Keen to dispel the wild rumours that have been circulating about their chassis problem in Barcelona last week, Lotus have released a Q&A with technical director James Allison in which he explains the issues. It has been copied in full below.
What happened to the E20 in Barcelona last week?
We arrived in Barcelona with a brand new chassis, the E20-02. We completed installation laps on Tuesday morning then Romain left the pits for his first run of the day. As soon as he touched the brakes before Turn 1 on his first flying lap, he felt that something was wrong. He told us on the radio that he was aborting that run and returning straight to the pits.
What did you discover when the car got back to the garage?
We saw immediately that we had a problem with the mounting of the upper front wishbone rear arm.
What were your thoughts at that time?
We were using chassis 02 for the first time, so our initial reaction was to consider the possibility of a manufacturing issue affecting that particular chassis. We made the decision to take chassis 01 – which had run successfully in Jerez – from the UK to Barcelona. Before we sent it, we launched an investigation programme at Enstone to ensure there was no risk of a similar issue. Unfortunately, our investigations concluded that there was a possibility of the same problem reoccurring. We then decided, quite reluctantly, to cancel the test and make the necessary changes to both our chassis before running again.
How did the factory react?
It’s been an intense few days, but I have to say that everybody has completed their tasks in tremendous fashion. On the first day back at the factory, I spoke to the entire Enstone personnel and clearly explained what happened. Everybody understood that the situation was unfortunate, but under control. We designed the new parts, manufactured them, and fitted them to the chassis. We then completed the necessary tests satisfactorily and the chassis left for Spain.
Are you confident about the repair?
Does it mean that the chassis is now heavier than before?
Yes, but we’re only talking about 1kg, which is manageable. It won’t have any significant impact on handling or performance.
Did the chassis have to pass a new crash test?
No. It wasn’t necessary.
Which chassis will the team use this week?
We’ll use chassis 01 this week, while chassis 02 will be used as a spare from now on. We’re currently finishing chassis 03, with the new design implemented.
The team missed four days of testing. Is it a big setback?
Of course, missing four days of testing is not ideal. We need mileage at this stage of the year, as does any other team. That said, there are reasons to remain optimistic. First of all, we completed many troublefree laps in Jerez and gained a good understanding of the car. Also, some of the small issues we identified in Jerez needed to be fixed, and the parts were not available last week. On Thursday, the car will run with all the required redesigned parts. We’re looking forward to being back on track.
An unnamed construction worker at Austin's Circuit of the Americas has been airlifted to hospital after an accident on the site.According to the Austin Statesman, the
employee went into cardiac arrest after being run over by one of the heavy site vehicles; the heart attack was a reaction to the severity of his injuries.
COTA spokesman Jeff Hahn told the Statesman
that the unfortunate incident was the first reported accident leading to injury at the Austin circuit.
"This is our first incident here at the site," the paper quoted Hahn as saying. "We take safety very seriously. ... Our thoughts are with him."
That is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to make HRT suffer the slings and arrows of F1 media, or to take arms in support of Marussia...It's early. I reserve the right to garble Shakespeare if I feel like it. And besides - there's some logic hidden in my terrible abuse of the Bard.For some time now it's struck me as ironic that we - by which I mean the F1 media and about 99 percent of F1 fans - are constantly mocking HRT for failing to pass crash tests, for being backmarkers, or for not having enough money, yet don't criticise Marussia in quite the same way.Despite the fact that HRT have actually beaten Virgin in two constructors' championships.
The two teams have only competed in two constructors' championships.Somehow, Virgin/Marussia have styled themselves as the plucky underdogs, while HRT have been tarred with the incompentent brush. Methinks the Marussia PR department should all get a payrise, because they're certainly doing their job well.Last night's announcement that Marussia would not be taking part in the final week of winter testing thanks to failed crash tests
did not meet with the same level of derision as the news that HRT had failed their final crash tests.
But HRT might be able to get some mileage under their belts in Barcelona next week, while Marussia will not turn a wheel in anger until FP1 in Melbourne.It hardly seems fair to the Spanish outfit.That being said, I can't shake the long-held opinion that Virgin/Marussia are unlucky but serious, while HRT are one invoice away from complete meltdown.Any of you caught in a similar quandary?
Sometimes it's best to let the press release speak for itself.
The Marussia F1 Team is disappointed to confirm that the planned first test of its 2012 race car - the MR01 - has been delayed as a consequence of not passing the final FIA crash test.
