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JA on F1 Podcast #1: Hamilton, Perez, and Honda’s possible return to F1
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Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Mar 2013   |  12:00 am GMT  |  60 comments

Welcome to the first JA on F1 podcast of 2013. As last year, we will be coming out every month throughout the F1 season, going behind the scenes of this fascinating sport, providing in depth analysis and behind the scenes insight, talking to the big names and introducing a wide cast of characters.

In this season build-up edition we have a packed podcast, as we head towards Melbourne:
* Mercedes set the pace as testing came to a close. But are they genuine contenders? And who is looking good? Former Williams chief engineer Mark Gillan, now JA on F1 Technical Adviser, analyses what we learned from the winter tests and runs the rule over the leading car and driver combinations.
* We’ll hear how Lewis Hamilton is settling into his new home at Mercedes
* And we catch up with the man who replaced Hamilton at McLaren, Sergio Perez. He tells us what his approach to the season will be.
* We pair up Mercedes’ Nick Fry with a top banking analyst in the automotive sector to discuss manufacturers in F1 and whether this is the right moment for Honda to re-enter F1. Fry also talks about the changes in the Mercedes F1 team.
* The tyres were the big talking point of last season – so what surprises will the 2013 models throw up this time? We speak to company president Marco Provera and to motorsport director Paul Hembery
* Five major companies have come into F1 as sponsors this winter, what does this trend mean? Leading sponsor finder Zak Brown has the answers.

As ever, please let us have your feedback. Remember you can subscribe to the JA on F1 Podcast on iTunes – and if you like it, please rate it.


No player? Download the podcast directly.

0.00 Introduction
1.39 Mark Gillan – analysis of F1 testing, who’s looking quick this season
8.19 Lewis Hamilton on life at Mercedes
12.12 Sergio Perez on his approach to his first season at McLaren
17.39 Zak Brown on the influx of new sponsors to F1
22.22 Pirelli’s Marco Provera and Paul Hembery on what we can expect in 2013
29.25 Mercedes’ Nick Fry and UBS senior analyst Rolf Ganter on manufacturers and F1
36.52 Wrap up

Duration: 37.25

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60 Comments
  1. leigh says:

    Thanks for that.

  2. roryfireplace says:

    thanks James…enjoyed it very much.

  3. jim white says:

    That was a fascinating podcast,a fantastic start to the season,thankyou James.

  4. Anne says:

    Very interesting. Mark Gillian saying that the key this season is tyres management again!!! I didn´t want to hear that.

    Lewis said that Mercedes has 3 simulators. Is that a new trend in F1 or it´s only a Mercedes thing.

    I´m sure Perez is going to do everything in his power to win. But the fact is he was very inconsistant last season. One race in the podium and the next one outside the points. I don´t know how he can change that. The car all by itself can´t do it.

    And Mercedes won´t be in trouble if they don´t win in F1. Mercedes in the past has been hit with tragedy at racing. They decided to quit. And that never hurt the company. Mercedes has shown they don´t need racing to sell cars

    1. Timmay says:

      Your comment about tyre management – that is exactly how I felt. In many ways 2014 cannot come soon enough as the teams will have multiple new challenges instead of just tyre micro-management.

      I am an F1 fan for 18+ years – I never fell asleep so often as in the last 2 seasons.

      1. Marcin says:

        You realise this is 2013, not 2004, right?

      2. Sascha says:

        I’m fed up with this tyres managing/ nursing, too.
        Cars drive around at delta times , to conserve the rubbish rubber. This is not racing, this boring!
        All we hear is about tyres, tyres, tyres, it’s so tyring. 2014 i hope a new tyres supplier comes to replace Pireelli

      3. John says:

        I have been watching F1 for 30 years, it was considerably less enjoyable a decade ago, and the last 2 years have been exciting. 7 different winners in the first 7 races last season…… Maybe you have been watching the Indy car by mistake.

