Monthly Archives: October 2014

Qualifying revised in Austin this weekend

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With the decision by the Marussia and Caterham teams to withdraw from this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, the stewards at Austin have decided to alter the format of the qualifying sessions as a result.

With no plan prepared for the scenario of only eighteen cars participating in a race weekend, the stewards have decided to change the number of drivers being eliminated after each qualifying session, with four cars being eliminated after part 1, and four more after part 2. The traditional ten-car shootout for pole position remains untouched.

If they had not altered the format, part one would have only seen two cars eliminated with six cars ending their session at the end of part two. In a statement to the media, the stewards confirmed the qualifying format for this weekend in Austin as follows:-

‘Having regard to the principles established in the Formula 1 sporting regulations article 33.1, the stewards decide that the slowest four cars in Q1 will [be] prohibited from taking any further part in the session, and the slowest four cars in Q2 will likewise be prohibited from taking any further part in the session’

The change to the format could spell more bad news for Lotus and Sauber who have traditionally been struggling to get through to the second part of qualifying this season, with Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado  in particular missing out on Q2 thirteen times this year.

The session in Austin is likely to only see seventeen cars participating, with Sebastian Vettel  likely to sit out qualifying, as he will be starting from the pit lane for the race after Red Bull Racing were forced to change to a sixth Renault power unit of the season and a change of gearbox to boot.

But all you can say on the matter is that the stewards have decided on this format while looking at the Sporting Regulations and feel that this is the right decision for qualifying this weekend considering the circumstances surrounding Caterham and Marussia withdrawing from the weekend.

Kaltenborn “disturbed” with the way F1 has dealt with losing two teams

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In an interview with ESPN F1 today, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn  says the way in which Formula One has dealt with the collapse of the grid’s two smallest teams is “disturbing”.

Marussia and Caterham both went into administration earlier this month as their backers were unable or unwilling to pay creditors and keep the teams running. Unless buyers can be found in the near future, it is unlikely either team will make the grid next year, posing the danger of an 18-car grid in 2015.

After a season without a single point, Sauber is in a battle with Marussia for ninth place in the constructors’ championship and has had financial difficulties of its own throughout the year.

In her interview with ESPN F1 today, Kaltenborn has advocated cost cutting measures for some time to help the plight of smaller teams and says she is disappointed no action was taken before the teams hit serious trouble. Kaltenborn stated the following:-

‘I’m beyond the stage of frustration, I’m very disappointed. It’s one thing to always talk about this terrible scenario that some teams are not going to be there, but that the sport – and the people responsible for the sport – have let it come that far is very disturbing. I think some stake holders and people are not willing to understand where the problem lies.’

I think many pundits and fans would agree with Kaltenborn and will feel disappointed that nothing could be done to save Caterham or Marussia from potentially leaving the sport. As Kaltenborn says it is a terrible situation for the sport and she is right the people in charge that are responsible need to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.

Further on in her interview, Kaltenborn says F1’s stakeholders have had misplaced priorities this year and avoided the real issues. Kaltenborn added the following:-

‘We have been focusing in the last few months on social media, the show and all kinds of things. What we really need to look at – and we as a team have been saying for so long – is that you have to get the [financial] figures right in this sport. I think it’s a really shame that we have turnovers of billions of dollars and as a sport and a community we are not capable of making sure that 11 teams survive.

‘As a team and team owners there are a couple of us here that really have a tough life to make ends meet here. The worst part here is that we are damaging the sport so much here, I think that the owners of the product should think what they are doing here.’

Even though Formula One has been concentrating on social media and rightly so in order for the sport to interact and communicate with the fans more, more as to be done about the situation financially and more needs to be done to ensure that small teams such as Sauber survive as much as possible.

I would have to agree with her and that it is ever more difficult for small teams such as Sauber to make ends meet and that by not sorting out the situation we have presently, the reputation of the sport is being damaged and that cannot be good for Formula One wanting to move forward in the future.

Earlier this year the teams could not agree on a budget cap plans, despite the FIA pushing the initiative forward. Kaltenborn believes it is up to the paddock to unite and do what is best to ensure a healthy field arrives at each race. Kaltenborn said the following:-

‘I think as teams we should first find this collective which is not there at the moment. That made us strong in the past. We all have at least one common denominator which is to survive in this sport and make the sport something healthy, because we all will attract our sponsors.’

