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Some key themes to look out for in 2013
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Jan 2013   |  1:28 pm GMT  |  133 comments

With just over a month to go to the start of F1 testing and 72 days to the first race in Melbourne, let’s look at some of the things which are likely to define the 2013 season.

Close racing
With no significant change to the aero regulations and teams obliged to commit significant resources to their 2014 cars, it’s likely that we will see the field bunched up in the first half of 2013, as the gains become harder to find and massive resources are required to cope with the significant design changes in the 2014 regulations.

However it’s unlikely that we will see eight different winners again as we did in 2012, which happened as the teams came to terms with the loss of the exhaust blown diffusers at the same time as new Pirelli tyres. So chances are this year that the top three or four teams will share the wins between them, with Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari fighting for the wins with Lotus probably joining in too. Mercedes will be a major question mark, with the spotlight on the under performers now that Lewis Hamilton has joined. Sebastian Vettel starts the season as the favourite, with Red Bull ending 2012 in strong form.

In the second half of the season the wealthier teams will pull ahead as they will be able to continue developing while the back of the grid teams will have to focus more on 2014 so will drop away gradually, but I predict a very close midfield battle this year and lots of close racing.

The pressure will be on for the rookies in the midfield teams like Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas to get regular points as the fight for P5 to P9 in the constructors’ championship will be close this year.

The pressure will also be on journalists to get the right number of “t”s and “r”s when spelling their names!

One area where teams are likely to innovate is the development of passive secondary DRS devices of the kind trialled by Lotus last year, which do not require the functioning of the main DRS switch to operate it (that has been outlawed in the 2013 rules). A fluidic switch which operates at a certain air pressure is one way of making a passive device open.

There will also continue to be a lot of work on getting the exhausts to channel into the diffuser as we saw in 2013, as there are good gains to be had there.

Slower qualifying, more pit stops
The use of DRS has been changed for practice and qualifying and the drivers can only use it in the appointed DRS zone, as on race day. This was done due for safety reasons as it was felt that it was being used in some risky situations in high speed corners. The DRS was worth a second or more on some circuits, and perhaps half of that will be lost from the new ruling, although the FIA is keen to have two DRS zones where possible, as we saw at some venues in 2012. Although some fans still don’t like it, it has improved the racing without doubt.

Meanwhile Pirelli has promised tyres which will lead to a choice between two and three stops, rather than one or two stops as we saw at the end of 2012. The tyres warm up more quickly for a qualifying lap, which will help drivers with a more gentle style, like Jenson Button.

Better looking cars
The FIA were as keen as anyone to get rid of the ugly stepped noses on the F1 cars and have introduced a rule allowing teams to bridge the step from the top of the monocoque to the nose with a laminate panel. This should improve the look of the cars, which is an important part of the appeal of the sport.

The FIA will also apply tougher front wing flex tests, with loads applied in different areas on the wing. I learned before Christmas that there are some amazingly clever technologies at large from the aerospace industry which can get carbon composite to flex with the introduction of an electrical current. This would achieve the effect of getting the wing tips to dip for extra downforce…but would be illegal in F1.

A busy year off track
There is likely to be a resolution to the question marks hanging over Bernie Ecclestone following the conviction of Gerhard Gribkowsky for corruption in Germany last year. Ecclestone has done two interviews this week on the subject, telling the Sunday Telegraph,

“(CVC, F1’s commercial rights holders) will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up”.

But then following that up today with a confident line in an Italian newspaper to the effect that the matter will never come to court.

Either way the matter is likely to be resolved in 2013.

It is worth noting in passing that 2013 has now begun and there has been no confirmation of the signature of the new Concorde Agreement, which binds in all the teams, the FIA and CVC/Ecclestone. The old Concorde Agreement has now expired.

New business coming into the sport
The arrival of Rolex as a partner of F1 just before Christmas was significant as it came despite the uncertainty over Ecclestone’s legal situation.

Another major global company expected to come into F1 this year with the Lotus team is US aviation-to-security giant Honeywell.

F1 Business expert Zak Brown said in our latest JA on F1 Podcast that there are likely to be more consumer packaged goods brands coming into F1 in the next 12 months, thanks to its strong global media reach.

Europe is still in recession with long term problems to be resolved and this is likely to impact the circuits hosting events, as we have already seen Spain has gone down to one race, there is still no race in France and there is doubt about the Nurburgring.

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Hi James,

What about the abandoned rule changes that included downforce cutting bodywork changes, narrower front wing and a shallower angle to the main plane of rear wings? Only the lower nose rule change was retained (185mm above the ground). Everything else reverted to 2012 specs.

Sure, there’s the new engines, but wouldn’t this make the 2014 rule changes a bit easier for the teams?



If I were a small team owner I would probably pool everything financially into this year, and not stop developing the car mid year because of the radically new car required for 2014. I would imagine that most of the large teams will start thinking about 2014 early so that they are competitive under the new rules. If a small team keeps focus on their 2013 car they may catch a few big names with their pants down late in the year. Sauber for instance comes to mind. It’s a gamble, could take 3 years to truly pay off, but could be worth millions on the constructors championship table.


I want to see how much more Newey can squeeze out of the coanda effect exhaust in relation to blowing the rear diffuser and bodywork…

Really hoping Toro Rosso can deliver Ricciardo and Vergne a stronger package with the STR8. Would love to see Ricciardo take the soon to be vacated seat of Webber.


I’m glad the ugly step nose is gone now.

Regarding DRS being artificial. I think people are starting to get used to it. The way I see it, the 2012 DRS zone is much improved and it will be further refined this year. So drivers will have to work hard to make a successful overtake.

IMO, the most artificial bit about the current F1 is the tires. In the past, racing tires were design to do just that – “to win races”. Now they are designed to create drama and ‘show’.

Bring back some tire competition, bring back Michelin, Goodyear or even Bridgestone.

Craig in Manila

Bit confused by the bit about the better looking cars and the revised rule allowing the joining of the top-of-monocoque to the tip-of-nose.

In 2012, was there a rule prohibiting a ‘direct line’ between monocoque and tip and thereby encouraging/creating the step-structure?


Formula for great racing= MORE POWER, LESS DOWNFORCE / GRIP


I disagree banning stepped noses enhances the visual appeal; they added design variety from an otherwise overall blandness.

