Tag Archives: 2013

New Noses Could Cause ‘Submarine’ Crashes, Warns Newey

Red Bull’s chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, has warned that the new mandatory low nose cones could cause cars to ‘submarine’ in a crash.

In an attempt to stop cars being launched into the air in crashes, the 2014 regulations state that tip of a car’s nose cone must no higher than 185mm, as opposed to 550mm which the previous regulations allowed. Airborne crashes are the final frontier for those trying to make F1 safer, with crashes like Mark Webber’s airborne adventure in Valencia 2010 or the pile-up in Belgium in 2012 all caused by cars mounting other cars.

However, Adrian Newey has warned that the opposite could occur in a crash, and cars could be forced down – potentially prompting a more dangerous situation.

“The regulation has been introduced following some research by the FIA which suggests that nose height reduces the chances of cars being launched,” Newey told reporters in Jerez, where the first of three pre-season tests are ongoing.

“So the accident that Mark had when he hit the back of Kovalainen in Valencia a few years ago. I must admit I am concerned that the opposite may now happen, that cars submarine effectively. So if you hit the back of the car square-on, you go underneath it and you end up with the rear crash structure in your face which I think is a much worse scenario.

“And there have been some accidents where you think if a low nose would have possibly made things much worse? There was the accident a couple of years ago where Schumacher spun at the first corner and somebody mounted him – with a low nose that might that have made that worse.

“I guess it’s like all these things; it might help in some scenarios, it hurts in others. It’s one which I must admit I’m personally not in favour of.”

Aside from the job that the new noses are supposed to do, much has been made by the aesthetics of the new rule. With most teams opting to put a pole sticking down from the main nose cone instead of affecting aerodynamics by putting the entire nose cone close to the ground, the finished product looks like a cucumber hanging from the car.

Image courtesy Getty Images.

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Caterham Confirm Kobayashi And Ericsson For 2014

Kamui Kobayashi (left), Robin Frijns (center), Marcus Ericsson (right)

Caterham today finalized their 2014 line-up, becoming the last team on the grid to do so.

After announcing on Monday night that Charles Pic had left the team, Caterham announced that they were on the verge of announcing their pairing. Giedo van der Garde, the team’s 2013 driver, then confirmed that he was off to Sauber to act as the reserve and test driver for the Swiss outfit.

With last year’s drivers gone, it was widely expected that Kamui Kobayashi would be back on the grid with the team in green – and this was confirmed this morning. Marcus Ericsson, who finished sixth in last year’s GP2 Championship, was confirmed as the team’s second driver.

Dutchman Robin Frijns was also wearing green today after the team named him as their reserve driver.

“It’s a great feeling to be back as an F1 race driver and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham F1 Team,” Kobayashi said today. “We’ve been talking to Cyril [Abiteboul] and Tony [Fernandes] since last year about driving for the team for 2014 and beyond. 

“Throughout all our discussions I’ve been very impressed with where they want to take the team and how much investment has been made already to help them achieve their goals. For me, it’s a great honour that the team hired me based on the value I bring in racing terms and the experience I have. 

“I am so happy that I am able to make this announcement today. I will do my very best to lead the team and work as hard as possible to achieve our targets.”

His team-mate, Marcus Ericsson, said “This is a very proud day for me and everyone who has helped make my F1 dream come true.” 

“I’ll be making the step up to F1 with Caterham F1 Team in 2014 and I’m already excited about the season ahead, and the first race in Australia in particular. It’s obviously great for Sweden that we’ll have a Swedish driver back on the grid in 2014. This is what I’ve been working for since I first started racing karts back when I was nine years old, and now I know I’m ready for the step up to F1. 

“Caterham is a young team and together we can take on the challenges the new rules will present in 2014 – learning together and continuing to develop as the season progresses.”

Kobayashi drove with Toyota and Sauber until 2012, when he lost his drive over financial issues. Ericsson won the German Feature Race in GP2 in 2012. He was crowned champion of Formula BMW UK in 2007 and Japanese Formula Three in 2009.

Image courtesy Caterham F1 Team

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Lotus Confirm Absence From First Pre-Season Test

2013 Chinese Grand Prix - Saturday

Lotus are the first team to confirm that they will not attend the first of three pre-season tests.