I would agree with the principle that the F1 paddock needs to reunited with this and it would show a sign of unity to the FIA and could be the motivation for them to sort out these issues as quickly as they can. And she is correct that all the teams into the sport now need to survive in the sport and if they can, they will attract sponsors in the process which will help the sport to grow.

In the latter stages of her interview today, Kaltenborn also thinks a more equitable distribution of prize money is needed, rather than the current system which rewards the bigger teams – and those with a history in the sport – far more than the smallest outfits scrapping over the minor points. Kaltenborn added the following:-

‘There should be a certain amount that guarantees each and every team to at least live decently. No one is saying you have to have the most luxurious standards, but you should be allowed to participate in the sport. All of us have put so much investment into our teams of coming to this level and then that should be respected by ensuring you get a certain basic amount that is the same for everyone.

‘There are brands here so established, such as Ferrari, that they will always get more sponsorship than a team like Sauber will get. But that way at least you create an environment where a small team doesn’t really have to suffer that much. I think it’s pretty outdated to say ‘if you don’t have the money then don’t be in the sport’ because even small teams are putting in a lot of money into the sport.’

If you take on board Kaltenborn’s perspective, it is right that every team should have the right to have a decent standing in the sport that allows every team to compete in the sport. She is right in saying that every team has put in a lot of investment to be where they are today but teams like Ferrari will always get more sponsorship than Sauber due to the fact they are more established.

Even though you need a high level of investment to be competitive in the sport, Kaltenborn is right that small teams do invest a lot of money into the sport and that needs to be recognised by the sport. But it is clear for me that something needs to be done as Kaltenborn has stated today to help small teams such as Sauber stay in the sport for as long as possible before we lose any more teams from Formula One. And that simply cannot happen.

FIA pushing to reduce costs in F1

FIA Formula One World Championship, Turkish Grand Prix, Istanbul

Yesterday, the FIA announced in a statement to the press that they will be looking at reducing the costs in Formula One as quickly as possible.

Last week it emerged that Caterham had gone into administration and the doors to the factory shut while days later Marussia suffered the same fate. Although both teams are hoping to find buyers and continue in F1, neither will be on the grid in America nor Brazil as they don’t have the funds to compete.

It is a sad showing for Formula 1 as just 18 cars will line up in Austin, the smallest grid since 2005. Some though would say it has been a long time coming and that Formula 1 has brought this on itself by failing to heed the warnings.

Now the FIA has said something must be done to ensure that sport remains an “attraction” championship. In a statement to the press, the FIA said the following as follows below:-

‘The FIA has been informed of the financial difficulties of the Caterham and Marussia teams and of the considerable uncertainty surrounding their participation in the final races of the 2014 championship.

‘It is the responsibility of the FIA Stewards to determine whether or not a team has failed to fulfil its regulatory obligation to take part in all events on the calendar and to take whatever action they deem appropriate. However, we have every confidence that the Stewards are fully aware of the financial situation of the teams concerned and these matters are always assessed with extreme care and due regard for the circumstances involved.

‘Looking beyond the end of the 2014 season, these failings once again acutely raise the question of the economic balance of the FIA Formula One Championship and justify the position, expressed many times by the FIA, in favour of any initiative that will help reduce costs in order to ensure the survival of the existing grid or attract potential new entrants.

‘As such, the FIA, in close cooperation with FOM and the different stakeholders in F1, will continue to work towards maintaining the attraction of the championship and the equitable participation of the teams in it in the years to come.’

My first thought on reading this statement was that I feel that this statement has come too late for the sport. Even though the FIA and the stewards have been informed of the circumstances surrounding Caterham and Marussia and have taken steps that they feel need to be done and are at the benefit for everyone involved.

Even though over the past few months talks have been conducted regarding the rising costs of the sport, I feel that more should have been done before losing two important teams such as Caterham and Marussia. It is clear that there needs to be a lot of investment, time and capital to be competitive in Formula One and that it is getting harder and harder for teams such as Caterham and Marussia to sustain that level of commitment to competing in the sport.

