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JA on F1 Podcast #4: Mercedes Pirelli test analysis, Red Bull’s future and F1 float
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Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jun 2013   |  4:02 pm GMT  |  45 comments

Welcome to the JA on F1 podcast for June.

This month we have a great mix of personalities, intrigue and insights into the money flow in F1. We talk to a Hollywood legend, the world champion team boss, a former F1 driver and we get right to the heart of the stories of the moment, with analysis of the secret Mercedes Pirelli test and JA on F1 technical adviser and former Williams chief engineer Mark Gillan tells us what potential benefit Mercedes may have got from the test.

F1 Business expert Zak Brown CEO of Just Marketing looks at where the money is coming from these days, why the Concorde Agreement still isn’t signed, six months after the last one expired and why CVC is talking about postponing the flotation of F1.

With the British Grand Prix taking place later this month, BRDC president Derek Warwick gives us a very frank appraisal of how the circuit has learned lessons from last year’s washout.

And we catch up with Oscar winning movie director Ron Howard after the first preview screenings of Rush – his film about James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

It’s a must for all F1 fans looking to get closer to the sport.


No player? Download the podcast directly.

0.00 Introduction
1.34 Pirelli and Mercedes tyre testing – analysis with Mark Gillan
7.12 BRDC President Derek Warwick looks ahead to Silverstone
10.44 Mark Gillan’s thoughts on Silverstone in 2012
13.04 Red Bull team principal Christian Horner speaks to Holly Samos
20.49 Zak Brown with the latest F1 business news
27.31 Director Ron Howard on his forthcoming movie Rush
32.12 Wrap up

Total 32.42

* Thanks for all the support with the Podcast. Regular listeners will be delighted to know that it has been shortlisted in the New York Festivals Awards. We are delighted with the recognition, especially as it comes from the USA.

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45 Comments
  1. Glennb says:

    Thank you James. I always enjoy your podcasts.

  2. Bayan says:

    Didn’t Pirelli said they had no say in Merc’s choice to use the current car? Based on what Paul Hembrey said here, they appear to have requested to use the current car. Inconsistent. Makes them seem untrustworthy. Also, drivers gained an advantage since it is extra miles in the current car.

    1. Fan says:

      Pack of liars the lot of them… There need to be a strong response to this. If Merc walks then so be it. At some point you have to stand for something.

      1. Sebee says:

        Off to tribunal for Mercedes.

        Ask yourself, how much data did they gather not for 2013, but for 2014 season.

        This test absolutely clouds any potential success they may have for this season and next.

        Really a disgusting act.

      2. KRB says:

        Give me a break. If it was a blind test, and Pirelli was trying out different stuff, the majority of which will not run next year, then I think it’s a bit much to then say this would cloud any success they had next year.

        Pirelli should let the FIA know what they tested, and how they tested with Merc, then arrange to do the same tests with every other team. Of course then the conspiracy theorists will say that Pirelli is making it up, and that they were in cahoots with Mercedes and they told Mercedes everything about every tire they tested. There’s no use trying to appease such people anyways, as they just always want to be in a state of being against something or someone, and they’ll happily go to illogical limits to attain that.

    2. franed says:

      What they really need is next year’s car, there is no point in using an old car.

      1. Aaron Noronha says:

        Exactly

    3. DB4Tim says:

      “Makes them seem untrustworthy”

      ‘THEM”…how about all involved on every side including the rules and the FIA & FOM & Bernie & !!

  3. Anne says:

    Well between a rock and a hard place. I understand that Pirelli needs a current car to develope decent tyres. But they know it is not allowed. I guess before inviting and conducting any test with anybody Pirelli must persuade FIA to make the rules more flexible.

    Mark Gillan was very clear. Now after the test Mercedes may have a much better understanding of the tyres.

    1. darren w says:

      Gillan only provided clarity in the context of the 2012 rules and agreement between the teams. He made a subtle acknowledgement that 2013 is less clear. All teams have not signed agreements with each other, and the FIA’s communications during this intrigue don’t seem to rule out the use of current cars.

      Pirelli may have played this just right and taken advantage of F1′s disfunction to push the issue of getting them a current platform upon which to develop. If they walk away from this with 11,000kms of testing on current cars for future seasons their risk associated with the Barcelona test will have been well worth it.

      Given the uncertainty about the 2013′s rules and lack of an agreement between all teams for this season simply doesn’t allow for easy black and white determination of what is right or wrong.

