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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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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


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.

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.


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 ???


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!


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).



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.


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 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”


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?


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


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.


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.


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?


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



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)


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

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


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?



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


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??


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.


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.


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?


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.


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

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