Ferrari lead the way in Saturday Practice | 2016 Bahrain GP FP3 report

A stunning Arabian sky greeted the F1 fraternity after the cloudy weather of Friday, and it was Ferraru’s Sebastian Vettel who clocked the fastest time on Saturday afternoon.

It was a session including a lot of medium-tyre running for most teams, including McLaren and Force India, who appeared well down the order.

Mercedes set the early pace with Nico Rosberg, but later on in the session Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen topped the sheets, at the track where he got his best result the previous year.

He was then pipped in the last few minutes by team mate Sebastian Vettel, who posted a time just four hundredths quicker.

It was a trying session for McLaren debutant Stoffel Vandoorne (who deputises for the injured Fernando Alonso this weekend) when a suspected oil leak left him in the garage with the floor off for most of the session. He was, for the first 45 minutes, the only driver not to have set a time, but when the oil leak was revealed just to be a spillage, he headed out and set a time just behind that of McLaren team mate Jenson Button.

Jolyon Palmer’s baptism by fire in F1 continued as the chequered flag came out, when a right-rear puncture manifested itself on his final lap, presumably due to running over a kerb in the middle sector.

Ferrari look strong, but it remains to be seen whether Mercedes were sandbagging, or the Scuderia are a genuine threat.

Times from FP3

1) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari 1:31.683 (22 Laps)
2) Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari 1:31.723 (13 Laps)
3) Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 1:32.104 (18 Laps)
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1:32.160 (14 Laps)
5) Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Mercedes 1:32.675 (18 Laps)
6) Romain Grosjean, Haas-Ferrari 1:33.082 (14 Laps)
7) Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1:33.113 (10 Laps)
8) Esteban Gutiérrez, Haas-Ferrari 1:33.337 (14 Laps)
9) Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes 1:33.363 (18 Laps)
10) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1:33.519 (20 Laps)
11) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.569 (16 Laps)
12) Kevin Magnussen, Renault 1:33.617 (9 Laps)
13) Jenson Button, McLaren-Honda          1:33.704 (12 Laps)
14) Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda  1:33.744 (11 Laps)
15) Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:33.778 (20 Laps)
16) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.003 (20 Laps)
17) Felipe Nasr, Sauber-Ferrari 1:34.013 (15 Laps)
18) Nico Hülkenberg, Force India-Mercedes 1:34.128 (16 Laps)
19) Sergio Pérez, Force India-Mercedes 1:34.281 (15 Laps)
20) Jolyon Palmer, Renault 1:34.424 (9 Laps)
21) Rio Haryanto, Manor-Mercedes 1:35.546 (15 Laps)
22) Pascal Wehrlein, Manor-Mercedes 1:35.724 (16 Laps)

Practice 1 & 2 Australian GP 2014 | The Grand Prixview

The first two practice sessions of the year got underway this morning in Melbourne, Australia. The Albert Park Circuit played host to where essentially extensions to winter testing. Though the teams and drivers spent 12 days in Bahrain and Jerez figuring out whether their cars were up to scratch, a few teams, namely Lotus and Red Bull left with very little in the way of actual data.

PRACTICE 1

In session 1, Red Bull managed a good amount of laps through Daniel Ricciardo, although Sebastian Vettel was rarely seen, surfacing for a solitary installation lap half way through the session, and then putting in 5-in-a-row at around the hour mark. Lotus didn’t seem to have much more success than in testing either, with Grosjean not even making it out on track, and Maldonado completing one ill-fated installation lap. The Venezuelan emerged with 30 minutes to go, but after a slow out lap, he slithered hopelessly wide at turn 13. Smoke was seen coming from his cockpit, and before pit entry, whether it was driver-enduced or not, his engine cut out, and he had to be pushed back to the garage for examination.

Several drivers had off moments, with Toro Rosso leading the way in terms of number of excursions, amassing a total of 4. New boy Daniil Kvyat had a pair of identical trips through the gravel at Turn 1, as the Toro Rosso STR9 struggled to get to grips with its new electronic braking system. The most significant gravel tour was that of Vergne though. Not content with doing exactly what Kvyat did at turn 1, he went right into the run-off area at Turn 3, barely getting the brakes on in time to avoid the wall. On a happier note for the Frenchman, he managed to notch the most laps in the session, with 30.

