July 30, 2015

Welcome back Ford!

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Before Ford revealed its return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the world, it was already secretly testing the vehicle it would use to compete on the track.

Ford Performance is giving fans around the world an exclusive look at the Ford GT race car’s first shakedown test.

Four Ford GTs will compete next year under the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates banner – two in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (United States) and two in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

This first official test kicked off the “Road to Daytona” – the seven months Ford and partners Multimatic, CGR and Roush Yates Engines would have to prepare for the GT’s first 24-hour race, the 24 Hours of Daytona.


July 28, 2015

2015 Hungarian GP Executive Summary

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Watching the race again after a couple of days, a few things become apparent:


1. Mercedes does not know how to win from behind.

Occupational hazard for those with such a dominant car,   faced with something not going to plan, Mercedes has, if not panicked, at least not shown the type of strategic flexibility that, say a Ross Brawn brought to Ferrari in their dominating period.


2.  You can't win by defending.

You had the feeling that Nico Rosberg was battling some sort of issue with his W06 all week end but he spent the whole race worrying about his teammate Hamilton rather than winning the race.  Again, perhaps to point one he and the team just could not believe they were not winning.   He and the team played it safe not going onto the softer option tires for the final stint.   It would have been a risky call but he was certainly not making any impression on Vettel or Raikkonen  on equal tires.  Rosberg was the real loser in Hungary.

3. The right tire makes a big difference.

One of the keys to Vettel's victory was that he was able to run the softer option tires longer than the Mercedes.   This year's Ferrari wants soft tires while the Mercedes likes harder tires.   Perhaps there is something to the proposal of having each team choose their compound next year.


4. Clean air makes a big difference.

Vettel pulled out a crazy lead in the first two laps, it almost looked like his days at Red Bull.    The Hungaroring puts a premium on handling over power yes, but let's not forget that extra power allows teams to crank on more downforce.    Did Mercedes set up their cars to lead from the front, privileging top speed over handling?  Again, force of habit?
Also, all these years of committees and studies and F1 still has not figured out how to minimize the wake effect to the point that cars need to be 2 seconds clear?  Seriously?

5. The importance of being Hammy

Hamilton's race had tinges of early Grosjean with a touch of Maldonado.   His move on Bottas after his first pit stop was at the limit of nasty.    Not a fan of driving your opponent off the track like that, I'm sure that move compounded the lated hip check of Ricciardo which resulted in the penalty.
Since the race, I've read a number articles excusing Hamilton as having had a bad day.   Yes it was a bad day and to his credit he did admit so (partly anyway).
In the last couple of weeks Lewis said how he does not need to test, how he only likes showing up for the race, how he was not worried about the start  yada yada.    Every driver has got to psych himself up their own way:  Hamilton likes to go to fashion shows and concerts on his time off,  fine.  

Vettel is different,  he is not often photographed in his underwear but on the same afternoon  he carried Jules Bianchi's casket into the church, Sebastian flew to Maranello to test new procedures and solutions on the simulator.   In Hungary, he stayed late into the evening with his mechanics working on his car.

Different strokes for different folks.

6. For a track everyone has shit on for years, the Hungaroring rocks.

Two years in a row, a track with a reputation for epic snoozers has produced classics.   Perhaps it's the relentlessness of the layout, perhaps it's the because it's a track where you can really see the drivers work and understand what they are doing.
A good example is watching how drivers attack turn 2,  you can really see how a modern F1 driver brakes right into the apex.  The first lap is a good example, look at where Rosberg locks up and think about how you brake.  

Great Stuff.





July 26, 2015

2015 Hungarian GP: Red Win, Blue Mercs.

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Remember everyone, F1 is really boring and nothing ever happens, especially in Hungary.

Right.

For the second year in a row the Hungaroring serves up an exciting race.

(Photos: Ferrari)


Brilliant start from both Ferraris,   the Scuderia is crazy to think they can have a better pair next year than one racing today.

But, Kimi's bad luck has been remarkable this season.   It likely he and Nico are out drinking together tonight.

This was Sebastian Vettel's week end:

A lousy Friday he stays until late working with his mechanics,
Turns it around in qualifying,
Against all odds, wins the race,
Ties Ayrton Senna  at 41 GP wins but does so with 13 less starts.
After the checkered flag, radios team in 3 languages dedicating the win to Jules Bianchi.

That's why he gets paid the big bucks.

Ferrari's hopes were almost shattered when Hunkenberg's front wing exploded on the front straight bringing out the Safety Car.  Second structural failure for that team over one week end.

Photo Flickr

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the luckiest driver of the day:  Lewis Hamilton.

The Instagram fashionista was maybe overconfident after his dominating qualifying session.  Sunday, he literally drove like an ass, starting from whining about Rosberg taking away his line all the way to his using Ricciardo as a bumper.   He can thank his lucky stars and others bad luck for a rather undeserved P6 finish.

