GP China – Preview

In less than one week spotlights will be switched on the F1 world championship again. The Shanghai venue will be the third round of the season and it’s going to be an interesting racing weekend from a technical point of view.

In Shanghai we’ll see the Pirelli soft tyres (P Zero Yellow) making their debut in the championship. Soft tyres will be tested for the first time in different weather conditions if compared with the first two venues. Besides soft tyres, drivers will also use the already lapped medium tyres (P Zero White) to be used on a track which usually alternates dry conditions with wet ones. Teams have had two weeks to analyse the strategy, learn how to make the most of the Pirelli compounds and compare all data collected during the first two races.

As far as tyres are concerned, the Pirelli is willing to strengthen the tyres compound in order to extend their duration. As we saw during the Malaysian GP, pitting three times per car it’s too much and it’s so difficult to avoid making mistakes. Pit-stops are getting more and more dangerous, especially if we consider the pit-stop time which is shorter and shorter. Teams and mechanics are subject to a remarkable level of stress.

The car designed by Adrian Newey still remains the reference car, but they’ll have to sort out a problem regarding drivers’ management. I’m expecting the Ferrari to undertake an offensive strategy. The Malaysian event has to be quickly forgotten and they have to try to regain the lost ground.   Historically speaking, the car from Maranello has always been at ease with both compounds. We’ll see if Mercedes will deliver a good performance again or if the result achieved in Sepang was a bolt from the blue. It was just in China that one year ago Rosberg scored his first win.

Little reassuring voices are heard about Lotus, due to the critical economic situation. So, I hope teams will soon sign the new Concorde Agreement. The situation is quite critical and the 2014 is just round the corner. The debut of turbo engines will cause a remarkable increase in costs.

Those could be the ingredients for a weekend full of suspense, which will hopefully help us to better understand the quality of each squad.

Malaysian GP- Un & Down

During the Malaysian weekend we saw not only beautiful struggles between drivers and team mates, but also many pit-stop mistakes and much more…. Let’s try to analyse drivers’ performances and see who is up and who is down, before the Chinese GP.

RED BULL. The Austrian team has to deal with an inner problem, so they will have to be determined if they want to avoid bad consequences throughout the season. When a driver disregards a command, he has to be ticked off immediately. Positions had already been fixed. The command was clear. It was not the first time Vettel behaved like that. The team has a broaden concept of the race and, what is more, the point of the track where he overtook his teammate was very dangerous, considering also the fact he went beyond the white line which defines the track. I wonder what it would have happened if Bianchi, Bottas, Pic, Chilton or Grosjean were in the place of Vettel and Red Bull………..Would have everything ended up in oblivion or would have they been penalised? We will see during the season. I think the team took advantage of the weather condition.

MERCEDES. They made a great step forward. They finished 3rd and 4th, getting a result that only 8 days ago was absolutely unpredictable. They jumped up to the first four places of the overall standing. Brawn’s command makes us understand that the team has a good team spirit, so did Rosberg’ post-race statement.

MCLAREN. Their performances at Sepang blanked out the Australian hard weekend, showcasing that Button can get excellent results on hard.

FORCE INDIA. Unfortunately they had technical issues, because of which they couldn’t achieve good results. They can have the same issues even in the future, as pit-stops are getting faster and faster (the average time is 2 seconds). In such conditions it’s very easy to make mistakes and have issues. Anyway, the car behaved so well in qualifying and in the first part of the race.

LOTUS. Their performance level got down just a little bit; by the way both drivers scored important points.

FERRARI. It’s difficult to make an evaluation. Supposing that it was a driver’s decision, the team had to take over and command Fernando to pit. A wing has only a certain load resistance, so it was impossible for it to withstand all the laps required to avoid a further pit-stop. It’s a long championship and every single point scored is very important.  It was necessary to pit and try to recover.

SAUBER. The team recovered a little bit in comparison with the opening race. Hulkenberg delivered good performances, but we’ll see their further step.

 WILLIAMS. The team has too many issues. It’s non-comprehensive at the moment.

Gian Carlo Minardi: “I was deeply impressed by Alonso”

For Fernando Alonso the Malaysian GP, scheduled for the coming weekend, will not only represent the second race of the season, but also the achievement of 200 GP.

