F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Horner: It was an enormous day for us

    Red Bull has EUR 25,000 less for jagermeister party

  • Pirelli situation became even more strained in India
  • Ecclestone court action to begin on Tuesday
  • Hulkenberg upset to lose points finish
  • Horner hails 'enormous day' for Red Bull
  • Prost praises 'great champion' Vettel
  • Hamilton 'destroyed tires' behind Massa
  • Mercedes moves back ahead of Ferrari in points
  • Winners and losers since F1 changed the tires

Red Bull has EUR 25,000 less for jagermeister party
(GMM) Red Bull will have EUR 25,000 less in its coffers for the championship party in Abu Dhabi, after the FIA toasted Sebastian Vettel's title win on Sunday with a penalty.

The German was fined and reprimanded after breaking 'parc ferme' protocols and doing donuts on the front straight when he secured his fourth consecutive world title by winning in India.

But the FIA said it only decided against levying an even harsher penalty "due to the special circumstance".

Vettel, of course, had equaled the feats of Alain Prost (4), Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and Michael Schumacher (7), who all also won at least four titles.

"Phew," Vettel said, puffing his cheeks out in emotion, when compared to those greats.

"I am way too young to understand what it means."

He muddied his emotion even more by constantly swigging on his magnum of podium champagne throughout the FIA press conference, and more drinks would follow.

"We will celebrate a little bit," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told German media, "with Sebastian's favorite drink." It is jagermeister "with lots of Red Bull". Bild newspaper said the party raged in a hotel until about 2am.

The bigger party will wait a few days.

"Most of the team flies out tonight or tomorrow morning," Marko said in the Buddh circuit paddock. "We're planning a proper celebration for Abu Dhabi."

It was actually a stressful grand prix for the team. Teammate Mark Webber laughed bitterly as he returned to the paddock following his alternator failure, as his Red Bull is usually the one that breaks down.

Team boss Christian Horner doesn't agree with that assessment, though, insisting that a cool look at the statistics shows that both Webber and Vettel "have had an equal amount of issues and failures".

Indeed, Vettel said the team was also worried about his RB9 in India.

"I wasn't allowed to use the drinks bottle in the race," he revealed, "we switched the KERS off, we did everything to try to save energy at the end. The cars are built on the limit."

Development of the 2013 car will now finally stop altogether, amid suggestions Red Bull could be on the back foot for 2014, given key rivals like Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren have been working on the all-new rules for next year for quite some time.

"It's not a disadvantage," team supremo Dietrich Mateschitz told Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper, "because any development this year can also be something good for next year."

Still, as team boss Christian Horner pointed out, "Every driver in the pitlane would like to be in one of our cars at the moment," he is quoted by Agencia Estado news agency.

Vettel was born to succeed at the wheel of one of the energy drink-branded cars.

"At the beginning there were many in the team that thought Vettel was not the right thing for us," Marko recalled on German television Sky.

Vettel added: "He (Marko) said, 'Give the boy a chance'. I'm glad it worked out."

He remains under contract for 2014 and 2015, and Prost – the only other holder of four titles – thinks Vettel could go on to match Fangio's record next season.

"The rules are changing," the famous Frenchman told RMC, "so the drivers who are the most involved will undoubtedly have an advantage.

"And great engineers like Adrian Newey are best able to manage these changes. It is quite possible we will see Red Bull and Vettel dominate for quite some time," added Prost.

It must, however, be tempting for Vettel to bottle his Red Bull successes and turn soon to a new challenge with another team.

"He can't stay at Red Bull forever," Prost agreed, according to Der Spiegel.

"On the other hand, if he is always getting the best car at Red Bull, why would he change just to make the fans happy? He should only change if he wants a new challenge for himself."

After winning his fourth title on Sunday, however, Vettel admitted for the first time that recent bouts of booing had affected him.

"I didn't find it easy," he told Bild newspaper, "especially when I had done nothing wrong. My girlfriend (Hanna) really helped me with that."

Meanwhile, another title was won on Sunday, when former F1 driver Robert Kubica clinched the second-tier world rally championship (WRC2) in Spain.

Pirelli situation became even more strained in India
(GMM) F1's uneasy relationship with its tire supplier Pirelli became even more strained in India.

At the tail end of the Italian marque's highly controversial 2013 campaign, the tire situation was stark in India as the soft or 'option' tire failed to last more than a few mere laps.

"Teams say the blistering here is worse than it has ever been in the Pirelli era," the BBC's Andrew Benson said on Sunday.

The situation was so alarming that Pirelli, having only a tentative green-light by the FIA to stay in the sport beyond 2013, issued a recommendation to the teams that the soft tire not be used for more than 15 laps on Sunday.

The FIA refused to enforce it, on the grounds that some teams have the advantage of being better able to manage Pirelli's heavily-degrading tires.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Force India driver Adrian Sutil, for example, made the soft tire work for almost 20 laps on Sunday for his one-stop strategy.

