It has been an amazing weekend to say the least, With two wins under their belt in the last two races, McLaren were looking strong with their upturn momentum and were itching to make it a hat-trick, and with the practice sessions and qualifying proving to be a strong affair. Lewis ensured that the weekend finishes on a perfect note and we can say, it has been the dream of dreams for Lewis, With the potential challenger to his Victory Button falling out with reliability issues and Perez challenging him a bit too late. It was a total dominance for Lewis which can put to rest all the talks of switching teams for a while, Isn’t it? But there are few others issues which caught the spotlight as well...
Renault Tames the Bull:
If one can look at what Red Bull have done over the years, One thing is for sure, the word Reliability is something they would be willing to work on over and over again. In the past when the manufacturer teams were ruling the show, Red Bull sometimes were in the midst of action as well. Least expected from others, they slowly evolved to challenge other teams. But that was then they realized that along with the performance of the car, They should address Reliability as well. It has been their achilles heel and it has hurt them in a big way in the past. When they got it under control that's when they were crowned the champions.
Renault, the engine suppliers have been their successful weapon of choice and together with Renault, It was possible for them to design a car more aerodynamically although compromising on few issues like top speed. Renault has brought this Austrian team lots of laurels and they were crowned as champions two times. But really, We aren’t speak of a fantasy story here. It’s interesting to note that Renault were part of the reason why Red Bull has had quite a successful run but of late with the supplier facing few troubles. One has to wonder if Red Bull have rethink on their 2014 strategy.
It can be a matter of three failures in the last year or so. Alright we can forget about the last season but two retirements this season when the goal is fight for the championship? Red Bull are missing a big factor here. Although Renault was part of the team, the disadvantages of Red Bull using Renault engines are growing in numbers.
It’s not all over yet for this Austrian Team. With some of the upcoming tracks although favors Renault, There are few tracks where the alternator issue may pop up again. Some serious adjustments has to be made by both the parties and they have to address this issue in priority for one Red Bull are on the verge of losing their title and then the reputation of Renault is also at the stake.
The investigations at the Renault camp have indicated that the overheating of the alternator is at low revs. So thats the reason for their failures at both Valencia and at Monza although the early sightings of this issue was at Monaco where the component was prone to much more stress. It was also revealed that a new spec of that component was put into use after the failures of the same in FP3 and qualifying and hence adds more drama to the story. These were relatively new, so the issue is somewhere beyond Renault’s reach at the moment. Singapore GP is coming soon and Engineers at the Renault camp have confirmed to be working on this issue more than ever before because they don’t want to see one more failure.
"Our investigations after Valencia revealed potential overheating problems at low RPM, We developed a revised alternator that was validated on the test bench and trialled at Spa by Red Bull and Lotus - the teams that suffered the issues in Valencia - and no issues were found. "The fundamental change was to lengthen the alternator stator and rotor by 10mm to increase its electrical power generation capacity where current demand exceeded the alternator's capacity to supply. With this new spec we can deliver around 30 per cent more current to try to address the problems at low RPM.
In each case it was a brand new example of the new spec," he added. "After the incidents in FP3 and qualifying, we changed the alternators on the Red Bull of Vettel and the Lotus of d'Ambrosio. The race incident was therefore a further early life failure. Other parts have achieved much higher mileages; it is therefore a priority to discern the significant differences between the two. The situation is not acceptable; we must address the problem for Singapore." - Rob White, Renault’s Deputy Managing Director
Only two of the four teams from Renault stable seems to suffer this issue. Although the other two teams, Caterham and Williams showed initial signs of the same issue, they aren’t entirely worried and this leaves us wondering, If there is more to it then just Renault altering the component. Perhaps, Lotus and Red Bull both would try and need to work on their designs as well. May be.
It has been a complete disaster for Red Bull apart from this issue that kept both the drivers at bay, both the drivers were initially asked to be cautious about this issue and although Vettel who suffered most was asked to stop the car due to the imminent failure of the component, they have seen the worst of the weekend already.
Vettel had a drive through penalty for forcing Alonso off the track at Curva Grande and Webber had a disastrous tour with a single stop strategy that fell off in the latter stages. There was no grip whatsoever and Webber almost spun around and would have crashed in a dramatic away. Although he got control of his machine in time, he flat spotted his tyres and the obvious result was the vibrations that he got due to it. He was thus forced to retire from the race, making the weekend a complete disaster.
