Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 5th April 2014


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The #F1 Bar Exam: 3 April 2014

#F1 Circuit Profile: 2014 – Bahrain, Sakhir, Bahrain International Circuit – Round 3

Doctors ‘cautious’ after Schumacher awakening news (GMM)

Silverstone looking forward to new F1 era (GMM)

Webber tips Red Bull to win Monaco (GMM)

Honda wants Alonso at Mclaren :Update 18.40

Newey – Manic genius or spoilt brat?

Bahrain FP3 – Mercedes leads the way (and all Mercedes engines)

Alonso calls Kimi ‘ saviour of the homeland!’

Doctors ‘cautious’ after Schumacher awakening news (GMM)

A wave of relief spread through the Bahrain paddock on Friday, as news broke that F1 legend Michael Schumacher has shown “moments of consciousness” this week after months in a coma. The brief statement made by the great German’s manager Sabine Kehm, however, refused to divulge the “details” of the development out of respect for the family and to protect the medical team’s “calmness”.

Respected doctors, however, were quick to add some of their insights to the news.

Dr Alain Simon, the medical consultant for the French sports daily L’Equipe, says the latest Schumacher statement is “difficult to interpret. It could mean he opens and closes his eyes when he is asked,” he said. “People who are in this phase are not speaking and it could be months like this,” Simon explained, “but perhaps these moments are a sign of hope.”

Simon said the development in Schumacher’s condition could actually be very timely. “In a head trauma with loss of consciousness,” he said, “beyond three months is a long-term coma with consequences. With less than three months there may be no consequences.”

Alain Ducardonnet, the medical consultant for France’s BFMTV, agrees that the statement issued by the Schumacher camp on Friday is “good news. Previously there had been nothing in particular,” he said. “It was attempted to wake him but obviously he did not. But ‘moments of consciousness and awakening’ can mean everything and it can mean nothing. These are generic words. Perhaps he is responding to simple commands: open your eyes, move your hand, perhaps the skin was clamped to see if he feels pain. These are the first things we do when we assess consciousness,” Dr Ducardonnet added.

Yet another doctor, the French neurosurgeon Philippe Decq, warned: “We must be extremely cautious. Signs of awakening is probably the observation of eye movements, followed by eye-contact. This is encouraging and I am happy to hear that but we must be extremely careful. The lesions are obviously extremely serious. Anything can happen. You are never unscathed after a trauma of this severity.”

Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber, however, spoke for the world of F1 when he said on Friday: “Thank god. For me, that’s the best news of the year.” Bild newspaper reported that Schumacher has been moved within the Grenoble hospital to an intensive care area for patients requiring less constant supervision.


Silverstone looking forward to new F1 era (GMM)

Organisers of the British grand prix have counted themselves out of the controversy surrounding the milder sound of F1’s new V6 engines. While Melbourne’s Ron Walker and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone have been making a lot of noise about the sport’s new quieter sound, the president of Silverstone’s circuit-owning club BRDC thinks the old V8s were in fact “too noisy”.

“I think they were ear-bleeding,” former F1 driver Derek Warwick, also serving as a steward this weekend in Bahrain, told Reuters. “We’ve just got to re-adjust our volume.”

Also in Bahrain this weekend is Richard Phillips, Silverstone’s managing director, who thinks fans are actually “intrigued” by the controversial ‘new’ F1. “From what we have discovered, the fans are really intrigued as to the sights and sounds of this new formula one,” he is quoted by the Times newspaper. “Yes, the engines are quieter but we do not feel it will have any impact on our event,” Phillips added.

Elsewhere, the public attitudes being expressed by the likes of Walker, Ecclestone, Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz and Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo would make it appear that the new rules have thrown F1 into crisis.

