Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 15th May 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

Castrol #F1 GP Predictor Summary – Barcelona 2014


Mercedes Oompah band played on..

Remember when your parents said it was better in the old days

Mattiacci’s silence ‘deafening’(GMM)

Mallya and Roy slowly bowing out

The joke’s on Bernie and Jean

Mercedes no historic Monaco advantage

Lotus and the Bank


Mercedes Oompah band played on..

It would seem that whilst Aldo Costa designed an engineering masterpiece with the Mercedes this year, handing over the production of the exhaust to the German companies acoustic engineers has failed miserably, Rather than operatic symphonies, we have a thigh slapping oompah band to hand…

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Remember when your parents said it was better in the old days

Mattiacci’s silence ‘deafening'(GMM)

Marco Mattiacci is officially the lowest-profile team boss in F1, two respected correspondents have declared. Just ahead of the Chinese grand prix last month, Stefano Domenicali quit Ferrari, with president Luca di Montezemolo appointing the F1-unknown Mattiacci to replace him.

44-year-old Italian Mattiacci’s motor racing experience is almost nil. But even in that context, a team press conference in Barcelona last weekend was “bizarre”, Speed Week correspondent Mathias Brunner reports.

He said Montezemolo made his “usual rallying calls”, while Mattiacci sat beside him in complete silence. “Apart from a brief message on the Ferrari website and a press conference in China, the former head of Ferrari North America has been silent,” said Brunner.

In the Ferrari website message, the Maranello team said Mattiacci is “continuing with the task of analysing and evaluating the team and its working methods”. But Leo Turrini, an authoritative media source on Ferrari matters, pointed out that Mattiacci has now been in place at the head of the famous team for a month.

“During this time, he has almost never opened his mouth” publicly, he said on his Quotidiano blog. “Now, we all agree that the Cavallino needs facts and not words, yet for decades, at least at the end of a grand prix, the boss has offered his version of events. Cesare Fiorio did it, Jean Todt, Stefano Domenicali. Mattiacci’s silence is deafening,” said Turrini.

Montezemolo, however, is backing Mattiacci to deliver eventually for beleaguered Ferrari. “When he came, Todt was criticised a lot because he knew nothing about formula one, but then he managed to do a great job,” he said. “So it’s like going back in time and I am sure that Mattiacci will do a good job.”

TJ13 Comment: Where others follow… Monday TJ13 news – here , Tuesday’s TJ13 news here

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Mallya and Roy slowly bowing out

TJ13 has followed the Vijay Mallya and associates story pretty much since our inception in September 2012. The stories have been wide and varied and even include an employee of a Force India sponsor committing suicide due to none payment of salary for several months.

Two themes run concurrently. Firstly Mallya has massive financial problems, and the once ‘King o good times’ billionaire is no longer regarded with much honour or respect within his own country. Secondly, there have been big promises made to the Silverstone based team of £50m investments from Mallya and Rubrata Roy himself. These never happened.

In fact, Force India have planning permission for new premises at the very gates of Silverstone, and one of Roy’s family is currently hunting for investors to find the a few million to get the project under way.

What we can say about Force India, is that it is run by a man who is Mr. Formula 1 through and through. Bob Fearnly has stabilised the team to run within its budget and which does not rely any more on a penny from its once high profile wealthy benefactors. Force India is consistently at the head of the mid-field teams and in the past 2 seasons has been challenging the mighty McLaren.

Bob represents the working man in F1. This is apparent from his no nonsense common sense and direct style of communication together with his recent galvanising of the disenfranchised teams and his refusal to suffer fools gladly.

These attitudes are reflected in the culture and working practices of the Force India team. Working for Force India means you do a day’s work – you get a fair days pay. Further, there is no jackets on chairs mentality and no unnecessary waste.

