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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite – 1989 French Grand Prix
On this day in 1989 Jean Alesi made his Formula One debut in the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Mid-season is an unusual time to make a debut, but he was in fact replacing the incumbent Michele Alboreto who – being a Marlboro sponsored driver – could not continue with a Tyrrell team that had signed to carry Camel sponsorship from then on. Famous for his talent-spotting skills, Ken Tyrrell looked at the F3000 championship to see who was the leading Camel sponsored driver and ‘discovered’ Alesi.
Jean Alesi was born to Sicilian parents in Avignon, France. He won the 1987 French F3 championship before moving up to F3000 in 1988. In 1989 he won the championship and from mid-season on dovetailed his F3000 commitments with his Formula One contract.
His race debut proved astonishing as he finished fourth and on the same lap as eventual winner Alain Prost. His team-mate Jonathan Palmer finished 10th, two laps down and would retire at the end of 1989. Championed as the next big thing it was his first race of 1990 in Phoenix that would confirm his arrival on the world stage with his famous repass of Senna.
As his flawed career choices would later prove – this much-loved character backed out of a signed contract with Williams for 1991 to join his childhood love Ferrari, a deal which culminated with Williams taking delivery of a Ferrari 640 and Alesi rueing the day he turned his back on a 1990’s Williams contract…
FIA invites teams to protest Mercedes superior technology
Editor’s Note: On occasion TJ13 has published articles in the Daily News & Comment which have been repeated ad verbatim from a different author or source. The news released late yesterday afternoon may have been missed by many of the readers of this site as different time zones have to be taken into account. For this reason, it is felt that the latest technical regulation change from the FIA is sufficiently important that yesterday’s published article is worth repeating.
Also, included in the ‘Previously on TJ13’ header links is a poll that was published on the site at 22.41 GMT in regards changing the regulations. We would appreciate if every reader would assist in this and cast their vote and possibly comment.
There are times in life where such whimsical and pernicious evil is evident, even those of no religious persuasion sense the hand of Satan is at work.
Today, the FIA have written to the Formula 1 teams informing them they believe that a number of the (FRIC) Front-and-Rear-Interconnected-Suspension systems may be illegal.
Charlie Whiting issued a technical directive today stating. “Having now seen and studied nearly every current design of front-to-rear linked suspension system, as well as reviewing future developments some teams have shared with us, we are firmly of the view that the legality of all such systems could be called into question, particularly with respect to compliance with Article 3.15 of the F1 Technical Regulations.
As these systems, in one form or another, have been in use for some time we are inclined to permit their continued use for the remainder of the current season, however, we feel we would need the agreement of all participating teams to take this approach. We would therefore be very grateful if you could indicate whether you may be in a position to agree with such an approach.
Failing this, we would have to consider making a report to the stewards about the non-compliance of any car fitted with a system which appears to allow the response of the suspension at either or both of the rear corners to drive the response of the suspension at either or both of the front corners (or vice versa).”
Article 3.15 is being cited as the regulation in question. It makes illegal any part of the car that influences the aerodynamics that is not “rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car.”
Indeed as Charlie states, FRIC systems have been in existence for some time. Adrian Newey had a form of FRIC in use back in the day at Leyton House back in the early nineties. More recent iterations are credited to Renault in 2008, and Aldo Costa is believed to have masterminded the Mercedes system, which has been under development for some years.
Put simply, this system links the front and rear suspension to maintain a constant ride height and reduce pitch and roll.
Under Ross Brawn, Mercedes took FRIC to a whole new level, such that a TJ13 article in December 2012 described the system as akin in its advancement to “spaceship technology”. At the time Mercedes were under performing badly and one commentator quipped that ‘no trophies were being awarded for space ship racing’.
Scarbs revealed to TJ13 in the past few minutes that all the teams have some form of FRIC system, though behind Mercedes…. Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull and Marrusia have the most developed mechanisms.
Whilst Whiting does state, “all such systems COULD be called into question,” clearly one team has a lot more to lose with an interuptus to the status quo. Mercedes.
