#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 16th March 2015

DNandC

UPDATED 15:11 A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,


OTD Lite 2000 – Renault return to F1 again

Vettel happy with Ferrari debut whilst mocking Rosberg<

Nasr overwhelmed by his F1 debut

Massa fears Ferrari and wants Mercedes parity

Kaltenborn gets vote of confidence

German GP is dead

Ecclestone supports ‘equalisation’ of F1 engines

Ecclestone furious with Manor F1


OTD Lite 2000 – Renault return to F1 again

Having left the sport three years earlier, on this  day in 2000, Renault announced their return to Formula One after buying the Benetton team for $120 million. Luciano Benetton had been forced out of F1 due to escalating costs and was more than happy to sell the Enstone concern to the French manufacturer.

Flavio Briatore was announced as the new team principal and set about bringing changes to the organisation that would result in a double world championship for the Anglo?French team in 2005-6 with Fernando Alonso.The drivers were the inspiring duo of Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz who managed a grand total of 20 points for the season.

For all his questionable ethics Briatore once again worked his managerial magic as he had the previous ten years – enjoying the notoriety of proving to Woking and Didcot that you didn’t have to be an experienced F1 manager to succeed in the sport. Grumps wonders if Flavio is being lined up for another posting with the Regie when they return once more..

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The Grumpy Jackal

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Vettel happy with Ferrari debut whilst mocking Rosberg

A generation ago, Michael Schumacher’s debut for Ferrari ended within 32 laps as the dominant Williams team trounced the field. Sebastian Vettel now following in his idol’s footsteps, made a more successful start to his career dressed in red and stated that finishing third on his Ferrari debut felt like a victory in Australia.

“I think it was a great race for us,” Vettel said. “Of course it’s not a victory but for us today it feels like a victory, it’s a great relief after a horrible season last year to know in general the car is working. People have done a great job both on engine and chassis side so big compliments to Maranello. I have secretly been a fan, now officially I can be a fan and since the day I arrived there is something magic about the place and I feel very happy.”

“I’m over the moon in many ways. It was great on the parade lap to see the flags, I think they’ve been there before but I didn’t pay much attention obviously! The support has been great this weekend. It’s really an honour to sit in the red car and when your head is down and you race and try to push every race you don’t really notice the colour so much. But certainly when the chequered flag came out it was great to see and a great feeling, a great reward for the team.”

There is little love lost between Nico Rosberg and Sebastian following the revelations of the secret Mercedes-Pirelli test in Barcelona in 2013 which Vettel told his team about during the Monaco race weekend.

In the post race press conference, Nico Rosberg was replying to a question about the Mercedes superiority. Having finished second in another display of Mercedes dominance he felt it would be good for the other teams to be closer to them. at which point Vettel decided to have fun with his fellow countryman.

Vettel: “Be honest, do you really hope so!? Seriously? Seriously, they finished 30 seconds ahead of us and you hope that’s it going to be closer. So you hope you slow down, is that what you’re saying?”

Rosberg: “I hope you can give us a challenge because it’s important for the sport and for the fans and I do think about the show. Half of me, or a part of me, thinks about the show because I want to give people a great time watching or on the track. So if you do come a bit closer, that would be awesome.”

Vettel: “That’s fine. My first suggestion, if you don’t mind, could be that your garage becomes public for Malaysia and everyone can have a look. Is that what you’re suggesting? No, I’m joking.”

Rosberg: “You can come if you want. We can invite you.”

Vettel: “Thank you for the invite, I’ll come. Engineer’s room? Debrief, I’ll be there.”

Rosberg was less than impressed by the exchange and attempted to better the four time champion when Vettel said it was disappointing to see his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen retire on lap 40.

Rosberg: “You find it a shame that your team-mate didn’t finish?”

Vettel:I don’t how much you (Lewis and Nico) like each other but Kimi and myself we get along! So I think it is a shame … At the moment where we are we want to make sure we catch you guys. To do that we need both of us so yes I honestly think so and I honestly didn’t want to see the second car not finish today.”

