Category Archives: Grand Prix News

Postponing Halo is the correct call, says Horner

Christian Horner insists that the F1 Strategy Group has done the right thing by postponing the introduction of the Halo to allow for more research and development.

He says that the sport had to get it right first time, especially as any solution will also be used in other categories.

“We’ve agreed for a system to come in in ‘18, but the system needs to be fully researched, fully developed, fully tested,”  said Horner. “And at the moment other than a couple of install laps from a couple of drivers, there’s been no mileage put on this. We’re testing tyres for miles and miles before they’re introduced next year. The same has to go with a safety component in order to ensure that we haven’t introduced a risk that wasn’t previously there as well. I think the right things being done.

“The analysis, the research the development of the system is going to be really ramped up over the next 12 months to ensure that when it is introduced, it’s introduced properly, and not just for F1, across the different categories. Because this has a knock-on effect all the way down to entry level at F4 or Formula Renault. It’s important we get this right.”

Horner doesn’t expect a ‘revolt’ from the drivers over the Halo issue.

“I’d be surprised. A couple of drivers who have driven with the system haven’t been entirely happy with it either, and they’ve only done an installation lap. So it’s not been tested, it’s not been fully proven at variants of different circuits. Of course the objective is to improve the safety for the drivers, but to do it in way that doesn’t introduce any unforeseen aspects that could interfere with that. So I think the logical and sensible thing is being done – further testing, further development to get it on all the drivers’ cars.”

He also made it clear that timing had become a problem in terms of teams being a long way down the line with car development.

“The big issue for next year is that many teams – not ourselves but many of the smaller teams – have to freeze their chassis designs at the end of this month. We’re already late for them with a big regulation change. For this to be delayed for another month or another six weeks, will serious compromise them for next year’s championship.”

Asked about the implications of a serious accident in 2017 where the Halo could have helped he said: “It’s very difficult. There are always, ‘what ifs’? What if it was introduced and it created an accident, or a driver couldn’t get out of the car, or a piece of material was deflected into the driver? There are so many what ifs.

“This system is an interesting one, and it just needs further development to ensure that when it is introduced it provides the safety that the drivers are looking for, and of course all the teams are looking for their drivers.”

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Ferrari confirms Allison departure

Ferrari has confirmed that James Allison is to leave the team, following weeks of speculation about the Englishman’s future.

Allison and the Maranello team have “jointly decided to part ways,” according to a Ferrari statement. Following the tragic death of his wife in March Allison had indicated his preference to return to the UK.

Mattia Binotto, the head of the power unit department, will take on the role of Chief Technical Officer.

“The team would like to thank James for his commitment and sacrifice during the time spent together,” said Maurizio Arrivabene. “And wishes him success and serenity for his future endeavours.”

Allison said: “During the years I spent at Ferrari, at two different stages and covering different roles, I could get to know and appreciate the value of the team and of the people, women and men, which are part of it. I want to thank them all for the great professional and human experience we shared. I wish everybody a happy future with lots of success.”

The 46-year-old Binotto is a Ferrari veteran, having joined the team in 1995, and progressed through the ranks of the engine department.

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Hamilton wants clarity on yellow flag rules

After losing pole to team mate Nico Rosberg in Hungary a frustrated Lewis Hamilton has called for the FIA to clarify to what extent drivers are expected to slow down for yellow flags, and in particular double waved yellows.

Rosberg took pole despite passing through a double yellow zone on that lap, albeit just as spinner Fernando Alonso had got under way again. Rosberg lifted when he saw the yellows, but only lost a minimal amount of time, and has since been exonerated after an FIA investigation.

Hamilton had passed the scene moments earlier, when Alonso’s car was still stationary, and had to abort his lap.

“It just needs to be clarified now,” said Hamilton. “Us drivers need to understand the yellow flag situation, because obviously in the way that it’s written is potentially not the way it’s interpreted, either by the stewards or the drivers. So more clarification would be good. For me there was no question I had to lift, because Fernando was on the track. Perhaps for Nico, Fernando had cleared, but there were still flags, so it was a different scenario.”

