Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 25th March 2014

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F1 race in Sochi becoming inconceivable

Red Bull, Pariah or Patron?

Fernandes hoists the white flag

Ferrari – Melbourne ERS issues caused by FIA software systems

Lauda hits back at F1’s ‘new era’ critics (GMM)

Designer doubts Mercedes to dominate (GMM)

F1 pay per view grows

Engine noise survey

Ecclestone negotiating stance weakened

Ferrari confirm lean design of engine

The Iceman’s Glass is ‘half full’

Hippo’s View From The Water Hole: A Lament About The State of The #F1 Community

7 days in the wind tunnel

Moves to shorten the race

What a difference a tweet makes

TJ13 readers are most insightful

Caption competition

24 years ago today


F1 race in Sochi becoming inconceivable

David Cameron, UK Prime Minister says the G8 summit will not take place in Sochi this year.

Speaking in the Netherlands, Mr Cameron said it was “absolutely clear” the planned June meeting of world leaders in the Russian resort of Sochi would not happen owing to events in Ukraine.

The EU and US have imposed sanctions on Russian officials after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Moscow has also been warned of further action if it does not change course.

The announcement that the Sochi meeting had been effectively cancelled came after Russian troops seized control of the last major military base in Crimea.

Russia has notably been excluded from the current meeting in the Hague, and Cameron stated, “We should be clear there’s not going to be a G8 summit in Russia. It’s absolutely clear. We’ll be meeting tonight, the seven other countries of the G8 that are going to determine the way forward. But frankly it is Russia that needs to change course.”

In what has been described as the worst stand off between Russia and the West since 1997 when the former Soviet Union republic was invited to join the G8, western nations, Europe and the USA are clearly isolating Russia from the ‘rich nations’ club.

TJ13 contacted the Prime Minister’s office yesterday to request what the UK government’s position is regarding the planned inaugural Russian Formula 1 GP, though as yet there has been no response.

However, TJ13 has held the view from the first incursions into Crimea by Russian forces that it is inconceivable should matters continue to escalate, that the UK government will not sanction UK companies from giving President Putin the international recognition and the publicity, holding an F1 race would provide.

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Red Bull, Pariah or Patron?

We can chew the cud over how things were done in yesteryear F1 land – until the cows come home. However, the fact is that the way teams agree to behave has supposedly changed in recent times.

Ferrari were despised by many for a time, mostly for a range of alleged shenanigans and charges of cheating. Yet such was the favour shown to them by the FIA, various forms of acronym were devised where the ‘F’ in FIA represented ‘Ferrari’.

But times have changed.

No longer do we have the spectre of race results being regularly challenged, then altered sometimes weeks and months later, or even final championship standings being retrospectively affected.

Graham Lowden explains how the teams now operate a code of conduct to prevent continual court hearings and disputed race results. “We have this system where the FIA give their opinion. It happens on things all the time. We seek Charlie Whiting’s opinion on a lot of things and he gives it and I think there’s a general view that it’s good for the teams to follow that advice, even though it might not necessarily constitute a part of the Technical Regulations as such, but I think some things should be reasonably straightforward”.

The consequence of ignoring this agreed code of operating within F1, Lowden says is stark. “It is an opinion and if we were just to ignore all of those opinions and constantly test them in a court then the sport would just stutter along endlessly”.

It is for this particular reason that the Red Bull/Ferrari furore over the Mercedes ‘tyre-gate’ test in 2013 resulted in nothing more than a slap on the wrist for the team from Brackley. Ross Brawn explained to the International tribunal that he had checked with Charlie Whiting whether the test was legal and had been given the green light from the FIA delegate.

With regard to the fuel flow sensors, Graham Lowden is yet another from the paddock to confirm the problems have affected many of the teams. “From what I understand, a number of teams were given advice by the FIA on what they should do with regard to fuel consumption and I think most of them followed it. It really is going to be difficult for the sport to operate races in a way that the fans are really going to understand if the advice is simply ignored because you can make a car go quicker.

If Red Bull chose to ignore the guideline from the FIA then they will have only done that to make their car go quicker – there’s no reason why they would have done anything other than that”.

Following the stewards disqualification of Ricciardo, TJ13 took the position that Red Bull would be best served not appealing the decision, despite the romance of Ricciardo’s second place in the race. This is simply a pragmatic view based upon where F1 is at with some of the new technology not working properly.

It may be that the whizz kids from Milton Keynes they can prove from their measurements that fuel was not delivered at more than 100kg of fuel per hour, but so what? Mercedes have indicated it was the same for them, yet they chose to comply as did others not in such a dominant position.

Lowden also believes Red Bull should have obeyed the instructions from the FIA technical delegate during the race, otherwise the result would be chaos. “If that was the approach that every single team took then without any question every single result would always be decided in the International Court of Appeal, and that’s not really what it’s meant for and it wouldn’t be good for the fans and, you’d argue, it wouldn’t be good for the sport.”

Unfortunately, Horner et al have proven in times past they are not interested in the good of F1 as a whole, just what gives them any kind of advantage. This is the way F1 used to be, however things have changed.

Red Bull’s insistence on this matter could force other teams to act in a similar manner, consistently testing the technical regulations, which clearly would result in disaster. As such, Lowden concludes, obviously the International Court of Appeal is the final arbiter on these things, so there is a process which is well laid out. My own view is, and it’s purely a personal view, that it would open the floodgates to all sorts of things if this appeal were to be successful”.

It should be hoped that indeed times have changed and F1 does not wish to return to the days of continual protests and appeals with the resulting constant legal battles.

To that end it’s time for the F1 world champions to demonstrate they are not just thoroughbred winners, but that they can act with some class and respect for their competitors and for the sport in general. After all, other teams want to win just as much as Red Bull does, but on this particular issue the rest have chosen to act as patrons of the sport and to look to its greater good – not one of a pariah who merely has to win at all costs.

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Fernandes hoists the white flag

In January, Tony Fernandes gave a ‘do or die’ speech to the workers in Leafield. TJ13 was informed that many were shocked and dismayed by the edict their leader had issued.

