Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 5th May 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

Top-20 GP Constructors who Failed to win a championship – No. 18

On This Day in #F1: 4th May 2003


F1 could axe Friday morning practice to cut costs GMM

Mercedes not happy with ‘megaphone’ noise fix (GMM)

Vettel is not enthusiastic of the new F1 era

Sauber – Six into two won’t go

Rosberg claims ‘better than Hamilton in dry’ (GMM)


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.

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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.

TJ13 Comment:

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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44 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 5th May 2014

  1. This just in….. Different engines sound different. More at 11

    Seriously, it sounds like one of the proposed exhaust solutions would make Mercedes verrryyyyy unhappy which means that some part of their performance advantage at the moment is probably contained in their exhaust. Can’t wait to see what gets turned up if they go for the megaphone… Though in truth I have no problem with the current sound and think that for the most part people will get used to it/audio engineers will get on top of it. That said tho current engines *are* pretty amazing and it would be a shame to screw around with that too much just to make them louder.

    • Personally, I can’t wait to see a Mercedes with a flugelhorn sticking out the back of the bodywork. This situation –

      • You’d really want something with a cylindrical cross section. Flugelhorns are conical and they’d just darken up the sound even more. 😀

        You’d also want to examine the bell taper carefully and make sure you use a lighter weight material, though the trade off usually is higher harmonics vs, greater projection for lighter to heavier respectively. Renold Schilke did some interesting research but I’d have to go looking for the website that used to have it….stuck at work, boo…

    • OK, my smartphone cut me off, but I’ve had another couple of Jägerbombs and I’m back…

      This whole noise thing is really starting to give me the screaming whatnames.

      Actually it’s not the noise thing as such, it’s more the more the idea of spending billions of dollars and consuming tens? hundreds? of thousands of man-hours building stunningly complex / pretty amazing cars to a bleeding-edge technical specification and then being told that they don’t sound right (wtf?) and THEN you actually take that opinion seriously.

      Most casual observers of motor racing like watching spectacular crash montages – maybe F1 should be super-safe, but super-loud and super-fast destructo-cars running in a multinational year-long series of demolition derbies? Hybrid powered of course, because they have to be relevant to road cars 😉

      Professional motor racing is already the most contrived and irrelevant sport on the planet, but at least until now that contrivance was limited to illogical engineering specifications in pursuit (theoretically) of close, interesting racing with a particular variety of vehicle at a prescribed level of performance.

      But now F1 is looking to unashamedly extend the contrivance that is at the very heart of all motor racing to the sport’s most subjective surfaces and impressions. What a car “is” is not good enough anymore, it must overtly “seem to be” as well. Can a sport be shallow?

      Focus-group, market research-driven, namby-pamby bollocks. When you give mug punters what they want you end up with things like The Homer.

      This point marks a new high tide in the corporatisation of the sport. Until recenty it was enough for the businesses involved to hand over money / expertise and bask in some reflected glory by using nonsensical marketing segues to flog automotive shopping trolleys. Now they seek to control everything in the sport, right down to how it sounds.

      Then again, this is unabashed fakery is the way the whole world is going. And so, just in autos, we have stupid-loud BOV / dump valves, carbon-fibre look vinyl wrap, stick-on Brembo brake calipers, bi-modal exhaust systems, etc, etc. A pox on the houses of all those who manufacture, distribute, sell, purchase or install such abominations. And if you like that kind of gear because it ‘looks great’ then you get the fleas of a thousand camels to infest your nether regions.

      I’m out…

  2. I can’t really see how removing one practice session will save money that much – the teams still need to be there for the Friday even if they only run once.

    How about combining this with another change – retiming qualifying.

    The race stands alone as an event people will sacrifice a Sunday afternoon to watch, but I’m sure a lot of people don’t make as much effort to catch qualifying – only doing so if they are in the house anyway.

    Why not have two practice sessions on Saturday, one morning and one early afternoon, then have qualifying run during the early evening peak, say 6pm to 7pm. That way people at the track see more and you are hitting a better time for TV audiences.

    Teams save having to be around for the extra day and it could really spice things up as conditions will vary a lot between the three sessions on Saturday and between qualifying and the race so teams will have to decide between compromising grid positions for race speed, or sticking it as high as possible on the grid and hope to hang on in the race.

    • Good thinking. The thing is, practice sessions bring people in on a Friday. Circuit promotors make some money so will they be happy with a revised format?

