Category Archives: News Articles

FIA introduces new safety measures after cameraman accident

The FIA has decided to enforce new rules regarding the pit lane for the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards, after an FOM cameraman was struck by a wheel during last week’s German Grand Prix.

Paul Allen suffered a broken collarbone, broken ribs and a concussion after Mark Webber’s stray right rear wheel detached and hit the FOM employee. He is in a stable condition, but the FIA has decided to introduce measures to try to prevent this from happening again.

Only marshals and team personnel are allowed in the pit lane, while FOM approved media crew have been moved to the pit wall. Helmets are now mandatory for all team members involved in pit stops.

The reduction in pit lane speed limit – from 100kph to 80kph – has been fast-tracked so that it will be enforced at the next race. It is unclear whether the current 60kph speed limit during practice or qualifying will be changed.

The Singapore, Monaco and Australian Grands Prix circuits will have 60kph limits instead, since they feature much narrower pit lanes.

These measures were fast-tracked by Jean Jodt, who instructed the World Motor Sports Council to immediately ratify these changes. However, several complaints have already been voiced over these measures, noting that Allen wearing a helmet would not have prevented any injury. The death of Henry Surtees in 2009 after a wheel strike backs up this claim.

 

Vettel survives Lotus onslaught to win German Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has taken his first ever home victory at the Nurburgring, defending valiantly against Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages.

Both Vettel and Mark Webber swamped pole sitter Lewis Hamilton at the start, Mark almost snatching the lead, but was quickly pushed wide at Turn 1 by his teammate. Felipe Massa made a decent start, moving up to 6th, but a self-inflicted spin on Lap 4 resulted in yet another embarrassment for the floundering Ferrari driver.

Fernando Alonso didn’t perform well in the opening stint either. He was only 7th after the start, and made little progress on his opening set of prime tyres. However he seemed to gain pace after the first stop, and soon began to catch the leaders.

Webber kept up with Vettel’s pace after the start, but yet another botched pit stop ruined his race. Again, the rear left wheel wasn’t secured, and disaster struck when it fell off and collided with an FOM cameraman in the pit lane. Mark was wheeled back into his box, dropping him a lap down, while the cameraman was sent to hospital for checks.

High track temperatures meant both Lotus drivers were on fine form, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean putting heavy pressure on Hamilton in the first stint. An early pit stop for Grosjean propelled him into 2nd place, but Raikkonen wasn’t so lucky. He was stuck in the back of a train, led by Nico Rosberg, who hadn’t pitted quite as early, and held up his teammate and the Lotus up massively.

Nico was eventually instructed to release Lewis, which he eventually did on Lap 14, but the damage was done for Mercedes. Once Kimi got past the German, he quickly dispatched of Hamilton, and had to chase Grosjean down for 2nd.

In the middle of all these battles was Jenson Button. The McLaren driver ran a huge first stint, running as high as 4th up until Lap 20. The same strategy was applied by Nico Hulkenberg, another driver who appeared to be outperforming his car this weekend.

Romain had the advantage of a batter tyre strategy when chasing Vettel, but a Safety Car appearance ended that. It came out for a bizarre reason – after parking his Marussia with an engine failure, Jules Bianchi soon watched from the track barriers at the final chicane as his car began to roll across the track, almost colliding with race leader Vettel.

With all the frontrunners pitting earlier than expected, Grosjean’s advantage over Vettel was wiped out. Red Bull gained massively from the SC appearance, as Mark Webber was allowed to regain a lap, and was now able to fight his way back through the field.

Soon after the safety car, Vettel had to weather another problem – this time from his own car. His KERS began to malfunction, and Sebastian was forced to alternate between constant changes of the brake bias and occasional bursts of KERS to keep the system running. This allowed Grosjean and Raikkonen to close up on the leader.

Despite his KERS issues, Sebastian was able to fend off both Lotuses in his third stint. Lotus then opted for a split strategy to attack the Red Bull – Romain attempted to undercut Vettel, while Kimi ran a longer stint to outpace him.

Amazingly, neither worked. While Raikkonen may have been able to run until the finish, his team brought him in with 12 laps to go, surrendering the lead and possibly the win for a set of used soft tyres. Grosjean was ordered out of his teammate’s way, to allow a final attack.

