Tag Archives: FIA

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.


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.

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.

Pirelli tyres don’t need changing – the rules do

This weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix saw much criticism for the way the teams held back for much of qualifying, almost afraid to put any type of wear on their tyres.

This continued through to race day, where drivers’ strategies revolved solely around getting rid of the troublesome option tyres as quickly as possible, then managing the primes for the rest of the race.

It’s a worrying scene, and only fuels many arguments that Formula 1 is only racing at 90% power, what with the increased emphasis on tyre conservation in recent years. From the teams’ points of view, there is nothing else they can do – if staying in the pits for the first 5 minutes of Q3 is the best tactical option (or all of Q3), then they must make that call, unpopular as it might be.

Pirelli have therefore come under fire for their high-degradation soft compound tyres, which only allow a handful of flat-out racing laps. However, this is exactly what they were instructed to create when they entered the sport. I feel that the adjustments necessary to fix the current tyre problem must be made by the FIA.

Obviously we can’t just revert to the days of rock-hard tyres and “cruise control” races – that would completely undermine all the improvements that have been made to the racing in recent years. However, in my opinion, changing the regulation on the Q3 tyres would encourage drivers to get out on track more. The rule that states that drivers must start on the tyre they qualified on, for example, is completely detrimental to the racing, and should be scrapped.

If this were to be removed, drivers would be more willing to push for the absolute best lap times on their Q3 laps, and it would also introduce more strategic options on race day – starting on the prime tyre would be much more feasible.

Similarly, it might also be worth having a look at the dual compound rule, which states that both the option and prime compounds must be used during a dry race. Again, this would diversify tyre strategies and reduce emphasis on conserving the option tyres.

I still think that F1 is currently in a fantastic position at the moment, with a massively talented grid of drivers, closely-fought title battles and plenty of on-track excitement, but there’s always improvements to be made. Improving the regulations behind the Pirellis would be a welcome boost to both the drivers and fans.

Scorpion Racing to buy out liquidated HRT team

A group of Canadian and American investors may just breathe life into the dead HRT Formula 1 team, after it was revealed that the team’s assets are being bought out. This has led to speculation that the group, known as Scorpion Racing, will attempt to bring the team back onto the F1 grid.

It is understood that the deal has the blessing of FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone, but it is unknown whether Scorpion Racing (if it is officially named as such) would be allowed onto the 2013 grid. The FIA deadline for 2013 applicants closed back in November 2012, and with the HRT liquidation soon after, the team were barred from re-competing in the sport.

Plans are believed to be in an “advanced stage”. Scorpion Racing plan to run the team from a base near the Silverstone circuit, and continue to run a Cosworth engine package and Williams gearbox.

Ecclestone has written to the team, stating: “Have you bought the HRT company? Because if you have, they [the FIA] would be accepting you.”

More details will be added as they emerge.

Red Bull RB8 floor deemed illegal

The FIA has instructed Red Bull to modify its floor system before the Canadian Grand Prix, as it has now been deemed illegal.

The team came under pressure from Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes in Monaco, after they protested that the holes in the RB8’s floor were against the rules. While they refrained from a post-race protest, which may have got Mark Webber’s race win thrown out, the FIA sought to clear matters with the teams.

The holes were located just ahead of the rear wheels, and were believed to have provided a moderate performance advantage.

The design took advantage of a “grey area” in the technical regulations, but the FIA have now clamped down on this exploitation.

Hamilton thrown out of qualifying for fuel-related stoppage, Maldonado now on pole position

Pastor Maldonado will take his first ever pole position

Pastor Maldonado will take his first ever pole position

Lewis Hamilton has been excluded from Spanish GP qualifying, as the team illegally didn’t fuel up his car to the correct amount required.

FIA article 6.6 states that if a fuel sample is required from a car (all cars in Q3 are required), then “the car concerned must first have been driven back to the pits under its own power”.

Hamilton stopped on track at Campsa corner, about half way through the track. It is understood that he did have the fuel amount required when he stopped, but was instructed to pull over by his mechanics. More than likely, if he had continued on, he would have dropped below the limit.

Lewis will start the Spanish Grand Prix from the back of the grid, behind the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan – who was allowed to race despite being 1.8 seconds outside the 107% rule.

According to Gary Anderson of the BBC, a McLaren engineer “turned the [fuel] tap to ‘drain’ instead of ‘fill’ briefly, realised his error but engineers sent car out.”

This of course leaves Pastor Maldonado on pole position for tomorrow’s race. If he can hold the pace he showed in qualifying, we will be in for a fascinating race.