But I really do fear that the FIA have left this matter too late and more could have been done to help the teams stay in the sport for as long as they possibly could. For me personally, more could have and should have been done to help them and the FIA if they are serious on sorting this issue out could have enforced something to help regulate the costs in Formula One.

But that hasn’t happened and we have lost two crucial and important teams from the sport and that is sad to see. No matter what team or driver you support, you don’t want to see two teams potentially leaving a sport that they have made it their objective to compete in and do as well as they possibly could with the budget and what they have at their disposal.

It is clear that something needs to be agreed by the FIA, the stakeholders and the teams regarding this issue in order to keep the teams in the sport for as long as possible or even attract new teams into the sport. The FIA now to have do something about the rising costs in Formula One before we lose any other team from the sport, the time is now.

Raikkonen: I was right to go to Ferrari

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In an interview with the media yesterday, Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen is adamant he made the right choice in moving to Ferrari, despite struggling for form this season.

Raikkonen returned to the Ferrari team this season, however, the year has been anything but a success. While both Ferrari drivers have had a difficult time, Raikkonen has faired the worse.

The Finn has just 47 points compared to Fernando Alonso’s 141 and has yet to reach the podium never mind win a grand prix. But despite his troubles, Raikkonen says he was right to return. In his interview with the media yesterday, Raikkonen said the following about returning to Ferrari this season:-

‘I’m sure I made 100 percent the right decision. Obviously the results haven’t been what I want or what the team wants but that’s how it goes.

‘We have improved from where we started and there’s been some better moments but it’s not easy to fix some issues and get things exactly as you want. Then you end up having a small thing here, a small thing there, and paying a big price for it.’

It is clear that Raikkonen is happy to be back at Ferrari even though he hasn’t the season or the performances that he wanted or many people expected him to have. But Raikkonen has made some improvements this season but he knows that it is not easy to fix issues that have been underlying for him. And it would seem that Raikkonen has paid the price for this in terms of his performances on track and you cannot disagree with him there.

Further on in his interview, Raikkonen has stated that he is happy to be at Ferrari and is still confident that he made the right decision to come back. Raikkonen added the following:-

‘I’m happy to be here. If I’m finishing out of first place I would rather be in a Ferrari than any other team so I’m pretty sure I made the right decision.’

There is no question that Raikkonen is happy to back at Ferrari even if the results or the performances are not there for both parties at the moment. With the prestige and history that Ferrari has achieved within the sport, you can understand why Raikkonen wanted to go back to them especially after winning the title with the team in 2007.

But it is clear that even though Raikkonen is happy to be back, improvements need to be made by Ferrari next season in order to justify to the team and also to the media that returning to Ferrari was the correct thing to do. But the only thing that matters really is that Raikkonen is confident that he made the right decision, even if things did not go according to plan and there is no denying that Raikkonen feels this way.

Grosjean: I have a performance clause in my contract

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In an interview with the media yesterday, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean has revealed there is a performance clause in his Lotus deal that would allow him to leave the team.

Grosjean has yet to commit his future to Lotus, who are nearing the end of a dreadful 2014 season. Last year, Lotus were fighting for podium finishes but this year they are struggling even to get close to the points.

Grosjean has scored the team’s only points, netting eight after back-to-back P8s in Spain and Monaco. Next season though could be a better one for the team as they are swapping from Renault to Mercedes power.

But whether that’s enough to persaude Grosjean to re-sign remains to be seen. For now he’s refusing to put to pen to paper until such a time as the seats at the top teams are filled. In his interview with the media, Grosjean revealed that he does have a performance clause in his contract if he wishes to leave the team. Grosjean stated the following:-

‘I have the option to leave if I want to – this is from some performance clause. So far there are still places available at top teams or they haven’t been confirmed and that’s there where I want to be in the near future and that’s what we try to do.’

As we would expect in a contract with a driver of Grosjean’s talent, there would be a performance clause that would enable him to break free of his contract with the team if a better option came along. It is clear that if the call came from a top team, there is no question that Grosjean would consider it on its own merits and that has to be his objective.

