#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 23rd February 2015


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Previously on TheJudge13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: “Slightly Drunk Qualifying”

Day 8 #F1 2015 Winter Testing: Barcelona, Afternoon Report

Day 8 #F1 2015 Winter Testing: Barcelona, Morning Report

On This Day in #F1: 23rd February 1953 – Nakajima-san – It’s all in the numbers

OTD Lite: 1958 – Kidnapping of a champion

Deadline extension for Honda, but possibly less token for development

Williams mocks Ralf Schumacher

Ferrari running seemingly on schedule

Mercedes fires arrows across the opposition’s bows

The Usher’s Caption Competition

Who needs engine development tokens?

Vettel intends to break helmet restrictions

OTD Lite: 1958 – Kidnapping of a champion

The Bahrainian regime is trying to oppose a revolution within its own borders and is broadcasting a story to the outside world that gullible journalists on Bernie’s payroll are happy to propogate. Of course this constant manipulation of facts is seen by the revolutionaries as an antagonistic move and they decide to take stronger action that cannot be ignored.

Lewis Hamilton arrives at his hotel for dinner after qualifying and is escorted away by kidnappers who keep him out of sight for the weekend and the story flies across the globe in seconds. Bringing the whole regime under the closest scrutiny.

Has the Jackal lost his mind? What third class novel is he reading? I am of course bringing an event that happened over half a century ago into some form of modern equivalent. Reigning five time champion Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped during the weekend of the 1958 Cuban GP and was safely returned after the event – creating headlines around the world for the Cuban revolutionaries that were fighting in support of Fidel Castro.


The Grumpy Jackal


Deadline extension for Honda, but possibly less token for development

Being a Honda executive is not really a dream job right now. From that first test in Abu Dhabi after last year’s season closing Abu Double GP – right through to yesterday’s closing day of the second week of testing – whenever the much-heralded reunion of the mighty partners who dominated the late eighties and early nineties showed up on track, it has looked more like a 1992 pre-qualifying of Andrea Moda.

While “seal-gate” on Saturday was pretty much the ultimate humiliation, the Sunday turned out to be downright catastrophic. Not only did the team lose hours of running due to ‘trouble seal Evo III’ only arriving late at night – after less than two hours they were left with a dented car and an even more dented driver. After a shunt that left even seasoned pilots like Vettel scratching their heads as it looked anything but an accident.

While at the time of writing we are still left to speculate as to what exactly happened, at the moment the most commonly voiced opinion is that Alonso was about to pass out and to facilitate at least some deceleration while he blacked out, he whacked it sideways into the wall.

Why Fernando would become incapacitated prior to an ‘off’ is little more than a wild guess. Battery fumes, health problems and electrocution are only some of the possibilities and we await a complete ‘official confirmation’ – though whether that will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing bu the truth – is anyone’s guess.

What appears to be hard to deny though is, that the MP4-30 has more problems than just a wonky seal on Honda’s MGU-K.

Amid all this doom and gloom there was finally some good news for McLaren Honda as their deadline for homologation of the engine has been extended from February 28th to March 2nd. That is, until one remembers that the February only has 28 days, and that this year the 28th is a Saturday.

Further, the final day of testing is March 1st this year so in effect the extension means absolutely nothing.

What may cost rather more is that murmurings in the Barcelona paddock suggest that Honda will get fewer tokens for in-season development than expected.

For those whose F1 eyes were glazed over in January – we discovered that the FIA had left a hair-raising oversight in their rules, that resulted in the situation that Honda, as a new manufacturer has to homologate their power unit on Feb 28th/March 2nd – while Ferrari; Mercedes-Benz and Renault can do that at any time during the year.

Following much gnashing of teeth from Honda, a compromise would be reached that sees Honda receiving the average number of development tokens unused by the other manufacturers at the first race of the season. Speculation and rumour has suggested previously that this would see around 6 to 8 (from 32) development tokens available to Honda. The latest word in pit lane row is the existing manufacturers may have overestimated how many token they would have left over, meaning that the average will inevitably go down.

