Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 14th September, 2015

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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.

Singapore Polution

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.

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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.

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32 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 14th September, 2015

  1. Engine -1 horrible idea. Manufacturers should provide current spec and -1 spec option, both at fixed costs and let customers choose. Works teams already derive enough advantage from locked ECU, custom fuel and chassis tuning. Effing joke that. Like they need any more help.

    • Thin end of the wedge and a complete mis-direction.
      If engine manufacturers want to introduce latest spec engine then should be mandated across all teams using that engine, simultaneously.

      • Wholeheartedly agree Peter. One spec to bind them all. It should be a mandate that new spec engines must be available to the customer for the works team to use. These should be at a fixed cost. The money is going to be spent developing the new spec and it is in the interest of the works team and supplier to do so. Increasing the price of customer engines to defray the cost should not be an option.

      • The rule that all concerned agreed upon is (still out there and supposedly in effect) this rule says only one specification power unit can be used, but this rule was made a mockery off by the onehalfthecancerofF1 “left in formula one”, pushing and imposing the FIA to let Manor use a supply of year old specification PU’S, which rendered the one specification rule useless and legally easily challenged.

      • @Iain:R8

        I forgot to add that some of the books’ characters, are mirrored, by some F1 personalities.

  2. Williams eager to use use engine. Well it might not be as clear cut as reported above. You quote Rob, but Pat have a different impression on a Sky Sports article.

    He said..”But we want to take our guidance from Mercedes, we don’t want to take risks. We will see what they think is the best engine for us.”

    “There is obviously some risk analysis to be undertaken to know whether to use the new power unit or not. I think we are incredibly satisfied with what we have got, we have got the best power unit in Formula 1 and Mercedes allow us to use it very, very aggressively. So we feel it is a very reliable and a very powerful unit and that is great for us.

    “We are competitive people and we always want the next best thing, but I think we will be guided by the works team by how they get on ”

    So it will be interesting to see what they decide when the next engine change is done.

  3. Last year stuff, that is how German manufacturers control who is succesful in DTM and who is not. I can see where this idea is coming from. Probably Mercedes after their works team got scared that latest spec engines could be provided to a rival like RBR or STR. Imagine someone at Williams gets to smart with the chassis and aero. OOooohh, we don’t want that. Ferrari apparently had this strategy for years by providing engines only to teams who have a crap chassis anyway. Renault doesn’t care, their engine is always last years anyway.
    What a horrible idea.

    • There have been no more last-year cars in DTM since 2012. ITR prohibited the practice on the grounds that Audi and Merc did provide hopelessly uncompetitive cars to their customers. David Coulthard and Susie Wolff wasted years in those things.

  4. I think from the moment Bernie warned the drivers to stop their criticism of Pirelli at Monza, pretty much gave it away that they had retained their tender.

    • I think it’s been obvious for a while that Bernie has wanted to retain Pirelli as tyre manufacturer. What’s missing ? Is the ability for drivers to either push like crazy right off the start line or pick their moment to push. All they do now is nurse the tyres before they can push, then after they’ve pushed the tyre so much, ease off and nurse the tyres until the next pit stop. All ruined if they flat spot a tyre of course. If you want exciting races, then you have to give drivers a bigger window to use the tyre’s performance. Managing tyres is an integral skill but it’s not really been put to the test in a while for various reasons.

      McHonda news/rumours
      Interesting note in this somer’s article about Honda possibly using a test mule (super formula car) to check the PU outside of the MP4-30 http://www.somersf1.co.uk/2015/09/mclaren-hondas-woes-progression-and.html
      Seems the technical regulation has a bit of a grey area to it. If Somers is not barking up the wrong tree, it might be an area the other manufacturers might choose to exploit as well before the FIA shuts it down.

      • A more sensible approach would be worrying about sorting the engine out more than trying to piss off McLaren to an even greater degree if you ask me!!

        • It’s a valid thing for Honda to do (maybe not in the FIA’s overzealous no testing of any kind rules), to see if the way the power unit has been packaged in the MP4-30 has contributed to it’s issues. Tough luck if it upsets Ron Dennis, if the rumour about Honda changing the PU design to fit the MP4-30 design is true then it’s a bit of a schoolboy error to say the least. Honda have been working through it’s problems in a methodical way all season, most of the tokens have gone on the combustion chamber in the ICE. Hard to say if those efforts will pay off in 2016. They also need to get Mobil 1 to catch up on fuel mixtures and lubricants, as they do appear to be lagging behind on that front.

        • Well, I think it’s only reasonable to check as objectively as possible where the problems are. If mclaren’s package is indeed good and really fast, they’ll be happy to take the blame.