12 years have passed since that young Spanish driver (who was only 19) made his debut in the top category, thanks to Gian Carlo Minardi who, after seeing him racing, he wanted the Spaniard to run for his team. It’s just with the Minardi team that the Spanish driver made his debut into F1 at the wheel of the PS01: “I’ve always paid much attention to young drivers’ results, thanks to the support of a valuable staff. One of my contributors was Adrian Campos. After recommending me Mark Genè, who was a Minardi racer for two seasons, he made me focus on Fernando. I began to follow him and I was so impressed by his performances. It was clear that he was a step ahead of anybody else”, remembers Minardi.

In 1999 Fernando won the World Series by Nissan Championship and he had the opportunity to test a Minardi car at Jerez “As a tradition, my team usually raffled off a testing session to those drivers who won the most important Championships. That was the year of Fernando and other drivers. Despite the heavy rain, Alonso was able to do things a rookie driver had never done before. He just played with the car, so much so that in the third lap he had already set the best lap time, running 1.5 sec. faster than any other tester……At that point I understood that I was dealing with a completely different driver. So we negotiated for such a long time and, in the end, he finally signed a long-time contract with us.”

In 2000 he contested the F.3000 Championship with Astromega Team. He was successful, as in he finished second and scored a win in the last two races: “He began to work with us while he was contesting the F.3000 Championship. The most important test was at Fiorano, where he set incredible lap times so much so that he drew the attention of the Ferrari team. From that moment on, his reputation got better and better. Unfortunately we were in troubles and were thinking about selling the team. So we decided to put on the market Alonso’s registration which was offered to Flavio Briatore, as it happened before with Fisichella. According to the agreement, Alonso had to race either with the Minardi Team or with the Renault Team, he couldn’t race with other squads. In 2001 he contested 17 GP with us, running a successful season. The following year he was engaged by Briatore as a test driver.”

I immediately realised he would have become a successful driver and during his first season with us I stated many times he would have become the world champion. Now he’s about to contest the GP number 200, having two world titles under his belt. I hope he will win the third.

What’s Fernando best trait? “He’s always very concentrated and performing. His strength is to be able to run a race to the same level he runs in qualifying. That separates him from Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Webber. He has a broaden overview of the race, even without being supported by the radio or the timesheet. Happy anniversary Fernando!”, ended the manager from Faenza.  

Australian GP – Successful and unsuccessful drivers

The first race of the 2013 F1 racing season is over, now all eyes are on the Sepang International Circuit, where the second race will be held next weekend.

Teams and cars are on a trip to Malaysia, but we want to go back to the Albert Park and talk about drivers who deserved a glowing report and those who didn’t deserve it. We don’t have to forget that the Australian GP is an “anomalous” race; it’s a street circuit with nonabrasive asphalt and the weather can change within few hours. In fact, by mid-week the temperature was 45°C and cooled down to 15° on Sunday. Furthermore, since it was the “first day at school” for drivers and teams, they still have to learn how to use the new Pirelli compound. In the past season, it took seven races to see a double winner.

All the aforementioned items could have influenced the on-track performance. Only after some GP, we’ll have a more precise overview of the situation. What is certain is that we have 5 first actors who will strive for the world title and some outsiders like Force India and Williams, who can disturb their struggle.  We’ll see how many of them will continue to make car upgrades until the end of the season, considering that 2014 will be the year of the new turbo engine.

LOTUS (…and Kimi Raikkonen). They can drink Champagne, as they deserve it. Despite the car was less fast than before, the team managed to get a good result and made the most of the strategy. They’re not a surprise, considering also that during the past season they finished almost every race on the score zone. Kimi is a world champion, so he hardly misses points. The budget available for the team is lower than the one available to Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes. So, it will be interesting to see until when they’ll manage to make car upgrades.

FERRARI their objective was to finish on the podium in Australia. They’re now heading the world championship. Anyway, it is important to stay grounded. They’re very performing in the long run, even though they are not so good in qualifying. They didn’t miss a shot and I think we don’t have to blame Massa’s pit-stop. The chain of command inside the team has already been established. The second driver has to “sacrifice himself”, so the team’s strategy to delay Felipe’s pit-stop in order to make him pit only twice, it’s comprehensive.

RED BULL after holding the stage during free practices and qualifying, the situation suddenly changed. They were able to recover during the race, but later they slowed down their racing speed. Once again Webber had some issues in the starting stage. Team and driver will have to concentrate all their efforts to solve this issue.

