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Perez and the penalty – updated 18:00
FP1 report from the Red Bull Ring
Brought to you by on-track reporter Adam Macdonald
The colder temperatures meant a slippery return to Spielberg as the drivers struggled for grip around the renovated circuit. The excitement built as grandstands were starting to fill as more Austrian fans poured into the complex anticipating the return of Formula One. They were rewarded for their early start as immediately the two Mercedes drivers took advantage of an empty track to get a few sighter laps in. Starting by setting times in the 1:18s, the times soon tumbled as the tyres came into the correct working temperature range and the drivers found the grip on the track.
Nico Rosberg donned the titanium skid blocks which are being tested this weekend to see if they can help to improve the show. The initial reaction was negative from both commentators and fans on twitter. Perhaps it will be something we are forced to get used to.
The first driver to run wide at turn 3, as Anthony Davidson had predicted would be an area of difficulty, was Felipe Massa as he took to the grass missing his entry point. Track evolution is expected to have a great effect this weekend, as long as there is not strong rain tonight or Saturday to wash away the laid down rubber. Given that the best car on display, the Mercedes, found the conditions challenging it shows how hard it was for the drivers.
After a brief dive into the pits for a reset of the electrical systems Nico Rosberg was able to re-join the session without losing too track time. It was reportedly a problem with his ERS-H cooling system that caused the system shutdown. Due to the altitude of the track – 700m above sea level – there is expected to be less turbo drop-off this weekend (compared to naturally aspirated engines), although cooling for the turbos is expected to be much more difficult – especially if following another car in ‘dirty’ air. On this occasion though for Rosberg, it was a lucky escape with not too much time lost.
There was no such luck for Marcus Ericsson who was forced out of the session with a complete electronics failure after completing just 8 laps. The woes for the green team continued as the Swede leaped from his car, not taking any chances with ERS system failure. More vital setup team lost which the team can ill afford as they look to catch the teams ahead of them. One bit of solace for them is the Marussia cars also struggled during the first hour of the session.
At the 30 minute mark into the session there was the usual lull which follows surrendering your firs tyres of the weekend. Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets with a 1:12.255, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg. All drivers back to 11th position were into the 1 minute 12s, as grip continued to come at a premium at the Red Bull Ring.
Kevin Magnussen, who together with Daniil Kvyat, were the last drivers to go around the Red Bull Ring in race trim last year. It was the Dane who was the first to venture out in the final hour of the session, going second fastest soon after. Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button then proceeded to set times first and second as the Mercedes powertrained cars started to flex their muscles.
As rain threatened to disrupt the session, many took the opportunity to dive into the pits and wait for it all to blow over. One who did not do so was Sebastian Vettel doing a 720 degree spin on the pit straight, exciting the fans with 27 minutes to go in the session. The astroturf into the final corner causing problems for the German World Champion. Amazingly, the car was fine even though some recovery time was needed to get the tyres cleaned up and back up to temperature.
Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjeana and Daniel Ricciardo had interesting moments as they all hunted for the grip around the circuit. Grosjean’s run wide a consequence of picking up dirt which Vettel’s off had deposited on the track.
With 19 minutes to go, all drivers elected to retreat to the safety of the pits as the rain started to come down harder. This had already caught out Rosberg moments before going into turn 2, where he took to then asphalt run off area to avoid flat-spotting the tyres as Valtteri Bottas had done previously.
Hamilton and Alonso both improved to go 2nd and 3rd, but there was little other change throughout the timing sheets. The higher wind speeds – now at 10mph – coupled with a greasy circuit made for some safe driving from all drivers. One area of extreme caution was the final turn where the astroturf had soaked up some of the rain from earlier making it an extremely dangerous traction point. Should the rain come down in the race it could be an area we see many incidents on Sunday.
Almost the entirety of the field got out in the final minutes to test the tyre wear in the lower temperatures, apart from one notable exception. Rosberg was forced to stay in as a change of cooling pump was required before FP2. Is this a consequence of the troubles the Mercedes cars experienced in Canada?
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:12.009||0.714||33|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:12.072||0.777||20|
|10||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:12.364||1.069||30|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:12.372||1.077||35|
|13||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:12.570||1.275||28|
|15||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:12.988||1.693||25|
So there is not too much to decipher from the first session here. The Mercs were predictably on top, with an extremely tight midfield lending itself to a tightly contested Grand Prix on Sunday (hopefully). Sutil and Ericsson ran into trouble, but for the rest, there is all to play for!
