Monthly Archives: February 2013

Jerez revisited.


The testing in Jerez is probably not worth reading too much into. The teams were all up to different things and the results were rather varied depending on the day. This was followed by a lot of stories with quotes about how one team felt it was going to be more competitive than last year and blah, blah, blah… No-one said that their car was rubbish. No surprise there then.

It seems that some progress has been made in negotiations for the new Concorde Agreement, as the sport is still operating without one at the moment. Ten teams have financial deals with Bernie Ecclestone and it looks like Marussia is going to get some money as well, which is only right.In previous years the teams outside the top 10 got $10 million a year, which is a lot less than the top 10 but nonetheless a decent wedge. I tend to agree with Bernie Ecclestone that teams should prove that they deserve the money they get. The deal is likely to be pretty similar to previous years with some travel costs and (perhaps) some assistance with engine bills.

Elsewhere there was some chit-chat after the announcement of the Le Mans 24 Hours entry list about a Chinese team called KC Motorgroup Ltd, which has been granted an entry for the French endurance classic. What was interesting is that the team founder Paul Ip is quite open about his plans.

“I started KC Motorgroup Ltd with one ambitious goal in mind, ” he said, “to be the first Formula 1 team in China. This year, we are going to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours – which is an amazing opportunity for us. In the foreseeable future, KCMG will expand further to the European countries and through-out the world.”

So it is worth keeping an eye on him.

Jaime Alguersuari did himself no favours with a little outburst about how it is unfair that his F1 career has run into trouble, despite the fact that he is only 22. Given that he had two and a half years in F1 to show his talents one might say he probably had a fair chance with Scuderia Toro Rosso, although he thinks Red Bull’s decision to drop him was “incomprehensible”. To suggest that F1 is an auction is also not really the right thing to be doing. The top drivers get their drives and are paid because they have proved themselves worthy of that. The rest have to scramble as best they can. It was ever thus. Alguersuari is also unhappy that a team let him down with promises about 2013 that were not kept. It may sound harsh, but Samuel Goldwyn was right when he said that “a verbal agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” and it is just a tad naive to think otherwise. Far worthier men than Alguersuari are also out of work in F1 this year, notably Kamui Kobayashi, who looks like he is heading to a Ferrari drive in GT racing.

I notice that a few websites are now finally beginning to pick up on the mess into which Force India boss Vijay Mallya has got himself with Kingfisher Airlines, as the banks have now announced that they are moving to recover $1.4 billion of defaulted loans to Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines, which has been grounded for several months. The team bravely says that this will not affect the season ahead and I am pleased to hear that, but I am still rather sceptical as to whether a team with two troubled deeply owners and little real sponsorship can go on spending to the level that Force India does. I am also curious as to why it is taking so long for the team to name a second driver. It is not logical if the only criterion for the choice is talent. It is far better to allow whoever is chosen to settle in before the season begins. Thus, the cynic in me suggests that the choice is all about money.

The other point of interest is the latest TV viewing figures which reveal that the overall audience in 2012 dropped from 515 million to just over 500 million. That is still a terrific audience. If you have ever wondered how such numbers are calculated it is worth noting that the figures involved come from the broadcasters themselves. These come originally from market research companies such as Nielsen who use statistical sampling techniques that are not dissimilar to the methods used by political pollsters. This is achieved with a sample audience including different classes and income brackets. The figures from the sample are then extrapolated to estimate the number of viewers in the population of a country. It is a very complicated business but seems to be pretty accurate.

The biggest audience drop for F1 in 2012 was in China, where viewer numbers fell from 74.5 million in 2011 to 48.9 million, a whopping 35 percent. This was blamed on programming clashes. Audiences in Russia also fell by 12.9 percent which was probably due to the fact that Vitaly Petrov was not doing particularly well. Brazil, on the other hand, was booming and most of the European markets did OK, although the numbers were slightly down in the UK, where the advent of pay-TV had an impact. This was offset by the fact that Sky produced vast amounts of coverage which was watched by those who invested in subscriptions.

Nonetheless the sport claimed 21,000 hours of coverage in 185 countries, with 110 broadcasting organisations. It is worth noting that Italy and France are both switching over to pay-per-view/free-to-air mixes in 2013. In Italy Sky is taking over the rights but is sub-contracting some of the live coverage to free-to-air channels; while in France it looks like the whole championship will be shown on the pay-TV Canal Plus. These trends are caused by the fact that free-to-air channels do not have the money to compete in the bidding with pay-per-view companies. At the moment this does not seem to be a worry for F1 sponsors, but the teams are keeping a close eye on the numbers in case that starts to impact on their rate cards.

via Joe Saward



Sergio, ‘I’ve learnt a lot from Jenson’.


Sergio Perez says he has learned a lot from team-mate Jenson Button in the short amount of time he has been at McLaren.

Perez, who is ten years younger than Button, joined the team this year after two seasons with Sauber. He said he had been getting on well with his new team-mate and felt privileged to be driving alongside the 2009 world champion this year.

“I’m very lucky driver to have a champion next to me as well as such a good guy,” he said. “We are working so well together and I’ve been learning so much from him in my short [McLaren] career. Definitely the pressure is there, the team expects a lot from me and I expect the same; I want to go out there and win the championship and fight everybody. I will work together with Jenson to learn a lot from him and I think we are doing very well.”

He said learning the way in which McLaren operates at the track has been one of the biggest challenges he has faced so far.

“The procedures are very different and the way the car works,” he added. “It’s basically like learning how to set up a car with different tools. This is quite difficult because every team has different strategies on the steering wheel and not everyone speaks the same on the radio. That is something new for me but that is very good as well.”

via ESPNF1

Jerez – The stats.



The opening pre-season test of the year has been and gone in a flash, with the teams, aside from Williams, putting their new challengers on-track for the first time. Looking back at the four-day Jerez gathering, has produced a list of combined times for the week along with lap totals and tyre compounds.

Pos. Driver / Team / Time / Laps / Tyre

1. Felipe Massa Ferrari / 1.17.879 / 227 laps / Soft
2. Kimi Räikkönen Lotus / 1.18.148 / 123 laps / Soft
3. Jules Bianchi Force India / 1.18.175 / 56 laps / Soft
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus / 1.18.218 / 149 laps / Soft
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull / 1.18.565 / 198 laps / Hard
6. Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber / 1.18.669 / 252 laps / Soft
7. Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso / 1.18.760 / 177 laps / Soft
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes / 1.18.766 / 162 laps / Medium
9. Jenson Button McLaren / 1.18.861 / 120 laps / Hard
10. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes / 1.18.905 160 laps / Medium
11. Sergio Pérez McLaren / 1.18.944 / 179 laps / Medium
12. Paul di Resta Force India / 1.19.003 / 240 laps / Soft
13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso / 1.19.134 / 153 laps / Medium
14. James Rossiter Force India / 1.19.303 / 61 laps / Soft
15. Mark Webber Red Bull / 1.19.338 / 174 laps / Medium
16. Nico Hülkenberg Sauber / 1.19.502 / 178 laps / Medium
17. Valtteri Bottas Williams / 1.19.851 / 178 laps / Soft
18. Pedro de la Rosa Ferrari / 1.20.316 / 51 laps / Medium
19. Pastor Maldonado Williams / 1.20.693 / 155 laps / Medium
20. Charles Pic Caterham / 1.21.105 / 166 laps / Soft
21. Luiz Razia Marussia / 1.21.226 / 113 laps / Medium
22. Max Chilton Marussia / 1.21.269 / 107 laps / Soft
23. Giedo van der Garde Caterham / 1.21.311 / 152 laps / Medium

As ever, exacting fuel loads are an unknown element during pre-season testing.



Kimi aims to win.


Kimi Raikkonen says that while he aims to win the drivers’ championship in 2013, his main goal is to improve on last year’s showing.

Having been out of Formula One for two years, Raikkonen enjoyed an impressive return to the sport last year as he won in Abu Dhabi and finished third in the championship. He insisted there was no pressure on him to perform again this year, but that it is natural for the main target to be further improvement.

“We try to do better and hopefully we manage to do it,” Raikkonen said. “I think everybody is aiming to do better than what they did the previous years. Even if you win the championship you still try and improve things and I cannot promise that we will manage to do that, but that’s our aim and hopefully we can do that.”

After setting the fastest time on the final day of testing in Jerez, Raikkonen also said that he felt his pre-season had been more productive than in 2012 so far because he’s already settled within the team.

“It’s more easy because I know the team and I know the people and they know me. But it doesn’t mean we will suddenly going to be much faster and do much better. There are an awful lot of things that can work in your favour or go against you.

“In theory it should be more easy, but I don’t count on it that we are suddenly going to turn it around and start to be something different than how we finished last year. The time will tell, but it’s definitely more easy to come here this year than it was a year ago because I know the team and they know me.”

via ESPN

Felipe finds form for Ferrari.


Ferrari’s Felipe Massa set the pace on the penultimate pre-season test day at Jerez, producing a time of 1:17.879 at the wheel of the F138. The Brazilian led Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg – who completed a mammoth total of 148 laps – by 0.887 seconds, while reigning Champion Sebastian Vettel marked his return in third.

Much chillier conditions greeted the Formula 1 fraternity at the gates of the Jerez circuit on Thursday morning, with the air and track temperatures taking a significant amount of time to reach a meagre 10°C (10°F). Massa was the early pace-setter as the session got underway, being usurped only breifly by the F1 W04 of Rosberg. The latter recovered his team’s lost ground with a series of long-distance runs, completing more than two and a half race distances behind the wheel of his new car.

Vettel had a quiet first day at the Spanish venue, much like Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber’s introduction to the RB9 chassis earlier in the week. The German completed two lengthy and consistent high fuel runs at the end of the day to end on a total of 102 laps. The 25-year-old wound up just ahead of Kimi Räikkönen (fourth), who spent the morning adjusting his seat position and racking up aero runs at mixed speeds.

Aside from the former title winners, there were a number of returning names at Jerez on Thursday. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Éric Vergne was one of them, finishing the day fifth fastest after signalling a brief red flag period when his STR8 stopped at the end of the pit lane. However, the biggest drama of the day came when Force India development driver James Rossiter (sixth) collided with the team’s front jackman upon returning to the pits. Luckily, nobody was hurt in the incident..

Jenson Button (seventh) was back in the cockpit for McLaren this morning, taking over from new team-mate Pérez. Massa had described the McLaren driver’s time as ‘incredible’ on the opening day, but the tables were turned slightly this afternoon. Esteban Gutiérrez (eighth) made his first appearance of the week for Sauber, racking up 110 laps with a focus on assessing brake materials and cooling methods. He was trailed by Max Chilton, who bounced back from his Tuesday crash to finish within 3.5 seconds of Massa.

Valtteri Bottas, Charles Pic and Paul di Resta brought up the rear of the field, the final two drivers both suffering issues. Pic stopped at Turn 2 with a technical gremlin just before the lunch break, while di Resta was unable to complete more than 7 laps after taking over from Rossiter. The Scot’s car was sidelined with an exhaust problem.

Rossiter “sorry” for running over mechanic.


Force India driver James Rossiter has apologised after running in to a mechanic, who did not sustain any serious injuries, during a pit stop at testing in Jerez.

As part of his role as the team’s simulator driver, Rossiter was on track to learn how the new VJM06 performs on a real circuit. He had an hour’s running on Wednesday afternoon, but when he returned to the track on Thursday morning the conditions were much cooler and he misjudged his entry to his pit box.

“I hold my hands up, that was totally my fault,” he said. “We were doing some aero runs and everything was cold, the brakes were too cold, the tyres were too cold. Thank God Marcus is okay and he’s only got a few bruises. I’m sure I’ll be buying him many beers and he won’t be forgetting it soon!”

Nevertheless, Rossiter said his experience on the track had been very valuable to his work in the simulator after clocking up 42 laps on Thursday.

“For all the guys that I work with and the team of vehicle dynamics guys it’s been very important. It’s so important to get it right with the tyres early on in the season so we can try and help with the early stage of the upgrades and which direction we need to take the car to exploit its potential.

Rossiter, who was sixth fastest by the end of the day, last tested a Formula One car in 2008 with Honda and Super Aguri. He said his test in Jerez was all about learning the ins and outs of modern Formula One.

“It was about running with a sensible amount of fuel with new tyres and then running with an awful lot of fuel so I could feel that difference. I never got to experience the super-high fuel levels we have at the start of the race [when I tested for Honda] so I’ve now had a chance to experience that. It’s certainly pretty interesting and very different from what I remember in Formula One. There wasn’t too much focus on performance, there was no need to push hard or anything like that. It was all about me getting up to speed and learning as much as I can to take back to correlate with the simulator.”

Asked how much the simulator had prepared him for the real thing, Rossiter said: “I think it’s done quite a good job as I haven’t been in a Formula One car for four-and-a-half years and it didn’t take so long [to get used to it]. I had a set of hard tyres yesterday, a set of mediums and a set of softs today and every time I went out I went faster. But like I said, I wasn’t taking any risks as there was no need to do that. I think the lap time I did today was very good and representative of where we are. If you look at what Paul [di Resta] did yesterday it’s not too bad, so I’d say the simulator works reasonably well. Obviously physically you’re actually moving, whereas in a simulator you are tricked into believing that you’re moving, but they are becoming very advanced.

Rossiter has not yet announced his plans for 2013 but said he was keen to continue to work with Force India.

“I want to race as well, that’s crystal clear, but as much time as I can put in [I will],” he said. “We can all see the benefit of it so it’s a worthwhile cause and I’m happy to do it. Obviously with my experience as a test driver in the past it’s very useful because I’ve got that mindset that I can sit in the simulator all day and test things. I think some of the drivers that are here now missed out on those days.”

via Lotus F1/ESPN

Ecclestone calls meeting with teams.


Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is meeting with Team Principals on Thursday in a bid to finalise the sport’s future. The 82-year-old, who has already discussed key areas such as a new Concorde deal and the V6 engine era with Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes heads, will talk to the remaining teams in London.

In addition to the Concorde Agreement – which officially binds teams to the sport – and the new turbocharged V6 engine units which are set for introduction next season, debated subjects such as the use of customer cars and entry fees will be looked at.

Ecclestone will hold a meeting with a number of team bosses on Thursday

Ecclestone will hold a meeting with a number of team bosses on Thursday

Talking about the situation at this week’s opening test in Jerez, McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh says the teams ‘need to have’ a new Concorde deal in place, but is unsure as to how the negotiations are going to progress as the first race approaches.

“We’re good a creating crises in our sport and we’re good at not sorting them out,” Whitmarsh told reporters. “We need to have somebody come out and say ‘peace in our time’, wave a bit of paper and say ‘here’s a new Concorde Agreement’. We need to have that, but I’m not sure everyone is motivated to do it.”

Ecclestone stated this week that the upcoming campaign will feature 19 races, with the 7 July slot remaining unfilled. The German Grand Prix, which went through a phase of uncertainty amid financial problems, has been confirmed at the Nürburgring.

via @paddocknews