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Features published on AUTOSPORT+ Jul 3, 2014 - Jul 9, 2014

The one change F1 needs to make - by Jonathan Noble


The hurdles facing Formula E in London - by Gary Watkins
Free feature: Hamilton fastest, but does he have race pace? - by Edd Straw and Gary Anderson
British GP tech: Engines feel the strain - by Craig Scarborough
AUTOSPORT's British GP driver ratings - by Edd Straw
Would Hamilton have won the British GP anyway? - by Edd Straw
Anderson: How the big F1 teams get it wrong - by Gary Anderson
Red Bull Ring showed up Silverstone's flaws - by Dieter Rencken
Behind the scenes of Formula E testing - by Marcus Simmons
Move over Kimi, Bottas is F1's top Finn - by Edd Straw
Features published on AUTOSPORT+ Jul 3, 2014 - Jul 9, 2014 1
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The one change F1 needs to make
There is overwhelming consensus among F1 folk that radical change is required, but little evidence yet of any
agreement over how it will be done. JONATHAN NOBLE fears time is running out
Make no bones about it: Formula 1 stands on the brink of perhaps its greatest upheaval for a while. The calls
for a big change in the sport are now deafening, and from all quarters of the paddock there is talk about a
need to react better to the challenges that F1 is facing before it's too late.
Whatever the outcome of Bernie Ecclestone's trial in Munich, there are more and more suggestions that his
era of control over the sport is coming to an end - and perhaps even with his blessing.
That prospect means the thoughts of many people in the paddock are already focused on what will be done
differently when there is a new man, or a new committee - or even a certain energy-drinks company - pulling
the strings in F1. Such steps could be just a few months away. But while the timeframe of this happening is
anyone's guess, what is agreed is that things can't stay the way they are.
On the one side, F1 seems unable to save itself from unsustainable costs. After months of discussions by the
top teams, and suggestions from FIA president Jean Todt that a bag of proposals on offer from teams were a
"joke", the best brains in the sport announced a raft of measures that saved pretty much nothing for next year.
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Reductions in testing, windtunnel time, CFD use and parc ferme will at best save a couple of million pounds
per season. And will those savings be returned to the teams' shareholders to shore up competitors' financial
health? Probably not; they'll be spent on car development, therefore achieving a cost benefit of approximately
zero.
But having failed to agree on change where it's so desperately needed, teams have managed to shake things
up in areas where there hasn't really been a problem in the first place. Just months after the furore caused by
double points, and teams refusing to listen to criticism about it, F1 is now heading towards standing starts
after safety-car periods, and sparking cars.
The committed fans don't like what is coming and, while the casual observer who tunes in occasionally may
delight at the prospect of more chances of crashes after safety-car restarts, such change is not the magic
bullet that's going to turn around declining audience figures.
As one senior F1 figure suggested last week, such tweaks are the equivalent of using a plaster for a broken
leg. The change that F1 needs is huge - and goes beyond any gimmicky rule rewrite. F1 needs to be run in a
different way if it's going to have any hope of improving.
When you sit back and analyse why F1 has found itself stuck in a rut, it's not the rules that are the problem:
it's how they get framed. Having a structure where the commercial-rights holder is entirely separate from the
body that frames the rules is not ideal. Add to the mix the fact that the teams get a say, and it becomes
impossible to ever plot a radically different path.
No other sport allows its participants such a say in the way that rules are laid down. Could you imagine FIFA
trying to get approval from Uruguay, Italy, England and Brazil about tweaking some football rules amid the
heat of competition of the World Cup?
F1's system of team approval worked in the past because either the FIA or FOM was more willing to be
confrontational in pushing for something they thought was for the good of everyone. They knew how to save
the teams from themselves.
There was a time too when the teams were more united - which left them more open to accepting the greater
good. Now though, with a spending war at the front of the grid, it's every man for himself: and those squads
that have a say care only about themselves.
So here is a solution that would sort out a lot of F1's problems: teams sacrifice their right to have any voice in
the rules in exchange for a bigger and more evenly shared slice of the F1 commercial-income pot.
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The teams will be happier on the financial front, and the FIA, in consultation with the commercial chiefs, can
put in place a better way forward for F1.
An improved F1 is a win for everyone.
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The hurdles facing Formula E in London
Formula E has announced Battersea Park as its 'chosen venue' for a London race - but there are many
obstacles to overcome, as GARY WATKINS explains
Formula E has finally gone public on its plans to host the London round of the inaugural championship in
Battersea Park next summer.
The announcement was made at what was billed as the global launch of the series in London this week, but
the race scheduled for June 27, 2015 remains far from certain.
The 200-acre Thames-side park in the London Borough of Wandsworth was announced by Formula E
founder Alejandro Agag as the "chosen location" for the London fixture. His carefully worded statement about
the plans, which were exclusively revealed by AUTOSPORT in March, was couched with words such as
"hope" and "would".
Agag has revealed to AUTOSPORT that the idea of Battersea Park hosting the championship finale next June
remains a work in progress. The event has been in the evaluation stage for some time, but the series
organiser will only now begin the consultation with the local community necessary ahead of any planning
application.
"We have to engage with the stakeholders, which we haven't done yet, residents and the Friends of Battersea
Park [a local pressure group]," he says. "We hope that they will embrace this concept."
The local council in Wandsworth confirmed it has been approached and is interested in the idea, but that no
final decision has been made.
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"We need to look at it very carefully and first of all speak to amenity groups and local residents," says a
spokesman from the council. "We haven't spoken to all the people we need to listen to, which is why we are
not in a position to say yes or no at this stage."
The race, which would bring motor racing back to the UK capital for the first time since the closure of Crystal
Palace in 1972, could face opposition from the local community because it would place restrictions on the use
of the park.
Although fixtures for the Formula E one-make electric-vehicle series are one-day events, the build-up before
and clear-up after would likely result in parts of the park being out of bounds for several weeks.
The creation of a circuit using existing roads in the park, as well as the building of grandstands and hospitality
areas, would require planning permission even though they would be only temporary structures. This could
prove problematic in a historic park dating back to the 19th century where many of the trees will be governed
by preservation orders.
Agag suggests that the network of roads within Battersea Park would make for a perfect racetrack. He says
the existing roads would "not have to be touched at all" to create an FIA Grade 3 track measuring somewhere
between 1.55 and 1.86 miles, the target length for Formula E circuits.
"Someone, when they designed Battersea Park nearly 200 years ago, came up with a racetrack," he says. "It
is perfect, and it would be a shame not to do it there."
It is understood that there are points of the still-secret circuit design that would be narrower than the limits
prescribed by FIA rules. This is not an insurmountable problem because there are such 'pinch points' at
circuits such as Macau, Pau and Porto that are governed by no-overtaking yellow flags.
Should the Battersea plan fail, there are back-up plans for the London fixture, according to both Agag and the
deputy Mayor of London Sir Edward Lister, who was present at the launch on Monday.
"There are always plan Bs and plan Cs in mind," says Lister, who has reiterated Mayor of London Boris
Johnson's support of a London Formula E fixture.
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"There are alternatives. I hope it will happen in Battersea Park; Formula E has set its stall on that, but my
main concern is that it happens in London."
One back-up plan is believed to be a track involving access roads and car-parking space around the O2
Arena, formerly the Millennium Dome, in Greenwich.
Other venues, including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, have been explored and discounted, while there
are no plans to host the event on closed public roads because this would require a time-consuming Act of
Parliament to suspend the Road Traffic Act.
Agag refuses to discuss any back-up options.
"I prefer not to at the moment," he says. "We are focusing on this one for the moment. Formula E will happen
in London and I am very confident that it will happen in Battersea."
FORMULA E'S MULTI-MAKE FUTURE
Agag has reiterated his intent that the series will become a proving-ground for electric-vehicle technology
populated by major car manufacturers.
Renault, which was already billed as a technical partner in what will begin as a one-make control formula, has
announced a sponsorship deal with the French e.dams team.
The technical partnership was described as co-ordinating role between McLaren and Williams, which
respectively produce the drivetrains and batteries for the Spark-Renault SRT_01E single-seaters, but Renault
Sport boss Patrice Ratti say that the new deal was about "preparing for the future... for when the
championship opens up".
