UPDATED 09:51 GMT A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
OTD Lite 1984 – Balestre cunningly disqualifies Tyrrell team – sacre bleu
Uncle Ken, the bastion of true Britishness, a cricket fan, drinker of tea and upholder of all things honest and true. Or so we are led to believe, yet on this day his team fielded cars for Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof that later in the season would see the team disqualifed.
To this day, controversy remains as to whether Tyrrell added lead ballast to their cars during late pitstops or there was an additive in the water to help the engine. Either way, disqualification from the championship was deemed by neutrals too excessive but such was the way of the FISA run by the autocratic Jean Marie Balestre.
At the time the FIA wanted to change the fuel limit for 1985 from 220 litres to just 195 but Tyrrell was the one dissenting voice. He had also fallen out with all the other teams over the previous two years for various conflicts – be it the FOCA boycott at Imola in 1982 or the teams all signing up to turbo engines.
With Tyrrell disqualified, the fuel limit was changed by unanimous vote. If only Jean Todt had the cunning of his French counterpart..
Renault demonstrate Red Bull as much to blame
As TJ13 reported yesterday, Renault have come out fighting following the waves of criticism they have received from their ‘works’ partner Red Bull. Cyril Abiteboul accused Red Bull of telling ‘lies’ and Newey of being guilty of a life of moaning about his engine suppliers.
Abiteboul also revealed, “Our figures have shown that the laptime deficit between Red Bull and Mercedes in Melbourne was equally split between driveability issues, engine performance and chassis performance,”
“It’s therefore the overall package that needs some help and we have been working with the team to move forward.”
The Frenchman repeats his previous assertions that Renault are pushing hard. “We’ve been particularly aggressive in development and we should see the results a lot more clearly in Malaysia, particularly since we have had the opportunity to refine the PU using the data from Australia”.
“Work is still ongoing but even now we are in a completely different place to where we finished Melbourne.”
Aggressive development in engine-speak often results in more than a normal amount of failures. Should we see another Renault engine blow in the heat of Malaysia, who knows what will come from Horner and Marko next.
Hamilton new deal AGAIN is close
The words penned over the saga that has become Lewis Hamilton’s contract extension with F1 world champion team Mercedes in relative terms places the tome that is Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ in the flimsy magazine category.
Negotiations were afoot last summer soon after Rosberg’s new deal was announced, then they were put on hold to prevent Lewis from being distracted in his world championship title battle.
The deal was to be done over the winter period, but Hamilton’s break up with long time girlfriend and his subsequent travel put pay to that.
Then Toto Wolff announced it would be done by Australia as Hamilton revealed he was negotiating the contract himself.
Last night, speaking to Sky Sports F1, Lewis confirmed the deal was almost done. “It is going back between the lawyers so hopefully it is done before the weekend,” adding, “That would be great, but if not in due time.”
The perpetual delays have led to diverse speculation as to what the sticking points are and whether Hamilton is actually talking to Ferrari. The Daily Mail reported this week, “the Scuderia’s president, Sergio Marchionne, rates Hamilton top of the drivers available to him”.
And of course the lure of the red team will be strong for Lewis as will their ability to make him the highest paid F1 driver in history.
Should Mercedes and Hamilton fail to agree a deal by this weekend, then the rhetoric will surely change as one of the parties will again be required to explain why another deadline has passed with yet another failure for them to find agreement.
Ex-Lotus engineers strengthen Ferrari technical squad
Sergio Marchionne wasted little time in dismantling the cosy structure in Maranello once he ascended to the Presidency of Ferrari. The swift culling of staff was shocking and led to many Italian publications searching for hope amongst the ashes that remained.
James Allison was given carte-blanche in his rebuilding of the technical team with the full support of the President who brought in Maurizio Arrivabene to oversee the overall team performance.
Despite a promising return to the front of the grid, Melbourne also highlighted some of the shortcomings of the current team with the pit-stops proving that Ferrari had fallen behind what was required of the top teams.
The Scuderia have been preparing extensively prior to the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix and some changes have been made within the strategy group to accommodate new arrivals from Lotus.
Iñaki Rueda has assumed the role that used to be Neil Martin’s – a Spaniard despite a Japanese sounding name. In addition is another Lotus signing who arrives after completing his gardening leave from Enstone – Daniele Casanova.
