Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 18th June 2014

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On this day lite quiz

In and out of Formula One

More headless chickens

Caterham young driver opportunity

Red Bull caught with trousers down

Hockenheim furious as Ecclestone eyes F1 axe (GMM)

Clock ticking on Leimer’s Marussia chance (GMM)


On this day lite quiz

For the second race in a row, Ayrton Senna suffered a DNF whilst leading.

Where and when?

In and out of Formula One

As much as the older constabulary of the Formula One hierarchy may resist it, change is inevitable within the sport we love as the premier racing series in the world moves with the times. Changing with the times is essential if the sport is to remain relevant to the wider world which is much of the reason why the regulations were changed for this season regarding engines powertrains and other ‘green’ technology on the cars.

The concept for the cars was thought up around 5 years ago as, in particular Renault, the teams pushed the FIA to move with the times and push the sporting regulations in the direction they have moved towards currently. However, the idea had been banded around for a long time prior to that was previously rejected by those in charge of the sport.

It was 2009 that saw the withdrawal of BMW, Toyota and Honda from the sport, with BMW and Toyota withdrawing as engine manufacturers. Toyota are now the highest producer of green technology cars around the world with BMW recently launching their latest sports car, the i8. Adam Macdonald of the TheJudge13 team went along to an event in London last week to check out the latest must have car.

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With the look of a supercar, but not with a price tag to match, this is the future of the inner city sports car.  The tag line the company prefers to use is a “progressive sports car.”  Exactly what it is progressing to is disputable, but one thing that is not is the price tag, at £99,000 it is a very affordable dream.

The difference with this progressive car is the fact it has a powertrain below the car which is much the same to that of Formula One.  A hybrid of an internal combustion engine mixed with the electrical power systems. Perfect for the inner city drive with the car’s computer system trying to make you drive only using electrical power until you reach around 60 mph.

Having elected to follow their own route away from Formula One and develop this hybrid powertrain, it would surely pave the way for a possible return in the future.  Of course, this would not be in the immediate future but could be towards the end of the decade.  Leading designer of the project was on hand to dampen these flames when asked, but did say that a return was not out of the question.

For anybody interested in, the first year’s allocation has already been reserved, which is mainly down to the longer production times of the car.  These cars are rumoured to take up to 3 times as long to produce compared with the predecessors.

For anybody who has still not accepted the news regulations and feels they are a waste of time, then think again.  This is the future and the fact the sport has embraced it is an exciting movement in the right direction. The drive for new technology is working.

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More headless chickens

Today sees a meeting of the F1 commission at Bernie’s place in Biggin Hill with a number of items for the agenda.

A Sceptic may look at the composition of the meeting… teams, promoters, sponsors and key representatives from the FIA and FOM including Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt…. and with a wry smile surmise it was designed to do anything but make any decisions.

There are a couple of items on the agenda, “Improving the show” which will focus on how to make F1 more attractive to fans. Presumably this is aimed at attracting new fans and driven by the news that F1 viewership globally may be as much as 10% down this year.

Also on the agenda is ‘social media’. It appears one or two folk believe F1 is making a big mistake by not embracing social media and that other sports are in fact making huge advances in this area.

Of course Bernie doesn’t believe in social media as he apparently cannot find a way to monetarise ‘it’ and that people will just pack it al;l in soon and go back to watching TV.

To be fair to Il Padrino, he did suggest last week there be a meeting of F1 ‘heads’ with social media giants like Google to explore possible futures.

One of the reasons this eclectic mix will continue to ‘piss into the wind’ is the fact they are again going to discuss the matter of the engine noise. F1 fans have spoken on this and it is a none issue for those who have heard the cars in the flesh, yet we all want FOM TV to stop worrying about virtual advertising, missing crucial race moves and sort out their noise capture and transmission.

Today will be the last chance for these people to get to grips with cost cutting measures proposed by the F1 strategy group – and from others like Force India et al too. The dominant theme is that standardising parts is the route forward and clearly the singular reason Gene Haas has been excitably filling our screens for months.

The opportunity to ram through regulation changes without unanimous support is closing quickly and disappears by the end of the month. So anything that can be agreed by a majority today will be ratified by the FIA’s World Motorsport Council on June 26th. If the FIA has any regulatory rabbits up its sleeve, now may be the time to pull them out

So what will we hear following this meeting? Little we’ve not heard before. The best hope we have of seeing serious cost cutting measures will be if the FIA follows through on its idea of serious aero development restrictions during the season.

We could endlessly discuss the pro’s and con’s of various options for F1’s future, yet it is becoming patently clear that until the FIA can act against ‘self interest’ by governing the sport accordingly, the shifting sands of the debate about what is palatable for whom and when will never end.

