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OTD Lite: 2005 – Ferrari blamed for Michelin fiasco
History is often re-written depending on the writers allegiances. The 2005 US Grand Prix produced plenty of column inches around the world which could have potentially destroyed the fan base in the US.
The teams had arrived in Indianapolis for the ninth event of the year but early during Friday practice, Michelin was informing their teams that they could not run on their tyres safely beyond 10 laps. Discussions between the FIA, tyre manufacturers – Bridgestone and Michelin – and the respective teams continued up to the race start.
Solutions were offered – such as installing a chicane in the middle of the last banked corner- but Max Mosley came down hard on the French manufacturer stating that the Japanese brand had provided safe rubber for their teams. With the 2005 tyre rules requiring the tyre to last throughout qualifying and the rcae, pit-stops were also disallowed.
In the end, with no solution found, the Michelin teams completed the parade lap and entered the pits leaving just the six Bridgestone shod cars to line up for the start. Outraged Americans demanded their money back and Michelin spent several million dollars to recover the public relations disaster.
Yet to this day, Todt, Ferrari, Schumacher and Bridgestone are always the main culprits in one of the most controversial races in modern F1 history.
And your stewards for the weekend are….
Garry Connelly has been involved in motor sport since the late 1960s. A long-time rally competitor, Connelly was instrumental in bringing the World Rally Championship to Australia in 1988 and served as Chairman of the Organising Committee, Board member and Clerk of Course of Rally Australia until December 2002.
He has been an FIA Steward and FIA Observer since 1989, covering the FIA’s World Rally Championship, World Touring Car Championship and Formula One Championship. He is a director of the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety and a member of the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
Nish Shetty sits on the FIA International Court of Appeal as a judge and is a permanent member of the National Court of Appeal (Singapore). He is also Chairman of the Disciplinary Commission of the Singapore Motor Sports Association and a national steward of the Singapore Grand Prix.
Shetty has assisted the Singapore Motor Sports Association for many years as a legal advisor and committee member. In addition to being involved in the Singapore Grand Prix, Shetty has acted as a steward in the Singapore Karting Championship. Away from motor sport, he is a Partner and Head of International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution, South East Asia at global law firm Clifford Chance.
Denmark’s Tom Kristensen is the most successful driver in the history of the Le Mans 24-Hour race. He has won the classic endurance event nine times, racing for Porsche, Audi and Bentley. Kristensen, 46, has a broad racing CV, having competed in single-seaters, touring cars and a range of sportscars.
He has also tested in F1. Having won his ninth 24 Hours of Le Mans and claimed the FIA World Endurance Championship title last year, Kristensen is back for more WEC action this year, again racing for Audi Sport Team Joest. However, following the retirement of Allan McNish, Kristensen is this season partnered by Loïc Duval and Lucas Di Grassi, though Duval was replaced at the recent Le Mans 24 Hours by Marc Gene following an accident in practice.
F1 abandons short GP weekend idea – report (GMM)
F1 failed to make significant cost-saving progress at a meeting on Wednesday, Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports. Earlier, it was reported that the F1 Commission – involving the FIA, Bernie Ecclestone, the teams and other key stakeholders – voted through the proposal to cut Friday morning practice from next year’s race weekend format.
But German correspondent Michael Schmidt reveals otherwise. “The shorter GP weekend failed,” he wrote on Friday, “due to opposition from the (race) organisers and the big teams that had earlier agreed.”
And that’s not the only proposal that hit the dust at Ecclestone’s Biggin Hill airport, Schmidt explained. “With one exception,” he said, “every proposal was rejected by the 26-member panel.”
The proposed ban on tyre warmers was another victim of Wednesday’s meeting, but Pirelli has offered to pay teams that run its logo on the blankets next year EUR 200,000 each.
So, the only cost-cutting done for 2015 and beyond was in the already tightly-restricted area of testing. All pre-season testing will now take place in Europe, as Bahrain was ruled too expensive a destination. The eight days of in-season testing has been reduced to four in 2015, with two days reserved for young drivers.
