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Previously on TheJudge13:
OTD Lite: 2000 – Womankind dismissed by wrinkled old man
“In all likelihood women will never get the opportunity because no one will ever take them seriously,” said Bernie Ecclestone on this day 15 years ago. “Therefore they’re never ever going to get into a competitive race car. Who is going to take a chance? Ferrari can’t take a chance.”
More recently he suggested that women should remain in the kitchen like other white goods!! It seems that Mr E has maintained an antiquated stance when it comes to the fairer sex and Formula One. The only time they appear to be taken seriously is when they are brandishing flags as they line the grid at the start of races. Although no doubt Claire Williams and Monisha Kalternborn would probably argue a fair case.
Either way, with Susie Wolff getting time driving the Williams and Simona de Silvestro having had serious running in the Sauber last year it seemed as though F1 was finally changing its attitudes with regards female drivers – all to be set back by the Lotus F1 team’s announcement of Carmen Jorda as their development driver.
I include a picture of the lady for people who are behind with the news, but I have to admit, it took a little while to find one that actually depicted her in non-sexist racing attire.
Mercedes change highlights Renault shortcomings
At times in Formula One – as in any walk of life – it is the unspoken words that suggest possibly the largest damnation. Lotus technical director Nick Chester says the Enstone team is surprised how few teething problems it has experienced since the adoption of the German power unit.
Following what was best described as a character building season in 2014 – Lotus looks like a completely different outfit this winter having changed from the Renault power plant to Mercedes.
“Given the number of changes I’m pleased with how the running has gone and how few changes we’ve had … It’s massively different. Straight out of the box we were running a good number of laps. We’ve been running 130 laps a day no problem and the car is much, much more reliable. I almost don’t say it because we’d hate to retire in Melbourne now but the car has been very reliable.”
“It looks a lot better really. The power unit is a good step forward for us, and on the chassis there is a big step forward. We’ve got a much more consistent car, drivers can get a lot more out of it much more easily, it’s much easier to drive on the limit and more predictable, so we’ve got quite good steps in both areas.”
Mclaren hoping to be ready by Spanish GP
In 2013 and 2014 Mclaren started off their campaigns with a car that was significantly behind the front runners and the team’s racing director Eric Boullier is suggesting that it could take until the Spanish Grand Prix on May 10th before they will be able to unleash the full potential of the MP4/30.
Over the course of 12 test days in Spain, McLaren completed just 379 laps with reliability issues. This mileage is similar to that of Red Bull in 2014. The key difference though is from a Honda perspective; in 2014 Renault had 4 teams running their power units – clocking up over 8000 kms – Honda have just under 1800 kms under their belt.
Yet, Eric Boullier remains optimistic for the season ahead.
“Looking back at the last four weeks, our winter test programme has been difficult. However, that wasn’t entirely unexpected: this time last year, we saw many teams in a similar situation when they introduced new power units for the first time. This year, we also had the added complexity that very tight packaging brings.”
The packaging being something that is surely a legacy of Peter Podromou having worked with Adrian Newey – at Red Bull all these years – and a design direction that has been brought to the Woking team. It was also the Red Bull that suffered the worst of Renault’s reliability issues during winter testing last year when the tight design caused considerable problems with over-heating.
“We won’t be as ready as we would like but we will do our best obviously. We have covered most of the issues, we have covered most of the systems and the positive is everything is working as per design and plan. The reliability is still a concern, clearly, and I don’t know how long it is going to take to be honest.”
“We have some plans in place now which have been drastically improved in both our organisations working together. I think it’s going to take a few races but we should be at least maybe by Europe ready to be more competitive. It is true we didn’t do as many laps as we wanted. It is true it is going to hurt the development and the car on the performance side. But we will recover. It is just a delay, if I may say this. It is not that negative or disappointing.”