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Caterham young driver opportunity

The Caterham F1 Team has confirmed that its Test Driver and Caterham Racing Academy member Will Stevens will drive the team’s car at the Silverstone test in July.

Will is currently fourth in the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series with 68 points, having won the opening race of the season in Monza and with two further podium finishes to his name.

The team state, “In addition to his commitments in that championship he has also been playing a central role in the development of Caterham F1 Team’s driver-in-the-loop simulator at its Leafield Technical Centre HQ in the UK. The simulator is now an integral part of the team’s engineering toolbox and as well as helping to develop and fine-tune its technical capabilities, Will has also been providing race weekend support in the cockpit in his role as the team’s Test Driver”.

Will Stevens: “It’ll be great to be back in an F1 car for the first time since the 2013 Silverstone test and with the amount of time I’ve already spent in the virtual car in the simulator, I can’t wait to see how it compares to the real thing. I’m sure we’ll have a busy runplan set for the day and my focus will be on doing the best job I can for the team, building on the work I’ve been doing all year in the sim at Leafield.”

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Red Bull caught trousers down

Adrian Newey’s announcement of his ‘retirement’ from Formula 1 was clearly not on the Red Bull Racing team’s agenda. Newey has been stating for some time this is his intention, though the team refused to listen.

Speaking to Martin Brundle on the grid in Canada, Newey’s consistent use of the past tense…  “It has been great”, etc etc… and specifically how he will only be involved in the 2015 car moving forward forced the Red Bull PR machine to issue the statement, “Adrian Newey is not retiring”.

A couple of days later of course was the Ben Ainslie announcement in Portsmouth and what most suspect was an edited reference to Newey’s future involvement – to appease a possible new sponsor (Red Bull).

Christian Horner’s flippant use of anything mechanical he could think of “boats, planes…. and cars” when asked to describe the focus of the new Red Bull Technology Centre’s focus was entertaining to say the least.

Yet the impact this has had on the team appears to be akin to that of losing the goose who lays the golden eggs. Marko had recently been at his most bombastic, threatening to withdraw from Formula 1 and sack Renault, but now we have the good doctor spinning a U-Turn.. stating Red Bull are in F1 for “the long term”. Just for clarification, that means until 2020 in line with the contract signed with FOM.

Marko appears flustered when he states, “we will do whatever is necessary”,  to mitigate the departure of Newey and admits, “The team was built around Adrian”, adding, “but we have a group of really good people and are prepared for the challenge.”

TJ13 believes the Red Bull hierarchy – probably Marko – had accused Newey of tipping off Peter Pedromou last year of his impending departure as a level to get Adrian to commit for longer. This clearly had the opposite effect with the announcement in Canada smelling of a “damn you all, I’m doing what I’ve got to do”, state of desperation.

The fact that Newey refuses to even commit to being the ultimate singular point of reference for the design of the 2015 car is disturbing and may indicate how far the relationship has deteriorated within the team.

Adrian is a very rich bloke and doesn’t need a Red Bull Technology Centre placing at his disposal to pursue the life he wants to lead and the psychology of the good doctor’s behaviour and his rhetoric is most interesting. It smacks of a naughty boy who has been found out to be bullying, so he is now running around trying to make amends – IMHO….

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Hockenheim furious as Ecclestone eyes F1 axe (GMM)

Bernie Ecclestone could terminate Hockenheim’s contract, as he looks to secure the long-term future of formula one in Germany.

Currently, Hockenheim – to host the German grand prix next month – annually alternates the race with the country’s other F1 venue, the fabled Nurburgring. But it emerged this week that, following the formerly insolvent Nurburgring’s sale to a Dusseldorf group called Capricorn, the new owners are close to agreeing a contract to stage the German grand prix every year between 2015 and 2019.

A press release to that effect was issued by Capricorn on Tuesday. “It is outrageous that this press release was issued,” Hockenheim boss Georg Seiler told the German news agency SID. “In formula one there is an unwritten law that says ‘No press releases while you are negotiating’. This is scandalous.

After hosting July’s 2014 race, the remainder of Hockenheim’s current contract is for grands prix in 2016 and 2018. Referring to F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, Seiler said: “He cannot and will not terminate.

And DPA news agency also quoted him as saying: “I know Mr Ecclestone as a fair and good partner. The fact is that I was surprised by this news.

Ecclestone, however, told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that the new annual Nurburgring deal would result in Hockenheim’s contract being terminated. “I met with the people from Capricorn,” he confirmed. “The problem is that they need to find revenues on the level of other European races.