      4. Alister says:

        I could not agree more.It is pretty clear from the comments from the drivers last year that the Pirelli tires, hampered the development of the cars, therefore the performances…F1 is still supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport? ( 7 different winners in the 1st 7 races..exciting…lol.Theses tires are more smokes screen to the f1 circus…No wonder why Pirelli is not interested in having an in battle with another manufacturer…Because Michelin and Brigestone both provided better tires.

  5. Elie says:

    Thanks for that James. I enjoyed the praise Paul Hembrey gave to Sergio and Romain for their efforts in Canada. I think many times this sort of speed is overlooked when looking at front runners.

  6. Miran says:

    James, what do you think is the reason Mark Gillan left Williams, and why didn’t he join another one? He was a great value for Frank’s team in 2012.

    1. Scuderia McLaren says:

      Perhaps Mr Gillan too, like Mr Parr, stood in the way of Mr E? Ohhhh juicy… Unlikely though.

      Or maybe Mark’s statement about family is actually true, ie needing to spend more time with them. F1 is [mod] for la famiglia.

      Either way, Dr G’s insights provided to the main stream media (JAonF1, yes you are main stream) are great for the F1 tech aficionados.

  7. Craig D says:

    Good stuff, thanks!

    Gonna miss the first race though, frustratingly. But going skiing so can’t complain!

  8. Methusalem says:

    I don’t think it was a good idea for McLaren to hire Perez. Hulk would have been a better choice. If Mercedes are going to surprise us, then it would be for three reasons:

    1. Ross Brawn finally got his motivations back after M. Schumacher left the team. I think, Brawn had some unsettled scores with MS from his Ferrari days

    2. Nicki Lauda knew the real secrets of ‘his’ Austrian RB team.

    3. Lewis Hamilton brought McLaren experience

    1. mayur says:

      @methusalem

      what unsettled scores are you talking about ??

    2. Val from montreal says:

      Ross Brawn and Mercedes will win the title this year ! We all know the 7 times champ cant drive and he’s lucky he was racing Rosberg and not an Alonso or a Hamilton … Ross Brawn and Hamilton , the new force , the future !

      Go Mercedes !

      1. Hal says:

        Really? Is this a joke and have i missed the punch line? I’m a Hamiltom fan but to belittle Schumacher is plain wrong (unless you were indeed making a joke). Hamilton by the way has a lot of respect for Schummi.

    3. KRB says:

      You’re seriously suggesting that Ross Brawn would scuttle his team’s prospects for 3 seasons, just to get back at Schumacher for some unknown past slight?!?!??

      This is conspiracy thinking taken to an extreme.

    4. James Clayton says:

      Or, getting out of fantasy land for just one moment

      1. Mercedes were really competitive at the start of last season and, having begun work on this season’s car so early, really have no reason not to be competitive this year

      2 – They haven’t boxed themselves in to a tyre chewing DDRS system this year

      and

      3 – They have secured more funding for in-season development this year

    5. John says:

      1. nonsense.

  9. . says:

    I don’t understand why everyone keeps ignoring the fact Mercedes always posted fast pre-season times just to disappoint in the actual season.

    They will be lucky to finish 5th/6th in Melbourne.

    Similar to everyone intentionally ignoring the fact the 2012 Ferrari had on par race pace as the unreliable RBR. And with the super starts the Ferrari managed, their bad quali pace did not matter. Alonso’s performance was not that special, all hype. His car was on par with RBR on race day, plus more reliable. And when Ferrari needed points for constructors to beat McLaren, suddenly Massa’s car worked properly and he was beating Alonso. Wink.

    Also, tyres, tyres and tyres. Welcome Tyres1, byebye F1.

    1. Tim says:

      Maybe it’s because they don’t agree with your assessment :-)

    2. James Clayton says:

      I like the way you talk about everybody intentionally ignoring “facts” when you yourself manage to ignore some pretty big ones, such as Mercedes having a really strong start to 2012 and not becoming a disappointment until much later on in the season, reasons for which are well documented.

    3. Elie says:

      Exactly, exactly, exactly !!