The biggest effect of losing FRIC will be that ride heights would increase with a subsequent loss of down force.
The shocking part of today’s communication is that the FIA have challenged the teams to make a unanimous decision; to in effect decide upon a regulation allowing FRIC to the end of the year. Failure to do so will mean the consequence will be one team’s suspension system will be open to protest from another in Hockenheim.
When were the F1 teams in unanimous agreement over anything? And surely at least one team with a relatively basic system will seek to leverage their position over this.
The timing given for compliance gives this technical directive the appearance of being a political act – and the evidence for that is in the timings allowed for teams to comply. The Renault teams who were drilling into the fuel flow sensor earlier this year, were given several weeks to desist and then use only unmodified versions of the sensor. A fairly simple process.
There is less than two weeks to Hockenheim and the ramifications could be enormous.
Let’s speculate a little….
Charlie Whiting has been a close friend and supporter of Ecclestone for many years, harking back to the days of Brabham.
To suggest Ecclestone and Stuttgart are not exactly on the best of terms, would be the understatement of the millennium.
One of Max Moselys’s last acts as president of the FIA (at Bernie’s behest) gave Charlie a long contract as Formula One Race Director, Safety Delegate, Permanent Starter and head of the F1 Technical Department – just before he handed the reigns over to Todt.
Todt was not amused to have Bernie’s pal practically running F1 from the FIA’s perspective.
The fact that Whiting’s contract is shortly up for renewal by Todt is impossible to ignore.
As an attempt to cause deep division between Mercedes and F1 this could easily be viewed as resembling some sort of scorched earth policy one would associate with none other than Ecclestone himself.
Of course other conspiracy theories are possible as to why this bizarre technical directive has been issued, and why particularly now.
Alonso being offered an extended contract whilst in Italy
With Kimi Raikkonen injured, Ferrari’s testing duties at Silverstone this week have fallen on to the shoulders of their test and simulator driver, Pedro de la Rosa, and their Academy driver, Marussia’s Jules Bianchi. To many, it made little sense why their talisman – Fernando Alonso – is back in Maranello being shaken about in a virtual mule instead of comparing data retrieved by the on track running with the data collected from the sensors of the simulator.
Rumours from Italy suggest there is more to his return to the Gestione Sportiva than just development work for Ferrari. Marco Mattiacci has begun making changes with the restructuring of the Italian dinosaur, and with imminent departures of senior personnel like Luca Marmorini in the pipeline, both he and Il Padrino know that they want to rebuild the team around the one constant – Alonso.
Alonso has a contract until the end of 2016 but Ferrari want to strengthen the relationship with its lead driver who has seemed cold and aloof at times this year. Until a few months ago, he wanted to finish his career at Ferrari but with what is proving to be his worst season since joining the Scuderia – with a solitary podium in China – there is little doubt that he is unsatisfied. As he said recently, he would prefer more titles and less respect.
This week could prove crucial because Ferrari are to offer him a contract until 2019 – made up of an extension until 2017 and a further two years under options. If he takes the contract – no doubt with huge performance penalties written in the small print – then he is committed to Ferrari, if he chooses to keep it as it is, then Ferrari knows that they have to start searching for his replacement.
Whiting slams Lauda for race delay criticism (GMM)
F1 race director Charlie Whiting has hit back at Niki Lauda, after the Mercedes team chairman slammed as “ridiculous” the delayed British grand prix. “The chances of it happening again are zero,” F1 legend Lauda said as Silverstone track workers were ordered to replace armco fencing damaged by Kimi Raikkonen’s crash. The repairs took an hour. “They (the FIA) take care of every little detail and a lot of people will switch the television off,” triple world champion Lauda added. The great Austrian said that because the chance of an identical incident was “zero”, a better solution would have been to quickly drag a tyre barrier in front of the damaged armco.
Asked if Lauda has a point, the FIA’s Whiting insisted: “Absolutely not. Niki’s comment was not very helpful, because he has shown that he knows nothing about safety,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “It is ridiculous to say that an accident at the same spot will not occur. If we had said after Felipe Massa’s accident in 2009 that a spring will never again hit a driver’s head, then there would not have been the campaign for stronger visors. It should also be mentioned that Kimi emerged basically unhurt from this massive accident, which is proof of how much has been done for the safety of the cars in recent years,” added Whiting.
