Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below. Also check out the controversial photo of Webber and Alonso in Dubai titled "Dinner with Friends in Dubai."


  • Kovalainen pushes American Rossi out of Caterham practice seat in Barcelona with bigger check

    F1 journalists slam absent and 'impotent' Todt

  • Sao Paulo denies Ecclestone to axe Interlagos
  • Raikkonen not complaining about Pirelli
  • Bahrain steward Salo felt Iran earthquake
  • Grosjean missing 'self confidence' – Prost
  • Webber, Alonso rekindle 'Multi-21' with cheeky photo
  • Kovalainen's check bigger than Rossi's, to drive Caterham in Bahrain, Barcelona practice
  • Anonymous Re-Launches OpBahrain Against Grand Prix (video)
  • Bahrain technical details New
  • Claire Williams: 'I was very happy being a press officer New
  • Two DRS zones for Bahrain Grand Prix New

F1 journalists slam absent and 'impotent' Todt
(GMM) British F1 journalists have attacked Jean Todt for not travelling to Bahrain for the sport's highly controversial grand prix this weekend.

In the days before F1 action kicks off in the island Kingdom, it is reported security forces fired tear gas on protesters late on Tuesday.

"While mechanics and motor home staff will have to wait and wonder whether they will be the target of attacks, Todt will not be in the country," Kevin Eason, referring to the FIA's French president, wrote in The Times.

Paul Weaver, the correspondent for The Guardian, agreed: "The FIA … is impotent in its most urgent hour."

Already in Bahrain, however, is Livio Oricchio, the correspondent for Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo.

He wrote on Tuesday: "I came in a rental car from the airport to the hotel, I crossed the city, and the capital Manama is quiet.

"There are no political demonstrations."

Sao Paulo denies Ecclestone to axe Interlagos
(GMM) Sao Paulo's mayor has dismissed reports Bernie Ecclestone is close to dropping Interlagos from the F1 calendar after 2013.

F1's chief executive was quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper as saying the city will not be on the 2014 calendar because long-promised renovations to the ageing circuit were not done.

But mayor Fernando Haddad, the new mayor of Sao Paulo, told Agencia Estado news agency that the reports were "irresponsible".

"More than a month ago I sent a letter (to the FIA) committing myself to reform the racetrack," he said.

Haddad said reports Interlagos will not be on the 2014 calendar are therefore not true.

Meanwhile, media reports suggest Bernie Ecclestone could take over Long Beach's iconic street race in California, after IndyCar's contract expires next year.

The magazine Motorsport said the race's founder, Chris Pook, is also interested in the Ecclestone deal, as is Zak Brown, the head of the leading F1 sponsorship agency Just Marketing.

"There's a lot of talk about a third (US) race on the west coast," Brown said. "I'm an advocate of F1 buying the Long Beach GP.

"I think I can facilitate that and I've been having those conversations."

Raikkonen not complaining about Pirelli
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has refused to join the chorus of criticism of this year's Pirelli tires.

Currently just three points shy of leading the 2013 world championship, the Finn won the season opening Australian grand prix and finished second in Shanghai.

In China, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton said making Pirelli's soft tire last more than just a few corners was "almost impossible".

"But everyone has the same (challenge) … except for this guy," he said, turning to Lotus' Raikkonen.

"He seems to be able to look after them a little bit better than most people," Hamilton added.

Indeed, Raikkonen said he doesn't know what all the fuss is about regarding Pirelli's supposedly-disintegrating 2013 tires.

He said before this weekend's Bahrain grand prix: "It's never perfect. You can't always push 100 per cent.

"(But) it's not really any different from last year – at least for us anyway – so I don't really understand why people are complaining."

Bahrain steward Salo felt Iran earthquake
(GMM) Former F1 driver Mika Salo said he felt the major earthquake that struck Iran on Tuesday.

Reports said dozens were killed in the 7.8 magnitude quake on the Pakistan border.

Finn Salo was in Bahrain at the time of the earthquake, preparing for his weekend's role as a steward for the island Kingdom's controversial grand prix.

"I had just come from the hotel when all of a sudden it began to shake.

"The entire building shook and swayed," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"I can only imagine how bad the situation is in Iran," added Salo, the former Ferrari and Sauber driver.