    4. Joel says:

      I 100% agree with what you are saying here. Infact, I did mention in a couple of my responses about the fast starting Ferrari and their superior race pace.
      If you had given that Lewis’s McL in Alonso’s hands, he wouldn’t have fared any better than Lewis himself and vice-versa. They both are pretty much matched… except for Lewis’s lack of patience.

  10. Sebee says:

    Hey blog dogs? Do you know that right now some chap is pushing last of the cargo containers full of F1 gear onto a plane?

    Tower, requesting permission for take off.
    Roger Roger. You have clearance Clarence. What’s our vector Victor?

  11. Brendan says:

    I’ve got to completely disagree with the marketing men (Fry & UBS) with their ‘relevance’ argument. Going down that line of thought, why would much more manufacturers not be involved in world rally cars?

    F1 engines are not relevant to road cars. The energy recover systems are at best loosely linked, virtually none of the direct technology developed can be carried over, although some knowledge may be useable.

    F1 raises brand awareness. Thats it. No-one makes a decision for a car purchase based on how many races the F1 team is winning – although conversely, if they are blowing engines right, left and centre, they may get a negative association with that.

    [mod]

    1. Witan says:

      Brendan

      Can I suggest a visit to the Science Museum for a little update on the technology carryover from F1. [mod]

      1. Brendan says:

        Feel free to list them! A few throwaway lines in a museum won’t fool anyone with a technical background.

        About the most direct thing to come from F1 recently has been the semi-automatic gearbox. That was in the late 80s and there was also prior instances of road cars having similar systems!

        Everything else is very tenuously linked.

        -KERS units? Ha. At very best, F1 is limited testing of battery technology in a harsh environment.
        -Engines? Nope. Nothing alike. How many road cars have pneumatic valves? Or run at 18k rpm? The operating ranges are so different that carry over knowledge is barely useful never mind anything else.
        -Gearboxes? Nope. When is the last time a standard road car had a titanium/composite box casing?
        -Electronics? Nope. Standard FIA unit.
        -Tyres? Nope. Completely different from normal road cars.
        -Aerodynamics? I could do with a DRS on my yoke if it saves me fuel right enough! :-D [although, obviously because Isuzu Rodeos tend to come without big honking rear wings, fitting a DRS may be an issue...]

      2. Marcin says:

        In the 60′s and 70′s, the mainframe computers taking up entire floors of buildings in the US DoD were connected together using DARPAnet. Today, your iPhone in your pocket can send a text, take a phone call, browse the net, and ‘Like’ a comment, all at the same time using technologies directly derived from those used in DARPAnet. I’m pretty sure no-one in 1975 was predicting that, and yet here we are.

        Just because we don’t know the details of the materials, aerodynamics, control, fuels & lubricants, telemetry, safety, reliability, FEA, cooling, physiological, operations etc etc research that happens in support of F1 competition, doesn’t mean it has no relevance. Cases in point: the example of the McLaren ECU being used in hospitals, or their work with an ER, or Williams Flywheel KERS going into buses.

        Where a car manufacturer really benefit is when their bright engineers (whose names we don’t know, but who are undoubtedly brilliant) get sick of the F1 circus and get back into designing SUVs at head office, they bring a new, sharper way of thinking with them. It doesn’t make headlines, but it makes better cars.

      3. Marcin says:

        From the williamshybridpower.com website:

        “It’s a heavy vehicle and even at relatively low speed it has the same kinetic energy as an F1 car at relatively high speed – the technology therefore reads across very easily from Formula One to a city bus.”

      4. Elie says:

        I agree we don’t even have anti lock brakes in F1 – you can’t even imagine buying a road car without them now- even bikes have them. The relevance argument is very much at an ideology level of greener cars and ERS that’s about it. Of course manufacturers will use this to try to sell cars and put an “f1label” on it as a marketing tool.

      5. aveli says:

        @krb none of the technology in f1 is transfered to ordinary life. it is all a fantasy. not many people have seen any of that.
        they should use the same engine block and energy recovery systems they’d use in 2013 in road cars and get the engines to rev to different max revs to generate different maximum power.
        even with that, v6 engines have been long used in road cars.