The Enstone based team were recently rumoured to be in financial trouble with speculation that they may fold before the season kicks off in March. They had previously asked the FIA for a week-long delay to the first test, which was denied.

“We’re going to keep our car under wraps a little longer than some other teams,” Lotus technical director Nick Chester said. “We’ve decided that attending the Jerez test isn’t ideal for our build and development programme.

“We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions.”

He also confirmed that the team have completed several of the mandatory crash tests, “We’ve made very good progress with the various homologation tests which took place before Christmas including chassis squeeze and side impact loading tests as well as the rear crash structure, meaning we just have the nose test to complete the car’s homologation.

“We’ve undertaken chassis fits for Romain and Pastor. Certainly, our partners who have seen the car have reported themselves to be very impressed with the layout and various solutions to the new technical challenges.”

The decision to skip the test could be costly for Lotus with the huge shift in regulations towards a ‘greener’ F1 necessitating every possible mile of testing. Lotus will instead have to wait until the second test in Bahrain before they get any on-track feedback.

The first test begins in Jerez on the 28th of January and will be followed by two more in Bahrain. The season gets underway in Australia on the 16th of March .

Image courtesy Lotus F1 Team

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Schumacher Fell Trying To Help A Friend, Says His Manager

Sabhine Kehm, Michael Schumacher’s agent, has described how Schumacher’s accident occurred while trying to help a friend.

Schumacher, 44, remains in a medically induced coma today as doctors at the Grenoble hospital fight to save his life. He fell on an unmarked ski slope on Sunday morning, hitting his head on a rock and causing serious head injuries. Doctors today said that his condition had improved slightly, but that he remains critical.

“Michael and a group had been skiing on a slope which was a normal slope.” Ms. Kehm told journalists outside Grenoble hospital. “There was a slope with deep snow. Michael went into that and what people tell me is that he was not going at high-speed.”

“It seemed that he had helped a friend that had just fallen. So he started to ski again and went into deep snow, and apparently, this is what we guess, he hit a rock which he had not seen when he wanted to do a curve and he was catapulted in the air and he fell down hitting another rock which was extreme bad luck and circumstance.”

“I’ve spoken with several people and ski teachers and they tell me it can happen at even 10 kilometres per hour, it is just very unfortunate.”

She also told of how a journalist, whose identity has not been revealed, disguised himself as a priest in an attempt to get into Schumacher’s room yesterday.

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Doctors Report ‘Slight Improvement’, But Warn Schumacher Still Critical

Doctors treating Michael Schumacher in Grenoble have today said that the 44-year-old has shown a slight improvement, but warned that he is still in a critical condition.

Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma since Sunday morning after suffering a ski fall at the Meribel Ski Resort in France. Upon arriving at Grenoble, he underwent immediate surgery to alleviate pressure on his brain.

After examinations on Monday night, doctors noticed an unexpected improvement in Schumacher’s condition and discovered a large hematoma on the left side of his brain which they could access. They conducted a surgery at 10pm on Monday and this helped to relieve the inter-cranial pressure.

“There was one hematoma that was larger and more accessible, so we were able to get rid of it without any risk,” said Dr. Emmanual Gay in a press-conference this morning. “Thanks to that we were better able to control inter-cranial pressure. There’s still a lot of hemorrhaging.”

They say that Schumacher’s condition has stabilised and that they will keep him in a coma until his condition improved. However, they said that a number of lesions remain on his brain which make it impossible to give a prognosis.

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Schumacher In Critical Condition After Skiing Accident

Michael Schumacher is in a coma as a result of head trauma sustained in an accident at a ski resort in France. His condition was tonight described as ‘critical’.

The accident happened when Schumacher and his son, Mick, were skiing on an unmarked slope at the Meribel ski resort. Schumacher fell and hit his head on a rock. Rescue workers were at the scene within minutes and immediately requested an air-ambulance to transport Schumacher to the local Moutiers hospital.

After arriving at the hospital, Schumacher was then forwarded to Grenoble hospital where he remains. A French neurologist, Gerard Saillant, who is also close friends with Schumacher, was rushed to the his bedside, where his wife Corinna and his two children already held vigil.