FORCE INDIA they showcased to be the first among secondary teams, having enough strength to bother the 5 top teams, thanks to an interesting car. Along with Lotus, they played on the two pit-stop- strategy. They were successful in Q3 with Di Resta. On the contrary Perez didn’t manage to get the Q3.

MCLAREN the result achieved in Australia doesn’t mirror the team real skills. It will be necessary to wait until the next GP to see the necessary upgrades. In the past, Button showcased he could mange tyres very well. But it’s too early to judge their performances, as well as Williams’, which has many issues in terms of reliability and performance.

MERCEDES they still have many issues in terms of reliability. They moved team’s improvements to the background; Hamilton’s fifth place is good. The Englishman’s race was only compromised by the aggressiveness expressed towards Alonso. The Mercedes’ driver had to change his strategy as a consequence of tyres degradation. By the way, it has to be said that everybody has to look out for both of them, because Rosberg behaved like a leader.

This year championship will be a point struggle, so what is important is to seize every chance and avoid rivals to take over. This season is expected to be full of uncertainty, so let’s get ready to see some disruptions in terms of performance and winners.

Now, we’re heading to Malaysia, where the team will use a new rubber, the P Zero Orange hard, besides the usual medium. Weather conditions will be so different if compared to Australia; humidity and heat will change the situation. Sepang is a very fast track and the downforce level has to be higher than the one required by the Australian circuit (in Australia a low downforce was demanded). What is more, particular weather conditions such as high temperatures and showers will impact on everyone’s performance.

Bet on Melbourne – a winning Button

The first race of the upcoming season will start in a short time at the Albert Park. In few hours we will see the green light switched on at the Australian circuit, where the first of 19 GP will take place. In the past season, the McLaren duo, along with the Red Bull team started the racing season by getting a podium finish; Jenson Button won the race, Vettel finished 2nd and Hamilton 3rd.  The 2009 world champion was the first of 7 winners who would have won different GP throughout the season.

Even this year the English driver is considered to be successful at the wheel of the MP4-28. That is due to his way of driving, which is so respectful towards the Pirelli tyres, as declared by Gian Carlo Minardi to the website The manager from Faenza contested 21 world championships with his Minardi Team: “Jenson Button is the favourite driver among top teams, because in 2012 he showcased his ability in managing and using Pirelli tyres, especially medium and super soft, which will be used in Australia. I’m expecting drivers to pit at least 3 times. An exciting struggle will be undertaken by Ferrari and Red Bull to get onto the podium. The Australian GP will be full of uncertainty and in qualifying both Lotus and Mercedes could bring attention to them. After the first four races, we’ll have a more precise overview of the situation.”

The Australian GP meant happiness and regret to the Minardi Team, for the results obtained and for the ones missed: “For us, it was always an interesting GP, even because it was the last race before the beginning of the racing season. I have good memories, but sometimes bad luck was at our side like in 1989, when Martini qualified 3rd behind Mansell and Senna, after having had a wonderful warm up performance. Unfortunately our work was ruined by heavy rain, so we finished 6th, scoring one point. Before the Australian race we got important results, such as the 5th and 6th place in England, the 5th place at Estoril and set the best time at Jerez.

It’s a pity that only the first six drivers could score points. Maybe, things would have changed with a system like the one we have today…..For example, in 1985 – the year that marked the debut of the Minardi Team into F1 – we ended the season by finishing 8th at Adelaide, with the driver Martini. Nowadays it would have been a great result. Thinking about more recent events, in 2002 a budding Mark Webber finished 5th in the first race”, said also the manager.   

FOCUS Melbourne

Here we are. Winter is over, as well as the new F1 cars launch days and the 12-day-pre-seasonal testing. The teams checked the new changes to be brought on track for the upcoming racing season (or for the first races, at least), which is about to start at the Alberta Park in Melbourne.

While teams made all their evaluations and have all parts well checked, supporters and racing enthusiasts still have many unanswered questions: “How much gasoline was there in their tanks? What kind of tyres did they use? Did they push as hard as they could? And obviously……how is the new Ferrari F138?”

These are all good questions which are almost impossible to answer, as we think that teams played seek and hide with each other and tested all their upgrades separately. Sometimes they also raced on unbranded tyres and worked a lot on reliability.

Let’s start by telling some important points:

–          The new Pirelli tyres had a sudden and heavy degradation, so it will be very important to find the right moment for tyres change;

–          Compared with 2012, regulations haven’t changed so much and a technical programme has come to an end. That led teams to make their performance lever higher.

