Category: f1 news

FIA clamps down on trick F1 steering systems

FIA clamps down on trick F1 steering systems:

The FIA is to clamp down on Formula 1 teams using
steering angle to gain an aerodynamic advantage via the use of clever
front suspension systems.

A
Technical Directive sent by the Charlie Whiting last week made it clear
that the governing body believes that in 2017 some teams designed their
suspension and steering systems to lower the front ride height in
cornering, potentially providing an aerodynamic benefit and hence
increasing grip.

Whiting acknowledges that a ride height change under steering lock is
normal, but he says that from now on, it cannot exceed 5mm – and that
it’s up to the teams to provide proof that the systems of their 2018
cars will comply.

The matter was discussed in detail with technical directors at the
most recent FIA Technical Regulations Meeting in London, where there
were conflicting views as to how much influence suspension should
henceforth be allowed to have on aerodynamics.

Sources indicate that Red Bull wanted to retain the freedom to develop suspension under the current regulations, while Ferrari was supportive of tighter restrictions.

Mercedes is understood to have suggested that active suspension should be allowed, with FIA-prescribed software and hardware.

It was three weeks after that meeting that the Technical Directive
was sent to the teams, all of whom are already far advanced with their
2018 designs.

Whiting wrote: “It became clear during the season that some teams
were designing the suspension and steering systems in an attempt to
change the front ride height of the car.

"Whilst some change is inevitable when the steering wheel is moved
from lock-to-lock, we suspect that the effect of some systems was a far
from incidental change of ride height.

"We also believe that any non-incidental change of ride height is very likely to affect the aerodynamic performance of the car."               

Whiting referenced a 24-year-old FIA International Court of Appeal
ruling on suspension as a precedent for the interpretation of the key F1
technical regulation that concerns aerodynamic influence.

One section of the regulations reads "any car system, device or
procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the
aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited,” and that may be
the wording that the FIA is using to help to justify its stance.

In the latest Technical Directive, Whiting concluded: “It is our view
that such steering systems should be treated in the same way as
suspension systems, i.e. that the 1993 ICA ruling should apply when
assessing compliance with Article 3.8 of the Technical Regulations.

"Hence, any change of front ride height when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock should be wholly incidental.

"We will therefore be asking you to provide us with all relevant
documentation showing what effect steering has on the front ride height
of your car and, in order to satisfy us that any effect is incidental,
we believe that ride height should change by no more than 5.0mm when the
steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock.”

It remains to be seen what the impact of the Technical Directive will
be, given that teams are so far along with their 2018 cars, and thus
might already be committed to their suspension and steering layouts.

The real test may come only if the matter reaches the FIA stewards on
a grand Prix weekend, when they will have to make a ruling.

In effect, teams now have to decide whether they can afford to take a
risk and carry on with their intended designs, or build their cars to
the new interpretation.

One team insider told Motorsport.com: “I suspect it can’t be policed
anyway, and teams will just ignore it. It is just the FIA’s ‘view,’ it’s
not actually the ‘law’. Nothing will change.”

FIA clamps down on F1 practice driver licences

FIA clamps down on F1 practice driver licences:

The FIA has changed Formula 1 superlicence rules for
2018, to make it tougher for drivers to participate in grand prix free
practice sessions.

Previously,
drivers only had to complete 300km in a “representative Formula 1 car”
over two days and answer questions on sporting regulations to qualify
for a ‘free practice only’ superlicence, so long as the FIA adjudged
them sufficiently capable based on their prior single-seater experience.

To apply for subsequent licences, drivers only needed their team to
demonstrate it had briefed them properly on the sporting rules.

From next season, drivers will also need to have completed six races
in Formula 2, or accumulated 25 superlicence points in eligible
championships during the previous three years, to qualify for their
first F1 free practice superlicence.

Drivers reapplying subsequently need to demonstrate they have
completed a full season in F2 or amassed 25 superlicence points during a
three-year period.          

Of the third drivers who took part in practice sessions during 2017,
only Force India’s Alfonso Celis Jr would be affected by the ruling.

Although Toro Rosso practice driver Sean Gelael did not have 25 superlicence points, his F2 experience was sufficient.