“My message to the 250 people here [at the factory] is we have to go for it this year. This is it – the final chance. We’ve given you the best infrastructure, the best potential drivers but it is now down to all of you to go and do it.

If we’re at the back I don’t think I’m going to carry on. Nothing is set in stone but after five years with no points there is a limit to one’s patience, money, motivation, etc, so it’s an important year.

I need to feel like we’re going somewhere. If I feel we can compete, then great but if we’re not competing then we have to seriously examine ourselves and ask ‘does this make sense?’ If we’re not competing, two seconds behind everybody else, then we haven’t made any progress”.

At times Fernandes talks a lot, but appears to be ill informed. To suggest that Caterham F1 have the best infrastructure and drivers is just one example of this. They may be the best Tony can afford, but clearly that isn’t good enough.

Fernandes is not the first wannabe F1 magnate to bite off more than can be chewed. Yet to be fair when he agreed to set up an F1 team in 2010 he was promised by former FIA president Max Mosley a competition where there would be a £40m ($60m) cost cap on teams. The reality is in F1 there is now a gulf of hundreds of millions between those at the front and those at the back of the grid.

A few days after the January rant, Fernandes parted company with Riad Asmat – former Chief Executive Officer of the Caterham Group – after five years with the team.

Asmat was originally appointed CEO of Caterham’s F1 team (then Lotus Racing) ahead of its debut in the sport in 2010. He then rose through the ranks to be Group CEO, responsible for the F1 team, GP2 and Caterham Cars among other areas.

The next debacle for Fernandes racing group saw Caterham announce an LMP2 entry for the Le Mans series this year on February 13th, only to withdraw just 24 hours later.

TJ13 reported from Jerez that we had been informed the sports car collaboration with Renault was also under threat. Reuters now confirms this, despite Renault’s refusal to comment..

“The French automaker will brief unions on Wednesday about the unwinding of its nine-month-old joint venture with Caterham but continue solo development of a roadster to revive its own Alpine brand”.

Renault and Caterham had signed an agreement in November 2012 to use their F1 brands to produce affordable performance cars for the European and Asian markets.

Fernandes is currently at the centre of another sporting storm. Fans of his English Football League team – Queens Park Rangers – believe manager Harry Redknapp has been ordered to ensure the team do not gain promotion to the English Premier League this year.

The reason being, Fernandes reportedly blew some £100m on players and wages during the year the club was relegated from the Premier League. The new UEFA financial fair play rules which come into existence for the next football season restricts spending in these areas to a proportion of revenue. QPR’s spend was astronomical  in contrast to their income.

The financial fair play fines in the English Premier League are substantially higher than for the current division where QPR are competing. So, should QPR be promoted to England’s top flight football division and fall foul of the new financial fair play rules, the fine for the clubs breach of financial fair play has been estimated as high as £50m.

The English media have been sympathetic at times to Fernandes, suggesting he has been badly advised. Mike Gascoigne claimed in the second year of the Formula 1 team, that Caterham would upset some established names that season. This was never going to happen.

On football matters, Fernandes’ various managers squandered 10’s of millions on players worth a fraction of the value for which they were bought.

Yet Tony Fernandes is a big boy who has a lot to say, sometimes about issues he is clearly not well informed upon; and he must stand and fall by his own decisions.

To crown it all, TJ13 has been informed; Fernandes has appointed M&A financial advisors to find buyers for his entire automotive interests. Maybe as we reported yesterday, Zoran Stefanovich will finally get his Stefan GP outfit off the ground for 2015. But now, he could have a choice between acquiring Caterham or Marrusia.

With Lotus and Sauber’s finances precarious for 2014, once again, the profligate waste of money in F1 is bringing the sport to the brink.

Whether Tony is quitting whilst he is ahead is dubious, but the white flag appears well and truly raised.

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Ferrari – Melbourne ERS issues caused by FIA software systems

Whilst it is unlikely Fernando Alonso had the pace in Melbourne to challenge the Mercedes he would probably have been contesting a place on the podium. The Ferrari F14-T is not the most competitive car or engine currently but issues have emerged from Australia that some of the FIA systems severely handicapped the Ferrari engined teams.

With flow-gate and the ensuing appeal dominating the headlines – Ferrari has maintained a dignified silence after what was a poor outing for the scarlet machines in Melbourne. Fernando Alonso salvaged fifth after a race long struggle in his Ferrari but it transpires that there may have been other issues limiting the car’s true speed.

On live Italian television – viewers were told that Ferrari had a problem with releasing the electrical power in the F14-T. Assumptions were made it was an inherent fault in the Ferrari power unit as it affected all Ferrari powered cars but it seems to have been caused by a ‘bug’ in the FIA launch control systems.

In the same way that KERS was not available until the cars had passed 100km/h from the starting grid, the 2014 regulations forbids the deployment of energy from the MGU-K system before reaching this magical figure. The ‘flag’ that restricts this is controlled by the FIA and once the 100km/h is superseded the full power of the system can be released.

In Melbourne, all the Ferrari powered cars experienced the same problem – they remained in the starting mode which prevented their respective drivers being able to release the MGU-K’s power at any point, not only after passing the 100km/h marker after the start.

The activation of the MGU-K systems should have restarted themselves but the units had entered ‘safety mode’ and would need to be over-ridden with certain procedures from the drivers and teams. Alonso, for example, struggled through 36 laps without the 120kW power boost and it was only after the pit-stop that the car began to run properly.

Raikkonen was further penalised with a malfunctioning DRS system. He had more than one opportunity to use the system to pass an opponent but it’s failure stymied his progress. The FIA has since announced they will be introducing changes to the electronic control system for the rear wing in Sepang to ensure the problem does not happen again.

So, nearly one third of the gird were handicapped by systems that were the responsibility of the governing body. Ferrari has made no comment on these matters and the FIA has not offered apologises to the teams affected. Direction should come from the top in any organisation and it seems that Jean Todt’s softly-softly approach has filtered through to the remainder of the FIA’s infrastructure..

