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Charlie says… (part 3)
OTD Lite – 1990 – Mansell retires from Formula One
On this day in 1990, Nigel Mansell retired from international motor-sport after his Ferrari failed once more during the latter stages of the British Grand Prix. As he walked back to the pits, the darling of the crowd began dis-robing and throwing his gloves and balaclava into his adoring fans.
He had qualified on pole by over six tenths of a second from the Mclaren of Ayrton Senna, his team-mate Prost started fifth. But in the race Mansell led until encountering gearbox problems and Prost disobeyed team orders and over took the Brit.
Il Leone had been truly and thoroughly duped by the duplicitous Frenchman who had embraced the highly political state of the Ferrari team and angered ‘Our Nige’ to the point he decided to leave the sport.
As ever Mansell’s dramatics – so loved by the fans – proved nothing and he returned to drive for Williams the following season. On a sadder note, the day after the Grand Prix, the bulldozers moved in to update the Silverstone track and the fast sweeps became celluloid legends.
Minardi invented the FRIC system as reported in May 2013
At the moment FRIC suspension systems are the hotly talked about topic concerning the upcoming German Grand Prix and “will they – won’t they” attitude of the teams. Many column inches have been given over to the system employed by the teams and what possible effect their removal may have with seemingly Lewis Hamilton struggling at Silverstone testing with the system removed…
Just a day after suggesting how the speed of reporting on F1 has changed with the advance of social media comes a story that proves otherwise. Twitter followers will have read stories/ articles that the FRIC system isn’t new but was actually developed by Minardi… TWENTY ONE years ago. Yet here at TJ13 towers this ‘breaking’ news brought a wry smile to the face as TJ13 published an article on this very story over a year ago…
Shocking – Prost revs F1 engine to please crowds
Silverstone celebrated 50 Formula One races over the British Grand Prix weekend recently. As a form of celebration a collection of cars were run in a daily fifteen minute display for the crowd. Iconic cars from the 60’s through to the 2012 Red Bull RB8 were being piloted by many ex-Formula One drivers including Sir Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello and Martin Brundle. All individuals who know how to drive a racing car at speed; it is safe to assume.
Except that the powers that be, within the F1 community, decided that they should follow the safety car at a pedestrian pace. The spectators could have stood trackside and been in no danger at the speed these Grand Prix winners were circulating. Anybody who has heard a Cosworth DFV being pushed will know its raucous sound and to have listened once again to the sonorous V12 of the Matra engine as driven by JYS would have made grown men weep…
Which would explain the pace that these cars were told to circulate at. Only once did a driver break ranks – as Alain Prost held back a little into Stowe and gunned the Red Bull in his pursuit of the sitting target. Silverstone’s airspace was invaded by the shrill scream of a modern V8 and collectively the crowd sighed.
When interviewed for Red Bull’s website, Prost spoke of his experience of driving the RB8. “It’s always a pleasure and is always nice. The time to prepare was short, but actually it was just a ride. I would have preferred to be able to drive for a longer period of time but it was still positive. Doing it on track and with these spectators allowed me to take a step back in time and remember the victories in the old days.”
The modern technology is truly science fiction and we all know that noise is wasted energy but for a brief moment in the British countryside, the spectators could reminisce of the days that you could follow a solitary car around the track purely from its engine note.
Renault fearing continued problems in 2015
The first indications that the outside world knew of Renault being in serious trouble for the 2014 season emerged before any of the cars had even run. TJ13 reported that Renault had advised their customers to limit their running to a mere 250kms and that a proper fix would take around 15 to 20 weeks.
In Montreal, for this year’s Canadian Grand Prix, Renault announced they had reached 100% capability for their engine and despite a Red Bull – Renault victory, nobody at Milton Keynes or in France believed they had closed the gap to the all-conquering Silver Arrows.
What is perhaps more disturbing is that Renault is beginning to realise that the time lost since the start of the year to recover the gap to their German rival has further hampered next years efforts. Although the engineers are happy with their development program they have concerns over the progress made by both Mercedes and Ferrari – as 2014 has proven – despite the team being happy with their assumed competitiveness.
Renault’s head of track operations Remi Taffin: “We know it [the 2015 engine] is going to be a step forward, but it is always relative. If you look at it absolutely, you can say, ‘I am happy because I am targeting plus 10 per cent and I have got that’. But if your competitor finds plus 15 per cent, then you are out. It is already July and we know that we already have to start building and machining parts for next year – so it is not that easy.”