–          Talking about the Scuderia from Maranello, we have to say that the Ferrari team found a good match between the wind tunnel data and on-track data. This didn’t happen in the past racing season.

Let’s go step by step:

PIRELLI: as it already happened in the past season, the Pirelli tyres are the darkest horse of the upcoming racing season. During tests, tyres showed to have a sudden and heavy degradation, so drivers will probably have to pit many times each race. (according to the data collected in Barcelona, 4 or 5 pit-stops would be scheduled). Honestly, I’m wondering if it’s correct that all wind tunnel and on-track tests undertaken by teams in winter, were influenced by tyres degradation or performance.

FERRARI: they’re recovering from the past season shock. In fact, last year, timesheet data and car on-track behaviour were completely different if compared to simulator and wind tunnel test data. No doubt they progressed so much, but only in the first races we will see how much they progressed over rivals.

MERCEDES: they showed having their work optimised on a single qualifying lap and on super-soft tyres. Now, they have to demonstrate if they overcame the on-track and long run issues they had in the past season.

MCLAREN: it’s a balanced car. It is driven by a young driver like Perez and an experienced one like Button, who demonstrated to manage tyres so well in the past. This aspect could make the difference in the first GP and could be a winning surprise.

RED BULL: they’re the reigning champion; it’s impossible to decode feedbacks. This is the most scaring item. Their real potential is not the one displayed in Spain, and it’s also difficult to evaluate how tyres influenced car performance. Both drivers complained about tyres degradation, but this will be a common issue. They showed off self-confidence and set good times on hard tyres.

LOTUS: the new E21 is a top team car, for sure.  Raikkonen’ positive comments on the car mean that the Finnish driver appreciates his car potential so much. He will be one of the outsiders to struggle for the 2013 world title.

Besides the 5 top teams, a good struggle could be also undertaken by Sauber (which has the best car from a technical point of view), Williams, Force India and Toro Rosso to get that 6th place which is like the 1st for secondary teams. The Swiss team has to make a step forward thanks to Nico Hulkenberg’s contribution, even if Gutierrez is a “dark horse”. Finally, we have Marussia and Caterham; the Russian team has a slight advantage over the Anglo-Malaysian team.

After analyzing teams I would like also to analyse the couples of drivers who will give the best contribution to their teams, in terms of scoring.

HAMILTON/ROSBERG: they’re the best couple among the 5 top teams.  This is due to their long experience and the feeling between them. Nico and Lewis raced in the same lower formulas. Rosberg can cause problems for the 2008 world champion. They can be a good duo for the constructors’ championship.

ALONSO/MASSA: Fernando’s performances are like the ones displayed last year, so he will act in the same way even in the forthcoming season. Massa’s performances are getting better and better, as he showed in the final part of 2012 championship and in the pre-seasonal tests; they will aim for scoring important points.

VETTEL/WEBBER: this is the duo to be defeated. Thanks to them, Red Bull won three constructors’ championships. They demonstrated to be the two most prolific drivers of the world championship.

RAIKKONEN/GROSJEAN: they represent the biggest wild card. If the Finnish drivers demonstrated to be able to strive for the world title, Grosjean was able to deliver good but also tragic performances. He had good performances during winter testing, so the Frenchman’s progression can be decisive to score points for the constructors’ championship.

BUTTON/PEREZ: despite the Englishman great experience, even regarding tyres management, as demonstrated by winning three GP in the past season, the McLaren duo’ general performances may not be so good; the Mexican driver’s limited experience may not be enough to confirm their position in the championship.

MALDONADO/BOTTAS: among second-category teams, the Williams drivers will be the ones who will be able to score the most. They’re young and determined and, if Maldonado is able to make some steps forward, the team will probably be the protagonist of some race.

VERGNE/RICCIARDO: they have to confirm their potential. They can both rely on one more year experience. Running for an economically speaking sixth place team, they’ll have to make a double effort to express their potential. The car was built in such a good way and, to enable one of them to get Webber’s position, they’ll have to act like top drivers.

BIANCHI/CHILTON: I think Bianchi made a good choice running for Marussia. Although he doesn’t run for a highly competitive team, he will have the opportunity to progress, thanks to a good competition with his teammate. The first year in F1 is never easy. If he had signed a contract with Force India, he would have been much more under pressure, as he would have asked to get high results, besides the fact of being competitive towards an experienced driver like Di Resta.