F1 arrives in the hills
The F1 steam train arrived in town, and here are a few pictures from Thursday…
Here is what the Lotus twitter had to say for itself…
Massive dinner disruptions occurring here in Austria… Chaos. Sheer lunacy. Completely Austrian. pic.twitter.com/c7vUCBmJUc
— Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) June 19, 2014
The support for the Grand Prix return is strong…
If in any doubt as to the support for F1 in Austria….. pic.twitter.com/prv3aS9GZO
— Natalie Pinkham (@NataliePinkham) June 19, 2014
First signs from Spielberg are good!
Perez and the penalty
As TJ13 predicted last week, the controversy surrounding Checo Perez and his penalty for causing a collision in Canada has continued. The last lap incident which saw the Force India man and Felipe Massa of Williams skid into the barriers has been dragged to the surface once more as ‘new evidence’ has come to the surface.
We will update the page should his grid penalty be changed or revoked!
What do you think TJ13 readers? Was the penalty just?
While Force India submitted telemetry to prove Perez did not change his steering angle and the driver stated he took the same line as the previous lap he will have to serve his 5 place grid penalty.
That was the decision after Austrian stewards listened to Perez give his side of the story. While Perez maintained he was within his rights to defend his position and use the whole track to do so, stewards dismissed his claim as the defence occurred in the breaking area which was against regulations.
Now into it’s 4th year of existence, the DRS (Drag Reduction System) has by most accounts been a success with a only a few minor glitches or teething issues where it has been either too useful or not useful enough. These places have since been adjusted (or are still being perfected – read Canada) to optimise the DRS zones.
It seems that common sense is often forgotten in Formula One as many will remember how when DRS was first introduced, there was only ever 1 zone at races, which allowed for time to see how much of a need there was at a circuit. So it really begs the question as to why there are 2 DRS zones this weekend at a track where overtaking did not come at a premium in an era when it was much more rare occurrence?
The FIA had the opportunity to take the brave, and arguably more sensible option to only have 1 DRS zone this year and see how that affected the race. They could have been even more brave and totally prohibited it at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.
Sunday will be the time we see if that would have been the correct decision, but it seems the opportunity to do something bold has been passed on.
FIA vows to ease driver penalties (GMM)
A big talking point in Austria on Thursday was the continuing feud between Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez. The pair crashed and ended their Canadian grand prix in hospital, where the real dispute began.
“I said that it was dangerous,” recalled Massa, “and that he needs to learn, but he just turned and left. I will not trust him anymore, definitely not.”
The FIA, however, has agreed to revisit the issue of Perez’s five-place grid penalty for the Austrian grand prix, because the Mexican was still in hospital when he should have been interviewed by the Montreal stewards.
But it is on the very issue of driver penalties that F1 is about to turn a sharp corner. Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said the FIA has acknowledged that the readiness with which penalties are given to drivers is beginning to affect their motivation to battle wheel-to-wheel.
“The plan,” confirmed race director Charlie Whiting in Austria, “is that only serious and unequivocal violations will be punished from now.”
He clarified, however, that F1 is not making actual rule changes.
“It’s just a different approach,” said Whiting. “The teams have promised not to bombard us with every little thing during the race. And we will take the liberty to close cases (before they are investigated by the stewards) on the basis of how serious we regard it to be. And if we do initiate an investigation, there will be a clear culprit.
“So there will be significantly more cases that could be judged as a ‘normal racing incident‘.”
Whiting said that the case of Perez and Massa’s heavy crash in Montreal, for example, would most certainly still be sent to the stewards for investigation.
“But we want to issue a penalty only when the question of guilt is absolutely clear. In this case, we might conclude that it was a racing incident, because the guilt of one of the drivers is not 100 per cent,” he said.
Hockenheim looks safe
This week we’ve seen the machinations of Ecclestone’s wheeler dealer antics in full view. Divide and conquer is the master plan.
Nurburgring/Ecclestone leak that they are in negotiations to hold the German GP for 5 years starting in 2015 – this despite the Nurburgring officials being unable to contract to F1 before January 2015.
Hockenheim are horrified as they have a contract for 2016 and 2018. Circuit boss Georg Seiler is adamant, “We have a contract. And it has no exit clause.” Yet 2 days ago Ecclestone was publicaly quoted as suggesting he was prepared to breach the agreement with Hockenheim.
TJ13 commented at the time that as part of Mr. E’s current dash to sign race promoter’s, the most likely scenario was that at least every other year – there may be 2 races in Germany, albeit only one called the German GP.
