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Marussia forced out of final test after crash test failure
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Marussia forced out of final test after crash test failure
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Feb 2012   |  10:33 pm GMT  |  120 comments

Marussia has become the latest team to run into problems with its 2012 car, the Russian-backed team tonight announcing that its new MR01 has failed the final FIA crash test and as a result forced it out of this week’s final pre-season test.

The Banbury-based outfit had been hoping to roll out the first car to be built in-house in time for the start of Thursday’s four-day test, having run with last year’s machine during the first Barcelona test last week. However, those plans have now been scuppered following news that the MR01 has failed the 18th and final crash test mandated by Formula 1’s governing body before a car can run in an official group test.

A statement released by Marussia tonight confirmed: “The Marussia F1 Team is disappointed to confirm that the planned first test of its 2012 race car – the MR01 – has been delayed as a consequence of not passing the final FIA crash test. All cars are required to pass 18 FIA-observed tests for homologation to be granted. Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running commences.

“The team will now not take part in the final pre-season test in Barcelona later this week (1-4 March) and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash test at the end of the week.”

With Marussia now hoping to get the chassis homologated by the end of the week, it raises the strong likelihood that, with just a further week to go before teams ship their cars and equipment out to Australia for the first race on March 18, the squad will go into the first Friday practice sessions of the year without any significant track testing with the new car. That is particularly bad news for its rookie driver Charles Pic, who already only has two days of track testing behind him in the 2011 car this year.

It’s a situation rivals HRT have found themselves in over each of its previous two seasons in the sport and the Spanish squad has again failed to test its latest car to date during this pre-season after failing two crash tests itself, although the team is now believed to have cleared the remaining hurdles and are therefore at least officially cleared to test at Barcelona.

Lotus’ chassis problems have proved somewhat more surprising given the team’s F1 pedigree, the Enstone-based outfit forced to abandon its programme last week at the Circuit de Catalunya after just seven laps in wake of a failure of the new second chassis.

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120 Comments
  1. Tay says:

    I wonder if it’s more dangerous sending the green Pic out for qualifying in an untuned car he’s never driven than letting him practice in a car that failed 1 of 18 crash tests.

    1. Jon W says:

      A good point well made – I wonder whether the FiA shouldn’t introduce a clause in the superlicence that specifies a minimum distance that must have been run in an F1 car prior to a drivers first quailfying session e.g. 1000km. Of course they won’t because it would contradict their stance on restricted testing.

      Perhaps in Pic’s case, given that he’s had such limited mileage, it’s almost inevitable that he willl crash, so maybe that one test is more important than it seems…

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        Part of the Superlicense is already (or at least used to be) that they have to complete 300km in an F1 car.

        And explain to me why it’s inevitable that Pic will crash? He’ll probably be slow, but hes no novice.

      2. Jon W says:

        I think it’s unrealistic to expect a new driver in a car he’s never driven before on a track he’s never driven before to get through free practice, qualifying and the race without falling off the tarmac.

        We’ll see…

    2. [MISTER] says:

      He’s not gonna drive the car if it failed. Pic so far drove the 2011 car.

      1. Tay says:

        Not according to this report. It sounds very much like Marussia plans to let the 2012 car out at Melbourne.

    3. Phil C says:

      Well Senna and Chandhok both had to do that for HRT in 2010, and Karthakeyan had to last season, after being out of the sport for five years.

      At the end of the day it’s a new car for Glock too – both drivers have done mileage in an F1 car this season, so the fact the car is ‘untuned’ (and remember, they’re getting help from McLaren this season) shouldn’t make any difference.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Hi James,

    I’ve been very glad to see the arrival of 3 new teams into F1, but I’m beginning to get tired at their lack of progress, and the problems they’ve all had recently really beg the question whether they are all deserving of their places in F1. What do you think about this? When you think back to what Stewart and Jordan achieved within 3 years back in the ’90s, it really seems poor that none of them have even scored a point yet.

    Cheers.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well it shows how high the bar is. What changed is the level of competence of all F1 teams. Look how competitive the midfield is and they can’t even get close to the top four.

      Look then at what Red Bull has done in the last five years to go from P7 to P1. That shows its possible, but you need the right plan and resources and you need the rest to fall away to give you the opportunity. But it can be done

      1. Kishan says:

        Resources… You mean a couple of hundred million!!!

      2. Ben says:

        Red Bull only achieved that courtesy of massive regulation changes regarding the aerodynamics that essentially reset the playing field. While I don’t doubt that with Newey at the helm they would have playing alongside Ferrari and McLaren they would not have been in a position to dominate.