Raikkonen wore down Vettel’s lead in the closing laps, getting tantalisingly close by the end, but was forced to concede defeat by the final corner. Sebastian extended his lead in the championship to 34 points, while Lotus took an impressive 2-3 finish, with Grosjean finally putting in another good drive this year.

Further back, Alonso put in blazingly fast laps on his last two stints to fight his way to 4th place, almost catching Grosjean in the process. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were locked in a last-lap battle for 5th, until a slow Caterham lost Button time and the position. Jenson was left fuming, saying: “When you’re fighting for position, you expect the backmarkers to move over, even if they’re fighting for position themselves.”

Off-camera, Mark Webber had a spirited drive, recovering all the way to 7th place. Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg couldn’t keep up with their teammates at all, while Nico Hulkenberg blasted his way from 15th to 10th in the final few laps, after pitting late for the option tyre.

This was a stunning win for Vettel – in a car not as fast as the Lotus, or as reliable as the Ferrari. Despite an extremely tense 30-lap battle, Sebastian remained cool and composed throughout, and this victory will be a huge stepping stone towards a potential fourth championship.

FOM cameraman hospitalised after pit lane accident

The FIA has confirmed that an FOM cameraman has been injured and taken to hospital, during an incident during today’s German Grand Prix.

Paul Allen was operating in the Lotus pit box, when he was struck by a stray wheel from Mark Webber’s Red Bull. He has since been trnasferred to hospital, and is reportedly conscious and talking to doctors.

The FIA statement reads as follows:

"During the German Grand Prix, an FOM cameraman in pit lane was struck by a loose 
wheel. Paul Allen was hit on the left hand side.

Remaining conscious, he was treated at the circuit medical centre and then 
transported by helicopter to Koblenz Hospital.

The Briton has been kept there, under observation. Further information from the 
hospital will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Mark Webber to leave F1 for Porsche WEC programme in 2014

2013 will be Red Bull driver Mark Webber’s final year in the sport, as he moves to Porsche’s World Endurance Championship squad for the 2014 season.

The Australian has struggled relative to teammate Sebastian Vettel in recent years, frequently citing favouritism as a catalyst for conflict within the team. Several spats between the two drivers have emerged – most recently being the Malaysian Grand Prix debacle – and Webber has decided to give up on the sport without a world championship in hand.

Regarding his move to Porsche, Webber has said:

"It’s an honour for me to join Porsche at its return to the top category in Le Mans 
and in the sports car World Endurance Championship and be part of the team. Porsche 
has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology 
and performance at the highest level. I’m very much looking forward to this new 
challenge after my time in Formula 1.

Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot 
one of the fastest sports cars in the world."

Interestingly, no quotes from Red Bull have been supplied from the team just yet.

Mark previously raced in the Le Mans race of 1999 with Mercedes, but a spectacular flip and crash resulted in him pulling out and switching to Formula 1.

He has spent the last few years in the fastest car on the F1 grid, but a cavalcade of problems – poor starts, KERS issues, team conflicts, as well as a general dislike for where the sport is moving – meant that his departure was an inevitability.

Regardless of his disappointments in recent years, the F1 paddock will sorely miss Mark. His straight-forwardness attitude won him many fans over the years, and the sport now lacks a driver who is always willing to speak his mind.

It also opens the floodgates of rumours about who will take his place at Red Bull for next year. Without trying to get into too much speculation at this early stage, I would suggest that Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg would be the initial candidates.

Mercedes banned from 2013 Young Driver test as testing saga concludes

The long-running “testgate” saga has finally come to a close, with the Mercedes team being banned from this year’s Young Driver Test.

It comes as punishment for completing 1000km of in-season testing with Pirelli while using their 2013 car, which is against current sporting regulations.

The FIA noted in their tribunal today that Mercedes had “misconceived” what the team saw as approval from Charlie Whiting to complete the test, as it did not exempt them from the current restriction on using current season cars during testing.

It should also be mentioned that the legal costs of hosting the tribunal are to be shared between Mercedes, the FIA and Pirelli.

