The big one

Having seen the slow motion replay of the Alonso crash, it provides a timely reminder of just how incredible these modern F1 cars are. That was an enormous accident, tearing most of the car to pieces, but the important crash structures stayed in place.

We’ve seen huge crashes in the last 10 years, and most of the time we have been lucky to see drivers walk away.

Hats off the McLaren design and production teams at Woking and to those regulating the rigorous safety tests at the FIA for protecting another great driver from danger. 

We are always keen to criticise others in and around F1, but today reminds us of the need to give credit where it’s due. Incredible work guys.

Is F1 losing the plot – Marussia and Caterham

I seem to be relatively alone in thinking F1 is in the process of losing the plot. You might pick up that from the blog name I chose I think we are steadily creeping away from the sport that inspired me as a youngster.

There are two views of the current state of F1s smaller teams. Those that think the Marussia’s and Caterham’s of this world did not deserve to continue to be in F1 as they weren’t good enough, and those (like myself) who grew up watching a succession of great drivers and technical staff emerging from the smaller teams – and recognising the value they bring to F1.

If the figures in Joe Sawards recent blog post (and he’s generally switched on) are to be relied upon, F1 has an annual income in the region of $1.8 Billion per annum. Clearly a healthy slice of that is hived off by the commercial rights holder (which is a phrase used in F1 in such a mythical way that you’d compare it to “he who must not be named” in the Harry Potter series), but a great deal goes to the teams.

So how can a series with such a huge income stream fail to provide a reasonable base income from the revenue?

Only the top 10 constructors get paid, and the current proposition for Sponsors in F1 would seem to be limited. If you wish to find proof of the problem here, then go an look at a picture of a midfield F1 car in the 90s – where have all of those sponsors gone? Many of those have remainder in sports advertising spend, only in different sports.

With the incredibly sad demise of Marussia (and no doubt suppliers will be heavily affected), and it looking like barring a significant change of fortunes the demise of Caterham, F1 seems to be unable to see past the end of its nose.

We have all heard the rumours of financial strife at Lotus, Sauber and others but the big teams seem like they do not care.

If we get three car teams that will be one of the first nails in the coffin. If that is the sport the fans want then that’s the sport we will get I guess – but I will miss the days a team like Minardi others could exist in F1 without having to have a billionaire owner.

What will happen to the increased chance a smaller team bringing through capable drivers or technical staff – it will be massively reduced. Ah well…….

Sims on F1 – Increased relevance for the auto industry

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We’re quite lucky on this blog to be able to draw contributions from some people who actually know what they are talking about, rather than my musings.

Today it’s the turn of Alexander Sims – proving to combine speed and adaptability in equal measure with his driving exploits. He is our resident professional racing driver, and he has finally dusted off his typewriter to contribute a cracking post on F1.

And it gives me an opportunity to use his selfie pic he sent when I first featured his views on the blog. It’s a beaut.

We were talking recently about the increased attraction of F1 for road car manufacturers with the road relevant turbo and hybrid power systems ( or whatever you call a bloody engine these days).

Here are his views.

“There has been quite a lot of talk recently regarding the spectacle of F1 racing, whether it be the noise the cars make or the amount of artificial overtaking that has been happening thanks to the DRS system.

Personally I find it bizarre when I read things in the press where those inside F1 circles are slating the situation, especially when it is the top brass of Ferarri – it seems like a bit of an own goal to me.

I understand that with change comes new opinions and reactions but to slate it immediately isn’t exactly clever or fair is it. I always try and flip the situation around and think how we would respond.

Imagine we have just had 40 years of racing cars that were quiet, efficient and small (partly the same thing I know!), we would be used to this and the spectacle would still be the racing and the technology advances with possibly different energy sources to petrol.

Say the regulations then changed to allow roaring naturally aspirated V8s or V12s. We would probably have a massive rant about how we now all get hearing damage, that they are massively inefficient and don’t add to the racing.

The new technology in F1 certainly has changed it radically in some ways over the winter, but in other ways its still exactly the same.

We still have rivalry’s up and down the pit lane, we still have crashes and car failures and in short, we still have bloody good racing.

