Daily F1 News and Comment: Saturday 10th October, 2015

Daily news and comment


Charlie Whiting strikes again

Not to be outdone, F1 has had its own version of “Dieselgate” this weekend.

At approximately 6:00AM Local time, one of the maintenance trucks in Russia drove nearly the entire way around the circuit leaking what has been described as either diesel fuel or Hydraulic fluid. The damage to the track is extensive, with the largest problem being at turn 8. Four hours later, the crews were still working on cleaning up the mess, and Charlie was forced to start FP1 under a red flag. Due to Sochi hosting both a GP2 and a GP3 race this year, the FIA was unable to push back the start time, which limited the first practice to just an hour.

Once the drivers got out on track post cleanup, their reaction was less than positive. Sebastian called the track conditions a “mess”, over the radio. There was a mix of dusty oil dry spread across most of the track, and the area around turn 8 was completely soaked with oil and water. The track was so wet in spots that it forced the first cars out to run on Intermediate tyres. Several drivers ended up spinning off the track including Massa, Raikkonen and Hamilton.

The problem is that fuel and Asphalt do not mix. The corrosive nature of gas, diesel, and hydraulic fluid dissolves asphalt.

Water will only wash away so much, but once the bitumen that holds the asphalt together is dissolved, the surface will start disintegrate. This forced the maintenance crew into a perpetual cleanup mode, and kept dropping the days lower level cars practice sessions further into the day.

By the time the GP3 session was run, it was nearly night in Sochi.

Sochi GP3-1

sochi gp3-2

There is absolutely no way this should have been allowed to happen. The combination of rain and low visibility from darkness were major contributing factors to Jules Bianchi’s accident in Suzuka last year.

It may not have been Race controls fault that the truck dumped the fuel, but once it happened, Charlie is responsible to make sure the track was safe to run on from that point forward. Putting the GP cars out in the dark, on a wet track that had a large amount of fuel dumped on it earlier in the day, was a recipe for disaster.

This situation once agin proves that the Charlies priority is to make the sesssions happen, not protect the safety of the drivers.

When will the GPDA finally stand up for the lives of their members?


Further fractures at RB

In the span of a single season, Daniel Ricciardo went from an also-ran in the back marker team of Toro Rosso, to a potential championship driver with Red Bull. His unquestionable pummeling of Sebastian Vettel last year, in addition to his 3 race wins, put his name firmly on the lips of every F1 fan, with quiet breaths of certain titles in the future.

Daniel is a product of the Red Bull young driver program, having been brought up through formula Renault, before winning the seat at Toro Rosso in 2013, and then getting the bump up to RB after only one year. Ricciardo has been very open about his debt to Red Bull, and the trust they put in him after such a short time, especially since he was promoted to lead driver after the surprising move of Sebastian to Ferrari, which is quite remarkable.

This year, in spite of all the problems RB has had, Daniel has been very supportive, never giving any sign of negativity, never bad mouthing the team, or Renault. He has been the perfect representative of a struggling institution, though no one would blame him if he had been even slightly critical of the goings on.

But now, even Daniel is starting to see the walls caving in, and he was  being more open about both his future and that of Red Bull on Thursday.

“I haven’t thought about the negative potential outcome of it yet, I’m still pretty positive. It’s good that Dietrich has set a bit of a deadline because we have got to know what we are doing and if we are going with ‘X’ engine then we have got to start designing the car and all the rest of it. We can’t wait until Christmas, so we will see in a few more weeks if we get a decision or an outcome. I’m still positive as long as we have still got time on our side. It’s not the end of October yet, so I’ll remain positive and if we get to the end of October and nothing has been sorted then I’ll for sure start having my eyes and ears a little bit more open about what else is going on. I think we will get something that is decent enough to convince us to stay in the sport and that means giving us a chance to win.”

Friday Daniel was even more candid.

“Obviously I want to be racing, I want to be on the grid, but if someone said you’re going to be racing but you’ll be running 16th, then maybe I don’t want to be racing. If they[Renault] can prepare something better than they  have this year to give us a chance to fight further up the grid, it is one of the better options for now.  We still can’t rule out anything, but we do want something competitive… just to run around and make up numbers is not what we are about and as a driver I am not really interested in that. A few manufacturers keep saying no, so obviously the options are getting less and less. It is getting more difficult now [but] we will try and find a solution. Of course I want to be racing and it will be a shame if we are not racing. I am still optimistic we can find a solution but it seems like nobody wants to give us an engine.” 

