Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 6th May 2014

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Mclaren and Ferrari – Never the twain shall meet

Rosberg tips rivals to be closer in Spain (GMM)

Ross Brawn spotted in Maranello

Mercedes employ sports psychologist to perfect their domination

Dickie Stanford appointed General Manager for Williams Heritage

McLaren to pass Mercedes information to Honda – Wolff (GMM)

Rosberg v Hamilton duel will be close claims Norbert Haug

Lotus asymmetrical nose being evaluated by competition


Mclaren and Ferrari – Never the twain shall meet

After Ferrari’s recent change of Team Principal, Luca de Montezemolo rallied the troops with a resounding speech about changing the infrastructure within the Scuderia to make it more streamlined with less levels of communication for the various departments to negotiate. As always when Ferrari issues these types of calls to arms, the influential British media and various observers mock their ‘Italianess’ and the official announcements of using less emails.

But as has recently been revealed, Mclaren are also setting about changing their team structure to improve their organisation to get back to the front. Part of which has surprisingly been overlooked by the press – the need to implement better chains of command and clearer communication between the divisions.

Following a detailed review by Eric Boullier, Mclaren’s Racing Director, the team is now making changes which are believed in time will bring a fundamental benefit to the squad. In addition to Peter Podromou’s arrival next year, new aerodynamicists have been recruited to re-strengthen a depleted team. Tony Salter joins from Sauber and Guillaume Cattelani from Lotus with Dan Fallows still remaining a highly contested subject between Mclaren and Red Bull.

Boullier believes rather than a complete overhaul it will be these internal changes which empower the current staff and allow the team to move forward.

“McLaren is composed of brilliant individuals, they have been winning many races and have been fighting for championships, I think it is just to make sure that the same people are working together in one way with strong leadership, strong guidance and at least it will help them to recover their past success. Once we have this leadership in place with clear strategy, then we have to make sure the communication flow within the company is maybe a little simpler to make it faster and better in the end. That will be key for me – the key point to drive this company back to success.”

It may prove to be a coincidence but Ferrari and Mclaren – the two giants of Formula One – have both struggled with World Championship success since 2008. They have both had sporadic success through the subsequent seasons but their fundamental DNA has seemingly been mis-placed.

Montezemolo and Ron Dennis have both brought about change at a time when maybe they had both taken their eyes off the ball – be it political ambition or the construction of a manufacturing plant. Whilst Domenicali and Whitmarsh were likeable fellows – success was not forthcoming and any changes have not yielded the returns promised.

Following the banning of in-season testing – something that Ferrari had invested in heavily with two dedicated circuits at Fiorano and Mugello – the Italian team has been building up their electronic resources to match the best, including new state of the art simulation tools.

The troubles with their own wind-tunnel dated back to 2010 and forced them to use the Toyota facility last year. In another mirror image, Mclaren also made use of the Cologne wind tunnel but both teams suffered indifferent results with developments they brought to races.

Many fans are expecting a return to the glory days of the original Mclaren-Honda tie up but the more circumspect will point out – the last time Honda ran engines with other teams, including BAR and Jordan, their engine was not considered close to the best.

Taki Inoue has become a minor celebrity with his off the wall tweets to the world but there may be an element of truth in his latest outburst in regards Honda.

“Honda super formula is shit! Honda GT is shit! Honda F3 is shit! Honda WTCC is medium shit! What do you expect Honda in F1?”

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Rosberg tips rivals to be closer in Spain (GMM)

Nico Rosberg has tipped Mercedes’ rivals to have closed the gap during the three-week break since last month’s Chinese grand prix. The Brackley based team has utterly dominated the opening four ‘flyaway’ grands prix of the new turbo V6 era. But the start of the European season is traditionally the scene of vast improvements up and down the pitlane, as teams add the first major developments to their fledgling cars.

