Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 26th March 2014

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Mateschitz: “Build our own engine”

Trulli drives Formula-E, ‘A proper racing car’

Il Padrino’s reign extended

Malaysia F1 concert cancelled

Could Red Bull actually have a case?

Why the Ferrari MGU-K story is possibly a myth

Simona De Silvestro – Women are the Future

FIA Press Conference Schedule: Malaysia

#F1 Victims of Circumstance: Melbourne 2013 – #AusGP

Montagny doubts Lotus can return to the top (GMM)

Sepang not joining chorus to make F1 louder (GMM)

Schumacher: The grieving process has begun

Zanardi: Schumi? “In life we have a pre-ordained destiny”

Reader Poll

The future of Caterham


 Mateschitz: “Build our own engine”

The usually shy and retiring Austrian billionaire behind the Red Bull F1 racing team has been most vocal in recent days. Mateschitz has abandoned his reclusive state and informs Austrain news association (APA) today, “I think our car is once again ‘state of the art’, but in order to prove this, it also needs a perfect power unit in terms of hardware and software,”

Asked directly if he believes that all RBR’s current woes are due to the Renault turbo V6 ‘power unit’; Mateschitz’s curt response was “Yes”.

Having threatened over the past few days to pull out of F1, Mateschitz rhetoric this past week has been most revealing but to suggest he is being ironic or amusing would be stretching the point. Didi is giving the impression that in fact he’s a bit of a bully boy, who begins throwing his weight around when things are not going his way.

In a similar petulant vein, Mateschitz incredibly threatens Renault by suggesting there is an alternative to working with their French partner which is to “probably just to make an engine ourselves.” Short memory huh? Renault have deliver Mateschitz and his team 4 consecutive title winning engines, and had Newey et al stopped complaining in 2009 about the double diffuser and instead developed his own more quickly, that would have been 5 consecutive titles.

There are times in life when it becomes apparent that uber power and an almost endless supply of dosh creates a fantasy existence, which is in fact a reality to those who are so far removed from the day to day happenings on planet earth.

If this is some coded reference to the perennial story that Infiniti wishes to make an F1 engine, then as TJ13 has repeatedly stated – Nissan and Renault are co-owned by an equity holding company governed by the French-Lebanese-Brazilian – Carlos Ghosn. Further, Renault have a pedigree as an F1 engine supplier, which in 11 race wins time, will see them second only to Ferrari in history.

However, if Mateschitz actually believes that given enough of his ‘caffeine cash’, RBR could build an F1 engine and be competitive sometime in the next half decade – then it’s time the men in white coats obliged both the F1 fans and his employees and lead Didi away to a life of quiet seclusion in his $1.7m Deep Flight Super Falcon submarine.

This may in fact already be a sensible suggestion, as having inferred Red Bull should ditch Renault, Mateschitz’s continues. However, “I am confident this process will be fast and we can catch up to Mercedes by the third race. There is no reason to think that this (winning the 2014 title) is not still our goal.” 

Mmm

Granted, it was amusing to watch Remi Taffin squirming during various press engagements during the Melbourne GP weekend, and at one point he looked as though his blood pressure had rocketed such that he may begin emitting steam and smoke in a fashion similar to the new Renault F1 engine.

On the other hand, Ricciardo’s performance was encouraging for the Frenchman but it merely demonstrated that were Renault allowed to run to their own set of engine regulations, they would have been around a minute behind the Mercedes of Rosberg – had the German bothered to gather his steed into something quicker than a casual trot.

We should not forget that of the 7 retirements in Albert Park, 5 were Renault powered cars. So despite Mateschitz bold claims that his team will be a front runner by race 3, the power behind the Bull’s is still highly questionable.

Taffin accepts, “We had several issues across the cars in Melbourne but we have recreated the problems in the dyno at Viry. Most are fixed and the remaining will be under control by Friday in Sepang. While we anticipate further issues may occur we are much more able to react quickly to minimize their impact.

Sepang is one of the circuits whose technical requirements will change under the new regulations. In the V8 era the circuit sat towards the middle of the table for the challenge it posed for engines but now it will be one of the toughest races of the year.”

Yet the mantra from Horner of 2013 still repeats in our consciousness, “whenever you run an F1 car, you are learning something”. It may appear obtuse to observe, though conversely, when you can’t run an F1 car, you are falling behind the learning others are achieving.

In terms of track time and subsequent ‘real running’ data gathered, the Renault engine is light years behind that of the Mercedes.

The demands of Sepang will not offer Red Bull, Caterham, Lotus or Toro Rosso much comfort as Taffin explains. “Of the six main components of the Power Unit, the internal combustion engine will be under the most pressure in Malaysia. The humidity in Sepang made it a little bit easier on normally aspirated engines since power comes down as the water content in the air increases.

This means we were generally able to offset the impact of the two long straights. This year we won’t have this luxury. With a turbo engine the air intake is controlled at all times regardless of ambient conditions so those long straights will really start to hurt. As a result Sepang will become a lot less forgiving as twice a lap the PUs will be flat out, with the turbo revving at close to 100,000rpm for over 10 seconds.”

One could be forgiven for suggesting the bench testing of the ‘dyno at Viry pre-season was little other than calamitous. So the fixes Renault have theorised since Australia – until proven on track – will offer small comfort for the Renault customer teams.

Of course as Taffin observes, Renault have no ‘actual data’ from track running which remotely represents the 2 long straights of Sepang. So only time will tell whether this weekend is some kind of improvement or indeed a further unmitigated disaster for the French engine manufacturer.