Pat Symonds, Williams’ technical boss, warns against all the negativity. “I think many people from the UK will remember a guy called Ratner who basically killed his business by negative comments on it,” he said on Friday. Symonds is referring to Gerald Ratner, who in 1991 destroyed his jewellery business when in a speech he referred to his company’s products as “crap”. Now, it is not surprising FIA president Jean Todt is in Bahrain, where one of his tasks will be to meet personally with world champion Sebastian Vettel, who said the sound his sport is making in 2014 is “shit”.

Warwick said: “I’ve been in this sport now for 50 years, I love my sport and I will never talk it down.”


Webber tips Red Bull to win Monaco (GMM)

Mark Webber has tipped Red Bull to win next month’s Monaco grand prix. The Australian, who retired from formula one in 2013 after a seven-year stint with the reigning world champions, acknowledged that for now, dominant Mercedes will continue to lead the way at grands prix. But Webber warned: “They (Red Bull) will get back to Mercedes’ level. They need some time, but it’s normal,” he told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten. “You can’t win for 15 years in a row.

“Everyone’s saying they’re not strong because they’re finishing second or third, and Red Bull did do a lot of winning (in the past) but I’m sure they will win again this year. Whether they win enough to win the championship, we will have to see how strong Mercedes is to get too many points in the first part of the season,” added Webber.

After wins in Melbourne and Malaysia, Mercedes’ advantage appears even greater in Bahrain for round three, but Webber suggested that is because of the German marque’s power advantage on long straights. “Mercedes will continue to dominate the next races,” he is quoted by Speed Week, “but Red Bull will win in Monaco.”


Honda wants Alonso at Mclaren

As ever in the small enclosed world of Formula One, it doesn’t take long for actions to spiral into various rumours that need responses. At times there is truth behind these ‘innocent’ happenings; whereas on other occasions it forms part of the psychological playground that the teams and drivers operate in.

Luis Garcia Abad – Fernando’s Alonso’s manager – has had to deny rumours that Alonso is Mclaren bound. “Fernando is happy at Ferrari and as far as we know these rumours are unfounded. I have nothing to add.” He also has a long-term contract with the Italian giant and is tied in with Santander who want him to be the spearhead for their continued association.

This defensive action was instigated by an ‘official’ Mclaren tweet that showed Alonso sat with Ron Dennis smiling in Bahrain 2007 before the infamous falling out between them that led to Alonso leaving the team at the end of the season.


Honda wants a top driver and is, reportedly, trying to entice Alonso back to the team. As TJ13 reported on Wednesday, Santander CEO, Emilio Botin, commented on why they had ended their sponsorship of the Mclaren team. “When (Lewis) Hamilton was there it was justified. (Jenson) Button is a great driver, but it’s another matter.” This could also explain why Button was speaking to Mclaren about contract extensions after Melbourne.

Mclaren have an exclusive contract with the Japanese manufacturer for 2015 but with the Japanese company building their facility in Milton Keynes, and with Red Bull aggressively attacking Renault – their engine partner – it would not be stretching the truth too much that pressure is being applied to Dennis from different quarters.

Would the Spanish Samurai want to return to an environment which he has already experienced? Kevin Magnussen is the young driver that Mclaren have nurtured to the top level – something that is not dissimilar to the 2007 Mclaren team that Alonso joined with Lewis Hamilton as his rookie partner.

Update: Emilio Botin, speaking in the paddock at Sakir, has told Alonso he must immediately stop the rumours of a possible move to Mclaren for 2015. The Spanish banking giant is currently holding negotiations with the Prancing Horse about extending it’s commercial collaboration.

“I spoke with Fernando and he said he wants to remain at Ferrari for the next decade. He has no intention of moving to Mclaren and is certain he’ll win the World Title with the Maranello squad.”


Newey – Manic genius or spoilt brat?

pressconfoThis is a short transcript of Adrian Newey’s Friday press conference rant  in Bahrain which featured TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Luigi FRABONI (Ferrari), Remi TAFFIN (Renault Sport F1), Robert FERNLEY (Force India), Pat SYMONDS (Williams), Adrian NEWEY (Red Bull Racing), Paddy LOWE (Mercedes). The full conference is here for those who want to read the different opinions.

