This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.
You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly.
Previously on TJ13:
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. Whilst 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 per 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 GMM articles we publish.
Even if you have never written before you can still 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.
Winners and losers – the subtle differences in mindset
If top level athletes and teams were wired in the same manner as the fans, they would all have given up by now. What’s the point in spending valuable resources when they have been beaten already. In Formula One the script is just the same.
Every season the media prompts the fans to believe that the team should focus on the following year, they should quit as they will never rise to the occasion, the drivers are at war with the team and the list goes on.
Formula One by definition is competitive. Not one of the teams want to see a whitewash by Mercedes, neither Mclaren or Ferrari wants to see them win more than 15 races over the course of the season and ultimately any solutions they find this year will benefit their respective design team for next year – therefore progress is welcomed.
Mercedes is threatening that they have aero updates that will be worth around 0.6. Whether truth or it’s part of the psychological game that is played out is unknown but the other teams may have found bigger gains themselves. The other problem is – irrespective of what gains they have made – nobody feels that Mercedes have truly revealed the pace of their car yet.
Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost offered his views: “If you analyse the races, I don’t think that they have shown their real potential for a whole race distance. They show it just for a few laps..”
Felipe Massa feels that “even if the opponents find 1.5 seconds, it is not enough to beat Mercedes because they are developing as well. If they improve by hall a second or one second over the course of the season, they would still preserve their advantage until the end of the season.”
Which was practically echoed by a driver that may be driving his last season for Mclaren – Jenson Button. “Mercedes don’t have any competition, it’s going to be tough for anyone else to win a grand prix this year.”
When Ron returned to power at Woking, it would have been because of insipid replies like this; at Mclaren you fight for the cause. There are great drivers and there are ‘race’ drivers and this subtle difference in mindset also applies to teams and engineers.
When Ferrari dominated in 2004, and Mclaren had developed the poor MP4/19 they pumped huge resources into the B spec car which won in Belgium. Mclaren finished fifth in the constructors championship that year but they had won a race, something that BAR, who finished second, never did.
Christian Horner offered some hope to the fans when he made the relevant point, “There are fifteen races left – it’s a marathon not a sprint, hopefully in Spain we will begin to significantly reduce our disadvantage to Mercedes..
Our car is better than Mercedes, we’re just lacking 50 horse power but Renault is working hard to close the gap. I know that our car is fantastic and the pressure is obviously on Renault but they have the right people to do that.”
For all his problems over recent races, Sebastian Vettel too understands the drive to be the best, “Ultimately we are here to win, right now, obviously we have Mercedes in a very very strong position. They are difficult to beat but not impossible.”
His words are echoed by another pragmatist, Fernando Alonso: “We are not in a position at the moment that we expect, I think hopefully soon we will be close to the podium or to victories and we – both Ferraris – can score many points for the team.”
Maybe Fernando is just the eternal optimist because his rallying call is beginning to sound like a stuck record in Maranello. This will be his fifth season of what at times appears a trying situation although his mischievous side is still evident because when speaking to the Finnish media about Raikkonen. he said “Usually I beat my team-mates so it’s not a surprise.”
As ever in Formula One, the media shies away from a contentious reply which could see them shunned by Formula One if they actually stated the truth – “So what happened when the rookie Lewis Hamilton finished ahead of you in his first season in Grand Prix… Was that a surprise..?” You would have to assume the self appointed samurai warrior would not appreciate the humour in return.
What’s in a name?
The politics of F1 never sleeps. There are still rumblings from the minority over the new V6 engine notes, and even Mercedes are playing ball with Bernie, and will be testing a ‘megaphone’ style exhaust next week.
However, the reality is that the V6 engines are here to stay. Too much time and money has been invested for them to be ditched, yet the politicking remains. Today Mercedes have revealed they have renamed this year’s car in a celebration of the new F1 era. Nico and Lewis’ chariots will now be known as the “F1 W05 Hybrid”.
TJ13 did suggest this may yet become the “F1 W05 Hybrid Boombox”, though the PR folk believed this would give Lewis an unfair advantage.
Caterham announces a new Technology partner
The commercial side of Formula One has taken a significant hit from the worldwide recession that impacted everyones life five years ago. Irrespective of the brand, many teams have struggled with raising funds.
Over the winter, the annual Wroom festival arranged by Marlboro on behalf of Ferrari and Ducati was cancelled, Mclaren has still not announced a title sponsor despite Chemical Boullier repeatedly promising developments are imminent and a significant amount of ‘pay drivers’ have entered the sport which in turn has led to criticism of the costs involved.
