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Formula One Regulation Changes

Today the FIA F1 Strategy group sat and the outcome of the meeting was as follows, with my reaction below it.

Paris – 9 December 2013

Following a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and the Formula One Commission in Paris today, the following items have been unanimously approved:

•    Cost cap

The principle of a global cost cap has been adopted. The limit will be applied from January 2015.

A working group will be established within the coming days comprising the FIA, representatives of the Commercial Rights Holder and Team representatives.

The objective of the working group will be to have regulations approved by the end of June 2014.

•    Pirelli Tyre test – Bahrain, 17-19 December, 2013

The F1 Commission agreed to a change to the 2013 Sporting Regulations, on safety grounds, allowing the Formula One tyre supplier to carry out a three-day test in Bahrain from 17-19 December, 2013. All Formula One teams have been invited to take part in the test and six have accepted: Red Bull Racing, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Force India and Toro Rosso.

•    Driver numbers

Drivers will be asked to choose their race number, between 2 and 99, for the duration of their career in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Number 1 will be reserved for the current World Champion, should he choose to use it.

If more than one driver choses the same number, priority will be given to the driver who finished highest in the previous year’s championship.

•    New penalties

The principle of a five-second penalty for minor infringements was agreed. In what form such a penalty will be applied will be discussed with Formula One’s teams in order that a new regulation be introduced for 2014 season.

•    Points for the last race

Double drivers’ and constructors’ points will be awarded at the final race of the Formula One season in order to maximise focus on the Championship until the end of the campaign.

These changes are immediately applicable, given the mandate assigned to the FIA President at the last World Motor Sport Council meeting, held on 4 December in Paris.

FIA Formula One Press Office

My view is that these are some interesting changes. The cost cap is the most interesting one, I think F1 as a whole can be done for €150m a season, but I also think that there needs to be look at the F1 prize structure and fund raising means from FOM to make this happen. It will have to be a large number to start with, but is part of the overall narrative of cost control in F1 that ranges with ideas from banning wind tunnels and going totally CFD, trackside telemetry and if a standard telemetry system is needed, Parc Ferme that starts at 00:01AM on the Friday morning and the final one of more standardized parts where each F1 team makes something that everyone has to use, thus minimizing performance gains.

The Pirelli Test in Bahrain I needed as it will give the teams attending a slight advantage over their competition, but it is yet unclear how the cars will be tested, I think it should be done with the teams using cars with tyre data and sensors omitted and also the strict usage of aero sensors banned and Test & reserve guys going in the cars. Also each team having 6 sets of unmarked tyres each day where Pirelli only knows what’s going on.

Driver numbers are a good idea, I think there’s a bit of business that has been missed, where the drivers and or teams choose the numbers on a franchise basis. Teams can pay the FIA & FOM €8m a season for their numbers, meaning Ferrari can get the historical 27/28 if they want to, and drivers who haven’t scored a point the previous season can rent their number for a year for €1m, drivers who scored a point can do so for €2m and top 10 drivers the previous year have to pay €3m, changing a number should cost €5m to change. This would allow the FIA and FOM to do something positive, and it would also make the teams and drivers to work hard for their merchandise money and this is what some of the teams don’t do enough of, work hard for their merchandise money. However in return, each team should have two merchandise stands at every grand prix, as only the top 5 teams and Toro Rosso are at every GP with about 4 other F1 general merchandise stands. F1 should take a leaf out of a merch stand at a music show, where each stand has limited edition stuff and signed stuff there. The recent Alter Bridge/Shinedown/Halestor show I attended at The Hydro in Glasgow had this, signed BluRays and CDs from all bands and T-Shirts and beer openers. F1 needs to have every driver have 300 signed Minischamps or Spark models of that years car, or even a year old model for sale for €199 each would be nice as I think fans would buy them for the top drivers and the drivers in the mid pack would sell as well. Just my thoughts, but I think F1 needs to do more to sell its merchandise and get the brand awareness of teams out there.

The penalties I think will be good, especially the 5 second one, as it will allow stewards to alter the result enough but in a fair manner. However the stewards are what I think needs to be looked at, where there are 9 professional stewards and at each GP there are 4 at each GP with the assistance of a driver steward who has been in F1 in the past 5 years. The 9 professional stewards can only do two GP in a row and the Driver Steward can only do two GP that season. I also think each professional steward should take the position of chief steward as well in order to make sure that they get a better handle on stewarding. This should mean that the stewarding could be a lot more consistent. That is the real problem I think F1 has with the penalties. Also stewards should do no more than 2 consecutive seasons in F1 and also be no older than 50 years old as to make sure that like Football referees that the stewarding is mentally and physically fit to do so and call it right.

Finally, points. The points system needs overhauled as I think its not fit for purpose for F1 and isn’t a proper barometer for team and driver performance. I have said for the past two years on a internet forum that the points system needs to be overhauled. I propose this;

P01: 100pts

P02: 89pts

P03: 79pts

P04: 72pts

P05: 65pts

P06: 59pts

P07: 55pts

P08: 50pts

P09: 46pts

P10: 42pts

P11: 35pts

P12: 29pts

P13: 23pts

P14: 20pts

P15: 16pts

P16: 11pts

P17: 8pts

P18: 5pts

P19: 3pts

P20: 1pt

However, id also make the rule for the lapped cars as this, if you get lapped 2 times, you have to pull in to the pits and not score a point as all finishers will get points. Meaning a reliance on speed with reliability and make sure there are no cruisers out the back. However that with two small rule changes, the lapped car rule on the Safety Car restart must take to the pits and go thru them and be held at the end and let the pack shake itself out and then be released into their proper positions, thus quickening the SC restarts. And finally, faster cars must overtake a slower car without the use of DRS. And one final thing, the double points thing would be a play where each driver nominated his double point race for the season before the first race, and the double point race will exclude Monaco as well. This would spice the action up lots, and one final twist would be the final race of the year being a twin race weekend, one race on the Saturday and one on the Sunday, the Sunday race being a complete grid reversal on the result of the Saturday race.

