Tag Archives: Sebastian Vettel

Formula One: Three Car Teams and Budget Caps

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Formula One 2018 is delivering everything and anything a fan of the sport could imagine. From the #FightForFive, to a Hollywood worthy #SillySeason, to midseason team takeovers, new logos, fonts, and of course the epic theme music from Brian Tyler. Yet bubbling just below the surface political games, regulation frustration, and the adage of money talks, continue to put into question how the sport will evolve in the near future.

Two such pressing topics to explore are the number of seats on the grid heading into 2019, and the evaluation of budget caps with the objective of equalising performance. On the face of it there is no simple solution to either issue. On the topic of budget caps, figures in the region of €200-€250M per season with a soft launch in 2019 followed by a regulated implementation from 2020 onwards have been touted by Ross Brawn and fellow F1 management.  Top flight teams have baulked at the prospect of cutting annual expenditure in half and categorically stated that without significant job cuts the target is not achievable. More efficient teams see the cut as insufficient as the spending to the budget cap would still represent more than double their existing spending capability.

That being said, there is a general acceptance Budget Caps are coming and that they will be good for motorsport in general. Top teams are taking steps to prepare for this more regulated future, as referenced on this site a number of months ago. Taking this preparation one step further, could a budget cap combined with a third car allowance be a solution?

Major costs associated with operating a manufacturer supported Formula One team take the form of fixed costs, these include factors such as facilities & employees. The manufacturing of additional race cars would not have a significant impact on the team’s operating budget. In fact, in many cases, top teams will have 3-4 fully operational race prepared cars before the start of a new F1 season. If top teams committed to operating a third car with no increase in the overall operating budget of the team in essence redirecting development budget to operating a third car, therefore reducing the performance gap to the midfield, F1 could solve the pressing issue of a too many high quality drivers and not enough seats and address the B Class championship regularly referenced when drivers in midfield teams discuss the sport.

In order to reduce the prospect of a single team dominating podium proceedings, restrictions, such as the number of races completed, or championship points scored, could be put in place regarding the experience of a team’s third driver. In addition, a team’s third car could be operated from a separate garage space with an alternative livery to ensure a vibrant look to the grid.

Formula One could mandate the that the top 4 teams in the WCC could be eligible to run a third car with the option to sell this provision should they deem the opportunity not relevant to their operating model. i.e. Should Haas or Racing Point finish 4th in the WCC they could sell their 3rd car allocation to McLaren. Or should Red Bull Racing see their existing model with Toro Rosso to better suit the way in which they go racing they could sell the space to another team.

If Formula One were to explore this route, Ferrari could continue to maintain it’s line up of Kimi Räikkonen & Sebastian Vettel, with Charles Leclerc taking the third car. Mercedes could bring George Russell into the team, Red Bull Racing could not offer Fernando Alonso a seat again, and Renault could bring Esteban Ocon on board alongside Ricciardo and Hulkenberg.

Timed with a budget cap which should limit in-season development for teams running third drivers, the performance gap to the two car teams could be minimised bringing the entire field closer together and sustaining the credibility of young driver development programmes.

Toto Wolff has intimidated Formula One should seriously explore regulations around three car teams, with Liberty becoming the promoter of Formula 2 and the soon to be reborn Formula 3, three car teams may be required to ensure participation remains relevant to the next generation of drivers.

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Formula One: Ricciardo to Renault?

 

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Daniel Ricciardo: Time to remove the Red Bull Racing race suit for good?

 

As the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship heads to Barcelona, silly season is kicking into high gear. At present, when looking towards the 2019 season, the state of play for the likely top four finishers in the Constructors Championship this season is as follows: 

Mercedes: both drivers out of contract

Ferrari: One seat open

Red Bull Racing: One seat open

Renault: both seats open

Being only four races into the 2018 season it may seem a little premature to be talking about 2019, but the events of Baku are likely to play a pivotal role in the decision-making process across the market.

With 99% certainty, it can be expected Lewis Hamilton will or has already renewed his commitment to Mercedes for 2019 and beyond in what will likely be his final contract as a driver in Formula One.  Leaving a single seat with the Silver Arrows. Whilst many have questioned his outright ability to take the fight to his competitors, Bottas has proved to be a reliable second driver for the team. Lewis’ response towards his teammate after being gifted his first win of the year, illustrates a team working in cohesion. Management would have to think long and hard about what they were trying to achieve in looking to replace Bottas. I expect he will be retained for a third season unless Ocon finds himself without a seat at Force India.