Adrian, coming to you. At the test here things looked quite bleak for Red Bull Racing but you arrive here off the back of a podium. Can you tell us a little bit about the turnaround and how far away you think you are from victory?

Yeah, certainly we had a very difficult pre-season. That was down to a whole number of reasons. We didn’t manage to get as much running done on the dyno as we would have liked, which is where a lot of the problems that afflicted us, you would normally sort out, from a chassis side and from and engine side. We came unprepared in many ways. We had a problem with a component overheating and with the lead time involved in some of those components it takes time to sort that out. So while we kind of figured out what we needed to do, it still takes time to do that and when tests are coming thick and fast you don’t have time to come up proper solutions between those. So I think all the guys back at Milton Keynes on our side did a fantastic job of coming up with solutions to that and Renault on their side. From a performance point of view we’re clearly giving a lot away on the straights still. But there’s a lot of development to be had.

You’ve obviously worked under a lot of different types of technical regulations in your years in Formula One. How do you rank these rules among others that you’ve designed cars to?

AN: Ah well, that’s a very complicated question is the truthful answer to that. I guess the other obvious answer to that is probably whether you have a Mercedes engine, a Ferrari engine or a Renault engine will cloud your answer to it, in truth. Such is the nature of Formula One. My opinion of it is that from a technical aspect first of all you have to question whether…the whole thing behind. When you get into things like batteries then an electric car is only green if it gets its power from a green source. If it gets its power from a coal-fired power station then clearly it’s not green at all. A hybrid car, which is effectively what the Formula One regulations are then a lot of energy goes into manufacturing those batteries and into the cars which is why they’re so expensive. And whether that then gives you a negative or a positive carbon footprint or not depends on the duty cycle of the car – how many miles does it do, is it cruising along the motorway at constant speed or stop-starting in a city. So this concept that a hybrid car is automatically green is a gross simplification. On top of that there are other ways, if you’re going to put that cost into a car, to make it fuel efficient. You can make it lighter, you can make it more aerodynamic, both of which are things that Formula One is good at. For instance the cars are 10 per cent heavier this year, a result, directly, of the hybrid content. So I think technically, to be perfectly honest, it’s slightly questionable. From a sporting point of view, to me, efficiency, strategy etc, economy of driving, is very well placed for sportscars, which is a slightly different way of going racing. Formula One should be about excitement. It should be about man and machine performing at its maximum every single lap.

Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport) Adrian, you touched on the engine regs. Hypothetically, if you had a clean sheet of paper, and in broad terms, what sort of engine regulations do you like? Would you like something quite prescriptive like last year’s engine regs? Would you like something wider so that teams and engine manufacturers can explore different energy-efficient technologies that might perhaps drive road car technology even further than the current technology?

AN: I think it’s a very difficult question to answer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we should go back to gas-guzzlers as Pat called them – although actually the V8s were extraordinarily efficient. But, it seems to me that what we have done is create a set of regulations which, whilst technically interesting, I still question whether it gets all the compromises right. Ultimately, then there is a relationship between cost, weight, aerodynamics… all sorts of factors if you’re going to go into road relevance. How you weigh that, how you proportion it is impossible for an open-wheeled single-seater. It’s a very different beast. So no easy answer. We’ve got for a package which is very complicated, very expensive. The cost of the power unit has at least doubled compared to last year, which is difficult for some of the smaller teams, so it’s a very complicated balance I think is the honest truth, outside this Friday Five meeting.

Q: (Daniel Johnson – The Telegraph) Why do you think the narrative around these new rules has been such a negative one, and if there are going to be changes that could be made or that people want made, what changes would you like to be made, and do you think any are possible during this season?

