#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 13th February 2015


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Previously on TheJudge13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: “A sad and pathetic attempt to impose order”

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 – 2004: Montoya – the bogey man

Mercedes – The more things change the more they stay the same

Are Red Bull about to come to Renault’s rescue

Honda explains some of the problems they are suffering

Button eager for the forth coming fight with Alonso

Ricciardo thinks Ferrari made good step forward

The Usher’s Caption Competition

Ecclestone desperate to get rid of Mercedes ?

Seb and the black notebook

OTD Lite – 2004: Montoya – the bogey man

“I think that Juan was not impressed at having his knuckles rapped and I know the decision to sign with McLaren was taken within a few days of that. Juan incorrectly thought that we had notified Ralf of his actions and called Ralf in one lap early. So he was pretty strong on the radio, abusing the team verbally for the next ten minutes.”

So began an interview with Patrick Head over the falling out with Juan Pablo at the previous years French Grand Prix.

Like a meteor that burnt too brightly and fizzled out with a whimper, the Colombian brought speed and reckless abandon to a sport in desperate need of a character. So what did the sport do – tried to contain him and turn him into a good boy.

Eventually JPM had had enough of the controlling aspects of the circus and left Mclaren mid 2006 to pursue his dream of driving hill-billy trucks and NASCAR. An intimidating man who once chose to have a fight with a camera in the paddock outside the Ferrari hospitality units. Unsubstantiated reports from within suggest that Michael Schumacher needed oxygen as he couldn’t stop laughing..

The Grumpy Jackal


Mercedes – The more things change the more they stay the same

With Auto Motor und Sport estimating that Mercedes has found around 60bhp in their new power unit the news will no doubt frustrate the engineers in Italy and France respectively.

But Mercedes engine design boss, Andy Cowell, admits that he wouldn’t be surprised to see his rivals close the gap during the forthcoming season.

“The rules of physics and chemistry remains the same for everyone and there is no reason why our competition can’t match us. We have of course moved forward with our development but the improvements available become harder to find.”

“Thanks to GPS measurements we are aware on what areas we need to pay attention and Ferrari and Renault have a point to prove. The great unknown is Honda and we do not underestimate them at all but we cannot guarantee we will be better than the competition.”

“In Jerez we tested the 2015 unit exclusively. We incorporated many new ideas in regards the combustion and the area of friction and energy conversion. After we have completed testing we will decide what to take to Melbourne for the best reliability – which if it all goes to plan will include the variable intake system we are permitted to use this year.”

As to the proposed 1,000bhp that Bernie Ecclestone is pushing for – Cowell believes the current engines could produce this easily and with a better sound to boot. “This would be easily achieved by changes to the fuel-flow rate. However we need to be aware that technology transfer from track to road is important for F1 and this is the main reason Honda is back.”


Are Red Bull about to come to Renault’s rescue

As the above article alludes to, all the talk of 1,000bhp is easily achievable with the current design of engines but at a vastly increased cost. Something you do not have to concern yourself about if you have invested a rumoured half a billion dollars to dominate the sport.

But if – like Renault – you have been more circumspect in your expenditure the costs involved in recovering a huge performance gap become suddenly astronomical.

With the Strategy Group giving a green light for additional work on revamping the engines for 2017 there has been concern amongst the manufactures surrunding the issue of costs.

Renault F1’s managing director said to Autosport, “I would love to see the current cars and current drivers having to deal with 1,000bhp, but I need someone to pay for it. The small teams, the independent teams are not prepared to pay the price of the power unit yet at the same time we hear we need to add 200bhp. How do you connect both?”

“There is no easy way and cheap way that you can do that with the current regulations.”

“You need to make some drastic changes, particularly to the fuel allocation, and that is a different ballgame,” he said. “You need to resize some of the internal components of the ICE but, if you need to change that, then you need to change the sizing of batteries, and the sizing of the MGU too. You need to redesign the whole power unit, so you need to be a bit careful.

Or in non political parlance – We supply just two teams with our engines. Red Bull and Toro Rosso, both owned by Dietrich Mateschitz – and Renault needs someone to pay for it..


Honda explains some of the problems they are suffering

Speaking at a press conference in Japan, the head of Honda’s F1 programme was expelling some of the issues the manufacturers was experiencing in the recent Jerez tests.

Although the RA615H power unit is still in its infancy the problems centre around the cooling systems which have been affected by the installation into the car. “This year the packaging of the car is very tight which has played its pat in our cooling issues. It was unexpected and some components have been subjected to excessive heat sources which causes other items to fail.”

