Rumblings at Lotus and the star team principle of 2013

2013.12.16 20h00 EST

Eric Boullier apparently had to send a brief tweet, “Dear followers, I have never received any offers and I have not resigned from LF1,”, and  “Thanks for your support.””, according to Crash.net, at: http://www.crash.net/f1/news/198967/1/boullier-i-have-not-resigned.html .

I think I mentioned some where, back there, but in 2013, that the Red team should poach him.

I like SD, but all these years since Kimi’s startling 2007 WDC… I don’t know; but, it’s not okay, is it?

This guy has balanced a lot of unstable… situations, in the past year, and I think he could take on the demands at the Red team, and… who knows, soar?!?

I have to say, that the triangle of Kimi, Allison and Boullier has done very well, and looks like it could go all the way, with just a bit more dough.

Just sayin’.

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Finally, 2013 OVER! Done! Good riddance!

Bring on the change!!!

Hey, I know I was slacking off, in the past while; but, let’s face it, it was pretty well over by the chequered flag in Monza, wasn’t it?

I’ve been hanging at at James’ place, talking trends, and it was a clear trend, by the finish in Italy, that the season was wrapped for the top spots in both drivers and constructors championships.

But the undeviating pattern at the front of every subsequent race was pretty predicable, for formula one, by then.

The tyre change, and testS, most benefited the big bad bulls, in the end, add to that, maybe a required enabler, for the tilt-o-rama device, (see the best story of the year at the BBC, by Gary Anderson, of course, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/24659085), well within the rules, anyways, it beats the tests for those rules, I’d wager.

While Lotus took, perhaps the biggest blow, from the illicit change to the tire formula, they steadily worked their way back up, then could’t come to terms with Kimi, i.e. pay him, and respect him, after he signed with Ferrari next year; but we did get to see the coming out of Romain Grosjean.  It is a good news story when someone who survives, not only for his own wayward misfortuitous manoevres in a Formula One car, but then being blamed, inappropriately, more times than he messed up, finally gets back up on the flower.  Let us not forget how demoralizing it could be competing and measuring yourself against the best driver in Formula One!

On the Kimi to Ferrari move: I’ve been saying steadily, and those paying attention know it to be so, that Alonso would never go head to head against Kimi; but it looks like I was wrong; but that’s okay, because, now we get to find out!

Unlike the herds, I’m not so swayed by the currents supporting an idea of a superior Mercedes power unit for next year.  They had a power advantage, supposedly for the past three years; in each of those year, Renault power won the drivers and constructors championship!

I’m disinclined to believe any rumours, i.e. Ferrari are down on this, and down on that, and oh, hey, haven’t they always been down during turbo-charged eras???

Don’t buy it.  There’s more deception flying around, then anything else.  It’s quite a bit of work deciphering the small amount of quality information, from the mountains of bullshit and general flotsam and jetsam.

No, the most successful communications approach in the modern F1 propaganda wars, is under promise and over sell,

Already handicapped by the perennial, whether spoken or not, promise to win, the big Red machine, has to work over time to lower that expectation, and even then, with such delicacy, lest (yet another) tisofi riot.

One has to wonder about the future for Stephano, especially now that Ross Brawn is liberated from the emerging evil empire; way to go Ross!

I reckon any smart owner would want Ross, if they could get him.  But he’ll want what he wants, and that would likely include all of the basic elements to win, just missing the maestro.  Ferrari fits that scenario, and McLaren.  Ross will understandably wants some points on the deal, and it just depends on who is willing to give up the ownership on the team, more.  But I think it unlikely he’ll go to Williams; they, unfortunately, do not have the elements.  Sauber and Lotus do not have the money and therefore stability.  I’d think Ross wants the major factors in place; he’ll not want to waste any time getting to the top; two seasons max.  But his most likely move will be motorsports director for Honda F1 operations.  Likely Lotus, if still around, will follow McLaren to Honda.

Too bad about the tire debacle, the season was quite good, up to then.

Now, there is just the brand new formula, before us, and hopefully some variability on the top step.

2013 September 6th – F1 Holy Shine – Monza – but a word about Niki

It is Friday afternoon in Montreal, the weather has cooled to a day time high of 20° C, yet sunny and pleasant, it is.