This is the last blog entry I have for 2013, and intend to make the best of the holiday season; I wish all my readers a warm Christmas and a good New Year. See you all in 2014.

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Valsecchi to Replace Raikkonen

It has been reported that Kimi Raikkonen will have back surgery to alleviate his long term back injury sustained in a 2001 test accident at Magney Cours.

The Lotus F1 Team has yet to confirm anything for certain, but it is widely accepted that 2012 GP2 Drivers Champion Davide Valsecchi will replace Raikkonen for the last two races in Austin and Interlagos.

It’s a outside bet that Nico Hulkenberg will replace Raikkonen as the deal would have to be completed quickly. Then the technical challenges of getting him a seat made (3 days) and him pedal positions and getting to know his steering wheel. All that is about a week or so. So all in, I doubt Hulkenberg will take the seat, hence why Valsecchi will take the seat if car 7.

Valsecchi will become the first Italian in F1 since Jarno Trulli left in 2011 at the end of the pre season test at Jerez. He was replaced at Team Lotus (Caterham) by Vitaly Petrov then.

Monza From a Fans Perspective Part 2

Now come race day, we all get to the track early enough, our tour rep and driver make sure of this, on this overcast day. We scarper quickly, getting to our postos as quickly as we can, I drop by the Lotus stand for a T Shirt and a Pirelli 1st hat this time, and then a quick look at some of GP3 paddock move to their pit posistions with their quad bikes and such.

Getting into my posto for the GP3 race, the humidity increases, the temps drop, the chance of rain increases. GP3 passes without too much incident, just a turn 1 nutcase and a great crash in the last few laps that happened in front of my very eyes, a almost WWE sort of racing with lots of half chances then one massive crash bang and wallop and the manoeuvre ends in tears. GP2 sees the sun come out a bit, and the place feels warmer now, however the race is almost all but decided in the early stages, with little incidents from where I stand, those cars need DRS on them, but id have the GP2 guys have 10 DRS usages per race, otherwise you would have too much of a Destruction Darby. By then id had two British Winners, belting out god Save the Queen to Stand 6A on my own.

Lunch to a un inspiring chicken burger, that has been heated up with a George Forman on steroids. However I had a good breakfast and I don’t care, as long as I have a good meal at the Ristorante around the corner from my hotel Im happy. At a track it is important to keep hydrated, so I had 3.5 litres of water on Saturday, in really warm conditions, however it was cooler, today i found 1.5L to be about right, and i really didn’t want to spend too much time in a Toilet.

Porsche Supercup race 2 was a good race, the cars are surprisingly loud, in the middle between F1 and GP2 for sound, Nicki Thiim was unstoppable all race keeping up a title battle with Sean Edwards till the next round in Abu Dhabi.

Now comes the Drivers Parade, of witch the drivers fly past really all too quickly, and that dammed F1 flag on the back of the truck spoils a good view, saw more or less all the drivers, with Webber, Button and Hamilton all as thick as thieves, Raikkonen a recluse at the rear next to the flag and Vettel trying to look as if he has friends. Alonso and Massa looking the most at ease, however all give the ora they don’t want to be on a truck travelling at 40kmph past every grandstand, except maybe Riccardo who will smile at everything and anything.

As the race approaches, the temperature drops further to about 20C and the wind starts coming from the south, drops fall, the atmosphere becomes tangible, jackets are reached for, the 3rd time by now. Cameras put away, the pit lane opens, intermediates… Intermediates… This could be good. I am thinking inters for first 3-5 laps, enough to mix up the start and also enough to have a good old pile up at Variante Retifillo. Drivers are doing 4 or 5 reconnaissance laps, then out comes Hulkenberg on the Orange marked mediums, its dry out back sadly.

As all this is happening, all the General Admission people hanging around are starting to be hoarded into stands, not as much in my stand, but you can see it lots more in stand 8 where even the stairs are standing room only.

The cars go on their warm up lap, the track is a dull grey, not a dark grey or a light grey. The lighter the grey the drier the track. Some cars look to be having a look at conditions and what could be achieved in turn 1.

As the cars line up on the Giant TV screen I have watched all the races on, you hear the revs rise half a kilometre away, 5 red out… You don’t have much time to see the 17,000 horse power fly past, its over in an instant. However you do see Kimi hit Sergio up the rear and Vettel lock up, the stand moves under the amount of people moving at the same time to see Turn 1.

The Tifossi goes wild when Alonso passes Webber at Della Roggia and then Massa at my turn, then as he takes a chunk out of Vettel, optimism rises. However when Vettel pits you feel as if something could, just could happen, and for two laps I believed it. Alonso went too long, Vettel was noticeably faster, you can see it on the track, Alonso needed to pit shortly after Vettel, the race has now played out.

However the rest of the race, you see things, patterns that TV neglects to show, like the chaos the Marussias cause to themselves in their intra team battle that then play into the P6 to P12 battle as they almost smashed both McLarens and Hulkenberg coming out of the pits, and to be honest when Van Der Garde came out of the pits at one point, there was 10 cars or so into 1 corner. Madness.

However you then get to analyse driver styles and preferences, especially Vettel and Webber, who seems to loose 0.030 of a second at each corner due to Vettel being more aggressive on change downs. Most other team mates are pretty equal, with only Hulkenberg and Guiteriez having a noticeable difference.

At the end of the race, there is a massive ammount of Tifosi trying to get onto the track when the last car goes past, its more manic than Oxford Street at the post Christmas sales at Selfridges’.  They are taking anything they can get their hands on, the polystyrene 50 board and replacement 100 board that got taken out in the incident in the GP3 race final laps got taken away.

I decide its time to make my move to the track, its the easiest way to get out my Austrian friend told me. I make it to the hallowed asphalt that my heroes past, present and lost have been over, you feel their presence. You hear the driver interviews, and the Champagne thing. Alessi asks the most stupid questions, that are thankfully inaudible. I get up to the Podum after taking pics of about 20 different things, and then look at the fact there probably 55,000+ Tifosi and me on the track, I now figure that after walking from about 400m from Turn 1 to the podium that i need off the track. I get a couple bits of Pirelli rubber as a momento.

