A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
OTD Lite 1926 – The birth of an Aussie legend
In a world where you can become a ‘legend’ simply for appearing on some reality show or other – it diminishes the true meaning of the word yet as Ron Dennis pointed out about his former employer: “The word ‘legend’ is often used to describe successful sportsmen, but often it exaggerates their status. In the case of Sir Jack Brabham, however, it’s entirely justified.”
Despite winning three championships, history has almost forgotten the monumental achievements that this Australian trailblazer set in arguably F1’s most dangerous period. Of course, it is practically impossible that anyone will emulate winning titles in a car bearing their own name but that’s incidental.
What I find astonishing is that a man who won titles during a period when Jim Clark competed is almost forgotten within the pantheon of F1 champions.
His ultimate legacy goes beyond just his success but opened the door to fellow Aussies to follow in his footsteps – with current Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo carrying on the great traditon started by Black Jack.
The Grumpy Jackal
Smedley – Williams concerned by Ferrari resurgence
Williams Head of performance engineering Rob Smedley is anxious. His former team, Ferrari, have turned around their poor performance from last year and have replaced the Grove team as the next best car after the Mercedes W06.
With Felipe Massa and Pat Symonds both calling upon Brackley to provide the latest engines for their fight against Ferrari – Smedley had insisted that the Williams team need to work harder but the Malaysian result has thrown new concern upon the British team:
“Yeah, of course I’m concerned. To be 60 seconds down at the end of the race, absolutely it’s a concern. It would be remiss of me to say I wasn’t concerned about that. But there are certain bits of it, like the fact that Sebastian could do one less stop than us has certainly helped in that minute, so that’s where we need to start concentrating.”
“At the same time we need to develop the car package from front to back, you need to keep pushing on with that. It’s a concern – if anyone is in front it’s a concern, no matter what colour their car is. We just have to keep pushing on and make sure we’re developing at a faster rate than them. If we do that, we close a gap, it’s that simple.”
“It’s a combination of a lot of things. I think that’s probably part and parcel of what we need to do now, look at the tyre management here. There’s a car package pace deficit and it’s not as if we should shy away from that. There is car package pace deficit from both MGP [Mercedes] and Ferrari and we have to work hard to improve that. At the same time, concurrently, we need to look at our tyre management and how we manage the tyres.
“Why were there cars in the race that could do one less stop than us? That’s a really key point. It’s not that we look at it afterwards and say ‘ah, we could have done one less stop’. We couldn’t. So they key factor here is we need to understand as a group of people that there’s work to do in that area. It’s like everything, you’ve got a deficit, you’ve got a deficit in all areas – you don’t have this Eureka moment where you unlock half a second or a second from the car. We just need to do our due diligence and we’ll do it right and find the right answers.”
5th Power unit, what’s the motive?
On the Thursday before the Malaysian Grand Prix – in a meeting between all the team principles and F1’s ringmaster Mr E – it was unanimously agreed to increase the power unit allocation from 4 to 5 per team on condition that it received the FIA’s approval.
The main aim of this change was brought about after Christian Horner offered the idea to get the teams to run their cars on a Friday to improve ‘the show’. Whereas currently the teams sit large parts of Friday running out so as to preserve critical engine mileage.
A number of team principles are however wary of this idea. Sauber ‘s Monisha Kaltenborn is seeking assurances that this move is directly for ‘the show’ and not for any other underlying factor….
“If that is something we believe will lead to more running on Friday, then I think we should do that,” Kaltenborn said. “If this is a measure for the show then word it also in such a way that this is for the show, but we shouldn’t try to use technical changes just to cater to specific wishes from some teams who might want an extra engine.”
“So our position is we are supportive of measures which are good for the show. If this is good for the show then limit that benefit for the show to the Friday, but don’t use it just because somebody wants to get something out which is good for their overall technical situation, because that’s no good.”
“Rules are rules, and if we have to change it for a specific purpose it should be tailor made for that purpose and not hide something else.”
In what seems a surreal proposition Christian Horner raised the issue of costs of the additional Power Unit – stating there should be no additional payments to the engine manufacturers from the teams. Of course the smaller financially strapped teams would welcome this proposal but it is unlikely that, for instance, Mercedes who currently supply engines to three customer teams would rubber-stamp this suggestion – leading many to question if Bernie would be funding the extra costs.