This could be considered the first crack in the RB drivers wall of certainty. It  essentially sets a deadline for RB of the end of the month. Either RB can make Ricciardo some guarantees with regards to Engine supply, performance and competitiveness, or he will look elsewhere.

But where can Daniel go?

There are only a few seats available for next year if RB and TR pull out. The second seat at HAAS is still open, and Romains signing onto that team surely gives it a whiff of potential, or says that Lotus/Renault is in such bad shape that even a team that doesn’t exist yet is a better opportunity. If Gene could pick up Ricciardo, it would be the coup of the century for an F1 team, and give Ferrari a superstar lineup to choose from when Kimi inevitably retires.

There is Lotus and/or Renault, if it actually happens, which it probably won’t. And as I said if it is so bad their that even Grosjean didn’t want to stay, is that a situation Daniel really want’s to get involved in?

Manor would be another option, putting him in a Mercedes powered car, but in one with very little potential to advance over the course of the season. But again, it would put him in line to get a Mercedes seat when the inevitable divorce of HAM-ROS happens after 2016.

There is always a seat at Sauber, provided Daniel is able to bring a large enough check, though that would probably not be a problem. Sauber would be a last resort.

Daniel’s best option is for RB to swallow the shit sandwich they served themselves, and make peace with Renault, though it may be too late for that.

Ricciardo’s biggest problem if it all goes to hell, is going to be Verstappen. With only  1 or 2 slightly competitive seats available next year, they will be competing against each other for the drive, and Max has got momentum, age, and a lorry full of cash behind him right now. Ricciardo’s smile only goes so far.


Mercedes offered it’s customers cheap engines


Coming to light now in the wake of Red Bull’s engine woe’s. Apparently Mercedes offered it’s customer teams a ‘b-spec” engine prior to the 2015 season, that would have been about 7 Million Euro’s cheaper and about 3-4 tenth’s slower. The reduced stress on the unit supposedly would have allowed the customers to get away with using only 2-3 PU’s over the course of the season. None of the customers were willing to buy this power unit however.

Of course this is mainly political posturing. In order for Mercedes to do this, they would need the FIA to change the homologation rules again for 2016, which is not guaranteed.



Red Bull again threatens, oh you know…


Speedweek magazine is operated by Red Bull, so put on your fizzy glasses before reading. It also appears to have been published more than two weeks ago, but has just been picked up by sky as a headline today.


Consumer Reports tests VW diesel in cheat mode


Second Major crash at Bathurst

This time it was the Aussie Racing car class, driver Damien Flack.

At time of Publication the driver was heard to be conscious, but further details of his condition are unknown.


27 responses to “Daily F1 News and Comment: Saturday 10th October, 2015

  1. Daniel Ricciardo did actually half year at HRT F1 and after that 2 years at Toro Rosso before being promoted to the Red Bull team. And by so, it would be logical, of the 4 Red Bull drivers, he’s the one getting the jitters about wanting to leave first. The others have only just started and still could wait a bit.

    • Mercedes will be more interested in a German speaking Dutch driver, who at the same time does well with the younger public (the Mercedes brand appeals to the older public predominantly now (something which they wish to change)), as to an Australian with Italian roots (there’s a reason they have a German right now (it’s for the domestic market)). So a German speaking Dutch driver might still be acceptable, but not someone like Ricciardo next to a non German.

      To my knowledge Verstappen doesn’t have a truck load of cash behind him, or I must have missed something ?

  2. “This situation once agin proves that the Charlies priority is to make the sesssions happen, not protect the safety of the drivers.”

    Well put.

    And what a shame… F1 is a complete ridiculous mess.

  3. ……..’His unquestionable pummeling of Sebastian Vettel last year, in addition to his 3 race wins, put his name firmly on the lips of every F1 fan, with quiet breaths of certain titles in the future’…..

    This is really going to rub a few people the wrong way.

    I was able to ask RIC how did it feel to beat the quadruple champ last year, boy did he gave a cheeky little grin before answering.

    • If it rubs the wrong way or not, he did do it. Although I’m still convinced vettel did it on purpose. That exit clause in the contract was what he wanted…

    • The soon to be triple WC got beaten by Jenson Button. The same Button who lucked into a WC according to a lot of people. I hope that doesn’t rub you the wrong way.

