The Girl who Cried Wolff

With F1 at the back end of its summer break many of the teams are winding back up again for the second half of the season which resumes at Spa this coming bank holiday weekend. During this enforced break (which I’m all for but its now mandated in the rules) various peoples P.R teams use the resulting news lull to pepper the pages with their propaganda.

This week it was the turn of Suzie Wolff, wife of former Williams share-holder Toto and Williams Development/Test driver. Regular readers will know I’m not a big fan of Ms Wolff, mostly for the reason she harps on about gender inequality in motorsport but constantly finds herself given advantages because of said gender. Now in this day and age any team would hire a female driver where she to be mildly competitive – just think of a sponsorships and press inches!!! But lets have a look at poor old Suzies attempt to justify her place on the grid:

Susie Wolff is adamant she’s with Williams based on her talent and not as part of a “marketing scheme” by the F1 team. – She continues to add the following evidence:

“Many people said that this is just a marketing scheme,” she told the official F1 website. “but Sir Frank Williams would never put someone in his car if he didn’t believe that they are good enough. – Kazuki Nakajima might beg to differ, along with various other pay drivers throughout barren spells. Furthermore shes just done a few practices hardly top line stuff.

The 31-year-old, though, says it is unlikely that she will find a place on the 2015 Formula 1 grid with Williams. “At Williams we have two good drivers, so it would be difficult,” she said. – So it is a marketing opportunity then surely? To being in more sponsors to a team your husband still has shares in?

“I am very proud to be with the Williams team. They’ve given me the chance to test an F1 car when nobody else was interested because I didn’t show enough performance in DTM.
– So no other team would touch you due to your poor (very poor) results in DTM, previous champion Paul Di Resta found himself without a drive this year! But its a staggering admission that Williams was her only option for these runs because of her poor junior career.

All in all Williams would do well to stop this farce, with Simona Di Silvestro looking possible for actually having what it takes to compete can we please stop promoting woman who have had little to no success in the junior categories for marketing purposes. And Suzie stop trying to claim your there on talent, while I have no doubt you can run the car around the track for good testing data, you’ve yet to prove you can race at any level. (Suzie Wolff has only managed 3 podiums at any level of professional motorsport – all in Formula Renault UK – She only managed to score 4 points over 7 seasons in DTM and has taken no poles or fastest laps at any level)

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.

Alonso Saves, Sergio Arrives and Parr Exits

Well then kids what an exciting weekend of motorsport! Alonso’s win for Ferrari is a god send for the Scuderia (in fact I think second would still of been sweet relief) who have been under a lot of pressue after showing up in Australia and being over a second off the pace in qualifying. Although the fact that Sergio Perez announced himself with an even more shocking second place should tell you everything that the rain in Malaysia really shook up the form book. The real key was the tires this weekend and getting them to work in the rain, it would appear that McLaren struggle in very cold and damp conditions to turn the tire on along with Red Bull whereas Ferrari and Sauber have less on an issue.

Bruno Senna also had a great race after the break with a drive through the field in the wet befitting of his surname. He drove from last on the grid at the restart (after 7 laps the race was stopped due to the extreme amount of rain that fell) and cut through the field to finish in 6th place and collect a hatful of points for Williams. Paul Di Resta also used his wise head on young shoulders to pick up a 7th place in the chaos which will be relieft indeed as the Force India is currently lacking a little bit of pace. Elsewhere it was a good race for HRT who qualified on merit, quite comfortably in the case of Pedro De La Rosa and this was after Mark Webber went out for a second run (in fact Pedro De La Rosa was within 107% of the pole time) and in the race Karthikeyan was running 8th at one point before getting tangled with Button and Vettel (neither of them his fault in my opinion).

It wasn’t a great weekend for Mercedes who managed to get a car starting 3rd on the grid and then only brought a solitary point, which at the very least gets them off the mark. There was more heartbreak for Pastor Maldonado as a last lap engine failure robbed him of points.

But the big news was how close the teams are, Nico Rosberg had a scrappy lap and was 4 tenths off pole. Last year that would of most certainly of meant that he would of been 2nd or 3rd. However he qualified 8th (started 7th after Kimi’s penalty) and there was one second between 1st and 12th in Q2.

Not content with the crazy weekends race Williams dropped a bombshell yesterday announcing that heir apparent to the team, Adam Parr has resigned and will leave the team this Friday. Parr has been controversial and was known to have a rocky relationship with Patrick Head, but was the man being lined up to take over from Frank Williams who is in his 70s. He definatly leaves the team in good shape with strong finances and a car this year capable of scoring some decent points all year long.