His condition was initially described as “not very serious”, by the Meribel resort director, Gernignon Christophe Lecomte. However, this claim was contradicted by the local mountain guard who reported Schumacher’s condition as being “relatively serious” but not life threatening.

Schumacher’s agent, Sabine Kehm, then released a short statement in which she said, “Michael fell on his head during a private ski trip in the French Alps. He was hospitalised and is receiving medical care. We ask for your understanding that we cannot give a running commentary on his state of health.” 

An official update was scheduled for 8pm local time, but the hospital then cancelled the press conference and Schumacher’s management was due to release a written statement shortly afterwards, which did not come for some time.

At almost twenty-to-eleven local time, Schumacher’s management broke the news that he was in a coma following major head injuries he suffered in the fall. They classified his condition as ‘critical’ and said that he required urgent neurological treatment upon arrival at Grenoble.

No further details have yet been released.

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Tyre Explosion At Pirelli Test

Paul Hembery (Pirelli) stands beside 2013 compounds

Nico Rosberg today took to Twitter to report a tyre explosion at the three-day Pirelli tyre test in Bahrain.

The test, which is being held to establish a grounding for both tyre supplier and teams for the coming season, features six teams, including Mercedes who nominated Rosberg as their driver for all three days.

“Just spun at full speed 320km/h on Bahrain straight cause my tire blew up without warning,” Rosberg tweeted before hastily deleting it.

In their press release this afternoon, Pirelli said, “This morning Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes was fitted with one of these prototypes, a tyre which had only been tested in the laboratory and which will not be proposed again.”

They also moved to quell fears over the safety of the tyres, “Thus, the safety of the tyres which will be supplied for the next Championship is not in question. The accident which happened to Rosberg’s car is being investigated and the findings will be communicated to the FIA and the teams.”

The Pirelli tyres came under much criticism after the Silverstone Grand Prix which saw numerous tyre explosions in the opening laps prompting a red flag. Rosberg’s team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, was the biggest loser – losing his comfortable lead at his home Grand Prix following a spontaneous explosion.

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Irvine Blasts Double Points Rule

Former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine has hit out at the proposed double points rule which is due to take effect in 2014.

The outspoken Irishman was speaking in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph this week, and labeled the proposed regulations as “embarrassing and insane”.

“It’s ridiculous, I’ve never heard such a joke in all my life,” he said. “Talk about tinsel town bulls***!” Irvine is quoted as saying.

“I think Formula One has lost its way. This latest rule of double points for the last race is insanity. That actually made me realise I am not going to watch another race until that rule gets kicked out. That is just embarrassing. It really is. They should be ashamed of themselves.

“I just think the people involved in these decisions have lost the plot. They have no understanding of reality and the people who are in there have been in too long. They have blown up the history of the sport by changing the points, changing the qualifying and now double points for the final race!”

Irvine, who also drove for Jordan and Jaguar during his ten-year career in Formula One, echoed the views of reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel who called the idea ‘absurd’. The regulation has been a bone of contention since it was announced last week, with a unanimous criticism from the sport’s fans.

The idea is to award double points (fifty for a win, two for tenth etc.) at the final race of the year (which will be Abu Dhabi in 2014) as to raise the importance of the final Grand Prix. However, the general feeling from fans is that this takes away from the race and play havoc with the Championship.

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Perez Confirmed At Force India

Sergio Perez has been announced as Force India’s second driver for 2014.

The Mexican was dropped only a year after making his year with debut, with the team citing ‘unbridgeable gaps in pace’ between Perez and his seemingly faster team-mate, Jenson Button. In a weird twist, McLaren, the team who gave Checo the boot, announced proudly that they were going team-to-team recommending him.

Although unusual, it worked and Perez was today confirmed at the Silverstone based team who, for the first half of the season at least, were quicker than McLaren.

“It’s great to announce my new team as Sahara Force India,” Perez said. “Coming here was always my first choice and I’m really happy everything has now been confirmed. I want to say thank you to Vijay and the whole team for giving me the opportunity.

“This is a young team with a lot of determination and they’ve produced competitive cars for the last few years. It’s all change for next season with the new regulations, but I already have a good feeling about 2014. My plan now is to visit the factory and get to know everyone in the team.”

