Friday, January 25, 2013

2014 POSSIBILITIES

2014 offers a great possibility for upheaval in the F1 middle kingdom. Big big changes are coming, nothing is bigger than an engine change. We all have read and discussed the changes, we all are excited about it. How will the engine sound like? How will the tires behave? How will the drivers handle it? Too many variables to discuss. Heck, one race weekend throws up so many things already even with stable rules.

But we all look forward to 2014 like a starved man lost in the desert looks lovingly and maybe a bit crazed, at a cool glass of water. So what can we expect from 2014? According to Keith from F1Fanatic, it will "absorbing" and I agree.
If F1 gets it right, this will provide an absorbing technical challenge, improve the sport’s credentials as a test bed for environmentally-friendly technology, and enhance both the strategic dimension and spectacle of the races.
I'm looking forward to the drivers getting a handle of the different feel of the engine, balance and grip. Some drivers will shine more than others. With the placement of drivers being moved around this year, it will be very interesting indeed.
The ‘drive-ability’ and power delivery of the new units should prove a challenge. And how well the drivers and cars handle that extra power will be fascinating.
Can't wait for 2014 and how 2013 will shape that. To read Keith's full article, which is fantastically loaded with details and facts you need to know, go here.

Also, check out my t-shirt designs for Formula 1 fanatics, click on image.


GOINGS ON AT MERCEDES

There have been a flurry of activities at Mercedes lately, an attempt to prop up the team as they have had a pretty bad 3 years since coming back as The Silver Arrows. One win and a couple of podiums is nothing to shout about with Ross Brawn at the top and Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher as drivers.

Norbert Haug has been thrown out as Mercedes sets about to fix its problems. Next they have brought in 3 time F1 world champion Niki Lauda as non-executive chairman. He has organised the signing of Lewis Hamilton from McLaren to replace Schumacher. Then they convinced Toto Wolff to move from Williams taking an executive director role at Mercedes.

To top it all off, now the rumours is that they are trying to get McLaren's technical director Paddy Lowe over as well. Quite a bit of high ranking people assembled there, even Avengers like. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about this, I'm still confused as I'm not really sure of Mercedes' plans. Who does right? But it does seem that Mercedes is "hungry" for success, as Lewis Hamilton puts it.

What do I think? I think Mercedes are making a big push for 2014. 2013 might be a bit too early to call it but as with most things in F1, it will take time and good positioning, like a good overtaking maneuver.  They're lining up for glory in 2014. Strong team, strong drivers, strong engine and hopefully good aerodynamics will definitely put them in a good position for 2014. Which is why Lewis Hamilton moved there in the first place.

There is some good points that Sky pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz has pointed out. Ted is of course in the know as he is "embedded" in the pits. So he might be able to shed some light into the Mercedes story.
"The last few weeks have seen some intense activity at the top of Mercedes GP team. And we're only now starting to understand what's been going on. I think the first point to be clear on is that Niki Lauda is in charge. He clearly doesn't understand the non-executive part of his title, which is meant to be non-executive chairman because he's been acting very much as an executive chairman. Ever since he joined the team, I understand that Lauda has even made it clear to Ross Brawn that Brawn reports to him and that he then reports to the Mercedes board. So there's clearly a big change going on at the management of the team."
"I don't think it's out of the question that Brawn could leave and I don't think it would have been his choice for it to end up that way. And what Lewis Hamilton would think of it, heaven only knows..."
Brawn leaving is not good news for Lewis Hamilton indeed. Sure he has had not much success lately but he did a really nice swing in 2009 with Brawn GP and he could do it again in 2014. Mercedes have to really sit on that.

As for Lewis..
"Last year's foray down the double DRS route, while it helped them early on in the season, ultimately was a dead end. All Lewis needs is a well-designed car. He already knows the Mercedes engine is strong and his own abilities are not under question. So that only leaves the car. Surely all Mercedes attention should be on getting the aerodynamics and mechanics right rather than messing around tweaking their management structure. Hamilton will support the team whatever they do but privately he'll be saying, 'Just give me a good car and I'll do the rest'."
Interesting times we live in. I guess we'll have to grit our teeth in the next few months to really see what the picture will look like. In the meantime, looking forward to the first test. For the complete article by Ted Kravitz, click here.

