#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 13th May 2015


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

Mercedes’ weakness found

Teams informally agree on Budget cap ahead of Strategy Group Meeting

Criticism mounting on F1

A Thank You to our readers

Mercedes’ weakness found

The AMG Mercedes team seems to have sorted out the few weaknesses from last year. The brakes are still a trifle wonky, but even with deceleration problems the team managed to finish 1st and 3rd in Bahrain. That means, nobody can hope for gifted wins like the three wins Mercedes tossed away in 2014 in an attempt to soften the fall for Red bull from dizzying heights of four consecutive world and driver titles.

The only remaining Achilles heel seems to be the soft bit between the seat and the steering wheel.

The unexpected driver change at Force India yesterday was caused by the fact that Pascal Wehrlein had fallen ill. As a result Nick Yelloly drove a day earlier than expected and today Esteban Ocon gets his chance and he succeeds in making Max Verstappen look positively parental.

This is the second time that there has been a major reshuffling during testing. Earlier this year, a testing day for Wehrlein at Force India had to be cancelled, because his services were required at the big boy Mercedes team. Lewis was broken and Nico fancied the day off.

The twenty-year old Wehrlein is scheduled to drive the W06 today, and seemed reasonably confident that he’ll be fixed overnight. But if not, Nico will probably be happy to nail another 600+ kilometres experience advantage over his footballing mate Lewis.

Sebastian Vettel demonstrated in 2014 ostensibly, the large effect lost track time can have. Which makes it all the more surprising how many of the regular drivers are absent from the test – Mr. Vettel included.


Teams informally agree on Budget cap ahead of Strategy Group Meeting

Here it is.

Here it is.


Criticism mounting on F1 – by Fat Hippo

Red Bull’s mouth-piece Dr. Helmut Marko is no longer the only one critical of the current state of F1. Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Daniel Ricciardo and David Coulthard have chipped in, mainly targeting the engine regulations and the complexity of the not-quit-so-loud bits in the back of the cars.

Keen followers of this publication will most likely have seen us dissect the problem already – All those except Prost are historically or currently associated with Red Bull, and Alain’s criticism was offered during an interview with Red Bull owned broadcaster ServusTV.

In a way this is a shame, because these commentators may well have a point. But due to Red Bull’s incessant whining over the years, nobody listens anymore, even if their contribution is worth hearing now.

Dr. Marko’s insistence that the Strategy Group must go is an opinion shared by most people with a modicum of common sense. The Strategy Group is like having a bunch of petulant kindergarten rug-rats vote on who gets to play with the fire truck.

For the more aged, Turkey’s voting for Christmas is an alternative metaphor.

F1 has decided to travel a path where the engines are tightly specified and the development paths of the different manufacturers will eventually converge with very similar results. Whether this contributes to the road going cars of the future is questionable.

On the other hand, the WEC allows more creative engine development programmes. The hybrids solutions from the engine manufacturers are substantially different. This offers a diversity of implementation into the road car solutions of the future.

That said, an Endurance championship is much more suited to road car development, as your normal family box is supposed to do two-hundred thousand kilometres before it is shipped to Azerbaijan to run for another 200K. Formula one engines are built to last 5 race weekends. But given that between every race, each of the manufacturer replaces worn and damaged existing engine parts under the ‘safety and cost efficiency’ mandate, this is a joke – but sadly not to the standard of Tommy Cooper.

It maybe time to say goodbye to F1 as the research lab of manufacturers. Volkswagen didn’t build the Bugatti Veyron to research anything. They built it to show that they could. And maybe that’s what F1 should be doing. Becoming once again a prototype racing series where people showcase what they can build – just because.

If the fans of F1 are to be saved from the sight of a self imploding kingdom where brimstone and fire is raining in, then on pain of execution the following phases should be banned: “Save fuel”, “manage tyres”, “leave a gap”.

F1 should be politically incorrect – carving up whales for food when they beach instead of dragging them back into the water so they can beach again and die anyway.

Or if we really wish to please the eco-mentalists, let F1 be the trail-blazer for developing a safe storage infrastructure for Hydrogen gas and run cars equipped with combustable H2O fuel cells. Let’s show Formula-E that you don’t need to switch cars halfway into the race when we can race to the moon and back.


A Thank You to our readers

On Monday night there was much rejoicing in the Judge’s chambers as we clocked up a new record number of views on a single day. Okay, beating the rest English speaking media to the Mateschitz offering Toro Rosso was a decent effort, and TJ13’s readership has been on a significant rise since the new site was introduced anyway.