The smaller teams are threatening legal action via the EU and want a re-distribution of the wealth that the sport generates and the FIA has given up with what is seemingly an impossible task of introducing budget caps.
Yet despite the constant news of how tough times are, there are still significant partnerships being created within the sport which are not always based on monies invested with the team. Williams recently formed a partnership with Cavallino in the US to provide team apparel and merchandising and today Caterham have announced a technology partner, Silanna, which will be carried on their car from Spain onwards.
Silanna is an Australian technology company that invests in disruptive technology to bring advanced semi conductor solutions to market. Their latest developments are just now starting to appear in the latest generation of Smart phones, and Tablets and next year will launch Ultraviolet LED’s for use in the food industry.
Rob Lobban, Silanna’s Managing Director: “The Caterham F1 Team and F1 Racing in general represents the extreme edge of racing, and we are very proud and excited to be associated with both of them. Silanna’s charter is to bring disruptive technologies and products to market. Working with Caterham F1 provides Silanna the opportunity to get our message and name into the spotlight that has long been associated with F1 racing.”
It seems a surprising move to associate the company with a team that is fixed, seemingly, to the back of the grid but this may just be an initial foray into the new hybrid era of F1 – in similar fashion to when Honda entered F1 back in 1983 with the Spirit team. There is no doubt that there has been a ground breaking shift in electronic technologies but the engine manufacturers have achieved remarkable success with their reliability and it may also prove significant that Silanna has design centres in Australia, America, England and France.
Barcelona FP1 report
The law of bad luck averages
Many of the Mark Webber ‘lovers’ noted over the years that it appeared it was always his car which suffered the mechanical problems, it was Mark who 2 years in a row didn’t have a wheel fitted properly during a race and it was said of Mark by a certain race commentator, “If it wasn’t for bad luck – he’d have no luck at all”.
As we all know, over time the law of averages will always apply (ok before you get pedantic it is more accurately “the law of large numbers”) and now that Mark has sadly departed F1 for pastures new, it appears his former team mate is suffering from more of the bad luck than his new Aussie friend.
Just 26 minutes into the session, Vettel stopped out on track with electrical problems at turn 5. It appeared to take an eternity for the car to be returned to the pit lane (22 minutes to be precise) and this meant Vettel was unable to get any proper running in the first 90 minute session of what may be a pivotal weekend.
Sebastian was later seen relaxing and dangling something in a nearby pool.
Change is not always good
When the idea of driver numbers was first mooted, there was a cheer at Judge Towers from the TJ13 crew. We all believed this would mitigate the current drivers’ penchant for persistently changing their helmet designs – which early during an F1 weekend leads to identification problems.
Well, the numbers on certain cars are barely visible. Particularly from trackside, and today saw a significant number of new helmet designs on display.
Flappy paddle shift
When the first sports and supercars began ditching their H-box gear shift technology to the steering wheel paddles, a term was coined by irritated motor car journalists – ‘flappy paddle shift’. These days even dinosaurs like Jeremy Clarkson barely mention the fact that this is just not ‘proper driving’.
Today saw Force India innovate with a new technology – ‘flappy wing mirrors’. Sergio Perez was repeatedly battered by one of his, and we saw him return to the pits clutching at it in desperation to prevent him getting concussion.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:27.973||0.950||21|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:28.779||1.756||18|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:28.792||1.769||24|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:28.828||1.805||17|
|13||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:28.859||1.836||24|
|18||Giedo van der Garde||Sauber||1:30.440||3.417||22|
|20||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:30.942||3.919||4|
“I have a brake failure!” yelped Giedo van der Garde as he hurtled towards the end of the main straight flat out. All ended well even though the more traditional gravel trap was awaiting him and not one of Mr Tilke’s hypermarket car park run off areas. The old ways still work. Squeeky bum time
Anyway some skilful rally driving from the Dutchman saved the day and a hell of a lot of work for the Sauber mechanics as the car narrowly avoided a collision with a tyre wall.
To the cars
In a year where development is likely to be at least double that of usual when expressed in terms of time improvements over the course of a season, today’s FP1 was eagerly anticipated. All the teams with the exception of Caterham (whose boss just tweeted he bought a new Airbus) have made some kind of noise about how they will make significant steps forward.
So what happened in terms of how the cars looked on track?
Red Bull – well Ricciardo as Sebastian was dangling something by the team pool for most of the session – look as though they have a supreme car for cornering. This down force advantage will also translate into reduced tyre and on a day that saw many of the drivers struggling with tyre degradation, may give the boys and girls from Milton Keynes a whole pitstop advantage on Sunday.
