Monthly Archives: April 2010

Briatore and Symonds accept 3-year ban in Crashgate settlement with FIA

Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore

Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore

Both Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have agreed not to pursue further charges, after a settlement with the FIA that resulted in both effectively receiving a 3-year ban from Formula 1.

In exchange for the FIA dropping charges against the two, they have agreed not to take any “operational role” in Formula 1 until the end of 2012, or any FIA competition until the end of 2011. However, it still seems that no charges are to be brought against Nelson Piquet Jr, the driver who conspired with Briatore and Symonds to cause a deliberate crash, and give Fernando Alonso a huge advantage in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The full FIA statement reads as follows:

The decision handed down by the Tribunal de Grande Instance of 
Paris on 5 January 2010 at the request of Mr Flavio Briatore 
and Mr Pat Symonds, which the FIA has appealed, revealed a poor 
understanding of how the disciplinary procedure before the 
World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) works. In accordance with the 
undertakings made by the FIA President during his campaign, it 
will be proposed at the next General Assembly, at the end of 
2010, that a structural reform, on which the FIA Statutes Review 
Commission is currently working, be adopted to prevent other 
misunderstandings.

In the meantime, at its meeting in Bahrain on 11 March 2010, the 
WMSC decided on the one hand to adopt a Code of Practice to 
clarify the working of its disciplinary procedure, and on the 
other hand to give the FIA President full authority to seek a 
definitive outcome, whether judicial or extrajudicial, to the 
disputes with Mr Flavio Briatore and Mr Pat Symonds, best 
preserving the interests of the FIA.

After discussions between their lawyers and those of the FIA, 
Mr Flavio Briatore and Mr Pat Symonds have each made a settlement 
offer to the FIA President with a view to putting an immediate 
end to the legal proceedings.

Each of them recognising his share of responsibility for the 
deliberate crash involving the driver Nelson Piquet Junior at 
the 2008 Grand Prix of Singapore, as "Team Principal" of Renault 
F1 where Mr Flavio Briatore is concerned, they have expressed 
their regrets and presented their apologies to the FIA.

They have undertaken to abstain from having any operational role 
in Formula One until 31 December 2012, as well as in all the other 
competitions registered on the FIA calendars until the end of 
the 2011 sporting season.

They have also abandoned all publicity and financial measures 
resulting from the judgment of 5 January 2010, as well as any 
further action against the FIA on the subject of this affair.

In return, they have asked the FIA to abandon the ongoing appeal
procedure, but without the FIA recognising the validity of the 
criticisms levelled against the WMSC’s decision of 21 September 
2009, as well as to waive the right to bring any new proceedings 
against them on the subject of this affair.

Considering that the judgment of 5 January 2010 concerned only the 
form and not the substance of the WMSC’s decision of 21 September 
2009, and that the undertakings and renunciation of all claims 
expressed by Mr Flavio Briatore and Mr Pat Symonds are in line 
with what the WMSC is seeking, the FIA President has considered 
that it is in the best interests of the FIA not to allow the 
perpetuation of these legal disputes, which have received a great 
deal of media coverage and which, regardless of the outcome, are 
very prejudicial to the image of the FIA and of motor sport, and 
thus to accept this settlement solution, thereby putting an end 
to this affair.

If you actually read all that (bit heavy-worded wasn’t it?), you would also know that Briatore and Symonds have both rejected the £18,000 and £4,000 compensation packages that the FIA were forced to give to them in January, after a court ruled that their previous life bans were illegal.

Now though, they must bide their time, as they have to wait until the 2013 season until they can apply to get back into Formula 1. The question is, will anyone take them? Symonds might get in with a team, since he’s a nice guy, and certainly didn’t play as big a part as Briatore, though he still deserved the ban. Briatore might go back to driver managment, but it is unclear if any driver would want to work woth him after all of this.

However, the FIA have the option to turn nasty. A few months ago, the idea of driver managment liscences was suggested, to stop Flavio Briatore from getting back into Formula 1. If they were to bring it in, they could stop Briatore, without the threat of court action, since they are in the legal right this time.

Alternatively, we could just hope that the 2012 doomsday predictions are right, and they will never get into F1 again.

Brawn GP trailers up for sale on eBay

Jenson Button's Brawn GP trailer, up for sale on eBay

Jenson Button's Brawn GP trailer, up for sale on eBay

Fancy a massive piece of Formula 1 for your own?  Then check this out: two Brawn GP trailers have been put up for sale on eBay.

