Formula 1 Needs More Manufacturers

July 16, 2011

Martin Whitmarsh

Martin Whitmarsh would be happy to see more car manufacturers entering Formula 1 in the near future. “The sport has to be sustainable, as Ferrari and ourselves can’t just race each other – we need all these other teams so sustainability is an important issue.

“We had the tobacco era, then the automotive era, who were natural investors, and now we don’t have enough of them. We have Renault half in, we’ve got Mercedes and Ferrari, but actually we need to create an environment of governance, of regulations, of stability and entertainment which convinces the Hondas, Toyotas and BMWs that it was wrong to pull out and I believe that in time we will get them back and probably can add the Volkswagen/Audis, the Hyundais, whatever.

“We need to create an environment that pulls them in. We need to make sure that we maintain the show. In previous years the complaint was always that the show was no good, but I believe that in the last two years we’ve responded responsibly, and actually we have had some incredible races.

“I think now we have a great show – and that’s good so we can tick the box there. We have to make sure that we are relevant and maybe the new V6 engines do that. I am sure that in the next five years we’ll have one or two more come back in. If these automotive companies go for complete team ownership, then inherently that’s unstable because when they go that leaves a mess.

“We had that with Honda, Toyota and BMW, who came in for ownership and it has been difficult for the sport to manage that. If they come in as technical partners and then decide to quit that’s an easier situation to manage. So I think the ideal model is that we create a situation where we are attractive, we’re relevant and we are powerful and appropriate for automotive manufacturers to be involved in, because the natural affinity is automotive.

“We have to work together as there is a real threat to our business model, which is this whole new world of how people use entertainment and we have to be responsive to that and not to wait until our ‘mark’ is dying. We have to go out there and make it ours.

“I don’t know personally how you are going to do that, but that’s the challenge.”

Paul di Resta Attracting Attention

May 2, 2011

Photograph Courtesy of Force India Formula 1 Team

Paul’s start to his first season in Formula 1 has been followed closely by a number of teams and Norbert Haug of Mercedes Sport has stated that it has been “exceptional”.

Paul, however, is not letting any of this distract him from his driving and feels that he should have finished higher than eleventh in Shanghai: “It was disappointing after we qualified eighth, but realistically I guess we had a Mercedes, a Red Bull and two Renaults behind us who had more outright pace.

“I think we did the best job we could. I’ve given it as much as I have been able to.

“There are times when I could have taken more risks but I want to learn and to do that you have to finish races. It’s a massive thing to have finished your first three grands prix and almost to have been in the points in all of them.

“At the same time I’m getting more comfortable in the car and things are coming more naturally. I don’t really want to say what level I’m at but all I will say is that I am progressing and I’ll continue to work at bettering my performance level.

“Obviously I am close to Mercedes. They have had a huge influence on my career and I’m very grateful to them. It is great that people are talking but at the same time I have got to keep progressing.

“Force India have given me a great opportunity and delivered what they said they would. Hopefully I am delivering what they hoped I would deliver for the team.”

Paul is managed by Lewis Hamilton’s father, Anthony, who commented: “I would like to think there is an interest.

“We’ve not spoken to anyone but for sure Paul is a Mercedes protégé and Norbert has said some very complimentary things about him. I’m just really proud of him.

“He has made a fantastic start and more importantly he has done it in the right way. He has not over-driven. He has brought the car home every time and delivered points. Certainly he will make a great replacement for someone at a top team.”

Alonso has Faith in Ferrari

April 25, 2011

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F10

Fernando Alonso is disappointed with the poor results that the team has achieved but knows that Ferrari will fight back. “It was definitely not the start of the season we were hoping for, for us and all our fans.

“Fifty points between the two of us is not much and we know our performance is not good enough at the moment, but we are aware that this can change very quickly.”

“I trust in the team: I know what it’s made of and I can feel the will to fight back from everyone at Maranello. In the past I have experienced, first as an opponent and then as an insider how capable the Scuderia is of staging a comeback.

“I well remember when I was at Renault in 2006, that in the first part of the season I had built up a big lead but then Ferrari made such a good job of developing its cars that Schumacher staged a great fight back, overtaking me with two races remaining.

“Then you only have to look at last year: first in Turkey and then in England, it was suggested we should already be looking to the following year, but we did not give up and we managed to be in the fight for the title right up to the final race. It sounds like a slogan, but it’s the absolute truth: never give up in Formula 1.”

“Formula 1 has always been like this: in one race you struggle to get into the top five and in the next, you’re fighting for the win.