It does not bear thinking about the outcome; if the same problems that affected the Maranello team had handicapped the Red Bull team. In the same way they use the media to highlight shortcomings with FIA provided flow-meters, or they are critical of tyres they do not want, the campaign would have been rousing journalists from their slumber to once again sing from the corporate hymn sheet.

Currently Formula One has bigger problems than inaccurate fuel meters which the team from Milton Keynes is shouting about.

There are issues with the electronics which have affected six cars – in regards power delivery. Issues with DRS deployment are significant enough to warrant updated software immediately and a self imposed draconian fuel limit has been imposed that makes following the race practically impossible as to when drivers are actually pushing.

Though as one well known FIA official commented recently to TJ13, the majority of the TV audience have never understood the detail of F1. They just see ‘cars in a line or cars overtaking’. Yet for some of the die hard fans they feel the sport is becoming irrelevant – irrespective of how cutting edge the technology is.

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Lauda hits back at F1’s ‘new era’ critics (GMM)

Niki Lauda has hit back at the critics who are slamming the revolutionary new face of Formula One.

Ron Walker, the Australian grand prix chief who is a key Bernie Ecclestone ally, is leading the charge by threatening to sue the sport and switch to Indycar racing after hearing the sound of the new turbo V6 engines. “It would be a drastic change to switch to Indycar but we cannot go on like this,” he told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt in the Independent.

Walker blames the FIA for presiding over the changes in spite of F1 chief executive Ecclestone’s opposition. “We did a survey of the fans and they don’t really care about saving fuel, they want to go and see gladiatorial drivers fighting each other and not worry about the fuel that they use.”

But the loss of the normally-aspirated engine scream, Walker argues, is the main problem. “It is hard enough to sell tickets now but this is arrogance at the worst from Jean Todt,” he said.

Whilst admitting that the engine noise lacks the drama of the past, however, F1 legend Lauda’s view about the all-new F1 era could not be starker. And, he insists, his approval has “nothing to do” with Mercedes’ dominance in Melbourne.

“It was a demonstration of a modern, contemporary Formula One,” he said of the Albert Park event “I just cannot understand and I find it absurd that there are people who are upset about this new formula one after this very good race,” Lauda told the German newspaper Welt.

“This is now a racing category that is totally in tune with the technology trends,” he insisted “We now have a new age; new road transport needs, environmental initiatives, the development of hybrid cars and thinking about the quality of life of people in a highly technological world with all of its challenges.

The old eight-cylinder engines were no longer appropriate,” said Lauda. “The turbo technology gives us more power with less fuel and less noise and less environmental impact, with reduced carbon emissions. For this reason Honda is coming into formula one next year with Renault, Ferrari-Fiat and Mercedes, and perhaps other manufacturers will follow as well. So I see only advantages,”

As for the opponents like Ecclestone, Lauda countered: “I have to clearly contradict Bernie. The Formula One attraction is not defined by the noise.It is defined by the sporting action and as exciting a competition as possible with highly demanding and contemporary technologies and drivers who know how to handle these cars at the highest level.

“Just talking about the noise is absurd and incomprehensible to me,” he insisted. “We forget that these cars – because of their technology – are faster (on the straights) than the outdated eight-cylinders. What noise the exhaust makes has nothing to do with it, and this supposedly important emotional aspect, I cannot see it,” said Lauda. “The idea to make these cars now artificially loud is the wrong direction and bizarre.

“Formula One is completely on the right track,” he added, “and as is the law in Formula One we must go as fast as possible forwards, not backwards. Everything else makes no sense to me.”

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Designer doubts Mercedes to dominate (GMM)

Mercedes designer Aldo Costa says he doubts his W05 will dominate the entire 2014 season.

Lewis Hamilton took pole with the new silver single seater and Nico Rosberg dominated the season-opening race in Melbourne, with many observers believing the German driver had hidden performance to spare on the Albert Park roads But Italian Costa, who joined Mercedes from Ferrari and led the design of the new W05, does not think the German marque will dominate throughout 2014.

“No, I don’t think we can talk about dominance,” he told the Italian magazine Autosprint. “We have seen the progress that Red Bull made between the Bahrain test and the first race — they were much more competitive than they were in winter testing. This gives an indication of how fast progress and the resolution of problems is in formula one,” said Costa. “And it may well be that in a few grands prix many other teams will be at a good level,”.

Costa, 52, agrees that the performance of the ‘power unit’ is particularly important in F1’s new era, but he doubts that Mercedes is as far ahead of Ferrari and Renault as some currently believe.

Asked if rumours of a 50 horse power advantage for Mercedes make sense, he answered: “No, I don’t think they do. Let me explain: as teams, we have GPS data, so I think everyone can see that, when it’s running at full power, the Renault engine has remarkable performance. So probably their deficit at this time is that they cannot maintain this level of performance throughout a race because of temperature, or fatigue.”

“But I think that this is a problem that will gradually be solved,” Costa added.

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F1 pay per view grows

The past few months has seen a flurry of activity between FOM and TV networks across the world.

Yesterday, Spanish agency Mediapro has acquired rights across Central and Latin America and the Caribbean for the Formula One world championship.

The exclusive deal, which excludes Brazil, will run for five years, from 2015 to 2019. Under the agreement, Mediapro will produce a dedicated channel, TV Formula One, which will show the coverage. The deal includes the F1 rights across all media platforms.

Mediapro is entering a regional sports pay-TV broadcasting market that Sportcal media analyst Catherine Davies said is “dominated” by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and ESPN. Davies added that Fox Sports has “owned Formula One rights for Latin America for the last decade. It will make people sit up and take notice of Mediapro, which has largely flown under the radar until now” 

Bloomberg reveal their sources indicated that the “multi-year deal will involve a payment” of more than €100M ($138M), which could “mean the removal of a giant like Fox, which had dominated the broadcasts there until now.” The contract “will reach 90 million homes, equivalent to 250-300 million viewers.”

Also yesterday, Polish pay-television operator Polsat acquired the media rights for the Formula One motor-racing world championship. This is a one year deal with extension options. Marian Kmita, the director of sport at Polsat, said that the deal had been agreed after “long and heavy negotiations.”