Renault has openly admitted in recent months that its form suffered this year from having started on its V6 engine design too late, which left it playing catch-up against the more prepared Mercedes. “When you are in 2010 or 2011, starting a year later makes a big difference compared to later in the development cycle, the engine is running on the track now, so you have to work on that too. If we were going to redo things, we would have done it one year earlier. But we have a plan and we try to follow it. However, it is fair to say that it is not going to be easy for next year to be straight on top of everything because everything is so tight.”
It is still TJ13’s belief that Renault will end up cap in hand to the FIA, requesting an “equalisation programme”. For 2015, the engine manufacturers are able to redesign completely 48% of the components for the engine, however it is becoming apparent to Red Bull staff who have been working at Viry, this may not be enough – and a request for special dispensation is being considered.
F1 legend Forghieri slams ‘ridiculous’ DRS (GMM)
Legendary Ferrari designer Mauro Forghieri has a couple of simple suggestions to spice up formula one. Amid a dwindling television audience in 2014, most of the blame has fallen on the brand new engine rules, with smaller, quiet turbos replacing the screaming V8s of the past. But Forghieri, a leading figure at the fabled Maranello team from the 60s to the 80s, actually backs the new ‘hybrid’ age.
“All the major manufacturers want hybrids, and I think it’s good that they only need 70 per cent of the fuel of the past, or even less, for the same distance,” he told motorline.cc. “Where I cannot agree with the FIA is the monitoring of fuel consumption lap after lap,” the 79-year-old, who designed the legendary 312 series and Niki Lauda’s title-winning cars, added. “In my very personal opinion, formula one is a show of power and so this rule is unacceptable from a sporting perspective.”
Unsurprisingly, Forghieri is also no fan of the rear wing overtaking aid called ‘DRS’, which has been similarly denounced by other F1 purists. “Get rid of the DRS,” he exclaimed. “DRS is ri-di-cu-lous,” he emphasised. “I dislike the whole aerodynamics of the current cars — I don’t understand why it is not reduced in order to allow normal overtaking without DRS. Now, if one’s opponent is less than a second behind, he can only watch as his pursuer goes past — and that cannot be correct. A world champion needs to be in a position to overtake his opponent without help — otherwise, in my eyes, he is not a world champion,” Forghieri insisted.
He said another rule change that would improve the racing is in the area of braking. “How many road cars use discs made of carbon?” he asked rhetorically. “So why is it used in formula one? If we would use normal discs in F1, the braking distances would be double and overtaking would be so much easier.”
TJ13 comment: No doubt many will consider this man a disillusioned figure from a past long forgotten, and he should return to tending his garden whilst mumbling to himself – yet Forghieri was a true technical genius – designing all of Ferrari’s racing engines and chassis between the mid 60’s to the early 80’s – and understood what the current generation of techies seem to have forgotten – it’s not about the aerodynamic ability of the said chariot but the warrior behind the reins.
Whilst technology can prove ground breaking for the development of the motor car industry and a certain group of individuals love the science involved in the design of these cars, the majority want to see a fight between drivers. How many more column inches did the Alonso/ Vettel battle get over the column inches dedicated to the varying technologies between their respective cars during the race.
Forghieri may have a point regarding fuel flow rates, but probably not for 2015. The reason the FIA wanted to restrict fuel flow is to focus attention on the development of the hybrid technology – thus restricting Internal Combustion Engine trickery. The engine manufacturers have got the message and can see the hybrid potential, so it may be by 2016 the need to restrict fuel flow rates will disappear..
McLaren break cover on FRIC
Last Wednesday, TJ13 reported that McLaren were the first to comment on the technical directive from Charlie Whiting, which in effect invited teams to protest each others suspension systems.
Doing what he does best, “an Ijaz”, Eric the believable stepped up to the plate to give the party line from Woking.
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 how the correspondence from the FIA had been received, 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 revealed all the teams had been warned at the weekend, something may be in the pipeline but claims he 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 Boullier added….”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 pretty much set out McLaren’s position when he said, “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”.
TJ13 surmised that “McLaren will not be voting to keep things as they are”. They can modify their system relatively easily.
There were [tongue in cheek] reports that day of Jenson – who has been a rather glum boy this year – skipping around the MTC, whistling with gay abandon and beaming with unadulterated delight to all and sundry.
