Archive for Formula 1

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!

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.