To live within their means, Force India do not have the endless funds of others to design, test and build countless parts which never end up on the car. As TJ13 reported last week, the cost of producing a front wing is around £100,000, of which the carbon fibre cost alone is £10,000. The there is the design efforts, CFD time, model builds for the wind tunnel, testing time inside the wind tunnel and the extra component which must be built – merely to be smashed to bits in a crash test.

This of course means that during the August break, the Force India factory unlike others is closed and quiet. Further, UK bank holidays are respected and the factory staff take the day off.

Last week, on the bank holiday Monday, it has been reported to TJ13 that on the hat stand – where the Force India executive offices are situated – sombreros were spotted. Also, in the trash were a couple of empty bottles of Don Julio.

It is no co-incidence that this visit occurred when most of the Force India staff were enjoying the English spring sunshine.

TJ13 reported during 2014 winter testing, that Carlos Slim was showing a great interest in acquiring ownership in the Silverstone based team. Due to ongoing legal matters in India, and a desire from the Mexican barons to see whether the 2014 car is once again competitive, discussions have been slow.

Further, Fearnly has urged caution over a hurried sale, due to the fact that a certain Mr. Ecclestone uses the change of ownership of F1 teams as an excuse to marginalise them either financially or in terms of influence. Williams are on the F1 strategy group because of the fact they have the longest continuous ownership of the mid-field teams.

In Barcelona we saw the once dominant Sahara sponsor name moved from the sidepods and was reduced substantially in size and placed on the engine cover. Sahara are bowing out quietly whilst their boss – ‘Roy’ – is currently sweating it out in a New Delhi jail until he does what he is told by the Indian Supreme Court.

The word is that Slim is keen to progress matters so that an announcement can be made in the near future. Fearnly has urged caution and believes even without a new cash injection the team will again finish well in the constructors’ championship this year. On that basis, who is running F1 may be clearer as the Ecclestone trial will be concluded.

Then the Silverstone F1 team could launch for 2015 as “Mighty Mexico” – or whatever grandiose nationalistic name the next owner of the team prefers – would be preferable.

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The joke’s on Bernie and Jean

The F1 folk maybe be obsessive and relentless and appear at times to have no other life besides the one that is focused on the next 10th of a second gain in lap time. Yet there are regular pranks and jokes being played, together with the usual gamesmanship and psychological sparring that has been a fundamental part of F1 for ever.

Last year, Charlie Whiting told a group of reporters in Melbourne that he suspected a local plague of giant rats were responsible for the problems race control was having with the electronic driver on track management systems. The oversized rodents then became media creations akin to the globetrotting “Madagascar” type escapees as they trundled around Asia wreaking havoc for another couple of F1 events.

This year, Ron Walker, the chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and an old ally of Ecclestone’s, set the cat amongst the pigeons when he complained on following the Australian GP that the lack of noise in the season-opening Grand Prix on Sunday could affect future ticket sales.

Many thought this was a collaborative effort with Ecclestone pulling the strings, however it transpires Bernie was as surprised as anyone to hear the comments and legal threats Ron Walker espoused.

Having made a fuss over the new V6 engines for years, Ecclestone had realised that any further negative talk would weaken his hand in terms of negotiations with race promoters and had no intention of rocking the boat.

Bernie was not in Australia and had not attended any of the pre-season, test sessions so he had never heard the new engines on track. However, merely having heard the abomination of sound produced by FOM TV for the season opener, Ecclestone did comment that he was “horrified” by the sound.

Mr. E duly appeared at the next race in Malaysia, and immediately upon hearing the cars live on track admitted he had been too critical in his comments following Australia, stating the V6 sound was, “better than I thought”. The F1 supremo suggested if they could be made a little louder this would probably suffice.

In an interview with Martin Brundle pre-Bahrain, Bernie revealed that he had asked all the engine manufacturers to look at improving the volume somehow, and interesting he highlighted that Mercedes in particular were being most helpful on this. Further, Bernie had engaged the FIA to assist him in persuading the teams to examine a solution.