Now, they weren’t Brawn’s to sell. They actually belonged to USF1, but as they collapsed, their assets were seized by the High Court (owned!). They were taken after a UK creditor, who cannot be identified for obvious reasons, wanted compensation for USF1 failing to pay their bills. David Carter, director of the Sheriffs Office, said:

"As a keen motorsport fan, it is certainly one of the more 
interesting seizures we've made. The trailers were recently 
bought from Brawn GP by the judgment debtor and really are 
something special. We've already has a lot of interest and 
are now selling them via eBay.

It would certainly be an interesting piece to a Formula 1 collection. But be prepared to fork out quite a lot of money: with 3 days and 17 hours left, the price is already £16,970! If you fancy following the auction anyways, then check it out here. There’s two more pictures here:

No idea what this is, but it comes with the trailer!

No idea what this is, but it comes with the trailer!

Could do with better styling, but it's part of Formula 1 history now!

Could do with better styling, but it's part of Formula 1 history now!

Michelin refuses to be sole supplier of tyres in F1

Michelin F1 tyres

Michelin F1 tyres

The French tyre manufacturer Michelin has reitered its stance on a possible return to supplying tyres to Formula 1 teams next year, saying that it will not enter if it is the sole supplier.

At the moment, the FIA are on the lookout for a new tyre supplier, as Bridgestone will be pulling out at the end of the year. Having been a supplier of tyres from 2001 to 2006, Michelin were initially touted as a possible replacement. However, they have stressed that they will not return as a sole supplier, says a Michelin spokesman:

"We are interested in but it must be done in the right way, so 
who knows what will happens.

Certain things have to be done. We must have competition - we do 
not want to be the only supplier. Also, we need to be able to use
the opportunity of having competition to improve our tyre 
technology; for example, our new Pilot 3 road tyres have technology 
developed for Le Mans in them. We need something like this from 
Formula 1 too.

Finally, it must have the possibility to improve the greenness; 
perhaps we would like something like the Green X Challenge in F1 
something to help ecology."

First of all, let’s ask, why would Michelin want competition? This is mainly because their new objectives are to promote environmentally friendly tyres. By gaining access back into F1, Michelin would obviously want to promote tyre technology, which they would then put on their road-going tyres, like they did with the Pilot 3 tyres that they mentioned.

So they want to save the planet? Simple solution: reduce the amount of tyres that are used. Again, doing this is simple:  just bring back the old “one set of tyres per race” rule from 2005. Sure, there were problems, mainly Kimi Raikkonen’s problems, but sufficient technology should sort that out. Again, innovations in tyre technology can be put onto the road in this case. If you can develop a tyre that can provide sufficient grid for an entire F1 race, then this could be used to promote their road-going division.

The probable reason why Michelin want a second supplier is that they can beat them with better technology. If a company like Avon or Goodyear come into F1, then get slaughtered by Michelin, it would do wonders for Michelin’s reputation. Of course, the French company would still have a lot to do, after what happened in Indianapolis 2005. We won’t forget that in a hurry.

Korean GP in doubt as project reportedly not on time

There are reports that construction may not be finished in time for the Korean Grand Prix

There are reports that construction may not be finished in time for the Korean Grand Prix

Reports are coming through that the Korean Grand Prix, scheduled for the first time later this year, may be in doubt, as the project has fallen behind schedule.

This new race is planned to be the 17th of the 19 races this year, so as to give the organisers more time to finish off the circuit, like the China circuit in 2005 and Abu Dhabi last year. However, construction at the Jeonman circuit has fallen behind schedule, leading to reports that the race may be cancelled.

Bernie Ecclestone travelled to Korea right after the Malaysian Grand Prix  to inspect the circuit. It is expected that he will decide in the next few days whether the race will go ahead this year or not. In an interview with German magazine Focus Magazin, Herman Tilke, mass murderer of promising circuits, said:

"For the first time, I'm afraid that a project is not finished
on time".

The circuit organisers say differently, claiming that plans are ahead of schedule, and the track will be completed on time, according to Chung-Yung-Cho:

"The construction progress is well ahead of its schedule and 
we have absolutely no issues with completion."