Other drivers to spin and/or go wide included Perez in his Force India, Raikkonen, Magnussen and Chilton, who hit a trolley in the pit lane.

Alonso had the fastest time, with a 1:31:840. Second in the rankings went to Jenson Button in his McLaren, posting a 1:32:357. The Williams drivers completed the top 4, with Bottas putting in a stellar lap of 1:32:403, squeezing past his team mate Felipé Massa’s fastest time of 1:32:431 right at the end of the session. World Champion Sebastian Vettel managed 7th place with a time of 1:32:783, but one of the strongest drivers in testing, Lewis Hamilton, was not able to put in a time due to a sensor malfunction that caused the engine to switch off. Other drivers not to complete a lap were Kobayashi, Ericsson, Maldonado, and Grosjean, who was the only car not to turn a wheel.

PRACTICE 2

The second session got underway just after 5pm local time in Melbourne, and while the light level faded, the interest did not. Both Caterhams were sidelined, due to parts of the power unit needing replacing in both Kobayashi and Ericsson’s cars. Maldonado did not participate either, due to a component fire in the the first session.

There were several more slides throughout the session, with jean-Eric Vergne re-acquainting with the gravel at turn 3, and Daniil Kvyat doing likewise with the gravel at turn 13. Both drivers simply shrugged off the incidents, but with just five minutes to go in the session, the gravel traps claimed bigger scalps; namely Grosjean and Hulkenberg. The latter of the two touched the grass on the entry to turn 9 and beached his car. Almost simultaneously Grosjean hurtled towards turn 3, but under braking, veered left and clipped the wall, damaging the rear-left suspension and some advertising boards in the process.

Lewis Hamilton topped the timing sheet with a time of 1:29:625, barely 2 seconds off last year’s pole position time, showing that the cars have not lost much in terms of performance compared to last season’s formula. Lewis’ team mate Nico Rosberg was next, posting a fastest lap of 1:29:782. Half a second down from Hamilton was Fernando Alonso, and with 1st and 3rd in the two sessions, he has plenty to smile about.

Red Bull looked to have made vast improvements over the first session and their problems in testing, with Vettel less than a second off Hamilton’s time, and Ricciardo a little further off in 6th place. They sandwiched McLaren’s 5th-placed Jenson Button, who is also looking strong. Williams did not place as highly in session 2 as they did in the first, due to heavier fuel loads.

Hamilton’s bounce back from the annoying sensor malfunction in FP1 seemed to indicate the German team’s superiority as it seemed in testing, and with a 1-2 on the time sheet in FP2, the team will be confident looking towards tomorrow’s qualifying. “Going into [Practice] session 2 I felt really uncomfortable…but fortunately I was able to get right back to speed” Hamilton commented on his FP1 setback. (Source: Sky)

F1 2014 – Meet the Drivers

The 2014 Formula One Season is just around the corner. The cars look very different, and so does the rule book, but who will be driving the machines of 2014? Instead of car numbers based on Constructor placings in the previous years, drivers are now given a number for the rest of their career, and these are shown in brackets.

These are the drivers for the 2014 Formula One Season.

RED BULL – RENAULT
Their fourth year as reining champions, Red Bull will be looking to show the rest of the field how it’s done – no easy feat when you consider the playing field is to be leveled with new regulations.

2013 Position: 1st          Title Sponsor: Infiniti          Team Principal: Christian Horner

Sebastian VETTEL (1)
He’s broken pretty much all the records and is quickly forging a path through F1 as one of the most successful in history. Can the Weltmeister conquer again in 2014 and equal Fangio’s record of titles?

2013 Position: 1st          2013 Wins: 13          2013 Points: 397

Daniel RICCIARDO (3)
The ‘New Webber’ certainly has the speed and nationality to match his predecessor. After two impressive years at Toro Rosso, seeing how the super-smiley Aussie compares to Vettel will be one of the most interesting stories of the year. Excellent qualifying in Silverstone and Canada likely landed him the new drive.

