Tag Archives: Martin Whitmarsh

F1 paddock divided over unpredictable season

The unprecedented start to the 2012 F1 season has put F1 in the spotlight for many different reasons. With 6 different winners from 6 races, we still have absolutely no idea who will be leading the championship by the next race.

However, with such excitement comes plenty of controversy, as F1 followers are used to.

Over the past few weeks, complaints have grown about the “unpredictability” of the season so far. Die-hard purists have been disappointed with the topsy-turvy grid order, and some have speculated that this may turn fans away from the sport.

Mark Webber was one of several drivers to note the “random” nature of this season, saying:

"It's very unusual, normally in seasons gone by you had a clear break of people who 
were going to be favourites for the Championship but it's very difficult to know 
which teams or drivers are going to be in the best position with three or four races 
to go.

I think for the fans it's interesting for them, but I don't know if they will get 
sick of seeing so many different winners.

It's nice to have so many different winners but also it's always good to have 
rivals, people fighting for the Championship and having lots of different people 
always fighting."

Interestingly, this comment was made before his win at the Monaco Grand Prix, and he has not repeated this statement since. However, McLaren driver Jenson Button has not backed down, claiming that numerous different winners will turn fans off from the sport:

"Clearly everyone is excited about so many different winners, which initially was 
great for the fans and great for the sport.

But there will come a time when the fans will say, 'So anyone can win a grand prix, 
everyone can lose a grand prix like that?' (snaps his fingers). I think they're 
finding it a little bit strange now."

Button has of course suffered a drop in form in recent races, and has not competed for a race win since Melbourne.

Former world champion Niki Lauda has been the most vocal of all:

"We have been surprised. But if it continues, we’ll lose spectators as the main 
public wants to see world champions winning.

We need two races with known winners and then the crazy stuff can start again."

It should be noted that when he won the world championship in 1984, there were only 5 race winners in the entire season. Also, I feel the need to add that 4 of the 6 race winners so far this season are “known winners”.

However, it has not been all complaining from the F1 paddock. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh attacked what he called the “180 degree change” of opinion from many people:

"If people now say randomness is unattractive, then that is a 180 [degree change] 
from what people felt a few years ago when it was very predictable.

On balance I am sure that people want a lack of predictability. You want to go to 
each event not knowing who is going to win. You want to go through the course of 
the weekend not sure what is going to happen in each session, and you want to go 
through the race not knowing what is going to happen. Every one of our races this 
year has been tremendously exciting."

Pirelli, who are the cause of much of this unpredictability, were adamant that their tyres provide a well-needed shake-up of the F1 grid. Motorsport director Paul Hembery claimed that this type of racing was exactly what the fans wanted to see:

"The vast majority of feedback we get is that people are enjoying the races. At 
the start of the year, if we had said five different winners and five different 
cars then everyone would have suggested you had been smoking something - but we 
have got it.

And I think the vast majority of fans will be pleased to see exciting races. 
Anyone who begrudges Maldonado's win in Spain with Williams is someone who needs 
to get out a bit more, because the whole paddock was delighted. I think for a 
lot of people's views, that is what they want to see."

Obviously, there will be many different opinions on any debate in F1. However, I feel that the most important quote from this debacle comes from Sebastian Vettel, the driver who effectively flattened the 2011 title race. After a processional battle for the title last year, Vettel came out in full support of the 2012 formula:

"If you look back ten years there was heavy criticism of a boring F1 because 
of Michael Schumacher winning all the time. Now we hear F1 is unpredictable 
and a lottery.

You cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time. But I think we have a 
good show, a lot of overtaking, good action now.There is more tension – for 
people who watch and for us inside the cars. I think I like the way it is 
going. However, we have to be careful not to create something artificially."

Button was “more than marginal” on fuel

Button's impressive victory could have been ruined by a fuel error

Button's impressive victory could have been ruined by a fuel error

It has been revealed that Jenson Button’s Australian GP win was not as easy as it looked – the Briton was running extremely light on fuel.