However, Renault are playing their own relationship games with Red Bull at present and just prior to the Barcelona test Remi Taffin stated that it may be better for Renault to save a lot of their development tokens until later in the year. So who knows what will happen.

Accordingly, McLaren’s Ron Dennis is playing hard ball, insisting that they want the highest number of tokens that any of the manufacturers has left unused following the Melbourne race. Yet Motorsport Total today quote an unnamed FIA source as stating Woking has already been handed a gift with the average token idea – and that there were no grounds for McLaren to make further demands.

One really has to be a hardcore fan to take this. Another season of silver domination is looming and on top of it looks like a year of endless squabbling among the teams.


Williams mocks Ralf Schumacher

Williams, who had planned to concentrate on setup work and race simulations have been frustrated my the myriad of red flags on the final day of testing, which kept interrupting their long-runs.

“All these interruptions have been hindering our progress and are the reason that we couldn’t quite finish all that we had planned,” said testing engineer Rod Nelson. “There were so many red flags, it was almost as if Ralf Schumacher was back.”

Nelson offered no explanation for this rather personal dig at the Williams former racing driver, but in the end he expressed his satisfaction with what the squad had achieved during the second week of testing.


Ferrari running seemingly on schedule

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completed 76 laps – totalling 353 km. The primary focus for the test being aerodynamic and tyre tests on both medium and soft tyres. The times never fell below the 1’26 as the Italian squad ran checks on car throughout.

Despite their respective animosity towards each other over the years Vettel was quick to send his best wishes to his fiercest competitor “First of all I would like to wish a speedy recovery Fernando. Luckily we have already received some positive news in this regard, so I hope that will be fit again to test next week.”


In addition, after coming back from his stint that had him witness Alonso’s crash, he immediately rushed over to the McLaren garage, offering his observations to help the Woking squad make sense of what had happened.

“In regards our tests today, we focused on reliability, completing some long runs and testing different parts. We were not able to complete everything that we wanted, but at this stage of winter testing we always have some teething problems to deal with. Overall, I can confirm my feeling with the car is good, and am looking forward to next week’s test.”

Simone Resta, Ferrari’s chief designer summarised the work done by the Maranello team: “Overall, over these four days we have followed the original development program. We have also brought forward aerodynamic measurements as a function of the elements that will be developed in the wind tunnel, as well as tests of hardware and structures – and in conjunction tested different tyre solutions.”

“Throughout the program there have been pauses for planned replacement of parts when they have reached the end of their cycle. We have tested many parts as in a race simulation but havn’t completed a race simulation yet; but this has always been in accordance with our plans. The drivers have confirmed a good feeling with the car and the set-up work has served to improve these feelings, but also to adapt to the weather conditions that varied continuously. “

The question, why Vettel spent most of the afternoon in the pits, was left unanswered by Ferrari’s statement.


Mercedes fires arrows across the opposition’s bows

1:24,321… A time that sent a shiver through the opposition but one that Nico Rosberg was not impressed by. “You may think that our time is a great time but according to our calculations it wan’t really – in relation to the times of the last few days. There was a lot of wind today, and the car did not behave consistently. It was changing from corner to corner which caused problems with the set-up. It took longer than we expected but we collected some useful data.”

In spite of everything, the W06 completed its program although at one point the team had a small concern with their gearbox. “We thought we might have to change the gearbox, but with a thorough cross-checking of data, we realized that everything was as it should be. I’m really very confident. We have a great team, but we continue to keep an eye fixed on our rivals who are always very strong. It is not yet entirely clear, but I think we are in a really good position.”

As to the oppositions fear of another Silver Arrows rout? Romain Grosjean set his best time on the SuperSoft – whereas the 2014 runner-up set his on the Pirelli medium compound.


The Usher’s Caption Competition

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

Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.10.33



Who needs engine development tokens?

