Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 30th May 2014


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Post-Monaco rule changes to cause further discord within Formula One

Mercedes warning – ‘boys to play with toys unless they break them’

Mclaren looking to copy Ferrari’s knee-jerk DNA even closer

Red Bull to bill Renault for 2014 crisis – report (GMM)

Pirelli president responds to F1 ‘criticism’ (GMM)

Alonso protracted struggles with his new team

Post-Monaco rule changes to cause further discord within Formula One

There are times when things from your perspective suggest the entire world has gone mad; then again, there are times there is actual evidence this is the truth. The F1 world has gone crazy over events during the weekend of the Monaco GP.

Did Nico cheat? Lewis has told the world that he personally has seen data which proves this allegation incontrovertibly.

F1 is divided, but the record books show Rosberg won pole position, and Rosberg won the race.

Yet such is the fallout from Saturdays closing minutes of qualifying in the principality, it is not just the pundits who are commenting, but the FIA has apparently been drawn into the post mortem long after the chequered flag has been returned from the dry cleaners.

Certain media outlets have been reporting that Charlie Whiting believes the sanctity of qualifying requires some re-enforcement to prevent controversy of Monaco 2014 Q3 from recurring in the future.

Whiting allegedly suggests, “Why don’t we extend qualifying by one minute when a yellow flag is shown in the last three minutes? It would give affected drivers the chance to try again.”

Now don’t get me wrong; I and many others have challenged Mr. Whiting over time regarding ill thought out F1 regulations, only to leave the debate in despair.

Specifically this year TJ13 questioned the framing and practice of the five second rule penalty, only to be brushed aside with the suggestion it was a work in progress and would be refined prior to becoming regulatory.

Well there was no refinement forthcoming and the inevitable occurred. I will summarise the rule, worst case scenario (which is lumped together with other penalties and makes its possibilities even more complex. Sporting regs sect 16,17 & 18).

It states that a team must take a 5 second penalty at the next pit stop or face possible exclusion from the race. The teams are forbidden to take the penalty during a safety car period, if they do so they could face possible exclusion from the race. If no more pit stops occur following the award of the penalty, 5 seconds will be added to the driver’s time at the end of the race.

TJ13’s main objection of the five second penalty was that the adding of time and the shuffling of final finishing positions may be too convoluted for viewers. Having only watched back the SKY UK F1 commentary, to be fair Brundle et al did a good job explaining this to the viewers.

The inevitable conundrum was that a team running a one stop strategy would be forced to take the penalty under the safety car. Yet the rule forbids this, and one interpretation of the penalties for such an action is exclusion from the race.

So Marussia find themselves in Monaco, stuck in a quandary. Taking Bianchi alone, they must suffer a five second penalty. They, as do most teams, stop once under the second safety car period. They elect to take the five second penalty then knowing they do not plan to stop again. A very honest cop for Bianchi’s sin.

Yet under the letter of the law, they could face exclusion from the race for this action.

Clearly the FIA realise the problem with the regulation, see Marussia acted in good faith and merely penalise Bianchi again five seconds at the end of the race.

Marussia don’t care that much because they’re scoring their first points in F1. Whether they finish in eighth place or ninth place after the penalty? Who cares? It’s points after some four plus long years.

Yet imagine this was Red Bull… Or what if this had occurred between rivals for either the WDC or the WCC, during the final race…

Marussia should have appealed this decision. They acted in good faith under flawed regulations and should not be relegated one place.

So, let’s return to the FIA and Charlie W’s apparent change of modus operandi. Mere days after the Monaco GP we are presented with a potential rule change for F1 qualification.

Let’s add one minute to Q3 where there is a yellow flag in the final three minutes of the session.

Err… What if rain has just begun to fall? What if the circuit configuration and the track temperatures mean fresh rubber is only good for one lap? What if drivers have already begun their final lap on their last set of fresh boots?

In fact there is a host of scenarios which make an additional minute to Q3 pointless.