AN: It’s a big subject and I guess ultimately the spectators and the television viewers are going to vote with their feet. What we waste words saying in here won’t make much difference in truth. The old classic Coke completely turning Coke around compared to Pepsi in the States so you can always skin these things various ways. I think obviously all the talk is about the engines, as mentioned earlier, it’s not just about creating a formula which looks at how many litres of fuel you use per kilometre with everything else fixed, because everything else isn’t fixed in reality. If you go into the real world, cost isn’t fixed, the cost has gone up hugely to create this. As I said before, if you put that cost into weight saving, you might be better off in many cases so to automatically say that this is some huge benefit for mankind I think is taking a bit of a big leap myself.”


Bahrain FP3 – Mercedes leads the way (and all Mercedes engines)

A nice sunny 26˙C greeted Formula One for the final practice before qualifying. As expected the Mercedes teams continued to dominate although the Ferrari cars of Raikkonen and Alonso were showing intent. Apparently Renault also provided newly produced ICE units for the Red Bull teams (RBR and TR) that are more reliable … hmmm

Predictably Hamilton leads Rosberg but the dark horses for this race is the Williams cars and the Force India cars of Nico Hulkenberg Sergio Perez. Having said that, Williams were hiding in the pits until more than half the session had passed… conserving engines perhaps or just confidence?

When they did make their appearance though it was at the sharp end of the grid and within 5 laps each driver were lying just below the two Silver Arrows.

FORMULA 1 - Bahrain GPThings did not go to plan for the reigning world champion though. With 20 minutes to go Vettel lost the back of his car through turn 2, definitely not what he wanted as he missed out on the “shoot-out” for FP3 honours. Are we seeing some frustration boil over or just a mistake due to the gusty breeze blowing?

As the session drew to a close Alonso remained faster than his teammate Raikkonen (“saviour of the country” according to Alonso) in 7th and 10th respectively and young Russian Kyvat was left to fight the Renault battle on his own in 9th.

Qualifying will be interesting and the race even more so!

Final FP3 results:

# Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 01:35.3 12
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 01:35.4 0.115 12
3 Sergio Perez Force India 01:35.9 0.544 10
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 01:36.1 0.792 9
5 Felipe Massa Williams 01:36.4 1.04 8
6 Jenson Button McLaren 01:36.4 1.07 8
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 01:36.5 1.13 12
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 01:36.5 1.131 11
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 01:36.7 1.356 15
10 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 01:36.8 1.448 13
11 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 01:36.8 1.498 8
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 01:37.0 1.706 11
13 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 01:37.1 1.795 11
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 01:37.3 2.001 18
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 01:38.1 2.765 23
16 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 01:38.4 3.076 17
17 Jules Bianchi Marussia 01:38.7 3.412 14
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 01:38.9 3.556 20
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 01:39.0 3.647 18
20 Romain Grosjean Lotus 01:39.2 3.884 17
21 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 01:39.2 3.901 8
22 Max Chilton Marussia 01:39.6 4.273 13


Alonso calls Kimi ‘ saviour of the homeland!’

Drivers since time immemorial have simply stated one simple truth. Their first adversary in Formula One is their team-mate – after all, he is the only one who shares the same car.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the 2014 F1 season was always going to be the contest between two ex-F1 champions driving at Ferrari; irrespective of the teams potential to fight for the titles.

Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso have both been supporting the company line – working for the good of the team, they are mere employees and they will work hard in regards improving the Ferrari – and yet reports reach us from our Italian friends about a sarcastic radio message from Alonso during FP3.

“L’unica cosa che mi interessa sapere è questa. dove si trova il salvatore della patria, che vantaggio ho su di lui?”

Or in English, “The only thing that I really want to know is this, where is the saviour of the homeland, what advantage do I have over him?”

There are many who believe this is the very reason why Ferrari re-employed Raikkonen – to drive Alonso on..


