Category Archives: UBS

Formula One: VIDEO – Häkkinen explores Monaco

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Two Time Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen, as an ambassador for UBS, took Amanda Davies out for a lap of the Principality to discuss his racing highlights around the circuit and give his take on how the Mercedes AMG Petronas Team will approach the racing weekend.

Winner of the race in 1998, Häkkinen talks about how he thought he had thrown away his only chance of victory, clipping the wall at Rascasse with only 5 laps remaining.

Filmed in gap between the Historic Grand Prix event held in Monaco and the F1 weekend, Häkkinen does not offer opinion on the incident between the two Mercedes drivers at the Spanish Grand Prix. Instead he reflects on how the team will have learnt lessons from the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix in which Hamilton reacted to a late safety car period by electing to pit from the lead under the assumption that those around him, including his team mate, would do the same in so doing handing the victory to his team mate Nico Rosberg.

Häkkinen does very well to avoid answering the question on whether or not he thinks Lewis will take his second Monaco victory this weekend.

 

 

 

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Formula One: The Business of F1

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As a keen and vocal fan of Formula One I often find myself being asked why? What could be interesting about watching a bunch of cars going round in circles on a Sunday afternoon?

For years I have argued that the sport is much more than the action we see on track, and that my true fascination with the sport is far more to do with the business of the sport. Followers of this site will know one of the highlights of a race weekend for me is spotting new sponsors with teams then working to find out the story behind them.

Whilst news of this nature is something easy to grasp and communicate, I have come to realise that a logo on a car or a new person joining a team is only the beginning of a story, and what really intrigues me about Formula One is personality.  I’m fascinated and inspired by stories of people who have found success in the sport that I love.

This fascination is probably why I found the UBS profile of Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, so intriguing.  I knew snippets of how Toto came to be involved in the sport, but never really had an appreciation for his background or philosophy.

 

To hear about of his humble beginning’s, his pragmatic foray into motorsport as a driver, his success during the first .com era, and how his initial move into F1 came through Frank Williams desire to pay of the mortgage on his house gave me an entirely new perspective of Toto.  More compelling is the explanation of his partnership with Mercedes Benz and the AMG Petronas Team. Rather than simply joining the team in a management capacity, Toto invested into the team believing that through having ‘skin in the game’ the will to succeed will be further heightened.

Toto goes on to explain his perspective on a modern day Formula One team, commenting that the days of a single individual overseeing every aspect of a team are a thing of the past. Success is seen through working as a team, recognising the need of having the right people around you, the need to communicate, and the need to learn new things every day.

The seemingly endless saga around who should lead the Formula One of the future often circles back to the need for a ‘dictator’ style of leadership. This is not something I have ever bought into, the approach does not work in business, why should it work in Formula One? The future of Formula One to me requires a balanced level headed individual capable of recognising the need for support from others. Perhaps in this film from UBS, Toto is positioning himself for that role?

So the next time someone asks me what it is about Formula One that I like so much, I will point them in the direction of this film and the personality it portrays.

To follow Merecedes AMG Petronas on social media click here

To follow UBS F1 on social media click here.

Formula One: Strong Swiss Franc threatens Sauber’s Future

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The supercharged nature of Switzerland’s currency, the Swiss Franc, is having threatening Sauber’s ability to remain on the F1 grid. Given Swiss neutrality to EU legislation (as a non EU member) and a taxation system encouraging corporate domicile, during times of economic turbulence the Swiss Franc is perceived as a safe investment, the impact of which leads to a disproportionately strong currency, which put simply means the value of finance coming into a company such as the Sauber F1 team from sources outside of country has been increasingly diminished.

Speaking in the FIA Team Press Conference at the Russian Grand Prix yesterday Team representative  Beat Zehinder commented:

“A simple figure: in 2007, one dollar was 1.5 Swiss francs. Now we have parity. So what we had income in dollars is now worth 50 per cent less. Switzerland doesn’t make it really easy”

Sources of income for the Sauber F1 Team are seen in FOM prize fund payments, which are understood to be paid in either GBP or US Dollars, driver sponsorship payments which come from Brazil (BRL) and Sweden (SEK), and additional sponsorship income from UK and US partners. It can be assumed that agreements around these revenue streams will have been made in the currency from which the agreement originates, not the currency of recipient (Sauber) The below graphs illustrate the diminishing value of agreements from these sources.

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Source: http://www.xe.com/

Whilst many costs involved with the Sauber F1 Team may be made in Euro’s such as the Ferrari PU supply agreement, fixed costs such as employee salary and facility operational costs, will be made in local currency. This limits the teams ability to mitigate the strength of the Swiss Franc.