      3. Natthulal says:

        Don’t forget Didi’s deep pockets. You can fake everything but not wealth (at least not for long, ask king of good times).

      4. Kevin Green says:

        Or in particular a certain person in your team, and he ain’t a driver!

      5. Tyler says:

        Exactly

      6. Simon Donald says:

        Formula 1 is just so much more competitive now than it ever was in my lifetime. Jordan were able to pitch up and come 5th in their first season. Stewart GP were regularly scoring points in their third season. Of all of them, Caterham and thier previous incarnation, Team Lotus, seem to be the most likely to be a long term fixture in F1. Hope HRT and Marussia are able to improve their form, but I guess when you have a competition, someone always has to finish at the bottom.

      7. Dave Winter says:

        Sorry to hear you are dead!

      8. Ashwin says:

        Hello James,

        You are indeed right.
        But, I suppose you missed to address the money perspective or have you when you mentioned “resources”.
        Isn’t today’s financial conditions making the smaller teams in fact fight for the very existence amongst the biggies cos sponsorships are hard to come (especially the smaller new teams)?
        RRA has in a way achieved in reducing the operating costs. But without proper support and guidance from F1 community, I suppose the smaller teams will more often than not be looking at opportunities to pull the plug rather than to stay, compete and earn more points which eventually is money.

      9. Kay says:

        “but you need the right plan and resources”

        Plan = hire another A.Newey :D
        Resources = 10 truckloads of Red Bulls sitting in your garage with a big fat cheques in your pocket.

      10. James Allen says:

        Turning over 2 x what Ferrari turn over as a business with a very profitable can of drink is a good business model!!

      11. RodgerT says:

        A Newey designed car didn’t win a WCC after 1998 until 2010.

        While the car is very important, it takes a whole team, from tire changers to team principal in order to move up the grid, much less win champions.

      12. Natthulal says:

        @RodgerT – Tells something about management of Ron Dennis and Strong headed personality of Adrian Newey. All about personality clash.

      13. Mark in Australia says:

        I agree James, the arms race to move forward up the grid is amazing to watch… But the budget to get moving is just as amazing. What would be the difference in budget between Red Bull, the big movers and shakers, and a team like HRT or even Sahara Force India???

      14. Glennb says:

        Red Bull also had some respectable drivers to help develop the car early on. DC, Webber and later Vettel. Newey chipped in there somewhere along the line too ;)

    2. Dave Aston says:

      I reckon it’s harder for small teams to score points now, as the cars are so reliable now. Mass DNFs used to provide a lot more opportunity, even though there were only points down to p6.

    3. Andrew Carter says:

      Interesting choices of examples, since Jordan had a good car their first year but where pretty much backmakers for the next two and Stewart, who were Fords works team, had a car that was generally in the bottom third for most of their first two seasons. BAR, who were comparetively far better funded than any of these three, didnt score a point and could barely finish a race in its first season. Toyota with a Ferrari bugdet finished their first season behind Minardi (after spending all of the previous year privately testing).

      To my knowledge, the only start-up team of the last 20 years that hasnt found itself down at the back of the grid at some point is Sauber, who with the exception of the BMW years have been permanently rooted to the midfield.

      1. Jonathan says:

        A fair comment about Jordan and Stewart, and certainly Sauber has struggled to really every move forward. That said all of the teams you mention including BAR in their second season and Toyota mixed it up a bit on the grid sometimes and set an occasional cat amongst the pigeons. Sauber have always been relied upon to provide exciting midfield racing and Jordan and Stewart even won a few between them, however lucky Herbert was in 1999! I would rather Virgin etc. were there than not, but I’m just getting tired of them constantly racing in exactly the same positions. Maybe this is a result of the new qualifying format, which I think is great, but does tend to leave the same runners at the back every time.

      2. Andrew Carter says:

        BAR (who became the works Honda team in their second season) and Toyota were seriously big money attempts, so it’s hardly fair to compare them with even Caterham, who look like they might be about to get on to the back of the mid-field properly now, and Jordan took 7 years to win a race. To be honest I cant see HRT ever getting off the back of the grid without a serious cash investment as a start to some serious work there. Virgin, though, have a technical assistance deal with McLaren and Pat Symonds as a “consultant” technical director. Considering that it’s only now that they are bringing everything in-house I guess we should have expected such problems, but by the end of the year they really should start showing improved form.

    4. Trent says:

      Stewart and Jordan are well and truly the exception in the 1990′s, rather than the rule.

      There are countless teams in the late 80′s and 90′s that could, at times, barely get their car to do a lap let alone finish a race. Life, Eurobrun, AGS, First, Coloni – the list is long.

