Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • 2015 Williams

    Honda still not happy with 'unfreeze' ruling

  • Now McLaren gives preview of 2015 design
  • Ferrari signs Spaniard as lead engineer
  • Ferrari writing off hopes for 2015 success
  • Williams Martini team reveals 2015 car
  • Symonds: New nose rules had big impact
  • Video: The Toro Rosso STR10
  • Hamilton's father eyes F1 return for Africa
  • New nose rules a 'headache' – Symonds

Honda still not happy with 'unfreeze' ruling
(GMM) F1 returnee Honda this year may be allowed to do just a quarter of the engine development of its 2015 rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault.

After initially being left out of the new engine 'unfreeze', the FIA relented and has permitted the Japanese manufacturer to do some in-season upgrading this year.

The FIA's complex Honda ruling allows McLaren's new works supplier to do development based on the average number of 'tokens' left over by its rivals at the start of the forthcoming season.

2014 suppliers Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault all have 32 'tokens' to deploy either before or after the start of the 2015 championship in Melbourne.

For instance, if Mercedes has 8 tokens left in Melbourne, Ferrari has 6 and Renault 4, Honda will be allowed to use the average number of tokens in 2015 — 6.

Until now, Honda's likely allowance has been merely hypothetical.

But now Michael Schmidt, the highly respected correspondent for Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, claims to have more information about the plans of Honda's engine rivals.

We reported some days ago that Mercedes' plan could be to start the new season with essentially the title-winning 2014 engine, leaving a full complement of 32 tokens to deploy throughout the 20 races this season.

But Schmidt quoted a spokesman for the German team as confirming that Mercedes will in fact start the season with the 2015-specification turbo V6.

He said the reason for Mercedes' change of plans is precisely because of the Honda ruling. If Mercedes had gone into Melbourne with 32 tokens, Honda's 'average' number would have been dramatically increased.

So Schmidt said Mercedes will probably fly into Melbourne with only 6 tokens left in the luggage.

Renault, on the other hand, will reportedly have 7 left, and Ferrari 12, leaving Honda with an average of just 8 tokens to deploy in 2015.

But according to the Spanish sports daily AS, Honda is still not happy with the arguable fairness of its development scope under the FIA's new ruling.

"They are asking for a further clarification," the newspaper claims. "They want to be like everyone else, with 32 tokens for development."

Now McLaren gives preview of 2015 design
(GMM) McLaren looks to be the next team giving a sneak preview of its 2015 car.

Williams has revealed a rendered photo of its new car, the Mercedes-powered FW37, on the cover of the latest edition of British magazine F1 Racing.

McLaren's hint about the shape of its newly Honda-powered MP4-30, meanwhile, is much more subtle.

It is in the form of a video released by the team entitled "A new era begins", depicting a child sketching a white and red F1 car.

At the bottom of his sketch is a detailed outline of a modern F1 nose, in the style of the non-anteater shape of the title-winning Mercedes design.

In a release issued by former F1 team owner and boss Gian Carlo Minardi, the Italian referred to "rumors" of an "amazing and futuristic car" being prepared by McLaren-Honda for 2015.

"There is talk of a completely new chassis and a lot of innovation in many areas," Minardi said.

Team boss Eric Boullier, however, acknowledged that tracking down Mercedes' huge advantage in the first season will be a tough task for McLaren-Honda.

"I think it's going to be difficult to beat Mercedes," he told Britain's Sky, "but we will definitely try."

Ferrari signs Spaniard as lead engineer
(GMM) As two Spaniards depart Ferrari, another arrives.

Tester Pedro de la Rosa and, of course, number 1 driver Fernando Alonso have departed the fabled Maranello marque amid its radical restructuring.

But at least one Spaniard has arrived in their wake, Italian and Spanish sources have revealed.

His name is Toni Cuquerella, who worked in F1 for Super Aguri, BMW and – most recently – HRT.

Since the Hispania collapse, he has worked for BMW in the German touring car series DTM.

But now, he is returning to F1 with the sport's most famous team, reportedly in an overseeing role for Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen's race engineers Ricciardi Adami and Dave Greenwood respectively.

Interestingly, Greenwood has arrived freshly from ailing backmarker Marussia, where he was chief engineer, to work with Raikkonen.

Ferrari writing off hopes for 2015 success
The start of the new grand prix season is barely two months away, but last year's strugglers and eventual flops Ferrari have already written themselves off as no-hopers in the 2015 world championship chase.