In February, Maltese telecommunications company ‘Go’ agreed a three-year extension to its broadcast rights deal for the F1 championship. Formula 1 is available to all those who subscribe to the silver or gold television packages for an extra €7.99 ($11) per month.

Further, the Setanta Sports Eurasia arm of international sports broadcaster Setanta Sports has agreed a two-year rights deal with FOM for the 2014/15 F1 seasons.

Under the terms of the deal, the Setanta Sports Eurasia channel will broadcast F1 in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

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Engine noise survey

TJ13 ran a quick poll of readers last week to see whether you thought the engines should be made to sound more noisey – YES/NO. The results ended exactly 50/50.

Today, we’ll attempt something with a touch more gradient of opinion.

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Ecclestone negotiating stance weakened

It wasn’t that long ago that attempting to discover the detail of a race promoters contractual arrangements with Bernie Ecclestone and FOM was nigh on impossible. A range of threats and gagging clauses forced the promoters to keep schtum!

Yet a number of factors have seen this confidentiality breached in recent years. This is partly due to the information dissemination required by the offer documents required for the failed Singapore floatation; partly because the likes of the Chinese nor the Koreans cared not about Ecclestone’s hidden threats; and partly because it’s not difficult to see through the façade which was designed to give the impression that there is always an endless supply of host nations desperate to take an F1 race.

It wasn’t long ago Ecclestone was sabre rattling with Melbourne, demanding a night race and suggesting they were foolish not to have built a dedicated race circuit many years ago.

Yet it appears Bernie got his fingers burned when the detail of the new Australian GP contract was negotiated with his mate Ron Walker. Melbourne have enjoyed certain privileges most other race promoters are not afforded.

Ecclestone attempted to get the Melbourne race promoters to sign up to a new “global contract’’ with standardised conditions in line with other F1 races throughout the world. Ron Walker considered this a “deal-breaker’’ and according to the Herald Sun flatly refused to sign on the dotted line..

Melbourne’s contract has allowed them to use unique “Melbourne’’ branding around the circuit and the profits from corporate and VIP areas are retained by the promoter.

Walker claims there is a revised offer from FOM now being considered by the State Government, which he believes to be a “very fair and reasonable offer for the taxpayer’’.

“Mr Ecclestone wanted to create a new global contract for everybody, wanted it standardised,’’ explains Walker. “We’ve enjoyed privileges that nobody else has in the 19 years we’ve had the contract.

He wanted to adjust those in accordance with what he charges everybody else, which was a deal-breaker as far as we were concerned.’’

Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott elaborates further, “The ability for us to sell corporate hospitality is a right that Victoria’s Grand Prix has that not many other circuits have. In all the European circuits the revenues for the Paddock Club go to Formula One but in Melbourne they go to us and therefore jobs for Victorian companies, and those are the rights that we want to retain.’’

This should be the final nail in the coffin for Ecclestone, who is perceived to handle negotiations with an iron grip on behalf of his masters. If the Aussies are sticking 2 fingers up at him and he is capitulating, meekly agreeing their terms – then how long before others wake up and smell the roses.

Well in fact this has been the case for some time. The Chinese, the German’s, the Belgians and the Italians have all refused incremental fee’s or agreed reduced payments to host their F1 GP’s  in recent times.

Ferrari confirm lean design of engine

After a winter of gamesmanship and limited performance running – seasoned observers felt that Ferrari were the only team that, seemingly, had not shown it’s true potential.

After the poor showing in Australia many media outlets have attempted to discover the reasons behind their performance. Factor in that the Ferrari ‘customer’ teams also suffered similar performance problems and the common denominator would be – the engine was at fault.

In an industry where information is king and the news outlets are posting twenty four hours a day it was inevitable that some mis-information would leak through.

There have been a number of conflicting views in regards the portliness of the Ferrari 059/3 engine – a claim that has been refuted by the Maranello squad. In a statement to counter claims in the German media that their Power Unit is not as lean as the competitions – Ferrari have quite categorically stated they were the only team that opposed the proposed increase of the weight limit.

The other teams raised concerns that the 691kgs threshold for the combined driver and car combination would have required their drivers committing to an unhealthy weight-loss programme- something that the Italian squad would not need from their incumbents.

The team mentioned, once again, that they had found more innovative solutions in the design of the power plant; which included a turbo charger shield that has been protested by both Mercedes and Renault.

This 3kg saving over the solutions their competition are using has been put forward as requiring regulatory clarification but although speculation has been made that this would be changed the ‘Reparto Corse’ was assured by the FIA that the concept has been approved.

Of more importance to the Ferrari squad is that they can finally get a true idea of the inherent speed of the car in Malaysia – after the software issues caused by the FIA systems have been resolved. As yet they do not expect to be competing against the Mercedes cars but they estimate they should be closer to their current true potential.

Allied to this is news that there have been changes in the factory personnel responsible for the design of the Energy Recovery Systems. Luca Marmorini still heads up the engine department but there have been promotions of senior engineers to support the Formula One programme.

Rumours reached TJ13 some weeks ago that several ERS experts at Brixworth had received offers to relocate to the sunnier climes of Italy – maybe the exodus has begun..

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The Iceman’s Glass is ‘half full’

Kimi Raikkonen is adored by his fans for his honest no nonsense language. Famously – when asked by Martin Brundle, on live British TV, if he had seen the ceremony they had given to Michael Schumacher – for his final race before retiring the first time (2006) – he replied -“No I was having a s***!”

In the UK we call his optimistic attitude a ‘glass half full’ as opposed to ‘glass half empty’ and maybe – with the explosive personality of Alonso beside him – Ferrari appreciate his measured candour.

After the Australian Grand Prix Kimi reflected on the situation facing Ferrari at the moment: “It takes time to fix things, but we can only get better we know more or less what we want to do, but some things do not happen in a matter one night. It takes time to produce certain parts or to be able to address the situation in a certain way. Nor can we promise that everything will settle soon as we have what we want. I found myself in these conditions in the past, sometimes it takes a bit of time. Well, was not the goal we wanted to achieve, but it could have been worse.’m sure that from now on we can only get better.”