Clearly Ferrari and Renault have bigger fish to fry and Ecclestone’s request has not unreasonably been filed under ‘pending us getting within a lap of the silver arrows’.

However, yesterday we saw the engineering masterpiece which Mercedes proposes to up the volume of the engines. The pitch and frequency of the V6 engine note can’t really be altered as this is produced by the mechanical machinations and revolutions of the ICE.

As an aside; the inspiration for Mercedes solution is secretly credited to Lewis Hamilton. One day he was playing some of his ‘fav’ one hit wonder bands full pelt in his motor home, and a Brixton engineer heard the MARRS track and thought – “there’s an idea”.

So the ‘megaphone’ exhaust concept was born. Nico Rosberg dutifully tested it but his conclusion was not encouraging. “We tried the new exhaust today, just as a team we want to do good for the sport,” he said in a video posted on Twitter. “Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t a great solution, it just didn’t work, it didn’t make it much louder. So we’ll just have to try for another solution, we’ll try pushing.”

TJ13 was impressed with the way the team decided to issue its comment on this highly technical futuristic engineered solution. Clearly nobody from Mercedes wished to face the media in case they burst into fits of uncontrollable hysteria. Just like the emperor’s new clothes, it was obvious to anyone with an IQ of more than 5, that this copper alloy… hand beaten component… which had roughly been formed into the shape of a gramophone speaker was a p$%s take at Bernie and Jean’s expense.

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 His Master’s Voice

Rosberg put the whole matter into context when he stated, “Everyone was talking about the exhaust but to be honest I didn’t notice much difference in the sound. Of course, we’re happy to try these things if that’s what the FIA and the fans want us to do. But perhaps this was not the right solution.”

In a  most serious piece for SKY SPORTS, Rachel Brookes who was trackside on Wednesday said dead pan, “not an audible difference as far as I can tell

Mercedes though are now exhonerated. They have done their bit. So Jean and Bernie will next be knocking on Ferrari’s door, asking them for an alternative. If they can get Mr. Mattiacci to speak – this would be an achievement – but were Ferrari to pick up the baton and run with this buffoonery, God only knows what we’ll see strapped to the back of the F14T.

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Mercedes no historic Monaco advantage

Some drivers particularly excel at certain circuits and certain teams cars run better at some F1 venues than others. Lewis Hamilton for many, is a beats in Montreal and Mercedes have a reputation in recent times have excelled in Monaco.

Michael Schumacher just 2 years ago qualified his W03 on pole position before being forced to take a 5 place grid penalty. It was a shame as given the dominance pole position commands, this was Schumacher’s best chance of a race win since he returned from retirement.

Last year Nico Rosberg took pole position from team mate Hamilton, by just 8/100th’s of a second. Nico then went on to win the race.

I driver’s affinity to a circuit will see him perform beyond the norm of the car he is in simply because of his experience and confidence at that track. However, there are factors which can mean a car which has run well at a given F1 venue on previous occasions will not necessarily do so again.

Toto Wolff explains. “We have been the quickest team [at Monaco recently] because we haven’t been the quickest team on the other circuits. On a low-grip circuit like Monaco it was where we were able to keep the tyres alive more easily, but this isn’t a problem at the moment. I also think the power unit is not so important”.

So Toto is saying Nico and Michael benefited from the fact that they were able to incrementally improve the Pirelli 2012/13 tyre performance at Monaco in 2013, over and above other circuits with the W04.

Yet this is not the whole story. The most significant reason Mercedes were more competitive included the fact that the tyre degradation they were plagued with elsewhere was less noticeable in Monaco. Add this to the fact that overtaking is nigh on impossible, and despite Honer’s suggestion that there were two silver busses ahead of his cars, this would have been the case whoever had qualified on pole.

So have Mercedes really lost their Monaco advantage? Should Christian, Sebastian, Daniel and others be genuinely excited?

Well, the key to being successful in Monaco is having a good high downforce aero package and further a car which delivers good traction out of the slow speed corners – Williams beware.