Eh, sure. Remember last year, when the USF1 team was founded, and a certain duo wouldn’t shut up about being ready on time? Now we face the same situation this year, with people who will continue to pretend everything is fine, right up to (and beyond) the point where everything collapses.

Interestingly enough, many top sites have taken Chung-Yung-Cho’s quote and used it in a “everything is fine” story. Here’s my counter-argument: No site who ran that story can produce photos of the work being on time. I don’t have any photos at the moment either, but if I get them, I’ll put them up here straight away.

Can James Key transform Sauber’s season?

In the first 3 races, Sauber have got 4 retirements and scored no points

In the first 3 races, Sauber have got 4 retirements and scored no points

If the results from testing were to be carried into the races, then Sauber would be title contenders, thanks to their seemingly fast pace and excellent tyre managment. But, so far, things have not gone well for the Himwil-based team. They have had no points in 3 races, and 4 retirements. Because of this, James Key will take over from Willy Rampf as Technical Director.

Key is not to be underestimated. He has spent 13 years with Force India in their various forms (Jordan, Midland/MF1, Spyker and Force India). In those years, he was a Data Engineer, Race Engineer for Takuma Sato, wind tunnel worker, department head, and then technical director. Though he was one of the youngest Technical Directors in F1, he has proven himself, which is why he has been picked to replace Willy Rampf.

So far, Sauber has had a terrible start, with only one race finish between the two drivers. Many people have wondered why, after starting 2010 development so early last year, they are now struggling at the back. Peter Sauber has explained the difficulties:

We’re experiencing a new beginning as a team and are in the process 
of adapting from a works outfit to an independent team. We’ve cut 
our budget by 40 per cent and reduced the workforce by a third. 
That’s a massive cutback. However, this economisation process is 
something all the other established teams still have ahead of them 
as a result of the restrictions imposed by FOTA.

With these sort of huge cutbacks, the team have a large hill to climb. But, if anyone can do it, i’m sure Key can. However, he has a lot of work to do. Since he has recently transferred from Force India, (he left there about a month ago) he hasn’t been to a race this year, nor has he even seen the Sauber C29. But, he is already hard at work, having been at the factory, and will be having meetings with Willy Rampf to get him used to the car.

I don’t think any of them are looking at the Chinese GP as a turn-around point. The next race, in Spain, will be much more important, as this is the first race in Europe, and most of the teams will be bringing large updates to their cars here. If Key is to transform Sauber’s season, then the Spanish Grand Prix will be the place.

Can Schumacher survive in the new Formula 1?

Despite being much less praised than his team-mate, Nico Rosberg has out-performed Michael Schumacher in all areas so far

Despite being much less praised than his team-mate, Nico Rosberg has out-performed Michael Schumacher in all areas so far

So far in the three races of the 2010 Formula 1 season, only two drivers have been out-qualified 3-0 by their team-mates. One of these is Vitaly Petrov, the former GP2 driver from Russia, who has a well-established team-mate in the form of Robert Kubica. He has been doing decently in the races so far, so there isn’t a problem here yet. And the other is 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

In Bahrain, Australia and Malaysia, Nico Rosberg, who hasn’t even won a single race yet, has beaten him in qualigying. In Bahrain, Nico was fourth while Michael was three places back in seventh. In the race, Rosberg struggled to keep up with the frontrunners, while Schumacher couldn’t make much progress. They ended up 5th and 6th. Seeing as how it was his first race back, there wasn’t much worry. But, in Australia, Nico was again a tenth quicker than Michael. In the race, Schumacher was hit at the first corner, and fell to the back. While Fernando Alonso was able to fight back through the field, the German struggled, getting stuck behind Jaime Alguersuari for over 30 laps, which completely ruined his race.

In Malaysian qualifying, with the torrential conditions, the rainmaster was expected to shine. But, he burned out his tyres too quickly in Q3, and ended up 8th, only 0.05 seconds ahead of rookie Kamui Kobayashi, in a much more uncompetitive car. Meanwhile, Rosberg did well to qualify on the front row, and got a podium in the race. Schumacher never got a chance here, as a wheel nut failure caused him to retire early on.

