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Previously on TheJudge13
Vettel admits struggling to beat Ricciardo (GMM)
World champion Sebastian Vettel on Saturday admitted he needs to up his game. The German has won the last four drivers’ titles on the trot, but all of them were alongside Mark Webber, who retired at the end of last season. Australian Webber was replaced at Red Bull by his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, who so far in 2014 has outqualified Vettel on no fewer than three out of four attempts.
Told that Ricciardo is clearly more competitive than Webber, Vettel said after qualifying in China: “Well, that’s (not) a compliment to Mark, I should say, in his absence. I think this year is very, very different, the cars are very different so I don’t think you can compare last year to this year,” he insisted.
“But nevertheless, I think Daniel is doing a very good job, he has not just had one good weekend, he had good weekends and so far he seems to be able to get the maximum out of the car,” Vettel admitted. “On my side, maybe I’m struggling a little bit more, but at the end of the day we have the same car — there’s nothing between cars, so if he manages to beat me, then he beats me on the circuit, fair and square.”
“Of course, that’s not to my liking but equally, I know that I have to do a little bit better.”
Engine makers get to work on louder F1(GMM)
F1’s engine manufacturers will focus their attention on the exhaust pipe as they work on spicing up the sound of the turbo V6 engines. Unhappy with the milder noise of the new and ‘green’ F1, Bernie Ecclestone recently said Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault will work on making the 1.6 litre, turbocharged and energy recovery-boosted ‘power units’ sound better.
Told, however, that making the V6s loud would require a total redesign, Ecclestone told Sky: “All the air exits in the end out of what we call the exhaust pipe. So they can maybe do something there to make it sound a lot better.”
Indeed, F1’s three engine suppliers sat down in Shanghai on Friday for the first ‘noise’ meeting. Renault’s Rob White warned that the V6s will never sound like a normally-aspirated V8. “I think we need to be realistic about the scope of any action we might take,” he told reporters in China. Mercedes’ Andy Cowell added: “There are things we can do with the tailpipe, perhaps, to change the noise.”
Former F1 driver David Coulthard, meanwhile, said there are other aspects of the new engines that should be better appreciated. “We shouldn’t forget that these engines are very powerful and have more than 750 horse power when you factor in the renewable energy,” he told Austria’s Laola1.
“I’m a big fan of the louder F1 but in the days of Charlie Chaplin, there was a picture and no sound at all, and still the people were entertained. Certainly a bit more sound would not hurt,” Coulthard added.
Lotus wants engine equality with Red Bull (GMM)
Lotus has discovered it is second or even third in line for the best service offered by F1 engine supplier Renault. That is the claim of Michael Schmidt, the highly respected correspondent for Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. Earlier, we reported that Lotus has in China finally taken delivery of the latest incarnation of Renault’s turbo V6 ‘power unit’, as used by Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso in Bahrain.
Italy’s Autosprint had said the struggling Enstone team was unable to use the unit two weeks ago due to “other technical difficulties” with the E22 car. But it appears there is more to the story. Schmidt claims Renault, having invested only half the money in its V6 programme compared to dominant Mercedes, has been unable to produce enough parts to supply all of its team partners with the latest 2014 unit. “As the unofficial works team, Red Bull gets the best service,” he explained.
And as Red Bull has drafted its second team Toro Rosso into the process of speeding up the fixes to Renault’s problems, the Faenza team has “also benefited by getting the better engines every now and then”, Schmidt added. The Auto Motor und Sport report claimed that, in some cases, the engines used by Lotus this year have been 30 horse power off the pace of the leading Red Bull versions.
“Lotus is now sounding the alarm and is calling on Renault for equality with Red Bull,” said Schmidt. He explained that Red Bull has defended its status on the basis that title sponsor Infiniti is putting money into the engine development, but nonetheless Lotus will get full equality as from next month’s Spanish grand prix. “It is only a matter of time before we can deliver what we expect from the car,” Lotus’ Alan Permane is quoted as saying.