      As far as I’m concerned, this is by far the most professional that the back of the grid has ever been. To me, they add more value to the show than an empty grid slot.

      1. Iwan says:

        I’m with you on this one. And I think the gap should be reduced to THEM, not the other way around.

    5. Tris says:

      It is my opinion that many people are too unkind to Formula 1’s three youngest teams. To quote Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen from “Through the Looking Glass,”

      “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

      At the Brazilian GP last season Vettle was on pole with 1m11.918; the fastest of the younger teams was Kovalainen with a 1m15.068 which equivalent is 95.8% of the performance of the Red Bull at the top of the time sheets.

      It is difficult to maintain this gap let alone close it. How are HRT et al. supposed to better the development rate of the top teams with so few resources?

    6. Natthulal says:

      We cannot compare 90s with current F1. Especially given the high level of reliability that F1 cars have these days, its not possible to dream for a new(back of the grid) team, that it will have a fluke point finish or podium in a race filled with attrition. With improvements in car handling even the wet/variable weather races don’t see as many car faliures/dnfs as we used to see back in 80s-90s.

      One such fluke race result was good enough to make the team a talking point and increasing interest of fans and sponsors in the team.

      Last time a really back marker driver had a points finish in miraculous fashion was Zsolt Baumgartner at USGP 2004 ( Again race of sttrition).

      So expecting the new teams to settle down in F1 in first 2-3 years like a Stewart or Jordan did in 90s is very unrealistic expectation.

      Feel bad for the teams actually. Their situation is like getting invited to party where invitation says “casual dress code” and then when one reaches the menu one finds everybody else shows up in Black tie to leave you humiliated in your Jeans and Sandals.

    7. Bollo says:

      I’m more tired of the usual winners than the slower cars. These new teams provide a fascinating secondary storyline and I would miss it if they weren’t there.

    8. Phil C says:

      Stewart are achieving great things these days, they’ve wont both championships for two years in a row now…

  3. goferet says:

    I guess we shouldn’t be surprised with this news for teams like Marussia & HRT are called backmarkers for a reason i.e. Few resources, untalented staff, poor management & basically lack of seriousness.

    Somebody like Glock must be scratching his head and wondering what the heck he’s doing in Marussia, it seems to me, he threw away his career after signing up with these no hopers.

    Oh well, at least HRT and Marussia will be a safe bet as the two teams most likely to bring out the safety car in Australia that’s if they can even make it through the 107% death trap.

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Untalented staff? That’s pretty harsh.

    2. Mark Crooks says:

      “untalented staff, poor management” bit harsh don’t you think. From my reading of interviews with teams at the lower end they work just as hard and are just as talented as the teams at the front.

      I think finance and stability with a clear strategy is critical to any team. It’s this that is missing Marussia and HRT.

      A perfect example is:

      Stewart Racing (limited resources, clear strategy) > Jaguar (large budget, inconsistent management and unclear strategy) > Red Bull (clear strategy and large budget)

      1. Natthulal says:

        To add to your point, for Stewart Racing to metamorphose in Championship winning RedBull Racing it took 14 years. This is merely year 3 of the new teams. So lets not be overly harsh on them I say.

        Nobody complains about the fact that FIA/FOM didn’t keep their part of the promise that budgets will be reduced to 40M$ and the front running and midfield teams are clearly not complying with the budget cap.

    3. Dizzy says:

      “untalented staff, poor management & basically lack of seriousness.”

      thats harsh, most of the staff for both teams are guys with a lot of f1 experience. A lot of Ex-Toyota/Super Aguri guys ended up at these new teams & some of those guys have worked at some of the big/established teams in the past.

    4. Liam in Sydney says:

      Indeed. I think it highly unlikely that Marussia/HRT will actually qualify for Melbourne. This will miss the 107%.

    5. Trent says:

      Besides ‘lack of resources’, I don’t think you can qualify any of your other comments.

      Lack of seriousness? That’s a pretty harsh call about some hard working people.

    6. Norman C says:

      Glock made a calculated risk that unfortunately did not pay off. Hekki made the same calculted risk with Team Lotus and it had paid off handsomely for his stock. – Especially in fire fighting :)

      1. Natthulal says:

        True now he know all about Dry chemical, 4.2 Foams, Water, and Class D fire extinguishers.

        I am sure if Heikki was in JPM’s place in Daytona, he would have helped the crew in extinguishing the fire in his capacity as certified fire-fighter ;-)

    7. Andy says:

      ” Few resources, untalented staff, poor management & basically lack of seriousness.