Having suggested that FOM may terminate Hockenheim’s deal, Ecclestone has now withdrawn from this position telling Rhein Zeitung, “We respect the contract with Hockenheim. We will comply with the agreements we have.”
Is it any wonder the large manufacturers don’t want to play F1 games? Ecclestone is in the news every week for one thing or another – and mostly never good news stories. The persistent double dealing and seedy image he brings to the sport is enough to turn off any global automotive brand thinking of climbing into the same bed.
A bright spark
Some of the most creative minds on planet earth work in Formula 1 and the quest to entice the viewers back to the sport continues.
Following their “megaphone” exhaust offering to increase the volume of the cars, Mercedes are now to demonstrate another solution to the fan engagement perceived problem in Free Practice today, along with Ferrari.
Some of the iconic F1 photograph’s, (Mansell Senna Adelaide) and video footage see the F1 cars of yesteryear showering sparks across the track as the bottom out. This all ended when the metal plates underneath the car were replaced by wooden ones as per the regulations.
Well today, Rosberg and Raikkonen will have titanium plates fitted to the floor of their cars so we can assess the thrill factor of the showers of sparks returning to F1.
Oh, and by the way… Ferrari have a suggestion for improved exhaust sounds too which they will run at the Silverstone test. It is a “two pipe” solution, though little about the sonic manipulations has been revealed.
It could in fact be one of those boy racer two tone horns in disguise – you never know in F1 these days…
Karthikeyan – gone but not forgotten
Thanks to some comments by Anthony Davidson earlier in the session, on the SKYF1 coverage, the moving traffic cone Narain Karthikeyan took to twitter to demonstrate his view in a comical manner. It says a lot that someone who left the sport so long ago is so publicly damning of the Venezuelan’s race craft.
Sky F1 bullying me again – although, I’d be quite proud to have crashed across the line. #BetterThanMaldonado
— Narain Karthikeyan (@NarainFacts) June 20, 2014
FP2 report from the Red Bull Ring
The first man out on track for the warmer 18 degree Free Practice 2 session was Marcus Ericsson, to set a 1:18.198. He wasn’t taking any risks given the lost time earlier in the day and neither was Adrian Sutil, who had also spent most of the morning in the Sauber hospitality tent. The lap times soon tumbled as the drivers once again got used to track conditions getting down towards the times we had seen earlier 10 minutes into the session.
The higher wind speeds seemed to be causing the drivers problems as well as the new for 2013 brake-by-wire systems. As the wind speeds lowered, Alonso set the fastest time of the day to become the first driver into the 1:10s, soon followed by Rosberg and Hamilton, with the Briton going 0.06 slower than his German teammate. Hamilton then followed that up with a 1:10.460 to go 0.375 quicker than Rosberg in third and Bottas who had stuck himself in second. Rosberg had then been on a faster lap until he dived into the pits just before the hour mark.
A late arrival from the Red Bulls was all part of the run plan as they slotted into 6th and 7th positions on the timing board. Only the backmarking cars were out on track during the half hour mark, as the track continued to evolve as the dark clouds loomed large over the track. They soon passed in time for the other cars to strap the ‘option’ tyre for the weekend, the supersofts, as Hamilton was the first man down to 1:09.652 as Rosberg seemed to make an error with his flying lap.
Hamilton’s second flying lap was even faster as once again Rosberg made an error, going off the track in the final sector with a lack of balance seemingly. In a rather comical radio transmission, Daniel Ricciardo was reminded of the importance to breathe between turns. With a fairly predictable top 10, with the McLarens having shown signs of improvement to both be in there, all pitted to refuel, rest and get ready for the long runs.
Nothing too major came in from the long-runs apart from Jenson Button struggled with “the same problem experienced in Canada.” The rain that had threatened for so long never came with around 15 minutes to go in the session. Vettel switched, as others followed him onto the soft ‘prime’ tyre, wanting to gain confidence on the other compound.
Overall, the Mercedes pair looked ominous as the Williams pair chewed through their rear tyres. For most this will be a two-stop race, with only the extremely brave risking a one-stop. Rosberg was frustrated by the team not telling him about a test item on the car – with an uncharacteristic radio message from him. The day has provided a fairly mixed field and not the noah’s ark grid we have seen previously. All signs from Austria so far are positive!
|6||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:10.807||1.265||39|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:10.920||1.378||36|
|10||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:10.972||1.430||39|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:11.261||1.719||45|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:11.296||1.754||36|
|17||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:11.935||2.393||39|