Tag Archives: Charlie Whiting

First impressions from 2012 Jerez testing

Ferrari have made headlines with their F2012 already

Ferrari have made headlines with their F2012 already

As the first of 4 pre-season tests draw to a close, we are beginning to form an idea of how the grid might shape out this year. Several news stories have also added interest to the speculation, as teams try to hold their cards close to their chests.

Here is the summary of news and events from testing so far:

Ferrari doubtful over pace?

Despite Fernando Alonso leading the timesheets on day 4 of testing, the Ferrari team are remaining quiet on whether their car can compete against Red Bull. Felipe Massa refused to clarify how he felt on the F2012, and technical director Pat Fry said the team still had lots of work to do:

"I am not happy with where we are at the moment. There is a lot of room for us 
to improve. Reliability-wise it is good. Performance-wise I think we are okay.

But we can play around with the performance and improve the car in some corners, 
and some particular parts of the corner. But I would not say I am happy yet until 
we get the whole thing working."

Force India feeling positive

Meanwhile, the Force India team are very happy with their progress over the winter.

Targeting 5th place in this year’s championship, their VJM05 appears to have a solid baseline for the team to build on. After missing a day of testing due to Jules Bianchi’s mishap, Nico Hulkenberg was happy with their progress:

"The long runs were useful for that and it also allowed me to start understanding 
the new tyres. There is still a massive amount to learn and lots of data to look 
at, but it feels like we have a good baseline to develop from and I’m pleased with 
how the day went."

HRT to miss testing again?

HRT’s embarrassing 3-year drought of not setting a single lap in testing looks set to continue, as the F112 (more than likely the car’s name) failed the mandatory FIA crash tests last week.

This year, a new regulation forces the teams to have passed the 17 crucial crash tests before the car can take part in testing. However, HRT’s car only passed 14 of these. Reports suggest that the car failed the roll hoop and lateral nose tests by “a minor margin”.

However, this still means that the car will not be ready for the second test in Barcelona. While the team are still aiming to turn a wheel before the first race in Melbourne, it is not an encouraging sign for the fledgling team.

Until the new car passes crash tests, Pedro de la Rosa will continue to drive last year’s F111.

McLaren and Ferrari exhausts declared legal

After the reactive ride height controversy last month, the FIA’s Charlie Whiting has approved exhaust layouts designed by Ferrari and McLaren.

A ban on exhaust blown diffusers this year forced teams to make their exhaust outlets visible from above, and have no influence on the performance of the diffuser. However, other teams in the paddock were worried that Ferrari and McLaren had found a way to manipulate exhaust gases to benefit other aero sections of the car.

While this would appear to be against technical regulations, Whiting has given the green light to both teams. According to Sky Sport’s Ted Kravitz, this will prompt more aggressive exhaust designs for other teams in the Barcelona tests:

"I understand from sources in the pit lane that FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting 
has told the teams that he considers Ferrari and McLaren exhaust designs as legal.

Even though the way those two teams have packaged their exhaust outlets, with 
channels leading exhaust gases out to specific areas of the car and therefore 
appearing to have a beneficial aero effect, which is against new exhaust regulations, 
it seems Whiting believes that they comply sufficiently with both the letter and the 
intention of the law.

This has been accepted by the other teams, who launched with less aggressive exhaust 
concepts and it means that they will now effectively green light their own, shall we 
say more exotic, exhaust designs.

We can expect to see these in time for the third test in Barcelona, if not before."

 

FIA to use incident-spotting software during races

New software from the FIA will automatically detect accidents like this

New software from the FIA will automatically detect incidents like this

The FIA has announced that it is testing software that will automatically notify Race Control when a driver breaks the rules during a race.

This software is a combination of real-time lap timing, GPS co-ordinates for each car, and data regarding tyre patterns. All of these are combines to detect when a driver has broken a rule while out on track.

The end result of this software is that it can advise Race Control, and race director Charlie Whiting, if a car has been behaving oddly, which in turn may lead to swifter penalties.

This information was released through the FIA’s magazine InMotion. The designer of this innovation, Gareth Griffith, explains the software’s function:

"We tied in the cameras with the timing and the GPS, so we knew exactly where a car 
was on the track.

Then we started to analyse the data to pick out incidents. The software creates 
alerts and that automatically takes the Riedel technicians to the right cameras, 
instead of them having to find them, as used to happen.

Within a few seconds Charlie [Whiting] can be looking at the incident: either for 
safety purposes or to refer it to the stewards. It is automated, using the data 
available and algorithms based on the interactions in that data.