But after a number of disappointing years the Prancing Horse stable is still a cause for concern amongst the Tifosi. Are they about to be subjected to another fruitless campaign?

Ferrari’s Technical Director – James Allison – offered some insight to the current thinking in Maranello: “The reliability shown by the F14 T is gratifying, but it is clear that we have our work cut out to improve the car if we want to compete on equal terms with Mercedes. Various aspects of F14 T are working very well: the starts and cornering, especially those with high speed, are particular strengths while we need to work further on the braking stability and speed on the straights.”

Allison continued ” In Maranello work progresses unceasingly. All recent seasons in Formula 1 have been characterized by a fierce struggle with developments from March until November.”
“With all the new regulations in 2014, the opportunities for improving these cars are considerable and we can expect a race to developments among several teams still more intense than normal. Our competitiveness was not acceptable in Melbourne but we’re going to fight with every improvement that we will be able to introduce to scale the vertices of the grid. ”

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7 days in the wind tunnel

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Moves to shorten the race

Rumours are circulating the paddock at present that the next F1 strategy group meeting will discuss a proposal to reduce the race distance of the current F1 format – 2 hours/305km.

There has been dismay expressed by long standing F1 fans about a number of matters the strategy group has presided over in recent times, and the sardonic views expressed by commentators ask “what next?”

Well. Shorter races is next.

It’s as though this F1 new body has been empowered to decide things and the euphoria of making decisions is getting out of control.

There have been moves afoot previously in F1 to reduce the race distance, notably by a certain disgraced Italian with flowing blonde hair.

Flavio believed 2 races a weekend would be better entertainment than one. This is ironic when we consider Briatore by taking the law into his own hands in fact lengthened the time of a well known race – by instructing one of his cars to get ‘up close and personal’ with a wall – resulting in many slow laps behind the safety car.

No matter. The reasons behind the current proposal are quite different.

Apparently, the new computer generation of kids F1 is looking to attract, wouldn’t conceive of playing a game for the length of an F1 race without some kind of break – or end of level scenario.

Then there is the secondary matter of cars running short of fuel and being slightly fragile. The shorter race would mean the cars could be pushed harder as their endurance capabilities would be reduced.

So, if you thought ‘double points’ was lunacy, then I guess TJ13 readers will just now be looking for a dark room and a long lie down.

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What a difference a tweet makes

The ‘devil may care’, ‘cool kids’, of F1 social media – who knew how to even do self deprecation pretty well – are indeed finished.

Following risqué tweets showing copulating mammals and kissing men (which may have possibly offended the entire Russian nation so much that they decided to take it out on Ukraine) the Lotus PR social machine is finished.

Since the Australian GP, they’ve issued just 10 tweets, all of which are most dull and uninteresting by comparison with days of yore.

And after a very long flight we’re back at HQ!

Morning everyone and how are we today? We’re up bright and early in #Enstone, here’s a view to start your day

We love this awesome @GoogleDoodles design celebrating Ayrton #Senna‘s Birthday. A true legend

Right, let’s have your suggestions for Friday tunes please… We’ll kick off with this one today 😉 http://youtu.be/yZqmarGShxg

“We are ready to fight!” Oh yes. Hear from our new Deputy in town ahead of the #MalaysianGP

Hello, fancy a little catch up with @RGrosjean over your coffee today? Check this out –> http://goo.gl/UNeI5R

Speaking of @RGrosjean check out what he’s up to today with #EmaarF1@MyDowntownDubai… #DontLookDown#ClearlyNotAfraidOfHeights

Nice tour on the Burj Khalifa ! @fostelf@MyDowntownDubai#r8mainhttp://instagram.com/p/l6yjKjk-NF/ 

Then today

Morning all, how are we this fine Tuesday? Fancy a little bit of reading material to kick it off?

“Whatever It Takes”. No, no Belinda Carlisle, it’s @Pastormaldo‘s view on the #MalaysianGP–> http://goo.gl/zSqZC1 pic.twitter.com/eMcO0qusDM

 

And that’s your lot. Methinks Grandpappy judge has been put in charge – then again…..

Still – I guess if Crashtor’s car will travel further than 20 laps and can harness more than 30% of the ERS Renault power, we may see some entertainment there.

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TJ13 readers are most insightful

We ran a poll which closed before the start of the Melbourne weekend asking how many cars would finish in Australia. Of course we now know this exact form of question is slightly ambiguous. However, there were 14 cars running, though one was not classified.

Indeed 14 cars in the TJ13 readers poll received the highest number of votes, with 16% of the vote.

Now folks, for this weekends lottery, I would like you to select 6 from the following numbers please…. 😉

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Caption competition

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24 years ago today

This beauty won the Brazilian GP

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78 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 25th March 2014

    • Looking forward to super Max claiming the firsts points on the ‘new teams’ this weekend in Sepang.

  1. Re: “….. However, TJ13 has held the view from the first incursions into Crimea by Russian forces that it is inconceivable should matters continue to escalate, that the UK government will not sanction UK companies from giving President Putin the international recognition and the publicity, holding an F1 race would provide. …. ”

    Dream on. There are hundreds of UK companies continuing meeting their contractual obligations in Russia as I type this reply.
    There are bigger fish than F1 that the UK has to worry about in its trading relations with Russia:
    “BP’s stake in Rosneft, run by Putin associate Igor Sechin, is the biggest single foreign investment in Russia’s oil industry and provides 30 percent of the London-based company’s production, according to Deutsche Bank AG.”

    • ….I think you misread the tea leaves. To exclude Russia from the G8 is an enormous political statement…. with much more to come….

      …further some oil company story does not have the stratospheric impact that Putin talking to Alonso and Vettel on the grid would have – as it is beamed across the planet live to 500m viewers

      …then you have the publicity on the regular news channels who take the FOM TV footage broadcast to a few billion more people.