There is a lot of mystery around what engine manufacturers can and cannot change in their engines outside the agreed development tokens and as part of the ‘in season development exemption’ under the guise of ‘safety’ and ‘cost reduction’.

An engine manufacturer wishing to make a modification to their homologated engine during 2014 had to apply to the FIA. Were the proposed change one which was obviously within the ‘allowed criteria’ then the FIA would grant it directly.

However, if the proposed modification appeared to be in a ‘grey’ area, then the FIA would circulate the application amongst the other manufacturers for a ‘peer review’.

TJ13 spoke to a representative from one of the power unit suppliers in Jerez, and discovered during the 2014 season they had made engine modifications between most – if not all of the races.

Following the second F1 winter test in Barcelona, Chris Medland of F1i.com has published an interview with Honda’s motorsport chief, Yasuhisa Arai.

Arai was asked whether Honda had a plan for their season long development of their F1 engine: “I don’t know how many tokens we have! It depends on the other teams. Someone might say they have spent everything so we have no tokens. It depends on the other teams.

“We have planned development not depending on tokens. We have a plan to improve every day, day-by-day, week-by-week.”

This revelation appears to support the information TJ13 gleaned in Jerez. Clearly, there is plenty of scope for in season engine development which can be used during the year as ‘modified engines’ without requiring the use of engine development tokens.

Whether this is within the spirit of the idea of a homologated engine is questionable.

Yasuhisa Arai also appears to rule out supplying Manor Racing with a 2015 Honda engine. When asked whether Honda would supply another team in 2016, he replied: “If someone comes to us … but it’s a very difficult question because I am wondering can we prepare for supplying a second team during the season? I don’t know. We concentrate on this season with McLaren as one team.”

Finally, there is hope for fans of the Woking team as Arai reiterates his belief that Honda and McLaren have worked on an intergrated approach between the car and the engine which is very aggressive.

“Our design is part of a very tight package for aerodynamics and it’s a very good design, but some sealing parts have some not so good quality so that’s the seal problem we had. [On Saturday] we got another part and put it on the car and made it run very well.”

Honda are on schedule to homologate as requested, though what we see in Melbourne will obviously not be the final story for this reborn partnership.


Vettel intends to break helmet restrictions

The grand announcement of unanimous agreement in Formula One land over anything, is worthy of headlines. Last week, we learned that the teams, the FIA and FOM had agreed the drivers should wear only one helmet design for the entire season.

This new rule followed FOM failing to persuade the teams to provide more space on the cars for bigger driver identification numbers to be displayed. The teams refused on the grounds that this would provide less space for paying sponsors.

Whether this rule has been properly thought out or not – we will discover in the near future. Yet, as with all rules, they tend to be open in some way to interpretation.

Simply put, what is ‘the design’ of a helmet? Are exact colour hues included? What if a driver varied a colour hue? Would anyone notice?

Quadruple World F1 Champion, Sebastian Vettel, has donned over 60 different helmet designs since he entered Formula One and he intends to defy the new regulation.

“It seems in these difficult times, they [silly rules] are the only thing that people can agree on,” Vettel told the assembled media on Saturday.

“The plan was to calm down a little bit. I don’t know what is the penalty. If it is a little fine with money for charity, then I am happy to keep changing my helmet.”

It could be that the spirit of how to approach a regulation has been branded into Sebastian’s soul during his time at Red Bull Racing.

86 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 23rd February 2015

  1. “While at the time of writing we are still left to speculate as to what exactly happened”…so what is the rush to publish speculation? Why not wait for the team to release their analysis.

    • I hope it comes before a title sponsor.. at least we know who will drive now.. or do we.. Kevin is on stand-by, if needed for the last test! Even then, they’ll probably just use Jenson.

