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.

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Stats don’t mean prizes…

Posted in Drivers with tags on December 13, 2012 by philcurryf1

This morning, I read a piece posted on the BBC Sport website by Andrew Benson, which made for interesting reading on a subject I already believed in. I also read some of the comments, and felt many unjust.

To summarise, without plagiarizing, Andrew highlighted that while Micheal Schumacher has seven world titles, he could have won less had circumstances not gone his way. At the same time, Fernando could have had four, as could Ayrton Senna, while Alain Prost may have had five or six, and Vettel only one.

Yet people have perceived the article as full of bias towards Alonso, stating that Andrew has an agenda against Michael Schumacher. Obviously Schumacher is the best, he won seven titles, right? Wrong, and it shows the gulf between true fans of the sport, and those who believe more is better.

Schumacher had a team which benefitted from extensive testing, bespoke tyres and a team-mate who had his back. This led to the domination Ferrari saw between 2001 and 2004 – the 2000 title was fought for. Added to this, there was no driver capable of leading a team to the heights needed until Alonso dragged Renault up there, and it’s easy to see how Michael cantered to his championships.

Now look at Ayrton Senna. Three titles, and could have had more had Imola 1994 not happened. This would have eaten into Schumacher’s seven titles but ignoring that, look at the 1993 season. McLaren had a customer Ford engine, hopelessly down on power on the Williams Renault, while the McLaren lagged behind in the technology race. Their systems were less advanced. Senna fought the car throughout the year winning five races, and never gave up. Why couldn’t Schumacher, with all his seven titles, drag the Mercedes through to more wins?

The article makes for interesting reading, and if you are a true F1 fan, you’ll understand it. Even Schumacher and Vettel fans will understand that their drivers benefitted from various factors. But the vitriol aimed at Andrew Benson is unjust, and shows how narrow-minded some are.

You can read the article here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/20669262

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!

Lights to flag…

Posted in Regulations with tags , , , , on November 29, 2012 by philcurryf1

It has been four days since Sebastian Vettel crossed the line in 6th place to win the F1 world championship (ironically, the last three title deciders in Brazil have seen the champion finish in 5th or 6th). But now there are reports that the battle may not be over.

Twitter is abuzz with people claiming that Ferrari are looking to protest over an overtaking move made by Vettel on Lap 4, passing Jean-Eric Vergne, under yellows. Videos have emerged from onboard feeds, of the Red Bull passing the Toro Rosso on the back straight, after Pastor Maldonado crashed out.

I’ve seen the video, and the slow-motion replay. After the yellow light flashing on the right of the circuit is a marshal point. Here, a green flag is waved, prior to the move that Vettel made.

A flag supersedes a light – so if a yellow light is flashing, but a green flag waves shortly afterward,and before the green light, then it is the green that takes precedent. In this case, the green flag means Vettel was clear to overtake Vergne, and did so. It must also be asked whether DRS was still enabled, as I believe it is disabled if there is a yellow flag in the zone.

Ferrari cannot appeal anyway, as explained by F1 Fanatic here – I’m got going to rehash what they say, when I can just link to an excellent F1 site – but as the post also explains, the FIA are obliged to investigate any incident if new evidence comes to light.

There is also the question of whether a 20 second penalty could easily be applied, bearing in mind the timing of the incident on lap 4, and the action in the race. Any penalty Vettel received during the race would have been wiped out by the safety car. However, a 20 second penalty is the mandate – there is no room for flexibility, as we’ve seen in the past.

So to summarize, There was a green flag, Vettel passed after it. Therefore, Vettel is world champion. Roll on 2013!

Bottas in – cue the hashtags…

Posted in Drivers with tags , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by philcurryf1

Valtteri Bottas has been announced as Williams second driver for 2013, replacing Bruno Senna after one season. The team will keep Pastor Maldonado.

Williams has found a strong talent I feel in Bottas, who ran in most first practice sessions this year, and quite often matched Maldonado on pace. Therefore, it was inevitable that he would get a race seat with the team for 2013.

Yet I feel the decision as to which driver the team replaced shows just how much Maldonado’s money, rather than his experience, is needed. Of course, Bruno Senna brought the team some funding too from his sponsors, but Maldonado makes the team budget with his backing from PDVSA.

Looking over the 2012 season results however, and Senna was the more consistent driver – despite not running in most of the FP1 sessions. He finished in the points in 10 of the 20 races this season, with a highest position of 6th, and scoring 31 points. Maldonado finished in the points in just five races, with his win in Spain, taking his points total to 45. Had he not won that race, he would have been quite some way behind Senna. Maldonado also had a number of penalties, collisions with other drivers, and was demoted 10 places on the grid in Brazil for his third reprimand of the season, for missing the weigh-bridge call. While this may have been a team issue, had he not been cautioned over collisions in the season, a drop would never have occurred.

It remains to be seen where Senna will go, if he is able to find a seat. Caterham no longer need a driver to bring sponsorship – though it would of course help – while Force India and Marussia are the only other teams (of those certain to be racing in 2013) with seats available (although Marussia is expected to name Max Chilton soon).

Bottas will make a good start next season, and deserves his place at Williams. Don’t be surprised if he outpaces, and even out scores, his more experienced, and richer, team-mate.

Goodbye Jake!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 by philcurryf1

When F1 came back to the BBC in 2009, the corporation needed to try something different. When it left the BBC, F1 was just a bit-part of Grandstand, with no main anchor in its own right. ITV changed the format, employing first Jim Rosenthal and then Steve Ryder in the main role.

So the BBC needed a different dynamic, and they got it. Teaming up the outspoken Eddie Jordan and reserved David Coulthard with the young presenter fresh away from his CBBC days, the ‘three amigos’ effect, as seen on Top Gear, created a show with laughs, fun and F1. Even this year, with the Sky deal taking half the beeb’s races away, the coverage has still be better due to the fun factor.

Watching Jake wingwalk, present from a campsite, and a hot air balloon, has made F1 enjoyable. It is not just about the news anymore, but the banter. Hopefully someone will come in with the same levels of humour and enjoyment to carry on with DC and EJ, but understandably, after four years, Jake wants to spend time with his new family. It’s a shame, but thanks for the memories!