2013 Position: 14th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 20

MERCEDES AMG
Losing Ross Brawn is not going to help any team, but with Toto Wolff at the helm, the team look strong. They know that converting success on Saturday to that on Sunday will be their biggest test this year. Can the Silver Arrows close the performance gap to the Red Bulls as they threatened to last year?

2013 Position: 2nd          Title Sponsor: Petronas          Team Principal: Toto Wolff/ Paddy Lowe

Lewis HAMILTON (44)
After what can only be described as a stellar first year with Mercedes, including a dominating win in Hungary and a sublime Pole lap in Silverstone, Hamilton will be hoping to solidify Mercedes’ clear speed on Saturdays with more podiums the next day.

2013 Position: 4th          2013 Wins: 1          2013 Points: 189

Nico ROSBERG (6)
Two victories for Rosberg Junior confirmed his coming of age, with a masterclass in Monaco and inheriting Vettel’s win in Silverstone. He’ll need to be fast as well as fortunate in 2014 though, as Mercedes intend to set the absolute bar in the new Turbo era.

2013 Position: 6th          2013 Wins: 2          2013 Points: 171

FERRARI
Ferrari started last season very strongly with a duo of wins in China and a sublime win at home for Alonso in Spain, but from the mid-point, their performance took a marked drop-off. After finally releasing Felipe Massa after a few years promising to do so, the Scuderia’s first double World Champion line-up since 1955 will be hoping for a consistent race car all year to enforce their credentials.

2013 Position: 3rd          Title Sponsor: Santander          Team Principal: Stefano Domenicali

Fernando ALONSO (14)
After the two aforementioned wins the Spanish charge couldn’t keep up with Vettel or the Lotuses, but he is still regarded by many as the best driver on the grid. If he’s to add to his two Championships from 2005 and 2006, a shake up of the rules might be the break he needs.

2013 Position: 2nd          2013 Wins: 2          2013 Points: 242

Kimi RAIKKONEN (7)
The Iceman took the first win of 2013 in Australia and threatened the top of the podium throughout the season, but could not build on it. After frustration with Lotus’ money woes, The New Flying Finn hopes to find fortune with his WDC winning team, Ferrari.

2013 Position: 5th          2013 Wins: 1          2013 Points: 183

LOTUS-RENAULT
After a great start to the year with a win and seemingly the only package with an answer to the Red Bulls, Lotus pretty much had a civil war towards the end of 2013, swearing at drivers, not paying them, and personnel leaving. After finally getting financial security with PDVSA, Lotus will be aiming to regroup and get back to the pace they were running at from late 2012 to mid 2013.

2013 Position: 4th          Title Sponsor: Genii Capital          Team Principal: Gérard Lopez

Romain GROSJEAN (8)
Many doubted and disliked Grosjean after a terrifying, carbon-fiber flinging series of crashes in 2012, but he blossomed beautifully into a quick and consistent driver last season, notching 6 podiums, as well as challenging for victory in Japan and the USA. He needs to keep this up as he leads Lotus for the first time, stepping out of Raikkonen’s shadow.

2013 Position: 7th          2013 Wins:           2013 Points: 132

Pastor MALDONADO (13)
F1’s maiden Venezuelan had an awful final season with Williams, supplemented by one solitary point in Hungary. His three seasons at Williams bore an unthinkable pole and win in Spain 2012, but his reputation for crashing has become more prominent. With a number like unlucky 13, he hopes not to add to this reputation, and instead get back to the podium.

2013 Position: 18th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 1

MCLAREN-MERCEDES
2013 can only be described as a bad year for Woking’s finest, with inter-team squabbling, the loss of Paddy Lowe as chief mechanic, and a car that was not fond of speed. As they prepare to say goodbye to Mercedes engines (with whom they have been partnered since 1996) for the return of Honda power next year, and with Eric Boullier taking over as team principal, and throw into the mix a highly-rated rookie, it could be a great resurgence for them.

2013 Position: 5th          Title Sponsor: TBA          Team Principal: Eric Boullier

Jenson BUTTON (22)
There was little that Button could do in 2013, as the car did not agree with his smooth driving style. The best he could muster was a 4th place finish in Brazil. He’ll be hoping for faster machinery this time round.

