Before the 2015 F1 season got under way and long before Mercedes went on to annihilate the opposition come Sunday, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner proposed that Formula One should re-think the way it works in order to minimise spending and generate a low-cost formula which wouldn’t be such a hindrance to manufacturer and independent teams alike. His proposal was simple: Ban wind tunnels.
Wind tunnels have long been around Formula One. They are used to extrapolate information on the way in which air flow reacts and relates to interacting with the surface on the car, it has aided the design process of cars which are in need of an aerodynamic solution. However, the costs of running these influential tests are extravagant, some teams have in the past had their wind tunnels running 24 hours a day. Teams further down the grid, notably Force India, are today having to send their car equipment some distance to Toyota’s wind tunnel in Cologne, Germany in order to get significant and accurate data on their chassis. This of course adds expense in not only transporting the equipment, but paying Toyota to use the wind tunnel.
The question is, if F1 were to be rid of these expensive contraptions, would the sport be any different? The answer is almost certainly yes. The banning of wind tunnels would reward the teams with the finest designers, something which would suit Red Bull Racing given that they employ the aero-whizz Adrian Newey. It would place the ability of the car in line with the skills of the men who draw and create them. It would mean that if a driver were to complain of a certain issue or element on his machinery, it would be up to the ingenuity of the designer to work around it and aim to create something which would suit the driver best. It would bring together more of a ‘team feel’ in the sport, the driver moans and designer draws, we would be reversed back to an age where computers didn’t have the effect they do today. More importantly still is the freedoms it should allow for aero men. Today the important figures like James Allison and Adrian Newey are bemoaning the lack of opportunity they have with the current rules to create solutions whilst cars slowly all begin to look the same. Their capabilities are being stemmed. With a wind tunnel ban, the FIA should open up more of the areas which could be open to interpretation, allow designers more freedoms around the car to create revolutionary pieces of equipment. Not only this, but a ban would dramatically reduce the costs involved and lower F1 teams budget, something which must become paramount especially as teams like Marussia, Caterham and even HRT couldn’t afford to remain in the (very expensive) game.
In short, Horner’s proposal was laughed off, but Formula One is heading back to the ‘good old days’ proposals of wider tyres, 1000bhp engines and we now even have sparks from the back of the cars, why is it so impossible to imagine a Formula One world without wind tunnels?
Ross Brawn has today confirmed that he is to retire from Formula One, at a fishing event in Scotland.
The 59 year old was at a fishing competition at the River Dee near Aberdeen when he confirmed his intentions to stand down in Formula One to focus on fishing. Brawn has long been linked with a position at McLaren or Honda since his departure from the Mercedes team last year.
“I’m retiring – it’s not tongue in cheek,” Brawn said. “I’m going to take a year to enjoy the fishing and then see what life brings. I’m looking forward to it but I’ve got no other plans.”
Brawn has long been linked with a position at McLaren or Honda since his departure from the Mercedes team last year. “What they didn’t realise when I was invited here was they had a scoop because the world’s press was trying to find out if I was retiring or not,” Brawn said. “This is the busiest time of the year for Formula One and I said I would come along and open the River Dee.”
The Englishman who was also a candidate for a position at the F1 governing body body, the FIA said: “It’s a fantastic honour to do the ceremonial opening of the River Dee. It’s a river I’ve never had a chance to fish before because it is predominantly known as a spring river and in the spring I’m normally trying to sort out a Formula One car in Spain.
“So February, March and April are never good months for me to go fishing – but this year is different having stopped.”
It is not known whether Brawn is just taking a years sabbatical or whether he is serious about leaving permanently. He has won 16 titles in Formula One, eight drivers’ and eight constructors’.
The Caterham F1 Team have released a YouTube video showing their 2014 chassis going through its crash test.
The FIA crash tests are a compulsory part of a cars formation. It is to ensure safety for the drivers, should a crash at any of the races occur. Before the chassis can pass, it must pass a whole raft of different tests on different areas of the car.
Caterham at the end of the video confirm that their 2014 frontal impact test passed.
Watch the video here:
Pirelli have announced that are trying to construct a compound of tyres which reduces the amount of marbles on track in 2014.
