F1 Winter Break
Send in your questions for our panel of Formula 1 insiders
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Nov 2012   |  8:11 pm GMT  |  219 comments

JA on F1 is looking ahead to the festive season and we are preparing a special “12 Questions of Christmas” podcast, which will be published over the Christmas period.

To this end, we would like to invite JA on F1 readers to send in questions on the 2012 season, on the drivers, the teams, the races, the behind the scenes events – whatever has been bugging you or whatever question of interest you’d just like to have answered.

We’ll be assembling a panel of F1 insiders in a studio, representing teams, suppliers, journalists and photographers, to answer the 12 best questions.

So please submit your question in the comments section below.

One of the 12 questions will also be picked at random and the reader who sent it will be sent a free signed copy of the new book “JA on F1 2012 – The Year of Living Dangerously” all about the 2012 F1 season, the races and the behind the scenes stories, which normally sells for £10-99.

It’s a 256 page large format paperback with stunning Darren Heath images and signed copies are available to order via our online shop now.

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History is no indication of future performance. That said, history cannot and should not be ignored.

With the resources and effort of Mercedes over past 3 years resulting in what I would say is a disappointment, what should make us optimistic that it won't be more of the same in the next 3 years for both Mercedes and of course Lewis?


I'd love to kmow the answer to the above.... or:

"How does F1 satisfy both 'core' and 'casual' F1 fans when balancing gimmicks like DRS and artifically fragile tyres against the integrity of F1 as a sport?"


"What will the impact be on F1's future if strong drivers like KOB and KOV continue to loose seats to drivers whose primary criteria for employment is funding?"


I think a good one will be: "How can we believe that Mercedes to deliver for Lewis, if they couldn't deliver for Schumi?"

I'm not so sure that their response to the new pressure will be positive. It could just as easily turn into a political mess, finger pointing, etc. And it won't even take Mercedes doing a bad job. It will be enough if two teams outdo Mercedes, and they will feel some mighty pressure from inside.



"It's suggested that Ferrari receive something in the region of an additional £18M 'for being the sport's, longest serving team' which in turn likely means that they'll receive more than the WCC, RBR, this year. Is this fair and justifiable?"


Ferrari get an extra 2.5% of the pot - obviously it depends how much the pot is worth and for this years its £18m.

Until you can quanitify the amount of people that would stop watching if Ferrari were to leave F1 and what that impact is to F1 revinue, then you cant really say its not or it is justifiable. All you can do is price the risk of such an event and at the moment thats priced at 2.5%.

I dont think Ferrari are along in getting more money based on thier past history with the sport, I thought McLaren and Williams also get (albeit lower) amounts due to the histroy they have with the sport.....?


What does the panel think of the split TV rights deal in the United Kingdom between the BBC & SkySports & if, after a year, it has worked for the better or for the worse & how this is measured by teams, sponsors, TV company's ect?


James, did I hear it right on the BBC last weekend that next year we get all the races live on the BBC rather than just 10.... or was I being optimistic?


The reference to all the races live on the BBC referred to Radio 5 Live



No, I wonder if it might be 9 live, in fact, if they don'r replace New Jersey.


For a few more years at best until the sport is swallowed whole by NewsCorp. Newscorp is already responsible for taking football away from it's working class roots and turning the whole thing into a shiny-plastic, replica of the sport it used to be.


I like this! TY Adam.


BBC/Sky race viewers compared to last year looks really bad. http://www.f1revs.com/2012/11/bbc-sky-f1-viewing-figures-2012.html

Also interested in this question as it seems a significant amount of people haven't watched F1 this year compared to last.


Very interesting figures.

Ignoring Brazil (figures incomplete)

Sky makes up just under 20% of viewers: 12.27m vs 62.68m


Never noticed that. Sky who has all the races live has just 16% of the BBC's viewers!!

How this makes sense for a sport that thrives on sponsorship income is beyond me.


Oops .. I never was any good at maths!

16.3% of 74.95m


Thanks for shareing this, it's very interesting. I See Jake Humphry was right when he said Far more people watched F1 on BBC than SKY. Still, overall viewing figures are down - well what a suprise afetr the mass-greed inspired deal with, in my personal opinon, one of the most greedy, morally bankrupt and malicious forces for eveil on the planet - NewsCorp.


You can put a cheapo satellite dish (£50 from B&Q), point it at a german satellite, watch German coverage and listen to James via Radio 5. Thats what I did on non BBC weekends. Works very well as James is watching the same world feed and so his commentary matches the picture. You do get a few sets of German adverts but apart from that it works perfectly.


Here here, I can bearly afford to buy Christmas presents for my children so their is NO way I can find the money to pay SKY a subscription. I would pay a small fee to watch sky coverage on the internet race by race but they don't have a deal like as I called them ans asked. I felt let down by the BBC on this subject and complained profusely but to no avail. If it goes to all highlights and no live showing of any race I will stop watching F1 and go fishing every weekend instead of only non-race weekends. Very touchy subject with all my friends too.


What do constructor's think of the future of F1 after Bernie Ecclestone is no longer at the helm? Is there a large concern over whether CVC will be able to run the series successfully? Will talks of another breakaway series emerge if turmoil were to follow post-Bernie?



1. How good is Sebastian Vettel - for example, if it had been Sebastian in the Ferrari instead of Alonso, would he have been able to pull the same sort of performance season-long?

2. With Lewis moving to Mercedes next year, will he be able to pull a season-long performance the way Alonso has out of his Ferrari this year?


Considering that Massa outclassed Alonso in the last few races of the season, is Alonso really as good as he is often being portrayed?


Saying that Alonso might not be as good as portrayed because Massa beat him in a few races is a flawed thinking; Webber outclassed Vettel on a number of occasions in the early part of the season...


That's easy - yes of course he is. And 'outclassed' is a very strong and exaggerated way to put it. What Massa has done has shown signs of retuning to form as well, so good for him too!


Yes he is. 🙂

Could say that Alonso outclassed Massa for the most part of three seasons.

Alonso is the real deal. Only thing is: So is Hamilton,Vettel and Kimi.


driving line differ among top runners, go drive some kart before talking BS over here.

you;re too young to comment on driving style, just comment based on results amateur.


Relating to this...

Watch any footage at all of Kimi this season and you can visibly see he is leaving time on the table by not using anywhere near the amount of track the other top runners do.

He also consistently had a very poor line through the Bus Stop at Spa for example.

Why has he been so heavily praised this season when he was quite clearly not maximising the car at all?

In extension, why does Schumacher not recieve any praise at all for what has been a strong - albeit unlucky - season?


Could Massa beat Alonso 2013 if he gets treated equally with Alonso? What about Lotus and Kimi, do you think Kimi has tools to be WDC 2013?


Wow. Good question.


Unlikely winners, i would like to know what yous think of mercedes and williams winning races early this season, but not showing that pace since to do so?


When Michael Schumacher joined Ferrari it sparked a real resurgence in a struggling team. How much of this was down to Schumacher himself, and does Lewis Hamilton have the same skill-sets to be able to produce similar fortunes at Mercedes?


Why are the trackside warning lights supplimental to the flag system?

Wouldn't it be better if FIA crawled into the 21st century and make the lights in the car and trackside the primary control system?

FOM TV moves Jumbo Jets of kit around the world so surely an adequate warning light system should not be dependent on whether the tracks can afford to implement co-ordinated and proper warning lights.

A proper automated system frees up the marshal's to deal with on track incidents.

The mess that has been exposed by flag-gate where at certain points there is a flag and no light and others where there is a light and no flag is clearly absurd.

Were the lights not introduced because the flags weren’t completely effective - eg in pouring rain with spray etc. so I don't understand why the new or superior system hasn’t been allowed to function as intended.

Further, how can you trust an electronic board when you must keep in mind the manual system that over-rides it.

If the car 'knows' its in a yellow flag zone (info on the dash) a simple transponder detecting other cars positions would clearly give race control an automated alert if someone passes in a 'no pass zone'.

Sounds like Mr. E needs to cough up a bit more cash for the FIA to operate race control properly.


