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Previously on TheJudge13:
An open invitation to all members of the TJ13 community – “What do YOU want to know about our podcast crew?
Please use the comments section to ask an opening question for our podcast regulars to answer. Remember, the best answers are often given if the opening question is not F1 related. (Ed’s Note: What have we started!)
OTD Lite – 2006: The Doctor – What might have been…
Valentino Rossi is a sporting superstar who transcends his chosen sport. His charisma, his joie-de-vivre and his self-deprecating humour has turned him into an idol for millions.
On this day Vale took part in an official Formula One test with other teams present at Valencia. Ferrari were looking to entice ‘The Doctor’ to race in Formula One as a team-mate to Michael Schumacher in 2007.
The test in Valencia would also herald a new villain of the peace… The crowds that came into the circuit for this occasion numbered in the region of 20,000 – an unheard of number for a Spanish winter test. The press had also turned out in force for this Italian showman and Alonso was not in the slightest impressed.
Alonso condescendingly remarked that he too could get within a second of the leading pace in MotoGP and Rossi admitted he hoped one day the Spaniard would indulge him the contest.
“Yes it’s true,” remarked the 7 times champion. “I wanted to make a bet with Alonso and have a heat with MotoGP, F1 and a rally car – but he said he didn’t have time! Maybe in the future it will be possible…”
The Grumpy Jackal
Camouflaged Red Bull hides secrets of design
As reported exclusively by TJ13 on Friday, Red Bull have chosen to run their new car as ‘camouflaged’ to prevent prying eyes discovering some of the more interesting features of Adrian Newey’s last F1 design.
Even so, as cunning as the teams strive to be with their collective opposition – F1 photographers appear to seemingly unveil secrets of the latest designs at ease. In a photograph by Alex Galli which is featured on an Italian website – some of the secrets of the RB11 design emerge.
A vent in the nose in front of the driver reveals that the new car is running with an ‘S-duct’ which essentially draws air in from under the nose and funnels it into the airflow on top of the chassis. The benefits being a stabilisation of the airflow, increase in downforce but without damaging the aerodynamic efficiency of the car. In addition, under the word ‘EXNESS’ is a small opening which is designed to vent hot air from the radiators.
Daniel Riccardo managed a mere 35 laps; so the chances for more ‘breakthrough’ photography were limited but undoubtedly many more discoveries will be made over the next few weeks.
With Mercedes having put in 157 laps, the Red Bull total seems paltry but in comparison to the Austrian team’s trials twelve months ago, this is seen as a far more positive session.
“We went quite well this morning and I managed to do quite a few laps, so first impressions are good. In the coming days we hope to do more laps, but for now it all seems encouraging. I can feel a step forward. I will not go into detail, but there is.”
“We didn’t do a whole lot of laps but definitely more than at this test last year! In general everything is behaving as it should. Obviously we had a couple of issues, but once the car is running it’s all going pretty normally. A good first day, there are some positive signs there.”
As to the problems that afflicted the MIlton Keynes based squad, Rocquelin Guilliaume explained that the smoke seen from the car was not the power unit, as first thought, but a brake failure.
“It is no exaggeration to say that today represented a good day for the team and for the RB11. The work has been good and we have already collected a lot of information.”
“We had a small problem with the control system of the brakes around lunchtime but it is normal to have such niggles on a first day like today.”
“We stopped late this afternoon with a technical issue but it wasn’t too serious. An alarm went off in the engine and knowing an investigation would take time we chose to stop. Otherwise everything went as we hoped.”
Hamilton and Wolff continue contract talks
A great deal of speculation over the winter has centred around the ongoing contract talks between Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes management.
Having put the negotiations on hold following the Belgian Grand Prix so that all parties could concentrate on the closing races of the 2014 campaign – repeated reports in the media have offered different opinions dependent on which side is in front of the microphone.
Hamilton has been in America over the closed season, at times seemingly promoting his passion for music at others training in preparation for the upcoming title defense.
At the same time, Toto Wolff has been voicing the opinion that Fernando Alonso would be the number one option if a deal cannot be secured with Lewis.
Of course, in the inevitable gamesmanship of F1 contracts, other than the parties that are privy to the discussion – everything else is merely speculation. With Hamilton chasing equivalent remuneration to Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso – for the first time in his career he will negotiate the terms himself after splitting from XIX Management.
“I am 30 now. I am my own man. I know my worth. I have read every one of my contracts in the past so I know what is and what can’t go and what I can try to get,” said Hamilton. “It is going to be hard. Toto is a big businessman and is great at negotiating and he is up against a rookie, but I have good grounds for it.”
“I can’t say I am particularly excited about it, but I like that I am doing it on my own. No-one’s helping. But of course I can reach out to people for advice. My future is with this team, I plan to be here long term. I had the busiest end of season I’d ever had and then, when we were in the factory we didn’t sit down and talk about it.”
“Then I went away for quite a long time and I only got back towards the end of this month. But we are planning to have talks relatively soon. It’s my ninth year in F1. I’m already past the halfway point. I’m aware of that and want to make the most of every moment I have.”