And in 2016, winter testing will shrink from twelve to just eight days, with a total in-season testing ban to once again be enforced. A team insider is quoted as saying: “Once again we have failed to save hardly anything, but at least the crazy idea of the shorter weekend is gone.”
F1 abandons short GP weekend idea – report (GMM)
According to the Times newspaper, F1 must look over its shoulder at the new ‘Formula E’ series that is rapidly gaining credibility. The latest name attracting headlines for the FIA’s all-electric single seater category is Jarno Trulli, the well-known former F1 driver and Monaco winner.
The 39-year-old Italian has bought a team, and the former Renault and Toyota driver will be at the wheel of the ‘TrulliGP’ car on city streets including Berlin, California and London. “I am very pleased to be a pioneer of this new formula E project,” said Trulli, who will race against other ex-F1 names like Lucas di Grassi, Jaime Alguersuari, Bruno Senna, Karun Chandhok and Franck Montagny.
And with Trulli in the team owner’s circle are the likes of Virgin, Audi, Super Aguri, Michael Andretti, Alain Prost, and Hollywood actor Leonardo di Caprio. Times correspondent Kevin Eason said the “intriguing” formula E concept is gathering speed just as F1 is gripped in “soul-searching“, with its teams locked in factions arguing about costs.
Ferrari has issued its latest quit threat, arguments are raging about the volume of the engines despite formula E being almost completely silent, and the mere “viability” of a sport run by a private equity group “is in severe doubt“, he argued. Furthermore, F1’s television audiences are in decline, said Eason, and “sponsors are restless”.
“Formula E is a breath of fresh air,” he concluded, “and F1 has to worry that fans will believe so.”
F1 figures in crucial meetings before Austria GP (GMM)
Crucial talks about the future of formula one are speeding ahead. Between the Canadian and Austrian Grand Prix, team bosses, FIA president Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone reportedly got together for meetings in London. It was about finding urgent cost reduction proposals that bridge the divide between F1’s most competitive teams and the second half of the grid, who are angry about the lack of cooperation from their more powerful rivals.
Any proposals that got a majority vote on Wednesday will be presented to the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in its Munich meeting on June 26. By then, time will be up for any other meaningful cost-saving for 2015, as post July 1, only rules with an almost-impossible unanimous vote can be introduced for next year.
According to Italy’s Autosprint, only two major rule changes are likely next year.
The first, that has reportedly been voted through is the shakeup of the grand prix weekend format, with Thursday’s media activities and Friday morning practice both axed.
“The idea came up, let’s not do the Friday and save engine and gearbox miles — it’s about one (less) engine a year,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Sky. “And that is, if not (a saving of) millions, it’s at least a million or a million and a half,” he said.
Autosprint said the F1 weekend from 2015 will now begin late on a Friday, with two 45 minute practice sessions, separated by a half-hour break. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean is supportive. “As long as there’s a grand prix and qualifying session, that’s the main thing!” said the Frenchman.
Another proposal voted for in London will force teams to keep a single engine-gearbox-rear suspension layout attached to the race chassis for the entire race weekend.
It is also rumoured that, at the meeting, Ferrari was chided for its latest quit threat, while declining television audiences and restless sponsors were also discussed.
AustrianGP Drivers Press Conference
Today we had Ricciardo,Alonso, Perez, Ericsson, Gutiérrez and Chilton in the press conference and ….
Perez vs. Massa: As one might expect when seeing Sergio Perez at the press conference on Thursday in Austria, the reporters wanted to know what his view was on the accident between him and Felipe Massa, which cost both drivers dearly in terms of result and therefore championship points. Perez: “Yeah, luckily nothing happened. We went straight to hospital; it was a pretty big shunt. I had a little bit of back pain, which went away during the days. I couldn’t do normal training for a couple of days and no, I haven’t had the chance to speak with Felipe.“
It was that same Massa who, according to the questioning journalist, told the press that Perez was a dangerous driver and he would think three times before attempting to overtake Perez again. When confronted with these words Perez replied: “He has his opinion, I have my opinion, and we just have to sit down. Also we get the opportunity tomorrow, with the FIA, to review the accident once again, as we believe we have enough evidence to prove I did nothing wrong..”
