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Previously on TJ13:
F1 could axe Friday morning practice to cut costs (GMM)
F1 could axe Friday morning practice sessions next year, as teams consider how to cut costs in the absence of a mandatory budget cap. Although keenly supported by the small teams, and championed by FIA president Jean Todt, the 2015 budget cap was vetoed by the powerful ‘Strategy Group’ teams including grandees Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes.
The smaller teams are furious, but in a crisis meeting in London last week, they were asked to come back in a fortnight with some cost-cutting rule proposals of their own. Germany’s Sport Bild claims that one of the measures under consideration is reducing the grand prix weekend by one 90-minute practice session from 2015.
Another proposed rule change is the extension of the current ‘parc ferme’ regulations. Currently, the specification of the cars is effectively ‘frozen’ only after qualifying, meaning that until then new parts are almost constantly flown in from the teams’ European factories at huge expense.
It is now proposed that, for 2015, ‘parc ferme’ is to come into effect immediately after a sole practice session on Friday afternoon. Sport Bild reports that, at Biggin Hill last week, the teams also discussed limiting aerodynamic updates – for example a maximum of four front wing specification changes per season – but could not unanimously agree.
“There was a meeting last week,” confirmed Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, “and costs were discussed. It is the unanimous opinion of the teams that costs must be drastically reduced.”
However, he defended the big teams’ decision to veto the budget cap. “We have to be honest,” he is quoted by Speed Week. “There are big differences in the agendas of the teams.
“If you think about Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari – and also McLaren who are with Honda from next year – the main objective is to represent a multinational, global brand.
“And that is of course very different from the small teams who are simply there to race in Formula One. But Formula One is all of these teams together, the big and the small, and you have to respect that and find solutions that will help everyone in the long term.
“The budget cap is a difficult one, because there are some teams who do not want it. And also by their very design it would be very difficult to control, such as for Ferrari who have the formula one team all under the same roof as the major global company,” Wolff explained.
Mercedes not happy with ‘megaphone’ noise fix (GMM)
One proposed solution to the sound problem in formula one this year is a “megaphone”-style exhaust. The news was revealed by Toto Wolff, a chief at one of F1’s three current engine suppliers, Mercedes.
Together with Ferrari and Renault, the engine-making trio is currently looking into how to turn up the controversially low volume of this year’s new 1.6 litre V6 turbos.
Nico Rosberg tipped a solution to be found ahead of the Monaco grand prix late this month.
“We will soon be in Monaco and I think we will hear a different sound there,” the German said last weekend whilst visiting the DTM season opener at Hockenheim. “I think it’s important that we do work on it, because the noise is part of the show.”
Last week, a meeting involving Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt and all 11 F1 team bosses took place in London, and top of the billing was the issue of cost cuts.
But also on the agenda was noise. “We discussed what solutions there might be, and us at Mercedes also have our approaches and proposals,” Wolff, also at Hockenheim for the DTM opener, is quoted by Speed Week.
He said some of the proposed solutions will be tested at the post-Spanish grand prix test next week.
“We will try them out on the car in Barcelona and see if they have the effect that we are looking for,” said Wolff. He revealed that the solutions are all focused on the area of the engine exhaust.
“We have some highly complex solutions within the exhaust system,” said Wolff, “and also one like a ‘megaphone’ that simply opens up at the end — with all the problems that brings with it,” said Wolff.
“I do not know if the latter is what we should be doing in formula one, but nevertheless we will come with our suggestions and approaches and see in Barcelona.”
Various readers have suggested to TJ13 that the sound of the cars at the track is not that bad but it is more a problem when it is broadcasted. In the UK SkyF1 has made some improvements to the sound of their audio feed but NBC in America has the commentator’s voice overpowering the sound of the cars.
Can more be done from a sound engineering point of view or should F1 give up on the new Formula and carry on with the old, at the risk of becoming completely dated and out of touch with the modern society?
Vettel is not enthusiastic of the new F1 era
Vettel has been out-spoken in his criticism of the new F1 regulations. His was speaking to German magazine Focus, this week, about his thoughts on both the recent Schumacher skiing accident and his disapproval of the current F1 regulations.