I don't think it's such a simple case of flags vs lights. Firstly how are the lights triggered? From race control or from marshals on the track pressing a button?

I'm more interested to know how marshals are informed of incidents to know when to wave flags. For example when does a marshal know when to wave a blue flag?

I think better understand of how marshaling works would be extremely helpful for F1 fans, like myself and others.


I think that would be a great article for the off-season. I'd love to know more about the world of the marshals. They really are largely unsung heroes of motor racing.



I always wanted know of all three drivers Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton who puts in most efforts or spends most time with all engineers (mechanical, aerodynamist etc) to improve their car not just once but for every circuit? And who has more all-round knowledge of this things of three above drivers?




I would also like to know how these three guys compare in other areas than driving the car.


My question [inspired by story of Caterham just pipping Marussia to 10th in the 2012 Constructors table at very last race] is: would it be possible for one of the insiders to shed light, in detail, about how are the Championship positions worked out for the lower-ranked teams who finish the season with zero points on the table?

I have some ideas, but still would be nice to hear from the experts.


The rules state that any tie is broken by the single best result of the season. If that's still a tie, the second best result is taken. Then the third and so on. Ultimately in the highly unlikely event that it's still a tie after all the results are considered, the book says the winner is whoever the FIA says is the winner.

Perhaps the question should be when will one of these teams finally get a top 10 result?

The points range was extended from 8 to 10 drivers mostly to improve their chances and still nothing after 3 years! Stewart, which was the last really new team before the current three I can remember now had a podium in their first year and, even with that discounted as a fluke, they had four more podiums, including one victory, in three years.

And, by the way, that team, 16 years later, under another name, has just won 3 WCC in a row...


My previous comment notwithstanding, I think the question you proposed is a good one. I would add: and what do they need to do to get there?

I suppose the ultimate reason for the difference between the 3 new teams and those ahead is money, but if they could raise the extra cash, what could they spend it on that would enable them to match the pace of the midfielders?


In defence of the 3 new teams (well, I would defend two of them at least!), Stewart entered a rather different landscape. First, they had manufacturer backing from the start. You could say they performed rather poorly for a works team! Second, there were a lot more retirements from races in those days. In that race where they got their first podium, more than half the field retired. Third, there were 3 or 4 struggling teams already in F1 who were relatively easy to beat.

With the extremely restrictive rules we have now, the midfield is much more tightly packed. If one of the new teams could get in amongst them, they'd be likely to get podiums like we've seen several midfield teams do this year. But if you can't quite get to their standard, that puts you behind a lot of cars every weekend.


I'm no expert, but from what I could understand is taking into account the positions in the race.

For example MArrusia had a 12th place in Singapore and was in 10th. If Caterham would have got 12th in Brasil (instead of 11th that they got), they Marrusia and Caterham will both had one 12th place, but then it will count how many 13th place finishes each of the teams had. If they had the same amount they would go to how many 14th place finishes. Until one of the teams had more than the other.

Pretty simple.


It's an aggregate of highest finishing positions on a per race basis over the season.


Easy one to answer without the experts.

If teams have zero points they are ranked in order of their best finish. Marussia finished 12th in Singapore and this was the best result in 2012 of the non-point scorers until Petrov finished 11th for Caterham in Brazil.



Championship position for those teams is calculated by highest finishing position.


How fast would a Caterham be if it had the same downforce levels as a McLaren. I.E. Do the mechanical components make much of a difference to car performance if you disregard setup window and tyre warming.


Linked to that, I'm curious as to how the lack of testing has changed how cars improve over the season, whether the development team now go for more risky upgrades rather than bedding things in gradually? It was an oft told 'fact' that in the old days of regular tests, a car (a Minardi for example) which qualified last in Australia would be on pole for the same race if it had all the upgrades accumulated at the end of the season in Japan.


One question/general topic area I am curios about is when teams are considering to employ an existing F1 driver in another team what sort of data do teams share with each other on that driver. Dose the team only have the official timings to look at along with race results, or will the different team engineers have a (quite, confidential) chat about a drivers long term potential including sharing telemetry data.

For example, when McLaren where in negotiations with Perez for his 2013 drive, what information would Sauber engineers provide them with. What behind-the-scenes information would be shared among teams that made McLaren pick Perez versus de Resta or Hulkenberg et al.


Interesting question. I think I read somewhere when Massa was a doubt for Ferrari and there was speculation that Perez was under consideration that Ferrari had looked at his data (presumably as engine supplier to Sauber) and had not been convinced



Do you see a need for more testing to allow younger drivers the opportunity to develop their skills properly without being thrown in the deep end in races without proper preparation?

Can testing take place at a track in the days following a GP to help reduce the cost of it?

It just seems to me that it's way too limited right now resulting in drivers like Senna never getting a chance to fully get familiar with their cars especially when they share Friday practice sessions with other drivers waiting in the wings.


When, if ever, will F1 have an official, full-time, panel of stewards, with some type of training provided for them? They could be contracted permanently, or on a 5 year basis, etc.



I have some questions about the 2014 engines.

How many companies are developing this engine (Renault, Ferrari, merc and anyone else)?

How will the fuel consumption rate be controlled in these new engines? And how it affects the engine performance?

Does it really sound so bad the Bernie wants it scrapped?

Hopefully there is a discussion on the topic of 2014 engine.


I don´t understand why the Toro Rosso team didn´t get a penalty to let Vettel "overtake" their drivers that way (look at what happened in Abu Dhabi or Brazil). It´s not fair play at all.


It's not fantastic to see but it'd be impossible to police. If you tried to ban this sort of thing, suddenly Toro Rossos would start mysteriously outbraking themselves into corners and running wide whenever an RBR appeared in the mirrors. Massa would be called into the pits to check for wing damage that wasn't there whenever Alonso was nearby. Better to be honestly dishonest about it because it will always go on.


Why stop there?
I believe Alonso should get a penalty for not winning - let's say a ban for at least a season or two.

The Vettel fans should get a penalty for cheering by confiscating their TV.

Finally Ecclestone should be penalized for creating a formula in which Vettel was allowed to win, maybe by not allowing him to create a new one in the upcoming 80 years.


Red Bull benefits from 2 Toro Rossos and 2 Renault cars and Schumacher. Remember how hard Petrov worked to keep Alonso behind him in he last race of 2010 to decide the championship. No gave 1% of that effort to race against Vettel. They just moved over and let him by. And then Red Bull says it was a classy move. Are you kidding? It's a sham, a black spot on the sport and it illustrates that the playing field is far from fair. People claim Vettel deserved it but in the last race it was gifted to him. The only cars that should be allowed to move over is a team mate or a blue flagged car. Anyone else giving up a spot by backing off on the throttle is a FRAUD and doesn't deserve a super license.


Norberto Fontana - those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones......


People used to get out of the way of Ayrton Senna too.

But you have the wrong idea here. If anything the other teams are upset with Red Bull over a lot of things, not least dragging their heels over cost control. Red Bull (and Toro Rosso, who just do what they are told) are actually quite isolated in F1 at the moment. So I don't think others would be bending over backwards to help them.

Also how many overtakes were there in the whole race? A lot. That's because the conditions were wet and tricky and that makes passing easier for good cars/drivers - always has.

Abu Dhabi 2010 was bone dry, with no DRS and a tough track to overtake on.

Very different situation.


How much does each team currently spend in comparison to their final championship position?


James people getting out of the way of Senna is different from what clearly bothers a lot of people here, myself included. I don't believe there should be 2 teams sharing financial resources or management, certainly not competing for the same title. Torro Rosso will likely never win the championship so they can curry favour or avoid conflict by being less than aggressive in certain situations. It's only logical. As I watched the Brazil race which was exciting I soon realized that despite a long way before the end, with both Toro Rossos behind Vettel he was never going to be challenged from behind. He only had to care about who was front of him... and then Schumacher just rolled over and played dead. Until Kamui came up, at which point it was time to bang wheels with the non-German as per normal. I find the whole feeder team thing to be a collusion and a joke. It provides some competition in the rear of the field but ultimately benefits only a certain team which in turn didn't promote competition. Just my two cents. If all the other big teams had feeder teams and there was a sort of combined tally championship it would be fair... and actually really interesting. Anyway, hope the nonsense of one entity maintaining 2 teams ends soon.