“This year has been no exception to that rule: after the final test in Barcelona, everyone reckoned the McLarens were nowhere and then they always got on the podium, ending up with a win in China.

“At the same time, others were saying Vettel was unbeatable and then in Shanghai, we all saw how things turned out in the end. Three races are not yet enough to give a definitive judgement.

“This does not mean to say I am underestimating the seriousness of our situation, far from it. We have to work very hard to improve on every front. Success only comes when every element is operating at its best: the car, strategy, pitstops, drivers and everyone else included.

“I’ve stayed in touch with the engineers these past few days and I know there is no let up in the development of the car at Maranello. We have to catch up and we cannot allow ourselves to lose too much time, especially as the others won’t be twiddling their thumbs over the coming weeks.”

 

Pat Symonds Appointed as Consultant to Virgin Racing

April 22, 2011

Virgin’s MVR01

Pat Symonds, Renault’s former executive director of engineering, was suspended from Formula 1 events for five years in 2009 for his part in Nelson Piquet Junior’s deliberate crash in the 2008 Singapore grand prix, although this ban was overturned in 2010. He will be able to return to Formula 1 full time in 2013 but may act as consultant in the meantime.

Virgin Racing have seized the opportunity and have employed him to advise on their management structure and operations. John Booth, Virgin’s team principal commented: “I think it is fair to say that Pat, who has only been working for us for two months, is undertaking an overview of the team.

“He works with the engineers daily, but his main job at the moment is to take an overview of where we are. I am sure within a month or two he will give us some conclusions and pointers.”

“There are two areas – one that he does give us great optimism for the future. He has been there before, done it several times and knows it inside out. The other thing is that when you have a conversation or a meeting, then Pat works with the engineers and he gives a rubber stamp to the way the engineers have been setting the meetings up, the way they have been working, the way they deal with the drivers.

“It gives you a great deal of confidence that you know they have been doing it right for the last eight months or so – as that is always a question in your mind. When someone like Pat gives you a rubber stamp, it gives you a real boost of confidence.

“We have stagnated, we haven’t moved on – and that is the most disappointing thing but hopefully we have recognised some of the problems, and the upgrade in Turkey will put a lot of that right but that will only put us where we should have started in Australia.

“We are lacking downforce. There is no question about that. It is a matter of just rolling our sleeves up and getting it sorted.

“I don’t think windtunnel testing is quite the inefficient, cash-guzzling beast it was four years ago. I think with the wind-on restrictions, the people within F1 operating windtunnels have become much cuter and I think they are 20 times more efficient than they were four or five years ago.”

 

Brawn: Engineers Must Challenge the Boundaries

March 16, 2011

R31 Launch at NEC Birmingham

A number of teams have introduced innovative ideas and components to their cars this year but the most radical is Renault’s forward facing exhaust system which exits by the sidepods. Other teams have followed suit as this system appears to have great benefits. Ross Brawn suggests that this could have an even greater impact than that of he double diffuser two years ago.

“It is a significant area and maybe more significant than the double diffuser in terms of performance and of course the teams are all working with their engine partners to work out how to get the most out of the exhaust energy so that is the new interesting area of development.

“It is in the spirit of F1 to push these boundaries and find new areas. We may find in the future that that is not where we want to be and we will change the regulations to control it, and in 2013 we only have one exhaust and it is a turbo engine and the whole thing will change again so there are lots of differences coming but it is a fascinating area and all within the spirit of F1.

“I think the nature of F1 is that the engineers are always challenging the interpretation of the regulations. It is very, very rare for people to cheat in F1 and what all the engineers do, and what I expect my engineers do, is to challenge the boundaries of what you can do and obviously the double diffuser was one of those boundaries.

“The exhausts – I don’t think they are challenging the boundaries so much, I think they are a clever idea but I don’t think there is any regulatory problems with the exhaust systems so I don’t see that as being overly controversial. There have been clarifications in the last week or two about the materials and one or two other things, but they are not really that controversial.”

Alonso is Keen for the Season to Start

March 15, 2011

Alonso Silverstone 2010

Fernando Alonso is satisfied with how the car is developing: “We’ve had a very good pre-season. I am very pleased with how the winter testing has gone. We’re the team that’s driven the most and that has had the fewest problems. On average, we have done around 100 laps each day. That demonstrates we have the reliability, which is a priority when you are dealing with a new car. We have got all those laps on the new tyres, and I’m sure that will help the team.

“All that experience with the new car I am sure helps the team to arrive in Melbourne in a 100 per cent state of readiness. Whether or not that will be enough to win, we will not know until we are in Australia, but the global outlook hasn’t changed a lot since last year.