This being the case, the disadvantage of the Renault put-put engine is mostly irrelevant. Further, Newey’s car has been lauded as the best aero design of 2014. So surely the RB10 has a chance of finally getting ahead of the Mercedes.

Well, Barcelona gave us a huge insight into a number of factors which were previously more obscured. One of which was how good the cars are in technical slow sections of a track.

Sector 3 in Barcelona demonstrates which car is good in slow corners and where traction is important too. Here are the best times for each of the top 4 finishers for S3 during the race.

Hamilton           29.924

Rosberg           29.783

Ricciardo          29.989

Vettel               30.605

Having been giving a grid slot drop, not only was Vettel’s gearbox changed, but most likely some aero tweaks were made which would enhance his ability to overtake. This in turn may well have compromised his sector 3 capabilities. That said, Vettel’s best theoretical lap (all 3 best sectors added together), was over 1.8s slower than Hamilton’s best. Ricciardo’s was just over 1s slower.

So, taking Ricciardo alone, we can see in the slow corners where traction is at a premium, the RB10 looks pretty good. Just 6/100th’s of a second behind Hamilton’s S3 time and 2/10th’s behind Rosberg.

Impressive stuff, and to be fair the Ferrai’s and the rest were nowhere by comparison. That said, only Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen could get within 6/10th’s of Rosberg’s S3 time.

However, the gap between Daniel and Nico should both re-assure Mercedes and demonstrate Red Bull still have a lot to do if they are to get a result in the Mediterranean. If we extrapolate the S3 gap between Ricciardo and Rosberg over a lap of Monaco then we would see over half a second between the Silver Arrows and the Red Bull.

Based upon last year’s Q3 times which saw the Mercedes 1&2 and the Red Bull’s 3&4, this would be a disappointing increase in the gap – which in 2013 was just 3/10th’s across all four cars.

Further, the sector 3 times in Barcelona suggests that the stereotype is true. Lewis is a racer grabbing the car by the scruff of the neck, but in the technical sections, Nico has the advantage.

Does this make him slight favourite in Monaco? Well he had the advantage in Barcelona.

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Lotus and the Bank

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It’s unclear whether the new partner Lotus announced in January has in fact upped its sponsorship of the team, or whether repossession proceedings have begun.

Nay matter. Here is the livery for the E22 in Monaco.

Seriously, due to the general lack of sponsors, we have seen McLaren feature a number of partner’s in unusually prominent positions on the car for one or two races. Genii are probably doing the same. Forgoing their position for a race to give a current partner some incremental visibility.

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67 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 15th May 2014

  1. Judge….

    At present one of the big issues in F1, is to do with cost cutting. Now I’m not sure if you’re a follower of football, but if you are, would a similar system to UEFA’s FFP policy work within F1?

    • Don’t think it works that well in football at the moment. Man City and PSG have been fined 50 million, so what, that’s a pi*s in the ocean for their billionaires. Unless exclusions for european competitions are done, FFP will fail.

      • True, but I was just wondering if it could be looked at and maybe broaden the scope in regards to and potential penalties, if any team are found to break the rules. Some of which, could be, race and testing bans, points deduction for both driver and constructor etc. I know it’s a bit harsh, but this issue will not go away, but something has to be done.

        In regards to City and PSG, the fine they’re likely to receive, is for first time offence, there are however heavier punishments that are available if they continue to disobey the regulations, of which the heaviest is, expulsion from all European competitions.

        • And Barcelona and Madrid always escape any penalty. Being things they don’t need with money they don’t have. Our money. Europe paid for the biggest transfer ever. Not real Madrid. Eufa and fifa and fia and all that is corrupt bullshit.always have always will…

      • ….Let’s see what happens. At least UEFA didn’t adopt the attitude that accounts and flows of money are just too hard to follow and therefore can’t be policed….

        • @ Judge

          but it’s much easier to police a football team than an F1 team.