Gian Carlo Minardi “The truth will be discovered only in Melbourne”

With the 4-day-test session at Barcelona, the pre-season practice stage came to an end. Now, all eyes are on Melbourne circuit, where the first F1 GP will be held. This year, all F1 races will be broadcasted by SKY and RAI and they will be live or pre-recorded. We’ll finally see all cars showing their newest changes.

Once again every squad played hide and seek with rivals, to prevent them to take advantage of new amendments on car development and see their real potential.

“Even the third session of winter testing came to an end. It was so hard, almost impossible to understand something during this four-day-session, as teams were so good at hiding car changes. I had the impression that they tested the modified cars separately, so, only in Melbourne we’ll have the opportunity to see the real changes.

I think tyres will be the protagonists of the first races, as they’re so difficult to manage. In ten days, in Australia, we’ll see cars racing on medium and super soft tyres, which caused many problems to teams and drivers during the last session. In Malaysia, drivers will race on hard and soft. So, in the first two racing weekends we’ll get an overall view of the new Pirelli compounds”, says Gian Carlo Minardi.

“I think Red Bull played hide and seek again; the Austrian team set an interesting time only once, before being on 1-1.5 sec. behind the team on top. If this is true, teams will have to be seriously concerned. 8 cars crossed the line within 1 second; they can even grow up to 16 in qualifying. In Q3 we’ll see an interesting struggle between Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes (which is so lively on a single qualifying lap); Lotus and Williams could join in the struggle as outsiders. The competition level is higher than one year ago, as shown by times, which are so close to the 2012 pole, or even faster.”

“It seems that Ferrari found a good reliability; I’m so pleased to hear Pat Fry and the Ferrari staff saying that they’ve finally found a good match between the wind tunnel testing (virtual reality) and on- track testing(reality). This is so important, especially for a team which has always considered development as its flagship.”

Gian Carlo Minardi “We’re at an interlocutory phase”

The four-day-tests on the track of Barcelona ended up the second pre-season tests session. This session was characterized by bad weather conditions which affected the last day of testing during which teams usually put into practice all the work done, as analysed by Gian Carlo Minardi.

“Teams started to make amendments to be ready for the last session of testing and the first GP. It’s very hard to say if teams used cars to their full potential. What is almost clear is that it is quite hard for teams to manage soft tyres. I still remember what Paul Hembery said when new tyres were introduced; he pointed out the will (or need) to make the race even more interesting”, said the manager from Faenza.

“In the second half of the past season, teams equalized their performances on medium/hard tyres. Drivers pitted according to regulations. Comparing times in the first few laps of the long run with times in the last laps, we could notice sudden performance downfalls within a short time. It will be extremely hard but important to set the right time to pit. So, in the first GP it will be interesting to see different strategies. We’re still living an interlocutory phase and the four-day- testing session was interrupted by bad weather conditions. Generally, the last day of testing shows the results of the work done during the previous days, but this time it wasn’t possible.”

The tests at Barcelona confirmed a compression of times, as 7-8 teams crossed the line within one second.” Therefore, it will be so interesting to see what it will be going to happen during the third and last session of testing (from February 28 to March 3), to be held on the track of Barcelona, again. We will see how much teams will show their cars’ performances; I think they will be going to make separate tests in order to avoid opponents to take advantage of each car’ strengths and weaknesses. We’ll have two GP so close to each other (Australia and Malaysia), and then three weeks after the Malaysian GP, there will be the Chinese GP, where we’ll see amendments.”

The Ferrari gets people to discuss again: “We’re at the end of a cycle. It could be the result of a car built thanks to a cutting edge wind tunnel. Most of the mistakes made in the past season were certainly linked to an imperfect wind tunnel”, ends up the ACI CSAI supervisor.

Gian Carlo Minardi “At Jerez, a first taste of the 2013 racing season”

The 4-day-testing at Jerez finished the first session of the 2013 collective testing. Over the last 4 days we started to know more about the new single- seaters (except the Williams which will be tested at Barcelona), which will be the protagonists of the upcoming F.1 World Championship. As shown, the performance level will be higher.