      • Putin isn’t bothered in the slightest by the G8 exclusion.

        Guess when this was reported: ” ….. Putin announced he would not be attending the Group of 8 summit later this week at Camp David, an unprecedented action for a Russian head of state and what looks like a direct snub of President Obama. …Putin explained that he is “too busy” establishing his new government to attend the annual summit of G-8 leaders, and that he will send former president and current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instead. That may be all there is to it. But the move has sparked an outpouring of discussion in Moscow because it’s unheard-of for a Kremlin leader to dodge an opportunity to share the big stage with his Western counterparts and enjoy an intimate tête-à-tête on the sidelines with the president of the United States. … ”

        To save you searching, the date was May 2012.

    • “There are bigger fish than F1 that the UK has to worry about in its trading relations with Russia:”

      The issue is that the European nations want to make a big political statement against the Russian incursion of Crimea, but without hurting their own domestic “big fish”, such as BP or gas imports, as you say. Canceling the F1 race would make a pretty big political statement, but with inconsequential impact on European economies. Having said that, I doubt this will have any impact on Russia at all. Putin’s popularity is at an all time high right now. Russians who are affected by the economic sanctions are already touting it as a badge of honor. The Russian Duma has just passed a motion asking Obama to extend the sanctions to all Russian MPs.

      • F1 is not controlled by European governments, unlike membership of G8.

        If European governments had any influence on F1, Bahrain would have been dropped from the calendar long ago.

          • That is as maybe, but without imposing very wide ranging sanctions indeed (unlikely, absent a further incursion into Ukraine), it’s very difficult to see by what mechanism either the UK or the EU might seek to prevent competitors taking part.

            A selective sanction involving only F1 just isn’t going to happen, IMO.

            (Not that I don’t despise Putin for the nasty little megalomaniacal sociopath that he is.)

          • …it would be easy to select certain components/alloys/etc…. and outlaw their export to/or use by UK companies visiting – Russia…

            Anyhow, if it happens it wouldn’t come to that – pressure would be sufficient….

            …they a’int going to let Putin smooze our finest engineers and celebrities in front of 100’s millions of global eyeballs….

            Headline “Lewis and Roscoe visit the Kremlin” ??? 🙄

        • Indeed. And speaking of which, Bernie Ecclestone and Vladimir Putin complement each other like a hand and glove. Both are greedy, corrupt, hypocritical, and homophobic bastards.

  2. Leave it to the gavel man to write a news item about Ferrari and still get a dig at RB in. First of all, they didn’t keep a ‘dignified silence’, if those reports are true they kept an ’embarrassed silence’.

    But I’m a benevolent hippo and therefore shalt try to explain to you where the bear shits.

    First of all, the problems are unlikely to be caused by a ‘bug’ in the FIA software as the system has been in place before and wasn’t even questioned by Red Bull. Therefore for the sake of argument, let’s assume that FIA has a somewhat more reliable system to estimate a motorcar’s velocity than, let’s say, determining how much propellant travelled through a hose in a given interval of time. All the FIA system does (IMHO) is estimating the vehicles velocity before issuing a ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ on the question of whether or not to allow the use of ERS. This simple algorithm to fail for a specific manufacturer and all of their cars and only them is nigh-on impossible unless FIA engages in a light spot of targeted sabotage.

    So the ball lies firmly in Ferrari’s court. Whenever the FIA watchdog decides ‘thou art allowed to unleash thy ERS’, it’s up to the manufacturers software to decide whether it is wise to do so. Just because FIA says it is allowed, doesn’t mean it is a prudent moment to let the electric motor go all swivel-eyed and jizz all over the rev band. Unleashing 120 electric cavallinos the exact moment when the driver has taken the foot off the loud pedal would be singularly unhelpful. So the software has to check throttle position, wheelspin and other parameters to come to a decision of whether and how to allow the ERS to be used. All manufacturers seem to have problems in exactly that part. Both Vettel and Rosberg said that their engines just belch out some additional horse powers and leave it to the driver to cope with the consequences, while in Ferrari’s case it appears that the system continually misread at least one parameter and always came to the conclusion that, while allowed, unleashing the ERS would be unwise.

    That might sound like Ferrari are idiots, but they’re far from it. One has to keep in mind that NASA detonated a rocket shortly after take-off, because their software couldn’t decide whether the angle of attack was 3°, which would have meant being slightly off course, or actually 30°, which would have meant crashing into Hawaii. They lost an entire mars mission, because two pieces of software couldn’t agree on which scale the data were being exchanged. These things happen if two manufacturers produce software which is later supposed to interface.

    • Lol! Thanks for the entertaining read:) I especially liked the statement about the electric motor going all swivel-eyed and jizzing all over the rev band. I’ve never heard ERSs described in such a fascinating way…

    • You only picked up on “dignified” because Red Bull don’t understand dignity.

      Ferrari haven’t spoken out against the press who have blatantly stirred the reactions of their readerships by suggesting Ferrari had thrown grieving families out of the luxury hotels in Malaysia. In no report have I read that these hotels are used by all the F1 teams, media and support crew.
      Yet Ferrari haven’t responded because as you know, everyone has different views of the same statistics, subject, movie – whatever.

      Red Bull is able to run their business in the most outrageous manner and it is only Dieter who has to be kept in the loop. Unfortunately Ferrari and Mercedes are two companies that cannot afford cheating claims or bad press against them and are careful with what they submit to print.

      If you remember back to the late 80’s Benetton had that enviable position too, in F1 and the world. They had billboards that displayed death in hospitals beds and it caused outrage but their response was – there is no such thing as bad publicity.

      I noticed you defended RBR with comments about Ferrari threatening to leave the sport at times. Ask most Tifosi about that and they’ll tell you the Old Man was too dramatic for his own good. No-one believed him for a second. Do you honestly think if you wrote a comment about Ferrari threatening to leave I’d jump on my high horse in defence? They have played that card so often it’s kind of embarrassing…

    • Interesting – the scrutineers report shows that all cars powered by mercedes engines ran ECU’s with firmware of an earlier version than the other teams.