          Football teams don’t have huge R & D teams, don’t manufacture anything, etc., etc., etc.

          The only commonality is salary.

          And I believe that salaries are the one thing ruled OUT of F1 cost cutting proposals ……

          Therefore the FFP or similar will never work in F1.

          • …football teams have done loads of dodgy stuff to disguise numbers in their accounts….

            … paid their players on the QT via third parties – who in turn get concessions and part cash in return….. but maybe in a different accounting period

            …they have leased players so the full cost of the transfer fee is never seen as a capital spend….

            Yet UEFA is continually making these irregular financial transactions illegal and chipping away at the clubs ability to hide/disguise/recategorise spending…

            UEFA now refute absolute numbers presented by the clubs and levy what in their opinion is “fair value” for certain elements of income.

            So Paris St Germain claim they are getting $200m income for stadium sponsorship – UEFA have said ‘bollocks – ‘we’re cutting that number in half’.

            If UEFA had allowed the clubs to do what the FIA are allowing the big teams to do – they would never have got their cost cap programme off the ground…..

          • @ Judge

            I just wrote a massive reply to you and when I tried to post it said

            ” YOU ARE POSTING TOO QUICKLY SLOW DOWN ”

            WTF !!!!!!!!

            I can’t be arsed rewriting it and it’s now lost forever.

            This is not the first time this has happened !

          • I write everything elsewhere eg word – as the number of times this has happened to me I don’t remember… Not a TJ13 exclusive prob I believe.

          • Whenever I write a long post, just before hitting “Post” I simply `ctrl+a` to select everything and `ctrl+c` to copy. Then I check that my clipboard manager indeed has the text stored. And then I hit Post and don’t care if internet is down/the software bugs/the browser crashes.

  2. Regarding Ferrari’s current woes – Does the problem stem from the nomenclature of this year’s challenger? I can’t help but feel that if they changed the name from F14T to F3RR4R1 it may just change their fortunes!

  3. Those stacks of Marshall amps would not be good for the budget cap. So you can rule them out. 😆

  4. no. They dont work in football why would they work in F1 where big teams have more power.

  5. Maybe Lotus can try using the megaphone on Pastor’s car to keep it from “biting” the other cars all the time.

  6. Merc trolling Bernie for Lulz. Priceless….

    As far as money goes, the question is what is the point of restricting the spend. I would argue that the point of restricted spending is to keep the sport healthy and to give midfield teams and backmarkers a chance to upset the applecart every so often.

    Since no large team will agree to cost cutting, and since cheating will be rampant since it seems to be ingrained in the DNA of modern teams, rather than a strict cap, a progresssive tax should be enabled. So, for every Euro over, say $200 million it’s 15%, $225 is 30% etc etc.. Money from the penalty should be asymmetrically distributed starting at the bottom of the grid and working upwards, in order to keep the monetary boundaries equivalent. It has worked reasonably well in MLB. The large teams do well mostly but the smaller teams still have a chance which makes the games interesting to watch, assuming one is a fan to begin with.

    The other big area would be to limit aero upgrades to 5 a season, say, similar to the limit on engines and other parts. I’m sure there’s 5,000 reasons why that won’t work but one could make life more interesting in other ways instead.

          • It’s about limiting aero I believe, which I think is silly, there are better ways to limit costs rather than limit updates during the year.

          • …. And this of course would limit the traditional development race which is part of F1 – which is a shame, but if the big boys won’t play ball – then something will have to give….

  7. That V12 Ferrari noise made me ejaculate.

    I thought I’d finally gotten over that lack of high revving, naturally aspirated monster motors and accepted the new engines.

    But no, I haven’t.

    The new motors are shit. I hope when I die, that wherever I go there are 24 cars running to the V12/V10 18,000rpm + formula. Maybe Ayrton, Fangio and Michael battling for pole, right on the limit.

    Fuck this new formula. I was almost ok with it. But no, frankly, I’m not.