Formula E has mapped out an evolution of the series that will allow manufacturers to incorporate their own
technology into the Dallara-built SRT_01E.
Agag stresses that there are no plans to allow free chassis in the short term: "This is not an aerodynamic
competition, it is a powertrain competition."
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Details have yet to be made public, but the 200kW powertrains built by McLaren Electronic Systems will not
be mandated in season two. The plan is to then open up battery supply for season three.
The aim in year two will be to increasing the amount of energy retrieval, according to Formula E sporting
manager Benoit Dupont.
"Energy-retrieval is be totally free and one of the key things for the driver is to learn how to make the most of
re-gen," he says. "The focus in year two will be on re-generation, but still using the Williams battery."
Agag believes that there could be as many as three powertrains in use in 2015/16.
"McLaren should still be in the mix and we should have Renault, while Mahindra is an obvious candidate," he
says.
Indian car maker Mahindra has joined the championship to both develop and showcase EV technology in
competition.
"We see it as a two-way street," says Mahindra Racing team principal Dilbagh Gill. "We recently showed our
Halo sportscar concept and we want to take what we learn in racing back to that."
Agag says that future targets for Formula E include increasing battery capacity and the amount of
energy-retrieval so that the cars can potentially complete a one-hour race. Don't forget that when the series
kicks off in September drivers will be changing cars in the races.
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Free feature: Hamilton fastest, but does he have race
pace?
GARY ANDERSON and EDD STRAW analyse the laptimes from free practice, both from ground level and by
helicopter, and reveal how things are really shaping up for the rest of the British GP weekend
Lewis Hamilton was the fastest over a single lap during Friday practice at Silverstone, but the first day of any
grand prix weekend is about far more than just headline laptimes.
The 2008 British GP winner's engine problem during the afternoon restricted his running, meaning that while
he was the fastest around Silverstone, it's difficult to say whether he has the same two-tenths-per-lap
advantage over Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg on race pace.
But the long runs confirmed that the Mercedes does have a pace advantage not far off its edge today of just
over seven tenths over next-best Ferrari, perhaps just a tenth or so less.
However, after Red Bull's Austrian GP nightmare, if you look more closely at the laptimes it looks like the
world champion team might be the one to watch as best-of-the-rest.
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GARY ANDERSON: "I spent some time during the afternoon session up in the helicopter over Silverstone
analysing the different drivers and while you can't see as much detail as at ground level, it does let you follow
whole laps.
"You do see some trends and the cream will rise to the top, even with wind making life difficult. It's clear
Mercedes has the advantage.
"The battle between Hamilton and Rosberg is interesting. Lewis seems to have two tenths in the bag and,
from my vantage point, Rosberg just wasn't as consistent. This could have been because of the wind.
"In recent races, it has been a similar story. The difference seems to be about the corner entry, where Nico is
less comfortable under braking and on turn-in. That's where you get the laptime from because if you get that
right the exit takes care of itself.
"Rosberg seems to be scrabbling to get to the apex, which hurts him, whereas Lewis is smooth on entry. But
we have seen Rosberg turn around this kind of situation before so let's see what happens tomorrow."
RAW PACE
As usual, most drivers set their fastest laps using the faster medium-compound Pirellis.
But the fastest Red Bull, that of Daniel Ricciardo, set its best time on the hard Pirellis. The Australian was
unable to improve after struggling for front-tyre temperature, but was still faster than team-mate Sebastian
Vettel who did improve his best time on the faster rubber.
Fastest laps by team:
1 Mercedes (Hamilton), 1m34.508s
2 Ferrari (Alonso), 1m35.244s
3 Red Bull (Ricciardo), 1m35.511s
4 Williams (Bottas), 1m36.016s
5 McLaren (Button), 1m36.228s
6 Toro Rosso (Vergne), 1m36.583s
7 Sauber (Gutierrez), 1m36.951s
8 Lotus (Maldonado), 1m37.064s
9 Force India (Perez), 1m37.236s
10 Marussia (Bianchi), 1m38.658s
11 Caterham (Kobayashi), 1m39.068s
These laptimes give a ballpark indication of relative qualifying pace, although there will still be some variation
in fuel loads. While Red Bull is third-fastest overall, if the team can get its front tyres working well it's likely to
emerge as best-of-the-rest on raw pace behind Mercedes.
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GARY ANDERSON: "The Red Bull is looking much stronger here than in Austria. There, from trackside, it
looked good and stable, but it just wasn't fast. Here, it looks back to normal on track.
"It's very easy for a team in its situation to get hung up on blaming the engine all the time. You end up just
grumbling about that and take your eye off the ball. Red Bull was not a great team in Austria and maybe what
happened there gave it a kick up the backside to really scrutinise everything it's doing.
"Certainly, it will have given Adrian Newey cause to scratch his head. And you can tell from his lack of hair
that this is something he does a lot when he needs to!
"Given that Ricciardo didn't improve on the medium rubber, if Red Bull can get the tyres working, potentially
that is the second-strongest car overall.
"From the helicopter, you can really see that the Red Bull carries the speed well through the fast corners,
which at least partly makes up for the lack of power on the straights."
RACE PACE
The medium-compound Pirelli appears to be the tyre of choice both for qualifying and the race, with all teams
conducting their serious long-run work on the faster tyre this afternoon.
Unsurprisingly, Mercedes set the pace, but with Hamilton not completing significant mileage thanks to an
engine problem that struck during the afternoon session, this means Rosberg's run is the benchmark.
As Hamilton was around two-tenths faster on single-lap pace on both the medium and the hard relative to
Rosberg on comparable rubber, it's possible that the 2008 world champion might have set a stronger pace.
But it's impossible to say as the data is not available.
To calculate Rosberg's average pace over a run, anomalous laps have been dropped, meaning he has a
12-lap run on mediums at an average laptime of 1m39.448s, the only driver to average under the 1m40s
mark.
Unfortunately, neither Williams nor Toro Rosso completed runs of this length, so those teams' laps are
calculated based on an average over seven and eight laps respectively. Given that degradation is not too
heavy, this at least gives an indication of where the two teams stand in the pecking order.
Average pace over long runs, calculated over 12 counting laps:
1 Mercedes (Rosberg), 1m39.448s
2 Red Bull (Vettel), +0.631s
3 Ferrari (Alonso), +0.763s
4 Williams (Massa), +1.115s (seven-lap run)
5 McLaren (Button), +1.463s
6 Toro Rosso (Kvyat), +1.590s (eight-lap run)
7 Force India (Perez), +1.871s
8 Sauber (Gutierrez), +2.096s
9 Lotus (Maldonado), +2.612s
This suggests that the battle for the final podium slot up for grabs if both Mercedes drivers have clean runs in
the race will be between Red Bull and Ferrari.
While Red Bull does look good for second fastest, Fernando Alonso's long run was interesting. He was still
able to lap in the 1m39s bracket on the 11th and 12th lap of his runs and was potentially being too
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conservative earlier on when he was lapping in the 1m40s bracket.
Williams appears to be on its own as the fourth-strongest car, although problems during the morning session
mean that the team could have more progress to make than those around it on Saturday morning. But
because its best long run was shorter, it's impossible to know whether the tyre-degradation problems that
have occasionally blighted it will be a factor.
The biggest surprise was the disappointing pace of Force India. Often, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg are
to be found outside of the top 10 on raw pace, but the car is usually much stronger on long-run pace.
Friday practice suggests the most local team of all the British outfits has a lot of work to do overnight.
GARY ANDERSON: "Ferrari does look in reasonable shape, but it's only with one car and it's the split
between Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen that concerns me.
"Most other team-mates are, on average, at a similar level but the gap between those two is so much.
Raikkonen was so inconsistent in Austria and could barely hit an apex. That's tough for a team that is almost
down to a one-car entry at the moment.
"It's down to Raikkonen to sit down with the team, get his head around the problem because the way it's going
is not good. Alonso looks strong again and will be in the mix for a good result, although the Red Bull looks to
be faster on race pace even though its headline time was slower.
"The real surprise of the long-run pace is Force India. It's possible that the team is on high-mileage engines,
which might explain it, but if not there's a lot of thinking to be done there for it to be in contention for a strong
result."
