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Manor is back
Manor-Marussia have confirmed that they will race in Melbourne. The team that became the first of the ‘new teams’ to score points last year does now also appear to be the only survivor. According to a press release of yesterday they will run a modified 2014 car that has been adapted to satisfy the 2015 rule book. A completely new challenger is expected to be introduced over the course of the season.
The team also confirmed that the investor, who was the key to their survival is indeed Northern Irishman Stephen Fitzpatrick. Former Sainsbury boss Justin King is part of the rescue team as well and was named interim president of the Manor-Marussia squad.
The only thing that stands between the team and their return to F1 is the crash test today. Only Will Stephen has been named as a driver so far, with a second name to be announced before Melbourne.
Ferrari restore order
When Jarno Trulli departed F1, the sport was left without an Italian on the grid for the first time in a very long while. Ferrari have now delivered a number of Friday outings for their young talent Raffaele Marciello – in the Sauber – the first of which will be at the Malaysian GP and so the lack of Mediterranean flair in F1 will be partially remedied.
Marciello heralded the good news via his Twitter account yesterday. As of now, Sauber have not disclosed which of the regular drivers, Felipe Nasr or Marcus Ericsson, will have to relinquish their seat for FP1. However, this will not be the last time we see Marciello on the Friday of a GP weekend this season.
A mystery of three seconds
Although several media outfits, including Sky Italia and Spain’s El Mundo are still not convinced that the electric shock theory is dead, first informations from F1’s second most credible source after Ron Dennis – the FIA – deny that Alonso could have been zapped by the car’s high capacity batteries.
Although El Mundo claims that the Honda PU has only three safety mechanisms to safeguard its electric systems, as opposed to five on the competing designs, it would still take failure of all three for Alonso to receive an electric shock. According to FIA this hasn’t happen as the indicator shows all electric systems in operation as long as the car moves and switches to green ten seconds after the car has become stationary.
Immediately after the accident Sebastian Vettel, who was driving behind Alonso, had reported that it had not looked like an accident. At a suspected speed of about 150kph Alonso seemed to veer right suddenly. The German called the scene “strange”. After he had been to the McLaren garage, he changed his tune, claiming he had not been close enough to see more than the end of the accident.
An analysis of the so far available FIA data done by Auto Motor und Sport, however, confirms Vettel’s initial version. The telemetry shows that Alonso enters the Renault corner at a speed of 215kph, which Sky Britain had falsely reported as the speed at which Alonso had lost control of the car.
At the corner entry Alonso applied full breaking power and shifted down three times, decelerating the car to a speed of 135kph, close to the speed that Vettel had estimated. The reasons for Alonso’s sudden deceleration are unclear, however such a strong breaking manoeuvre would not be needed in case of aerodynamic interference by wind.
At a speed at 135kph the car sharply changes direction towards the inside of the corner by direct steering input from the driver, who from that point on is no longer in control of the car. After veering right, the car travels towards the wall in a time of three seconds where it impacts at a speed of 105 kph.
During those 3 seconds between leaving the normal racing line and hitting the wall, the driver appears to take no measures to avert or lessen the severity of the impact, as manifested by the absence of any further steering input and the fact that the car loses a mere 30kph of speed in that time.
McLaren insist they cannot say what had happened in those three seconds and the man who could has no recollection of the event. Ron Dennis admitted that Alonso had lost consciousness for a short time, but did not specify whether that was before or after the impact.
It appears that the solution to the mystery lies within those three seconds between veering off and impacting the wall, but so far nobody is able to tell what happened. This could well explain Alonso’s prolonged hospital stay and his cancelling of the Australia start.
If the Spaniard suffered any medical condition that rendered him unconscious before the impact, as the data seem to suggest, it would be irresponsible to to return, before it has been found out what it was.
First pictures of 2015 Manor Car
Former Williams designer Nicolas Perrin had announced last year that he was working on a 2015 “F1 car for everybody”. The concept was and still is rather interesting for the fact that it would be the only rule compliant F1 car not built by any competitor. This would of course be mucho interesting for Pirelli or any engine manufacturer with an ambition to join the sport. It would allow them to test with a current car without running afoul of the FIA rules.
For the moment however, these plans will have to wait, as Mr. Perrin has joined the Manor-Marussia team and his work on the “Opensource F1 car” could well become the base for the 2015 Manor car that is expected later in the season.
It appears the chickens are coming home to roost for Monisha Kaltenborn. In a moment of frustration following negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone over finance, Monisha retorted to a journalist’s question, “contracts in F1 are worth nothing”. Kaltenborn later recanted, however it became apparent that both Adrian Sutil and Giedo van der Garde were about to discover the truth spoken by Kaltenborn as their signed contracts were torn up and they were replaced by Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.
Giedo van der Garde took legal action in Switzerland and won his case as Sauber were ordered to “refrain from taking any action the effect of which would be to deprive Mr van der Garde of his entitlement to participate in the 2015 Formula One Season as one of Sauber’s two nominated race drivers.”
As yet Sauber have refused to acknowledge this judgement and so van der Garde has applied to the Supreme Court in Victoria, Australia for what is in effect an enforcement order.
Documents lodged with the court state that by failing t name Van der Garde as their race driver for the upcoming race, Sauber have demonstrated “an intention to breach, if not an actual breach, of the Award by the Respondent.”
There will be a hearing in Victoria on Monday where Giedo van der Garde will press to be given a drive in one of the Sauber cars 4 days later in Melbourne. In itself, this is an occasion of note, because the Supreme Court does not open on public holidays, such as Labour Day.
It’s interesting that Giedo van der Garde is not requesting damages, but asking for reinstatement. As a pay driver, van der Garde should easily be able to demonstrate substantive damages from a breach of contract, due to the highly exclusive nature of racing in Formula One.
