F1 2014

F1’s Engine War Rages On

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1555.jpgAccording to BBC Sport, Formula 1 is considering cheaper, louder and more powerful engines in the future.

This for me is unacceptable in the wake of great strides the manufacturers of these power units have made in the past few years to get to this position, F1 finally took a huge step in it’s global attention when it decided to go down this hybrid route and it would be to great detrimental effect to go back now.

At the Team Principal’s press conference in Australia 2014 it was confirmed by Charlie Whiting who was in attendance that had the sport not gone to this new engine format, we would have lost Renault, Mercedes as an engine supplier and Honda would never have made it’s return, Mercedes would also not have come back as a factory team. F1 would be a Ferrari engined formula, and we all know this is not what the sport was all about.

In Formula One’s illustrious history we have seen many technologies come from the sport and put into our current road cars, ABS, Traction Control and Active Suspension to name but a few. Up to date road cars today are often having smaller engines attached to them with turbos to make up the power loss.

With hybrid technology is still new F1 can be a great researcher of this technology and help fine tune it for our road cars, current supercars are already attempting to utilise a KERS turbo type system, McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918 are examples of this.

Formula One needs to brave the start of this new era and keep the great work it has achieved so far, noise is only one aspect of this sport, we cannot go back to bigger and thirstier engines, in 2014 we achieved the target of 30% less fuel efficiency this new Formula, that to me is a grand success.

@SteveF1C

Engine Wars

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With Mercedes having said they know where they can find 60-100hp more when they fine tune the engines over the winter season, this must strike fear into the engine departments at the other teams.

Mercedes it appeared in winter testing to have a power unit running at about 750hp with Ferrari about 30-50hp behind and Renault 50-80hp. All the teams will know where they can make gains where they are allowed as per the regulations, but if every engine supplier made the same gains surely the status quo would remain?

I think we will see a continuation of Mercedes dominance in 2015, 2016 could be a different story, the F1 strategy group met yesterday to discuss engine regulations for that season onwards, Bernie wants to go back to normally aspirated engines in a V8 or V10, but it is clear that Formula 1 cannot take this backwards step again.

It is clear Formula 1 is heading into an engine war, Mercedes have the upper hand for now, but the future from 2016 is uncertain, who will come out on top?

Tell me your thoughts!

@SteveF1C

Strategy Group Meeting

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1549.jpgToday the teams will come together to discuss future of engine regulations for 2016 onwards.

The change from 2.4 litre V8 engines to 1.6 litre turbo-charged V6 hybrid units has seen costs rise from a reported £5m to £15-20m for customer teams.

Bernie is making a proposal of going back to normally aspirated engines, he said “I have been proposing, and am going to propose, at the next meeting we go back to a normally-aspirated engine with some hybrid bits built into it.

But the main part to this story is that it is rumoured Mercedes are prepared to let the other teams use their ERS unit, but it is still considered that Mercedes carry the best ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) on the grid, Is this concession enough to keep the other power unit suppliers happy? Is it enough to close the substantial gap to Mercedes?

The biggest question of all though is are Mercedes prepared to give up this clear advantage they have over the rest of the field?

Honda come back into the field as well in 2015, we await to see what pace they will have in the back of those McLarens, but it is clear that their return to the sport was integral to these new hybrid rules. Is Bernie prepared to let them immediately do a U-turn on their return?

@SteveF1C

Hamashima out, Clear in

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1546.jpgMore personnel changes at the Scuderia today appear to be coupled with the shock news with unconfirmed reports that Lewis Hamilton’s race engineer Jock Clear is to leave Mercedes for Ferrari.

Ferrari have also let go another member of staff in Hirohide Hamashima, who was responsible for tyre performance analysis, he will leave the Scuderia at the end of the year.

It is not uncommon for teams to change personnel during the winter break, but Ferrari are letting the axe fall a lot this season and Mercedes losing Jock Clear to the Maranello is a surprise in itself, we still await confirmation on this.

