FRIC won’t overshadow Australia
The FIA are confident that the row over FRIC will not overshadow the Australian Grand Prix. In December Ferrari asked the FIA to clarify the ‘trick suspension’ which they believed was being used illegally by Mercedes and Red Bull.
This meant the FIA called on teams to prove their suspensions weren’t being used to artificially aid aerodynamics — enforcing Article 3.15 of the regulations which bans moveable aerodynamic devices.
There have been predictions that the race weekend would be mired in protests about suspensions, FIA race director Charlie Whiting outlined what has done to draw a line under the issue.
Whiting in a press briefing said, “It’s simply that we’ve been aware of hydraulically operated suspension systems on cars sometimes but it became clear that they were being used for purposes other than the suspension.”
“So under the regulations where you are allowed to have a suspension system that effects to the aerodynamic performance of the car in anything other than an incidental way, then we don’t allow it so that’s the impractical take.”
Whiting said they genuinely wanted to see whether they system had a predominant effect on the aerodynamic performance of the cars.
Whiting also confirmed the FIA used the two weeks of testing in Barcelona to start conducting checks on all the cars, a process which raised his hopes of an argument-free opening race.
FIA drop ‘Verstappen rule’
The so-called ‘Verstappen rule’ aimed at preventing dangerous driving has been dropped by the FIA. The rule was an all-catch rule which covered all “moving under braking” was adopted last year after drivers complained about Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The FIA has decided a catch-all rule covering potentially dangerous driving is a better way of policing close-racing incidents. Race director Charlie Whiting said that some issues which had caused controversy last year may be treated differently.
Whiting told BBC News “Before we said any move under braking would be investigated.”
“Now, we have a simple, broad rule that says effectively if a driver moves erratically or goes unnecessarily slowly or behaves in a manner that could endanger another driver then he will be investigated.”
Whiting says the more general approach as come from the teams who are keen for less regulation. But added “They wanted less investigation and only cases where it was clearly dangerous would they take action”
BBC News also says that they understand that if these changes had been in place in last year’s Mexican Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel would probably not have been penalised for his defence against Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in Mexico last year.
Vettel was dropped from third to fifth place after being found guilty of moving across on Ricciardo in the braking zone while defending late in the race.
Honda worried about reliability
Honda’s F1 boss Yusuke Hasewaga has admitted he is worried about reliability for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, despite the work to address the issues from winter testing.
There is hope that they have addressed the reliability issues that they had in winter testing, but says he does not yet have full confidence that the problems have been cured entirely.
Speaking in Melbourne he said “On the last two days of the second week [of testing], trouble was caused by the vibration of the car. It was not only a problem with the engine itself, although the thing vibrating the most was the engine.”
“The trouble caused cracks in a carbon pipe on the side of the car – with the harness getting detached. However, I don’t know if these problems will not occur again if the engine vibrations stop. I am worried.”
Hasewaga said the way the cars rode the kerbs in testing caused some issues in testing. Honda says that these issues have been improved by engine mapping, but this would only be revealed once running begins.
Although there remains a question mark about the vibrations, Hasegawa said other issues that hit Honda in testing had been cured.
Ferrari remain favourites
Lewis Hamilton insists that Ferrari remains the favourites for the championship. Ferrari outpaced Mercedes in winter testing following the regulation changes.
Hamilton said “Ferrari are the quickest at the moment, they’re definitely the favourites. Their pace was great in testing.” Pre-season testing
Sky Sports “They were the quickest in testing, we couldn’t match them. So when we get out there this weekend it’ll be interesting to see where we’ve come from testing, what we’ve learnt and how we apply it, and really where we do stand.”
The Brit added it is unknown if Mercedes are at the same level, ahead or behind Ferrari. Red Bull are also part of the close front runners, with Hamilton wary of the team’s dominance between 2010-13.
“I’m very keen to see what Red Bull bring because they were quite a long way behind through testing – at least compared to Ferrari. I assume they are bringing something here which I am excited to see,” he added.
But Ferrari Sebastian Vettel has been cautious saying “Mercedes have been in very strong form over the last three years.”
“even though we have changed the rules and regulations if a team is strong they will be strong the year after no matter what you do with the rules.”
Hamilton’s response was “But we need this guy to have a good car so that he can get up there and fight with us. The sport needs that and he deserves that. You want to be racing against the best.”
SFH70 named what by Vettel?
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has announced the name of his SFH70. The German is known to have named his cars after pre-season testing ever since he made his debut as a full-time driver in 2008.
Names have included Kate, Kate’s Dirty Sister, his first title winning the car was ‘RANDY Mandy’. ‘Kinky Kylie’ followed in 2011 and he continued his dominance of the sport with ‘Abbey’ (2012) and ‘Hungry Heidi’ (2013), the latter claiming a record nine consecutive race victories as he won a fourth straight title.
Since his switch to Ferrari, he has stuck to single names. This year according to Bild he has named the car Gina.
Babynames.com says his stands for ‘The meaning of the name Gina is Queen. The origin of the name Gina is Italian. This is the culture in which the name originated, or in the case of a word, the language.”
Perez’s crash diet
Sergio Perez says he been on a crash diet ahead of the Australian Grand Prix to try to cope with the overweight Force India. Perez and most drivers had to bulk up to cope with the physical nature of the cars.
But he said he was asked by Force India team to trim off some weight because its new challenger was too heavy in testing. Perez, who has already lost more than two kilos since testing finished, told Motorsport.com “I have tried so hard to lose weight in the last couple of weeks since Barcelona.”
“Obviously I increased my weight from last year purely by training harder, putting on more muscle, but I was on an extreme diet all last week and still now until Saturday [I will do the same],” He added. The Mexican says he is very hungry.
Perez said the issue of car weight had come up since testing, but the team would only find out properly in Australia just how much it needed to lose.
“We haven’t weighed the car actually because in testing you have a lot of sensors and things on the car. Right now, considering that I lose two kilos or three since Barcelona, then probably we might be quite close.”
That’s all from F1 Today this week and we will be bringing you full coverage of the Australian Grand Prix this weekend. F1 Today returns next week, with Notebook tomorrow evening. Preview here