“The current regulations, which will last till the end of the upcoming season, have been taken to the extreme, At this point it’s so difficult to think up new amendments. The common denominator is represented by very thin sidepods which could cause rear side’s overheating.  All teams got medium-high positions and the Red Bull is a benchmark. The McLaren seems to be a very interesting car, as well as Sauber and Toro Rosso. Good feelings come from the Ferrari, as well. The long runs of the first two days (13-14 laps), during which lap times were less important than other performances, were quite good. I think that the Spanish track was a mean to collect as many data as possible and compare them with the ones obtained by making simulator and wind tunnel tests. This is the way the Spanish tester will help the team. According to his interviews, it seems that the team will have to improve the simulator hardware. Along with Davide Rigon’s contribution, we all hope that they will be able to solve a problem that sounds like a “false note” in the world of F.1. It’s unacceptable not to test cars before running such a long Championship. It is important to reach a compromise in order to give teams the chance to test the turbo engine on track. The turbo engine will be the 2014 racing season official engine; it’s also interesting for the world of production cars. Cars have to be tested directly on track, not only by using a simulator”, says Gian Carlo Minardi.

“Long runs have always been Sebastian Vettel’s prerogative and I think Red Bull has mainly worked on car reliability and race performances, rather than on lap time. Beyond Ferrari good results, it’s difficult to set an on-track hierarchy yet.  No doubt 4 cars are a step ahead of the others, but it will be interesting to see also the steps of the latter. After taking a shaky start on the first two days, the Mercedes recovered in terms of reliability and performance by running almost 300 laps between Thursday and Friday.”

At Jerez teams started to test and improve all the changes made by running hundreds of laps, before working on further revisions to be presented at Barcelona, the track where the second session of the pre-season test will take place from February 19th to 22nd and from February 28th to March 3rd “Pre-season test in Barcelona will be so important, as the Spanish track will also host the World Championship opening tests. Thus we’ll have accurate feedbacks from cars and drivers. With the Barcelona test we’ll get closer to the first GP of the season, so team will get ready to play their ace card”, ends up the manager from Faenza.

Minardi “F1 is going back to ‘90s”

In less than one week, spotlight will be on the F1 World Championship again, as the new cars which will be the protagonists of the forthcoming racing season, will be soon introduced to the audience. Even the top series has been affected by the economic crisis the whole world is undergoing now, as shown by the fact many seats are still up for grabs. The crisis is also shown by the quit of the HRT Team and the many difficulties expressed by other teams.
“We’re going back to ‘90s, when the grid was composed by 18 Squads (mostly private), who had to integrate their budget by choosing rich drivers. Starting by saying that if a driver gets the Superlicenza, then he deserves to race in F1, the impossibility to get enough money through sponsorships, forces a team to choose those drivers who can either rely on the support of multinational companies or on the support of countries which use sport to promote their own products and tourism; their choice is not based on sports meritocracy. Teams’ financial situation won’t be better, as the reintroduction of the turbo engine in 2014 will further increase costs.”
In the last few years, many attempts were made to reduce costs: restrictions and cancellations of private testing and reduction of on-track staff “Strengths have been shifted from one side to the other. Private testing restriction has forced teams to concentrate their resources on new sectors, such as virtual simulation. Moreover, top teams can rely on an in-house team who supports technicians in managing the race. To reduce costs, it should be necessary to have less sophisticated cars, reduce the employment of electronics and aerodynamics and set rules which will help the development of material and technology to be applied on the series production. Anyway, I can hardly understand how costs can be kept under control”, says the manager Gian Carlo Minardi.
Car racing has always been one of the most expensive sports ever. Since a long time ago, all the drivers who made it into F1, could rely on the support of their family and important companies. It’s hard to see a driver pushing forward with his own resources. The revolution FIA is carrying on now is aiming at reducing the number of categories in order to make the talent identification process easier. In the past, we had only few categories: F1, F2 and F3. In F2 there were 4 or 5 constructors and more engine suppliers. That was the right way to emphasize talent. We must have the courage to make some steps backwards, even if it’s not easy. The CSAI has made a hard decision: suspend the Italian Formula 3 Championship with the aim of collaborating with Berger and the FIA to achieve a change.”
Few months before the beginning of National Championships, many teams haven’t completed their staff yet and many contracts still have to be signed “By now, GP2, GP3 and WSR teams have many vacancies. The fact that successful teams haven’t completed their staff yet, sounds like an alarm bell. Furthermore, there is another particular circumstance that should be taken under control: many parents are either buying or becoming part of racing teams to assist their sons’ professional development. No doubt this means certainty to some teams, but, if results didn’t come, they could give up. That is what happened when car companies got into F1. As soon as the crisis started to affect the world of car racing, car companies left the scene, causing problems for the entire system.”

