A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
Ferrari has Mercedes in its sights
It appears we are in for a real hard racing Formula 1 season this year. No one saw the Ferrari win coming in Malaysia, competitive yes, but win was a long shot.
Since the Malaysian GP Toto Wolf as said that the Ferrari win was a wake-up call to Mercedes and they will now have to accelerate their development cycle and rethink their strategy for the year. But are they really in danger of the red Ferrari wave?
Paddy Lowe seems to agree with Wolf saying there is serious competition for this world championship.
Ferrari for their part is playing the game of ‘official’ challenger to perfection. Speaking to Sport Bild Ferrari’s technical director James Allison said they “have some aerodynamic improvements coming and these will be brought to the car as quickly as possible.
Allison continues, “The aerodynamic regulations are still young, so there is a lot of potential.”
While that may be the case let us not forget Kimi’s plea last year at the Austrian Grand Prix when his race engineer told him he has two tents to make up to catch Button and he remarked “well give me more power!” And as we know now, Ferrari has done just that.
In Jerez Sauber showed remarkable speed even though the aerodynamics of the car was less than desirable. When TJ13 spoke to a member of the Ferrari technical team they said they were pleasantly surprised with the performance gains but were adamant they were real.
A lot has been said of the performance of the individual power units but are we seeing the emergence of another ‘perfect storm’ at Ferrari? They have James Allison, a very capable technical director, they have a quadruple World Champion in Vettel, a fast but perhaps not the fastest second driver in Kimi and a flamboyant team principal in Maurizio Arrivabene.
It is still early in the season but if Mercedes are starting to look over their shoulder perhaps this season will be exactly what the doctor ordered for F1!
Force India looks towards Shanghai with mixed expectations
Having had a delayed start to the season for their 2015 challenger Force India has had mixed fortunes in the first two races. After scoring some points in Australia the next race, Malaysia, proved to be much harder with both drivers finishing outside the top ten. Using Australia as a measure of performance and success would be pushing it though but as ever Mallya saw some positives from Malaysia.
Reflecting on the first two races he pointed out that both “Nico and Sergio showed their fighting spirit and enjoyed plenty of TV airtime as a result. Both weekends were valuable learning opportunities for us as we work hard to improve the VJM08.”
He credits his team for building a reliable car but acknowledges there is still a lot of development to be done.
“Everyone in the team deserves credit for the strong reliability of the VJM08, but there is a long way to go on the development path. We know the areas we need to improve and I’ve been impressed with the attitude of the team. The morale is strong and we will keep fighting hard to score as many points as we can in these early races.”
Early it has to be because as a team Force India does not have a very good track record of in season development; so close to beating McLaren last year yet so far.
While Mallya is hopeful of some points in China it Nico Hulkenberg does not appear to be that positive.
The Hulk thinks that the Chinese track is very similar to Sepang with a “mix of everything – low, medium and high-speed corners,” putting a big emphasis on aero performance. With the fast corners putting a lot of strain on the tyres Hulkenberg is expecting high degradation to be a big factor this weekend.
While considering it “a fun track to drive and a challenge to get right” he is not going to China with any expectations.
“I’m not going there with any big expectations, but we’ve got to believe we can fight for some points. It wasn’t possible in Malaysia, but we certainly put up a good fight and will keep working hard. I think our performance level will be similar this weekend.”
For Perez things are not much better. Although he is looking forward to getting back into the car the Shanghai International Circuit has not been one of the best tracks for him.
Speaking before this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix Sergio said “Shanghai has never been the luckiest circuit for me. It was only last year that I scored my first points there. It’s a track that I enjoy because of the unusual characteristics. Turn one is a real challenge, especially in qualifying because you need to carry so much speed into the corner, but it’s easy to run wide and lose a lot of time.
“The long back straight is also interesting because you get a lot of drag races. It’s where horsepower and top speed are important. Sometimes you see three cars wide and lots over overtaking into the hairpin. It’s definitely the best passing opportunity of the lap.”
If the Force India cars will be doing the passing or will be passed remains to be seen though. Whatever their performance, Bob (the builder of not so fast cars) Fernley revealed today that their B-Spec car will not be ready until late June at the Austrian GP. This appears to be yet another knock on effect from the cash flow issues the team suffered when paying suppliers during the winter. This, coupled with the decision to switch to Toyota’s Cologne wind tunnel seems to have hampered their 2015 development.