Hamilton was keen to point out that double yellows mean be prepared to stop: “When it’s a yellow flag it says you have to be prepared to slow down, or you have to slow down, and lose some time. If it’s a double yellow – there could be a car on the track, there could be a steward on the track, you don’t know what’s around the corner – you have to be prepared to stop, that’s what it says.

“Nico only lost a tenth through the corner, so if that’s what we’re really allowed to do in the future, even though you lift and approach the corner with due care, if that’s allowed on double yellow… Because I thought that was the case on a single yellow, but maybe on a double, I thought you had to pay more caution to it. So if it’s only a tenth that you have to lose, that’s now different for all us drivers, we have to approach it potentially differently.

“But I’m not sure that’s the safest approach. We’ve instances in the past – I seem to remember Maldonado nearly hit a marshal in Monaco one time, because he hadn’t slowed down enough, and there was a marshal on the track. It’s really to make sure that it’s very, very clear to us. It’s not particularly our safety, it’s if there’s a car, a driver on the track, or a marshal.”

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FIA issues F1 teams with new radio restrictions

The FIA has amended the instructions on the use of radio messages by F1 teams following the controversy at the British GP.

One area has been relaxed, as restrictions now apply when the car is out of the pitlane, rather than the garage, so discussions while the car is driving through the pitlane are now free.

However there are now stricter guidelines on discussion of problems, which must now lead to a pit stop where the issue can be addressed.

Here are the key changes, with the first referring to when the restrictions apply, and the others to what the restrictions now cover.

Old: At all times the car is out of the garage with the engine running and the driver on board (with the exception of any time the car is in the pit lane on the day of the race prior to or between reconnaissance laps). This includes all in laps.

New: At all times the car is out of the pit lane with the engine running and the driver on board (with the exception of the slowing down lap once the driver has crossed the line at the end of the race).

Old: Indication of a critical problem with the car, any message of this sort may only be used if failure of a component or system is imminent and potentially terminal.

New: Indication of a problem with the car, any message of this sort must include an irreversible instruction to enter the pits to rectify the problem or to retire the car.

Old: Information concerning damage to the car.

New: Information concerning damage to the bodywork of the car.

Old: Instructions to select driver defaults for the sole purpose of mitigating loss of function of a sensor, actuator or controller whose degradation or failure was not detected and handled by the on-board software. In accordance with Article 8.2.4, any new setting chosen in this way must not enhance the performance of the car beyond that prior to the loss of function.

New: Instructions to select driver defaults, this must be for the sole purpose of mitigating loss of function of a sensor, actuator or controller whose degradation or failure was not detected and handled by the onboard software. It will be the responsibility of any team giving any such instruction to satisfy the FIA technical delegate that this was the case and that any new setting chosen in this way did not enhance the performance of the car beyond that prior to the loss of function.

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Sebastian Vettel: “It’s something we need to fix…”

Sebastian Vettel says that Ferrari has to get to the bottom of its gearbox issues after he picked up his third five-place grid penalty of the season at Silverstone, resulting in him dropping form sixth to 11th on the grid.

The German was most concerned about the fact that he had the same failure on Friday and in FP3 this morning.

“It’s difficult to remember all of them!,” said Vettel. “One was a consequence of what happened in China, the second one I don’t remember, and this one here obviously was after the failure this morning. It was something new we haven’t suffered before [Silverstone]. Obviously we need to understand, because we had the same failure yesterday and this morning.

“I think the problems that we had yesterday and today, that’s a weakness, and we need to stop it. Obviously I think the other occasions it was more a consequence of other things happening, especially the first one – if you crash, obviously it was a mild crash, but still a little crash in China, and we had to change it. You see other people crashing and they have to change it. They are not made for crashing, if you see what I mean. Surely the issue that we had yesterday and today was something new, and we need to fix it.”

Vettel said the fact that the problem did not occur for a third time in qualifying gave him some confidence heading into the race.

“I think we took some precaution going into qualifying. We didn’t have the failure in qualifying, we didn’t see the failure on Kimi’s car, so I’m fairly confident that we will be fine tomorrow. But surely we got caught out twice with the same problem. We didn’t have it before, so it might be something related to the track here. It happened also at the same place, at the end of the lap onto the main straight, so we need to have a look and really understand what happened.