The current cars’ visual appeal is damaged by three things: the noses are too wide, large and flat at the bottom, the rear wings are too skinny and high, and the bodywork is blandly rounded and lacks any aero-detail.


James, why exactly would the flexing-through-electric-current-application be illegal?

On a separate note, I’m sure Mr Newey has already given a long thought to that tiny, useless laminated panel… 🙂


Let’s have a look:

“3.15 Aerodynamic influence :

With the exception of the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 (in addition to minimal parts solely associated with its actuation) and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance :

– must comply with the rules relating to bodywork ;

– must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom) ;”

—> OK

” – must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.”

—> NOT OK! This also disallows flexible wings by the way.

” Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.”

—> OK (disallows skirts, but not wings that bend, as wings are not “designed to bridge the gap”, even though they could)

” No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane.”

—> OK, but debatable (the wings may never be lower than the reference plane. Even though Red Bulls Flexi wings got under it, they passed the tests, and what passes the test is legal by Formula 1 standards. This could mean that the test is insufficient, but the FIA may introduce more rigid tests anytime. The tests, however, are the only official measure by which teams can prove and test for themselves if their construction is okay. I do not imagine that the FIA has any specific test in their test suite that would activate a switch for such a device)

” With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in Article 3.18, any car system, device or procedure which uses, or is suspected of using, driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited.”

—> OK (even though this may ban any activation by the driver himself, it does not ban any automatic switch that is activated by an air pressure sensor for example)


Interesting. Then there is the question of, is a F1 car capable of producing the necessary amount of electricity to run such a device? Maybe the Renault alternator is not up to it, after all.


Hi James,

It’s great that Lotus has landed big sponsors, but is there any word on them boosting the team back at the factory in terms of designers, engineers etc? They’ve got the driving talent, so I just hope they have the tech talent to maintain development with the big three.


James, what about Mercedes playing the role of a dark horse in 2013? Based on performance of their cars in 2012, they gave up development shortly after Nico’s race win. Doesn’t it stand to reason that by that point they were already fairly certain of signing Hamilton and decided to hedge thier bets on 2014 by getting an early start on car design? Even if not all the technical regs had been finalized at the time, they could at least have been working to create a baseline design for 2014, aiming for a car suited to Hamilton’s driving style. It will make for an interesting show if this is indeed the case, as if they succeed they can get an early run on RB, McLaren, and Ferrari.


They gave up development shortly after Nico’s race win? Nope.. they updated their wind tunnel from 50% to 60% models, which involves calibration, making new models and building experience. It simply made them fall behind in the development race, plus by introducing the coanda exhaust they took a step in the wrong direction, as the coanda exhaust heated up their tires even more – while their tires already had a heat problem. For 2013 they need to get the balance between the coanda exhaust and the tires right, mind you that Pirelli already announced softer tires that will heat up faster.


Might pull up a position or two with Hamilton onboard, but definitely won’t be a dark horse or repeat a Brawn 2009 feat.

They’ve always had flaws in their design department, from Jenson’s days there as Honda team till now.


I don’t expect anything great from 2013 from Merc. I think they see their engine spec as the class of the field for ’14 so will concentrate there. Lewis for ’14 I reckon.


Another big theme will be tracks for 2013 / 14

Will New York make it for 2014 and who will take their place this year? Also will Thailand get a deal and will Australia keep its race?

Key questions in terms of drivers markets will be who will take Mark Webber’s place (if he doesn’t get another contract) in what will be the best available race seat next year (apart from perhaps Massa’s)

Final wild prediction is VW will (finally) confirm entry into F1 in 2015…


VW will never enter F1.

F1 is more about drivers than brands and manufacturers (other than Ferrari, and possibly McLaren as well, just). VW, with their subsidaries of Audi and maybe Porsche racing in other categories which promote more of their brand than drivers, is what VW are interested in. They want racing more about the brand than drivers, which F1 do not suit their requirements.


Final wild prediction is VW will (finally) confirm entry into F1 in 2015…

Doubt it. They are stepping up presence in rallying quite a bit again with the new Polo WRC.

I don’t see them starting F1 in addition to that.


Great content James, very interesting about the flexing carbon, although I would guess RBR mystery wires are more likely to be sensors than fancy carbon magic would you agree. Also u thought than any moveable areo device was illegal even if triggered by air pressure sensor/switch. Can you elaborate on how this device may function, thanks


Fed up with People Moaning about drs

i like it , i mean do we really want to see much faster cars been held up by back markers or drives been to afraid to try different strategies just in case they get court in traffic

it a be nice if we didnt need drs but the alternative of it

been almost Impossible to over take is a lot worse

no one wants it to be to easy and i think in general it hasnt been

i do think it has made the raceing more exciting and there used to be nothing worse then when a driver was so much faster they court up to the car they where caceing Possibly for the win and then they couldn’t get past so just followed them all the way to the finish. iv cant remmber how meany times we used to see that in the past


I agree with you and I also like DRS.

However, I think there is an alternative to it, it’s just FIA are reluctant to make it free to use again by teams, which is ground effect fans. With that cars can be less aero dependent and have more mechanical grip.

FIA are just shooting themselves in the foot with the stuff they are banning and the things they try to create to solve it when one simple solution can be used to clear everything.


A prosperous 2013 to you Mr Allen.

I look forward to your balance view from

the front to the rear of the grid and may I

say please continue to spread the word.



Regarding better looking cars, I am worried about next years with the new regulations, I think they look really good now, even with the step nose.

Christian Hepworth

“This would achieve the effect of getting the wing tips to dip for extra downforce…but would be illegal in F1.”

This is an interesting comment James. The way it’s written, especially when read with the setence following it, it’s almost like you’re hinting it’s been used/raced by a team… Is that the case, or am I just reading too much into it?


RBR 2010 front wings.


Bernie is the best thing to happen to F1.

And he will be missed when he is not in control- mark my words..

Kris Grzegorczyk

Perhaps, but is that as much about the lack of succession plan as it is about Bernie?

Regardless of how well Bernie appears to be, and how the sport appears to be prospering, I find it quite scary that so little attention is being paid to developing a solid succession plan.

Seriously, what happens if Bernie gets locked up or falls ill in a month’s time?