The strength of the Swiss Franc is has such an impact on teams finances that Sauber could finish as high as 5th in the World Championship and the net payment to the team in local currency would leave them with the lowest overall team payment.

Formula One Management could move to support Sauber during this challenging economic period through making payments to the team through it’s own Swiss head-office applying an inflationary  and currency adjusted payment. Or through rewarding the Swiss team in the same way Williams, Mclaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes are as teams of historical relevance to the sport. Sauber have been involved in Formula 1 for over 32 years making them the 4th oldest team on the grid.

With the strength of the Swiss Franc unlikely to diminish in the short to medium term the future economic viability of the team without support appears increasingly bleak.

 

Formula One: Lewis ” I’ve never seen anything like it”

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Mercedes AMG Petronas concluded the opening pre-season test of the 2016 season today at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid in the morning and Nico Rosberg in the cockpit during the afternoon.

  • Lewis emerged for his first run at 09:05, completing 99 laps before the hour-long lunch break at 13:00. Nico completed a further 86 laps in the afternoon – finishing for the day at 17:50
  • Today’s programme focused on aero evaluation and race simulation work – including practice starts and pit stops
  • Mercedes-Benz Power Units today completed a total of 1,699 km
  • The team will now prepare the F1 W07 Hybrid for the second pre-season test of 2016 in Barcelona next week

Lewis Hamilton
After Monday I was a bit sore – but I didn’t break too much of a sweat today, so that’s good. The reliability of the car this week has been just incredible. It feels strong, it feels solid, it just keeps going and going… I’ve never seen anything like it. The guys and girls at Brackley and Brixworth have done an unbelievable job. After two titles in a row, it would be so easy to lose focus. But it’s clear that everyone is even more focused than before and have done an even better job of delivering an overall package with this car. In terms of today, the new front wing seems to be a step forward. It’s small increments here and there – but that’s what we’re looking for. There’s not much of a cliff with the tyres. They behave very similarly to last year’s in that respect. It’s been a gruelling week for the whole team – running between 150 and 190 laps every day. But I’d say it’s probably been the best test we’ve ever had. Certainly the best I’ve ever seen.

Nico Rosberg
It’s been a great start. Reliability is looking very, very good and the car feels quick. It’s great even to look at. You take a walk around it and there’s some real innovation there. You can really see how far we’ve come as a team these past few years – it’s very impressive. I can’t wait to see what it can do when we get to qualifying in Melbourne. Pounding round on mediums all day isn’t always so fun! Physically it’s actually been ok. I knew it would be an intense couple of weeks so I prepared for it. Of course, there’s a few bits that are sore – mostly from the seat as it’s solid carbon. But overall I’m really pleased with how it’s been. It’s useful to have done so much mileage, as we found a few small problems that maybe we wouldn’t have discovered with less track time. Nothing race ending – just small things – which could be very useful for Melbourne and beyond.

Formula One: VIDEO – Mercedes AMG Petronas W07 Technical Briefing

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Paddy Lowe – Executive Director (Technical), MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team

What were the main lessons learned from 2015 and how will these help the team progress in 2016?
PL: After a highly successful season all round in 2015, our priority has been to identify the areas in which we were weakest and to try to improve on those. Our objective is excellence in all areas and, while we had some fantastic results last year, there are many areas in which we can still be much better. That’s the kind of culture we try to instill throughout the whole organisation – one of constantly striving to reach something better. We had a number of races that didn’t go to plan in 2015 – Singapore in particular – so there were a lot of things that needed improving for 2016. We are seeking optimisation absolutely everywhere.

The rules for 2016 are relatively stable – have you gone for evolution or revolution with the new car?
PL: It’s difficult to have a complete revolution when the rules have stayed pretty much the same year on year. But we aim to make minor revolutions wherever we can – even within a small context. We may look at a completely new packaging solution or suspension concept, for instance. So, while the car may look very similar to its predecessor from the outside – as is inherent within stable regulations – underneath there are quite a lot of mini revolutions that make up an overall evolution for the new season.

Just how tough is it to find extra performance under stable regulations?
PL: It’s very tough to find performance under a stable set of regulations and we were particularly pleased with how the car turned out in 2015 when we had the same situation. The team did a fantastic job – digging very deep to find all sorts of innovations in areas that might have been considered static. 2016 is another carry-over year from a regulatory point of view and potential gains inevitably become harder to find under these circumstances. This is what tests an engineering team the most and I must say that this team has been very good at that. It’s far easier to find performance when you have a new set of rules, that’s for sure.

