Daily Archives: January 26, 2010

Teams agree on new tyre rule for 2010 qualifying

Formula 1 teams have agreed to a new rule that will see all the qualifyers in Q3 (top ten) be forced to start the race on the tyres they set their fastest lap in Q3 with.

It is understood that the majority of teams present voted in favour of a rule that will require the top 10 cars that make it through to the final session of qualifying to start the race on the same tyres that they set their fastest Q3 time on.

This has not yet been introduced to the 2010 rules and regulations, but it has been understood that the Sporting Working Group have agreed already. The Formula 1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council will now vote on this change, before it is added as a regulation.

The Overtaking Working Group says that this is being done to “improve the show”. If it is introduced, teams will have to decide between a tyre that is slower but more consistent, and a quicker but faster-wearing tyre. The idea is that there will be a mix of tactics, and lead to more exciting races.

When asked about the new proposals, Martin Whitmarsh, chairman of FOTA, said:

“Inevitably, when you make a change, there are pros and cons,” he said. “Regarding the pros, it arguably makes qualifying purer because the fastest car/driver combination will be setting the fastest times, and the public can understand that.”

“Secondly, in the race itself, overtaking was often being planned and implemented to occur as a consequence of strategy, and therefore happening in the pit lane and not the circuit.”

“In the absence of that effect, drivers will have a greater incentive to overtake. There have been occasions in the past where a driver hasn’t had that incentive because he knows he will be running longer and can get past the car ahead strategically through the pit stops.”

“Additionally, the fact that drivers will qualify on low-fuel, and then the next time they drive the car in anger into the first corner will be after a standing start with cold tyres and cold brakes and 160kg of fuel.”

“That will be very challenging for them, not just in terms of getting round that first corner, but in terms of how they look after their tyres and how the balance of the car will alter as a consequence of that. And there will be drivers who are able to deal with those changes better than others.”

“Those are all the positives. On the negative side, it’s possible that if all of the above is managed equally well by every driver, then we’ll have lost one of the strategic campaign interests that the more avid fans enjoyed in the sport. Hopefully the former points will outweigh the latter.”

How stupid can they get? There is a distinctive line between “improving the show” and “racing”. These constant rule changes are confusing the fans that this sport is trying to attract. Even if we end up with an overtake-fest, it’s not real racing, because we artificially created it.

Real racing is allowing the teams to use whatever technology and methods they want, with only a few regulations involved for safety reasons, and throw them on track with the best drivers in the world.

But, of course, this is never going to happen. At some point, we will see Formula 1 become filled with overtaking and exciting incidents, and the sport will be empty inside.

Silverstone close to using “Arena” circuit

Silverstone's proposed layout for 2010

Silverstone's proposed layout for 2010

Silverstone is getting closer to a decicion that will see them decide on whether they will use the Arena circuit for their F1 race or not.

The managing director Richard Phillips said that, while he is hopeful that the circuit would be used, the final decicion rests with Bernie Ecclestone.

“It’s yet to be decided,” he told AUTOSPORT during a site visit to the Silverstone works. “We need approval from three sides. So far two have said yes and one [Ecclestone] says maybe, so we’ll work on that.”

“Allsport [F1's corporate hospitality company] has said yes. And while the FIA needs to homologate the new track of course, it is happy with the plan in principle.”

As long as the FIA stays happy, which they probably will, there is little to stop the circuit from being approved as an F1-suitable event. However, Ecclestone makes the final decicion, as his Formula One Managment (FOM) company has the authority to decide on the layout of the F1 calendar.

At the moment, the circuit is undergoing construction work. A new infield circuit is being constructed (not related to the Arena circuit), and mojor changes to grandstands and spectator facilities.

The Woodcote to Copse grandstand (to the left of the start-finish straigh) has been torn down, and will be moved further back, so as to allow the start-finish straight to be widened. The new grandstand will still be nearly as close to the track as the last one. As part of this upgrade, 180,000 tonnes of earth have alrady been moved, and 8,000 tonnes of asphalt have already been laid.

The only loss of the Arena circuit will be the the exclusion of the corners Bridge to Abbey (known as the Complex). Since this is a very tight series of corners with no chance of overtaking, I’m not sad to see it go. Not that it was bad, but it was slow and boring, a complete contast to the rest of the circuit.

The road replacing the Complex will consist of a right, instead of a left, before Bridge, then a straight, followed by a right jink, wide hairpin, and another straight to rejoin at the Woodcote corner.

The 2010 British Grand Prix is scheduled for the 11th July.

Renault R30 fired up for first time

The Renault R30 has been fired up for the first time, as the team looks forward to their launch on Sunday 31st January.

Pictures have been supplied by Renault, but they do not show the new car, as it will be under wraps until the Valencia test.

On its official site, the Renault team said:

“The fire-up of a new car is always a symbolic moment. Not only does it reassure the engineers that the car’s systems are in good working order, it also gives everybody a big morale boost. The sound of that V8 engine revving away was pretty sweet for everyone who played a part in getting it ready on time.”

