#F1 Daily News and Comment: Saturday 13th September 2014


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Previously on TheJudge13:

Castrol #F1 GP Predictor Summary – Monza 2014

COTA strikes first – sort of

Caterham common sense

Juncadella’s big decision

Mercedes to correct gear ratio flaw for Singapore (GMM)

COTA strikes first – sort of

The impending return of the Mexican Grand Prix is being celebrated by almost all Formula One fans as the return to the legendary circuit conjours up memories of years gone by, as well as taking racing to Latin America, which must be seen as an essential area for expanding the sport in.

One group that will not be celebrating the return will be those at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) in Texas, with the races scheduled to be back to back races. When TJ13 reporter Adam Macdonald attended the 2013 edition of the Austin race, he told of the high proportion of Latin Americans that made up the crowd at the track, most crossing the border from Mexico to see their heroes Checo and Esteban.

With this in mind, the organisers of the USGP are facing a dilemma as they need to counter a potential reduced crowd in Texas. Mario Andretti, ambassador for the race, was sent along to play the promo card appearing on television donning a cowboy hat with drivers and other celebrities. The proof will be in the pudding whether the promotion will work over the next couple of months before the 2014 race. As of yet, the race is hardly an established part of the calendar, which could spell trouble when the Mexico City race returns in 2015.

The only issue here is that they really should have seen it coming. When Adam went along to the Mexico City circuit back in June, the circuit owners were already reporting of the race returning with a confident grin across their face. Expect an almighty PR battle over the next 12 months as the two circuits wrestle for media attention before they ultimately go head to head next year.

Strike 1 for this goes to COTA who have spread the word of the fact race goers will be able to purchase tickets for Sunday’s Grand Prix race starting at $139 per person. COTA Chief Marketing officer Dominic Iacono said, “Single-day tickets are a great way to experience the exhilaration and unique atmosphere of a Formula One race day, while three-day passes are still the best value for those who want to immerse themselves in the entire weekend.

Given the extortionate price of 1 day grandstand tickets last year, this will surely be the most appealing thing for those with only a passing interest in the sport. However, if attendances continue to fall it will spell the beginning of the end for Austin.


Caterham common sense

As the musical chairs at Caterham continues, one would be forgiven for assuming that Kamui Kobayashi will be given the chance to drive in front of his adoring Japanese fans once more. The last time he drove at Suzuka, he took a memorable 3rd place as he held off Jenson Button eventually finishing just half a second ahead of the Brit at his home race.

Having just seen a Spanish driver jump into a green machine for FP1, rumours are now circulating that it could be the turn of an Italian next. Roberto Merhi drove at Monza, but Andrea Cladarelli could be next in line. The driver who is currently competing in Japanese Super GT could take the race seat of Kobayashi for the Japanese weekend.

The irony comes in the form that Caldarelli comes with significant Japanese backing as he looks to race at Suzuka. The one saving grace for Kobayashi is that Caldarelli does not currently hold his superlicence, so special permission would be required for Caldarelli.

While it would seem an illogical choice to replace Kobayashi at his home race, it shows that common sense is having to be applied in order to simply remain on-track for the Leafield team. Times are tough for the green team, with this news just being another reminder.


Juncadella’s big decision

It would seem that Dani Juncadella’s short lived run in Formula One will only be seen for the 2014 season as he looks to secure a permanent seat in motorsport next year. With both seats seemingly tied up for 2015, his options would appear extremely limited.

Speaking to AUTOSPORT he said, “Honestly I think it’s useful to have a year as a reserve driver, but I have to say I wouldn’t do another one.” With Hulkenberg’s seat largely dependent on whether Perez can bring the funds required, the waiting game is very much resting on the Mexican for the Spaniard’s future.

He continued, “When you do a year as a reserve it’s a good preparation for being an official driver, so my goal for next year is to get a seat. Another year in a reserve role would make no sense.” Nico Hulkenberg sat out a year as a reserve driver for the team in 2011, even taking a job in the factory, before gaining the full-time race seat the year after. Should the race seat become available though, Juncadella will be ready to take it.

He stated, “We will see; it’s still early. The positive things are that I have some experience with the car and my long-term sponsor is willing to keep helping me. At the moment I’m racing in DTM and it’s a championship that I love. I would keep going; I’m not really going crazy about F1.” Hardly much of an advert for the sport if he is not itching to get a race seat.

I have people who are really willing to help me towards the goal, and if there’s a free seat I will probably go for it, but in any case I’m not thinking too much about Formula 1. If there’s no chance I won’t worry too much. DTM is a great championship and Mercedes is happy with me.” If anything this sounds like a driver who has already admitted defeat, as one pay driver is out sponsored by another.