Both men enjoy the full confidence of their former Lotus colleague – Allison and will be working in the simulation department under the directorship of James Tortora. Rueda will be the reference point of the virtual garage that operates in the Gestione Sportiva and his tasks include analyzing data coming from the track and reprocessing in the same place, while Daniel Casanova – who was Head of the Performance Systems Group at Lotus – will develop the performance of the SF15-T.
Is Alfa Romeo coming back to Formula One
Last Friday the FIA World Council in Geneva ratified the birth of a Formula 2 championship which is designed to be the new step between Formula 3 and Formula One. The clear intention appears to be to undermine the role of GP2 and World Series by Renault as the reference series’ for young drivers.
Stefano Domenicali – the current vice president of Audi and former Ferrari team principal – is currently working on the project that will be submitted to the FIA World Council in July for approval. The intention is then to open up invites to chassis builders who are interested in producing the spec-cars which will be designed to accommodate a V6 Turbo engine that will run without hybrid technology.
Renault Sport Technologies’s CEO, Patrice Ratti, speaking in Geneva stated that the French manufacturer is interested in getting involved with the new series as they believe that there is not sufficient interest to have three similar categories running as the feeder series into F1.
Italian sources have learnt that Ferrari is interested in providing the engine for the new series but the suggestions are that the engines will be identified as Alfa Romeo.
For some time, rumours have been circulating that Fiat – the company that owns both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo – is looking to expand the marketing reach of the Alfa brand in anticipation of a return to the American market. Halo models such as the 8C – and the recently launched 4C – do not make the profits that please company accountants. These models merely bring the brand to peoples attention.
To casual observers, much head scratching has ensued when attempting to understand Gene Haas building a team to enter F1 next year. With Haas sponsoring the Maranello squad and having a supply of engines confirmed for next year – along with the Italian Dallara company designing and building the American team’s first chassis – could it be possible that ‘Alfa’ branded engines will power the new concern?
After all, Marchionne alluded to the Alfa connection in a press conference just a few months ago and Ferrari is running with the famous ‘snake’ logo on its flanks.
Boullier changes his reasoning once again
Last Thursday Mclaren’s racing director Eric Boullier told the press that the MP4/30 would prove successful: “Yes, it is still possible, although not in three, four or five races. But I do believe that we will be competitive.”
No doubt having travelled and wined and dined over the weekend he had come to the conclusion by Monday that – “it may take more than a couple of years to catch up.”
Merely another 48 hours later and we have the bewildered Frenchman suggesting that in fact the team was satisfied with how Melbourne turned out.. eleventh and two laps down.
“Obviously I’m not smiling because we are not yet at the level where we would like to be. We are currently working on a program to develop the reliability so that we can test and recover data which may be helpful towards progress.”
“We are working on different parameters, we also had to reduce engine performance and consequently there is still much potential that must be exploited. We know that some of the changes that we have applied in the last race worked, then we will try to optimize them to improve the efficiency of the engine.”
Jenson Button had been enthusiastic following how the actual car performed during the Australian weekend – although as Andrew Benson wrote in his column on the BBC website:
“Button said the car was “about equal” to the Red Bull and Sauber in the corners. But that’s not exactly encouraging – one is, well, a Sauber; and Red Bull have massive problems with the driveability of the Renault engine, which is badly holding back its cornering performance.”
Still, as they say, you can’t keep a good man down and Eric returned with, no doubt, a Ron Dennis inspired speech to motivate the troops.
“We must not lose our motivation. We are professionals and members of the racing world and then we always want to be competitive. Our goal is to run and compete at a higher level in the shortest possible time. When you are in situations like this, you always try to find some positives and we are happy to have found them through the machine. It is good for the morale of the team that the car is a good base. “
Of course with the return of Alonso just a couple of days away, we will no doubt hear from the bespectacled director once more – although with their current issues Woking must be praying that Manor have similar problems to the ones they suffered in Australia – i.e. not running.
Malaysia: FIA Press Conferences
Thursday, March 26, 1500 hrs (local)
- Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
- Daniil Kyvat (Red Bull)
- Felipe Nasr (Sauber)
- Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
- Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso)
Friday, March 27 1600 hrs local
- Cyril Abiteboul (Renault)
- Matthew Carter (Lotus)
- Robert Fernley (Force India)
- Paul Hembery (Pirelli)
- Christian Horner (Red Bull)
- Franz Tost (Toro Rosso)
I wonder where Horner and Abiteboul will be located. Is it better to be on the back row, then you can see what object is travelling towards you?