The report said sporting director Otmar Szafnauer, who admitted stretching the tire’s life to 19 laps was "remarkable", also 'shook his head' at Pirelli's recommendation.

Pirelli boss Paul Hembery said afterwards in an official statement: "We are disappointed to see that some teams went against our recommendations and used the compounds for longer than we advised them to do."

In India, Pirelli renewed its threat to quit F1 if teams do not agree to more pre-season running prior to 2014, but the BBC reports that the tire supplier is refusing to pay for that testing.

"It's fair to say that Pirelli is not exactly winning many friends in F1 at the moment," Benson added.

Ecclestone court action to begin on Tuesday
(GMM) F1's attention will turn from Sebastian Vettel's fourth title to the inside of a courtroom early this week.

Reports say that while German prosecutors have not decided whether the bribery affair will go to criminal trial, a separate civil action will get underway in London on Tuesday.

Bloomberg news agency said German prosecutors "may be watching for anything that will help their case", as media company Constantin sues F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone for $171 million for the alleged bribing of jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

"It's not ideal, it would be better if it wasn't happening, but we can't change the court system," Ecclestone, who is scheduled to appear and give evidence in the trial, said.

Former Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart said he is backing the British magnate, who turns 83 on Monday.

"I've not seen an ounce of credible evidence that proves he is guilty," he said. "F1 will be much poorer the day Bernie is not there."

Hulkenberg upset to lose points finish
Nico Hulkenberg was heavily frustrated to miss out on what he is certain would have been a points finish during Sunday afternoon's Indian Grand Prix, with the Sauber driver forced to retire his car from eighth position amid late technical troubles.

Although he could not make progress from his seventh place grid slot, Hulkenberg was running comfortably inside the top ten as the race drew to a close. But the German suffered a brake issue with five laps left to run, forcing him into retirement.

"I would have passed the finish line in eighth place," said Hulkenberg. "When I was braking into the last turn something clicked and all of a sudden my brakes were gone. Something must have been broken on the car. Following that I made a pit-stop and then went back out again, but something still wasn't right. It is very disappointing."

"We are very disappointed, because Nico was clearly in the points before a technical problem forced him to retire," added team boss Monisha Kaltenborn. "Even if this was a set back, it is important for us to know that our competitiveness is still there. We are able to score points and still have a chance to improve [in the next three races]."

While Sauber failed to score, rivals Force India recorded a double points finish, moving the Silverstone-based outfit 23 points clear in the battle for sixth position.

Horner hails 'enormous day' for Red Bull
Christian Horner has described as "enormous" the magnitude of Red Bull's fourth successive title double, sealed with Sebastian Vettel's Indian Grand Prix victory.

Heading to the Buddh International Circuit, Vettel was safe in the knowledge that he needed only a fifth place finish to secure the Drivers' crown, while Red Bull was required to leave the country with an advantage of 129 points over its nearest rivals.

With both targets achieved, Vettel joins the likes of Alain Prost, Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher, while Red Bull is the third team to secure four consecutive titles, following McLaren ('88, '89, '90, '91) and Ferrari ('99, '00, '01, '02, '03, 04).

"To achieve four double World Championships is the culmination of an enormous amount of dedication and commitment from the team," said Horner. "For Sebastian to have joined the illustrious names of Fangio, Prost and Schumacher is an incredible achievement, especially at such a young age. It's a privilege to work with him.

"It's an enormous day for the team to have won its fourth consecutive Constructors' World Championship. There's going to be an awfully lot of happy people in Milton Keynes and Salzburg. We've got three races to go and we're just going to go for it."

Horner added a feeling of disappointment, however, at the alternator failure that sent Mark Webber out of the race and prevented the team from claiming a one-two finish.

"The most disappointing thing was the failure on Mark's car when we were set for a one-two finish; we had a sudden alternator failure," he explained. "It was desperately disappointing to happen while we were on course to achieve a one-two finish."

Prost praises 'great champion' Vettel
Alain Prost described Sebastian Vettel as "a great champion" after the Red Bull driver joined him on four world titles with a dominant victory in Sunday's Indian Grand Prix.

Vettel, who only needed a top five result to secure the crown, wound up half a minute clear of nearest rival Nico Rosberg to conclude the job in emphatic style, while sole title rival Fernando Alonso struggled to 11th-place after an opening lap collision.

Ahead of his seventh full Formula 1 campaign, Vettel sits behind only Juan Manuel Fangio (five) and Michael Schumacher (seven) in the sport's all-time record books.

"I'm delighted to see Sebastian win the title today," explained Prost. "He is a great driver and he has had some outstanding wins this year, some of the best of his career so far. You can see he is methodical in his approach, builds a strong team around him, is 100 percent motivated for success and is entirely focused on the end result.

