FIA

Race Hard Or Go Home

Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

Many fans out there want to see all out attacking racing with no quarter given, that’s what the drivers are brought up to do through their junior years. Now we all all know there is an entiquette to overtaking in Formula One because of the speeds that get achieved. Respect is paramount when racing at 200+ mph.

In light of the incident between Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen at the German Grand Prix a week ago, questions have to be asked as to whether we’re sending out the right messages to the junior drivers out there from today’s top level formula.

On lap 29 Rosberg on warmer tyres made a lunge up the inside of Verstappen for third place into the turn six hairpin. This move was very optimistic and bold but managed it without making contact and has to be appluaded from how far he came back.

This is where I’ll stop and now recognise a similar move between Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya from the same race in 2002, Montoya attempted to try around the outside of the same hairpin but Raikkonen ran him out of room, the two then ran side by side for the next four corners before coming into the stadium section with Raikkonen being ran wide into putting two wheels in the astroturf/gravel exit.

Now, not one complaint was made about that racing from either driver at the time and that to me showed respect, determination and above all sensibility from the stewards to allow them to settle it out on track. 

So why can’t this happen today?

In the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg raced hard all the way to end ducking & diving all without making contact despite how close they ran and yet, once again the stewards let them get on with it. 

We don’t like to see contact but we do want to see hard racing without drivers being penalised for doing what is only in their nature to do, which brings me on to another point.

Since when did driver’s start complaining so much!?

For quite a few years now we’ve been privalidged enough by FOM to hear team radio during the sessions. While I think we can all appreciate the odd mumble and grumble over certain facts of a race weekend because lets face it, we can’t always have a perfect weekend.

But it seems now to be becoming a trend that drivers will winge and moan over sometimes the most trivial of things. The British Grand Prix in 2014 witnessed a great tussle between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, however while racing each other, they were constantly on the radio complaining about each others driving when it came to track limits on the exit of copse.

Max Verstappen entered Formula One in 2015 and quickly made an impact with his style of driving, flamboyant, aggresive and unwillingness to back down quietly. This became apparent in Monaco while despite being lapped, on lap 55 he followed Sebastian Vettel past Valtteri Bottas into Portier to steal a postion away from the Finn.

At the Belgian Grand Prix he preceded a daring pass around the outside of Felipe Nasr into Blanchemont and making it stick into the bus stop. On the flip side at the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix he defended bravely against Kimi Raikkonen who came attacking in the final stages of the race, even despite the contact made.

Verstappen has had his critics, but so have many when they’ve made such a bold impact.

While not all of the drivers moan and groan, it has to be said that some drivers need to focus on racing hard, give no quarter and do whatever it takes to win. 

Give as good as you get and race hard or go home.

2016 German Grand Prix Review

Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

Finally! Formula One returned to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix. After last season the Nurburgring couldn’t afford to pay the fees for the race to be held there. 

It was safe to say that everyone was glad to be back even if attendance figures have been down in recent years, the turn one grandstands had been covered over because of the lack of ticket sales. However on race day the stadium section up to turn one was almost full which was great to see. 

In qualifying it was Nico Rosberg who stuck it on pole with an incredible lap after his first run in Q3 was hampered by an electrical glitch that affected his throttle capabilities, something that’s on the list of things you never want as a driver. Lewis Hamilton couldn’t quite make his final run count and both of the Red Bull’s were certainly a lot closer than first thought, this made race day a very appetising prospect.

On race day the tension was palpable with both Mercedes on the front row looking to get into turn one first. As the lights went out Rosberg got a shocking start after lighting up his rear tyres and fell back to fourth, Hamilton made the better get away into the lead. Verstappen managed to get past his team mate round the bold outside move into turn one also. 

Felipe Massa was unfortunately hit by Jolyon Palmer on the opening lap and left the Brazilian with a poor handling Williams before retiring on lap 36. Sergio Perez had a very poor start from starting ninth on the grid but fell to as low as 16th before climbing back through the field.

Back at the front of the field, Rosberg couldn’t find a way around Ricciardo and had to settle into the first part of the race to perhaps try a different strategy. 

With the supersoft tyres degrading fairly quickly, Verstappen and Rosberg were the first to blink on lap 11 and both bolted on more supersoft tyres to try and undercut their respective teammates up the road.