“Until now we have had a big gap to our nearest competitors,” championship leader Rosberg is quoted by German-language Speed Week. “But three weeks have passed since China and for sure a lot has happened. So we will have to wait and see,” said the German ahead of this weekend’s Spanish grand prix.

I hope that we still have an advantage, but we will have to see how big it is. I am confident that we will still be the fastest. But we are also aware that the competition has been working around the clock to catch up,” added Rosberg.

At the same time, Barcelona is usually a key indicator of how the rest of a F1 season will look. Not only is the Circuit de Catalunya a frequent test venue for the sport, the nature of its layout is a good indicator of how a car will perform on most types of tracks.

“A car that performs well in Barcelona should perform well everywhere,” agreed Paul Hembery, tyre supplier Pirelli’s F1 boss.

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Ross Brawn spotted in Maranello

Word has reached TJ13 from our correspondent in Italy that Ross Brawn was seen in Maranello and Fiorano yesterday but there is little indication of what his plans for the future are.

There are no doubts that he would have had many friends at the Scuderia’s headquarters from his time at the factory between 1997 and 2006 and it is probably the first time since he left Ferrari that he could actually visit their factory without being a direct competitor. But as ever in the fevered world of Maranello, the rumours begin once more.

One particular rumour involves Marco Mattiacci being nobody’s fool and inviting Brawn back. As a former CEO of Ferrari America, there is little doubt the man is intelligent and most likely very persuasive but is there any strength to the rumours?

For some months now, it has been believed that Brawn was working alongside Honda as they prepare their entry for next season and yet was spotted in Italy on a fine afternoon.

Many Ferrari fans would welcome Brawn back with delight as he is recognised as the architect of most of the Schumacher success. Since those heady days he had further proved his leadership qualities with Brawn and Mercedes. Yet he left Mercedes after declaring he wanted full control of the team and it’s unlikely he would join Mclaren without insisting on a similar position of authority also.

There is still some confusion with our Italian cousins as to the real motives behind the recruitment of Mattiacci – whether his appointment was a decision made by the FIAT board or the sole responsibility of Il Padrino himself. If Brawn is recruited to the team, his overall position will likely suggest who has the real power within Maranello.

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Mercedes employ sports psychologist to perfect their domination

A classic description of a psychologist used to mean someone trained to deal with problems that an individual was experiencing in life which was preventing them achieving a stable mind set. In the 21st century their roles have expanded and now encompass clinical, sports and industry with both behavioural research and practitioners.

Jackie Stewart has for years advocated the use of coaches for drivers and always questioned why Formula One drivers believe they are above the use of such professionals to develop their talents. Every other professional sport employs sports psychologists and coaches at the highest level dealing with tennis, golf, footballers and other high profile pressure environments.

Romain Grosjean has made no secret that he made use of the profession last year as he seeked answers to his Formula One problems and the transformation proved startling but to date he appears to be the sole beneficiary not a ground breaker.

It appears that the Mercedes team have also acknowledged the potential benefits and have enlisted the services of Dr Ceri Evans. He had famously helped the New Zealand rugby team overcome their mindset to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup and was an observer in China recently where he observed the team as they performed in high pressure situations, such as pit-stops. He made his report to Toto Wolff with recommendations but as yet has had no involvement with the team’s drivers.

Evans studied experimental psychology at Oxford University and set up Gazing Performance in 1998 – his clients include banking groups, car hire firm Avis and the UPS organisation. He has assisted various rugby institutions but has been employed by the Brackley team on a consultancy basis. He will attend various Grand Prix as required but no planned schedule has been set.

Mercedes’ move follows a growing trend across global sports. In 2012 Brendan Rogers, Liverpool Football Club’s manager hired Dr Peter Stevens to assist the team which has been fighting for the Premier League title this year and he has also worked with snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in recent years to achieve World Title success.

It’s intriguing that in a sport dominated by ground breaking technology, where the teams chase every 1.000th of a second at the cost of millions perhaps the biggest performance differentiator is the “nut” behind the wheel.

