#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 9th December 2014

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Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Well that solved entirely nothing…


OTD Lite 1994 – Professor lays blame for Senna crash on steering

Bob Bell on his way to Italy suggest Italian sources

Vergne to race in Uruguay’s Formula E race

No F1 cars at a race weekend, theoretically is no breach of contract


OTD Lite 1994 – Professor lays blame for Senna crash on steering

Earlier this year, the motor-sport world celebrated the 20th anniversary of Senna’s death with various events including a four day festival at Imola. His death remains – until this day – the last fatality ever suffered by the F1 community at a Grand Prix and his legacy of improved safety is still felt around the world.

His legend has increased over the intervening years and he has become an all-consuming passion for many with the Senna film portraying a man that many, including myself, felt was a little to clean-cut.

iomla_94_crash_empounded_4On this day, Professor Enrico Lorenzini released the first official quote as to the likeliest reason behind his fatal accident. “The rod joining the steering wheel to the wheels was virtually sliced in half … it had been badly welded together about a third of the way down and could not stand the strain of the race. It seemed like the job had been done in a hurry but I can’t say how long before the race. Someone had tried to smooth over the join following the welding. I have never seen anything like it.”

Of course, the search for the truth continued until the trial in 1997 and no-one was ever found culpable for the accident although Williams did accept that there was steering column fatigue. Ultimately, the correct decision was made. Any verdict was not going to bring the superstar back, he died following a dream that many others have chased but failed to attain and ultimately any participants of motor-racing events understand the dangers of competing.

The Grumpy Jackal

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Bob Bell on his way to Italy suggest Italian sources

During the summer break, TJ13 revealed that Bob Bell was off to Ferrari. He had informed Mercedes late last year that he wanted to resign from the Brackley based team and had been in talks with the top management at Ferrari. He had left the Silver Arrows officially in December 2013 and had completed his gardening leave in September this year.

Before resigning his position in April at Ferrari, Stefano Domenicali apparently reached an agreement with Bell to take over as technical director at Maranello, but subsequent meetings with Marco Mattiacci did not impress the Irishman and despite there being a contract on offer, Bell’s interest had cooled somewhat.

Sources in Italy are suggesting that the Scuderia, who are currently moving the Racing Department in to its new headquarters which should be operational by mid-January, have re-opened talks with Bell who could start his new role with them in March 2015.

Bob Bell’s career has seen him work with McLaren, Benetton, Renault and Mercedes in both chief designer and technical director roles.  The question is then – what will his role be and what will happen to the current incumbents at the Gestione Sportiva?

James Allison and Bell have worked together previously at Renault during the campaigns that garnered Fernando Alonso his two titles in 2005-6. Yet, is there room for these two big guns in the new Sucderia management structure.

Of course much depends on the new 666 chassis and it’s performance against the competition. Will it be another season of transition or will there be opportunities for victory?

With many staff from Brixworth having relocated to the warmer climes of central Italy, it is surely only a matter of time before Ferrari delivers a competitive engine.

That said, unlike Marco Mattiacci, recent rhetoric from Sergio Marchionne would suggest – waiting is not on the agenda.

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Vergne to race in Uruguay’s Formula E race

Ex-F1 Toro Rosso star Jean-Eric Vergne will make his Formula E debut next week racing with the Andretti Autosport Formula E team. Uruguay’s Punta del Este circuit will be hosting the latest round of the FIA electric championship and the Frenchman has decided to join the American team to continue racing throughout the winter as he makes his plans for 2015.

With Toro Rosso having chosen the rookie pairing of Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen – it has left the young Frenchman out in the wilderness and he joins fellow French star Franck Montagny for his electric debut.

“It’s not always easy to race this time of year, so I’m really happy to have this opportunity, especially in a location such as Punta del Este. Although I have no experience in this series, I’m excited to race in Formula E for a team as prestigious as the Andretti Autosport. It will be a bit ‘a journey into the unknown, but they are eager to do it. ” said Vergne

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No F1 cars at a race weekend, theoretically is no breach of contract

Somehow, elements of the contract for the F1 Spanish GP have entered the public domain – and as always the question to be posed – is why?

The contract states that F1 [Ecclestone/FOM] “shall use its reasonable endeavours” to ensure that at least 16 cars are ready to start the race on Sunday.

This same clause is also contained within the details of F1’s contract with the FIA, known – also as the Umbrella Agreement, as disclosed in the prospectus for the stalled stock market flotation of the racing series.

Theoretically, Ecclestone can therefore deliver a mere handful of cars – or maybe even none at all – for a Formula One GP weekend – and not be in breach of his duty to either the FIA or the race promoters.

Yet with the current EU Commission investigation into Formula One – including the collapse of the Concorde agreement and the replacement bi-lateral agreements forced upon certain teams – this could see the Umbrella agreement between FOM and the FIA declared void.

Then a return to the terms under Concorde would see FOM required to deliver 20 cars to each race weekend – or be in breach of their 99 year deal for the commercial rights.

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36 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 9th December 2014

  1. I’ll look forward to seeing JEV in Formula E – I watched the last round and it was very entertaining. It felt at the time as if I was watching a historical race…what with Prost, Piquet, Senna (all junior!) as well as lots of retired F1 drivers…

  2. Judge,

    How come DNC today has come up so early. However its great for me in India since its 10 AM here. Normally i would have to wait until 2.30 PM to read it.

