Tag Archives: Abu Dhabi

Formula One: Hamilton back behind the wheel

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Following the conclusion of the 2016 Formula One World Championship, Lewis Hamilton has returned to the cockpit this morning to take part in the final assessment of 2017 Pirelli tyre compounds and sizes.

As per regulations Lewis Hamilton is completing the test in a modified W05. This test session should serve to draw a line under rumours around Lewis’ relationship with the team following his approach to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix over the weekend.

Further details around the test will be issued in the coming days.

Hamilton will complete the morning session, with Pascal Wehrlein completing the afternoon session. Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari are also taking part in this final 2016 evaluation of 2017 Pirelli tyres.

 

Formula One: Tyres available for the Abu Dhabi GP

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Ahead of the 2016 Formula One Season Finale from Abu Dhabi, Pirelli have release details of the remaining tyre allocation availble for each driver in the race.

The most likely strategy in the race is for two pit stops, with tactics playing an important role in the race as the Yas Marina circuit is quite difficult to overtake on, as has been seen in the past here during previous championship deciders. One predictable factor should be the weather, which is expected to be similar to conditions today.

With no difference in the remaining tyre allocation between the Mercedes and Ferrari duo very little differentiation can be expected in their respective race strategy. Red Bull Racing head into the season with only used super soft tyres available, these are the tyres they will start the race with, and may encourage the team towards a more aggressive approach to the race with undercuts the target to move up through the field.

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Formula One: Active Ticketing joins Force India in Abu Dhabi

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Active Ticketing have joined Sahara Force India as partner for the 2016 season finale. The technology and security company will deliver an innovative mobile application at the 2016 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Active Ticketing branding will be visible on the chassis side of the VJM09 and on the drivers’ suits.
The Active Ticketing mobile platform will enhance the fan experience for the Sahara Force India VIP guests, who will be able to access a mobile pass, enter competitions, and view exclusive content about the team.
The system will generate valuable new insights for the team and showcase the benefits of mobile experiences as part of Sahara Force India’s hospitality offering.
Otmar Szafnauer, COO of Sahara Force India: “Mobile interaction is the new frontier of fan engagement and Active Ticketing is at the forefront of this sector. It’s great to be working together to offer our guests a fresh dimension to their Grand Prix experience.”
Lee Booth, CEO of Active Ticketing: “Sahara Force India is one of the most innovative teams in F1 today. Partnering with them to deliver a premium and engaging VIP guest platform is hopefully just the start of a long-term strategic relationship to create the ultimate fan and team experience.”
For more information on Active Ticketing head to the company website here
 

Formula One: The Honest Interview

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As Formula One heads into the 2016 season climax in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull Racing duo Max Verstappen & Daniel Ricciardo got together to review the season. The highs, the lows, their favourite trophies, their hair! The drivers are at the most open I’ve seen them.

Intriguingly both Max and Daniel, whilst acknowledging the value of their friendship they both comment they would be prepared to sacrifice friendship in return for the ability to challenge for the championship, as they have seen with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Formula One: Do we want a clean fight?

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With an incredible nine wins a piece, Nico Rosberg & Lewis Hamilton head into the final round of the 2016 Formula One World championship knowing whichever driver takes their tenth win of the season will be crowned world champion….

….except they won’t.

After a season in which Nico Rosberg has elevated himself from the accomplished team mate to the formidable championship challenger, and the combined misfortune of half the grid seems to have fallen the way of Hamilton, simply winning on Sunday will not be enough to secure a forth world championship for the Brit. Every self respecting F1 fan will be more than aware of the finishing positions each driver must achieve relative to the other in their quest for the championship, but for the sake of clarity the simplest way of looking at things if Lewis wins, Nico must finish at least 3rd to be crowned champion.

The Mercedes AMG Petronas W07 will be remembered as one of the most dominant cars in F1 history. True, the reliability of one of the cars has been rather questionable but there has been no circuit in which the W07’s dominance has genuinely been in question. There is no reason to expect Abu Dhabi will be any different. The team and drivers can, with some confidence, expect to find themselves on the front row of the grid on Sunday.