Ricciardo stopped a lap later to cover off the fast charging Rosberg and managed to maintain track position over the German. Hamilton stopped on lap 14 but wasn’t under threat after managing to create a big enough gap. 

Lap 29 proved to be a contentious one when Rosberg dived up the inside of Verstappen in an attempt to take third place, however he nearly didn’t make the corner and in the stewards eyes forced the young Dutch driver off the circuit, I personally felt it was a tough, bold but just on the limit move. The decision from stewards however to give Rosberg the five second penalty was more likely because of his precedent from his clash with Hamilton in Austria and not just because of the move itself.

The hard work Rosberg put in for that middle stint to pass and gap the Red Bull’s was put to waste when Rosberg served the penalty at his next pit stop, the Mercedes pit wall unfortunately timed his penalty wrong by accidentally waiting eight seconds instead of the five it was supposed to be. 

In the dying laps, the final points positions became a great watch as Williams gambled on keeping Valtteri Bottas out on severely old soft tyres trying to make a two stop strategy work, while Nico Hulkenberg made his three stop work in his favour to pass the Finn towards the end of the race.

Both McLarens had a tough end to the race, with the Honda power unit in the back proving that while the several upgrades have come in recent races; it is still very thirsty on fuel. Despite this fact while Fernando Alonso had to keep saving fuel and fell out of the points, but with the Williams of Bottas having hit the cliff of those Pirelli tyres, Jenson Button managed to gain eighth place by the chequered flag.

With the summer break now here and teams having to shut their factories for two complete weeks, their hardworking personnel can go home and enjoy time with families to refresh themselves for final nine races that lie ahead.

I don’t know about you? But I’m surely excited to see what the rest of this season has to offer, because one thing for sure is that this title battle is far from over!

SC

Alonso Crashes in Barcelona Test

Today on the last day of the first test in Barcelona, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren left the circuit exiting turn 3 and hit the inside wall, he came to a rest just before Turn 4.

He was airlifted to hospital after his crash as his G-Meter sensor in the car had been activated. Fernando was conscious and talking with trackside doctors before his visit to the hospital. A further CT scan revealed he has suffered no injuries, but will spend a precautionary night in hospital.

Any driver has to go to hospital if this sensor is activated to ensure they are checked over after any crash.

McLaren had been experiencing MGU-K issues with the car prior to this accident, no official reports have been made public as to the cause of this crash, but Sebastian Vettel following Alonso on circuit said “The speed was slow – maybe 150kph,” “Then he turned right into the wall. It looked strange.”

We still await news on what caused the crash, but I’m sure you’ll all be glad that Fernando is doing well.

Bridging the generations

As we enter the 2015 season, the 65th Formula One season to be officially contested, I have felt it’s time to examine a few subjects that have been hanging on my mind.

Engines

In 2014 we began a whole new era of Formula One when the sport went to Hybrid power for the very first time, many criticisms came forward about the speed and noise of the new era.

What was the clearest picture though, the sport had to go down this road sooner rather than later otherwise it would have faced extinction, Renault were not interested in carrying on the V8s and nor were Mercedes, we also would not have Honda coming back into the sport after a 6 year absence.

The fans of old are still even crying out now for a move back to V8s & V10s where fuel consumption is higher and faster, but with serious pressure on manufacturers to explore a greener option and Formula One being the global sport it is with hundreds of millions of viewers around the world, the change was right and needed to happen.

All the engines last season managed to complete the season using 30% less fuel in 2014 than 2013 which is a phenomenal achievement, all of this while being no less than 3-5% slower than the pace of 2013, producing more horsepower and torque whilst having up to 40% less downforce, surely this a great success for the hybrid era, and with power levels increasing for the new season, I’m hoping this trend can continue.

Always looking back, not forward

We are now in 2015, if we look back 20 years, we had only just lost the great Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher had won his first title, We go back 40 years and Niki Lauda was preparing for the 1975 season in which he would win his first title in a time where safety standards were still sub standard and drivers were dying every season.

It’s clear to see how quick the sport has come in years since, we are using 1.6 litre hybrid turbo engines now where 20 years ago a three litre V8, V10 or V12 was the engines of choice, but what I have found is that many fans of the sport are continuously making cries that Formula One needs to go back to the good ol’ days.