Previous requirements concerning prior F1 mileage, knowledge of the
rules, and FIA judgement that a driver “must have consistently
demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars” remain
in force, under article five of Appendix L in the FIA’s international
sporting code.

The FIA approved further changes to its superlicence qualification
structure in September, awarding more points to drivers who succeed in
F2 and IndyCar and downgrading the World Endurance Championship, Formula
E and European Formula 3.

The FIA has made a concerted effort to better structure and regulate
the awarding of superlicences in grand prix racing since Max Verstappen
graduated to F1 as a 17-year-old in 2015.

Williams refusing to discuss Kubica’s speed

Williams refusing to discuss Kubica’s speed:

The Williams team says it will not discuss Robert Kubica’s speed following his two days of Formula 1 testing in Abu Dhabi.

Kubica,
who is regarded as favourite to land the second Williams drive
alongside Lance Stroll next year, finished the second day of running in
seventh position, two seconds off Sebastian Vettel’s pace.

The Pole was four tenths quicker than Sergey Sirotkin, who also drove
the Williams during the day, although the Russian set his fastest time
with the soft tyres while Kubica used the new hypersofts.

Williams’ tech chief Paddy Lowe said, however, that the laptimes
offered a misleading picture, and refused to discuss Kubica’s pace.

“I’m not gonna talk about speed,” said Lowe at the end of the second day of testing. “It’s a complicated topic.

"I’m sure you want me to give some answers about that but it’s not something we are not going to discuss.

"It’s a really complicated topic, performance and speed, so to read a
timesheet is quite misleading, so I’m not gonna talk about that. We
haven’t even analysed it for ourselves,” he added.

Lowe reiterated that Kubica’s runs had been without issue from the physical side.

“Robert drove the 2014 car at Silverstone and Hungary, so we have
lots of good information and Robert did a fantastic job,” Lowe said.         

“He’s a very, very professional guy, very knowledgeable, very
experienced, and that was a great benefit during these evaluations.

"We wanted to see Robert as he hasn’t driven a current car, or
current tyres, so of course it was interesting to see how he got on with
that.

"No problems. He’s absolutely fine. Good driving, no complaints, no issues. All went well.”

Lowe insisted the team was in no hurry to make a decision about its
2018 line-up, and suggested the fight for the remaining seat was not
just between the drivers it tested in Abu Dhabi.

“We’ll take the decision at the time we are ready. When we have all the information and we are ready to declare it.

"The drivers we brought to this test doesn’t mean that it’s the drivers under consideration for racing next year.

"This was a tyre test, which is an opportunity to look at two
different drivers as well as for Lance to look at the new tyres. That
was the purpose.

"Of course it gives us more information about drivers, but it’s not
setting a definition from the pool from which we will pick race
drivers.”

Santander ends F1 deals in favour of Champions…

Santander ends F1 deals in favour of Champions League tie-in:

Formula 1 has lost a major blue-chip sponsor as
Spanish financial giant Banco Santander has confirmed that it will end
its agreement with Scuderia Ferrari after eight seasons.

Santander,
which has announced a three-year deal to back the UEFA Champions
League, will also end its association with the F1 organisation.

That has included taking the title sponsorship of several races over
the years, including the British GP from 2007 to 2014, and the Spanish
GP from 2011 to 2013.

The company’s relationship with Ferrari began in 2010, when Fernando Alonso joined the team.

Santander has also enjoyed a long association with McLaren, starting in 2007, also when Alonso arrived.                        

However, in recent seasons, the Woking team’s deal was only with
Santander UK plc, and was a relatively minor one that was closely linked
to Jenson Button’s involvement, with no branding on the actual cars.

Confirmation that such a big name is leaving the sport will come as a blow to F1 owners Liberty on the same day that Alfa Romeo announced that it is stepping up its involvement from small stickers on the Ferraris to full title sponsorship of Sauber.

In a statement, Santander said that at the end of 2017 it “will
conclude its successful sponsorship of the Formula 1 racing team,
Scuderia Ferrari, which it has supported for the last eight seasons.

"The bank will also conclude its corporate sponsorship agreements
with F1 which have helped increase Santander’s brand recognition around
the world over the last 11 years.”