Surely we are not being presented with an idea designed to mask the deficiency of other regulations which became apparent during the Monaco GP?


Mercedes warning – ‘boys to play with toys unless they break them’

Toto Wolff was interviewed recently following the Monaco Grand Prix and offered some revealing answers as to the feeling within the Mercedes squad at present.

After his recent tirade about his waste of time having to sort out non-important questions, posed by the Monaco stewards last Saturday, his measured responses revealed how the corporate world of Mercedes works.

“It’s an intense relationship but this is normal. They are both competitive and fighting for a championship. They have a competitive car and need to fight for every little advantage they can. There have been a lot of comparisons to the Senna/ Prost scenario which is a kind of compliment to both Lewis and Nico, but the situation here is different.

The racing philosophy of Mercedes-Benz is to allow our drivers to compete: we let the boys play with their toys, unless they break them. The drivers know we will not tolerate any incident and they both know they are representing not just themselves or the team but nearly 300,000 people who work for Mercedes around the world.”

Toys. Boys. Tolerate. The choice of words would appear to suggest that the Mercedes board members were not happy with the questionable fall-out from the qualifying session. Whether you believe that Hamilton conjured up some paranoid reasoning within his mind or the seemingly easy-going, honest Rosberg – as Derek Warwick labelled him – actually cheated is moot now.

The event has passed and the squabbling circus moves on to the Canadian shores. But the eyes of the world are focused on the battle between the silver cars – which ultimately is pure advertising gold for the German manufacturer.

It’s also easy to forget that merely weeks ago, Wollf and Paddy Lowe were in agreement to use team-orders. Whereas Niki Lauda, a former racing driver who understands the psyche of competing for race wins and titles, has said the team will allow racing with the caveat of not taking each other off. Once the title is out of reach of the competition: “they can drive over each other”

As the man who came in to the team in a non-executive position but with the authority of the Daimler board it will prove fascinating to see where the true power lies.

Wolff finished with speaking about the controversy of qualifying. “The race stewards are the impartial authority. They saw the data and gave Nico a pretty good grilling – finding no reason to believe it was anything other than an honest mistake. Within the team, we are transparent with our data and we give our drivers equal equipment and equal opportunity to succeed. Our priority is that a Silver Arrows wins – not which driver.”

A fascinating battle is developing between an inspirational driver who was brought into the team at exorbitant cost against a stalwart who is not in the same league with either victories or renumeration.

Rosberg without doubt would seek to cement his ability by beating another ex-World Champion. For all his success, Michael Schumacher was seen as past his peak by the time the two Germans were teamed together. Hamilton, on the other hand, is recognised as one of the top three drivers in the world.

His self-confidence would never have allowed for the possibility that Rosberg could compete. After all, he only won in Monaco last year because of the tyres and Silverstone was gifted after Hamilton’s tyre exploded and Vettel retired. 2014 could well prove a defining moment in both their careers.


Mclaren looking to copy Ferrari’s knee-jerk DNA even closer

Just two day ago TJ13 was questioning the rumours and wisdom of allowing Honda to buy into the Mclaren team. They have at best a chequered history when it comes to team ownership and have generally worked best as engine providers. Although it is worth mentioning that thirty one years ago when they re-entered the sport, they were racing against mostly DFV engined cars.

The return of Honda next year is highly anticipated due to this particular partnerships history and Mercedes are sufficiently paranoid to place restrictions with the team. Yet Mclaren are routinely the worst performing of the Mercedes powered team, and despite the engine having a performance edge over the other power unit manufacturers Mercedes have proven that integration is the key – which makes Ferrari’s collapse so amusing to observe.

Alain Prost has suggested that the team need to do something different and Comical Boullier has agreed: “This is what I have been doing since I started”

Of course portly Eric Potter has waved his magic wand and Mclaren have moved from the podium position in Melbourne to an also ran everywhere else. Suggestions of title sponsorship have appeared and gone as quickly as a magician’s hands create illusions and taking guidance from a failed ex team-owner with questionable standards in regards the truth is foolish.

