A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
Bad times being a Mercedes Customer
It appears that being in possession of the best power unit in the business is not doing much good for Force India and Lotus. The Silverstone squad that is busy trying to kill other teams instead of developing a car scored seven points in Melbourne courtesy of the fact that except for the glacially slow McLaren there were not enough cars to have anyone finish outside the points scoring positions but from Malaysia both teams went home empty-handed.
Pastor Maldonado was at his usual best, taking the fight to Kimi before another Finn, Valteri Bottas, ever so gently sliced his rear wheel tyre – with love from Helsinki. And just a couple of laps later he added to his impressive tally of penalty points as he undercut the delta time during the safety car period.
The TJ13 gang likes to take the mickey out of the hapless reverend, but in this case he was free of blame. Normally the drivers have an indicator on their dashboard showing if they are within the required delta time, unless you are sitting in a Lotus as the team decided to spend the eight quid thirty they found in the back of the sofa into aerodynamics instead of displaying useful things for their drivers.
Grosjean didn’t fare much better. He was one of the drivers staying out during the safety car period. But he couldn’t get past Hülkenberg as his Mercedes engine was lobotomised by a sensor issue. The electronic part in question, installed to tell if something was wrong, was wrong itself and turned down the precious power plant. It all would matter little as the Frenchman’s under-tray was damaged after Sergio Perez had ploughed into his car.
You have to admire Mercedes. They even managed to outsource their bad luck.
Gambling means you can lose
There is no denying that the Mercedes W06 is still the car to beat, but the dominance comes at a cost. It was apparent as early as the second Barcelona test that the newest product from Brackley is tricky to setup with both Lewis and Nico complaining about borderline handling.
The two Ferrari boys, both heavily trounced last year, seem to be much more comfortable with their steed and as a result both are enjoying a bit of a renaissance lately. The SF15-T seems to be easy to setup, gentle on the tyres and for the first time since the introduction of the new engine formula someone used less fuel than the silver arrows during the Malaysian GP.
Over a single lap the Mercedes is unbeatable. Their higher downforce setup means they get heat in the tyres more readily than anyone else, but over the race distance the Ferrari comes perilously close, especially if the temperatures are high or the tarmac is hard on the tyres.
Ferrari had planned a two-stop race from the very start. “That was impossible for us,” Niki Lauda of Mercedes fame admits.
Each car has its DNA and it can’t deny it unless you build a new car. Mercedes have chosen the Red Bull method. Put your car on pole and dictate the race upfront using a high downforce setup. If by any chance they find themselves in traffic it all goes pear-shaped.
We had all that in the second half of 2013, when Seb Vettel went on to win nine races on the trot, but this time the other teams haven’t given up development. In fact Ferrari seem to be on a good way to break the Mercedes strangle-hold on the sport.
Bernard weeps over loss of dictatorship
Kim Jong E is not best pleased with the state of affairs in Formula One these days. He failed to stop the unloved V6 turbo dysons and that was only the first defeat in a long line of drubbings the once omnipotent ‘maximo líder’ has taken in recent months.
In the days of yore he could deal with things knowing that Adolf Max Mosley would nod his approval indiscriminately, but now he has to deal with a Frenchman who would rather surrender to the Dutch instead of dealing with hot issues.
“It’s completely wrong that the participants have a say in decisions,” he tells Germany’s Motorsport Total. “Committees like the Strategy Group where the top teams flex their muscles are wrong. But we have a system that prevents us from stopping them. Only if they all agree we can decide something.”
The ‘dear leader’ blames the teams for the current lack of reforms in Formula One. “If they grow up – and I told them as much this morning – we could come to an agreement and change things at the next race.”
Asked if this was the end of dictatorship in Formula One, Bernard plays the coy game.
“I shouldn’t talk about dictators, but if someone is admitted to hospital and the surgeon says the arm has to be amputated, you don’t put up the issue for discussion – you chop it off.”
Fat Hippo’s Rant Lite: Carmen Jorda – How about no?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in Fat Hippo’s Rants are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.
Formula One’s most useless development driver ever has put her support to Bernard’s idea of a Formula One for women. Citing that other sports have women’s and men’s competitions as well, Lotus’ token pair o’ X chromosomes development driver says that F1 for women is a good idea.
“Well, I think society has changed a lot in the last few decades. You see women in better jobs, managing to have careers of their own in areas that were deemed male for a long time. Nowadays you see women competing in their own championships in most sports: football, tennis, skiing – you name it – and in none of these championships are men and women competing against each other. So the question is: why not have a F1 world championship for women? “
While one could say that this would spell the end of women being cynically used as PR tokens by the teams, it doesn’t change the fact that the motor racing community is yet to smell the cordite. In 2000 the Swiss karting championship was utterly dominated by two women – Cyndie Allemann and Natacha Gachnang. The best placed male in the championship, a certain Sebastian Buemi, who came third, has had a try at F1 and is now a works driver at Le Mans – the girls who beat him never got a chance.
Instead of inventing a woman’s league – let them drive under fair conditions with competitive material first. How about that?
WEC abolishes Grid girls
Speaking of mistreating women. The WEC, which has become the better F1, has decided to abolish the practice of parading women as eye-candy on the grid. Have your say. Should F1 do the same?