Mercedes sort of Punished

The FIA took Mercedes up on their offer and have excluded them from this years young drivers test along with a reprimand (Pirelli also received a reprimand) after they undertook a 3 day tyre test using the 2013 car and current race drivers.

However the tribunal noted that they had been given indication that the test would be legal and acted in “good faith”. So the three day test will replace their young drivers test allocation..with accusation that Ferrari tested in 2012 and 2013 with an almost current car. However this was a car that was 2 years old which while maybe not being the legal definition it had been a gentleman’s agreement that a 2 season old car was not classed as current.

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Hot Heads on 2 wheels Lawyers for 4

At the weekend Jorge Lorenzo lead Hot Heads with a cool one for an all Spanish home town podium at the Circuit de Catalunya. With temperatures the hottest they’d been all year Lorenzo took pole man Pedrosa (who’d beaten the old “quali tyres” pole time set in 2008 on Sat) into the first corner and didn’t look back. There was crashes for Crutchlow, Hayden, Iaonne, De Puniet, Bautista, Laverty, Barbera and Abraham.

It gave the badly beaten Bradley Smith his career best finish of 6th who impressively kept it on the island despite the temperatures and his injuries. Ben Spies was still unfortunately missing and was again subbed by Michelle Pirro. Rossi rode to 4th and was only 5 seconds adrift at the finish which was a subtle yet positive step forward for the G.O.A.T.

Then came testing this week with all eyes on Suzuki who debuted alongside the other teams with their 2014 challenger, except they didn’t. The team despite going fast announced that they would delay their entry to 2015 to work on the new Spec E.C.U and also fuel consumption. This has lead to people losing their marbles and claiming that the rules are all wrong, however it is a very applicable road relevant rule that should keep manufactures happy to spend the budget. With the non-MSMA rules next year where teams can no longer have their bikes “claimed” manufactures will be able to enter their bikes with softer rules and work up to a full prototype.

On 4 wheels Mercedes find themselves in the dock today at the FIA tribunal for the “secret” Pirelli test that was conducted after the Spanish Grand Prix with a 2013 car. Results to follow…..

Its June 2013 so 2014 anyone?

2013 might have only clocked through the halfway stage however preparations are well under way for big shake ups in 2014 for Grand Prix racing on two and four wheels. As discussed at length recently on the blog has been the shake up to the CRT rules that will see “privateer” teams getting more power under their custom frames in various forms, however F1 has laid out its plans for next season which see’s the introduction of 1.6 Litre V6 engines.

F1 – The Long Haul

Next season is likely to see 21 Grand Prix raced around the world alongside earlier testing to give time to weed out any issues with the new engines that see an introduction next year after seasons of an “engine freeze”. The majority of teams have nailed their colours to the mast regarding who will be powering their challenge next season however further changes are a foot for next year. There will 4 in-season two day tests completed throughout the season completed after selected European rounds (Barcelona and Silverstone have already been confirmed), this will see the dropping of the young drivers 3 day test and a reduction in straight line tests from 8 to 2. Additionally “promotional” days have also been cut from 8 to 2 to offset the cost of the testing (which according to journalists will need an extra engine at a cost of around 1 million Euro) . This will likely be a blessing for rookies and drivers attempting to break into F1 as its unlikely that race drivers will take part in much of the running after spending 3 days at the circuit competing (One assumes Kimi will do none of it). Another interesting dimension will be under pressure drivers will have to face reserve drivers hopping in the car in the middle of the season and lap times inevitably compared.

A 21 race calendar has also been proposed starting in Bahrain at the begining of March with Australia seemingly set to loose its status as the campaign opener. It also proposes the final test to take place at Bahrain before the Grand Prix to have a warm weather test that will also reduce costs.

This all seems like a dose of common sense in the paddock and a solution to Pirelli’s testing issues alongside giving young drivers regular mileage during the season to alleviate rookies struggles to break into the top category without huge cash support. My only gripe is Bahrain is set to be a rather dull affair with 3 or 4 days of testing prior to a full weekend the teams will have the measure of the place and a test possibly at Qatar should of been considered (which has the ability to run into the night for temperature variations)

Moto GP – The Grid Swells

With the removal of the “Claiming Rule” which will see Aprilla launch essentially a stealth factory bike proper alongside Honda offering a budget satellite bike and Yamaha engines for those who want them its been confirmed that Suzuki will now be allowed to enter the championship without having to purchase a team (as the numbers were many times above Dorna’s estimates of around 1 – 1.5 million Euros). Furthermore it would appear that some teams from Moto 2 are looking to make the jump up to the premier class next season with Marc VDS looking at the possibility of running Scott Redding in a Kalex frame / Yamaha leased engine combo to keep the British talent within the squad. Furthermore Sito Pons is looking at returning for the first time since 2006 to the top flight with the Honda production Moto GP machine with its current Moto 2 line up.

