The new season hasn’t even begun and cars haven’t even started testing. But there is already a row over what teams are and aren’t allowed to do. So is Mercedes and Red Bull using FRIC illegally?
FRIC-tion between teams over the suspension
The FIA have issued a clarification on ‘trick suspension’ which was used by Mercedes and Red Bull after Ferrari queried the legality of the system. The Italian team wrote to the FIA last month to ask if the system was legal.
Ferrari believes that Front and Rear Interconnected Suspension (FRIC, which was banned in 2014) is a way of controlling ride heights to give greater downforce and stability in corners and over kerbs. There is no physical connection between the two.
Article 3.15 of the regulations states that “any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car” which effectively bans moveable aerodynamic devices.
According to the German publication Auto Motor und Sport, in a recent meeting of team technical bosses, Ferrari only found the support of three other teams. The split opinion is hardly surprising given how far along the teams are with the development of their 2017 cars and how detrimental a new rules restriction could be for the upcoming season.
While Motorsport.com added that teams debated several alternatives, including switching to a conventional system, active suspension or no restriction on the current concepts in question.
FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting is expected to issue a technical directive on the issue before testing begins in Spain on February 27, which should help shape whether the controversy continues into winter testing.
However, these are not legally binding, until the stewards interpret the rules, which means the row will rumble on until the opening race.
Football, Rugby and Cricket have their icons. But why does Carlos Sainz describe Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton as the best like the footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo?
What does Sainz describe Alonso & Hamilton as?
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz has described Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso as Formula One’s versions of football icons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi and Ronaldo have long been considered football’s two premier talents, having exchanged the world player of the year award between themselves since 2008. With Hamilton and Alonso often referred to as the best drivers in the sport, by fans and the press.
However, there are a number of drivers amongst themselves regard as the best including four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and emerging Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
Three existing F1 drivers are high on the sport’s all-time winners’ list: Hamilton (2nd; 53 wins), Vettel (4th; 42), Alonso (6th; 32), with Hamilton and Vettel third and fourth in all-time pole positions.
Sainz told the Macra “Hamilton is the Messi of F1 and Christian Ronaldo would be Fernando Alonso, although Christiano wants [it all; to win and be the best]. Fernando also wants to [win], but not both.”
Hamilton and Alonso have been fighting each other since they were team-mates, during Hamilton’s debut season when he narrowly missed out on the title by a point. While Alonso hasn’t taken the title in a decade since his two in 2005/06.
When asked the most difficult driver to fight in a wheel-to-wheel battle, he replied: “If I have to say one would be Alonso. Fernando is a fighter and has so much experience, he’s always more difficult than the others. He’s an old dog who knows everything.”
Is Formula One unfairly punishing smaller teams and was the FIA’s role in the sale to Liberty Media against EU law as it owns a stake in the sport. Why do MEPs want answers?
MEP’s call for investigation
The European Parliament has called for an investigation into “anticompetitive practices” in Formula One. MEP’s past the motion in the amendment to the parliament’s annual competition report.
The vote passed by a majority 311 with 86 abstentions now gives the Commission the power to launch an investigation. The main supporter the Labour MEP Anneliese Dodds says smaller teams are “unfairly punished” because of the way F1 is run.
She has also previously expressed concerns over the sport’s takeover by Liberty Media and its UK tax arrangements. Dodds pointed to the recent collapse of the Manor as an example of how the sport is failing some teams.
The issues are wider than the sports distribution of prize money and tax arrangements, Dodds highlighted a conflict of interest of F1’s sale to Liberty Media, which saw governing body the FIA benefit financially once it had given its approval.
She said, “There is also significant conflict of interest over the recent sale of the sport to Liberty Media after the regulator received a $79.5million (£63.7m) profit from authorising the sale.”
“I have written a number of letters to the European Commission calling for a full investigation and I am grateful that the rest of the European Parliament has added its voice to this call.”
If the commission finds the sport culpable of an abuse of power in the way it handles its affairs, a fine of 10 percent of turnover.
It’s a friendship that has last for over a decade. But the friendship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has been strained in recent years. Why then is Rosberg open to rebuilding the relationship?
Nico Rosberg says now he is no longer Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate in Formula One that he is open to rebuilding the friendship. The two have been friends since the early 2000’s, but the relationship has become strained in recent years.
Rosberg and Hamilton’s early careers were connected as the two travelled across Europe during their karting days. During them days, competitiveness was natural, with wrecked hotel rooms, crazy parties and the on-track battles. The pair live practically together in Monaco.
He told ESPN “I think it’s going to take a little bit more time than that to find our way. In general, yes, the competition is gone completely and suddenly, so we have already had some nice relaxed moments.
“Who knows, I’m open to having a better relationship with him again in the future — we were best friends 15 years ago after all.”
Valtteri Bottas was blocked from joining Ferrari two years ago by Williams. So why when Mercedes came knocking this time they released him?
Williams honoured promise to Bottas
Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams says she promised Valtteri Bottas she would not stand in his way, after preventing him joining Ferrari in 2015. This season the Finn has moved to Mercedes after the team released him from his contract.
However, when Ferrari tried to sign the Finn, Williams were less cooperative, and that situation played a part in the outcome this time around. Ms Williams told Autosport “Valtteri has been an important part of Williams, he’s got that fiery passion that you want in a driver because all he wants to do is be in the best car and win.”
“When you have a driver that you know that’s all they want, why force them to race your car? That’s not the right thing to do. We stood in Valtteri’s way once, when Ferrari came along, and I made a promise to Valtteri I wouldn’t stand in his way again – I honour my promises.” She says that Bottas has an amazing opportunity and it would be interesting how he does.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said in the Italian media last month that a financial contribution was made to secure Felipe Massa’s return from his short-lived retirement to partner rookie Lance Stroll, describing Williams as “a really capable businesswoman.”
Ms Williams says the terms of Bottas’s departure was in the team’s best interests.
That’s all from Reporters this week, goodbye!