STRATEGY
With the medium-compound Pirelli the tyre of choice and degradation relatively low, it appears that a two-stop
strategy is most likely, but as track temperatures will climb for the race this could well tip it over into a
three-stopper.
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GARY ANDERSON: "It looks to be a two-stop race based on today, with the medium the favoured tyre. The
standard strategy will probably be medium/medium/hard as while the degradation wasn't terrible, with the
high-loading around here you run the risk of the tyres 'falling off a cliff' if you push too far."
EYE IN THE SKY
Having been in the unique position of watching the session from the air, it's clear that consistency of line has
been a problem for many drivers today.
GARY ANDERSON: "The inconsistency of cars from lap to lap has been surprising. Everybody has a degree
of inconsistency and no car runs like it is on rails, but over the course of the year this has been noticeably
variable.
"Perhaps it's down to the other variables like ERS harvesting and the variation in the brake balance,
augmented by the wind today. It shows how big a challenge the current generation of car is."
* * *
Gary Anderson and Edd Straw analyse the free practice action every Friday evening of a grand prix weekend
as part of our AUTOSPORT+ coverage that is exclusive to subscribers. F1 weekends also feature technical
analysis from Craig Scarborough, and on a Monday morning you can read our detailed race report and our
popular driver ratings pieces as well.
On average AUTOSPORT+ features 50 premium articles a month, including weekly columns from F1 experts
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British GP tech: Engines feel the strain
The unique demands of Silverstone have increased the pressure on the new technology in the 2014 F1
engines. CRAIG SCARBOROUGH explains how, and looks at the upgrades tried by the teams this weekend
The fast, open nature of Silverstone requires both engine power and good aerodynamic performance. But as
we saw during Friday practice, the changeable weather, particularly the wind, can make the right setup a
moving target.
With the 2014 cars having more torque and less grip, getting the cars right for Silverstone is a new challenge.
Running high downforce, the cars are pressed hard against the track and need a stiff set up to keep the
underfloor off the ground.
But the slow parts of the lap mean the cars still require good mechanical grip, especially in the rain.
The internal combustion engine is pushed hard and there isn't the amount of braking to charge the ERS
easily. So teams will have to increase the charging rate for the ERS-K and use more harvesting from the
ERS-H, the latter of which will burn up fuel, in the bid for the maximum duration of the 160Kw from the
MGU-K.
Already this weekend has proved punishing for the power units, we can expect more unreliability in the race.
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Ferrari
Ferrari again ran with the Canadian/Austrian Grand Prix-spec bodywork, with the slimline engine cover with
the cooling outlets extending rearwards around the suspension. Also, the single rear pillar rear wing mount
was on both cars.
But the drivers diverged on their brake ducts. Neither car ran the blown axle setup, but Alonso's car had inner
brake ducts that pass more airflow straight through the wheel.
This is an alternative way of creating the blown outwash effect of the hollow axles. The airflow coming out
through the wheel aiding the front wing endplate to divert the airflow around the front tyres.
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Red Bull
There's a well-practiced routine at Red Bull to fit new aero parts for FP1 and run them immediately with the
bright yellow flow-viz paint.
This gives us a clue as to what parts are new. This weekend, Ricciardo went out with a revised front wing
endplate setup.
Evolved from the Canadian GP spec, which had a vane mounted inside the endplate, this new wing now has
the vane with a slight endplate of its own, creating an l-shaped profile.
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Force India
Following its success in Austria, the aero package introduced there is carried over to Silverstone.
One part tested only briefly at the Red Bull Ring was the single rear wing mounting.
As with most teams, Force India has shifted away from twin pillars between the gearbox and top rear wing,
instead fitting an inverted Y-shape pillar.
Here the wing is supported by a single pillar, which then splits around the exhaust pipe to mount on the
gearbox.
This shape helps stabilise the structure and creates less obstruction to the wings under surface.
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McLaren
Small details fitted to the McLaren, in addition to its major update from Austria, were revised floor around the
rear wheels.
The floor was tested in free practice and was fitted with a series of pressure sensors.
The two key features around the rear tyres were a revised strake and slot. Both of these devices seek to
prevent the rear tyre wake upsetting the diffuser's performance.
If the new floor was working as expected, then the team would have been able to see a decrease in pressure
below the diffuser as evidence of that.
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Lotus
As with McLaren, Lotus ran a revised floor, again with different flicks and slots.
On the E22, the original three slots moulded in carbon fibre were replaced with a metal part with just two slots.
Additionally, the flicks along the floor's edge were altered, again to work the interface between the tyre and
diffuser for better sealing.
Williams
Key to the team's development this weekend was a new floor specification. Testing of this was interrupted by
the problems in free practice, where both cars were out of action after a few laps.
Further problems affected the team, when Bottas's car had a problem with the upper bodywork.
A large section was ripped from near the fuel filler towards the rear of the sidepods. This was because of a
bodywork fastener failure.
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Caterham
In a problem very similar to Williams, Ericsson's car stopped with a power unit problem and the bodywork was
damaged by the failure.
The team has confirmed it was an exhaust problem, as the exhausts curl up over engine, the failure affected
the upper bodywork.
Toro Rosso
Another team retaining its successful developments introduced in Austria, Toro Rosso's key update was
largely in response to the suspension failure on Kyvat's car.
Technical director James Key confirmed is was a rear trackrod failure. As the part failed it allowed the rear
upright to move and ripped itself from the rest of the suspension.
But Vergne's overheated brake problem was simply a team error in the size of blanking used for the brake
ducts.
Without enough air reaching the brakes, the carbon discs overheated and lead to brake failure.
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AUTOSPORT's British GP driver ratings
A perfect 10 for one driver this week, as EDD STRAW assesses the performances of the Formula 1 field in
the British Grand Prix
1 SEBASTIAN VETTEL
Red Bull-Renault RB10
Start: 2nd
Finish: 5th
Strategy: 2 stops (medium/hard/medium/medium)
Rating: 7
On the front row for only the second time this year, Vettel deserves credit for nailing a quick lap in tricky
conditions in the knowledge that he didn't have a banker to fall back on.
Passing move on Alonso at Copse was glorious, but he seemed not to be as strong on tyre management as
his team-mate.
3 DANIEL RICCIARDO
Red Bull-Renault RB10
Start: 8th
Finish: 3rd
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard/medium)
Rating: 9
But for the fact that Ricciardo got outfumbled by Alonso early on while battling with Hulkenberg, you'd say this
was an Alonso-esque weekend.
Took his share of the blame for not running when the track was at its best in Q1, but drove a measured,
effective race on a one-stopper and arguably overachieved by beating Button.
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6 NICO ROSBERG
Mercedes F1 W05
Start: 1st
Finish: DNF
Strategy: retired (medium/medium/retired)
Rating: 9
Rosberg didn't appear to have quite the speed to beat Hamilton on Saturday, but he played his hand perfectly
in qualifying to nick pole position.
Little to criticise in the race, although did appear to lack Hamilton's sheer pace and range on the tyres and
because of that was not guaranteed victory.
44 LEWIS HAMILTON
Mercedes F1 W05
Start: 6th
Finish: 1st
Strategy: 2 stops (medium/hard/hard)
Rating: 9
Carried the can for the qualifying blunder, but the underlying speed advantage that he appeared to have over
Rosberg on Friday and Saturday carried over into the race.
Difficult to say if he would have won on merit, but it's certainly possible. Qualifying decision aside, an
accomplished weekend.
7 KIMI RAIKKONEN
Ferrari F14 T
Start: 18th
Finish: DNF
Strategy: retired (hard/retired)
Rating: 4
Notwithstanding Ferrari's qualifying strategy blunder, continues to be underwhelming in terms of pace.
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Race shunt was his error, as he should have been wise to the danger of the transition from asphalt run-off to
grass that destabilised his car as he rejoined after going wide.
Raikkonen has a huge amount of ability, but needs to unlock it.
14 FERNANDO ALONSO
Ferrari F14 T
Start: 16th
Finish: 6th
Strategy: 1 stop (hard/medium/medium)
Rating: 9
Qualifying was unfortunate, but that wasn't Alonso's fault and in the race he was one of the stars with
brilliantly incisive passing moves and some bravura driving on past-their-best tyres.
