Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mosley's Crusade

Ferrari's latest salvo at the FIA is thinly disguised as a complaint about the poor quality of F1 teams added to the sport for 2010.

Now to be fair, Ferrari has a point. Let's look at who they picked:
  • USF1, backed by Peter Windsor and with YouTube money. On paper this looked fabulous, especially when combined with American engineers with something to prove. However it turns out that progress has been lacking and money to continue isn't forthcoming.
  • Campos Meta, a spanish organization that was going to pay Dallara to design and build cars. This operation also had money problems, and is currently existing only thanks to an emergency infusion of the YouTube money that has deserted USF1.
  • Manor Racing, which might or might not have been taken over by Virgin.
  • Lotus, an operation bankrolled by the Malaysian government.
So of the four, Virgin and Lotus are the only ones which don't have immediate cash flow issues.

And while the car unveiled by Lotus was disappointingly basic, it is a F1 car and it is turning (some) testing mileage.

Two from four is not a very good batting average for what is supposed to be a premiere motor sport. Even though the FIA claimed they had done their due diligence on the applicants, it clearly wasn't enough.

Let us remember that all this came about because Mosley wanted to turn F1 into a much cheaper sport to participate in, and in the process of having a showdown with his established teams, brought on a collection of new teams to fill up his entry list. It is worth remembering that the F1 regulations for 2010 are a compromise from his budget-based F1, meaning while the existing teams have to reduce their budgets somewhat, the new teams are suddenly looking at battling established competition which will be spending more than they had anticipated when signing up. I doubt many in either camp were particularly happy.

As I mentioned, if either USF1 or Campos (or both!) fail to be in Bahrain, it will be a black eye for the FIA, although one which can be placed squarely at the feet of the now departed Max Mosley.

While Virgin and Lotus will probably be much more fragile and off the pace than the other series regulars, their presence will serve as a foundation for their future growth -- assuming they can find someone to fund it.

Ferrari also complains about Stefan GP, which has picked up the abandoned pieces of Toyota's F1 program and is lurking about in the bushes waiting for one of the anointed four to fail. This I think is more F1 business as usual -- there are always an assortment of marginally crazy people trying to get in. Every circus needs a sideshow.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

USF1 Staggers Towards A Conclusion

I know I'm kinda beating a dying horse here, but the accident is too compelling to look away:
  • James Allen discusses the pros and cons of the FIA permitting USF1 to miss races in a bid to get their car sorted. In my opinion it isn't going to happen, no matter how bad USF1's failure will make the FIA's expansion selection work look. However, that will all be handily blamed on the now departed Mosley.
  • Campos has sorted its immediate future, nixing our discussion of a merger with USF1. Joe Saward talks about how the Stefan GP might buy USF1's entry (along with other assets) and will be able to participate in Bahrain branded as USF1, at least for a few weeks. I approve of the irony of an American-branded race team being entirely made up of ex-Japanese equipment and European management.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Searching For Fractions

How seriously is Ferrari taking 2010? Well, now that refuelling is no longer a part of a race, the key part of a pit stop is how fast the tires can be replaced. And as such, Ferrari is designing wheel nuts that can be changed faster and easier.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Campos, USF1 to merge?

Motosports.com has an article detailing the woes of Campos Meta. It includes speculation that USF1 might merge with Campos:
According to the magazine, US F1 investor Chad Hurley isn't happy with the progress the by Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor managed American team has sofar made, and has decided to pull the plug and has stopped his financial support. Hurley is now considering to help Campos-Meta by paying the Dallara and Cosworth bills and merging US F1 and Campos-Meta into one team. Which would open the door for the Serbian Stefan Formula One team, they could take over the thirteenth and last slot for 2010.
This makes sense on paper -- Campos has a car in Dalara, but no money. The money behind USF1 is unhappy with the progress, so they effectively have no car. Putting USF1's money together with Campos' Dalara car just might get a combined organization -- probably mostly USF1 staff, since they've been actually doing things with cars for the past little while -- to a grid sometime this year.

The stories of USF1's impending demise have come more frequently in the recent days, and the silence from the team itself doesn't do them any favors as far as viability goes. I am still stunned that Peter Windsor of all people apparently couldn't get his ducks lined up properly. Especially considering that USF1 was announced over a year ago, they had a substantial head start on everyone else and to come up short does nothing positive for them.

I know that in this media-driven business it could all be nothing, everyone merely reporting on everyone else's speculation, but by my watch there is less than a month to go before Bahrain. If USF1 is going to be a legitimate team they need to get something going, and quickly. If they are going to be merged with Campos, that needs to get going quickly too. Time is definitely not on their side any more.

This also doesn't do many favors for the FIA's expansion of F1, if two of the four teams picked as new entrants can't cut it right from the beginning...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lotus Launches Boring Car

Here are launch photos of the Lotus T127. After seeing the spy-shots, there isn't really much new to see except a bit of the detail.