      I think that is a bit unfair. Inexperienced staff have got to start somewhere just like drivers have to. Newey started at Fittipaldi, Pat Fry started at a very young Benetton, and Neil Oatley joined the newly formed Williams Team.

      I think the biggest problem is the lack of money.

  4. Andy says:

    James,

    Do you know what the 18 tests are? Also which one is causing their problem?

    1. Kit says:

      Here’s a silly question: Does that mean they have to build 18 chassis to test out different impact points on the car?

      Curious…

      1. Optimaximal says:

        As I understand it from another forum, the cars are disassembled into their component parts which are attached to various rigs. The chassis/safety cell obvious has the majority of impact tests, but I’d imagine various extraneous parts are rammed into walls/rammed by other devices separate from the chassis tests.

        Obviously, it’s not been made clear what the tests do involve (i.e. are they just testing intrusion or also things like the safety of third parties in crash scenarios, such as wheel tether strength etc.), which is something FOM/the FIA could offer, even if it is older video from previous years (akin to already allowing unlimited running of cars older than two years).

      2. daphne says:

        There is some F1 crash test video posted on Scarb’s F1 blog, around Nov 4 2011 – scroll way, way, down.

      3. I guess that depends on if they fail on the first, or 18th test! :)

      4. Andrew Carter says:

        No, it’s one chassis that receives a lot of punishment.

    2. from what i have read no … i am pretty sure i have read that they take the chassis home and repair and re-use if as a spare chassis.

      Matt

  5. Jamie Cottage says:

    For safety reasons the pre-season tests should be mandatory IMO. Your car WILL be ready or else you won’t race.

    1. Oliver Drew says:

      Not unreasonable, but HRT haven’t caused any incidents in the last 2 years involving other cars because they didn’t go to pre-season.

      With regard to the original article, I still have great respect for the new teams, in particular Caterham, but Marussia/Virgin and HRT have done very very well on a relatively tiny budget.

      What is important to remember is that both teams have had massive internal changes in the off-season in order to ensure medium/long-term security.

      This means hopefully the problems HRT have had for the last 2 years and this year them and Marussia will not be repeated going forward.

      Also, just because they’ve not tested doesn’t mean that there cars will be 8 seconds off the pace…it’s not likely they’ll be midfield-competitive, but certainly they could close the gap on Caterham etc. Fingers crossed.

    2. JohnBt says:

      Tell Bernie that or FIA? But it happens in F1 through history.

  6. Mark Roberts says:

    From an outsiders point of view it seems for teams to be falling mandatory crash tests so close to the start of the season it can only be down to ultimate lack of funds. I think it’s embarrassing for F1.

    1. Phil C says:

      Personally, I think it’s more likely that both these teams have suffered major upheavals recently. In the middle of last season, Virgin announced it was splitting from Wirth, which meant they had to start from scratch on their own car, and get ready to build it in house.

      HRT meanwhile split with Kolles, which would have delayed the new car while they were sorting the details with contractors.

      So both teams were late in beginning their cars. Teams will extract as much time as possible to get a car ready. Marussia were confident they would be at the third test, but one part – I believe the nose cone – failed the test. As they have to manufacture other parts, which takes time, they cancelled their appearence.

      Also, lets not forget last season, crash testing was not needed to be able to test a car. So then it was not that big an issue, and hardly reported. the only time I heard mention was when HRT’s wing failed the test, and they had to use the 2010 one for Melbourne.

      And there’s also a bit of history in late crash tests, Prost nearly didn’t start the 1999 season because they failed a crash test before the first race.

      So it’s not about money, it’s about the awareness and the change in the regulations…

  7. Davexxx says:

    “The problem with Lotus’ 2012 chassis is the front suspension mountings, Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport has revealed.” according to SpeedTV website…

  8. Davexxx says:

    James, totally off topic and please forgive the personal question, but after following your website all through the off-season like many people and grateful for the unceasing stream of ‘news’, I wondered: when do you manage to take a holiday?!! (‘Vacation’ to our American friends) :-)

    1. James Allen says:

      I fit it in. Just had a week over school half term with family skiiing in Italy, as it happens.

  9. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    As a new team, Brawn did it all in just one year from scratch.

    A question James, how many chassis a team needs to pass all the 18 crash tests? 1, 2, 18…?

    1. James Allen says:

      Just the one, as far as I know

    2. Optimaximal says:

      Brawn was *not* a new team. It was essentially the Honda with a Mercedes engine.

    3. Brawn did it all in one year from scratch?

      Unfortunately HRT & Marussia don’t have access to an off-the-shelf race-winning car funded by a manufacturer who has just pulled out.