As I always do in life, I find the tightest bottle neck I can, a gate that takes 1 person at a time, and threes about 20% of the Tifosi wanting off the track at that same spot. I feel as if in no longer the person I usually am, I feel those heroes from the past take my soul and sprit to a place that isn’t where i am usually. I am streamlined, my camera gear is away, my bag full of goodies and jacket is somewhere. I force my way to the front, the Athletico Bilbao Ultras who left 5 minutes before me are now about 2 minutes behind me in the queue getting off the track at this point. HOW DID I DO THAT???

Im off the track, and back to the bus. One of my reps asks me if Im okay, I am, I am just saying my goodbyes to F1 heroes of past. Goodbyes that wont be forever, as I will do another Grand Prix in the next couple of years, and I will return to Monza. When, Im not sure, but Monza has a bit of me now, and I am certain that I have a bit of Monza as well. Arrivederci!

Monza From a Fans Perspective Part 1

As I type this I am over the alps somewhere in a British Airways flight from Milan Linate to London Heathrow T5, the same plane that has one star  of F1, the preceding one has a star of a different elk in it. Fist star is a man who was pretty animated in the F1 grid to Bernie Ecclestone in David Hasselhoff, the Hoff is a giant, easily 6ft 4in and every bit the character he is in real life. As for the second star, he is Eric Bullier the Lotus F1 team boss, a genial and gentle frame of a man, I really should ask him about those Kimi/Fernando rumours shouldn’t I???

Monza was a terrific atmosphere, passion beyond belief, a great racing track and facilities for the drivers and invited guests, maybes not so much for the media pack on the exterior of the track as they have to dodge many a fan and also the comms box area isn’t too great to be honest. As for fans, the place is a derelict park, toilets that are the old squat style and very few chances for hygiene. The food is as bad as it could be, pizza about acceptable but the rest ain’t even worth it.

As a return, the atmosphere has to make up for it, Monza needs to make up for its many shortfalls wit the atmosphere, and boy it does. Stand 6A may not be that great as you are in the final area before the cars brake at the 120m board. However you do have the pleasure of seeing and hearing the cars at full throttle for that micro cosm of a instant at 345kmh.

As I was feeling unwell I then decided to save this and type the rest from now on later.

With reflection, in the air, the atmosphere with Athletico Bilbao ultras to the right of me and German Vettelites to the left, there i was all alone in the middle with my Mclaren gear on as a neutral meat in the sandwich. There was one Austrian guy in-front of me, who was a Scuderia fan, whom this was his 28th or 38th (I forgot the number he said) Grand Prix since 2004 when Monza was his first, this year he has seen all the European rounds, and he says they are all much the same at the end with fans desperate to get onto the track. He was the most helpful fan of a non English speaking fan I came across, he was helpful on how to get a handle on the strategy at at track as its much harder there than on TV. He was also helpful on what i should do and shouldn’t. If your out there mate, thanks.

When you walk into Monza from the bus park on Saturday for the first time, on your first GP, its awe inspiring, you instantly feel the likes of Ascari, Von Trips, Clark and Farina as ghosts amongst mortals, you feel them lift your soul and your spirit to be taken to your seat, or posto as it is on your ticket. The first thing as a Brit at a sports venue you expect to be hit with is a pre-match programme, this isn’t the case at Monza, you are hit firstly with the fast food area that is there to serve the guys at the exit of the Paribolica, then you are hit with the 18 or so merchandise stands. Theese merchandise stands are there for the top 5 teams and Toro Rosso (Red bull/Toro Rosso share the two largest stands roughly 85%/15%) in F1 at present, they each have 2 stands, F1 Merchandise has about another 4, with Michael Schumacher having one more. There is a stand for a local band to play a set twice a day and a large games stand running the Codemasters 2012 or 2013 game with a full motion simulator and plenty static simulators inside.

Then you take the walk towards the second underpass at Monza, this one is just after the main grandstands across from the pit lane. Before you get there, you pass the media paddock, in witch i saw Lee McKenzie, Ben Edwards, Rachael Brooks and David Croft over the weekend. Sky Sports F1 UK have their own catering paddock!

As you pass under the underpass, you feel the history creep further, the more saucer eyed you become, then you are hit with a opportunity, a Race Programme, €15, hefty I know, but its something I collect as I have a few football ones from Champions League and UEFA Cup finals in Glasgow and one in Manchester.

The next decision you are met with is left or right, I chose left towards my Posto in my grandstand 6A. Its just like a walk in a nice park now, half way you however see what is passed for toilet facilities, just a hut with a few normal toilets and a derelict concrete building with two squat holes in it and a tap and a old ceramic basin outside with a tap attached to the walk above it. Sadly i have no option but to use the hut and the tap.

Then you walk about another half a kilometre, and are met with a sign, that directs you up to the Della Roggia Variante or the Lesmo turns just beyond. The other direction on the sign is for Stand 6 A, B or C and the two smaller general admission stands at the first Variante. Another slightly more country park style walk comes, and another half a kilometre, then you have more fast food and your Controlo guards, who take your ticket stub and let you into your stand. Or for Race Day give you your wrist ticket.

Choose your stair, and thankfully, I chose the first one as that one was the closest to my posto. My posto was right up the back row, which was a bloody brilliant thing as the view was great and you could hold on to the back of the stand to get a better view as the cars went past. First noise i heard was the GP3 guys, they are the best sounding cars for your money, and the cars really are proper racers, their drivers i am not so sure of, as when racing they seem to take leave of their senses. Then i am met with my first ever sound of a modern V8 F1 sound and car, a Marussia with a Cosworth engine, the driver was fellow Brit Max Chilton. By this time, i was already on the FOM broadcast as I started to receive text messages by this point from back home all saying I saw you.