The overriding feeling I have looking at this car is disappointment. The nose looks positively agrarian, with no kink -- only two token bumps on top of the suspension mounts. While the front wing looks excitingly complex, the attachment between the nose and the wing itself looks primitive. From the air box back, the rest of the car is positively boring.

While it is good that a new team understands that instant success isn't likely at all, it is a bit discouraging to hear that Truly is already cautioning against optimism.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More Cars, Deadpool Update

  • The Force India VJM03, which looks to be a pretty conservative car. No Red Bull kink, no sculpting on the nose, and very little in the way of interesting aero at the back. There's already speculation that the aero isn't going to get it done for Force India in 2010.
  • The Red Bull RB6: the kink, sculpting on the nose, and a similar steep drop in the sidepods down toward the car's rear end to that seen on the McLaren. Oh, and another huge shark fin, all dressed in the mandatory deep blue that makes it hard to see what is going on. I'd love to see an overhead shot of this car.
  • ...aaand Autosport has a spy-shot of the new Lotus. This car looks as odd as the Red Bull RB5 did last year, however I have my doubts about the Lotus' potential.
I think that's all of last year's teams debuted, plus Virgin and the not-yet-cleared-to-participate Stefan GP. So I think we are waiting on a formal launch for Lotus, plus USF1 and Campos.

Meanwhile from a deadpool perspective, Motorsports.com reports that the FIA is insisting that teams must show up and participate at all F1 events for 2010:
From a sporting and regulatory point of view, each team that has registered for the championship is obliged to take part in every event of the season. Any failure to take part, even for just one championship event, would constitute an infringement both of the Concorde Agreement and the FIA regulations.
Pretty clear.

This puts Campos in severe danger, since their finance is definitely not sorted out.

There are persistent stories about USF1 being in trouble, but I find it hard to believe that Peter Windsor would have been involved this long and not had his ducks lined up at this late date.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Technical Analysis: 2010 cars so far

F1.Fanatic's first technical analysis of the 2010 cars is up. Mandatory reading.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Virgin Launches

Well now THAT's a strange looking car.

The most obvious difference is the relatively low nose compared to the high, elevated nose that everyone else is favoring. It also looks narrow and it rises very slowly --- almost spoonishly -- back to the Red Bull kink.

Further back, this car has the high sidepod inlets that the Brawn had last year along with radical drops in the sidepod tops very similar to the 2010 McLaren (although I think McLaren's drops deeper).

There's no barge-board, but the side fins are interesting, sculpted into the gap that the pinched inlets leave.

The car will be powered by Cosworth, and is notable in that it is the first modern car to be designed completely by Computational Fluid Dynamics rather than mixing CFD with models in a wind tunnel. Virgin doesn't have a wind tunnel at all, touting this as necessary in the modern, cost-constrained world of Formula 1.

It will be really interesting to see this car run.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Really Weird

Stefan GP is going to Bahrain, entry or no entry:
Stefan Grand Prix writes history! SGP becomes the first team in F1 history who did send a 40 foot container full of equipment to the race in Bahrain without having entry for 2010 season!
I can't decide if this is heroically ballsy or absurdly stupid... although I'm leaning towards the latter.

Also for the 'weird' file: I read somewhere that new teams might be permitted to miss up to three events this year without penalty, but I can't find the link for that.

Update: JA on F1:
Meanwhile it appears that the proposal for new teams to be allowed to have three ‘no-shows’ at Grands Prix has now been agreed. It appears that these can be taken at any time so it is theoretically possible for a new team to miss the first three races of the season an start at Shanghai on April 18th.
JA also talks about Campos' difficulties -- Ferrari is thought to be blocking the sale of the team to another party, and either the buyer or the seller owes Ferrari a chunk of money...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Valencia Test 2010: Day 1

More launches:
  • Mercedes W01: The descendant of last year's title winner gets extra length, a Red Bull style kinked nose, and a conservative shark fin.
  • Williams FW32: Williams didn't seem to do a 'proper' unveiling, more of just turning up and running the car as if it was just another day so the photos are a bit lacking -- Autosport's spy-shot from yesterday shows a much more detailed profile. Another high nose, although this one has a little T-bar near the upper point. Less pronounced (as in practically absent) nose kink than some other offerings. There's something interesting going on at the bottom of the leading edge of the sidepods -- but I can't see if there are any barge-boards there.
  • Toro Rosso STR5: Turns out that those manufacturing facilities put in last year were to validate Toro Rosso as a proper constructor. Still it is interesting that Toro Rosso broke cover before their parent team Red Bull. Pronounced nose-kink; weird front wing connectors similar to those we saw on the BMW-Sauber yesterday. Full shark fin. You can really see the extra bulk behind the cockpit in this car that is hidden in others.
Miscelanious meaningless notes for day one testing:
  • Ferrari finishes the day with the fastest time, Massa behind the wheel.
  • Schumacher was faster than Rosberg.