Now JV says drivers needs to shut up! JV of all people

Just when I reference Jacques Villeneuve, 24 hours later he completely destroys my recollection of his outspoken stance on Formula 1 when he was a driver. It’s like having a front wing torn off at turn one this season only to recall that Pastor Maldonado isn’t on the grid or like suggesting that Lena Dunham should win an Oscar only to recall that she’s got the acting range of a Daisy Air Rifle or like suggesting that I am a crap driver only to watch me set a lap record at Sonoma under the keen tutelage of Paul Charsley (that didn’t happen and it wasn’t Paul’s fault, trust me).

Nope, I just said in this piece that Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are starting to call out F1 on its decision-making process and what’s plaguing the series. I suggested that this reminded me of JV when he was never short of an opinion about the sport.

Not 24 hours later and I see AUTOSPORT run a story in which JV says, like Bernie Ecclestone, that the drivers need to shut up a little bit:

“The way the drivers have been complaining is terrible for F1,” he said. “It’s not their problem.

“They should just shut up. It’s not their problem how good or bad the show is on TV.

“They should just get on with their job.

“In a classroom, how many of your classmates would be able to make educated decisions? Not many.

“Take a group of 20 drivers. Take maybe two of them and the rest should just shut up.

“So why would you want to give them power?”

Seriously? This is a guy, who in baggie Nomex, had an opinion on just about everything in F1 and beyond. He never shied away from telling it like it was and it’s one thing I appreciated about him. He was critical (right or wrong) when he felt the system was out of bounds.

This is a bit of a pot/kettle thing if you ask me. JV has remained vocal about F1’s ills even when he had no ride or was toying with the idea of driving stock cars in Brazil or winning the soapbox derby championship in Salt Lick Iowa for crying out loud. He’s been a staple of the press and media outlets that need a good and oft times controversial quote.

They got one from him now but I’ll be honest, It wouldn’t have thought it would be slating drivers for speaking their minds because that was a hallmark of his era in F1.


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Hamilton not the only one talking, Vettel critical of engines

Lewis Hamilton has been in the press lately speaking his mind about the challenges Formula 1 is currently facing and I, for one, enjoy his opinions on the matter. I liked the days when drivers shared their opinions be they pro or con on a subject. I recall JV doing a lot of that in his day but that was back in the 90’s.

While Lewis is being praised for his outspokenness, we forget that Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is equally outspoken on the sport and always has been.

This week he told Sky Sports F1:

“I personally think the current power unit regulations are too expensive and it would be beneficial for all the teams and the whole sport to go back to something normally aspirated,” Vettel said.

Pointed out to him that a proposal to cap engine costs was vetoed by Ferrari last year, Vettel stood by his comments – after a moment of awkwardness.

“What I said and I stick to what I said is that these power units are too expensive,” he added. “They have cost a lot of money already and they will keep costing a lot of money.

“Everything else that we have been trying to with changes to rules doesn’t change the key problem and I think a lot of problems that we face now goes back to the fact it was the wrong way to go. It is easy now to raise your hand and admit that, but we are still stuck with what we have.

“I can’t change the rules, I think it is a good thing that you don’t let one driver or one person change the rules, but the way it is currently set up is probably not the best either.”

We can all argue the facts and efficiency ratings and road relevancy but in the end, I believe he’s right. F1’s serious issues started when they moved to these new engines. That’s the reality.

As F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said (also in this Sky story):

“This [V6] engine is good, I’m told, for the car manufacturers – although nobody can ever use that engine,” the F1 supremo told Sky Sports F1.

“But if it is and they want to use it to experiment they should use it in the World Touring Car Championship.

“It’s very difficult for Mercedes, and Ferrari for that matter I suppose, to agree to change a power unit that they’ve spent a fortune developing.”

I agree with him, it’s an awesome piece of kit and engineering, there is no doubt. How relevant it is? I’m not quite sure and would it not be best placed in WEC? The entire ideology is conserve, store and trickle at a level unheard of and that’s terrific but F1 is about release/use, create and deploy and do so in a limited amount of time. A sprint race meant to be ran…well, like a sprint race.

Mark Webber recently said that WEC is flat out, pushing the entire way and in some ways, F1 is not about that. Much of that is down to the way the new engine works but we’ve covered this ground before. Fact is, Vettel is saying what many in F1 aren’t willing to say…just like Lewis is and I appreciate their candor.

