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Previously on TJ13:
Mercedes developing for fun UPDATE 14:15 GMT
You may have noticed that news has been fairly thin over the last couple of weeks. That is mainly due to me having other commitments but the crew here at the court have managed to bring you news even though I was engaged elsewhere. While they have done a great job it is necessary to increase the number of news writers for the site.
Even if you can only write one story per week or month it will help. The more news writers writing news for TJ13 the less GMM content we will need, and we know this has not always been welcome so are reducing the number of articles we publish.
Even if you have never written before you can help TJ13 will provide the necessary coaching and help to develop your writing so if you are up for it please get in touch with us.
Sahara Smirnoff Force India?
Over the past couple of month rumours have been rife that Saharah’s name on the Force India cars are numbered. TJ13 reported last week that Smirnoff will become a new sponsor for the team and the team has now officially unveiled their updated livery at a Smirnoff event.
Although using an old car… well it looks like the image that was circulated last week so nothing new here except…
TJ13 has reported intermittently since mid-last year, that Vijay Mallya is looking to sell the team. His airline company has gone bust and he has been forced to sell much of his shareholding in the United Spirits to Diageo business to remain solvent. Mallya has been removed from his executive role within the company and is currently chairman, though with very limited authority as defined by Diageo.
There was thought to be a deal in place in January for Carlos Slim to acquire Rubrata Roy’s (Sahara) stake in the Silverstone team, though the whereabouts of the Indian businessman was not always evident as he avoided summons after summons to appear before the Indian Supreme Court.
Well, as we revealed last week, Roy is sweating it out in a New Delhi jail and pleading for clemency – whilst Slim is closing in on a deal to buy into the Force India team. Whether Roy will receive his full $90m in consideration for his stake is questionable, as at present there area number of F1 teams who provide an opportunity for an equity investor.
Mallya himself is still under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, who want to see the money from the sale of 25% of United Spirits provided by Vijay to pay creditors of his failed airline.
The problem for Carlos Slim will be what to call the team. Ecclestone’s rules on when a team becomes a ‘new team’ include name changes which can disadvantage a team both financially and in terms of it’s influence within the sports regulatory creation systems.
To this end, Force India are likely to remain by this name until the deal for the Mexican Grand Prix is fully thrashed out, which will include Carlos Slim demanding indemnity from Ecclestone against any name change disadvantages.
Alonso and Raikkonen unlikely to be adding silverware to the cabinet
It is perhaps fortunate that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are paid their salary in dollars because it looks highly unlikely they will be receiving silverware anytime soon.
With Formula One back in Europe this weekend – following a three week break – the majority of teams have a raft of upgrades planned for their cars. Historically once the fly-away races have been completed the factories come out with all guns blazing – except Ferrari it seems – who are coming to the party with a water pistol…
TJ13 has been informed that the rumoured updates that were scheduled for this weekend have been put back for a more substantial reworking of the various parts as more problems are being recognised through the development process.
WIth the championship becoming a private battle between the two Mercedes drivers, it has been decided that bigger steps will be required to close the gap and work continues apace on effectively an updated F14-T. The parts that should have been run at the Grand Prix will be evaluated in the test following the race and includes a shorter nose which will allow a better passage of air below the car and around the sidepods. The new design will also bring benefit to the rear wing.
Whilst praise has been given to the excellent work performed by the Shell scientists who have delivered lubricants and fuels that have improved both combustion and lowered the heat from the engine by reducing internal friction – the main underlying problem is linked to the size of the sidepods.
In pre-season testing, observers remarked on how small the air intakes were on all Ferrari powered cars but as efficient as the original engine figures may have been, the reduced size of air intake is causing a significant loss of downforce. Ironically it is also the restricted airflow that is curbing the release of horse power because of the heat being produced in the electrical transfer which is limiting the car on the straights.
It is interesting that no-one considered that Sauber trialed slimmer sidepods in 203 in an attempt to improve aerodynamic efficiency, but were forced to make huge changes to the rear of their car during the season when it did not perform as expected. With exhaust blowing being effectively removed this solution is not available to the Ferrari squad.
Mercedes themselves have sidepods that tighten in at the rear but the package they have designed is a complete factory design with parts of the power unit built into the chassis itself.
Maranello have also been focusing on the optimisation of the electrical system in preparation for the summer months but other issues have been unearthed which has forced the engineers to rethink all possible solutions. The size of turbo-charger that Ferrari currently use is smaller than the unit Mercedes have employed and in turn this effects the potential of the MGU-H.
The B-spec car that Ferrari is working on reportedly contains ground-breaking designs which have been used in the aerospace industry and their focus is on a stronger material which will increase the rigidity of the chassis itself. The interweaving of the various layers of carbon fibre should move the chassis technology into a new era and is one of the reasons the F14-Tb will be introduced – however the existing problems with the current car indicates that their problems are complex indeed.
Mercedes developing for fun
During an interview with Martin Brundle for SKY UK F1 ahead of the Bahrain GP, Bernie Ecclestone hinted that Mercedes had agreed with him to investigate developing some kind of exhaust configuration which would ‘improve’ the current sound of the engines.
This week TJ13 revealed this week that this will take the form of a ‘megaphone’ solution, which is in effect a parallel exhaust which opens to ‘sing’ only toward the top end of the rev range in use. It is emerging from the paddock that we may see this exhaust during FP1 on Friday.
There is a test following the GP in Barcelona, and it would seem to be more sensible for Mercedes to concentrate on their race set up in free practice, then test the mega super woofer sound system next week.