Alfa Romeo returns to F1 in Sauber partnership

Alfa Romeo returns to F1 in Sauber partnership:

The Alfa Romeo name will return to Formula 1 in 2018 in partnership with Sauber and Ferrari.

The
Swiss outfit will be known as the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team from next
year onwards, with the two companies entering into a multi-year
agreement.

The deal will include “strategic, commercial and technological
cooperation” and “the exchange of engineering and technical know-how”,
said a Sauber statement.

As reported by Motorsport.com last week, an Alfa tie-up was a key part of the negotiations for an enhanced partnership between Ferrari and Sauber.

Ferrari
chairman Sergio Marchionne had made clear in recent months that he was
keen to bring the Alfa name back to F1 for the first time since 1985.

“This agreement with the Sauber F1 team is a significant step in the
reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand, which will return to Formula 1 after
an absence of more than 30 years,” said Marchionne.

“A storied marque that has helped make the history of this sport,
Alfa Romeo will join other major automakers that participate in Formula
1.           

"The brand itself will also benefit from the sharing of technology
and strategic know-how with a partner of the Sauber F1 team’s undisputed
experience.”

Sauber is expected to run Ferrari
protege and Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc next season, and is
considering whether to continue with Marcus Ericsson in the second car
or replace him with Antonio Giovinazzi – another Ferrari junior.

Sauber chairman Pascal Picci said Alfa was an ideal partner for his team.

“Alfa Romeo has a long history of success in grand prix racing, and
we are very proud that this internationally renowned company has chosen
to work with us for its return to the pinnacle of motorsport,” he said.

“Working closely with a car manufacturer is a great opportunity for
the Sauber Group to further develop its technology and engineering
projects.

"We are confident that together we can bring the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1
Team great success, and look forward to a long and successful
partnership.”

Alfa has not been involved in F1 since its works team project of
1979-85, and has not had a high-profile motorsport programme since its
touring car efforts of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Gasly “completely lost power” 200 metres before finish

Gasly “completely lost power” 200 metres before finish:

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly has revealed he
“completely lost power” from his Renault engine 200 metres before the
finish line on the final lap of Formula 1’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

While
teammate Brendon Hartley retired just over halfway point in the race –
continuing Toro Rosso’s recent run of reliability woes – Gasly made it
to the end in 12th, a lap down on race winner Sebastian Vettel.

But Gasly’s Toro Rosso did not have a trouble-free run either, the
Frenchman slowing on the main straight on the final tour as he took the
chequered flag at 60km/h.

“I knew there was something wrong going on because every lap they
were like ‘yeah, oil transfer, oil transfer’ – and I knew we had
old-spec MGU-K so I was like ‘f***, hopefully it’s going to last until
the end’,” Gasly said.

“And then actually 200 metres before the finish line I was full throttle and I lost completely the power on the car.

“I was like ‘bup bup bup bup’, I crossed the line, I think at 60km/h,
and I was like ‘what should I do? What should I do?’ and they just told
me to park the car.

“I don’t know exactly what was the problem but there was definitely something.”                            

The close call at the end aside, Gasly – who now has four Formula 1
grand prix starts to his name – felt the Interlagos race was his best in
the championship thus far.

“It was good,” he said. “We knew it would be difficult starting from
19th. But watching the races from the past few years, I knew the start
was key if we wanted to have a decent race.

“So, I went on the outside into Turn 1, which worked out pretty well,
I overtook maybe three cars Turn 1, then one [car into] Turn 2, then
after all the mess in front of me I just stayed flat out and tried to
avoid everyone.

“I would say in terms of performance we extracted everything we
could. At the beginning of the first stint I could stay quite close to
Carlos [Sainz] – and then after they picked up the pace and [we] were
quite limited with the degradation, so I don’t think we could’ve done
much better.

“Finished 16 seconds behind the Renault, I think definitely our best race and best performance since I arrived in Malaysia.”

Sainz says Massa accusation “doesn’t make any sense”

Sainz says Massa accusation “doesn’t make any sense”:

Renault driver Carlos Sainz says Felipe Massa’s
accusation that he impeded the Williams driver on purpose during Formula
1 qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix “doesn’t make any sense”.