“It’s not the temperature as it is the ERS staging system but the engineers have found the problems quickly but we do not have any concerns over the engine itself. Now we are looking to the next test at Montmelo.”

Eric Boullier the believable gave a statement to the Press which likely would have displeased a certain hirsute Spaniard. “Obviously with a new project the less mileage we complete the longer it will take to be able to develop the car and get back to winning. Every time we fail to achieve our goals in terms of mileage and development we fall back from the date we would be able to give the car 100% to fight for victory.”

Alonso has expressed in interviews that he does no expect victories in the first year, but ultimately – “The goal is to win the championship. We want to win and I do not know if it will be in the first year, second or even third but I hope as soon as possible.”


Button eager for the forth coming fight with Alonso

Is Jenson Button over-rated within the F1 world as many neutrals believe. There are many ex World Champions – including Jackie Stewart – who have expressed doubts at his ability over the years. After all the Scotsman suggested he was committing career suicide signing for the Woking concern in 2010. Yet three seasons later, his results showed he had the measure of Lewis Hamilton.

Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli, Jacques Villeneuve and Rubens Barrichello will all attest to his speed which makes the team dynamic at Mclaren a fascinating confrontation. With Fernando Alonso generally having the measure of all his team-mates previously the only direct comparison would be with their former team-mate Hammy.

“I think every driver wants a competitive team-mate,” Button said. “You are in the same equipment and it’s always good seeing what someone else can do with that car. We all drive differently and have positives to the way we are in terms of drivers and there are always weaknesses that we have.”

“It’s always interesting to find peoples strengths and weaknesses and also to just work with someone with such experience – Fernando is a double world champion and he’s been around almost as long as I have, racing for many different teams. You pick up so many things along the way and that is such useful information when you have a new power unit in the car and a new working relationship.”

“It’s a massive benefit for this team, having us two here, and I’ve always said that I want the best guy to be alongside me. I’ve always said I’d really like Fernando as a team-mate and here we are now, it’s a good partnership. We obviously haven’t spent too much time working together this year, but I feel that we will work very well together.”


Ricciardo thinks Ferrari made good step forward

Ferrari dominated the timesheets during the first pre-season test at Jerez. Whilst any lap-time on what are essentially system checks is notoriously difficult to gauge – there is enough technology within F1 that can decipher various performance parameters. It seems that many of the Italian teams rivals believe the Maranello concern has made a bigger step forward than first imagined.

Daniel Ricciardo spoke about Mercedes performing as expected: “..but Ferrari looked like they came out pretty strong.”

“For now they look good, but it is one of those things. It is still early and Jerez is a place we don’t race at, plus we never drive in conditions that are five-to-eight degrees temperature. And the track is really, really abrasive. They look good but are they going to be the same once we start racing in race conditions?”

“I think Barcelona will get us a step closer to that. But not taking anything away from that, they have come out in good form.”


The Usher’s Caption Competition

for an alternative view on F1, follow TJ13’s Usher




Ecclestone desperate to get rid of Mercedes ?

He may have succeeded in bribing his way out of the bribary trial last year, but the natural life span of a homo sapiens is not the only threat to Bernard Charles Ecclestone’s seemingly eternal tyranny. Ralf Bach, the German F1 journalist, who runs f1-insider.com, reports that Ecclestone is not only desperate to get rid of Mercedes, he is apparently also adament to prevent the Volkswagen Group from entering the sport with any of their numerous brands as he fears that the two German automotive giants might enter an alliance to have him removed.

Volkswagen has suffered a number of scandals in recent years, like supplying prostitutes for company sponsored parties of trade union leaders in exchange for – let’s say – less motivation to organize strikes. While such events would most likely have met the approval of Max Mosley, the German public and the Volkswagen workforce were less than impressed. As a result, the Volkswagen Group has imposed a very strict set of corporate compliance rules which, among other things, prohibit any business dealings with persons who have a past as illustrous as the midget from Suffolk. This is the most likely reason why Volkswagen runs two brands in WEC, but none in Formula One. According to Bach their absence from F1 is not for lack of interest.