So how will the drivers approach the race? Lewis has an incredible track record around the Yas Marina circuit and heads into the weekend on the back of three straight wins. Since Lewis’ retirement in the Malaysian Grand Prix Nico appears to have been secure enough in his championship position to not feel the need to push for outright wins accepting he does not need to win another race this season to seal the championship. Will we see a repeat of this on Sunday? Does Lewis believe the best he can do is simply get his head down and win the race and the leave the outcome of the championship to fate. Could Nico see a return of his form from earlier in the season and dominate Lewis removing any possibility for Hamilton to do anything other than accept 2nd place both in the race and the championship? Or will either driver try to change up the race to influence the result for their rival?
Knowing Lewis MAY be considering an aggressive approach, could Nico take matters into his own hands and end both his own and his team mate’s race in the first corner by simply driving into him? Nico appears to have taken on a much more aggressive approach to his racing and defending this season. Securing his championship in this manner should not be ruled out. And would anyone blame him?

Earlier this week Nico reflected on his approach to the 2016 championship and how he plans to carry that into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:
“In Brazil, after the race, I was joking that I would still be taking things one race at a time. But, the more I think about it, the more that’s actually not as crazy as it sounds. I have to treat this like any other race. Doing a good job on a Grand Prix weekend is always a challenge. Nothing in this sport is easy, so this won’t be any different and I still have to go all out for a good result.
The closer it gets, the more I’m feeling excited. It will be a big battle and hopefully the fans will get a great show to end the year.
I will give it everything to end the season with a win.”
Of course the team will publicly deplore any actions their drivers take to imped the progress of each other, but after sealing the constructors championship back in Suzuka will they really mind? Viewers of the Brazilian Grand Prix would be forgiven for thinking Max Verstappen won the race so little airtime was given to the dominant Silver Mercedes finishing ahead of him. If Mercedes want exposure, which let’s face it is one of the primary reasons they are in the sport, perhaps their drivers working to manipulate the others race result is the best way to achieve this.  Whilst they might not support any efforts either driver may take to increase pressure on his team mate, they might feel they owe their drivers the freedom to approach the conclusion of the drivers championship as they see fit.
In the build up to the Grand Prix Toto Wolff has commented:
“As a group, we now have one very important final duty this season – to give Nico and Lewis the platform they need to battle it out to the flag. Both of them have been exceptional and either one would make a worthy Champion. It’s been a gruelling year for us all, with a record-breaking calendar and the added challenge of a new regulation set to prepare for in 2017. After such a battle of endurance, the winner can say without doubt that they earned it. We are all excited to see who that will be. May the best man win.”  

So what could Lewis do in the race? In the lead up to the weekend he was quoted as saying:
“I can’t and won’t give up. You never know what might happen.
I’m approaching this weekend the same as I do every race. I want to win and I’ll give it everything to finish the season on a high.”
Assuming he is the pole man and manages to maintain this position at the start of the race with Nico in second, would he look to back his team mate into the clutches of his rivals? Ferrari will desperate to close out the season with the best possible result, and the Red Bull Racing duo will be fighting tooth and nail for supremacy as they head into the winter break. Nico won’t want any of those drivers anywhere near his car during the race and so would be unlikely to battle too hard for fear of a race ending incident. Realistically one or more of them getting past Nico is Lewis’ best chance of taking the championship.

Yes, anther factor to consider is that statistically Nico is long overdue a mechanical issue in his W07, but Lewis can’t and won’t bank on statistics finally falling his way. Any issue Nico faces could hit him as well.  I’ve read a lot of articles recently asking if Nico Rosberg is worthy champion. To my mind, if you’re leading the championship at the end of the season you are champion. Simple as that. There is no worthy or not worthy. Whoever that may be they deserve all the accolades and respect they will receive.
So what kind of race do we want to see on Sunday? I for one don’t want to see another demonstration of Mercedes dominance. We’ve seen twenty of those races already this year. I want to see tactical excellence from two drivers at the very top of their game. Ignore the team calls, ignore the critics, you have a championship to win and a championship to lose, be the master of your destiny and give us a truly historic race.

Formula One: Mclaren top the time sheets in Abu Dhabi

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McLaren’s driver Stoffel Vandoorne set fastest time today at the end of the 12-hour tyre test organised by Pirelli on the smooth surface of the Yas Marina circuit.
The session took place non-stop throughout the day, with the expected bright sun and warm temperatures starting out at around 24°C ambient (35°C asphalt) and reaching 28° and 40° respectively by lunchtime.

The session started with all the drivers running some laps on base tyre to confirm the set-up of the cars and using P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Yellow soft tyres: the nominated choice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend.