Smack bang in the middle of the lunch break of the Barcelona test, readership numbers for the day shot upwards like a homesick angel. The new record of Monday was history at some point around 8pm last night.

An especially heartfelt 今日は goes to the almost 1.000 readers, who reached us from the distant shores of Japan yesterday.

We wish to take this opportunity to thank all our regular viewers and welcome the new ones. Everybody is free to contribute – we are a site for the fans, by fans. If you want to contribute a small nugget to the news or a full-fledged article. Feel free to use the contact form to contact us.

muchas gracias, vielen Dank, どうもありがとう, большое спасибо, suurkiitos, nice one(Aussie)… and in the country where we are the 521st most read site of all – suur tänu



31 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 13th May 2015

  1. “Criticism mounting on F1” That’s interesting about the comments from the Red Bull crowd. I did see DC’s comments in his column on the BBC site, but wasn’t aware of RB’s full court press prior to the Strategy Group meeting on Thursday.

    What’s also interesting is that Will Buxton and Martin Brundle each published in the last few hours how they believe F1 could be improved. One area of agreement between Buxton, Brundle, and Coulthard is fixing the aero wash problem so that cars can race more closely together and eliminate the need for DRS.

    The primary problem with the proposal to open up F1 engine regulations to enable more prototype development is that costs would very likely sky-rocket.

    I’m sure that one would not want to imply that crazed environmentalists have forced upon F1 this highly restricted, fuel limited engine formula. It is of course the auto manufacturers that requested energy efficiency (to be more relevant to road cars), and heavy regulations (to prevent / control a spending war).

    In any case, the overall budget costs are already so huge that it’s hurting the viability of F1 as we know it. Any wise choice for the future of F1 will include a net reduction of costs.

    • Perhaps ban all the frilly bits on the wings (especially the front) and allow only a single angled plane. That should greatly reduce the dirty air problem as well as reducing the advantage of aerodynamics, bringing rich and poor teams (with no/little wind tunnel time) closer together.

    • I for one am delighted by the new PU’s and I think it important to note Mercedes is definitely using tech from their engine in production cars. A big chunk of the TP presser last Friday had them all agreeing they needed to do more to publicise how what they’re up to is impacting the real world.

      And you are correct, without the new regs Renault would be gone and there would be no Honda, meaning a savage shortage in the F1 comedy department, LOL!

      The big failing IMHO is in the way manufacturers are restricted, instead of being given energy targets and allowed to go with their strengths to achieve the optimum solution in their view. So instead of coming up with an optimum solution for the quickest way to move 710 kg around a track for 90 minutes with 100kg of fuel, they are coming up with a solution only good for turbo V6s. It would behoove them to make it easy for WEC LMP1 engines to crossover as well. That and a sliding scale development mechanism to keep one manufacturer (cough cough Mercedes) from dominating would go a very long way, methinks.

    • But our cap is black! Seriously, the pun is so easy, I’m surprised there are only two people who had the idea.

      What am I supposed to do? Delete it because someone has told me now that someone else had the same obvious idea a few days earlier?

    • I am disappoint. Credit where credit is due. I too like the sniff petrol humor. The easy to imagine joke was too recently done.

      Other than that I enjoyed this and the practice session posts immensely.

      • I cannot give credit for something I thought of myself. Actually I first thought of a bottle cap, but wasn’t sure if that’s the same word in ‘murrica and blighty. I only found out from Tom that sniffpetrol had done something similar, so I’m not going to credit them for something I thought of myself, even if I was 30 days late.

  2. Unfortunately, disagreements have already arisen in regards to the budget cap:
    McLaren wants a ‘predatory grey’ while Red Bull wants a more purplish hue (possibly with flames embroided on the back) instead of the proposed plain black…

      • I think Ferrari would want Espresso brown.
        Maybe Torro Rosso would go for charcoal.
        Lotus would go for black & blue if Pastor keeps driving for them.
        Manor’s colour would be ‘shadow’ as they are always out of the TV camera lights.

  3. I generally have the feeling that many people to quickly relate formula restrictions and accompanying costs and keep jumping on this bandwagon when the discussion comes up once more. Of course it is a whole lot more complicated, that is something we do not have to address specifically.