Mr. Ecclestone, however, is becoming desperate to get rid of the big manufacturers to cling on to his job. Even eternal F1 competitor Ferrari are apparently not happy about Ecclestone’s increasingly despotic way of running the sport. E’s weapon of choice is to push the concept of a two-tier championship, a concept that Mercedes is categorically opposed to. In an early January meeting with Red Bull tsar Dietrich Mateschitz, Ecclestone is said to have developed a price model. According to f1-insider.com the top teams would hand down their old chassis to the smaller teams for a fixed sum of 10 million, with another 10 million added for V8 engines with a less complex KERS system (read: the engines F1 ditched two years ago) and another 5M for gearboxes, amounting to a technical budget of 25M for which teams like Force India can come last week in and week out.

It is believed (or hoped by Ecclestone, apparently) that introducing this scheme would drive Mercedes out of the sport, consolidating his position as F1’s dictator, while conveniently keeping VW out of it as well. Merc however, already displeased with Ecclestone’s way of ruling the show, have had a rummage in their overflowing reservoir of chief executive this and chief executive that chiefs and offered the name Andreas Nikolaus Lauda as a possible successor to Ecclestone. Which, according to Ralf Bach, caused a bit of a rage moment for the short one, who is quoted as saying in front of witnesses: “I would sign a checque of 50 million right now if that would get me rid of Mercedes.”


Seb and the black notebook

There is one technological concept that Sebastian Vettel has taken with him when he left Red Bull for Ferrari. Like the designer, who penned all five six cars he won races in (STR3, RB5-RB9), he seems to have developed a penchant for graphite based analogue recording devices (vulgo: pencil) and dead trees as a storage medium. Since day one at his new employer he is rarely seen without a little black notebook that he gives and shows to nobody but his spokeswoman Britta Roeske or the team.

“We have never seen anything like that with any of our drivers, not even Michael Schumacher. In that regard he stands out already,” a senior engineer is quoted by Sport Bild. What the man in red alludes to is the fact that he introduces the same level of perfectionism at the Gestione Sportiva that hasn’t been seen there since Schumacher’s first retirement. Bild, not necessarily Germany’s most credible paper, but traditionally well connected to the inner circles of German drivers reports that the recently de-throned champion baffled the engineers with the level of technical feedback and the fact that he had broken down the lap around Jerez into every little detail, especially the different parts of each corner (turn-in, apex, acceleration, presumably).

But Bild’s F1 expert, Ralf Bach, is quick to dismiss any premature euphoria. While the SF15-T (alternative syntax: SH1-T) was apparently spoken well of by its drivers, and believed to be about 1.2 seconds quicker than last years Dyson, it is still reckoned by Ferrari that it is at least 0.8 seconds behind the Merc with Williams and Red Bull also ahead of the yet unnamed (by Vettel) red machinery.


56 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 13th February 2015

  1. Gotta wonder, idle thought only, why Renault stayed – or attempted to stay – in the game, although they did make a point last season….

  2. I think Button might find out, when it comes to driving, Alonso just doesn’t have any weakness. The percieved weakness about qualifying is more to do with the cars he’s driven than any lack of one lap pace.

    • Could we not compare them also through Trulli? Not to mention, they should already have an idea from how they stack up from 2002, when Renault was Trulli, Button, Alonso.

  3. Caption Comp:

    ‘hell, even if i crashed Senna it would only make me not lose four more points and wouldnt be diceroll for the wdc.. ‘

  4. After reading the Bernie piece is anyone else imagining a minder putting a dummy in his mouth after him saying that? “I’m taking my Formula 1 and going home with it, as you all won’t play how I want you to!”
    It’s now a race to see if F1 dies before he does, and if Bernie has his way the grim reaper’s currently just tying up his shoe laces before setting on his way his way to visit the sport the little twunt has been allowed to build up and then drag down into ruins.

    • I’ve posted this many times before, but I’m certain that Bernie is going to employ a full scorched earth policy before he stands down/dies. He knows he built up F1 tovwhst it is now and I’m convinced that he doesn’t want others to make money from his life’s work, remember it’s not just a business to Bernie, it’s his brain child that he has nurtured and tended for over 40 years, often risking his own money when others (the teams) didn’t want to take any financial risks. He knows that even if he destroys his model there with still be the building blocks of a premier series and someone else can rebuild them how they see fit, but it won’t be the Ecclestone brand of F1 we all know and love. The man is a control freak and knows that EVERY man really does have his price, if you have deep enough pockets.

      • Agreed, essentially F1 to Bernie is the ex-girlfriend he dumped but that no-one else is allowed to have!
        In an ideal world he’d have a bit of dignity and hand over the reigns to someone a bit more sane. It amazes me he’s still got the energy for it. I can’t really name any other 80 year old blokes who still want to have to deal with that level of sh!t on a day to day basis.
        Maybe he’s not actually real, he’s just an automaton. Would explain a lot!