Over at the Scuderia, Kimi has been in his final season since he rejoined the team in 2014. Whilst never stella, he again creates an environment in which his teammate can thrive. Arguably he weakens Ferrari’s ability to challenge for the constructor’s championship, but I personally believe he will either be renewed on another single year agreement, or make way for Charles le Clerc, who finally started to prove his strengths with a fantastic performance in Baku. I do not believe Ferrari are considering Ricciardo as a possible partner for to Vettel.

Then to the curious case of Red Bull Racing. In Baku, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo broke the golden rule of motorsport and took each other out. The incident was a long time coming, after a race in which multiple passes between the two had already resulted in contact, the drivers compromised their own strategies and slowed each other down. With the team standing by their philosophy to “let them race”.  In the short term, I don’t believe this will destroy team harmony, but it went some way to sowing the seed in Riccardo’s mind that a team not willing to favour one driver over the other may not be the team in which he achieves his ambition of securing a world championship. This coupled with the widely expected announcement that Red Bull Racing will switch to Honda power for 2019, which whilst much more competitive with Toro Rosso than it ever was with McLaren may not quite be at the level to compete for championships.

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Renault F1 Team  successfully challenging Aston Martin Red Bull Racing for position during the 2018 Azerbaijan GP

Then to Renault, a team whose 3-year plan to reinvigorate the Enstone facility and rebuild a once championship contending team, is now starting to come to fruition. From 2019 onwards Renault should expect to be challenging for outright wins and comfortably challenge the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari. In Hulkenberg and Sainz the team have a formidable but unthreatening lineup. As the team look to challenge for wins, they need a superstar driver. Could Ricciardo become Renault’s next superstar? As a works team, they are in a position to offer the salary driver of Ricciardo’s calibre should command, and they can offer something no other team can, the ability to shape the team around him. Some will say it would be risky for Ricciardo to give up a race-winning seat for a team which hasn’t won a race in over a decade, but the same could be said for Lewis Hamilton when he walked away from McLaren. Renault presents opportunities Red Bull Racing simply can’t offer.

Should the top four teams be covered by four manufacturers, it would be fantastic to see the top four drivers of the current era; Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, and Ricciardo behind the wheel of different cars each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Daniel Ricciardo racing for the Renault Sport F1 Team for 2019 is my prediction for the big shift this silly season. Sainz may well return to Red Bull fold as a result, but I personally believe he will remain with Renault with Hulkenberg heading to life after F1 and Gasly moving into the Red Bull Racing team.

Image Source: Red Bull Media Pool

 

Formula One: Ferrari QUIT …Ordinary Smoking

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Scuderia Ferrari secured their second victory of the 2018 Formula One World Championship in Bahrain yesterday, with Sebastian Vettel managing to extend the life of the soft tyre compound well beyond the Pirelli advised operating window. The four-time champion converting a two-stop strategy focused on pure pace into a one-stop endurance challenge in response to what many saw to have been a checkmate move from Mercedes with Bottas and a recovering Hamilton pitting for medium compound tyres after Vettel’s first stop. This demonstration of masterful tyre management and dynamic race strategy suggests a thrilling season is in prospect.

After the processional opening race of the season, the eventful Bahrain Grand Prix was a welcome relief for fans and media alike. Overtaking is possible in 2018! Away from the racing, another feature of the 2018 season that continued to grab the attention of commentators was the smoking Scuderia Ferrari and the Ferrari powered customer teams. Technically minded reporters suggest this feature of the 2018 Ferrari power unit is the result of the power unit solution employed by Ferrari to overcome additional restrictions on oil being used as fuel. Through 2017 the oil generating this ‘smoke’  would have been channelled back into the power unit and possibly improved performance, for 2018 Ferrari have elected to channel oil out of the car. Much to the frustration of any competitor lapping behind them.

Whilst the technical explanation is entirely logical, (albeit poorly explained in this article) there is an alternative school of thought around this new feature of Scuderia Ferrari. Ahead of the 2018 season, it was widely expected the scarlet team would feature branding from title partner Philip Morris International’s electric cigarette / vaping division IQOS. In fact livery designer extraordinaire Sean Bull put together this fantastic mockup livery around such an announcement:

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Regional advertising restrictions around products containing tobacco likely put an end to these plans, but curiously around the same time as the 2018 launch, PMI announced an extension of its agreement with the Scuderia. Since 2008, when all tobacco advertising was banned in sports, PMI and Ferrari have sought to bypass these regulations through the use of suggestive images, such as barcodes mimicking the brand name Marlboro or team logos reflecting the Marlboro brand identity, is it possible the new smoking look to the 2018 Ferrari is a form of next level subliminal advertising?