FP3 passes by and then its into Porsche Super Cup and the 2 hour break to F1 Quali. I decide to go and get something to eat, a Pizza that is about acceptable and a walk around the place. I decide to take the walk back the way i came in the morning and go back to get a hat as i forgot mine in the morning, i get a McLaren one as they are the only decent ones there. Then as i go back under the underpass again i decide to go right this time, and god its congested with people, quad bikes and mopeds. As things get less congested, i pass more of a limited merchandise stand and then i see the Magnetti Maranelli hospitality building and look over the fence to see a Lotus E20 show car, Ferrari 458 chassis and Red Bull RB6 show car, i cant get in as its for hospitality only at this time. The entrance has a Ferrari 312 T as driven by Nikki Lauda in a Grand Prix that year, and the car used in the recent movie Rush for some parts. Next I pass the Beta tools stand with a old F1 car in their livery and a old Ford DFV engine.

Then I decide to visit the permanent shops at the back end of the paddock in Monza, there is a race wear shop, a Model shop a memorabilia shop and rather sizeable bar. I decide not to buy anything from any of them as the prices are massively inflated, and a Spark 1:43 model will cost me 20% more than from Amazon at home. Then I see that something has happened to me, I have lost my Hoya ND8 filter for my camera, which puts a downer on my day, but then makes me more wary and more careful with my camera gear. Makes me glad I have streamlined my photo operation as much as I physically can.

I then went back to my posto for Qualifying and the GP2 race, leaving the GP3 race as I wanted to go a-wandering again. This time i went back to the Magnetti stand, just to see if i could get any more pics of the diffusers of the E20, 458 and RB6. I Did, and I even got a bit brave, i decided to see if i could follow the queue that was now waiting to get into the Magnetti area to get some close up photos of the cars, and guess what, i did. I got about 50 or 60 photos of all 3 cars in total and about 3 of the Laudi Ferrari as well. The new cars are a tech marvel ill agree, but the Laudi Ferrari is a small but impressive car, how could they drive in something that small and fragile is beyond me.

I then decided to go back to my bus and review the days spoils of war on my camera. I was really glad of what i achieved in what little time I had.

Engine supply in F1 present and future

BMW, if they were to return, would have to do so in 2017. Mercedes have 4 teams in 2014 with Mercedes AMG, Force India, McLaren and new addition Williams. McLaren will leave at the end of 2014 for Honda. Ferrari have their Factory Scuderia team, but will keep Sauber if they sort their financial problems and add Marussia, both teams taking the whole Scuderia transmission as well as Energy Recovery System. Renault will have Red Bull and for the first time sister team Toro Rosso, Renault will likely pick up Lotus as well.

As for the contracts, Force India and Williams are a 3 year contract, McLaren a single year one with Mercedes before Honda join on a probable 8+ year contract. Red Bull are the “works” Renault team and Toro Rosso in for the same time as their sister team. Lotus look to be taking Renault on for a 3 year deal, but probably offset on a reduction in price in order for Renault to take out a key sponsorship area on the cars as Red Bull will have Infiniti plastered across their cars and to the man on the street makes Red Bull a Infiniti powered car. Ferrari have a 3 year deal with Marussia, Sauber will have a probable deal of same or similar terms. Both Ferrari customer teams will have to take a Ferrari Academy Driver if Ferrari want them to, this means Bianchi progressing through the field at Ferraris beck and call.

As for a BMW return, a Toyota return even. All highly doubtful, the regulations are in place to entice manufacturers back in as a engine supplier yes. However I think it is all a lot of ifs and buts. If anything, Honda are likely to pick up a second customer in 2016 by either a 12th team or another team of the other 10 excluding Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari breaching their contract and gaining Honda. If BMW are to return they will have to buy a team and breach a contract to put their product in the back of their car. When new engine suppliers are looking to spend €120m a year on the V6T engines, with as much as half of that coming back in engine supply contracts, I doubt BMW will come back to spend €200+m a year in a Team and Engine side of things, even if they get €30m back in engine supply contracts.

BMW are happy at present with their DTM and ALMS program’s, and rumours persist they are looking at the viability of a MotoGP campaign in 2015 as well. 3 areas of the economy where BMW are doing well, showing off their engines in what is effectively 2 spec series in DTM and ALMS as the DTM chassis is developed by Dallara with a body shell developed by the manufacturer. Motorbikes are doing good for BMW, not Ducatti, Honda or Yamaha well, but are doing well enough for them to look at breaking into MotoGP.

As with the recent Vodaphone/Verizon deal in the USA, monopolies ebb and flow in business, engine suppliers do the same in F1. When the time is right, and when the economy is viable, BMW and Toyota will return.

Stewarding in F1

Stewarding in F1 has always been a tricky thing to get right. They never get it right, always get it wrong! Recently they have had lots of problems with exploiting track limits. I’ve had the pleasure of re watching the 2008 Spa and Monza races, with drivers exploring the limits of chichane cutting. Hamilton was the persecuted in 08 with his incident in a wet final few laps. At Monza, drivers were a bit castrated, many limits being exploited, lots not actually being penalized due to drivers using their brain.

At present, there is lots to do with drivers exploring the limits of the track in overtaking moves and also time advantage. With Monza quick approaching, the most blatant and consistently cut corner will be cut. That corner is actually on exit of Variante Ascari, it actually increases track length by 8 meters! For years Charlie Whiting and his team have always turned a blind eye due to the fact they are going further and not actually gaining a advantage in lap length, however gaining an advantage in lap time in one and a half tenths of a second as it allows drivers to get on power earlier and gain the advantage down to Paribolica.

I was looking at the 2008 cars be almost nailed to the track following the same line. I also thought back to the incident with Button and Vettel in 2012 at the German GP at the hairpin in the final laps. Vettel took advantage on the exit to take the place, he was third at the finish but given a time penalty to take him back to 4th.

At Hungary this year we saw Vettel take position via a similar way at turn 4 or 5 (depending on what chart you look at) over Button, yet in the same race Grosjean did same with Massa. Vettel gained zero penalty and Grosjean a drive through. Grosjean I seldom support in such situations, but I do in this. Vettel I am not the greatest of fans or greatest of haters to.