Why is it that “fluidic switches” haven’t yet been outlawed, since they clearly operate on the same principle as flexi-wings (which have been outlawed), that is to say they reduce the aerodynamic drag above a certain speed? It seems like an obvious loophole that could be easily closed?


Why close it if any team can use it to their advantage? This would not be ‘news’ to any of the team’s aero designers. Makes the ‘game’ all the more interesting, no?


Red Bull – caffeine (jolt)

Red Bull – electrical current (bolt)

A Jolt & a Bolt!

ecclestone may be exiting F1? Who said (20)13 is an unlucky number?



James, has the ‘moveable aerodynamic device’ rule been altered since the introduction of DRS. If something like the Renault mass damper could be banned on those grounds then I am surprised passive DRS systems don’t come under the same rule. Surely if the wings are “moving”, which can be quite easily proven through video evidence regardless of the static tests then rules are already in place to ban such devices? Surely it can’t be that hard to detect bendy wings?

I just wonder if F1 overcomplicates itself sometimes when rules may already been in place that would cover certain “innovations” if they were enforced.


2010 RBR front wings had photo evidence of bending under speed but FIA had difficulty in banning them.


Have seen some quotes from Adrian Newey and by the looks of it, Red Bull may struggle next this season.

Not only has their qualifying advantage been taken away with the banning of DRS use during qualifying but now Newey also says the fact that last season pushed them to the last race, they weren’t able to give their 2013 car the development time they would have liked.

So I think Red Bull may not be favourites after all despite the overwhelming evidence in their favour.

Anyway, I think next season maybe bad news for some drivers whose reputations are currently at an all time high namely Vettel and Alonso.

1) Vettel

Being the youngest 3 time champion EVER, if he fails to defend his title next year, whoever beats him will take massive bagging rights cue, the headlines ”The great champion that beat the youngest 3 time champion”

2) Alonso

Having largely performed wonders in a difficult car at the start of the season on the way to having a perfect season i.e. No mechanical failures and whatnot.

Alonso maybe the biggest loser in 2013 because currently his reputation is in the mythological zone but as Alonso himself said, it will be difficult to repeat his heroics second time round more so seeing as Massa was coming back to his former ways towards the end of the season = Whenever Massa beats Alonso in 2013 = Alonso will be seen as human.

So yeah, it was bad luck in a way for Alonso to have the kind of season he had at the half way stage of his career for he couldn’t retire and thus keep his mythological reputation in tact

As an example of this, the last driver to have had a perfect season (in a slower car) was Aryton Senna in 1993, then he went on to pole the first 3 races of the 1994 season and unfortunately passed away (whilst in the lead) = Aryton mythological status intact for all time.

Also Schumi in a way had this perfect season in 2006, and rightful retired immediately at the end of the season. It’s just a shame he came out of retirement = Schumi now seen more like a human like you and me and not the machine/racing god he was during his heydays.


According to my observations, the result from the Abu-Dhabi Grand Prix has usually given me an indicator on what teams would be the top 3 come the start of the new season (maybe because Abu-Dhabi is a perfect test track).

So looking at the result from Abu-Dhabi 2012, I would say Lotus would be the fastest team in 2013, closely followed by Ferrari as the second fastest and Red Bull as a close 3rd fastest team

And with Jenson’s 4th place at Abu-Dhabi 2012, I would say Mclaren may end up being the fourth fastest team in 2013.

Having said that, there are some question marks I need answering because the 2012 season confused me.

You see the fact that Vettel retired on the first lap of Abu-Dhabi 2011, he wasn’t on the cards to win the 2012 championship for the winner of Abu-Dhabi always wins the title the following year.

So I will be keen to see if somehow Lewis can pull off a miracle next year then my theory would be, whoever leads the Abu-Dhabi race (irrespective of whether he retires), will be crowned champion the following year.

So yeah, that will be the mystery for 2013 that needs answering however if Abu-Dhabi 2012, is anything to go by, the 2013 season is going to be mighty close not to mention wacky


Next year Lewis will be 28, as a reminder, Aryton won his first title at 28.


This shows how much some people loves F1. Amazing and funny analysis. I cann’t wait till Melbourne.


Don’t forget Hamilton’s McLaren was the fastest combo (driver + team) in Abu Dhabi before his engine smoked itself.

Now that Hamilton is in Mercedes colours and McLaren without a fast driver, Merc may get dragged up a little and McLaren may fall back a little.


I think I can live with a comparable year to 2012, especially if the tyres are to be more aggressive snd the cars more attractive again. The 2012 noses always uncomfortably reminded me of my brother’s (medical) circumcision when he was a few years old!

Even though Tilke’s circuits are improving, I still (mainly) prefer the European venues, so I very much hope we don’t lose any more, except Valencia which could be replaced by France. Six or preferably eight is the minimum number of races that I would like to see held in Europe, which is the original heartland of F1, although I do welcome a second US race (providing Canada isn’t threatened).

Werewolf’s predictions? The basic competitive order will remain similar with the biggest question marks being Mercedes (Hamilton/organisation), Sauber (minus Key) and Toro Rosso (plus Key). Lotus needs to consolidate its place by challenging even more regularly for podiums and occasionally for wins.

It will be an important year for several drivers, which should apply plenty of pressure, especially Massa (again), Button (number 1 status), Perez (major expectations at top team), Grosjean and Maldonado (speed minus incidents), Rosberg (the Hamilton factor), di Resta (especially if Force India parts with Mercedes), Vergne and Ricciardo (Red Bull policy) and Bottas (rookie with expectations upon him). I can’t wait.

Scuderia McLaren

Tilke circuits improving is like saying microwaved Insta-food is improving I think. Like microwaved insta-food being “less bland” in todays day and age, so to are Tilke-dromes “less bland” in todays day and age. However no microwaved food will ever taste like a chateaubriand prepared by my favourite Parisian hideaway, so to no Tilke-drome will ever have the flavours of speed, risk, driving accountability and intensity that Spa, Suzuka, Monaco, Silverstone, Monza, Mugello, San Marino provide.

Scuderia McLaren

Bernie leaving F1. Now wouldn’t that be a beautiful happening. My vote, Adam Parr for president!

