Tag Archives: Williams

F1 Testing: Barcelona Test One Conclusions

The four day test at the Circuit de Catalunya is now complete with Ferrari setting the fastest time on three of the four days (utilizing the new ultra-soft tyres), but Mercedes logging almost twice as many laps – and using only medium compound rubber.

The Mercedes was bullet proof, which meant changing their driver scheduling to “avoid fatigue”(!), while Ferrari ran into cooling issues towards the end of the test.

After a bumpy start the Renault team logged solid mileage in the last two days with Kevin Magnussen, while Toro Rosso and Red Bull both ran solidly. Williams started slowly and ended badly but were saved by two solid days in between, while the 2015 Sauber ran as expected the team is still behind the Eight Ball in their preparations for Australia.

The decision to give rookie Alfonso Celis two full days in the Force India was odd given the limited testing time available and his ability to give feedback to the team, as opposed to the experience of Perez and Hulkenberg, but they put in useful mileage.

As expected, Haas had teething problems but responded well while Manor also struggled somewhat to put in meaningful laps with the new Mercedes power unit – not helped by Hatyanto’s crash on Thursday.

Things seemed to have improved dramatically at McLaren-Honda until a coolant leak sidelined the car completely on Thursday, adding to Fernando Alonso’s frustrations.

2016 Barcelona Test One
2016 Barcelona Test One

So now both we and the teams have just a few days to regroup before the second and final test March 1st.
Will we see then just how fast the Mercedes is or will they continue to sandbag?
Will Ferrari put in the miles or once again go for speed?
Will Honda finally come through for McLaren?
We’ll see next week…



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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!