Fernando Alonso used to play the psychological game to perfection during his time at Ferrari and it seems that Vettel is rapidly acquiring the skills to match the Spaniard. With Hamilton cruising to what appeared an easy victory, it seems that Nico is now fighting on two fronts.

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Nasr overwhelmed by his F1 debut

Following winter testing many observers questioned if the Sauber team had been running light to appeal to new sponsors. After what was an appalling season for them in 2014 their new car appeared quick and topped the time sheets in Jerez.

Following one of the best drives of the Australian Grand Prix, Brazilian Felipe Nasr admitted he was slightly overwhelmed when he crossed the line to finish fifth on his F1 debut.

Nasr admitted to holding back the tears as he crossed the finish line: “Of course. It was a unique feeling for myself, I couldn’t ask for better. It was a dream come true and I want more, I will keep searching for more.”

“Surprisingly I was calm from beginning to the end, even when I was sat on the grid. I think the team made me prepared for it. That’s what I was happy for – I was not seeking information; it all came as I expected which only shows the team gave me good preparation.”

“Turn 1 was very confusing. We had three cars wide next to the other and I cannot see where we could have done it different, there was not enough space for everyone. We had some contact with the Lotus and luckily did not have any damage and could continue the race.”

“I had a very good restart getting one of the Toro Rosso cars and then had a clear track in front of me so concentrated on getting the tyres as long as I could, making sure we could have gone through our strategy as planned – which worked. I think I had a great car in my hands, I was impressed by the car we had an able to keep the Red Bull behind. The strategy went well, the pit stop went well. The final stint on the primes were quite consistent and again we had a lot of pressure from the Red Bull and we were able to cope with it.”

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Massa fears Ferrari and wants Mercedes parity

As Felipe Massa heads into the twilight of his career he has become more vociferous in his statements to the assembled media corp. Having failed to convert a third place grid slot into a podium finish he suggested that the Mercedes works team has an engine advantage over his Williams.

“We’re pushing hard with the engine which I’m sure has some improvements that we can have and are pushing to have, because for sure the difference is too big,” he said. “So I really hope that we really have the same engine, which I really don’t see why we don’t have.”

“Why would Mercedes help Ferrari? So we need to have the best they can give, and we will work on that. On the car we know that every race and whatever points you’re not getting, it counts.”

“If we don’t have the same engine – which I cannot say 100% because it’s very difficult to say – but if we don’t have it then we want to have it because it’s not nice that we don’t have it.”

Beyond the questionable logic behind his belief of a power deficit to the Silver Arrows – Massa has little doubt that Ferrari has also found a big gain in performance from its power unit too.

“Who finished fifth? Sauber. From where they were last year and not having any money to put in the car. It’s a team that doesn’t invest so much in the team and they just improved a lot which I think is coming from a different part.”

“If you see how we finished the season and how they are now, it’s a big step, for sure.”

“Apart from the lap time you just look at the speed. At the end of the year we were 10, 12 or 15kph quicker than Ferrari, now they are similar and maybe even a little bit better than us.”

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Kaltenborn gets vote of confidence

Under fire Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has received the backing of Peter Sauber – the founder and chairman of the Swiss company.

Kaltenborn signed two new drivers for 2015 whilst the existing test driver, Giedo van der Garde, and 2014 race driver, Adrian Sutil, also had valid contracts also to drive for Sauber in 2015.

Having spent most of the week in the Supreme Court of Victoria, Sauber were unable to run their cars in the Friday morning practice session while they awaited a ruling from Justice Croft.

Rookie Felipe Nasr drove a stellar maiden GP for the team, finishing 5th and having scored no points last year, Marcus Ercisson coming home 8th ensured the team remarkably got both cars home inside the top 10.

Speaking to the German media, Peter Sauber gave his beleaguered CEO a vote of confidence. “Without Monisha Kaltenborn there would be no Sauber. I would not have bought the team back 6 years ago if she had not offered to be a participant”.