2013 Position: 9th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 73

Kevin MAGNUSSEN (20)
Magnussen’s McLaren credentials are clear – his father drove a race for the team in 1995. Hopefully, the younger Magnussen’s spell at the team will last a while longer. His win in the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 season got him the drive, coupled with involvement in the McLaren Young Driver Programme.

2013 Position: N/A          2013 Wins: N/A          2013 Points: N/A

FORCE INDIA-MERCEDES
Their dreams of beating McLaren to 5th place may have fallen a little short, but 2013, for the first half of the season at least, can only be regarded as an excellent step. The change in tyre rules held them back in later races, and too many crashes for outgoing Paul di Resta might have cost them 5th. With an all-new line up for this season, their aim is to rub shoulders with those on the podium.

2013 Position: 6th          Title Sponsor: Sahara          Team Principal: Vijay Mallaya

Nico HULKENBERG (27)
His choice of number has quite a legacy (Gilles Villeneuve) but the German’s excellent year with Sauber indicates that there may be one for him too. A sublime defensive drive to 4th in Korea was arguably one of the best drives for anyone of the year, punching well above the car’s weight. 2014 looks full of promise for the German, as he re-joins the team with whom he led a race in 2012.

2013 Position: 10th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 51

Sergio PEREZ (11)
Dropped by McLaren after a single year, ‘Checo’ hopes for more loyalty from Force India. Some say he got a little too big for his boots, particularly when it came to clashing with his team mate in Bahrain, and a clumsy race in Monaco, but the Mexican has plenty of positives to take from 2013, and definitely still has speed.

2013 Position: 11th          2013 Wins: 0           2013 Points: 49

SAUBER-FERRARI
The Swiss team took a step backwards last year, relative to their strong 2012 campaign. However, the Hinwil-based team ended last season strongly, so momentum is in their favour. They’ll be hoping to ride this into the new season, as the very experienced Adrian Sutil lends his name to the roster.

2013 Position: 7th          Title Sponsor: Telmex          Team Principal: Monisha Kaltenborn

Adrian SUTIL (99)
The German’s comeback in 2013 was extremely positive, leading the first race of the year. He then went on to have a brilliant attacking drive in Monaco where he nabbed both Alonso and Raikkonen in cheeky overtaking manouvres. He now moves to Sauber, the first team change of his career, so his biggest challenge will be adapting to that.

2013 Position: 13th          2013 Wins: 0           2013 Points: 29

Esteban GUTIERREZ (21)
Gutierrez’ rookie year came with an expectation. After the success of fellow Mexican Perez in 2012’s Sauber, it was thought that he could emulate the results of his compatriot. But the C32 was largely uncompetitive, and so Esteban ended the year with just 6 points. It was enough, though, to secure the seat for this season, in which he will be hoping for more.

2013 Position: 16th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 6

TORO ROSSO-RENAULT
New engines and power-trains and a new face spell a new challenge for Red Bull’s sister team. The team are a constant convellor belt, swiftly delivering young talents and dispersing them into bigger teams. As everything in the rule book changes, the team will be hoping their familiarity with adapting gives them an advantage this year.

2013 Position: 8th          Title Sponsor: Red Bull          Team Principal: Franz Tost

Jean-Eric VERGNE (25)
JEV actually had a better result than Ricciardo in 2013, scoring 6th in Canada, compared to 7th in Italy for Ricciardo. However the Australian’s consistency was cited as the decider, and so the Frenchman will hope to improve this aspect of his racing if he is to get a seat further up the grid.

2013 Position: 15th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 13

Daniil KVYAT (26)
Many were surprised when they announced the young Russian ahead of Antonio Felix Da Costa, but with a dominating victory in his rookie year of GP3, as well as a win in European Formula Three, it’s clear their confidence was not misplaced. By the way, his surname is pronounced “Kwee-at”.

2013 Position: N/A          2013 Wins: N/A          2013 Points: N/A

WILLIAMS-MERCEDES
Despite the win in 2012, Williams remain in the doldrums, and haven’t been anywhere near competitive since 2008. A switch to Mercedes power, and the signing of an ex-Ferrari man are two steps – hopefully – towards glory again. The team only scored 5 points last year; their worst ever. But with a strong driver line-up, things could be about to turn around.

2013 Position: 9th          Title Sponsor: Martini          Team Principal: Patrick Head

Felipe MASSA (19)
Last season was by no means a slouch for Felipe. Though finally dropped by the Ferrari family, he is still hungry for success, and bringing his race engineer Rob Smedley, with whom he is very close, will make him feel right at home. A podium and three 4th places last year show he is not past his best yet.

2013 Position: 8th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 112

Valtteri BOTTAS (77)
Bottas, or as he stylised himself with his new number, ‘BO77AS’, didn’t have much to work with last year, but a well-timed 3rd place qualifying in Canada and a handful of points in the USA show his potential if given a chance. He’ll be hoping that his second year as a Williams driver bears more fruit.

2013 Position: 17th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 4

MARUSSIA-FERRARI
Nothing changes at Marussia for the new season – in fact they’re only one of two teams to have the same two race drivers as last season; the other is Mercedes. 10th place in the Constructors for 2013 was a good achievement, and they will be looking to finally close down the gap to the likes of Toro Rosso and Williams.

2013 Position: 10th          Title Sponsor: CNET          Team Principal: John Booth

Jules BIANCHI (17)
The Frenchman was responsible for Marussia’s best result last season; 13th place in Malaysia. His good relationship with his team mate Chilton will be key in beating rivals Caterham – the Marussia boys have known each other for a year already, whilst Caterham have to get to know each other.

2013 Position: 19th          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 0

Max CHILTON (4)
Racing is definitely in the Chilton bloodstream, with his brother Tom a successful driver in Touring Cars. If Marussia have made the necessary steps, he could establish himself in his field too, and make the Chilton parents doubly proud. A tough rookie season lies behind, but his second year should be more stable.

2013 Position: 23rd          2013 Wins: 0          2013 Points: 0

CATERHAM-RENAULT
Although team CEO Tony Ferndandes is getting tired of throwing money at the team and getting no results, he should remain optimistic. They joined the sport when a status quo had already been established, and so a rule book overhaul could provide the chance to step up to the midfield.

2013 Position: 11th          Title Sponsor: General Electric          Team Principal: Cyril Abiteboul

Marcus ERICSSON (9)
Swedish Rookie Ericsson has made the step up from GP2, the series in which he won a race and clinched four other podiums on his way to 6th place. He will be hoping to help Caterham’s lengthy development and bring them some points for the first time.

2013 Position: N/A          2013 Wins: N/A          2013 Points: N/A

Kamui KOBAYASHI (10)
This fan favourite last raced for Sauber, and despite an incredible podium in Suzuka 2012, he was dropped for Hulkenberg. The Japanese sensation has been at Ferari for the last twelve months testing cars and demonstrating them in Russia, but maybe it’s best not to mention that…

2013 Position: N/A          2013 Wins: N/A          2013 Points: N/A

The season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia on March 16.

Ferrari and Sauber’s cars unmasked

FERRARI

Two Ferrari-powered cars have been the second and third teams to officially launch their vehicles for the 2014 season, one being the works Ferrari, the other, from Sauber.

The Scuderia whipped the tarps off their new Scarlet machine on Saturday, January 25 in a presentation at Maranello. The car’s name appears to spell the word ‘FIAT’, the name of their parent company, but the actual moniker, F14 T pertains to the year, and the ‘T’ stands for Turbo. The car’s name was chosen by fans in an online poll, and narrowly beat ‘F166’ as the winning title.

The car will be driver by the only duo of World Champions on the grid in the same team together; Kimi Raikkonen will use number 7, and Fernando Alonso number 14.

The car keeps the traditional Ferrari red that has been in use since 1996 when Marlboro first added their name to the car (before then it was a darker red known as Corsa Rossa) and includes patches of black on the lower half of the car, which arches up towards the back.