Further on in his interview, Grosjean has stated that he is encouraged by their plans for next season and doesn’t mean Lotus is out of the running as of yet. Grosjean added the following:-

‘For a long time I’ve said that Lotus will be much better next year than they are this year, for a few reasons. There’s been a lot of work at the factory and the fact that the team brings a new nose here just to try to prepare for 2015 is a strong sign.’

It is clear that Grosjean believes that the 2015 season will be better for him (if he stays) and for Lotus too with the all the work that has been going on behind the scenes. With the new nose being brought to Austin this weekend, this just signals for me Lotus’s motivation to get back to competitive ways as soon as they can.

But overall, I am not shocked that Grosjean has a performance clause in his contract and I wouldn’t be surprised if he used it to leave Lotus if he has secured a more competitive drive for next season. And he rightly deserves to be the best competitive car available to showcase his incredible talent in a racing car.

But until an announcement on Grosjean’s future is made, all we can take from this is that Grosjean is happy to stay with Lotus for next season and isn’t afraid to use his performance clause to leave them either. But what has Grosjean decided? All will be revealed soon.

Bianchi is still a “critical but stable” condition in hospital

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Yesterday in a statement to the press, Jules Bianchi’s family has thanked fans for their ongoing support, revealing that the driver remains in a “critical but stable” condition.

Earlier this month, the Marussia driver suffered a diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury when he hit a recovery vehicle at the Japanese Grand Prix. He was then rushed to hospital, Bianchi underwent surgery and remains in the Mie General Medical Center where his “fight continues.”

In a statement yesterday, the Bianchi family stated the following:-

‘It will be four weeks this coming Sunday since Jules’ accident and he remains in the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi. His condition continues to be classified by the medical professionals here as critical but stable.

‘Although we have no new information to give, we recognise that there are a huge number of people all around the world who are supporting Jules and willing him on in his fight. We owe it to his many fans to acknowledge the continued outpouring of messages, and to provide some information, however brief it may be.

‘Jules does indeed continue to fight. Although there have been some reports suggestive of plans for Jules’ treatment, at this time his fight will continue here in Yokkaichi. We are taking things step by step.

‘Once again, we would like to offer our sincere appreciation for the patience and understanding being shown towards our family at this very difficult time.’

The statement added that at present there are no plans to move Bianchi to a different hospital:-

‘We also continue to be comforted by the knowledge that Jules is receiving the best possible care at the Mie General Medical Center, with the doctors here remaining in constant contact with the neurosurgeons at the University La Sapienza of Rome, and Professor Gerard Saillant, President of the FIA Medical Commission.

‘We will provide a further update when it is appropriate to do so. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who continues to keep Jules in their thoughts and prayers.’

Even though this is a difficult time for the Bianchi family, his friends and his colleagues, it is nice to see the F1 Family supporting and thinking of the family who I simply cannot imagine what they are going through right now. It is clear from the statement made by the Bianchi family that Jules has the best possible medical care that he could have and the medical team will be doing everything they can for Jules and also for the family too and will released further information as and when they feel it is right to do so.

I will keep you updated with Bianchi as soon as we receive something official from the hospital, Bianchi’s family, the Marussia team or any official publication such as Autosport. But our main concern and priority right now is that Jules is okay after his accident and that he is as well as he can be under these difficult circumstances.

All I can say is that our thoughts and with the Bianchi family, his friends and colleagues during this sad and difficult time. And we are all behind you Jules and keep fighting. #ForzaJules

2014 Track Preview: United States Grand Prix, Austin

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All rights reserved to http://www.f1mix.com

Lewis Hamilton wins the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg in second place and Valtteri Bottas taking the final place on the podium. McLaren, Ferrari and Force India have managed to build on their strong performances since the last Grand Prix.

Heading into the Grand Prix with the news Caterham and Marussia will both miss the United States Grand Prix due to both teams entering administration means the Austin race is set to feature the smallest F1 grid in nearly a decade.

Caterham and Marussia were both placed under administration in the space of five days in the weeks following the Russian Grand Prix, meaning just 18 cars will line up for the race in Austin. The 2005 Monaco Grand Prix was the last time 18 cars started a race in Formula One as BAR Honda completed its two-race ban for running an underweight car in San Marino.