In the last few years, we have seen the end of Briatore, Mosely, Dennis (kind of) and now St. Bernard. [mod]


Really one need to consider this: Is Bernie a man who is easily intimidated and pushed by fear into doing things against his will, or is he a rhino horned business man who hauls big companies and governments into doing his bidding?Considering his character is it likely more likely he was blackmailed by a loan unknown banker in Germany or that he bribed said business banker into? Did the German court simply take the word of the unknown banker who cried ‘bribery’ or did the court examine actual evidence as well to see if the banker had not just received money but actually DONE something that would account for the bribery claim? And most critically; Is the EU the kind of government that will punish a banker for taking a bribe but take no action against the bribe payer because he is wealthy and powerful? I am not saying ‘I know’, I am asking questions that I think merit contemplation.

As for the question of Bernie being a blessing or a curse, one has to consider 2 sides at least. Yes w have races in new counties and interest in F1 has grown partly at least, due to this. However when a ‘new’ owner buys the majority share holding of FOM for a massive amount of money (a deal brokered by Bernie) they DO expect a huge return on their money! And where does this ever increasingly large return come from? Increased ticket prices? Pay tv? Larger hosting fees? Government sponsorship? Us the fans and tax payers perhaps by some small chance….?

So has Bernie done you and me good? We have more races and we pay a LOT more and Bernie and his associates are a LOT richer. (And a banker is in jail for taking a bribe in all this)

You decide


I don’t like some of his ideas (such as artificial rain races, more night races, etc), but BE certainly is the person I wish to live longer for the sake of F1! 😀

Scuderia McLaren

Yes I must admit that St. Bernard has done a pretty good job overall in his promotion of the sport in previously non-F1 countries, however I must respectfully disagree Sebee. I feel the teams, the drivers and the epic racing made F1 what it is. Whether Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Lotus (old team), Brabham, Benetton and Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Mansell, Lauda, Hunt, Alesi, Hakkinen, Alonso were in the F1 championship or another series, they’d have made it popular. The great racing, the great teams, the great drivers, the great tracks made the term F1 great. F1 didn’t make them great. The paddock fundamentally knows this.

For me, with or without St. Bernard, F1 it would have become more or less what it is today. What St. Bernard has done, in my opinion, is take the “show” to different areas of the globe where the stands don’t fill and the audience does not care. (Korea, India, Bahrain etc) and dropped great European tracks for more and more Tilkedromes.

How did he do this, well a canny ex-used car dealer made one single opportune deal with vulnerable people to purchase the rights of F1 many years ago and screwed the teams ever since. Personally, I’d argue that Bernie in the last 10 years at least has actually been a shackle for F1. Consider this, it has taken this great man many, many years to penetrate the one market F1 should be in. The one market with the most real consumers which sponsors need to be in. The USA! Only this year did he finally get the US GP going. He couldn’t swallow his pride, he couldn’t put small issues aside . He expected Middle Eastern type money. But USA penetration has been needed in F1 for many years. Finally he does it. Personally, I think it was more the pushing and enthusiasm of a smart promoter in Austin, but let’s let Bernie have one win shall we.

Warewolf, there is one other thing that St. Bernard loves more than Money and F1. That is CONTROL. Absolute, total and unchallenged control. This trait unfortunately means that he disregards the collective knowledge of some very smart and experienced men that could truly help drive F1 into the stratosphere in terms of success, popularity and ultimately revenue. People like Montezemolo, Dennis, Williams, Head, Horner, Briatore, Todt, Fernandez, Mallya, Tyrell, Stewert, Prost, Sauber, Parr, Minardi, etc. A good CEO harnesses all human assets, focuses all views / contributions and leverages on all experience for the betterment of all. In this case F1. What he has done though is the opposite. He has alienated and marginalised anyone with any opinion or capability that he disagrees with or finds threatening. As he gets older, he feels more threatened. Therefore, he is more of a shackle now than ever before.

Chris R. I agree on one point. He will be out before 2014. However personally for me, it will be a happy day. I don’t subscribe to “the devil you know” philosophy. I prefer to play the ball as it is and deal with related subsequent issues as they come. Currently and for the past decade, Bernard has become sociopathic in his control of F1. F1 has suffered for this. The last decade has seen the sport stagnate in the pursuit of huge Asian and Middle Eastern fees. The sport is essentially no greater now than it was in 2000. This cannot be said for any previous decade where growth was strong between 70’s and 80’s, or 80’s and 90’s, or 90’s and 00’s. I am not talking about the quality of drivers and the racing. I am talking about the reach of the sport, the popularity of the sport. The last decade has been squandered and the last 5 years of mega racing could have been put to use better as a product.

My hope is that a strong, wise and confident person comes in and harnesses the amazing talent in the paddock. From team personnel to the media to the promoters to the fans. Parr is my personal vote, but there are many. Todt would have been good.

Well that’s my 2 cents anyway.


Thank you Scuderia McLaren for the reply.To some I may be a yesterday man so be it, but they are three man in the motoring world that I value and admire most and that being Vincenzo Lancia,Andre Citroen and of course the great man Enzo Ferrari.Yup, the messers

Mosely and Bernard are resposible for the demise of F1 compared to yesteryear,The great

man once quoted, ” Competition is good it makes a better breed “.Thank you again Scuderia

McLaren for admiring a great man.


Well Scuderia McLaren,though Stable McLaren

would be more fitting ?.

You deserve 10 points for not shooting from

the hip,Bernad done well for himself compliments of F1,the law of Karma may still

catch up with him where he joins his mate Mr

G.Gribkowsky in jail.

He should never be forgiven for leaveing

Imola out of a F1 carnival Calander,a classic

track and history second to none.


I love Imola, but never made it. Monza only. Tulips are nice, but place is showing its age.

Is it me, or is Bernie trying hard for a euro 20th race in 2013? If you can call Turkey Europe.

Personally, I hope it is in Austria.


Yup,don’t know about you, but I have attend a many F1 meetings including the fateful one of

Ronnie Peterson,I raced an Alfa 1750 with some

succsess,I was at Imola couple months ago witnessing the Iternations GT 3,have you been in Imola lately.perhaps attend a World Super Bike round. I am talking pure racing where there is no tyre warmes,electronic gear change

or rev,limiter on the engine and the surroundins planted with red Tulips and Roses

if that what a modern F1 is all about enjoy it.