Shame some of his good work was undone by an inability to park in the right place on the grid.
8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN
Lotus-Renault E22
Start: 11th
Finish: 12th
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard/medium)
Rating: 7
Had high hopes for the weekend, but while the Lotus was a little more competitive than it had been in recent
races, still wasn't quite a points contender.
Given the car's pace, to only narrowly miss out on the top 10 in qualifying and by just over 10 seconds in the
race was a good performance.
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13 PASTOR MALDONADO
Lotus-Renault E22
Start: 20th
Finish: 17th
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/medium/hard)
Rating: 6
Wasn't quite able to extract the same level of performance out of the Lotus as his team-mate, but a fuel-load
blunder in qualifying, blamed on a calculation error by Renault caused by a change of run plan, compromised
his qualifying.
Loss of power and unfortunate clash with Gutierrez ruined his race.
20 KEVIN MAGNUSSEN
McLaren-Mercedes MP4-29
Start: 5th
Finish: 7th
Strategy: 2 stops (medium/medium/hard)
Rating: 8
Another accomplished weekend's work for Magnussen. Did finish 15 seconds behind team-mate Button and
made a few mistakes when defending, but those were just the typical rough edges of a rookie performance.
Speed and execution were good, just fractionally less good than Button.
22 JENSON BUTTON
McLaren-Mercedes MP4-29
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Start: 3rd
Finish: 4th
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard)
Rating: 9
Made the most of every opportunity presented to him. Drove an excellent qualifying lap to line up third, then
produced a typically calm and collected race.
Only possible criticism is that he might have found a way to beat Ricciardo to third. Classy.
11 SERGIO PEREZ
Force India-Mercedes VJM07
Start: 7th
Finish: 11th
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard/medium)
Rating: 6
His mistake, running wide at Becketts on the out-lap of his final run in Q3, cost him in qualifying, while a
first-corner clash with Vergne dropped him to the back for the restart.
From there, he drove OK but the pace wasn't quite there to return to the points, even though his final stint was
good.
27 NICO HULKENBERG
Force India-Mercedes VJM07
Start: 4th
Finish: 8th
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard)
Rating: 7
Snatched fourth on the grid by being one of only five drivers to post a time in the best of conditions in Q3, but
the Force India wasn't quick enough to stay there.
Made a poor start and lost a couple of places and the car didn't have the pace to avoid slipping to eighth by
the flag.
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21 ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ
Sauber-Ferrari C33
Start: 19th
Finish: DNF
Strategy: retired (medium/medium/retired)
Rating: 3
Came into the weekend with a 10-place grid penalty hanging over him, then exacerbated that by losing it on
the damp exit kerb at Brooklands in Q2 and backing the Sauber into the barrier at Luffield, damaging the
gearbox and triggering another penalty.
Race was ruined by a barging match with Maldonado that stewards held him responsible for.
99 ADRIAN SUTIL
Sauber-Ferrari C33
Start: 13th
Finish: 13th
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard)
Rating: 4
Given the conditions, might have had a chance of stealing a Q3 place, but having posted a time good enough
for the second stage of qualifying, Sutil binned it at the end of Q1 and could take no further part.
Had a good, solid race, achieving a decent result given the machinery.
25 JEAN-ERIC VERGNE
Toro Rosso-Renault STR9
Start: 10th
Finish: 10th
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard/medium)
Rating: 8
On paper was outperformed by Kvyat, but wasn't too far behind his team-mate in the race given that he had
taken the restart 17th thanks to a first-corner clash with Perez.
Recovered well to take the final point, making some good passing moves along the way.
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26 DANIIL KVYAT
Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR9
Start: 9th
Finish: 9th
Strategy: 2 stops (medium/medium/hard)
Rating: 8
Another convincing weekend for the Russian, who looked set for a career-best fifth on the grid before others
made late improvements in Q3 while he sat in the pits.
Drove an accomplished race but could have finished one place higher had he found a way past Hulkenberg,
who admittedly did have a power advantage.
19 FELIPE MASSA
Williams-Mercedes FW36
Start: 15th
Finish: DNF
Strategy: retired (medium/retired)
Rating: 7
The Williams Q1 strategy error left Massa down the order and an anti-stall moment at the start dropped him to
last. Unsighted, he did a good job trying to miss the crashing Raikkonen, but couldn't avoid clipping him.
Performance was fine, although Bottas did outqualify him, but Massa's luck was out.
77 VALTTERI BOTTAS
Williams-Renault FW36
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Start: 14th
Finish: 2nd
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard)
Rating: 10
A flawless weekend from the Finn. Qualifying was a disaster, which was the team's error rather than his, but
even then he had outpaced Massa by close to four tenths in intermediate conditions.
Pulled off some great passes, didn't make a mistake and was always in control on a one-stopper.
4 MAX CHILTON
Marussia-Ferrari MR-03
Start: 17th
Finish: 16th
Strategy: 2 stops (medium/medium/hard/medium)
Rating: 7
Career-best qualifying performance, lapping 13th fastest before a gearbox penalty was applied, was tempered
by the fact that his banker run wasn't perfect and yellow flags prevented him improving.
Race was effectively ruined by collecting a stray wheel from the Raikkonen accident, which came frighteningly
close to hitting him in the head, but gave a decent enough account of himself after that.
17 JULES BIANCHI
Marussia-Ferrari MR-03
Start: 12th
Finish: 14th
Strategy: 1 stop (medium/hard)
Rating: 9
His FP3 shunt aside, an excellent weekend. Poor strategy from others helped him earn a career-best grid slot,
but Bianchi still had to do the time and strung together a much better lap than his team-mate.
Drove an intelligent race and got the best out of the car with one of his better race performances of the year.
9 MARCUS ERICSSON
Caterham-Renault CT05
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Start: 21st
Finish: DNF
Strategy: retired (medium/retired)
Rating: 5
Had a few offs during qualifying, then after capitalising on the first-lap mayhem to climb to 15th soon slipped
behind Kobayashi.
Not long after, ran wide at Brooklands and picked up suspension damage. An untidy weekend.
10 KAMUI KOBAYASHI
Caterham-Renault CT05
Start: 22nd
Finish: 22nd
Strategy: 2 stops (medium/hard/medium)
Rating: 6
An ERS problem that struck at the start of his second Q1 run meant he couldn't capitalise on an eventful,
rain-hit session to try to climb off the back row.
Did a very good job to avoid Raikkonen's shunting Ferrari on the first lap, but picked up minor damage. Did
what he could in the race and couldn't have finished higher.
NB: Drivers were permitted to change tyres under the red flag, meaning that some drivers, for example
Alonso, were able to use three sets of tyres with only one stop.
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Would Hamilton have won the British GP anyway?
Nico Rosberg's gearbox failure gave his team-mate the lead. EDD STRAW examines whether the home
favourite would have won even if both Mercedes drivers had finished
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had been here before. Waging their own private war for victory, they were
on a collision course that would have left them disputing the same piece of track before the chequered flag
flew at the end of the British Grand Prix. The only difference to the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix earlier in
the season was that this time the winner was simply the last man standing.
The bare facts reveal that Rosberg had control of the race when he first detected a minor downshift glitch on
lap 20 that was the harbinger of a terminal problem. With Hamilton breezing past his team-mate, who was by
then wedged firmly in fourth gear, to take the lead nine laps later, it suggests a win inherited.
But did Rosberg's problem hand Hamilton victory, or did it just hasten the moment when the home favourite
would hit the front?
The only way to answer that is to roll the clock back to the end of lap 19, before Rosberg had any inkling of
the problem that would force his first retirement of 2014 and slash his world championship lead to just four
points.
THE RACE THAT DID HAPPEN
Mercedes had no serious opposition at Silverstone. The half-minute gap to second-placed Valtteri Bottas at
the finish - even though Hamilton spent the second half of the race cruising - is proof of that.
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And with Hamilton down in sixth place on the grid thanks to his injudicious decision to abort his final qualifying
lap in the misguided belief that the damp track would not allow anyone to better his time, the way was clear for
Rosberg.
In such situations, the pattern has been for the lead Mercedes driver, in this case Rosberg, to follow the
optimum strategy. The chaser then takes the slower alternative. At Silverstone, Rosberg's planned
medium/medium/hard approach was reckoned to be around four seconds faster than Hamilton's path.