Gian Carlo Minardi: “ The best car got the better of the best team”

The Brazilian GP marked the end of one of the most exciting World Championship in the history of F1, not only for the open fight till the very last second, but also for the role of outsiders, who had a great influence on final result and were podium contenders till the end. Gian Carlo Minardi, interview by website took stock of the past season, analyzing also the Italian F3 and the Formula ACI-CSAI Abarth exciting racing season.
The Brazilian GP marked the end of one of the most exciting world championship in the history of F1.
During the racing season recently concluded, drivers fought till the end and the fight went on even after FIA and Ferrari clarified the “yellow flags” issue. Anyway, the best car got the better of the best team.
Red Bull and McLaren experienced highs and lows throughout the racing season, while Ferrari was the most consistent team.
If we analyze the whole season, we can say that Red Bull had a hard beginning because of tyres issues, but it soon recovered and, together with Vettel, they became a winning combination. Even in the future, it will be the car to beat, but, to the rivals benefit, its Achilles’ heel is reliability, along with driver management and pit-stops.
It is hard for me to judge McLaren, though. It was the most competitive team on hard and medium tyres. The seven wins scored by the English team were strictly linked to these two compounds. Maybe they didn’t handle some internal issues at their best and the diatribe between Ron Dennis and Lewis Hamilton was trigged since the beginning of the racing season. They had the power to cause problems for the champions, but, because of some inner issues, pit-stop mistakes and unreliability, they didn’t manage to take advantage of their potential.
Ferrari fought for the world title with a non-competitive car, so far from being a leader. The team was able to recover from a hard time, thanks to a brilliant Fernando Alonso who contested his best racing season. Talking about development, the Italian team arrived in Monza having a “borderline” car and contested a defensive second half of the season. In spite of everything, they were able to get a second place finish in the world championship, with a 3-point-gap from the world champion. As far as reliability is concerned, they were the best, while their technical level is, in my opinion, lower than the one of Red Bull and McLaren. The sore point is that Alonso scored no point at Spa and Suzuka because of external causes, while Vettel withdrawals are due to technical issues.
Said that, the last race was like a lottery game, followed by an aftermath. I can hardly understand the reason why Ferrari didn’t ask for an explanation during the race.
What is Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari strong point?
Talking about Red Bull, I would say Adrian Newey, while Ferrari has reliability at its side. The engineer of genius demonstrated to be skilful not only at designing aerodynamics, but also at managing and organising the team. In Brazil, just few minutes after an accident had occurred, they had all damages to Vettel’s car printed out. This feature is also meaningful. We can suppose they could have had many real-time images about tyres consumption and car’ features at their disposal during the race.Thanks to the reliability of its car, Ferrari was able to fight for the world title till the end, scoring important points even in unexpected moments. McLaren scored as many victories as Red Bull, but some pit-stop mistakes and unreliability ruined a season which was successful from a technical point of view. Their strong points were aerodynamics and an optimal management of medium and hard tyres, thanks to which they got good results.
What is the feature the three teams should improve?
Red Bull should work on reliability and on a non-perfect team management.
Ferrari should improve aerodynamics and coordination between team divisions.
McLaren= reliability and internal management issues. We should not underestimate Hamilton’s decision to leave the team while he was still in play for the World Championship.
..Second-tier teams made the final result even more exciting and uncertain.
As I had already pointed out several times during the season, outsiders played a decisive role in the Championship. Alonso lost the title finishing behind two drivers like Maldonado and Raikkonen who were not expected to be two race winners, at the beginning. Maldonado scored a victory in Spain and Raikkonen won the GP in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes should forget this racing season, instead…..
Mercedes is incomprehensive. They had a great beginning of season, scoring a win in China. Then, they gradually disappeared because of tyres issues. The team is a 2012 racing season big disappointment.
Starting from March 2013, F1 will be broadcasted on SKY. Will the audience get down?
We should wait for the complete TV schedule, as negotiations are still in progress. RAI cannot do without F1 for sure and I think that, if the F1 World Championship will be broadcasted only on SKY, audience will get down and down. In fact, RAI subscribers are millions, while SKY subscribers are only thousands. As a consequence, the two channels will come to a compromise in order to allow Italian spectators to enjoy the show.
Italian drivers did not take part in the most exciting championship. What are 2013 outlooks?
I can hardly imagine some changes for the future racing season. There are drivers like Valsecchi, who, besides winning the GP2 Championship, had also an excellent performance at Abu Dhabi rookie tests. Team and driver are working to take part in the World Championship, but it won’t be easy at all. Unfortunately, as we already know, abilities are not enough. The financial situation is so troubled and I hope he will find the way to demonstrate his talent.
The 2012 racing season was anyway a good season for Italian drivers. Edoardo Mortara, after contesting the DTM Championship, won a title in Macau, Valsecchi won the GP2 Championship, Filippi had a good GP2 season and Rigon with Ferrari…..
We hope Porsche will be Sauber official engine supplier again and Honda will be McLaren official engine supplier again. Only on this condition, high-level drivers will go back to racing. Otherwise we will continue to have drivers supported by big sponsors or even by countries or continents which use motor sport as an advertising means. Nowadays if you want to be a F1 racer you have to spend 15 millions Euros at least…..We hope that, with all technological advances and regulation amendments, F1 will hold again the interest of those automakers who brought along before.
F1 had an exciting and intense racing season, but so did Italian F.ACI-CSAI Abarth and F3 Championships.
As an ACI advisor, I have to pay attention to what happens in the world of car racing. I think to be objective when I say that both Italian F.3 and F.ACI-CSAI Abarth Championships are two high-level Championships. All young drivers who experienced those series, then had the opportunity to race in some series which are so close to F1, such as GP3, GP2 and WSR 3.5. Unfortunately our country is undergoing a deep economic crisis, but the greatest satisfaction is to see a talented young driver such as Riccardo Agostini, who previously raced in F.Abarth and F.3, being so competitive during the WSR tests and handling the F1 Ferrari so well. This means that this chain ensures valuable technical upturns. We’re improving year by year and we’ll soon see sport results, as well.
In our Championships there was a lack of Italian drivers but lots of foreign ones.
Italian Championships are extremely competitive and I want to praise foreign drivers as they are disposed to put themselves at stake. We don’t have problems in terms of quality and our drivers are always able to make a good impression in the most important racing series. So, Italian drivers are not inferior to foreign ones, but they have many problems in finding the economic resources to stand out. Unfortunately, it’s a fight against the world, especially when foreign countries use motor sport as an advertising means.

