a couple of tenths in qualifying”.
This makes Red Bull’s decision to repeatedly ignore instructions to turn down their fuel flow appear even more bizarre. Were the penalty to Ricciardo similar to that suffered by Mercedes, he would still have finished 4th ahead of Bottas.
The FIA technical delegate, Jo Baur, believes this weekend has revealed significant information on how to deliver higher and improved levels of accuracy for Malaysia. Whiting claims the sensors will now be most accurate or completely broken – and the latter will never deliver a reading.
TJ13 believes the Red Bull appeal will be in around 4-5 weeks time, during which we will no doubt be hearing a lot about the pointlessness of fuel flow measurements and why they should be scrapped.
We don’t all agree about the future of F1 engines and the FIA’s efficiency drive, yet I suspect even the less technically minded of F1 fans will soon understand much more than they could ever have imagined about the role of fuel and its delivery mechanisms in an F1 car – and for that reason, a limited period of debate and controversy may be good.
PS Mister Baur. Next time you get chance, take the section of the fuel delivery system through which the sensor is taking readings on the RB10 – and test its composition 😉
For Malaysian folk, F1 will take a back seat
F1 arrives to each host country in a media blitz style cavalcade. Melbourne of course benefits from being the first race of the season, and publications which don’t particularly cover F1 in detail rock up to cover the off in what is now a mega marathon annual race calendar.
Next up is Sepang, Malaysia, though the usual media frenzy may be less intense than usual.
The global news has been recently dominated by the crisis in Crimea and the missing Malaysain airliner. Razian Razali, CEO of the Sepang ciruit states, “Whatever happens, the race and the post race concert will go ahead as schedule”.
He does though admit, “The [Malaysian] people are not in the mood for an event like this. The radio, television, newspapers and social media are all dominated by the search for the flight MH370 and its 239 missing passengers”.
The other big news item involving Russia may yet have an impact on F1. Sochi is a long way off, and last weekend saw the conclusion of the Paralympics in the city. Western diplomats would not have wished to compromise the conclusion of this event, so little so far has been said about any possible sporting sanctions Russia may yet face.
Yet with Putin on the brink of annexing the Crimea to the Russian Federation, and the Ukraine mobilising troops today, there must be serious doubts as to whether F1 will take place in Sochi this year.
UK Australian GP viewing figures
BBC’s highlights programme on BBC One on Sunday afternoon averaged 2.88m (25.4%), unofficial overnight viewing figures show. This figure is up on 2012 which averaged 2.73m, however, is down on the 3.05m that the programme averaged last season. Its not a major drop, but a drop nonetheless. I think the F1 has been lost in the shuffle this weekend on the BBC, due to the Six Nations taking up the majority of BBC One on Saturday. It meant that less people watched Qualifying with the broadcaster than normal, thus potentially affecting Sunday’s rating too.
Interestingly, and the first time I have said this in a long time, Sky’s coverage was up year-on-year. From 05:00 to 08:30, Sky Sports F1 averaged 594k (21.1%), peaking with 945k (21.5%) at 07:35. This compares with 517k (20.9%) in 2013 and 621k (26.8%) in 2012. The ‘split show’ appears to have worked if the intention was to bring in more viewers, although I think it will only have a bigger influence for the early morning rounds, where more people are bound to record the action.
This brings us to a combined average of 3.47m, down on 3.57m. The issue here is that, yes, a Sky gain of 73k is great for them, but if BBC loses nearly 200k, it eradicates whatever gain Sky is made. Due to the audience levels, if BBC lose or gain, it will flip flop massively either way, which is unlikely to happen with Sky. An issue with the BBC overnight ratings for the past few years is that the Scottish Cup final has meant that the F1 has been displaced to BBC Two.
The BBC One overnights in this piece include Scotland viewers, so if the Scottish Cup final was lower profile than last year, that may have had an affect too. Also, whilst a combined average of 3.47m is ‘okay’ versus 2012 (which averaged 3.35m), it is a far cry from the BBC exclusive figures from 2009 to 2011, which I feel is important to remember.
Source: The F1 Broadcasting Blog
Formula E goes free to air
All 10 rounds of the 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Championship will be televised live and free-to-air in the UK after series organisers today (17 March) confirmed a broadcast deal with leading UK network ITV.
Brokered by international media company MP & Silva, the ITV agreement adds to existing deals with FOX Sports and Japan’s TV Asahi. Live coverage will be screened on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, alongside coverage on www.itv.com. The programme will also be available via the on-demand ITV Player service.
All programmes will feature comprehensive coverage of each live race together with pre-race build-up – including highlights from the day’s earlier practice and qualifying sessions – podium celebrations and post-race interviews.
ITV4 is one of the UK’s leading channels for motorsport coverage already screening extensive coverage of the British Touring Car Championship, along with British Superbikes and the World Rally Championship.
Ali Russell, Chief Marketing Officer at Formula E, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing this partnership with ITV today and to be securing live, free-to-air coverage of all Formula E races for our UK fans – of which we’re confident there will be many. The UK is widely considered the home of motorsport and a very important market for Formula E. As such, with its unrivalled commitment to motorsport, ITV provides the perfect platform to showcase our new fully-electric series – which will also be racing in London in June 2015 – and to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans.”
Niall Sloane, ITV’s Director of Sport said: “I’m delighted ITV4 will be able to bring viewers the opportunity to see this innovative new series – which promises top-level open-wheel racing with the iconic backdrops of some of the world’s most famous cities. The coverage of this series adds another new dimension to ITV4’s motorsport portfolio.”
ITV joins previously announced broadcasters FOX Sports and TV Asahi who have all committed to showing live coverage of Formula E races. The FOX Sports deal alone covers 88 territories around the world and a potential global audience of 180million households, whilst TV Asahi boasts a household reach of 51.4million.
All Formula E events take place across a single day (Saturday) with races beginning at 16:00 local time. Further TV deals will be announced in the coming weeks.