      The most ridiculous comparison I have seen in a long time!

    4. lecho says:

      Brawn wasn’t completely new team, it was built using Honda’s resources, both human and financial. The BGP001 was developed as a Honda car, which later caused problems when the team had to fit much bigger Mercedes engine into it.

    5. Natthulal says:

      Honda pumped in money even after formally withdrawing from F1 as part of their exit strategy to meet lots of “contractual, legal” obligations. Fry/Brawn get too much credit than they deserve IMO, weren’t these the guys who were already in charge of the Honda project before the Honda exit.

      Fry was around right after Dave Richards left the project at end of 2004 and Brawn was part of the project for almost two seasons before 2009 season.

      Can’t deny the possibility of perfect scam in the Brawn story….

      1. Landon says:

        In fact a lot of the design elements from the BGP001 were actually slated to be on a Super Aguri, not a Honda. (Who snapped them up after SA folded.) look at the three of them side by side, and the heritage is obvious.

      2. Natthulal says:

        Landon, exactly. Very interesting timing Fry chose to pull the plug from Aguri Suzuki’s Super Aguri project,in spite of Aguri San presenting a reliable Indian Sponsor, who knows 2009 might have been the year of Sato-Narain duo.

  10. Mark Taylor says:

    Hi James, will Lotus have to re-do the tests if they make major changes to their chassis to fix their issues?

    Thanks

    1. franed says:

      I would imagine that this could possibly affect the wheel tethers anchor points, which if so, must need re-testing since they are defined safety areas. If not then they certainly should be.
      Must have been a bit dramatic, reminiscent of Colin Chapamn’s era.

  11. phil says:

    these new teams make f1 a laughing stock. This is pathetic from Both HRT and Marussia. Reminds me of the old days. They contribute nothing to f1 at all whats the point. At least Air Aisa makes a proper effort and are a decent looking outfit.

    Everyone critises the idea of a three car team or major teams running 2 teams. At the end of the day more cars on the grid which are competitive the better.

    1. Rich C says:

      Thank you for your usual point of view, Mr 3-Car Monte.

  12. Tim Horton says:

    Any news on when your twitter feed will be back up and working?

  13. Rob G says:

    Neither HRT nor Marrusia will qualify for Melbourne. I often wonder what the point is for these 2 teams. Caterham clearly has a vision and are strongly motivated to improve the team and move up the grid but I don’t get the same sense from the other 2. They seem happy to simply be in Formula One.

    1. Natthulal says:

      Just a matter of times for Tony Fernandes to turn into Vijay Mallya….

      Lots of murmurs about how Tony manipulated the Malaysian Govt in the success story of Air Asia.

      Mallya and Kingfisher were doing the same thing in India, till their cover is finally blown up in recent months.

      So just a matter of time…

  14. Sebee says:

    I used to wish for a day when there were 24 cars. Now I don’t care much. Too much to pay attention to in top 10 to care what’s even in the next 10. Never mind 21-24.

    1. The Backmarker says:

      I could hardly agree less. My main interest in F1 has always lain away from the leading teams of any given era. I’m more interested in the idea of the smaller teams and the less established drivers having their minor triumphs and relative successes. Q1 and Q2 are always of more interest to me than what people insist on calling the “shootout” in Q3…

  15. Philippe Lasry says:

    Hi James,

    What value (if any) do you think HRT add to the grid? Why do the FIA put up with their complete lack of competency?

    Thanks.

    1. Natthulal says:

      Coz FIA has not kept on their promise to these teams that it will clamp down the operating budgets of F1 teams to 40M per year.

      From the looks of it, while these teams are able to pull together 40M annually, that much money is not enough to run a competitive F1 team.

  16. Rich C says:

    Sucks to be them, for sure.

    Did I miss HRT’s announcement about also failing crash tests?

    1. Chris says:

      HRT have passed all the crash tests and will be in Barcelona in some capacity.

      1. Rich C says:

        The article clearly said they had failed “two crash tests itself”

        And because this is the first I heard of it, my question was did I miss *their press release?

        When and where was it announced? Or, was it a big secret?

      2. Chris says:

        All news sources have announced the fact that HRT have passed the tests, even HRT told all news sources about it.

      3. Phil C says:

        It was announced just before the first Barcelona test I believe

        Also Chris, where have you heard that HRT will be at Barcelona in some capacity? I’ve not heard anything to the like

  17. tim says:

    Make one wonder what the team is doing for the rest of the year. It’s doubtful they’re pushing the car to the last second in development in order to eke out another tenth. Surely they could have planned this much better. I thought Pat Symonds was involved now. This doesn’t sound like something he’d oversee.