Honda and Mclaren have officially claimed that the rumours are untrue. The stumbling block possibly being the aesthetics of the 2015 Mclaren livery? Although in recent months Dennis has been in China attempting to find funding to buy out Mansour Ojjeh’s 25% stake in Mclaren following his double lung transplant last year.

Dennis has been wanting to sign one of F1’s very best drivers, and has reduced his list to two, Alonso or Vettel which is a damning fall-out with his former charge, Lewis Hamilton. Of course in the best Bond villain tradition the bald headed Super Ron has decided how to take over the world and is following the same route as his nemesis Ferrari.

In other words knee jerk reactions, believing that you have a God-given right to be considered as a top team constantly due to historic connections to the sport and your name will entice drivers and engineers to your door.

Honda are seeking the Red Bull dream team of Newey, Vettel and Horner. Speculation has it that Peter Podromou joining Mclaren is to pave the way for Newey’s return – which is absurd considering the towering ambition these designers personally have.

The fact that Newey has worked with Mclaren before and frankly been unsuccessful there suggests a problem with the Woking team’s matrix. The fact that these names are even being mentioned lays open a few possible questions and conclusions.

As Boullier let slip in Monaco, he is Mclaren’s team principal, which suggests that Ross Brawn is not Woking bound. With Honda chasing Horner, Brawn is obviously not heading towards Milton Keynes and the fact that Honda would like Vettel implies that Alonso will not commit until such time as Mclaren can provide him with a better car than he currently has. If Alonso who has struggled for five years will not join Mclaren, why would a four time champion leave a team that is suffering a blip not collapse.

Maybe Jenson Button is safe after all…. or is he?


Red Bull to bill Renault for 2014 crisis – report (GMM)

Red Bull will consider billing its engine supplier Renault, Dr Helmut Marko revealed on Friday. Already this week, the reigning world champion team’s outspoken Austrian director has hinted he would like to entice Volkswagen into F1.“We have to decide on our future engine partner then,” he told Germany’s Sport Bild, referring to the deadline of the team’s home Austrian grand prix next month.

Renault had a horror start to the new turbo V6 era, only recovering competitiveness due to joint efforts with the two Red Bull-owned teams, including Faenza based Toro Rosso. Marko suggested to Bild newspaper on Friday that it has cost the energy drink company a lot of money.

“It would be irresponsible to talk now about exact figures, but it’s a long list of things lost because Renault has not worked well. The season’s not over yet. At the end, our financial department will make an account. Then we will see what loss we have made by Renault,” said Marko. And he suggested a monetary loss is not the only concern. “The image damage is already beyond repair,” said Marko.

A Renault spokesperson declined to comment.


Pirelli president responds to F1 ‘criticism’ (GMM)

It took twenty years for Pirelli to make the financial decision to re-enter formula one. That is the admission of the Italian tyre maker’s president Marco Tronchetti Provera, as he discussed Pirelli’s return to F1 in 2011 as sole supplier.

“We were absent from formula one for some 20 years due to the costs,” he reportedly said this week, according to Speed Week. “Bernie Ecclestone repeatedly asked us, but each time I answered ‘If we are paid, then we come. But to be honest, not until mid-2010 did it become clear that the role of the sole supplier is actually paid. So we tried and we were awarded the contract,” said Provera.

In 2014, Pirelli’s second three-year contract as the sole F1 supplier began, and so far it has been far less controversial than before. Last year in particular, the tyres were criticised for being too ‘aggressive’, and Pirelli had to make a mid-season construction change in the wake of the tyre-exploding British grand prix. Now, in 2014, some drivers including Fernando Alonso are once again being critical.

“When they bring normal tyres with good grip, we finish the tyre in two or three laps,” he told the BBC in Monaco last weekend. “When they bring harder tyres we finish the tyre in eight or nine laps but we go very slow.