“It was a joint decision, and for me I was very, very lucky to have her in this position”.

The Swiss legal system and the Australian court have both upheld the right of Van der Garde to drive for the team and the matter will rumble on into the Malaysian GP and possibly beyond.

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German GP is dead

“The German Grand Prix is dead at the moment,” Bernie Ecclestone stated at the weekend. “It won’t get replaced if it doesn’t happen. As with any race, if it is cancelled it is cancelled. There’s not much we can do.”

Two years ago, the Nurburgring race organisers required a last minute deal to be brokered just weeks before the German GP was due to be run.

With a crowd of just 50,000 attending the 2014 German GP, it appears Ecclestone is no longer prepared to subsidise the event.

There had been suggestions that Daimler-Benz, the parent company of current F1 world champion team Mercedes AMG F1, would step into the breach. This did not happen.

Niki Lauda refuses to lay the blame at Ecclesone’s door. “It’s up to the organisers to make it a whole weekend event, as Austria, Silverstone, Spa and Melbourne are able to do so well.”

There has been a Formula One event in Germany ever since the championship was formed in 1950 – with the exception of 1955.

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Ecclestone supports ‘equalisation’ of F1 engines

Unsurprisingly, Bernie Ecclestone has backed Christian Horner’s call for the FIA to allow an ‘equalisation’ catch up programme for the non-Mercedes engine manufacturers.

In the season’s opening race, the Mercedes cruised to victory running nowhere near the qualifying pace they had demonstrated.

“They are absolutely 100 percent right,” Ecclestone told Reuters. “There is a rule that I think Max (Mosley) put in when he was there that in the event…that a particular team or engine supplier did something magic — which Mercedes have done — the FIA can level up things.

“They (Mercedes) have done a first class job which everybody acknowledges. We need to change things a little bit now and try and level things up a little bit.”

F1’s supremo claimed this was not about stopping Mercedes from winning but to allow others more flexibility. “What we should have done was frozen the Mercedes engine and leave everybody else to do what they want so they could have caught up. We should support the FIA to make changes.”

Horner however recalls, “When we were winning, double diffusers were banned, exhausts were moved, flexible bodywork was prohibited, engine mapping was changed. Anything”.

Newey added, “With Mercedes, nobody says a word”.

Ecclestone’s problem is that Jean Todt has demonstrated he is not prepared to take unilateral action as president of the FIA – he prefers consensus. This means any such proposal will have to come before the strategy group where Mercedes, Williams and Force India are unlikely to agree.

Further, Ferrari’s team principal Arrivabene said yesterday. “Our job is to attack Mercedes on track”, observed Arrivabene, “not to change the rules”.

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Ecclestone furious with Manor F1

Incredibly, Manor F1 racing made it to Melbourne for the opening race of the 2015 season, but failed to get their cars out of the garage all weekend.

Graham Lowden was questioned on several occasions over the weekend as to whether Manor F1 cars would run. He was clearly careful with his responses and when asked why the team had bothered to come to Australia by Ted Kravitz, Lowden claimed they had made more progress than had they “stayed at home”.

But Bernie is not happy. “We should have never ever, ever allowed Manor to do what they’ve done. It’s our fault,” he told Reuters. “I predicted this would happen.”

“They had no intention of racing in Australia. Zero. They couldn’t have raced if someone had gone there with a machine gun and put it to their head. “It was impossible. So they had no intention. We’ll have to see now.

The regulation on participation demands, “an undertaking by the applicant to participate in every Event with the number of cars and drivers entered.”

The stewards summonsed Manor F1 to explain why they had failed to complete any running during the weekend happy that “all reasonable endeavours” had been made to get the cars on track.

The Australian Press were stinging in their criticism for a processional race with too few cars running and this may be the occasion for Ecclestone’s comment.