Where Whiting does agree with Lauda, however, is in criticising the Finn for crashing in the first place. “It would have been better,” said the Briton, “if Kimi was a little more cautious in cutting back onto the track.” He denied that Silverstone is to blame for the uneven area of grass that unsettled the Ferrari.
“This is a problem at every circuit,” said Whiting. “It is impossible to make these grass surfaces perfectly even with the track or the curbs. The drivers should be advised that, in future, they should return to the track at a reasonable speed.”
TJ13 comment: Mr E’s right hand man has been regarded as an amiable fool for some years but with his overlords protection has also developed an aura of invincibility. Mercedes faced the FIA tribunal last year because of a secret test with a 2013 car given on Charlie’s ‘OK’.
Yet the arrogance of being a race director has obviously affected his judgement over which arguments to pick a fight over. Lauda was right in his assertions that lightning doesn’t strike twice and as a man who survived a near fatal accident during Formula One’s most dangerous era his words carry a certain weight behind them.
By their very nature, accidents are unpredictable events which will be studied and will be used to improve the safety. Robert Kubica’s accident in Canada 2007 forced a changed in the Canadian circuits barrier for the following year but his survival cell was part of the continuous study and improvements that the FIA has implemented since the 1994 Imola weekend tragedies. Think of any significant accident over the years and every one is very different in execution and result.
When conditions are poor, drivers can arrive in a corner and find they are aqua-planing off the circuit in the same direction as others. But to call up Felipe Massa’s spring as an example shows an innate stupidity. The visors were already bullet proof, but the mounting was found to be a potential weakness so further improved to prevent a similar “object to helmet” incident having the same outcome again.
As to blaming a competitive animal such as an F1 driver returning to the track too quickly, then we know that the race director should consider retiring to sunnier climes with a team of medical attendants administering sedatives by the capful. What F1 needs is a change in circuit layouts where a driver cannot simply drive off a circuit and maintain a speed advantage. Kimi made a mistake but Vettel and Alonso showed cynicism with their constant use to defend and attack.
There is a solution which is fairly simple. Reduce the Silverstone hosting fee by the amount it would take to fit the modern Techpro barriers around the entire circuit. These can generally be fixed more quickly – though of course this would cost Mr. Whiting’s buddy, a few million.
So who really cares about safety now?
Time to change the guard
You can tell when it’s time to wave somebody goodbye from a role which requires an ever forward thinking attitude. It is when they continually cite as their defence, the achievements of the past.
In his defence of why a Formula 1 race with a global audience had to be delayed for an hour, Charlie Whiting reverts to the old cliché, “Kimi is practically unhurt… the chassis was broken almost in half…which is proof of how much has been done for the safety of the cars in recent years,”
Yes, yes, yes… and a Formula 1 driver has not been killed since 1994 Charlie – you forgot to mention that.
TJ13 has questioned whether Whiting is just another box ticking bureaucrat previously; his lack of inventiveness over developing the laborious safety car procedures has been regularly questioned on this site along with other matters, such a steward dalliances.
Here’s another example of the incompetence of the guardian of the rules of F1 racing. Neither Charlie or anyone related to track control on Sunday noticed Fernando Alonso was half a car length outside of his starting position for the original race start.
Having spent some time in the F1 race control room, this is farcical beyond belief. The only reason this was noticed was because of the extended delay following Kimi’s crash and it was members of two other teams who spotted Fernando’s offence on the repeated TV replays and reported it to race control.
When asked about why the stewards are not immediately aware of such a transgression, Whiting’s response is simple. “The sensors on the grid measure the movement, not the position”.
Whiting claims that there was an observer at the start who reported this to them, however, the process for an investigation by the stewards is that as soon as they are aware of an issue, it is reported to FOM TV and communicated on.
Charlie adds, “The investigation was delayed because of the accident”.