The biggest loser from this decision will be Sam Bird, Mercedes’ third driver, who will lose out on three days of potential Formula 1 driving experience before he attempts to break into the sport next year.

Ferrari also to be investigated over tyre testing debacle

The FIA is to include Ferrari in its investigation of in-season testing performed by Pirelli this season.

The only form of in-season testing as of now is straight-line aero tests, up to 4 promotional runs, and any young driver sessions that take place during the year. However, Pirelli and Mercedes have recently come under fire for undertaking 1,000km of testing after the Spanish Grand Prix.

However, Ferrari have now been included in this ever-heatening debate, after it emerged that they also performed a test session with Pirelli after the Bahrain Grand Prix. Both teams will now be forced to report to the FIA on the matter. It must be noted, though, that Ferrari were using their 2011 car instead of Mercedes’ 2013 model.

In a press conference today, Pirelli claimed that they had notified the teams of potential testing in 2013, but few of them had taken note. They also stated that they were not using their 2013 compounds, and Mercedes were not aware what type of tyre they were running on their car.

Whatever the result, it is clear that this saga will only generate more controversy and surprise as the season goes on.

Williams to switch to Mercedes engines for 2014

The Williams F1 team are to use Mercedes power units from 2014 onwards, after a new contract was announced today.

Williams have used Renault engines for the last 2 years, and this announcement comes as a surprise to many, seeing as it was believed that the two teams were to develop engines together for the 2014 season.

Since 2005, Williams have switched engine suppliers 4 times – Cosworth twice, Toyota for one year, and Renault for 2012 and 2013. This announcement with Mercedes did not specify how long the agreement would last for.

Having lost one of their clients, Renault have since announced that they will only supply “up to four” teams from next season onwards. Red Bull and Toro Rosso are confirmed to be staying with Renault, while Lotus and Caterham are still a mystery at this point.

Mercedes to face FIA over “secret tyre test” with Pirelli

Mercedes have been referred to the FIA by the Monaco Grand Prix stewards, over a secret test of Pirelli tyres after the Spanish Grand Prix.

It is understood that Mercedes applied for permission to the FIA for the test, but were granted the approval on condition that the Pirelli test car was used. However, it has emerged that Mercedes had ran their own car during the test, which would have granted the team an unfair advantage.

Ferrari and Red Bull have protested the test, and are clearly to gain if Mercedes face sanction for running their own car.

However, it should be noted that the result of the Monaco Grand Prix will stand regardless of any action by the FIA.

Honda to return to F1 as engine supplier to McLaren in 2015

Honda is to make its return into Formula 1 after a 5-year absence, supplying engines to the McLaren team from 2015 onwards.

They last partnered McLaren from 1983 to 1992, resulting in several utterly dominant years with clearly superior turbocharged engines. The 2014 V6 formula has clearly piqued Honda’s interest, with president and CEO Takanobu Ito stating:

The new F1 regulations with their significant environmental focus will inspire even 
greater development of our own advanced technologies and this is central to our
participation in F1. “We have the greatest respect for the FIA’s decision to introduce these new regulations
that are both highly challenging but also attractive to manufacturers that pursue
environmental technologies and to Formula One Group, which has developed F1 into a
high value, top car racing category supported by enthusiastic fans.

Honda dropped out of F1 after 2008, after a second dreadful season in a row. Their last engine supplier deal was to Jordan and BAR in 2002, but it seems that the McLaren-Honda releationship is a match made in heaven.

 

Lotus parts company with technical director James Allison

In a shock move, Lotus have announced that they will part ways with their technical director, James Allison.

Allison is one of the most highly rated engineers in the F1 paddock, and it was well known that many rival teams were trying to lure him away from Enstone. It is unclear which team – if any – have  offered him a better contract, but it is understood that Allison was the one who made the decision to leave Lotus.

His replacement has already been announced as Nick Chester, who has been at the team since 2000.

This move will only unnerve Kimi Raikkonen, who is yet to decide on his future at the Enstone squad. Key figures like Allison are absolutely crucial in constructing a winning car – as important as the driver itself – and Kimi will now begin to question if Lotus can continue to supply him with competitive machinery into 2014.

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