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1


Radio ban: Ferrari absolved, Merc’s menu?

I was asked about the ability to use pit boards for messaging to the driver about car settings and other elements that would have been previously radioed to him but can no longer due to the radio restrictions the FIA have placed on teams in 2016.

It was a great question and the answer is no, they can’t use the pit board to relay car settings etc. This came to light in Australia as Ferrari had a message that was seemingly coded and it was reported to the FIA by a competitor.

The message said, “-3.2 LFS6 P1” and while that may very well have been instructions for a setting on the car, the FIA have cleared Ferrari of any wrongdoing as AUTOSPORT explains:

“During the race a number of teams had problems with fuel recalculations in the wake of the 20-minute red flag stoppage following McLaren driver Fernando Alonso’s violent accident on lap 17.

Whiting confirmed to Autosport after the race the red flag and restart raised “a number of glitches” that needed to be solved.

For Ferrari, and Vettel in particular, it led to a problem with how the SECU (standard electronics control unit) software handled the stoppage, necessitating the pitboard message at the time.

The FIA therefore concluded the message was permissible and will not take any action.”

So this was an acceptable use of the pit board. It does also bring up a question over text messaging to the driver’s steering wheel and there were some interesting tweets regarding a video of Lewis Hamilton’s car during the Bahrain Grand Prix seen here just after the upshift from 4th gear:

If pit board messaging isn’t allowed, it’s a sure bet that having messages on a steering wheel is not allowed. I’m not sure what the message on the wheel is but the tweet thread said that the team explained this as a multi-menu setting which very well could be the case. A sort of menu that has multiple modes you can select. I would tend to believe that but it is up for the briefest of time. Draw your own conclusions. Here is a closeup by Frank T. on Twitter:

Hamilton wheel message

Regardless, the teams will be looking for ways to relay critical information for sure. The radio ban hasn’t manifest itself in a tangible way that fans can see at home but it was revealed that in Australia, Nico Rosberg’s brakes were at critical temperature at one point in the race. I wondered in Bahrain would see failure and to be honest, perhaps the teams could have caught Palmer or Vettel’s issues had they been allowed to radio the driver but I have not read any comment to that point.

IF the radio ban is working and improving the racing, the teams probably won’t be bragging about it because they’d like to be able to radio so they will most likely play it down but the FIA should be letting us know that their ban on radio messages is a success…if it truly is impacting racing.

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Will 2017 changes increase overtaking?

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The FIA’s Jean Todt is adamant that the 2017 regulation changes will be solidified in April and while that may be welcome news to teams who are looking for direction on their 2017 chassis design process, it also may give fans something to be excited or outraged about for 10 months.

As it is, we know there has been a lot of talk about the increased speeds and Pirelli were concerned about the tire specs being able to handle such loads. There is also some concern that it will merely turn into more aero to achieve these speeds and that will ultimately make for worse racing and more dirty air.

The FIA’s Charlie Whiting says that shouldn’t be the case:

“We’ve had countless meetings with the technical directors of every team, and we have had a whole range of proposals from what appears to be a huge amount of downforce to a very low level of downforce,” explained Whiting, about the process that the FIA has gone through.

“But it is all based on the premise that we will have a significant increase in mechanical grip. So what we have ended up, inevitably, is somewhere in the middle.

“It is incorrect to say that the anticipated lap time improvement will all come from downforce, because it simply shouldn’t be.”

“The whole idea is that half of that will come from mechanical grip, and the other half will come from aerodynamic downforce.

“One of the things that we have been talking all along is the fact that we must not make it more difficult to follow another car, and that has been one of the underlying principles. So, we’ve done I believe the best we can, given we have to take everyone’s views in to account.”

I hope he’s right because once again, everyone and their dog know that increasing aero downforce only creates more inability to trail a leading car and reduces passing. Charlie feels that the mechanical grip will be seriously increased and providing half of that speed.

I wonder if that’s enough? Is there not a way to reduce aero even more? That may change the style of racing too much but it seems it might be worth a try? What do you think? Should F1 start looking elsewhere and move away from its aero dependency? If so, can mechanical grip deliver the type of racing we want?

Hat Tip: Motorsport