Having suffered doing an obvious ‘Ijaz’ in the full public glare, big Ron decided today to spare Eric ‘the brave’ and so an invisible voice from Woking confirms, “McLaren does not currently intend to run a FRIC suspension system at the German Grand Prix.” Then in a slightly pompous manner adding, “McLaren will comply with the FIA’s rulings on the matter.”
It is impossible to believe that the hand of the commercial rights holder is not at work via his long standing associate from the Brabham days – Mr. Race Director… and technical delegate.
For those looking in on F1, they must think it is ridiculous for the regulator of the sport to say he believes the FRIC systems to be illegal – and then tell the teams to sort the matter out amongst themselves.
Further, Mr. E is aware how the CEO of McLaren ticks, and that big Ron wouldn’t hesitate to extract retribution from Mercedes given the restrictive access they’ve been allowed to this year’s engine. This together with the suspicion that Williams and Force India have had a slightly differently configured power-train to the one’s delivered to Woking – is indeed a potent brew for revenge.
We await with fascination Mercedes response.
Here is the latest of our series on the musings which reveal the mind of F1 Race Director and F1Technical FIA delegate – Charlie Whiting.
First up the issue of engine noise – AGAIN.
“Noise is something that we’re still working on. A solution that has been tested on a dyno is to split the exhaust. We’ve [currently] got one tailpipe in the centre of the car where all the exhaust gasses come out. We did this purposefully to minimise the effect of the exhaust gasses [on aerodynamics] because, as you know, we’ve had lots of problems with the rules on exhausts.
What they’ve found is that by splitting that exhaust, you do get more noise. It would seem to work, especially with megaphones, be they round or rectangular, to some extent. The next step is to look at the feasibility of doing it. If you’re going to put a megaphone or two on the back of a car, there’s a lot of interaction between wing pillars, rear wings, monkey seat wings, rear impact structures, rear lights. All those sorts of things would have to be re-engineered, potentially, to accommodate two exhaust pipes instead of one. It’s not a straightforward job. And I think the next step it to assess whether or not everyone feels this is a worthwhile thing to do. That’s where we are”.
Maybe the FIA should consider creating a role entitled, “Director of Bernie’s obsession”, then again this appears to being covered together with the several other hats Charlie Whiting wears.
The reduced engine noise is particularly evident to the fans at the circuit, and whilst TJ13 has no scientific pole to offer on the matter, the vast majority of anecdotal discussions I’ve had at circuits around the world with race goers reveal this is not their major concern.
Ever escalating ticket prices and a decent replacement for FanVision rate far more highly on the fans radar. At worst, any negative opinions are mitigated by, “but the racing is far better,” and, “its nice to see someone other than Red Bull winning” – type comments.
Yet fear not, Formula 1 fans, Charlie is listening.
“Of course we listen to what fans say. We wouldn’t be doing all this work on engine noise if we didn’t – but this has to be tempered by the wishes of those involved in the sport and who should probably know a little more about the reasoning behind rules. There was a bit of a fuss about the double points but it was done, I believe, for perfectly good reasons. The engine noise, we knew it would always be quieter. But is that a bad thing? Do you think it’s a bad thing? I certainly don’t.
I think we should be focusing more on the racing because the racing’s been very good”.
Hockenheim Weather Forecast
Red Bull ‘protest too much’
By the volume of complaints emanating from Milton Keynes about their 8 times world championship engine partner, Renault, you’d think this was a team just ahead of backmarker’s Caterham.
Yet its worth Remembering, per day of winter testing, the RB10 did a fair amount of mileage less than the other 3 Renault customers – who had the same engines.
Further, Horner and Newey’s defiance of the FIA fuel flow regulations in Australia cost Ricciardo a top 5 finish and more valuable points for the team.
Yet a quick glance at the championship tables are most revealing. Drivers on the podiumRosberg 8 Hamilton 7 Ricciardo 4 Vettel 2 Bottas 2 Alonso 1 Button 1 Perez 1 Magnussen 1
Mercedes have an average haul for the constructors’ title of 36.2 pts per race and behind them is Red Bull on 18.7
Ferrari, Force India, Williams and McLaren are spread between 10 and 11.8 pts per race.
So, to anyone who didn’t know much about the sport, they’d surmise Red Bull and their partner Renault are doing pretty well when compared to all but the dominant Mercedes pair.
Mmm… wonder why ‘the Bulls’ have developed a reputation for being F1’s perennial bloody moaners 😉