In the case of baulking, for example, the algorithms can analyse the proximity of 
two GPS signals to see how long it takes the car behind to close from five to two 
seconds behind the car in front. We can then measure how long the second car stays 
behind the first and if there is no time lost then there was no incident.

The data can show us when a car is not behaving as it should be behaving and so we 
can ascertain at what moment that changed and if there was another car in close 
proximity at that moment."

However, this new technical innovation is still well away from passing judgement on drivers’ actions. It can already detect what kind of an incident has occured, but the responsibility of penalties still lies with Charlie Whiting:

"With all of this it is still Charlie’s decision whether to refer incidents 
to the Stewards and their decision as to whether the driver is penalised or 
not."

FIA to enforce Monaco tunnel DRS ban

DRS will be banned in the tunnel in Monaco

DRS will be banned in the tunnel in Monaco

After safety complaints from many of the drivers, the FIA has made the decision to ban the Drag Reduction System in the tunnel of the Monaco Grand Prix street circuit this weekend.

To prevent drivers taking risks at the sharp right-hander, race director Charlie Whiting has decided to ban the use of DRS in between two specific points on the circuit.

The distance markers 1350m and 2020m (the area of the tunnel) has been specified as an area that DRS cannot be used in.

Otherwise, the device is free to be used around the track during practice and qualifying, and the start/finish straight will soon be confirmed as the race location for DRS use.

In a letter to the Grand Prix Drivers Association on Monday, Whiting claimed that the FIA’s initial tough stance on DRS in the tunnel (they believed there was no safety concern) has since softened.

While most drivers are pleased with this announcement, Renault team principal Eric Boullier doesn’t see the point:

"Some feel that the incentive to benefit will force drivers to take unnecessary risks.

My own view is that the drivers will build up their confidence gradually during free 
practice and by the time qualifying arrives they will know in how much of the tunnel 
they can safely use the DRS wing.

Often in the past the tunnel has been very tricky to take flat out at the start of 
the race weekend when the track is poor.

"This has not caused the drivers to crash, they have simply built up their pace 
gradually until they were confident that it could be taken flat - I think the same 
approach will emerge with the DRS."

No DRS ban for Monaco

DRS will be used in Monaco

DRS will be used in Monaco

The FIA has decided that there will be no ban on the Drag Reduction System for the Monaco Grand Prix, despite safety concerns from drivers.

The unlimited use of the adjustable rear wing in the tunnel is the primary concern from some drivers, who feel that it is an unnecessary risk.

However, some teams voiced their support for retaining the system, claiming it would be difficult to create a Monaco-specific rear wing.

Williams technical director Sam Michael has said that Charlie Whiting has told the teams there will be no ban, as only a handful of teams objected to the device:

"Charlie told us this morning. There were some teams that did not think DRS would be 
good there, but other teams were saying they did not agree [with the ban] and did not 
understand on what basis [it would be banned].

So Charlie was quite straightforward about it. He said that there wasn't a strong 
enough argument to not have it, so it is staying. We were neutral on it, we didn't 
mind."

On the other hand, several drivers are unhappy with using DRS on the street circuit. Rubens Barrichello in particular feels that the sport’s governing body has made the wrong call:

"I just think it is wrong. I would love the people at the top to sit in the car and 
try to do the tunnel with the DRS open.

In my opinion, they are waiting for something bad to happen. And when it happens, 
they will just say, 'oh, next year we will not have it for Monaco'.

The drivers have not been listened to right now and I think it is the wrong 
decision.

I can see a race [filled] with safety cars. If they could listen still: I think 
Monaco is what it is. It is not overtaking territory.

Do they think they can introduce overtaking through the DRS? They possibly can, but 
they might hurt someone. That is a voice from experience."

Korean GP given green light by FIA

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting inspecting the Korean GP circuit

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting inspecting the Korean GP circuit

The Korean Grand Prix has been confirmed to go ahead later this month, as a recent FIA inspection has reported the track to be up to safety standards, and more importantly, the construction is still on time. Charlie Whiting has been inspecting the track over the last 2 days, and has finally declared the race ready to go.

 

For the last few months, particularly in the recent weeks, speculation has been mounting about the circuit’s inability to prepare the track in time, particularly in the laying of the tarmac, which only happened a few days ago. However, with this seal of approval from the FIA, surely most of the media attention will focus on the actual race.

While the tarmac and kerbs are now down, certain aspects of the infrastructure are still to be completed, such as some of the smaller grandstands. Having said that, the main features of the circuit are reported to have been completed.