Pictures from the engine fire-up:

Ricciardo and Hartley are Red Bull reserves

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull has announced that their 2010 reserve drivers to be Daniel Ricciardo and Brendon Hartley. Both of these drivers are already in the Red Bull junior team.

Brendon Hartley

Brendon Hartley

It is also understood that the two drivers will alternate reserve driver duties on a race-by-race basis.

Ricciardo impressed last year in the young driver test in December, while Hartley was reserve driver for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso last year.

When asked about this, Ricciardo said:

“It’s very exciting. It was an email I was hoping for since the test in December, but I wasn’t sure whether it would come at all. So, a big relief, but also very satisfying.”

“This will be a very good introduction to F1 – even though I won’t be driving the car, just to sit in on the briefings and do what the drivers do on a weekend is a good way to start learning. It’s all exciting and I’ll be busy, even though I’m not driving.”

At the moment, Australian Ricciardo is the reigning British Formula Three champion. In 200, he raced in the Italian Formula Renault series, and in 2008 won the Formula Renault West European cup, with 8 wins. Last year, he won the British F3 series with 2 races to spare. I’m expecting him to be in Formula 1 in the next few years, as his racing history shows he has a huge amount of talent.

Here’s a great overtake in the British F3 championship from Ricciardo:

And a burnout as well :)

Kiwi Brendon Hartley started in 2006 in Formula Renault 2.0. In 2007 he won the Eurocup title, and in 2008 raced in British F3 just like Ricciardo. Here, he finised 3rd, behind Jaime Alguersuari and Oliver Turvey. In 2009, he competed in the Formula 3 Euroseries. I don’t know as much about him, but he clearly deserves the opportunity to be in the Red Bull junior team.

Here’s a video I found about him when he competed in the famous F3 Macau Grand Prix:

As always, I love to see the new guys get a chance in Formula1. Both have lots of talent, and deserve this opportunity. Hopefully we can see them racing in F1 in a few years time.

Di Resta set for Friday practice role

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that Paul di Resta is close to getting a deal with Force India that would see him take part in Friday practice sessions on race weekends.

Speaking to Reuters, he said:

“Paul will be running I believe in the majority of the Friday sessions (at grand prix weekends) for Force India, so it’s a great opportunity for him.”

“I’m happy for him. He’s going to push like hell to make his case to have a race drive at Force India during the course of this year.”

Also, he revealed that several midfield team were looking at this option:

“If you are trying to win a championship, to not allow your principal drivers the Friday session is not something we would contemplate,” he explained. “But it’s something that some other teams are looking at and it’s a great opportunity for Paul.”

My first thought is this: Why the hell is this being reported by Whitmarsh? Surely someone from Force India would have said this, if they knew it was happening. And anyways, it’s not Whitmarsh’s business, so he has no reason to go off  telling everyone about it.

More to the point, this is a great opportunity for di Resta. Test drivers rarely get a chance to prove themselves these days, so he will have to do his very best in these sessions.

Jose Maria Lopez confirmed at USF1

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Argetinian Jose Maria Lopez has been confirmed as a driver for USF1 for this season.

However, the fact that the deal was announced by the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, shows the politics behind the move. His political connections, such as Carlos Reutemann, show that it was more his influence than his driving prowess.

When asked about the move, Lopez said:

“This is a truly memorable day for me, my family and the people of Argentina.”

“I have been working towards this day for much of my life and I can’t thank Peter and Ken [Anderson] enough for this opportunity. Of course a new F1 team faces many challenges but our goal is to improve with each race and build a foundation that will eventually see this team competing for wins and championships.”

Peter Windsor explained why they signed him:

“We’ve been following his career since he dominated the Renault V6 Championship in 2003 and we’re thrilled to have him on board as we return America to Formula One.”

“Lopez is a consummate professional and born leader. The most revealing thing about his character was how he handled the disappointment of not racing for Renault after three years of testing with them in F1. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for himself, he returned to Argentina and totally dominated the local scene, winning 38 races and three championships. He became a major star as a result and, in turn, the Argentine nation – a country where F1 is second only to soccer – has got behind him.”

I’ve already said that I’m doubtful of Lopez’s driving ability, but I’d say he’s better than the last bunch of Argentinian drivers. Gaston Mazzacane was aeons off the pace in 2000 for Minardi and 2001 for Prost, and is well known for taking out his pit crew in Indianapolis 2000.

Then before that we had Esteban Tuero, in 1998 for Minardi. The only thing I can remember about him is his pit stop in, erm, Argentina.

Then we had Norberto Fontana, who is famous for holding up Jacques Villeneuve to try to help Michael Schumacher win the 1997 championship.

Hopefully Lopez is better than those lot, but I’m still doubtful whether he deserves the drive or not.

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