Archive for the Teams Category

Team orders…

Posted in Teams on March 30, 2013 by philcurryf1

What surprised me following the fallout from Malaysia is the authority of the two team principles involved in the team orders arguments. Christian Horner and Ross brawn both instigated them, and both had different ways of ensuring they were adhered to. Only one was successful.

When Vettel was closing on, and pushing Webber, Horner came on the radio saying ‘come on Seb, don’t be silly’. Brawn, when asked by Rosberg whether he could pass, was told quite firmly ‘negative’. Further Rosberg challenges were also met by a firm tone, Brawn clearly telling his driver ‘no’ several times.

Horner could have told Vettel to give the place back – after all, the team told Webber they were not racing, it is likely therefore Webber had turned his engine down. Vettel hadn’t, creating an unfair opportunity.

Mercedes had under-fuelled Hamilton, and therefore felt that as it was their fault he was dropping back, they had to protect his podium place.

One team employs drivers, the other, it seems, is employed by its driver…

Will history repeat itself?

Posted in Teams with tags , , , , , on January 4, 2013 by philcurryf1

Adrian Newey recently said that developing the Red Bull to the final race of the 2012 season has delayed work on the team’s 2013 car.

This brings back some memories of the 2008 season, and the troubles both Ferrari and McLaren had in 2009. Both teams blamed their poor season on the close title fight in 2008, the need to develop the cars, and the effect that had on building cars for the new regulations. This allowed Brawn and Red Bull, who had lacklustre seasons in 2008, to come to the front and fight for the title.

For 2014, there are to be some major rule changes, with smaller engines and aerodynamic changes. While teams will have been looking toward the new regulations already, Should the 2013 season pan out as closely as 2012, could those in the title fight start 2014 on the back foot? And will those who sit back reap the rewards of a new, level playing field?

Let’s not forget Lewis Hamilton moved to Mercedes because he felt they were the best placed for 2014, and has constantly said he doesn’t expect much from this year. If the W04 is a dog of a car, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team is putting all its eggs firmly into the new regulations basket.

But of course, the one single point here is Adrian Newey. This is the man who designed the dominating McLaren of 1998, when the rules changed to narrower chassis, and of course steered Red Bull into contention in 2009 when the rules changed again. Newey seems to thrive on challenges, and I would say that 2014 has come just in time. He’s taken the current rules and regulations as far as he can on the Red Bull, so if the team challenges again this year, expect them to break the mould and be in the fight with a 1.6-litre engine in the back.

HRT no longer required

Posted in Teams with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2012 by philcurryf1

The entry list for the 2013 F1 World Championship was published recently, and there was no mention of HRT on it.

The Spanish team has been but up for sale by its owners, Thesan Capital, with the deadline for a sale set at November 30th. Despite reported interest however, no buyer has been found. Reports suggest the staff have been handed redundancy notices, with the team to close completely.

It was a surprise that Campos Meta, as the team was formally known, was granted a place on the grid in 2010, over more experienced motor racing establishments such as Prodrive and Lola. However, the four new teams that were given slots on the grid have all gone through some upheaval. USF1 collapsed despite a flashy website and lots of videos, Virgin Racing became Marussia Virgin and then simply Marussia after a team buyout, while Lotus Racing became Team Lotus became Caterham – although they have perhaps been the most stable with the same owners throughout.

HRT was the one that I think was obvious would collapse next. When Campos Meta struggled to pay chassis builder Dallara, shareholder José Ramón Carabante stepped in, and placed Colin Kolles in charge. Under his guidance, and moving the team headquarters to his base in Germany, HRT finished 11th out of 12 in 2010, and 2011. Yet they never made it to any pre-season tests with a new car.

For 2012, Thesan Capital split with Kolles, announced a move to new headquarters in Madrid, and placed Luis Pérez-Sala in charge. The team again failed to make pre-season testing, and struggled, finishing last of all the teams in the Constructors Championship. There were reports that spare parts were running low, and other parts were operating beyond their operating life. When Thesan announced it had put the team up for sale, most knew it was the final nail in the coffin.

Based outside the F1 hub of expertise, which includes the UK, Germany and Italy, any potential buyer would struggle, and would likely have to move the team, which would mean additional costs. In addition, more money would be needed to develop parts, pay suppliers and get the team ready for the first race. It was therefore inevitable that the team would close when Thesan ran out of interest.

It is a shame, because there was potential for the team to be something more. Had Kolles had full control, they may even have challenged Caterham. Now however, the two teams that struggled from the off, USF1 and Campos Meta, are now consigned to pages on a popular rejects website.

In-season testing

Posted in Teams with tags , , , , on December 3, 2012 by philcurryf1

A recent comment by Bernie Ecclestone caused a rebuttal by Luca di Montezemolo of Ferrari. The comments centred on the recent ‘flag-gate’ controversy, and I’m not mentioning it again. But Montezemolo mentioned two things, Bernie is too old to run F1, and the in-season testing ban is wrong.

For starters, Bernie knows very well what he is doing. It’s still obvious when he mentions how F1 doesn’t need a race, just before a contract extension is signed. It gives the organisers that little bit of pressure. He’ll be running the F1 circus for a few years yet.

But the in-season testing ban to me smacks a bit of sour grapes on Montezemolo’s part. Had there been testing this season, Ferrari wouldn’t have needed to run new parts in free practice, and with their wind tunnel problems, they still would have been able to develop the car to challenge properly for the title.

But then, McLaren could have worked on their pit stop procedures, and Red Bull could have got more data to help them combat their problems adapting to non-blown diffusers. Lotus could have got their car working, and Mercedes may have found a way to get the double DRS system working without eating their tyres.

The in-season testing ban levels the playing field. It is Ferrari’s fault that their wind tunnel is not giving them the correct data, and it is something they need to correct, whether there is in-season testing or not. But if there were in-season testing, it would be Ferrari who benefit most, having their own private testing track.

I remember in the 1998 F1 Season Review, the testing details between Ferrari and McLaren were mentioned, with Ferrari conducting twice as much running as the British outfit. Now, it’s a level playing field. I think this season’s idea, with young driver testing, was good to get test drivers accustomed to the machinery, and limited part development was allowed, but for me, in-season testing is a thing of the past.

Perhaps Montezemolo should concentrate on running the business and his Italian political hopes, and leave the politics of F1 to those who know what they’re doing, like Stefano Domenicali. His ‘ideas’ and constant criticisms of F1, the need for three-car teams (bad) and testing, are getting a tad boring now!