IQOS stands for I Quit Ordinary Smoking. The IQOS device acts as a substitute for cigarettes, giving users the tobacco kick as cigarettes, with reduced health risks. During use, IQOS emits a harmless smoke cloud (seen here). Has Ferrari Team Principle and Former PMI Marketing Executive, Maurizio Arrivabene, created the ultimate subliminal advert for IQOS in developing a car to mimick the characteristics of the product a sponsor is seeking to promote?

Is it time to rename the Ferrari SF71-H  the SFIQOS-H!?!

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Photo credit: Mark Sutton

Formula One: #5ForTheFans Shell Motorsport & Scuderia Ferrari fan Q&A

As the 2017 Formula One season got underway earlier today, Shell Motorsport & Scuderia Ferrari sat down to answers a series of questions from fans submitted through Twitter to Shell Motorsport. With Kimi, Seb and Shell’s Guy Lovett there is a sense of optimisation coupled with quiet confidence around their 2017 challenge.

Thanks to Guy for answering my question (@jonnywilde) in full and not giving the short response suggested by Sebastian!

Shell Motorsport will run more fan engagement sessions similar to this through the season, follow them on social media to get involved!

Formula One: Ferrari & Kaspersky tackle increased cyber security threat in 2017

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Scuderia Ferrari together with longterm cyber security partner Kaspersky head into the 2017 Formula One season more aware than ever of the acute risk cyber attack places on both the team and the broader Ferrari S.p.A group.

Kaspersky Lab experts uncover more than 300,000 unique pieces of malware every day, new threats are evolving all the time. As cyber criminals develop tools individually tailored to each victim, indicators of compromise are no longer enough on their own to help organizations detect attacks. In this environment, knowing where you’re vulnerable is as important as your ability to detect and prevent cyber-attacks. Rounding this self-awareness out with the latest threat intelligence to help anticipate what’s around the next chicane is vital for an organization with Ferrari’s profile and reputation.

“To be able to foresee potential cyber-attacks and overall analysis of the global threat landscape is required. Kaspersky threat intelligence services proactively provide us with information we wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Alessandro Sala, Cybersecurity, IT quality and Compliance, Ferrari S.p.A
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From the Maranello factory to the Formula 1 circuit, more than 5,000 Ferrari endpoints and systems globally are secured by the world’s IT Security specialists, Kaspersky Lab.
As both companies’ technological vision and innovation extend to connected cars,Internet of Things and a constantly evolving web presence, Kaspersky Lab is deepening its technology partnership with Ferrari, delivering protection that extends beyond devices to the data itself, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Though we work in very different industries, we’re united by the same core business values: technological leadership and a passion for innovation and getting forever better at what we do,”
Kaspersky Lab founder and CEO, Eugene Kaspersky

Over a Grand Prix weekend teams collect more than 60gb of data from each car hitting the track. Through the use of Kaspersky technology, Scuderia Ferrari can take to the track safe in the knowledge their data is secure.  Formula One regualtions dictate any changes made to a vehicle whilst on track must be carried out by the driver (under instruction if required) this does not mean the team could not make the changes themselves, rather they are not allowed. Without the assistance of Kaspersky Ferrari could be vulnerable to an attack to these systems within a race environment. The consequences of which could put the safety of drivers and competitors at risk.

Similar to the bespoke fuel and lubricant required to operate a Formula One car, cyber security is rapidly becoming a fundamental requirement to compete. Having established their relationship with Kaspersky in 2012, as Scuderia Ferrari are better equipped that most to deal with this new threat.
For more information on Kaspersky and their customer facing product range click here.
You can follow Kaspersky motorsport and their activities in F1, Gp2, and endurance racing through there twitter feed here and on their dedicated website here

Formula One: Kimi & Seb head to the beach

Ahead of 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen tried their hand at Beach Volleyball. In an event organised by long term team partner Santander the duo competed against each alongside banking customers who later took time out to explain the challenges of fitting training into a hectic life schedule.

Scuderia Ferrari and partners Santander, UPS, & Shell have gone to great lengths in 2016 to create accessible content for fans of the team to engage with their drivers in new and original ways.  The approach is clearly paying off as Kimi, notorious for not enjoying the commerical aspect of F1 life, can be seen in this film actually smiling!

Great job Santander!

Formula One: Kimi & Seb race across the border!

Whilst some drivers in the F1 paddock will have spent the week between the United States and Mexico Grand Prix relaxing on a beach, Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen have been working hard on their very own “Top Gear” style race. Working with team partner UPS, drivers were challenged to deliver goods from Austin to Mexico city. Fastest delivery wins!

Dealing with customs, language barriers, and a distinct lack of humour, who will take the crown in the teams first race of the weekend?

Excellent piece of work from the UPS team!

