Changes to wet starts
The FIA World Motor Sport Council have approved the plan for standing starts in poor conditions, including details only recently agreed by teams. The aim of the rule change is to retain the excitement of a race start even if the cars need to initially set off behind the safety car.
The rule is not only cover wet conditions but oil on the track but if the weather is wet cars will set off behind the safety car, with the full wet-weather Pirelli tyre compulsory for all drivers. Effectively the additional formation laps, however only the first tour after the cars leave the grid will not be taken from the original race length.
Drivers will start from the rear of the grid if they are forced to start from the pits, but will then have to come in for the restart, meaning the start will be the normal procedure.
Drivers are not allowed to follow the safety car into the pits to change to slicks or they will face a subsequent ten-second stop-go penalty. And any driver that pits during the safety car phase before the start will be forced to take the race start from the pit lane.
Drivers starting from the pits are not obliged to take part in the formation laps behind the safety car. While carrying extra fuel could be considered an advantage as it will reduce the need for fuel-saving once the race begins, the teams agreed that the weight penalty for carrying the extra fuel would be greater.
Overtaking will be prohibited but drivers are allowed to overtake to re-establish the original starting order or the order the cars at the pit exit were in when the formation lap was started.” Any driver unable to take up his position before the safety car pulls in will be forced to start from the pits.
Ferrari sandbagging worries Red Bull
Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko says that Ferrari’s sandbagging during testing has left the team worried. Sebastian Vettel lifted off coming out of the final corner on his quickest laps to not reveal the full speed of the Ferrari SF70H.
While the German downplayed what happened, Marko said his team was concerned the Italian team had been confident enough to employ such gamesmanship in testing. But Marko has concerns that the Italian team has enough confidence to use such tactics.
Marko told Servus TV “Ferrari is very strong and reliable as well. That’s the difference to last year. What worries me somewhat is I know Vettel very well”
“He provocatively lifted on his fastest lap on the start and finish straight. Everybody could tell. And if you do something like this, then your self-confidence and the knowledge about having a lot more in the car is huge.” He added.
Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time of the entire test on Friday, going into the 1:18’s. But Marko thinks fuel loads and engine mapping settings disguised the true pecking order in testing. He said “Nobody has shown his cards properly. If you carry 10 kg more fuel, you gain about 0.35 seconds Furthermore, engine mappings differ. This can gain you up to one second – or it doesn’t.”
“A lot has been kept in the dark. But if the race [Melbourne] would have taken place with the same kind of temperatures we had [in testing] then Ferrari would be in front, for sure.”
Former Williams driver Patrick Neves dies aged sixty-seven
The former Williams driver Patrick Neve has died aged sixty-seven on Monday. The Belgian was the team’s first Grand Prix winner and was seen by some as the natural successor to Jacky Ickx.
He made his way into Formula Ford making twelve starts between 1970 and 73 where he made twelve starts earning a drive with Lola, with the help of Bernie Ecclestone’s right-hand man at the Formula One Constructors’ Association.
He then moved into Formula Three, driving the Safir that was designed by Ray Jessop, who had worked at Brabham before conceiving Ron Dennis’s stillborn Formula 1 Rondel project.
He moved into F1 in 1976, debuting at the non-championship round at Brands Hatch before racing at the Belgian Grand Prix and replacing Chris Amon at Ensign for the French GP.
With Frank Williams having split with Walter Wolf after a disastrous liaison in 1976, Williams bounced back with his new team in ’77, buying what he thought was a one-year-old March and recruiting Neve to drive.
From 1979, he signed for Kauhsen which withdrew mid-season.
Force India go pink
Force India have unveiled a striking pink livery after the team announced a ‘long-term relationship’ with Austrian-based water technology firm BWT. The new livery for the VJM10 will make its debut next weekend at the Australian Grand Prix.
The new livery replaces the silver, orange and black colour scheme which the car ran with during pre-season testing. Team principal Vijay Mallya said, “The arrival of BWT in Formula 1 is huge news and represents one of the most significant partnerships in our 10-year history.”
“It’s a sign of how far we have come as a team with our strong results and completes a solid commercial performance over the winter. For 2017 our cars will sport a vibrant new colour scheme with a smart matte finish.”
He says changing the colour of the car is an indication of the strong partnership and sees the helmets of drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon will also feature the pink colours of BWT.
Cars need a different driving style
Valtteri Bottas says the new generation of Formula One cars needs a different driving style. This year’s regulation changes means that cars have more downforce and mechanical grip because of the change in aerodynamic and tyre regulations introduced for the 2017 season.
During testing, the cars were lapping three seconds faster than last year’s pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix and Bottas said he has had to adapt his style. He told ESPN “I’ve definitively needed to adapt some things on my driving style, take slightly different lines and use slightly different driving techniques.”
“It’s not just because it’s a different car with more grip. Mechanically it behaves a bit differently, which takes a bit of time if you want to get absolutely everything out of the car.” The Finn says he feels he has learnt massively and he can extract more from the cars.
This season the expectation is that cars could break long-standing lap records and benefit drivers who drove in the mid-2000’s, the last time regulations were similar to the new ones this season.
However, Kimi Raikkonen, who won the title in 2007, doubts the cars will be that much better for his driving style. “I don’t think the cars are an awful lot different from last year.”
“Obviously we have more grip with the rule changes and the tyres are a bit different, but I wouldn’t say it suddenly fits better for me than someone else. It’s different rules and different cars, so early days yet.” He added.