Mercedes to correct gear ratio flaw for Singapore (GMM)

Mercedes’ rivals are in for some bad news — the dominant German team looks set to pull even further ahead in Singapore and beyond. Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports that the Brackley team will correct its flawed gear ratio selection ahead of the night race in the Asian city-state next weekend.

The rules dictate that the gear ratios chosen by each competitor at the start of 2014 are then frozen for the entire year — with the exception of one “joker”.

Mercedes has now decided to make that “joker” ratio change for the rest of the season, beginning in Singapore. Auto Motor und Sport reports that it was on the long straights at Monza last weekend that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg used eighth gear for the very first time.

It (eighth gear) was too long for all the other circuits,” admitted designer Aldo Costa.

Mercedes’ miscalculation will now be corrected with a shorter eighth gear for Singapore and the subsequent decisive rounds of the world championship. Curiously, the German marque’s customer, the surprisingly competitive Williams, got its gear ratio calculation right from the very beginning in 2014.

But technical boss Pat Symonds admits: “We were a little nervous at first because we thought they (Mercedes) would know their engine inside out. After a few races I was reassured,” he added.

Symonds said that even though the eighth gear was introduced this year especially for the new turbo V6 rules, in the end it was unnecessary.

The engines have so much torque that we could make do with a five speed gearbox,” he said. “It would save a lot of weight and space. Unfortunately, the regulations prescribe the eighth gear — otherwise we would have never had it.


37 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Saturday 13th September 2014

  1. ^

    “The impending return of the Mexican Grand Prix is being celebrated by almost all Formula One fans as the return to the legendary circuit conjours up memories of years gone by, as well as taking racing to Latin America, which must be seen as an essential area for expanding the sport in.”

    Last time I looked, Brazil was already in Latin America…

    Has it become a “Victim of Circumstance?”

    • Brazil is the only race in Latin America which is an enormous landmass with at least 6 major metropolitan areas that can be readily tapped into. contrary to North America, f1 is a part of life there and most people know what f1 is. it is covered by the local news, and team sponsors use f1 as a platform to sell their products (ie billboards for shell, ups, rexona, Mobil, redbull). the residents have at least some knowledge of current f1 events. ask anyone in the US what f1 is and they have no idea.

  2. I watched Formula E this morning, Jenny Gow…….. What I let down, definitely a face for radio, Jan Mardenbourgh was well in formed but I’m a bit of a supporter of his.

    The racing itself was ok, I think it will get faster as the technology matures and the teams understand the cars. Nick Hiedfeld had a nasty looking accident at the final corner when going for the lead against Nico Prost (keeping moves like that in the family)

    Will be keeping an eye on it but it sure ain’t the next big thing, F1 is safe……for now!

      • I was convinced Prost had killed Heidfeld. The way his car hit cockpit first just looked terrible. When you look at the replays it actually didn’t look quite so bad but even still, he can’t have been far from it being a tragic end to the race.

        I’d love to know what was going through Nicolas’ mind when he swerved, I only hope he’d lost track of where Nick was but if that was the case then it’s not a lot better as it means his spatial awareness is very poor.

    • “Moves like that in the family” surely you are not suggesting that the Prosts turn into corners too early to make the corner and retain the lead… Then blame the other for trying to get past…
      I always wondered about Suzuka 89 but now I’m sure – Senna is vindicated 😊

      • That’s waiting a long time for vindication Carlo. Near 25 years to the day… lol. 😉

        Guess we now wait for Heidfeld to exact revenge and rocket himself into Prost’ under full acceleration at T1 somewhere.

        What a start to FE. I actually thought when Heidfeld was running over to Prost that he going to sock him one immediately. Then it was just walking side by side and “chatty chat chat”. I was like, sigh… “Europeans.”

    • @clearview.

      Different viewpoint. Jenny managed to get some enthusiasm going, but those two planks with her, were about as welcoming as a piece of wet toast, especially the blond haired one. World feed was promising, the commentator managed to stop the usual over the top style that we hear so often. I liked the fact that the director didn’t spend too much time on the pit stops, unlike F1. The track was awful, like some of those American Indycar city tracks. That really affected the racing. So judgement reserved until a few races on better circuits.

      The worrying issue for me is that it was a low cost version of what Mr Ecclestone would like to see for F1. Remember his recent remarks about regretting that F1 had a team championship, and how it would be better to only have a driver’s championship, and simpler cars, and city races. So imagine Fє with more glitz and some noise, and there is the possible future of F1, if Bernie had his way!