Also, check out my t-shirt designs for Formula 1 fanatics, click on image.


Friday, January 18, 2013

ALONSO HELP MASSA?

He will help me, I know it..
There are some things in life you know for sure (BTW "for sure" is the most used term in F1, for sure this , for sure that). Things such as income tax or the prices of goods, these things only go up. If you were to tell someone in a conversation over breakfast that these things were going to come down and that you're very sure of it (for sure), you might end up finishing that breakfast alone. 99% would not believe you.

Some things are just like that "for sure", meant to be. Today we have Felipe Massa telling us that:
We are fighting for two titles and I am sure the team will help me if it turns out that my situation was the same as the one that meant Fernando was a contender these past years.
Ok I admit that was a bit of a gobbledy gook. Felipe baby, you must learn to form better sentences. Basically, what he was trying to say was that this season, if he (Felipe) was in a position that Alonso was i.e. leading the championship, the team would help him (Felipe) instead of Alonso. He is saying that Ferrari has a new philosophy this year - driver equality.

There are some things in F1 we know "for sure" such as Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton will win races this year and there are some things in F1 we know is not, such as Marussia winning by beating Red Bull to the line or Bernie giving $500 million to charity or Helmut Marko telling Vettel to give way to Webber or Ferrari telling Alonso to give way to Massa (like Massa gave way for Alonso).

I'm sorry but after seeing how things work at Ferrari for the last 15 years especially since Alonso arrived, I don't think that will happen. Can you imagine Luca saying that yes, this year we will support Massa so much that if he happens to be infront of Alonso in the championship by Texas, we'll break the seal on Alonso's gearbox just for Massa?

Here are some interesting feedback from F1 fans on that:

Bullfrog (@bullfrog) - I would look up and point at the pigs if they were flying.
Tyler (@tdog) - The first race hasn’t started and already we have a contender for funniest line of the season.
Robbie (@robbie) - It’s a lovely thought, FM, and I would love it if it were so, but they didn’t hire FA so you could win the WDC. Did you not read the same stuff the world has read? Ferrari is only interested in one rooster. You will be driving FA’s car again in 2013, and you will somehow have to absolutely trounce FA, in his car, from race one, for any chance whatsoever of them favouring you over FA. Anything else, and even early season strength vs. FA will not be enough to dissuade them from their philosophy. They’ll just tweak things to ensure FA has the upper hand, moreso than he starts the season having. And you know that is the case. But we understand, for your fans and yourself, you probably should say what you are saying.
Honestly, what do I think? Honestly, any team wants to win both titles. They need both drivers to score points for the team at every race. But only one driver can win the drivers title. If one driver is leading so far ahead that it is mathematically impossible for the other driver to beat, then the team will focus their efforts on the leading driver.

The following driver has to do his bit then to support the leading driver but at the same time making sure he scores as many points as possible to secure the constructors championship. This is the normal and accepted logic in F1. Some teams might have a different approach, they might say something but do something else. We can only tell from their behavior.

And Ferrari's behavior for some time now has pointed to the fact that they don't want to have 2 roosters ruling the roost. So I'm afraid Felipe, your imagination has played tricks on you. Unless you thrash Alonso so badly from race 1 all the way to halfway through the season, Luca might change his mind. Although he does not sound like he will any time soon.
Since I returned to Ferrari in 1991, I have always said that the drivers did not run for themselves, but for Ferrari. Where one can win, the other must help. Whoever does not like it, I do not care. Others are critical, but they do the same, albeit through less transparent means.
 F1 is a tough business Felipe. Good luck.

Check out my t-shirt designs for Formula 1 fanatics, click on image.


ALONSO : HAMILTON IS STRONGEST

Vettel's got 3 now, you know..Yeah, yeah
but you're the strongest.
Alonso seems to have mellowed down pretty well these days. His control of his emotions and the way he focuses it where it should go is worth noting. I've said it before that I never liked him and his attitude of "me first" or "me only" which was very evident when he was at McLaren but I admire his focus, concentration, commitment and ability to believe in himself these past 2 years.