“Rest assured that we are looking into that. It’s a very high priority, obviously it cost us five positions today, and if it happens again it will do the same again. It’s something we need to fix. Plus if it happens in the race, you don’t finish.”

Vettel admitted that he had not had a great qualifying session, and felt he should have been a couple of spots higher than sixth he earned before his penalty.

“I was on a good lap the first attempt, and then obviously lost the rear in Stowe. I was able to catch it, but the majority of lap time was lost. And then the second approach I started similar to before but just went in a little bit too deep and wide in Turn One, and then it was difficult to recover from there. I didn’t have good laps at the end of qualifying when it mattered. I think the pace was actually OK, we were able to split the Red Bulls, but we didn’t in the end, so that’s a shame.”

Vettel said he had no problem with the track limits rules imposed this weekend.

“We spoke about it yesterday, everybody was there, so we all agreed on it. That’s it. So it’s OK. I don’t personally care if we can go out or not, it just has to be clear, and it was made clear yesterday.”

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Alonso downplays Mercedes team mate problems

Fernando Alonso has downplayed the team orders saga at Mercedes, saying it won’t make any difference as either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg will eventually win the title.

The Spaniard said that it was good for the sport that the team has decided for now to let its drivers race.

“It’s something that is probably up to them, and only they know what is the situation inside the team,” said Alonso. “From the outside definitely they have enough advantage to do whatever they want, they will finish the championship first or second whatever they do.

“At the moment they are racing, I read that they will keep racing free, that’s good probably for the fans, for everyone, because the sport is about competition. If one day they need to police this, probably it’s also normal.

“At the end of the day there is one team principal, there is one owner, there is one president of a car company, that they want to see both cars on the podium, not both cars on the gravel. It’s something that as I said from the outside is not a big thing, or even on the inside is a big thing, because they will finish first and second in the championship anyway.”

When asked about being in the same situation himself Alonso joked that he never had a car that was a step ahead of the field: “I don’t think I ever had a car that is one second faster than everyone! So I don’t agree that I was in that situation, ever…

“With your team mate normally you have extra care, you have your bosses and your team waiting fort you in the garage. That’s something that you need to take a little bit more. Sometimes when you are that close and fighting for a championship, sometimes you forget that.

“It’s something that is inside any driver, inside the competition. I don’t think it’s a big thing. I know it’s a big thing for media, because the championship is terribly boring, and they are winning every race, and it’s good to talk. But I don’t think it will change anything for them, or anything for the championship. Life will still be the same after Austria.”

Alonso said that problems were inevitable.

“It’s something that will happen. They crashed in 2014 in Spa, and this has been going on and on, in Austin last year, in Suzuka, and some races, this year it’s Austria, maybe it’s Austin again in 10 races time. They’ve been three times World Champion [including 2016].

“Nothing will change, it’s normal. They are close, they don’t have battles with Red Bull, because they are 30 seconds ahead, they don’t have battles with Ferrari, because they are one minute ahead, they have battles with their team mate. Sometimes they crash, in 50 races they crash three times, it’s normal.”

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Mercedes lets its drivers race under threat of team orders

Mercedes has confirmed that its drivers are free to race each other for the World Championship – but the team has imposed new “rules of engagement” to minimise the risk of further contact between the pair.

The team issues a statement today following meetings between the team management, Lewis Hamilton, and Nico Rosberg.

“Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the world championship,” the statement said. “We believe this is the essence of Formula One, including between team mates. As passionate racers, we want to see them racing, and so do the fans of Formula One.

“However, this freedom comes with a duty for our drivers to respect the values of the team. In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the constructors’ championship.

“We have therefore strengthened our Rules of Engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars. With these in place, we will trust our drivers to manage the situation between them on track. Their destiny is in their own hands.”

Mercedes added that in certain circumstances points for the team will be a priority.

“The drivers were also reminded that we may issue instructions during the race to protect against a potential loss of constructors’ points, such as we did at this year’s Monaco GP when Nico was instructed to let Lewis pass.”

Mercedes concluded: “If the drivers do not honour the revised Rules of Engagement, we may impose team orders as a solution of last resort.”

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