This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.
You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly.
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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
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.
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.
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.