Only then, will the bold claims of swift progress from Mateschitz be verified; and Vettel fans will have to wait and see whether his timeline for the re-emergence of a rampaging Bull is remotely accurate or not.

Otherwise it’s Plan B – for Red B?

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Trulli drives Formula-E, ‘A proper racing car’

Grand Prix winner – Jarno Trulli – has commended the new fully electric Formula E car – the Spark-Renault SRT_01E – following a recent test drive at the La Ferté Gaucher circuit near Choisy-le-Roi, France – where he spent a whole day at the wheel of the now fully-tested single-seater using the final race-going 200kw (270bhp) battery.

The SRT_01E has been designed and built by Spark Racing Technology in collaboration with a consortium of the leading manufacturers in motor-sport. The chassis has been constructed by Dallara, with McLaren Electronics Systems providing the electric motor, gearbox and electronics, Williams Advanced Engineering the batteries, Renault the overall systems integration and Michelin the bespoke 18” tyres.

The 39-year-old Italian signed up last week to the Championship’s Drivers’ Club initiative as an ‘expression of interest’ in the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship – the world’s first global electric race series which begins in September.

Trulli is one of the most experienced drivers in the history of F1 and competed in 256 Grand Prix in his 15 year career. In the all time F1 entry list he is tied in third place with Ricardo Patrese; with only Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher having participated in more events.

Throughout his career he drove for Minardi, Prost, Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Caterham, née Lotus. He secured his one and only victory at Monaco in 2004 but was perhaps best known for his out-standing qualifying pace.

After the test, Trulli expressed his thoughts on the new cars and championship. “There is a lot of potential in this series and it’s going to be fun because you are going to be driving in street circuits bringing the cities into the fans’ homes.”

“As a first day I expected something different and it certainly is, but having a feeling of a racing car was the most important thing. I have been racing for 30 years, 15 in Formula One, so I have seen more or less everything so I anticipated finding something unlike anything else but it gave me the same feeling of the old days.”

Trulli concluded: “From inside the cockpit it feels like driving a proper Formula One car, the sound is different but you still hear the sound of the electrical engine and gearbox, so in terms of feeling it’s perfect for a racing driver. Maybe from the outside it seems different but inside you don’t notice it. So far I have enjoyed it because it’s a nice car to drive.

The SRT_01E has completed around 1,500kms of trouble-free testing and will be signed off for production shortly. The first cars are expected to be delivered to the respective teams at the Championship’s new headquarters at Donington Park, England in around six weeks.

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Il Padrino’s reign extended

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo will remain the President of Ferrari. The father figure who has lead the sports car manufacturer since 1991, was approved by the Board to continue in office until at least 2017. Also re-appointed as Vice President Piero Ferrari, son of company founder Enzo Ferrari and  Amedeo Felisa remains as CEO.

Harald Wester, formerly CEO of Maserati UK and CEO of the Maserati brand, is appointed as the supervising executive for both the Ferrari and Maserati brands.

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Malaysia F1 concert cancelled

A concert to mark Malaysia’s Formula One Grand Prix weekend which was set to feature US star Christina Aguilera has been cancelled due to the announcement this week of the crash of the Malaysian Airlines B777 airliner.

State oil company Petronas, which sponsors the Mercedes F1 racing team and the annual concert “Twin Towers @live”, said it called off the show as “a sign of respect to the families and next-of-kin of the crew and passengers of flight MH370”.

Prime Minister Najib Razak announced late Monday that the Malaysia Airlines flight, which went missing on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard, had crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean.

The concert was to be held Friday and Saturday at the Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers and feature Aguilera, South Korean star Rain and R&B musician Craig David.

“It is truly a tragedy and we are deeply saddened about the crew and passengers of flight MH370,” said a statement by Petronas on the concert’s Facebook page.

Formula One organisers are meeting to discuss a possible tribute to victims at this weekend’s event. In 2008, David Coulthard led a tearful tribute as Formula 1 drivers paid their respects to the 153 victims of the Madrid air crash. They held a 1 minute silence ahead of a practice session at the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who arrived in the Malaysian capital earlier, said on Twitter that “all my prayers go to friends & families of the passengers on #MH370”.

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Could Red Bull actually have a case?

As always in life things are not always a clear-cut affair and it does start to look as if Red Bull might have a case in the fuel-flow debacle. They were disqualified for breaking two rules:

3.2 Competitors must ensure that their cars comply with the conditions of eligibility and safety
throughout practice and the race. (2014 Sporting regulations)

5.1.4 Fuel mass flow must not exceed 100kg/h. (2014 Technical Regulations)

Basically both mean the same. The FIA stewards decided that their fuel flow had exceeded 100kg/h, thus they hadn’t kept their car compliant. The end. The team decided to appeal that decision as they insist that their fuel flow did in fact not exceed 100 kg/h, thus neither rule was broken and the disqualification unjust.

The fact that they had been warned and told to reduce fuel flow doesn’t have any direct impact. They were not legally required to turn the fuel flow down. Technical directives can legally be disregarded. That however carries the risk that the technical delegate informs the stewards and they decide – their decision however is legally binding.

Another technical directive says: If at any time WE consider that the sensor has an issue which has not been detected by the system WE will communicate this to the team concerned and switch to a back-up system.

“We” in this case are the technical delegates. Again, that is not legally binding and can therefore be challenged. Red Bull could for instance argue that the fuel sensor SHOULD HAVE been considered to have an issue and that the technical delegates knowingly insisted on believing a flawed device. The Technical Regulations do not state that the fuel flow sensor is the only valid device. That again was a technical directive, not a rule and can – Horner argues – legally be disregarded on ones own risk.