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Dickie Stanford appointed General Manager for Williams Heritage

Formula 1 Grand Prix, Germany, Friday PracticeWilliams Grand Prix Engineering has announced this morning that Dickie Stanford has been appointed to the position of General Manager for Williams Heritage. This new division has been established to oversee the maintenance of their historic Formula One cars.

Stanford had stepped down from his position as Race Team manager before the start of the season explaining he wanted to replace a life lived on the road with a factory based position.

He began his career with Williams in 1985 as a mechanic on Nigel Mansells’ FW10 and worked his way up to Chief mechanic before becoming Team Manager in 1995. In 2005 he stepped down from the role so as to spend more time with his family. He returned as Race and Test Team Manager in 2010 and guided the team through a barren period of their history.

As General Manager of Williams Heritage, Stanford will be responsible for the team of highly experienced Williams mechanics that maintain and run the historic car at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Stanford will report to Jonathan Williams and Sir Frank Williams said, “A team of our longevity has many historic assets that need to be cherished and preserved for future generations to enjoy. Dickie combines strong mechanical knowledge of our cars from his time as a mechanic, with first class operational and logistical skills honed as Race Team Manager. He is therefore perfectly placed to take on the day-to-day operational running of our historic car programme and provide support to Jonathan in ensuring that Williams’ Heritage programme goes from strength to strength. I would personally like to add my thanks to him for his services to the team during his time as Race Team Manager.”

Stanford added; “I have a lot of passion for the company and its heritage and the opportunity to take charge of our historic car programme is too good to turn down. With the formation of Williams Heritage as a distinct division within Williams, we will be well placed to ensure that our legendary cars continue to be well looked after and can be showcased to Formula One fans for many years to come.”

Former McLaren technical co-ordinator Peter Vale has been appointed by Williams as its new race team manager and it can only be hoped that Vale will follow his predecessor’s example of using the medium of Twitter to show fans what is going on with Williams.

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McLaren to pass Mercedes information to Honda – Wolff (GMM)

Toto Wolff suspects McLaren will pass on knowledge about Mercedes’ turbo V6 to its 2015 engine supplier Honda. This year, Mercedes is in the awkward situation of being contractually bound to supply its industry-leading new technology to McLaren, whilst knowing the British team is already setting up its new works relationship with Honda.

When asked by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport how much information about Mercedes has already passed from Woking to Japan, team boss Eric Boullier smiled whilst insisting: “Nothing!” Indeed, correspondent Tobias Gruner insists Mercedes is “using every means” to prevent Honda from learning from McLaren’s final year with Mercedes.

But Wolff admitted: “I am convinced that what McLaren learns is being exchanged with Honda in the context of what is allowed.” He said McLaren’s own telemetry will allow Honda engineers to see information about things like torque, power delivery and driveability. “And also what is needed for cooling, hydraulics, electronics — all these things are of course passed on,” said Wolff.

Wolff said he trusts McLaren – famously fined $100 million by the FIA for the 2007 ‘spygate’ scandal – to stick to what is allowed as it moves from Mercedes to Honda power. “We have a very clear understanding of what can be disclosed and what cannot, but I am convinced that they acknowledge the partnership and the confidentiality that they enjoy as a client today,” he added.

Wolff also acknowledged that even the transfer of some information will not overcome Honda’s inherent “disadvantage” of only returning to formula one in 2015. “Honda has a natural disadvantage,” he said, “because they are coming into the sport when everyone else has already been there (in the V6 era) for a year.”

At the same time, he also thinks rivals Ferrari and Renault will be closer to Mercedes next year. “Our concepts are very different,” said Wolff, “but the others will certainly catch up a lot, because they have information about how our engine runs when they see it on the track. Next year the field will automatically be closer.”

