Man, they must've had some really good drugs in 1978. Really, really, REALLY good drugs.
You may have noticed that Formula One is on something of a summer holiday. Well, so am I. This website won't be sticking to the mandated two-week summer shutdown, but I am on holiday till 9 August, and will only post here if something particularly interesting happens.
Or if I decide I hate the people I'm on holiday with, in which case work is an ideal excuse. ;)
I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and woke up with gum in my hair... It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.Some days, nothing goes right.You line up in the wrong grid spot after the formation lap, delay the race start, turn off your engine, start from the pitlane, pick up a puncture and a drive-though penalty, and then retire off the back of bizarre telemetry and a possibly over-heating engine.It's almost worth moving to Australia.
Michael Schumacher's Hungarian Grand Prix was awful from start to finish. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong - it was a catalogue of errors par excellence.Making things worse for the Mercedes driver, the unlucky chain of events that eventually led to his retirement all stemmed from his own original error - lining up in the wrong grid slot after the initial formation lap.
"Today was obviously one of those races that you will not look back at for very long," Schumacher said in the Budapest paddock.
"After I had started from the pit lane, I picked up a penalty and then a puncture. So all in all, the beginning of the race was not very pleasant for us. Everything you do not need came together.
"We did not have full telemetry before the start and during the period of overheating, and this is why we finally decided to retire so as not risk any damage which might make us suffer in the next race.
"This weekend is not one to remember, but then there are weekends like this which you can only accept. I am sure we will be looking much better in the next races to come."
I try and avoid doing the wholesale press release thing where possible, but this one's actually quite charming.
On the occasion of McLaren’s historic 150th pole position in World Championship Formula 1 racing, eight senior Woking men answer the question “Do you remember your first time?”
Martin Whitmarsh: Team principal
“I joined McLaren in 1989, and my first race with the team was in 1990. It was the US Grand Prix in Phoenix, an unusual place to hold a Formula 1 race – but it was a very successful event for the team. Gerhard Berger took pole position on his McLaren debut, outclassing Ayrton Senna – which was a great achievement. However, Ayrton went on to take victory, following a memorable dice with Jean Alesi in the anhedral-nosed Tyrrell. It was a pretty good race with which to start my McLaren career!”
Jonathan Neale: Managing director
“It was the 2001 San Marino Grand Prix. I’d only recently started and we were putting Ferrari under a lot of pressure to hold on to their dominance. David [Coulthard] had won in Brazil a fortnight earlier and we were looking good at Imola, David taking pole position and leading an all-McLaren-Mercedes front row with Mika [Hakkinen] second. Ralf Schumacher took his first grand prix victory on the Sunday and we only finished second and fourth in the race, with David once again leading us home, but those were exciting times for me.”
Tim Goss: Director of engineering
“I joined McLaren Racing on June 6 1990, so my first race as a member of the team was the 1990 Canadian Grand Prix. Those were fantastic days for the team: Ayrton put MP4-5B on pole and Gerhard backed him by qualifying second. It was a pretty chaotic, wet race, won by Ayrton – I don’t remember too much about those early years, but I almost certainly came into the factory and watched the race from there, as I tended to do that back then.”
Paddy Lowe: Technical director
“The first pole position after I arrived at McLaren in June 1993 was at the final race of the year in Adelaide, Australia. After a difficult year, it was McLaren and Ayrton’s only pole of the season. Of course, it also became Ayrton’s last grand prix win.
“The significance for me was that I’d arrived at McLaren from Williams and had been fortunate enough to have been able to identify and develop some immediate performance gains, leading a team developing a powered brake-assistance system worth up to one second per lap. Despite knowing it would be banned for 1994, we got it onto the car for the final three races, scoring a win at Suzuka and pole and victory in Australia.
“I still feel very privileged and proud to have been able to work with Ayrton so briefly, yet to have contributed to his final pole and victory.”
Neil Oatley: Director of design and development programmes
“My first McLaren grand prix pole position was also McLaren’s first-ever grand prix pole – albeit watched from the grandstands at Paddock Hill Bend as a young(-ish) schoolboy who’d cycled to Brands Hatch to watch the 1968 Race of Champions!
“On that day, Bruce McLaren took the honours – but it was followed a few weeks later by Denny Hulme winning the Daily Express race at Silverstone, and Bruce taking the team’s first Formula 1 victory at Spa. An exhilarating time for the team.