In this situation of corner cutting the driver should give back the position before the next corner and not attack at the preceding one either. Such was the rule in 2008. As for gaining an advantage time wise or holding position such as Button/Vettel this should have same rule applied. However I would like to see a situation at the tracks that have those new modern wide and long run off areas to do something more. To my eye there is two options, first one is 1 meter off the white line just add a 1 meter strip of grass-concrete or similar, something that will spin the car wheels up and give zero advantage to the driver. The second way is to put some sort of tar or surface that gives so much traction that it damages the tyres, actually rips them apart over a certain speed. Thus giving a race wrecking penalty. Drivers would then have to think about whole overtake and not go for the half overtake and get the thing wrong.

Spa this year brought two other items to the stewards addenda, the car width rule on the Perez/Grosjean and Vergne/Hulkenberg incidents at Les Coumbs. The other thing was the pit entry incident with Maldanado/Di Resta. Ill start with the Maldanado/Di Resta one first, this one is simple to me, you have to be on the side of the defining line after the safety car line in order to pit. If you don’t, you have to go around for another lap, the driver behind will always should have the benefit of the doubt in that matter. As for the incidents at Les Coumbs, Perez was in the right I feel with a good hard pass, what driver hasn’t squeezed another to gain position. The fact that Vergne passed on the outside and squeezed Hulkenberg on the exit of the right hander of Les Coumbs adds weight to my argument. Hulkenberg had to take to the escape Tarmac as to not collide with Vergne. However Grosjean I feel collided with Perez in order to try and gain a penalty over Perez. Yes the rules state you need to leave a car width, but if you take your car off the track on entry to a corner, I feel the rule should be voided.

Stewards have a thankless job, however I think they should have a better set of definitions in front of them, definitions that will make racing safer and also clearer. How to do this, I don’t know. However I am a fan of 9 professional stewards with 3 being at every GP with each doing at least 2 GP as head steward every season. Each steward can’t do more than 2 consecutive GP as well. I’d have two driver steward as well per GP, each out of F1 for at least 10 years. Driver Stewards will only do two GP a year in order to apply diversity. As for penalties, Stewards have 90 seconds to say if it’s being investigated or not, and 3 laps to dish out a penalty. The head steward gives an incident to a steward/driver to acquit guilt, the head steward dishes out a penalty or penalties. It means two incidents can be investigated at once as well. Drivers have two laps to take their penalty, with no right of appeal. This no right of appeal clause will make drivers think about their actions and overtakes the whole way through.

I am a fan of reprimands being used like the yellow/red card system in football. First yellow a 5 place grid drop, second a 10 place grid drop, third and your out for a race. Further more, a 4th reprimand and you take another 10 place drop, a fifth and you spend 3 races out. Red reprimands carry a instant 3 race ban, with a second one carrying 5 out.

Dans Your Man

Red Bull have just signed Daniel Riccardo on a 3 year deal. He won’t trouble Vettel, but will get points for the team and secure the Constructors Title. I’m sure he will be on a fraction of Vettels salary, however will have massive performances, and a nice Constructors Title based payment as it will be his job to be a good rear gunner.

Now all the Dominoes look at Toro Rosso and the likely replacement with Felix Antonio Da Costa.

Then all eyes to Ferrari and Lotus. McLaren and Mercedes are locked out with Red Bull now so all pressure is on Massa, Alonso and Raikkonen.

Things will now get very interesting very quickly I feel.

Monza is a-calling, I can’t wait as it will be my first GP!

Constantly Deflating On Pirelli

Pirelli are into the dark arts, same way Fernando Alonso is into Samurai’s. Pirelli have been hounded since they came into F1, they have been bad mouthed, been told they are inferior and also been told that their product isn’t up to much. Pirelli were given a brief in 2010 by Bernie Ecclestone, and the FIA, reproduce a race that gives a 2-3 stop a race average race strategy modeled on the Canadian GP of 2010 where the Bridgestone Potenzas just wore out the identical way to what Pirelli and their P-Zeros do now.

Enter 2013, new compounds, new constructions and a new weight, all is fine and well from the first day of Pre Season till Bahrain when Lewis Hamilton suffers the first in a long line of delamination’s, punctures or failures; the term varies but to me all are the same just under a different title. Hamiltons puncture at the last corner (Or what I call the last corner) gave him a 5-place gearbox penalty, a tough break. Then came Barcelona, with Paul Di Resta suffering a last corner delamination in Practice, this time no damage to the car and Jean Eric Vergne suffering another at the entry to turn 4 in the closing stages of the race.

All is fine and well, apart from some senior teams wanting a change in compounds and construction for what they say as safety grounds, and I thought it was down to performance grounds that Lotus, Ferrari and Force India seemed to agree. My argument was, same with those teams, is that if you have fast degrading tyres, design your car around them appropriately, reducing peak down force and working on mechanical systems to help the tyres, stop overheating or wearing out that lap or two earlier than your rivals. If that means developing a car that is two and a half tenths slower a lap but means you pit 3 times to your rivals 4 it will mean you win by 2 to 5 seconds over a race distance depending on the track and simulation you use. This strategy has been played out a bit this year with Raikkonen scoring a win in Australia in a cool but dry race and in Bahrain with Di Resta narrowly missing his first podium with battles with Raikkonen and Grosjean. Lotus and Force India seemed to have the handle on the Pirellis. Ferrari also seemed to have a handle as well with the way Alonso dealt a master class in China and at his home race in Spain. The teams agree to test a new rear tyre in Canada, but cool and damp conditions thwart the testing, most teams agree they learnt something but not a great deal.

Along comes Silverstone, the first genuine track with lots of high G loading corners, reports of cuts come out on Friday, Perez has his first delamination in FP3 on Saturday, nothing herd of after it, just a few TV highlight reels in Quali on the incident with it generally being called frightening and Perez being praised over his reactions.