Perhaps Lewis should stop having his picture taken in his underwear,  skip tests for Pharrell concerts  and do a bit more work over the break,  if he wants to make sure to seal the deal.





After the race Adrian Newey and Christian Horner were taking his all the credit for Red Bull's double podium giving Renault zero credit.   It's getting harder and harder to see those two sharing a car next year.

Ricciardo must have gotten coached by Kamui Kobayashi with that dive bomb into turn 1 on Rosberg.   He was behind at the exit so it was probably up to him to lift.   Again, Nico must be getting drunk with Kimi.

Mclaren with two cars in the points?  A miracle on the Danube!










July 24, 2015

Perez flips in Hungary,.

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FP1
Checo Perez had a big scare this morning at the Hungaroring when the rear suspension of his Force India collapsed sending him spinning into the barriers.

After the first hit, one of the now loose front tires got under the car and flipped it. Perez was unharmed but Force India withdrew from the second practice session as it analyzed the causes of the failure.

FP2
Both session saw Lewis Hamilton on top and a resurgent Renault with Kvyat and Ricciardo's Red Bull's behind the Brit. Renault turned up the power and it worked... until Ricciardo's engine let go anyway.

Raikkonen was faster than Vettel who had a fairly lurid FP2.

Honda took full advantage of the extra engine they were allowed to use and Alonso was close behind Vettel' Ferrari in FP2.

July 23, 2015

Would Mercedes really give Red Bull a competitive engine?

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via Autosprint

That was the first thing that came to mind when the rumor of a deal that would have brought Mercedes power to Red Bull Racing.

However, a recent issue of Autosprint lays out a scenario that is, at the very least, intriguing to follow.

Let me summarize:

Next year Red Bull Racing would run a Mercedes Power Unit while junior team Toro Rosso would continue to use Renault.

The deal was started at the Monaco GP and would see Aston Martin come in as a sponsor on the RBR cars,  taking the place of Infiniti.    The engines would not be re-badged as Astons.

When Sergio Marchionne, in Montreal, declared he would be happy to provide Ferrari power to Red Bull, he was trying to derail a deal which had yet to be finalized because for Ferrari a Mercedes powered Red Bull is a problem, on track but also commercially.  There is the missed opportunity to sell €22Mllion worth of engines (yeah, that's for two engine supplies to one team!) and the added exposure F1 would provide Aston Martin, a direct competitor in road cars.

A deal between RBR and Mercedes, Autosprint continues, had been in the works years ago but had been blocked by McLaren.

The final turning point came at the Austrian GP with Dietrich Mateschitz  threatening to leave F1 because of Renault.  This shook not just Ecclestone who desperately needs a rival to the Silver Arrows for 2016 but also Mercedes who have interest in seeing the series thrive (as long as they are on top anyway).


Enter Aston Martin. In late 2013, AMG Mercedes signed a deal to supply engines for Aston Martin road cars and Mercedes has promised to acquire a 5% stake in the British car maker which is currently devided between an Italian private equity firm, Investindustrial, at 37.5%, The Kuwaiti Sovereign fund and David Richards among others.


Adrian Newey and Red Bull Technologies will, as part of the deal,. to be collaborating with Aston Martin on a future top of the line car..

grandprix247.com
Niki Lauda had dismissed the notion at Silverstone but Toto Wolff was quiet.  Rumors have Lauda vehemently against furnishing a team with financial and technical capabilities to be a direct competitor with Wolff taking a longer term view with the welfare of the series in mind.

The deal became possible, always according to Autosprint, because Renault has finalized the purchase of 51% of Lotus (We have only been able to independently confirm top level talks have been taking place but nothing has been finalized yet).

The stake in Lotus would eventually increase but Renault is said to have asked Ecclestone for a dispensation so that the team may officially enter the 2016 season as Renault without the economic (revenue share) penalties of entering as a new team.    2016 cars would sport the traditional yellow and black of the Regie.

Winners and losers?  Red Bull gains the best engine available, Mercedes gains the best available client team, gets to monetize engines it was uncertain Lotus would fully pay for and gets to look magnanimous in front of the sport,
Renault would be largely free of the now damaged relationship with Red Bull and with Lotus gain a team which has good infrastructure and is free of much of the debt that saddles other available teams.   Renault would also be in the position to take better advantage of the exposure or running their own team.

Loser?  Certainly Ferrari who in 2016 will have Sauber, Manor and Haas as clients.


Will it happen?  Would Mercedes take the risk?  Would Red Bull accept the possibility of getting  a B-Spec unit?

Stay tuned, meanwhile here is Rosberg's pole position lap in Hungary last season.

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