Team Personnel

The Final Push

Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

With the european season is now over as Formula One begins it’s final third of the season, teams will be preparing for the final push, the onslaught of seven more races from the bright night lights of Singapore right through to the heat of the desert for the grand finale in Abu Dhabi.

Just two points now separate title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the championship standings, the closest it’s been for a very long time. Both drivers will be looking across the garage at each other knowing that one mistake, one reliability issue or one clash could end their respective title bids, but do not expect they’ll give each other any quarter to claim the grand prize.

The fight behind the warring silver arrows couldn’t more alive, Red Bull have really pushed on in 2016 by taking on the mught of Ferrari and beating them. With Max Verstappen taking victory in Spain ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo’s pole position and near Monaco victory, Ferrari still have not managed to record neither a victory or pole position through major inconsistancies much Sebastian Vettel’s dismay.

The fight for second place will get more intense as each race gets crossed off the list, despite the big prize being out of reach, pride is on the line for both Red Bull and Ferrari. Neither will back down without a fight with just 11 points between them, so don’t expect niceties, expect a dogfight to the bitter end.

Same could be said for the fight for fourth place in the constructors between Williams and Force India, both teams are  performing valiantly for their much more smaller outfits compared to those ahead of them. There is no telling who may come out on top of this fight with them both being so evenly matched. Just three points lie between the two privateers, so every position & overtake matters greatly.

McLaren-Honda recently pinched sixth place from Toro Rosso and with their recent upgrades taking to great effect with both chassis and their power unit. Despite Jenson Button’s recently announced sabbatical and the always fired up Fernando Alonso relishing a fight, it could be a tall order for the junior Red Bull squad to take it back. With no power upgrades available to them and just chassis improvements the only weapon in their arsenal, it’ll no doubt make their efforts more tricky.

The criticism that Renault have faced all season for their results has been quite unfounded, the car was what was leftover from the very underfunded and deeply in debt Lotus team last season. With only six points to their name so far in 2016, it may seem from the outset they’ve had very poor season for a manufacturer, but don’t be fooled, with both Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen always pushing to prove their critics wrong, I’d be wary of what the results that could be possible. 

Locked in a fight for that coveted tenth place in the constructors standings, Manor and Sauber are pushing like crazy to beat each other. Manor hold the high ground having scored a crucial single point with Pascal Wehrlein in Austria, while the swiss outfit have struggled all season long with financial woes that have hampered much of their intended progress, there are still seven races that could throw a surprise result in either teams favour, so don’t the fight isn’t over yet. 

While all of the teams have now converted their full focus to the new chassis regulations of the 2017 season that lies ahead, updates that were pre-planned are still filtering through. Despite this the pecking order we see won’t change dramatically if at all, what we will see is the gladiatorial clashes of that will keep us on the edge of our seats.

With still plenty to fight for regardless of their positions whether it’s the prized world title or the pride of a top ten finish, this season is far from over, I expect the final third of the season to showcase the best of what Formula One always has to offer. 

Let’s Race!

Allison Parts Ways With Ferrari

Photo: Scuderia Ferrari

As I wrote last week, there was mounting speculation that James Allison was leaving his post with Ferrari to move back to the UK. An announcement was made by Ferrari today that this was now confirmed.

Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene said “The Team would like to thank James for his commitment and sacrifice during the time spent together, and wishes him success and serenity for his future endeavors.

James Allison also made a statement in which he said “During the years I spent at Ferrari, at two different stages and covering different roles, I could get to know and appreciate the value of the team and of the people, women and men, which are part of it. I want to thank them all for the great professional and human experience we shared. I wish everybody a happy future with lots of success.”

It is unclear the long term goals that Ferrari may now have, but they have announced that Mattia Binotto will take over the Chief Technical Officer position within the team.

This is probably not a massive surprise to Ferrari, however this will still no doubt have be a shock to the team in the long run; especially as this stage of the season the massive upward turn in development towards the 2017 regulations will be taking place.

Alongside this story is the talk of an apparently unhappy Sebastian Vettel. With Allison leaving the team it will no doubt unsettle Vettel about the long term ambitions of the team and how they will move forward with the new regulations.

Allison’s long term future plans are unknown and I wouldn’t like to speculate as to his possible ventures, but after a devastating year for him and his family, I hope you’ll join me in wishing him well for his future.

Ferrari’s Engineering Dilemma

Photo: Scuderia Ferrari.

Heading into the 2016 season, Ferrari were very keen to dish out the battle cries in the hope of hunting down the all dominant Mercedes team. A management reshuffle saw Maurizio Arrivabene replacing Marco Mattiaci in becoming team principal and Jock Clear finally arrived from Mercedes to help run the technical team, so the signs were looking good for the Scuderia that they were going to live up to their own expectations.

Since the opening Australian Grand Prix in March at least two victories have clearly slipped through their fingers as well as many other good results through poor strategy calls and unreliability; it’s clear that whatever the plan was, it hasn’t been executed properly or was missing certain details in the run up to the season.

Unfortunately after the opening race James Allison’s wife Rebecca passed away very suddenly and he immediately flew home to be with his family, he did return to work not long after, but it is understood that he is due to leave the team to return to work in the UK to be closer to his family.

Jock Clear could very take over engineering operations for the short term until a long term option is found; but the question turns to who do Ferrari turn too?