        • Told you they were not going to say what really happened. I can tell you straight to the face – they are lying through their teeth. First of all. Alonso stays in hospital because of ‘medication to deal with the medication he’s been given before’. Bullshit!
          He’s been electrocuted the shit out of and now they’re keeping him, because heart problems can strike as late as 72 hours after the incident. Speaking from experience. I was electrocuted once and had to ‘do time’ for three days. That should also explain why they held up screens when he was carried from the med center to the heli. There’s a good chance he had made a mess of himself as in shitting and pissing his pants.
          As for them mentioning Sainz. Yes, Sainz really was caught out by the wind, but in accordance to the laws of physics, his car was thrown towards the outside of the corner, not the inside. Alonso’s car had to overcome centrifugal force and still generate more than 15G impact – you need a hurricane for that.

          • “Alonso stays in hospital because of ‘medication to deal with the medication he’s been given before’. Bullshit!
            He’s been electrocuted…”

            Wow! That is amazing!

            First, we know that Alonso has a bad concussion. McLaren said so, and various symptoms were reported. In addition, his last bad concussion was only 15 months ago, and it took him roughly a week to recuperate back then.

            So this traumatic brain injury, given how bad it is, and his recent history, would be enough to keep in the hospital.

            Second, we know he was sedated, and a side effect of sedation meds can be nauseau and other nasty side effect.

            So we shouldn’t be surprised he is staying in the hospital.

            Third, despite all the evidence to the contrary, you believe it’s electrocution. Why? Is it only because you were once electrocuted?

            “Sainz… was caught out by the wind… his car was thrown towards the outside of the corner…”
            Correct! As was Alonso’s car… Alonso’s car touched the turf, and started to go sideways. Alonso was braking and downshifting all the way across the track trying to bring it back.

            As you know, oversteer to the inside, understeer to the outside.

          • Alonso’s car was never near the outside of the corner – he could never have hit the wall at such a shallow angle had he veered across the whole track. Whre were you when physics classes were on at school?

          • How do you know he was shocked? Not arguing with you, just want some source/clarification.

            And by the way, ‘electrocute’ in English is generally accepted to mean to be killed by electricity; derivation is electr- + -cute (as in execute), first known use was in 1889 (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

          • Well, he was zapped. The things around it just fit. The weird car movement, black out. the hiding of the patient – not because he was looking too bad, but because he had most likely pissed himself. I’ve been there after a workplace accident.

            Yesterday we heard that CT scans were all fine, yet he isn’t released from hospital. I added 1+1 and came up with something other than eleven.

          • @FatHippo Have you seen the photo of the skid mark on the track leading up to the wall? If he was zapped and passed out and making skid marks in his pants, how do you account for the tire mark? I don’t think the team is saying the wind blew him into the wall, but contributed to the instability of the car, leading to a chain reaction. I know you love the “he got zapped” conspiracy theory, and any other statement is a bunch of lies, but just maybe there could be another logical explanation.

          • @Gomer… Oxford dictionary.. “Injure or kill (someone) by electric shock”. So person can still be a alive.

          • @ Bionai….. I understand, but the term is American in origin and is generally understood to follow the American idiom. In American writing it is assumed that if the victim is dead from electric shock he/she was electrocuted (died by the application of electricity) otherwise the victim, still living, had experienced an electric shock. Unfortunately the term is American in origin as we were the originators of execution by electricity.

          • Mr. Hippo said:
            “Alonso’s car was never near the outside of the corner”

            I know you’ve read the McLaren statement. Their data found the car did move to the outside and touched the turf.

            For the tin-hat conspiracy crowd, note that Somerfield’s blog has the fan’s picture from turn 3 prior to the crash, and we see Alonso is pretty high (or outside) on the racing line, nearer to the outside edge of the track.

            Mr. Hippo said:
            ” – he could never have hit the wall at such a shallow angle had he veered across the whole track. Where were you when physics classes were on at school?”

            And where was your mind Mr. Hippo during race classes? One of the first things that students are taught in a race driving course is, “understeer to the outside, oversteer to the inside.” (For those driving a road vehicle w/out stability control systems, this knowledge can save a life.)