Have you ever witness the sound of Ferrari F1 V12 in its raw form,well I have and may I say that what is all about it.2014 F1 is returning

back to some extent to the real engineers and the drivers and most of all to the motor racing followers.

Scuderia McLaren

Thank you Onko.

Seebee my post was about more than the new vs. old track issues. The issues around the mystery that is Mr E. are not limited the requirement of introducing new tracks. I agree that F1 needs to evolve, to have new venues. In fact I was exasperated that we didn’t get into the US properly until 2012. I am in favour of 2 US tracks in fact. But to have places like Korea, Abu Dhabi, India, Bahrain focused on exclusively for the past decade for their ability to initaially pay huge fees and provide air con in all rooms before working on the true value to F1 is short sighted to me.

I agree with Onko that the gods of Karma are now knocking on the door of St. Bernard.

Incidentally Onko, Yes good a pick up, Scuderia does mean Stable but I have left Scuderia in my name deliberately as a tribute to Ferrari. I am a rare fan of both giants of F1 and for different reasons. I cheer for Ferrari wins, I cheer for McLaren wins. Scuderia McLaren represents my bi-polar attitude to F1. I have become simply a fan of F1 and what it could be.


Have you been to a modern F1 facility?

Have you been to a “classic” old track, or a track that used to hold F1 races in 70s or 80s?

Let me just tell you, it’s as if you were comparing a villa to a caravan camper trailer.

You can’t host a world wide viewed event from a caravan camper trailer. Don’t think for a minute that Imola was not given a chance to refurbish it’s facilities and keep the race. In the end, money wasn’t there to bring the place up to standards. Race is gone.

Look at what happens at Imola today. Wedding parties and marketing events. Perhaps a day will come where Imola will share the race with Monza. Would be for that?


Control. Direct hit. ecclestone has always gone for the “quick-buck”, “low-hanging fruit” of tracks, rather than build the sport on a solid foundation of classic tracks. F1 is far too “nomadic” and needs a base of “signature” races as a foundation.

Parr was a threat, and as such gone in a matter of days.

The free-wheeling, flamboyant attitude (not the carnage) of the 1960’s to mid 70’s is gone forever. Too much of the “show” is carefully scripted.



It’s not that simple I’m afraid.

F1 costs money. Need to move that hardware and people all around the world. Set up. Tear down. Clean, spit, shine, polish before fans show up. Someone has to pay for that.

If you have something for sale, do you sell it to the highest bidder? Or to your friend for 1/2 price?

If you have 2 of something and you sell one to me for a premium an to your friend for a discount, how long before I don’t buy your product anymore? Especially if you want to sell it to me once a year?

And so all that Bernie did is squeeze out what he could from the market. Yes, for CVC. Yes, for himself. But also, yes for the Teams. And yes for the fans. As many new amazing tracks have been built, old tracks have been forced to clean up their act and deliver.

Even if 1/2 of the new giant tracks are rubish, 1/2 are not. And that’s many more new FIA F1 ready tracks that the sport can visit around the world.

I don’t like Imola getting the boot either. But it was old, not safe, and I think Bernie may have been a bit tired of all the annual Senna death stories each time F1 went there. As for others, Spa has been on the schedule, right? It’s on for 2013? Suzuka? Interlagos? Plenty of classic races on the calendar, just take a closer look. It’s not a vintage F1 series. It moves forward. Sometimes not to our liking. But overall, enough still to like that we follow it, right?


It will be interesting if and when Bernie departs from F1 soon, which I think not. No one in life is indispensable.

Looking forward to testing and the first race per normal.


I think Bernie lives for business of F1. The job keeps him alive and healthy at his age. I feel if he stops doing what he does he will die shortly after. His reason for existance and source of energy is the business he runs. You hear this all the time. Guy works all his life, retires, dies 4 months later.

Please don’t read this the wrong way, I wish Bernie a long life. I just think that if he leaves it will be his end. Personally, I’d rather he do what he does as long as he possibly can.


Agreed, F1 keeps Bernie alive. Have to give credit to Bernie though for what he has done for F1. Did you know that the average age of a millionaire is 40, cause they retired too early or got burnt out and died.


Well I think it will be a sad day when Bernie leaves F1, and in my opinion he’ll be gone by 2014.


We can only dream, but it’s a very sweet one.


Ecclestone is a powerful, manipulative capitalist who loves money AND F1. Most such people love only the former, be careful what you wish for!


Be careful what you wish for. He’s the man we love to hate, but why exactly when he has made F1 into (by far) the most successful motorsport series to ever exist.

As that famous quote from that awesome racing movie – Talladega Nights: “98% of people will die sometime in their lives”. I almost can’t imagine Bernie not being in the 2% somehow.


James I really think the comment ” Although some fans still don’t like it, it has improved the racing without doubt.” is ill judged. If there was no doubt that the racing had been improved by DRS, there wouldn’t be people who dislike it.

Without a doubt it had meant there are more overtakes. Without a doubt it has made it easier to pass. But I have my doubts that it has “improved” the *racing*.


There are always people who like and dislike things even if it is 100% perfect.

Alonso may be the all round capable driver by half the fans still dislike him.

Vettel may have a load of talents but may still receive half the fans dislike him.

DRS + KERS have improved the show / racing but there are always still fans who see the benefits / disadvantages to the systems.


I think their are some purists who have no issue with cars staying in same order all day. I personally would have no problem sitting at Spa or Suzuka and wathcing ONE car all day long, let alone 22 cars without passing. Couldn’t care less. Look at Monaco 2012, virtually no apssing and a very exciting race. However, 22 cars passing each other each and every lap at say, Valencia is just not the same. It would still be boring and I couldn’t watch it. I’d watch F1 without DRS and KERS and still love it, but I undersatnd its different for others.


I am also one of those blind guys who find it difficult to see how it has improved racing. It is easy to give reasons for that.

Firstly, it helps fastest cars the most, securing status quo for the wealthier teams. After 1 lap of racing, a Caterham is not in the 1 second zone anymore and unable to attack faster cars. However, when a McLaren goes off and falls behind, it is now even more simple to make up lost ground and look very good indeed. Improved racing?

