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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.
UK’s Sky changing strategy?
With F1 ratings falling worldwide since F1 changed it strategy to move onto Pay per View channels have we now reached a point where potential fans are not reached and existing fans are becoming estranged? In the UK there is an agreement between Sky and BBC, with Sky showing all the races live and BBC showing extended highlights and some races live.
Looking at the figures from the F1 Broadcasting Blog for the race in China we are confronted with a bleak picture. The combined average of viewers during the Chinese Grand Prix for both Sky and BBC are c3.55m. Compared to the combined average of c4.4m from 2008 to 2013 this is a massive drop in viewers.
Qualifying was not much better with the combined average c1.82m compared to previous years where they were in excess of 2m. As David said in his blog, “there are no positives when steep drops are being recorded more often than not. Over half a million viewers, which is the gap in most cases, would not be clawed back via ‘other methods’. The fact is, some people have tuned out due to many different primary and secondary factors.”
It appears the lords at Sky have also noticed this trend. While still behind Sky’s decoders at least regular Sky subscribers will now be able to watch qualifying on their Sky1 channel at 12 today. Is Sky looking to drum up more interest or will we see a change in strategy after they realised viewers are not flocking to the F1 subscription channel and the next step is having F1 on easier to access channels in the future?
Barcelona FP3 report
Today’s FP3 session was a subdued event and many runners were playing cagey with the opposition. Except for Mercedes…
With what looks like at least a second advantage over the first of the opposition, we witnessed both Rosberg and Hamilton driving within their limits and not giving too much away to the other.
Initially in the session Hamilton had returned to the pits saying the car didn’t feel true when running in a straight line. Observers stared in astonishment as the team put their laser guided tape measures aside and used Niki Lauda’s tried and tested string to measure the wheelbase on both sides. Lewis returned to the track and was visibly restrained with his steed.
The Mclarens had a mixed session with times and were joined by fellow Mercedes engined runners Williams. It was obvious throughout that the majority of teams were struggling with rear downforce and irrespective of which tyre they were running, these drivers were squirming through many corners, fighting cars in glorious… well, small slides.
Even TJ13 favourite Marvellous Max had a sideways moment through turn 9 as he pressed the ‘go-faster’ pedal like his friend Bianchi had suggested. This prompted the latest Scottish recruit to the BBC’s F1 coverage, Allan Mcnish, to compare him to the legendary Gilles Villeneuve… it would seem the accident at Le Mans the other year has sadly left long term sanity issues within his tiny frame.
Lotus continued in their own manner. Both drivers experienced what proved to be recurring issues under braking which would catch them out unexpectedly. Maldonado in fact losing his braking into the first corner just metres behind his team-mate Grosjean.
Twenty minutes into the session we had the Ferraris separated by just under half a second sitting on the front row effectively. To any tifosi with long memories this would have been a sweet moment reflecting on a great team, for anyone else, Mercedes hadn’t been out for more than installation laps.
Later in the session Alonso took third place on the softer tyre but Kimi barely improved on his time set on hards so there is time available but the race for the last podium position could be a close one. Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari and Mclaren have seemingly comparable pace, but there was a sense of not giving too much away before qualifying.
Button and Hulkenburg both told their respective teams that they had lost rear grip and were struggling for pace but if these were downforce issues, brake recovery issues or too hard a compound issues was not elaborated on. Watching Kevin Magnussen it seems that Mclaren’s normal design feature of much too hard damping was back as watching him through turn 3, the car was bouncing over the ripples in the track.
In a manner similar to Rob Smedley and Felipe Massa advanced school of driving, Gutierrez was told by his engineer that he was using too low a gear compared to his team-mate and was told maybe he should try a higher one instead…
Vettel and Vergne both ran wide through turn 4 and the reigning champion looked decidedly unsettled through many of his laps. Bottas looked wild throughout and it’s interesting to see how much difference there is between the Williams drivers when he doesn’t play a part fin FP1 as opposed to when he does.
Final point, is Gary Anderson being missed by the BBC crew? Tom Ford was talking about the new front wing of the Sauber as against the previous unit which were both on display in the pitlane. ” The new one is …clean… whereas the old one has this bit that flips up on it.” Thank you Tom…
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:27.808||1.921||12|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:28.085||2.198||20|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:28.242||2.355||16|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:28.298||2.411||16|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:28.571||2.684||13|
|16||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:28.668||2.781||13|
Below is the lap chart with the different sector times for each of the drivers after FP3. Although Rosberg emerged quickest, his time is still a third of a second down on Hamilton’s best from yesterday.
Italian press mocking Ferrari – Newey contract offer
‘Ci risiamo’ quoted a headline on Italian website Omnicorse. In English these two words translate as “Here we go again” but in certain areas in Italy, various dialects use ‘risi’ as finding some thing funny which is where the adjective risible originates from.
The article these words were applied to was the latest rumours that Ferrari has once again approached Adrian Newey about joining the Maranello concern to lead their design crew.
Without doubt Newey is the most coveted designer in the world, and has been a consistent winner throughout the last twenty years but every time he has been offered a contract with Ferrari he has turned it down.
By all accounts, Mattitacci has recognised him as someone Ferrari needs to turn the Italian concern around but what could they offer a man who is currently the highest paid technical director in Formula One? A collection of classic Ferrari’s which he could race at Historic events of which he is an enthusiast? When you are paid in millions already the incentive must come from somewhere else.