A team’s press release said “Ferrari announces that Hirohide Hamashima, currently responsible for tyre performance analysis, will leave the Scuderia at the end of the year,”

It appears Jock will not be able to join Ferrari for 12 months, so it may the case he will go on a ‘Gardening leave’ to protect secrets being taken from Brackley

We still await a statement from Mercedes on the move.

@SteveF1C

My top 5 moments of 2014

5. Daniel Ricciardo’s first season at Red Bull/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1538.jpgWe all thought when Daniel was announced at Red Bull it would be a tough challenge to beat Sebastian in his first season at the senior team, but with the changing of regulations and Mercedes dominance, Daniel took full advantage of the car’s capabilities and used them to his own advantage, his first win in Canada came at the expense of the Mercedes MGU-K failures but he had worked hard to put himself in the situation to begin with, wins Hungary and Belgium were fully deserved also, finishing 3rd in the drivers standings can’t be a bad achievement in his first season at Red Bull

4. Williams Resurgance/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1539.jpgAfter what can only be described as a calamitous 2013 season for the Grove squad, 2014 must have been a dream turnaround. I admit I have a soft spot for Williams (who doesn’t?), being still a privateer team and their huge success in doing so. The FW36 was an outstanding success by any standard, a reshuffle of the team, switching to Mercedes power units and finally designing a good chassis underneath them, Bottas came close to a podium in Australia had he not clipped the wall, but the highlight of the season was Austria, the circuit played to the car’s strengths in straightline speed and Massa took pole with Bottas alongside to secure their first front row lockout since 2004. Since then the car went strength to strength, they didn’t take a win but the car was solid all year, 2015 can hopefully be a step up once more.

3. Hybrid Success
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_15081.jpgAfter all the criticisms from so many of F1 fans and even Bernie Ecclestone himself (surprised?) the new 1.6l V6 Turbo Hybrid era of Formula 1 in my eyes was a success. With the combustion engine, turbo and ERS battery power combining to create a new sounding Formula 1 hybrid monster. Luca Di Montezemelo called it “Taxi driving” in Bahrain and no one liked the noise to start with, but come seasons end with some great reliability by some teams and epic racing, the critics soon piped down, except Bernie of course who seems to want to go back a step to the V8s and V10s. (See a previous article)

2. Lewis Hamilton’s Title Win/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014img_1540.jpgAfter years of close calls and near misses Lewis finally gets his hands on title number 2. A year of so many highs and lows, the 4 wins early on to the mid seasons struggles, A British GP then 5 more on the bounce after Spa’s calamities, Lewis kept his head strong, a strength not normally seen. Nico out qualified Lewis for the season and that is a stat not many would have guessed would happen. A lot of learning, hard work and perseverance really showed in Lewis’ race pace this year. Nico will no doubt come back stronger in 2015, but i’m sure Lewis will no doubt be upping his game too. Nico vs Lewis is far from over.

1. Mercedes openness and Bahrain Fight./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1543.jpgAfter pre-season testing it was clear Mercedes had a pace advantage over the field, but the dominance we saw was unprecedented. The fight in Bahrain really showed their pace but more importantly their willingness to let them race. Not for a long time have we seen two drivers lap after lap go hammer and tongs for the win, but Paddy Lowe told them they were free to race as long as they didn’t touch. It transpired that Nico and Lewis would contend for the Driver’s crown, but despite all the on track battles, wars of words and mind games, Mercedes never defined team orders despite Hungary’s mid race confusion. They let them go at it, I commend them for that as the sport and fans benefitted from such great on track action and a title fight to remember.

@SteveF1C

Fry and Tombazis leave Ferrari

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1535.pngNews out of Maranello today is that it has been announced Technical Director Pat Fry and Chief designer Nikolas Tombazis have left their posts within the team.

James Allison has been moved up the Technical director position with added responsibilities as understand it includes ‘track directing activities’.