Race day, Silverstone, all is fine and well, the F1 circus is like a swan again, serenely going about its business pre race but paddling like fury under the waterline. Red lights out, Hamilton leads and Vettel is P2, until the lap 12 to 14 area when in the middle of the Wellington straight, you see him wobble and then the rear left explodes and near disintegrates. Lap later; just coming out of the loop, Massa suffers what looks like a puncture however he spins. Both drivers get back to the pits, albeit both rejoin the race and finish, Hamilton scrabbling a point. Now, still first pit stop window, Jean Eric Vergne suffers his delamination down the hanger straight, narrowly avoiding taking out both Lotus on the way with debris almost hitting Raikkonen in a Massa Hungary 09 style incident. The race is now under a Safety Car Deployment, most drivers pit and all told to take it easy on certain turns, teams look resigned to pitting every 10 laps if needed. Second SCD of the race after Vettel pulled over after a transmission fault, under the restart, after Maggots & Becketts, Perez suffers delamination number 2 of the weekend, cat like reflexes from him and Alonso narrowly avoid a second large accident.

The fallout is all about how can this happen, and the consensus is all about low pressures of tyres, some were running them as low as 16psi. Other measures were talked about, cambers (Similar to Spa 2011 where teams were running cambers at -4 degrees static) and tyre swapping. Tyre swapping where teams were swapping lefts to rights and vice versa as the steel belt was directional, and reversing the direction saw the teams gain a life advantage on the tyres.

The young driver test at Silverstone the teams were given the option to run race drivers for tyre testing only, most decided to do so for one day at least wit one race driver or a few for a half day. The consensus was that the new tyres worked and were good, Mercedes AMG didn’t attend due to a secret/private tyre test after the Spanish GP, but had data given to them from probably their engine partners and Pirelli as well. They went on to win the Hungarian GP, a hot GP with Hamiltons first Mercedes win. However they have some sort of device to manage temps now.

Summer break comes and goes, now F1 is at Spa, the track that will test your car to the maximum. Chassis, Engine, Transmission and Tyres all get tested. In Friday Practice, there was 3 punctures or cuts, Alonso, Vettel and a un named Williams driver

My reaction is that F1 needs to go back to the regulations, camber needs to be static, not end of straight and I also think there needs to be a stipulation that the floor needs to be at least 50mm, but id recon that 70mm to 100mm away from the wheel on any face of the wheel. For the rears, however the front tyres would be free to a point with them being allowed -2 degrees, the rears would be allowed -1.5 tops. As for pressures, id makes them 21 or 22 psi, or have them closer to road car pressures in 30 psi, I know I run my car at 36 front and 39 rears, but generally 30 is more close to average.

I will say Pirelli are looking for a needle in a haystack in the tracks, however I will say they should look at Le Mans technology, where tyres are now getting very puncture resistant due to the gravel that they use, however they still occur, one every other hour on average.

Pirelli seem to want to spend time and money on getting the tyres, they need to spend the time in 3 areas, firstly making them wear out better chemically and nor by plain out wear, but the tyre should yield enough performance for 5 good laps at full pelt then move into a stage where they wear chemically and then start to wear out mechanically. Second, punctures and minimizing them, I’m sure this can be done with a good bit of R&D in constructions and such. As for the third, this is performance gap in compounds, having a large enough gap so that teams can use the options in Quali and the primes in the race. Ideally have 3 sets of prime and 4 of option in order to give the drivers a chance in both to do the best they can. However, until the tyres can be brought closer to ideal and the sporting regulations get a review as well, the bed F1 lies in is what it is and what F1 can do with them.  Pirelli followed a brief and got on with it, teams complained and got their wish, now they seem to want further change and reviews. F1 needs to keep the baby in the bath water and not throw the baby out with the bath water, and the teams need to hand over more control to the FIA and Pirelli. God knows what will come of 2014 at this rate with its more powerful engines at peak horsepower and extensive torque curve.

Time will tell….

How F1s Prize Fund Could Make Sense

There are rumoured to be 3 F1 teams in financial difficulty, Sauber is the one that is in the headlines at present with a figure of €80m to €120m of debt depending on where you get your figure from. Lotus and Marussia are also in financial trouble as well, Marussia is less well known to what extent, it is said that they operate on a budget of €75m, they can operate the team on €73m for the season with €2m for updates. Lotus are known to be anywhere up to €150m in debt, with all but €35m being long term investor debt, and this is a known as it came from Gerard Lopez. It is also believed that Force India is operating a tight ship with finances tight with the team operating just in the black, as a check on the team for 2011 shows they operated with just €200,000 left at the end of the year, however they had €7.5m at the bank and €50m in liabilities, which was later obliterated with investment of €100m to Sahara, €50m to clear debts and €50m over 4 years to improve facilities and equipment like the Simulator that the team now has. The Force India team ate now looking towards further upgrades like a new wind tunnel. This leads to a question, how could F1 become a viable business, and how could F1 support itself better.

I am a firm believer that the present F1 business model is flawed, the present attitude of ill spend two pounds of your one is wrong. Looking to other sports where giants of the game did such a policy has now put Scottish Football in the Intensive Care Unit for many, many years as Rangers went into administration and later liquidation and the NewCo route with the club going down 3 divisions from the Scottish Premier League to the Scottish Football League division 3. Scottish Football was unsustainable in this format, trying to compete in the Champions League with the big European Giants like Barcelona and then within 4 days competing with the likes of Berwick, the only English team in Scotland in a cup competition.

However, if you follow Hadrian’s Wall and end up at Newcastle, you can join up to the multi billion pound English Premier League, where there is a collective bargaining agreement from the very inception of the EPL, where every team gets a equal share of a percentage of the prize money, for 2012/2013 every team got £33m, with QPR getting £800,000 in prize money for 20th place and Manchester United getting £15m for becoming champions. The EPL teams also receive a income for live TV matches as well, for the bottom 4 in the EPL was £5.8m and for Manchester United is £13.8m. It leaves Manchester united with a overall pot of £61.4m and QPR with a pot of £39.6m. With the EPL taking £2.28b from Sky for 116 matches a year and £738m on 38 matches per season for 3 years, which is an massive £6.5m per match for 154 matches per year. The EPL have a 3 year deal for £3.018b without highlights packages added in and overseas rights to the likes of Asia as well.