Race promoter Yung Cho Chung has welcomed the approval by the FIA, and has stated that he hopes to see this Grand Prix ignite more Korean interest in F1:

"We are delighted that all works are now finished to the 
complete satisfaction of the FIA, and we join the whole of 
Korea in welcoming the Formula 1 fraternity to the Korea 
International Circuit for the first time.

The KIC has been constructed to the highest standards, and 
will become the epicentre of motorsport in the country. We 
believe the 2010 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix will be the 
catalyst to ignite enormous interest in the sport across 
the nation."

 

Ferrari were not given immediate order to allow Kubica through

In a complete contrast to Charlie Whiting’s evidence given a few days ago, it has emerged that Ferrari were not immediately ordered to instruct Fernando Alonso to allow Robert Kubica through at the British Grand Prix. Gazzetta Dello Sport has published the transcript of pit wall communications during the incident, which show that there was a long delay between the incident and Whiting advising Ferrari to let Kubica through.

Fernando Alonso battles with Robert Kubica, and cuts the next corner

Fernando Alonso battles with Robert Kubica, and cuts the next corner

According to Charlie Whiting, he immediately told Ferrari to let Kubica through. However, the radio transcript tells a different story:

13:31:05 The overtaking move takes place at Club and after one second Rivola calls Whiting, who replies after 11 seconds. Rivola asks: ‘Have you seen the pass? In our opinion there was no room to overtake.’

26 secs after the pass, Whiting asks to be given time to watch the TV footage.

13:33 Ferrari makes a second radio call – 1m55s after the pass. Alonso has completed another lap plus one sector, and is behind Nico Rosberg and Jaime Alguersuari, while Kubica drops further back.

Whiting tells Ferrari that the stewards think Alonso could give the position back. Rivola asks: ‘Is this the decision?’

Whiting replies: ‘No, but that’s how we see it.’

Rivola informs the team while Rosberg overtakes Alguersuari. On the GPS screen that shows the position of the cars, Ferrari sees Kubica dropping further back. Meanwhile, Alonso overtakes Alguersuari at Turn 2.

13:33:22 Ferrari makes a third radio call.

Rivola tells Whiting: ‘Alonso doesn’t have only Kubica behind. He would have to concede two positions now.’

While they discuss the matter Kubica is overtaken by Barrichello so Alonso would have to now give up three positions.

Whiting replies: ‘We have given you the chance to do it or not. Things being this way, the stewards will hear the drivers at the end of the race, but I understand your position.’

13:35:30 Kubica stops so Alonso can no longer give the position back.

13:45:31 The stewards investigate the Alonso/Kubica incident. The monitors then display ‘car number 8 under investigation’, 14m26s after the pass.

13:46:26 Just 55 seconds later the stewards decide that Alonso should have a drive-through penalty.

This shows that Whiting had a delay of two minutes of telling Ferrari to let Kubica through, not instantly like he had previously stated. Also, this would prove Ferrari’s claim that Kubica was dropping down the field too quickly to allow through, and it would have unfairly disadvantaged Alonso.

After a look at this evidence, I would have to question the drive-through penalty a little bit more. For sure, Fernando should have allowed Kubica through instantly, without his team telling him to, but it does seem strange that Charlie Whiting would have told the story incorrectly.

At the end of the day, while a drive-through penalty is still justifiable, the stewards’ time spent deliberating incidents must be looked at, as it had affected so many races this season.

Ferrari were advised to allow Kubica through

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has revealed that he advised Ferrari 3 times to allow Robert Kubica through, after an overtaking incident with Fernando Alonso during the British Grand Prix. Alonso was handed a drive-through penalty during the race after he cut a corner battling with Kubica, overtook the Renault but failed to give the position back.

Ferrari were advised 3 times to hand the position back to Kubica

Ferrari were advised 3 times to hand the position back to Kubica

Under normal circumstances, after repeatedly advising Ferrari, this would have turned into an order to hand the position back, but since Kubica soon retired with unrelated mechanical issues, Alonso was unable to hand the position back. However, Charlie Whiting felt that Ferrari had plenty of time to instruct Alonso to let Kubica through, before the Renault retired.

Whiting claimed that, despite the penalty being issued many laps later, Ferrari were immidiately advised to hand the position back:

"We told Ferrari three times that in my opinion they should give the
position back to Kubica.

And we told them that immediately, right after the overtaking
manoeuvre. On the radio, I suggested to them that if they exchange
position again, there would be no need for the stewards to intervene.

But they didn't do that and on the third communication they said that
Kubica was by then too far back to let him regain the position.