Once again the common sense approach of offering the teams an extra set of tyres for FP1 worked as we saw most cars on track within minutes of the pit lane light going green.
Alonso appeared to be practicing his turn 1, turn 2 move which he pulled last year taking interesting lines at times into these corners, though the Ferrari looked rather more twitchy on the exit of turn 3. It is here on the Barcelona track where we get a true understanding of the cars handling capabilities.
Oh and by the way, there appears to be a distinct change in the Ferrari engine note this weekend… Mmm.
So were we to rank the cars in terms of handling, the Red Bull reigns – but not supreme from Mercedes – Fernando’s Ferrari is good too in turn 3, yet the time they lost consistently in sector 2 was startling. Lotus has jumped ahead of the rest of the competition and looks smooth – if a little slow.
It’s not all plain sailing for Nico today, as just under the hour mark – his car was cordoned off in the garage following an ERS problem. This meant he completed just 9 laps and ended up some 0.85s slower than his team mate Lewis.
The McLaren may not look as though it is driving on rails, but Jenson hustled the MP4-29 into second place in the timings. Which suggests the car may be quick – though the team could require 4 or more pit stops on Sunday.
Both Button and Magnussen got some serious mileage in, only topped by Maldonado who appeared to be in one of his focused trances grinding out lap after lap. The Williams looked a bit slippery on its haunches and more setup work will be required for the team to finish in the points on Sunday.
Marussia – not known for over confidence – have been making some interesting noises this week about hopefully catching Sauber. On this morning’s performance they may well have taken what could not be described as “a giant step for mankind” but is a significant move forward for one of F1’s “tryers”.
Caterham look woeful, so it appears their glorious leaders rallying call at the start of the season is working well. Though to be fair they were just 0.055 seconds slower than world champ Sebastian Vettel in the session – something they may never be again.
With 8 minutes to go, Hamilton was 1 second quicker than the field after just 2 sectors of a very hot lap. He mysteriously lost most of this advantage in sector 3, whilst experiencing no visible problems with the handling of the car.
In the last minute of the session, the irony of the Mercedes advantage became crystal clear. Hamilton reports in a sanguine manner over the pit to garage radio that his tyres were “really taking a beating”. He promptly completed the lap which was almost 0.9 seconds quicker than nearest his rival during the session – ex-nemesis, Jenson Button.
It looks as though Mercedes old problem of tyre degradation still haunts them, it’s just they are travelling so bloody fast that it doesn’t matter any more.
Disaster for Vettel
It appears the writers curse has struck. In our FP1 report we noted the change in ‘luck’ amongst the Red Bull No.1 and No. 2 drivers since the departure of Mark Webber from the team. Sebastian Vettel completed just 4 laps in the session and stopped on track with an electrical problem.
The team have just confirmed in a rather brief statement, “Due to an electrical problem that has damaged the wiring loom of car number one, Sebastian will not be able to take part in FP2. The team will use the time to fix it to be ready for FP3 tomorrow.”
Meanwhile the ever beaming smile of the new Aussie on the block causes all and sundry in the paddock to reach for their sunglasses, as Ricciardo was 3rd in the morning session ahead of 6 of the Mercedes powered cars and all of the Ferrari engines.
One witty commentator suggests Sebastian is in fact missing his old team mate and has requested Ricciardo be dropped by Red Bull and replaced with Mark Webber, who is “consistent, experienced and beatable” (sniffpetrol).
A few Spanish GP fast facts
When the German national anthem rings out for either the car of Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg, it will represent a complete season of races without a win for Ferrari.
And this will not be the only record established. Mercedes F1 AMG will be added (reliability willing) to this list of constructors who have won the Spanish GP. The list to date sees Maranello top of the pile, 12 – Ferrari; 8 – McLaren; 7 – Williams; 6 – Lotus; 2 – Red Bull; 1 – Alfa Romeo, Matra, March, Tyrrell, Ligier, Benetton, Renault, Brawn.
Neither Lewis or Nico have won in Spain and despite their joint careers spanning some 15 seasons, Pastor Maldonado has led more laps of the Spanish GP than either of them to date.
The circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona is truly the home of the Spanish GP, hosting the event for the past 23 years and prior to that there were 20 other races shared between, 9 – Jarama; 5 – Jerez, 4 – Montjuic Park; 2 – Pedralbes).
It has been suggested that the circuit de Catalunya delivers boring races, but why – we cannot understand here at TJ13…
Number of wins from pole at Catalunya: 17 wins from 23 races (74%)
Lowest winning grid position at Catalunya: 5th (Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 2013)
Number of races with at least one safety car appearance: Four of the last 14
Williams… matters “critical”
There has been some bemusement at the recent leaks from the F1 strategy group on the vote over cost capping. Williams were expected to be a dissenting voice, but the teams stood against Jean Todt’s proposition as one.