“My first McLaren pole as a team member was in 1988, when we took 15 of the 16 poles. As Alain Prost’s race engineer, we only scored two of these – at Paul Ricard and Estoril – but the achievement in Portugal was particularly memorable.
“For some reason, Ayrton was perhaps a little off form and Alain set a pretty impressive lap time on Saturday less than halfway through the session. Afterwards, he leapt straight out of the car and disappeared into the truck, emerging five minutes later in his civvies and proceeded to walk across to talk to me on the pitwall.
“All the time, he kept looking directly back into Ayrton’s garage, merely adding to the mind games. It was just the sort of situation Ayrton had trouble coping with – and it all boiled over on race day as they ran side by side along the pit straight at the beginning of the race. Those were unforgettable times.”
Philip Prew: Principal race engineer
“I’d joined the race team in December 1997, so the opening race of the ’98 season was my first race as assistant race engineer, working with Mika Hakkinen in Melbourne.
“After an encouraging series of winter tests, we knew the MP4-13 had good pace, but the margin we held over the others in qualifying was perhaps greater than we’d expected: we were 0.7s faster than Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari.
“Mika took the pole from David [Coulthard] and, despite some miscommunication between the drivers, the race was also exceptional. Both our cars lapped the entire field.
“Being my first race, I thought it was easy! However, I’ve been trying to develop a car with such dominant pace ever since...”
Dave Robson: Race engineer, Jenson Button
The first time a car that I’d directly worked on took pole was at Silverstone in 2008 – and it was Heikki Kovalainen at the wheel of MP4-23.
“In Q1 he dominated the times, finishing 0.3s ahead of Lewis. In Q2, he continued to push hard and built momentum. As we prepared the car for Q3, we thought we’d possibly have a chance of pole but we expected Lewis – in front of his home crowd – to be exceptionally quick.
“As it happened, with only marginally less fuel onboard than Lewis, Heikki put it on pole by more than 0.5s, finishing fastest in every sector. We could have carried fuel for six more laps and still have been on pole.
“It was a stunning lap and a great example of driver and car being in perfect harmony. Heikki later commented that the lap didn’t feel that quick – but this was simply because he drove impeccably and the car responded faultlessly to every one of his inputs. A fantastic achievement and a terrific feeling.”
Andy Latham: Race engineer, Lewis Hamilton
“My first pole for a car I was working on was when I was an assistant engineer on Kimi Raikkonen’s car at the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix.
“Back then, qualifying was an aggregate of a low-fuel and a high-fuel run. After Q1, it was very tight between us and Fernando Alonso. With race fuel in the car, Kimi then went 0.5s quicker, so I remember us feeling pretty confident for the race I remember. Unfortunately, a driveshaft failure on lap eight brought that feeling to an abrupt end.
“My first pole as a race engineer was in Montreal in 2010 with Lewis. He was fastest in every qualifying session and proved again just how much he likes the Canada circuit. I remember there being some discussion after qualifying about how long the tyres would last because we had qualified using the Option, and Red Bull, just behind us, had chosen the Prime.
“A slightly nervous night was followed by a great race from Lewis, who overtook Fernando Alonso in the second stint and then led the rest of the race.”
In early May, I wrote a column for GP Week in which I opined that we should scrap both Spanish grands prix
.It was a glib piece of writing, designed to amuse, but there was grain of truth to my argument - Spain wasn't really in a financial position to host one grand prix, let alone two. That was nearly three months ago.
Regular readers of those dead trees we like to call newspapers will be aware of the fact that Spain hasn't won the EuroMillions in the past ninety days, and that they're getting nasty red letters from their bank manager concerning the size of their monstrous overdraft.In fact, the argument for scrapping both Spanish races gained traction this week, with the news that the Communitat de Valencia has applied to the Spanish national government for an
€18 billion rescue package to be paid for out of the national government's own EU bailout package.The regional government of Catalunya is said to be next in line to apply for emergency funding - both Catalunya and Valencia have billions of euros in overdue loans, and need government assistance to make the next round of interest payments.Yup, this is sub-prime lending on a national level. The very notion should strike fear into the hearts of anyone with a penny invested in Spain.Given that Spain has some serious financial problems to fix, and that the two Spanish grands prix are located in the two most stricken regions, it is imperative that the country investigate the possibility of scrapping both of their races.Interest in Formula One is down across Spain. While the poor ticket sales in Valencia and Barcelona can be blamed on the current financial climate, and unemployment rates that top 50 percent in the 18-35 age bracket, the simple fact is that TV viewing figures are also down.