Assessing those damages is more tricky, though if it is ruled that a breach of contract has occurred, the Respondent can be forced to fulfil the original contract and prohibited Sauber from replacing the Dutchman with another driver.
This would see Van der Garde driving for Sauber next weekend – against the wishes of the team’s hierarchy – which is bizarre – but this is F1.
Leagle Beagle Kaltenborn has got herself into a bit of a pickle, because the worse case scenario for van der Garde is that he is paid substantial damages – which may be worth more than the incremental cash either Nasr or Ericsson brought to Sauber when replacing GvD.
Will Ecclestone be forced to drop the German GP?
Bernie’s ‘devil may care’ attitude towards the German GP should fool no one. In January when asked whether the German GP would be cancelled, Ecclestone quipped, “But we’ve got one, it’s called Austria.”
This bluster is all part of the negotiating game, and since then Ecclestone has met representatives from both Hockenheim and the Nurburgring – who are scheduled to host this year’s German F1 GP.
In 2013 the management company for Nurburgring was insolvent and we faced similar brinksmanship over whether the race would in fact go ahead. A last minute deal was done, which in effect saw FOM retain the ticket receipts and pay for the circuit costs.
Since then the famous circuit has changed hands, although it appears the new owners are not prepared to pay the hosting fee Ecclestone demands.
In days of yore this would almost certainly mean that the race would just be canned, but with CVC still trying to ship Formula One, this would be damaging to their image and call other contractual revenue streams which run many years into the future into question.
During testing the matter was raised again with Ecclestone who indicated a deal must be done before the start of the season. The clock is ticking, but it is almost inconceivable that for the first time since 1960, 2015 will see no German GP – particularly with Mercedes as World Champions.
Manor driver line-up
Manor Racing are preparing to have their cars shipped to Australia tomorrow and now all the talk turns to who will partner Will Stevens.
Clearly, this matter is not finalised as Graham Lowden reveals they are looking at “some very quick young guy.
It looks to be bad news for Giedo van der Garde as Lowden implies their recruit will be a rookie. “Manor has always had a history of bringing some great driving talent on to the grid and we really want to try and continue that. What we are looking for is a quick driver and with the right temperament to have the challenges that they are going to have in a small team facing this kind of comeback.
“It’s not a straightforward decision but hopefully one we can make very soon.”
There are a number of drivers who may fit this description, though TJ13 believes McLaren young driver, Stoffel van Doorme is in the frame. This move would of course generate speculation about Manor Racing taking a Honda engine at some point this season.
The car for Melbourne will be 2015 compliant, but is a revision of the 2014 Marussia and will run with a 2014 Ferrari engine. However, when Manor introduce their 2015 car following the flyaway races, it will be installed with a 2015 power unit
U-Turn for Spice Boy
“I think it’s important that we get costs under control, that all teams are viable operating concerns,” Christian Horner tells City A.M. “Obviously the power unit is a big cost-driver so that’s an element that needs looking at with quite a bit of urgency. I think they’re the fundamental things and that’s in everybody’s interests. I think there’s a lot going on discussion-wise but, as always, we talk a lot without concluding as much as we should have done.
“The most important thing that we do collectively is look to try and address the current issues with the power unit in terms of the cost and the burden that’s placing not just on the customer teams but also on the manufacturers themselves. So I think fundamentally that’s the most important thing we need to look at in the very near future.”
Red Bull were one of the reasons the Resource Restriction Agreement collapsed when they walked out of FOTA. The Austrian owned team have always railed against cost caps and measures to improve transparency – including the FIA’s proposal to be able to scrutinise F1 team’s supplier information.
Yet facing another season of not challenging for any titles and the realistic prospect of being beaten into third or fourth place in the constructor’s championship, Horner has apparently ‘seen the light’
The engine manufacturers have kicked into touch any significant changes until at least 2017, which makes Horner’s comments all the more risible.
“I think it’s important we have good racing and obviously the closer the field is, the better the racing will be. I think that’s the most fundamental thing that fans appreciate,” added the Red Bull team principal.
“The power unit at the moment is a big performance differentiator. I think the gap between the best and the worst needs to be reduced, and that will automatically create closer racing.”
Red Bull’s ambition is to get Toro Rosso up the constructors table and onto the F1 strategy group, which would mean they have more influence on matters such as this.
More Monza uncertainty
For many F1 fans, particularly those form the land of pizza and pasta, the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza is both an iconic cathedral of speed and the spiritual home of the Italian GP.
Yet this venue’s grip on hosting a Formula One event has been slipping since the circuit irector friend of Bernie Ecclestone was sacked 3 years ago.
Monza pays a pittance of a hosting fee to FOM and Bernie has more than intimated this is about to change in 2016.
Further storm clouds on the horizon gathered for Monza when new tax legislation was proposed in Italy that would see them lose around 20m euros in tax rebates.
Word of an exemption being negotiated was the last we heard, but yesterday this was squashed.
Local politician Paolo Grimaldi is furious. “We did not ask for a cent, only that they would ratify something bureaucratic. It is intolerable that the government is against the Italian grand prix.”
The circui8ts COO, Andrea dell’Orto has been left with no option. “So now I will ask directly for a meeting with (Italian PM) Renzi.”
With the exception of 1980 – an F1 race has been held at the Autodromo Nazionale since the inception of the sport.
Manor passes FIA crash test
Our big news of today is that we have now passed the FIA crash tests. Well done team! That's it – we're all set for Melbourne! #F1
— Manor Racing (@ManorRacing) March 5, 2015
The cars will leave for Melbourne tomorrow and the race is on now to appoint a second driver (boom)