What RB could challenge would be the homologation of the sensor. It did deliver significantly different readings on runs 1 to 3 in Free Practice whereas Run 4 was consistent in its reading which Red Bull insist was faulty. One line of argumentation could be that the sensor should have lost its homologation the moment it decided to switch its readings without outside influence.

Now, the FIA is of course not a democracy, but all those, who said that RB doesn’t have a case at all, might need to think again. They will lose the appeal as the FIA will not admit to making a mistake, but they’ll probably have to accept some egg on their face.

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Why the Ferrari MGU-K story is possibly a myth

Yesterday we ran a news item that allegedly a FIA software “bug” may have caused all Ferrari engined cars to run with crippled access to the MGU-K. Frankly, I think it’s unlikely – even if it were true, the FIA would have had to neutralize the race as you simply cannot let a race result stand in which the governing body crippled a quarter of all participants. I’m not even sure it wouldn’t break their own rules.

Secondly, there is a complete lack of pertinent team-radio traffic about it. One would think that if three teams realize on lap 1 that their MGU-K is locked as soon as the car dips below 100kph, there’d be some chatter about it. There were also no ‘success’ messages after the drivers’ first pitstops nor any questions from the pit-wall. More importantly, however, there was also no marked improvement in the lap times of any of the Ferrari powered cars.

Third – None of the three ‘affected’ teams contested the race result or offered as much as a single word about it. So they are either ridiculous pushovers or the story has simply been mis-reported by Omnicorse and Auto-Bild, the only two members of the media that ran the story. The English speaking press reported absolutely nothing.

Suffice to say that probably someone just forgot that it’s still a week until Apr 1st.

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Simona De Silvestro – Women are the Future

Vittorio Alfieri – from F1WEB.it – recently sat down and spoke to Simona de Silvestro about her Formula One ambitions. The 25 year old Swiss driver has most recently raced in Indycars and has been picked by the Sauber team as an ‘affiliated driver.’

De Silvestro explained: “My position is a little unusual in that it’s in preparation for 2015. While a traditional test driver is usually somebody that has a little bit of experience in F1 – so that if something happens to one of the main drivers the test driver is ready to go. Being an ‘affiliated driver’ is more about preparation and learning before getting into the car.”

Further questions centred on the path to F1: “I’ve been there (in Hinwil) quite a bit because I started my training program a week ago so I’ve been there pretty much every day. Not a lot of people are there right now because they’re at the Grand Prix, but I’ve seen everyone else and have been there a lot since we signed. I haven’t tested in the simulator yet, but we have scheduled some sessions”.

The all important super-license required for entry into Formula One is a critical part of Simona’s focus.“The plan is to obtain it at the tyre-tests at either Barcelona or Silverstone but it’s not been finalised yet. I’m concentrating on the test I will have with the older car, lets see how it goes but I hope to have the super-license as soon as possible.

It was suggested to De SIlvestro, “It’s been over twenty years since a woman tried to compete in F1 whereas the path seems easier in Indycar”, She replied, “Not exactly. Danica Patrick opened the door in Indycar nearly ten years ago but Formula One is a much higher level. There are only 22 places available, so already it’s difficult and the driver has to be the complete package to gain entry. Ultimately you have to be fast and until now that has been missing. I hope to change all that”.

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FIA Press Conference Schedule: Malaysia

Thursday, March 27th, 15.00 hours local time (08.00 CET)

Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham)
Danill Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
Pastor Maldonado (Lotus)
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

Friday, March 28, 16.00 hours local time (09.00 CET)

Cyril Abiteboul (Caterham)
Federico Gastaldi (Lotus)
Paul Hembrey (Pirelli)
Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber)
Graeme Lowdon (Marussia)
Franz Tost (Toro Rosso)

Red Bull nicely avoid having to be questioned on the matter of fuel flow sensors. Thanks ‘uncle Bernie’ from all in Milton Keynes.

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Montagny doubts Lotus can return to the top (GMM)

Franck Montagny has made a bleak assessment not only of ailing Lotus’ 2014 prospects, but also Williams’ chances of mounting a title challenge this season. Lotus’ campaign so far has been nothing short of disastrous as the visually-striking E22 struggles not only for pace but also merely to run.

“It is a really complicated situation for them,” Montagny, the former Super Aguri driver turned pundit for French television, told Le Figaro. “They lost Eric Boullier to McLaren, but that’s not the only thing — they are a hundred people less at Enstone after the winter. 100 people is significant and cannot be easily overcome. Today, I do not see how they can go back to the top of the table. They will be able to fight for the points but aiming higher, I would say, seems very difficult,” Montagny added.

Montagny, 36, also commented on the resurgent British team Williams, who are currently believed to have the second fastest car behind Mercedes.

“Williams should have had a podium in Australia,” he said. “Felipe Massa couldn’t do anything at the start when Kamui Kobayashi lost his brakes and hit him, and (Valtteri) Bottas had his puncture. But we have to be cautious because by half-time in the championship, Williams will not have the resources to continue to develop as aggressively as the big teams,” Montagny predicted.

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Sepang not joining chorus to make F1 louder (GMM)

According to the outspoken Australian Ron Walker, his fellow F1 promoters will speak with “an enormous voice” next week in Bahrain.