A ruthless and wide sweeping clear-out of the top back room staff at the Maranello HQ was ordered by newly appointed principal Sergio Marchionne and he now warns the tifosi, the team's massive and committed fan base, that the Italian race legends will again lag behind in the climb up the title ladder.

The Italian-Canadian was drafted in from the business section as an urgent replacement for the long-serving and well-respected, but latterly ineffectual Luca di Montezemolo and wasted little time in his condemnation of the failures who contributed to Ferrari's dramatic fade out as an F1 force.

Without a trace of apology to the offloaded high-flying ranks, he said: "We have taken some sharp decisions on the make-up of the team. And we have removed the baggage of uncertainty which delayed the start of the 2015 project.

"It could be another difficult year," he admits. "We have dropped back and we will start from behind — but we will keep our heads down and try to win."

The concerned boss's gloomy forecast goes on: "We have much work to do after the tumultuous pressure of last year and any results are only likely to happen in the final five or six races. This is our year of reconstruction."

Even with sensational new signing and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel raring to go to prove his worth of a £20m-a-year (Dh111m-a-year) deal, Marchionne warns the team will be lucky if they manage to earn two victories in the entire 20-race season starting in Australia in mid-March. Even that number I fear is optimistic.

2014 was a difficult season for the Scuderia

Last season was a wreck, an embarrassing write-off, and the first time Ferrari failed to scored a win since 1993. Their best placing was a second in Hungary in the talented hands of the now-departed double-champion Fernando Alonso, who has escaped to McLaren in a bid to rescue his reputation.

They slumped to a disastrous fourth in the crucial constructors' championship, with the consequent loss of millions of dollars in prize money.

"We now have to give our team, who will do their absolute best, the courage and the resources to make Ferrari grow and be winners again," promised Marchionne.

He welcomed Vettel from Red Bull and said: "He is not naive, he knows our level of performance, but this is the power of Ferrari. We attract people like him based on our potential.

"It is a big gamble for both of us, Ferrari and Sebastian. But we shall free his potential and ours."

Whether they can achieve the same ambition with Finnish flop Kimi Raikkonen, another abject disappointment last season, is very much open to doubt and, I'm told by an insider, they have their pens poised over a contract to lure Williams sensation Valtteri Bottas to ride the Prancing Horse. Gulf News

Williams Martini team reveals 2015 car
WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING has revealed the first images of its 2015 car, the Williams Mercedes FW37 on the front cover of Haymarket's F1 Racing Magazine. Following on from a successful season in 2014 Williams hopes the FW37 can continue the positive momentum into another competitive season of racing.

'The notion for the FW37 was to look closely at the FW36 and its performances,' says WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds. 'We then went about recognizing what had worked well and identifying and resolving the areas that we felt needed to be improved. Although the aerodynamics of the car were impressive there is always room for improvement particularly as we handle the new 2015 nose regulations '

The design of the FW37 has stemmed from the performance of the FW36 but the conceptual ideas came long before the 2014 successes.

'The first conceptual stage of the FW37 came before the FW36 had turned a wheel. The main element to this is understanding the rule changes and how they will affect the design of the car, from here we can start see if our ideas will fit within the regulations.'

The performance of the FW36 in 2014 saw the team move forward from ninth in the Constructors' Championship to third, obtaining nine podiums throughout the season and a front row lockout at the Austrian Grand Prix.

'The desire to beat Ferrari to third place in the Constructors' in 2014 meant we pushed our development through to late autumn, but the size of the team is now at a point where it was able to sustain this development whilst still working on the FW37.'

With the regulations relatively stable from 2014 the team went about developing the FW36 with the additional changes necessary to meet the 2015 rules.

'We felt we came up against design barriers in the FW36 and so took the opportunity to remove those barriers for the benefit of the performance. The FW36 carried a reasonable amount of ballast, so we were able to make alterations to the design for added performance without the fear of adding excessive mass.'

The layout phase of the car was completed by the summer break in August, with work on the new front bulkhead a main priority for the designers and aerodynamicists as the changes to the regulations had their effects on the car.

'The change in regulations offered us a slight headache. The new front bulkhead and nose geometry had much more of an impact than we had initially anticipated and the effect on the aero was profound. The team have worked hard on pulling back the deficit these regulations have made for us.'

