Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dear Mr Todt - A letter from a fan on the controversial fuel flow meters

Dear FIA President, Mr Jean Todt

As an ardent fan of Formula 1 for over forty years I have never really been bothered by technical aspects of the sport, as long as the cars looked good, made a noise and were very fast, I was happy. My passion for the sport is more for the heroes with the helmets on the out of sight bits that make it all work.

However of late, your organisation has forced me to increasingly pay attention to the technical aspects of the sport, which I have tried to do despite my limited capacity for understanding the under-the-skin complexities of Formula 1.

But this weekend, at the opening grand prix of a brand new era I feel compelled to write this letter to you as an utterly confused and somewhat disillusioned die-hard Formula 1 fan.

I have a list of things that are upsetting such as the lack of beautiful noise, and the ridiculous lack of testing which meant we started a season totally unprepared and much more…

But really these appear to be minor gripes relative to my real concern: which why in the hell have you enforced these Ultrasonic Fuel Flow Meters (UFFM) while you have a 100 kg fuel restriction in place for Formula 1.

Gardena water flow meter

My understanding is: you have set a fuel restriction of 100 kg maximum fuel to be used during the course of a race by each car which to me means that if a driver is ‘on it’ for the entire race he may well run out of fuel, his 100 kg quota gulped down before the race ends – which in itself is at odds with the ethos of Formula 1, but this is an issue for another time.

The ‘run out of fuel because you were going too fast for too long’ concept is simple to understand for fans, and no doubt simple to monitor and police by officials: watch the crew pour in 100 kg of fuel, watch them close the cap, if the car makes it to the finish line the all good, and if it runs out of fuel that’s the team’s problem. Simple, game over.

But instead you decide to complicate matters by forcing teams to add this UFFM gadget (which is eerily similar to the Gardena gear I have hosing my garden) and this thing supposedly measures the amount of fuel flowing through to the engine and the limit should be no more than 100 kg per hour.

Now why do you even need this device? Is running out of fuel not restrictive enough for drivers and teams? Can they not self-impose the amount of fuel they want to use during the course of their race as a part of their strategy?

Because if they go overboard and try push too much they risk running out of fuel – not rocket science, and easy for guys like me to understand, even if we don’t agree with the fuel economy formula.

Thus the need for this UFFM, is in my mind – and apparently a huge majority of fans and even well connected F1 insiders – totally unnecessary. And to add insult to injury the units used for this purpose, supplied by Gill Sensors, are not even 100% accurate!

Jo Bauer’s report to the FIA Stewards in Melbourne

Maybe we are all stupid but the need for the UFFM has to be explained, particularly to young Daniel Ricciardo who had his biggest day spoilt by your UFFM at work. If he started the race with 100 kg of fuel, and crossed the finish line a couple of hours later then in the minds of many he did no wrong.

In fact we must applaud him if he was burning fuel big time, then reigned in his pace to get to the finish. This is clever, this is strategy, this is good driving, this is racing, this is Formula 1.

Furthermore I question why your stewards in Melbourne took six hours after the race to come to the decision to disqualify Ricciardo while technical delegate Jo Bauer reported: “During the race car number 03 has exceeded consistently the maximum allowed fuel flow of 100 kg/h.”

If this was happening “consistently” during the race why was car number 03 not black flagged? Explanation required.

Charlie Whiting confirmed after the race, “We advised them [Red Bull] twice after qualifying and five laps into the race to take the necessary steps to comply with the regulations.”

For the record – and here believe I write on behalf of millions of F1 fans – we are not alone when I ask for you guys to keep it simple, a certain Bernie Ecclestone appears to agree with us.

“The whole regulation, to me, seems a bit of a joke. If something is controlling the amount of fuel you are using during a race, there is no need to say how much fuel you can have at the start. If you use too much you are going to run out of fuel. It seems to be that simple and if it isn’t, it should be,” says Bernie.

Although there are numerous questions I personally want to pound you with regarding what you are doing to the sport we love, but the most pressing one right now – in the aftermath of Australia – is why an insignificant piece of plastic has been able to have such a significant impact on the first race of the 2014 season, and tarnished your all new turbo era?

Formula 1 races should not be decided in courtrooms. The FIA is accountable for this and we as fans, who are the heartbeat of any sport, deserve an answer to this question. I await your response with anticipation, but won’t hold my breath waiting for your reply.

Best wishes

Paul Velasco
(This letter was emailed to FIA at 09:00 am GMT)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Our predictions for the 2014 Australian Grand Prix

The Formula 1 2014 season is underway and we are a couple of hours away from qualifying in what could be the most anticipated season of recent years. The all new rules with the torquey new power units with lower aero bite, should provide for some dramatic racing as drivers come to grips with their new machines.

The Mercedes works team seem to be the class of the field with the fight for pole expected to be a duel between the two Silver Arrows. 2014 is Ross Brawn's legacy in the making for ze bosses at Stuttgart, albeit without him to captain the ship. Our bet is on Nico Rosberg to come out on top over the over-zealous, but lightning fast Lewis Hamilton.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pirelli announce tyre compounds for the first four Grands Prix of 2014

At the end of the third and final pre-season test, held in Bahrain, Pirelli has announced the compounds that will be used for the first four races this year:





These choices have been made to reflect the characteristics of each circuit and the all-new 2014 cars, bearing in mind all the data that has been obtained from the three pre-season tests.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pirelli review the first test of the F1 2014 season at Jerez

Formula One’s new era got underway with four days of testing at Jerez (to be followed by two more four-day sessions in Bahrain next month) with teams trying out their new cars and the 2014 tyres for the first time.

With such a revolutionary series of technical changes, running was considerably limited compared to last year, and very little tyre work was carried out.

Nonetheless, the teams were able to have their first taste of Pirelli’s 2014 tyre range, which features new compounds and constructions. The teams could also try out the new Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue wet on the second day, which was designated as a wet-weather test day. More rain then fell on Friday, providing another opportunity.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Force India review Day 2 at Jerez

Sahara Force India completed a second day of testing in Jerez as Sergio Perez clocked 36 laps in the VJM07. Nico H├╝lkenberg will get his first run in the car tomorrow.

Day two Statistics:

Chassis: VJM07-01
Laps: 37 laps
Mileage: 164 km
Fastest lap: 1:28.376
Classification: P5

Sergio Perez: “Today was a lot more productive than yesterday so in that respect we are making progress as we learn about the car. We still have a long way to go with understanding the complexity of all the systems so it’s important that the next two days with Nico and Daniel give us the information we need before we arrive in Bahrain. It will be only then that we can hopefully start to work on performance.”