I am aware it has only been three races, and bad luck has played a part, especially in Malaysia. But, the simple fact is that Nico Rosberg has 35 points to Schumacher’s 9. Times have changed since Michael Schumacher was the unbeatable force in Formula 1, taking multiple championships in a dominating car. Now, the rookies aren’t scared of the 7-time world championship, as shown when Jaime Alguersuari pushed him onto the grass. The last time that happened was in 2003, again in Australia, with Kimi Raikkonen. Back then, it was a sign that the young drivers were fighting back, and it came true with a fantastic season. This time, it seems to be a sign that the Formula 1 world has moved on from Schumacher.

It is too early to make conclusions about Schumacher’s comeback just yet. But, I can’t help but worry that he will never be able to return to the top like he used to. Being in an uncompetitive car must be hugely demotivating, but this is Michael Schumacher we’re talking about. Hopefully, by the end of the year, a win could be a possibility for him and Rosberg.

But, this all hinges on whether Ross Brawn and Mercedes can pull themselves together, and give the German duo a competitive car. What do you think will happen?

Forgotten heroes: Ronnie Peterson

Ronnie Peterson at the Austrian Grand Prix in 1975

Ronnie Peterson at the Austrian Grand Prix in 1975

In the first of a new series, I will look back at several Formula 1 drivers who, despite their successes or promise, were never remembered in F1 history the way they should have been, for whatever reason. First up is Ronnie Peterson.

He wasn’t known as the “Super Swede” for nothing. While he only won 10 races in his Formula 1 career, Ronnie Peterson was regarded as on of the greatest drivers never to win a world championship, alongside Stirling Moss and Gilles Villeneuve. However, a crash in Monza 1978 put an end to what should have ended in a successful career for the Swede.

Ronnie Peterson finished 7th in his first ever race at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1970

Ronnie Peterson finished 7th in his first ever race at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1970

He made his debut in 1970, for the March team, at the Monaco Grand Prix. He qualified 12th out of 16 drivers. Ahead of him were much more experienced drivers in march cars: Jackie Stewart, Chris Amon and Jo Siffert. Despite this, he was the only March driver to finish the race, ending up 7th. After the race, Max Mosley, who was the chief of March Racing, said: “Write that Ronnie is fantastic – but don’t tell it to him”. While he continued to try his best for the rest of the year, he failed to score any points, as he was blighted by an uncompetitive car and poor reliability. For 1971, he was promoted to the full March works team, and instantly impressed. He scored 5 second places in that season, and finished second in the championship behind Jackie Stewart.

In 1972, the car was not up to standard. Ronnie only finished 9th overall in the championship. Outside of F1, he took second places in the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, and BOAC 100km at Brands Hatch. He raced in 10 races in Formula 2, and took 2 victories. However, he couldn’t fight for the title, as he had scored points in F1 that year.

For the 1973 season, Peterson moves to the Lotus team, and has a great year. He took his first victory at the French Grand Prix that year. Across the 15 races in the year, he takes 4 victories, but only finishes 3rd overall in the championship, behind his team-mate Emerson Fittipaldi and Jackie Stewart. This was also the year when the Swedish Grand Prix made its debut, and Peterson finishes  at his home event. He also gets engaged to Barbro over the Christmas break.

Ronnie Peterson takes his first ever win at the 1973 French Grand Prix

Ronnie Peterson takes his first ever win at the 1973 French Grand Prix

For 1974, he remained at Lotus, but still failed to clinch the world championship. His new team-mate for this year was Jacky Ickx, after Jackie Stewart hung up his helmet. Despite Colin Chapman introducing the revolutionary new Lotus 76, Peterson only took 3 wins across the season, and finishes 5th in the championship. He still wins a a gold bar (Prix Rouge et Blanc Joseph Siffert) for the best performance of the season.

1975 was his sixth season in F1, but it turns out to be a complete disaster when the new Lotus Ford car fails to be completed before the start of the season. Ronnie struggles on with the old Lotus 72, but only finishes 12th in the championship with 6 points out of 17 races. The good news is that he got married to Barbro in April, and their daughter Nina is born in November. For the famous 1976 season, Peterson ditches Lotus after one race with the new car, the Lotus 77. He breaks his contract, and moves to March for the rest of the season. He takes 1 victory in Monza, but only finishes 11th overall in the championship.