So to surmise, Ferrari have a team structure that has James Allison as the Technical Director. Ross Brawn was seen locally last week with all that implies and Bob Bell is currently tending to his garden but rumours persist he may join up with Allison once more.
Montezemolo spoke recently of not wanting mercenaries within the team and yet the Scuderia cultivates an environment which encourages this to happen. Instead of establishing a blame culture where everybody feels pressurised by the nonsense published in the press, they should focus on putting their house in order and allowing their personnel the freedom to work to their strengths.
Mercedes’ rivals may block ‘megaphone’ exhaust (GMM)
Mercedes’ rivals may block the introduction of the ‘megaphone’ exhaust, according to reports. Already utterly dominating the 2014 season, Mercedes will try the trumpet-like exhaust attachment at Barcelona during next week’s post-Spanish grand prix test.
Earlier reports suggested that, following widespread criticism of the milder sound of this year’s engines, the Mercedes exhaust would get F1’s volume half-way between the volume of the current V6s and the old, screaming V8s. But before the exhaust can be introduced at grands prix, “the other manufacturers, Ferrari and Renault, would have to agree”, Austria’s APA news agency reports. “They fear that Mercedes has made the development for its own benefit,” the report added.
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda hit back: “It changes the horse power of the engine by zero. The only thing that changes is the funnel at the end of the exhaust. It just makes more noise,” he added. “Everyone thinks Mercedes has done this to have an advantage — what absolute nonsense,” said Lauda. He claims that Mercedes was the only team that responded to the cries of the fans for more noise. “The others have not done anything,” Lauda is quoted by the German newspaper Bild.
Nonetheless, he said Mercedes’ solution can simply be attached to the end of any exhaust — including those coming from rival Renault and Ferrari engines. Lauda said initial tests had shown that, with the attachment, “you can reach almost twice the volume” of the current V6 engines. The problem,” he explained, “is that all the teams would have to agree. Just because of that it won’t happen? What nonsense,” Lauda charged.
Rival engine maker Renault confirmed that it is not convinced F1 has a sound problem. “Take, for example, the most famous race outside of formula one, which is Le Mans,” Renault chief Jean-Michel Jalinier is quoted by Speed Week. “Last year I was there and there were more than 70 cars in the field, and yet it made less noise at the start than our 22 (F1) cars. But no one complains that Le Mans is not a fantastic race,” he said., “If GP2 is louder, it just means that GP2 is outdated rather than F1 having a sound problem. You just have to move with the times,” Jalinier argued, “and it is no longer the time for a V10 or V8 using 60 litres of fuel every 100 kilometres.”
Interestingly, it seems that Mercedes’ efforts to introduce the ‘megaphone’ may not be blocked at least by its title rival Red Bull. “The test (next week) is a step in the right direction,” said Dr Helmut Marko. “GP2 is now louder than formula one, which cannot be,” he insisted.
Perez slams Pirelli over ‘boring’ tyres (GMM)
Sergio Perez has slammed Pirelli for supplying overly conservative tyre compounds at the Spanish grand prix. F1’s official tyre supplier had a tumultuous and highly controversial 2013 season, but so far the emphasis this season has been on the radical new rules and quiet engines.
“The problem is that Pirelli is not helping us to attack and enjoy driving,” Mexican Perez, who drives for Force India, is quoted by Russia’s f1news.ru. “We have lost downforce compared to last year and now we have to drive very hard compounds,” he added. “It seems that Pirelli is worried about the graining of the front tyres, but if you look at the difference between us and GP2, I think you have to be concerned that their cars are so close now in laptime.”
“Our budgets are at least eight times more than the GP2 teams, but the speed difference is only one and a half seconds, or two seconds. It’s not enough,” said Perez. “I think Pirelli needs to be more aggressive because on Sunday we are all going to just follow each other. We will have a boring race and that’s not good for the sport,” he added.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso also thinks Pirelli’s selection for Barcelona is “too conservative”, and according to Perez the pair are not alone in their thinking. “At the drivers’ briefing everyone complained that the cars are sliding and it’s difficult to have a good level of grip,” said Perez. “Hopefully, Pirelli will listen and react also to the fans to make the races more interesting.”
Pirelli’s Paul Hembery, however, hit back by insisting that complaining drivers are just making “an excuse” for their own situations. “It’s the same for everyone,” he said. “We had to take a different approach this year as the cars are completely different.”
TJ13 comment: It seems Pirelli is damned if they do, damned if they don’t. After the criticism leveled at the company last year following some high profile failures, the Formula One drivers are still using the tyres as an excuse for their own performances.
The company;s original brief was to produce tyres that would lose their grip and necessitate pit-stops during a Grand Prix. The previous era of Bridgestone tyres had been deemed boring by the rule makers and yet the same overlords would not let the manufacturer test with contemporary machinery.
With some strong arming by Pirelli, the FIA has approved some in season tyre testing which Pirelli have used to develop appropriate rubber. Yet the drivers still feel the need to complain. Perez may feel that the tyres should be more aggressive to avoid ‘boring’ races, yet the fall out following last year’s Spanish Grand Prix where Alonso used a four stop strategy to win was remarkable because a four stop strategy was deemed acceptable when Vettel won using it at the same venue in 2011.
In addition, nobody claimed Formula One as boring following this years Bahrain Grand Prix.