“There is not a clear picture at the moment of where we are in terms of performance, but McLaren will be there again in the end, it seems Mercedes have improved, maybe this year also Renault and Williams who have done good work over the winter and Red Bull and Ferrari will be at the front.

“I think all the cars are very close at the moment. There is not one completely ahead of everyone and it will be decided by very small details. It will be very open going into Australia, so it’s up to us to have a better weekend than the others.

“One thing’s for sure, we will have to push on the development, like we did last year. For example, at Albert Park, I hope we will manage to bring a few updates, especially to the front wing, which can still give us a fraction more in performance terms.

“We know that the car is performing well, and we are more-or-less happy. I feel confident, just as I did last year going into the start of the season. We are in good shape, even if we know we are not racing alone out there.

“I am very realistic. The podium is the aim for someone who’s targeting the title. Arriving in Australia and not thinking like that would be too pessimistic, but we know that anything could happen. When everyone has shown their cards, there could be some surprises. Hopefully we can be on the podium, and then in three-to-four races we’ll have a much clearer idea of where we are.”

Sir Jackie Stewart Blames Circuits for Lack of Overtaking

February 28, 2011

Sir Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell Cosworth

Sir Jackie thinks that it is wrong for one man to design most of the new circuits and that drivers should suffer when they make errors.

“My belief is that the major reason for the lack of overtaking in modern grand prix racing is down to the modern tracks, nearly all of which have been designed by the same man, the German architect Hermann Tilke.

“Yes, braking zones are now much shorter due to highly efficient brakes and aerodynamic downforce, meaning there is a much smaller overtaking zone. In my day it may have been as much as 200m, now it is more like 50m but the new circuits themselves must take their share of the blame. Put simply, they are largely carbon copies of each other and they tend not to penalise mistakes.

“Take the last race of 2010 for example. There were four drivers who could have clinched the championship in Abu Dhabi but Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was the overwhelming favourite. He had only to finish fourth to secure his third world crown. It didn’t happen because he could not find a way past Vitaly Petrov, a rookie in his first season in F1 and with little or no experience of being under such pressure.

“Alonso ran wide at the Yas Marina track on four separate occasions as he tried to beat the Renault and yet incredibly the car behind him, driven by Mark Webber, was still not able to pass. The run-off area was so well manicured and without obstacles that Alonso was effectively able to make fairly big mistakes and still maintain his position. That is plainly wrong.

“Racetracks have changed since my day and thank God for that. Back then a driver who raced for five years had a two in three chance of being killed. Four to six drivers a year lost their lives. It was totally unacceptable and I campaigned hard for improved safety in the sport, which happily came to pass. It is nearly 17 years since a life was lost in an F1 car. I can’t think of an industry, a sport or a business where that standard of risk management has been achieved but we have now gone too far the other way.

“Circuits should not permit liberties to be abused without a penalty that can be instantly recognised by spectators or TV viewers. Safety is one thing, abuse of privilege is another. Tilke has been behind almost every new circuit in F1 since the early 1990s. In some respects, he has done a great job, bringing fantastic amenities and luxuries to the sport but I fear he has not done much for the spectators. Unless circuits are modified, spectators and television viewers might have to live with a lack of overtaking for some time.

“For years F1’s governing body the FIA has been convinced that tweaking the technical regulations, such as changing from slick to treaded tyres, would allow overtaking to return. It has not happened. This year the introduction of moveable wings manipulated by drivers and the return of KERS devices, have been brought in to encourage overtaking but I have another solution.

“What if Tilke simply modified the corners around his circuits in such a way that if a driver runs wide he is penalised? What if the surface of the run-off areas was changed so that a car’s traction is reduced and a driver going wide loses ground either to the car he is following or allows the car chasing him to pass? Pretty simple really, and a lot cheaper than developing KERS.

“Making mistakes is something we all do. In most cases we have to pay for those mistakes. We shouldn’t die for them but we surely should be penalised. This is what race fans the world over want to see, the best drivers in the world, in the most advanced cars, competing to become world champion. They should not be able to get there by getting away with making mistakes.”

Red Bull Will Be Strong This Year

February 6, 2011

Red Bull’s Christian Horner states that the team is more advanced now, than they were this time last year.

“We are more focussed on ourselves, to be honest. We’ve adhered to a programme that has worked for us. Over the last two years that meant missing the first test, but this year Adrian has had just as long in the wind tunnel and decided that because of the regulation changes and particularly the tyres, it suited our programme to be at the first test.