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As with all the car pictures released so far, the car’s nose has been subject of interest. The much lower noses have caused some less-than perfect looking racing machines this week, in particular McLaren’s MP4-29 but the car from Italy has a more svelte and sophisticated look than many of its contemporaries. However, aesthetic superiority is never a guarantee of success in F1 and the sheer drop in the nose is not necessarily any better or worse than the cars we have seen before.

Fernando is well aware that he has not won the title since 2006, but hopes that maybe history will repeat itself here:

“Obviously Schumacher won his first title with Ferrari in his fifth year, and this is my fifth year with the team, so hopefully I can have some of that success too. We had many opportunities, especially in 2010 and 2012, where we were very close, so maybe we can do it again. [Source: YouTube]

The first test in Jerez begins on January 28, so for now, there is just time to reflect on the red machine which I have personally fallen in love with. it’s absolutely gorgeous.

SAUBER

Sauber also revealed their 2014 Car, on Sunday January 26. The car is very similar in appearance to its predecessor, the C32. This one, named sequentially after it, the C33, is a dark grey machine with a few white and minimal red accents. The nose has not been shown in a front-on aspect yet, so it could be that this car has an overhanging protrusion much like the McLaren and Williams cars seen.

For now though, it appears to have a much more conventional appearance.

Sauber F1 Team C33 Press

The car will be powered by the same engine as the car above, the Ferrari. The engine will also be supplying the Marussia team in their first non-Cosworth iteration.

Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez are the team’s drivers for 2014, with Gutierrez being retained for a second year in a row, and Sutil making a straight swap with Nico Hulkenberg, who has replaced him at Force India. Geido van der Garde, who was dropped by Caterham earlier this week, will step in as Reserve driver.

Gutierrez, who had a troubled first year driving for the team, had this to say:

“Last season I had a steep learning curve, but working together with the team, I was able to make steady progress. This is my fourth year with the Swiss team, and the second as a racing driver. Last year I learnt a great deal and I feel ready for the next step. The 2014 season will be a huge challenge on the technical front, which makes it all the more important to know the people you work with well. I will do everything I can to improve further and to support the team with all the resources I have.” [Source: Sky Sports]

Sutil will drive with number 99 on his car, while Gutierrez will use number 21.

Charlie Eustice

Better Cate’ than never! Caterham announce 2014 drivers | Mid-week round up #4

ALL NEW LINE-UP

Caterham F1 Team today announced the signing of their drivers for this year’s Formula 1 Season. Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi, and Swedish Marcus Ericsson are confirmed to be the two fortunate drivers.

For a couple of weeks now Caterham F1 Team have been the only entrants to have neither of their drivers signed for the 2014 Formula One Season, and with the confirmation of Max Chilton at Marussia last week, become the only team to have any empty spaces at all. The drivers were announced during a presentation at their Factory in Leafield on January 21, 2014.

Kobayashi gets his second bite at the F1 cherry with Caterham

Kobayashi is a very experienced driver with a more than 50 races under his belt. Starting his career at Toyota in 2009 to replace the injured Timo Glock, he moved to Sauber for the next three years where he enjoyed moderate success, scoring a podium in his home race in 2012. He was definitely a popular driver among fans, as he would often go for overtaking manouvers that others would not. Kobayashi was dropped by Sauber last year to make way for Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez, and his absence from the sport marked the first time sine 2001 that there was no Japanese driver on the grid.

Marcus Ericsson is a Swedish Rookie who has come through many of the junior Formulae, winning Formula BMW UK and Japanese F3 on his way to GP2, where he won one race. He will be one of two Scandanavian rookies, the other being Kevin Magnussen at McLaren.

It is understood that Ericsson and Kobayashi will use the race numbers 9 and 10 respectively for this season and any others in the future.

The team’s drivers from 2013 have both left the team, with Geido van der Garde moving to Sauber as test and reserve driver, and France’s Charles Pic leaving the sport altogether. It is unclear whether former Caterham man Heikki Kovalainen will re-join the team as a test driver, following his disappointing two races at the end of 2013 where he replaced Kimi Raikkonen.