Not just for Senna! During most of schumi's time at ferrari it was so bad it appeared at times as if half the grid had it written into their contracts that they had to move out of the way if they saw a red car in their mirrors - especially when "racing" for position.


Senna had Prost challenging him all the time. Vettel never had that. In RB they make sure Webber is not a problem nor he is nowhere near Prost when it comes to talent. Vettel had it a lot easier than Senna.



And how is Red Bull Racing design house policed between the the two teams?


Yes, they are not the same team so how can this be covered by allowances for team orders?


Hi all,

F1 has always been seen as one of the main testbeds for innovation in the automotive (and many other) industries. But..with rising fuel costs and diminishing sources of fuel

my question is this....

Judging by the next generation of smaller more efficient engines powering F1 cars, how long will it be before racing cars we currently see in computer games and sci-fi films ( by that I mean technology) be a reality?


Has Hamilton what it takes to become an alltime great (at least a triple worldchampion)? Several aspects come to my mind:

- talent/raw speed: obviously more than enough

- racecraft / riskmanagement

- intelligence

- focus / dedication / absolute will to win

- a real team leader: someone who inspires and

motivates the whole team (why I am thinking

of Alonso)?

- capacity to make the right jugdement, both

inside (don't wait on team instructions on

when to change to inters/full-wets) and

outside the car (move to Mercedes ?!)

- and last but not least: luck

I would love to have your opinion on this topic, James (and the panels' too, of course).


Can teams measure how much performance is affected when running behind another car?

There are obvious benefits from running ahead such as picking your own racing line, not being subject to errors from the cars in front, etc. but this happened even before wings appeared

In fact in the old days or in other classes now, you tried to get a tow from the car in front, now you only do it when close enough to use DRS

My question comes from having first lap leaders run away from the pack (like ROS in China and VET plenty of times), and my perception is that this is becoming more and more critical as more downforce is generated

As an example, VET is lapping quicker at the front than he would in the pack, not so much from traffic or being held by slower cars in front, but because the car is greatly affected by turbulence, and it is more obvious with Red Bull than others

It might be a reason for Webber's lower performance levels as well



And as a supplementary question, why are the cars able to follow each other more closely than they could a few years ago? We see many more passes now even outside the DRS zones.

A few years ago, a car could be 3 seconds a lap faster than the one in front, but seemed to hit a brick wall as soon as they closed the gap to 1 second. That doesn't seem to happen any more.


Mentally, how draining is it for someone to complete a season like Alonso has? Other than his driving, what should he really focus on then? Physical fitness? Proper R&R to unplug?


By this I meant - if another driver were to want to achieve the same level of devastating form consistently, what should they focus on? Meditation? Physical fitness?


medication??? 🙂 🙂 🙂


What I want to know is how a car is designed. Is it ever started on a blank canvas or is it always based (even distantly) to the previous years, and how much does the car that turns up in pre-season differ from the original? Also is the car designed piece by piece or is the whole car roughly modeled


Do you think McLaren made the right choice by going with Perez for next season? I feel like Hulkenberg would have been the better choice.


Of all of the new, young drivers on the grid, which one do you think has the best shot at challenging the drivers at the top?


I have a question from one of James' podcast which featured a discussion with James Allison. He mentioned that it was relatively easy to get new ideas with contributions from several people from all over the team. This is exemplary as such a thing is extremely difficult in large corporations around the world.

My questions to all team bosses and technical heads is:

What is the mechanism you have in place for people to share ideas? How do the team personnel who are not near the top of the company hierarchy contribute? How can one eliminate bureaucracy that eventually creeps up in all organizations? Is sharing ideas from all departments easier in F1 due to smaller team sizes? How can large organizations outside F1 learn from you?


I think that's five questions. Nevertheless, all still good. I'm guessing the larger teams with bigger / more sponsors (thus more money and more to lose) will probably be more bureaucratic and by that I mean going through the right channels where as the smaller teams who are struggling to keep their head above water are probably more open to suggestion ... then again I could be generalising....I'd like to think even the tea lady (if they still exist) would walk into a board meeting and say "oh no dear that's all wrong you need to do it like this" Still would be interesting to see the answers.


If a formula one car 'concept' was developed around the 2014 regulations outside of the current 12(11?) teams - taking full advantage of resources the RRA disallows - such as a full scale windtunnel, track testing etc -

would there be a mechanism to prevent this 'concept' work being translated into a real 2014 car should this party either gain an entry or buy an existing team?

Could prove to be a missed opportunity for a returnee (Honda/Toyota) or new entrant (VW) with resources to get a leg up on the competition bound by the RRA.


What are the teams doing if anything to address the situation of increasing pay drivers in Formula 1? Also what would the teams like to see as the best way forward regarding driving standards and punishments?


Why do the teams seem to think they are better off with restraing their drivers so cannot say what they think? Most people see through it and therefore may feel patrionized.

I know sponsors and such have a lot to say, but one of the biggest talking points from people is how much better it was in the past when the drivers were themselves.


Is it fair that one team has the equalient of four cars?


Would you rather have a consistent but slow driver or a quick but erratic one? A slow pay driver or a fast one with a salary?


Knowing the New Jersey race has been cancelled. Do you think France is going to be the replacement? If not What F1 is planning to do? Are we going to have 19 races instead of 20? 19 races could help one particular team and driver while hurting others?


It's widely recognised that F1 drivers are incredibly physically fit, but what about the mechanics? Now that we are down to sub 3 second pit stops, what training do they have to undertake?


I think gone are the days of having chip-butties...they may not be on the same diet / exercise regimes as the drivers themselves, but to put in the hours they do you can be rest assured the rest of the team have some sort of diet to follow, regular check-ups as well as putting in time down the gym...for a start it can't be easy for the body to adapt to the changing time zones, climates etc.


The Pirelli tyres are a resounding success for 'the show'. However, which takes the greater driver skill: tyre preservation or driving flat out?


Are the teams imposing weight and or size limits on their drivers in terms of physical training, diet, food and water intake prior to a GP? If so can you tell us the parameters of these arrangements?


If / when we see roll hoops come into F1, what changes can we expect to see in the racing (if any)?


Why is there a different former F1 driver on the steward panel at every Grand Prix when what we need is consistency in decision making.

Surely the FIA can find a couple of ex F1 drivers that will be willing to work the year and train them properly for the job.

Rather than someone show up for the weekend with the only qualification being having driven an F1 car 30 years ago.


At Sao Paulo it was Tom Kristensen, one of the best Le Mans drivers ever, but hasn't raced in F1


Didn't realize that and it now convinces me it is just an FIA publicity thing.

Even though their are 2 or 3 other stewards making the decision I think the driver there would have generally the bigger influence because of his status.

So we get someone like you said who is a great driver but has never driven an F1 car making key decisions.

For example the Hulkenberg incident in Brazil. I think it would be much more beneficial to have someone who has raced a recent F1 car in them conditions giving advice to the stewards rather than a Le mans driver or even a 80's or 90's F1 driver which probably hasn't a clue.

There are plenty of ex F1 drivers of the last 2 or 3 years that surely could travel with the circus and do an excellent steward job.


Best overtaking move of the year? Is there an official award for this? Does any pass this year compare to Webber on Alonso, Spa 2011? 🙂


Kimi on Schumacher at the same spot webber passed Alonso at Spa. Amazing.


Yeh, I'll pay that! Just checked it on youtube...nice!

Mike from Colombia

Why did Hamilton and McLaren really fail to come and agreement over their future together?


Fragile front wings continued to unduly affect some races over this season. Considering that front wing wizardry has little relevance to the cars Joe Public buys; and that front wings are the primary cause of punctures in F1, whether directly through contact in situ, or as splinters and shards left lying on the track, what would teams say to the possibility of a standardized part that was of a far more robust construction?


My question is regarding fan interaction.