Bahrain GP analysis: No winners in farce of a weekend

Weeks and weeks before the Bahrain Grand Prix, we were already aware that a race should never have taken place in the troubled region. Aside from the blatant political motive, it was clear that the sport had put its personnel in danger. I’d like to say that we’ll never have to deal with such a farce again, but that’s wishful thinking.

Politics and profit win over sport

F1 has disgraced itself by allowing itself to be manipulated - and the FIA's to blame

F1 has disgraced itself by allowing itself to be manipulated - and the FIA's to blame

There are many to blame over what Formula 1 was forced to go through, but one organisation should have put a stop to it: the FIA.

Bernie Ecclestone is well known for putting profit first – I’m surprised that people expected him to act differently this weekend. Perhaps he was misinformed over the Bahrain situation, or maybe he took a calculated risk. Either way, he should not have been the one to make the final call over the event.

The FIA’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of all participants, and it was clear that they failed to do that. To add insult to injury, they allowed the race organisers to use the sport as a political tool – running the UniF1ed slogan throughout the weekend.

FIA Statue Article 1 states that “The FIA shall refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activites and from taking any action in this respect”. One of the sport’s most primary objectives has been made a mockery of, all in the name of profit.

The profiteers from this race, of course, are the Al Khalifa royal family. Having invested in and organised the race, they also stand to gain the most from the race, and they made absolutely sure they got their money’s worth this time. By doing so, though, they have disgraced what should be a pure sporting event.

This kind of farce has happened before – see F1 racing in South Africa in the 80s for more details – but it doesn’t hide the fact that last weekend was never about the racing.

Lotus finally deliver on promises

After three disappointing races, Lotus have finally shown their hand – and may well be the fifth team to win a race this year.

Kimi Raikkonen was able to challenge for the win on Sunday, but slipped away after the final stop. Regardless, it shows excellent progress from Melbourne, and Grosjean’s first ever podium proves that he’s up to the task as well.

Team principal Eric Boullier stated that Romain could even become world champion if he continues to improve, and I don’t doubt him. From qualifying in Australia, Grosjean was already proving that he could take on Raikkonen.

It’s not outrageous to suggest that Lotus could still be in contention in Spain in a few weeks time. If they do take the chequered flag first, then 5 different teams will have won one of the first 5 races, and that could set us up for a magnificent title battle.

FIA: Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead

The FIA has responded to doubts over next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, stating that the race will go ahead as planned.

Several groups, including Amnesty International, have expressed their worry that the sport will be used as a political tool. Currently, the Bahraini authorities are routinely clashing with pro-democracy protestors, and the safety of F1 personnel has been called into doubt.

However, the sport’s governing body has said that the event will be secure:

"Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that 
all the proper security measures are in place [...] therefore, the FIA confirms 
that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled."

Despite one team principal stating otherwise last week, most teams have claimed that they are happy to go to Bahrain. Ross Brawn has said that he believes that the situation is better than last year:

It is very difficult for us," said Brawn. "We have to take the advice of people 
who have all the information that is happening. We have reassurances from the 
FIA that they believe we can have a safe race there, so we follow that advice.
"We are not seeing what we saw last year, for sure. We are taking all the sensible 
measures you can to have the best race we can have. There are a lot of positives 
about going there, so we don't want to lose that."

Despite this, a report from Amnesty delivers a scathing attack on the Bahraini authorities:

"In recent months, the Bahraini authorities have become more concerned with 
rebuilding their image and investing in public relations than with actually 
introducing real human rights and political reforms in their country.

Indeed, for the authorities, much is at stake. They are keen to portray Bahrain 
as a stable and secure country in order to stave off international criticism. 
But as the country prepares to host the Formula 1 grand prix on 20-22 April, 
after the event was cancelled last year in response to the instability in the 
country, daily anti-government protests continue to be violently suppressed by 
the riot police that uses tear gas recklessly and with fatal results. Acts of 
violence by some protesters against the police have also considerably increased 
in the last three months.

Holding the grand prix in Bahrain in 2012 risks being interpreted by the 
government of Bahrain as symbolising a return to business as usual. The 
international community must not turn a blind eye to the ongoing human rights 
crisis in the country. The government must understand that its half-hearted 
measures are not sufficient - sustained progress on real human rights reform 
remains essential."

In recent days, protestors have directed their attention firmly at the Grand Prix. Pictures of Bernie Ecclestone have been torched, and several demonstrators have dressed up as Formula 1 drivers holding machine guns. Twitter hashtags such as “#BloodyF1” make their message clear – they do not want the sport to be seen as supporting the authorities.