“That’s not to say one way is right and one way is wrong. It’s just the way we have elected to approach 2011. The factory is working flat-out at the moment, just getting everything prepared to run the car for the first time on 1 February. The whole group has worked tremendously hard, particularly over the Christmas holidays, to get us into a position where we are effectively a week ahead of where we were this time twelve months ago.

“I think you can always improve in all areas. I think our reliability in 2010 was good. Obviously we had a couple of engine issues that I know Renault has worked hard to resolve. I think we were one of the most reliable teams on the chassis side last year, but it’s always important to try to achieve 100 per cent reliability, which is I’m sure the target of every team.

“I think the changes will certainly have an impact. We had KERS in 2009 and it’s making a comeback for 2011. The double-diffuser has disappeared. It’s an interesting challenge, and it will be interesting, too, to see what the new regulations do to improve the racing, which in any case was very good in 2010. I think it was the best year we’ve had for a long time, and all the ingredients are currently there to make 2011 every bit as exciting a season.

“Sitting here at this time of year, you can expect Ferrari and McLaren to be strong. Mercedes, I’m sure, will be looking for a better season and Renault finished 2010 pretty strongly. It’s impossible to predict the order until we get to the first grand prix.”

Team Lotus Expecting Good Results

February 5, 2011

Jarno Trulli is hopeful for a good season, especially with the new components that will be on the car.

“We know we have the package to compete for at least the midfield and our aim is to race for points at every race. I know it will be hard, but we know the package has the potential. We have a brand new Renault engine, we have a Red Bull gearbox, so we are thinking we can do well. Mike has worked hard to set up a great team and get ready for this year but while no-one exactly knows where they are going to be, I always dream and hope that we can do better than we expect. It has happened many times in the past so maybe we can exceed our expectations for this year. I feel very confident.”

Jarno Trulli believes that the dispute with Group Lotus regarding the use of the name “Team Lotus” has engendered a greater spirit within the organisation.

“I think it has motivated a lot of people here. That stretches from the management like Tony Fernandes through to the shareholders, who have been through a lot of difficulties, and down to the last members of the team. What Tony did was unique. He has worked hard to bring the Lotus name back on track, which no-one had done for many years.

“He also just didn’t go out there and buy a team. He and Mike made up the team from scratch, which comes from the Lotus mentality. It would have been easier to buy a team, but that is not what Colin Chapman did. He drew his own and manufactured his own F1 cars. That is why this is the real Team Lotus, and that is what makes it unique and different from the other Lotus team on track.

“We know that Group Lotus is going to sponsor the Renault team, and that is a very different thing. We have to make that very clear. They can argue and they can go to court, but at the end of the day the people understand what Team Lotus is and why it is doing what it is doing. It belongs to the heritage and the story of Colin Chapman. I am sure that Colin Chapman would have been proud of what we are doing and to do that we need to deliver. That is not going to happen from just one day to another, and it will take a bit of time, but there will be more satisfaction when we do that.

“In my opinion, Tony is doing the right thing, even though we feel a bit sad about the row. Last year was the beginning of a new era for Team Lotus and we knew that with even limited time we could compete so we put all our efforts onto this season, so we are very confident.  I am very fired up, to be honest. It is like my first day of racing again. I admit that 2010 was difficult but my confident feeling is back now.”

Cosworth’s KERS

January 23, 2011

Mark Gallagher, Cosworth’s F1 Business Manager has commented on their KERS developments.

“At the moment Williams are the only one of our customers who are going to be using KERS in 2011. Virgin and HRT are not. Both those teams have expressed an interest in KERS for 2012. Obviously in Williams’ case they have got their own hybrid power company and have their own solution so we’re integrating a Williams solution with a Cosworth solution to provide what we want.

“We have a number of options for how we might proceed in the future. Obviously Williams would be very interested to sell their system to more and more teams. As everyone has seen Williams recently agreed to supply transmission systems to HRT but equally we’ve had discussions with a number of suppliers and with all of our teams about options for the future. I don’t want to say too much other than that we have some pretty clear thoughts as to what we’d like to do for 2013.

“We’re not ready yet to announce what those are but, clearly, having a completely integrated rear end of the car will be the right thing to have. So that means engine, transmission and KERS designed together and working together in complete harmony, providing the right weight distribution, providing the right functionality and operational requirements.

“So, what I would say is the days of Cosworth doing just the engine and not worrying about everything else are coming to an end because we have to take a holistic view. Obviously Ferrari, who we are selling engines against, and Mercedes and Renault, because they own teams they’ll be sitting down and thinking ‘how can we do the whole thing?’ We have to be in the same mindset.

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