      1. Optimaximal says:

        Isn’t Symonds still ‘advising’ as a ‘consultant’. I don’t think he is legally allowed to officially join a team for another year or two as part of his ban.

        I guess it boils down to him advising the team on what to look at to fix Wirth’s ‘damage’.

      2. Iwan says:

        The whole “consultant” thing is just contractual wordplay.

        You can appoint a “consultant” to do just about anything. The only difference is he gives you an invoice at the end of the month for his services.

      3. Dan Orsino says:

        forgive a question that’s not totally relevant but was it Wirth who put himself up as THE MAN WHO CAN when Virgin started? I’m sorry to see a fine driver like Glock enmeshed in this team that looks destined to stay at the back for the forseeable future

  18. A.B.Normal says:

    F1 prides itself on being the pinnacle of innovative design, but I sometimes feel that it is at the expense of the Sport, if the Sport is about the world’s best drivers in almost equal machines. The craft of an engineer or aerodynamicist should not be more important than the skill of a driver. A team with a smaller budget should still be able to compete. Still love F1, just my opinion.

    1. RodgerT says:

      Formula one has always been about the manufacturers.

      In the early days it was road car builders racing their products against each other to promote the brand. Then they started building specific cars for racing. This is when Enzo left Alfa to make a racing team that supported itself by making road cars. It wasn’t until after WWII that teams whose sole purpose was to win Grands Prix cropped up, but even then most teams were works teams for road car companies.

      F1 cars are built to a formula, not a specification. The difference being that a formula set out limits on engine size and power, and certain allowable/unallowable features of the chassis. Then it’s up to the teams to come up with a car that meets the formula, and be faster than anyone else.

      GP2, Formula Renault, F3000. These are all spec series where all the teams are using the same chassis, engine, suspension, etc. so the best way to win is with the best drivers, and support staff. And since the the machinery is the same from car to car, driver skill comes to the fore, and once a driver proves his worth there the teams from F1 scoop them up in order to have the best drivers draining the most advanced cars.

      tl;dnr: F1 is about the cars. Spec series is about the drivers.

    2. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      F1 has never been about “equal” cars. It has always been about having the fastest available drivers(at least in the top half of the grid)in the fastest machines that the worlds best available engineers can design, within a given set of regulations. Inevitably, how much a team can afford for all these components will play a big part( although buckets of cash doesn’t neccessarily win you championships, just ask ferrari) Innovation is the key.
      An Adrian Newey or Vettel type of talent can only work for one team at a time.
      So, there is always going to be “pecking order”.
      This is what I find intriging about F1, and why I love it so much!

  19. Dmitry says:

    No surprises here… move along.

    Seriously! As James already told us – last 2 seasons clearly shows the “competence of all F1 teams”… but from my point of view HRT and Virgin are just “jokes”, they are in no way a serious F1 teams.
    Just look at Virgin (ok, ok, Marussia… I simply don’t like this name) – it was just a toy for Richard Branson. He decided to play cars (possibly because planes and space rockets already bored him…), so he assembled a team, gave them some nice PCs to play with, 3dMax and told them to “draw up a 100% CFD F-1 car”… of course, after several years he became bored again (and now switched to underwater exploration)… and gave away his toy to another kid to play with (this time to russian-backed group of kids).
    C’mon, it was a joke from the start!

    I know, I might be too radical, but I would like FIA to impose strict rules regarding “new teams”.
    Like a mandatory 5-year budget, through development plans for at least 3 seasons, base of operations with all required facilities, contracts (at least on final stages) with engine suppliers and wind-tunnel operators, external audit checks every 6 months (financial and technical)…

    I would have eliminated such “new entries” completely, and there would be no such “insults” like US F1 and Cypher (remember them?)!

    1. Dmitry says:

      Addition:
      Of course, don’t forget “Super Aguri”! They are in the same row.

      1. Optimaximal says:

        Don’t forget that the three new teams were all granted entry at a time when Mosley was basically parading around saying ‘all teams will be running on my tiny budget cap next year or else’.

        Virgin’s plan was bold, extremely dangerous but cost effective – they brought a car to the grid with less money invested than anyone else (including HRT), largely by building the car entirely using CFD. It didn’t necessarily work, but I guess it proved you can run an F1 without building accurate scale models in an expensive wind tunnel.

        The proposals you offer would prevent anyone joining the grid. The 5 year budget alone would preclude entry for everyone but a die-hard manufacturer team.