Hamilton's strategy was to switch to the hards for the middle stint, then return to the faster mediums for the
run-in, in the hope of being able to attack in the closing stages.
"In terms of the offset strategy of letting him [Hamilton] run in the middle with the prime, they would have been
together at the end of the race, in the last 10 laps," said Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff. "This is what
we were expecting in theory."
This was, of course, dependent on Hamilton making progress early on, which is exactly what he did. He
jumped Nico Hulkenberg off the line, then went around the outside of front-row starter Sebastian Vettel at
Turn 3, surviving some wheelbanging with the Red Bull at the exit of the corner before his charge was put on
hiatus for around an hour by Kimi Raikkonen's barrier-demolishing, race-stopping accident.
When the race got back underway, Hamilton wasted no time in dispensing with the McLarens. A look up the
inside at Copse that Hamilton had no intention of following through led to Kevin Magnussen making a mistake
and running wide, giving him third on lap three. Button then fell at Brooklands a lap later. This was a great
performance by Hamilton, more impressive than his leap from ninth on the grid to fourth and onto the back of
Rosberg in Austria two weeks ago. Without such incisiveness, the prospect of a battle with Rosberg might
never have materialised.
But thanks to his attacking virtuosity, the stage was set. At the end of lap four, Hamilton crossed the line five
seconds behind Rosberg. Race on.
Initially, the gap was relatively consistent, although Rosberg did have almost 5.8s in his pocket by the end of
lap nine. Then Hamilton started to attack. Over the next eight laps he was an average of 0.323s per lap faster
which, combined with the six tenths he sliced off Rosberg when the German was on his in-lap, closed the gap
to 2.244s.
Rosberg was controlling the race and knew his team-mate couldn't attempt to undercut him thanks to the
Mercedes rule that the leading driver gets to pit first. But this period of the race, when both were on medium
rubber of identical age, is evidence that the pace advantage Hamilton had in practice carried over into the
race.
Not only that, but he seemed to be looking after the rubber better as well as using a little less fuel. While
Rosberg pitted on lap 18, Hamilton did not head in until lap 24, circulating quicker in the extra six laps of his
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run than Rosberg had in the final six of his stint.
Hamilton's stop was 1.3s slower than Rosberg's thanks to a slow left-rear change and he re-emerged around
six seconds down.
But by then Rosberg had been battling the early stages of his gearbox problem for four laps and the die was
cast.
Hamilton passed Rosberg, who was now stuck in fourth gear, at the Loop on lap 29, thereafter instantly
dropping his pace by a second per lap and cruising to a hugely popular second British GP victory.
THE RACE THAT MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED
In the parallel universe we have now moved into, Rosberg didn't have the gearbox problem and continued at
full pace after his first pitstop. It's difficult to say how much further behind Hamilton would have been when he
emerged after his second stop in this scenario.
Rosberg's real-world times were inhibited by the car occasionally jumping into neutral, but taking the fuel
effect (based on the FOM graphic stating his fuel usage was an average 1.57kg per lap) into account, and
comparing his early laps on medium tyres during his first run and his second run, he potentially should have
been around a second per lap faster in this phase. The real-world gap from first to second was six seconds
after both had stopped, so let's say it ended up being 10-12s in our 'virtual' world.
Hamilton knew he was sacrificing time by running long before his first stop, but the aim was for it to pay him
back late in the race. It also gave him two options. In reality, he made his final stop to switch to hards with 11
laps to go, but against a healthy Rosberg there was a choice of pursuing the planned strategy of taking
mediums at the final stop and attacking in the final stint, or switching to a one-stop plan.
Whether he could have one-stopped and gained track position over Rosberg with a realistic chance of holding
it is a moot point. But it was certainly possible that he could have rolled the dice, safe in the knowledge that
the gap to Bottas meant it was possible to bail out and make an emergency stop without losing second place.
"That was a safety option," said Wolff of Hamilton's final stop. "I think we could have gone to the end. Many
teams were caught by surprise at how long the tyres lasted. You could have pushed it to a one-stop strategy."
There are two factors that go against the one-stop approach. Firstly, while Hamilton's hards in the real world
would have stood up, he had backed off significantly once Rosberg had retired, so who knows what the
degradation would have been had he done a full 28-lap stint needing to manage the gap to Rosberg?
Given the gap that Rosberg should have had at the start of the second stint, Hamilton needed to push as hard
as he could to close the gap to ensure he was close enough to capitalise on the pace advantage of the
mediums in the closing stages.
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Secondly, even if he had gained track position, he would not have had too big an advantage late on. Rosberg
would not have needed to extend his advantage too significantly in the middle stint to have given himself a
shot at emerging ahead of Hamilton.
Given that Hamilton had a pace advantage, the planned two-stopper might have been the safer option. After
all, he had the speed and a clear tyre-management edge. So, just as Wolff predicted, it would likely have
come down to a final-stint shootout, with Rosberg ahead but Hamilton on the faster tyre and attacking.
There's no clear indication of how Rosberg's pace on the hard tyre would have compared to Hamilton's,
although the Briton's stint proved that the Mercedes worked well on that compound. Hamilton himself railed at
the situation that he had in any way lucked in, stressing his absolute certainty that he would have been able to
take the lead.
"Today wasn't lucky," he said. "I feel confident I would have been on his tail and I had a different tyre strategy.
There is at least half a second between soft and medium and hard. In previous races, you saw him on my tail.
Today, I was pretty good at attacking..."
As Hamilton points out, in Bahrain and Spain it was Rosberg who was on the faster rubber late on and piling
on the pressure. But on neither occasion was the German able to make a move. So there is no way to be sure
whether or not Hamilton could have made the pass. While Hamilton would have had the pace, Rosberg would
have had the all-important advantage in terms of track position.
Rosberg could also point to his superbly measured run to the chequered flag at Silverstone last year, when he
just kept Mark Webber out of range and crossed the line three quarters of a second clear. But roll the clock
back to a year earlier, and Webber showed that the combination of a faster car plus the DRS can be an
irresistible force by passing Fernando Alonso for victory with four laps remaining.
You can make a case for either scenario. And that makes it all the more frustrating that a gearbox problem
denied us the chance for another battle between the world championship protagonists. With Rosberg having
been the pursuer in both Bahrain and Spain, and Hamilton - at Sakhir in particular - showing good defensive
nous, not to mention a willingness to be very forceful in trying to keep his team-mate at bay, it would have
been fascinating to see whether Hamilton could prevail with the situations reversed.
While Hamilton was sure he would have won, Rosberg was equally certain that he had a second successive
British GP victory in the bag.
"I'm very confident I would have won the race, yeah," he said shortly after Hamilton had taken the chequered
flag. But he also must have known that he would have had a very close fight on his hands.
SO WHO WOULD HAVE WON?
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There's no way of saying with any certainty whether Rosberg would have held on, or whether Hamilton would
have found a way past. All we can be sure of is that it would have been close and likely down to a very simple
equation: would Hamilton have proved better in attack than Rosberg was in defence, or would it be the other
way round?
The only thing that we can be confident of is that track position has always conferred an advantage and that to
win, Hamilton would have had to be at the top of his game. And for the home fans, while grateful to see
Hamilton prevail, the tantalising possibility of him doing so with a genuine overtaking move in the final few laps
tells you what F1 missed out on when Rosberg's gearbox went sick.
The bottom line is that both drivers left Silverstone able to tell themselves that they would have won anyway.
And it was close enough that it's impossible to say that either is wrong.
If you were fond of a bet, you'd probably set the odds as being slightly in Rosberg's favour because Hamilton
still had a lot to do, but you'd probably then put your money down on Hamilton.
But one thing is certain. Had Hamilton not made his qualifying misjudgement and started on pole position or at
least on the front row, he had all the tools he needed to win with relative ease.
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Anderson: How the big F1 teams get it wrong
AUTOSPORT's technical expert GARY ANDERSON explains how megabucks teams can still trip themselves
up with slow decision-making and inflexibility once a plan is in place
When you're sitting on the Formula 1 pitwall, as I was for many years, calls have to be made that can make or
break an entire race weekend.
