Tag Archives: Lotus

Customer Cars: Another Stupid F1 Idea

When the F1 Strategy Group (a laughable name for a group that seems to have no actual strategy for the sport) brought up the idea of the front-running teams supplying customer cars to the smaller outfits, it was met with derision from many fans, as well as the likes of Sauber, Force India and Lotus.

Crazy Uncle Bernie got in on the act at the Monaco GP by offering to broker the deals between The Big Four (Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull) and the struggling teams. There have long been technology deals between teams (Red Bull and Toro Rosso; Honda and Super Aguri; McLaren and Force India; Ferrari and Haas F1) but the chassis itself is manufactured by the team – that is why there is the CONSTRUCTORS championship.

What Ecclestone didn’t mention was that under the present Concorde Agreement the placing in the Constructors Championship determines prize money, not the Drivers Championship. So if a team used a customer car they would no longer be a constructor – and therefore would they not qualify for prize money?

Do your think the likes of Frank and Claire Williams, whose team is fast enough to be successful but not included in the Big Four, likes the idea of teams behind them suddenly running a pair of Mercedes or Ferrari cars that are beating them now?

The issue doesn’t lie in the smaller teams ability to build a good chassis, it lies in the unfair distribution of money within the sport. The side deals negotiated by Ecclestone with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull mean the smaller teams are simply outspent during the course of the season and can never develop their great ideas (Exhibit A: Sauber in Australia vs. everywhere since).

What’s laughable is that Toro Rosso seem to have designed a better performing chassis this year than parent Red Bull, who have been pissing and moaning about Renault all year and threatening to quit the sport entirely. Call that stability? Maybe Red Bull just want to use an STR11 in 2016…

It’s time for the FIA to take the decision making away from the teams, abolish the “Strategy Group” and even out the financial playing field. It’s time for Jean Todt to stop arsing around with the United Nations and to grow a pair.



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F1 Preseason Preview

With just over a week before the start of the 2013 preseason testing schedule, it’s time to look at what shape the Formula One teams are in and who might be setting the pace at the first test in Jerez, Spain on February 5th.

Red Bull-Renault
The only major changes in the team is the departure of Mark Webber’s race engineer, Ciaron Pilbeam. The RB9 will be launched February 3rd. Look for the team to be quick straight away but probably not the quickest, as they like to leave a little something in reserve.

Also no major changes within the team plus, the addition of the experienced tester Pedro de la Rosa will be a great help. The as yet unnamed 2013 car will be unveiled February 1st. The team are sticking with the pull-rod suspension layout but should have a better handle on its set-up this year.

The departure of Lewis Hamilton leaves large shoes for Sergio Perez to fill, but it also allows Jenson Button to become the undisputed leader of the team, just as he was at Brawn when he won the world title. The MP4-28 will be launched January 31st (hopefully in the traditional McLaren Orange paint scheme)

Kimi Raikkonen’s race engineer, Simon Rennie, moves to Red Bull (perhaps Kimi told him to “Shut up!” one too many times?) but otherwise there are no major changes. No launch date has been announced for the E21 but expect it to be ready for the first test.

Mercedes AMG
Changes have been coming thick and fast since the departure of Norbert Haug and the signing of Lewis Hamilton. The appointment of first, Niki Lauda as non-executive F1 Team Chairman and now Toto Wolff, former Williams director, as Head of Motorsport are all part of a huge makeover. It will take some time for the dust to settle and to see what effect (positive or negative) it has on the track. The W04 car will be launched February 4th and will run at Jerez the next day.

Despite a total change in driver line-up, things are looking up at Hinwil. With a stable management team in place, more sponsorship and the signing of the experienced Nico Hulkenburg, the promotion of Esteban Gutierrez to a race seat isn’t such a risk. The C32 is well advanced and set to be unveiled February 2nd. Look for it to be fast straight out of the box.

Force India-Mercedes
The team enters the season with major questions about its future. With owners Vijay Mallya and Roy Sahara’s companies both in deep financial trouble, it remains to be seen if they will still be in control of the team by the end of the season. The VJM06 is set to be launched February 1st but the team has yet to announce who will partner Paul di Resta, which does not bode well.

The move by company director, Toto Wolff to Mercedes has been painted as consensual but must be a major blow to the team as he was basically running the operation during 2012. They had already announced that the FW35 would not be ready until the second test (February 19th in Barcelona) which always puts a team on the back foot when testing is so restricted.