But I ask. What are the good ol’ days? In times gone by we’ve had a 28-32 car grid, but pace difference was so enormous the lower teams couldn’t even qualify for the race some weekends. Are those the good ol’ days?

The point I have tried to make to every fan, whether you are younger fan or an older fan of this great sport, we must continue to look forward and embrace this new future that Formula One is offering, and not look back to the past where we may have enjoyed great times before, but the sport has a lot more to offer in the future.

Let’s enjoy it.

Classic F1: 1996 Japanese Grand Prix

It’s Sunday the 13th of October 1996, Damon Hill will have woken that morning thinking this was going to be possibly his last shot at a world title.

It was well documented at the time that Damon wouldn’t be continuing with Williams into 1997 with Heinz-Harold Frentzen coming into the team and with very little drives available, Damon had signed with Tom Walkinshaw’s new Arrows project for 1997.

On Saturday’s qualifying Damon had only managed to secure 2nd on the grid behind title rival and team mate, Jacques Villeneuve by nearly half a second.

The first start had to be aborted due to David Coulthard stalling his McLaren, the grid then reformed and on the second restart Jacques got a terrible get away and fell to sixth behind Berger, Hakkinen, Schumacher and Irvine.

With Damon needing only one point to seal the championship in his favour he must have felt like everything was falling into place by this point, on lap three, Berger tried passing Hill into the final chicane but damaged his Benetton’s front wing in the process.

As the race wore on Damon kept the lead and pulled away from the field, Michael Schumacher overtook Mika Hakkinen for second place in first round of pitstops. On lap 37 Jacques’ car heading into turn one had lost his rear right wheel, because wheel tethers were not used in Formula One yet, his wheel overtook the car hit the barrier and actually hopped the fence landing in the grandstand, thankfully no one was hurt.

But because Jacques was out of the race, this meant Damon was finally world champion regardless of the result of the race. At last his dream finally realised after losing out in 1994 and 1995 to Michael Schumacher.

To sum up my review, I leave you with Murray Walker talking through Damon’s last lap of the race.

Engine Upgrades Allowed in 2015, Except Honda

After all the evolving engine regulations for the new hybrid era of F1 we have entered, it appears that a loophole has been found in the regulations that means engine development can be continued throughout the season, except for Honda.

In what appears to be unfair advantage to the rest of the other teams this will be a blow to not just Mercedes, who could lose some of their edge, but it will also be a blow to Honda. Being a ‘new’ manufacturer, they must have their 2015 power unit homologated and locked in by February 28th.

During last season there were many concerned in the paddock that the pace of the Mercedes was going to be hard to catch up on, Mercedes were keen not to allow any relaxations in the regulations as to ensure they held their advantage, but there were protests from Renault and Ferrari, it appeared that there was going to a concession from Mercedes in form of offering their ERS unit to the other teams.

The engine freeze was originally put in place as a cost-control tactic with changes only allowed if the FIA agrees that it falls under a reliability, safety or cost-saving issue. It is understood that Ferrari are the ones to have found the loophole and after many meetings Renault then joined the cause.

With the FIA admitting that the wording of the regulations was open to interpretation, it has subsequently told teams that the “most logical and robust” way forward is to accept that there is no actual date for 2015 homologation.

The ‘tokens’ the engine suppliers are allowed to use is reference to any developments made upon the power units, the teams this winter have 32 tokens they can use, but not one piece on the engine is worth 1 token, certain parts of the power unit maybe worth more, so the teams have to work out where they can make the best gains in terms of speed and pace in the engine but also reliability, which has been a lot better than expected in 2014, but I’m sure Renault will want to certainly improve reliability as their engines were the most unreliable.

f1-red-bull-ferrari-eua-700

The teams will also be able to bring their developments whenever they wish throughout the season, this could mean one team gains advantage over another at different points in the season, this could prove an exciting development race from now on with now the engineers I’m sure in full swing back their factories.

Many questions will be now asked, Can Mercedes maintain their advantage with this new loophole discovered? Can Honda develop a good enough engine to keep up with the developing pack? How fast can the other teams develop to catch Mercedes

This is all part of the exciting world of F1 we all love and cherish, stay tuned!!

lilgodf1

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

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