Commenting on JAF1, following the FP2 in Monza, using the “O-M-I-N-O-U-S’ word, again, in describing Vettel’s fastest time, 6/10ths of a second faster than Webber, whom I regard very highly, I was on the verge of comparing Vettel to Niki Lauda.

Over six months ago, someone pointed out the coming movie release for, what was described to me, as a movie about James Hunt, a very charismatic figure, with whom I share a preference for breakfast.  So, after seeing the flashy trailer, I looked into the internet crystal ball to see what documentation existed of the actual events.  And as many of you, paying close attention to meaningful details, may well already know, there is excellent quality real time footage of the events of that particular season.

We, the mundane, must never underestimate those who have faced down such predicaments, and made definitive decisions to fight, and win.

That Niki Lauda is one of those extreme people; a real fighter.

Seeing the shenanigans of this season, and that one particular German brand empire, and a certain… test, in complete disdain of the rules, managed to the nth degree, so that they could get away with it!!!

(Stop me, I’m frothing at the finger-tips.)

But here is the most under-rated champion in F1 history; and there is in fact no one else who is comparable to him, in a sport, full of devastating ability.

So there.

The most under-rated of all time.

Paving the road for what it is to be a modern F1 racer.

The same guy.

I’m sure he’d like to see Lewis against Kimi in the same machinery!

Back to Monza…  oh wait a minute… this season is devolving into a predicatable, well strategically, technically superlatively managed Vettel-Red Bull massacre of the modern V8 formula.

Way to go boys and girls.

Predictions for qualifying.

  1. Anyone who bets against the Vettel-Red Bull package is either on drugs, or should be on drugs.
  2. Then it gets very cloudy, boys and girls, it is extremely difficult to trend a comparative advantage between Lewy-Mercedes, Alonso-Ferrari (this is Monza!), and Kimi-Lotus, with in all likelihood, Rosberg-Mercedes, and a Webber-Red Bull there too!
  3. I have a funny feeling that we could see a McLaren in the second row!

Ah yes, I’m afraid this is a cloudy picture.

If that isn’t cloudy enough, in the ‘what I’d most like to see’ list, I like to see Massa be the fastest in Q3.

Maybe the race results are clearer…:

  1. Vettel-Red Bull
  2. Alonoso-Ferrari
  3. Kimi-Lotus
  4. Grosjean-Lotus

I’m afraid that’s all I got, for now.

But keep paying attention… to the things that matter.

2013 July 28 Debrief: Hungarian F1 Grand Prix

Great racing Lewis!
Notwithstanding that deserving drive to victory, Mercedes have gained tremendous advantage from cheating in the sport. The illegal tire test is now on trajectory to be a decisive element for the outcome of the season.
Lewis Hamilton has demonstrated, today, by winning the Hungarian Grand Prix, that the Mercedes illegal test, perhaps combined with the change in construction and compound from the published specification of the formula, also dubiously initiated, has enabled Mercedes to leapfrog to the front of comparative advantage with their machinery.
And they have Lewis.I am reconfiguring the season through a Lewis-Mercedes as the prime package.

Yes, it makes the season more interesting than a Vettel-Red Bull championship, by Monza, yet I am uneasy with it.
In the absense, however, of the dramatic comparative improvement of Mercedes, however, we would have had a Lotus challenging Vettel, followed by Alonso and Kimi, and a trajectory of a slight Kimi-Lotus primacy for packages. What? Very interesting, all by itself.
I brought more focus to this topic in the media, due to the distorted reporting of various aspects of F1 news, such as, but limited to, the carpet-bombing about ‘how disadvantaged we are, by not getting to go in the Young Drivers’ test, just rotten for us, bad for us….blah, blah, blah, Oh, it is so bad for us. We are so disadvantaged…blah, blah, blah’. Why so much in the news?!?

The Public Relations campaign, could be seen by then, in retrospect, as having been launched, long before the actual illegal test itself! This whole thing was planned, way back, probably at some time during the past year, they had to take a design direction decision, and subsequently had to rebuild the project plan, pushing the design details to use the tires, further out in the timeline, to a point in time, DURING the racing season. Then it would be down to superlative, ice cold project planning with the expanded range of variables, into the governance structure of the FIA.

Then it would simply be a matter of execution of the plan, probably expensive, obviously risky, but even the down side calculated into the formula.
I don’t know what is really going on here, but that’s what it looks like.