      Serious mode: Any drivers get beaten one way or another. I hated Vettel in his RBR days but Ricciardo beating him 1 season out of 1 while Seb was struggling to adjust? Ricciardo hasn’t dominated Kvyat by a long shot. Better yet, he was in Danil’s pocket from Monaco till Silverstone basically.

      • Who would you rather get beat by, a guy who ‘lucked’ into a championship or a guy who did nothing of note in the sport up until then?

        Seems like for most people, that’s what Jenson will be remembered for the most, the man who beat Lewis Hamilton.

        Rather disrespectful for a WDC

          • Don’t blame him for the car he was given. You make it sound as if he’s the first or its against everything that F1 stands for.

            If you’re this scathing of his current success, I can only fathom how much worse it would be had he not won a championship in probably THE most ‘dominant’ car in F1 history…

            I guess that’s the price he pays, even when he wins, he’s still the loser to some…


          • Well fortis. Vettel gets the same criticism. Only right if they do it to hamilton too… no?

          • Sure he does, but by those who I’d consider to be clowns. To win you need the best machinery, it’s as simple as that.

            The criticism is high when they win and it would be stratospheric if Lewis didn’t win in the merc. So in essence, in the eyes of most, he will still come out on the losing end.

  4. Mercs could have easily won every race this year, can anyone imagine what the outcry from the fans would be like right now? Those Anglo/Teutonic boys n gals at Mercs knew too well it would have been a recipe for disaster, so why not give the prancing horse a few highlights, good for Arrivabene, good for Mr 4time, good for F1, a classical win win situation for the silber pfeil !!
    Dieselgate…hmm, I’m not even going to bother to go there!

    • So, are you saying it is all a big conspiracy to keep people interested in the sport, and that it has already been decided who will win each race? While I think it was obvious, from early on, which team and driver would win the championship, I cannot believe it has all been “rigged” as you suggest. Too many people would have to be in the know, so this secret would be hard to hide. Plus, I cannot see any of the drivers, with any talent, going along with it. Imagine the harm it would do the sport if it was found out that it had all been decided in a back room, by Bernie and his cronies, who would win what. Or, have I woken up in a grumpy mood, and not appreciated the humour of your comment? 🙂

      • @mikecloud54: just think about it m8..There were reasons for concern at the pre-season winter tests, especially after both silber pfeils were 30sec in front of the next rival car at Melbourne, we knew they would be untouchable this year, hence the reason for them pitting both cars at Malaysia, P2 and P3 was their target. Note, the drivers are pawns on the board. Could you imagine RBR choosing such a strategy when they were making hay as the sun was shining? No, Weber would have had to believe!

  5. Wow!!!!!!!!!….just goes to show just how strong today’s race cars are. Hope the driver pulls though.

    • Just saw it. That what you call a massive crash. Kvyat incident in Suzuka is nothing compared to that!

      • Too true, the v8 don’t have the carbon structure of the F1 so the energy must have been crazy…just watching final practice so hope the young CS is OK..not seen the crash but the debris was huge

          • Sorry for the mixup, didn’t get chance to count the pots as disintegration happened fairly quickly..pls take my comment as read but add the corrected count 😉 future posts will hopefully be more accurate as the technology catches up with a slow working brain and fat fingers

  6. Well, after the red flag in the GP2 race, we’ll probably get a race under questionable circumstances too.

    By the way, while I believe that Daniel Ricciardo is a friendly and humorous person who I would love to see in the sport for a long time to come, I really don’t get Daniil Kwyat at all. The guy is neither funny, nor is he that outstanding a driver. He’s as boring as our finnish stars without being cool. Having explained my opinion of him, when I read his words here, I could only shake my head. If Vettel hadn’t done him the massive favor of making room for him on the first of Red Bull’s teams, he would now be fighting with Max Verstappen in the Toro Rosso … and probably be losing against the even younger driver.

  7. Every time I read one of these pieces mentioning how Alonso and Button and now Ricciardo are demotivated I smile thinking about how Vortex Mortio (where is he BTW) alectioned me on how anybody should be happy and motivated just to be in F1. I had said that drivers at the back of the pack and teams in trouble, in that case Gutierrez at Sauber, would be very demotivated fighting for 12th or less. I guess nobody has told those guys how happy they should be.

    • That word came out all wrong “alectioned” is not even a word or is it? Informed me might be the word I should’ve used.

  8. Re the latest Bathurst crash. The driver is reported to have broken ribs which punctured a lung otherwise OK

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