This could see Moto GP grids swell well beyond 26 riders towards 30 and Dorna has laid out plans for not financially supporting failing teams languishing at the back of the grid in an effort to keep everyone roughly competitive.

 

Exciting times indeed

Vettel breaks the duck while Merc are in the dock

Sebastian Vettel finally won a race in North America with a dominant display in Montreal. Alonso fought his way through the field to claim the second step while Lewis Hamilton held on to take his 3rd 3rd of the year. 

The warm weather stayed put for the duration and the Pirelli rubber lasted well leading to a flat out sprint. Paul di Resta recovered from being eliminated in Q1 and managed 57 laps on the medium tyre to one stop his way into 7th place.

Meanwhile Mercedes and Pirelli have been summond to an international tribunal to resolve the complaints surrounding the 1000k test completed using the current car after the Spanish grand prix. This will hopfully be resolved before Silverstone race in 3 weeks time.

 

Yamaha Bounce Back and the End of CRT

 

Yesterday at Mugello Yamaha bounced back after fearing the worst from Honda’s developments. Round 5 of the 18 in 2013 saw Lorenzo leading with the two Repsol Honda’s in tow however with around half race distance complete the Spaniard put the hammer down and drove off into the lead. It was looking like another all Spanish affair until Dani Pedrosa encountered issues and began to slow. Eventually Marquez passed him with a excellent clean overtake (he looked like he was terrified of bowling off his team mate and current championship leader) . However as has happened all weekend Marquez chucked the bike down the road (after some horrific crashes during the practice sessions which left him with a patch up job having to be done on his chin).

This left Yamaha Tech III rider Cal Crutchlow to pick up the pieces and although he attempted to chase down Dani he admitted that after seeing Marquez crash out he buttoned off the pace and had settled for yet another podium. Despite the other Satellite bikes of Ducati and Honda receiving factory support and thus essentially the full factory bikes the Tech III team only have a good Satellite package and as such should be at a bit of a disadvantage. However the British rider is well on his way to beating Valentino in the standings this year and is pushing hard to get a full factory bike. The rumours flying round the paddock this weekend are that Cal has demanded a factory bike amongst rumours that Lin Jarvis was intent on signing Pol Espagaro to run in the Tech III team with a full factory bike in 2014. The picture now however has become more complicated as Suzuki have essentially stated that Cal is welcome to walk into a contract with the returning manufacturer next season and that Ducati are also interested in signing him to re-unite Tech III’s 2013 line up on the factory Desmosedici bikes. Additionally Crutchlow appears to have the support of Monster (Yamaha and Tech III’s primary sponsor) so if he leaves he could take the Energy drinks cash with him creating a real head-ache for Yamaha.

Crashes and Heartbreak lower in the pack

Despite being on the pace most of the weekend Valentino Rossi failed to get onto the front 2 rows and started from 7th meaning he had to get a sharp get away on Sunday in a perfect Mugello race track drenched in sunlight. However he collided with Alvaro Bautista on the first lap with both riders going for the same piece of tarmac and getting tangled in the chaos of the mid-field race start. It highlights an issue with Rossi this year of not being able to extract the maximum one lap pace and has essentially now put him out of the running for the title and will require some effort to get back past Crutchlow in the standings. Furthermore there was a bad crash for Bradley Smith in practice that left him with a damaged hand and a skin graft appointment this morning, however he saved face by racing on Sunday and despite some scares bringing the bike home in 8th position. Ben Spies recovery took another dent with the American having to withdraw on Friday from running the race as he still felt a lack of power in his shoulder and accepted that it would of been foolish to ride, the former race winner will try again next time out in Spain. Stefan Bradl improved on his dire finishing record this season by keeping it on the island and passing the factory Ducati’s into 4th place, which will be a relief for the German who hasn’t had the best of starts to his 2013 campaign.

Goodbye CRT hello Non-MSMA

Also in the news of over the weekend was the widely expected rule change that will see the “Claiming Rule” dropped as there is now a different distinction between the classes in 2014. Teams running the spec ECU and software will be classified as “non-MSMA” and will get 24 litres of fuel alongside 12 engines for the year. However any team can now elect to become a MSMA team and run 20 litres of fuel and only 5 engines per year in return from being able to write their own software for the ECU. This will relax Yamaha’s fears as they plan to release lease customer engines next year and it also opens the way for a much more aggressive engine from Aprilla (as previously discussed the manufacturer may release an update this year to significantly increase the power of the bikes). Next year there should be at least 2 FTR Kawasaki’s alongside Aspar continuing with the Aprilla ART, NGM Forward Racing are looking at the Yamaha engines and other teams are evaluating Honda’s “customer bike”.