The absurdly lenient penalty for breach of rules, bespeaks a superior strategic capability, and understanding of the mechanics of the system of governance in the sport, specifically the FIA; they knew all the soft spots, and pushed it right to the limit; it’s comparable to Vettel’s sublime performance in Hungary 2012!
They got away with it.
Now, they may win one or more of the championships!
What ever you think of Red Bull, they’ve never done anything like this, known to I. Maybe they may have, but not in the public arena. What Red Bull has done, in design, their comparative advantage, is design to the tests for the regulations, not to any kind of interpretive fuzzy area, short of that. Is that cheating? In a way, that is the line, for me. The design parameters are defined by the constraints of the tests for the rules; the rules themselves are interpretive, anchored by the objectivity of the tests. So it is a philosophical value, what one thinks the line of regulations are. They just removed the philosophical margin inherent in the regulations. I don’t think that is cheating.
Who knows what else Red Bull did, but they didn’t conduct an illegal 2000km test!
Even if there is anything beyond the absurdly statistically improbable ratio of mechanical errors that Mark Webber gets on his Red Bull, compared to mechanical errors that Sebastian Vettel gets on his Red Bull.
But, Holy s#1+! Mercedes pushes the centre of their focus of competitive efforts to pushing as far beyond the limits of the FIA system of governance, and get away with it.
That’s too much!
Is this what F1 is becoming, a reality show serial about survival of the strongest in a contrived corporate play ground of Formula One racing?!?
I’d rather see Vettel win a fourth world championship, and for Red Bull, at Monza, as tediously repetitive as that would be.

The Spectacle of the power minions and movers, blaming Pirelli – 2013 July 1st – Canada Day

It is bad for the sport, when…

________________________ … there are many things the close observer might write in (with their purple crayon, or other annotating instrument of the moment).

One of them could be, “Obsessive corporate wrangling and jockeying!?!

From my last entry, of April 25th of this year of arbitrary counting, 2013, the Formula One season has been blighted by exertion of pressures, in manners quite different from the technical challenge of making the fastest pairing of man and machinery, to go the fastest around race tracks, within the constraints as documented in the formula.  These activities are completely outside of the formula, as it is presented to us, the fans.  

So it is, within our frames of reference, as delineated by the formula for 2013, we observe, baffled, by the avalanche of bullshit roaring down the mountain of the power structures dominating this drama.

Let us review the basic facts that fall into relevance by way of the formula:

  1. Pirelli were instructed to create a tire within specific window of specifications; of note, they were told to bring tires that would degrade in a specific fashion.
  2. Pirelli delivered within the target specifications.
  3. Teams use the equipment, tires, outside of their designed specification, i.e. underload tire pressure, below recommendations of the manufacturer, to gain performance advantage.
  4. Existing established champions, ironically, since they are a marketing brand, based around a revamped caffeinated beverage, from a corporation challenger which has based it’s marketing success around the concept of, ‘like being the, radical dude, alternative”.
  5. Long standing automotive heavy-weight corporation is restless with being unable to crack the pinnacle of marketing alphaism, despite their bloated world-class technical line-up and having taken over a reigning world champion team.  Obsessive corporate minions attempt to remediate the ‘not-winning-the-championship issue’, by attempting to smack around the ego, (and attending appendages) of the most proven team executive, inserting their zombie corporate partnership, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dumbass, politicos.  Tweedle-Dumbass seems modeled after the reigning system’s also German-speaking loose cannon, though comes with unchallengeable in-car credentials, and extensive corporate seasoning in his own right.  Of Tweedle-Dee, we see mostly only his smiling face from the shadows where he likes to lurk, his armoury of stealthy weaponry unseen to most.
  6. I believe a sub-plot of perennial champions, with engine supplier becoming a works team, making pragmatic strategic alternative, for power supply, and oddly fallen from creating the best machinery in year one, end up with the worst machinery in year two, to be relevant to the overall story.
  7. Several teams, including the infamous Goliath of the show, get their shit together, and in alignment with the formula, build machinery to maximize the performance with the published tire specifications, and achieve improving results because of it.
  8. The establishment champion team, a key element of its corporate business, continues to develop their machinery at comparative advantage to all of their rivals, as they have been doing for over four years, with their freakishly capable design guru; including, but not limited to, mitigating their current tire specification management capability. Note: those who doubted this likelihood, earlier on in the season, just have not been paying adequate attention to the patterns in the business.
  9. There is tire failure at a F1 grandprix weekend.
  10. Automotive heavy-weight corporation, and caffeine-fueled marketing brand corporation, having not designed their machinery to use the tire specification appropriately, rachet-up a pervasive carpet-bombing approach of propaganda and perception management (marketing a public relation, as it is euphemistically called, these days) around the ‘deficiencies’ of the tire specification, as initially published in late 2012.
  11. A motion to mollify the whining from the established champion team, and the aggressive German  automotive heavy-weight, by changing the tire specification is rejected by the teams that spent their energies, apparently in good faith, to develop their machinery to the published specifications.
  12. The automotive heavy-weight implements a series of activities which garners them an test opportunity, explicitly in contempt with the existing rules, (supposedly) governing the business (I mean, ‘competition’), and effectively nullifies the preponderance of their fundamental design deficiencies in using the tire specification.
  13. The German automotive giant receives a laughable punishment for undeniable breach of the rules necessarily gaining them operating advantage in the competition, yet increases their campaign against what they describe as unacceptable tire specifications (first published in 2012).
  14. There is a spectacular series of tire failures at the British Grand Prix, directly affecting the crowd favourite.
  15. Despite the tire supplier delivering as per the directives they received, and releasing the tire specifications in 2012, and the teams using the tires outside of their design specification, and the minor, yet decisive track deficiencies, the hordes, whipped into a frenzy by the propaganda, focused on the tires performance, the tires and their manufacturer are getting pounded by the tidal waves of blame, created for just such a purpose.