Provera said he was aware of the “negative comments of individual drivers. Basically we listen to any criticism,” he added, “but our main focus especially with this new turbo era was always security. It is definitely easier to equip just a few teams with tyres rather than the whole field, as whenever a team is not going so well, and nobody knows quite who to blame, then usually they start with the tyre manufacturer,” said Provera.


Alonso protracted struggles with his new team

Anybody who has followed Fernando Alonso on Twitter over the last couple of years knows that part of his extensive training to maintain his fitness levels for competition involve hundreds of kilometres of mountainous bike rides.

Last year, his great passion took him in a direction which was cryptically released on Twitter with many F1 fans believing it was to be an announcement of his F1 future plans. To most it proved an anti-climax when he unveiled detailed negotiations were taking place to take over an ailing top Spanish team, Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Ultimately the bid failed and the Asturian declared he would set up a top team from ‘scratch’ to compete at the top levels in the 2015 season. But in a mirror of the delayed Haas entry, it seems Alonso has also run into problems with his plans.

Alonso has been in Italy this week following the recent Monaco Grand Prix working on the simulator in Maranello. Yesterday he attended a leg of the Giro d’Italia – Italy’s major cycling race to drive a VIP car through a 170 kilometre mountain stage.

His new team, FACT – the Fernando Alonso Cycling Team had approached top rider Peter Sagan but he declined the offer and talks with an Arab sponsor for a simply astonishing $20 million dollars a year title sponsorship have also seemingly failed.

Ever the guarded media savvy figure Alonso said: “As you know there are some rules to respect, some timing to respect, and we’re working in the background to do everything else to respect the right steps.

“We are working in a professional manner and a respectful manner as well because we are entering a world that is not our world so we need to learn many things, we will do it step by step. There is not any hurry because we want to do it in a good way.”


62 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 30th May 2014

  1. To be fair to Charlie his words were “… the chance to try again.”
    Sounds like a reasonable suggestion to minimise the incentive of causing a yellow.

    • But what is there to stop a driver “doing a Rosberg” to give his team mate another chance at pole? Plus if all the drivers start doing it then qualifying would be endless.

  2. It’s a tricky one the qualifying thing. I’ve seen some suggest that if a driver causes a yellow flag they have their best time from the qualifying session scrubbed off. Seems a bit harsh though if it was a mistake, plus it would stop drivers attacking as hard through fear of having an off and losing their best time.
    This could mean say Rosberg for example, would have lost his pole time in Monaco and would have started tenth, which seems overly harsh.
    As mentioned in the article extending time wouldn’t benefit drivers either so the options are pretty limited.
    On street tracks however, they could change the format so each driver gets two timed laps each, for which they’re the only car on the track at the time. Then if they have a shunt they’re not affecting anybody else.
    This would also make it more interesting for the spectators I feel as well.

    • And if the running order was based on Q2 times with slowest going first, it would provide further incentive to be as fast as possible in Q2 (or not, depending on upcoming weather…)

      interesting idea.

      But there would be other issues in terms of the overall length of Qualifying, I’m thinking.

    • I like the idea of individual laps at Monaco especially, when a driver starts his second times lap, then the next driver to have a go starts his out lap so once the 1st driver has done his second lap he would still be sufficiently in front yo do an in-lap with holding up the next driver, that way we don’t have any lull in the action and also the viewers won’t get bored with having to sit through 10 out-laps and 10 in-laps as it would be a flowing session. I would also use the Q2 times to decide the order so the guy with quickest Q2 time goes last in the shootout when the track is at its optimum. If it rains however, tough shit! They can’t have it ALL their own way lol

      • I remember the days of single lap qualifying and, frankly, it was boring – so watch out what you wish for. I think what we have now works pretty well; I can’t think of many incidents that actually caused problems.

  3. Good morning judge….

    I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve got a question, that I’d like to get your opinion on, if your willing to give it.