            Given the position of the car in said photo, and tire marks in the other three photos on Somerfield’s blog, (combined with McLaren’s data), it becomes fairly clear… Alonso touched the turf and began chasing the back-end of the car. The arc tightened and headed toward the inside of the track as he continued to chase it.

            McLaren noted that he was using strong brake pressure and down-shifting. Hence the single skid mark of the unloaded inside rear tire that arcs across the track to the wall.

            In addition, McLaren noted the inside front wheel hit the wall, then the rear wheel (oversteer).

            Energy absorption systems in F1 cars are designed primarily for frontal impacts, as opposed to a fast slideways pop in to a wall. So quick, violent energies (30G, etc.) were transfered to his skull. MTBI.

            Understeer to the outside, oversteer to the inside.

        • Not everyone who gets transported in a helicopter has to be sedated…and if they sedated him he would also have been intubated…which means that even if he was conscious and talking at the time he would have been confused and had an obvious head injury…in which case it wouldn’t be safe to take him in a helicopter like that…and they won’t discharge him until he is mostly back to normal…with concussion the CT and MRI are usually normal…the injury sustained is microscopic damage.

  2. Made the point yesterday but if the basic plan is sound Honda can make changes “if they are being proposed for reliability,
    safety or cost-saving reasons”, according to subsection (c) of Appendix 4 of the Sporting regs. So fewer tokens for dev not great, but they are completely allowed to make changes needed to get to the finish line.

  3. Don’t forget Boullier’s statement… “Inevitably, some media reports have sought to exaggerate the severity of the incident – it was just a normal testing accident.” Hopefully we get the real answer soon.

    • How many ‘normal testing accidents’ have we seen, where a car whacks into the wall decellerating at over 15G and against centrifugal force? In a normal accident he would have had his off at the OUTSIDE of the corner. That’s what the laws of physics say at least.

      • Seb’s comment on the incident…..

        “The German said: “The speed was slow – maybe 150kph. Then he turned right into the wall. It looked strange.”

        So clearly it wasn’t just a normal accident, there’s more to this than they’re letting on.

        • On the picture that we posted during the test coverage you can see that the frontwheel is turned right. So there are little plausible causes other than a jammed/broken steering or he did it on purpose (to decelerate because he sensed that he was close to blacking out) and it was the outside wheel, so it could not be caused by wall contact either

        • Agreed, there is far more to this than just wind, otherwise Alonso & Button would be in trouble given the McLaren press office.

          If you black out you can normally sense its arrival, however tyre marks suggest ALO was locked up on at least one wheel when he went off. I’m wondering if he’s received some kind of nasty electrical shock, hence the extreme caution before he’s allowed to leave hospital? Obviously that kind of issue would be something that Honda wouldn’t want people to know, as the PR would be incredibly bad for them.

          • ” some kind of nasty electrical shock”

            Well, that’s what I’ve been worried of ever since they introduced KERS with DC. I remember in 2009 (or was it 2008?) testing how drivers were jumping like bunnies out of stricken cars. Just as we systematically have fires on F1 cars, DC-related incidents are one of those things waiting to happen… I just can’t see how they could fully, 100% secure all circuitry in a modern F1 power unit… Especially in case of accidents.

          • I hadn’t realised until recently when listening to Radio 5, that if you receive a big electric shock, and seem ok. The body stores the electric and you’re not allowed to take a bath or shower for 48 hours or you can still electrocute yourself, there is some weird stuff that i cant remember..

          • @ Jamie….. Ha ha ha. Just like an electric eel.

            Caption: ‘Out evil spirits, the power of Christ compels you!!!”

          • For Jamie,

            Is that somehow the body acts as a massive wet capacitor, and the risk is to discharge the loaded potential from the body?

            I don’t know enough of the physics, but I presume that somehow minor static discharges and other dissipation or internal resistance causes the potential difference to drop over time… anyone know exactly how this works?

