Season In Review – Caterham – New Lows

We start off the traditional end of season look with the last placed team – Caterham.

File:F1 2013 Barcelona test 2 - Caterham.jpg

In a first for the team in green after finishing ahead of their young team contemporaries, Caterham found themselves last in the standings after the wheels stopped turning in Brazil. With no HRT to create a rolling road block at the back of the pack, Jules Bianchi’s 13th place in Malaysia sealed the deal for the other 2010 entrant still surviving. At the back of the grid this year development was halted very early due to the massive shake up next year in the regulations so there was never going to be much hope for Caterham to really progress despite years of promises otherwise.

The team decided to release Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen to replace them with Charles Pic from Marussia and rookie Geido Van Der Garder. In a change to the teams principles this saw no real experience in the garage (apart from Pic’s lone season at rivals Marussia) but plenty of cash to fill the coffers at Leafield. But it was telling that the team had to re-recruit Heikki to drive in FP1 to help develop the car throughout the year as the in-experience of their drivers showed.

Unfortunately for Caterham a slow start hampered them and although they were generally faster than Marussia throughout the year the “other car in red” was definitely the faster package out of the box. The drop to last place wont harm Caterham’s financials too much as to stay a category 2 team (which Caterham have become bringing much more prize money) you have to finish 10th or higher in 2 of the last 3 seasons. This leaves it imperative that the team can outscore Marussia next year and could see Heikki return to the car.

As for the drivers Geido Van Der Garder’s heroics in Spa spring to mind and by the half-way mark the Dutchman had certainly turned the tables on his more experienced French team mate and looks the better of the pair. However how good either are is up for debate as neither provide a good yard stick.

Next season is going to be key with a huge spike in costs and without new sponsors or big money pay drivers expect there to only be 10 teams rolling into Australia in 2015.

Williams Sign Mercedes as 2014 Takes Shape

The Williams F1 team have announced that they will be using Mercedes engines from 2014 replacing their current supplier Renault:

“Under the terms of the agreement, Williams will be supplied with a Mercedes-Benz Power Unit (Internal Combustion Engine plus Energy Recovery System) by Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) based in Brixworth, UK. Williams will continue to manufacture its own transmission,”

This comes on the back of Toro Rosso switching to the new Renault power plant in 2014 amid concerns from many of the teams that engines and specifically the Renault are very expensive. The deal represents a low risk for the team as Mercedes will be looking for a good customer team to replace McLaren who will be moving to Honda power in 2015.

New Engine Lineup

Team – 2014 Engine – 2015 Enigne

  1. Red Bull – Renault (confirmed – Engine development partner – de-facto works team)
  2. Ferrari – Ferrari (Works team)
  3. McLaren – Mercedes (Customer) – Honda (Works)
  4. Lotus – Unknown, currently Renault but no deal has been signed and Renault already stated they have enough teams
  5. Mercedes – Mercedes (Works Team)
  6. Sauber – Ferrari – Team have publicly stated that they wish to continue with Ferrari but no deal is signed
  7. Force India – Mercedes (Customer) – 2014 onwards
  8. Williams – Mercedes (Customer)
  9. Toro Rosso – Renault (Customer)
  10. Caterham – Renault (Customer/Works) Team confirmed 2014 Renault supply and the two car companies have an alliance leading to possible cheap supply and/or partial works support
  11. Marussia – Unknown however Pat Symmonds suggested that they are chasing a Ferrari deal

Renault have publicly stated their desire to only supply 3 teams and with the 2 Red Bull teams leading the French manufactures attack along with Caterham and the global alliance they have in the road car department means they look to have their books full. Lotus appear to be the biggest losers so far as they appear to be left without a supplier currently (although all 3 current manufactures have committed to supplying the grid so they will get some sort of deal). Ferrari also appear to have a lack of Customers with only Sauber looking likely to continue to buy engines from Maranello. Marussia look likely to take one of those deals as Cosworth are not making a new V6 engine, furthermore Ferrari will need to sign a few long term deals to offset the cost of the new engine formula. Sauber are also rumoured to be close to signing a Honda power plant deal in 2015 that would significantly reduce their costs as Honda will need to look for a good Customer to continue on track development of the engine.

Martin Whitmarsh spoke of the “surprisingly open” regulations for the engines and with the lack of testing a good customer is now going to be increasingly important. Certain teams like Toro Rosso and Caterham will run the entire drive train from the works entry (Red Bull) while others such as Williams will make their own gearboxes and possibly energy recovery systems. I would expect to hear Lotus and Marussia announcing their deals within the coming weeks.

Chandhok Returns as New Rules for 2014 Finalised

This weekend will see Karun Chandhok return to racing in Formula 1 taking the place of Jarno Trulli at Team Lotus this weekend. Team Lotus have outlined this is a one-off and they are negoiating Trulli’s contract for next year.

Also today the FIA has published the new 2014 rules for the 1.6 Litre V6 era.

The highlights include smaller front wings and a removal of extra wings and appendiges and running only on electric in the pits. The full rules can be read on the FIA website

Trulli signals for a maneuver while engines stall

First up, after all the noise about the “new formula” enginge for 2013 and certain teams dissatisfaction with them they have been delayed to 2014 and will see V6 turbos rather than the V4’s originally mooted. With the exception of Ferrari who rightly said that 4 cylinder engines are not relevant to them, I do think its because of the lack of time for development. Renault were the most keen to introduce the 2013 rules have agreed to this revised format, although a move to 6 cylinders is probably not a massive headache for the French manufacturer. The teams were also keen to appease Cosworth who, if rumours are to be believed still unsure about producing an engine for the new rules. It is believed that french independant P.U.R.E will still be producing engines for F1 and the other manufactuers shall stay.

The new units will feature a much enhanced KERS units.

Secondly Jarno Trulli has made noises about being fustrated at Team Lotus, I beleive he took the pain last year hoping the team would take a much bigger step this year. He is a top class driver who has won races, but it’d be unclear where he’d go. A move to Ferrari for the Italian would work very well in my opinion and is probably his best/only option for fighting for podiums.