Secondly, it values sitting behind the leader for the whole race to make a move against “unprotected” rival on the final lap(to avoid easy counter attack), more than getting things right and leading a race.

Maybe, DRS would improve racing if it would be:

a)tactical device(allowed for certain amount of time for every driver, f.ex 100 seconds per race)

b)tool for big balls(unlimited usage).

But at the moment, DRS damages the sport severely. Even more so, when the drivers are suddenly considered to be too incompetent to use it outside the limited zones in practice and qualifying. Drivers know perfectly what beasts they are racing, why dumb it down?


I absolutely agree. There have been plans about changing the F1 aerodynamics to a wing car approach, where the floor generates most of the downforce. That would be a very smart move from the point of “following cars in corners”, as the floor and the diffuser are less sensitive to dirty air from a car in front than the wings. That would make DRS obsolete and introduce better racing without “sitting ducks”.

Alas some top teams have fought the idea, arguing that as a result of a lack of experience, the downforce levels would have been hard to predict. Well, there is CFD, isn’t it? Plus there are wind tunnels and there are aerodynamics engineers to hire, so downforce levels can be estimated with models. I don’t buy that argument – I rather suspect the top teams tried to secure their immense investments in aerodynamics and simulation that give them their edge.

Williams’ Patrick Head has built the Formula 2 car with the same idea in mind: Though these cars had wings, Head’s idea was to shift the downforce generation slightly from the wings towards ground effect aerodynamics, making the wings less important and the ground effect more important to downforce. The idea was that Formula 2 cars should be easier to follow through the bends. And as we know now, it worked pretty well.

When the FIA had the Formula 1 teams attach a wooden plank to their cars’ floors, they were doing the exact opposite and that’s where a big part of the current need for DRS comes from.


I agree with your basic premise Wanja. Wings effective work by trying to send as much air upwards as fast as possible. The equal and opposite reaction force (the change in momentum of the air) is the downforce. With the ground effects, the perfect venturi would result in the exit air having zero velocity, and maximum air pressure behind the car. I found the arguments about double diffusers hurting overtaken logically unlikely.

The planks theoretically contributed to increasing the wake problem that already existed. However, I suspect the aerodynamic advances in exploiting the diffuser exceeded what FIA took away. Over the 90s the variation in the engines greatly reduced. So less powerful cars, which are always hurt in qualifying as new tyres, wings set to maximum, a low ride height and low fuel could cover handling vices for one lap. In the races the good handling slower cars in qualifying could come through the field.

The current cars are so similar in concept that there is little to jumble the field, especially now there is no one-lap qualifying. The engines are so similar that downforce is the main discriminator. Downforce incrases tyre wear, so the race performance advantage isn’t as large.




Agreed. DRS passes are better than driving round behind each other all day, but are not a proper solution to the problem.

IMO, until cars can follow closely and aero plays a much smaller part, F1 will be a shadow of what it has the potential to be.


I agree with Paul on the aero solution – more ground effects. We need the cornering speeds from the downforce to avoid the racing being comparable to touring cars. Not a problem in itself, but F1 needs to be the fastest cars in lap times for status reason.

Give all the cars fans to such them to the track and then you’d pretty much eliminate the turbulence problem.


Not only your opinion, NG, I have also been of that opinion for years and said so many times in the early editions of this column. It seems the powers-that-be are blind to the facts, I mean look at the size of the front wings-RIDICULOUS! And look at the size of the budgets teams are forced to spend on aerodynamic developement- probably 6 figures per tenth of a second in recent times! Also the wings always get damaged/fall off in even minor contacts as well as causing many slashed tyres, both circumstances requiring visits to the pits/retirement, and of course, stuffing up the racing/results. Imo wings should be greatly reduced, perhaps to standard items every team must use, and allow more dependance on ground effects, these mods would allow closer following through corners and more slipstreaming/passing. (Due to reduced turbulence behind). I do find it interesting to follow the developement of F1 related aero, but I find the volume of column inches/centimeters the subject causes is tiresome as are those due to tyre related issues. These 2 subjects are hogging the news at the expense of a more interesting variety of stuf that used to be covered!



Precise semantics aside, I know what James A meant. At least we don’t have the boring processional races of the past. (Though I’m still a bit uncomfortable with it! 😉 But don’t know any alternative)


“More overtakes” does not necessarily make better racing. “More overtakes” perhaps makes better entertainment for people who want instant gratification…

I’m OK with DRS until the top drivers complain – afterall it is them that really know.


I am not sure what “improve” the racing means,

If you consider the car behind being able to pass a similar paced car ahead with ease, instead of having to fight for it, then it does not help at all (ask FA)

Of course the leader can defend with Kers or try to revert by passing back next time around the DRS zone, so IMO it is not just sailing past and running away

However, and more so in some tight circuits, a faster car trying to pass a slower one does make sense, in the past, leaders got stuck behind backmarkers for many laps unable to go through

Red Bulls would have a hard time passing faster top speed cars after pitting for tyres, let alone making up 22 spots in half a race without DRS

Like unreliable tyres, FIA is trying to look for ideas to even out competitors and avoid dull processions, half the fans like the other half does not, FIA has to adjust when it gets too weird, and in the end rules are the same for all

As for the real fighters like KR and KK they pull out great moves out of the DRS zone anyway

Happy Holidays all


It has improved the racing like James is stating, but fans dislike it because they feel is fake.

Fake because the guy in front is a sitting duck like Noelinho said above. The guy in front is there on merit and shouldn’t be deprived of his place by giving an advantage to the guys behind.

Mike from Colombia

Apart from spelling…please take not of the pronunciation…

Gutierrez – with a “S/Z” sound at the end

not a la Peter Windsor…”GutiereTH”…he is from Mexico …not Spain.


where the language is Spanish…Same as Pérez really


Little nerd moment here. Native Spanish speakers correct me if I am wrong. The “th” sound is unique to Spanish spoken in Spain and not South or Central America. It was introduced at the time of a Spanish king with a speaking impediment after the setting up of the colonies in the Americas had already happened. Hence why the Spanish pronounce words with a soft “th” and the Americas version of Spanish has a hard more English-Germanic sounding equivalent.


Hate to also be a nerd, but the “lisping King” story has been widely debunked as an urban myth.