Some are suggesting that Ecclestone wants Manor out of the sport, however, having watched a processional race in which only 11 cars were classified, the need for Manor to take to the grid this year is more prevalent now than ever.

Bernie is furious and Manor F1 who will now have to pay for their transportation to and from Australia, which is normally covered by FOM travel. “They are not competing so they have to pay for that.”

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63 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 16th March 2015

  1. Hilarious seeing Seb call BS on Nico’s faux concern about the lack of competition and then nonchalantly swatting his attempted dart about Kimi’a DNF.

    Nico was comprehensively pwnd.

    I’m liking the non-RBR Seb – he’s got balls and the quick wit & intellect to back it up.

    • Good respons from Vettel as well indeed. And, although I am not really a Lewis Hamilton fan, good points for him too. If you listen carefully, during the FIA interview after Rosberg says ‘I thought as a racing driver you might like that you have a couple of points advantage over him’, in the mix you can hear Hamilton say: ‘Not all of us think this way’. Very mature comment and respect for that.

      • Yeah I heard that comment from Lewis – you can see the different mindsets of both Lewis and Nico. Nico wouldn’t be too unhappy to say the least if Hamilton retired as it would mean a larger gap in points in the championship. Subconsciously or not, Nico doesn’t have that inner confidence to beat Lewis when they both finish a race – Lewis finds the satisfaction within himself if he beats him in a straight fight. Spa 2014 ‘conspiracy’ not looking too unlikely now is it 😉

  2. Adam Cooper is reporting that Mr. Dieter Mateschitz is ready to pull the plug on RBR and sell it to Audi/VW. Autosport also reports the same citing cost and benefits as a reason. Any take on this?

    • So you’re saying Mr Dietrich Gottheshits and wants to sell his team….?

    • Too bad that everything Ferdinand Piech seems to signal as to his thinking re. F1 ROI is that it’s not very good, especially comparatively speaking to the WEC. We’ll see though.

    • This was Toto’s response to Horner’s comments…..

      “If you try to beat each other and perform at the highest level and then you need equalisation after the first race – you cry out after the first race – that’s not how we’ve done things in the past,” the Mercedes motorsport boss said.

      “I think, ‘just get your f****** head down, work hard and try to sort it out’.”

      He added: “I didn’t mean the F-word in relation to him [Horner].”

      • You forgot the funniest part of Wolff’s reply: “If he wants to lament, he should to go to the western wall in Jerusalem.”

        I nearly fell over when I heard that.

    • I would love to hear what the Fat Hippo thinks on this matter as he has been pretty adamant on VW’s strong desire to avoid the scent of Bernie. Also, reading Cooper’s article was odd. I had never heard Vettel described as “talismanic.”

    • Remember Red Bull and VW has had a great relationship over the past. Makes sense for them to take the team over.

      I hear all the arguments that it won’t happen because of BE however, what does Red Bull do well? Marketing. And how do they do it? Events and Red Bull TV. Do not be surprised if Red Bull buys the F1 rights and become a proper promoter of the sport.

      • “Do not be surprised if Red Bull buys the F1 rights and become a proper promoter of the sport.”

        I can see your point, as RB does many smart things on their own to promote F1, such as a ton of various karting things.

        But doesn’t CVC / Topco (or whichever shell corp) over value F1 by zilions and billions of pounds (dollars / euros)?

        FOM is experiencing negative growth, and all the leading indicators are pointing down for their future performance. They can’t justify their valuation, so a suitor to buy FOM would need to way too much money, and very little intelligence. That’s not Red Bull.

        Thinking out loud, one way for Red Bull to takeover promoting F1 might be for them to obtain a service contract from FOM to take over marketing of F1.

        • Take over marketing? There is no marketing!!!

          Seriously though, FOM has taken loans against earnings to pay profits and is deeply in debt, somewhere in the $5 billion range, IIRC from Joe’s blog. Anyone buying F1 from them is assuming a pretty large debt load and, actually, only getting about 30% of F1; the rest has already been sold. I wouldn’t touch F1 with a wooden pole and will keep my billions in the bank, thank you. My understanding is FOM wants to value the business at about $10 billion; Bernie really isn’t helping the situation, with his puts down (how’s that for correct English?) of the product. WTF Bernie, at least support your own business.