Further, TJ13 has learned this morning that Mercedes have a significant aero package upgrade for this weekend, which should produce a performance improvement of 0.6s per lap for the W05. If true, beware the rest of the field, who will be trailing behind in effect behind a sound system on wheels that in theory is capable of trumpeting a triumphant “Das Deutschlandlied” in advance of the podium ceremony.
UPDATE: 14:15 Rosberg states the new sound system will be tested after the Grand Prix
Bold claims from McLaren
Having failed to score any points in the last two races, McLaren were once again staring down the barrel of a season of gross disappointment. Eric Boullier explains that the team understand why they have failed to perform on track because, “we have been lacking downforce. We know this, which has had a direct effect on tyre wear and tyre degradation. We know where we have had to address the issues on the car, and we have been working on it.
Another issue is the range of performance on our car is weather dependent – if it is too hot we are out, too cold we are out”. This sounds ominous for the fans of the Woking team if this is a fundamental aspect of the MP4-29.
However, from their data, the team believe they are the quickest car behind the Mercedes despite double DNF’s in Bahrain and P11 and P13 finishes in China. McLaren’s Racing Director believes the factory is getting on top of the down force issues, “Definitely. This is 100% sure. What we have seen on the track has been one thing, but back in the factory we know what is going to happen in the next three or four races”.
An uber confident Boullier adds, “I know what is going on, that we are on a very good development rate. What we have picked up over the past few weeks is good, very good. While not all of the steps we have taken will be in evidence in Barcelona, they mark the start of a fresh push and spirit within the whole organisation.” – Let’s hope Eric is not doing an Ijaz.
In a year where monumental changes have affected both the power untis and the fundamental design of the chassis, 3 weeks is a huge amount of time – and FP1 tomorrow will be one of the most anticipated for quite some time.
Can the Russian GP go ahead?
For those who believe the race in Sochi is too advanced to be aborted, we only have to think back to Bahrain 2011 when that event was cancelled just 26 days before the lights on track were due to signal “go”.
This week the Russian promoter, Sergey Vorobyev, insists the grandstands are now complete and the tickets will go on sale on May 20th. He states, “The Grand Prix of Russia in 2014 will take place as planned. The preparations are going according to plan, the facility will be ready in time”.
Yet all is not well behind the scenes. Of course there are those in F1 already opposed to racing in Russia because of their political views on Putin’s handling of the current situation with Ukraine. Yet this is not all that is causing trouble and rumblings are widespread in the Barcelona paddock.
The contact personnel for the teams attempting to arrange logistical maters are apparently changing regularly and there is uncertainty over a number of customs requirements and even visa criteria.
It may be 5 months before the race weekend, yet many of the logistical issues need to be resolved soon, such as hotels for the team personnel, rental vehicles and even the allocation of facilities at the circuit has not yet been confirmed.
Simple but often overlooked activities are also becoming complicated. In response to sanctions brought against Russia, Visa and Master Card are refusing to transact certain payments with Russian organisations and in response legislation has been introduced in Russia to ban payment systems for private transactions using payment systems which are foreign based.
Of course Bernie will want to hold out as long as possible from a contractual standpoint from declaring the race in Russia to be ‘offski’.
Yet Western leaders are not well disposed toward allowing their sporting stars and leaders being paraded before the Russian president as some kind of PR victory and Putin is not likely to cede his foreign policy stance to facilitate some cars to race around a track – even if it is a Russian track.
But certain deadlines are looming imminently, which if not completed, will surely see the Grand Prix of Russia cancelled.
Ecclestone trial hots up
Tomorrow will see Gerhard Gribkowsky enter the dock. He is the BayernLB bank director who was paid $44m by Bernie Ecclestone, the prosecution allege, as a bribe to ensure the sale of the F1 commercial rights went to CVC.
Mr. Ecclestone got a mention in British parliamentary proceedings on Tuesday, when MP Cathy Jamieson, questioned the ability of the government to provide the citizens with confidence that they could actually collect taxes which were right and proper due. She observed, “when they [the public] see stories such as that reported on “Panorama” a couple of weeks ago about Bernie Ecclestone, with a £1 billion tax liability, being able to agree a £10 million pay off. It seems that the Government are singularly failing to take meaningful action to deal with tax avoidance”.
Of course this fits with Bernie Ecclestone’s defence that the payment to Gribkowsky was to prevent him from reporting Ecclestone to the British tax authorities for tax avoidance.
It will be Judge Noll’s decision on whether the payment was a shakedown by Gribkowsky or a bribe from Bernie which will determine Mr. Formula 1’s eventual fate.
Last week, one of the investigators stated in court that they had found over the years Ecclestone’s explanation of the bribe as vague, and his evidence like trying to “nail custard to the wall”.
This follows judge Newey in the recent London litigation stating disdainfully, “I am afraid that I find it impossible to regard him (Ecclestone) as a reliable or truthful witness,”
Bernie has ducked and dived most of his life and regularly issued vague and contradictory statements to deflect matters at whim. Depending on Gribkowsky’s evidence tomorrow, it could be the day when finally Bernie is nailed to account – though there are 38 witnesses and several more months before the end of this trial.
The cost of F1
Let’s hope some errant truck doesn’t bump into these lovely Marussia wings and nose assemblies ousitde their Barcelona garage. According to Gary Anderson, each costs around £100,000 (122,000 Euros, $169,000) and some teams design and manufacture multiple wings which are never used.
Surely a freeze on aero development – eg each wing design must be used for 5 races at a time – would reduce massive waste and expenditure and improve competition for the teams with smaller budgets.
Further, as people are one of the lesser expensive items (per unit, excluding certain drivers) in a Formula 1’s profit and loss account, less emphasis on repeated and wasteful capital spend would protect jobs.