      1. Alex says:

        the “current platform” is utterly useless for developing 2014 tyres, heck even Hemberey himself said so. And it’s not that hard to understand why, with wildly different engines and more aero rule changes the 2013 cars are to all intents and purposes as far from the 2014 cars as the 2011 cars.

      2. Aaron Noronha says:

        +1

      3. Doobs says:

        so what were they testing and why?

      4. darren w says:

        No argument with any of that. I am more interested in the contradiction between the sport’s agreement with its tire supplier which seems to allow for testing with the latest cars, and agreements between the teams which prevents that very thing.

        In 2013 however, there is no signed agreement between the teams, leaving the agreement between the sport and Pirelli to stand on its own…and a nice big opening for exploitation.

        Mercedes stepped through that opening. And why wouldn’t they? For F1 this doesn’t come close to any of the really big scandals of recent history (Spygate or Crashgate). It may not turn out to be a scandal at all depending on the outcome of the tribunal.

        This is typical F1 gamesmanship, politicking and regulations fishing. It keeps us talking and doesn’t effect our lives in any way.

        (A final note…doesn’t Pirelli get twenty test sessions each season with all the latest platforms attending. I believe this week’s the test will take place in Montreal.)

      5. Elie says:

        So why f/g do the test if its that meaningless ! I mean Comeone- use some common sense for god sake.
        And even if little was gained – someone still gained it didn’t they ?.. Pirelli can say it was a blind test etc.. But at least Mercedes regerence points after 1000ks -as to the general direction of the compounds and how their cars performed on them. Besides any team that was so sly in hiding it- would be clever enough to take more information than what all parties say they had!..
        Either way they broke the rules and they must simply pay for it..One Way another !

    2. Equin0x says:

      Its pure speculation but something don’t smell right, one theory is that maybe Mercedes paid Pirelli a big sum of money for that ‘secret test’ or maybe other financial gains like signing contract for road tyres on all new mercs or something, something just isn’t right about this 1000km test, of course Merc benefited from the test and they should face a race ban for this whatever the reason was.

      1. Poyta says:

        Your claim that Merc benefited from the test is also pure speculation but hey don’t hold back from adding to the conspiracy theories.

      2. Doobs says:

        They’d have to have some pretty average engineers if they don’t learn something…

      3. grat says:

        @Doobs: You’re assuming it was the Merc engineers running the test.

      4. James Allen says:

        It was a Mercedes engineer of course, and mechanics as they have a duty of care – not a current race engineer though.

        But Mercedes say that it was a Pirelli test in that they booked and paid for the track, set the running order and plan etc

      5. Pete_from_Nepal says:

        I am not saying that the 1,000 km didn’t help them but I think its important to keep things in perspective.

        Mercedes have tens of thousands of km worth of data from this season and previous seasons that were done on “unblinded” tyres.

        Not sure how another thousand on ‘blinded’ tyres for 2014 season would have really helped.

        But I agree with you. It is the principle of the matter, and yes, in theory they gained an unfair advantage.

      6. KRB says:

        If Mercedes paid for the test, surely that would come out eventually, and they would be risking exclusion from the WCC. I seriously doubt they would ever do that.

  4. nenad says:

    Mercedes didn’t know what were they testing????
    Well, they do now. C’mon, at least be men enough and admit it.

    1. Poyta says:

      No they still have no idea what tyres they were testing. Its not like at the end of the test Pirelli told them.

  5. AuraF1 says:

    Pirelli are rightfully frustrated by no testing and having to take the brunt of bad press over the teams total lack of ability to work to the common good – but the conflicting statements coming out from Pirelli are making it seem like they’re just panicking and excusing wrong doing.

    They’d be best just saying ‘look we had to break the rules with someone or you’re breaking our contract with the sport and ruining our company image, either get together and agree or shut up and let us do what we have to’.

    No more of this, ‘we didn’t know, Mercedes made us do it Sir!’ Tattle.

  6. docjkm says:

    Am I the only one majorly irked by Pirelli continuously insulting my intelligence with their zig-zag press releases/comments?
    I suspect before this is over, I will be similarly put out/off by other parties involved.
    I know this is damaging the sport, but I fear the real damage will come in the form of “damage control”. When rules are broken, and lies go unpunished, the slim integrity of the sport slips to reveal the naked form beneath.
    This is not nothing.