    • According to the articles posted on this blog previously, it now costs about zero dollars to the Red Bull company owners to run RBR. It’s because RBR collects an incredible amount in TV right money, plus the sponsors pick up the rest of tab.

  3. Have to say Vettle looked good in his red overall, he was looking like he had simply put grown RedBull. Their drivers are very much fresh faced young guys.

    Interesting comments from Massa about the engine, I believe the rules day that all PU’s works or customer have to be identical, maybe Mercedes have held back a bit on ‘software’ updates? There is no rule stipulating that all teams customer or works, must have the same control code and mapping. Perhaps Williams have been given software that runs the engine a step below the power that Mercedes can run their engine at. That would definitely circumvent the rules about all engines that same ‘mechanically’ but not how they are run.
    Interesting

    • @RogerD

      Remember Mclarens comments about the Mercedes PU last year? Ron Dennis said something about a lack of software support.

    • Massa is a very fast driver but technical expertise has never been one of his strengths.

      If we hear Williams’ TD Pat Symonds, or his boss Clair Williams, or one of Symonds’ lieutenants make similar allegations, then I’d believe it.

  4. Massa forgot to mention, that Sauber’s Ferrari engine was over 1 minute off the Ferrari at the end of the race, when by lap 4, after the safety car the Sauber was already in 5th and just 0.387 seconds behind a Ferrari. Should we also assume that Sauber don’t have the same Ferrari engine as Ferrari?

    • You forget to mention that Sauber was running last years wings, courtesy of Christian Horner. And we all know how Sauber performed last year. And we know all about their lack of funds and lack of running in FP1.

    • Nothing new there Martin. There have been plenty of racers on land and water over the last 60 odd years who have been powered by Ferrari and discovered they didn’t get what they thought.

  5. RE: Massa

    Massa looked bummed after getting P3 in qualy even though thats a good start to his season by any means. I think Williams expected to be a lot closer to the Mercs. Massa has knowledge of Ferrari’s and Williams infrastructure and might have thought they did a very good job in the winter. So I think he’s simply a bit bamboozled by Mercedes’ advantage.

  6. My thoughts of the first race of the season were as follows.

    1.) Merc will again walk the title. It’s not good for the sport when no one else can compete. We’re not talking Red Bull style domination here, because they had 0.3-5s in hand pace wise, not 1.5+s. Genuinely the Mercs could start last and win every race this season. Hamilton can only beat Rosberg, and Rosberg? Well he can only lose to Hamilton really. We already know that Hamilton is one of the top drivers in the sport, Rosberg isn’t, he’s Webber standard really. Hamilton will win the WDC in 2015 somewhat more easily I think. The happy days of 2012 where the cars were all so close is now a distant memory.

    2.) Williams will never ever get near Mercedes. Merc have a monster budget and control their power unit. It’s not in Mercedes interests to have a Williams that’s 0.5s slower, because if that were the case you might find Bottas out qualifying one or both of them occasionally. Last year Williams shied away from racing Merc several times. Perhaps Massa doesn’t get that his team boss doesn’t want them racing Mercedes?

    3.) The change in perception of Vettel because of the team he now drives for appears to be huge in the mainstream media.

    4.) McLaren, although completely useless at present, did have to make the leap and take a non Merc/Ferrari/Renault power unit. If they used any of the the others they’d have 0% chance of winning anything. With Honda? Well lets see in 6 months where they are, there’s a very small chance at least.

    5.) All teams bar Mercedes were embarrassing this weekend. Mistakes, driving errors, it was Mickey Mouse does F1 for most of them. With that in mind, it’s no shock that Merc have such an advantage.

    • Great points and I agree with all of them!