Hamilton concluded, “I don’t have a particular feeling. It would be great if we got the sticky parts out fo the way, but I’m sure it will be sorted. I wasn’t over there – in the garage – a lot. I was involved in other things.”
As to Wolff, “Contract negotiations need to be done properly and the relationship we have with each other is very solid. It’s a relationship based on trust and transparency and that is exactly the way we are having those discussions, in a friendly environment.”
“Everyone knows it needs to be optimised and the devil lies in the detail but I have no doubt in the way those discussions are being done that eventually we are going to come to a point to strike a deal. But there is no immediate pressure to make it happen tomorrow – our wish is to make it happen sooner rather than later”
Boullier and Alonso bullish despite teething problems
On the first day of testing at Jerez, Fernando Alonso completed three single-lap runs and one three-lap run before electrical gremlins with the new Honda power unit brought his day to an early end.
“You’ve seen the car now and we’ve been quite extreme in packaging the car,” Eric Boullier said. “Every technical solution that we have brought to the car is something that we believe will help us close the gap quite quickly with Mercedes. But being ambitious and brave doesn’t mean we can be reliable and we are struggling with a few electrical issues, which are quite difficult to fix.”
“I think they are fixable and could be fixed by tomorrow, but we may end up with another issue elsewhere, so we want to be cautious on this because every time we try to fix one we open up something else further. We will get on top of this. I don’t know when, but obviously as soon as possible.”
Mclaren’ racing director continued “We have only 12 days and we would have loved to run more today but we have to do it step by step. Honda went through some good technical solutions and that has maybe brought some reliability issues, but again they are on top of it and they know where to go. They have the people, the technology, so I think they can match Mercedes.”
The Spaniard echoed the words of his new team boss – with damning understatement – when he spoke of his mount: “My patience was proved for the past five years – I have no problems,” Alonso said. “More or less the first day went as expected. Obviously it’s a slow start as we knew. We saw last year how difficult it was for other teams to complete laps, especially in the first couple of days – even Red Bull did something like ten laps last year or something like that.
“It’s complex technology we have in Formula One today and we need time and need to learn a lot of things in the car because we start gaining mileage. The car design is also quite extreme, quite aggressive and innovative so definitely we have something to discover there slowly.”
Vettel sees ‘huge potential’ in re-organised Ferrari team
Sunday was Sebastian Vettel’s first day behind the wheel of a Ferrari at an official test. Despite finishing the day with the fastest time the new Ferrari driver was restricted to merely 60 laps in comparison to the 157 achieved by the Mercedes team due to telemetry issues.
Even so, with his numerous visits to Maranello over the winter, the four time champion has recognised the huge potential which is untapped within the Italian squad.
“What I’ve seen is quite impressive, but it’s also a time of change with a lot of people leaving, a lot of people coming, people getting promoted and put in different places. But definitely motivation is high, not just with me, but all the team to get back to the front as soon as possible.”
“Lap times are not that important in the end, it’s the amount of laps. It’s better to be closer to the front rather than a long way behind, but I think in terms of laps there is still a lot of improvement that we can do. The reference is still Mercedes, they did 150-something laps today so they are proving that they start off with a very reliable car today.”
“Hopefully it’s not as quick as last year – that I think is what everyone is hoping for – but you have to give credit to them, they did a very good job. It would be a surprise if they are not as strong as they were last year.”
“Of course, the car does feel different. It’s a different philosophy behind it, it’s made by different people, but fortunately I used the time in winter to make sure I feel comfortable, I get used to all the buttons, switch changes and so on, so I could really focus on the car. Of course we didn’t run an awful lot today but what we did felt good as a starting point. More I cannot say and I don’t want to say because it’s way too early for that.”
The Usher’s Caption Competition
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#F1 Testing: Jerez 2015 – Day 1, morning
(Ed: For anyone who missed yesterday’s TJ13 exclusive reports from Jerez)
The Mercedes W06 and Williams FW37 were launched this morning to a media scrum that had braved the cold conditions. The launches were predictably short, but revealed the new offerings from Brackley and Grove as light crept over the circuit.
As TJ13 had brought to light exclusively, the Red Bull test car was launched with a special test livery…
A man on a mission, Sebastian Vettel overtook Nico Rosberg to make sure he was out on track first.
There were huge cheers for the Spanish rookie Carlos Sainz Jr as he took to the track earlier. A lot of pressure rests on his shoulders, with a larger than normal crowd in to see him in action.
45 minutes into the session and we were finally treated to the first look at Fernando Alonso back behind the wheel of a McLaren, although a slightly problematic morning has ensued.
It was a cold but still morning in Jerez, as the shakedown for the 2015 season began. A track temperature of less than 10 degrees centigrade limited useful tyre simulation at first, as the new powertrains were put through their paces. The Spanish fans filtered into the stands to see their home heroes, Fernando Alonso and Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr.