      And what would sponsors say? Although your idea of having everything up to qualifying on a Saturday mitigates that. Maybe we should have a pre quali on a Saturday and full quali on Sunday am. On Sunday each driver gets one lap only. Fastest three from Saturday can pick there slots, the rest reverse order from Sat quali…

      • How much do circuits charge to get in on a Friday? Do they even do Friday-only tickets or is it just race or whole weekend? I’d think they could charge more for Saturday and would get more in as they’d see more for the money. Fewer practice sessions would mean more running you’d hope.

        It is a good point that they could add more on the Sunday though – for example, they could move FP3 to Sunday morning, giving teams the chance to shake down any problems they have resolved after qualy. Although that would remove the benefit (to fans…) of having drivers qualify in different conditions to the race.

    • ***** F1 could axe Friday morning practice to cut costs *****

      If you want to save money …..

      have LESS Grand Prix’s

      simples 😀

      • agree 100%. more gps greatly increases operating costs and dilutes the value of each one. I’d rather see 12-14 very important races in classic f1 centric environments than 18-20 races in corrupt obscure countries where no one knows what f1 even is.

        • A reduction of 6 or 7 GP’s would decrease hosting fees to FOM by $200M – $300M a season depending which races were dropped. That will never happen.

    • The reduction of practice by 1 session reduces opportunity for testing parts… this is really the thinking behind this.

  3. So, Sebastian thinks that F1 should be about having the most challenging cars to drive, but he doesn’t like current f1, because the cars are too challenging (for him) to drive. Got it.

    • Yep.. That’s what I was thinking. Although I have to agree in one sense… I want to see 1000+hp cars. I want to see how small drivers Handel them 🙂

    • Sounds like Vettel has yet to figure out how to use the brake by wire system properly and how to handle the torque the new power trains produce while Riccardo seems to have got the hang of it quickly.

      I did think Vettel was going to struggle with the regulation changes, given he’s been driving in a certain style to get the best out of Newey’s designs for the last 4 or 5 seasons. He’ll get on top of it, how long will that take him ? Who really knows, he hates losing so that will be his motivation. F1 has never been primarily about the noise, it’s been about developing engines and technology, leaving the drivers to extract performance out of the cars they are given. Noise or lack thereof is a side effect of the development of F1. Different sounds for different eras.

  4. “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 customer teams now have to spend around $10M a year more for engines so that Todt can claim they are “relevant” to the motor industry. The engine cost alone has increased the smaller teams costs by 10% to 20%.

    • And they spent a whole load more than that on their new chassis for this year. If they could only use an old Ford Focus body shell instead, just THINK what they could save…

      Not sure what your point really is.

      • Todt champions cost reduction yet increases their cost by $10M a year. Pretty obvious.

        • Didn’t the original plan start with Mosely and 4 cylinders? I’m all for slagging JT but this is one he pretty much inherited.

  5. Oh no. What a bullshit. Cutting Fridays session… ticket prizes won’t go down. I dont believe they will.. So who is the big loser when they do this. We. I pay enough already to go see them drive at spa. I dont mind the money.. Cuz I see plenty. But if they are cutting the actual f1 time than they will lose spectators.

    • @ bruznic

      haven’t you ever heard the saying –

      LESS IS MORE ….

      a principle, I’m sure Bernie is a believer of

      😉

    • In which case they’ll either have to cut the price of tickets or pay the teams to drive more. Can’t see Bernie liking either one.

      F1 needs to do 2 things to survive as a sport –
      1. Share more of the money F1 generates to the teams, after all no teams no sport, no money.
      2. Budget cap on all teams.
      Which means you need a governing body with the teeth and courage to punish rule breakers accordingly.

      Spending hundreds of millions on an F1 team is unsustainable in the long term. All you’ll have left are Mercedes, Ferrari etc and a bunch of teams that buy basic cars off the big teams just to make the numbers up. That’s not F1.

      • They should implement the former when Bernie goes, there’s no reason for the owners to take 50% of the profits. More money to the middle and lower teams means more people employed by those teams, and hence closer racing on the track (think late 2000s, all cars within one second).

        That would mean Ferrari et al. could spend as much as they want and would barely be able to pull away from a well-financed efficient organisation like Force India or Sauber.

        • The owner only taking 20% still gives them like $200m per year, while the teams could spend almost a billion dollars on themselves collectively (from the guaranteed prize money).

      • “Spending hundreds of millions on an F1 team is unsustainable in the long term.”

        More than half the field have been spending $100M+ for a long time. As I mentioned above the new engines are costing most customers around $10M more this year than last, which alone increased their costs by 10%-20%. Those new engines bring absolutely no benefit to customer teams, while costing the manufacturers, when you include Honda, $600M -$700M in initial development costs, and collectively another $100M or so annually in upgrades. When development is completely frozen by 2018 / 2019 over $1B will have been spent on it.