He added: "I am about ten kilometers from the F1 track. I don't think it will compromise the race at the weekend at all."

Grosjean missing 'self confidence' – Prost
(GMM) Romain Grosjean needs to rebuild his tattered confidence if he wants to get back on terms with Lotus team leader Kimi Raikkonen.

That is the advice of France's quadruple world champion Alain Prost, who thinks 26-year-old Grosjean is suffering mentally after a difficult start to the 2013 season.

While Finn Raikkonen won in Australia, finished second in Shanghai and is only 3 points off leading the drivers' championship, Frenchman Grosjean has struggled in the sister E21, scoring just 11 points versus his teammate's 49.

"In the interviews you can see clearly that he is in an emotionally difficult situation," Prost told Russia's Championat.

"His self-confidence is missing, particularly because of Raikkonen's good performance.

"Last year, Romain was fighting on an equal footing with him (Raikkonen), but this time he has been unable to," added Prost.

Grosjean has puzzled as to the reasons for his struggle, but Prost commented: "Maybe he just needs a good weekend, so he can start again with a clean slate.

"I tend to think this is more about the mental side than his speed," he opined.

Lotus team boss Eric Boullier agrees that Raikkonen's top form could explain the extent of Grosjean's struggles.

"Romain faces the very tough challenge of driving the same car as one of the most gifted drivers around," said the Frenchman.

"This will be frustrating for Romain at times as it's very, very difficult to beat the Kimi who arrives at the track this season," added Boullier.

"But it's also a tremendous opportunity as he's learning from the very best.

"If he can learn these lessons whilst bringing home points for the team, then he's doing the job we want from him."

Dinner with Friends in Dubai

Webber, Alonso rekindle 'Multi-21' with cheeky photo
(GMM) Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber have rekindled the 'Multi-21' controversy.

When the pair sat down for dinner in Dubai on Tuesday, Spaniard Alonso captured the moment on his phone and posted the photo on Twitter.

The caption read: "Dinner with friends in Dubai.."

But the significance of the photo may have been realized by some, as a look at the Ferrari driver's Twitter feed now shows that the photo and 'tweet' have been deleted.

That, however, wasn't before Webber 're-tweeted' them on his own Twitter feed, #AussieGrit.

Although Webber and Alonso were already friends, the pair must have realized the political significance of the photo.

At the end of last year's campaign, Webber reportedly defied a Red Bull strategy to help teammate Sebastian Vettel beat Alonso to the 2012 title.

Indeed, Webber's own manager Flavio Briatore had observed afterwards: "The only one who helped Ferrari was Webber."

The 'Multi-21' affair got its name after Sebastian Vettel defied Red Bull's coded team order to follow Webber to the checkered flag in Malaysia last month.

Webber has since been strongly linked with a move for 2014 to Porsche's new prototype Le Mans project.

Commenting on the Alonso/Webber photo, British MotoGP commentator Julian Ryder said: "I'm no F1 expert but is (the photo) the best wind up in living memory?"

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve told Bild: "The (Red Bull) team is paying the price for the negative energy that has developed in the past weeks.

"At Ferrari it's completely different, with Alonso and Massa in perfect harmony."

Rossi won't be driving the Caterham in Friday practice in Barcelona anymore. He has been moved down the its GP2 team.

Kovalainen's check bigger than Rossi's, to drive Caterham in Bahrain, Barcelona practice
(GMM) Former team racer Heikki Kovalainen has rejoined Caterham's F1 driver lineup.

The team announced on Wednesday that the Finn, who raced for the Tony Fernandes-owned outfit since its inception in 2010 until last year, will return to the cockpit this weekend in Bahrain.

Caterham said the highly rated 31-year-old, who has been keeping fit since being replaced by 2013 lineup Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, is the team's new reserve driver alongside Californian Alexander Rossi.

He will also drive in the first Friday practice sessions at the forthcoming Bahrain and Spanish grands prix, sessions that were slated for Rossi.

Caterham said Kovalainen's is a new "formal technical development role" ahead of "the first performance updates to the 2013 car, an important milestone in the strategy the team are working to in the current season".