After a strong 2014 the team has aims to continue improving in pursuit of podium finishes throughout the 2015 season.

'The more rule stability there is, the closer the field gets. I hope as a team we are more capable of maintaining the forward momentum to catch Mercedes, than the teams behind us are of catching us. It's not just about stable regulations but also about the team and every individual that works here moving forward and improving.'

Frank Williams, Team Principal concluded 'The team had a fantastic season last year, we are aiming to replicate this development over the winter and to start the 2015 season in a strong position. We have an enormously talented group of people here at Williams who want nothing more than the team to do well. This passion produced a great turn around in fortunes for the team in 2014 and everybody has worked tirelessly to continue that climb up the grid.'

'We have added a few more high profile names to accompany the incredibly supportive group of partners we have,' Frank Williams added. 'After a very strong first year with Mercedes we are looking to further develop the relationship as we look for more podiums in 2015. I feel this year will be equally as exciting as the last and look forward to seeing the car on the grid at the first race.'

Symonds: New nose rules had big impact
Williams Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds has conceded that the changes to Formula 1's nose regulations had a greater impact than expected, describing a "profound" effect on aerodynamic performance.

Williams was the first team to reveal an image of its 2015 challenger on Tuesday evening, with a render of the FW37 appearing on the front cover of a magazine.

The shortened nose is one of the biggest differences from the 2014 car, and Symonds said the related rule tweaks played a key role in the car's development.

"The change in regulations offered us a slight headache," Symonds commented.

"The new front bulkhead and nose geometry had much more of an impact than we had initially anticipated and the effect on the aero was profound.

"The team have worked hard on pulling back the deficit these regulations have made for us."

Symonds is confident that, after uncovering and analyzing the weaknesses of last year's machine, significant improvements have been made over the winter.

"We felt we came up against design barriers in the FW36 and so took the opportunity to remove those barriers for the benefit of the performance," explained Symonds.

"The FW36 carried a reasonable amount of ballast, so we were able to make alterations to the design for added performance without the fear of adding excessive mass."

Following Williams' most successful campaign since 2003, Symonds hopes the team can continue its upward trend and close the gap to World Champions Mercedes.

"The more rule stability there is, the closer the field gets," he said.

"I hope as a team we are more capable of maintaining the forward momentum to catch Mercedes, than the teams behind us are of catching us.

"It's not just about stable regulations but also about the team and every individual that works here moving forward and improving."

Video: The Toro Rosso STR10
Toro Rosso has released this teaser video of its new STR10, which is to be unveiled at Jerez on January 31.

Hamilton's father eyes F1 return for Africa
(GMM) World champion Lewis Hamilton's father is involved in plans to revive a South African grand prix.

Since splitting as Lewis' manager, Anthony Hamilton has worked on other projects, including managing Paul di Resta and pioneering the so-called 'Info wing' that was tested by Force India at the end-of-season Abu Dhabi test.

Now, Press Association reports that Hamilton snr is working with Bernie Ecclestone on returning F1 to Africa, which has been without a grand prix since 1993.

The report said the proposal is for a race in Cape Town beginning in 2016.

"I've been looking to go back to South Africa for a long time," said F1 supremo Ecclestone, "and now we have a good chance."

New nose rules a 'headache' – Symonds
(GMM) Williams' technical chief admits the team has had to make substantial changes to the car for 2015 due to the new nose rules.

The Grove team managed a sensational leap last year from ninth in the championship in 2013 to third, behind only Mercedes and Red Bull.

Some of that leap was undoubtedly due to using the field-leading Mercedes engine, but Williams also comfortably beat the other two Mercedes customers, McLaren and Force India.

But for 2015, team technical boss Pat Symonds has admitted the 2014 concept had to be substantially changed in order to accommodate the new nose rules.

The FIA reacted to the unseemly anteater-style noses of last year by tidying up the regulations, and on the cover of the British magazine F1 Racing it is now clear the front of the 2015 Williams is substantially different.

"The change in regulations offered us a slight headache," Symonds admitted on Wednesday.

"The new front bulkhead and nose geometry had much more of an impact than we had initially anticipated and the effect on the aero was profound," he said.

The new FW37 has a smaller, flatter and lower nose than its predecessor, albeit still with a stubbly protrusion.

Symonds said: "The team have worked hard on pulling back the deficit these regulations have made for us."

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