      This would imply that a modification was included into the firmware for some facility that the mercedes engine did not require, but the other teams had requested.

      Did the other teams misunderstand the modification interface definitions?

      I’m sure I read an interview with FA were he stated that his ‘problem’ cleared around lap 10 and he never had to save fuel (he was running as fast as the car could go)!

  3. CATERHAM

    It’s worth noting that they have entered the MotoGP championship this year in Moto 2 with Air Asia ( Tony’s company ) as title sponsor.

    And in Zarco they have a potential world champion.

    Maybe that’s where Tony’s future lies ?

    Adios F1 & QPR ?

    http://www.caterhammoto2.com/

      • But a car at least doesn’t fall over if you leave it alone for 5 minutes and you don’t have to dress like a power ranger to drive it 😉

        • But the duel between Marquez and Rossi in the last laps was exquisite and far more exciting than watching NR drive down the road by himself.

          • Matt, it’s been may years that any F1 race has competed with the spectacle that is MotoGP.

            What makes it even better is that Marques is a racer like Rossi. Despite there being 13 years between them and a career just starting and the other in its twilight, they would have had fun and pushed the limits.
            Not like Lorenzo, Pedrosa and previously Casey Stoner moaning about Rossi being ‘forceful’

          • Carlo

            I don’t know how you can say that Lorenzo or Stoner aren’t racers ?

            That’s just total bullshit !

            Neither of them ” moaned ” about Rossi being forceful.

            What they did do – was go out and beat him – twice each in the last few years.

            You forget it was Rossi who ran away from Yamaha – because Lorenzo was thrashing him well and truly …..

          • Great point, manky
            also I hate Rossi and his media crafted funny persona
            he always had the best equipment, staff and resources, when he had a crap motorcycle, he moaned, failed to do anything and jumped ship
            it doesn’t cost to remember he had the NSR fully developed by the legendar Doohan, then the RCV with input of Doohan too, moved to Yamaha, which was widely regarded as the best in terms of chassis and handling, the Furusawa came with the “big bang” engines that saved fuel and tires and provided smooth hp output, with the benefit of better grip

            also, regarding his rivals, in the 7 seasons riding with Stoner, the australian had much better results, equalling 2 titles alongside JL and Rossi, despite riding the Ducati for many season while Rossi had the superior M1
            I think Rossi fans are too fanatical

          • Great point, manky
            also I hate Rossi and his media crafted funny persona
            he always had the best equipment, staff and resources, when he had a crap motorcycle, he moaned, failed to do anything and jumped ship
            it doesn’t cost to remember he had the NSR fully developed by the legendayr Doohan, then the RCV with all the HRC budget, Burgess expertise and some input of Doohan too, then moved to Yamaha, which was widely regarded as the best in terms of chassis and handling, and Furusawa came with the “big bang” engines that saved fuel, tires and provided smooth hp output, with the benefit of better grip

            also, regarding his rivals, in the 7 seasons riding with Stoner, the australian had much better results, equalling 2 titles alongside JL and Rossi, despite riding the Ducati for many seasons while Rossi had the superior M1

            I think Rossi fans are too fanatical

          • Great point, manky
            also I hate Rossi and his media crafted funny persona
            he always had the best equipment, staff and resources, when he had a crap motorcycle, he moaned, failed to do anything and jumped ship
            it doesn’t cost to remember he had the NSR fully developed by the legendary Doohan, then the RCV with all the HRC budget, Burgess expertise and some input of Doohan too, then moved to Yamaha, which was widely regarded as the best in terms of chassis and handling, and Furusawa came with the “big bang” engines that saved fuel, tires and provided smooth hp output, with the benefit of better grip

            also, regarding his rivals, in the 7 seasons riding with Stoner, the australian had much better results, equalling 2 titles alongside JL and Rossi, despite riding the Ducati for many seasons while Rossi had the superior M1

            I think Rossi fans are too fanatical

    • What’s also interesting is that they have been using the F1 teams’ equipment and facilities to help develop the bike.

      Notably in the CFD & aero department ….

      • No new parts on tbd F1 car for a while then, Fernandez is just setting himself up to fail right from the start really! Shame, if he just understood F1 a little bit, he would know what is required…..

    • All the usual Fernandes spin there, after ………zip?

      Just another example typifying him from the sub-continent wanting to be Jack of All Trades and failing.

  4. Little bit off topic & I apologise if this has been asked already but would anyone happen to know whether the victims of circumstance features will be happening again this year?

    • … excellent question Josh. It was due last night, but we deferred to eruptions from the waterhole.

      It will be here 00:01 GMT Wednesday morning – so late tonight…

  5. OK so I spent a little Google time looking at variance in fuel injectors, and the best variance (meaning smallest) was 1-2%. However the question is, is this number a coefficient or an actual measured variance in the fuel mass delivered. Because if it’s a coefficient, then the actual fuel mass delivered can vary by up to 4%.

    Here’s how it works. Say that they claim their measurement is more accurate than the FFM, .9%. Therefore they get to use their own measurement and set the flow to 99 kg per hour. However the actual fuel mass delivered at that coefficient can vary by as much as 4%, meaning that their engine could be receiving up to 103 kg per hour (technically 102.96). Astute observers will note that Mercedes was told to turn their flow down and chose 96 kg per hour to avoid going over the limit, which matches this number almost perfectly.

    BTW in road cars anything below 5% seems to be considered good, so there you go.

    • Interesting figures – it looks like people are expecting 100% accuracy which is well nigh impossible – but where should the line be drawn and by whom?
      Not by one of the competitors, I suggest.

      • It’s been said many times already but RBR demand perfection from everyone else (FIA, Pirelli, Magneti Marelli) but they themselves couldn’t build a car that could complete a race distance in testing.

        A race series of prototypes utilizing cutting edge technologies means sometimes things will go wrong. If everything ran perfectly all the time then it wouldn’t be true F1 to me.

  6. RE Ferrari ERS – is it possible to design the software in the boxes to have a purposeful random “failures” written into it without the teams knowing about it? I can totally see the FIA doing such a thing.