That’s just a myth I’m afraid (the one about the king). I don’t know why everyone calls it a lisp, given that English has the same sound.

I heard a linguist’s presentation on how that sound evolved and it was pretty complicated but I’ll see if I can summarize. 500 years ago there were three related sounds: ç, s, and x. The ç was like English “ts”, and the x was like “sh”. Over time the ç lots the t-sound and became very similar to s. To make things worse, in much of Spain the s is almost like a Sean Connery s, or pretty close to “sh” (i.e. too close to x). As a result people started subconsciously separating those sounds. X started being voiced farther back in the mouth and eventually became like English “h”. That happened around the time Mexico was colonized – the name originally sounded like Meshico but they adopted the change to Mehico. Meanwhile ç morphed into “th” in most of Spain (the sound moved forward in the mouth). That didn’t happen in the south of Spain though, which is where most of the colonists left from. It may not have happened there because their s was NOT like a Sean Connery s, so when the ç lost the t-sound it became identical to s (as it still is in the south, and in Latin America). Identical sounds are fine; what people don’t like are sounds that are very close together, like ç (sounds like s) and s (sounds like Sean Connery s).

I think I’m missing something because it made more sense when I heard it explained, but there you go.


Thank you, something I never knew. Learn something new everyday!


In Spain we pronounce “z” like English “th” in “thing”. So I’m used to saying “Gutiérreth” and “Péreth”, but the correct pronunciation in Mexico (and all of Latin America) is “Guttiérres” and “Péres”.

I assume Peter Windsor learned Spanish-style Spanish since he’d have more exposure to it in England. I suppose it might be almost as bad as an American saying “bay-zil” for the name Basil. Well okay, not that bad, but somewhere along those lines.


Thank you. I’m used to people calling me all sorts of things when I’m abroad when trying to say my name 😛

Scuderia McLaren

+1 Lol


Perhaps a little off-topic, James, though you do mention how some people are uncomfortable with DRS still, but why do you think a push-to-pass system, that could work on similar lines to what they use in IndyCar, hasn’t ever caught traction? It seems to me that it could have a similar effect, if you set the extra power at the right level, and would have the advantage of letting both drivers decide when to use it, instead of leaving the driver in front a sitting duck – and also would lessen the safety implications. I don’t really understand why F1 people haven’t ever really considered it.


A key thing with Push to Pass is having sufficient margin in the engine to make a significant torque difference between the two engines. Without a control engine in the series, it is pretty limited as to what you can do to increase engnine power without some form of supercharging. The pre 2012 Indy rules best worked on ovals where the slipstream was quite effective.

Allowing an addition 1000 rpm might provide an additional 25 kW, compared to the 60 kW provided by KERS. With the engine reliability rules the extra revs are not ideal in the long term.

The current F1 regulations without refueling, using extra fuel to pass is something that is carefully managed due to the penalty associated with carrying that fuel for the rest of the race.

The future turbocharged engines would allow a push to pass functionality through increased boost, but there are limits to the fuel flow rates and other factors that are likely to limit the power. Efficiency of combustion and limiting losses such as friction will make a difference between the manufacturers.

I think the way the next engine rules are framed the intent is ensure that the engine performance should be similar in terms of power. The differences might be more in fuel efficiency. The revised KERS rules with 120 kW and the energy delivered over two laps should be significant.




Is KERS not a similar thing?


It’s not quite the same. KERS gives you new power each lap ao drivers usually following a general pattern like “Corner 3 push 3-2-1, Corner five push 2-1, Straight discharge” every lap.

Usual Push-To-Pass systems do not recharge every lap, so the drivers need to chose the situations in which they use it very carefully.

Tom in adelaide

Isn’t that Kers?

In my opinion, the wasted element of Kers is in the one lap regeneration. That really diminishes the tactical application. It should be a bigger charge regenerating every 3 laps.


something like a Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or KERS, type thing…?


Wasn’t KERS supposed to be a push to pass type system? Doesn’t often get used that way, used more in defensive situations, to try to break the DRS gap from the guy behind. Indy style systems I think rely on increased turbo boost(I think they are still turbos) so would assume is easier to implement on the engine side.


Have you ever heard of KERS? What would be the difference between your push-to-pass system and the KERS system that F1 currently employs?


Are you forgetting KERS?

Used wisely it can be both an attacking and defensive aid.


I’m not familiar with the Indy Car system but this sounds a bit like KERS to me.

Both drivers have it (at least I think all teams will have it for 2013) and it give an extra 80 or so horse power for a few seconds per lap.


Bussiness wise, Coca-Cola entering the sport via their Burn brand with Lotus could be significant. Particularly if the Lotus is as strong as it was in 2012.


It’s a small value deal but it is symbolic


After struggling since Renault sold them, Enstone is now doing pretty well on the sponsorship front. I’m pleased.

I’m not sure how ‘Coke’ will fit in with their colour scheme though.


As I understand it, the Coca-Cola company will be using the Burn brand on the livery. Not sure how prominent it will be, but should fit in well colour wise.


Since the rear of the car is a cola bottle shape, may as well use the entire car painted in a cola bottle scheme 😀 😀 😀


It wont be Coke, it’s already been reported that it’ll be one of their other brands, likely an energy drink.


I am told by those that buy it that Burn, the Coke brand actually sponsoring Lotus, comes in black bottles.

Scuderia McLaren

Their energy drink “Burn” is going to be used with Lotus. Not Coca-Cola itself. They will clearly be competing with Red Bull and Monster who have clearly found F1 a valuable global marketing vehicle. The color scheme will work very well.


Coke Zero mainly targets male audience. And Coke Zero is black. It fits just fine.


Oh, yes, and it’s the same thing with Burn energy drink


Would it be safe to assume Red Bull where using the electrical current in their wings the last couple of seasons? How easily can this be implemented?

Great blog James, keep it up 🙂


My understanding is that the McLaren Electronics ECU that all the teams use would be required to use this system to control all the electronics on the cars. I would be surprised if there was the functionality to make electronically controlled wings work and hide it from the FIA in the software.


While I don’t know whether it would be legal, JET – I do think that it would be relatively easy to install such piezoelectrics, though how the piezoelectrics integrates into the CF composite itself is beyond me (not saying it can’t be done – buy I persnally wouldn’t get how)


I suspect the electric-current bit is a recent development and unlikely to have been implemented 2 seasons ago and only later in last season, if at all.