So what happens to teams and their drivers, who are, after all, just another member of the squad, when
spur-of-the-moment decisions must be made?
Saturday at the British Grand Prix provided one of the most dramatic qualifying sessions I've seen for many a
year. All three segments were cliff-hangers that went down to the dying seconds.
Somehow, both Ferrari and Williams contrived to fail to get either of their cars - which should have been in the
top 10 - out of the bottom six in Q1. Looking into what happened here reveals how things can go wrong.
At the start of the session, 18 cars were on track (Williams and Ferrari were still in the pits, with the latter
heading out after a few minutes), so the track conditions were always going to change very quickly.
From my point of view, you could have gone out on slicks from the beginning because while there was a slight
mist in the air, the track already had a patchy dry line, and it was clear that the conditions would likely get
worse towards the end of Q1.
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On intermediates, the top cars were about eight seconds off a dry-weather laptime. This is the kind of time
offset that allows you to get the slicks on and be at least as fast as on the intermediates.
Jenson Button was the first to start posting quick sector times, setting his personal best in sector two on his
out-lap with just over five minutes to go.
At that point, it was clear that slicks were the way to go. But two teams seemed determined not to deviate
from the plan.
Williams had gone out late for its first run in an attempt to get through Q1 using just one set of intermediates.
Felipe Massa went out for the first time after six minutes, with Valtteri Bottas following just over half a minute
later.
They did put in the fifth and sixth-fastest times, but were still circulating on intermediates while others where
either starting to go out on slicks, or in the garage preparing to.
Williams stuck to its plan for too long. Rather than going back out immediately on slicks it ended up being the
last team to send its cars out, with just two-and-a-half minutes remaining, and missed the best of the track
conditions, ending up 17th and 18th.
As for Ferrari, we've seen this kind of mistake before. Both cars went earlier in the session than Williams, set
a time on intermediates, then sat in the pits watching everyone bump them before heading out late on slicks,
leaving them 19th and 20th.
This was a bigger crime than Williams's. The two drivers had been out on track on intermediates earlier and
should have given the information to the team that it was time to go to slicks. They didn't do this, and the
decision to go out on medium-compound Pirellis was made too late.
Why, I ask myself, can someone not simply look up at the sky and make a decision based on what they see?
The answer is that everyone is frightened of sticking their head above the parapet and making a call because
if they do, and for any reason they're wrong, it will be chopped off.
In these situations, where quick decisions are needed, doing so by committee has never worked and never
will.
While the big boys got it wrong, the smallest team in the pitlane - Marussia - got it exactly right. It's a team of
racers with no politics. They realise that if you stick your hand out of the back of the prat perch and it gets wet,
that usually means it's raining. And they ended up fourth and sixth in Q1, which put a smile on my face!
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The final part of qualifying was when it all went very topsy-turvy. On the first run Lewis Hamilton was fastest,
but the last sector of the lap was the wettest. It appeared that would be that, but at the end of the session it
got a bit warmer and all except the Toro Rossos and Daniel Ricciardo went out for another run.
I was standing outside the Mercedes garage during this session keeping an eye on what the team was up to.
To be honest, I thought that time had run out. Both cars were ready to go and the mechanics were holding the
tyre blankets on. To my surprise, Hamilton was staring across the garage at Nico Rosberg's car, while
Rosberg was looking straight ahead.
When Rosberg's mechanics started taking the blankets off, Hamilton's did the same. Both dropped the cars
onto the ground and Rosberg pulled out first, only for Lewis to nip out in front of him. Lewis's whole focus
seemed to be to get out first which you can't blame him for and he achieved it.
Because they were so late out, Rosberg didn't really have time to slow down and find clear track. He started
his lap just behind Hamilton as the chequered flag was waved. Early in the lap Hamilton locked the left-front
and went a little wide and on the run down the Wellington straight he backed off and let Rosberg through.
So why did Hamilton back off? He was in a perfect position one he had worked hard to get and had his
biggest rival behind him. Doing a fast lap in those conditions is about making fewer mistakes than anyone else
and he had made one, but he had no idea if Rosberg would make more and there was a long way to go in the
lap.
The last sector was a lot faster, so Hamilton went from fastest to sixth.
In the end, it didn't matter because he won anyway, but it's another example of how keeping things simple in
this case just completing the lap and seeing what happened would have been the right option.
A point could come when decisions like this will really matter. The world championship might be decided on
an instantaneous decision either on the pitwall or by the driver. Just ask Fernando Alonso about the 2010 Abu
Dhabi Grand Prix to see what can happen.
From what I saw during qualifying at Silverstone, making sure you get the best decisions is a lot more
important and cheaper than throwing millions of pounds at finding the next tenth of a second.
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Red Bull Ring showed up Silverstone's flaws
The Austrian and British Grands Prix both happen at classic venues revitalised for the 21st century, but
DIETER RENCKEN reckons Silverstone has a lot to learn from the Red Bull Ring
Held just two weeks apart, the Austrian and British Grands Prix have so many similarities, yet so many
fundamental differences. Both events were staged on classic circuits, albeit 'upgraded' and remodelled to
bring them up to 21st-century standards.
Both are privately funded - in the former's case by drinks billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who bought the
A1-Ring (formerly the Osterreichring) in the late noughties before naming it (what else?) the Red Bull Ring -
while Silverstone is promoted by a commercial offshoot of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns the
facility.
Both are situated in rural areas, well over an hour's drive from their respective country's capital cities. Local
accommodation is therefore at a premium, forcing fans to pitch tents in the surrounding fields. Thus after-dark
partying to boom-boom music is the nocturnal norm for most.
Both were subject to various enquiries before their respective planning approvals for upgrades were granted.
Indeed, both suffer from some hostile neighbours, and both have restrictions on spectator numbers.
This year both even had their very own statues, in the case of Austria an enormous bronze bull sited on a
hillock and in Silverstone's paddock the tasteless and cornily named 1carus statue a sort of flying man
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propelled by exhaust-manifolded arms about which few complimentary words were heard save for self-serving
tweets (dis)graced the area in front of F1 tsar Bernie Ecclestone's office/hospitality suite.
There is, though, a humorous postscript to Red Bull's work of art: 'tis said the one thing Mateschitz craved
more than a grand prix on his circuit was a 'home' victory by a Red Bull Racing driver. History relates that it
was not (yet) to be, with Nico Rosberg and Mercedes taking an immaculately judged win. To rub in the defeat,
silver-clad fans overnight scaled the bull and attached a Mercedes badge to its forehead.
Talk about starry bulls-eyes...
That said, at least Silverstone feted a home victor in Lewis Hamilton, whose Mercedes was engineered down
the A43, while Williams and Red Bull Racing whose cars carried the other two podium finishers across the
line are built within a 50-mile radius. The best-placed Red Bull driver in Austria was Daniel Ricciardo in
eighth...
Zeltweg first hosted Formula 1 in 1963, with, intriguingly, Silverstone being credited by locals as providing the
inspiration for conversion of its runways to provide a (temporary) circuit. Despite it becoming apparent during
that first event that the abrasive circuit was not only too bumpy and narrow for the cars of the day, the race
was granted championship status for the following year, but removed from the calendar thereafter on safety
grounds.
Thus the local motor club constructed a flowing, helter-skelter circuit in the hills directly above the eponymous
hamlet. It superbly addressed the issue of poor spectator viewing on the flat, featureless airfield below, and
they were rewarded with a return of F1 in 1970. For the next 17 years the surrounding hills were alive with the
sound of F1 music, but in 1987 the chorus stopped after the race needed to be restarted twice.
The track was deemed too dangerous by the FIA due to its narrow pit straight, (ultra) high-speed corners, lack
of protection from trees, and embankments. Increasing speeds also presented a growing problem: in that final
race pole starter Nelson Piquet averaged almost 160mph in his Williams.
The layout was emasculated sound familiar, Silverstone fans? and in 1997 the grand prix returned for
eight years before bans on tobacco advertising sounded the death knell. Indeed, the circuit was in dire danger
of disappearing when Mateschitz reached into his (deep) pockets and bought not only the A1-Ring, but most
of the surrounding area, too.
