Category ArchiveFormula 1

Formula 1 29 Jul 2009 10:04 pm

BMW quits F1

BMW has announced that it will quit F1 at the end of this year.

Felipe Massa is injured and unlikely to be available to drive for Ferrari for some time.

Flying Nerd speculation: BMW-Sauber driver Robert Kubica will seek (and gain) release from his contract, and will drive for Ferrari for the next grand prix (and probably the rest of the year).

You read it here first!

Update (6 Aug 09): OK, so I was wrong, and Schumi is getting the gig… if he is fit! I still reckon it’s not impossible that we’ll see Kubica in the Ferrari in 2009.

Formula 1 13 Jul 2009 10:11 am

Webber wins German Grand Prix with dominant performance

He did it!

Mark Webber took his first F1 win at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany yesterday. Webber survived a dubious drive-through penalty to win the race in dominant fashion from team-mate Sebastien Vettel.

I’ve been following Mark’s progress since his days driving a Formula Ford car in Australia in the 1990s. It was obvious then that he is a prodigiously quick driver and that, with the right backing and circumstances, he could go far. Yesterday’s win was an exciting and delightful event for me.

Well done, Mark Webber. May this be the first of many wins.

Formula 1 12 Jul 2009 12:57 pm

Webber on pole – great chance to win German Grand Prix.

Mark Webber today enjoys probably his best chance (to date) to break his Grand Prix duck. He starts from pole position in the German Grand Prix.

In Mark’s favour are the following factors:

  1. he’s heavier than both the Brawn GP cars (they qualified second and third) — so he should be able to stay ahead through the pit stops (a lightly-fuelled car starting from pole can often be overtaken in the first round of pit stops when a more heavily-fuelled competitor stays out longer and runs faster at the end of the ‘stint’)
  2. the first KERS-equipped car is two rows behind (A KERS car can release stored energy at the start to achieve a quick getaway)
  3. if it’s raining heavily (possible) and the race starts behind the safety car, then Webber will have a huge visibility advantage, and following cars won’t be able to mount much of a challenge into the first corner
  4. Webber’s car is the same weight as team-mate Vettel’s — this should mean that the team will give Mark the most favourable timing for the first pit stop (assuming he’s leading at that stage).

At this point, I hark back to the encouraging words that Australia offered to Wayne Gardner as he approached the 500cc motorcycle world championship in 1987, and urge simply:

Win it, Mark.

Formula 1 03 Mar 2009 07:34 am

F1 in 2009 — this could be fun!

Sunday, 1 March, saw the first Formula 1 group test attended only by teams running full 2009-spec F1 cars. And the testing times were, well, interesting.

The 2009 Red Bull RB5, in the hands of Sebastien Vettel, ended the day 1.3 seconds clear of all pursuers. I can’t wait to see how Mark Webber fares in the car later in the week. It appears that designer Adrian Newey may have penned something very special for 2009 — it certainly looks the part, with very aggressive detailing around the nose and sidepods.

Roll on Melbourne…

Formula 1 20 Oct 2008 08:40 am

Team orders in F1

The FIA’s Formula 1 Sporting Regulations state (at Article 39.1):

39.1 Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.

In the post-race press conference following yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, being quizzed as to whether he had followed ‘team orders’ and allowed Felipe Massa to overtake him towards the end of the race, said:

I mean we know what we want as a team and that’s what we did it.


Like I said, I know what the team expects and I know what we want which are results. It is racing and I have nothing to lose or win in a way. I am driving for the team, so it is a normal situation.


I know what the team expects from me and I’m happy to try to achieve the maximum points for the team, what we need.


Now, I don’t have a problem with what Ferrari did yesterday — they clearly optimised their chance of taking the Driver’s World Championship at the last race of the year, in Brazil. But, it seems to me that what they did was against the regulations. Should Ferrari be punished? Is the FIA turning a blind eye to Ferrari once again?

Formula 1 19 Oct 2008 09:58 am

F1 engine and transmission supply for 2010

Would you like to manufacture and supply engines and transmissions to all the F1 teams for the period from 2010 to 2012? If so, you can download the FIA’s request for tender here.