"He is a great champion and I don't think this title will be his last. He has a good team around him and of course he is still young enough to challenge for more. I'm pleased to see him equal my four titles. I wish him all the best to go on and win others."

Prost claimed his four Formula 1 world titles in 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1993. Vettel has won four titles at the age of 26. At the age of 26 Prost only had one (yes one) race win to his credit.

Hamilton 'destroyed tires' behind Massa
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he was unable to achieve more than sixth position in the Indian Grand Prix after "destroying" his tires behind Felipe Massa.

While team-mate Nico Rosberg made late progress to emerge in second position, Hamilton could not find a way past his Ferrari rival during the closing stages of the race, with his attempts subsequently allowing Sergio Pérez to pull off a move.

Speaking to reporters after the race, Hamilton commented: "The car has been pretty good this weekend but the race was frustrating for me. I tried so hard to get past Felipe but it just wasn't possible and unfortunately I destroyed my tires in doing so.

"Finishing in sixth place is never satisfying but we've got three more races and we'll keep pushing. I'm confident that we can get some more good results to keep the team in second [in the Constructors' standings] and we'll keep fighting to achieve just that."

Hamilton also paid tribute to Red Bull rival Sebastian Vettel, after the German picked up his fourth successive Drivers' crown with another commanding Indian victory.

"Massive congratulations to Seb on becoming four-time World Champion," Hamilton explained. "That's an awesome achievement and he's put in some incredible performances this season. I really hope we get to take the fight to him next year!"

Mercedes moves back ahead of Ferrari in points
Nico Rosberg spearheaded Mercedes' return to second position in the Constructors' standings with a second place finish during Sunday afternoon's Indian Grand Prix.

Although he dropped behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa on the opening lap of the race, Rosberg recovered with a well-executed tire strategy to emerge in the podium fight, the German ultimately disposing of Lotus rival Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 52.

With Massa scoring Ferrari's only points in fourth, Rosberg's podium and Lewis Hamilton's top six finish moved the Silver Arrows four points clear in the standings.

"Second, I'm pleased with that," said Rosberg, who is now just four points behind Mark Webber in the Drivers' battle. "The start was a bit difficult as I fell behind Massa who was a lot slower. The team did a fantastic strategy so I got by him like that.

"The car was working well, [we scored] a lot of points and we are giving Ferrari a run for their money in the Constructors'. That's [second position] the aim for us now."

Winners and losers since F1 changed the tires
It’s clear that some teams have gained huge performance gains since the unprecedented move by the FIA and Pirelli to change the tires back to previous year specs. Who has gained the most and who has lost the most after this significant mid-season alteration?

Most argue this issue subjectively but this article tackles the question with cutting objectivity by comparing the fastest lap set by a F1 team (by either driver) from each weekend to the fastest lap set during that same weekend by any team on the grid.

The results are shown as a percentage where the higher the number is from zero, the farther away the team’s car was from being the fastest overall. When comparing the results from the original 2013 tires to last year’s revised tires (by looking under the “change" column), a negative number means the team has gained performance over the rest of the field and the larger the negative number the larger the gain over the entire field.

Interestingly, it’s the teams that complained the most about the new tires that have clearly gained the most by the reversion. Go figure, huh?

Of the big three, only Red Bull has made an improvement with reintroduction of the new (old) tires, and it is a significant gain over the field with only the Sauber (gained the most) and the junior Red Bull team, Toro Rosso, making larger gains in performance than Red Bull. Red Bull’s main rivals this season, Ferrari and Mercedes, both have lost performance to the rest of the grid since the change has been made, with only Force India (lost the most) and Marussia losing more performance that Ferrari and Mercedes. Finally, and not surprisingly, it seems that the current performance levels with the revised tires mirror those from last season as well.

While there are some cheerleaders who will claim that these obvious gains in car performance aren’t so much from that team’s car gaining performance, but because the driver(s) is suddenly driving better than they did earlier in the season or suddenly “remembering" how to drive in a dominant fashion again. Argue how you wish, one thing is certain, since the mid-season tire change Red Bull (with their inferior chassis) has won six out of the seven races, and often with ease.

Who’s gained – and lost – the most

The table below shows how far away each team was from the fastest time set at each race weekend so far (as a %) during the time the original 2013 tires were used (Australia to Britain) and since the revised tires appeared (Germany to Singapore) and the difference between the two:

Team Until Britain Germany to Japan Change
Red Bull 0.40 0.03 -0.37
Ferrari 0.70 0.77 +0.07
McLaren 1.56 1.23 -0.33
Lotus 0.72 0.62 -0.10
Mercedes 0.06 0.32 +0.26
Sauber 2.21 1.32 -0.89
Force India 1.35 1.66 +0.31
Williams 2.54 2.26 -0.28
Toro Rosso 1.72 1.30 -0.42
Caterham 4.25 4.36 +0.11
Marussia 4.20 4.92 +0.72

Compiled by F1 Fanatic

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