    I’m here watching the motogp practice for the Italian gp, given it lack of entertainment. Many have been calling for the scrapping of the Monaco gp, due to the lack of on track action, cost to fans etc. Do you think with a few upgrades, that Mugello would be a good replacement?

    • I only take a passing interest in MotoGP and Mugello is a great racetrack that consistently has great races, although I’m not sure how it would fare when there are big wide f1 cars racing instead of tiny skinny motorbikes darting around it.

      Personally, I’ve never been a fan of a country having 2 races so I wouldn’t be overly thrilled with Italy getting 2 races a season when other countries have to make do with one or maybe even zero.

    • They tested there in 2012 and it’s too narrow apparently for modern F1 regs, but iirc Webber said, give me ten laps of this place against a 1000 of any of the new tracks…

        • But at Monaco the cars don’t attain the same speeds.

          Mugello is fantastic, but the track would need a lot of work to make it suitable for F1 racing, as opposed to testing.

        • I’m not sure it is so much the width of tarmac as opposed to the width of run off areas. Which always makes no sense to me as I would rather crash at over 150 mph in a car than on a bike…

          • But the run offs, seem to be similar to that of Donnington Park. Furthermore, it’s mainly sand and gravel traps and none of this artificial turf run offs.

            I think we would really see an F1 in car in it’s real element at a track like that.

        • I agree Fortis, but the last time Donington was used for a GP was 21 years ago. The drive for safety has moved the stands and crash barriers further and further away. It’s understandable but it’s removed some of the element of risk away. Drivers are penalised now if they cross the white line with all four wheels, and if they run off road they lose a handful of seconds.

          As to Monaco, I grew up in a time when the crash barriers and concrete walls were the defining edge of the race track. True greatness could be witnessed by how close they ran through the swimming pool section, hence why I wrote the OTD for 14th May. It’s all been removed and left with candy striped kerbs to mark the track, which the cars ride. Even the entry into Rascasse has been opened out…

          As the cars become more reliable, somewhere like Monaco becomes anesthetized and if the drivers make a mistake it’s unpunished. There’s no challenge there anymore.

          I loved going to Brands Hatch and watching historic Formula One cars there was truly sublime, I’m sorry but Silverstone for all it’s development comes nowhere close. Senna at Brands was visibly on another level. Senna at Silverstone was simply the best out there.

          Whatever corner I chose at Brands was an experience in itself, but the only time I saw anything remotely spectacular at Silverstone was Senna navigating through the Becketts complex, showers of sparks as the skid plates touched the tarmac and he carried the car in his attempt to take on Mansell.

          • Now that Porsche is back at Le Mans, do you think we will see a merc in the not too distant future?

          • No, Mercedes won’t go to Le Mans any time soon. Don’t know if they are welcome again, it is 15 years ago that the Silver Arrows were flying.

    • I don’t know about replacing the Monaco GP, but I love Mugello as a track alot.

      It’s a track that would very much excite fans and drivers and would make for great racing.

      It’s like Spa meets Suzuka.

    • I’d rather see imola back. Classic f1 track. But I’d never take monaco off the calendar. It’s the only track today where f1 has the same level of danger and thrill as it did 30 years ago. No run off. No place for errors.

      • Or la Sarthe. F1 race in le mans. That would be the most amazing thing. An old skool track. Much history and yet it would be very new, as there has never been a f1 car, to my knowledge.

      • But bruznic, that element of danger isn’t there anymore if we all honest about it. At present, the excitement come from qualifying and given the relative skills of the drivers and how good the cars are, it has become a bit mundane now.

        • Why not. Is there any track on the calendar right now with less room for error? I’ve been going to spa ever since I was a kid. And it’s my favorite track in the world. But it ain’t the track that it used to be. With all the run off they take the edge of it. 5 years back I sat in pouhon and i saw kimi overtaking sutil on the run off area… stuff like that could never happen in monaco. But as I have noticed there are many (many) people here who seem to dislike monaco. So you won’t be alone with your opinion πŸ˜†

          • It’s not that I don’t like the track, it’s just that it doesn’t offer good racing.