    • Why limit them to 18,0 00 rpm? They used to go to about 22,000. For me it’s not the noise but rather the implication that everything is about to self destruct and fly apart. It’s the sound of machinery at the edge of survival and I find that the exciting part. Most of the 2014 engines aren’t going over 12,500 revs; no wonder they are lasting so well.

  8. On S3 times in Barcelona. When were these set for each of the four drivers, at which lap, and hence fuel load?

    • …. it’s a quick piece of analysis the teams in fact do for race pace, before crunching every sector of every car and factoring in fuel etc

      … and apparently still remains is a good rule of thumb even after the supercomputers have been to work….

      • Well, Ricciardo might have an outside chance, who knows.
        On the intra-team Merc battle it seems that Rosberg has the upper hand, however, I don’t know whether the set-up changes Lewis was making during the race were favouring his pace in S1 and S1, rather than S3. If it’s the latter, then it doesn’t bode well for him for Monaco.

  9. Ok judge since you’ve been at it again at full speed after the excuse of being busy. And Mr Eddie jordan returning to the bbc after the excuse of being busy. And you and he both have a talent for inside news (and bringing it to the outside) might you be one and the same person? 😆 j’accuse! 😉

    • … I write in English – he wouldn’t know how to do that 😉 Further, the elegance of the TJ13 colour scheme mitigates against this being a creation of a certain Irishman’s taste.

      • Yeah on my phone everything is just plain white… Never been to the site on my laptop to be honest. 😂

        • Renting is better then owning. And that’s not about money but in a way it is. Even if you’re rich like Eddie Jordan it is much money. So you feel obligated to fully enjoy it. I know a rich man with a very very big house and each time we’re there, we keep on moving because there’s always a place we should be enjoying more at the hour of the day / temperature / wind or whatever.
          Posession comes obsession comes a burden.

          • Prince once said, money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it sure pays for the search.

        • Me too, B. Nice link, if only to remind me how the other half (okay, the other hundredth of a percent) lives!

          • In 2 weeks it’s prince time again for me. He closes his current tour in belgium.

  10. I’m looking forward to seeing if Seb’s straight ‘coque is faster than his bent ‘coque.

  11. Re- Merc advantage in Monaco

    Your honour,
    You forgot to mention that Lewis’ car was giving him a little trouble in Spain, he wasn’t happy with the set up direction he went in. As we know Lewis has always seemed pretty good on setup (JB famously copying), so if Lewis has the car to his liking as in China, then I would put my money on Lewis having a better S3 time at Barcelona that the 1 he posted.

    I really think you got as much chance of winning a coin toss as you have of predicting whether it will be a Lewis or Nico who take pole in Monaco.

    After thought:- the more races that pass surely the law of averages dictates that Nico will eventually over due a DNF for whatever reason. If he does I fear his title challenge would be all but over.

    • …can take longer than a season for those kinds of things to begin to equal themselves out – look at Vettel this year and the very very unlucky Mark W in previous years 😉

  12. It would be nice if the new Guy – what’s his name anyway? – anyway… nice if the new Guy’s first public appearance would be about the sound of the cars.

    Who’s blowin’ who’s Horn?

  13. Well should the Mexicans buy into the F1 team, they already have a Mexican driver and a very underrated by team bosses driver. This would negate the need to sponsor Gutierrez (since Sauber have too many alternative – van de Garde, Silvestro, the Russian, maybe Sutil). So makes sense.

    • Long live Viva la Mexico from next year! Hulk-Perez-Gutierrez.. then both Mexicans the year after that..

    • Well hello there Samuel J….

      Thanks for your encouragement. And for a first lunge into the world of commenting – great effort.

      I remember 25+ years ago, I had something similar for my bike, which clipped the spokes and made a sound.

      I also remember thinking then, surely this could be used to generate power somehow (think I was doing physics at the time)…. Oh well – missed opportunities… 🙂

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