F.1 – A hard working Rigon at Magny-Cours

In the first day of official test with the team from Maranello, Davide Rigon was unsparing in his efforts to show all his resilience and athletic training in gaining more than 700 km.
Behind the wheel of the F2012 at Magny-Cours, the Vicenza-born driver, who has been at the disposal of the Scuderia for two years, both for sport and business activities, developed an intense schedule, focusing on aerodynamics in the morning and on setup in the afternoon. The aim was to correlate these two areas with the work done at the simulator.
I’ve already been at Magny-Cours two times with other categories, but driving a F.1 car here has been so amazing!”- these were the words Davide said at the end of the day test- “ I was so nervous at the beginning, then, ten laps later, I’ve managed to focus all my efforts on the day schedule: making so many laps has given me the opportunity of improving the feeling to the car and better understanding the differences between working with the simulator and driving a real car. Track features also helped us so much as it’s a very complete circuit from a technical point of view.
I’m very satisfied with Davide’s test. He has done an awful lot of work that will be useful for the car development, completing 165 laps, that are over 756 km.”, says the manager Giovanni Minardi, “ The leg injury experienced in 2011 is now a far memory. He has been constant throughout the day and gathered many important data, the team has been so satisfied with his work. I hope this test won’t represent an end point, but a stepping stone towards a bright future in the F.1. Once again Davide has done a great job as expected. Congratulations!
Rigon finished his day test by completing 165 laps, setting the best time on 1.17.925. The talented Italian driver will race at Nurburgring in the weekend of September the 22nd. He will be behind the wheel of the 458 for the 5th race of Blancpain Endurance Series.

F.1 – A special day for Davide Rigon

rigon.jpg'Magny-Cours, 11 September –Tomorrow will be a special day for Davide Rigon, who has been on the books at Scuderia Ferrari for racing and promotional work for the past two years. The driver who comes from Thiene (Vicenza) will make his debut in an official test for Scuderia Ferrari, here at Magny-Cours, which as from today, is hosting the three days of Formula 1 testing aimed at young drivers. Read more