For the next year Peterson takes a risk, and moves to the Tyrrell team, with their completely revolutionary 6-wheeled P34. However, the P34 was uncompetitive for a very specific reason, as Goodyear had failed to deliver the different tyres that Tyrrell needed for their innovation. This meant that the technology couldn’t be properly used, and Ronnie failed to win that year. Because of the fact that the car was not refined for the next year, he decided to move back to his old team Lotus. It was a decicion that paid off well, as their car was unbeatable, so him and Mario Andretti dominated the season. Up to the Italian Grand Prix, Andretti led the championship, with Peterson behind him with 51 points. But then it all went horribly wrong.

During practice, Peterson crashed his 79, meaning it couldn’t be repaired in time for the race, and he also bruised his legs in the process. There were two spare cars that Ronnie could use: last year’s uncompetitive 78, or a 79 that had been developed for the smaller Andretti. The competitive spirit prevailed, and Ronnie opted to use Andretti’s spare car, even though he wasn’t able to fit comfortably inside.

He lined up on the grid in 5th place, with Andretti on pole. But, while the back of the grid were still moving into position, the race starter threw the green flag to start the race, creating an accordion effect at the first corner. This is where the front if the grid were all slower to start off, and the backmarkers all flew off the grid, since they were still moving. This resulted in the entire field being bunched up together at the lethal first corner.

Approaching the Variente Goodyear, Ricardo Patrese’s Arrows hit the back of James Hunt’s McLaren, both of who started from the midfield. Hunt was thrown into Peterson’s Lotus, which flew into the right-hand side barriers, crushing the front of the car. Vittorio Brambrilla started from the back, but gained an advantage as he was already moving at the start. As he approached the accident, he swerved to try and avoid, but smashed into the back of Peterson’s Lotus, and the car burst into flames. After the horrific accident of Niki Lauda two years ago, fear struck everyone around the world.

Because Ronnie’s legs were cramped in, as he attempted to fit into Andretti’s car, his legs were crushed when he hit the barriers. As the car burned, James Hunt leapt out of his car and pulled Peterson from the burning wreck, and Ronnie only sustained minor burns. Hunt laid him out on the middle of the track, and stopped Peterson from looking at his legs to spare him further distress. After the fire was put out, the officials tried to put together what had happened, as there were 10 cars involved in the crash, Brambrilla had a severe head injury, and Peterson’s had 7 fractures in one leg and 3 in the other.

Ronnie Peterson is laid out in the middle of the track after the crash at the start of the 1978 Italian Grand Prix

Ronnie Peterson is laid out in the middle of the track after the crash at the start of the 1978 Italian Grand Prix

Ronnie could well have been saved, but for what happened next. The track officials insisted on forming a barrier around the crash site, meaning Professor Sid Watkins, the surgical advisor to Formula 1, was unable to help the drivers. After a delay of 11 to 18 minutes, an amblulance was dispatched, and brought Peterson to the Monza medical centre. After scans were made, it was established that the burns were not severe, his legs were splinted, and IVs were to be put in. His condition soon stabilised, and he was brought to the Ospedale Maggiore at Niguardia. An x-ray scan showed that he had a total of 27 fractures of his legs and feet. After a discussion with Ronnie himself, who had been conscious throughout the entire incident, the decicion was made to stabilise the bones. Unfortunately, during the night, bone marrow went into Peterson’s bloodstream through the fractures, forming fat globules on his major organs including lungs, liver, and brain. By morning he was in full renal failure and was declared dead a few hours later. The cause of death was announced as fat embolism.

Despite this horrible death, much good came from it. For example, after the shambolic actions of the track officials, the decicion was made that the medical car would follow the cars around the first lap, to give swift assistance to drivers involved in accidents. Marshalls were given better equipment to put out fires, instead of drivers having to rescue their fellow racers themselves. This posssibly saved the life of Gerhard Berger, after he crashed at Tamburello in Imola in 1989. Also, at Monza itself, the barriers were moved further back, to reduce the impact of crashes. These improvements in safety have saved many lives across the years.

But, his wife Barbro never got over his death, and committed suicide in 1987. Their daughter, Nina, opened a Ronnie Peterson museum in 2008, but it closed in 2009 due to a lack of government funding. A statue of Ronnie can be found in Örebro, made by Richard Brixel.

A statue of Ronnie Peterson can be found in Almby, Örebro

A statue of Ronnie Peterson can be found in Almby, Örebro

That year, Mario Andretti went on to win the world championship, with Peterson a posthumous second, showing just how dominant the Lotus 79 was. The real tragedy of his death was that Ronnie never got to see the safety improvements his demise brought about.