      6. coefficientf1 says:

        F1 technology is not limited to the cars they race.

        The Mercedes F1 team has been developing GPS based software that will allow fully autonomous vehicles to function on our roads. The test environment has been the F1 races. They position GPS gear all round the track and have transponders in the cars and gather data as the cars race round that helps inform their software algorithms.

        F1 teams also have the most advanced Carbon Fibre lay up techniques in the world producing the strongest and lightest weaves anywhere. This technology is widely shared in the road car sector and its use is spreading all the time.

        You mention KERS. Battery storage ERS were primitive and virually useless before F1 started to develop them. The battery technology to store such huge amounts of energy safely didn’t really exist in a medium small enough to be acceptable in a car and then F1 made it happen in a matter of months. It was a toe in the water and it proved successful which is why the tech regs are going more in that direction from next year.

        The FIA approved CPU you mention. It is not supplied by the FIA, it is supplied by Mclaren and no you would not plug one into your Nissan Juke. However, the ever evolving and highly refined software programmes that each team loads into the CPU for throttle mapping, fuel mixture, clutch settings, engine powere is all transferable. Its not the maps themselves but the knowledge gained developing them in the pressure cooker environment of F1.

        Yes, the crossover has get less over the years but its about to increase big time.

        There is more to an F1 car than engines and gearboxes and more to F1 than racing cars.

      7. JEZ Playense says:

        There is no doubt in my mind how some (probably many) will think of their Renault 1.6 “world championship winning engine”.

        Silly? Perhaps but harmless, and if it gives some people enjoyment all the better!

    2. Sebee says:

      Agreed, no technology is carried. It is however often developed then modified and adopted and perhaps for purposes of pulling maximum $ branded with “F1″ name on it, but it is not same F1 stuff. And to many of us…well, we’d want the real F1 stuff.

      I sometimes wonder about this myself, and I fully understand the Porsche strategy of racing actual cars that look like production versions. It is a strategy I would push for if I was in charge of a car maker. After all it’s one thing to try to sell a brand logo. It’s another to showcase an actual product the audience can buy. No wonder Porsche is so successful and 911 is such an icon. I miss the days when car makers made special cars for sale that were derived from racing designs to qualify the car for production classes. BMW M1 comes to mind.

      I cannot disagree with your assessment that F1 is first and foremost a marketing show. After all, how car-manufacturered technology centred can it be when a premium sugar water maker is winning everything in sight?

    3. Tim says:

      No-one makes a decision for a car purchase based on how many races the F1 team is winning…

      Do you mind me asking how you know this? Or is it just your opinion presented as fact?
      Personally, I would be surprised if Ferrari and McLaren buyers are not influenced, in their choice, based on F1 success. Also some of the sportier Mercedes models have more than a hint of an F1 nose about the bonnett area.

      1. Brendan says:

        hahahaha

        If you are requiring some numbers in a probability analysis; I suggest you go look at the worldwide distribution for Ferrari sales. The US & Canada account for over a quarter of sales (2007), more than double the next biggest market country (Germany).

        Now, what is F1′s market penetration in the USA? How much do you think the average millionaire in LA pays attention to Fernando Alonso’s last pole lap.

        That would strongly indicate that the link between F1 and sales success is weak. At best.

      2. Tim says:

        I am not sure why you feel the need to be so agressive in your posts. Generally I have found this to be a sign of someone who has a weak argument – who knows, perhaps you are just agressive by nature.
        Now getting back to the point. No one said that every person who buys a Ferrari is a massive F1 fan, but I do believe that most Ferrari buyers are influenced, to some degree, by the whole racing heritage of the marque. You may disagree, and that is your right. But if you are correct, it rather begs the question as to why Ferrari spend hundreds of €millions each year to go racing – based on your analysis , it’s a waste of money as a quarter of their buyers have no interest in F1. It would also call into question the reason why they integrate the design of an F1 car into the styling of their road cars – perhaps this is just a coincidence.
        Either way , agree or disagree its a free country and you are entitled to your opinion, as am I.

