Racing Point brake protest hearing underway
A hearing is underway at Silverstone following Renault’s protest against the legality of Racing Point’s 2020 car. The French manufacturer has claimed that the brake duct design of the car is a copy of last years Mercedes, all parties have been given several weeks to compile evidence for the hearing.
Renault ‘s protest effectively centres on the process by which Racing Point came to run their 2020 brake-duct designs. Under the regulation’s the teams are required to design their own brakes but Renault believes the design is a copy of last years Mercedes design.
Until 2019, teams were able to buy brake ducts from another last year, for this year the parts were made a ‘listed part’ – meaning teams had to design them themselves.
At the time of going to press no ruling has been made, but if Racing Point is found guilty it will lose its points from the past three races. Renault did not protest the team after the Austrian Grand Prix, the opening race of the season. Racing Point will be entitled to appeal to that outcome.
The issue has divided opinion in the paddock, but some believe the case is an important one in defining what you can and can’t copy from other teams.
F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn has thrown his support behind Racing Point, saying what they have done is what designers, himself included, have been doing for years in F1.
DAS did not cause Mercedes tyre failures
Mercedes says it has “categorically” ruled out the dual-axis steering (DAS) system playing a role in the tyre failures both cars suffered towards the end of the British Grand Prix. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas suffered front-left tyre failures in the closing stages of last Sunday’s race at Silverstone, costing the team a 1-2 finish.
Bottas’ front-left tyre failed with three laps remaining in the race, causing him to drop from second to eleventh place in the race. While Hamilton was able to drag his car home on three wheels after his tyre failed on the final lap, scoring a remarkable home victory.
The six-times champion said following the race he was “convinced” debris was to blame for the failure, while tyre supplier Pirelli pointed to the long stints completed by all drivers on the hard compound towards the end of the race.
DAS has been used by the drivers to warm the tyres up on warm-up laps and following safety cars to warm up their tyres leading to questions as to whether it had played a role in causing the failures.
But the team has moved to rule out any link between DAS and the incidents. Mercedes strategy director James Vowels said in the team’s post-race debrief video. He said “A lot of questions this year, but also specifically [for] this race, were around DAS and whether that contributed to the failure or not.”
“I can categorically say the answer is no. There are a few reasons behind that. First of all, it wasn’t used any time really towards the element of the failure. In fact it was used really towards the early stages of the race and that’s it.”
“Next, [Carlos] Sainz also experienced a failure and clearly, they are not using a DAS system on their car and a number of other competitors complained of the vibration that Valtteri was. This wasn’t contained to us but clearly, we were on the worse side of the problem.”
Silverstone installs new kerb to protect tyres
Silverstone has installed a new kerb on the exit of Becketts ahead of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix following fears that the tyres were being cut. Throughout Sunday’s race, drivers were seen running close to the edge of the track while exiting Becketts and going into Chapel, with many dipping a wheel into the grass.
After that drivers would then go from the grass onto the kerb through Chapel which created extra force onto the tyres on the Hangar Straight. During the closing stages of the race three drivers suffer tyre failures, including race winner Lewis Hamilton, while others reported heavily-cut tyres after late pit stops.
Following the race, the FIA requested the installation of a new kerb at the exit of Becketts ahead of this weekend’s second event at Silverstone.
In practice on Friday a number of drivers reported cuts in their tyres which Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola said could have been caused by debris getting caught at the Chapel kerb.
A Silverstone spokeswoman said, “To help the drivers adhere to track limits this weekend, at the request of the FIA, a 23-metre section of kerb with taper has been installed at the exit of turn 13 ahead of this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix”
Pirelli downplays tyre concerns
Pirelli’s head of F1 Mario Isola has downplayed fears about the move to softer tyre compounds for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone following the failures in last weekend’s British Grand Prix.
The manufacturer’s analysis of the front left failures on the cars of Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz concluded the unusually long stints run after drivers made early pitstops under the safety car led to the failures.