Why KERS should return to F1 in the future

An F1 KERS unit

An F1 KERS unit

Those who wanted it gone last year called it a monumental waste of money. Those who supported it claimed that it was a pinnacle for envirinmental technology, and could improve overtaking possibilites. Whatever your opinion is, the fact is that KERS left F1 last year, though not through a rule change. The teams unanimously agreed not to use this technology for this year, so as to save money. But my question is: should KERS return to F1?

To those of you not familiar with this feature, I will quickly explain KERS. Normally, when the brakes are applied, energy is dissipitated from the car in the form of extreme heat. As we all know, energy cannot be destroyed or created, it can only be changed into another form. In the case of KERS, the heat from the brakes is taken in, and turned into electrical energy through a generator. There are different ways of storing the electrical energy, but the teams that used KERS last year stored them in batteries behind the drivers. Alternatively, Williams created a flywheel KERS system, which was never used in F1, but now features on the road car, the Porsche 911 GT3 R.

This electrical energy is then used to power the car. It is activated by a button on the steering wheel, or a paddle behind it. Unfortunately, the FIA chose to restrict the power output of KERS to 60kW (80bhp), which could be used at for 6.5 seconds per lap. The use of KERS was very poor at the start of 2009, when the teams who used it struggled massively. Most dropped it, but McLaren and Ferrari kept pushing development, and made their KERS cars race-winners by the end of the year. However, this development was very expesive. Between Renault, BMW Sauber, Ferrari and McLaren, £40m was spent in 2009 on KERS.

Because of this, all of the teams decided not to use the technology for 2010, although the technical rules still allowed it. However, there are many reasons as to why it should return. First of all, it makes sense when applied to road cars. The previous generation of the Toyota Prius, for example, only produced 23kW of power from its regenerative brakes. But, within a few years, this technology has become much more powerful, with Porsche leading the way in the use of the innovation. The new 918 Spyder, for example, has a KERS-derived system which produces twice the power of the unit that was used in F1 last year. To further matters, this Porsche unit was designed by Williams, the the team who wanted it to stay in F1 this year.

Also, Ferrari are close to putting this into one of their road cars. The HY-KERS concept regenerative brakes are heavier by about 15kg, but produce up to 100bhp, which is impressive for a road car. So, if the motoring world is to embrace KERS technology, shouldn’t F1 do so as well?

The second reason why is because of the environmental impact. Now don’t worry, I’m not as much into being an eco-maniac as shutting them all up for a while. If KERS was developed responsibly in Formula 1, I’d say they could reach a power output of 150bhp, with unlimited use across the lap (as long as the FIA allow it to do so). We all know an F1 car’s brakes have massive stopping power, so this shouldn’t be too hard to do. If this sort of unit was placed into an F1 car of reduced engine power, a considerable fraction of the car’s fuel would be saved. Not only this, but the technology would work its way onto mainstream cars in a decade or so, which could mean millions of barrels of fuel could be saved (and burnt in some other way!). If KERS was reintroduced into F1, it would shut up the environmentalists for about 30 minutes, which, according to them, is how long it will take for the polar ice caps to melt, so this would be good work from the F1 world.

Building on my previous point, KERS should be integrated into the next-generation engines that are planned for 2013. The FIA are curently looking into using smaller turbocharged engines from 2013 onwards, so KERS could well be put into the mix here. If these new engines produced, say, 100bhp less, then this could be offset by the KERS unit in the car. This would again improve fuel efficiency in the car by a huge amount.

However, the biggest obstacle to the return of KERS would be the cost. We are all aware that teams are looking into saving money, especially the new teams, so reintroducing KERS at the wrong time could put many teams into trouble. Lotus, HRT and Virgin would seriously struggle, for example, if unlimited use and development of KERS was put into F1 next year. My solution would be to introduce one or two suppliers of KERS units for a few years, then allow teams to develop their own, as long as they stay within a spending cap (on KERS only, I’m not bringing back last year’s massive shootout on budget caps).