This is a fascinating concept — and one that the F1 manufacturers and teams have not even agreed to support. The idea appears to be to find a way to massively reduce the cost of participating in Formula 1, and thus to ensure the viability of the championship.

Just don’t think that building F1 engines will make you famous. The conditions of the RFT document include the following:

The selected tenderer will not be granted any rights to associate its name with the Championship and may not refer to its right to supply in any advertising, publicity, marketing materials or other commercial communications.

F1 fans will find the document interesting, even if they don’t have space in the shed to actually make the engines!

Formula 1 13 Oct 2008 07:55 am

FIA stewards penalise Bourdais at Japanese Grand Prix — but why?

The FIA continues to take advantage of every opportunity to damage its credibility, with yesterday’s post-race penalty applied to Sebastien Bourdais being just the latest example.

Bourdais was racing strongly and had just left the pits (after his second stop) when Felipe Massa ranged alongside him. TV coverage appeared to show Bourdais holding his ‘inside’ line for the first corner, while Massa appeared to simply ‘turn in’ on him. When I saw that the incident was under investigation, I expected the outcome to indicate either (i) that Massa had been in the wrong, or that (ii) it was a ‘racing incident’. I never believed that Bourdais’ actions would be questioned (or penalised)!

Bourdais is equally confused by the incident, stating: “For me it’s very clear. Yes, I exit the pits, yes I’m supposed to be careful and I was. I stayed inside and I didn’t push him out, I didn’t overshoot the corner. I did everything I could not to run into him and he just squeezed and turned and behaved like I didn’t exist, like I wasn’t there. What am I supposed to do? I’ve been in this position many, many times and I never had any incidents. It’s just a little bit of respect, you give each other room and then everything goes right, but if you don’t for sure it’s going to be an incident.”

The nett result of the penalty: Bourdais drops from sixth to tenth (not material in terms of the World Championship), and Massa moves from eighth to seventh (scoring an extra World Championship point). This seems like a very strange outcome to me.

Formula 1 09 Oct 2008 07:54 am

Overtaking in F1

For many years, it has been difficult for Formula 1 cars to overtake each other.

Here‘s a fascinating article that explains why, and also provides information about plans to remedy the situation for 2009. Very worthwhile reading for F1 fans.

Formula 1 29 Sep 2008 02:48 pm

FIA, conspiracy theories and Ferrari

I’m not normally one to subscribe to conspiracy theories — but I’ll admit that I find it hard to believe that the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) is NOT waging war on the McLaren F1 team (and, at the same time, favouring Ferrari).

In last night’s Singapore Grand Prix, Felipe Massa received a ‘drive through’ penalty for ‘unsafe release’. That is, the stewards of the meeting judged that when Massa was released from his pit after refuelling, that release was unsafe because it was into the path of another car (in this case, Adrian Sutil’s Force India).

At the recent European GP in Valencia, Massa was released from his pit under similar circumstances. Many thought that a drive through penalty would follow — but it didn’t. (The team was subsequently fined for the unsafe release.)

So, why fine Ferrari in Valencia but impose a drive through penalty for substantially the same offence in Singapore? Could the fact that Massa was leading the European Grand Prix (he went on to win it) have had some influence? Last night, Massa drove away from his pit bay with the fuel hose still attached. He lost a lot of time waiting at the pit exit for his team to arrive and detach the hose. By the time he ‘got away’, he was running last — and the drive through penalty he suffered had no material impact. Was this FIA window-dressing? Was the penalty imposed this time (when it would make no difference to Massa’s chances in the race) to dispel the view that Ferrari is ‘favoured’ by the FIA?

As I said, it’s a conspiracy theory…

Formula 1 09 Jun 2008 09:49 am

Congratulations Robert Kubica!

At the end of an incident-charged Canadian Grand Prix, Robert Kubica has emerged with his maiden win, the maiden win for BMW-Sauber and, backed up by team-mate Nick Heidfeld, the team’s first one-two finish. This is a stunning achievement.