"Towards the end of the race, I had no rear tyres left and I was pushing reasonably hard. Nico was coming on his fresh two-stop tyres, so I had to keep pushing and staying on it - for the sake of getting a couple of points, maybe I shouldn’t have pushed as hard, but I was trying to stay on it. The rear tyres were completely finished, so I dropped it out of the Ascari chicane; I managed to keep it off the wall, but then the tyres were so heavily flat-spotted, I was worried about damaging the car. We do 330 km/h round here, I couldn’t see the track, so we decided to retire" - Mark Webber
In the end, had it not been for the drive through penalty, Vettel was in contention for Top 4 finish. Once he had the penalty there was nothing more he could do. Although they were fortunate in Spa with the result they got, It was highly expected that they would be suffering a lot in Monza with the package they are competing. Although few people around the world were wondering if Red Bull were sandbagging in qualifying. Monza is not a place where they can prove their mettle and they knew it. Although the strategy for Webber was quite spoton, Like Mercedes, it would have been better had they went in for a two stop strategy which could have fetched in few handful points. Quite a few people after the race admitted that they were shocked to see the strategy deployed by Red Bull for the weekend.
"A hugely disappointing race - our first non-points scoring race since Korea 2010. It was a repeat failure on Sebastian’s car with the alternator and we need to look into it and work with Renault to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It’s already cost us a victory in Valencia and now a points-finish again here in Monza. It’s important we address it for the remaining seven races. For Mark, it was a tough race. Unfortunately he just ran out of tyres near the end of the race and the resulting flat spots that came from the high-speed spin put an awful lot of vibration in the car. Rather than risk a failure, we chose to retire the car." - Christian Horner
It’s not long before the season gets over. With some flyaway races as well. Renault has quite a steep task ahead just like their partners Red Bull. Both of them have to address their issues quickly to be in contention of the championship fights. It’s their fight for honor now.
"I found out I had a problem roughly 300 metres before I stopped the car. It was an alternator problem, similar to the one we had yesterday morning. The drive-through incident was decided and happened, so there’s not so much to say about that. We lost some points today; but we did the best we could - you could see that our pace was not as strong as the leaders. It had been a good race for us given the lack of pace. There are not so many long straights at the next couple of circuits, so we can challenge there." - Sebastian Vettel
Yet again, Force India has some issues:
It’s a real pity for this Silverstone based team who aren’t in a position even to celebrate their best ever starts. Problems has been pouring in and this team seems to run into one or other issue every other week. May be their targets at the start of this season was unrealistic, may be their boss Vijay Mallya is really pushing them real hard or may be one or both of their drivers have been over focused or may be their fans have been expecting much more then what they are capable of, nothing seems to go right for this Anglo Indian Squad who seems to have missed a golden opportunity to score a large haul of points in what would have been their favorite hunting track.
It’s really surprising to see that Di Resta himself wasn’t sure of how he would have performed at this track. He seems to suggest that 8th is what he would have hoped for before even coming to this weekend but that targets were changed over the course of the weekend.
To be predicted as the 5th best team or a team which would do wonders just after the big 4. Their targets seem to have ridiculously changed even since the season has started. Gary Anderson might have let the looks of the machined foxed his assumptions. Their initial target of 5th place in the constructor championship looks a distant possibility. Forget 5th, if they could hold on to whatever position they are in now, it would be considered as ‘Mission Accomplished’ for this team.
At the start of the season, We had Hulkenberg who himself would admit that was a bit rusty to start off, then we saw them fail through the races as they closest rivals picked up their pace. Their strategy wasn’t working at many tracks and they had to fail to hang on to potential points scoring positions due to heavy tyre degradation. Then there were reliability concerns with one or other component yet they manage to score a large haul of points at a track they would have least picked at the start of the season. Well with the home race ahead, Wonder where this team head onto. It’s been a long season for them really.
Like we stated earlier, Force India had a perfect start to the weekend they would hope for, Literally they were the third best team on the grid and like they would eventually admit, they managed to raise a few eyebrows including their own boys in their garage. Two major issues that have out this team in the recent past were Reliability and degradation but although it looked like they have got it all under control, We got the news that Di Resta will be having a five grid place penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Things further looked bright when Di Resta managed to be third best in the saturday practice session while Hulkenberg wasn’t far away in terms of overall pace. Thus they were into the qualifying with some natural high hopes.