      3. James Allen says:

        No aggression here please – Mod

  12. Anne says:

    Sorry off topic. This is good news. Kobayashi will participate in WEC driving for Ferrari. I wish him the best of luck. And maybe who knows if he does a good job at Scuderia sooner or later may go back to F1.

    :)

    1. Scuderia McLaren says:

      Great news. He’ll be great in those cars.

    2. Pete_Nepal says:

      Ferrari and Kobayashi? Exciting!!! WEC and Kobayashi? Not as exciting :(

      What is WEC anyway? Never heard of it. But realistically, this takes it away him away from F1 IMHO :(

    3. Elie says:

      Yeah I read that on twitter today also. Good on him !

  13. wedgie says:

    Interesting to note that when Hamilton talks about his new team he says ‘them’ or ‘they’. I haven’t heard an interview where he says ‘us’ or ‘we’ . It’s sounds as if he doesn’t feel part of the Mercedes team yet?

    1. aveli says:

      he hasn’t raced with them yet so he doesn’t feel like he is part of the team. he wasn’t part of any of their races so quite understandable.
      i do not understand why so many people hate hamilton so much. i remember the fia giving hamilton a hard time when he was arrested in australia over his driving and yet the fia has a drink driver as their vice president. he lost his license for being found drunk at the wheel. this hasn’t even made it to any of the major f1 sites.

      1. wedgie says:

        I don’t [dislike - mod] Lewis , he is definately one of the quickest drivers out there. I agree with the Melbourne incident – certainly a media beat up compared to other things happening.

  14. Sarah says:

    Thanks. Enjoyed that.

  15. goober says:

    Thanks James. Quick recap…

    Tyres … tyres … tyres … Lewis trying to play it down … tyres … Sergio wants to win, but also wants to finish … mandatory Zac Brown piece … tyres … something about UBS.

    Seriously, love the podcast. Keep it up, and enjoy Australia (but please break Melbourne’s heatwave – we’re over it).

  16. Chris Bird says:

    Quality pre season analysis. Choice of guests so original and the fact that they respond in such a candid fashion to your questions are a testament to your standing as a journalist. Just excellent….

  17. Wade Parmino says:

    James, do you think Petrov will be able to get a drive next season, perhaps with Marussia? Considering the new Russian GP on the calendar.

  18. Laurence H says:

    Thanks for the podcast James, a great listen.

  19. Christian Edwards says:

    I’d like to listen via my phone is there a url I can use to subscribe without itunes?
    Thanks

  20. Rich C says:

    “Felipe, your front tires are getting too hot. Do you understand?”

  21. Great podcast as always – thank you James.

    Mark Gillan is such an insightful addition to the blog and podcast. I really enjoyed his analysis during testing.

    Good work with the interviews too. Paul Hembery and Zak Brown standing out I think.

    See you in Melbourne!

  22. Jim St. George says:

    Wonderful podcast, as usual. I was happy to hear the subject of manufacturer involvement in the sport receiving some airtime. As one can read in the comments, the relevance of the sport to society/industry is quite a lively topic (seeing this enthusiasm warms my heart considerably). Please explore it further.

    I want to also suggest an exploration of where motorsports will find its fans in the future. There is a lot of good data out there on falling rates of driver licensing (in Europe and N. America) and a new attitude towards the automobile, as well. What impact, if any, will this have on racing? Are the custodians of the sport paying attention to these demographic winds of change?

    1. James Allen says:

      There is some of that on Podcast #2 from last year with Tony Fernandes.

      1. Jim St. George says:

        I replayed the show. I like Tony. His comment was only a generalization: “…competition for kids’ attention is much harder, now…because they have lots of things they can follow”.

        Perhaps it is a little too esoteric, but there is much more to be explored, there. There is a great shift underway that I don’t think has been fully communicated to racing fans. Thanks, and keep up the great work.

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