What more can the teams do to interact with their fans, and fans of the sport? There are obviously things like twitter, blogs and the Fans Forum - but do teams see this as enough of a connection to fans? Is there anything that the teams would like to do specifically for fans? Perhaps FOM has restrictions on what teams can do as part of the formula 1 circus? What would FOM like to do, to engage fans more, bearing in mind that it is obvious that a certain image of the 'pinnacle of motorsports' has to be maintained?


Pirelli Tyres

The 2012 season has highlighted the significant role that tyre degradation contributes to the race result. This seems to eliminate the seat of the pants racing that made the sport so exciting to watch with drivers attempting multiple passing manoeuvres without the need to factor in the proverbial ‘fall of the cliff’ of grip.

Having tyres that purposefully degrade to set limits only reduces the number of attempted passes that a driver is willing to attempt. It also penalises driving style making all drivers “drive like they are on egg shells”. Note – F1 still has KERS / DRS etc… to stop any mundane processional race scenarios.

Pirelli have obviously been asked to make the various compound tyres perform at various durability levels. Is it possible they can be asked again to further increase the boundaries of performance so tyres become less of a factor in 2013-14?


What has been the feeling within F1 since Bernie Ecclestone was connected to the German bankers arrest. Has there been consideration that new leadership is required ? Do we have any idea who might be Bernies likely successor in any case? Given his pending retirement.

Do the teams want greater control over what radio messages are publicly aired between teams and drivers ?. Many people were quite amused by Raikkonens communications with the team. But I read somewhere that Williams ( Toto Wolfe) thought that was unprofessional and not acceptable in that team.


James - the drivers are the obvious stars in the F1 spectacle. However, in recent years we've had the rise of the superstar designer/engineer - ie Adrian Newey.

My question/s is/are for the technical representatives on your panel. Other than Newey, who are the other largely annonymous "superstar" engineers in the paddock? Who are the people behind the scenes "making a difference"? You've seen big leaps forward from Sauber and Williams in particular - has that been down to Matt Morris/Willem Toet or Mike Coughlan?

More information on the "geeks" would be great.

Thanks again for the great blog and in particular podcast this year. Hope Jamie makes a come back.


Newey was no the first: John Barnard, Gordon Murray, Colin Chapman were all great designers.

There was life before 1990 you know!


What about Rob Smedley?

Come to think of it how about hearing a bit more of Kimi's radio conversations?!


Anotehr great subject. Adrian Newey is rightly praised for Red Bull's success, but he is only the pinnacle of a large design and engineering effort. It would be great to hear more about other key design personnel in other teams.



I have always wondered where the drivers stand on the big tarmac run-off areas? Are they the ones who have been pushing to get them all along, or are you aware of any drivers who do not like that some of the challenge in driving on the edge has disappeared? I remember Button talking before a race in Suzuka (2010 or 2011) about how this track punishes the drivers for their errors and how it is so satisfying when there is no room for error and you produce that perfect lap. Do any drivers long for more punishing tracks or are they very content with how things are now, or would they want even more tarmac run-offs? We quite rarely here this from an inside perspective so if there would be anything that you could share with us regarding this subject I would really appreciate it.



In terms of Lewis going to Mercedes, are there any other examples of drivers able to be instrumental in turning a team around, apart from Schumacher at Ferrari? Isn't the Schumacher/Ferrari story an isolated case? Senna for example moved to where he thought the best car was, as did Prost, and even Fangio before. Alonso seems to have failed in that respect (no apparent change to the quality of Ferrari's car since he joined). Schumacher failed at Mercedes... Vettel seems to be willing to stay at RedBull as long as they deliver a fast car. Is Hamilton naive in his approach? Will he bring any technical personnel to Mercedes? (taking the successful example of Schumacher/Ferrari, it seems to me that the key to success was the combination of a having a top driver bringing a leading technical team (led by Rory Byrne), with a top strategy guy (Brawn), combined with a significant tyre adavantage))

What are your perspective on this issue of the ability of a driver to play a key role in the development of a team, on his own (without having a significant step up on the technological side)

Thank you


I think it comes down to how a driver wants his legacy to be perceived. I think the Williams era changed the way people viewed some of the past champions - ie that, regardless of their own talent, it was the car that won them the championship. Frank's views that drivers were replaceable (arguably proven right at that time) enhanced this view.

However, Schumacher changed the way WDC's were judged. It wasn't just the winning that was important - it was about winning in a bad car, or developing a car. Anyone could get in a fast car and win (or get lucky), but it took a great driver to win against the odds or to develop a bad car. The fact that it turned into an era enhanced that further.


Will ferrari ever accept that the sport is bigger than they are, NOT the other way around?


Given Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo's views on teams being allowed to run a third car. My question is would the sport benefit from say having a second Ferrari Team based outside of Italy on the grid?

They could be set up like a Ferrari Dealer Team and use factory signed drivers. Just think of the buzz in the media it would cause when bet the both factory team cars...hahaha.

I know of a small workshop down the road in Spain going dirt cheap.


I'm intrigued by the apparent lack of driving and racing that these topnotch formula1 drivers do. At a superficial level they go cycling in the foothills of Monaco, don't eat much, and this seems to be enough to help them remain fast drivers. Surely drivers want to drive and practice, practice, practice rather than faff about on a bike.

Where and how do F1 drivers practice their craft given the lack of in car testing? What cars? Can they get access to cars in other formulas, GP2 and the pirelli tyres?


...associated to this, it is known that Alonso has a pretty realistic simulator at home, how much time do the other drivers spend in the factory as opposed to sponsor related activities?


alsmost all the drivers have access to a simulator of some kind.

Alonso, for example, has a simulator at his home that he can use to practise on (and i dont mean a PS3, more a three screen set-up with the smae physics models used by Ferrari).

Obviously, race craft is harder to practise.


Did Michael Schumacher still have "it" during his comeback?

In terms of raw pace and racecraft, I would say yes. In his third season, Michael showed that the speed was still there if the car was up to the job, running lead pace in the early part of the season and taking pole at Monaco.

However, I believe he also lost something toward the end of his first career that was never regained. That is the ability to adapt to highly variable performance.

We saw Michael consistently struggling to gain confidence in the first two seasons of his comeback. I recall reasons given for his lack of performance initially included the Mercedes inability to ride the kerbs, Pirelli tyres and the measured nature of the new race format. Then there were the racing misjudged racing situations, also created in part by the huge variations in performance under the new regulations. Cold tyres in Singapore, closing in on Senna on older tyres in Spain etc.


What tyres would be the quickest ever used in F1, over a single lap and over a race distance?

I'd guess the 2004 bridgestones would be right up there but unfortunately they were grooved..


For 2013. What are the teams thoughts on the development of passive factors that can stall the various aerodynamic surfaces (primarily, the front and rear wings) on the cars. Is this likely to be the next big focus of the leading teams.


What could be done to ensure drivers have to drive flat out 'all' race as anything less doesn't seem like racing to me?

What are the opinions on this from teams and drivers as you don't need to be the best if your only needing 70% from car and driver due to tyres?


Do you think that the Formula 1 championship has become over regulated and that innovation has been discouraged? If so, is there a better way to maintain sustainable costs whilst creating a better environment for true invention?


1. what if Hamilton's tenure at Mercedes is a complete failure? what happens to him next?


Back to McLaren, hopefully.


Do you mean like Damon Hill?


Is there any prize money for the drivers from FOM and how much one gets paid for winning championship?


Are the FIA looking at the rules regarding the tires used in qualifying?

It is not good to see teams/drivers sit out the session to save a set of tires.

Perhaps any team setting a reasonable timed lap in sessions two and three can exchange the tires used for their fastest lap for a new set of the same compound.


James - in your opinion, who is the best current F1 driver and the best f1 driver you have seen of all time?

Also, there was as much competition at the tail end of the grid compared to the front, how are the financed worked out, i could never work that out, for example i hear the experts saying that caterham would get extra 10m dollars because they pipped marussia to 10th place in the constructors?


$10 million because 10th in the constructors gets you $10 million - there's nothing for 11th, 12th etc...


If more passing is desired why don't they require the tire suppliers to build tires that don't leave so much rubber debris off line?


Should simulators be banned?