The Italian company has stuck with the original decision to move to the C2, C3 and C4 range, leaving out the C1 that failed last weekend, but will mandate increased pressures. The minimum front pressure will be up by 2psi and the rear by 1psi.
Isola insisted that the decision to go one step softer for this weekends race would not create extra risk. He told Motorsport.com, “The investigation says that the cause of the initial loss of pressure and then the deflation was the level of stress on the tyre, on the construction of the tyre.”
“For that reason the action we are taking for the next race is to increase the pressure because obviously it is the pressure that is helping the construction. we keep the same compounds, C2, C3 and C4, that have been already decided a few weeks ago.”
Isola says that he didn’t want to say a ‘perfect storm’ created the problem. But the timing of the safety car was five laps too early compared to when the predicted stops between 17-20 laps when it was able to get to the end of the race.
Also that the long stint and tyre construction with less tread are less protected caused an initial loss of pressure, and the loss of pressure leads to deflation.
He says looking visually at the tyres you could see a band of rubber develop in the middle of the tyre, even the medium tyre (which will be the soft this weekend) struggled meaning tyres can only do around thirty laps.
Isola confirmed that many cars finished with cuts on their tyres, an issue not related to the Mercedes and McLaren failures. Red Bull boss Christian Horner said on Sunday that the set taken off Max Verstappen’s car at his late stop had multiple cuts.
Pirelli says that the cuts were found on other cars including Nicholas Latifi who had a puncher was the result of higher wear. This is likely because of the higher G-forces and downforces being created this year wearing the outer layer down to the carcass which is more susceptible to cuts
Di Resta on standby for McLaren
Paul di Resta will be on standby at McLaren and potentially Mercedes for this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone after undergoing a seat fitting for the team on Wednesday.
The team has an agreement to share its drivers with Mercedes, should Carlos Sainz or Lando Norris be ruled out of the race weekend. With Vandoorne in Berlin for the Formula E season finale and Gutierrez ineligible to race, McLaren has announced that ex-Force India driver di Resta will be its nominated reserve for this weekend.
Di Resta is expected to continue with his role as a Sky Sports commentator unless one of its drivers tests positive for Coronavirus or is unable to race for any other reason. The reason the Scotsman is eligible is because he qualified for 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix.
A statement said, “As we have previously confirmed, we have an arrangement with Mercedes to use their reserve drivers in the event either Carlos or Lando are unable to race.”
“With Stoffel Vandoorne unavailable due to his Formula E commitments and Esteban Gutierrez currently not eligible for a super licence, Paul di Resta will be our standby driver this weekend.”
“Paul carried out a seat fit at the MTC this morning in compliance with the FIA COVID-19 protocols but will not be in close contact with the McLaren race team unless needed.”
After Sergio Perez tested positive last week for Coronavirus it was reported Gutierrez was going to replace him, however, it emerged he was not eligible because he has not completed 300 km of running in order to earn his race licence as he has not raced in F1 for the past three seasons, under an updated rule for 2020.
F1 sets global example with Coronavirus
FIA president Jean Todt believes that Formula One has set a “global example” with its return to racing following the outbreak of Coronavirus. The opening ten races were either cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, with the season underway with the Austrian Grand Prix in July.
A thirteen-race calendar is now in place with more races expected to be added as several measures were put in place to counter an outbreak. Speaking to the media at the British Grand Prix, Todt said he was “very proud” of how F1 had made its return, believing it has set an example to other sports and racing series in staging international events.
He said, “The easy decision was to wait until things get better, and we don’t know when it will get better. Formula 1 was the first international series to start again with very strict protocols. It has been a global example of [the] motivation and engagement to restart racing.”
“I read [comments] that you do that for money. For me, it’s wrong. You do that because life has to go back as much as possible to normal, taking into consideration that the virus is there.”
Todt says that Liberty Media has been very creative with the rebuild calendar after nearly half the races being cancelled, resulting in new replacement events at circuits such as Mugello, Imola and the Nürburgring.
The flexibility with the calendar “required a lot of energy” and “a lot of creativity”, according to Todt, who paid tribute to the team working behind the scenes to get the season going.