          But if it shows that the package is rubbish and cooling restrictions cause problems, well then they should know as well.

          We fans can be ‘pissed off’. Corporations like McLaren can’t (the fact that RedBull can Has nothing to do with this).

      • @taperoo2k

        The ‘McHonda news’ is a week old – originally in Autosprint 8/09 then GP247, and copy and paste thereafter. No comments from other teams, so probably pure speculation. They really need the current car for evaluation purposes. The video quoted on the other site, has been somewhat disregarded on a technical forum, by Japanese fans and engineers, as “containing a lot of acting”, – translation ‘lots of fake stuff and deception’. So hard to know what is real. A real shame. Renault seem to be the most open in answering questions and providing technical information.

        ps Bitdefender AV reported Somers F1 as containing Malware. LOL. 🙂

          • 馬鹿裁判官

            [MOD] The point made, was, that if they were really testing in another car, then there would have been a media kerfuffle, and complaints from the usual mouthpieces in the paddock. You know, like the TJ13 report of Ferrari testing its engine, in a bitza mule sometime in 2013.

        • Well there is little point really, most of the Honda Power Unit has been exposed by F1 Photographers in the pit lane during the build process when McLaren haven’t had the shutters down. I’ll be interested to see if Honda have used a test mule to gather data to compare with the MP4-30.

          Renault have always been a bit more open than the other manufacturers. Mercedes have not really shown much, other than the turbo design.

  5. I must say that anyone who thought some of the multistop Pirelli races were confusing would be completely lost with Michelin’s idea of only a few sets of new tyres available during the season. A cut tyre or accident would not simply ruin a race, but impact an entire season.

    On the other hand it might level the field. McLaren and the Renault powered cars would never be in jeopardy of exceeding their tyre limits, yet it might cause Ferrari or Mercedes to suffer grid penalties.

  6. What happens when a company like say Cosworth supply engines to teams. They only work on engines and are not that big a company such that only revenues sourced from the sales or lease of their engines is how they derive their revenue.

    If it cost them x amount to develop incremental performance, that cost plus a small profit has to be passed on to their customer teams.
    In the same vain, why empower a fellow competitor for free.
    That being said, I do believe the cost of the engines are exorbitant especially for the small and privateer teams. A team like Redbull, who directly created the situation where the smaller teams now get absolutely very little, should pay much more for their engines.

  7. Imagine if we had customer chassis and red bull refused to give its customer teams the blown diffusers – the Internet would have broke. Mercedes do secret tire tests and stifle competition by giving out dated engines to thier competitors – no big deal.

    I understand it’s the rules fault and not mercedes, for 2015 there is no homogolated engines thus no ‘same spec’ engine for mercedes to sell. however, next time you see toto/patty/Lewis/nico going on about fair racing, remember thats a liar talking.

    There currently isn’t a rule forcing them to give thier customers the engine they have but they still could have. In doing so they are handing Lewis the two easiest world championships ever had.

    • So you’re singling out Mercedes, what about Ferrari? They’ve introduced 2 new token improved power units so far this and Sauber is yet to get one.

      The only new spec unit that the Mercedes’ customers have yet to get is the one we saw at Monza.

      • sauber and all their cash, you sure they can afford the unit?

        dont get me wrong though, i love cut throat behavior and mercedes is almost the perfect example of a team that will do anything to win. its why i like f1.

  8. Well Redbull and Torro Rossi pulled out of FOTA, then negotiated a lucrative package with Bernie, thus breaking FOTA and forcing other teams to negotiate independently with Bernie or get nothing.
    Those without any leverage were left with nothing. Even the mighty Mercedes was almost left with crumbs. Redbull will add the massive cash reward to their arsenal and dominate others. And we expect Mercedes to hand them further reasons to dominate.

    • Red Bull did not set the precedent for this.
      Bernie has always used the divide and conquer method of negotiations with teams. That’s business as usual for the teams. Hold out as long as practicable, then cut your deal when the situation fits.
      Ferrari and Red Bull announced almost simultaneously that they were leaving FOTA, so shouldn’t they share your wrath?

      • Sure Bernie has been using that approach for years, but none of the teams took the bait, that’s why they formed FOTA. But Red Bull on this occasion took the bait.

  9. Ferrari has historically been given special recognition by FOM so it was not unexpected they’d still get a different package from what core FOTA teams would have negotiated as a sensible championship reward structure.
    Bernie offering Redbull a package giving them almost a similar importance as Ferrari was just too tempting and they betrayed the other teams. Greed at it highest level and showed an unwillingness to have fair competition.
    Well Mercedes have done the right thing. Redbull should use the extra money they get paid to build their own engines.

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