Singapore track changes
One of the perils of holding a race on a street circuit, is that a municipalities priorities regarding street layout and traffic flow trump any “historical value” the pavement may hold. This was the case in Monaco when the “profile” of Tabac was changed, moving the corner 2.5 metres closer to the harbour.
Singapore has also been altered for this coming weekend’s F1 meeting.
Track Engineer, Jonathan Giesecke, has overseen the change, which affects turns 11 and 13, and completely altering the radius of turn 12 as the cars track has been moved to the alternate lane of the bridge. All this adds up to an increased angle on the approach to the hairpin.
“It’s a fantastic challenge to translate changes to Singapore’s Civic District into improvements to the Marina Bay street circuit”, says Gieskcke. “I expect the modifications from Turns 11 to 13 will enable closer racing and the potential for additional passing opportunities.”
The changes have been approved by the FIA, and because these changes will alter the overall length of the circuit, record lap times will be reset this weekend.
This is the third alteration to the circuit since the inaugural race in 2008.
Meanwhile, pollution levels in Singapore once again have soared due to forest fires raging in Indonesia rage. The Indonesian government has declared a state of emergency and pollution standards index (PSI) levels in Singapore reached 147 on Sunday.
This is a recurring problem for Singapore, as forestry is cleared to make way for farmland in Indonesia.
However, the PSI levels are no where near the 401 recorded in June 2013. Levels above 400 can be fatal, whilst PSI scores around 150 are merely considered “unhealthy”.
A spokesperson for the Singapore F1 race organisers revealed: “The possibility of haze is just one of the many potential issues that are covered in the overall 2015 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix Contingency Plan, The plan was formulated and refined with stake holders, government bodies and the Formula One community. In the event that the haze caused visibility, public health or operational issues Singapore GP would work closely with the relevant agencies before making any collective decisions regarding the event.”
The most recent readings in Monday saw the PSI level peak at 222 – which is “very unhealthy”, though the 24 hour average was below 169.
The FIA’s investigation panel into the Bianchi crash in Suzuka recommended the “the F1 Calendar is reviewed in order to avoid, where possible, races taking place during local rainy seasons”. The Singapore smog is particularly persistent at this time of the year and maybe the FIA should add all ‘safety’ weather conditions to their considerations.
Strategy Group Meeting
The F1 Strategy Group met yesterday to discuss a range of topics at todays meeting. Given that the agenda isn’t always revealed in advanced, we must take a punt at the topics discussed. The 2017 regulations, money, PU regulations, money, 2017 Aero Regulations, money, closed cockpits, money, and cost control.
Claire Williams was recently interviewed by Autosport and candidly revealed: “We haven’t had a Strategy Group meeting for a while, but the next one will be the point where we know the costs involved in those revised regulations.
One of the changes around the regs is that it doesn’t incur a significant cost increase. That was one of the objectives. I don’t anticipate – and I hope – there isn’t a huge increase, and if there is then we would have to fight against it. When we’re in the Strategy Group we always push hard for cost control, but as you know everyone has different agendas.
“We’ve been one of the biggest contributors to the cost-control conversation, but nothing is ever agreed upon in the meetings on costs because the group around the table don’t necessarily need to worry as much as the teams we’re trying to benefit.
We try and do our bit, but unfortunately it’s a bit of a stalemate. I’m not sure the costs are sustainable, but we’re doing our best to manage the costs we are faced with at the moment, of course we’d like those costs to come down, but they have to come down a considerable amount.
For the majority of teams who are going to benefit you have to reduce the costs by £20-30million. If you try and look at the areas to achieve those cuts it’s very difficult to get rid of £20-30million from your business unless you look at a wholesale change or restructure.
If you’re looking at your costs and the greatest expenditure is wages then it’s a reduction in headcount across the board, and nobody really wants to do that. Inevitably, if you reduce head count then you have to outsource, so it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other, and we don’t seem to be able to find what that magic bullet is.”
As usual Clair makes a lot of sense and is diplomatic in her response. She talks real life numbers, and makes her position on the matter as clear as she can.
Damnit! There is no place for this kind of reasonableness in F1.
So let’s get some good old ‘Ronspeak’ to give us something to argue about. Dennis gave his opinions of the strategy group meetings earlier this year.
“I’m shocked at the somewhat cavalier nature of dialogue inside the Strategy Group, especially as we are about to invest all this money.
So when this committee decide what I can and can’t have, that is absolutely one thing I am extremely vocal about, anything that’s a rule or regulation that affects my ability to use the company’s facilities to make us more competitive. That tends to be heavily supported by the have-nots. And again, frustrating.
I’ve been involved in 17 world championships personally, and I think I understand what it takes to do it.