It appears Allison will be assisted by new chief designer Simone Resta and engine boss Mattia Binotto while, in further behind-the-scenes reshuffling, Renato Bisignani will stand down as the team’s press officer to be replaced by Alberto Antonini.

This is an unprecedented move by Arrivabene as he has only been in he post 3 weeks, but it is clearly evident he wants to clearly indicate he wants to shake up the team and turn around Ferrari’s fortunes.

Below is the full statement from Ferrari.

‘Within a few days from his arrival Maurizio Arrivabene, Managing Director of Ferrari’s Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, has restructured his team with a flatter structure and clear assignment of responsibilities.’James Allison is the Technical Director with two Italian engineers and home grown Scuderia talent reporting to him: Chief Designer Simone Resta and Power Unit Director Mattia Binotto, the latter will be supported by Chief Designer Power Unit Lorenzo Sassi, among others. Furthermore James Allison will direct track engineering activities ad interim.’Therefore he will be responsible for all technical aspects of delivering the Scuderia’s drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, as well as the newly appointed test driver and third driver Esteban Gutiérrez, with the most competitive Formula 1 car possible.’Furthermore, the Scuderia’s Formula 1 activities will be managed by Massimo Rivola, while GT and Corse Clienti racing will be managed by Antonio Coletta.’The Ferrari Driver Academy will still be managed by Luca Baldisserri, reporting directly to Maurizio Arrivabene. In addition, Arrivabene will manage the newly founded Commercial Department of the Scuderia ad interim. Renato Bisignani, who until now was the head of Scuderia Ferrari’s Press Office, will join the new department as Marketing Manager and Acquisition.’The press office of the Scuderia will be run by Alberto Antonini, a seasoned Formula 1 journalist and contributor to newspapers and magazines as well as TV commentator for RAI and Sky Italia. Antonini will also oversee the newly created Scuderia Ferrari digital team.

‘Nikolas Tombazis and Pat Fry will be leaving the Scuderia.’

@SteveF1C

Marussia auction begins Tuesday

IMG_1528.JPGNews out of the Marussia factory in Banbury today is that an auction for company assets will begin on Tuesday.

Administrators FRP Advisory confirmed the Banbury-based team had folded after failed efforts to find a buyer.

Investor Andrey Cheglakov pulled out of the team after the Russian Grand Prix in October and have since fallen into administration. This is such a tragic fall from the teams best season since it’s inception in 2011 taking over Virgin Racing.

We are on the understanding a live webcast sale will take place on Tuesday December 16 and Wednesday December 17, followed by a timed online sale on Thursday December 18, with the first lot under the hammer to be a 2010 steering wheel.

Car parts such as engine covers, noses and wings also be for sale, in addition to driver’s race suits. Such is the level of liquidation that seat-belts are even listed as items available to bid on.

Race and show cars without engines will be under the hammer as well as transporters and manufacturing equipment. The final day even has furniture and computer units ready to be sold.

A further sale will take place on January 21 when the 2014 race cars (excluding the engines of course) spare parts, pit equipment and even the Manor GP GP3 race cars will be up for grabs.

@SteveF1C

Guttierez announced as Ferrari reserve driver

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It was announced today that Esteban Guttierez will become Ferrari’s test and reserve driver.

With Sauber not having scored any points in their worst season since they joined Formula 1 in 1993, it was announced at the Brazilian Grand Prix that Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson were going to drive for the swiss outfit in 2015; this left Sutil and Guttierez heading for exit door.

The 23 year old will now line up with four time world champion Sebastian Vettel, 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari.

Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said Gutierrez:

“Although young, has plenty of experience relating to the new generation of Formula 1 cars.

I am sure that, with his experience, he will make an important contribution to the development work of the team in the simulator.”

In my opinion Esteban didn’t really shine in his second season of F1, admittedly Sauber produced a poor car this season and it can be difficult to prove yourself in poor machinery, but there were no real stand out performances from the Mexican.