 

Formula One: Iceman becomes Fireman – Kimi’s Job Swap

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In the build up to this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen took time away from the circuit to try his hand as a fire fighter in the latest project in the  the Shell V-Power Job Swap campaign.

Job Swap, as the name suggests, takes Scuderia Ferrari drivers away from the familiarity of an F1 cockpit and gives them an opportunity to experience other roles in which vehicle and fuel performance are critical for a very different reason. Following Sebastian Vettel’s job swap with a Paramedic earlier this year, Kimi set out to go one better working Mohd Uzair bin Abdullah – a veteran with Malaysia’s Fire and Rescue Department.

Unsurprisingly when commenting on his experience tackling a purpose build obstacle course in an 18 tonne fire truck Kimi remarked “The fire truck is such a different vehicle to my Ferrari car, and it was a new experience to drive it.”

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Uzair mentioned, “getting the opportunity to work with Kimi to understand how he safeguards himself, helped me realise how similar we are in our jobs. Although we face different challenges, ultimately we both strive to protect ourselves so we can perform better at our jobs.”

“Initially, we were unsure what to expect from this unique activity. In the end, both drivers discovered the importance of preparation, and the vital role played by protection in the performance of both roles. Shell is committed to motorsports as an integral part of our Research & Development programme. Our innovations developed for the track help us make better fuels for our customers, enabling them to perform on the road with engines protected by Shell V-Power” said Shairan Huzani Husain, General Manager of Shell Retail Malaysia/Brunei.

With a strong performance from Scuderia Ferrari in the opening practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Kimi and Sebastian look to be in a position to challenge for the top step of the podium this weekend. The team will be working closely with Shell to ensure the perfect balance between performance and efficiency as they seek to bring secure the best possible position in the 2016 Formula One World Constructors Championship.

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Formula One: Vettel to start from the pitlane

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Scuderia Ferrari have installed a 6th Power Unit and Gearbox into Sebastian Vettel’s ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix today. This should equate to a 15 place grid penalty for the German which would be normalised to zero given his start position , however with the change having taken place under Parc fermé conditions a pitlane start is more than likely.

After a disastrous qualifying session, in which an anti roll bar failure saw the German unable to set a representative time in Q1 and the team with insufficient time to repair the issue, Vettel was set to line up on the grid in 22nd place.

With a high probability of a safety car during the Singapore Grand Prix, time lost through a pitlane start is expected to be minimised. Through starting from the pitlane Sebastian will be able to avoid the risk of incident off the start. Heavy rainfall in Singapore between qualifying and the race will have removed all rubber put down through the race weekend up until this point leaving the surface quite “green’ this may impact the tyre strategy Scuderia Ferrari opt for with Vettel with the life of the ultra soft compound tyre expected to be significantly reduced.

Formula One: Seb’s Summer Job Swap

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As the Formula One circus heads into the traditional summer break Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took some time to try his hand at a very different kind of high speed performance vehicle.

In the first of  series of Job Swap Challenges developed by the Shell V-Power team, Sebastian Vettel handed over the keys of a Ferrari 488 GTB to Alex Knapton, a South Central Ambulance Service paramedic with more than 1300 call emergency call outs to his name, who in return gave Vettel the keys to his florescent pride and joy! The challenge; which driver could set the fastest lap time in vehicles somewhat different to those used in their day job! Although with Alex behind the wheel of a Ferrari 488 GTB with a top speed of over 200 mph, and Sebastian trying his hand in a 3 tonne Ambulance with a top speed of only 88 mph, the advantage going into the challenge was clear.

After a morning of mutual tutoring the two went head to head against the clock, check out the results here:

Speaking about the challenge Sebastian commented: “Paramedics play an essential role in motorsport around the world and not just in Formula 1. They need to perform to such high standards every day because people’s lives depends on them”

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Alex went on to add “Getting the opportunity to swap the ambulance for the Ferrari 488 GTB was a dream come true! It was an unbelievable experience to get that close to one of the stars of Formula 1. Sebastian was on great form coaching on high performance driving tips and joking about the lack of a radio in the ambulance.”

The continually novel approach from Shell to bring the virtues of Shell V-Power Nitro + to life are incredibly impressive. The innovations Shell bring to the track through the long standing partnership with Scuderia Ferrari, whilst focused on bringing performance to the racing team, are ultimately developed with the forecourt and the customer in mind. 99% of the compounds used in fuel used to go racing is seen in V-Power fuels for the road.

Hopefully Alex’s experience will have convinced him and the South Central Ambulance Service to use Shell V-Power in future… … maybe that will help him find that missing 7 seconds!

Follow the Shell Motorsport team on Twitter here