Silverstone, too, has endured its fair share of upheaval, at various times alternating with Aintree and Brands
Hatch for the honour of hosting the world's oldest championship race. It almost lost the rights at the turn of the
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decade after an optimistic entrepreneur attempted to move the grand prix up Donington Park way, but, after
fairly fraught negotiations, Silverstone Circuits secured the race until 2026 albeit at horrendous cost.
Costs and budgets are, of course, of little consequence to the Red Bull Ring, for in 2013 the main company
sold in excess of five billion cans at a gross profit margin of 70 per cent, most of which accrues to the bottom
line of Red Bull GmbH.
Then, Red Bull even derives an indirect discount, for under F1's current structure its two race teams combined
receive around 13 per cent of F1's annual global turnover, estimated at $1.6bn for 2014. Thus of the hosting
fee said to amount to $20m Red Bull receives a return of $2.6m.
However, it was in the execution where the events were so, so different, with Austria drawing plaudits for its
brand new media centre that offers journalists superb views of virtually the entire circuit. Silverstone's 'Wing'
complex requires the media to slip across to a restaurant to see the track.
Where the Red Bull Ring offered parking within 100 metres of the media centre entrance and regular luxury
shuttles for the sick, lame or lazy the British circuit required all F1 personnel to catch municipal buses. On
Friday evening at peak hour some bright spark decided to remove a bus, resulting in much argy-bargy just as
one had pressing commitments to head for dinner after a long day in the office...
Despite hundreds acres of hard surfaces laid at horrendous cost since that disastrous Easter 2000 weekend
on which thousands of spectators were left stranded in deep bog plus subsequent equally unacceptable
experiences the media/team/VIP car parks were filled beyond capacity, with the overflow directed onto
grassy areas and long, wet slogs to the bus stop. If it had teemed properly...
Dubbed the Silverstone Limo Service by a sarcastic team PR, the need to run Green Line buses at all is
symptomatic of the circuit's entire approach. "Silverstone is the only place in F1 that finds a problem for every
solution..." is how someone described the overall situation.
However, it was after the event that the biggest difference between the two venues became apparent: Despite
Silverstone over the years having regularly come in for enormous criticism over regional traffic handling
resulting in a massive upgrade of nearby roads at massive cost this journalist sat in traffic for almost two
hours before reaching the motorway 15 kilometres away.
Various tweets attested to this totally unacceptable situation, which blights the experiences of fans and F1
personnel alike.
Austria? Straight out and no hold-ups on similarly rural roads for an hour, and then only at a motorway
tollgate. Both circuits attracted almost the same number of fans Silverstone's encouraging crowd of 110,000
punters shaded Austria by around 10 per cent but the difference was that in Austria campers, whose
crawling vans, trailers and caravans cause the greatest congestion, are banned from hitting the roads until
1900 local time.
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It seems Silverstone, one of the oldest circuit on the trail, could learn a thing or two from a most welcome
returnee...
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Behind the scenes of Formula E testing
As Formula E's inaugural season draws ever-closer, MARCUS SIMMONS gives his impressions after a visit
to last week's Donington test
"Come into the garage and I'll show you around the car," smiles the very amiable Peter McCool, former chief
designer of the talented nucleus of the Super Aguri Formula 1 team, whose ideas played a large part in
Brawn's title-winning 2009 campaign. "But don't touch it..." he warns nervously.
McCool is now technical director of Aguri Suzuki's latest international racing project: the Amlin Aguri team,
which is one of 10 squads in action at Donington Park's inaugural two-day Formula E open test.
The car that must not be touched is being recharged, a process that takes approximately 45 minutes, and the
team - understandably - doesn't really want an electrocuted journalist on the garage floor.
Even before AUTOSPORT has reached the pitlane we've heard the best recharging story. Indian racing hero
Karun Chandhok went to plug in the kettle to brew his just-arrived-at-the-track cup of tea in the Mahindra
team's garage, only for the Carlin lads who run the squad to veto it on the grounds that it would interrupt their
cars' charging. That left Karun to wander from garage to garage before finding a team that had fully-juiced
batteries on its racing machinery.
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It's very early days yet for Formula E. Due to the all-new technology on the Spark-Renault racers, it's takes
time before anyone even thinks about working on set-up - reliability, at this stage, comes before
competitiveness. "All cars a great challenge," explains McCool, who begins to relax when he notes that
AUTOSPORT is more interested in touching biro and notepad than racing car.
"This is very complex with all the electrics, and there's lots we have to do to make sure we understand it."
But even by the second day, when AUTOSPORT arrives, he is thinking about making this thing go quicker.
"The electrics and set-up are getting our equal attention," he reveals. "The trick is to get really good
high-quality data and understand it."
So, in other words it's just like any normal racing car...
That said, we're talking about very quiet racing cars. The first trip trackside is to the fence on the exit of the
Melbourne hairpin. Because the cars are on treaded Michelin tyres, and are carrying an enormous weight at
the back end with the battery, hot laps are pretty spectacular. The brakes lock, the rear end squirms around,
and there's a satisfying twitch when or if the car reaches the apex before applying the power.
On acceleration, they sound like a very fast milkfloat.
The second trip is down the Craner Curves to the Old Hairpin, which until the second afternoon was neutered
by a very tight triple-tyre-walled chicane we hear that this is so there can be no direct laptime comparison
with other single-seater formulae.
Here they're less impressive, although to be fair this is not Formula E's natural habitat the fast, flowing,
downhill, billiard-smooth bends are in no way representative of the tight, bumpy street circuits they will race
on.
On the brakes, they sound like a cross between a Scalextric set and a plane taxiing in at an airport.
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We're not going to say that's good or bad. It's just different. To these eyes and ears, one of the most
impressive things ever experienced is an almost-silent Audi LMP1 racer wafting through Maggotts and
Becketts at Silverstone. The Formula E car likely won't produce those sensations in a hurry after all, its
200kW of peak power equates to just 270bhp but noise isn't everything.
Such a mantra also applies to the test-day commentator: former AUTOSPORT staffer, long-distance truckie
and part-time Spiderman impersonator Richard Asher sounds like a late-night South African radio DJ ("and
now, for you lovebirds out there, here's 'Substitute' by Clout"), but with the cars so quiet there's no need for
the strident tones we're so used to from trackside speakers.
But what are the cars like to drive? "They're nice," says ex-grand prix star Jarno Trulli, who has been
sufficiently moved by Formula E to break off his retirement and set up a team, TrulliGP, which is being
operated by top Auto GP squad Super Nova.
"The power is pretty good, and when you drive it's just like a normal single-seater car and that's a beautiful
feeling for a racing driver. Donington is a bit too quick for this car we don't need a very high top speed but
nevertheless it's good for testing.
"The only big limitation is given by the battery and the electric motor. The car can perform very well for a
couple of laps before the battery starts heating up, so the main challenge is to develop the technology to
make a proper-lasting racing car."
"We're still in the very first days of learning about the car," says the Mahindra team's Bruno Senna. "We
haven't done any set-up work yet, but so far so good. When you run on qualifying mode it's actually quite fun,
but in race mode you're desperate to take more speed into the corners."
Here is where Formula E is a work in progress certainly as far as the sporting regulations are concerned.
Race power is currently slated as 133kW (180bhp), with only those voted for in FanBoost polls allowed to
surge to 200kW for 2.5 seconds. Forget the noise - the FanBoost concept is the one most likely to turn off the
purist.
Drivers are concerned that the cars will trundle around in a procession at reduced power they estimate a
loss of seven seconds per lap around Donington and that the only overtaking moves will be those decided
by toe-curling Twitter campaigns.
Dragon Racing's Mike Conway, a man who eats hard-to-pass-on street circuits for breakfast as an IndyCar
star, quips: "It reminds me of when you're at an indoor karting place and everyone gets the power restricted
[when there's an accident].
"But this is going to be fun, even if it's different. The car slides around a lot, and although the tyres look like
road tyres they're a lot more advanced.
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"We've got a lot of things to get into yet we've hardly dived into any of the settings on the steering wheel, but
we've got some really good drivers on the grid."
He's right, and the quality extends from drivers to engineers, mechanics and operations staff the Donington
Formula E pitlane is a melting pot of former, current and moonlighting F1, GP2/3, F3, World Series by
Renault, IndyCar, top-line sportscar and touring car brains.