Shortly after the announcement Esteban Gutierrez said:

“It is for me the beginning of a new path for my future and I’m going to do my utmost to contribute to the achievement of the targets set by the Scuderia”

@SteveF1C

Lewis Hamilton wins BBC Sport Personality 2014

IMG_1526.JPGIn an evening of glamour and ceremony, BBC hosted the annual Sport’s personality of the year award in Glasgow, the award went Lewis Hamilton beat off the likes of Rory Mcllroy, athelete Jo Pavey and Boxer Karl Froch.

“I am so speechless. I’m so proud and honoured to be among such great sporting talent,” said Hamilton.
“I want to say a huge thank you to all the people who called in, I really wasn’t expecting it”

Lewis becomes the fifth racing driver to win the award in its 61-year history, with Damon Hill (1994 & 1996) and Nigel Mansell (1986 & 1992) claiming it on two occasions with Stirling Moss (1961) and Sir Jackie Stewart (1973) claiming the prize once.

“I could not have done this without my amazing team, my family, my dad who once had four jobs to help me, my brother – I’ve been incredibly inspired by them,” added Hamilton.

“Thank you to all the fans. I always say we win and lose together because I feel your love. I hope I will continue to make you proud.”

@SteveF1C

Team Ratings: 2014

I thought as we are well into the off season It’d be time to give some ratings for team’s performances of 2014.

1st, Mercedes AMG F1 – 704pts, 10/10IMG_1488.JPGWell, what can more be said about the W05, between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg they took 16/19 wins for the season and it could of been all 19 had it not been for reliability/weather issues, this a new record beating McLaren’s 15 wins in 1988 with the all conquering MP4/4. Mercedes came into this new hybrid era with a innovative designed turbo system separating the turbine and compressor via a shaft through the bottom of the block of the engine, this in turn created so many benefits which led to the dominance of the team, with little regulation change heading into 2015, Mercedes must surely favourites again.

2nd. Red Bull Racing, 405pts, 9/10
IMG_1511.JPGComing into the first race in Australia, it appeared Red Bull were in crisis mode, the car could barely turn 3 or 4 laps in succession without overheating in pre season testing, also with the Renault power unit there was a considerable horsepower shortage, nearly 80hp if some reports are to be believed, there were fears the car wouldn’t make the race distance, but Ricciardo proved they could, going from strength to strength the team took 3 victories from Mercedes failures with Daniel, taking 2nd is a huge achievement after pre-seasons tribulations, with Adrian Newey taking new projects, next season’s RB11 will be Newey’s swansong, we wait to see how it works out.

3rd, Williams F1 Racing – 320pts, 9/10
IMG_1512.JPGGiven Williams performances in 2013 which was there worst season with only 4pts, we were thinking it could only get better for the team from Grove, they surely delivered and then some, with the Mercedes power unit, it was a genius stroke to switch suppliers, the chassis wasn’t the most complete in terms of balance but both drivers eventually made the most of it, their highlight of the season was a front row lock out in Austria, the layout supporting their slippery car in a straight line, albeit the team didn’t win in 2014, they proved to take a gigantic step forward and took their best season since 2004 and having beaten Ferrari in the constructors since 1997. Being the 2nd best team on pace at the end of the season I’m sure they’re hoping to try and take the fight to Mercedes in 2015.

4th. Scuderia Ferrari – 216pts, 6/10
IMG_1513.JPG This season really opened up Ferrari’s insecurities and fragilities, in pre-season testing Ferrari didn’t look in bad shape, but as the season unraveled it proved too much for the Scuderia to be so far down the field again, Stefano Domenicalli paid the price with his job early on in the year, Marco Mattiaci came into the helm, but this did not change on track performances, he instead upset Fernando Alonso and eventually forced him out to McLaren, Montezemelo also left his post as President of the Ferrari brand, 2014 is a season of huge change for the Maranello outift, 2015 must be an improvement, no questions asked.