    • He already announced that he plans to keep a single design throughout the season. His previous frequent changes were most likely the idea of the Red Bull PR department.

    • It definitely has the “iconic” look about it. Hopefully it will be remembered in the future as the helmet of the driver who put Ferrari back on their perch. I wouldn’t say I’m the world’s biggest fan of Seb but a part of me does want to see him do well there. Mainly for Schumacher I think.

  5. Before Alonso joined McLaren I’d have happily agreed with you on that sentiment. But as a fickle McLaren fan, Alonso is now the second coming of Jesus and you’re wrong haha!

  6. “all five cars he won races in (STR3, RB5-RB9)”

    Never claimed to be good at math, but there’s *six* cars there….

  7. RE: Engines….

    So Andy Cowell believes that it is easy to produce the 1000bhp from the current spec power units and Renault managing director thinks it would take a lot more work…….ok

    • @Fortis96 interesting article, looks like Mercedes actually have a fairly sensible approach, which had also been echoed by Ron Dennis about reasonable time scales and sensible costs. I think Horner believes if he can get these rules for next year, it will entice Newey back to the F1 team as Horner has already mentioned that with more interesting regulations Adrian may not have looked for other challenges (America’s Cup) and if Horner looses Newey completely in 2016 he may never get him back. I’d like to see the aero and chassis changes for next season and continue to allow the engine manufacturers to develop their current units to current regs, then for 2017 change the fuel flow and max fuel allowance for the higher horsepower (but Merc say they found 60bhp so if they had 850 last year they are at 910bhp already, if they find another 40bhp next winter too that’s 950bhp) if required by then, but you can’t up the bhp before upgrading the aero as its not what a safety minded person would do

      • It would make sense why Horner is pushing for these changes to come in next year, because there as piece written sometime this week, stating that Newey could be enticed back, if the radical changes were approved. Christian doesn’t want to lose his lucky goose, hence no more golden eggs.

        What made me chuckle a bit was the Sergio bit……

        “Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne had proposed a new hybrid format, based on a 1.9-litre V8 turbo engine, claiming it would be cheaper.
        But he backed down on this when it was pointed out to him that changing the engine architecture could well mean Mercedes ended up further ahead, because their engine department is regarded as the best in F1.
        Mercedes have proposed removing the fuel-flow limit on the current engines as a way of increasing power, which is currently in the region of 850-900bhp.”

        Too many knee jerk reactions are being made at present. F1 didn’t just start losing viewers last season and i doubt that these radical changes will miraculously bring viewers back.

        • F1’s problems are less about the technical issues (one team or manufacturer tends to dominate before being replaced) and more about how the show is presented in the age of social media and how it’s distributed (Pay tv might bring Bernie a steady flow of cash, but it’s detrimental to the teams looking for sponsors). It’s worth keeping an eye on the WWE and others who broadcast live events online, as I think it will at some point surpass traditional tv models. Netflix has let the genie out of the bottle on that score.

          Bernie’s version of F1 might well die with him, but I’m fairly sure F1 itself will survive and be reborn as something much more dynamic if the right people get involved. I’d certainly lose interest in F1 if the big manufacturers leave and the technological innovation goes backwards. Anyway F1 will likely be a bargain ripe for reinvention when Bernie finally goes.

        • Good points about the 1000bhp engine not being the miracle cure that suddenly increases the number of viewers. The number of viewers were steadily going down ever since F1 was put behind pay-per-view channels. F1 simply has too few events in a year for it to be attractive enough for the casual viewer to decide to buy an expensive extra TV package. F1’s popularity was always a matter of a few die hard fans and a lot of casual viewers and that’s not going to change with a more popular engine formula.

        • all great points @Fortis96 and @RobDin! I don’t have all the answers. maybe I don’t even have any… but to me, anything to do with “extreme” vehicle sports as far as FANS go, have to do with human senses. nobody wants to taste a car, few will ever get to touch a car. but, we can at least smell the fuel and tires if we attend live. that leaves visual and sound. this is obviously all about ones preference and what one can “grow to accept” as kewl.