Here is something we rarely do here at TJ13, publish an interview verbatim from another website. However, Claire Williams has been speaking to Autosport and her views are best represented verbatim.
“As an independent team we’ve always wanted and will always want cost control in Formula 1 however that comes about. But this conversation has been going on for so long now and we don’t seem to have got anywhere, which is really disappointing.
At the end of the day it is just going to affect the long-term sustainability of our sport and we all have a responsibility to protect our sport – but also protect the teams who have been racing in F1 for a very long time.
I think we are at a really critical junction now – where if we don’t do something about it and take responsibility, then we are going to be causing ourselves some serious damage.
Williams is working really hard to make sure that we keep pushing and driving the conversation, coming up with proposals that will save costs in F1. But they have to be significant.”
Claire explains why Williams have chosen to take a pragmatic view over costs in F1 and not fight a pointless and battle which will be ultimately lost.
“There are teams that are against the cost cap, and that is fine. In an ideal world we would all like a cost cap. But no one – and certainly not the [big] teams – is going to agree to a cost cap that will bring significant turnaround to a team like us. So you will not win that debate.
So what is the next thing we can do? Well that is looking at the technical and sporting regulations to see if we can drive down costs through those, and that piece of work is still going on.
I don’t think we have reached an answer on that and it takes a lot of diligence, without it affecting the DNA of the sport.
We want to see cost control, whatever that comes from, but it has to be significant, and we all have duties as the Strategy Group, F1 Commission or FIA to try to bring costs down in F1, as it is not just sustainable.”
A certain well known F1 writer recently lambasted Jean Todt and the FIA for giving up their birthrights to regulate the sport – based upon the decision not to enforce a budget cap against the wishes of the F1 strategy group.
However, TJ13 has been informed that certain experienced ex-car designers and sage senior individuals – not from the current crop of large teams – have been engaged secretly by the FIA to deliberate over sporting and technical regulations which will level the playing field in F1.
In an unusual turn of events, Jean Todt issued a personal statement on the matter of cost cutting back in January. It read, “The FIA President reaffirmed to members of the WMSC the FIA’s intention to assure a healthy, affordable and spectacular FIA Formula One World Championship for the long-term future. At a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group yesterday, chaired by the FIA President, and attended by Bernie Ecclestone and the teams, it was unanimously agreed that cost reduction and cost control regulations will be presented to the WMSC in June 2014 for introduction in January 2015.”
TJ13 believes the current level of agreement at the F1 strategy group on 2015 regulations is akin to fiddling while Rome burns. These regulations must be delivered by next month as the teams will already beginning their 2016 car designs.
So we will see in just a matter of weeks whether the FIA president continues to portray an air of impotence or whether in fact he is boxing clever behind the scenes right now and will deliver hard hitting changes which will affect team’s ability to gain big advantages by spending vast quantities of money.
Renault threaten to withhold engines
Some may suggest that following years of opportunity to develop the Renault V6 turbo F1, the steaming pile of bits and pieces which arrived in Jerez wasn’t worth a carrot (English Idiom). Yet Renault upped their game and were certainly not third best and maybe on a par with the Ferrari powertrain by the time the teams arrived in Australia.
Renault Sport F1 boss Jean-Michel Jalinier says today, “The main point was to deliver and show that we are progressing. We’re not going to be able to make it at the first race, and win the very first race. We need to show that the action plan is delivering and the action plan race-after-race was bringing an efficient package”.
Yet it transpires that Renault is being handicapped in its development of the new powertrain by certain teams not coughing up the cash which is due.
“In order to develop the action plan we need the resources”, Jalinier continues, “and our resources are coming from two sources. One is Renault, with financial resources or human resources, and the other part of it is coming from the teams, because we are selling the engines to the teams. On this part I must say we are not at an acceptable situation, because some of the teams are just late in payment, and at the time that you spend resources in order to catch up you cannot afford to have those non-payments.”
Renault may have selected their customers for 2014 badly. Following the Mansoor Ijaz, Infinity Racing, Quantum Motorsport debacle, Lotus are clearly in financial meltdown.
Then there is Caterham. so far primarily funded by millionaire boss Tony Fernandes who is building a reputation with his sporting ventures of ‘having no clue’ what it takes to make them successful – except blowing ‘loadsa dosh’.
Fernandes quite brilliantly in a rousing speech managed create fear and dispirit his Caterham team before the seasons testing even began with threats of quitting the sport.