Testing with the prototype tyres (new ultrasoft compound and new constructions both front and rear) started around one and a half hours into the session. The Teams tested several different potential variations of the new ultrasoft compound, from which one will eventually be selected.
Prototype tyres were not marked with any colours or other visible markings, while base tyres carried the usual colours on sidewalls.

The test was ‘blind’: neither the drivers nor the Teams knew which kind of tyre specification they were testing. During the test, the teams were not allowed to try new parts or change any other components, keeping the focus on the tyres. With its smooth surface, consistent temperatures, and wide variety of technical corners, Abu Dhabi was a perfect venue in which to assess most key aspects of tyre behaviour.

The session started at 9am local time and went on till nearly 9pm with no lunch break. This made it the longest single-day Formula One group test in the sport’s history.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “We had one shot when it came to testing tyres for next season, and we can be satisfied by what we’ve achieved in this test, even if we have to fully analyze the data. We’ve tested different versions of the new ultrasoft compound for 2016, which was one of the targets for this session. The ultrasoft’s target for 2016 is to introduce a compound softer than the supersoft and mainly designed as agressive choice for street circuits: with better performance than the latest version of the supersoft tyre and faster degradation, in order to allow the Teams to take a more aggressive approach to race strategy.

Whether this will produce more pit stops, or any difference in strategies, it’s too early to say for now. We will fully analyse our data and team telemetry once we get back to base. But it seems we are heading in the right direction: the ultrasoft is expected to offer more possibilities for certain races.

We also tested some different constructions for both front and rear tyres.

Fastest times of the day:
Driver Team Time Laps
Vandoorne McLaren 1m44.103s 99
Raikkonen Ferrari 1m44.456s 56
Ericsson Sauber 1m44.480s 50
J. Palmer Lotus 1m44.568s 90
Vettel Ferrari 1m44.940s 56
Wehrlein Mercedes 1m45.605s 107
Ricciardo Red Bull 1m45.805s 57
Verstappen Toro Rosso 1m45.849s 54
Hulkenberg Force India 1m45.852s 71
Bottas Williams 1m45.940s 103
Kvyat Red Bull 1m46.309s 48
Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1m46.995s 56
Fong Sauber 1m48.439s 57
Celis Jr Force India 1m48.545s 65
Haryanto Manor 1m49.593s 56
King Manor 1m49.661s 59

For reference the times set during this session are comparable to those set in FP1 during the Abu Dhabi GP weekend, during which only Mercedes set faster lap times. At this time it is not clear to what extent the tyres may have improved laptimes, or if a “cliff” with the ultrasoft compound has been identified.

 

Formula One: Performance Gains at Ferrari

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With the 2015 Formula One Season having concluded under the spot lights of the Yas Marina Circuit, Scuderia Ferrari alongside technical partner Shell, offered a few insights into how an aggressive approach to developments powered the team to 14 podiums, three victories and second in the 2015 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship

Guy Lovett, Innovation Manager, Shell Motorsport commented:

“It was always our plan to adopt a more aggressive strategy in 2015 with the development of our Shell V-Power race fuel in comparison to previous years. We really applied our learnings from 2014, a year of new and innovative hybrid technology, to our 2015 race fuel, of which we introduced five new powerful blends. We worked closer than ever with our colleagues in Maranello where we fully integrated our development plans to optimise the fuel-engine package and it was great to see that our hard work paid off, helping to power the team back to winning ways. Now the hard work continues ahead of 2016.”

This approach translated into performance gains of up to half a second a lap, equating to a 30 second improvement in the overall race time. The partnership with Shell in both fuel and lubricants has delivered 25% of the performance gains the team have seen over the course of 2015. This gain exceeds all previous achievements of the partnership and serve as the key performance indicator behind the  recently extended a partnership spanning over 50 years.

James Allison, Technical Director, Scuderia Ferrari commented:

“2015 was a really positive year for Scuderia Ferrari and we made great strides in performance, particularly with the power unit, compared to last year. The considerable improvements Shell made with its Shell V-Power race fuel and Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology lubricant really did contribute to our own improvements on the race track, not only helping to deliver greater horsepower but reliability as well. Our Technical Partnership with Shell has never been stronger and we look forward to continuing our work with them for at least the next five years with the aim of winning more races and championships.”

The partnership can now fully shift focus to the 2016 season and work to ensure the Scuderia with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are in a position to battle for championship glory.