He says that there has been a lot of work between the FIA, promoters, Liberty and governments to get the season underway.
F1 has reported three positive COVID-19 cases amid its thorough screening programme across the opening four races, one of which came following a test for Racing Point driver Sergio Perez. Perez went back to Mexico between Hungary and Silverstone, to see his mother following an accident.
President Todt said he would not look to criticise Perez for his actions, but acknowledged drivers must be conscious of the risks they take. “If you do something, you take a risk,” Todt said.
He says that the code of conduct applies to everyone and it will remain as long as needed, if it is broken you risk the consequences of the risk in case of a positive test.
Kubica to drive in first practice at Silverstone
Robert Kubica will make his third Friday practice appearance for Alfa Romeo at this weekends Anniversary Grand Prix. The Polish driver is the team’s reserve and test driver for the 2020 season after making his full-time F1 return with Williams last year.
This season he has driven in practice for the team in Styria and Budapest, this weekend he will drive Antonio Giovinazzi’s car first practice. Kubica said, “I am happy to get back behind the wheel in this busy early part of the season. Driving an F1 car is always special, but even more so in a place like Silverstone.”
“The track has so much history and it’s one that tests both driver and machine: it’s one of the great venues of motorsport and driving around here, even without the fans, gives you such a buzz. My main focus, however, remains towards helping the team develop the car.”
Team principal Frederic Vasseur added: “I am pleased to see Robert returning to the car this weekend. His feedback has been of the highest quality in his previous outings and his work is proving really valuable for the team, both when he is in the car and during our engineering meetings.”
Kubica’s outing in FP1 comes a week after m making his DTM debut with BMW at Spa, where he was fourteenth in both races. He moved into DTM after failing to secure a full-time F1 seat for this season following a difficult one-year stint racing at Williams, during which he scored the team’s only point of 2019 at the German Grand Prix.
Hamilton better than both Schumacher and Senna
Formula One commentator and journalist Murray Walker says Lewis Hamilton is better than both Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher thanks to his fairness, driving “clean as a whistle”.
Walker although semi-retired has been covering F1 since the very first Grand Prix in 1950. This season, Hamilton could equal Schumacher’s seven titles as well as surpassing his ninety-one wins. The six-times champion currently leads the championship by thirty points.
This season there was always going to be a debate about the greatest F1 driver of all-time has intensified as Hamilton has neared Schumacher’s records, prompting comparisons across many eras.
However, Walker believes that it is impossible to define one greatest driver due to the varying conditions in each generation of Grand Prix racing. But, did say the fairness shown by Hamilton did make him stand above the likes of Senna, Schumacher, and Juan Manuel Fangio.
Walker said, “Fangio took a lot of beating, [as did] Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, I could go on, but which is the best I really don’t know I used to say Fangio. I think I’m going to have to say very shortly Lewis Hamilton.”
“If you look at it in terms of statistics, he’s already got more poles than Michael Schumacher. He’s got at least three years in him if he doesn’t hurt himself or leave Mercedes for some reason or they decide to stop. In which case, he’s got at least another three championships ahead of him, so statistically he will become the greatest.”
Walker says in his opinion, Hamilton was better than both Senna and Schumacher because they both used highly questionable tactics during their career. He is not the first senior F1 figure to highlight Hamilton’s fairness as setting him out against other greats of the sport.
Mercedes technical director James Allison hailed Hamilton for his “utterly unblemished” fairness on-track, while former team-mate Nico Rosberg said the Briton was an expert at racing hard without going to the extreme
Hamilton’s win in Sunday’s British Grand Prix was one of the most dramatic of his F1 career as he crossed the line on three wheels following a last-lap tyre failure.
Asked how he would have called the closing stages of the race, Walker said: “Gosh, I would have gone absolutely bananas, through the roof of the commentary box, I should think!
“Because it has to be one of the most exciting finishes of all time when you think about it, Lewis coasting home to victory, and then all of a sudden it looks as though he’s coasting home to nowhere.”