    However, a nuance that I have not really seen presented is the fact that, because the engine manufacterers have managed to focus the (engine aspects) of the formula on road relevance, this should automatically mean that any (prototype) development and knowhow that it created in the formula 1 programme of an engine manufacturer should be of importance (so it would represent value) for the road car divisions. This, in my opinion, should be critically evaluated when people start referencing to the fact that they expect development cost to sky-rocket when the engine formula is opened up. To a certain extent, they are allowed to sky-rocket (considered from inside the F1 bubble), as long as the development is relevant for divisions throughout the whole car company, instead of ‘only’ the formula 1 programme. Therefore, these costs should also not be solely be ascribed to ‘formula 1 engine development’. So a spending war, maybe. But not as large and taken out of proportion as if F1 programma are suddenly the only development programmes that are running inside the car companies. In my opinion, opening up the regulations would make this ‘shared development between company division’ more easy to implement, as more freedom in technological solutions for F1 would be available to connect with ongoing development in the road car divisions. This is also related of couse to the car companies to demonstrate that they are able to supply F1 engines to customer teams at lower cost than the pure development costs solely for F1 would indicate.

    Where restriction will help I guess, are indeed the aero solutions (as mentioned before by the pundits). Here, really large chunks of the budget are spent, while it has made the racing / following a leading can more and more difficult. So regulating this more would cut on two sides, better racing and lower budget needed (where part of this budget might be redirected to the engines íf the costs would really go up that dramatically…)

      • Fair enough.
        I can see why you’re happy, though.
        A 300% increase is surely a cue for the popping of a Cork or two!
        Thank again for your posts from testing, informative, analytical, and humorous.

      • That’s great, etc. But what was the event that triggered the spike? Tripling a record a priori nothing is very odd indeed. TJ13 must have been mentioned / linked somewhere very different with significant readership.

        FH’s testing coverage is good, but something strange is afoot at the Circle K…

        • The Audi story has been picked up by news aggregator sites and access numbers went mental. That’s what happens if you beat all english speaking media to the punch 😉

          • I see … an old-fashioned scoop, of sorts. Nice one 😉

            Which language was the original story in, out of interest?

        • You are correct Roger. We have written a number of articles which appear to have received the critical seal of approval in what are usually highly robust and critical forums.

      • @Hippo & judge

        A friend has your data for the last quarter, gathered by the big company. Amused at who are the top referrers. I guess people are desperate for real information and discussion with a touch of humor, rather than the so called technical expertise, and train spotting at those other blogs. Keep up the good work!

        http://www.coffeejudge.co.uk/ Colombian arabica yummy

  4. What F1 sorely needs is an affordable “generic” customer engine and perhaps access to a customer chassis. During the era of naturally aspirated engines, the poorest of the poor teams could always afford to race with Cosworth. Heck, there used to be a time when this was the best engine. The strategy group needs to change engine rules so that Cosworth could again afford to build and sell F1 engines.

    • The cost of engines isn’t the culprit, it’s the scapegoat. Ecclestone could pay for the 4 poorer teams engines for less than he gives Red Bull just for showing up. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull all get engines supplied outside their budgets and 10’s of millions (hundreds for Ferrari) of dollars, free, from Ecclestone, it’s hardly a wonder competition is so out of whack.
      I don’t believe the people at the Mercedes shop are any smarter than those at Sauber, FI, Lotus or Manor they just have much more money with which to try their ideas; speed costs money. I read somewhere today (maybe JA) that Red Bulls short nose cost $3 million, design to completion. That’s 15% of a bottom teams engine cost, so Red Bull can design/build/ crash test six and a half complete nose concepts while the poor teams pay for engines. A fair division of the income in conjunction with a spending cap should be the starting point of any changes to F1.

  5. Congrats for the viewership numbers! Been visiting thejudge everyday since 2013 all the way from the Philippines 😉

  6. AJ – Great point about manufacturers perhaps being able to absorb the R&D costs of a less restrictive F1 engine formula.

    Candidly, one assumption that I hold is that auto manufacturers want F1 (teams) to pay a significant majority of the total PU costs. But I don’t know if my assumption is correct.

  7. FH is spot on. I also like what mattpt55 said. Mercedes has been using technology from the Formula 1 cars in production cars. This is not well known which needs to addressed because it’s something that Mercedes should be proud of. As far as using WEC type engine development programs would be good for Formula 1. The costs would likely go up but if that type of program makes it easier for manufacturers to justify the Formula 1 spend to their corporate boards because it make things more relevant to production cars and leads to more manufacturers entering Formula 1; then maybe it needs to be looked at. Would having a engine development program like that mean the end of the constructor’s championship because of too many variables? The sport that I adore has always been survival of the fittest. Either you have the budget to participate or you don’t and the thought of Formula 1 starting to go down the road of spec cars is frightening because that’s not Formula 1. Let the engineers, aero guys, etc. have their creative freedom back.

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