Some will say that the team benefited from the misfortunes of others (principally Hamilton (McLaren) who crashed into the rear of Raikkonen (Ferrari) at the first round of pit stops). But such charges are rarely fair on those who rise to the top. An old motor racing adage comes to mind:

“To finish first, first you must finish.”

Kubica’s win comes exactly one year after his very close shave in last year’s race:

Formula 1 24 Jul 2007 11:01 am

Webber confirmed at Red Bull for 2008 – maybe that’s not such a bad thing!

Commenting over the weekend on his team’s re-signing of driver David Coulthard, Mark Webber confirmed that his own deal with Red Bull Racing is for two years. In other words, Mark will be at RBR in 2008.

Given the team’s improving form, that may not be a bad thing. RBR seems to be moving clear of the mid-field pack and setting off in pursuit of BMW-Sauber (currently F1’s third-fastest team).

It’s also worth noting that RBR is continuing to invest in technical talent to bolster the team. The lastest hiring, Geoff Willis, brings many years of technical management skills to RBR, having worked most recently at WilliamsF1 and Honda. In fact, Willis’ departure from Honda last year seemed to precipitate a down-turn in the speed of that team.

Most speculation seems to suggest that Willis will complement super-boffin Adrian Newey by building systems and processes that allow the team to better bring to fruition his (Newey’s) ideas and innovations.

Formula 1 29 May 2007 04:22 pm

Webber for Renault in 2008?

I noticed last year that, when Mark Webber signed for Red Bull Racing, there was no announcement as to the length of the deal.

Speculation arose in the Paddock of the Monaco Grand Prix over the weekend, suggesting that our Mark could be headed to Renault for 2008 (he was a Renault test driver prior to getting a race seat at Minardi).

Continue Reading »

Formula 1 29 May 2007 04:05 pm

Time for Ralf Schumacher to go

Long time Flying Nerd readers will know that I don’t have a lot of time for Toyota Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher (Michael’s little brother) — or the Big Girl’s Blouse as I have been wont to call him.

I’m pleased to see that members of the press are finally coming round to my view. In today’s Motorsport News, Editor Phil Branagan has this to say about Ralf:

Look, I know Ralfy has his fans (for some incomprehensible reason) but, really, this must be the end. The guy either cannot or, worse, will not drive a Grand Prix car fast and, if anything is obvious this year, it’s that talented young drivers can come up to speed quickly, if given the opportunity. It was just embarrassing to watch him lurch around in Monaco.

Toyota, for the Nth time, please note; Ralf is a dud. If there is no-one in Germany [the Toyota F1 team is based in Germany] with the ticker to pull his pin, hire Donald Trump for an hour. Bin Ralf. Enough is enough.

Formula 1 &Motorsport &Sport 29 May 2007 11:26 am

Don’t forget: Tuesday is Motorsport News day…

Click here.

Formula 1 &Nerd stuff 09 May 2007 12:02 pm

Red Bull closing the gap

Since the beginning of the 2007 Formula 1 season, there have been two major, multi-team test sessions (exclusing the Friday testing) – at Sepang (prior to the Malaysian Grand Prix) and, last week, at Barcelona (prior to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix).

Lap times from the tests show that Red Bull Racing has taken a significant step forward. The team is now quicker than engine supplier Renault’s own team on most days of testing – previously, RBR was giving about a 1% lap time advantage to Renault. In fact, RBR has even been quicker than McLaren several times.

Continue Reading »

Formula 1 26 Mar 2007 05:37 pm

Reflections on the Australian Grand Prix


Overall, a pretty dull race. Sure, it was great to see Lewis Hamilton score a great result on debut – but once Kimi Raikkonen started to stride away from the field, the result was pretty obvious barring accidents or technical issues.
Continue Reading »

Formula 1 06 Mar 2007 10:31 am

Bahrain testing over – Red Bull still lags

Nothing new to report. Red Bull Racing still lags McLaren and Renault by between 1% and 2% at the conclusion of pre-season testing in Bahrain. (Some teams will return to Jerez in Spain for testing this week – but I haven’t been able to find out whether RBR will be amongst them.)