Jenson took the lead at the first corner from his teammate, and controlled the race from there. However, team principal Martin Whitmarsh revealed that a fuel miscalculation almost ruined his race. He worryingly stated that Button was in “severe” fuel saving mode by lap 8:

"We were more than marginal. Had we raced unfettered we would not have got to 
the finish line with either car, so from lap eight we were in severe fuel 
saving mode."

With this, the safety car appearance during the race surely saved Button and McLaren from an embarrassing retirement.

Whitmarsh also said that he felt a 1-2 finish was within reach, following the team’s front row lockout on Saturday. Despite this, he praised Button’s driving style during the race:

"He drove a really beautiful race: smooth, controlling, and he pressed when he 
needed to - just like a champion would."

FIA to clarify on double-decker diffuser issue

Double decker diffuser

Double decker diffuser

Before the Australian Grand Prix begins in two weeks time, the FIA are to clarify on an issue surrounding the double-decker diffuser.

The FIA’s Charlie Whiting inspected the cars in Bahrain before the race began, and it is understood that many people are concerned about teams using the starter motor to benefit the double-decker diffuser.

The F1 technical regulations state that there may be a hole or slot in the diffuser area, to allow space for a starter motor. The exact rule reads as follows:

"A single break in the surface is permitted solely to allow the
minimum required access for the device referred to in Article 5.15."

There is a mistake in the regulations, however, as Article 5.15 refers to what components in the cars can be constructed of. The starter motor, which they were supposed to be referring to, is actually Article 5.16. The idea of this rule is that there is a hole in the back of the car, where to mechanics can plug the starter motor into (an F1 engine cannot start itself), and fire up the car.

However, certain teams have exploited this rule, in that the starter motor housing and shape has been aerodynamically sculpted, so as to provide an aero benefit.

The FIA is keen to sort out this issue, and has already had a meeting with 3 teams (McLaren and Mercedes being two of them), to sort this out. The FIA are of the opinion that, although no regulation has been broken, the rule has been exploited.

It has been suggested that a clarification will come before the Australian Grand Prix. Martin Whitmarsh had this to say over the matter:

"I think Charlie came came down and looked at all the cars in that 
area, but I am not aware that anyone had any action taken against 
them over it. There were some concerns expressed.

There is a discussion between all the teams about what we are going 
to do. There are holes in the diffuser for the starter, the hole in 
ours is no bigger than the one on the championship winning car last 
year. And also no bigger than it is on about four other cars."

Very interesting. Whitmarsh is going down the route of  “It’s been done before, and everyone else is doing it, so why stop?”. A bit cheap, I suppose, but it would be expected of them. Personally, I want the exploitation of the rule to be banned, but of course teams would then be complaining about it being allowed last year.

Stefan GP have deal with Toyota

Toyota's technical data may go to Stefan GP

Toyota's technical data may go to Stefan GP

Stefan GP have claimed that they are on course to enter Formula 1, as they have agreed a deal with Toyota.

A statement on the Stefan Gp site said:

“Stefan GP has just come to a basic agreement with Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) that Stefan GP will receive technical supports from TMG.”

It’s good to see that Toyota’s technical data hasn’t been wasted. Martin Whitmarsh said earlier today that it was odd that nobody had yet aquired Toyota’s technical information.

Toyota had already started on their Tf110, so it is obvious that Stefan GP was planning to race that car as their S-01 for 2010. This is because they claim they have already passed the mandatory FIA crash tests, and was being sent for further testing.

At the moment, there are already 13 teams on the grid, and some teams (ie. Williams and nobody else, surprise surprise!) do not want 14 teams on the grid. So, at the moment, the only way for Stefan GP to get in is if another team drops out. Campos, USF1 or maybe Renault in a year’s time would be the only chances.

However, there is little to no chance of them getting to the grid for 2010 grid. However, another opportunity arises here, as that means that Stefan GP can offer unlimited testing to as many young drivers as they want, for an entire year. Not only would this be a brilliant opportunity for many young drivers, but it would give huge amounts of technical data to the team. Toyota did this in 2001, where they decided to stay out of entering F1 for an extra year, and do more testing.

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.

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