Whos Got The Money Leading Into Monza

Most of the news and rumours recently have been team related and their ownership. First up the Team Lotus Renault / Lotus Renault saga could finally be at an end with Tony Fernandes getting a chunk of Malaysia’s national air carrier and will concentrate it on the upper end of the market leaving his Air Asia brand to compete in the budget sector. This deal however is said to include him handing over the Team Lotus rights, which it makes very little sense for Fernandes to continue with. Group Lotus the car company need the heritage to promote their cars, the Lotus brand is great in F1 but it’s not the real Team Lotus after all.

However Fernandes is going to call his F1 team Team Caterham which has a nice synergy to it as Caterham cars came from Lotus originally and the F1 enthusiast market is the exact sector the small performance company aims at. This will leave the Renault team to re-name their chassis Lotus and still confuse everyone how Lotus shot up to the front of the grid. This has all been apparent for a while since the Team Lotus cars feature massive Caterham branding on their side and practically no Lotus branding what so ever.

Scuderia Torro Rosso have recived substantial investment from the UAE (you may have seen nova chemicals on their which they own part of) and their spanish owned oil arm will emblazen the cars this year. There has been conflicting reports about the team being bought out and becoming Team UAE with a development base at the Abu Dhabi Yas Marina island circuit. But the team are in the process of moving into an expensive new facility in Italy complete with wind tunnel and have made no hints that the team will be renamed. But if the team has been sold it does explain why Red Bull went looking for another development seat at HRT for Ricciardo rather than using their own development team.

HRT have been very quiet since being bought out by Thesan Capital other than dropping the Hispania tag for the rest of the year. I really hope they rename themselves to something other than Hormone Replacement Therapy because its a hilariously unfortunate name for a racing team in the English-speaking world. I’d expect the team to move to a permanent base in Spain (at least announce a move) and probably rename the team in the close season, but I reckon they’d do well to hold onto their driver line-up for next year if the funds are there. Furthermore they may need to find a new technical partner as Williams are moving to Renault power from next year but they may be able to use the Williams 2011 rear end package until the 2014 engine switch.

Marussia Virgin (who are possibly another team looking to re-brand the chassis) are introducing a large update this weekend at Monza which will be the first overseen in part by Pat Symonds. Its a comprehensive update for the team who have had little development since the team split with Nick Wirth due to poor results. Initially the update was discarded but once Symonds became familiar with the car and CFD it has been updated and produced. “It is engine cover, sidepods, exhaust, and rear floor. Obviously there will be a Monza wing as well, but this bodywork package will be on for the rest of the year. It will pull the whole back of the car in much tighter. ” – John Booth, Team Principle

Williams continue their slide into obscurity with the rumour that they are weighing up taking on a second pay driver instead of experienced Reubens Barrichello next season. And their number 2 paying driver has been going so well this year……

 

Next season there are very few seats available as Sauber, Team Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Merecedes are all expected to keep their driver line-ups intact. But the 10 big names looking for a drive next year are:

  1. Nico Hulkenberg – He should get a drive if there is a god but a lack of sponsorship from a German heavy grid could hold him back
  2. Romain Grosjean – Destroyed GP2 this year and has now won everything in the junior categories, he has attoned well for his failed attempt back in 2009
  3. Bruno Senna – Doing the same as Romain and sitting in for the second half of the season at Renault. However he already has 1 season under his belt and has secured a lot of Brazilian Reals to support his drive. So far so good after one weekend behind the wheel too
  4. Karun Chandok – The other doomed HRT driver has had one trip out in the Team Lotus car this year, which was a disaster. We expect to see him in India for the race but he better put in a better performance than last time.
  5. Giedo Van de Garde – A distant second to Grosjean but likely to take another season in GP2 with the reserve spot at Sauber held down
  6. Jules Bianchi – The Ferrari development driver hasn’t shone as much as the Scuderia would of probably liked. Has a face off with Sergio Perez soon in a 2009 Ferrari.
  7. Charles Pic – An abundance of Frenchmen this year on the grid and a decent campaign from Pic should put him in the spot for at least some form of reserve roll next year.
  8. Nick Heidfeld – Probably has had too many chances and there are rumours that his development work does not suit most other drivers. But if someone needs experience theres few others to turn to
  9. Esteban Gutiérrez – Pick of the rookies in GP2 this year with a win in Valencia, one for the Future one would assume
  10. Sam Bird – Mercedes supported Britian has a battle on his hands with so many top pilots queing up for the Silver Arrows