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OTD Lite 1985 – Buon compleanno Signore Hameelton
On this day, in the British town of Tewin, a young baby boy was born who would go on to become one of sports biggest idols – Lewis Hamilton. As a double World Champion his place in the pantheon of motor-sports greatest is secure but at just 30 years of age, just how much more can he achieve?
I like Hamilton, I like the fact that he is not some corporate dummy and speaks with his heart on his sleeve. Admittedly this has become rarer as he has developed a better understanding of the media, but on the rare occasion that the mask slips – the fallout can be like watching car crash TV.
I remember turning thirty, surprisingly. Many I knew became desperate at the thought – depressed they were no longer a young adult. But with Lewis having been trained in the Mclaren methodology since childhood – has he ever been anything other than an child in a mans world. The forthcoming decade will be a fascinating roller-coaster ride..
The Grumpy Jackal
Bad news for Kimi and Sebastian
Ferrari’s much anticipated 2015 car – codenamed ‘666’ last autumn – will retain the pull-rod suspension system the team introduced in 2012. The pull-rod suspension system was first seen on a Brabham Formula One car designed by Gordon Murray back in the 1970’s and it has the advantage of lowering the centre of gravity of the car.
However, this was not the reason Pat Fry gave at the time for re-introducing an old idea last used by Minardi. He suggested the system was a little lighter, though the wins from this are not worth the trouble caused – so it was assumed that some aero effect was being chased – hence the reason for Ferrari’s decision.
The downside of the pull-rod system is that it is harder to work on and so fine tuning becomes more time consuming and therefore less adjustments can be made in the same amount of time as on a push rod design.
A number of F1 commentators suggested throughout 2014 that this was the cause of Kimi Raikkonen’s woes. AutoSprint author Roberto Chinchero observed, “Raikkonen consistently complained over the lack of precision at the front, which is a characteristic of the pullrod suspension. And the Finn’s style is not so different to that of Sebastian Vettel, who also thrived with a precise and responsive front end,”
A push rod system is attached to the upright and this allows adjustment which sees the load being transferred across the car as the driver gives steering input – effectively ‘lightens’ the front wheel. So the car can be made to work better in both high and low speed corners simultaneously because the car is softer and more compliant in the low speed corners but loses less of its mechanical stiffness through the high speed turns.
Conversely, the pull-rod system Ferrari use is connected to the wishbone, and this in itself limits the total amount of tuning which can actually be achieved. In layman’s terms adjustments for the low speed corners hurt the handling of the car more in the higher speed turns with a pull rod configuration.
Eyebrows were raised by the F1 technical intelligentsia at the time Ferrari introduced this front suspension system, and it may be a legacy of the departed – but not dearly loved Pat Fry – that Maranello’s 2015 challenger retained the pull-rod system.
FIA Superlicense Points System
It may have been unintentional or not, but the new regulations regarding the points required for an FIA Superlicense all but finish the hopes that we will see a female driver in Formula One any time soon. Female drivers recently considered as possible F1 drivers, Suzie Wolff, Danica Patrick and Simona de Silvestro – all fail to qualify for an F1 license under the new regulations arriving for 2016.
Further, the FIA regulation writing still leaves a lot to be desired and their in house legal team clearly failed to do a gender check prior to the regulations being published as we can see.
Lauda – Lewis and Nico will get along better in 2015
Speaking to Autosport, Niki ‘man manager’ Lauda explains how he believes there will be a better team dynamic in Brackley in 2015 because the drivers now have more respect for one another.
The belief that all the controversy from last year has made their relationship stronger is in part also to his own experience as a driver. “I never like (Alain) Prost, I never liked (Clay) Regazzoni and I never liked (John) Watson when it came down to racing as this is normal. But there is a certain respect for each other.”
“It’s going to be fun again between the two of them and I hope nobody else will interfere. When you overcome all these issues, one won the championship, the other didn’t, one hit the other and the other didn’t – it’s going to be easier because they respect each other on their level of performance.”
“Spa was the heat, then we got it all under control again, all together. Not us telling them, them realising what they should do.From then on it all worked and the outcome was unbelievable.”
“Nico will fight back and there is something to come out of his speed and performance and the technical inputs he gives.”
As a Hamilton apologist and given the rumours that Lewis burned his bridges with Stuttgart post Monaco 2014, this Lauda message of peace and goodwill in Brackley, is not surprising.
Also worthy of consideration, is that Niki is a dyed-in-the-wool racer but it remains to be seen how Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe believe the team should be run. There were a number of indications last season that within the Mercedes AMG F1 hierarchy, significant differences of opinion were aired on how matters should be handled.
Yet if the Silver Arrows remain uber dominant, the fans will be clamouring for less love and peace and more internal battling – irrespective of the drivers respect for one another.
Fry – Raikkonen not to blame for 2014 performance
The old saying “Can’t keep a good man down” would seemingly apply to football managers – who face the wrath of owners and fans on equal measure – and ex F1 employees.
Despite being sacked by their previous employer, the senior staff will always find positions in other teams – and often given the right infrastructure make the mark even more bold than before – a great example being the Mercedes W05 being designed by Aldo Costa who was ‘released’ by Ferrari back in 2011 for unadventurous design.
Pat Fry was released by Maranello in mid December and currently is at a crossroads in his career. However, he recently offered an insight into Kimi Raikkonens problems last year.
According to Fry, it would be unfair to draw similarities between the Iceman’s 2014 season and the preceding four, which saw Felipe Massa comprehensively beaten by Fernando Alonso.
“There are two reasons why Kimi encountered difficulties last year. First is that Alonso can drive around any problem and second Kimi’s driving style was badly affected by the aerodynamics and tyres.”