We arrive at most GPs with a good idea of which car will be strong, good set ups and the one optimum tyre strategy due to hours in the sophisticated simulators. In Austin they collected most of the data during practise as the track was too new to be modelled well for the simulators.

This contributed to an excellent race with with different cars stronger at different times in the race.

Banning simulators would level the playing field more and result in more unpredictability for the fans.


Why was Dr. Gary Hartsteins contract not renewed and who will take his place next year?


I was going bring this up aswell.

Seems strange that they get rid of the person who the late Sid Watkins mentored & felt happy enought to hand the reins over to, to carry on his excellent work but then get rid of him without any real explaination?

Has he upset someone with in the FIA? I know he did alot of tweeting (much of it very interesting & imformative) during race weekend but hopefully this is not part of the reason?


Hi James,

My question: Do F1 "insiders" harbour the same apprehension, dissappointment, and perhaps even anger, that many fans feel towards Formula One's exodus from European races? Do they miss the classic venues that are being lost? Or do they rather the move into new, modern, Bernie friendly venues? Are they worried F1 will lose fans in the process of gaining long-term venue stability?




Fans at the race track only provide money to the organiser - not to FOM.

What they actually think is not actually relevant to CVC and co I am afraid.

F1 abroad is great for a bit of travelling. I travel to Malaysia, Japan, Singapore to attend races and also adding Monza next year (I leave in Oz)


I should have clarified; when I say "lose fans" I refer to fans in general, that being TV viewers, website readers etc., rather than crowds trackside.


Don't the insiders feel that the testing ban makes the most technological sport look stupid?

We're seeing half-done solutions, unfinished setups, cars that slide and are dangerous ... ?

Also, do they feel that F1 should lose a bit of its elite appearance and become more closer to the people? Being F1 commentator on the local national TV gave me the chance to talk to many - from both F1 side and people watching - the latter group have complained many times that the "stars" are totally unreachable and whatever price we talk about - be it an F1 T-shirt or a ticket - is too high?


I'd ban pre season testing too, frankly.

And criticizing sliding? Sheesh, Some of the most spectacular races were in the 60s and 70s, when tail-out action was the norm. It gives a true impression of speed and car control, even in still photographs, let alone moving ones.


I really liked a question that another poster on this site posed in the comments section of an article from a few weeks ago.

The question was if you were a team principle and you had the choice of hiring either Adrian Newey or Sebastian Vettel, not both, who would you pick?


Easy, Newey. If I recall from hundreds of comments here, the Newey designed Red Bull would win with any driver in it. Seb is not really required. Apparently...


I meant 'Team Principal'.


"How close does Red Bull get to paying for the running of its F1 team through sponsorships? I note that a can costs $A3.50 here in Aust."


This question is for a team principal.

If you could pick a dream team driver line up looking back through the 62 years of F1. What two drivers would you pick? and why?

Example: you may pick Jack Brabham because of his knowledge on cars and engineering and would be great with setting up the car for races and Aryton Senna because of his outstanding race craft.

Many thanks


Previously on this site, in a post by JA, there was the tentative proposition of "rock hard tires" to reduce the number of marbles and improve off-line racing. (DRS was just about to be introduced). These tires may drop some rubber on the track, but not enough to impede normal overtaking in ambitious places.

What happened to that idea and why was is not implemented - what is the basic logic? Thank you.


Another one from me...Wouldn't it be better for the F1 spectacle if they simply said at the start of season, here's your allocation of engines, gearboxes and various numbers of x,y,z tyre compounds. Thats it, you use em too early & its your problem. Use whatever you like, whenever you like, no penalties. If you run out of say Super Softs with 8 races to go...too bad. etc. Used all your engines too early, well go back and use and old one! I think it would add so much intrigue and suspense as the season wore on and the "tortises start catching the hares". Different teams would throw different resources at different races, and it would really mix it up strategy wise...and the best will still come out on top.


Are there any objections to letting the fans see a driver's heartbeat and hear his breath for some moments in a race (for instance, right before the start, a little chart of all the driver's heartrates at that moment)?

Would the teams be against this (not wanting to give anything away on the fitness level of the driver)? Or do the drivers feel this is infringing too much on their privacy? Or is it technically too difficult? Does it perhaps add too much weight?

I'd love to see/hear it... 🙂



With the arrival in Formula E next year, and what appears to be a slow but noticeable movement in the car industry towards alternative energy sources: i.e electric, bio-fuels, maybe even hydrogen, I have two questions to ask.

How does the panel see Formula 1 changing in the next decade to maintain it's role as the primary track motorsport in the world,


Does the panel think that the sport will have a useful influence on the automotive industry in terms of developing these alternative fuel technologies? And if so, what could these new technologies be?

Thanks for the opportunity to ask, James!


'premier' motorsport, not 'primary', sorry!


Hi James, 1st off thanks for the great cover your site has given us this season, it become my 1st stop when it comes to everything F1.


My question is, how much old data do the teams keep for reference purposes. As in the data collected over a any race weekend, would they compare this year's data with last year's and the year b4 to see the differences in development and performance. I did read somewhere that part of the cost cutting measures would limit the amount of data teams could store. How would this effect them if this limit was imposed and how would this be policed by the FIA as you surely can't keep track of every external hard drive or memory stick.


With regard to the driver Market it feels like getting your first F1 Race is a little easier but that keeping it is a lot harder. Senna, Alguersuari, Beumi, Kovalainen all seem like good drivers but none of them are given chance to learn their craft as a F1 Journeyman with a long term role in a team such as we have seen in the past.

Do you think that it is creating a large gap between the experience drivers and new drivers that in 10 years time will mean we have no truly great experienced drivers in the sport, but only the average that managed to get the required experience?


Hi James,

Thanks for your efforts on the site this year. I have a few suggestions.

1. What is the lap time penalty from having a heavier driver? More specifically, what is the lap time lost by raising the centre of gravity by having less ballast.?

2. In qualifying Q3 spec, what is the lap time difference between the four engine manufacturers?

3. How much can the engine manufacturers learn about driving talent from supplying engines? For example how much does Ferrari know about the Torro Rosso drivers compared to Christian Horner?

4. In an extension of the previous question, what can Renault - therefore Inifiniti and Red Bull learn from FR 3.5? And similar relationships in other series.

5. What is the sucession plan for replacing Bernie?

6. Is there a sustainable business plan for a privately-run F1 event? Or government subsidisation mandatory?

7. How much power and torque, given current downforce levels, would be needed to test the drivers on the corner exits? These days it all seems to be about how the driver gets to the apex, potentially with turn-in oversteer, to use all the available traction ASAP.

8. How many team directors/managers does it take to change a lightbulb? Would Christan Horner join in?

9. The races are moving away from Europe, but the team nfrastructre is very European with fly away races. Could a team be succesfully run out of Asia in the future?

10. What would today's sponsor's make of a James Hunt type of driver, with the sex and the parties (possibly not the pot smoking)?

11. The drivers love the grip during a tyre war but does work as a well from a supporting and business proposition as a control tyre?

12. Will the ASO endorsing the new F1 engine rules for Le Mans allow for new engine manufacturers to come in and be competitive, or even get an advantage?

13. Would the turbulent wake behind ground effect car be less than one that primarily uses wings for downforce?

14. Should F1 look to 1978 and develop fan cars to have high speed close racing? (The fan level could be reduced certain tracks, such as Monaco, to control speeds on "classic" tracks).




With pay drivers becoming increasingly common on the grid are the levels of ability no longer appropriate for Formula 1 towards the middle/rear of the grid given that the World Champions racing at the front of the field this year have shown how to race wheel to wheel without creating havoc?

Steve Brisbane Oz

Hi James

Some interesting questions already posed.

I'd like to hear the panellists' most humorous story/antic from the paddock this season?




What it means for a driver to make fastest lap of the race? Did it mean a lot? I know Seb likes statistics, but for example Kimi is known for his "I don't care", but still he is second in all-times fastest laps record. So, are drivers thinkig about that during the race?


What single rule would you like to remove and is there anything that you would like to replace it?