So far it has been the Mercedes team that has put the hard laps in, completing 63 laps by 13:00 local time, 4 hours into the day. Daniel Ricciardo was in action for the Red Bull team, as the car rolled out using a camouflage livery which will aid disguising the intricate bodywork at the rear of the car. Is there some Newey genius at work back there?
They had completed more laps in 3 and a half laps of the session on day 1, than they did in the whole of the Jerez test last year. Save for a brief spell of powertrain trouble, signs are positive for the RB11.
Monisha Kaltenborn was in good spirits ahead of the new look Sauber heading out, saying, “We have learned our lessons and are confident for the new season.” However, this confidence may have been short lived after Marcus Ericsson caused the first red flag of the season, spinning into a spiral of tyre smoke before later recovering to the pits.
A steady rise in track temperature and steady air temperature meant it was ideal for testing the new Pirelli tyres. Paul Hembery had spoken of his expectations for the 2015 cars, believing the new tyres will need to be quite different to cope with the heightened power delivery.
The FW37 set about testing its capabilities as it enjoyed a clear track as other teams seemed to stop for a lunch break. However, lap times were slower, with a 1:25.167 down on the 1:23.106 Rosberg set earlier.
And finally, one driver who is not here this week is Max Chilton. The Briton clearly missing Formula One already…
I have woken up feeling like something is missing, it's a F1 car in motion with the crisp morning air rushing under my visor.#stillhoping
— M A X Chilton (@maxchilton) February 1, 2015
Expect a lot more running this afternoon as track conditions are fantastic for testing!
#F1 Testing: Jerez 2015 – Day 1, afternoon
(Ed: For anyone who missed yesterday’s TJ13 exclusive reports from Jerez)
‘Start as you mean to go’ is a good motto to work by in a test, which is exactly what Mercedes did as they focused on long runs for the afternoon part of day 1 in Jerez. Clearly not pushing the car to any kind of extreme, a routine day for the German team meant they continued to set lap time after lap time, eventually ending on a final total of 157.
The headline lap time was left to Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari as he twice set the fastest lap time, once just after 13:00 with a 1:22.999, then going faster with 1:22.620. Despite reporting problems in the morning the ex-World Champion was clearly comfortable with the car, making for a relaxed press conference after.
Despite admitting, “The reference is still Mercedes so it would a surprise if they are not as strong as last year,” Vettel was clearly in a good place mentally. He continued, “I feel very motivated. Last year I was giving everything I had, but that’s why you come back and try again.”
He finished by saying, “It’s the first helmet design in 15 years without Red Bull on the side. I tried to keep it very simple,” which was much like the design of the McLaren-Honda. The new old partnership started poorly as Alonso never re-emerged from his brief stint in the morning.
Sauber fared better with Marcus Ericsson managing the second fastest time of the day. The car looked far more consistent at the rear than it had done previously allowing for greater confidence out of corners. Great news for all involved with the Swiss team as they look to bounce back with a totally new blue and yellow livery.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo spoke of the positive day the team had enjoyed and the “step forward”, but in truth there is still some work to do for the Renault-RB pair. Adrian Newey agreed with this sentiment, stating to BBC Sport, “Good first day. The car is a decent step forward, but it’ll be difficult to mount a serious title challenge.” The questions over the Red Bull livery remain, although it seemed a hit with those present at the track complex.
Valtteri Bottas was only the second driver to go past 50 laps as the he continued to trundle round, sticking to the programme and not bothering with headline laps. It was a steady, if unspectacular first day in Spain.
Carlos Sainz Jr had been enjoying an impressive first showing in the STR10 before his car ground to a halt shortly before 3pm local time, causing the second of two red flags in the day. The Spanish rookie only popped back out for a short stint, meaning he will have to wait for his next meaningful run in the car, as Max Verstappen replaces him tomorrow.
Lotus did eventually arrive but did not venture out on to the circuit. They remain very tight-lipped about their activity tomorrow, even though a team member said, “we are ready” to go racing. Tomorrow will reveal all, as they will now race with Mercedes engines, ending their 20 year partnership with Renault.
It was a positive day for Ferrari, Mercedes, Sauber and the Jerez circuit. Packed grandstands witnessed the 2015 cars in action for the first time as families lined the tight and twisty track. Of course, the clear skies helped, but seeing the numbers of fans like this in for a pre-season shakedown strengthens the argument for having testing sessions over the weekends.
Furthermore, it shows that people are interested in coming to Formula One in any form if the price is right. Being charged a mere €10 or €20 depending on the track access meant a family day out was affordable. More young fans at events is what is needed, but there again so is proper social media use, a way of reducing the cost of racing, ensuring the sustainability of races, etc.
A little learnt today, but this narrative is far from told.
The running order tomorrow will be as follows:
Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton
Red Bull Racing – Daniil Kvyat
Williams – Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel
McLaren – Jenson Button
Toro Rosso – Max Verstappen
Lotus – Romain Grosjean
Sauber – Felipe Nasr
#F1 Testing: Jerez Day 1 – Seb and Ferrari on Top – Exclusive Video