CATERHAM CONUNDRUMS

It is not all plain sailing at Caterham, however. Team owner Tony Fernandes is feeling the economic pressure, and says that if the team fail to score any points in 2014, he may consider pulling the plug on the entire operation. Couple that with his confirmation that Julio Cesar is to leave QPR, the football team he owns, and it makes for a very blue January for the Malaysian Businessman.

In an interview, Fernandes said:

“If we’re at the back I don’t think I’m going to carry on. Nothing is set in stone but after five years with no points there is a limit to one’s patience, money, motivation, etc, so it’s an important year.

“I need to feel like we’re going somewhere. If I feel we can compete, then great but if we’re not competing then we have to seriously examine ourselves and ask – does this make sense?” [Source: Sky Sports News]

Being a back-marker in F1 has many drawbacks, and due to a lucky 13th place in Malaysia last year, it was Marussia that ended up finishing in 10th place in the championship and scooping the prize money. Caterham, Marussia and HRT all joined the sport in 2010 (albeit with different names) and none have scored a point thus far, leading HRT to bow out in 2012.

Charlie Eustice

F-I-Eh? | Formula 1’s raft of new rules for 2014

DOUBLE POINTS

(Before I begin, credit to you if you read that in the announcer voice from Call of Duty Zombies.)

Not content with hiking up the points tariff to include 9th and 10th place in 2010, The FIA have recently decided to make the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi a ‘double-points’ event, meaning first place will get an unthinkable FIFTY points, an tally that would take five wins to accumulate as recently as 2009.

The rule comes into effect because it is thought it will make drivers strive to do better and absolutely provide a decent incentive to fight for the championship right to the end. F1 fans who watched the 2010 season will remember the Abu Dhabi race of that year where a frustrated Fernando Alonso could not get past Vitaly Petrov’s Renault, and lost the championship to Vettel. While the rule was not based on this scenario, it is thought that it will avoid similar predicaments in the future by spurring drivers on to take more risks and go for broke.

In my opinion – I’m not going to mince my words here – this is complete and utter bollocks. This is moving the goalposts to the ultimate degree, surely rather than making more points available to everyone, including non-championship contenders, the points should be reserved for the very best.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say that points go down to 10th and it’s the double points race in Abu Dhabi. Imagine Alonso is leading the championship by 19 points from Hamilton. Alonso is out, and Hamilton’s in 6th place at the moment, so needs to move up to 5th to score 20 points and win the title. But Pastor Maldonado got lucky at the start of the race and is in 5th place. He could score 20 points here, there’s no way he is going to let Lewis past.

The idea is that the points boost will make championship contenders more hungry for points, but that incentive will not just restrict itself to the front of the grid, everyone will be keen to do it, and it could be extremely dangerous, with fortunate drivers in high places vehemently defending their clutch of points. My main concern is not that of safety though, for and idea that promises to double points, it’s completely pointless. Why and where did this need to happen?! Sebastian Vettel hates the idea, and if that doesn’t say enough then I really don’t know what will.

POLE TROPHY

I’m less annoyed about this, but I still dislike how quickly the governing body are changing the sport between one season and another; Formula 1 is going to become unrecognisable before too long. Perhaps inspired by Mercedes’ lacklustre pole-to-win conversion rate in 2013, a ‘Pole Trophy’ will be awarded to the driver with the most pole positions in a season. It’s a non-championship affecting accolade which is why I don’t really mind it, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a piece of silverware.

PERMANENT NUMBERS

I’m sitting on the fence for this one. Drivers will now have permanent numbers assigned to their cars throughout their careers. I did always like the team-specific numbers, like Tyrell being 3 & 4, Ferrari being 27 & 28 etc, so in a way it sparks a sort of nostalgic buzz. This actually could be a wonderful thing. I’m not old enough to tell you about it but I know of the notoriety of Nigel Mansell’s Red 5 during his days at Williams, and we could see more of these traditions emerge

Nige' with his classic numerical identification
Nige’ with his classic numerical identification.

Basically, all the current drivers, and any new drivers that enter the sport from hereon in will have to pick a number that will stay with them for the duration of their career in the sport. The number ‘1’ will be reserved only for that Season’s World Champion, but they will get to pick a regular number if they fail to retain the crown, or they would rather not carry #1.