All cars are required to pass 18 FIA-observed tests for homologation to be granted. Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running commences.
The team will now not take part in the final pre-season test in Barcelona later this week (1-4 March) and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash test at the end of the week.
This morning, two complementary pieces popped up on my Google Reader in quick succession: Endgame in India?
by Joe Saward, and Force India faces decision on future ambitions, says deputy team principal Bob Fernley
's Jonathan Noble and Edd Straw.Speaking to Autosport Fernley was candid about Force India's need for additional investment.
"I think we have got to have a fundamental rethink," Fernley told Autosport
. "The reconstruction plan was put in place by the beginning of 2009. We are now into the third year of that, and pretty well have delivered what we wanted to deliver on that.
"The question for the shareholders I think really is: do you want to stay the best of the rest, or do you want to make a move to become a podium contender? They have got to make that decision, because financially it has a huge impact. We will be preparing that process for them over the coming months, and they will give us the direction."
And the deputy team principal certainly has a point. Force India have come on leaps and bounds since 2009, going from the back of the pack to the top of the midfield in pretty short order.But the leap to the front is a big one, and Force India lacks the money to challenge the likes of Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, and Mercedes.Which brings me neatly on to Joe's piece, in which he continues to catalogue the business woes of Force India's Vijay Mallya.Kingfisher Airlines has been on a downward spiral for months, and every day the news paints a picture of a business
closer to the brink of collapse. Salaries have gone unpaid, the airline is having to pay cash for fuel as it has exhausted every line of credit, debts are in the billions, and flights have been cancelled left, right, and centre.Joe posits that Mallya's government friends will more of a hindrance than a help, as India's central government is currently seeking to dispell a long-held reputation for cronyism, and I am inclined to agree with him.While the problems at Kingfisher don't mean that Force India employees are going to turn up to work one day and find the factory locked down by bailiffs, it
does mean that the extra funding sought by Fernley is going to be very hard to come by, unless he manages to convince Roy Subrata Sahara to increase the value of his investment with a little spare change.
The trial of German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky hit newspaper headlines last year thanks to his association with Formula 1 and Bernie Ecclestone.
And once it emerged that Gribkowsky had "shaken down" Ecclestone to the tune of £28 million - as Bernie said when in court as a witness - it became inevitable that the story would stay in the headlines.
The Gribkowsky affair and subsequent shakedown centred on the allegation that the banker had threatened to report Ecclestone to the British tax authorities over the ownership of a £3 billion offshore trust known as Bambino.
Ecclestone maintains that he is uninvolved in the management or running of the Lichtenstein-based trust used by daughters Petra and Tamara and ex-wife Slavica.
The HMRC are now investigating Bambino with a view to determining who controls the trust. Should they find Bernie to be in overall or partial control, the F1 supremo could be liable for up to 50 percent tax.
The Daily Mail quoted a tax inspection official as saying "HMRC has put a team of investigators on Bernie Ecclestone to look into his involvement in the trust and exactly how much he has to do with it. They are now in the process of making enquiries and researching every minor detail as they look to build a case."
The same article quotes Ecclestone as saying he is unconcerned by the news.
"I received a letter from HMRC in 2008 that [said] everything was OK in relation to the trust," Ecclestone said. "It would be silly [for HMRC] to check again when they have already said that everything was in good order."
So it took them a while, but at least they got there in the end.
HRT did manage to get most of their car through the FIA's stringent crash tests - which must be passed before a car can hit the track for testing or in a race weekend - but kept stumbling at the final hurdle thanks to a problem with the rollhoop test.
The Spanish team ran last year's car for two days in Jerez, as they wanted the influx of new employees to get experience of working together. The original plan had been to run the 2012 car for the first time in Barcelona last week, but had to pull out when they failed the final crash tests.
But while HRT have finally passed the crash tests, there's still no guarantee we'll see them at the Circuit de Catalunya next week. The car still needs to be assembled and shipped to Barcelona, and no one's confident the team will make it in time.