  3. Interesting Pay Symonds says they could manage with a 5 speed box given how much extra torque they have this year. He is dead right they could loose 20kg minimum I would guess plus it’s got to be more cost effective to make smaller gearboxes.
    He wants to be careful talking sense in such an open fashion, we all know the FIA have the word sensible missing from their dictionaries.

      • I’d have thought fewer gears would make for better racing as well – cars would be better suited to different tracks and corners so drivers would have to find ways to compensate.

        That said, a comment yesterday reminded me that I’d love to see the CVT that Williams developed actually race. I’m quite surprised they don’t have this in Formula E – indeed I’m surprised those cars have gearboxes at all as speed control on electric motors is usually electronic so a gearbox isn’t needed.

        BREL designed a loco over 20 years ago that could theoretically do over 160mph from an electric motor with no gearbox. Having a gearbox on an electric car just seems… backwards.

        • I believe they need the gear box as the motor needs to be asked for a sustainable level of torque at a reasonable constant to get the most drive out of the available energy. It may be that once they open development next season and beyond it could really change the face of battery powered cars.

    • If they only had 5 gears, would they then be forced to use all of the available RPM, and would that shift the engine note from a low growl toward a more familiar high-pitched scream?

  4. “The impending return of the Mexican Grand Prix is being celebrated by almost all Formula One fans as the return to the legendary circuit conjours up memories of years gone by, as well as taking racing to Latin America, which must be seen as an essential area for expanding the sport in.”

    Count me out, Judge. Given the butchery that the Tilkerer is indulging himself in, cutting up in pieces the soul of the Mexican track (including the legendary Peraltada), I would rather that this whole Mexican GP revival never came to light in the first place. What a waste..

  5. I’m pleased to see you can apparently buy a “ticket” for CoTA this year. I considered going the first year but was totally put off as you could only buy a “membership” or “share” or some horsesh1t like that.

    • Yes, if you wanted a seat in the main grandstand or turn 1 you had to buy that stupid 10 year -or so- membership, which was ridiculous expensive. Also the tickets were sold out almost immediately, TicketMaster sold most of them to a company belonging to… themselves, who then sold them more expensive. And the costs of the hotels are absurd, for hotels that are nothing special, for US$300 per day you can rent something spectacular in Mexico City.
      They should have reasons to be worried, but hopefully the Mexican GP will help to further reduce prices around the US GP.

  6. I’m watching probably the only thing I ever saw that’s even more impressive than f1. It’s the belgian airforce days, and since the airport is 3 km from my home, I’m watching dog fights between f16, mig’s and f18’s… just sitting on my roof 😉 talking about playing with the rules of physics… and the noise 🙂

  7. argh. COTA, a somewhat so-so pansy course will be just another dead F1 venue due to another emasculated garbage Tilke modified track (along with the Bernie train and outragious pricing/lack of value at COTA).

    I really did try to keep an open mind re: Formula E. I even got a bit of a hard-on when I read they staged 2 simulated races at Donnington to work out the kinks 🙂

    well now, I did tune in at 3AM here in Florida, USA. I went to bed without regrets at the conclusion of the 7’th lap. In the 1 hr lead-up, I saw ALL the team owners and drivers praising the LORD for this great new series.

    if the joke of poor driving skill displayed in practice, replayed over and over for an hour wasn’t enough, the first 7 laps sealed the deal for me on multiple accounts. most of all the above formerly respected individuals are now irrevocably viewed by me as (take your choice of derogatory name-calling).

    while I could go on with huge, multiple paragraphs/posts of disparaging remarks as some do, I will bow out of this tirade by declaring I will not be missing out on snowmobile/lawnmower/swamp buggy/Solo11 racing or golf for this crap…

    • so sorry for this additional intrusion. I have seen many so-called respected journalists/news agencies refer to Formula E as emission-free. thankfully not here!! I HIGHLY object to any reference to emission free, ecological, environmentally friendly, ad nauseum regarding this for-profit joke of the FIA. really now. it seriously only takes an IQ of about 60…

  8. They used 8th gear tons of times already on numerous occasions? Who came up with that BS about them not using it?

      • Shame such an informed attack comes from you hippo. I’ve watched nearly every race purely from onboard feed and they used 8th gear a lot when in sliptream + drs. They normally use it after 330 kph, but sometimes they hold 7th. And they’ve reached 330+ lots of times before monza.

          • Then you haven’t been watching enough onbards. Hamilton used it all time while in traffic on both straights while in drs. They also used it a lot in spa down the kemmel. Also in silverstone’s back straight. Rosberg in china coming trough the traffic as well. Same in canada. Basically almost every time they went past 330 and expected to hit 340 by the end of straight they pulled 8th gear.
            I’m really not sure where they got this rumour about them not using it…

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