Last year was so good.

This year was looking hopefully to continue that fine show, but Monaco, then Canada, now Silverstone have shown how far and how fast the spectacle can sink.

What will be do, after Bernie?

2013 March 01 – glad Bianchi is going to be on the grid

I think this Bianche could be pretty good.  

I’d hoped he’d take the Force India seat, and we could finally find out how good Paul DiResta is, or isn’t; I’m expecting Di Resta to trounce Sutil.

Prediction:

Marussia will run with dancing horse power next year.

I expect Bianchi to finish as the highest back-trailers teams, and maybe occasionally step up, where opportunity presents itself, and I think there is a good chance he’ll score a point.  He had an outside chance of winning a race in the Force India; now I don’t think they have a chance.

2013 Feb. 08 – First test, first thoughts…

Red Bull, relentless.
In terms of pace, one need look no further than Webber’s long runs, and Vettel’s mid-1:18 on HARD tires! No major technical issues at Red Bull either; the bull looms ominously!
After the bull, the black team is looking very good! Two days topping the timesheet may not be too meaningful, but the reliability at the first test, consistent long run times; Lotus really seem like they have the momentum, and right now, look the strongest to challenge the bull.
Ferrari!?! a spark of nothing less than dominance on day 3, but just like Filipe said, it doesn’t mean too much. The reliability of the red car is typical of a first test, yet, I bet many had hoped for clearer sailing to set a tone of challenge; that was missing for me. Also, the communications coming out of everything red seemed… well, just too scripted and consistent; I’m wary of this level of message control; if a team is so strong, read ‘red BULL’, the message is there for everybody to see for themselves, and so potent!
McLaren?!? a question mark for me. Yes Button did have that run, and wasn’t it on mediums? But I didn’t see the same level of consistency as the red bulls or black and gold flowers. I read a bit about how the new McLaren is a significant redesign, uhm… it doesn’t seem any more changed than the other top teams.
Maybe I have it wrong.
Mercedes, whoa or woe? Inner turmoil?!? Fires and massive mileage make-up. I don’t want to touch it. If the discussion (in the ENglish-language dominated British press, and their pet topics) wasn’t so absurdly focused on Lewis, and ‘how he’s feeling…’, or something, I’d think there’d be a lot of discussion about (h)ow! they’re looking at the backside of Force India, for sure, and maybe another team.
Am I too harsh?
This is Formula One! They sell their products to the aerospace industry! Mercedes is one of the primary marquee automobile and industrial brands in the world!
They ARE in the weeds!
Too many chiefs… it looks like, to me.

The usual scraps behind, except one is missing.

I still like Sauber, and prefer to believe them to be biding their time, working spartan-like through their programs, maximizing their resources.
Did I mention I like the look of the 2013 Sauber?