  7. This shows what the FIA sees during a race. To determine the accuracy of the sensor all one needs is to physically measure what you start and physically measure what you finish with. If the sensor is accurate within the FIA allowed tolerance, the amount of fuel you started with less what is left at the end of the race will be equal to what the sensor has detected. If not the sensor is faulty. I suspect the FIA did this and know that the sensor was accurate. End of story.

    • Yes, except that the critical number is instantaneous flow, not total flow. It is very possible to a sensor like that to be more accurate at lower flow rates.

  8. Off topic…slightly…but that strategy group should be discussing of ideas like reintroducing the best of x races for the title (that way, retirements in this first season of the new era won’t be the deciding factor for the title) rather than making the races shorter.

  9. Engine noise survey – this really is a waste of time and text! The majority of people hear the noise of motorsport, four and two wheels via their chosen media device. I would maintain that it is the transmitted noise that is not only different, but “bad”. This applied to previous years also, especially in-car and applies to motorcycle racing too, the on-bike sound is like I used to make pushing my Dinky toys around the floor. So it is up to Bernie and his media personnel to try to capture and transmit the sound as it is heard on location. How it is received then depends on the quality of one’s receiving equipment. I doubt I will be able to attend a live F1 race again, but have happy memories of the Matra V12 screaming it’s head off many years ago, which possibly accounts for some of my tinnitus now, to say nothing of attending and competing in motorsport for years without ear protection!

  10. One question about the alleged Ferrari software problems. In the radio transcript there is hardly any communication for Sauber and Ferrari, but Fernando got this message in lap 30: “I remind you, ‘K1′ available. I saw the McLaren with the DRS on” and Sutil got this in lap #6 : “Adrian, we see your problem. We are working on it, it takes a while. Stay tuned, keep fighting.´”
    Apart from those there isn’t even a hint at missing MGU-K. Why would none of the 3 teams say something if they were missing a mammoth 120KW due to a FIA software?

    • Indeed Vettel was straight on the radio on lap 1 saying ‘no K’.. and ‘gutted’ would be an understatement for when he was passed by Chilton and reported it on the radio!

    • Conspiracy: they don’t complain, but their message won’t show in the message-list.

      • I meant
        Conspiracy:
        They don’t complain out loud to the press about FIA’s altered software and their radio messages are omitted from the transcript.

    • I noticed that too on the transcripts, I wonder if the team can flash up information (messages) in the screen of the steering wheel so not to put the driver off by talking at a crucial point in the track, but instead send a message that pops up on the screen and the driver can read it and confirm, when on a less demanding point on track. I know they have a confirm button on the wheel and the can tell the pit-wall about tyre choice and how the tyre are behaving (graining, blistering etc) and about tyre pressures. So it’s not out of the question that with the new smart screen on the wheel, the teams and driver have a second and most importantly secret line of communication. Also does anyone know if the smart screen is also touch screen? I know you can buy gloves that work with touch screen technology. Just my thoughts on it.

  11. What a boring wind-tunnel video clip. Not a single piece of the Hippo’s furniture went flying past… 😉

        • Yes, though probably not for long enough:) it’s due to TJ13 that I now have a writing addiction that wakes me up early enough in the morning to get some writing/research done before the children wake up (though I did just send my 17 year old off to bed!)

          • It’s compelling stuff here isn’t it. What with water based mammals threatening the gavel wielding hair piece and from what I have seen today plenty of animosity between the Krauts and the Eyeties!

          • You’re right Carlo:) It does help to keep me entertained while waiting for the race I’m trying to watch download on u-tube – for some reason our internet is going incredibly slowly this morning – I can’t even blame the children – they’re all in bed…

  12. Why does every bullshit story Bernie wants to plant in the press have the name Christian Sylt attached to it? Are newspaper editors really so naive or do they just not care…? Wait, no need to answer

    • He actually posted comments to degens himself on F1F, which i thought was nice

    • I have also noticed Sylt’s name increasingly mentioned recently on this website, and thought it strange how its now, all of a sudden, apparently out of nowhere. Was wondering if a bromance was there.

  13. “Apparently, the new computer generation of kids F1 is looking to attract, wouldn’t conceive of playing a game for the length of an F1 race without some kind of break – or end of level scenario”

    The computer generation kids in this family seem able to play a game for hours – a F1 race is short in comparison:)

    • Exactly, I have to switch the router off to stop my lad on school nights, but weekend comes and I switch it off a midnight and back on at 6, 18hours seems to still not be long enough according to him.

      I personally wouldn’t be nearly as impress by the cars if they only ran 1hour races. I think that finding the ballance between 1 lap pace and GP length endurance is something F1 has always been about, next it will be 1 sprint race and 1 feature race just like GP2

      • I’d love the races to be longer personally:) It’s all the different strategies that make it so compelling…you can never tell until they end how they’re all going to play out..

        • I’d like to see them increased to 400km and a time limit of 3 hours, give em 150kg of fuel and it would really make for some very strategic raceing with hopefully the final 100k as a sprint to finish. They can use any 2 compounds from the range they wan’t, provided they tell race control which 2 before qually. That would be a cool tweek to proceedings.

          • I’ll vote for that – it sounds amazing!!

            I was watching a race from 1990 and almost everyone had a different combination of tyres as they could use any combination they liked. Some even mixed them up with hard tyres on one side of the car and softs on the other side. This isn’t probably new to those of you who have watched F1 for more than a couple of years but it was new to me…

            Do you think anyone will ever ask us what we want?

  14. Caption comp.
    Ric “Do you get paid more than me then?”

    Vet “well, I didn’t like the way they calculated my salary. So I told them I’d calculate myself”

  15. Surveys like this (not just on this website) are flawed IMO, since I believe there are two different points that need to be questioned – Sound and Volume.

    If a 2-part poll was run, asking both questions above, I believe (but I could be wrong) that the findings will be that the sound is perfectly adequate, it’s just the volume of the sound that many feel needs to be louder. Just asking about the sound doesn’t help identify what voters think about the 2 real questions at hand.

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