It comes from a firm in the USA, working on aeroplane wings


I find it hard to belive that Red Bull would run a totally illegal front wing, especially one that requires an electrical input.

Its one thing, laying out your Carbon Fibre mat in different directions to create a wing that will flex, you could argue that you did not know it would dip at the ends when going through the air at over, say 100mph.

It is entirely different when you introduce a current, an electrical control device and some means of activating the wing.

I/We may have only just found out about the possibilities of making carbon fibre bend with the application of a bit of current but I would say that most, if not all carbon fibre engineers in the teams workshops/ design offices, will have known about it from when ever the technique was invented/ discovered.

With this knowledge all the teams would have protested the Red Bull front wing when it flexed, as it did in the past and made a point of telling the FIA to look for, not wires, that is too blatant, look for any form of conductor leading to the front wing area.

The conductor could be well hidden but the switch and regulator and the actual method of getting the current to the part of the wing that needs to bend?

I dont think that the whole wing became flexy, that would be no use, an F1 car with “brewers droop”!

No they would have to target an area and that would show up I am sure. That is why I dont think they will have cheated like that.


Would have been illegal as active aero devices and unlikely to fly under the radar for so long.


DRS may have improved the “show”, but I disagree that it has improved the racing.

Looking forward to the 2013 season. As you say, it looks to be a tight battle.


The new DRS rule for Qualifying won’t suit Red Bull, thats where they gain so much time in qualifying trim isn’t it?


Well if your car produces a lot of downforce for the corners, and as down force produces drag then they will only be able to shed this within the permitted zones not anywhere they like during qualifying as in 2012. Red Bull will of course be aware of this as other teams so they will be looking to counter the loss of time somehow. I expect they will be forced modify the compromise between this and straight line speed to produce the best lap time which will be bad news for Vettel, but I suspect will make Webber seem more competitive relatively.


I thought it would be the other way round.

Red Bull already has a surplus of downforce which is why they can leave DRS open (and previously f-duct on) on high speed corners. So they simply have to reduce the wing angle to get the same performance again. In F1, Downforce = King.

It also means all teams don’t have to choose between quali trim vs race trim. Which means RedBull will have ability to overtake in race.


Not sure I agree with that. Look at RBR pre-DDRS. They weren’t getting as many poles, but were in fact more competitive in races, which are majorly run in DRS-closed. RBR have always geared their 7th gear with the race in mind, and as such don’t gain as much from the DRS in qualifying. Others gain acceleration and top speed, but RBR gain only acceleration and no top speed.

Much has been made of them being able to open DRS through corners that others aren’t, but that hasn’t happened this year. Last year, yes. This? No.


As an add-on to my point, they needed a super effective DRS system – the DDRS – to make sure they qualified near the top again.


Yeah great point and kimi made the point the other day that red bull was able to go flat through some corners with drs open and others couldn’t. Will affect them for sure.


Just goes to show how much downforce that Rb8 had. Guess with just a little less rear wing & no DRS they will will still be quicker. Hope other teams find a bit more !


Yes, but Newey is likely to find a more effective passive solution than the competition – if he hasn’t already – to re-gain that lost advantage


Looks like the Driver will make the difference in 2013 🙂 BIG Like!

It’s going to be a Battle Royal between Alonso, Vettel, Kimi & Button. Especially Button, he is deadly efficient IF McLaren gets the car to his liking …

Will be missed in 2013: Hamilton at the front, Schumacher and Koba.


If Lewis is really the wonderkid some claim, he should be able to get the Merc onto the podium.

I for one hope he does.


Well don’t discount Hamilton yet until we have a handle on how well the new Mercedes will perform. From what I’ve heard they are going down the Red Bull school of thought with the design of the new car so they could easily be in the mix if not leading. They have designed a narrow gearbox to allow the rear end (coke bottle) to be narrower which has got to be good news in terms of downforce. I’m expecting them to be competitive this year.


How many times have we heard this from Merc though and they always disappoint. They were even fast at start of 2012, but by the end they were consistently behind McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus, Sauber and maybe even Williams and Force India at times. If they aren’t at least challenging for podiums all season, Hammy is going to get very frustrated.


Well of course we’ll have to wait and see, but Ross Brawn has outlined why they slumped last year because of disruption in their aero design department. They surely now have the wherewithall to produce a good car so I’m hopeful, although I agree Hamilton won’t like it if they don’t show an improvement, and neither will Mercedes. Curiously I’m expecting them to be in the mix at the front.


James, seeing you write about “technologies at large from the aerospace industry which can get carbon composite to flex with the introduction of an electrical current”: Considering that we have seen cables hanging out from a broken RBR front wing in 2011, which never were explained, what does that say about RBR’s legality that year, in your opinion? No sour grapes from me, but an interesting question nevertheless.


Well of course they may not have been electric, but an internal tensioning device to put the wing in compression. – I don’t know but I suspect all sort of tricks like that could be employed to give addition strength in a particular direction.


Is the first time I hear about cables hanging out of the RBR wing. When did this happened?


With so many sensors on F1 cars, one can surely only speculate.


James, did I hear right in that the thinking of having 2 DRS zones is that the banning of DRS in qualifying will slightly reduce its race effectiveness, so the idea of 2 zones will keep it as effective as it currently is?

I hope they are a bit more inventive with their DRS placements this year and that they aren’t always in the traditional overtaking spot. The hanger straight in Silverstone for example would be a great one.


For safety DRS is the same in practice, qualifying, and the race. – Within the permitted zones. DRS to some extent helps overcome the dirty air problem in terms of an overtake, but does not remove the dirty air problem from “fragile” high deg. tyres, and so cannot fully improve the racing.


I was referring more to the issue of gearing. I remember seeing reading a quote from someone at Mclaren (most likely Sam Michael) that if there was only one DRS zone in qualifying and DRS could only be used in that zone, everyone would gear their cars a certain way to make DRS less effective.

Meh, I’m probably just imagining it.


Nope. That’s spot on. DRS will be less effective this year due to gearing (where the put the seventh gear)


i totally agree with this. i always wondered why they would use DRS on a straight that cars were more likely to already have a draft over other areas of the track anyway.

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