Monthly Archives: February 2013

Adrian Sutil beats Jules Bianchi to final Force India seat

With only 16 days left until the start of the F1 season, Force India have finally completed their driver line-up. Adrian Sutil will return to the cockpit after a 1-year hiatus, being chosen over young driver Jules Bianchi.

Sutil was convicted in January 2012 of an assault on Genii Capital CEO Eric Lux, and was given an 18-month suspended sentence. This led to his dismissal from the team for the following season.

Even with worries that he may not be allowed into China (where the assault took place), Sutil has been granted a spot in his old team. He drove for it when it was called Spyker (2007), then Force India from 2008 to 2011.

Jules Bianchi, who was also in contention for the final F1 seat of 2013, has been retained by the team as a reserve driver, and the team have hinted that they will consider him as a future driver in years to come.

Renault reveals look at 2014 V6 engine

Renault have become the second engine manufacturer to show a glimpse of what is to come in the 2014 season, as they showed off pictures of their new turbo V6 engine, set to be introduced next year.

Mercedes had previously given select journalists an audio sample from their new power plant, which was reported to be “sweeter” sounding than the current V8 platform.

Now, Renault have provided a new insight into the new engine formula, which they claim will be a huge boost for the sport and its manufacturers.

Renault Sport chief Jean-Michel Jalinier said that “It will be a better tool to communicate than the current V8 engine.We can get some fans back to F1.”

Technical director Rob White noted that the new engines are still going to be “very loud” and “very violent”, which may come as some relief to concerned F1 purists.

“You can see on the test bed that even with relatively slow shifts on a relatively low transient dyno, that gear shifts are rapid and violent. And the big glowing red thing at the back of the engine in front of the gearbox [Energy Recovery System – called ERS] is also going to be a thing of some spectacle.”

Legendary engineer Rory Byrne to return to Ferrari for 2014 car

Rory Byrne, the mastermind behind Ferrari’s dominative cars between 2000 and 2004, as well as Benneton’s efforts in the 1990s, is to return to the Ferrari squad for the 2014 season.

Between himself and Adrian Newey, the two engineers have designed every single championship-winning F1 car since 1993. Byrne has designed every car that Michael Schumacher has won races in, and has been spotted around the Ferrari factory in recent weeks. The team confirmed yesterday that the 69-year-old will return to design their 2014 car.

Because of the huge rule changes coming for the 2014 season, Ferrari have split their design team in two – Fabio Montecchi leading the 2014 team, and Simone Resta currently working on this year’s F138. It is unsure what role Byrne will play in the design team, but we can only expect that his arrival will have a huge impact on the squad.

Jerez testing round-up: Frontrunners closer than ever in 2013

As the first of three test sessions drew to a close yesterday, nobody was quite sure who had benefited most from the 4 days running in Jerez. Drivers from Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren topped the timesheets, but the general consensus is that no one team has a large advantage over the others. Let’s have a closer look at what happened this week:

Combined timesheets

A collection of each driver’s fastest lap across the 4 days.

Driver Team Time Gap Tyre
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.17.879 S
2 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1.18.148 0.269 S
3 Jules Bianchi Force India 1.18.175 0.296 S
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1.18.218 0.339 S
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1.18.565 0.686 H
6 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1.18.669 0.79 S
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1.18.760 0.881 S
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.18.766 0.887 M
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1.18.861 0.982 H
10 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1.18.905 1.026 M
11 Sergio Perez Sauber 1.18.944 1.065 H
12 Paul di Resta Force India 1.19.003 1.124 S
13 Daniel Riciardo Toro Rosso 1.19.134 1.255 M
14 James Rossiter Force India 1.19.303 1.424 S
15 Mark Webber Red Bull 1.19.338 1.459 M
16 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1.19.502 1.623 M
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1.19.851 1.972 S
18 Pedro de la Rosa Ferrari 1.20.316 2.437 M
19 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1.20.693 2.814 S
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1.21.105 3.226 S
21 Luiz Razia Marussia 1.21.226 3.347 S
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1.21.269 3.39 S
23 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1.21.311 3.432 S

It is probable that Bianchi’s and Gutierrez’s times were set on low fuel. Mark Webber did only heavy-fuelled runs on his testing days, which is why he languishes down the order.

Over 15,000km of testing was run over the 4 days, with Sauber completing nearly 2,000 of this mileage.

Red Bull’s superior reliability

Red Bull were one of the few teams to emerge from the Jerez test without a serious technical hitch.

Mercedes’ first two days were completely ruined, as a flaming exhaust and failing brake system ended Rosberg’s and Hamilton’s days early. Ferrari suffered an engine failure while Pedro de la Rosa was driving on the third day.

McLaren suffered several small problems across the test session, while Lotus were forced to shuffle between several exhaust arrangements on some days.

Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel was pleased with the performance of his RB9, stating it was:

"A little bit better because last year we had some issues with reliability. It seems 
that we have done our homework well and now we move onto Barcelona for another four 
days in a row to test the car and see if we find any leakage and if so then we try 
to fix it."

Doubts over Pirelli 2013 tyre performance

This year, Pirelli had aimed to make their new tyre compounds 0.5 seconds per lap faster than the 2012 sets. However, this has proved difficult to test, as Jerez’s rough track surface has hindered their efforts.

Technical director Paul Hembery explained the problem:

"What we can’t tell of course, on a track like this because it’s so abrasive. The macro 
is so far off the scale compared to everything else we see in the season. It’s changed 
compared to last year as well.

It’s most the bitumen aspect of it, it’s worn away, so you’re left with almost the 
rocks, the stones and the gravel almost on its own with nothing in between."

Mark Webber also had doubts over the 2013 compounds being comprehensively faster:

"The car was really understeering so we need to try and improve that tonight and get 
the car a little bit more responsive. Also the tyres are going away.

If you see a car on fresh tyres you see the performance is quite nice. If you look at 
a car on older tyres it doesn’t look very nice. The tyres are struggling to do quite 
a few laps, you see lap times in 22s, 23s. The naked eye can even see the problems."


Hamilton suffers brake failure and crash on first Mercedes test

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes career hasn’t gone off to the best start, as the Brit crashed out of the second test day in Jerez today.

The W04 failed to slow for the Curva Dry Sack – where Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve clashed in 1997 – and speared into the barriers, travelling as fast as 160mph before being slowed down by the gravel trap before impact.

Mercedes have confirmed that the shunt was caused by a brake failure. Hamilton had only completed 15 laps before the incident, and had only driven the new car today.

Lewis described the incident soon after:

"I just hit the brake and for a split second it was working and then the pedal 
just went straight down and wouldn’t work. I don’t know, I just had to brace for 
impact. This is what testing is all about, but of course we’d like to have done 
several days.

It’s disappointing for all of us here in the team because everyone worked so hard 
over the winter. We didn’t anticipate this but I’m glad we get it out of the way 
now so we don’t have to worry about it happening in the future."

After two days of testing, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean have topped the timesheets so far. Instead of daily reports, an article summarising the 4-day session will be put up here after its conclusion.

Here’s a video of the incident: 

Sky to broadcast final Barcelona test in 3D

Sky are to become the first broadcaster to show live coverage of the Formula 1 testing season, with the final pre-season test in Barcelona to be shown live to the public.

The broadcast will also be available in 3D, as the company attempts to push its 3D channels onto the market.

All 4 days of the Barcelona test, from the 28th February to the 3rd March, will be available live, being presented by Simon Lazenby and commentated by David Croft.

This marks the first time that a broadcaster has attempted to show a test session live, and it will be interesting to see does this trend continue into the future.

Luiz Razia confirmed as Max Chilton’s teammate at Marussia

Marussia will have an all-rookie line-up this season, with Luiz Razia confirmed as the team’s second driver.

He joins Max Chilton, who won two races in GP2 last season, and the duo have replaced Charles Pic and Timo Glock within the squad.

Razia has previously won the 2006 South American Formula 3 championship, and finished 2nd in the 2012 GP2 series with 4 race wins. In 2011 he drove for both Force India and Toro Rosso in the young driver tests, and tested in free practice sessions for the Caterham team.

The last team to run an all-rookie line-up was the 2010 HRT team, whose drivers didn’t all make it to the end of the season.

Marussia MR02 launched on first test day in Jerez

On the morning of the first test session of the 2013 season, Marussia have finally revealed their MR02 car.

For the Marussia team, the MR02 represents some large steps forward. This is the first of their cars (including the Virgin team) to be designed in a wind tunnel, and not just using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). It is also the first of their cars to feature a KERS system.

One interesting addition to the MR02 is a Coanda exhaust system, which was utilised by the frontrunning teams last year. It is unclear whether this innovation or the DDRS system will be the focus of more development in 2013.

On a worrying note, there appears to be a shortage of sponsors on the main body of the MR02 – at least for the moment.

Caterham CT03 revealed

In the first of two car launches today, Caterham have taken the covers off their CT03 challenger.

Interestingly, they have opted not to run the vanity panel on the front, instead opting for a stepped nose similar to last year.

Technical director Mark Smith noted that, as well as the Ct03 being an evolution of last year’s model, work on the 2014 car is already underway.

The livery of the car has also been changed, with the main body predominantly green, with the yellow colours relegated to the back of the car, and black on sections of the front wing.


First pictures of Toro Rosso STR8

Only an hour after the launch of the Mercedes W04, Toro Rosso have unveiled their STR8.

Visually, the most striking thing about the car is the unusual nose, which goes much further ahead of the front wing than any other car on the grid.

The team have adopted a McLaren-style exhaust, and the same heavily undercut sidepods similar to last year.

More details will be added soon.