        That ultimately brings us to the question of what F1 wants to be. Is it a sport / entertainment or is it a test-bed for a few manufacturers?

        I would argue that most people watch it for the sport / entertainment value, and what they don’t see, like the engine, is secondary.

        And I certainly don’t buy the argument that a significant amount of technology from F1 is transferable to road cars. If that was the case you’d have a torrent of manufacturers fighting to get in. Other than Honda there’s been almost no interest.

        • “What they don’t see, like the engine, is secondary”

          Cav, I’m not sure where you’ve been but it’s been clear for the past few years that if the engine rules hadn’t changed towards these hybrids, we would likely not have enough engines for ANY racing – not too much entertainment in that…

          And, with all due respect, I tend to listen to Renault, Merc, Honda et al rather than you about what may be useful (or even transferrable) to road cars. They are the ones who formed the rules.

          I’m damn sure I don’t have the answer to the cost issue, but it’s more complex than staying with V8’s

          • “that if the engine rules hadn’t changed towards these hybrids, we would likely not have enough engines for ANY racing –”

            Enough engines? I’m afraid you’ve lost me. The only manufacturer that claimed they would pull out was Merc, and that was as a team not an engine supplier. Ferrari, Renault and Cosworth could have easily supplied the field. At one time Cosworth was supplying 12 separate teams itself. So I don’t buy the argument that there wouldn’t have been an engine supply for all the teams.

          • To be honest we only need about 4 or 5 engine manufacturers maximum. If each engine manufacturer has less than 3 teams then it’s hard to justify such a spend for so little return (more teams the most costs are covered). The pre-recession days of half the grid being manufacturers with bespoke engines are definitely gone forever (or at least a decade).

          • Renault said they were out also, and Honda would not have joined.

            But don’t let facts get in the way of a good ol engine propaganda.

        • Bernie knew that the best way forwards for him was to continue using the cheap V8 engines. People would still like the sound and not be concerned about the technology. Costs low for the teams means he can retain more cash as profit, as the teams won’t be stretched even further to breaking point and demand more money from the prize fund.

          These new engines are over 30% more efficient, and already as reliable as the V8s… is that not bloody impressive in itself? It sounds like most people don’t really care about that at all..

          Also, for an R&D spend of $1bn, it’ll be saving us a lot more than that in the future going forwards, as the price of petrol rises. If the sport has brought that development forwards, then that can only be a good thing. And I’m sure the V8s will still be used in legacy racing, much like the V10 Renaults from 1997 in GP2 2005-08 etc.

          • *while Bernie will distract them with talks about cost cutting.

          • So, I guess I agree with Cav in that most people watch for the sport/entertainment, while also saying that the engine switch was totally necessary. But in such a worldwide sport it was always likely to be entertainment for 80% and technical intrigue for 20%.. that’s just how things go when something is so mainstream.

          • According to the engine presser at Shanghai actually closer to 40% efficiency. And far ahead of any current road car. 🙂

    • They should just pack everything on Saturday and Sunday. Longer Saturday morning practice and qualifying on Sunday or late Saturday. That way you attendees save on hotel and ancillary expenses.

  6. Interesting news on Leimer.. I always wonder if these drivers really have that much backing, but the junior formulae costs many millions over the years to climb it.. I’m surprised Sauber turned away Leimer, who has tested for them before in a YDT.. Sirotkin’s backing might be hindered by Russian sanctions.. so that leaves VDG, Gutierrez and Simona.. Sutil will surely retire after a gruelling year this year, unless he sees things being rosier in 2015 and has enough backing to continue.

    • ..and on how much backing affects things.. Vergne, Sutil and Ericsson are all losing up to half a second per lap in carrying extra weight to their team mate so far, and two of those teams could have prepared and ran a lighter driver if they were going for outright speed (de Silvestro, Frijns).

      • Sainz Jr also looks small and perfect for the 2014 formula, but really needs this last year to do well and win the FR3.5 title.

  7. Firstly, I dont have a problem with the new engine ‘noise’, although I have only experienced it through TV and not at the circuit, and with the clamour to find ways to keep costs down it seems inherently silly to be spending time and money on a manufactured noise!

    I also dont see how the reduction to one session on a Friday is going to help costs, cut out the Friday altogether and that would save money, but dont think promoters and sponsors would be happy with that, plus it would be a very tight schedule for teams and would rule out any potential drivers getting a test session during the year.

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