In an effort to improve driver spotting, cars will have their numbers made much more visible, and the drivers will be made to carry their chosen number on their helmets too. In the past, driver spotting has been fairly easy, as the drivers usually choose a different helmet to one another, but for example in 2013, Hamilton and Rosberg both wore a yellow helmet. This was very confusing, and the little-known TV Camera mount was the only way to tell them apart unless there was a close-up of the helmet itself. If you have trouble seeing who’s who, the first driver in the team gets a red T-shaped camera above his head, and the second gets a yellow one.

Red means first, yellow means second.
Remember – red means first, yellow means second.

There are other rules for 2014 as well; you’ve no doubt heard of the engine changes, chassis alterations and the penalty-points tarrif for naughty crash-happy drivers, but I’ve highlighted these three because they’ve come into effect ever so recently. I’m a little irked by the fact that these rules have been thought of little more than three months before they are planned to be imposed, and I would definitely have liked to see a poll or ballot, particularly in the case of the double-points travesty. Whether or not that does provide an interesting race in Abu Dhabi, we will find out in eleven months.

Kovalainen to replace injured Raikkonen | Mid Week Round-up #1

Heikki Kovalainen looks set to replace Kimi Raikkonen for the remaining two races of the 2013 Formula One Season at Lotus F1 Team.

The move is due to F1’s biggest rebel (conveniently) having back surgery. The convenience of course is that the Iceman had threatened his cash-strapped Enstone team with the notion of missing the last two races anyway, due to not being paid a single Euro all year.

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The 2007’s World Champion’s threat was perhaps legitimate, and it’s entirely plausible that the non-mandatory surgery is just a facade for his frustration with the team. We must not discount the equally real possibility though, that Kimi really does need this surgery and wants to be in the best shape possible for his second bite at the Ferrari cherry next year.

Heikki last raced in F1 for the Caterham team in 2012, who have also gone by the name Lotus in the past, so to aid any confused viewers, no, you’re not watching the 2011 season. It’s also noteworthy that this is technically the team that Heikki started his career with, although at the time they were known as Renault.

Other drivers linked to the position were in-demand (and personal favourite of mine) Nico Hulkenberg, but he decided not to confuse his future further by signing for the team that chose pay driver Maldonado over him for next year.

Oddly, Michael Schumacher was asked if he would step in as well, but the German has retired enough times already, and though he would arguably be fit enough to take on the role, he rather likes his pipe and slippers.

WILLIAMS OPTS FOR BRAZILIAN

In other news, Williams have announced that another Finnish driver, Valtteri Bottas, will remain in F1 for another season, and will be partnered by 2008 F1 Runner Up Felipe Massa after his 8-year stint bathing in the red glow of the Ferrari family.

Massa believes he’s still every bit as good as he was when he narrowly missed out on that Championship back in 2008, and joins a long list of succesful Brazilian drivers at Williams, including Rubens Barrichello, Bruno Senna, and his uncle Ayrton whose time at the team was tragically cut short.

SERGIO TO SERGI-GO

McLaren’s Sergio Perez is to part ways with the team after just a single season, with the Mexican failing to adjust to the team after what has been a trying year. Petulant streaks in Bahrain (where he famously clashed with his team mate) and a few ill-advised incidents elsewhere have made ‘Checo’ seem a bit too big for his boots after the switch from plucky underdogs Sauber, to high-flying McLaren.

The team have not been anywhere near competitive this season and it’s unlikely that this is the reason for his departure, but for whatever reason, the entities appear to have parted, albeit on good terms. His future is uncertain for now, but a move back to Sauber might not be a million miles away.

Kevin Magnussen looks like he will replace the current McLaren number two, although this has not yet been confirmed. The Dane’s (Kevin Magnussen) father drove a single race for McLaren back in 1995 when Mika Hakkinen had his Appendix removed at the Pacific Grand Prix, and finished a decent 10th place, but in old money, that doesn’t score you any points. Papa Magnussen has won the GT1 class of Le Mans 4 times though, so clearly there is petrol in the veins of the 21-year old.