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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..
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.”
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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.