Tag Archives: F1

Formula One; They think it’s all over…

It’s been quite a year in F1 with probably good and bad points in equal measures. The year started with much quieter engines which drew criticism about the ‘spirit’ of the sport being lost. However, some of the racing this year has been pretty good.

One team and two drivers have clearly dominated; the Mercedes Benz with Lewis and Nico behind the wheel. The drivers championship could go right to the wire and either driver could win thanks to double points at Abu Dhabi. That could result in a messy end to the season if Nico snatches the title from Lewis. My money is on Lewis.

MERCEDES F1 2014

Its been good to see Vettel lose his dominance in the Red Bull – and even better to see Daniel Ricciado do so well. I’d actually say Ricciardo has been my favorite driver this season.

It’s a shame Jenson Button has struggled this year with a poor car. I still believe he’s one of the best drivers on the grid and it would be a great shame if he didn’t get a seat next year.

My top team this year, despite my long-standing allegiance to McLaren, is actually Williams. They have done an incredible job in returning to competitive form in F1, on a much lower budget than the others!

McLaren and Ferrari have had a woeful year. For two teams who have been in F1 for so long to get it so wrong seems odd, especially as they have big budgets as well.

The recent departure of both Marrussia and Caterham from F1 has brought to light some serious questions of Bernie Ecclestone (again!) For two teams encouraged to enter F1 with financial support, to then go into administration because the support hasn’t been delivered on is wrong. The balance of funding in F1 is unbelievable.

There’s a really interesting article by Andrew Benson at the BBC on how F1 funding works, what budgets the teams have and how much the drivers earn (or contribute) – click here to see it

Formula one generates an annual income of £1.1bn. 63% of that goes back to the teams. However the way the money is distributed is crazy and supports the dominance of Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren.  Other teams such as Force India, Williams etc. get much less. Top teams have a racing budget of £250m, they then have separate budgets for things like marketing and hospitality. Smaller teams like Marrussia race on £70m.

I think most people would agree that the racing is what it’s all about in terms of fan support; the strength of the drivers and the teams working together to a generate subtle competitive edge. If so much is influenced by money ‘off the track’ – and the bias of that is firmly placed towards certain selected teams, then surely to some extent the sport ‘on track’ has no real integrity?

So as F1 this season nears a potentially dramatic conclusion, more controversy seems to hang over the sport and question whether its sustainable in the way it’s currently led? Will 2014 be Lewis’s 2nd title year? What will emerge in 2015 to make sure the sport remains engaging and successful?

Mercedes Benz

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The sound of Formula One…

Back in September 2001, just 2 weeks after 9/11, I went to Indianapolis to see my first F1 race live. It was an amazing experience in so many ways. I had grown up watching F1 and being there amongst the action was a great moment. The biggest lasting memory I took away from that weekends racing was the immense and utterly deafening sound that came from the V10 engines. I’d seen lots of Motorsport over the years, but F1 was unique and I’d got the bug for it.

Over the years I’ve travelled to numerous F1 races including Monza in Italy, Silverstone and Spa in Belgium. The latter I’ve been to several times and would highly recommend for a long weekend.

This weekend I’ve watched the opening race action from Melbourne in Australia, that’s another circuit I’ve visited, but sadly not for a race on that occasion. The 2014 regulation changes are pretty big. So much so that, during pre-season testing, they appear to have flummoxed the previously unstoppable Red Bull team. This is of course good, especially for ‘Team GB’. For the most part I think the cars look good this year, accepting some unusual nose jobs!

mclaren mp4-29However what is not good is the sound emitted from the new, much smaller, V6 engines now being employed. F1 cars now sound like many other race cars, even some high end road cars?! This is a massive disappointment and I’m sure much criticism will emerge on this subject.

One of the most important and defining elements of F1 has been lost in my view.

This season will be interesting, despite being quiet! Who will win the title? My hope, as ever, is for Lewis or Jenson to find form and pick it up again. I’m disappointed that Scotsman Paul Di Resta hasn’t got a seat this year, I hope he’ll be back. My money is on Mercedes doing something special again in 2014.

In 2001 Michael Schumacher just lost out to Mika Häkkinen’s last ever F1 win in the USA. However Schumi took the title. Time will tell this year where his life will go from here.

The F1 Pirelli Tyre shambles!

I’m an F1 fan, I have been since I was a child. The sport has changed quite a lot over the years, but recently the world of F1 seems to be more consumed in technical/ political controversy, rather than actual racing!

The latest hype is surrounding the dramatic failure of the tyres, made by global brand Pirelli. At the recent British GP a number of drivers were seriously compromised as their tyres spectacularly blew up.

Lewis-Hamilton-with-a-burst-tyreIn recent days, the whole sport has been pointing fingers it would seem. The drivers and teams are blaming Pirelli and calling on the FIA to take action. Pirelli, having undertaken a ‘forensic review’, have now blamed the teams for not following their guidance. Also under fire are the FIA for not having tighter regulations on tyre use. Finally, the Silverstone circuit has been blamed for not maintaining its corner kerbs to a high enough standard. The whole thing is a shambles!

The FIA it seems are the Architects of this situation as the root cause, as they wanted Pirelli to develop tyres which would degrade heavily. This is to help balance the racing field out more and to reduce the dominance of the leading players who continue to plow huge funds and technical solutions into winning races.

F1 racing is not so much ‘racing’ these days. The races and championships are lost and won through the teams strategists who continually seek an edge on every aspect of the race planning and technical development of the cars. The FIA have an ever increasing rule book of technical guidance designed to indirectly balance the field out. This isn’t working.

I think there is a simple solution to stop all this strategic and technical racing. Maintain the technical rules, provide tyres which are fit for purpose (!) and don’t compromise the racing or safety of the drivers, and introduce a Success Ballast requirement. Drivers leading the field, are required to carry success ballast, on a sliding scale in terms of weight vrs position. I have no doubt that the drivers/ teams would still try and act strategically if this were to be imposed, but its an entity which in theory cannot be manipulated and tweaked in any way to gain technical advantage again.

The FIA did consider this option around ten years ago, but it was felt that this would be too much of a direct influence on the racing. I think direct action, in a simple and hopefully effective way, would be better than the current situation. The sport is once again compromised, as I’m sure Pirelli are too! All this global coverage of their tyres blowing up cant be good for their brand and sales!

The British Touring Car Championship have been using success ballast for a while now click here to see how it works.

As a lifelong supporter of F1, my main interest is in seeing on-track racing action to determine who the best and fastest driver is. I’m not interested in pit-lane/ back-room strategy racing which is led by the biggest budgets and technical design solutions designed to push the limits (and beyond) of the regulations.

If teams budgets can’t be capped and the cars cant be identical, then success ballast surely seems a pragmatic way to encourage better on-track racing action?