5th. McLaren – 181pts, 6/10IMG_1514.JPGAfter suffering a poor season in 2013 not making the podium at all, 2014 should have been a better season for the woking team. It was, but only marginally, scoring the podium is Australia, it really didn’t get any better than that for the team, with the switch to the Honda power unit in 2015, it appeared Mercedes slowly shut out McLaren in their 20th and last season together to prevent secrets spilling over. The chassis wasn’t the best either, With Alonso and Button signed for 2015, McLaren-Honda are hoping for a fast, developing year but want to to hit the ground running, with the most experienced line-up on the grid with over 500GPs between them, it could work well for them.

6. Force India, 155pts – 6/10

IMG_1515.JPGResigning Nico Hulkenberg and hiring Sergio Perez seemed like the best line-up possible for the Silverstone squad. But it was a season of two halves for the team who showed a lot of promise at the start by being very close to Williams at the start of the season with taking a podium in Bahrain, but from the British GP onwards it felt like Force India were standing still in the development race and lacked pace to keep up with their rivals. With keeping their driver line-up for 2015, continuity may benefit them.

7th. Scuderia Toro Rosso, 30pts, 5/10

IMG_1516.JPGA switch to Renault power units proved not the best of moves for the team and a very prominent looking nosecone didn’t help the looks either, a few flashes of promise came from the car, but it never really materialised, 19yr old Danil Kvyat proved his critics wrong by proving that he wasn’t too young to show his talents and earnt a move straight to the senior squad after one season while Jean-Eric Vergne didn’t get to keep his seat despite a late season charge, with a new all rookie line up including 17yr old Max Verstappen, it’ll a very interesting year for 2015.

8th. Lotus F1 – 10pts, 3/10IMG_1517.JPGAfter a fast and steady 2013 and rumours of a huge incoming investment, 2014 was supposed to be the year Lotus took the fight to the front of the field, but after the financial support never arrived and the teams poor finances were made not for great reading, they signed Pastor Maldonado to partner Romain Grosjean 2014, but with a poorly designed chassis and a very lacklustre Renault power unit behind them, it often seemed impossible to drive, with a switch to Mercedes engines in 2015, their fortunes can only get better from here.

9th. Marrusia F1 – 2pts, 5/10IMG_1519.JPGMarrusia came into 2014 looking to finally get on pace with the rest of the pack, they still didn’t get as close as they’d of liked, but a topsy turvy Monaco GP and a very punchy Jules Bianchi finally gave them their first ever points finish, This was such a great boost for the team, but in the Japanese GP good fortune turned into the sadness of Jules’ crash in the rain at Suzuka, the investigations into the accident speak for themselves and it’s a sad time for the team and the Bianchi family, in Sochi we saw them run only Max Chilton’s car as a mark of respect, but since then the team have gone into administration, we really hope this isn’t the last of the team as they’ve done so well in 2014, we await news on their fate.

10th. Sauber F1 – 0pts, 2/10

IMG_1520.JPGAfter a dissapointing 2013 season, it only got worse for 2014, finances putting them close to leaving the sport, an underpowered Ferrari power unit and poor chassis really made life difficult for the swiss outfit, Guttierez and Sutil never made impressions either, no big investments have come into the team despite many rumoured interests, signing Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson for 2015, both with financial backing shows that the team are needing investments, time is ticking for Sauber.

11th. Caterham F1 – 0pts, 2/10

IMG_1521.JPGCaterham have never really improved from where they were last year, they brought drastic changes to the front of the car that never proved to have worked, Kobayashi outperformed Ericsson on many occasions, but it was irrelevant after the realisations of the financial status of the team, Tony Fernandes sold the team to a hedge fund, but disputes over who owned what parts of the team raged on, eventually they went into administration, but came back to race in the Abu Dhabi finale, Will Stevens did well on his debut with Kobayashi, but we still await to hear news of their fate for 2015. Rumours of buyers keeping appearing but so far no news.

@SteveF1C