      If I may add to point #3, it does help that Ferrari is competitive again and the 2nd best team out there. I don’t think that the perception of Vettel would have been as positive if Ferrari were #4 behind Williams and RBR.

      • Maybe it’s the only time people like a German. when he’s driving for Ferrari 😉

  7. anybody noticed that rtl in germany didn’t only shorten their pre race coverage, but in addition, isn’t streaming the race anymore? don’t know if they are trying to force people to watch it on tv to boost the ratings, if it’s a rights issue or if this is a foreshadowing of them pulling out of f1 completely.

  8. RE McLaren

    Going with a completely new engine supplier, was the right choice, no question about it. I totally agree with Dennis that you need to be a factory team to win again. The only thing that I’ll question is whether Honda was the right partner. In their pre-Brawn guise they failed miserably. And it was not the aero that let them down. Their engine was not that good either. Maybe a partnership with Audi would have been better, but then again, maybe Audi want to come down as Audi F1, not as an engine partner.
    In a way, it’s as if 3 desperate parties (McLaren, Honda, Alonso) gathered around the table and said, let’s do it, there’s no other choice.
    With a Merc walk-over again this year and my favourite team fighting Manor F1, I have already lost interest even before the season has started.

    • I suspect Honda was the right partner. No one else, really.

      Honda clearly has ambition, and a bottomless pit of money that they’re ready to put in. They may have produced dog of cars under the valiant guidance of Jense, but they did contract Brawn and put all resources to his disposal to build a rocket chassis.

      Brawn of course then performed a 1 pound management buyout of the chassis, re-branded the thing, stuck Merc engines, and won the title. Many forget though that it was Honda (under Brawn) who built that car. There is of course the argument that with a Honda engine that chassis wouldn’t have won the titles, but perhaps with Honda development funds they would have kept their edge for longer during that season…

      As for Audi, Cosworth or Toyota… ahem…

  9. “Fernando Alonso used to play the psychological game to perfection during his time at Ferrari and it seems that Vettel is rapidly acquiring the skills to match the Spaniard”

    I think that is an insult to Vettel. Vettel is not making a dig at his team or teammate, he is just responding to banter from Rosberg open, fair and amusing way. I don’t remember Alonso doing much of that. Alonso’s playing the game “to perfection” may have ultimately led to his premature exit from Ferrari just as they were about to improve.

    Everyone goes on an on about how smart Alonso is and what a great politician he is. Great politicians don’t constantly burn their bridges and sabotage their own changes of success. Being a great politician means being able to work well with other people and foster loyalty as much as it means all the Machiavellian stuff that Alonso seems to love.

    • I now realise nobody meant it as a compliment when they said Alonso’s political – it’s a nice way of saying ‘he’s a nasty backstabbing snake’

  10. Horner, “they banned flexible body work” it was always against the rules, fool. Its a bit of a Lance Armstrong argument, just cause you’re not getting caught, doesn’t mean youre not cheating.

  11. Why would anyone saying anything about Mercedes, they all got the same brief….

    “Build a 1.6L V6 turbo charged engine with an energy recovery system”

    That they did, so why complain. There’s nothing within the power unit that contravene the rules.

    • Indeed they did. The interesting bit is that F1 has a history of looking at teams who dominate and banning something that gives them a real advantage. That’s not happened with Mercedes. I was sort of expecting the split turbo design to get a frown from the FIA as it’d be an easy way to slow Mercedes down. That said, such a move would risk them leaving the sport, which is exactly where we find Red Bull because that sort of decision (that they’ve had thrown at them in the past) wasn’t taken. It’s at that point that the whole thing becomes political, who do Bernie & co want in F1 more? Red Bull or Mercedes? Answer? Mercedes every single time.

      So, F1 in it’s current guise remains what it was last year, a power unit arms race, and it should be no shock that their is a direct correlation between performance and $s spent. The shock for me though is that Honda could have, and possibly should have, thrown the cheque book at it’s power unit. The rumours of them not doing so appear to have played out very slowly……on track…

      • Would remind you and CH that FRIC was banned last year, and it enhanced Merc advantage not reduced. Problem for FIA is the biggest performance difference is coming through PU, not through tricksy aero or suspension.