“Every time we found the right set up for the front, the rear became a problem although with the softer tyres, it was not so bad. For example in Singpore, when Kimi had the supersoft he gained a lot of time but with these cars and these tyres the problem was more of an issue on other compounds.”
“With the aero generating less grip it made it more difficult to get heat into the tyres and then to exploit them properly. With saving fuel, you lose even more heat in the tyres and it’s impossible to find the right balance. Then you push and things improve but it doesn’t always work. Fernando has a driving style that works around the problem as he pushes the front harder and it then runs better.”
“But Raikkonen is the same driver as when he was at Mclaren. He is super sensitive to the front end. To get the best from Kimi you need to provide the perfect car for his driving style”
Following the recent bloodbath in Maranello, the Ferraristi can only hope that James Allison will provide a car similar to the Lotus designs in which the Iceman excelled in recent seasons – otherwise it could be a disappointing final year for the fans favourite.
BBC live race schedule 2015
This is now the 4th year where the BBC and SKY have shared the coverage of Formula One in a deal which runs until 2017.
In 2014, the BBC chose the following as for their 9 live broadcasts
30 March: Malaysia
11 May: Spain
8 June: Canada
6 July: Britain
24 August: Belgium
7 September: Italy
5 October: Japan
12 October: Russia
23 November: Abu Dhabi
Out goes the Spanish and Italian GP’s and in comes Bahrain, Hungary and Brazil.
Also the return of the Mexican GP after over 20 years absence will be only free to air in the UK as a highlights programme as again will Monaco.
EU luke warm over F1 anti trust allegations
It appears the Bernie Ecclestone, CVC and the FIA have all been presented with a New Year gift from the EU commission.
In November British European MP, Anneliese Dodds, wrote to the EU Competition Commissioner asking for an investigation into anti competitive practices within the governance of Formula One.
Specifically raised was the fact that the FIA had acquired a stake in the F1 commercial rights holding company of 1%, which was believed to be in contravention of a previous EU commission ruling. In 2001 the FIA were ordered to sell all their shares in the commercial rights for Formula One as it was deemed a conflict of interest.
Ms Dodds specifically requested the commission “look into this possible breach of competition rules and the 2001 agreement as a matter of urgency and take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the undertakings made by the FIA are being observed as originally intended.”
The second area of concern expressed by Ms Dodds, was over the creation of the F1 Strategy Group. The FIA received a payment from the commercial rights owners of $40m in return for creating what is argued to be a regulatory governance within F1, which also is in breach of the 2001 ruling, which stated: “The role of FIA will be limited to that of a sports regulator, with no commercial conflicts of interest”.
Being handed $40m to allow other parties to write Formula One’s regulations, looks suspiciously like a breach of this ruling. (Read TJ13 post from November for further detail on these regulations and rulings here)
Ms Dodds’ received a response from Krzysztof Kuik on December 9th 2014.
For those who were expecting the EU commission to act on Ms Dodds’, the commission’s reply is less than inspiring.
“The Commission monitors possible anticompetitive market practices and abusive conduct. This includes behaviour by operators active in the sports sector. We are aware of the recent allegations regarding Formula One’s governance, as described in your letter and the recent press reports. I appreciate it that you have provided information about those issues and have taken note of your concerns.”
Yet refusing to be brushed aside, Anneliese Dodds presses the matter in a further piece of correspondence.
“What are the steps that the Commission intends to take next in this case? Does the Commission intend to open an own initiative investigation into these allegations? If not, why not? What information would the Commission require in order to open such an investigation, and what would the trigger be? Does the Commission believe that its current sports industry policy is suitably up to date and still adequate, given the pace at which the industry keeps growing within the EU market?
“I would be very grateful if either you or Mr Kuik could answer those questions and explain in a bit more detail exactly what the Commission is doing to look into this matter, and what you expect the next steps to be. If there is any more information that you require from me, or anything more that I can do to be of assistance, then please do not hesitate to let me know.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Eason of the Times reports that, “representatives from Force India, Lotus and Sauber have all been interviewed by Kuik in Brussels and at least two more figures, whose names have been withheld, have given critical accounts of the way F1 is run.”
So whether there is a behind the scenes investigation actually occurring or the EU is merely kicking the matter into the long grass – the response to Ms Dodds’ second letter should eventually shed more light on the matter.
FIA forced to reconsider its position on Honda
At a meeting in Geneva yesterday, the Formula One engine manufacturers met to discuss the power unit regulations for 2016, though it is unlikely the final decision will be made until March.
Honda however, took the opportunity to protest against the recent comments made by Charlie Whiting: “As the existing manufacturers were obliged to homologate their power units by 28 February 2014 it would seem fair and equitable to ask a new manufacturer to homologate their power unit before February 28 2015.
“We therefore consider this to be a requirement for a new power unit manufacturer.”
This ‘clarification’ from Whiting was issued following the discovery due to an oversight by Whiting and the FIA, no engine homologation date was set for 2015. The result being it appeared that the three 2014 engine manufacturers would be free to develop their engines throughout the year – but Honda would not.
The very fact there is no regulation which states that by a certain date a new manufacturer should have to have their engine homologated, meant Whiting was enforcing the original intent of the FIA on Honda – but not on the others.
However, it appears the FIA are now faced with ‘Hobson’s choice’.
Either Honda will be allowed to act as Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault do, or they and McLaren will lodge a protest at each update the other manufacturers bring – invoking the technical regulation which prohibits multiple homologations of the power unit – even if the updates are on the grounds of safety or cost saving.
“And here’s another fine mess you’ve got me into”