Following Vetal's penatly in the Qualifying session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his team was able to change the setup of the car before the race. Why is this allowed?


vettel wins when he has a dominant car, and he does win as well, when he doesn't. Remindes me of the schumacher-ferrari era. Are we facing another era like that?


No, there are more strong teams/drivers now


there is no way around it. Vettel is oe of the greats. I even think he is a more complete driver than M schumacher. He handles pressure in a final race better, and is more decent on track. What is your view?


Where does the official line on driving standards under yellow flags lie and what would be an effective way to police that so that some drivers do not gain an advantage by driving recklessly through yellow flag zones (like Vettel and Alonso at Brazil)?


Hello James

With sponsorship / pay drivers being ever so critical to the success of an F1 Teams financial stability what lessons can be learned from 2012 to better prepare the teams for 2013 onwards specifically the 3 not so new teams at the back of the grid.

On a separate note I like the new format to interview the drivers on the podium, I hope you get an opportunity to be the interviewer next year, we need some hard hitting questions to make the drivers thing for once.


I'd like to ask the panel - looking only at the current F1 drivers who have never yet won the world driver's championship, which of that group do you think will be first to win his first WDC?


Can you tell me why with the hundreds of millions spent on CFD and wind tunnels, that the top teams are still resorting to flow-viz paint?


They use flow viz as wind tunnel models are only 60% of full size, also atmospheric conditions are different in the real world and finally the equipment sometimes used to measure the effects of aero parts can occasionally interfere slightly with the results so flow viz is used as the final block in the testing process as nothing compares to data collected on that day in those conditions.


Since this is for a Christmas podcast, and since we all know that Father Christmas comes from Finnish Lapland - oh yes he does! 🙂 - a question about Finland.

Finland has a population that is less than 10% of that of the UK and less than 7% of that of Germany. Yet Finns have a fantastic record in motor sport - three F1 champions with four titles between them, and seven World Rally champions with an incredible 14 titles between them.

What is it that makes those Finns fly?


Snow, dark nights and alcohol.....



In general: in view of the preparation for the 2013 season, what is the most important lesson learned from the 2012 season?

More specific: how should teams approach the pre-season test sessions given the fact that during the 2012 season it took the teams until the end of August to understand the tyres? In other words, it looks as if the the team that will first understand the 2013 new Pirellis is likely to have a signficant competitive advantage, but how to gain such understanding? During the 2012 pre-season testing Mercedes decided to run its old car in order to first focus on understanding the new tyres, but clearly that wasn't the right approach?


Why doesn't Ferrari bring Rory Byrne out of retirement? The Scuderia's rhetoric towards season's-end insinuated that Adrian Newey won the championship for Red Bull, rather than Sebastian Vettel. If this is their sincere belief, then surely Byrne, who greatly humbled Newey a decade ago with Ferrari's domination, is the man who can take the cerebral fight to Red Bull. Shouldn't Ferrari be forking out the bucks to tempt Byrne back?


Is Ayrton Senna overrated? How do the cream of 2012 really compare?


James a couple more which would be handy.

What are the current engine & Kerrs outputs ( power & torque otputs) for each manufacturer ? I know they must vary from track to track- but the highest and lowest for each team would be good.

What are the currently outputs of the 2014 V6 turbo engines and how much power do the Energy Recovery Systems produce for each manufacturer?


Question 1:

My understanding is that currently teams voluntarily adhere to the RRA which states an annual limit of about 40 teraFLOPS for CFD computations. Given the advances in hardware and software, is this limit still realistic for 2013 and how do teams monitor their CFD FLOPS? Also, are calculations that are subcontracted to other companies included in this limit?

Question 2:

Adrian Newey is said to be unique because he combines deep knowledge about the mechanical and the aerodynamic behaviour of an F1 car. What do F1 teams do to try to find the "next Newey" and would it make sense for teams to install their own engineering academies similarly to the young driver programs that many teams now have.


In the interests of safety why dont the FIA put an automatic 25% throttle limitation on drivers when going through yellow flags sectors?

That would make them slow down and take more care around the true stars of the show - the track marshals.



Any chance we'll get more races like the Texas race next year in F1. Specifically a race with few if any marbles so the guys can race a bit more off line. And tires that let the guys race more of the time at full speed. Personally I thought the Texas race was more like the races of old. I had the Merc sponsored car cam on during the race. In Lewis's car. Watching him stalk Seb for what was it, 20 plus laps, at top speed, was the best racing I've seem in years.


i would like to hear others opinions to what has been said by Ferrari, in regards to aero and how they feel it should play a reduced level in the overall cars performance.

- Should the aero effect on the car be reduced?

- How can the aero and other car performance factors be balanced and controlled?

- Will a reduced aero result in cost savings?

- What is the impact to both the racing and perceived tech that gets passed down to the wider auto industry?

- How does aero development costs compare to chasis, tyre, engine development costs?

- Is another arms race waiting around the corner with passive DRS systems or similar effects such as double DRS innovations?


Supposedly electronic driver aids are banned in F1 yet we see perfect starts, seamless gear shifts, traction control coming out of the corners

I remember F1 in the 90's where cars stalled on the grid, missing gear shifts, loosing control coming out of corners, wheels spinning at the start.

Why do we less of this these days?



Hi James,

When at work there are often times when funny things happen that make you laugh out loud. Asking your apprentice trying to fetch you a left handed screwdriver and having a good old chuckle at his expense. I recently watched a courier walk into a glass door at the office and found it hilarious. (Only his pride was hurt by the way.)

So can you ask the F1 insiders to tell us a story about something that happened in F1 this year that made them roll around the floor in stitches? Something fans wouldn't have known.

Many Thanks.


Do the panel think that the sport could be improved by a significant budget cap? (10-30% of current budget)

The 'show' could be fundamentally the same, but the number of pay drivers could be reduced, and the constructors becoming a more level playing field which would surely improve the sport?


What is the REAL feeling amongst the teams about the switch to V6 turbos in 2014, and do they think that they could turn the chapionship on it's head for that year?

6 Wheeled Tyrrell


I often read comments from F1 fans stating that X team's car was designed around the driving style of driver A to the detriment of driver B.

From what I understand teams design the cars around the regulations without regards of driver preferences, trying to make them as fast as their interpretation of the rulebook (and pocketbook I suppose) will allow. Setup would be the place where driving style and preferences would come into play.

So what is the reality on the ground, how much does driving style factor in the design of a new F1 car?


The cars are so precise that only a minor change is needed to change from over to under steer. The biggest issue for a drier is physical size - a smaller driver is a lot easier to fit within the confines of a car that a designer wants to make as tightly packaged as possible.

Button is bigger than Lewis - this was an issue in his first year at McLaren.

Mansell struggled to get in a McLaren when he tried to make a comeback - so much so he could barely drive it.

Kubica was a lot taller than Heidfeld.


1. If Alonso or Hamilton had driven the RBR8 would either have extracted more from the car, particularly the first half of the season and dare I say quali? (Vettel spooked over aero parts in China for instance)

2. Is there a point of having stewards? Most races I seem to disagree with a number of their decisions. Adding a driver on the panel has made no improvement at all, it seems, particularly racing incidents. They don't seem to grasp the concept at all.


My question:-

The 2012 season has been very exciting and it has "hooked" my 11 year old daughter, a surprise really, because her 13 year old brother is not interested. She really also likes the Tooned McLaren cartoons that show on the Sky build up to the race.

Are the little mechanic people, featureless apart from big noses and black overalls and caps going to be available to buy?

Similarly the "Ron" character in the last clip, with his tame bird "Cosworth" is there going to be a doll to buy?

a Ron-D-Doll? Perhaps?

These questions may not be technical but selling cool merchandise like the above is one way of spreading the F1 word and making my daughter happy when she opens her stocking fillers...........


What does the race promoter/track owners actually get for the hosting fee they pay and would it not make things more sustainable if the track made some profit. Someone makes a lot of money out of the races, if it is to be believed that most races make a loss for the hosts then who does make all the cash?


How harmful is it that many F1 teams take in second-hand drivers?

F1 is supposed to be the best of the best, so it's not when you go through all the teams.