Yet something similar happened with Felipe Massa in Spa, and Massa avoided sanction. Whiting admitted then, “Massa’s rule violation was only reported two days after the Grand Prix. It was then too late to punish him”.
In a multi-billion dollar sport, this kind of oversight is absolutely bonkers and adds to the general image of F1 being some shabby, unprofessional outfit, who can’t even do simple things properly l – like enforce the rules.
A glimpse at 18 inch F1 wheels in motion
And this is what they look like on the Lotus….
Some say, Lewis…. is excited about getting bigger rims as they will be more impressive when blinged up!!! All we know is…. you won’t be able to pierce them and put pretty diamonds in the side 😉
Changes at Silverstone
Just 2 days after the British GP, Neil England resigns with immediate effect from the board of the circuit’s operating company, Silverstone Holdings, owned by the BRDC.
So after 6 years, “The BRDC Board would like to thank Neil for his hard work, his reliability and his commitment to Silverstone,” said a statement from BRDC presidency John Grant. “He should be proud of everything he has achieved in this time, and his significant contribution he has brought Silverstone.”
England was mostly responsible for the new 17-year contract with Formula 1 which included 7% (some say 5%) compound annual escalator which will see the circuit paying over $60m to FOM in the year before the contract expires.
Canada recently did a deal for $10m with a miniscule escalator. Their final year’s bill will be around $12m.
What did Lewis say?
There has been a storm in a tea cup in recent days, as the newspaper headlines printed in bold headlines, Lewis Hamilton’s latest edicts.
These included tongue in cheek comments over Rosberg’s nationality along with some rather jingoistic comments about the relative support offered by the German and British crowds.
When asked after the British GP whether he thought Nico would receive similar support in Germany, Hamilton replied, “I know whilst it’s Nico’s home Grand Prix, he doesn’t have even one eighth of the support us Brits get here. The fans are unlike anywhere else so I’m not worried in that sense.”
Rosberg chose to play down the matter when confronted with Hamilton’s comments at Silverstone testing yesterday. “I was actually there when he said it and I think it was actually the person interviewing who said those questions and Lewis didn’t really answer much really,”
Nico did though add, “What do you want me to say? Everyone can judge [what Lewis said] however they want.” This provided certain publications with the latitude to suggest Rosberg wasn’t too impressed with Lewis’ detailed revelations about him and his preference for the Monaco flag during his early karting days.
Maybe one man’s careless humour causes embarrassment to another.
A Sky reporter asked Nico whether he considered himself to be as German as Hamilton was British, Rosberg replied, “Not really, I didn’t grow up in Germany so I guess I am not as British as he is, but I consider myself 100% German.”
On the matter of the German GP, Rosberg was phlegmatic. “It will be great going there driving the Silver Arrow, the dominant Silver Arrow, and I am looking forward to it.”
“…dominant Silver Arrow…” It appears Nico hasn’t heard about the brewing FRIC storm….
Boullier ‘the believable’
McLaren and Ron Dennis would have us believe that they operate as a racing team under the highest code of morality. Well certainly since the most embarrassing ‘spygate’ scandal.
Lotus however, proved during the 2013 season to be a team where not a word from anyone with any kind of seniority could be believed.
Here at TJ13, we coined the phrase, “Doing an Ijaz” to represent the relative position which one finds oneself in, and the ensuing necessary expediency of speaking the truth.
A certain Monsieur Boullier was chosen by Lotus to attend fairly extensive training course on “doing an Ijaz” and appeared to master the art supremely.
Yes, McLaren were without a team principal, something which Dennis denies in Eric they recruited, whilst at the same time Boullier believes himself in fact to be just that – so recruit they did….
Clearly Ron recognised, acquiring the services of an employee with the “Ijaz” diploma would get Ron out of some tricky situations when the truth and an expedient explanation were at loggerheads.
Following the FRIC subterranean tremours, Eric has briefly popped his head above the parapet to explain the Woking team’s interest in this matter.
When asked by Autosport how the correspondence from the FIA had been received – which suggest all the teams must agree to make legal an illegal suspension system – or its use would be banned by the next race, Eric didn’t disappoint.