Let us not forget that F1 has previous when it comes to a limited number of cars running in the United States; the controversial 2005 race saw just six cars start the race after Michelin’s entrants pulled out at the end of the formation lap due to a dispute over safety at the Indianapolis Speedway.

The United States Grand Prix is an event that has been become extremely popular very quickly since arriving on the calendar. Everyone loves the city, the atmosphere and also the track. We do see a lot of Mexican supporters at this race cheering on Sergio Perez and Esteban Guiterrez.

The circuit has a lot of elevation changes and the high-speed changes of directions means the cars need to have a good set up. The circuit has medium to low brake energy but braking and high-speed stability are important for good lap times.

The first corner is impressive and it is not an easy corner. The drivers love the first sector of the track due to the tricky off-camber corners. In the middle of the lap, you have two major corners where you are breaking and turning at the same time, so you need to make sure your front tyres don’t lock up to ruin your lap time and also stability in the rear so you don’t lose the car either.

And here we go guys with seventeenth race of the Formula One season, the United States Grand Prix in Austin…

Facts and Figures

  • The United States has hosted the Grand Prix on and off since 1908.
  • Austin has hosted the Grand Prix since 2012.
  • Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver with five wins.
  • Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver currently at the track with two wins.
  • McLaren is the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with two wins.
  • Race distance: 308.89km (191.94 miles)
  • Number of turns: 20
  • Top speed: 317kph
  • Lap record: Sebastian Vettel- Red Bull (2012)- 1.39.347
  • Winners from last five United States Grand Prix: 2005- Michael Schumacher, 2006- Michael Schumacher, 2007-Lewis Hamilton, 2012- Lewis Hamilton, 2013-Sebastian Vettel

My top 5 United States Grand Prix

Here are my top five United States Grand Prix races and in no particular order:-

  1. 2007 United States Grand Prix- Lewis Hamilton wins the race ahead of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. A great race from Lewis despite a challenge from Fernando mid-race. [No video was available]
  2. 1991 United States Grand Prix- Ayrton Senna wins the race ahead of Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet. Senna led the race from start to finish with an outstanding drive from the Brazilian. [No video was available]
  3. 2006 United States Grand Prix- Michael Schumacher wins the race ahead of Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella. Schumacher scored his third win of the season which ended Alonso’s run of four consecutive wins and reducing the championship lead to 19 points. [No video was available]
  4. 2005 United States Grand Prix- Michael Schumacher wins the race ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Tiago Monteiro. This race is one of the most controversial races we have ever seen in the sport. Six cars using Bridgestone tyres entered the race (Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi). While the remaining fourteen cars using Michelin tyres completed the Parade Lap (to avoid punishment!). This was due to several tyre failures before the race (especially Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota during Friday’s Practice). Without a speed reduction in Turn 13, the Michelin tyres would not have lasted any more than 10 laps. The FIA refused to provide a chicane to allow the Michelin runners to take part during the race leaving them no choice not to race in order not to brake the Indiana Law.  
  5. 2012 United States Grand Prix- Lewis Hamilton wins the race ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. This race was the inaugural race for the Grand Prix. Vettel started from Pole Position. But Lewis on Lap 42 in the DRS zone passed Vettel and won the race. An amazing drive from Lewis! 

If the Russian Grand Prix is anything to go by, we look set to witness yet another exciting race this weekend. Will Mercedes improve on their form in Russia and not collide with each other like they did in Spa? Will Ferrari, Williams and McLaren be able to also challenge in the race? Will Red Bull make another step forward to challenge the front?

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted coverage of every Practice session, Qualifying and race for the Grand Prix (and every race of the season) and the BBC also are showing coverage, details for both are below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 2.45pm and 6.45pm [Replays throughout Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 2.45pm and 5.00pm [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 6.30pm
  • BBC- Saturday (Qualifying highlights) 10.00pm, Sunday (Race Highlights) 10.30pm

Also check out my #jonesonf1 Promotional Partner Pitstop Radio’s United States Grand Prix Race Weekend Review on Monday 3rd November at 8pm BST.

Join in the fun at http://www.pitstopradio.com or follow @PitStopRadio on Twitter for more information