What are the major rule changes for 2016 that the team has been responding to?
PL: On the mechanical side, the main rule change is around the separate ducting of exhaust tail pipe and waste gate. But, in reality, that’s not had a major effect. The biggest structural change is on the chassis side, where we’ve raised the protection area around the driver by 20mm and increased the side impact test load from 15 to 50kN. This is a substantial increase in the load that has to be taken by the chassis as that point and will give much greater protection to the driver.

New concepts for 2016 will have minimal proving time on track with the reduction in winter testing. How big an impact will this have on preparations for the season ahead?
PL: The amount of testing permitted each season has been reduced progressively in recent years. We’ve now reached a new minimum in terms of winter testing, with two banks of four days. That’s something the team has been preparing for by producing better designs and undertaking better preparation and testing in the R&D lab so that we’re as well placed as possible to hit the ground running. What’s different for 2016 is actually not so much that there are only two tests – but that they’re both very close to the first race of the season. This has notably reduced the extent to which we can upgrade the car from ‘launch spec’ to the first race spec. That window is now very narrow, which reduces the number of potential upgrades ahead of the opening Grand Prix weekend.

Tyres will be the focus of attention, with a new compound and a change in the race weekend allocation format. How will this work and will be the impact?
PL: Firstly, there is now a new ultra soft compound tyre which we expect to see for the first time in Monaco. Generally, we’ve felt that even the soft and supersoft have been too hard for this circuit, so the ultrasoft will hopefully be a good solution there. The new regulation that allows three compounds per race appears quite complicated at first – but in practice it’s a lot simpler than it sounds! The intention is to create more uncertainty in the races – and I think where we’ll see that uncertainty is at those events where there is no definitive choice of compound for Sunday. We may see teams taking a gamble, which should produce more variation and some interesting races. Once again, a lot has been asked of Pirelli in terms of their contribution to the spectacle. They’ve done a great job in recent seasons and I’m sure that will continue with these new additions for 2016.

There has been much talk about a head protection device for introduction in the future. What is the status of this project?
PL: Since I first came into Formula One in the late eighties, the advancements in safety have been substantial. This has been particularly visible on the cars themselves, with the impact structures and load tests now in place – but also in other aspects of the sport, such as circuit design and facilities. However, as with every aspect of a car, there is always room for improvement. In my view, the driver’s head is the major risk remaining in Formula One and other forms of single-seater racing. We’ve seen quite a few near misses and, very sadly, some fatalities in recent years as a result of head injuries. A number of teams, including Mercedes, have strongly supported research into structures that could protect the drivers from such objects. This is a project which has been underway for several years and the motivation to pull this forward and reach a set of regulations as soon as possible has accelerated. There are a number of suggestions on the table and some of them look very realistic, so hopefully we may even see a solution appear for 2017.

 

Andy Cowell -Managing Director, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains

Mercedes has set the standard so far in the hybrid era. Where has the focus been over the winter to maintain that level of performance?
AC: It’s been more of the same. To get the performance out of this new generation of Power Units, you need to chase efficiency. That’s both combustion efficiency and efficiency in the various energy transition steps – i.e. MGU-H, MGU-K, turbocharger, power electronics and batteries. We’re constantly working on every single piece of the puzzle to improve performance at the crankshaft, while also seeking to ensure we don’t suffer any of the problems we had last year with reliability. So, it’s about getting down to the root cause of issues and making sure that everything is robust across our whole process, as much as extracting performance.

The technology in these Power Units is a story which has perhaps not been told as well as it could have been so far. Just how impressive are they?
AC: These Power Units really are incredible feats of engineering. We’re now running at more than 47% thermal efficiency and producing historic highs of power – and all with an ICE restricted to consuming fuel at a rate of just 100kg/hr. The old-fashioned, naturally aspirated engines peaked at 29% thermal efficiency during the V8 era – while the last time we saw these levels of power in Formula One was back in 2005, with a V10 that guzzled fuel at a whopping 194kg/hr. To halve the fuel flow rate for the same amount of power is quite something.

There are 32 tokens available to spend across the winter and during in-season development. What areas have been the focus of your development?
AC: 32 tokens is quite a lot, so we haven’t had to restrict any of our development activity to a specific area. Anything which could yield a decent efficiency improvement – and therefore a decent performance improvement – has been explored and we’re now working to make sure our package is sufficiently durable in time for Melbourne.

An extra two races on the calendar means an increased Power Unit allowance for the season ahead. How will this affect your approach to the season?
AC: On the face of it, an increased allocation of Power Units would seem to give manufacturers an advantage, in that each unit is required to complete fewer races, thereby putting less pressure on the life cycle of different components. But the reality is that our durability targets have remained the same. Our target is to make sure that each Power Unit can last for at least five races, meaning that theoretically we only need to use four per driver, across the season. We believe this gives us a good opportunity to react if we have a reliability problem – or potentially to use the extra units to our advantage for a performance enhancement at key races.

