Formula 1 heads to Bahrain between confirmations and assumptions

One month ahead of the first Australian GP and after the first pre-season test at Jerez, we’re witnessing many changes of technicians and teams, who, concerned about the engine issues occurred during the first session, are taking their first measures for the 2015 season. These changes are very similar to the ones occurring in football, where, during the pre-season phase, it can happen that some football coaches are relieved and some teams have to resort to the football market to replace some vacancies.

Despite Renault, Red Bull and Toro Rosso are putting a lot of effort into injecting calm and tranquillity to the audience by issuing comforting press releases and giving reassuring interviews, the situation seems to be more complicated than expected and it’s not easy to solve it. It is rumoured that Red Bull are thinking about changing their engine supplier in 2015 and Toro Rosso changed their Technical Director for the sixth/seventh time in their history. As far as engine is concerned, according to some information coming from abroad, Renault is trying to hire technicians beyond the transalpine borders (without success). This has never happened before, as the French company has always tried to protect its technology. News like that fuel some doubts about possible engine structural issues, which seem to be not so easy to solve over the short term. Some manufacturers, who are currently not engaged in the F1 Championship, have a personal unit already made and are taking into account the possibility to join the top series, even if they’re having some troubles finding an important partner to go into partnership with, unless they are capable to exploit Renault’s current failure. Obviously I hope to be belied in few weeks, during the second pre-season test session in Bahrain, where teams and engine manufactures will bring their technical amendments.

This is a very messy moment for Formula 1.

These days we’re hearing more and more about the Salary Cap, whose amount was set to 200 million dollars. Currently, only three or four teams exceed this cap, whilst all other teams’ financial situation is so far from that figure and all the troubles they have to deal with are plain for all to see. Maybe these topics are discussed to divert people’s attention from Formula 1 real problems. As we pointed out in the past (and it’s now also confirmed by some eminent people acting in the top series), F.1 has to be revised in all its aspects. It’s not acceptable to see some F1 teams having three Team Principals instead of a single General Director; furthermore cars don’t have a single “reputed father” who handles the whole project. Currently, each team has a person in charge of mounting the engine, another one who is responsible for aerodynamics, a production manager, a person responsible for track management, an electronic area manager, etc…This way, it’s impossible to have a complete view of the project and, costs increase so much and resources are not well exploited, furthermore, the number of people employed exponentially increase. No doubt this decision is a consequence of a sector which is more and more developed from a technologic point of view, but maybe this is not the right way to follow. Before talking about Salary Cap, it is necessary to take a few steps backwards.

In the past days I wanted to draw attention on the on-track safety aspect and FIA’s technical system. I was very pleased to see that this problem was discussed by professionals who underlined crucial matters. FIA has not yet drawn up some guidelines regarding the behaviour to take in case of car recovery. Confirmation came from Mrs. Rossella Amadesi, the CEA Responsible for the racing team division. The Lions of the CEA racing team division are the best in the world, so this assures the Italian GP maker an added value and a high level of on-track safety, however I think it’s simply absurd that by mid-February, all the necessary information to guarantee on-track safety haven’t been communicated, yet.  Measures to guarantee safety could presuppose further costs arising from the need to provide circuits with new safety equipment to be used throughout the 2014 season, in addition to training classes.

All the above-mentioned was already stated by me when I raised some objections with respect to FIA’s new regulations. Those objections were taken up by the Engineer Mr. Cadringher– the FIA responsible for regulations in the ‘80s – on a renowed Italian motorsport review (Autosprint), where he agreed that the people in charge of drawing up regulations don’t have a global vision of the situation. That being said, we’re ready to move to Bahrain and see if those teams who had some technical issues at Jerez, will demonstrate to have taken measures to solve them. We’ll also see if Mercedes will confirm the same reliability and competitiveness showcased at Jerez and if Ferrari, whose performance level was considered by the Maranello-based team as good as expected, will give positive sign for the forthcoming season.