With Pic and van der Garde at the wheel of the green CT03, Caterham has fallen behind usual rivals Marussia so far in 2013.

"He (Kovalainen) has six years of F1 experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tires against his experience with the 2012 compounds," said team boss Cyril Abiteboul.

"Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings.

"As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team," he added.

Abiteboul said the driver shakeup was triggered by Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua's practice run in Shanghai, whereafter "a number of new opportunities have arisen for him".

Rossi is replacing Ma at Caterham's GP2 team, but the Chinese "remains a core member of Caterham's (F1) driver roster and an announcement about his (Ma's) revised race plans in 2013 will be made in due course".

Anonymous Re-Launches OpBahrain Against Grand Prix (video)
The Anonymous hacking collective has threatened to take offline the websites of Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Bahraini government in support of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf kingdom.

In a statement, the hacktivists pledged to Bahrain's royal family to "wreck your little party against Mr. [Bernie] Ecclestone".

"Anonymous will not stand by and allow you a race fuelled by the blood of our freedom-loving comrades in Bahrain," reads the statement. "We will remove you from the world wide web, whether you be Grand Prix or Bahrain government – we shall take it all down. We will expose the personal data of any person who supports this race in any way."

Clashes have already erupted in the capital Manama against the controversial F1 Grand Prix, which is scheduled for this weekend. The rally came after Bahraini authorities launched a crackdown on opposition activists with local sources reporting increased house raids and arbitrary detention of protesters.

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who last year said he was not concerned over Bahrain once again hosting a grand prix despite the ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy protests, said last week he has not had "any negative reports from anybody there."

In 2012, the Bahraini Grand Prix took place in April despite worldwide calls for a boycott, against the backdrop of violence on the streets of Manama which caused death and injury during the race weekend.

Ahead of the race, Anonymous attacked and took offline the Formula One website in support of the Bahraini protests. The hacktivists also defaced the official website of the Bahrain government and called on all members of the collective to e-mail and phone bomb the official numbers and addresses of FIA in US, Canada, UK, Australia and Europe.

The collective posted a statement on the website F1 Racers condemning the regime of King Hamad bin al Khalifa. "For over one year the people of Bahrain have struggled against the oppressive regime of King Hamad bin Al Khalifa," reads the statement.

"They have been murdered in the streets, run over with vehicles, beaten, tortured, tear gassed, kidnapped by police, had their businesses vandalized by police, and have tear gas thrown in to their homes on a nightly basis."

Bahrain technical details
Turns 1 & 2
The first corner is actually very tight as the driver brakes down from over 330kph to just over 60kph. Delivering the correct engine braking support to square up the rear of the car without creating too much ‘push’ is the aim as the driver will need a stable car under braking but must still be able to turn in. Engineers will do this by tweaking the engine maps.

Turns 11 & 12
After a slow exit from Turn 11 the track goes uphill into Turn 12 so as well rapidly switching direction, the car is also climbing. This therefore puts the oil system under pressure as the fluids in the system move from side to side very quickly but are also squashed down in the tank as the altitude increases. To avoid engine starvation, where the oil moves away from the pumps, engineers will check the minimum levels in practice.

Turns 14 & 15
The driver must get the exit of Turn 14 completely right as it falls slightly off camber as it enters Turn 15; running wide will compromise the acceleration down the long straight. Getting correct gear ratios helps in this respect, but finding the right balance is never easy as the circuit has a variety of corner speeds. Finding the sweet spot in the engine is therefore tricky, particularly on different fuel levels and pending DRS and KERS release patterns.

Sakhir sits in the middle of the table for the demands it puts on the engine, with drivers at full throttle for between 55 and 60% of the lap. With a variety of speed corners, medium length straights and relatively long periods of time at full throttle, it is more external factors that affect preparation rather than the circuit itself.

The high ambient temperatures have an obvious effect on cooling as the heat cannot dissipate from the engine efficiently. Where possible we try to avoid opening the bodywork as it has an adverse influence on the aerodynamic performance of the car. Instead, we try to get the lowest heat rejection into the car cooling system by operating the engine at higher water and oil temperatures, which eventually get the heat rejection down. However this means that the internal engine parts will run at a higher temperature, which needs careful monitoring.