    • “Many have been calling for the scrapping of the Monaco gp, due to the lack of on track action, cost to fans etc.”

      Many? It’s a great, classic track. I hope it stays forever. You can go watch Moto GP at Mugello if you think that’s more exciting.

      Oh, and when did the powers that be start worrying about a race being too expensive for the fans?

      No more nonsense, please.

    • I was at the Mugello F1 in season test in May 2012, it is very narrow in places, although Mark Webber did comment he’d rather do a handful of laps there than 1000 in Abu Dhabi (after a day of limited running)

    • The guy he is comparing him to isnt even Chemical Ali.
      Chemical Ali (Ali Hassan al-Majid) is the guy who gassed all the Kurds for Saddam.
      Comical Ali or Baghdad Bob (Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf) is the guy who swore there were no Americans in Baghdad when we could all see the US tanks in the background.

  4. After I started following this site over a year ago, for a few weeks I tried to correct some real howlers that thejudge13 was prone to make.

    I gave up when I realised that he was either incorrigible or a bit thick, just like many judges on the bench.

  5. Well, better get your Sochi tix fast. I hear they’re going on sale today. Can’t wait to see how fast they sell out. πŸ˜‰

  6. Red Bull Renault will be a nasty split up. Lets see how quickly Lotus gets faster…

    • Regular F1 soap opera stuff. Lewis was frustrated; it got the better of him. Cue the expected pile-on.

      If and when he drives for Ferrari, will you then call him “Il fenomeno”?

    • That’s the campest thing I have seen in a while. Is there something we should know Lewis and Nico?

  7. I would love to see Fred’s business plan for the cycling team. Like literally see the docs. It would never have struck me as a sport you could invest a little in and make a lot, but presumably someone is telling him he can. It seems highly leveraged on title sponsorship.
    Again, not being snide or poo-pooing his idea, just curious.

    • Of course you and “manky” don’t get it.

      Sometimes people who have money will spend a bit of that money on things that they are passionate about. Alonso clearly loves cycling. If he pours some money into a team, gets to support some up and coming racers, can attend all the top races, makes connections with more people in the industry and slowly goes bankrupt in 5 years it will be the most fun 5 years of his life.

  8. Dennis has been wanting to sign one of F1β€²s very best drivers, and has reduced his list to two, Alonso or Vettel which is a damning fall-out with his former charge, Lewis Hamilton.

    Who wrote this?! It is seriously weak. Ron even said in a story from March 7th this year that “Lewis Hamilton could be attracted back to McLaren once the team returns to the level of competitiveness enjoyed in the past.”

    Can we use our brains a little, please? Maybe, and I know it’s a stretch, but just perhaps he left Lewis off his list b/c he realizes it’s a given that Lewis would never leave Mercedes for McLaren while Merc’s car is so strong? Too logical? Ok, then an affront to Lewis it is!

    • Such a disingenuous turn of events re: LH and NR.

      Get real HAM. Lauda and Toto have been busy bees.

      Frankly it further shows HAM’s flippancy. Can’t even hold a grudge unless his masters say so. Can’t have been that deeply upset. Just a spoiled brat.

      At least he could show fortitude… But no. Oh well.

      (Hi Fortis)

      • To quote a certain Mr Dennis –

        ” last time I looked I believe I employed him …… not the other way round ……… ”

        deja vu all over again ?

      • Well, as Firesign Theater so sagely said elucidating Fud’s First Law of Opposition: “If you push it hard enough, it WILL fall over”.

  9. Re: Lewis – Heart on the sleeve stuff is all well and good. But when people see that you don’t think before you open your mouth, they’ll judge you for a fool. No wonder then that people think Lewis’ statements aren’t meant to be taken at face value. What else explains his “we’re colleagues” reply to Pinks and his tweet yesterday that they’re still friends. He had to be sat down by mercedes folks and told to behave. He’s 30. Time to act grown up.

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