An
angry Massa, in his final home grand prix, slammed Sainz for what he
labeled a “completely unacceptable” incident, accusing the Spaniard of
having impeded him in Q3 on purpose.

Massa said: “I even spoke to him and said ‘this time you disturbed me
on purpose, you knew I was coming.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I knew, because
you disturbed me yesterday in the long run.’

“He did it on purpose and for me that is completely unacceptable, and
this disrupted my qualifying to be maybe four of five positions in
front.”

But Sainz, who qualified right in front of Massa in eighth position,
insisted he had no idea what the Brazilian was talking about.

“I don’t understand it. I don’t understand the accusations and all
the problems,” said the Toro Rosso driver. “Maybe he misunderstood the
situation.

“He was in my way a lot of times in free practice and once in qualy,
and that’s it. We had our issues in free practice but in qualy I didn’t
see any issue apart from him impeding me.

“I know that he impeded me in Turn 4 but I don’t know why he says I
impeded him and even less that I did it on purpose. It’s something that I
don’t understand at the moment.                  

“I think it would be good for both to think about tomorrow because we
have a 70-lap race and to complain about one lap in qualifying doesn’t
make any sense,” the Spaniard added.

Sainz said he might speak to Massa before the race.

“Let’s see how he wakes up and how I wake up and if we have the time, we will talk,” he added.

The Renault driver had another strong outing in his third grand prix
with the team, making it into Q3 for the third time in a row.

“It’s my third Q3 out of three with this team, so I have to be very pleased,” Sainz said.

“Of course if I look at the data, there’s places where I could have
improved but when you are in your third race and you don’t know how the
car is going to react to new tyres, to track evolution, to drops falling
today, you always need to have a big of margin, of everything under
control.

“I’m not worried and I know it will come with more time.”

Hamilton to start from pitlane after “surprise” crash

Hamilton to start from pitlane after “surprise” crash:

Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Brazilian Grand
Prix from the pitlane after the Mercedes Formula 1 team broke parc ferme
rules to fit new parts.

The
four-time world champion crashed into the barriers at the fast uphill
Ferradura right-hander on his first flying lap in qualifying at
Interlagos.

As Hamilton was set to start from the back of the field anyway,
Mercedes has opted to fit parts “of a different specification to those
used in qualifying”.

Mercedes says it will also fit a new engine, with Hamilton moving
onto his fifth internal combustion engine, MGU-H and turbocharger.

Hamilton had been expected to contend for pole, but crashed out
within minutes of the session starting to prompt his first Q1 exit since
the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix.

He lost the rear of the car suddenly mid-corner and slammed into the barriers left-front corner first.

The Briton apologised to his team on the radio before emerging unscathed, but took no further part in the session.

“I was just taken by surprise,” Hamilton told reporters after the
session. “The car bottomed out a bit. If you look at the replay, the car
is bottoming throughout the corner.                      

“Often when it bottoms, it stalls the floor, and that often happens
when the car is cold and the tyres are cold. These sort of things
happen.

“I hadn’t gone in there any quicker than I had done before, anything
like that, but it’s my fault and I should take full responsibility.”

When asked if it was easier to take given the championship has
already been decided, Hamilton said: “It feels the same as it would at
another point in season.

“It’s less painful as the championship is done but I still feel it
just as much. I take a lot of pride in my commitment and how i drive.

“I haven’t made any mistakes all year and it’s been a long time since I’ve put the car in the wall. But it happens.

“Once it happens, there’s no point dwelling on it. All I can do is keep my head high and move forwards.

“It had been a good weekend up until then. Hopefully you can tell
I’ve not lifted off the gas and backing off. I was going for it. But I’m
human still.

“I’m starting from the pitlane, it’s not the most exciting but you
can only go forwards from there. I will try to give it everything I’ve
got.”

Brazilian GP installs police reinforcements after armed robbery

Brazilian GP installs police reinforcements after armed robbery:

Brazilian Grand Prix organisers have arranged for
‘heavy police reinforcements’ around the Interlagos track following the
armed robbery against Mercedes team members on Friday night.