Walker, fiercely critical of the quieter sound of the sport’s new turbo V6 engines, also heads an F1 promoters’ alliance, and he has called a meeting ahead of the forthcoming Grand Prix in the island Kingdom.

According to ‘The Independent’ newspaper and F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, he tips the promoters to tell “Bernie (Ecclestone), enough is enough. This is not what we bought’.” However, one of Walker’s fellow promoters is unlikely to be joining the chorus.

Razlan Razali, the boss of the Malaysian Grand Prix venue at Sepang, is not among those who are denouncing the new sound, insisting F1 remains “amazing”. “Even the quieter engines, which goes against what many have been expecting in motor sport previously, might not entirely be a bad thing,” he told the New Straits Times. “Parents should now be less afraid of bringing their children to races with the reduced noise levels.”

And Razali said F1’s new technology, producing higher top speeds with less noise and fuel, is impressive. “You see a small engine still able to produce 750 horse power and clock laptimes almost as fast as the V8s did last year, so it is just amazing how far technology has advanced,” he insisted. Nonetheless, Ecclestone and even FIA president Jean Todt are reported to be making moves to spice up the sound.

Franck Montagny, a former F1 driver turned French television pundit, acknowledged the issue. “For the public, when they go and see the GP2 cars race on the same weekend and they’re louder, it will seem like they are faster as well. So there is something wrong,” he is quoted by Le Figaro.

The Telegraph newspaper reports that the Ecclestone-run Formula One Management is already “looking at where they position the microphones” around the tracks “to optimise the sound for television”. And some actual tweaks to the cars to make the engine note louder are also possible.

But Sam Collins, an editor of the Racecar Engineering magazine, is sceptical. “The concept of these engines means it’s quite difficult to redesign them to make them louder because you have the turbo sucking all the noise out,” he is quoted by the Guardian. “So you would have to go for a complete rulebook change and that would take two or three years to introduce and would be hugely expensive and basically teams would stamp their feet and say no,” Collins added.

Montagny disagrees.

“I think there will be a change this season,” he said. “Technically, it is not even very difficult to do so. There are already methods being used to allow electric cars to make more noise in order to avoid incidents with pedestrians. You could also intervene by putting in a second exhaust, but there will be no miracles,” he warned. “These engines are 1.6 litres — the era of the V10 and V8 is over.”

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Schumacher: The grieving process has begun

Gary Hartstein, former Formula One doctor from 2005 and 2012, believes that there were big mistakes made in the initial handling of Michael Schumacher’s condition. After hitting his head in December during a skiing holiday, medical attempts to bring him out of his medically-induced coma are so far proving unsuccessful.

“Serious lapses in judgement were evident during Michael’s initial management,” states Hartstein. “The result being that “these lapses – could and almost certainly did – worsen the outcome in Michael’s case”,

To be clear, the Grenoble hospital and ICU unit are not under scrutiny here, Hartstein considers the initial airlift to the ‘wrong’ hospital after his ski crash lost vital hours to save him, Schumacher was rushed to a local clinic instead of being taken directly to brain specialists.

However, despite this Hartstein is not criticising any of the medical teams who have assisted Michael – just the “system that allows head injured patients to be brought to non-neurosurgical centers, in the absence of other clear reasons to do so”.

Gary admits that he is not speaking directly for either the family or on behalf of Michael’s carers, however he observes that the fact Michael is still being treated in Grenoble and has not been transferred raises further questions.

The family have let it be known that Michael is not in a critical condition or immediate danger of losing his life. And Hartstein indicates, “from a medical point of view, once we’re out of the phase with dramatic and life-threatening elevated intracranial pressure, and barring other significant problems causing physiologic instability, the patient can be transferred arbitrarily far [away]”.

Michael could therefore be transferred to “a private clinic, or to an ICU-like environment that his entourage could build at his home”. However, he remains in Grenoble and the reason for this posits Hartstein is that “it is possible that the staff at Grenoble feel duty-bound to NOT place any pressure on the family to transfer out, despite the terribly dismal prognosis . . . because of the clear (but unquantifiable) contribution of medical misjudgement to that prognosis”.

This is not news, that Michael’s prognosis is “terribly dismal”, TJ13 reported the former F1 doc making similar observations some weeks ago and it is the case now that Michael is in a vegetative state.

By definition, “A vegetative state is defined as persistent when it lasts two months after the precipitating event,” Hartstein states. “As we’ve mentioned previously, the longer one remains in a vegetative state, the less the likelihood of emerging, and the higher the chances of severe sequelae if the patient does in fact emerge. Most definitions consider the vegetative state to be permanent one year after the injury”.

Yet unconfirmed reports have suggested Michael has shown signs of ‘awakening’ and/or ‘movement’. Gary explains, “here we must distinguish two things that almost always go together: wakefulness and awareness. Patients in a persistent vegetative state show signs of “wakefulness”, in that they have periods of spontaneous eye opening, and can even show cycles that resemble sleep-wake cycles. They are, however, unaware. There is a total, rigorous lack of any sign of self awareness (including pain, other than reflex responses, thirst, etc) or of the environment”.

There have been no reports confirmed or otherwise that Michael has demonstrated any ‘self awareness’, and certain German journalists have already reported that the medical team have already informed Michael’s wife, Corinna, that they believe Michael is in a permanent vegetative state and only a miracle can now save him.

“Patients who are in a persistent/permanent vegetative state have lifespans that are measured in months to a few years,” states Hartstein then adds, “They usually die of respiratory or urinary infections. Longer survivals have been described, but are exceptional”.

The most likely next step will be when Michael is removed from Grenoble which will be governed by matters even possibly beyond his family’s control. Gary explains, “It’s important to remember that Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds are a very limited resource. Every day intensivists are asked to admit critically ill patients to units whose beds are all filled.

This requires TRIAGE – deciding who has the best chance of being improved by being admitted to the unit. 

The ‘chronically critically ill’, patients like Michael who depend on technology – a ventilator – to stay alive, are a tremendous conundrum for ICU personnel.  

Therefore, I think it is inevitable that should the status quo continue, the ICU staff may well, at some point in the not-distant future, decide that the patient they’ve just been asked to admit has a higher need for that bed than Michael, given his clinical situation and prognosis”.

The former FIA medical delegate concludes with some sadness. “I always knew Michael was adored. I spent years at circuits drenched in red by the Ferrari caps, flags, and shirts, and all of that for Michael.

I’m still staggered by the depth and persistence of his fans’ love for him. And whereas I worried more than a bit about what was going to happen when and if really bad news got announced, I’ve realised that perhaps the lack of status updates has given us all a chance to move on a bit, to process what’s happening, and to start to . . . detach… and I think this is probably one of the unexpected “benefits” to the media strategy chosen by Michael’s family.

Somehow, I get the feeling that people are going to be ok, no matter what happens, because they’ve now had the time to process this all. I just regret that to get here, you’ve all had to work through feeling abandoned. That will go away too. I hope”.

TJ13 has observed on more than one occasion, the ongoing Ferrari #ForzaMichael tributes have the ominous feel of a daily eulogy. So it is true to some extent, as Gary observes, the grieving process for Michael Schumacher indeed has begun.

Gary Hartstein full story – “Odds and ends” Follow Gary’s blog, he talks a lot of sense about many things

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Zanardi: Schumi? “In life we have a pre-ordained destiny”

The inspirational Alessandro Zanardi was speaking to more than 1,800 local children at the Auditorium of Conciliation in Rome after his latest triumph; the day before he had won the 2014 Rome Marathon for hand-bikes. An Indycar Champion, former F1 driver and the London 2012 Paralympic champion – he was reflective on the challenges that life brings to people.

The event was called ‘A man, a challenge – Alex Zanardi‘ and he delivered his message with a veiled lesson in life.

“What happened to Schumacher shows that there is a pre-ordained destiny to our lives. Life is full of risks that we are not aware of – significant risks which are greater than what we experience on the track. After a life lived at 300km/h, Schumi had a skiing accident – an activity that is pursued by countless people.”

“Life is like that – except if a driver dies on the track, it is broadcast by the news but if a person dies in a car accident, on the roads, he becomes part of a statistic.”

“Sport has taught me that if you want to be effective and efficient you have to know which path to follow. You also have to make a list of priorities and concentrate on step one, step two and so on. A little ambition helps but on it’s own will not allow you to succeed.”

“Sport is first and foremost a great opportunity that should never be wasted.” he concluded.

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Reader Poll

Please continue to vote in our reader poll. I know we can pick holes in the semantics of ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘noise’ etc – but there is a point to this survey and I’d like a sample size with as many votes as possible. The software will only let you vote once from your IP address.

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The future of Caterham

As we reported in yesterday’s DN&C, the future of Caterham appears to be more uncertain than ever. Here’s what one of the twitter wags has to say on the matter, “News just in. Caterham to open hair salon” @grandprixdiary.

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64 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 26th March 2014

    • Yeah. Friggin horrible looking thing too.

      Those ridiculous thingies forward of the front wheels that keep staring straight ahead while the wheels are looking elsewhere.

  1. There’s also a rule for how much the car + driver package must weigh. So if the RB10 was weighed in the redbull garage and their scales said the weight is correct, but when later weighed by the stewards and it is found to be overweight. Should redbulls measurements take precedence over the FIA stewards reading?

    It’s funny how now that they’ve been punished for something, the technical directive, is of no importance, because it’s not a written rule, but rather an opinion. I’m certain they’ve abided to previous “technical directives/opinions” before.

    Typical arrogance!!

    • The backup that RB used was the one that was declared to be the backup in case of sensor failure, so it is not like they invented their own method. The sensor and the dedicated backup system are claimed by RB to have consistently shown different data since the fourth run in FP3.

      • Just shows that even though I read every post I still had no idea because for some reason I thought that they had used their own method to make the calculation, not a method that was already an official back up…

        It must be my blonde hair:)

        • I doubt it has anything to do with your hair colour m’lady. I thinks it has more to do with the fact that this whole affair is handled with very little transparency. You have to cobble together the bits and pieces from various TD’s, press releases and interviews and even 2 weeks after the fact you still find something new. Then you have to read the rules to find out, what is actually in them and what is ‘only’ a TD, hence challengable, yadda, yadda.
          This whole thing could blow up in FIA’s face even though they will lose the appeal and will probably be banned for a race or even more. They will drag a lot of FIA’s shenanigans into the open.
          For instance just the little detail that FIA allowed RB to take out the sensor after FP3, because the team had reported it as faulty. Since they were allowed to do so, the td must have agreed with them to some extent. When the new one was DOA before quali, the very same FIA ordered them to re-install the sensor they had allowed them to take out and now insist that it was giving correct readings. That will take some creative explaining away. RB will have a field day with that.

          • Interesting you believe they will be disqualified Fats.

            Back in 1994 Benetton were found to have traction control coding within their software system and yet because it couldn’t be proved it had been used the FIA had to let the results stand.

            But later in the season, any time the Benetton team sailed close to the wind, Schumacher’s over-taking on the parade lap – which had been going on for years – the fuel filter that a ‘junior’ team member had ‘removed’ for faster re-fuelling – which caused the fire that engulfed Verstappen’s car, all these led to Schumacher being disqualified or banned for four races.

          • I think they will be banned regardless what can be proven or not. Melbourne was an utter and totsl clusterf*** as far as the technical side goes. FIA is under fire for rules being pushed trough against the wish of the audience, Melbourne is up in arms about the abysmal sound and other things. They can’t afford the negative PR of having to take back a DSQ.

            They have two TD’s that give them carte blanche to arbitrarily declare every fuel-flow to be above 100%

            1. THEY decide if the sensor is faulty, so they can easily insist that the sensor was ok – regardless if that’s the truth or not.

            2. if THEY have decided that the sensor is faulty, the fuelrail method that RB relied on is used, but a correction factor is applied that THEY decide on.

            E voila, slap on a big enough correction factor and they can ‘prove’ that RB had a fuel flow of 200kg/h every time they reached 10.500 rpm. RB can only win if the court rubbishes these two TD’s

          • I think the Judge will now have to withdraw his ruling from yesterday in which I was censored for praising the Fat Hippo’s writing as it has been many years since I was spoken to so polite a manner;)

          • ….Hippo’s are so “au contraire” my dear….. Good days…. then bad days…….then bad days…..then more bad days…..

            It’s to do with the mud – so I’m led to believe

          • Is it the same sort of mud that will make clear the fuel flow regulations? If so that will be very helpful…

          • I thank both of you for not blaming the fact that I’m blonde and female on why I got completely lost in the regulations and arguments of this whole fuel sensor debacle:)

            It should be easier to understand though and maybe it will be after the appeal but more probably will still be as clear as mud…

  2. Well your honour, I must say it’s a pleasant surprise to see an F1 website that’s willing to look at the RBR Fuel flow issue and mention that it looks like RBR haven’t broken the technical regs. Most sites exclude that bit, suggest directives are rules and generally end up with comments from people who’ve never heard of the technical regs, let alone set eyes on them.

    Personally I think once lawyers get involved RBR will win, because they’ll prove that they were within the technical regulations. Directives? I think history has shown they’re about as water tight as the Costa Concordia.

    I think one the key issues with the fuel flow sensors is that every single car could be getting a different reading, even team mates. In a season which is set to be dominated by fuel and power units it’s pretty damn important that if the FIA plan to police this they’ve an accurate way of doing so. Personally I think Neweys love of accuracy and precision is one of the drivers for Red Bull ignoring the FIA advice and using their data.

    One thing does puzzle me though, and that’s Lucas comments pre Australia about the FIA making sure that it doesn’t allow trickery. Now post race everyone says he’s talking about Red Bull. Given most people expected RBR to struggle to finish I’m not convinced his comments related to them? Is there a possibility that perhaps he was looking at a certain team who have a reportedly large power advantage and did lots of running pre-season? Quite simply, how would he even know if Red Bull planned to run over the fuel flow sensor if they’ve barely had any running when he made such comments? My instinct was that he was looking firmly to Stuggart when those comments were made. Ferrari don’t tend to whine about teams who are less competitive than them…

    • …thanks Paul for your comments and well informed opinion.

      I think Luca was probably flying a kite. He did specifically mention ‘fuel flow’ and suggest the FIA guard against ‘trickery’.

      However, the fuel flow sensors have proven problematic for some time, and knowing this was affecting everyone – it wasn’t difficult for Il Padrino to issue this public caution.

      ..Of course Il Padrino now looks positively connected to the spirit realm 😉

      The problem for RBR is they could technically win the war and lose the battle. They’ve already lost the PR battle, as team principal’s line up to say they obeyed the FIA even though they were having problems too.

      RBR may win their appeal (though I think this is very unlikely for a rnage of reasons)…. But I’ve written frequently about the “new code” which has been the modus operandi week in week out in the paddock (see yesterdays daily News and Comment) whereby teams accepting technical directives as ‘law’ or as the regulations – to prevent the them all persistently protesting race results and dragging F1 weekly through appeals courts and International Tribunals.

      Red Bull themselves in recent times were cut some slack by this process. They were deemed to have illegal holes in the floor of the car. They were allowed to race with the current chassis, everyone agreed not to protest the result – but the holes had to go for the next GP. They could have been DQ’d

      So it’s hypocritical for RBR to accept a technical directive which gives leeway against a strict technical regulation which they may be in breach of – then argue from the other side when it suits. Another PR loss.

      Interestingly, my impeccable sources at Red Bull have informed me, that RB knew they would be challenged by the FIA during the race, but to help Vettel’s plight and underperforming engine. Horner had pre-ordained they would defy the instructions when they came down from Baur.

      The irony is that had RB known Vettel would retire, they may with hindsight been less aggressive in defying Baur’s directive for Daniel’s car alone (good No.2 driver conspiracy begins). However, nobody thought to revisit the pre-ordained decision to resist the FIA tech delegate because Vettel broke down and Baur sent instruction almost simultaneously – lap 5.

      So why appeal? Vettel didn’t benefit – and the intention wasn’t to launch Ricciardo 18 points ahead of Seb.

      Again my sources suggest, through this process Renault have discovered/believe they may gain some incremental advantage should the fuel flow regulations be revisited. So RB are dutifully playing the game – not for 18 points – but an advantage of greater proportions over the entire season.