And that in a season that has seen Fernando Alonso drive like his life depended on it, dragging an under-performing car to the top step of the podium in the early part of the season, and delivering consistent points finishes when given a car that was capable of doing the business.Formula One is too expensive for Spain these days. But rather than abandon the country altogether, the sport would do well to stick to Spain for the pre-season tests, allowing the F1 circus to pump money into the local economy without extracting precious millions for FOM's race-hosting fees.Save Spain - scrap the grands prix.
Confuzzled by tyre behaviour this season? Be confuzzled no more, thanks to this video from Pirelli.
A life in Formula One spoils you for the real world. And not because it's filled with canapes and champagne. (Monaco being the key exception to that rule, you understand.)No, a life in F1 spoils you for the real
world because things happen at lightning speed, and you get lulled into a false sense of security about the efficiency of the world as a whole.On Monday, the great and the good from the technical world met in London to discuss how to solve the engine mapping row that made its mark on the Hockenheim race weekend. Reports emerging from that meeting said that any change or clarification to the rule would take some time to come about, as they didn't want to plunge the rulebook into chaos by making one change that would have unintended consequences elsewhere.And on Wednesday it emerged that the teams had been issued with a directive from the FIA clarifying just what could and couldn't be done with engine mapping.Yup, that less-than-48-hour period was glacial in F1 terms. Glacial, I tells ya.So what is this new clarification? Teams now have to nominate one of the maps used in the first four races of the 2012 season as their
standard or baseline map. That point of reference determines the maps they're allowed to use at other races.The BBC have seen a copy of the clarification, and report that it states:
"Above 6,000rpm, the maximum engine torque may vary by no more than +/- 2% [from the reference map]. And the ignition angle may vary by no more than 2.5%."It remains to be seen just what the effect of this new rule will be - on Red Bull and their rivals - during this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. But it will be interesting to see who (if anyone) suffers a dramatic loss of cornering speed, even on the relatively low-cornering speed Hungaroring.
When I first fell in love with Formula One, it was the racing that got me hooked.I come from a non-sporty background, and hadn't seen a motor-race of any sort until my mid-twenties. But I was introduced to F1 and fell in love with it over the course of the 2007 season.It was the action on track that first piqued my interest, but my obsession (and the throwing away of a stable career for a life in the sport) was triggered by the fact that Formula One feeds millions of my interests: history, politics, technology, drama, and psychology. Plus a bit of racing.So I am always surprised when I run into people - particularly those who hold positions of power within the sport - who seem to be completely unaware of Formula One's historic legacy.Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel both wasted a lot of oxygen yesterday moaning about Lewis Hamilton's efforts to unlap himself during the German Grand Prix. To hear the Red Bull pair speak, Lewis' crime was akin to dancing on someone's grave - pointless and cruel.Really? Really? Can they honestly be that ignorant of racing strategy, or of the possibility of dumb luck and a hell of a lot of effort meaning anything can happen?Of course there was a point to Hamilton doing what he did. Strategically, he was gifting his teammate with the opportunity to catch and pass Vettel. At least, he would have been had Button not spent the bulk of the race asleep behind the wheel, failing to take advantage of opportunity after opportunity.But on a personal note, Hamilton needed to unlap himself. Not only for pride's sake, but because - once he was on the same lap as the race leaders - there was also the (very remote) possibility that he could work his way back up through the field and into the fight for points.Hamilton had one of the fastest cars on track yesterday. And because none of us can predict the future, it was in his interests to get as high up the pack as possible. One of the drivers could have taken out three colleagues with a stupid collision. All of the Ferrari-powered cars on track could have had a simultaneous engine failure. The stewards could have given half the grid drive-through penalties for various offenses.This is racing. Anything can happen. And if a driver at the back of the pack is going to take advantage of those opportunities, he needs to be on the same lap as the leaders. Simples.Just ask Jim Clark.
What an odd morning that was.FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer took the unusual step of issuing a communication querying the legality of the RB8 and referring the matter to the stewards, a move that was widely read as a guilty verdict for the team.But around an hour before the race was due to start, the stewards determined - in a very carefully worded statement - that the car
was legal. Just.
"The stewards received a report from the FIA Technical Delegate, along with specific ECU data from Red Bull Racing Cars 1 & 2," the stewards’ report read. "The Stewards met with the team representative and the representative of the engine supplier Renault.