The move comes after current F1 drivers voiced their concerns about the amount of debris on circuits. The marbles, which are discarded pieces of rubber from the tyres, make it nigh-on impossible for drivers to commit to an overtaking manoeuvre off-line.
“The drivers certainly have commented on it and we can understand it,” said Pirelli’s motorsport boss Paul Hembery. “So it’s something that we are trying to do.”
The Pirelli boss has acknowledged that the marbles are created through wear so the softer compound of tyre are the main culprits for creating marbles.
“We know that it’s clearly wear-related, it’s basically tearing of the tyres in some cases, certainly the super-soft and to an extent the softer tyre have not had the strength that we needed.
“You can see some races where we had almost no marbles when you are using the hard and medium, certain surfaces where it’s low abrasion. So we are working to try and improve that. The general comment from the drivers is ‘reduce marbles’.”
Paul Hembery has admitted that there is a great challenge to try and stop the Pirelli tyres discarding excess rubber.
“At the moment we’re doing a lot of work on scaling and understanding where we are with the different compounds, we wanted to try and improve things like the tear resistance of the compounds, which has a direct impact on marbles which is something we are trying to reduce for next year,” he said.
“With the increased wheelspin, that has a chance of creating more marbles compared to where we are today, so we have to increase the mechanical strength of the compounds.”
Whether the changes to the tyre will create a different feel for the drivers, who will have a whole raft of new change and developments on their 2014 cars, is not yet known.
There has also been some concern related to the safety of marbles. On more than one occasion over the past few seasons have drivers had large chunks of rubber, either coming off the drivers car in front or from the discarded rubber on the side of the track, hitting the drivers helmet. A few drivers have said that if their visor were to be open for cooling purposes and a piece of rubber were to strike them, the result could be similar to the damage caused to Felipe Massa at Hungary in 2009, if not worse. The Brazilian’s helmet was hit by a rogue spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP car. Massa subsequently lost consciousness and crashed badly.
Formula One will introduce a ‘pole position trophy’ for the 2014 season. The FIA have added the new award to the world championship’s sporting regulations.
The driver with the most pole’s at seasons end will be rewarded at the FIA Gala with a trophy for their achievements. German Sebastian Vettel would have won the new trophy in four of the past five seasons should it have existed.
If there should be a tie in poles, the decision would be made on countback starting with the highest number of second places. Should the initial countback fail, the new regulations state that “the FIA will nominate the winner according to such criteria as it thinks fit”.
The FIA have released the final calendar for the 2014 Formula One season.
The season will kick off in Melbourne, Australia on the 16th of March and comes to a conclusion in Abu Dhabi on the 23rd of November.
The 19 race calendar includes a new race in Sochi, Russia and a return to Austria at the rebranded ‘Red Bull Ring’. Both the Korean and Indian Grand Prix events have been dropped.
Provisional races at New Jersey and Mexico did not make the 2014 calendar. Event organisers for the race in America are hopeful to make next years calendar, whilst redevelopment of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City are underway, with the view to make the 2015 calendar.
The 2014 calendar in full:
16/03 – Australia
30/03 – Malaysia
06/04 – Bahrain
20/04 – China
11/05 – Spain
25/05 – Monaco
08/06 – Canada
22/06 – Austria
06/07 – Great Britain
20/07 – Germany
27/07 – Hungary
24/08 – Belgium
07/09 – Italy
21/09 – Singapore
05/10 – Japan
12/10 – Russia
02/11 – United States
09/11 – Brazil
23/11 – Abu Dhabi
A couple of videos have emerged of Sebastian Vettel entertaining the guests at the annual Autosport Awards on Sunday.
After receiving International Racing Driver of the Year, Vettel talks about the Hungarian GP and Helmut Marko’s reactions through the weekend:
In this video Vettel serenades the audience with his excellent impersonation of FIA President Jean Todt telling him off for doing doughnuts at the end of the races towards the end of the year:
The comical videos and excellent grasp of British humour will go a long way in helping the image of Sebastian who has come under criticism ever since his controversial overtake on team mate Mark Webber at the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this year.
You can watch a longer highlights version here: