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Monday, April 6, 2009

Malaysian post-race roundup: What next?

Two races behind us, and the first “normal” break between races sees Brawn GP opening up a solid lead and teams scrambling to catch up.


The first big question looks to be answered April 14, when the FIA Court of Appeal will hear the case on diffusers. For his part, Ross Brawn says he’s had enough of the complaints.

F1 Mar 2009

Flavio Briatore believes the diffuser is the difference, and is holding out hope for a favorable ruling. Mario Theissen is inclined to agree with him.

But given the argument seems not to be about the letter of the rules, but rather the “spirit” of the rules, it is my uneducated belief the appeal will be tossed out on its ear. If so, we will be sure to see new diffusers rapidly appearing on rival cars.

The real question is, what if the diffusers are ruled to be illegal? We’ve heard all sorts of comments coming out of the Brawn camp that the diffuser is not the key to the car’s speed. Is this the truth, or just posturing?

Ferrari woes

Meanwhile, off to its worst start in 17 years, Ferrari knows it needs to right the ship now.

That means eliminating team errors and making the car faster, says boss Stefano Domenicali.

“So what we have to do now on one side is to work very hard to try to anticipate as much as we can, all of the development on the car. Then on the other side, on the track, we want to make sure that people with certain responsibilities are taking the right decisions in the right way, because of course this is something that we cannot accept for the future.”


The other team off to a horrible start is McLaren, and in the wake of the Australian Grand Prix debacle, it is now very likely the team will face further disciplinary action.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who considered resigning from the job he just took over, has vowed the team will learn from its mistakes.

He has the support of Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug (for the moment, anyway).

“This is currently not a positive value – the newspapers are full of our stories, it’s certainly not creating the right image, and if it would not be bearable we need to sit down in Stuttgart and take our decision. But for now, I have all the faith I can put behind Martin.”

“World engine” on Mosley’s wish list?

Max Mosley aims to have one engine capable of supporting multiple racing series by 2013, Autoweek reports.

“We're looking at the moment at a 'world engine' for 2013," Mosley announced over the weekend at the WRC Rally de Portugal. "That's to say an engine that would work in turbocharged form for F1 and then all the way down to naturally aspirated form for the lesser categories and in a turbocharged or naturally aspirated form for the World Rally Championship.”

Interestingly, Mosley believes there is plenty of room left for development by manufacturers, once again banging the kinetic-energy recovery drum.

“The obvious area is [kinetic-energy recovery], that's very much a peripheral area, also energy recovery from the exhaust and cooling systems," he said. "Our basic objective is that the money spent in motorsport on research and development should be relevant and useful to the car industry, rather than a highly specialized area which has no relevance to anything else.”

Two races into the season, and I am convinced KERS is dangerous and adds little value to the show. To hear the teams tell it, it has also been a huge expense. One hopes there are benefits down the road for the average consumer, because in a world where Mosley continues to tout cost cutting and slashing of team payroll, it seems like a mixed message.

Besides, F1’s lure was that manufacturers had the opportunity to develop technology all over the car that would eventually benefit the average consumer. Focusing on kinetic energy recovers strikes me to be a bit specialized.

Autoweek points out the timing to introduce the new engine coincides with the next term of the FIA presidency, a fifth term which Mosley, in the past, has denied interest in. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six



Anonymous said...

With KERS and other hints, Max is attempting to direct the R&D of the world's major manufacturers. Once the executive level realizes that, the push back will start. The direction of R&D should be set by company executives, consulting with engineering and research directors; not by an attorney and a few daydreaming engineers who've spent the last couple of decades going to the races.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to add my names to the KERS comment.

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