Qualifying however proved to be a mixed fortunes for them with Hulkenberg retiring in the initial stages and it was left to Di Resta who did a nice job to be up into 4th at the end of the Top 10 shootout.
With their pace looking quite good, lot was expected from them in the race. Although Di Resta started 9th after the 5 Grid Place Penalty, it was widely expected that he might fight for the podium while Hulkenberg starting from last on the grid was expected to be in the points quite easily. However the outcome was different then what was predicted. It was reported that both the cars suffered a lot while chasing down the car ahead and rear end stability is what has hurt them the most in the race, simply to put it, the car wasn’t in the control of the driver. Hulkenberg had even major problem with the brakes giving up on the initial laps itself. Hulkenberg although having gone past quite a few cars in the opening lap never really seem to be in challenging position for the points and had to give up chasing a points finish but even worse for them was that due to safety concerns the team asked Hulkenberg to retire.
"Coming into this weekend I probably would have settled for eighth place, but when you consider the pace we showed in qualifying yesterday, we certainly had high hopes for the race. I struggled at the start with the heavy fuel load and didn’t really have the race pace on the medium tyres. Things improved after my stop when I was running the hard compound and our pace was much stronger towards the end of the race. But there was no way I could keep the Mercedes behind me and with their two-stop strategy they had a bit more speed than us" - Paul di Resta
It was a sad finish for this team whose hopes was raised during the free practice and qualifying sessions. It will be difficult for them in the upcoming races as well as their car doesn’t really suit the next few circuits and they haven’t really overcome the degradation issues as well. It will interesting to see how the team approaches the next few races where their nearest rivals will be promising for a much improved performance.
"I had a few good fights in the race – so from that point of view it was fun, but I was struggling with my brakes from lap one with a long pedal and I lost more performance as the race went on. Towards the end it became a safety concern so we decided to retire the car" - Nico Hulkenberg
The Curious case of Bruno:
Right, So we do seem to have a case with Bruno, who seems to suggest that all is not fair with the stewards. Like we pointed out in the review of the last race, Stewards seem to be strict and fair with particular breed of people. Now, the drivers cannot justify what the stewards do. We are not entirely blaming them what they have done at Monza but it’s something that seems to have raised quite a few eyebrows.
As stated earlier, Vettel got a drive through for forcing Alonso off the track. As with the case of safety standards, the rules has been significantly altered in the last year or so. This is what the latest rule says,
“Any driver defending his position on a straight and before any braking area, may use the full width of the track during his first move provided no significant portion of the car attempting to pass is alongside his”
And to further clarify the rule, Significant portion also includes just the front wing as well. With our resources, that’s the driving standard which is in place for now. But again, we are quite confused with that part of the rule which states that ‘defending his position on a straight’. To our knowledge, this rule should not have been applied to Vettel-Alonso incident for it happened in the middle of the corner. But incase the rule does indeed is valid in corners as well as straights, It should have been applied to the case of Bruno Senna as well.
Bruno while chasing down Di Resta at Turn 4 and Turn 5, Seem to have been pushed off the track by Di Resta who have maintained a tighter defensive position. The consequences were same in both the cases. Like Alonso, who is the championship leader for now, might have risked his race at that part, Bruno had it not been for the escape road could have suffered a serious accident as well.
This has been going for the past couple of days with plenty of Journalists questioning the credibility of stewards decision who seem to be a bit erratic in their judgement in the last couple of races. So may be the rule appears to be valid only if championship leaders or in the fray where the incident occurs. But again, We have heard enough of it from Spa, Right?
“I had the front wing of my car next to his car and then under braking he squeezed me off the track and we touched. Fortunately we didn’t launch each other. For me a driver has been banned for a race for doing something similar to that and even Sebastian Vettel got a drive-through penalty for doing something similar to that. It is the stewards’ decision and we respect it, but I don’t think what Paul did was right. Sometimes we make errors in judgement, but it’s up to the stewards to decide.” - Bruno Senna
Actually, Bruno might have actually suffered a serious penalty as well. Having taken down the escape road and coming back onto the track, he quite clearly caught a faster car in the form of Webber and again, A case of collision and another driving standard rule will indeed apply here as well.
Whether that part of incident was taken off guard by the stewards or whether the incident wasn’t a serious breach of offense is not yet known at the moment.
Lots of questions seems to be going around for now and someone surely has to stand up and give the explanations for these.