Although his attitude of "me first" or "me only" is still there, he doesn't push it too much or too obvious anymore, which helps his image of being the people's champion 2012. But his political skills have become much more evident and polished recently, since last year. He is quite good at playing mind games with his opponents, especially Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has branded Alonso good at playing politics with Alonso's snipping of Vettel throughout last year and his use of ancient Samurai sayings. Again recently Marko said that Alonso was good at playing politics:
Fernando Alonso, for example, who is busy with politics and funny comments”.
Alonso shows his cool side by saying this:
I don’t think I am good at politics, I just drive the car. Some recent remarks have surprised me, but I can’t see the sense in them. Some say they don’t read them, don’t hear them and don’t see them, before adding that they are not influenced by them: so clearly they do read them, maybe at night.
Maybe at night? Nice one. His latest attempt to again try to ruffle the feathers at Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel's was his statement about how good Lewis Hamilton is and how Hamilton was and will be the strongest rival for him.
Lewis has always won races ever since he has been in Formula One, even in years like 2009, when he had started the season with a car that was two seconds off the quickest. When you look at what happens on track, you are well aware of what he is doing, that's a fact. Last year, Rosberg won in China, therefore I expect that this year, Lewis in a Mercedes can win more than one race.
And just for that light touch of salt:
Why do I say Hamilton is the strongest? Because it's what I think, it's my personal opinion and there is nothing political in that.
It's nice to see drivers say complimentary things about other drivers and I was feeling good about it when I read it. Actually made this post based on that good feeling, you know basking in the glory a bit. But we are never sure what goes round in somebody's head, do we? I'm not sure whether Alonso really meant it or is he just playing mind games again, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

Check out my t-shirt designs for Formula 1 fanatics, click on image below.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER


The 2013 F1 season, which will begin on March 17 in Melbourne and end on November 24 at Interlagos, is set to consist of 19 events following the cancellation of the proposed New Jersey GP.

Despite the omission of Valencia and the British GP at Silverstone losing its July slot for only the fifth time in the event's history, the calendar predominantly follows the same path as the 2012 campaign.

In a minor tweak, Japan and Korea have swapped positions while both the German and Belgian GPs have been brought forward by a week either side of the now-traditional mid-season August break.

Meanwhile, the much-anticipated inaugural street race in New Jersey has been postponed until 2014, with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirming that although race organisers had run out of time to prove its state of readiness he remains fully committed to the event.

There was speculation that a French, Austrian or Turkish GP could return to the schedule and the German race was moved forward a week, to create a gap on July 21, but no deal could be put in place for a 20th race.

F1 itself will return to action at the start of February when the first of three four-day tests commence on February 5th at Jerez.

Important dates as below.

Car launches
McLaren - January 31st, venue to be confirmed.
Force India - February 1st, Silverstone.
Sauber - February 2nd, Hinwil.
Red Bull, February 3rd, Milton Keynes.
Williams, February 5th, Jerez.

Winter Testing
Feb 05 - Jerez
Feb 06 - Jerez
Feb 07 - Jerez
Feb 08 - Jerez
Feb 19 - Barcelona
Feb 20 - Barcelona
Feb 21 - Barcelona
Feb 22 - Barcelona
Feb 28 - Barcelona
Mar 01 - Barcelona
Mar 02 - Barcelona
Mar 03 - Barcelona

Formula One Calendar
Mar 17 - Albert Park, Australia
Mar 24 - Sepant, Malaysia
Apr 14 - Shanghai, China
Apr 21 - Sakhir International, Bahrain
May 12 - Barcelona, Spain
May 26 - Monte Carlo, Monaco
Jun 09 - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Canada
Jun 30 - Silverstone, Great Britain
Jul 07 - TBA, Germany
Jul 28 - Hungaroring, Hungary
Aug 25 - Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Sep 08 - Monza, Italy
Sep 22 - Marina Bay, Singapore
Oct 06 - Yeongam, Korea
Oct 13 - Suzuka, Japan
Oct 27 - Buddh International, India
Nov 03 - Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi
Nov 17 - Circuit of the Americas, United States
Nov 24 - Interlagos, Brazil