A
minibus carrying Mercedes personnel was held up at gunpoint after
leaving the track, as robbers stole valuables in a frightening moment
for those involved. Luckily no-one was injured in the incident.

With members of Williams, and officials from the FIA, also
experiencing close calls as armed robbers targeted F1 personnel, the
issue of safety became a big talking point on qualifying day. World
Champion Lewis Hamilton tweeted that he believed F1 needed to do more to
protect working staff.

In response to the situation, extra security has been arranged to help protect the public around the Interlagos circuit.

A statement issued by the FIA said: “The circuit has informed all of
the events stakeholders that the Sao Paulo police force has taken
additional measures after these regrettable incident.

“Heavy police reinforcements will be on duty for the remainder of the event.” 

F1 personnel have also been advised to remove passes and change out
of team uniform to prevent being singled out by criminals for attack.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that teams should not have to face such
tough situations – nor need to sort the kind of extra precautions that
have now become common for Brazilian GP weekend.

“We shouldn’t be needing armed vehicles, bulletproof cars, agents in
order to make it safe from the race track to the hotel,” he said.

“But then this is the circumstances and maybe our approach in the
past was a bit lenient; easy, because Brazil is a cool country. But it
must have been a really scary moment for the guys.

“We all left just about at the same time at 10 o’clock, and being
stopped and having a gun pointed at you must be awful. And so far,
they’ve ramped the security up since this morning.

“When we came to the circuit it looked like civil war broke out – so
many police officers were on the track. Let’s see what happens tonight,
but it shouldn’t happen.”

Red Bull moves to calm Renault amid Toro Rosso anger

Red Bull moves to calm Renault amid Toro Rosso anger:

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has moved
to ease tensions with Formula 1 engine supplier Renault amid its
escalating row with Toro Rosso.

Toro
Rosso has suffered a series of failures in recent races, with Pierre
Gasly and Brendon Hartley taking grid penalties for this weekend’s race
in Brazil.

Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com on Friday
that “we do have a little bit of a concern about the way that our
engine is operated in the Toro Rosso car”, before adding there are
“never coincidences in this sport”.

Red Bull’s junior team responded with a statement on
Saturday at Interlagos, hitting back at Renault’s suggestion that its
recent reliability problems were down to how the team operated its
engines.

Marko and Abiteboul were then seen having a heated conversation in the paddock ahead of final practice.

The Red Bull
motorsport advisor subsequently moved to ease tensions by releasing a
statement: “Over the last 10 years, many successful, we have been
through every emotion with our current engine supplier.

“As usual at the end of another long season, emotions are running high but it is a valued relationship and will remain so.

“There has never been any question that we have not been treated
fairly and equitably by our engine suppliers. And that is still true
today.”

Tost unapologetic

Ahead of that statement, Tost refused to apologise for the team’s comments.

“The statement was a reaction to Cyril’s interview yesterday where he
blamed the team for the power unit failures, which is absolutely
wrong,“ he told Sky Sports F1.

“What for should I apologise? For all the damages we have? [he’s upset] I’m as well upset, we’re both upset.                    

“Do know, who started with all this nonsense? Cyril yesterday, with his stupid interview.

“Should I say ‘Oh fine, good interview from him, we accept it’? No we
don’t accept it. Therefore we came out with our statement.”

When asked if he was worried Renault might withhold engines for Abu
Dhabi, he said: “We have a contract. I don’t see that we have broken
[any clause].”

Prost: Renault doesn’t play “dirty games”

Renault special advisor Alain Prost moved to defend the French
manufacturer in response to Tost’s interview and refuted suggestions it
would play “dirty games” with regards the championship.

Toro Rosso is currently five points ahead of Renault in the battle for sixth in the constructors’ standings.

“You won’t have a response from ourselves, we don’t want to enter into this game of answering,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“I just listened to what Franz said and obviously, there is one thing that is for sure.

“As you know, the Renault company involved in F1 for a long time, and
we prove that by giving exactly the same engine to everybody, which is
not the case of the other manufacturers.

“We will never play any dirty game to gain one position.”

Prost added Toro Rosso “will have an engine in Abu Dhabi, there’s no question about that”.