Vijay Mallya, the Force India owner, said, “It’s a pleasure to welcome Sergio to the team. He brings a healthy mix of youth and experience, and I’ve been very impressed with his recent performances. He already has several podium finishes to his name and being chosen by McLaren last year was a clear indication that he is a driver to watch for the future.”

Nico Hulkenberg was the first driver to be confirmed at Force India, returning to the team after a year with Sauber. Force India’s 2013 line-up of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta have not yet been confirmed on the grid for next year, with speculation suggesting that Di Resta could return to DTM or go state-side to try his hand in IndyCar.

Image courtesy Force India. 

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Day Ten: Mercedes

On the tenth day of Christmas, Ben Sweeney gave to me… Mercedes

Mercedes roped in Lewis Hamilton for their 2014 season to replace Michael Schumacher who ended his three-year return to the season. Hamilton was to partner Rosberg in what was seen to be a very peculiar move for the Briton – leaving his comfortable surroundings at McLaren for the struggling Mercedes outfit. Although technical genius Ross Brawn was the head man, the team was still well off a Championship fighting team, and so it was estimated that Hamilton going to Mercedes in the hopes of reaping the benefits when the 2014 regulations came into play.

This was what prompted huge surprise in Australia; Hamilton qualified a very impressive third place, while his former team-mate took tenth on the grid, and his replacement, Sergio Perez, qualified sixteenth. Rosberg was sixth. Hamilton had a good start and was running in a podium finishing position until the car began to eat up the Pirelli’s quicker than his rivals and he dropped to fifth by the checkered flag. The other Mercedes, however, failed to finish the race due to an electrical issue which saw him retire mid-way through the race.

In Malaysia, the talk of the town was on Red Bull’s Mutli-21 orders, but Mercedes also had a team-order crisis, with Hamilton third ahead of Rosberg fourth in the late stages of the race. The duo was too far back from the leaders and a good distance from those behind them, which left them running together on track. Rosberg felt he was faster but Brawn took to the team radio to keep him behind Hamilton, much to Rosberg’s frustration. Being the team player, he stayed behind Lewis who took third ahead of Rosberg.

Hamilton took pole for the Malaysian Grand Prix and led from the line, but inevitably fell behind eventual race winner Fernando Alonso with the Pirelli tyres once again to blame. Although he may have been unhappy dropping from first to third, Rosberg was left lamenting his second retirement of the season when the suspension broke on his W04.

It was Rosberg’s turn to take pole position in Bahrain with Hamilton qualifiying fourth but incurring a five-place grid penalty for an unschedueled gearbox change. Rosberg kept his lead off the line but the tyres once again proved to be Mercedes’ biggest enemy and he slipped all the way down to ninth. Hamilton started ninth but with some clever tyre strategies, moved up to fifth by the end of the race.

Rosberg was back on pole for the Spanish Grand Prix, with Hamilton joining him on the front row. By now I needn’t tell you that the tyres (yes, again) caused the Mercedes duo to drop down the order quicker than a Red Bull can accelerate, which meant that Rosberg finished sixth and Hamilton finished twelfth.

The Mercedes men qualified the same way in Monaco; Rosberg on pole with Hamilton as his wing man. Given the tight nature of Monaco, Rosberg was essentially unchallenged as he cruised to victory in the principality. Hamilton dropped to fourth. Although the tyre trouble would have been recoverable due to the overtaking limitations in Monaco, it was not needed as Mercedes seemed to have miraculously recovered from the issue. That was until Ferrari and Red Bull rose up and accused Mercedes of holding a secret tyre-test with Pirelli in the days directly following the Spanish Grand Prix. Mercedes claimed they were within the rules but both Mercedes and Pirelli were called to the FIA International Tribunal on the 20th June. In the meantime, Hamilton narrowly missed pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix and finished the race third, while Rosberg qualified fourth, finishing fifth.

Finally June 20th came around and the FIA International Tribunal met. Pirelli were allowed to have up to 1,000 miles of testing due to a prior agreement with the FIA but broke several key elements of the agreement. Firstly, the FIA were not informed that the test was taking place. Secondly, the agreement with the FIA states that a test is allowed, given all teams are given equal opportunity to test – which they weren’t as the remaining ten teams knew nothing of the test. Indeed, it was through a slip of the tongue of a Mercedes engineer who mentioned the test in a pre-race briefing at Monaco two weeks ago that the FIA discovered the test. As a result, the tribunal reprimanded both parties and banned Mercedes from the then upcoming Young Driver’s Test at Silverstone.