When asked about his friendship with Michael Schuamcher he explained, “It’s hard for me to talk about it. I’m still shocked, Michael’s accident shows how quickly things change. I believe I have come to know him better over the last few years and to assess as a person. He is and remains a role model for me. I am sure that he did not do bad stuff. They say that he is an adrenaline junkie. Of course, we have a dangerous profession. But we learn in the course of time to assess the risk and thus reasonable deal. ”
When questioned about the current season and his struggles, Vettel was less than enthusiastic. He stated that the quiet engines do not fit the dynamics of F1 – “we are a sport that is famous for being loud and dangerous. The cars should be powered by V10 or V12’s 1,000hp engines and should be driven as fast as it’s possible to go. I want to feel like I’m taming a dragon or a beast.
In the first four races he has only climbed the podium once and he lies fifth in the championship with a deficit of 36 points to Rosberg already.
“Compared to last season, the feel of the car has fallen some way behind. The car does not know what I want. During braking, driving in and out of the corners I have an absolute lack of confidence. Spectators question how often my colleagues and I currently miss the braking points and we look like beginners so now I drive with a little in reserve and brake a little earlier. Daniel currently is able to get more out of the car and tyres than i do and I have yet to work it out.”
Of course Vettel is struggling with the change in regulations and the different driving requirements needed from the driver but it would be foolish to suggest a four time champion will not recover his form. Interesting also that the British press haven’t picked up on his veiled comments that he still hasn’t worked out Ricciardo’s methods. Isn’t he using the same underhand technique that Rosberg and Mercedes are using to overcome the knight Lewis Hamilton?
As to his driving with a little in reserve, it’s a technique that Lewis Hamilton has discovered to bring about huge benefits in regards fuel efficiency during races as he stated after his recent Chinese Grand Prix demonstration.
In typical sycophantic fashion, Christian Horner’s overblown praise last year of Vettel studying and learning his weak points and changing his driving style for particular tracks and corners has come unstuck. Maybe he needs to remind the ‘wunderkid’ he need s to work a bit harder, stop dangling by the pool.
Sauber – Five into two won’t go
It seems a nice problem for Sauber to have at the moment. With continued problems aired by the non strategy group members about budget caps and F1 fading away unless something is done, news reaches TJ13 that reigning GP2 champion Fabio Leimer was turned away by Sauber despite having $14 million in sponsorship.
Sauber wouldn’t entertain the Swiss driver unless he brought double the funding with him as this was what Esteban Gutierrez’s Mexican funding is worth. Sauber signed Adrian Sutil as an experienced team-mate to the Mexican but his seat for next year is in doubt.
Sauber’s reserve driver Giedo van de Garde is looking more likely to have a race seat for next year with significant backing from his Dutch sponsors and he will be driving during Friday’s FP1 session in Catalunya and will be in action following the Grand Prix weekend.
To add to these selection problems, Sauber also has Simona de Silvestro running ten test sessions to prepare for entry into Formula One next year and Sergey Sirotkin, who is also being developed for a future F1 career, brings considerable Russian backing with him.
Now all Monisha Kaltenborn has to decide is which rich sugar daddy is going to be paying the bills.
Rosberg claims ‘better than Hamilton in dry’ (GMM)
Nico Rosberg is sounding far from defeated ahead of the Spanish grand prix. The German, although still leading the drivers’ world championship by a few points, has seen his teammate Lewis Hamilton win the last three races on the trot.
But far from expecting to fall in line behind the Briton when the battle resumes in Barcelona, Rosberg on Monday told German television RTL his plan for Spain is “full attack“.
“To know I have the fastest car to drive is so inspiring,” said the 28-year-old. Rosberg said the goal for Barcelona is not to hold Hamilton off but to “extend the championship lead”, which will almost certainly require him to beat his on-form teammate on the track.
He won in Australia when Hamilton retired, but in Malaysia, Bahrain and China, Rosberg saw the other Silver Arrows with the upper hand. Bahrain, however, was a true and rare wheel-to-wheel battle, with Rosberg claiming that when all was well with the two Brackley-built cars in 2014, the Mercedes pecking order is “undecided“.
“I was better in the dry, him in the rain,” said Rosberg. Hamilton has also hogged the qualifying limelight so far this year, but last year at the Circuit de Catalunya, it was Rosberg on pole ahead of the 2008 world champion.
Now, “pole position will be very important for the battle with Lewis” this weekend, said a feisty Rosberg ahead of the 2014 Spanish race.
Hamilton and Rosberg’s relationship dates right back to their boyhoods, but suddenly the prize is the biggest one in the entire world of motor sport — the F1 title. Rosberg admits that is making their personal relationship “a bit harder” than in the past.
“But luckily we have experienced it all before, even right back to karting,” he said.