          • It’s hogwash. The human body is not a capacitor and the ‘you can’t take a bath for 48h’ bullcrap is just that – bovine excrement. Complete and utter rubbish. Electricity isn’t a deodorant that dissipates with time. The human body is a conductor – Electricity runs through us, kills us to death or not, depending on Voltage and current intensity and that’s it. Since we are rarely hovering above the ground any impact of electricity would be grounded.

          • @ Jamie.

            I didn’t think you were serious, I thought you had just made this up for a laugh. Fat Hippo is right, the human body won’t ‘store’ electricity like a battery or a capacitor.

          • @ Iestyn

            We use AC mostly because it’s way easier to transform voltage, among other things, leading to lots of advantages over DC.

            Off topic, I know, but there is some interesting history about the AC/DC wars back in the 1880’s at the beginning of the introduction of electricity; Thomas Edison was a DC man and George Westinghouse was AC. Edison even went so far as to publicly kill animals with the evil AC current; he also secretly pushed the construction of the first electric chair to show how dangerous AC was. The first execution was pretty much a botched job (as are/were they still, IMHO).

          • It’s a shame Tesla didn’t have the financial might of Edison.. he had wireless transmission before 1900, yet it’s only after 2000 we started seeing it become commonplace.. he did let Westinghouse out of a contract at one point and it ruined him financially.

      • Correct in that it was an unusual testing accident.

        Obviously very wrong (by a large percentage of examples) that “the laws of physics say… he would have had his off at the OUTSIDE of the corner.”

  4. Regarding Alonso’s accident, his manager has publicly stated that it was caused by the strong winds on that part of the circuit and that the driver was not incapacitated in any manner before the shunt.

    • Which means, Alonso’s manager lied. Vettel was very close to Alonso. So while one is “blown” into a 15+G impact, the other just goes on? And the wind came from the north. Alonso would have been “blown” anywhere, but not into that wall.

      • Judging by the tyre marks, the angle the car hit the wall and the fact the front wing is missing in photos, I think it’s pretty obvious that there was a mechanical failure of some sort. The angle he hit the wall meant that he absorbed most of the impact.

      • the Sky reporter, Rachel, said he’s gpung to be retained at Intensive Care for further observations

        sounds more deeper than a “testing crash”, and, heavens forbid, but the last time a racer passed out in major racing series was quite serious, I think you’ll remember who was and the outcome

      • the Sky reporter, Rachel, said he’s going to be retained at Intensive Care for further observations

        sounds more deeper than a “testing crash”, and, heavens forbid, but the last time a racer passed out in major racing series was quite serious, I think you’ll remember who was and the outcome

      • Seems like something odd went on, however we’ll just have to wait and see what Alonso says once he’s out of hospital. If he were electrocuted then I suspect that’s not something he’d keep quiet about.

        Anyway I’m still uneasy about the placement of the batteries, namely under the fuel tank. Now I know the fuel tanks are a mix of Kevlar and rubber and should therefore be quite safe, you can’t account for something unexpected going wrong.

      • Mr. Hippo said:
        “Which means, Alonso’s manager lied. Vettel was very close to Alonso. So while one is “blown” into a 15+G impact, the other just goes on? And the wind came from the north. Alonso would have been “blown” anywhere, but not into that wall.”


        There appear to be various errors of opinion expressed by the Chief Ranting Officer in this earlier statement. How many errors? Four, …five?

        • Somers is speculating as much as we are, and he’s wrong too. Until I bashed his head on it, he didn’t even know that Alonso impacted the wall more than once.

          • 1) “…Alonso’s manager lied.”
            Wrong! McLaren’s detailed released confirms he was correct.

            2) “Vettel was very close to Alonso.”
            Wrong! The video and pictures show Vettel was behind but NOT “very close”.

            3) “So while one is “blown” into a 15+G impact, the other (Vettel, not Sainz obviously) just goes on?”
            The video showed Vettel had just come out of the pits, so was not attacking, but would be getting tires up to temp.

            4) “And the wind came from the north.”
            The video shows very strong gusts. We can see it on the spectators in the stands (heavy jackets flapping in wind, hair, etc.).