        For the record, McLaren run their team largely on a year by year basis. They make very little (relative) profit next to Ferrari, Mercedes & Red Bull, so a lean championship year hurts them badly (see 2007 when they were excluded, which may go some way to explain the bad car in 2009) as they then get most of their money under Bernie’s historic payments.

        Are you suggesting they should be barred from the sport because they don’t have the umpteen hundreds of billions set aside that would be required for a proper 5-year installed budget?

      2. Dmitry says:

        You are deeply mistaken about McLaren. Yes, they don’t have the money of Ferrari, but they do have big sponsors and investors.
        I don’t agree also about the outcome of the fine imposed on them. Just look at the beginning of 2011 – they have created the problem themselves…

        Also you are mistaken about “hundreds of billions”… even Ferrari, Mercedes & Red Bull doesn’t have such money… and in no moment was I speaking about such large ammount.

        And the last. My proposal goes only to “new entries” (established teams every day prove they belong to F1, so the requirements for them clearly should be different).

        The “core” of my proposal – is to ensure, that “new teams” will be contractually bound (and funded) to participate during the five year period. And they will appear on grid (unlike US F1), will have funds to develop they and won’t disappear after only a season (or two in case of Super Aguri).

        And YES, if this means, there will be only 9-10 die-hard F1 teams on the grid opposed to 9-10 die-hard teams plus 2 “joke”-teams, so be it. F1 will be a better place in that case.

      3. Optimaximal says:

        The ‘hundreds of billions’ was a tongue in cheek comment.

      4. Natthulal says:

        @ Dmitry – correction Super Aguri didn’t disappear. They were killed by the Parent team @Brackley when they showed better results than the parent team pretty much running old spec cars from parent company.

        Last we had heard was Brackley team’s then boss called Fry was vetting the investors that Aguri Suzuki had lined up to present to the Honda Board. In their final season (punctuated mid-season), it was story of Aguri Suzuki lining up sponsors and Nick Fry rejecting them on flimsy grounds…

        Last of the group were the corporate from India who were associated with A1 team India project who had finances to back Super Aguri team, the only condition was for Narain Karthikeyan to pair with Takuma Sato for more of Asian presence on the team.

        Fry rejected the sponsors and shut down paddock entry for Super Aguri Transporters to enter the paddock at race meeting.

        15-20 years down the line some one somewhere will unearth lots of interesting skeletons when the name Fry will be researched…..
        Its just a matter of time

    2. lecho says:

      For me, Virgin took a risk to design first all-CFD Formula 1 car. It could have paid out, but it didn’t. So now they have to redo all their previous work and get reverted to using more “standard” methods, such as wind tunnels etc. That costs resources and most valuably, time.

      As for HRT they from the beginning had many problems not strictly related to Formula 1, such as ownership which AFAIR had already changed two time. Same with their boss, who is already a third one in third Formula 1 year. To start making progress, they at first need to work out all the paperwork, because only a stable and reliable team can successfully look for sponsors. All in all, in both drivers and staff lineup, they really don’t look as bad as their results are.

    3. Phil C says:

      Think you might be beliving too much that Branson had a lot to do with Virgin – who entered the sport as manor. Indeed, Branson just paid a small sum for the naming rights. It was manor who went to Wirth, and Wirth who convinced them that to run with the budget cap, an all CFD solution was the answer…

  20. Richard says:

    Well I think it ought to be mandatory for all teams to attend one test session with a minimum number of laps covered otherwise the teams are sending a car out into free practice with default settings, and where the team lacks experience the problem is exacerbated. These “new” teams really do need to get adequate funding and resources in place. That is exactly what Caterham have done, and I wish them well, furthermore I hope they can realise the jump into the midfield all the hard work promises.

    1. Geoff says:

      Teams should be allowed unlimited practicing until they make it inside 107% and get onto the grid.

      1. Natthulal says:

        Tyres allocation is limited. Ironically both RedBull and HRT will get same number of Tyres, given the resources RedBull has one can imagine amount of data a RedBull extracts versus what HRT extract on allocated number of Tyres.

        So unlimited practice time for last three teams while fair on paper isn’t going to happen.
        And in case if FIA makes some regulation change to benefit the last three teams to make the battle interesting, next thing you know STR will start tanking races to finish final 3 and make RedBull young drivers data-mules before being humiliated and dumped in season or two.

      2. rgvkiwi says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Or even as a “new” team, 2 years less restricted practice or some such thing.

        Imagine all the data Mclaren, Ferrari etc have available over the years as reference/background/experience to draw upon.

  21. Daryl says:

    I like having all the cars out there regardless of there performance deficit. Sometimes when the racing is boring at the front we get to see a good battle back in the midfeild or an underdog having a good run. Eventually with the resource restrictions the gap should narrow.