  7. Random 79 says:

    Another good listen, best of luck with the award :)

  8. Alex says:

    Well it seems Mercedes have been referred to the International Tribunal with regards to their test, the FIA just announced it

    1. Poyta says:

      Figured it was going to go there – not as simple and clear cut as everyone thought. Hopefully we get to hear the full story.

    2. KRB says:

      … and removed Ferrari from it. I have to say though, Ferrari’s 2011 car would be a fully known quantity, whereas the teams are still learning about their 2013 cars. The worst part is that they tested at Barcelona BEFORE the Spanish GP, and then they scored their best team result since Korea ’10. I realize Barcelona’s THE test track, but they could have used others, or waited until after the actual GP.

      1. Matt says:

        RE: Test timing;

        Other way around.

  9. Gord says:

    Pirelli should just be honest about what happened, I bet if Pirelli are found to be at fault, it will be for lieing not for the test itself

  10. Richard says:

    When interviewing Zack Brown it would have been great to hear his opinion on the growing trend to put the TV broadcasts behind a paywall. The global reach for the sport and therefore the sponsors will become less. Does he see any impact form this?

  11. JB says:

    Great stuff James Allen.
    All other F1 journalists should look up to you as the benchmark!!

  12. jpinx says:

    I reckon it’ll be down to what agreements are actually enforceable at the moment, because without a concorde agreement the rules are more of a gentleman’s agreement than anything legally enforceable.

    Given the slow process of the tribunal, even in fast-trackmode, I think any determinations will have been overtaken by events. The FIA have really made a huge mistake in not getting the teams to simply sign a set of rules when they enter the championship.

    BE will be loving the free publicity – it actually plays into his hands when this all gets messy because he knows he can fix it very quickly with a new concorde agreement, but he’s not going to put that in front of anyone until he has the rest of his ducks all in a row – ready for the flotation.

    James — brilliant podcast — as always. :)

  13. laTulipe says:

    Thanks Mr Allen! I always download the podcast and listen to it while running. But this time I just had the first part on this site. I also liked Ron Howard’s interview, so excited for the upcoming movie! Don’t really care about the rest except for the Mercedes situation…

  14. @James,
    Do you know if Mercedes ran any new parts during the Barcelona test?

    1. Poyta says:

      Considering that the purpose of the test was to give data to Pirelli on their 2014 tyres I doubt it. It wasn’t a test designed to test parts for Mercedes. Then again, without an FIA rep there you can’t rule it out – but no use spreading rumours.

  15. Kbdavies says:

    The point is that, at this stage, F1 needs Pirelli and Merc, more than they both need F1. If slapped with a huge fine, Pirelli may decide to walk, leaving F1 in a mess – as they have no contract signed yet, and Merc could as well. The departure of a major manufacturer/engine supplier would also have major consequences for F1.
    The way i see is, they both hold the cards and have F1 over a barrel the moment. I predict a “show” fine or sanction – neccesary to dissuade other teams should they think of doing somehing similar in the future, but with a secret agreement that it would not be enforced. Ahh….politics.

  16. Dave says:

    Is there a feed url for this podcast so I can subscribe to it? (for those of us who don’t use iTunes for podcasts!)

    1. Podcast producer Mark says:

      Yes Dave – use this

      http://www.flapspodcast.com/JAF1/podcast.xml

      1. Dave says:

        That’s great! Thanks very much :)

  17. Bobdredds says:

    It looks to me that Red Bull have made a huge error in attacking Mercedes over the tyre test. The increased focus on the issue has also put increased focus on the problems RB are having with the tyres and the suspician that they need a compound change more than most to get them to work. It’s obivious that if they manage to solve their tyre problem they will return to dominence and I reckon that the other teams would prefer to have things as they are and benefit from the unpredictability rather than have to look at the “stupid finger” after every race. Vettel is particularly vocal and is doing himself no favours IMHO. It’s pretty academic anyway IMO, Lotus will never agree to any changes to the tyres in 2013 and who would blame them. I wouldn’t either. If RB want to sell one or both of their teams there are probably a couple of takers on the horizon at this stage. I would prefer if they stayed but please stop the whinging. I would also prefer if they sold one of the teams, they talk about sportsmanship and fair play and then go and outspend even Ferrari and from next year both teams will be on the same engine, sure to give them an advantage when it comes to feedback. This year though they are going to have to suck it up when it comes to the tyres.

  18. Justin says:

    James where were you interviewing Ron Howard? It sounds like there’s a GP or a Practice session going on behind you!

    1. James Allen says:

      Up in the town in Monaco

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