“Since the Nurburgring is close to Spa, I offered them the same deal that Belgium has,” added Ecclestone, referring to an arrangement where Spa gives up ticket revenues in exchange for a low race fee.

I have nothing against Hockenheim,” he explained, “but it seems that they are not able to meet our requirements.

“To help them, we had to enter into an agreement with special conditions. But it can’t stay like that forever,” said Ecclestone. “If we sign a long-term agreement with the Nurburgring, it’s best to end the existing contract and begin the new one as early as 2015.

TJ13 note: Due to the legalities of the Nurburgring sale, the new owners will not be able to contract to F1 until January 2015.

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Clock ticking on Leimer’s Marussia chance (GMM)
Fabio LeimerFabio Leimer is at F1’s crossroads. The reigning GP2 champion missed out on a race seat on this year’s grid, but Tages-Anzeiger newspaper says he now has a solid offer on the table.

Marussia is offering to make Swiss Leimer, 25, its test and reserve driver with immediate effect. “He could enter right now as a test driver for Marussia,” his manager, Sven-Oliver Mangold, confirmed.

It has even been promised that next year he will be one of the regular drivers,” Mangold added. He said it will cost Leimer a sponsorship figure in the “low single-digit million range“.

Therein lies the problem. Until now, Leimer’s career has been bankrolled by the wealthy Rainer Gantenbein, who over the years has ploughed over EUR 15 million into the burgeoning driver.

But Gantenbein said some months ago that he is “no longer willing” to burn money on the F1 dream, because the sport’s system of pay-drivers is “sick“.

It’s a bottomless pit,” he insisted. “At some point you have to pull the plug.

Leimer’s manager Mangold, therefore, is scrabbling to raise the necessary money before other opportunities also start to slip away. He said talks with a “prominent Swiss company” have fallen through.

I always get the same answer: we only sponsor teams, not individual athletes,” said Mangold. In the meantime, the clock is ticking. “Marussia has suggested (Leimer contest) the test at Silverstone and then to target the next race,” said Mangold, referring to the German grand prix next month.

And what if that deadline passes? “Then formula E would be an alternative,” he said, amid reports many well-known names are rescuing and rebuilding their careers in the FIA’s new all-electric single seater series.

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51 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 18th June 2014

  1. And that’s why the leaders of the sport should be promoting this new era of the sport, rather than trying to tear it down.

    I think F1 missed a step with this technology and are now playing catch up. Granted it’s a different racing category, Audi proved that hybrid technology can work in motorsport.

    • In fairness to the people in charge they did try to bring in KERS back in 09, but people did not embrace the change.

      • And that’s why no one should begrudge mercedes for their current success.

  2. What is the point of an “inner city sports car” – a sports car needs an open road, or else why bother. You be better buying a Leaf and saving yourself £70K to spend on track days/experiences.

    • Rather than think of it as an “inner city” sports car, think of it as a sports car that can also drive well in a congested urban environment.

      Having read a few humorous accounts in the motoring press of attempts to wrestle 700bhp+ beasts with clutches strong enough to snap your femur through stop and go midtown traffic, I’m thinking there is decidedly a niche for this car.

      In fact, should BMW feel the need for some real world testing they should feel free to contact me, assuming the compensation should prove adequate.

      • “700bhp+ beasts with clutches strong enough to snap your femur”

        Maybe if you are driving a 1985 Countach. Today all super cars are semi auto’s that use paddle’s to change gear.

        • True enough, but I’ve read accounts that even those are tricky to manage in stop and go traffic.

          Frankly even the little Hyundai I owned 15 years ago was enough to tire my leg out if the traffic was bad enough, and I was much younger and spryer then.

          • What’s your mailing address, dude? I have a teaspoon and a bag of cement packaged up and ready to go with your name on it 🙂

    • +1
      Excuse me while I get back up on my chair… you’re telling me that the new BMW jigger is “an affordable dream” at £99,000? I can think of much cheaper ways to have people think you are a prat, although I must admit overpriced, generic, german sportscar ownership is an extremely effective strategy.
      Whilst I’m of the opinion that we really do need to stop digging up hydrocarbons and setting them on fire, this hybrid technology is a generation away from real relevance for the mass motorist. In the mean time, it will remain merely another high end gimick.

      • No need to worry about digging up hydrocarbons they will run out soon enough. Mind you the environmental benefits of battery power is dubious – particularly if you recharging source comes from coal fired power stations.

    • Yes, ‘specially when that Formula E thingy is lurking nearly there already.

  3. There ways to ‘monetarise’ social media. Look at Facebook that after a while started throwing adverts at people’s home pages and news feed. Or youtube with their popup adverts. Where’s there’s a will there’s a way and especially when it has to do with making money.