Provided we pay a suitable fee, naturally.Because while the best things in life may be free, the fun things in life tend to cost money. Like sleeping comfortably? Think sleeping is free? Don't forget to factor in the cost of your bed, mattress, duvet, sheets... How about sex? That's surely free, right? Not if you live anywhere in the world where you have to pay for birth control. And if you want to shag without birth control
, don't forget you run the risk of the greatest expense encountered by mankind: offspring
.Anyway. Money. Buying stuff.We all know that F1 is an expensive hobby, and it's about to become even more so. Not only do fans have to contend with the ever-rising cost of tickets (should they be able to afford to visit a grand prix in the first place), but for British fans the sport is about to get more expensive still, thanks to the Sky/BBC F1 deal.But thanks to a deal announced at the end of last week, we could soon be looking at an F1 future that's in our hands.The Tata-Formula One deal has been widely lauded in the press as a revolution in F1 coverage. James Allen called it The deal that changes F1 forever.And it is. But it begs the question - what's taken them so bloody long?Formula 1 is a high-technology sport that has long shied away from the internet, although teams are beginning to make use of social media to interact with fans.What the men in charge fail to understand about their current stranglehold on archive footage, with high usage costs and instant take-down policy of clips found on the likes of YouTube, is that access to the history of the sport is what turns the casual fan into the F1 fanatic.
While coverage of the Tata Communications deal has largely concentrated on the effect on TV broadcasting, it also opens up new online possibilities.Bernie Ecclestone joked at the press conference that his age had held him back from making the most of the internet
, but he should be wary of ignoring the potential revenues to be found online.FOM should run a YouTube channel showing short clips from key races in F1 history, which they can turn into a revenue stream by running it alongside an archive of full grand prix weekend coverage - where available - accessible for streaming via paid subscription.Rather than farming out online race coverage to the likes of iTunes, FOM should cut out the middleman by hosting the content itself. Fans could choose between a range of languages for commentary, and buy piecemeal DVD extra-style 'add-on' content of behind-the-scenes footage, driver inter
views, circuit guides, for the cost of a bar of chocolate.I'd imagine that there is a dedicated group out there of hardcore F1 fans who would be happy to pay
£50 a year for the ability to direct their own race online, choosing between a range of cameras and on-board footage to watch the race that interests them most, whether that's a battle in the mid-field or a Red Bull scampering off into the distance.And after one season of listening to the hardcore fans go on (and on and on) about their ability to direct their own races for a mere
£50 a year, a wave of more casual fans will have had their interest piqued, and subscribe.Because if you want to make money on the internet, you need to balance free content with exclusive - and high quality - paid content at a reasonable price. By creating an F1 platform with a low entrance fee and VIP-style access, Tata and FOM can work together to create a new generation of passionate F1 fans who are happy to pay some of their hard-earned wages directly into the sport's coffers.And in that situation - provided the content remains reasonably priced -
we all win.
[Disclaimer]: I'm not actually in Barcelona; this coverage has been supplied via live updates, team releases, and the like.
While Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest time of the first week of the Barcelona test, the Japanese driver has no delusions about the timesheet’s effect on the 2012 F1 championship.
“It's better than nothing, better than last for sure,” Kobayashi told the press after the day’s running was completed. “I don't think this is a real result and I know more than anybody about this situation. I don't think the McLaren and Red Bull are so slow.”
In addition to topping the timesheets this afternoon the Sauber driver also led the number of laps completed, with an impressive 145 under his belt by the time the chequered flag fell. Joining Kobayashi at the top of that leaderboard were Nico Robserg, who passed the start/finish line 139 times in his W03, and Pastor Maldonado, who managed 134 laps for Williams.
Ferrari, who have been the subject of much criticism over the course of the Jerez and Barcelona tests (including on these pages) appear to have turned a performance corner this week. Speaking to reporters after the session ended, Felipe Massa spoke of his enthusiasm for the work done by the team.
“I think it's definitely the direction we need to follow for these last days of testing we have, and I think today was a positive day, not so much in the morning but in the afternoon,” the Brazilian driver said. “I have to say that now we are a little bit more positive because we found the direction to work and I'm sure now, having found the direction, we can see the development coming.
“In the afternoon we were able to do more than eight/nine timed laps consistently. The laps were very consistent and it was very positive. We still need to work a lot but at least we found the direction to get a much better car to drive, not just for laptime for also for consistency.”
The session was light on incident but high on problems, with a number of teams losing out on track time thanks to a variety of issues.
Worst affected of the lot was Marussia, who were unable to complete a single timed lap thanks to a damaged suspension component. The team spotted the problem at the right rear of the car before sending Charles Pic out on track this morning. While there was a spare available, the nature of the component failure was such that both the damaged piece and its spare were not suitable for use until they had passed extensive testing back at home base.