The hard data is in the table below: click on the thumbnail to open it.


Still – it could be worse. Toyota – enjoying probably the biggest budget in F1 – has had a terrible time in pre-season testing. Toyota team driver Ralf Schumacher (aka the Big Girl’s Blouse) has summed things up thus: “We have had a catastrophic preparation for this season. There is a gap to the front that we must now work hard to close. There is no point trying to hide it; in all probability we are going to have a difficult start to the season.” Ouch.

The Australian Grand Prix takes place in just twelve days – same day as the Annual Parish Meeting of Macquarie Anglican Churches. Who picked THAT date?

Formula 1 28 Feb 2007 12:09 pm

Red Bull no better in Bahrain

Most of the F1 teams have commenced the final week of pre-season testing this week in Bahrain.

Once again, Mark Webber’s Red Bull Racing team is languishing towards the bottom of the time sheets. I’ve updated the analysis again, which you can see by clicking on the thumbnail below:


I see no progress here. Red Bull is still 2% slower than McLaren, and 1% slower than Renault. And the real situation is maybe a little worse, because:

* both Ferrari drivers went quicker than McLaren overnight (so comparing RBR against McLaren isn’t a comparison against the fastest car on the day)
* Renault driver Heikki Kovalainen had a huge accident (he was unhurt), which meant he covered only 19 laps on the day – there will surely have been distraction in the Renault garage while repairs on his car began.

It’s looking grim for Webber. Just as well I have another team to support (Williams) – their testing results have been looking quite good. In fact, it seems that Williams may be faster than Toyota, their engine supplier! That will be an interesting situation to watch during the year.

(And Scott C, if you’re reading, your Honda boys aren’t looking too flash, either…)

Formula 1 26 Feb 2007 10:10 am

Red Bull still struggling as F1 testing moves to Bahrain

Most of the F1 teams moved to Bahrain last week to continue pre-season testing. The first Barhrain test ran from 22 Feb to 24 Feb. (Further testing takes place this week.)

Sadly, after the unexplained burst of speed in the last European test (see here), the red Bull Racing team has slipped back to its more accustomed position in the second half of the time sheets.

I’ve updated my testing analysis (comparing RBR’s testing times against class-of-the-field McLaren and RBR-engine-provider Renault). Click on the thumbnail to see the chart.


The analysis shows:

* RBR continues to be about 2% slower than McLaren (if this form continues into the race season, RBR will be lapped by McLaren at virtually every race)
* RBR is slowly catching up to Renault, but is still nearly 1% slower
* RBR has managed less than two-thirds as many testing laps as either McLaren or Renault (fewer laps means less time on track to tweak the car for ultimate speed).

RBR driver David Coulthard has stated that, based on form to date, “At the moment we’re not going to achieve the goals I had for the year. But we’ve got some more time to develop and hopefully, once we’ve done that, we can try and achieve them.” – see this article. Translation: “The car is too slow.”

It’s looking like another challenging (disappointing) year for Mark Webber. So let’s open the books on Webber’s seat in 2008. I still reckon there’s a chance that Mark Webber will partner Heikki Kovaleinen at Renault next year.


Formula 1 17 Feb 2007 01:30 pm

Red Bull / Webber testing update

Something strange happened on the last day of the Barcelona F1 test: Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard (Mark Webber’s teammate) went fastest! How did that happen?

RBR’s cars have been slow and unreliable for weeks, but on the day that team owner Dietrich Mateschitz blew into town, DC managed to pull a quick one out of the bag. I’d love to have the car weighed, the fuel tested and the tyres reviewed for ‘softening agents’ after that one. Then again, maybe they were just genuinely fast!

Mark Webber managed exactly half as many laps on the day as DC due to lingering reliability issues.

Here’s my latest testing summary…


Click on the thumbnail to see it full size.

Autosport’s report on the day is here.

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