    I’m starting to think that there might be something else in here. Something along the lines of ‘social media has to go through FOM, not through teams’, only FOM has to make money and then distribute to teams. Or if the teams make money, then FOM demands a hefty cut.

    Nothing to do with how social media will make money. More like who owns them!

    • FOM would make money from the adsvertising alone on its own YouTube channel. It really couldn’t be easier… Unless the contracts with tv broadcasters around the world preclude them from offering something like this.

      • They don’t. The problems would come UB countries where private versions of YouTube exist e.g. Claro video in mexico and other countries of Latin America

        • That’s not really true. The national rights holders also have rebroadcast and syndication / highlight rights in their home country, which they pay for. If FOM were to put race highlights on YouTube they’d have to do an ad split with national rights holders. Which based on FOM’s history they won’t do.

          • Then prohibit it in those countries. It really depends of you mean rebroadcast in the next couple of weeks after? Or rebroadcast like on the BBC website where race highlights are available for all races since 2009

          • “Then prohibit it in those countries.”

            Then FOM would have to reduce what they charge as the national rights holders wouldn’t be able to full monetize that content. Think FOM will reduce what they charge?

    • YouTube are now moving to introduce a paying service to remove all adverts.. surprised it took them so long tbh. 5% of music artists (mainly indie labels) that aren’t agreeing to new terms will be cut from the site (for now).

  4. To bad you didn’t post a pic of that bmw’ s rear. Looks like it’s trying to give birth to a porsche… I kid you not!

    • amazing aerodynamic design in it Bruznic. Very well designed to be used at low speeds and higher ones

        • Fair point.

          I actually spoke to the head designer, Adrian van Hooydonk, who was telling me how they added 2cm to the front of the car in order to keep the BMW style design and keep the nose more pointed. The 200g weight increase was fought over and was going to prove a stumbling block until they found a way to compensate…..they drilled holes in each of the windscreen wipers! It was an interesting insight into the mind of a designer.

          • Yes indeed. Amazing what some minds can come up with. And that is for me one of the biggest reasons why I follow f1(and le mans racing). Those masterminds who find little things to make cars go faster even though regulations try to keep them slower. I was amazed by the porsche design and features of their lmp1 car. To me that was the le mans racer of the year even though they suffered some, call it, bad luck.

  5. Fans have spoken? They have indeed. noise (or lack of) sucks. Pitch and volume are too low and thats the end of it. Just about everyone i know says they’re not going to another f1 race as long as vakum cleaners are “racing” on the tracks. we’re an hour drive away from red bull ring but have rather opted for a moto gp race instead.
    And i can only lol at parents saying they can now take their 3yo kids to race tracks.
    Get a grip judge. pull yourself together. you’re losing it lately.

    • Have you actually been to any races this year Juzh? They are very different beasts in real life. TV coverage has not been doing them justice.

      • And the last couple of races they do sound better on tv than they did in the beginning of the season.

      • I personally have not, but I’ve heard the reaction of some folks who have been and who’s opinion is the only one I value on the matter, since we have the same taste and been to races together before.
        I’ve been to monza in 2011 and witnessed blown diffuser in all it’s glory. What we have now is quite frankly pathetic.

        • I’ve heard v12 ‘ s and v 10 ‘ s in the flesh, and when they came with v8’s everybody complained about the lesser noise they made. Yet over time that’s something most people forgot. You don’t even mention them. And it’ll be the same with the new engines. In 5 years nobody will be talking about the v8’s and the “lack of noise” of the v6

      • “Have you actually been to any races this year…”

        I was at practise and qualifying in Canada and they are less loud than the engines from the first turbo period, and at times wheeze. If you stand close to the track they don’t sound particularly powerful. Last year if you stood close to the track without ear protection it would be painful. Not this year.

  6. “For anybody who has still not accepted the news regulations and feels they are a waste of time, then think again.”

    While I like new technology, to claim that F1 has to be ‘relevant” to road car technology is nonsense. F1 has, for most of it’s history, been the apex of technological innovation and sporting competitiveness. That technology wasn’t limited by having to be “relevant” to the motor industry as the FIA would like today. In fact F1 has more in common with the aerospace industry that it does with the motor industry. This road relevant technology isn’t going to create legions of new fans, as most F1 fans want to see fast exciting racing, not which engine manufacturer can go the farthest on the least amount of fuel.

    There are other areas of motorsport, the WEC for example, where green technology is applicable.

    This “green” and “road relevance” BS in F1 is the result of euro eco-politcs, and appeals to the same group that want to cover the UK and probably much of Europe with windmills.