So whilst Jalinier remains tactful and mentions no names, deducing the culprits who have over extending their terms of credit is not the work for an algorithmic genius with a PhD in quantum physics.
“It is a serious concern”, says Jalinier. “We can live with it up to a certain point. We are developing, we are putting money into the business, we need to get our resources.”
Without going cap in hand to the parent car manufacturer, clearly Renault Sport will eventually run out of cash to pay its staff. “It’s just weeks away, then we’ll have to address the situation with the team, and take decisions, because that’s something we cannot carry forward.”
Adam Cooper asked Jalinier whether withholding supply was on the cards. “That’s an option” was the response.
How much of this Red Bull are aware of is not clear, however, this affects them significantly – even more so now Toro Rosso is in the Renault stable. It could be they become responsible for all the R&D and testing required to develop the Renault powertrain for the rest of the season should the others continue to be unable or refuse to pay up.
It appears Bernie’s annual pre-season health check on the various teams’ finances wasn’t thorough enough this year – then again he had a few personal problems to distract him at the time.
Barcelona FP2 Report
Vettel’s bad luck continues
A few years ago, Mark Webber suffered an electrical problem in his Jaguar car that caused him to retire from the event as he was being scorched through a fault in the wiring loom. As mentioned in our earlier FP1 report, Vettel suffered a ‘catastrophic electrical fault’ which will take the team some time to replace.
This is a blessing in disguise, whereas his former team-mate suffered all his problems in the actual races, Vettel suffered it on a Friday – which means of course that fingers crossed he will be able to participate in qualifying.
As he has demonstrated on countless occasions, he does not need many laps to qualify at his peak. This also means that he can take some time out from the busy weekend – studying his team-mates data, sipping on a mineral water and looking mournfully at a salad.
Ferrari feels the heat
Il Padrino is in Barcelona to offer his support to the new Technical Principal Marco Mattiacci. Just before practice started the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso was seen to be burning and produced a little smoke for the entertainment of the Spanish fans and team.
The team is investigating the engine’s telemetry to disprove unsubstantiated rumours that Alonso kept his engine at maximum revs in the futile hope of destroying the power unit. A team insider who didn’t want to be named stated the engine had been too quiet to tell.
Around a half hour before the end of FP2, both Ferrari drivers came through the pits and practiced their start procedure due to Barcelona having the longest straight following the start line on the calendar.
It would perhaps be cruel to suggest this is due to their anticipation of their starting position but interestingly it is a practice that has been taken up by Williams as well; it must be more than coincidence that their starts have improved since the arrival of Rob Smedley from Ferrari.
Hamilton finding it simple
Lewis Hamilton posted 1’30.584 on his sixth lap of a race run. Six laps later he was still circulating in the 1’31’s which would have sent shock waves through the opposition who were running significantly slower.
Rosberg who had limited running this more morning followed close behind his team-mate but was being advised by his engineer of inconsistent tyre-wear whilst Hamilton drove serenely around playing Candy Crush on his steering wheel.
It’s worth noting that at the other end of the grid, Max Chilton, Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson were all slower than the fastest time in GP2.
Prize for stating the ‘bleeding obvious’
In surely what is the understatement of the weekend, Jean-Eric Vergne forgot to look in his mirror at where his right rear wheel should have been and told his team, “I think I lost a wheel…” Well done young Jean, no doubt Marko is regretting his promotion of the ‘smiley’ one over your good self.
The team have been fined 20,000 Euro for the unsafe release of the car but Vergne will not receive a grid penalty due to it occurring in practice as obviously in the rarefied world of the FIA, accidents in practice sessions aren’t as serious as when they occur in qualifying or the race!
Lotus still suffering problems
After the recent Grand Prix where he was distracted by pretty lights, Pastor Maldonado spent a considerable time of FP2, in what appears to be just going round in circles, on the track that is. After 22 laps on the softer rubber he was TEN seconds a lap slower than Hamilton.
Maybe the biggest concern of the black and gold team will be both cars having to be pulled from the session. Grosjean was clearly suffering issues with his braking system which became so problematic it had to be withdrawn and Maldonado was called in as his gearbox gave the technicians cause for concern.
At the end of the day Mercedes reigned supreme (again/still) with their long run pace frighteningly quick, as much as 1s per lap faster than the nearest competitor. We are all but assured of hearing Deutschlandlied on Sunday. The only uncertainty (sort of) is will we hear God Save the Queen before that?
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:26.509||0.985||38|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:28.049||2.525||35|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:28.074||2.550||31|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:28.246||2.722||30|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:29.129||3.605||34|
|Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|