      I also can reveal there is no plan to defy on principle the fuel flow sensors this weekend, which RB believe are reading well under 100kg/hr – though who knows what problems Red Bull find with their sensor again

      • Didst though not give thought to this in full? Thou forgetteth something of importance.

        If RB get the fuel-flow regs revised all others profit from it, too. 😉

        • ….not necessarily, if what we’re hearing about the Merc engine is true… and it may be less powerful than everyone thought. If we are to believe the latest word on the street in Stuttgart, they’ve gone for reliability and a design which accepts a reduced performance from the optimum possible.

          • Well, for a design with reduced performance, they are pretty damn quick.

          • …. and others when they are reliable may be quicker – are we seeing 2009 all over again? A smash and grab 7 race dash to the title?

          • I’m guessing there is a bit of sandbagging going on with the Merc power train (send out conflicting reports about the PU’s performance to confuse the competition). It may well be a smash and grab for the title, given Red Bull are likely to catch up near the end of the season. Even with a hobbled Renault Power Train.

            I’m just sick and tired of Red Bull’s PR or lack thereof. Win or lose, I doubt this will be the last time this season Red Bull protests something in an attempt to gain an advantage. Still I guess it’s interesting that they are on the backfoot as we get to see Red Bull in a different light from the usual “Well done Seb” routine.

            Still all of this could be an utter waste of time, if Honda and McLaren produce something special in 2015.

          • @thejudge13 dit

            “Again my sources suggest, through this process Renault have discovered/believe they may gain some incremental advantage should the fuel flow regulations be revisited. So RB are dutifully playing the game – not for 18 points – but an advantage of greater proportions over the entire season.”

            I think RB already know that Renault has potentially the best engine. Newey gave that away during the pre-season tests. All the hype about Mercedes having xxx more power than anybody else appeared to come from a select few journalists. pfft.

            Cassation. The supreme courts (Cour de Cassation and Conseil d’État) act as cassation jurisdictions, which means that they have supreme jurisdiction in quashing the judgments of inferior courts if those courts misapplied law.

            tj13 ‘Cour de Cassation’

      • This will start conspiracy theorists again. Red Bull not only sacrificed Ricciardo in order to challenge fuel flow regulations they didn’t like, but they also ensured he didn’t outscore Vettel at the same time.
        I know we can only speculate, but I wonder what would have happened if Vettel had not had to retire from the race. Would they have complied and turned down fuel flow on both cars, one car (and which one?), or neither car?

        • Surely even the Reb Bull in a PR china shop wouldn’t dare run different fuel rates on their two cars…. would they?!?

          This weekend is going to be fascinating.

      • Very interesting post Judge, thanks for that. Off to mull that over with a cup of tea, all the finest thoughts and ideas are dreamt up with tea in hand, bar music… then you swap to LSD. Anyhow I digress.

      • And for that kind of comments and internal information is that I read the site everyday, your honor. Well done -as usual-.
        @Paul. It isn’t that difficult to know that one team would try to cheat seeing all the problems they had in preseason. If it wasn´t the flow sensor it would have been something else anytime during the season.

      • As to your second last para, Judge, that is where I believe RB’s justification is driven from.

  3. I saw something about this yesterday, it seems that this is a massive grey area regarding the measurement of fuel flow. This is going to be interesting that’s for sure. i wonder if any other teams will use their own measurements this weekend because it gives them a performance advantage, then lump their appeal against DSQ in with RedBull’s on April 14th

    • No advantage for Merc or McLaren to do this I suspect, after Il Padrino’s words of warning over ‘trickery’ and fuel flows, Ferrari probably can’t get involved in this either.

      This would then exclude all Ferrari and Merc engine teams, this leaves Caterham – who will probably DNF twice again this week, Lotus who will likely suffer a similar fate – and Toro Rosso…. well…. where the daddy bull leads, the baby follows…

  4. I’ve been following the fuel flow sensor debate and this is what I think

    1) RB do not expect to get the DQ revoked. To me it is crystal clear that they were acting incorrectly by ignoring the directions given by the “referees”. It is irrelevant wether they can prove if the real flow was above or below 100 kg/h. They know it, we know it, and the FIA knows it. Plus FIA would make a fool of themselves if they undid the DQ. Plus if other teams followed the orders and they didn’t they would have been gaining an unfair advantage over them, plus…

    2) I’m no conspiracy theories fan but as time passes I’m more and more leaning towards thinking that RB’s only aim with all this fuss is to get the 100 kg/h rule scrapped becasue they somehow think it will benefit Renault engines comparatively more than it will Mercedes and Ferrari engines. In other words, what they are trying to do is to prove that the fuel flow sensors are not reliable and make the FIA change the rules midseason so that the 100 kg/h limit disappears (but they know they probably won’t get RIC’s podium back in any case). They acted similarly last year when they were trying (succesfully, btw) to change the tires midseason because they didn’t suit them. (And, yes, FatHippo, Mercedes was trying the same thing last year also.)

    3) Did LdM have any inside information about RBs intentions when he made his public warnings about trickery before the GP? Hmmmm.

    • … well put sir – and am loving point 3… miz.