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Rosberg v Hamilton duel will be close claims Norbert Haug

The battle between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton is likely to be the overwhelming topic of the 2014 season given the current dominance displayed by Mercedes.

Despite differing views from the senior team management – in regards to team-orders possibly being required later in the season – and the continued ‘paranoia’ that the other teams can successfully close what is believed to be a two second advantage, ex Mercedes boss – Norbert Haug believes it will be a close duel between the two.

Speaking to the German Bild newspaper he commented,“Nico and Lewis are very close to each other and each of them has a good chance of dominating the rest of the season.”

Haug continued: “I hope it will be a close duel between them for a long time, I have known Lewis and Nico since they were kids and I’m proud of them both. I hope we see many more hard, exciting races as we did recently in Bahrain. But it’s also clear that there is a loser and a winner at the end of every duel. Hero and zero is never far away in motor sport.”

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Lotus asymmetrical nose being evaluated by competition

Lotus may well have missed the ‘twin tusked’ boat if rumours from Spain are to be believed.

The troubled Enstone team has been centred in a storm surrounding it’s finances last season which saw the mass exodus of around 100 influential employees to other Formula One teams. As ever in this fast moving sport, technical committees will gather and evaluate different solutions found by the competition which may aid their own developments.

imagesHaving missed the first tests of 2014 and handicapped by a second rate Renault power unit, Lotus have not been able to fully display the potential of the Nick Chester designed E22 but it has received attention in various wind tunnels including Williams and Mclaren.

Pat Symonds commented that, “Lotus have been haemorrhaging employees from all departments over the last few months, so I think all of the teams had an idea of where they were going,” he continued that he suspected other teams were also investigating the aerodynamic properties of the asymmetrical nose on the Lotus but admitted, “We have also looked at several interpretations (of the double nose),but some of them simply did not fit with our car.”

.Italy’s Omnicorse claims the solution has been tested by Tim Goss for some time in the Woking wind tunnel and Boullier has hinted that Mclaren will have some major upgrades for the European leg of the season. After a great start to the season, Mclaren have suffered two disappointing outings in recent races and are also studying solutions which will incorporate the single pillar rear wing support as mounted on the Lotus as well.

The one factor that may prevent the introduction, in Catalunya, of a similar nose is the fact that the whole unit has to be crash tested by the FIA but it could be seen later in the season if the benefits outweigh the current design.

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35 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 6th May 2014

  1. I remember ferrari not winning a world championship for 21 years. So they dont need to worry just yet…

      • ..and did well in the mid-80s with Alboreto and until Prost left, before recovering in the mid-90s with Berger and Alesi. So at most there were really only a few years in the ‘doldrums’ of the higher midfield at best on each occasion.. like McLaren in 2013 and possibly 2014.

        • Alboreto – in 1985 he effectively retired in 7 of the 16 races yet still was second in the drivers WC. That would never happen today. Shows how far F1 has come in terms of reliability.

        • Doing well isn’t what counts. If I almost got lucky with the misses tonight I still get none. πŸ˜†

  2. Interesting about Brawn…I’ll only believe that he has actually retired if he’s still fishing in 2015…

  3. Can someone please tell nico to talk a little bit less please. Ok 3 weeks has passed since the last race, but I doubt anyone can make up that 2 second gap in that time. Shit I doubt if they can do it this season.

      • Interesting.. historically Red Bull have been the best (and spent the most, I believe), while Ferrari can’t be forgotten as the other works team. I can see Red Bull challenging near the mid-end of the year, while Ferrari move up to 3rd best team, ahead of the 3 Mercedes customers and a recovering Lotus. Sauber/Toro Rosso and Marussia/Caterham will come down to a straight battle between those two teams. Toro Rosso in particular are set up for the low drag circuits.. they could shine at Monza and Spa.

          • I am also wondering if the gearing is part of McLaren’s struggles, their gearing seems more towards the older spec of engines than the newer one, IMO.