What may be of concern to the many fans of Mclaren is that Boullier was often found to be uttering similar assurances of progress throughout last year – and of more significance is the fact that maybe those media reports of Honda being some six months behind schedule are actually true.
The fact that Honda have to homologate their unit today and McLaren’s shambolic information policy after the Alonso accident won’t help much either. As we have said here on TJ13 as early as last year, Honda’s decision to concentrate on a single team is proving a liability so far.
Red Bull 2015 race livery
It’s hardly ground breaking – but it is now FIA legal – and Red Bull delivered their internet marketing objectives racking up several million credits for comments and pictures posted about their “Zeb-Bull” livery.
Chilton confirms 2015 race plans
Former F1 racer Max Chilton and Nissan regular Alex Buncombe complete Nissan’s squad of nine drivers for the WEC LMP1 entrant – the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO. This news was announced ahead of the Geneva Motor Show where Nissan’s LM P1 car will appear for the first time in Europe.
Max Chilton joins Nissan after two seasons in Formula One, where he became the rookie with the ‘safest pair of hands’ demonstrated when he finished every single one of the races in his debut season in 2013. Fast and mistake-free is the order of the day in LM P1 racing so the British racer will hope to be an asset to Nissan’s pioneering new team.
“I’m honoured to have been asked to join a manufacturer as prestigious as Nissan in a championship that is growing year on year,” said Chilton. “Le Mans has always had an amazing following and to be racing there as a works driver is a dream come true. My aim has always been to race at the highest level and the technology that has gone into the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is as impressive as a Formula 1 car. Having met with the team and seen first-hand the dedication and desire to win that exists within this project I can’t wait to get on track.”
Fans of motorsport videos on YouTube will need no introduction to the racing skills of Alex Buncombe. He has become a star via his onboard camera videos, such as the one from Monza that showed him overtaking 18 cars on the opening lap of a GT race last year, which over half a million people have watched. He is less known for his work as the mentor to all of Nissan’s GT Academy winners since the programme began in 2008. Now he can’t wait to get his GoPro in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.
“This is a genuine dream come true for me,” said Buncombe. “I was shocked when I got the call and I haven’t been able to wipe the grin off my face ever since. It’s very rewarding being the mentor of the GT Academy winners, especially when I see how much the likes of Lucas (Ordonez) and Jann (Mardenborough) have gone on to achieve. Now I’m going to race at Le Mans with them in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO. I already know a fair amount about the car and I can’t wait to have a go. It’s a radical design and, as with all new cars it will take some developing and fine-tuning, but it’s incredibly exciting and I’m so happy to be on the team.”
Chilton joins Marc Gene, Michael Krumm, Jann Mardenborough, Olivier Pla and Harry Tincknell for the season-opening race at Silverstone on 12 April. The configuration of the driver line-ups for the #22 and #23 Nissans will be announced at a later date.
Buncombe will join the team for the Le Mans 24 Hours where he will race in the #21 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO with Tsugio Matsuda and Lucas Ordonez.
LM P1 testing continues this week at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, USA with Max Chilton, Marc Gene, Jann Mardenborough, Olivier Pla and Harry Tincknell on driving duty.
FIA rule changes
There has been a lot of who ha over the proposed driver helmet restrictions announced by the FIA last week. Sebastian Vettel has suggested he will flout the rules depending on the penalties he will suffer for doing so.
The FIA have today clarified their positions on the matter. Article 21.1 of F1’s sporting regulations has been revised and now states: “In order for drivers to be easily distinguished from one another whilst they are on the track, the crash helmet of each driver must be presented in substantially the same livery at every event during a championship season.”
Further, the FIA have clarified what will happen to driver’s F1 numbers when they finish cometing in Formula One. “A driver’s career in Formula 1 will be deemed to have ended if he does not participate in an event for two entire consecutive championship seasons.”
‘An event’ – presumably this would include an FP1 session – though at present it is unclear. Also intangible is where the line will be that defines a ‘substantially different helmet design’.