“It came as a total surprise,” said Boullier.
Then without apparent prompting he offered. “It was not based on any team’s action, it was an FIA action”.
Boullier reveals the teams had been warned at the weekend, something may be in the pipeline but was completely surprised when the FIA technical directive arrived yesterday.
In an effort maybe to present a collegiate response, Eric continues. “I think most of the teams, if not all the teams on the grid, are using this kind of suspension system, which connects the vehicle dynamics better”.
But crucially….”Some teams may have been extreme [with their FRIC technology], this is maybe why the FIA is questioning the legality of the system.”
As the first team principal to pop his head above the parapet on this matter, Eric appears well informed of the consequences. “In the case of McLaren, we are quite relaxed. We don’t see any issue with this for us. I don’t think it will be too much disturbance for the rest of the season”.
Aha. So McLaren will not be voting to keep things as they are. They can modify their system relatively easily.
Eric the truthful morphs into Eric the ‘I am now just thinking aloud – casting thoughts asunder……’.
“We don’t like it when there is a technical change in the season, but maybe there is a reason why the FIA wants to do it. Maybe a couple of teams have been extreme and could potentially maybe be in trouble to switch back to a non-connected system, but for most teams I think it won’t be a game-changer.”
And there ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, you are privileged to observe a true master practising the fine art of…….. “doing an Ijaz”.
PS Jenson who has been a rather glum boy this year – was reported to be skipping around the MTC this morning, whistling with gay abandon and beaming with unadulterated delight to all and sundry.
PPS Red Bull are undecided on which way they will vote on this matter. Mercedes are presently lobbying Christian to join their cause – as his most believable arguments over tyre safety won the day in 2013. It would therefore surely be the case that a Christian H….dressed in just sack cloth and ashes, lamenting the change with much gnashing of teeth….. would win the day and persuade the FIA a new and untested suspension systems will create great risk for drivers, team operatives, marshals, spectator, local wildlife and FOM camera crew safety.
Silverstone Testing Day 2
As the curtain is drawn on the final day of in season testing it was the young Frenchman Jules Bianchi who topped the timesheets for Ferrari. He also completed the second highest number of laps for the day. More significantly, faster than Raikkonen the whole weekend and only marginally slower than Alonso achieved in FP2 on Friday afternoon.
It could be argued there is more rubber on the track today than over the weekend or the temperature was more favourable but Ferrari have tested their young talent and he produced the goods.
Second was Toro Rosso’s Russian star Daniil Kvyat followed closely by McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen with the latter working on aerodynamic tests, which included completing several runs with a large measuring rake fitted behind the front wheels to measure airflow.
Giedo van der Garde also made the most of his opportunity and finished 4th fastest in the Sauber however it was not all good news as he hit a barrier 15min from the end of the session which brought out red flags. Lewis Hamilton was 5th, focusing on car setup, aero development testing and data collection as well as some engine setting changes.
In 6th was Williams’ Valtteri Bottas who tested parts for races later in the year as well as for next year. (Super) Max Chilton was 7th in the Marussia and Daniel Juncadella was 8th in the Force India.
Vettel had a productive day with 76 laps but was only 9th fastest while Charles Pic was 10th in his Lotus “Bling Mobile” with the 18inch wheels on. Julian Leal was in the Caterham although he lost significant running time with a MGU-H issue.
|1||Jules Bianchi||Ferrari||1m35.262s||89 laps|
|2||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1m35.544s||56 laps|
|3||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren||1m35.593s||91 laps|
|4||Giedo van der Garde||Sauber||1m36.327s||84 laps|
|5||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1m36.680s||47 laps|
|6||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||1m37.193s||40 laps|
|7||Max Chilton||Marussia||1m37.359s||77 laps|
|8||Daniel Juncadella||Force India||1m37.449s||52 laps|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1m39.410s||76 laps|
|10||Charles Pic||Lotus||1m41.906s||38 laps|
|11||Julian Leal||Caterham||1m42.635s||51 laps|