          • ..and it gives us an explanation for why Magnussen got such a hairy tailslide going when shifting up through the gears at the Melbourne start!

      • The operative word is “history”. They’ve put all the pieces together now and in the last 2 years, they basically stopped developing their cars in preparation for this season. And even if that’s proven to be true this season, when have you ever seen any team claw back a 2 sec per lap gap in 1 season? F1 deals with 10th of a sec increments.

        • You ask the interesting question, what is the largest deficit ever overcome (time wise) in a season. I would really like to know the answer to that one.

          As far as this season goes, although we have a good idea of the deficit Ferrari has, we have yet to see the Renault in full song. Once that happens, then we can speculate in earnest on whether RB can out develop Merc and catch up.

          From the noises Renault are making, we should see them close or at full power in Barcelona. Should be interesting..

          • Highly unscientific I know but at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, LH fastest qualifying time 1:26:4 to JB’s pole of 1:24:8, Abu Dhabi LH pole time 1:39.695 to JB’s 1:40:148
            2009 always struck me as a great bit of in season developing.

          • “what is the largest deficit ever overcome (time wise) in a season.”

            If you were to include an engine switch in the same chassis the answer would probably be the McLaren MP4/1C /E. The MP4/1C chassis was almost completed unchanged except modified to accommodate the TAG-Porsche engine. McLaren figured it was 3 – 4 seconds a lap faster on most tracks.

  4. Regardintg Brawn, I was watching a video about Turbo, from Equinox series, when Ford comissioned an engine, and there was a young Brawn, in that distant ’86 season, trying to set the Beatrice Lola Haas

  5. * HONDA IS SHIT *

    Taki Inoue –

    β€œHonda super formula is shit! Honda GT is shit! Honda F3 is shit! Honda WTCC is medium shit! What do you expect Honda in F1?”

    I bet Honda are hoping it to be more like BTCC or MotoGP.

    Whether it will be ……… hmmm ?

  6. You mention Lotus’s asymmetrical noses and whether other teams will copy it. Has anyone yet found out the reason why they are of unequal length. There must be a good reason or they wouldn’t use it. Do they alter which side is longer depending on if it is a clockwise or anti-clockwise circuit?

    • From the 2014 Technical Regulations:

      15.4.3
      An impact absorbing structure must be fitted in front of the survival cell. This structure need not be an integral part of the survival cell but must be solidly attached to it.

      No part of this structure may lie more than 525mm above the reference plane.

      It must have a single external cross section, in horizontal projection, of more than 9000mmΒ² at a point 50mm behind its forward-most point. Furthermore:

      a) No part of this cross-section may lie more than 250mm or less than 135mm
      above the reference plane.

      b) The centre of area of this section must be no more than 185mm above the reference plane and no less than 750mm forward of the front wheel centre line.

      So the teams are only allowed a single cross section in the defined area. The Lotus nose has one fang shorter than the other so only one section of the structure is intersected by the reference plane.

      • That’s the technical reply that i would never have been bothered to look up πŸ˜‰

        • So I wasted my time…….? Just trying to help, but if it’s not worth bothering then …………………

          • You didnt waste your time. I appreciate the effort involved to produce a reply that even I can undertsand. πŸ™‚

      • Thank you for that detailed reply. I had been thinking it was some fiendishly clever way of obtaining extra downforce on one side of the car to benefit in corners. πŸ™‚

      • Good reply. I’m wondering if the offset exhaust is designed to compensate for some asymmetrical effect of this nose.

    • The forward snout only is classed as the nose, and the rules state something to do with single frontage area

    • Where have you been the last 4months, the different length tusks on the Lotus are to satisfy the regs regarding nose tip positioning and area requirements.

  7. only in F1 will you see someone spending millions of dollars and invaluable time investigating the solution of a losing team.

  8. Omnicorse has never been a reliable source. Just putting rumors in the air with no reference

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