      Hey, I suggested in the Daily News and Comment the day following the Melbourne race that his pre race reference to trickery demonstrated – “Il Padrino’s sources appear as impeccable as always”…

    • Yes, where would we be without ‘know-all’ Gary Hartstein’s innate desire to remain in the public eye…

  5. This whole Technical Directive vs Sporting Regulation debacle sounds very similar to the whole tyre-gate-saga. Kind of makes me wonder if Horner went to the tribunal last year to glean some of Ross’ tactics, in case he might need them this year…

    • …yes but Merc acted under a ‘directive’ given over and above the reg’s – RB refused to obey a ‘directive’ given over and above the reg’s

      But you are right, the inference is there in Horner’s line of reasoning…

      • A technical directive does not supersede the regulations. They are advice on how to interpret the rules, so the rules are binding, not the directive. Those TD’s given at a race weekend have one problem, they are given by one man. His interpretation can be right, but it can also be debatable, which is why RB’s DQ does not include their refusal to heed the warnings given. They were perfectly within their rights to disregard them, however, so was the technical delegate, who informed the stewards about his findings. The stewards then decided that they deemed the TD’s evidence as a breach of rule 5.1.4 of the Technical Regulations, which implies a breach of 3.2 in the Sporting regs. Both sides were within their rights, the dispute is solely about the fuel-flow – did it exceed 100 kg/h or not.

  6. Whether they like it or not, Directives are part of legislature, they should be followed.

    Take the Clinical Trial Directive for example (OK, it has become a regulation now). But if you were not to follow it, you were risking being dragged to the courts for risking patient safety and you would never get your drug approved.

    And I’m sure there is a food directive too. If Mr M acts this way towards Directives, I don’t want to know what I’m drinking every time I pick a RB can!

  7. Interesting reading the judgement of the International Tribunal in the Pirelli/Mercedes affair. It would seem that although they declared it unsatisfactory, at no point (that I found) did they revoke the authority of Whiting to make these sorts of decisions.

    Highlight from the Recitals section :

    (C) The FIA has an absolute obligation conferred on it by its members to
    safeguard its authority (red.) over all safety, sporting, technical and disciplinary
    matters relating to the CHAMPIONSHIP, as well as traditional values.

    I would argue the ability of the technical delegate to determine matters such as whether to use the homologated sensor or backup method to determine the actual limit of fuel flow falls entirely within the realm of the FIA safeguarding its authority.

    • Nice one Matt. We got an in depth joint investigation and report from 3 of us into this coming. Horner appealing to Merc case will be relevant.

      • Thx, I guess I’ve been hanging around long enough to go and look at things for myself, LOL.

        To me the equivalent of the Pirelli/Merc case would be if RB had asked Whiting if they could run ABOVE 100kg/hr and he said yes if they met certain conditions. So apples and oranges as at no point were RB in any danger of breaching the written regulations by following Bauer’s directions and using the FFM with an offset.

        • The International Tribunal and International Court of Appeal are two different institutions. RB’s application will be heard by the ICA.

          • Thanks, as the reasoning of the IT in the Mercedes/Pirelli matter had been brought up I thought I would go have a look to see what it actually said.

      • So when are we going to see poll on whether Charlie should be given the big A?
        I mean he’s flip flopped his decisions around the F1 circuits of the world for long enough, surely. Every which way he points he gives out a bum steer.

    • I’ll try to find the exact quote for our joint Fatwa, but when Merc argued last year that they had gotten a directive from Charlie Whiting allowing the use of the current car, FIA or the IT rebuked them explicitely saying that the technical delegate does not have the authority to amend or waive rules.

      Only FIA appointed race stewards are allowed to do that. FIA could for instance have avoided the whole clusterf*** at Melbourne had the 3 Stewards decided that rule 5.1.4 would not be in effect for the rest of the meeting after the multitude of misreading on various sensors

      • must have been the FIA, from the IT findings:

        The actions taken on behalf of FIA by Charlie Whiting (having taken
        advice from the legal department of FIA) were taken in good faith and
        with the intention of assisting the parties and consistent with sporting
        fairness

        (ii) insofar as FIA expressed its qualified approval for the testing to be
        carried out, that approval could not, and did not, vary the express
        prohibition stipulated by Article 22 SR and neither Mercedes nor Pirelli
        took adequate steps to ensure that the qualification was satisfied

        there is obviously a lot more in it but the closest the IT came was calling it “unsatisfactory” that Whiting gave his consent for the Ferrari tests.

      • Surely though Fats the appointed race stewards would be too head down in the trough to deal with such trivia? Unless some other tapped them on the shoulder and asked them politely to please look at this….

    • Technical Directives are issued to teams and direct stewards (Directive) how the technical regulations must be applied.

      I spent a couple of hours today reading judgements issued by the ICA.

      It was quite an eye opener –

      The ICA can only rule whether the stewards made the correct decision on the facts and directives as presented to them at the time the decision was taken.

      No new technical information may be introduced to the ICA by either the appellant or the FIA, although corroborating information (eg: video recordings) are considered.

      • Sorry, I missed out that the stewards must consider both the Tech. Regs and directives.

        It is not within the remit of the stewards to declare a specific regulation in not effective during any meeting.

        The only option they have is in issuing an inconsequential penalty when a transgression is confirmed. However in this case the directive stated that the penalty was a mandatory disqualification, so they had no option.

  8. As much as I admire Zanardi, I don’t share his opinion. To me hunger, lightning and accidents show that there’s no such thing as destiny. You create your own. Or you sit on your couch.

  9. Before anything, it should be asked “how important is engine sound?”.

  10. Glad to see Didi has overcome his hissy and recovered his toys enough to maybe consider other build power units. Cosworth, there may be life yet….

  11. Sorry don’t have time to read the full comments tonight but hope someone mentions the FIA International Sporting Code, which RBR also violated by choosing to ignore FIA rules and which clearly states no performance advantaged gained is not an excuse.

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