The end result is that the sporting side of F1 stays the same, now though the technical side has been brought up to date with what interests car manufacturers and dare I say, much of the general public nowadays.

Times have changed and up until 2009, I feel F1 was getting left behind in the dark ages in terms of relevant road car technology. Please do not get me wrong on what I am saying though, they were incredibly impressive machines that pushed the performance envelope a huge amount and quite honestly, I liked them a lot.

This however does not get around the fact that with such huge budgets involved and tobacco advertising banned, the automotive industry tends to be quite a good link for F1!

Therefore if there is more energy recovery technology in a Toyota Prius than an F1 car, then the two areas are probably forking away in different directions.

Nowadays electric cars, hybrid systems and fuel efficiency are what many/pretty much all manufacturers are investing heavily in.

That’s not to say cars are going to become boring, people still like to drive fast cars and there will always be a strong market for that so I don’t see any reason why that will change but as the Porsche Panamera Hybrid, BMW i8 and others have shown, it can be done in a slightly more environmentally responsible way.

Now F1 ties into that philosophy and the technological breakthroughs in the coming years from F1 will now have a relevant place to filter down to, your future road car.

This will hopefully be attractive to car manufacturers so they consider entering into F1 in some capacity or at least those who are involved will want to remain, therefore helping to get the sport into a healthy position again with a strong future.”

Thanks Simsy. I owe you lunch!

Do we really need another bloody gimic in F1?

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I’ve not written on the blog for a while, mainly because I lost my blog password, but felt compelled to write again.

I’ve watched all of the criticism of the new Turbo V6 engines (I refuse to call them a power plant) in terms of the pitch, the volume etc

“It’s not F1 etc etc without screaming V10s”

Now, I have to say as a spectator I’m with Darren Heath on this. I love the new noise, it’s raspier and actually after a day at the track it’s a better experience than having a piercing headache.

Now I read that merc are looking at a revised exhaust (pictured below) to up the sound level.

When did F1 become so flappy in the wind? How about saying, yes this is the new Tech relevant series and if you don’t like it don’t watch it.

I’d like to see F1 get back to racing. Which incidentally is the real bonus of this year. There has been some great battling between the merc boys at the front, then further down the field.

Whatever next? The vuvuzela exhaust when the trombone exhaust isn’t loud enough. Or drivers busting through paper hoops or out of birthday cakes?

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2014 Predictions – Geoff Collins

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Pic credit: LAT/Marussia

Next up in the predictions hotseat is none other than Geoff Collins (@geoffcollinsF1)

Many of you will know of Geoff because of his involvement with Marussia (and it’s previous incarnation Virgin), handling their social media during their early days in F1.

He’s currently also working on some really interesting stuff, including researching F1s lost tracks (you can follow that on Badger GP) and producing a movie – http://www.murkwoodfilm.com/index.en.php

I had the pleasure of meeting Geoff at Jerez and I know that he’s a great advocate of fan interaction in the sport – something many F1 teams fail to capitalise upon (unless you join the membership scheme guvnor).

We took a trip down to the end of the Pitlane exit where I nearly got my haircut by Kevin Magnussen in the MP4-29 before wandering through the paddock. There was an added element of fun to that trip which I won’t share here but all good fun. Very checkpoint Charlie….

Anyway, onto Geoffs predictions !!!

Drivers champion – Nico Rosberg
Constructors champion – Mercedes Surprise (rather unsurprisingly 🙂 – Marussia to get points before caterham.
Dissapointment – Maldonado or Sutil

Three sets of predictions in and it’s a clean sweep so far for Nico Rosberg and Mercedes.

Losing the plot on aero – doing what everyone else is doing

I was intrigued by the Williams Teams discovery at the weekend that removing the Coanda exhaust system on the car whilst testing actually improved the cars handling/feel.

I’d love to see the opinions of those in the know on this – do designers and teams feel obliged to have the latest and greatest design quirk on the car and does it actually cause more problems than it solves in terms of driveability.

I remember in the early days of blowing exhaust gases into the diffuser how some teams experienced big driveability issues.

I wonder therefore quite how many bells and whistles on cars don’t actually improve the car. Controversial?…….