The prize fund for the EPL will be about £1b every year for the next 3 years, with 40% being given to the teams equally, another 40% in TV money dependant on team finishing position and the other 20% in prize money using a fixed formula. This leads me to the point, if F1 can generate €1b a year from TV revenue and from the race promoters as well, the teams would be in good health and not really need to be dependant on Pay Drivers.

Lets surmise that each race is worth around third of the cost of a EPL match to show, with each broadcaster bidding €45m per season for a full season and €22m for a half of the races live every season and the rest of the races with 60 minute highlights, F1 could get €67m every year from every nation that covers F1. However, the deals could be less if FP1, FP2 and FP3 aren’t covered live as some countries will only want to cover Quali and the Race. If there are 50 countries that want F1, but only 20 want the full experience with practice sessions with two broadcasters as well, it would equate to €1.34b a year and the rest making up €660m for single broadcaster coverage for Quali and Race coverage, it would make F1s annual pot of €2b for TV quite a decent fund. However, include Radio deals and other new e-media rights and such, F1 could get another €200m there as well. And if each race promoter gives €35m on average per race, F1 could get €700m there as well for a 20 race deal, and if F1 even makes €100m in merchandise and other commercial aspects in the likes of the official F1 timing app for instance, it would make a neat €3b pot for F1 as a whole.

Now, here is the difficult part, the split, with F1s rights being owned by CVC, id make the Collective Bargaining Chip like this, simply 48% of the yearly turnover to CVC, 48% to the F1 teams and 1% to the FIA, and another 1% to a fund that goes toward mechanics that have fallen on hard times and such due to injury or whatever.

This leaves €1.44b to CVC and the F1 teams, and €30m to the FIA and €30m to the fund. Ill come to the FIA first, they need €150m a year to operate with all their campaigns like the Action For Road Safety one, which they can ‘tax’ the teams and drivers for their team licence and driver super licence as well to make up the €120m they need as well. Next the Mechanics fund, €30m a year should be enough for this, however the fund should not be there to support mechanics and engineers who have fallen on hard times due to Alcohol, Drugs or Gambling. Im thinking about those guys who cant work due to being diagnosed with a terminal or immobilising illness or have been involved in a accident at home or at work. As for CVC, they take 48% straight off the top, that’s theirs, and their profit, no ifs and buts, give it to them and keep them sweet.

Now, the F1 teams split. The politically volatile element. Id propose that the teams all get 40% of the €1.44b split between all the 12 teams, as id have a 12 team grid, equally, with a fund of €576m fund with each team getting €48m with no questions asked in effect. Next, the 20%, the 5 teams that have been in F1 the longest due to their history getting a Historical payment, a fund of €288m is now available, this id split in a rather bizarre way with 40% going to Ferrari and the rest being split equally between Williams, McLaren, Lotus and Mercedes. Why these teams, Ferrari as the team with the longest richest history, McLaren and Williams as they have been the next instrumental in the sport, and have comparable history as well. Why include Lotus and Mercedes, Lotus because the team dates back to the Toleman days and is the 4th longest team that way and Mercedes on the fact it dates back to the Tyrell days on the Chassis front and they also date back to 1993 on the Engine front as well. That would give Ferrari, £115.2m and the rest with €172.8m split 4 ways with €43.2m going their way.

Next the prize fund, the12 teams would be balanced in decently fair way for the remaining €576m, 11th and 12th would get €13m each, as they should be penalised to a point for bad performance over the year, and would give them a minimum budget of €61m per year, meaning they would have to take on a pay driver or two in order to make a difference to their budget. Now there is €550m left, with a percentage split, would give the placing as follows:

P01 = €93.5m – 17%

P02 = €82.5m – 15%

P03 = €71.5m – 13%

P04 = €60.5m – 11%

P05 = €55m – 10%

P06 = €49.5m – 9%

P07 = €44m – 8%

P08 = €38.5m – 7%

P09 = €33m – 6%

P10 = €22m – 4%

It would bring team budgets to a really good level, for Ferrari, it would make them the largest in terms or non commercial budget, with around €245m for 2012s performance, but it would give Marussia €61 for 2012s performance. Red Bull would be €141.5m, for non commercial budget. Sauber would have above €100m for non commercial budget as well, which is an increase on their overall budget of €95m for 2012.

It would mean that teams could run on a decent base budget, however, the steps in prize money would be significant enough that competition would be fierce enough for the constructors to do better with their budgets. If F1 teams take €75m to run a team for a year, for a P11 team that is, the prize pot would be enough to get a team 82% of the way there, then you could take a couple of pay drivers at €18m and €12m, to increase their budget to €91, which is enough to allow the team to run a small, decent and well formed development plan for the year, even tailoring their cars to a specific track type in order to be really strong at those tracks in order to gain that P10 place, or even that massive leap to P9.

At the top end, it would mean that teams like Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes can run their teams really aggressively with a good non commercial budget and with commercial budget, you could operate a top team for anywhere from €220m to €300m. Some teams overall may be able to run at a profit, depending on how well their commercial departments can work the best commercial deal in regards to sponsorship.

However, I will elope to the point that I did come to earlier on, the FIA and how they can get the rest of their money for their campaigns, that would be to have a FIA Team licence that starts at €500,000 for the bottom 8 teams and €1m for the top 4 teams. With €20,000 a point, that leaves the teams being ‘success taxed’ to the tune of €40.4m if you have a 20 race year with 101 points (using present points system) per race available. Red Bull would have to pay €9.2m in points tax and €1m in entry, a fair system for being successful I think. That would bring the FIA €48.4m extra, to add to their €30m, that’s only €78.8m on the way to their target of €150m. Another chunk of the rest would come from the Drivers Super Licence, €500,000 for the top 10 the preceding season and €200,000 for the rest, with the drivers also being ‘Success Taxed’ to €10,000 a point for the top 10 and €5,000 a point for P11 in the drivers championship and below. That would bring the FIA about €100m from F1, the rest of the €150m should come from other formula and other forms of FIA governable motorsport.