    BTW. Toyota has been producing the Prius since 1997. They didn’t need F1 for it. And BMW makes many of the carbon-fibre panels in Washington State, then flies then to Germany. Which doesn’t seem particularity green to me.

    • Oil is going to become far harder to extract in the coming decades and thus becoming more expensive. The Car manufacturers are being prudent in developing hybrid cars that make greater use of fuel i.e. efficiency and energy recovery. There’s more to it then merely looking eco friendly on a PR front.

      F1 should be developing and pushing hybrid technology to it’s limits, it’s uniquely placed to do so given it’s ferocious appetite to go ever faster using the least amount of fuel as the more fuel you have in the tank the slower you go until it’s burned off. Mercedes have invested heavily in it’s power train for several reasons –
      1. Power Train is a prototype
      2. F1 allows that prototype to be tested and developed to
      destruction.
      3. Which then gets spun off into road cars.
      4. Mercedes get plenty of PR for winning and dominating F1 (at least for the time being).

  7. Regarding The Show… How about an op ed analyzing the new rules set to come into place in the WRC… Compare and contrast with F1.

    • @ CTP

      my understanding is that the 2017 World Rally Car technical regulations have yet to be defined ?

      If you have any info to the contrary – could you post it please ?

      • I thought I read on autosport that fairly radical changes were going to happen in 2015… I’m not looking for an internet argument, it was more big picture, the fact that they’re discussing sizeable changes to improve viewership.

        • @ CTP

          I’m not looking for an argument either – just thought that maybe something has been released by FIA that I’d missed.

          New regs were introduced this year – but I’ve not heard of any new regs for 2015 or 2016 – the current ones will remain.

          New ( maybe the radical changes you’d heard of ? ) rules are supposed to be agreed for 2017 between manufacturers and the FIA – and Toyota in particular – are asking for hybrid technology to be allowed.

          Currently hybrids are illegal in WRC.

  8. Good to hear of investment in the Nurburgring.. It’d be a coup for it to get back the ‘German GP’ title as well (held by Hockenheim). Hockenheim can then go into the European GP rotation, perhaps with Magny Cours, probably without Imola. I’m not as big a fan of Hockenheim, since the renovations.. which are good for the track, but bad for the TV spectacle.. On the old Hockenheim I can imagine a Mercedes 1-8 this year!

    If we can get back to cheaper racing at loved circuits/those with a fanbase, I could see:

    AUS-MAL-CHI-BAH-SPA-MON-CAN-EUR-AUT-GBR-GER-HUN-BEL-ITA-SIN-JAP-RUS-ABU-TEX-MEX-ARG-BRA eventually, with 3 Spanish pre-season tests and a few in season tests after the races at Bahrain, Britain, Abu Dhabi. This means racing on 25 of 52 weekends, or every fortnight on average (with half as b2b races where applicable), and a further ‘weekend’ of in season tests (making 26).

    However, with Argentina on the brink of insolvency, that deal would have to be pretty much free, and there would be no money for bringing Buenos Aires (or Rio Hondo) up to F1 level. But a race in Buenos Aires would be madly popular, in the way that the Korean GP was the opposite (despite a decent track layout). If there’s no race here then another test can be rolled in (Spain? Or post-season for young drivers).

    Once RB leave, Austria can be rolled into the European GP, or they can swap them round and aim to have another American race next to Canada (NJ? Long Beach?).

    • because they are trying to build a sport for spectators –

      not rinse every last penny out of the sport and spectators ….

      • if you’re spending £100 on a car I doubt you’re thinking “affordable” in your decision process. haha

        • Well, relative to the $845,000 Porsche 918 it’s affordable. Now, pardon me while I have a look under the old couch cushions. 😉

          • Haha the spec is comparable with the McLaren f1 apparently…. A cool million quid!

          • 0-60 i8 = 4.6sec
            0-60 918 = 3.1sec
            top speed i8 = 155mph
            top speed 918 = 200mph

            not really same league. almost like comparing an older BMW M3 to the 918 really. i see it as paying $200,000 for less than M3 performance.

  9. I wonder what the ramifications are for Chilton if Leimer is apparently being offered the test and second half of the season – I did notice that they didn’t have a reserve driver this year. This was being offered around as part of a package in the junior formulae, including moving up to that vacant spot.

    Could it be that Chilton’s sponsorship has gone down to say £5m, without Aon, and so if Leimer can now bring £5m he can have the second half of the season? Then for 2015, Marussia might hold 10th and gain another £30m?

  10. Pingback: Daily F1 News And Comment Wednesday 18th June 2014 Thejudge13 Sport Moto Honda Rio Claro : OtoSPEED·

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