Monthly Archives: December 2011

Verstappen “convinced” Schumacher used driver aids in 1994

Jos Verstappen claims that Schumacher cheated en route to his first title

Jos Verstappen claims that Schumacher cheated en route to his first title

Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen has re-ignited the controversy over Michael Schumacher’s 1994 title success, after claiming that the German used illegal electronic driver aids.

In 1994, the FIA found that Schumacher’s Benneton did indeed contain illegal launch control protocol, which heavily assists a driver from a standing start on the grid. The software was hidden behind an ominously named “Option 13″ setting.

However, the sporting organisation was unable to prove that the Benneton actually used this software, although the 1994 French Grand Prix start suggests otherwise.

Now, Verstappen – Schumacher’s teammate in 1994 – has restarted this debate. In an interview with Dutch sports magazine NUsport, he said :

"I know what happened when we were together at Benetton. People think that I’m 
looking for excuses, but I know that his car was different from mine. I always 
thought it was impossible. I braked at the limit and I went into the corners as 
hard as it was possible. So how could Schumacher have done it? There was something 
wrong.

There were electronic driver aids. It was never mentioned, but I am convinced. I 
know enough now. Like everyone else, Michael is dependent on his car. For most 
people he was a god but he is not superman – in a kart he never beat me.

They [Benneton] will never admit it, but I am convinced. I later asked Flavio 
Briatore, who had brought me to Benetton and was then the team manager. He said, 
"Let's not talk about it." I know enough."

In 1994, Benneton were also embroiled in other controversies, such as illegaly removing a safety filter from their fuel rigs, speeding up pit stops. However, this also resulted in slightly fiery results, as Verstappen found out in Germany that year, as leaked fuel ignited and set his car ablaze.

Here is footage from the controversial start in France 1994:

4 hour limit and safety car changes among 2012 rule changes

Lapped cars will be able to pass the safety car in 2012

Lapped cars will be able to pass the safety car in 2012

The FIA has released the 2012 technical and sporting regulations, with several interesting changes.

The main news is that lapped cars will again be able to unlap themselves under the safety car. This was a procedure carried out up to 2009, but was stopped after the process took too long. However, as lapped cars in the middle of the field has ruined several restarts, such as the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, the FIA has re-introduced the rule.

As well as this, a 4-hour limit has been imposed on Grands Prix, including time lost through red flags. This comes after the 4 hour and 4 minute-long Canadian Grand Prix, the longest race in F1 history. The 2 hour limit for on-track racing still remains.

Drivers will not be allowed move back onto the racing line after moving off-line to defend their position. Michael Schumacher’s questionable defensive driving against Lewis Hamilton in Monza prompted this clarification.

Drivers may not leave the track without a justifiable reason Sebastian Vettel cutting corners in Korean GP qualifying led many to believe he was gaining an advantage this way by saving fuel and reducing tyre wear.

Also, one three-day test session has been added to the 2012 calendar, but details have not yet been revealed.

The full FIA statement:

FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Changes to the 2012 Technical Regulations

- All engine standard ECU set up and control parameters, which were formerly contained only within a Technical Directive, are now contained within the relevant parts of the Technical Regulations.
– The exhaust tailpipes are now strictly regulated in order to ensure that the aerodynamic effect exhaust gases have on the car is kept to an absolute minimum.
– Better marking of in-car emergency switches operated by marshals are now stipulated.
– The side impact structures will now have to be subjected to a further (upward) push-off test.

Changes to the 2012 Sporting Regulations

- Cars may no longer take part in pre-season testing without having passed all crash tests.
– There will now be a maximum race time of four hours to ensure that a lengthy suspension of a race does not result in a race that could run up to eight hours if left unregulated.
– Before the safety car returns to the pits all lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the pack, ensuring a clean re-start without slower cars impeding those racing for the leading positions.
– Cars which were in the pit lane when a race is suspended will now be allowed to re-join the cars on the grid in the position they were in when the race was suspended.
– Drivers may no longer leave the track without a justifiable reason, i.e. cutting a chicane on reconnaissance laps or ‘in’ laps to save time and fuel.
– Drivers may no longer move back onto the racing line having moved off it to defend a position.
– One three-day test will be carried out during the season, formerly there were none.
– All stewards’ decisions which are not subject to appeal are now in one place instead of being in various places within the regulations.
– All tyres allocated to a driver may now be used on the first day of practice; formerly only three sets were permitted.

Sauber leaves FOTA, with Toro Rosso not far behind?

Sauber are the latest team to leave FOTA

Sauber are the latest team to leave FOTA

Sauber has become the latest team to drop out of the Formula One Teams Association.

The team notified FOTA several days ago, with the news becoming public today. A spokesperson has stated that the team have left for reasons “that have been fully explained to FOTA and will be kept private for now.”

In the wake of Ferrari and Red Bull’s departure from the group, this is another blow to the association that has struggled in recent times to instigate talks on the Resource Restriction Agreement.

Toro Rosso are also rumoured to be on the way out, after it was confirmed that the team did not send a representative to the latest FOTA meeting on Tuesday.