 

 

 

Formula One: Mercedes gift Rosberg the final win of the year

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Through a series of strategic calls AMG Mercedes Petronas elected to gift Nico Rosberg victory around the Yas Marina Circuit.

In a move reminiscent of the 98-99 Mclaren Mercedes domination in which the car leading into the first corner of the first lap would win the race, Mercedes elected to move away from procedures applied since Bahrain 2014 where by driver s, when in a dominant position, would not be permitted to split strategy, it would appear that Nico Rosberg as the lead driver was not only awarded the optimal strategy for the race, but Lewis Hamilton was actively disadvantaged.

Through the opening stint of the race Nico Rosberg was able to open up a lead of almost 7 seconds over Lewis Hamilton. However Lewis was able to bring this gap down to within DRS detection as Nico stopped for the final time. Subsequent to Nico’s second stop, Lewis held an advantage slightly short of 22 seconds, the time required to make a pitstop. Had Mercedes chosen to apply protocol Lewis as the 2nd driver would have stopped within 1-2 laps, in so doing the cars would have run within 1 second of each other in the closing laps of the race.

However, Mercedes elected to extend Lewis’ middle stint despite him losing at times more than 1.5 seconds a lap to Nico. During this extended stint pitwall exchanges were broadcast in which Lewis and his engineer debated elected not to stop again and running the super softs for again, both options were dismissed by the team despite as unsafe despite Ferrari and Red Bull running longer final stints on the super soft and Nico Hulkenberg achieving a stint of 31 laps on the soft.

Once Lewis made his final pitstop of the 2015 season he set about trying to catch Nico Rosberg setting a series of consecutive fastest laps. Having halved the deficit with 5 laps remaining his pitwall instructed him to turn down engine performance. Lewis initially ignored this order, a decision the team responded to by instructing Nico to turn to a higher engine mode.

The rationale for decisions taken by the Mercedes pitwall today are unclear, fans  were seemingly denied of the prospect of close racing in the final race of the year for a greater good determined by the team. As fans of racing, this decision is not an omen for how  AMG Mercedes Petronas will approach 2016.

Formula One: Lewis ’44th win is still out there’

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Record-Breaking Night for the Silver Arrows in Abu Dhabi!

  • Nico took a sixth consecutive pole position – the 22nd of his Formula One career and seventh of the 2015 season
  • Lewis will line up on the front row for the 18th time in 19 races this season – the 90th time he has started in the top two throughout his career to date
  • A 15th front row lockout of the season for the Silver Arrows sets a new Formula One record

 

Nico Rosberg
Normally I’m not too over-excited when I’m on pole, as you don’t get any points on a Saturday. But this time was a pretty cool feeling. My last lap felt absolutely fantastic and it’s great to be starting P1 again. I’m also quite happy that I’ve been quicker than Lewis for the last couple of race weekends. At the beginning of the season he was always this tiny little bit ahead, so it’s good to turn that around. This is the best position to start the race tomorrow. I want to win this one to finish the year on a high and give the boys in the garage a really good reason to have a great season-ending party tomorrow night.

Lewis Hamilton
I’ve generally been struggling with the car all weekend. I’ve changed a lot to try and get around the issues – but I’m still not really feeling comfortable with it. I did what I could out there tonight – but Nico was just really quick and did a great job in Q3, so I wasn’t really surprised he did a better lap in the end. It hasn’t been the best run of qualifying sessions for me lately – but I’ve still managed to turn three of those into wins. So, there is still an opportunity – even it is particularly hard to follow through the first sector. I will work as hard as I can to have a great start tomorrow and improve from there. I’ve got a lot of support here this weekend and that 44th win is still out there to grab, so I will be working hard for it tomorrow.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
That was a great qualifying session to end the season. Nico did a phenomenal lap at the end of Q3 with a really amazing final sector to take the pole position – his sixth in a row. Lewis had a solid session but things didn’t come together for him in Q3. Nevertheless, P2 is not a bad grid position at this circuit – as last year showed. Everything is set up for a great battle tomorrow. Both boys will want to take the momentum of a win into the winter – and we’re looking forward to the battle.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
It was a fantastic, tense final qualifying session of the season under the lights here in Abu Dhabi. As in Brazil two weeks ago, we saw no need to save option tyres for the race, so it was quite a straightforward programme for both drivers with a single run in Q1 and Q2. That set up the Q3 showdown, with both Nico and Lewis running two new sets of option tyres. Lewis clearly underperformed on his first run in Q3 relative to Q2, then put a strong final effort together. But this was beaten by Nico’s tremendous lap. Congratulations to Nico for his pole and to both drivers for fantastic qualifying performances throughout the season, which is not something that should ever be underestimated. To take 15 all-Mercedes front rows is a very proud benchmark. Now we look forward to the final instalment of their battle tomorrow.