"While the Stewards do not accept all the arguments of the team, they however conclude that as the regulation is written, the map presented does not breach the text of Art. 5.5.3 of the Formula One Technical Regulations and therefore decide to take no further action."What this really means is we're back in the superfun 'spirit of the regulations'* hoo-hah that last plagued us over the Brawn double diffuser back in 2009.What is certain is that we've not heard the last of this. The FIA will be inspecting the Red Bulls with a fine-toothed comb at every scrutineering session for the rest of the season, and we'll probably see a technical directive in the not-too-distant future that 'clarifies' Article 5.5.3.According to Autosport
there's going to be a meeting of the Technical Working Group between Hockenheim and Budapest, and if this little controversy isn't high on the agenda, then I am something incredibly unlikely.* If you're stuck for a cheap Hallowe'en costume, I came up with a genius costume in 2009. Take one sheet, cut eyeholes in it, apply badly-drawn FIA and F1 logos, and tell everyone you're the spirit of the regulations. It's a winner.
Yeah, yeah. Vroomed and doomed is a bit of a stretch, but I don't care. I need more coffee, I hate German trains that lie about where they're going, and now there's DRAMA! in the paddock. So I shall take my crappy puns where I can find them, and YOU WILL LOVE IT.Anyway, looks like Red Bull have been playing around with their engine mapping, if the above note from FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer is to be believed. And it is - Bauer's job is to be right about such things.So by fiddling around with their engine mappings - something I thought the standardised ECU was supposed to prevent, but whatever - Red Bull appear to have gained an aerodynamic advantage that Bauer thought it worth pointing out to the stewards for consideration.There's still a lot more to come from this story, and a lot of questions to be asked:
If this is one weekend of naughty behaviour, my guess is that their qualifying results will be stricken from the record, a la Hamilton in Barcelona, and both drivers will start from the back of Sunday's grid.But if this is a long-term thing that the FIA have only just picked up, the worst case scenario for the team is an exclusion from the constructors' championship, as happened to McLaren in 2007.The report - which you can read by clicking on the photo above to see in full-size -
- are Red Bull guilty as charged?
- how long have they been doing it if they are guilty?
- what sort of penalties will they face?
implies we're looking at a one-off offense.
I know, I know. Talk of new suppliers - particularly engine suppliers - often turns out to be little more than rumour and hearsay.
But I have it on very good authority that Sauber are in talks with VW about future engine supply, and that some of those talks have been taking place behind closed doors in the Hockenheim paddock.
If you read Joe Saward's blog (and you should), you will know that talk of VW entering the sport as an engine supplier is hardly the freshest of news. He's been banging on about it for donkeys' years.
There are eleventy billion reasons why VW would benefit from Formula One - make that eleventy billion and one now that Le Mans has announced that the 2014-spec F1 engine will be acceptable to them - with the revised engine formula.
But this is the first time that I have been given the name of a specific team in talks with Volkswagen, so I think it bears listening to.
Sauber and VW would be a good fit in marketing terms. The car manufacturer is the constructor of the people, and the same could be said for Sauber - the Swiss team and Williams are the paddock's two (long-standing) privateers, even allowing for Sauber's recent relationship with BMW.
Anyway, Sauber and VW share a number of core brand values, and signing up to a new engine supplier would free the Swiss team from Ferrari's influence. Never a bad thing.
Thanks to the relationship with Carlos Slim Jr - which was triggered by Ferrari Driver Academy star Sergio Perez, but which would continue through Esteban Gutierrez were the older Mexican to leave with a change of engine supplier - Sauber have access to funds that were beyond their wildest dreams at the end of 2009. And that's a pretty liberating position to be in, especially when you're shopping around for suppliers.
Of course, that's not to say that Slim Jr has given Sauber carte blanche with his wallet - far from it. But when I interviewed him in Barcelona earlier this year, Slim Jr acknowledged that - were the opportunity presented to him - he would be interested in acquiring a stake in the team.
Peter Sauber will eventually retire, which is why he has given Monisha Kaltenborn a 33 percent stake in his team. Peter knows and trusts Monisha as a proper racer who knows what she's doing, and one who fully understands the Sauber ethos. She preaches continuity and stability as a means of improvement, and were Slim Jr to acquire a stake in Sauber after Peter's retirement, Kaltenborn's presence will ensure the Sauber spirit is not lost.
I digress. Sauber are said to be in engine talks with VW. VW would benefit from a presence in post-2014 Formula One. Sauber are in a position to shop around for a new supplier, and would benefit from independence within the paddock.
Will these talks come to anything? Who knows. But they're worth keeping an eye on, no question.