US Grand Prix back on 2012 calendar as construction resumes

The Circuit of the Americas is back on the calendar

The Circuit of the Americas is back on the calendar

The United States Grand Prix is back on the calendar, as disputes over payments to Bernie Ecclestone have been resolved.

After several failed payments to ringmaster Ecclestone, he hinted that the first race in America since 2007 would be shelved, after comptroller Susan Combs suspended all payments.

However, the Circuit of the Americas has today stated that Bernie has received payment, which has been confirmed by the fact that the race is back on the 2012 calendar.

Construction has also resumed at the circuit, ensuring the track will be completed before its inaugural race on the 18th November.

Here is the full 2012 calendar:

18 March            Australian GP
25 March            Malaysian GP
15 April            Chinese GP
22 April            Bahrain GP
13 May              Spanish GP
27 May              Monaco GP
10 June             Canada GP
24 June             European GP
8 July              British GP
22 July             German GP
29 July             Hungarian GP
2 September         Belgian GP
9 September         Italian GP
23 September        Singapore GP
7 October           Japanese GP
14 October          Korean GP
28 October          Indian GP
4 November          Abu Dhabi GP
18 November         US GP
25 November         Brazilian GP

FOTA in doubt after Red Bull and Ferrari pull out

Red Bull and Ferrari are to leave FOTA in February

Red Bull and Ferrari are to leave FOTA in February

The future of the Formula One Teams Association is in doubt, after both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing announced their departure from the group.

Disputes have arisen over the last few weeks regarding the future of the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), which has attempted to limit how teams spend their money in Formula 1.

However, the top 4 teams – Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari – have all been accused recently about overspending and breaking the RRA. The departure of two of the largest teams in the sport confirms that a deal has not been found, and F1 will have a brand new controversy to talk about over the winter.

It must be noted that a team must serve a 2-month notice before it is to leave the association, so Red Bull and Ferrari will technically leave the group in February, providing some time to try and find a solution to this issue.

Ferrari attempted to explain their reason for leaving:

"Ferrari has informed FOTA President Martin Whitmarsh that it is leaving the 
organisation made up of the teams competing in the Formula 1 World Championship.

It was a difficult decision and a great deal of thought went into it. It was 
taken reluctantly after analysing the current situation and the stalemate when 
it came to debate on some issues that were at the core of why the association 
was formed, indeed with Ferrari and Luca di Montezemolo as the main instigator 
and promoter of ideas. It’s not by chance that the President of the Maranello 
company held that same position and job title within FOTA up to the end of 
2009.

Some of the major achievements of the association during these years, also 
worked out in conjunction with the FIA, centred around cost reduction, which 
was of significant benefit to everyone, the big teams and the small ones.

Ferrari was on the front line in this area, even before the birth of FOTA and 
it intends to continue down this route to ensure the sustainability of the 
sport in the long term. Now however, it is necessary to find some new impetus 
to move it along because FOTA’s drive has run its course, despite the excellent 
work of current President, Martin Whitmarsh in trying to reach agreement 
between the various positions for the common good.

Ferrari will continue to work with the other teams to make the current RRA, 
Resource Restriction Agreement, aimed at controlling costs, more effective and 
efficient, modifying it to make it more stringent in key areas such as 
aerodynamics, to rebalance some aspects such as testing and to expand it to 
areas currently not covered such as engines.

Formula 1, like the rest of the world in fact, is currently going through a 
delicate period. Ferrari wants to work with all parties for the future of a 
sport that expresses the highest level of motor sport technology.

We must return to a situation where Formula 1 is really a test bed for 
advanced technological research, the results of which can be transferred to 
Granturismo cars. In addition, we must not forget that this sport must become 
more user friendly and more accessible to the general public and furthermore, 
it cannot be the only professional sport where it is practically impossible to 
do any training: the number of days of testing must be increased so that the 
drivers, especially the young ones who lack experience and the teams, can be 
adequately prepared, as well as providing more opportunities for them to come 
into contact with spectators and sponsors."

Autosport has stated that these top 4 teams are to meet privately to try to reach an agreement.

The last time FOTA was in such a crisis was 2009, when Williams and Force India were thrown out of the organisation, in the midst of the budget cap controversy.

Maldonado and Bottas retained by Williams

Maldonado has been confirmed at Williams for next year

Maldonado has been confirmed at Williams for next year

Pastor Maldonado will remain at the Williams team for the following year, the team has confirmed.

As well as this, Valterri Bottas has been kept as the team’s reserve driver for 2012. He drove for Williams in the recent young driver test in Abu Dhabi.

Having subtansial sponsorship from petroleum firm PDVSA surely helped the Venezuelan driver, but team principal Frank Williams praised his “consistent and strong race pace”:

"Pastor has proven this year that he is not only quick but also that he is able 
to maintain a consistent and strong race pace.

Pastor has been responsible for all of our forays into Q3 in 2011 and his race at 
Monaco was outstanding. Pastor has also settled into the team at Williams very 
well, contributing strongly in the factory and with our partners.

He will play a critical role in 2012 as we rebuild the team and move forward."

Bottas will take part in 15 Friday practice sessions next year. It still has not been confirmed who will partner Maldonado for 2012.

Pastor scored just a single point in F1 this year, and was heavily criticised for his lunge on Lewis Hamilton at Spa.

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