Another observation is that is must be everyone or nobody. What I mean by that is, either all of the teams use KERS or none of them will. I don’t want to go back to the situation last year where the Ferraris and McLarens made great starts, then held up everyone else behind them, because nobody could overtake them. If KERS is to be reintroduced, it must be compulsory, so as to keep the racing pure and even, and give everyone a fair chance. The idea of a “push to pass” button has already been used in other racing series, such as the A1 GP. It worked to an extent last year, in that the McLarens and Ferraris were able to make progress through the field easier, when the rest of their car was able to keep up. So, I believe that if everyone used this, it would result in a nice shake-up in the races, and make the racing better (note I didn’t use the phrase of death).

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have a say in the poll below:

Ecclestone to cut older races

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has said that he is ready to cut older race venues from the Formula 1 calendar, in order to make way for the new proposed races in New York, Moscow and Rome.

The Korean Grand Prix joins the list this year, and India in 2011. With New York, Russia and Rome all tipped for places in 2012 and 2013, Ecclestone has said that older races will have to be cut. In an interview with Autocar, he said:

We’re going to lose some races for sure, there are some races we can afford to
lose without too much problem. I’ve spoken to the countries to see what we can
come up with.

This was to be expected. With 2 races joining in the next 2 years, without other races being dropped the calendar would be raised to a record-breaking 20 races per season. If New York, Russia and Rome all get through scrutineering, that means there must be around 4 or 5 venues that must be dropped.

I like change in Formula 1, and there’s a few circuits I’d like to see go. Valencia is the most obvious, as it simply cannot produce anything interesting, and also had difficulties repaying their contract to Ecclestone, because of low ticket sales last year. Barcelona could well be a target because, though attendance is high, it is not the most characteristic of circuits.

Another one is the Hungaroring. While it is the only race in Eastern Europe, the circuit is neither a challenge to the car or the driver, apart from the high temperatures. Overtaking is also extremely difficult, and I doubt there’s much cash in the hands of the race organisers. Now personally, I’d like the Shanghai circuit to go, since the races aren’t great, the organisers cannot keep up the payments either, and attendance is very low, with empty grandstands littering the circuit.

After this, the Bahrain Grand Prix should go, since the racing is terrible, and the circuit organisers were pure arrogant earlier this year, by claiming the new sector would increase overtaking, when they knew bloody well it wouldn’t. Also, the German Grand Prix should be either the Hockenheimring (old one please) or the Nurburgring, not alternating between them.

I would hope that at least 3 of those races will go in the next few years. But what do you think?  Have a say in the new poll:

FIA: Ride height control systems are illegal

Many teams believe that Red Bull are using a ride height controlling system

Many teams believe that Red Bull are using a ride height controlling system

The FIA, the governing body of Formula 1, has faxed all of the teams and notified them that any type of system that controls the ride height of the car while on track is against the technical regulations, and is illegal.

In the last few weeks, suspicions have been arising concerning Red Bull’s suspension system, after allegations that it can control the ride height while on track. There is suppposedly a device in the RB6 that allows it to be lower to the ground, and therefore gain a downforce advantage, in qualifying.

This device may take the form of a pressure-operated component, which keeps the car as low as possible to the ground as the fuel burns off. Because of the refuelling ban, the cars are full of fuel at the start, and without a ride height controlling system, this is the lowest they would be to the ground in the race. As the fuel burns off, the car would become lighter, and therefore rise, meaning a loss in downforce.

Since qualifying is low-fuel, all of the cars should be quite high up from the ground, since no modification to the car should be made in between qualifying and the race. However, Red Bull seem to have been able to run their car quite low to the ground in qualifying, and keep the car up when they put the fuel in the car for the race.

However, these are just rumours, and nothing has been proven or denied. The Red Bull RB6 cars were heavily scrutineered before the Malaysian Grand Prix, and nothing suspicious was found. Still, the FIA has found the need to clarify this issue, in case other teams try to use an innovation like this. Their statement reads as follows:

"Any system device or procedure, the purpose and/or effect of which is to change
 the set-up of the suspension, while the car is under parc ferme conditions will 
be deemed to contravene Article 34.5 of the sporting regulations."

Article 34.5 reads as follows:

If a competitor modifies any part on the car or makes changes to the set up of 
the suspension whilst the car is being held under parc fermé conditions the 
relevant driver must start the race from the pit lane and follow the procedures 
laid out in Article 38.2.

The only way Red Bull could change the ride height of their cars legally is by doing it during the pit stops. It is rumoured that Ferrari were going to try this method, but there is no evidence to support it.

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