I think this would make the FIA stronger, CVC would be happy with their cut and the Teams would be able to concentrate on the good of the sport, whilst competing to the highest and fiercest level they can. However it would leave one person out of a job, and out of power, the man that for some wouldn’t have made F1 the global power it is now out of a job, Bernie Eccelstone. The man who has been the power broker for the past 20 to 25 years in F1. And the reason I think that F1 cant move onto the next level, the man who still wants the prestige. Until a succession plan has been worked out, or something happens that Mr E cannot do his job, F1 I think will remain fractured, splintered and damaged.

Until opinions are changed, and chess pieces moved away from the current stale mate, F1 cannot become a sport based around success to become a viable business model that sponsors will actually want to come and invest in. F1 is the third most Globally attractive sport for sponsors behind the World Cup and the Olympics, and it is these things that F1 needs to compete against as F1 isn’t just competing against its own, but in the global market of all other sports. And then and only then will F1 be judged accordingly and not just a rich boys sport for the chosen few.

Ferrari into LMP1, with Sauber and a bit of Wind

With the recent comments by Luca Di Montezemolo on F1s reliance on Aero it has raised a few questions. Is F1 too reliant on aero now the same way that up until 2007 it had became really too reliant on electronics as the McLaren Electronics Systems SECU came into place in 2008 to ban Traction Control. Up until then teams had two ECUs, one for the chassis side and the other for the engine side of things. The V8s still run their engine ECU, but interfaced with the MES ECU as well, BMW lost 45hp overnight in 2008 with the ECU change, however by the end of 2009 when the left they had all of that back and eventually reached a rumoured and estimated 810Hp.

Now the problem in F1 is that there is a reliance on aero, which id like to see addressed by giving the teams more innovation scope in the mechanical side with a limited, and managed return to active ride suspension. Id like to see drivers being given the option of tuning their cars on the track, however id allow the drivers to do 20 ride changes a race, with a twist of a rotary on their wheel. With say 6 being the most neutral height and 12 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, with each increment being half a millimetre, with the cars having a minimum ride height of 25mm from floor to ground in a static form at the T tray and 40mm at the rear. It would give the cars a 6mm sweep.

Less of what i want now, more back to topic.

Ferrari are regarded to be looking at a LMP1 project for Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship. The cost of this would be about €220m if they were to do a two car push along the lines of Toyota. Audi spend an estimated €400m on their charge and Porsche are to spend €1.4b over their LMP1 programme that will last an initial 5 years with year 1 and 2 being the most expensive. Even though Audi and Porsche are part of the VW Group, both have different ways of working and different ideas of how to work.

Now to the wind, Ferrari have been moaning loudly for the past 3 years now about not winning and Aero being too much of a dominance in F1, alas their cars have been lacking to the dominant Red Bulls, not by much, but enough so that Webber and Vettel have mopped up the most wins over the last 3 years, McLaren with Button and Hamilton next and Ferrari with Alonso last. Only Mercedes and Lotus have made a dent from the other teams. Its arguable that Force India could have had a victory or two as well, and Maldanado at Spain  2012 is the only black mark against the top 5 teams in reality.

Ferrari, if they were to have a LMP1 program, would probably be booted out of the Toyota facility as they could pass on ideas from their F1 guys to their LMP1 guys. And yes, Ferrari have their own tunnel, but it was built for 50% scale models and not the present and more accurate 60% scale models.

This leaves Ferrari a problem, where else to go for their 60% scale models, and the latest idea that has been floated is Sauber, renting their tunnel to Ferrari for free. Or at least for Sauber to say to Ferrari, we owe you €19m, how about you use our tunnel and you forget the debt. This would be a easy out for both parties here as Ferrari could be giving Sauber their last engines at Spa for the remainder of the season, and no V6T engines in 2014. When at present estimates, motorsport tunnel time is up to €80,000 an hour, it would get Sauber out of the financial hole with Ferrari quite easily and quickly.

However this leaves Sauber in a bit of a quandary. Audi uses Saubers tunnel for their 60% scale models before they step an idea onto full scale testing at the most advanced wind tunnel in the world for automotive uses. The Audi tunnel is more or less used for full scale cars now as they can use the tilting and rotational roiling road that with the tunnel that can heat the air to +45C and cool it to -30C as Audi test their cars im massively varying conditions.

If Sauber want to get out a mess financially, by using their tunnel to help Ferrari correlate their data as Ferrari seemingly have correlation problems, it could wind up their customer in Audi. Audi may want to use another tunnel now as to keep things private.

Its commonly know that Tunnel sharing takes place in F1; Marussia use McLarens, Caterham use Williams, Toro Rosso use Red Bulls with Force India possibly having access to the Mercedes tunnel as Force India use a tunnel in Brackley. Lotus are the only team left out of the sharing.

Sauber have a real issue if Ferrari are to use their tunnel as if Ferrari do try LMP1, and its possible as Luca Di Montezemolo has one thing missing on his CV, a LMP1 and ought right victory at Le Mans, Im sure they would want to use the Sauber tunnel as well, the tunnel that for some is regarded as the best in F1, and the tunnel that was used by Audi to win Le Mans in 2011 with the R18. Im sure that until Ferrari find their issues with their Tunnel, Ferrari will take that option for the Sauber Tunnel for both their F1 attack and their LMP1 car if Luca di Montezemolo decides his ego and needs a further boost as it was taken in 2011 when he started the Le Mans race.

Lets face it, the F1 V6T technology for 2014 will have a pretty good chance of being able to being transfer LMP racing as well. One thing is for sure, with all this new tech around, F1 and Sports Car fans have a lot to be cheerful about, not lest we forget the driver market in both.

Anyways, here is a youtube video of the Sauber wind tunnel.