Through the ages there is always the top 5, but it has also been that there have been many new rising star.


Including all testing and young driver test and Friday practice/qually/race how many miles will an F1 car do in a full 12 month period?

Tornillo Amarillo

Are the drivers getting information all the time on the radio, for anticipating issues, like to be carefully next turn with a backmarker, respect a yellow flag, back off now that Vettel is lapping you, debris ahead, break before in turn 3, etc.?


2 questions:

1. WDCs are being determined by other teams also, not just the protagonists. For example, Vettel was avoided by Raikkonen who graciously moved away from the race track losign positions while Schumacher moved out for Vettel later in the Brazil race to give him a nice lead in WDC over Alonso. In the same way, Alonso was doggedly defended by Petrov in 2010 as it was perceived that Renault wanted to play spoil sport to Alonso's chances as he claimed driving Ferrari was the better than his WDC winning years (for Renault). So the question to the panel is, in many other sports this cooperation from opponent teams or players will be treated as "match-fixing scandal" (cricket, badminton in Olympics recently etc.) - why in F1 it is all OK? A follow-up comment on this is that Ferrari and Alonso, therefore, must maintain good relations with other teams and drivers to get help from them when such "critical" situations arise in WDC.

2. The other question is why does F1 have this rule that the stewards decisions (omissions or commissions) in a race can be reversed after few days when new evidence is gained? In other sports, such as a referee's allowance/dis-allowance of a goal in football or an umpire's decision in cricket are not questioned even if they are wrong (not even during and more so after the match). The incorrect decisions, which could lead to a serious ramification like a team getting kicked out of World Cup (comes every 4 years unlike F1 WDC every year), are considered as part of the match and everyone accepts it even though it may be incorrect. So why does F1 have to revisit stewards' decisions and potentially making a WDC appear really farcical?


you expect kimi to dnf by crashing into the back of Seb??

alonso took himself out in suzuka, kimi let him taste his own medicine. He isnt amateur that nando can pick on by forcing him wide.


Kimi hampered Fernando, not in the race, but in qualifying. Kimi's off in Q3 meant yellow flags and FA was unable to qualify further up and made it more likely to have an incident in the mid field.

Add Grosjean's run-away train wreck in Spa, and you have two Renault drivers in 2012 "stuffing up" FA's WDC campaign.

If you add Petrov's blocks in 2010 in Abu Dhabi, and you have 3 Renault drivers causing Fernando not to have won more WDCs.

Ironically, it was Renault (then Bennetton), who gave Fernando's his 2 WDCs.


Because of the vast sums of prize money available, points mean prizes and if it should be a draw at the season end other results come into play. It's been said there is £10million between final positions in terms of prizes so it has to be the correct result and results clarified if needs be as if a team felt really hard done by they could just not enter next season, thinning the grid further and would look so bad. How much of a fuss would you make if your 10million was at stake?


My Question is regarding Aerodynamics. Given that such a high proportion of development is related to managing airflow around the car, Is this an area of infinite potential, or will there come a day when everything that can be done,has been done?.


A pretty straight forward one from me..

If the engineers could reinstate all the banned technology from the last 10 years, how much faster would an f1 car be than the current models around Silverstone on a qualifying lap?

I'm guessing the car would have exhaust blown double rear diffuser, f-duct, traction control and abs? Basically the works.


I'd like to know the Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes saga. By all looks and means, it looks like a disastrous move for Hamilton and the sport in general. Could McLaren have done something different to retain him? He is definitely one driver any team would give an arm to have on their line up. It's hard to believe his "romantic" story of leaving home for travelling or finding a new challenge, when his mentality is "TO WIN" period.


Who is the most unpredictable personality in the paddock when it come to not knowing how they will react to situations that arise over a race weekend.

Also when I do work on my car I find swearing at it quite a lot often helps get the job done, which set of mechanics or individual mechanic swears at the cars the most?


Who is the biggest practical joker in the F1 circus be it a driver, mechanic, management, media etc. There must be some laughs over a weekend or is it all serious faces and all that.


My question:

The bulk of fan response of Bruno Senna was very critical of his performances over the course of the season. There was talk that he never adapted all that well to the operating temperature the tires needed to be within for qualifying, and as a result that hurt his qualifying sessions a bit. With that, was the criticism valid, or is there more to his driving ability than many fans realize? Did he hurt Williams more than he helped?


In light of the recent comments of former world champion Alan Jones, what do the panel think of Kimi Raikkonen's chances of adding to his solitary title? Is a year of consolidating his comeback required to secure a move to a front running team?


There has been talk that Kimi had rejecte an offer from McLaren to replace departing Lewis. Kimi instantly rejected it. Everybody knows that Martin is a big Kimi fan. I think Lotus gives him the freedom which Kimi is really enjoying


Hi James,

i'd like to know what are the differences in driving style among the main drivers, and under which circumnstances they may affect laptime.


A recurring comment throughout the season was that the Ferrari F2012 was a very poor car that had no business challenging race wins. As we look back on the season, with Ferrari finishing ahead of McLaren in the Constructors and Alonso only 3 points behind Vettel, do the panel think that the car was in fact a lot better on race day than it was given credit for?


Is it time for F1 to follow the example of other global sports and stop post-race evidence from affecting the declared race results (in all but the most extreme instances such as an illegal car)?

Race control and marshals have the opportunity to sort out any issues during the race, if they miss something then tough I say. Continuing incidents such as the one this week only undermine F1 and for something as minor as a potential slightly early overtake under yellows there should not even be the possibility of that leading to an appeal or result in a post race results change.


My question:

What do the panel think about Christian Horner's reference to "gamesmanship" and other teams "dirty tricks" during the 2012 season? Is this a definitive case of irony given the number of times car tests have to be changed to stop Red Bull from breaking the spirit (if not the exact letter) of the regulations?


And a related question:

Could we have an analysis of all car / teams investigations or was it only Red Bull who had holes in floors, flexi wings, rubber wings, special engine mappings etc.


Will there be a two tier 2013 season with those teams who feel they can do well under the 2013 F1 regulations and those who feel they cannot and want gain an advantage on their rivals under the new 2014 regulations? Perhaps a repeat of the Brawn 2009 season springs to mind??



If the cars went back to Australia now, how much faster would the lap times be?


How reliant are the teams' engineers on driver feedback when designing a car? Is it mostly a case of the engineers building a car and then telling the pilot to drive it, where the driver's input matters mostly for the setup of the car? Or does a driver get involved more actively throughout the design process?

And a related question - which of the present drivers have a better understanding of the technical aspect of the sport?


Why is there no car number 13 in formula 1???

Sauber have cars 11 and 12, while Force India have 14 and 15, why??



We have been enjoying this system of qualification since 2006. 2013 will be the 8th year. I'm not sure, but I think that the system used to be changed at least once per 10 years. Not all changes were positive. So, is it in danger,

or do we have something that will go on for many years?

What about Pirelli's ideas to introduce qualificatio tyres? (an addition to Jake's # 54 question)


Hey Panel, do you think the F1 rules are for the benefit of the teams, the fans or the sponsors?


When do you think Hamilton's first get out clause is written into his contract - end of 2013 or 2014?


Where has the best place/corner been this year to view an F1 car?


Do you think McLaren missed a trick by not signing someone like Maldonado instead of Perez for next year? I think it's always better to have two drivers that bring different strengths and for me Perez and Button seem a bit 'samey'. With Pastor for instance you would have a guy that would probably put it on pole or the front row every race if they had a car similar to this year. It would just mean that you would have someone coming into the team that would fill some of the void that Hamilton leaves which is out and out majestic pace.


I understand the prestige involved in winning points, however would it not make it more interesting for everyone to receive points? By awarding points to all drivers it would give greater interest on the back markers.


Is there any solution to avoid stacking cars in pit lane when a safety car comes out?


Regarding the coverage of F1 and how the future will LOOK for the fans. Bernie took F1 from being a track sport to a livingroom entertainment event via free to air TV coverage world wide. this combined with introducing the sport in Asia was by far his biggest acheivement. Making F1 a brand at the very top of sport events with hundreds of millions following the app 20 races a year. Last year there were talk about CVC selling the sport and a Murdoc company together with ferrari, I belive, was on the cards to take over. A logical step as the next migration for watching the sport likely will be from TV to the internet and the large possibilities both financially and added exposure which that holds. My questions go towards this toppic.