Additionally when air temperature increases, the engine has to be tuned differently as the speed of sound also increases proportionally. This means the sound pressure waves created by the engine arrive at the inlet valve at a different time so the length of the trumpets (which regulate the intake of air into the engine via the airbox) need to be increased as well for perfect engine tuning – recreating a power curve that is equal to ‘normal’ ambient conditions.

The lack of water content in the dry desert atmosphere also stresses the engine. In fact, you can get an engine to ‘detonate’ if it is not managed correctly. This is a very destructive phenomenon basically consisting of an abnormal combustion of the air and the fuel in the engine, with subsequently massive stresses on the piston. To prevent this, ignition timing is tuned on the dynos as we reproduce the ambient conditions. We therefore protect the engine from detonating by setting the right amount of ignition timing, which is generally lower here.

Claire Williams: 'I was very happy being a press officer
Claire Williams has a pretty shrewd idea of how her father Frank would have reacted had he been told 20 years ago that she would one day be deputy principal of his Formula One team and designated successor.

"He'd have jumped out of his wheelchair," the 36-year-old, whose father has been paralyzed since he broke his neck in a car accident in the south of France in 1986, told Reuters in an interview.

She said as much when addressing the factory last month after Williams announced the latest of a steady stream of promotions giving her ever more responsibility within the team.

When, more than a decade ago, the team's then-communications manager suggested she join the former champions as a press officer, her father's reaction almost set the furniture rattling.

"Dad said 'no way'," she smiled, recognizing that there might have been an expletive in there as well.

"And quite rightly and I expected that. Twenty years ago, if Frank had thought I might be in this position, he'd have said 'no, absolutely no way'," she recalled.

Daughters may have a way of winning their fathers over but Claire has had to work harder than most to get Frank so convincingly onside.

"One of Williams' USPs (unique selling points) is family. I think it's important to retain that. And he'd never have put me in the job if he didn't think I could do it," she said.

"Other options haven't worked out so why not give it to a family member, at least you can trust them implicitly to have the best interests of the company at heart."

"Frank is still our team principal and he founded the team. It's really important to Williams and all our employees, and I think to the sport, that Frank is still around," added Claire.

"But we are a business and we have to have some succession plans in place.

"If it turns out that it doesn't work out and I don't bring any improvements to the team and don't bring the budget in, then clearly I'm not the right person for the job and I'll step down.

"Williams is really important to me and I'm not about to let any of my ambitions get in the way of ensuring that Williams gets back to where we want it to get to."

Team bosses are not known for a lack of ambition or ego, but Williams – whose degree in politics will come in useful – was not exactly thrusting herself forward for the top job.

Asked at what point she began to think of eventually taking over from her father, the reply was immediate: "Never. I'm not one of those people at all. I was very happy being a press officer, I loved that job.

"I love working for Williams. It's never been about moving on up, making career progression. I never had a vision that I wanted to be the team principal and I never thought it would happen," she added.

"Up until a short time ago it wasn't really discussed. Working towards it or having a very clear goal wasn't the case. It was more that I want to do a really good job for the team in whatever capacity I am asked to do and will give it all I've got. The team is what is important."

Williams took on the new position only after consulting her two siblings and securing the blessing of her mother Virginia, who died of cancer last month.

"We are a really close family and I didn't want to do this without their full backing so I spoke to each and every one of them individually," she said. "I made sure that they were supportive of it, because this is their team as much as it is anybody else's. We all grew up with it."

Her job has not changed fundamentally, other than that she feels she has now "stuck my head above the parapet". Her focus is commercial and she will not sit on the pit wall during races because her father does not do that either. Yahoo Eurosport

Two DRS zones for Bahrain Grand Prix
Two DRS zones will be in place at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix for the first time in its history, with governing body the FIA choosing to add to the pit-straight area.

The first detection point has been placed at Turn 9, before the activation mark on the exit of Turn 10. The second detection line comes under braking for the penultimate corner, Turn 14, with the activation area situated shortly before the start-finish line.

As per the regulations, DRS can be used in the allocated zones during practice and qualifying, while in the race a driver must be within one second of a car ahead.

Leave a Reply