The penalty of the Vettel-Alonso incident seems to have been justified by Alonso and the crew who have suggested that after the new driving standards that are in place, Vettel indeed deserved a penalty but on the other side inside the Vettel’s camp, they seem to be too confused with the turn of events. It would have been more spicy had vettel managed to finish the race.
“It was a hard battle and I believe the Stewards' decision was right, above all given the clarification that was given out by the FIA after the last Bahrain Grand Prix, I'm also sure that Sebastian didn't have any intention of jeopardising Fernando's race: the German is a driver who is firm but fair.” - Stefano Domenicali
Meanwhile Jaime Alguersuari felt that all is well with the stewards decision and he didn’t seem to support his former employer in anyway. We suppose there is a nice honest driver on the sidelines unless Jamie wanted to take a dig at his former mates.
“It is very dangerous when you push someone off the track as they are trying to overtake you at that speed – especially at Monza. You are doing more than 180mph through the Curva Grande [turn 3] in a Formula 1 car. The problem was that Vettel moved towards the other driver in a very aggressive way – and at a very high speed – and he did not leave Alonso enough room to stay on the track. Alonso was not behind; he was already past half of Vettel’s car. If you do that, you have to be penalized” - Jaime Alguersuari
“I think that the people who are in charge of making the decisions took a careful view of everything. It is up to them to do their job” - Alonso
Ferrari goes old school!
Speaking of Ferrari, they seem to have gone old school. Back in those early 80’s or even the early 90’s. Telemetry wasn’t a consistent equipment to deal with, those were the days where the data would be lost when the car goes through certain sections of the track. Much of it were improved during the mid-2000’s when multiple antennas were allowed in the car and thus providing continuous data across all sections of the track. But then Ferrari seems to suffered a electrical failure during the pit-stop window and they had to rely on the secondary team back at the Maranello factory to justify when to bring their drivers in. According to Stefano Domenicali, the problem was one of its kind and he had to make a phone call back to the Maranello.
Nevertheless, the team seems to have fought all odds as Alonso and Massa finished 3rd and fourth. Alonso’s podium also means that he has equalled Ayrton Senna’s tally of 80 podiums.
But unfortunately for the team though, they seem to have suffered some serious reliability issues which were ranging from Gearbox to the engine and even to the anti roll bar failure across Friday and Saturday. It’s something that the team to have address seriously especially when their driver is on the championship fight and regardless of Montezemolo’s dilemma of of how the Formula needs to be shorter and how it has to benefit his team on the long run, Reliability is something that needs to be addressed regardless of where they race or be it even in the road cars. Hope Ferrari address this situation which doesn’t seem to be an alarming bell for them
Massa has however an hard task ahead. Perez’s podium only makes it worse. However Montezemolo’s comments on Perez not being ready for a spot in the team should only do him a world of good. But you can never say never in F1. Perez might after all join Alonso as the team looks for a young experienced driver to build up a future. So for Massa, this doesn’t really change anything although he obeyed his team orders and was playing as a nice team man. Ferrari for sure are expecting higher things as the news on the road goes by. A win is the only thing that might cement his place. But he showed a good form in the race challenging Hamilton for the victory. It was only when the tyres showed immense degradation that he really lost the pace and was looking vulnerable.
McLaren and Lewis were having the dream of dreams:
We call it the dream of dreams for obvious reasons, It was the first time this season, a team as a whole were emerging as the firm contenders for the weekend. In this unpredictable era, it was something that was hard and just to predict the outcome of the race. It could have been 1-2 for McLaren, had it not been for a component failure to Button’s car which seems to be related to fuel pressure pick-up.
"Our car has been fantastic all weekend, and it was nice to have a relaxed grand prix with no troubles. I was out on my own for most of the race and just tried to manage the gap behind me. I was cruising at the end, but, once I heard that Sergio Perez had got past Fernando Alonso, I had to push a little to keep the cushion over second place. The race was very unfortunate for Jenson - we were running first and second at the time and it would have been great for the team if we could have finished like that. This championship is proving to be so unpredictable - and I’m so grateful that we’ve got a good car and that we’re in the fight." - Lewis Hamilton
Now, Button is almost certainly to lose the championship fight, Now whether we will see any team orders from here on in this team is certainly a hard call. But fortunately for them it was Hamilton who have picked up the win, Certain elements will calm down for next few weeks though as you’d expect. Although it’s really important for the team and Hamilton to sort out the contracts issue and work together as a team as they face a tough call in the championship fight.