            The video and pictures show the hills surrounding the track, and more importantly that turn goes around a large steep hill, so the wind direction may not have been predictable. In any case, it was the gusts, not the direction of the wind, which contributed to moving the car in a surprising way there.

            5) “Alonso would have been “blown” anywhere, but not into that wall.”
            Your most surprising error, candidly. I have a lot of respect for you and consider you to be an intelligent viewer of motorsports, with some track time experience, and some quality race sim experience. (I mean that, hope my memory is correct, btw.) So you should know it’s possible for a car to go off to the inside of the corner.

            Obviously the tire marks, combined with McLaren’s statement make it clear what happened. The car moved out and touched the turf, Alonso began wresting the car back, while giving it as much brake as possible (hence the single skid mark from the unloaded inside rear tire all the way in). The track is not wide, and he couldn’t get the nose to tuck back to left before he went on the grass.

            So, five errors of opinion! But nice rant style. 🙂

        • McLaren’s statement is pretty clear, and categoric.
          To continue to call them liars would, I think, be actionable.

          • Just because they say so categorically does not mean they aren’t lying. They have a history of doing that. Are you really expecting them to admit to a car fault even more so as they are still looking for a title sponsor and had had their fair sahre of humiliation already?

          • I expressed no opinion either way – I merely stated, correctly, I believe, that your continued accusation would be actionable.

            Of course, should you be able to demonstrate unambiguously that you are correct, you would have a defence.

          • I’m not saying it was the wind that caused the crash, but I was at the Spanish GP in 2011 (a horrible boring circuit btw, not a patch on Silverstone) We were sat in the stand in that middle loop opposite turn 3 on quali day, it had been beautiful hot weather all day and all week, suddenly, completely out of nowhere, a wind came up that was so scary and freaky that we had to move down to the low seats at the front, it was the weirdest thing, lastest a few minutes, then went as quick as it came, a wind like that could very easily throw a car badly off course.

        • Can anyone point us to the useful photos and more importantly the video? I did a quick search, but couldn’t find anything more interesting than the CCTV showing very quickly the stranded car, and the video where they throw Alonso (behind curtains) on the helicopter.


          • @VM

            Excellent resource, thanks.

            From the trickle of data we have, and McLaren’s statements, I now have very little doubt that Fred’s veer at Barcelona is nothing other than a copycat of Perez’s/Vettel’s astroturf incidents in Hungary 2014. The geometry of the accidents are identical: put left rear on the astroturf, apply throttle, lose the rear, and the car veers and oversteers aggressively to the right. Very little that the driver can do…

            Then in Hungary you had rain, even if Vettel’s indiscretion happened on a drying track (so rain won’t explain everything). Now in Barcelona there was (probably) a strong, concurrent gush of wind. We have already seen in 2014 drivers losing the rear when abusing the astroturf (Vettel in Pouhon at Spa springs to mind, when he generously allowed Danny boy through). If you add unfavorable conditions (rain, overused astroturf, a strong gush of wind, cold tires, etc.) and high-speed corner and/or generous throttle application (remember how throttly are these power units), then I can totally see a car losing it like Fred’s seems to have…




  5. Haven’t heard anything about Lewis’ contract negotiations recently. Thought the desire was to have this sorted by Melbourne.

    It’ll be interesting to see which negotiations will end up being the saga of the next few months, Greece’s with Germany/Eurogroup or Lewis’ with Merc?

    • Not buying that story. Maldonado had the same accident, but the difference is, Pastor kept the loud pedal planted hoping to correct the mistake. I can’t see a driver of Alonso’s calibre make such a rookie mistake, especially during a testing session.

      • Hmm, sounds plausible… Fred lost it onto the slippery astroturf and under the strong wind. Could be.

        Well, I realize that this is of course why the put it out to the world. But it could have been this way. (Interesting if Vettel can confirm (some of) this…) And McLaren is certainly exposing itself by denying strongly and out-loud any technical failure; if at any point something contradictory is exposed, they shall be in a tough position.