RED BULL SUPER TIME GAME

Red Bull Racing has a new promotion up and running. As you can see at the top of this blog, there is a new banner that says "Red Bull Super Time Game". It's a desktop flash game, click on the banner and play it, you might win a nice prize. Or you can go ahead to try it here - http://supertime.redbull.co.uk/

Its a really fun game which tests your reactions over a number of levels which profile Red Bull Sports, including motorsports.

So what's in store for you if you play this game then? All those that enter their details having played the game will be entered into a prize draw to win an amazing, money can't buy, highly sought after behind the scenes Factory Tour at the Red Bull Racing HQ at Milton Keynes! The winner will be picked on the 8th February 2013.

So, you best get those fingers fit and your eyes tweaked. This is a game of hand eye coordination. Good luck to everyone who goes for it and post some pictures of inside the factory if you get to go!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

HOW F1 WILL SOUND LIKE IN 2014

As we all know, in 2014 there will be a new engine formula in F1. The 2.4 litre V8 engine, producing 750 horsepower at a maximum 18,000 rpm, will be replaced by a 1.6 litre V6 revving at 15,000 rpm with a kinetic and heat energy recovery system (ERS) and turbocharger running at 125,000 rpm. Each driver will be limited to five engines per season rather than eight engines at present. If a sixth is required, a 10-place grid penalty will be incurred.

When the news was first announced, the whole F1 world, especially the fans responded negatively, fearing that the sport we loved so much would never sound the same again. Promoters and track owners were also scared that the new engine would not sound the same and would drive fans away. Even the F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has reservations about it, mentioning many times that he did not want the smaller engine and that it would drive the fans away.

Recently, Mercedes is the first to unveil the controversial new for 2014 engine, so you can imagine the excitement of the whole sport to know how it will sound like and whether we will have to switch our channels from F1 to MotoGP or WRC in 2014 or not.

The German manufacturer invited the media to its Brixworth HQ, however, understandably security was tight with mobile phones temporarily confiscated in order that pictures could not be taken and recording devices switched off in order that the sound could not be recorded.

Reporters, taken to parts of the factory that even customer teams are not allowed access to, could see the new V6 on the dyno test bed and being worked on in sealed and dust-free engineering bays. So how does it sound then.
"It's a little bit lower in terms of decibels because of the turbocharger, but it's a sweet sound," said Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines managing director Andy Cowell, according to Reuters. "It put a big smile on my face," he continued. "I think the sound is going to be pleasant. The volume is a little bit lower but I don't think there are going to be any problems with the direction we're going."
Among the elite F1 reporters who were invited was of course James Allen. Here is what he had to say about the sound:
"It is noticeably less of a high-pitched wail at peak revs, as the maximum is now 15,000rpm, rather than the 18,000 previously. But through the upshifts and downshifts it sounds very much like an F1 engine and there is a sweetness to the sound which is distinctively F1. And the turbo, which revs to a maximum 125,000rpm will also be audible."
As for the engine itself he had this to say:
"We also saw a V6 engine block in the process of being built up; as you’d expect it is shorter than the V8, has 15% less moving parts but seems quite tall, so doesn’t appear much smaller than the existing unit when both are near each other in the engine build room."
Also interesting is that the new engines will offer more power from the KERS unit as we know that the 2014 KERS will produce double the horsepower of the current units - up from 80 to 160 hp. But while an electric power unit might seem to produce the same horsepower as an internal combustion engine, its torque output is a whole other story. Electric power units produce a lot more torque and that torque is usually available very early on - like say from 0 RPM.

Which means that the rear wheels will be receiving more torque than the fronts which will lead to better traction out of corners but which the drivers would have to manage carefully in order to get the best out of their laps times. This should make for some very interesting racing.