"I was never going to challenge him for the win, but it would have been great for the team if we could have finished first and second. But it wasn’t to be. I don’t entirely know what caused my car to stop - I’m told it was a fuel system problem that we’re still investigating. The engine cut out and I had to coast to a stop. These things happen. But, looking for the positives, I want to offer my congratulations to the whole team" - Jenson Button
There was nothing really that went against this team except for Button’s problems. The upcoming tracks especially Singapore is not where you would expect McLaren to be strong but it’s important for Hamilton to pick up few more wins in the next few races to cement his position in the championship fight.
Perez does it again:
"This was a very enjoyable race for me. It was one of those where you have the pace and are the one to attack. I am very happy for the team which is working very hard. It is a really good team, I am proud of it. I didn’t have an easy first stint with the hard tyres but it was certainly the right strategy. I was frequently in contact with the team on the radio because I was worried the tyres would suddenly drop and we would have to change our strategy. Also we were not quite sure how quickly they would warm up. However, it worked out fine, I could stay out as long as I needed to for our strategy. The second stint was then really maximum attack and I must say all of the drivers I overtook have been fair. They didn’t leave me more room than they had to, but it was always enough. This is the way it should be. I am very pleased at having achieved my first European podium in Monza" - Sergio Perez
Driver of the day for many, Perez showed great potential as he chased down the big guys ahead. Working on a alternative strategy to most of the grid, Medium tyres on the low fuel did him a world of good as he showed a great fight to those who looked defenseless with their worn tyres. A simple strategy as it might look, the team played a huge role in this as well but we have to wonder why they had to go for split strategy. It would have been a bigger result for this team had they opted to run Kobayashi with same strategy as Perez. But still Kobayashi complained of lack of performance in the race though. It would have still been interesting as they close down on Mercedes in the championship fight. This result once again confirming many voices who shared the thought that Sauber is perhaps the fastest car on the grid.
“Both cars got away quite well from the start. Our drivers were on different strategies: Kamui was on used medium tyres from Q3, while Sergio started on new hard tyres. We targeted one stop for both drivers. But Kamui lost some time, and we have to investigate why his car was not as quick as the other one. Something went wrong there. Sergio had to be patient in the beginning in order to do a longer first stint, and then on the new medium tyres his pace was outstanding, this explains his great performance. As a team we are very happy. The performance of the car was there, which was the basis for this great result.” - Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
Wonder what exactly Perez has to do now to get a call at the red giant team. A big switch is highly likely on the cards for this Mexican who is continuing to impress people around him. But the word ‘consistency’ is what he should be looking to add in the coming weeks.
Kimi does the job for Lotus:
Jerome D’Ambrosio might not get the spotlight for what he did, Especially finishing outside the points and finishing behind his teammate. In the given circumstances, Jerome drove a great race at a track where Lotus is not strong and a KERS failure which was close to half a second around the lap. It made his case bad. But we hope to see him sticking to the action and get more chances as he surely has a great potential which shouldn’t be wasted. He makes it the list of those drivers who have potential but doesn’t find a spot on the grid.
"It’s good to go into third position in the Drivers’ Championship but we lost some points to Fernando which is not ideal. It was a difficult weekend as we were too slow in a straight line, making it very difficult to hold off anyone and even with the DRS it was difficult to overtake the cars in front. We did the one stop strategy and the tyres were fine. We came into the race looking for sixth or seventh so fifth is the maximum we could have done here this weekend.” - Kimi Raikkonen
Meanwhile Kimi made most of his chances. He brought himself firmly onto the championship fight although losing out on Alonso who simply to say has extended his lead by a margin. The upcoming tracks would for sure favor Lotus a lot then other teams and this would mean that the fight is firmly on for the championship. If Kimi continue to put on performance like this in the coming races, Maybe some kind of history would be created as well in case he really wins the championship.
"From this weekend I don’t think we could have expected better. The key to a good championship position at the end of the season is always scoring points, even when it is a difficult weekend. Kimi delivered exactly as we wanted from him today and moving to third in the standings is a just reward. We are still in contact with those ahead of us in both Championships with seven races to go. Jerome did an amazing job after being thrown in at the deep end. Without his KERS issue I’m pretty sure he could have achieved a points finish. We are optimistic that from Singapore onwards we will be much more competitive due to the circuit layout and updates we have coming, meaning we will be able to score more points in every race.” - Eric Boullier