With in-season development for 2015 only confirmed late in the day, HPP were able to pull forward 2016 development work into the experimental engine introduced in Monza. How beneficial has that proven to be for all the teams running the Mercedes-Benz Power Unit in 2016?
AC: The upgrade that we introduced in Monza last year took a huge amount of effort from the factory at Brixworth and we only had enough resource to supply the works team with the latest spec at that time. However, that is now paying off for every team with Mercedes power, as we’ve managed to build on that development work through the autumn and winter period. Now, all our customers are getting an improved package that is exactly the same specification as the works team. All eight Mercedes powered cars will have exactly the same hardware and performance potential come Melbourne – which is a good step for everyone.

Fuel and lubricants were central to that development step. But how central will the role of PETRONAS be in finding yet more performance from the Power Unit?
AC: The rate of development from the Power Unit over the past two years has been very impressive. Many people thought that there was not much opportunity to move things forward – but that has not been the case. There have been significant new advances – and fuel and lubricants have been one of the main focus areas. Our 2015 mid-season update incorporated a sizeable step in fuel performance from PETRONAS. Then, later on in the year, we also introduced a new lubricant. We’ve made further progress in the way we’ve designed the combustion system and also enhanced the properties of the lubricants to reduce friction in the engine. PETRONAS are a key partner for us. They’re not just branding on the car – but a deep-rooted technology partnership. Anybody who designs engines knows that good fuel and lubricants are key to performance – and we’re very fortunate to have such a close and productive working relationship with PETRONAS.

Noise has been a hot topic since the new Power Unit formula was introduced in 2014. What’s changing in 2016 to pump up the volume and will this have any effect on performance?
AC: We’ve been conscious since the start of the Hybrid era in 2014 that the volume has diminished for those up in the grandstands as well as those watching at home. This is down to both the nature of a turbocharged engine and the recycling of waste energy in the exhaust system. The FIA therefore undertook an interesting and thorough investigation to analyse noise in the tailpipe and investigate what could be done to increase noise without impacting performance or efficiency. What they spotted is that the waste gate fed into the tailpipe. So, when the waste gate is not open, it’s a dead end. It then becomes a side branch resonator – or effectively a silencer – on the tailpipe. That design has now been removed, so we are left with a nice clean pipe without any silencing points, which should improve the noise of the Power Unit.

2016 sees a new face on the Mercedes-Benz Formula One customer roster – Manor Racing. How has that relationship been developing so far?
AC: Manor Racing is a new customer team for us this year. They’re a small team but a very efficient one, with a very pragmatic approach. We have a very detailed integration manual with instructions on how to fit the Power Unit, how best to use it and likewise what’s not recommended, so we’ve been working closely with them to ensure a seamless integration. They’ve been great to work with and we’re looking forward to seeing their progress through winter testing and into the season.

 

Formula One: Mercedes Benz promote Guggienheim UBS Map at the Mexican GP

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The Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative opens on November 19 at the Jumex Museum; The Mercedes AMG Petronas W06 will carry the logo of project, which was unveiled at the Jumex Museum, before the weekend of the race.

The Mexico Grand Prix Formula 1 ™ returns this weekend after 23 years absence, and on November 19 the exhibition Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art will open Initiative: “Under the Same Sun: Latin American art today” in the Jumex Museum.

At a press conference to present both events, Damian Fraser, Representative UBS Mexico; Toto Wolff, CEO of Mercedes Benz in Formula 1 ™; and Nico Rosberg, They unveiled the car that will compete in theMexico Grand Prix, bearing the logo of Guggenheim UBS MAP project.

“UBS Mexico celebrates the return of Formula 1 to Mexico and the national debut of the project Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, “Under the Same Sun: Latin American art today,”

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Damian Fraser, who noted that “our partnership with the Foundation Solomon R,  Mercedes AMG Petronas,  and Guggenheim is just one example of our commitment to Mexico. ”

The Guggenheim UBS MAP initiative is a project that promotes contemporary art different regions are not as well known internationally. It covers cultural residences, tours international exhibitions, educational programs and interactive learning tools online content and regions of South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, Middle East and North of Africa. The three collections form part of the permanent collection of the Guggenheim. Specifically, “Under the Same Sun: Latin American Art Today” is the exhibition of this project

Nico Rosberg, said he was delighted to have the opportunity to show off the fantastic collaboration between UBS and the Guggenheim in Sunday’s race with a visibly prominent in their car identity weekend. And in the part of the race, he added, “I look forward to the next race, especially considering history of Mexico City and the undeniable passion of the fans. “