        Solution is relatively straightforward, development tokens allotted according to reverse finish, so worst PU gets unlimited development and unfrozen areas, best essentially frozen.

        Teams can still make progress and it gives engine manufacturers better chance at parity, without overturning current PU specs, which are actually pretty groovy, IMO.

        • That is a thoughtful solution but it’s based on a PU advantage.

          Is there enough hard technical evidence that the performance advantage held by the team is due to its PU106B engine versus its W06 chassis?

          We see four teams running the PU106B engine, but they don’t hold a similar performance advantage as that enjoyed by the W06 chassis.

          The difference in performance between the PU’s of Mercedes’ PU106B and Ferrari’s 059/3 is reportedly small. The performance of Ferrari and Sauber’s performance yesterday spoke well to that point.

          If the performance advantage lies primarily with the W06 chassis then this proposed solution won’t be appropriate.

          • It seems to me that no one really understands where Merc’s advantage lies. Honda could’ve gone with split turbo design, and chose against that (not that it did them any good). FRIC was one assumption last year, and clearly that wasn’t it.

            If someone knows what Merc’s trick is, if any—as it may simply be the vague “optimal packaging”—it would be fun to hear it…

          • Right! Spot on! That’s my point, we don’t really know. Is it the W06 chassis, or PU106B engine?

            Before we start re-writing the technical regulations, there should be a solid grasp of the problem to be solved.

            Errors made in fixing this problem could hurt more than they help.

          • And a thoughtful reply as well 😉 so thoughtful that I took my time responding.

            But unless you are suggesting that the PU is no advantage at all, then demanding that one wait for hard technical evidence that it’s all down to the PU before acting is a bit of a false choice, as what’s to stop the FIA from instituting several regs to help trim Mercedes advantage and give the other teams a chance to recover. Aside from historical evidence that they are often hopelessly incompetent at that sort of thing, of course.

            Beyond that this years grid offers up a variety of natural experiments from which we can draw a number of conclusions with reasonable certainty (which to my mind is not a scientific standard, but the point at which it would be reasonable to take action IRL and feel comfortable, as circumstances often dictate one must act in the face of incomplete evidence and the lack of competition for Mercedes ATM might well be classed as such a time).

            So where does that leave us? W/R/T importance of PU I would point to Sauber as being an excellent exemplar. Given their financial situation it’s reasonable to believe they couldn’t spend much on optimizing their chassis as it had to be significantly altered to meet the 2015 technical regs and yet look at the performance difference the upgraded Ferrari PU made to their performance 2014 to 2015, particularly with Nasr behind the wheel. Even Ericsson on alternate strategy was able to improve on results from last year.

            Second, we have the number of tokens used by each team, 25 by Mercedes, 22 by Ferrari, 20 by Renault. Clearly Mercedes have done the most developing, yet in relative terms, Ferrari have made the larger jump forward. If they had more tokens to spend this season and Mercedes were frozen, it’s reasonable to conclude that the racing would indeed be closer. Furthermore, had this regulation been in place from the beginning, how much closer do you suppose Ferrari would be. Based on Melbourne and with more than a little bit of fudging, Vettel was basically 0.5s a lap or a bit more off based on the gap at the end of the race. I would suggest he would be much closer than that had Mercedes development of the PU been curtailed.

            In the past, FIA has always regulated the competition to provide close racing, and there’ s no reason to believe they won’t this time around, so it’s important to note that a lot of the pressure is likely coming not only from Red Bull, who are basically being sore losers because their engine partners dropped the ball, but also from TV land as this sort of racing (though F1 is a bit famous (or infamous, depending) for remarkably dull racing) does nothing to improve sponsorship or viewership numbers. Thus is the slippery slope to sprinklers etc paved with good intentions to improve the show.