  22. Andrew Kirk says:

    Interesting post as usual James what is your view on Marussi and HRT? Another year of making up the numbers?

    1. James Allen says:

      As opposed to what – winning?

  23. Dan Orsino says:

    James do you think Lotus will make it ok for this thursday?

    If so will the drivers again share track time or will Kimi get more time as the lead driver??

    1. James Allen says:

      I imagine they will share it.

  24. terryshep says:

    Latest news from the BBC is that Ferrari & Red Bull cannot delay their four day test and will, therefore, take part with the other teams, on the original dates.

    One wonders if this will affect their final preparations.

  25. lee saunders says:

    we need to return to unlimited close season testing its the only way for the smaller teams to get their cars anywhere near the start grid for the season opener.whether there is the money for them to actually do this is another matter.

    1. Natthulal says:

      In the era of unlimited testing, Jordan, Minardi hardly had enough resources to make use of all the “unlimited testing” that was on offer. The result, Ferrari went 24x7x365 on their private test track, their defense was of the Bridgestone runners, the other two teams don’t show up for testing as such Ferrari doesn’t get enough data as that of Michelin runners.

      Not to mention Ferrari also had a Trojan in form Sauber to run with the Michelin teams so had good information about Ferrari Engine-Michelin Tyre combination.

      As the Pink Floyd said its all about – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkhX5W7JoWI

      1. lee saunders says:

        fair point , its interesting too that ferrari seems to be biggest loser under the present system.

  26. Nullius says:

    Prodrive would have been more competitive out of the box than HRT or Virgin/Marussia. Lola too. The auction for the last places on the grid a few years ago looks a bit short-sighted now. Perhaps Bernie felt he needed the extra cash for his daughters’ palaces more than the spectacle of better racing.

    Perhaps there should be a rule that if a team does not score a single point in two seasons, then its place on the grid is up for grabs.

  27. Tyler says:

    I like having underdog/small budget teams, seeing a small fish take it to the big guns is rare but when it happens is much more satisfying than seeing Schumi or Vettel on pole with the resulting parade to the finish. They are always capable of suprises, Arrows at the Hungaroring in ’97 as one example.

    I just dont understand why they dont back the program up and start earlier. They literally cut it to the last minute. My guess is money and scheduling, but just an extra week would have increased the likelihood of attending the last test. HRT have done this 3 years in a row now. I dont understand all the mechanisms behind an F1 operation, but what do the investors hope to gain by such a half hearted effort? Tax write offs and schmoozing VIPs I guess, but certainly not competitiveness.

    1. Chris says:

      Hungaroring in 97 was the best race ever, just can’t believe Damon’s car blew it on the last lap. Still irks me that, it prooved Damon was one of the best (maybe not as good as Michael,but who was??)

      I think Damon earned a lot of respect that day!!!

  28. JimmiC says:

    “Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running commences.”

    They sound so hard done by, lips pouting like it’s not fair…

  29. Jason says:

    In season testing needs to return. Not only for developments, but also for 3rd and test drivers to get some experience.

    1. Rich C says:

      This would only benefit the big teams with deep pockets and their own track.

      Ferrari used to have practically an entire second race team just pounding around their track constantly.

      Doing about a gabillion kms of testing a year certainly helped them out but is totally beyond the reach of most teams.

      1. Chris says:

        Was that a Schumacher era thing, or did it happen before that? And as for giving third driver experiance, all teams should be made to do this on Fridays I think.

        On that note though, Luca Badoer did more mileage than any other third driver, and any other race driver, didn’t help him out though did it?

  30. Tay says:

    I hope I’m not putting words in your mouth, but I can’t agree that having a car hit qualifying with zero practice tuning will perform as it’s same hypothetical counterpart having been practiced.

  31. Simmo says:

    In my view, the biggest problem with Marussia and HRT is they are unstable and insecure. Because of this, they:
    * Are unable to get on with their job as an F1 team
    * Do not and cannot see any future improvement, so they end up running around at the back.

    This is clear by the fact that HRT keep getting new liveries (I am unsure about their 2012 livery). And they change their names a lot.

    For me, Lotus now seem a bit like this. They feel like a completely different team to Renault, when in fact, they are not.

    Look at Honda (I think it was Honda (I am unsure, as I only fully followed F1 from 2010 onwards)). In 2008 they were nothing. Brawn came along and effectively took over, and dominated the 1st half of the season. Why? Because they were secure.

    We just need to give these teams a few more years and (once they are stable) they should deliver points results.

    If not by then – then we get rid of them.

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