24 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 5th April 2014

  1. Transcript of Friday press conference not available at FiA.com… Are they mortally wounded by Ade’s insults?

    • Even sky only has 1.5 minutes of the PC on YouTube compared with the whole dreary drivers event.
      Why was pat symonds wearing a flavio briatore fat suit?

  2. The Red Bull PR campaign continues via Newey this time –

    To say not enough thought went into the new power trains is laughable, they are complex beasts, Mercedes definitely put a lot of thought, effort and time into their power train design. The sound can be sorted out in due course. I for one like the challenge it’s laid down to the teams and drivers. Either F1 changes with the times or it dies. As much as I like Newey, I think he’s been totally thrown by the new regulations, he seems unable/unwilling to adapt and modify his aero designs to fit within the new F1.

    • “Either F1 changes with the times or it dies.”

      F1 is constantly changing, whether be it in aerodynamics, mechanical systems, tyres, etc. When F1 doesn’t change it’s because the FIA, as was the case with the 2.4 litre engine, has either frozen / banned development.

      You are following the line of argument that F1 has to be relevant. Relevant to what – road car development? Isn’t that what sports car racing is for? What relevance does football, golf or tennis have? – none it’s about putting on the best show available.

      Hybrid technology isn’t new, nor is it something which only car manufacturers involved in motor racing understand. The new “green” power systems are a response from the FIA to the eco-politics of Europe, not making F1 better. As far as I’m concerned Newey is right – F1 should be about putting the best cars, drivers, designers together, not trying to make a social / political statement – which will end F1.

      • If you want the Manufacturers (outside of Ferrari) to stay in F1 then you have to make it relevant to their road car businesses. It’s why Honda is on the way back to the sport.
        The difference between F1 and other sports is that the technology does spin off into other areas. McLaren are doing some interesting work on that front (the systems they use for gathering and sorting out telemetry data is being used in the medical world).

        F1 is meant to be at the forefront of technical and engineering challenges. Not fiddling with exhaust gasses, blown diffusers and engine maps. Which has zero relevance to the real world. F1 has stood still in terms of where things are headed. Fossil Fuels are going to get more expensive as they become harder to extract, ergo more emphasis will be put on efficiency and energy recovery, but that does mean that you have to go slow.

        The new formula has thrown up a variety of challenges to the teams and drivers. Red Bull need to stop whining and get on with it. The truth is Mercedes put more money and talent into the development of the Power train and 2014 car than the other teams did. Newey and co were caught napping. Either Red Bull is arrogant enough to think if they shout loudly enough the FIA will cave into their demands on fuel flow meters or they are in a full on panic. Might be a mix of the two. If Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari had Mercedes performance level they’d be entirely silent on the issues raised so far. Anyway we are only a few races into the new formula, it’s far too early to judge it. Lets see where the cars are in terms of speed and lap times at the end of the season.

    • Mercedes thought up their compressor to the front move in 2012 – 2 years ago. Schumi was still driving for them at that point..

    • We have the perfect example of this, if we looked back at interviews with Braun from last year would they sound the same, filled with insincere statements about drivers not needing to push or use their skill.

      The one bright spot is Daniel Ricciardo. I respect that guy’s spirit. No matter what he just keeps pushing and has had good speed in all the sessions so far. His skill doesn’t show in his points total yet but it will.

  3. TBH the whole press conference was pretty entertaining, and it’s up at FIA site now. Newey did allow that whether or not one had a Mercedes engine would color how one felt about the new regs, LOL.

    And he was pretty much shouted down by the others, RB are clearly out on a limb here. In particular, Bob Fernley as much as called them out.