And when you do participate in some of these Strategy Group meetings there is a phenomenal lack of experience in some of the teams. They bring forward things which I know have been tried not just once and failed but tried seven times and failed. But all you can do is voice your opinion at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum.”
Autosport are reporting tonight that a cost cap for engine customers has been discussed at the strategy group in detail. However, rather than forcing the engine manufacturers to provide their customer teams with the latest configuration of the engines, it appears the engine manufacturers will be allowed to provide their teams with ‘current-1’ specification power units. This means we will see more teams running the previous year’s spec engine at a discounted price, which surely is not good for competition.
‘Works’ teams will then be legitimately able to run higher performance engine specifications which gives them a significant advantage over the rest of the field.
At present, Mercedes customers are all desperate for the ‘new spec engine’ run by Lewis and Nico in Monza.
Bizarrely even though this new engine used the 7 engine token developments left for Mercedes, they are spinning this as a 2016 configuration come early as Bob Fernley of Force India indicates.
“The original decision was this wouldn’t come out until 2016, the fact that it’s come out now, they may want to extend it to the customer teams.
It depends what the directive is from Mercedes. I think the answer is to find out from Mercedes what they want to do, and then we’ll adjust our programme”.
Rob Smedley of Williams adds: “It certainly looked as though it has a bit of pace on it, so we’d love that in our car as soon as we can get it.”
As of yet, the FIA have not indicated whether the regulations for 2016 will see a hard homologation date of February 28th for F1 engine manufacturers, or whether development will be allowed season long as has been the case this year.
Pirelli calling the shots
It appears the Michelin bid to become the F1 tyre supplier was never that serious. Ecclestone is determined the ‘show’ will be more exciting – and this means pit stops. Lots of them.
Ecclestone confirmed to Adam Cooper last week that Pirelli would be getting the F1 tyre supply contract for 2017-2020. “Sure, we’re not going to let them go, they’re doing a good job. I said to them a long time ago I don’t want a tyre that’s going to last the whole race”.
Michelin’s bid demanded a switch to low profile tyres and rubber that doesn’t degrade. Pascal Couasnon of the French company confirmed earlier this year, “We want tyres that are going to make the driver very tired when he’s done racing. We are not against pit stops or a good show”.
He also suggested making the team’s use the same tyres for a minimum number of laps across multiple races – with a liited number of ‘new tyres’ available for the season. This would theoretically force the team’s to choose when to fit new tyres and create alternative strategies.
Yet the categoric show of support for Pirelli by Ecclestone means a deal is almost done and Pirelli are now flexing their muscle with the FIA.
“The one thing that needs to happen is a proper testing programme,” Paul Hembery told Autosport. “And the first-level drivers need to be involved in determining the product we are going to be taking into a season.
We need their input because they are the ones who push to the limit, who go that little bit extra, more than the other drivers. But at the moment we have no testing, they’re not involved, so as you can imagine there is a discrepancy there, and that’s not normal in my opinion.
Right now, though, we’re a long way off [a decision]. The first phase is to define what we need, and there are a couple of proposals that have been put forward. Once we have that, it’s then about how you fit it into a very intensive race calendar year next year with a car that also needs to be different to the current car because it’s a wider track, has more downforce.
So there are a huge number of factors involved in practically delivering what we are asking and how you actually achieve that, and that’s something the engineers and teams need to advise on.”
I would suggest we would need six sessions of three days each next year, and then going into 2017 you’ve pre-season testing. For us it[testing] is a condition. You can’t carry on with the scenario where we can’t actually do our work. We’ve not been given adequate support to allow us to perform all of the development we would like to have done, and we have been asking consistently. Without a good testing programme we can’t stay in the sport for 2017.”
The FIA are allegedly upset with Pirelli over the embarrassment they suffered during the tyre pressure tests conducted in Monza. There are reports they are reconsidering Pirelli’s ‘fit for purpose’ status as the F1 tyre supplier. However, they have already green lighted Pirelli and Michelin as ‘approved’ suppliers for F1 and the decision rests with Ecclestone.
As TJ13 reported last week, Pirelli in conjunction with the FIA will produce a set of definitive procedures for the team’s to follow. Paul Hembery explains: “During these days, we will also be defining, together with the FIA, a clearer procedure enabling the teams to more easily follow the rules regarding tyre usage.
“This is important to avoid any misunderstandings, by giving the teams more precise indications to comply with, thus avoiding what happened to Mercedes in Monza”.
In Formula E where the rules appear more concise and direct, article 25.110 of the sporting regulations states: “The tyre manufacturer engineers will be allowed to control and measure tyre temperatures and pressure at any time during the event.”
This will surely be the solution the FIA finally settle upon.