  12. So the FIA were happy with Manors explanation, and that they met their requirements, however Bernie isn’t, so is effectively fining them, does he just make up everything as he goes along. Also begs the question who has the real power, Bernie or FIA?

    • The problem is that under the Concorde agreement the team’s had tri-lateral agreements – each with one between themselves and the FIA –
      Since Concorde failed, the new bilateral agreements with Ecclestone will allow him to act unilaterally.

    • As much as anyone, it’s Bernie, but even he is limited thanks to the amazingly useless strategy group.

      And yes, he’s fining them, however they did show up with a 2015 car etc and presented it for scrutineering so that counts as participating, meaning they have fulfilled their end of the deal. So he can’t just chuck them out.

      From what was reported it was primarily loss of software that killed their running, it’s having to be rewritten from scratch. If that’s true I would expect to see running cars in Malaysia, unless they can’t afford the freight to get there.

      IMO Bernie’s cutting off his nose to spite his face, he needs every car he can get.

      • “IMO Bernie’s cutting off his nose to spite his face, he needs every car he can get.”

        Unless that’s not his end game. I suspect that he is deliberately ramming the sport into the ground, while both CVC’s Mackenzie and FIA”s Todt are impotent to do anything about it, for whichever reason the bastard may have. Either to buy it out on the cheap, or take it with in the grave…

        “From what was reported it was primarily loss of software that killed their running, it’s having to be rewritten from scratch. ”

        This doesn’t hold water, as far as I go. They can’t tell me that Ferrari have NO backup of their software for 2014. NO FREAKING WAY! If each team must right code to integrate engine with other systems, then perhaps. But otherwise, it’s BS.

        • Maybe its a case of they didn’t show the money for the software – just the engine – and so didn’t get that particular pot of “honey” 😉

          • 🙂

            On a serious note, though, Massa’s concerns with engine parity is something that bugged me…

            Are Merc/Ferrari *contractually* obligated to deliver the *exact* same PU to customers that they use themselves? E.g. Same layout, same electronics, same mechanics, same wires, same cooling, same code. Or do they have latitude on the code? For instance, is it possible that they have a basic code version that all get, and that each team can then modify/improve… And that Ferrari/Merc have code improvements that they never release to customers… If that were the case, I would expect Merc to throw Williams some (but not all) of the code that makes it go so fast, but none of it to Lotus/Force India.

            Would that be legal? If not, can this monitored/enforced? Can customers check this? (Ron Dennis was clearly implying that they weren’t getting the best package from Merc, and Massa is now saying the same. And the deltas in car performance are very, very difficult to explain reasonably.) Can the FIA or the ECU ensure that all teams run the same PU code?

            Do the regs say anything about it? For instance, the regs are Draconian wrt the mechanics of the engine (if you change a component, you get a penalty). Do the regs say *anything* about software? Restrictions on software developement, or ensuring that teams run same PU code spec…

          • Well the Merc’s are falling down the speed trap hierarchy. Either software or chassis or both, Not raw top speed

            Red Bull were the same when they dominated. Often one of the slowest on a weekend through the speed gun

          • Sure, but RB’s advantage was always driveability, via Renault’s mappings. Mayhaps Merc’s advantage too is partly sneaked in the driveability department.

            But how do you measure that? How do you compare that between works/customers?

          • I guess the optimal code would depend on the other characteristics of the car (and even drivers to some extent). So optimal code in a Williams might not be optimal in the Mercedes and so on. I would think Mercedes would supply some kind of default code to customers and it would then be up to them to tweak it to best suit their car?

  13. Judge, I have to fix this: “Todt has demonstrated he is not prepared to take unilateral action as president of the FIA……”

    It should read: “Todt has demonstrated he is not prepared to take ANY action as president of the FIA…….”

    There, now it makes sense.

  14. “… if we don’t have it then we want to have it because it’s not nice that we don’t have it.”
    Introducing the all new… Massaspeak!!!

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