    • I thought Bob Fernley talked a whole lot of sense and like the whole team they are exceptional value for money. AN didnt exactly perjure himself but like the engineer he is, he allowed his favoured discipline, aero and chassis too loom in greater importance than the PU. His comments about green tech are simply self-serving crap. For the last 4-5 years every Tech Director in F1 has been involved in setting the rules for the new formula, and I would encourage every real fan to read them. AN has never to my knowledge raised ny issue prior to 2014.
      Arguably, Renault has been lucky to have skirted narrowly, prior to 2014 , with they homologation of the V8, where prior to 2011 they constantly had a power deficit to Mercedes. Red bull were vociferous about that deficit and it seems to me that either pressure was exertef on the FIA to look the other way, or it was simply incompetence. Certainly the sight of the RB pulling 330 kph at Spa was a sure sign there was no power deficit. Yet the engine rules were frozen! How ds that happen? And don’t mention reliability….
      I am praying, and the signs look good that Jean Todt has had enough.

      RB stop pissing about with the fuel sensors, drilling out the threads on the connectors and stressing them so they break. Your actions are bringing the sport I love into disrepute.

  4. Newey – Manic genius or spoilt brat?
    Both, of course.

    His arguments about the ‘green-ness’ of the new powertrains are blatant self serving bollocks.

    No one imagines for a moment that having hybrid powertrains in a few F1 cars is going to save the planet.
    Conversely, anyone with an ounce of common sense (not least the engine manufacturers) can see that electric powertrains are the future, and F1 provides a very useful testbed to develop under extreme conditions the techniques for storing, controlling and utilising electric power.

    And no, Adrian, we’re no expecting you to develop low carbon power stations, either.

    And for a reminder that the great man is mortal…

    • Well, he is a designer for a pretty good reason.. politics and driving he should leave to others!

    • Very little in F1 is relevant to road cars, especially mass produced cars. Hybrid power systems have been around long before F1 ever thought of them. F1 has more in common in both design and material to the aerospace industry than it does to the road car industry.

      • I do agree with you Cav, but I’d say that the idea bandied about about ‘green ness’ and ‘relevance’ are a little miselading themselves. F1’s relevance is about developing areas of technologies, which could be adapted for use in everyday life, but may just open up and expand avenues of research. It is more about pushing technology, finding boundaries of possibility, which may or may not be relevant, at least directly. Sometimes it isn’t, thats how research goes though.

        Would, for example, Gordon Murrays current istream technologies and their work on lightening the structures of road cars, which we’ll see coming in in the next few years exist without F1? Probably not, certainly not this soon, and it has a huge chance of being revolutionary. Sure they changed materials because carbon fibre etc are just not cheap enough, nor quick enough to assemble for the domestic market, but the structural composition and techniques are direct from F1. Same could be said for Williams work with busses in the UK, and their hybrid components.

        I do actually think, however, if the FIA etc didn’t meddle (as you suggest) then we’d probably find many teams using variants of this technology anyway.

  5. I’m fed up with Red Bull’s, and Newey’s, constant bleating and whining, and their sense of entitlement. ‘The car’s perfect, it’s the rules that are wrong’. Whatever. ‘Renault’s engine is shit’ (at least, for once, Renault isn’t being overshadowed by the Infinity badge!). I wish Renault had the balls to tell them to go f*ck themselves. I don’t understand why recovering otherwise wasted energy isn’t a good idea. I’m not inclined to entertain the complaints about ‘green’ technologies from the team that, to my mind, brought the entire sport into disrepute by introducing blowing unused petrol into the atmosphere. How relevant is that to the real world? And, on the subject of relevance, none of my friends has a road car with front and rear wings, and aerodynamics that only really come into effect above the National speed limit.

  6. “AN: I think when we talk about the power unit we talk about it by manufacturer. We should also include the fuel company of course. I think you’ll find within an engine, depending on what fuel it uses there can be very significant differences. That can also create differences. We certainly can see that in our own GPS analysis between our rivals that some appear to have significantly more power than others, even though they have the same engine.”

    Hmm! Is that what he really meant? Or, is he trying to destabilize other teams, by suggesting that their engine supplier is not giving them full power.

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