For teams that have already lost one of their allocated units during the first 2 races of the season ( Mclaren and Redbull ) this new agreement could offer the potential of avoiding grid penalties later on in the season. However – if and when this new proposal is approved by the FIA and WMSC – it would be of interest if it was directly for the show or simply to help those teams who are already down one power unit.
Watch this space.
Renault politely suggest “back off” to Red Bull
With the loss of the Lotus and Caterham’s customer deals Renault has been left with supplying just the two Red Bull teams with engines. With Red Bull becoming the de-facto works team the French manufacturer was planning on a closer relationship with the Milton Keynes squad. Yet after the Australian Grand Prix both sides got drawn into a negative media campaign.
Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul insists that the tensions are history but reiterated that Renault has extensive experience in building race winning engines in Formula One.
In an interview with ESPN – the Frenchman said, “It’s a fair thing that Red Bull is extremely demanding, which is good, but there are also a lot of people in Red Bull – it’s a fact there is almost twice the amount of people within Red Bull than there are in Renault Sport – and those people have expectations but are also creating different opportunities and making suggestions.”
“Sometimes I think we are not firm enough in closing order and saying, ‘Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’, if you know who I am referring to. We have been in there for a while, we know how to build engines and we have been a bit too, how should I say it … polite and open and candid with the way we are dealing with our partner teams. That’s the way we are, but maybe we need to be a little bit more robust in our conviction that we can address the performance deficit.”
“We need to really select the topics for which they can make a contribution and support, and do that fully and completely with them without any sort of hesitation, and then there are some topics where we need to say ‘No, sorry, you cannot help. It’s not that we do not want you to help, it’s just that you cannot help and you are going to do more harm than good’. I think it’s about filtering between those two classifications of activities and drawing a line between the two.”
Dennis remains positive of improvements
In an unusual departure from the Mclaren norm, Ron Dennis himself gave an interview to Adam Cooper rather than through the normal channel with Eric Boullier. Mclaren consistently failed to find the title sponsor that was constantly promised last year. And with updates failing to draw the Woking team nearer to the front over the previous two seasons it may seem implausible for the team’s fans to take heart from Dennis’ words.
“Both drivers were extremely complimentary about high-speed cornering performance, and braking characteristics,A whole range of positives came out of the weekend. I think we’re very strong in certain parts of the circuit. Clearly we aren’t where we want to be with the engine, and nor is Honda, but we are getting there.”
“The retirement reasons were slightly related but not identical. The primary engines have not been damaged, because we stopped. They’ll be the engines for the next Grand Prix, albeit with some reliability components changed.”
“We have a steep learning curve, and of course we want to win races, but we want to be on a path to World Championships. And to do that you need the complete support, and focused support, of an OEM. Yes it’s challenging at the moment, but we’re working hard with Honda and we will get there sooner than people realise. It goes step by step. It will be Europe before we’ll have a pace we can measure.”
Of course the cynical would suggest that the team has a pace that is measurable now – just nothing that requires timing to the 1/000ths of the second.
Vettel endears himself even more to the Ferrari team
Sebastian Vettel had spent the morning in the Ferrari simulator back in Maranello but the young German met the assembled employees of the Italian giant in the Gestione Sportiva as they gathered to celebrate the Malaysian Grand Prix victory last Sunday.
Vettel expressed his gratitude in Italian to the delight of the crowd: “Malaysia was an unbelievable emotion. I have won many races but the first with Ferrari is very, very special. On Sunday night I wanted to celebrate with the mechanics and I told them: thanks a lot, but I want to be one of you. No more, no less. I am part of the team and even if they are alone on the track, I know you never really are because they are always with you. We want to thank you for giving me a beautiful machine and I think, in fact I know, that we will have more great moments together.”
The Scuderia’s team principal Maurizio Arrivabene then introduced Kimi Raikkonen who spoke via a phone link to everybody as he attended the baptism of his son. Arrivabene then followed with a few words to galvanise the squad to further success, “I believe that when Seb shouted ‘Forza Ferrari!’ over the radio immediately after the finish it was the culmination of a childhood dream. It brought back so many memories of winning so many races with another F1 legend, Michael.But most of all is how special it is being here with all of you. You have all been here for such a long time and you all deserve this.”