1. What are the plans from F1 management regarding f1 live broadcast on the internet? The current transmissions outside UK broadcasters are very lacking in knowlegde and also it rarely has any real access to drivers or teams which means it is a lot of guessing and presenters without any motorsport experience themself. It means that quite a few fans download the sky or/and BBC coverage (illegally as it is not possible to do legally) and see it again during the week. The problems are that if you are based outside the UK you will find the coverage from BBC and SKY a bit nationalistic with natural focus on UK teams and drivers, and ofcourse it is not live. VPN tunneling offers another illegal way to follow it live.

But has F1 rightsholder not had any plans to try a offer a live international feed on-line themself. One which is not skewed nationally but hosted with an international audience of F1 fans. I know it will be in direct competetion to current TV deals but there are surely way to renegotiate this and make an international feed online againt payment. This will mean more original content created and a happier fanbase as well as additional income.

2. Most of the motorsports websites I read carry the same stories day by day and it seems that the a large part of running a website is to read other websites and edit their content, or post press releases from the teams. it means that there is very little difference between the sites and very little new content is generated. Furthermore and this is perhaps the worst is that only the TV stations seems to be allowed to show clips from the races and interviews. My question is what kind of access does a website have compared to a broadcaster and are you allowed to show interviews etc from races. If yes, why is it so uncommen to do, is this a practical issue or a cost issue? I notice that Peter Windsor manages to make an interesting weekly hour with good guests and talk. but again never any clips from the races...

3. Regarding the concord agreement, how big a section of the agreement is related to TV and other media access to team and drivers and under what circumstances is that adjusted along the way (as it covers several years and media moves fatser than the intervals between negotiation of the agreement?) If it is not negotiated in the concord agreement what is the agreement and how is it done?

4. How do you see F1 and media coverage change over the next 5 years?


I have one question to ask to Vettel's race engineer Rocky: When Vettel's car runs into problems do you run around the paddock calling "Adrian, Adrian"


1. How good is Sebastian Vettel really? Does his success so early in his career hinge primarily on the fact he’s driving for the far more superior Newey-designed RBR chassis? The only clear cut fact we know is he is a better driver than his teammate Webber, but where does he truly rank vs. Alonso, Hamilton, Button, and Raikonnen as most talented current F1 driver? Rank them and why.

2. Will Bernie make any kind of strides to increase marketing and advertising within the USA to promote the 2 US races in the 2013 calendar?

3. What do those vertical fins/vanes on the front corner of the side pods do exactly? Simply just smoothing out the airflow? I started noticing them in 2010-2011 and are fascinated by that design element of the car.

4. Merc-AMG F1′s mediocre midpack performance the 2nd half of the 2012 season: aberration or will this lackluster execution carry over to 2013 even with Lewis on the team?



I don't undesrstand why RBR keep on signing their no.2 drivewr when almost equally talented young drivers willing to accept RBR no.2 role come cheaper.


I'm curious to know if it is possible that even at F1 level some drivers are better in right-handed corners than left-handed ones or vice versa.

I know from my experience on track days that I'm generally slightly better in right-handed corners, and I think that Felipe Massa is (and always was) generally relatively more competitive on anti-clockwise circuits (eg. Istanbul, Interlagos, etc).


How Different are the driving styles of Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso?


I think Kimi's Style is that of a champion!


Re - Mercedes

Question - Rosberg at best is a very rare winner and Schumacher was past his best, the Mercedes went backwards after winning with Button , is Hamilton good enough to drag the Mercedes programme to the fore and has Ross Brawn lost his edge ???

Jim "Wisemaker" St. George

How many lumps of coal will Santa leave in Paul Hembery's/Pirelli's stocking this Christmas? Said another way, in the first half of 2012, how did they escape from receiving any serious journalistic scrutiny? How did the sport escape ridicule? Far from being merely new and unpredictable, the tyre supply was anomalous. It was farcical. [mod]

Jim "Wisemaker" St. George

Please let me add: the tyre situation made me re-examine my 30+ year preoccupation with F1. I did not realize I still possessed some naivete (shame on me, I suppose). All the commentary I read or heard only skirted the reality of what was observed on the track.

"Wayne", in reply to Post #1 used the words "integrity of F1 as a sport". This is the spirit I intended with my question/comment above. The great, deep discussion that I thought the subject deserved never occurred. I want to apologize for sounding disrespectful. I meant no ill will.


First question.

Should the present qualification and race start system be reviewed ?

My reasons for asking are :-

a. Many fans complain about the lack of overtaking. Starting with the quickest at the front and slowest at the back makes this almost inevitable. Other sports do not give a preference to those potentially quicker than their opponents: e.g. athletes, cyclists, swimmers, etc.

b. The lights go out: and a few hundred metres later the cars are racing line astern. Not all cars of course: most races there are damaged cars or cars failing to complete a single lap. Innocent drivers often have their races ruined with no comeback. Add in the loss of expensive nose assemblies, suspension units, etc. for the teams involved in crashes.

c. Driver injury came very close to being serious this year. Many people seem to believe that Alonso was lucky in not being injured and unlucky in that the potential points lost cost him the WDC.

d. Qualification can result in cars being out of their expected grid position. Often due to being caught out by accidents and yellow flags or being held up on a quick lap. Too much luck is involved in my opinion.

I offer for discussion the following alternatives :-

Part 1. Race grid position to be determined by using the pre-race WDC driver table and a start order of 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st., then 12th, 11th, 10th, . . . , 18th, 17th. etc. First race of the season -- use car number order. Leading drivers will have to overtake and not just defend. The grid will still be in a group order of quick cars first, mid-pack cars in the second group, and so on. A good result will get rewards for the next race throughout the field.

Part 2. Use the now redundant qualification hour as a race for the reserve or the test drivers. F1 experience gained instead of being pitched straight in to a full race. Development and set up information can be tested by the teams.

Part 3. The race start to be a parade lap using existing rules: and in the final 300 metres of the parade lap use pit lane speed limiter as cars drive up to a common start line. A full stop for a minimum of say half a second, then go. The driver to be penalised if not fully stationary for the required short time. Much less mayhem and expensive damage in the first two or three corners. All the cars in line astern as they would have been with the current start system. All cars more likely intact at the end of lap one and hence reduced use of the safety car.

I could go on, but enough I hope to at least get a discussion going with probably extra and better reasons plus more ideas.

My 2nd. question.

What to do about some of the tracks that are considered to be the worst for overtaking options ?

I, for one, do not accept pit lane places gained as part of racing, and for me all processional races are boring. Coulthard versus Bernoldi for lap after lap at Monaco for example.

I would like to hear a discussion that considers setting a length of dual carriageway on the five most limiting tracks -- maybe voted for by the drivers. I would much prefer side by side in lane "slot car racing" for part of a lap in preference to waiting for a pit stop. Most road drivers know the fun of being in a line of traffic for a few miles: and then a short length of dual carriageway that offers freedom and progress -- if you are quick enough.

Being publicly rated as a poor track for overtaking might even encourage some track upgrades.

Maybe a few fans or strategists might be moved to analyse a couple of past races to guess at possible changes in outcome for the season. My thoughts are that there would be major amounts of damage saved at each race, and more actual racing throughout the field.


James my question may seem random but it's something I've often wandered.

Is the food served in the different hospitality area the same for every team, is it based on the host countries national dishes, does each team have its own preference when it comes to what is served or is the same stuff served no matter where you are in the world, and finally is the food served to the team members the same as that served to the VIP guests of that team. Only people who attend every event could answer this I think. 1 last thing would be don any if the drivers have weird requests for their preferred meals, possibly part of a ore race type of ritual.


Great question. Sadly we have already recorded the show

The answer is that the teams do their own very high level catering

They do sometime have a local dish on the menu

The best? McLaren is exceptional, Mercedes excellent, Force India too

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