Marussia can now concentrate on the launch of their 2012 challenger, which is due to be unveiled last week.
“It's a real shame that after three very positive days with the car we've encountered this issue on the final day,” said team principal John Booth. “We can't be too downhearted though, having achieved over 1500kms of near faultless running from a car that has served us so well from a reliability perspective. Aside from further mileage for Charles there was nothing more to be gained from our programme to aid our development and we now switch focus to the 2012 car, which we are all looking forward to rolling-out next week.”
Heikki Kovalainen lost out on time behind the wheel of the Caterham thanks to an electrical problem that led to an engine change early in the day. The team worked hard to get the Finn back out on track, and he was eventually able to complete 70 laps without further incident.
There were three red flags over the course of the day’s testing, although the final two were brought about by McLaren and Sauber running their fuel tanks dry in the final fifteen minutes. The only red flag caused by on track activity came about thanks to Paul di Resta, who beached his Force India at the outside of Campsa before the lunch break.
The rest of the day’s running was largely unremarkable, with no moments of spectacular drama – good or bad – for any of the teams. Today marked the end of the second week of winter testing; Formula 1 will return to the Circuit de Catalunya next week for the final pre-season test.
Day 4 times (unofficial)
1. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) 1.22.312s [145 laps]
2. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1.22.561s [134 laps]
3. Paul di Resta (Force India) 1.23.119s [101 laps]
4. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1.23.200s [115 laps]
5. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1.23.563s [103 laps]
6. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1.23.774s [85 laps]
7. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1.23.792s [92 laps]
8. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1.23.843s [139 laps]
9. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham) 1.26.968s [70 laps]
[Disclaimer]: I'm not actually in Barcelona; this coverage has been supplied via live updates, team releases, and the like.
A headline-grabbing lap set in the late morning put Pastor Maldonado top of the timesheets at the end of the third day’s testing in Barcelona.
The Williams driver completed 106 laps over the course of the day’s running, and his 1.22.391s lap made the Venezuelan the only man to set a time in the 1m22s.
As was the case yesterday, long runs and race simulations were the popular choice in the afternoon, as teams begin to work on getting the cars ready for the season ahead, as opposed to merely getting the cars up and running. Different to yesterday were the men behind the wheel, the majority of whom took over from their teammates this morning to complete the second half of the first Barcelona test.
Maldonado, Kobayashi, Jenson Button, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mark Webber, Felipe Massa, Paul di Resta, and Timo Glock all made their 2012 Barcelona debuts this morning.
Thursday saw a number of red flags, with the session ending early as a result of a stoppage by Massa, who stopped his F2012 at the end of the pit lane when he ran out of fuel. Ferrari were conducting a ‘how low can you go’ fuel test typical of winter testing.
Webber brought out a red flag with half an hour of the session remaining, with the RB running out of steam at Turn 8. The Australian driver also suffered reduced track time as the result of a gearbox problem. After the day’s running drew to a close it was rumoured that Red Bull would be withdrawing from the final day of testing in order to concentrate on problems related to Webber’s stopping on track, although they have yet to be confirmed.
Webber’s was the fourth red flag of the day. The first came thanks to Paul di Resta, who saw the engine cover fly off his VJM05 in the late morning. Then Timo Glock brought out the red flags when he span his Marussia, before Kamui Kobayashi caused an early lunch break – by three whole minutes – when he stopped at Turn 4 having run out of fuel.
The high number of red flags were only one sign of a troublesome day’s testing. Vitaly Petrov struggled to find the ideal set-up in only his second day in the Caterham; the Russian’s efforts were further hampered by problems with his front suspension. In addition to their flying bodywork, Force India also lost some running time as they fine-tuned the mechanical and aerodynamic balance of the VJM05.
Mercedes were able to complete a full race distance in Barcelona today, an impressive feat for a car that saw its first real running only four days ago.
Day 3 times (unofficial)
1. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1.22.391s [106 laps]
2. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) 1.23.384s [127 laps]
3. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) 1.23.582s [99 laps]
4. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1.23.918s [114 laps]
5. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1.24.433s [78 laps]
6. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1.24.771s [97 laps]
7. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1.24.771s [84 laps]
8. Paul di Resta (Force India) 1.25.646s [83 laps]
9. Timo Glock (Marussia) 1.26.173s [108 laps]
10. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham) 1.26.448s [70 laps]