          for this old fart who got hooked in ’62, I think all of open wheel racing (OWR) started to lose the visual once the mid engine bay was covered up (my fav car of all time was the initial ’67 Lotus 49). for sure, if I were younger, I could easily go with the Lotus 79… but even then, visual sexuality and WOW factor clues were very strong. to me, the open wheel cars of recent history are fugly beyond compare. too long, too narrow, too chunky, front and rear wing size and complexity way too out of whack. and as recently covered, fugly livery… skinny little tires with a floppy profile/aspect ratio better suited for the local backyard Redneck Chevy/Ford truck mud boggers… the closest OWR car to being sexy as of today is the brand new Dallara Indy Lights spec car.

          and then, the sound… I massively hate the grating sound of Formula E, but I at least get that concept to a tiny disagreeing degree. when taken in Worldly and historical and marketing, and brand protection context, F1 2014 sound was worthy of committing felony roadkill Bankruptcy IMHO. I DO believe there is a legal basis in fact here by promoters, if anybody had the balls to pursue it.

          I know, this barely even starts to shade in the bottom layer on a “food pyramid” as an example. but to me, without these minimalistic must have product/brand basics, one has nothing of present OR future value!

          • Personally I don’t mind the loss of engine noise because first of all I am one of those fans who believes F1 is just as much a competition of having the most advanced technology as it is a competition of who is the best driver. And second the sounds of the tires and the electric engines adds a lot to the experience because it makes it easier for fans to know if a driver nailed the corner or made a big mistake or if the car is in charging mode or in attack mode. But I realise that engine sounds are important for a lot of fans so having a faster and louder engine which approaches the magic number of 1000bhp can do a lot to appease those fans and might even attract some of the old fans who were turned off by the current formula back to F1. But more importantly if F1 really want to expand the number of viewers than having F1 behind a pay wall does not help 😉

            Is having only half the races and some highlights enough to entice the casual fan who might be attracted to such an engine formula enough to actually convince them to take that extra TV package and buy that ticket to a race… ?

  8. Today some newspapers in Mexico are publishing what they say will be the prices for the GP of Mexico later this year. If those are really the prices they are absurd. COTA might be safe after all. All prices are 3 day admission:
    General admission – US$169 (like COTA)
    Grandstand 7 (at the baseball stadium) – US$250 (COTA has four tickets at this level: turns 4, 5, 9 and 11 cost US$299)
    Grandstand 6 (at the baseball stadium) – US$670 (COTA’s turn 12 is US$399 – US$499; turns 1 and 15 and main grandstand are between US$550 and US$700)
    Grandstands at turns 1, 2 and 3, and 4, 5, and 6 – US$1,000 and US$1,200 (at the same level as the mezzanine ticket in the main grandstand in COTA: US$1,100)
    Suites – US$4,000 and US$5,340 (COTA’s suite at main grandstand is US$1,999)
    Nothing is said of prices in the grandstands at the main straight but they should be more expensive that turn 1, 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6.
    Of course hotels are more expensive in the US, especially in Austin during the GP weekend but is still possible to sleep in Houston or Dallas and driving a couple of hours in the morning and evening –I have done it-. With some good planning even going to the Canadian GP can be cheaper.

  9. Re: Ecclestone/FOM part x^∞

    Simple – total control of everything. TV coverage behind pay-wall, means plebs will be unable to afford to watch. Make F1™ exclusive, and high street names wont want to sponsor teams, because their demographic has either switched off, or gone broke paying for Sky’s football package¹. Price increase very soon. So teams now have to rely on Bernie’s prize money. Hey we can’t have teams being financially independent, that would give them some leverage in negotiations. Wants to get rid of Mercedes? Of course he does, along with the other manufacturers. Whatever other teams may say, Mercedes have the potential to unite the other top teams in a move against FOM, if it was in their broad interest to do so. Honda coming in next year, must be giving Ecclestone/FOM some pause for thought. Well the result of that thought was a 2013 Red Bull chassis with a standard engine, all from an Ecclestone, Kolles and Briatore combine. E.L.James must have had some influence on that script. 😉

    Some years ago I met a leading NASCAR team owner, and a member of the France family, who run NASCAR. They described a virtuous circle, enter at any point. Full grids mean exciting racing – this attracts fans on site and watching TV, – this attracts sponsors who want the ‘eyeballs’, sponsors will pay teams, – and so on. Everybody makes money. Yippee! American model vs Bernie’s British business model, no contest. F1™ eats itself, and manufacturers move to WEC, GT, and Rallycross.

    ¹ https://f1broadcasting.wordpress.com/

  10. Just in case there is anyone out there who can relate to my post yesterday regarding blocked TV content, I have by chance discovered there is an app that overcomes the block. Works a treat too….:-)

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