It's not true at all that the stewards took too long to decide. For
us the facts were clear immediately: Alonso had gained an advantage
by cutting the track."

However, team principal Stefano Domenicali argued that, despite Alonso getting past Kubica, he didn’t gain an advantage:

"He tried to be aggressive to overtake, and we complained the 
drivers not to be aggressive and we complain about the lack of 
overtaking, and so at that stage, we felt as we normally do at 
that moment that we need to go on the radio with race control to 
check what is the position.

And normally, we take the right time to discuss with race control 
to make the judgement, and the moment when race control give us 
the instruction to give back the position to Robert, it was clear 
that Robert had already lost a lot of time - effectively he had a 
problem and he came back. That is the situation we analysed.

You can have a situation where immediately there is a possibility 
to give back the position to a driver if you feel that there is 
really an advantage that you gain. On our side we felt that was 
not the case otherwise we would have done it."

I was wondering after the race, why Ferrari didn’t complain loudly about the penalty being awarded, and this is clearly why. If Ferrari are pushing the rules that much just to gain one position, then they completely deserve any penalty that they get.

Outboard mirror ban delayed until Spanish GP

Outboard wing mirrors, seen here on last year's Ferrari F60

Outboard wing mirrors, seen here on last year's Ferrari F60

The ban on outboard mirrors, which was supposed to come into effect by next race in China, has now been delayed until the Spanish Grand Prix, following complaints from the teams that there was not enough time to make the changes.

After several near misses and incidents in the Australian Grand Prix, which were caused by outboard wing mirrors, the FIA decided to notify the teams that the mirrors would have to be mounted on the cockpit side from the Chinese Grand Prix onwards. However, several teams have complained that they will not be able to do this in time, and so the ban has been delayed for 1 race.

It is understood that the drivers who were concerned about the outboard wing mirrors spoke to Charlie Whiting, FIA race director, who agreed to get the FIA to ban the devices. This ban may affect the performance of the top teams who use this device, such as Ferrari and Red Bull.

The only problem I have here is why the teams are complaining. Basically, they think that two weeks isn’t enough to move two wing mirrors to the inside of the cockpit, and they need four instead. Bloody hell, if it actually took a team more than 2 weeks to change mirrors, then they don’t deserve to be running in the Lada Cup, never mind F1. Of course, the only reason they want extra time is so that they can exploit this new rule in some other way. Don’t be surprised if the teams can find a way of sneaking bargeboards into their wing mirror design.

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.

McLaren rear wing to be inspected

The slot and rear wing desing of the McLaren MP4-25

The slot and rear wing desing of the McLaren MP4-25

McLaren’s MP4-25 rear wing is to be inspected in Bahrain, following concerns from Red Bull and Ferrari over its legality.

While Ferrari have since been less concerned about the issue, they and Red Bull have asked Charlie Whiting, FIA race director, to closely inspect the rear wing. Christian Horner in particular has seeked clarification over the concept of McLaren’s rear wing.

The issue deals with a slot just above the driver helmet. It feeds air away from the rear wing, which “stalls” the wing at high speed. It reduces drag and still increases downforce. It is believed that the McLaren in faster in a straight line by 6mph because of this innovation.

While McLaren have already invited Charlie Whiting to inspect the innovation, his flight from South America was heavily delayed, so he cancelled the trip to Woking. The car will instead be examined at Bahrain this weekend.

Although Christian Horner is still asking the FIA for clarification, he still believes the innovation is legal:

“There’s a bit of a fuss over McLaren’s rear wing. They have a slot
on it and can pick up a lot of straight-line speed. Basically, if you
stall the wing you take all the drag off it and pick up straight-line
speed. It’s something that’s been done quite a lot over the years,
but with the wing separators you’re not supposed to do that.

I think it will get resolved before the first race. We’ve asked the
FIA for clarification, although I think Ferrari are probably more
excited than we are to be honest. Our question ultimately will be,
‘Is it clever design or is it in breach of the regulations?’ They
must be very confident that it’s legal. I would think it will be
legal.”

McLaren is much less worried about their design, with Martin Whitmarsh saying:

"The wing is different and innovative, yes. But we have been in
contact with Charlie over a period of several months to check that it
complies with regulations. We have been assured that it does."

It’s unclear how important this design is to McLaren’s car, but rest assured that they won’t be winning races any time soon if it’s declared illegal. If it is legal, which it probably is, then we may see another scramble, like last year, with all the teams trying to copy the design.

As I said when the cars were launched, I’m more worried about the diffuser design than this. Still, this design seems to be legal, so we might see another development battle.

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