It’s been no secret Arrivabene has been in talks with former technical director Ross Brawn, one of the great architects of Ferrari’s dominance in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The talks involved a chance for Brawn to perhaps return to the team in some capacity, even possibly as a consultant, but Brawn has turned down the opportunity.

Ross Brawn has been in retirement since leaving Mercedes at the end of 2013 and hasn’t looked back to Formula One since enjoying his exploits (which include fishing among other activities). Brawn recently made a public appearance at the Goodwood festival of speed, he stated in an interview with SkyF1’s Martin Brundle with regards to a potential comeback. “Never say never about any of those sort of things, but I’m quite content doing what I’m doing and nothing has come along that I would be motivated and interested in.”

So who could Ferrari get for the long term?

James Key, current technical director at Toro Rosso is a well renowned technical expert in the F1 paddock and could well want to take on such a huge project with the Scuderia. However, Red Bull are keen not to let him leave, potentially grooming him to replace Adrian Newey if and when he decides to leave the Red Bull team.

Paddy Lowe is very well bed in to the Mercedes team and has been one of the most involved with the creation of the current Mercedes package that has been on top of F1 since 2014. Could Ferrari attempt to prise him away from the German squad for a new challenge? It’s a highly unlikely scenario, but in the world of Formula One, nothing is impossible.

Whomever Ferrari bring in will surely have a huge challenge on their hands on all fronts, whether it’s the technical side or the management side, they must be prepared to get stuck in and succeed as it’s clear Ferrari are not willing to put up with the poor results any longer.

What Can We Expect From F1 In 2015?

wolff-hamilton-rosberg-abu-dhabi-2014

Now that we’ve entered 2015 it’s now time to look forward the coming season instead of looking back on the old, we have plenty to look forward to in the coming months.

Revival of McLaren-Honda

alonso-button-mclaren-2014

In 2013 McLaren announced that they would be re-uniting with legendary engine partners Honda, after their abrupt retreat from the sport at the end of 2008 it was hard to imagine them returning to the sport so soon, with the new hybrid engine regulations it seems that they’ve been tempted back into the fray of F1, It also appears that they are not coming back to just make up numbers on the grid. Honda have invested heavily into their new engine program as well as the McLaren team and have stated that they want to be winning upon their return, signing Fernando Alonso and keeping Jenson Button is the best line-up possible to do the job as well as I have said in a previous article. Honda wanted a big name signing to join the team and in bringing Fernando in certain has done that. We’ll have to see in winter testing if there are any signs of improvement from the Woking outfit.

Vettel’s move to Ferrari

Vettel-Ferrari

Towards the end of 2013 we found out Sebastian was leaving Red Bull Racing, his home since he was a young boy, it was confirmed nearer the end of the season that the poorest secret of all was that he was joining the Ferrari team alongside Kimi Raikkonen. With Ferrari in a massive state of rebuilding it would be hard pressed to imagine Ferrari fighting up the sharp end of the field, but with James Allison the chief designer finally developing the new car all the way through and massive restructurings in personnel with a new team principal in Maurizio Arrivabene and including poaching Jock Clear from Mercedes, Ferrari’s position on the grid this season will be a massive mystery, Sebastian’s idol was Michael Schumacher and he has said he would love to emulate him by helping rebuild Ferrari, question is. How long if at all will we see a Ferrari revival?

Continued Mercedes domination

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2014 saw Mercedes take the grid by storm in the all conquering W05, it was an engineering masterpiece that finally broke McLaren’s record of 15wins in a season, had Mercedes not have reliability issues they could have easily won all 19 races. It has been reported the Mercedes engine developers have said that they can find up to 60-100hp in the winter break for the new hybrid engines, this is an astonishing amount given the short time they have to achieve this. The W05 will also be evolved into the W06 this year, with any team always looking to improve the cars can the gap to them be closed down by anyone else or will the gap widen even more and leave Lewis and Nico to fight out the title once again?

Mexico’s Comeback On The Calendar

mexico-grand-prix-1992

In 2013 we heard rumblings that the sport may once again return the to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, in 2014 we finally had it confirmed, the last race we saw here was in 1992 (see picture above) with Nigel Mansell won it from Ricardo Patrese and Michael Schumacher following him up to the rostrum. The circuit is very fast and flowing but was renowned for being very bumpy, with some funds being invested into the circuit to bring up to modern standards. I’m also hoping that while improvements have been made, the circuit will keep it’s traits and give the drivers a great challenge when we arrive for the event in the autumn. With Sergio Perez being the only Mexican on the grid for the race as Esteban Guttierez was ousted from Sauber, I would like to hope that Ferrari will give Esteban a Friday outing but with it being a new circuit I doubt that it may happen. It’ll be great to get all nostalgic once we arrive ready to begin a new future in Central America.

Overview

With winter testing not very far away, like me I’m sure you’re all very keen for the action to get started once more, we can breathe a sigh of relief that the phallic noses are banned but we can also hold our breathe because the teams are only allowed to use 4 engines this season instead of 5 this means a huge undertaking for the engineers and designers, but it’s all part of the magical and wonderful world of F1 we all come back for time and time again.

69 days and counting until Australia.. Time is ticking!

@lilgodf1

 

 

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