Toro Rosso-Ferrari
The team benefits from an unchanged driver line-up, the experienced Steve Nielsen as Sporting Director and the addition of James Key as Technical Director, who has previous knowledge of the Ferrari powerplant through his work at Sauber. The STR8 is set to debut February 4th and could be one of the early surprises in testing.

The CT03 will be unveiled at the Jerez test February 5th with new signing Charles Pic at the wheel. Who will partner him is still undecided, with Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna and Luiz Raza all candidates. This really is a make-or-break year for the team to close the gap and challenge for Q2 places and a few points before sponsorship gets hard to find. The defection of Nielsen to Toro Rosso could cause problems too.

Things began to look up with the addition of Technical Consultant Pat Symonds and the use of the Williams KERS system in 2013, but things took an unexpected turn this weekend when number one driver Timo Glock left the team for “commercial reasons” (AKA “We can’t afford to pay you”). Although the MR02 should be ready for the first test session, rookie driver Max Chilton will not be much use in developing it straight away. With Russian backing and a Russian GP coming in 2014, Vitaly Petrov would be the obvious choice to join the young (and well sponsored) Chilton, but Bruno Senna is also in with a chance.


There are bound to be more developments in the days leading up to February 5th at Jerez, so it’s time to get excited about Formula One again!


MCZ Motorsports 250: 2011 F1 Season Preview

The latest MCZ Motorsports 250 podcast is now available via iTunes or directly from our website. Subscribe to our RSS feed for more shows throughout the 2011 season
Here are the notes from the 2011 F1 Season Preview show:

The A-Teams:

Red Bull-Renault: Just like last year: sandbagging
Testing: 258 / 395 / 349 / 370 = 1372 laps
Vettel – This time no contest?
Webber – His turn to be Champion or to play second fiddle?

Ferrari: The contender? But only the one? Lots of miles on “the truck”
Testing: 286 / 463 / 435 / 379 = 1563 laps
Alonso – The matador takes the Bulls by the horns
Massa – Last chance with the Scuderia

Following Close Behind:

McLaren-Mercedes: Already throwing in the towel???
Testing: 279* / 233 / 331 / 221 = 785 laps in 2011 car (895 laps total)
Hamilton – Quit whining, Lewis
Button – Staying quiet but Mr Smooth could surprise

Mercedes: No need for the excuses after all?
Testing: 203 / 338 / 427 / 318 = 1286 laps
Rosberg – A chance to make the team his own
Schumacher – One last hurrah (then it’s Di Resta)

(Lotus-)Renault: Just when it was looking good
Testing: 227 / 276 / 337 / 286 = 1126 laps
Heidfeld – big shoes to fill
Petrov – one more chance with plenty looking over his shoulder

Williams-Cosworth: Money trumps talent
Testing: 258 / 253 / 351 / 257 = 1119 laps
Barrichello – The Old Man keeps on trucking
Maldonado – One and done?

Sauber-Ferrari: International Rescue, amigos. Fast? yes. Reliable? maybe…
Testing: 214 / 320 / 392 / 390 = 1316 laps
Kobayashi – needs to start ’11 like the middle of ’10 not the beginning.
Perez – settling in nicely

Mid-Pack Madness:

Force India-Mercedes: Do they have a car to match the driving talent?
Testing: 327* / 264 / 272 / 363 = 899 laps in 2011 car (1226 laps total)
Sutil – Has to raise his game from Day 1
Di Resta – Rookie of the Year? A shoe-in.

Toro Rosso-Ferrari: Step it up or be run over by the newbies
Testing: 203 / 327 / 317 / 347 = 1194 laps
Buemi – No excuses this year
Alguersauri – Carry on where he left off

Team Lotus-Renault: What’s in a name? We’ll find out
Testing: 144 / 198 / 204 / 361 = 907 laps
Kovalainen – Most underrated driver on the grid
Trulli – If things go well, he’s still quick

Virgin Racing-Cosworth: Enough of a step?
Testing: 219* / 215 / 329 / 263 = 807 laps in 2011 car (1026 laps total)
Glock – Deserves some reward for his patience
D’Ambrosio – Keep it tidy and keep out of the way

107% Scarey:

HRT-Cosworth: Money’s too tight to mention and once again behind the Eight Ball.
Testing: 188* / – / 257* / 0 = 0 in 2011 car (445 laps in 2010 car)
Karthikeyan – proof they will take anyone with money
Liuzzi – see above, though he claims otherwise

F1 2011 Testing Data