‘Tactical’ rivals playing down chase – Rosberg (GMM)
Nico Rosberg is sure Red Bull is playing down its title chances for “tactical” reasons. Although Mercedes’ chasers Red Bull and Ferrari appear closer to the pace in Shanghai, world champion Sebastian Vettel on Friday said he was driving behind a W05 in Shanghai and “it looked as though they could do whatever they liked. Maybe they are not showing us everything they are capable of,” Germany’s DPA news agency quotes him as saying.
As Mercedes’ rivals apparently catch up with the Brackley team, however, championship leader Rosberg admitted he smells tactics at play. “We will certainly not make the mistake of writing off Red Bull,” he told Der Spiegel. “They are trying to convey the impression that they have little chance of the championship,” Rosberg explained. “All tactical, I think. I am quite sure that Sebastian and Daniel (Ricciardo) will win races this season,” he added.
On the other hand, perhaps Mercedes is also playing its own tactical game. McLaren’s Jenson Button said on Friday that the German squad should not be overly concerned about the development pace of its rival teams. “It is not like Mercedes are going to stand still, it is going to be half a season before anyone else can challenge for a win,” Button argued.
Former F1 driver David Coulthard agrees, saying he has not seen one team with such a gap over the field since he drove for McLaren in 1998. “But even then, and also in the Ferrari era, they weren’t this far ahead,” he told Austria’s Laola1. “At that time it was half a second or one second per lap, but Mercedes is almost two seconds faster than anyone else. I very much hope that Ferrari and Renault can catch up,” said Coulthard, “otherwise it will be a very one-sided year.”
Mercedes wanted three-race ban for Red Bull (GMM)
Mercedes wanted reigning world champions Red Bull to serve a three-race ban for appealing against its Melbourne disqualification. Earlier rumours in the Shanghai paddock had hinted at Mercedes’ push for a ban, after Dr Helmut Marko said he was surprised by the “aggressiveness” with which Mercedes argued at the Paris appeal on Monday.
Although McLaren, Lotus, Williams and Force India also attended the appeal hearing, none of them “submitted any written observations, and none took any active part in the hearing”.
The information emerged officially late on Friday, as F1’s governing body revealed the full text of its decision to reject Red Bull’s appeal. Mercedes, on the other hand, did indeed play an active and forceful role in Paris, the car-maker’s lawyer saying Red Bull actually deserves “a more severe sanction”. It was believed Mercedes only wanted a suspended further penalty for Red Bull, but in fact it argued in writing that the court should ban the reigning world champions for “no less than three races”.
On top of the race ban, Mercedes called for “a disqualification for a further six months, suspended for a year”. Bild newspaper said Mercedes’ tough stance might be viewed in the context of 2013, when Red Bull attacked the Brackley team when the ‘secret’ Pirelli tyre test was revealed. “Was this the Silver Arrows’ revenge?” wondered correspondents Nicola Pohl and Lennart Wermke.
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda on Saturday tried to ease any bad feeling between the two camps by delivering a chocolate cake to the Red Bull hospitality area.
“I personally brought them an Austrian Sachertorte,” he told German television RTL. “It was just a nice gesture.”
Lauda denies 80hp advantage for Mercedes (GMM)
Niki Lauda has rejected suggestions Renault is trailing the pace by a figure of 80 horse power. Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko has mentioned the figure – dominant Mercedes’ supposed advantage with its field-leading turbo V6 – on several occasions in the past weeks. But Lauda, the Mercedes team chairman, said on Saturday: “How can anyone really know? The answer is that no one knows the horse power figures; not Mercedes, not Renault, not Ferrari,” he told German television RTL in Shanghai.
“We all know roughly what our engines are producing, but not the differences,” triple world champion Lauda continued. “You can make an estimate based on GPS data,” he said, “and how fast the cars are on the straight, but it also depends on whether the tyres are working, whether the aerodynamics are right … So many factors come together that you can’t clearly say that someone has 20 horse power more, or 80. We cannot judge that,” added Lauda.