        Actually for me this raises—again—the question of astroturf safety. It goes roughly like this: gravel and grass is too dangerous, hence parking lots; with parking lots drivers regularly abuse track limits, hence slippery astroturf. It’s sufficiently slippery to make drivers lose time, but not too much. Or so Charlie says.

        IMO astroturf is very, very dangerous. It seems to me that it has a non-linear effect, whereas for a number of times the astroturf gives sufficient grip for drivers to use it; but at one point, after overuse or under rain for instance, it shall be supremely slippery and enough to make a car veer uncontrollably. Remember Hungary 2014…

        Perez ~1.45min
        Vettel ~2.19min


        So yeah, I can see astroturf causing this, under a strong gust of wind and with cold tires, such a veer could indeed have happened. For me astroturf is more dangerous than grass, as with grass drivers *always* know to get off the damn loud pedal. While with astroturf they get into a false sense of security until it bites them in the wall…

        • They didn’t have a typhoon out there. There’s one thing I’m willing to bet for. Wind had absolutely nothing to do with it. What the wind does – we got to see later that afternoon with Sainz. His car’s balance was upset, he lost control and spun out – to the OUTSIDE of the corner as prescribed by the laws of physics.

        • What happened in Hungary last year is irrelevant to yesterday, Hungary was a wet race.

          How many times last did drivers go over that same piece of AstroTurf at far greater speeds than 150kph? At that speed a driver with Alonso’s skills could’ve easily corrected any such spin/slide or whatever it was.

          Like I said, the reason thst they’re giving is too simplistic. Maldonado had a heavier shunt last year and didn’t require any medical check ups much less staying in the hospital overnight, he even got out of the car under his own power.

          In the video I posted, I think Alonso was knocked out, hence all the shielding and the marshals ushering away the spectators that were right there.

          Something is amiss with this story.

  6. I think Honda are already settled on the race specification power unit’s design, so any extension I’d guess relates to the ERS. The dodgy MGU-K seal would likely come under the reliability and safety clauses of the technical regulations. The next big test for Honda is getting the race specification unit running solidly throughout the final test. If they can’t do that, they could face the embarrassment of not even being within the 107% rule through practise and Q1.
    So one long hard slog for McLaren Honda to get everything working properly over the course of 2015 to even get close to mounting a challenge against Mercedes in 2016/17.

    • Based on the laptimes and speed shown so far, falling afoul of the 107% rule is not likely.

      The more likely embarrassment, if (as you say) things continue to go badly during the last 4 test days, (and during the pre-race sessions in Melbourne), is that neither McLaren completes the race distance.

  7. “Over 60 different designs” is a nice way of saying that Vettel has used exactly 95 different helmet liveries 😉

    BTW, his helmet change quip has less to do with him actually intending to do that. before the helmet ban came out, he already said that he intends to leave his rather simple new design largely untouched for the season. I think he was merely taking the piss out of the fact that this was all the Strategy Group could agree upon. And I agree to a point. Does it really matter? And that daft new rule disallows one-offs like Massa’s Ferrari tribute helmet in his last race for the Scuderia. It’s just hogwash.

  8. I read Hippo’s take on electrocution and Alonso’s off and subsequent hospitalisation and think ‘poor bloody Alonso’s not the only one who has lost it…….’

    Then I pause to consider how such a scenario as Hippo’s could come about…..Can anyone offer any rational explanation of how he may have copped a belt whilst driving the car?
    I also ponder what exactly is the form of the troublesome seal?
    Is it a mechanical seal, is it a gasket type seal, is it an isolator?
    Has anyone seen anything from McH that clarifies where they are at with rectifying the problems they had running the car usefully in this test session?

  9. Re Alonso’s condition right after the accident: the McLaren statement mentioned that the driver was sedated in preparation for the helo ride as is customary or something along those lines. I’m not a doctor (And I don’t even play one on TV…) but is this really the case that every driver that is given a ride gets sedated? Seems odd to me.

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