The team was, of course, allowed to take part in the British Grand Prix at the same venue, and Hamilton grabbed pole at his home Grand Prix. He shot away like a bullet from a gun at the start of the race and was leading comfortably, much to the delight of the local crowd, until suddenly his rear tyre exploded. The violent explosion happened a good distance from the pitlane and Hamilton was forced to crawl back to change his tyres. Although he was still in the race, he had dropped well down the order and a podium finish was now off the cards. Vettel assumed the lead until his RB9 gave up and handed the win to Nico Rosberg, who had a little challenge from Red Bull’s Mark Webber in the closing stages. Eventually, Rosberg crossed the line as the victor. Hamilton made it to fourth.

Hamilton, who had been skeptical of his pace, grabbed pole at the German Grand Prix while home-boy Rosberg was well down the order in eleventh. Hamilton couldn’t fight against both RBR’s who swamped him into turn 1, and fell to second behind Vettel, while Rosberg stayed eleventh at the start. He eventually improved, slightly, and finished ninth while Hamilton dropped down to fifth. Hamilton once again took pole while Rosberg qualified fourth. Nico went off-track several times at the start to avoid various collisions while Hamilton retained his lead excluding during the pitstops. He went on to win his first, and only, victory of the season. Rosberg had a fiery exit in the dying laps.

Coming back from the summer break, Hamilton grabbed pole, but lost his lead on Eau Rouge on the first lap when he got his line wrong and was forced to slow. It was candy from a baby for Vettel who went on to win the race. Hamilton finished third and Rosberg finished fourth. Hamilton had a slow puncture and radio problems in Italy, meaning the team found it difficult to tell him about the puncture. When he finally pitted for a fresh pair of boots, he rejoined near the back of the grid but made it up to ninth while Rosberg out-scored Hamilton with ninth.

Rosberg started alongside Vettel on the front row of the Singapore Grand Prix and, to everyone’s surprise, out-dragged the Red Bull into turn 1. The concept of a battle for the lead was short-lived after Rosberg went wide at turn 1 and handed the place back to Vettel who would remain unchallenged for the rest of the season race. Rosberg eventually finished fourth and Hamilton finished right behind him in fifth.

Rosberg was battling team-mate Hamilton for position in the Korean Grand Prix when a sudden nose-cone failure caused him to pit for repairs. Hamilton failed to pass a remarkable Hulkenberg, but kept fifth from a feisty Fernando Alonso. Rosberg finished seventh. Hamilton was caught between the two Red Bulls at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix and earned himself a puncture, which later prompted him to retire due to damage. Rosberg sixth and fell to eighth during the race.

Rosberg started and finished the Indian Grand Prix in second place, while Hamilton qualified third but, due to battles with Ferrari and Perez, dropped to sixth for the end of the race. Rosberg qualified third and finished there, but Hamilton dropped from fourth to seventh. Hamilton qualified fifth for the American Grand Prix while Rosberg was massively off the pace, qualifying all the way down in fourteenth. Hamilton moved up one during the race to take fourth while Rosberg managed to score some points, dragging himself to ninth.

And so to the final Grand Prix of the season. Rosberg finished the season by joining his country-man Vettel on the front row, but was predicatably unable to prevent Vettel from running away at the front. Hamilton qualified fifth. Rosberg, through a mixture of drizzle on the track and a downright faster competition, fell to fifth by the time the checkered flag flew while Hamilton also dropped down the order to a disappointing ninth.

Mercedes were one of the surprises of the season. Hamilton obviously brings wins to any team he goes to, as the team he left failed to score a single podium finish. It was bad luck that prevented either Hamilton or Rosberg putting in any fight for the title as race after race their Pirelli tyres were ripped to shreds and they dropped like stones. Ross Brawn has left the team and it will be interesting to see if an internal power struggle will cause the team to implode, or if the planned divided leadership will instead make them a force to be reckoned with.

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