But what's been their biggest concern? Andretti Autosport team manager Rob Arnott says: "The one-day test
we had before was excellent we ran faultlessly and we were quickest with Franck [Montagny]. It was
horrendously wet conditions and we had no electrical issues at all.
"But yesterday we had a nightmare shared by all 10 teams, with new battery-conditioning units.
"For some reason the BCU was entering charge air into the cooling system for the battery, so we were
struggling to cool the battery and you have to cool it before you can charge it. We've abandoned the cooling
unit and gone back to dry ice and fans, but it's not a final fix we have to get the BCU working."
Arnott reckons the communication between team and driver while the car is on track is "pretty much the same
as what's happening in current F1.
"There's a lot going on lots of different power maps, torque maps. Similar functionality to a current F1 car."
One of the biggest disciplines at present for the driver, says Arnott, is the regenerating paddle on the steering
wheel for the rear brakes, and using this in conjunction with mechanical adjustment of the brake bias. No
wonder we're seeing a few drivers overshoot the Melbourne hairpin.
Ex-Toro Rosso F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari agrees: "You have loads of things to do on the steering wheel
braking recovery, battery recovery. You can really struggle with balance when you activate the paddle."
And what's it like driving in silence? "It's different," ponders Alguersuari. "You feel the wind a lot you feel like
you're flying in a way."
Formula E, it's clear, is a whole world of new experiences. We mentioned earlier its work-in-progress status
and the worries about the lack of power in race mode, but AUTOSPORT understands that discussions are
taking place about increasing this to 170kW, as well as tweaking the confusing rules on maximum battery
usage allowed over the course of a race.
It's virgin territory, but series boss Alejandro Agag is delighted with early progress: "It feels really like a big
adventure in a way. Yesterday we had some issues with batteries, but you see how they've overcome that.
"We're at the beginning of new racing technology we solved the problem we had, and testing is playing the
role it should play."
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He's also quite chuffed to see drivers overdoing it and spinning off, because it shows that competitiveness is
beginning to ramp up. "Before they were shaking down; now they're having fun," laughs Agag. "The guys are
looking at the timesheets, and if they're going off that's part of the show."
"It's a new concept of motorsport," offers Virgin Racing's Alguersuari. "It's indeed unfair to compare it to any
other racing series it's a baby that's just been born."
And for Agag, as a proud new parent, what's been the standout moment so far? "When I saw the first
timesheet on the AUTOSPORT website after the first day of testing, I was so happy!"
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Move over Kimi, Bottas is F1's top Finn
EDD STRAW looks at Valtteri Bottas's emergence as a frontrunning grand prix driver, arguing that it's no
longer Kimi Raikkonen who is F1's resident flying Finn
On the day Kimi Raikkonen clinched the world championship in Brazil - October 21, 2007 - 18-year-old Valtteri
Bottas notched up his first victories in single-seater racing racing in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern
European Cup at Hockenheim.
During the intervening years, it became increasingly obvious that Bottas would eventually succeed Raikkonen
as F1's resident flying Finn.
Perhaps the early seconds of the British Grand Prix, when Raikkonen was on his way to a 47G meeting with
the wall on the Wellington Straight and Bottas was jumping from 14th to ninth to lay the foundations for a
career-best second place, was the moment the baton was passed from one to the other?
That's not to say Bottas has come close to matching Raikkonen's achievements yet. A couple of podium
finishes don't stand comparison with the world championship and 20 victories of the more experienced Finn,
who has been one of the star drivers of the 21st century. But this is about 2014 and so far Bottas has been
one of the stars of the season while Raikkonen has underwhelmed.
But this is about more than just a sample set of nine races. Those who wrote off Bottas as just another
over-hyped rookie last year disregarded the fact that, when you are in as uncompetitive a car as the 2013
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Williams was, you have to look a little more closely to recognise the quality of performance.
In 2012, Bottas convinced Williams that he had to be promoted to a race seat with his regular Friday practice
outings. There was a feeling inside the team that he was the fastest of the drivers Williams had on its books,
including those occupying the race seats, and he justified that opinion by outqualifying team-mate Pastor
Maldonado more often than not last year.
Aside from his third on the grid in the wet in Canada and eighth place in the USA, his rookie season was
unobtrusive. But that's not to say it wasn't impressive - so much so that in my end of season top 10 drivers, he
was ranked just one place below a certain Mr Raikkonen.
It goes without saying that he is fast. But what really impresses about Bottas is his mindset. He is a driver that
learns and adapts extremely well, a quality that is not as common as it should be among F1 racers.
"His racecraft is phenomenal and he is super quick," said Williams head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley
after the British GP. "The good thing is about Valtteri is he's a young lad with his feet absolutely on the
ground, he is not spoiled in any shape or form.
"He is able to accept advice very readily not only about the basics but also about his racecraft and how he
communicates with us. Today, the communication between him and the pitwall was exceptional."
His attitude has continually impressed the team. Last year, there where times when Maldonado was not felt to
be offering the most constructive feedback, whereas Bottas was careful not to let frustration at an
uncompetitive car compromise his approach.
This was a lesson of earlier in his career. In 2010, after being initially picked up by Williams he was in his
second season of Formula 3 Euro Series with the crack ART squad. A title bid was expected following a
rookie campaign during which he was increasingly able to trouble champion Jules Bianchi, and in which he
dominated rookie team-mate Esteban Gutierrez.
For the previous six seasons, ART (initially under the ASM banner) had dominated F3, winning the title with
future stars like Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Bianchi.
Early on, there were too many errors as he struggled to come to terms with being at a disadvantage. Crucially,
he emerged as a more complete package in the second half of the year once he had accepted that the title
had slipped away.
"I think we were always a little bit behind with the engines, and that made me try too much sometimes and
make some mistakes," he admitted at the end of the season. "It was quite disappointing - the goal was to win
the championship."
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He finished third overall and the following season learned the value of hard work as he played a key role in
turning ART into the strongest GP3 squad after a difficult start to the campaign. That year, he won the title
even though, in the early stages when the car was difficult, he wasn't quite as strong as team-mate James
Calado.
These are the things that make the difference between the drivers with real potential and the ones who are
good, and rack up an impressive junior CV, and genuine potential stars. Titles in Formula Renault 2.0 (the
Eurocup and NEC) and GP3 are all well and good, but it's the way he went about winning them that truly
marked him out as a driver on a trajectory to the top.
What we have seen this season, in a much stronger car, has continued to boost his stock. While he did make
an error in the season-opener in Australia, hitting the wall while potentially on his way to second place and
then recovering to claim fifth, other than that he has made no significant blunders.
He has scored points in eight out of nine races and has outscored team-mate Felipe Massa 73-30. In fairness,
the Brazilian has had more than his fair share of bad luck and Bottas has not been as dominant as that
statistic suggests, but he is unquestionably proving to be the more dependable of the two.
Williams also deserves its fair share of credit for this. Since picking him up ahead of the 2010 season, it has
put him through the same development programme that Nico Hulkenberg went through. As well as testing
opportunities and simulator work, that includes spending time at the factory seeing how things worked and
even fulfilling some 'work experience' type tasks in various departments.
That gives him a strong connection with the team, not to mention the ability to recognise just how much work
goes into putting his car on the grid by hundreds of people. This is another area where some drivers could
learn a thing or two.
At the age of 24, and in only his second season, Bottas is still on an upward curve. He has the steel and the
determination exhibited by the champions and while he still has to take the next step and prove he can win a
grand prix, those in Williams have no doubt that, given the opportunity, he will do so.
As for his place as Finland's leading F1 driver, Bottas isn't particularly interested in comparisons with
Raikkonen. If that kind of thing interested him, he probably wouldn't have emerged as the class act he has
become.
But while there are still question marks over whether Raikkonen will emerge from his current travails at Ferrari
and recapture the kind of form that he is clearly capable of, there are no such doubts over Bottas.
None of that is to be particularly negative about Raikkonen, who has been a phenomenal driver in F1 and
enjoyed a remarkable career. But the fact that the improving Bottas has eclipsed him tells you exactly what
the future might hold for the standard-bearer of Finland's next generation.
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And he's only going to get better.
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