Add to that the lowering of maximum fuel loads from 150 kilos to 100 kilos, this will increase the thinking drivers have to do during the race.
"The driver will have a maximum one 100 kilos of fuel in his car at the start of the race, rather than 150kg today so the engineers need to find a 30% improvement in efficiency compared to today’s engines, while maintaining the same power output. The 2014 engines will use Direct Injection, pressurised to 500bar. It will make F1 a thinking driver’s formula, perhaps?"
Can't wait to see the first tests but it's still 1 year away. In the meantime bring on 2013 I say.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

GROSJEAN 'NOT CRAZY'

Romain Grosjean says he is "aware of the risks" in Formula One and has worked hard at correcting the mistakes he made in 2012.

Having made a number of errors during the opening laps of races, Grosjean was banned from the Italian Grand Prix last year for causing a major first-corner crash at Spa-Francorchamps. At the second race back from that ban, Grosjean took out Mark Webber on the opening lap, leading Webber to brand him a "first lap nutcase".

Grosjean, however, says he learnt throughout 2012 that a more measured approach is required to become a world champion and that he believes having five clean races at the end of the season is proof he will improve further in 2013.

"I do not think winning at all costs is the goal, because the dream is to become world champion one day," Grosjean told Stade2. "Of course, it is true that you have to win races to be champion, but I must be careful not to mistake the goal.

"That's what cost me the nickname 'first lap nutcase' last year, but even that must be taken in context. Mark said it straight out of the car in Japan, with all the adrenaline of the race still inside him. I apologised which is the most I can do. I am not crazy, I am aware of the risks and I have worked hard to correct my mistakes. Over the last five races, I didn't have any other problems and there is no reason to believe that I will have any more."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

MCLAREN'S 50 YEARS IN THE MAKING

There is an interesting story about McLaren's 50 years of history and how Bruce McLaren came about to creating this iconic team. This story was written by Alan Henry on the McLaren blog. Alan Henry has been a renowned Formula 1 journalist since the early 1970s. With an illustrious career spanning four decades, he has worked as Formula One correspondent of the Guardian newspaper, Editor at Large of F1 Racing magazine and Grand Prix editor of Autocar magazine.Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite.

McLaren stands poised for a buoyantly optimistic 50th anniversary season as it celebrates its 50th birthday over the coming months, highlighting a superb record of achievement which is sure to resonate across the race tracks of the world. Looking back to the team’s debut under the 'Bruce McLaren Motor Racing' banner in the 1963-64 Tasman Championship it was no surprise that the new organisation was quick to raise the tempo and diversity of its commitment across increasingly broad horizons.

Ironically, BMMR was only established out of Bruce’s frustration over the Cooper team, for whom he was driving in F1, failing to initiate his own plans to build a specially modified car in which to compete specifically in the Tasman contest. Charles Cooper, the authoritarian founder of the Cooper company, believed that one of their standard F1 cars would be more than capable of doing the job. With that in mind, he vetoed Bruce’s plans and thus forced Bruce to go it alone. Looking at it all in an historical perspective, this was the key catalyst which was responsible for underpinning the advance to the situation of pre-eminence now enjoyed by McLaren as a whole. A situation which would lead to the best only just being good enough for Bruce, his colleagues and successors over the years that followed.

To continue the story, proceed here.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

FORMULA E VIDEO

Formula E is a new FIA championship featuring Formula cars powered exclusively by electric energy. It represents a vision for the future of the motor industry over the coming decades. The FIA Formula E Championship will be launched in 2014. It will run exclusively in major international cities and it has all the assets needed to reach a worldwide audience, becoming a bridge between the old and new era of industry and motorsport.

When the news was first announced, there was a lot of disbelief about having an electric racing car pretending to be a racing car. I wondered as well how would a single seater racing car sound like. And how fast could it go? We have had electric racing done before and electric car competitions but at a world class level with real racing?

Anyway, the promoters have released a promo video of their new series. The racing is still a long way away, first race is scheduled for 2014, the same year F1 goes through a huge engine change to 1.6 turbocharged engines. Interesting time don't you think?

video