With this last remark Perez is referring to the possibility to explain his opinion to the stewards at the Austrian GP. In Canada Perez was briefly hospitalised after the accident and because of that he was unable to explain his view on the accident. However, article 13.10 of the FIA International Sporting Code states that teams can ask for the right of review if a ‘new element’ is discovered. In this case the new element is the opinion of Perez, which gives Force India the possibility to perhaps appeal against the 5-place grid penalty for Perez.
When asked if the good results of Force India were a one-off or whether they could perform well in the coming races, Perez said: “Yeah we have a couple of upgrades (for Austria), so we are really enthusiastic. I think this can be a good track as well for us. Yeah, we were doing so well in the last race; the strategy was going really well, we managed to do one stop and keep a very competitive pace, so I think we are really enthusiastic. It’s the first really big upgrade we bring to the car since the beginning of the year, so hopefully that will put us in better shape and a better position.”
Right then… competitive pace… so the train of cars behind you Checo??
The Show of F1: Fernando Alonso was asked if he agreed with his president Luca di Montezemolo on the spectacle of F1. Fernando: “I think the president is right, in a way. The show that probably we’ve put in this year is not good enough in some of the races.
Also, when one team is dominating so much as Mercedes, probably the spectators prefer some more action, as probably they like Canada Grand Prix that everyone seems to enjoy. Yeah, we will try to put on a better show in the next races and if the teams or the fans or whatever, they have any ideas, they will be welcome to have a better show.”
Of course you would expect from him that he would back his president, after all the declarations of love from his team to him in the last month. Alonso however wasn’t the only one driver who responded in this manner. Ericsson mentioned that although the driving is fun for him, the show could always be better.
When Perez was asked about the show in F1 he replied: “I think there is a big room for improvement, to improve the show. Reduce the cost to give an opportunity to the smaller teams to try and be competitive. I come from a big team to a smaller team and I see the reduced amount of budget and with this limited budget it is very difficult to compete against big teams.
I think that would help a bit, to reduce a bit the cost to be able to have more equal chances of fighting big teams.”
Perez, Gutiérrez and Chilton replied in similar fashion re cost – the drivers see a direct connection between cost cutting and improving the show for the spectators. The overall sound from them is that if you create more equal opportunities for the (smaller) teams that the competition will improve and therefore the spectacle with it.
It seems unlikely that this was Di Montozemolo’s intention when he raised the subject last week.
Red Bull Ring: Coming to Austria for the first time in 11 years, the circuit itself was a primary focal point for the journalists in the room. The only driver at the press conference who actually competed in F1 on this track is Alonso: “I think the circuit, as Esteban said before, is a very short circuit, so there are only five or six corners around here where you can make the time, so I expect all the cars to be very close.” When asked about his memories he replied: “To be honest I don’t remember anything. We raced in 2001 and 2003 and I have no memories. Too long!”.
What the drivers generally agreed upon is that the last two corners should be the most fun on the track. Especially turn 9 going downhill and leading onto the start-finish straight. It is also expected that because of the short length of the track qualifying will be very tight and putting in a good lap on Saturday afternoon will be more important than ever. With nobody having any experience on the track worth mentioning, especially for those teams without a simulator like Sauber, this alone will be challenging enough.
World Cup: Of course the World Cup in Brazil was also mentioned and perhaps this is also the reason for the grumpy mood Alonso was in. Ricciardo admitted, smiling his familiar smile, that Australia and Spain will be playing for the wooden spoon now. Surely something they will hope to avoid coming Sunday…