  3. In honor/recognition of the upcoming FormulaE race in Uruguay, I just wanted to throw out there the observation that Punta del Este is home to (at least what was, at the time) the country’s best whorehouse!

  4. the motor-sport world celebrated the 20th anniversary of Senna’s death…

    Celebrated is a slightly unfortunate choice of words.

    • I hazard a guess that the Jackal is not a native English speaker.

      He possible meant “commemorated” or similar.

    • Celebrated was a deliberate choice of word. I’m a huge fan of Senna’s and to my eyes it was a celebration of his life and legacy. There’s too much mourning in the world and reading about him and watching him still brings back great memories. Rather than commentate the anniversary I choose to celebrate his life 😊

    • @Monaco, Remi gave an interview to some kids from a charity, I think it’s called “Starlight”, when asked about the engines, he stated; that “Renault had tried the split turbo solution, but found that it didn’t offer them much benefit, so they scrapped the idea.”

      So maybe the theory that Mercedes’ advantage lies within that design, could actually be a myth.

      • F96 “So maybe the theory that Mercedes’ advantage lies within that design, could actually be a myth.”

        Yep, absolute b/s. Real answer is the aggregation of marginal improvements in ALL areas.

    • They are absolutely right. Battery and even the Petronas fuel are key aspects of Merc’s domination. Have you not noticed that Petronas only supplies Merc and no other team?

      If they improve their batteries and ask Total to make them a ‘magic potion’ with exclusive use by let’s say RBR, then they have a chance.

    • The question as to why Renault might want to redesign more than half of the engine is easily answered: any PU engineer worth their salt would be absolutely gagging to have a second / third / fourth chance at the detail design of pretty much every single aspect of the unit after learning a season’s worth lessons on the track.

      I’m positive Renault could easily redesign “100%” of the engine (as defined by the regulations) without any major architectural changes at all. That’s just what engineers do. That is also why it’s best not to let engineers get too involved in actually running businesses.

      • All of which is true, but a little different from saying that development should be opened up 100% ‘for the good of the sport’.

        • Well, you’re right if you want to split hairs and fire shots over RBR’s / Renault’s / Horner’s bow at every possible opportunity.

          Any PU redesign would obviously be focussed on more power. Wider redesign scope means power parity more likely /easier to achieve. More power for Renault / Ferrari relative to MB means closer competition at the front.

          Ergo, ipso facto, sport is betterer. QED, tru dat 🙂

  5. Sorry to say, but the news item “No F1 cars at a race weekend, theoretically is no breach of contract” has gone completely over my head.

    I can’t make any sense of it.

  6. Something for the other endlessly curious geeks out there – I came across this paper in my files while I looking for something else today at work and I thought I’d share.
    http://web.mit.edu/2.75/resources/random/How%20Complex%20Systems%20Fail.pdf
    It was written in relation to patient safety in hospitals a few years ago now, but is widely distributed in all sorts of industries as something of a seminal piece of work.
    As I read it again today I immediately thought of the Jules Bianchi incident. Today’s OTD reminded me about it. I thought others might find it an interesting read.

    • You’re only allowed to homologated an engine once. So you could argue and maybe run with a 2014 engine, but that’s not the position the FIA take.

      Regardless, the rules limiting 2015 engine changes would apply.

      • Quick question Matt…..

        Given that the current manufacturers have until the first race to hamolgomate their engines and Honda has to do so on the 28th Feb, could they (Honda) be at a disadvantage?

    • Well, if either Red Bull and Ferrari want to spend the first half of the season running last year’s engines, I’m not sure that would upset their competitors all that much.

      And I can’t see their customers being too happy about it.

    • Love it! Just when I was getting really bored (and tired with Macca’s delays) there’s more controversy. F1 just doesn’t disappoint you…well, in the sense of controversial stories popping up left and right, I mean.

    • I can’t see any material benefit – perhaps I’m just missing something…

      Sure, they would have more development time, but they can still only change the specified percentage and, as has been pointed out, the additional dev time is offset by running the “undeveloped” 2014 engine. That, one assumes, would put all Ferrari & Renault runners behind ALL Merc runners – and maybe even Mac/Honda. That might keep them out of the points altogether.

      Sounds like empty bluster to me. But, as I say, maybe I’m just missing something.

      • Not to mention the likelihood of having to develop two different chassis during the season.

        Something tells me this is Allison doing a rather good bit of pre Christmas trolling – spitting in Toto’s mulled wine, if you like.

      • It’s all about benefit/risk balance. Do you abide by the rules and try to catch Merc every year and end up second? Or do you spend the money, develop two cars and hope that by 2016 you’ve caught them because of the extra development time. Because it’s a different thing trying to change let’s say 50% in x amount of time and a different thing in doing in 2x amount of time. Second option gives you a better likelihood of achieving that 50% or achieving a better quality 50%.

        • If that’s what they want to do, I can’t see the problem (except for their customers) as they’re not forcing the resulting increase in costs on their competitors, who will maintain an advantage over the season.

          Such a strategy would seriously disadvantage customer teams, though, as they would suffer significant cost increases (2 chassis, one of which has to be developed half way through the season) for no gain.

          If it were just Ferrari & Red Bull, I would rather like the idea.

    • I’m having great difficulty believing that Reggie and Fezza haven’t been at their drawing boards since, latest, it became clear on preseason testing that they were going to get their are’ses well whipped during season 2014.
      The whipping happened, so their redesign started early.
      The Noble piece is just a bit of journo idle speculation on a slow day.

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