Formula One: Opinion – Formula Finances

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As teams prepare for the final qualifying session of the season, what started as murmurs around teams requesting advances on 2015 prize money from Formula One Management (FOM) is heading towards a deafening crescendo with Manor Marussia, Sahara Force India, and  the Sauber F1 team reportedly making requesting support.

The distribution model under which teams are allocated and receive prize funds was established a number of years ago. The model has not changed. The distribution model splits prize fund payments to the team through the season following the season in which the funding was earned. Once a paying position is achieved (i.e. higher than 10th place in the WCC) the team are assured payment for multiple seasons.  Payments are only made in season.

It is the payment structure teams appear to struggle with. Since requests have been lodged it should be assumed the teams in question have insufficient funding or credit rating in place to sustain team plans from December to March.  The Force India F1 Team found themselves in a similar situation in the lead up to the 2015 season, commenting that ‘close season’ is the most expensive period for a team and the only period when they as not getting paid through prize funds or commercial agreements.

Formula One Teams are companies in their own right; they are independent of Formula One. They are masters of their own destiny. They develop their own commercial agreements, agree to the terms of funding distribution models, and should be empowered to budget accordingly. Teams find themselves in a predicament of funding shortfalls in the ‘off season’ because they have made decisions to spend money they, in reality, did not have. A complaint Bernie Ecclestone has often publically voiced.

If a team is not capable of planning capital expenditure over a rolling 12 month period do they really deserve to represent the pinnacle of motorsport?

Perhaps it is cynical to view Formula One teams in this regard, to suggest they should operate as first and foremost as a business, perhaps it would diminish from the racing spirt, but would a more calculated approach to racing really be such a bad thing? To achieve a level of sustained security as to which teams are on the grid and what their position is within the sport may make investment a more attractive proposition.

Looking back to early part of 2015, the financial challenges faced by the Force India team were clear for all to see, the team failed to attend the majority of pre-season testing stating the car they would begin the season with was essentially the 2014 challenger updated to comply with 2015 safety regulations. This hybrid 2014/2015 car was the result of severe budget restrictions limiting payments to 3rd party suppliers. Working to a limited budget the team used this car for the first 8 races of the year, developing the 2015 challenger once prize funding and sponsorship revenue came back to the team. Through these first 8 races, the team amassed 31 points, an average of 3.8 points per race. Once the team were able to introduce the 2015 challenger they achieved a further 89 points over 10 races, (average 8.9 per race) the culmination of these 2 vehicles have left  Force India with 120 points heading into Abu Dhabi, with 5th place in the constructors championship assured.

But what if they had taken a different route? Had the team stuck with hybrid 2014/15 challenger for the entire season and for the sake of argument maintained their points scoring ratio of 3.8 per race they would be heading into Abu Dhabi with 70 points battling with Lotus and Toro Rosso for the 5th they have already secured. Had the introduced the non-budget constrained 2015 challenger from Melbourne and assuming a the afore mentioned average of 8.9 points per race they could have been looking at a total point’s tally of 160 points, but still be in 5th place with an outside chance of achieving 4th against Red Bull Racing.

This simplistic maths ignores the variable points tally other teams would have been able to achieve had Force India’s performances differed from those actually seen, but the point is in both scenarios the possible outcomes in terms of constructor championship performance  do not differ greatly if at all.

The very fact that Force India are again requesting  early payment of prize funds ahead of the 2016 season suggests the team went the wrong way, the desire to race, to compete, overtook the business rationale, perhaps this is what racing is all about, but is it sustainable? Force India over achieved through apparently over spending and are now reliant on external influences to assure 2016 plans.  This is not a criticism of any specific team, rather an observation of the culture of racing.

Across business the way in which a Formula One Pit Crew services a car in under 3 seconds is often cited as the epitome of teamwork, individuals working together towards a common goal. These lessons in teamwork have changed the business world. Perhaps the world of business can give something back to Formula One, and teach teams that a budget is something you work within, not something you take to Bernie when the numbers turn red.