In the list of easily disposed of gossip, Williams will be switching from Renault to Mercedes engines next year. Now normally I’d say this was pretty stupid since 2 of the top 3 teams are on Renault power, but you must always keep in mind that 2014 is the big engine swap from normally aspirated V-8s to Turbocharged V-6s so you can take most of what you think you know now and tear it up.
There was rain this morning for P3 and one of the Safety Cars damaged a wall which took half an hour out of the 60 minute session for repairs. They expect rain for Qualifying which means they’ll be beating the heck out of their Inters and maybe Wets (3 sets of Inters and 2 of Wets for both Qualifying and Race). The up side is they’ll be able to choose the dry rubber they go out on (more about this in a moment).
Let’s hear some more about Tires!
Well, the teams devoted the first half of their P2 Practice (P1 was also rainy) to testing Pirelli’s experimental “new” tires.
What has been happening is that the compound (rubber part) has been delaminating from the belt leading to huge chunks of rubber flying all over the track which is bad not just for you with your suddenly square wheels, but everyone behind you who has to dodge this junk.
Now what Pirelli has decided to do about this is go back to the Kevlar belts they were using last year (this year they switched to steel). This appeared to work well in Practice (though it’s hard to tell for reasons I’ll get to) and the “new” tires are set to debut next race at Silverstone.
That is if they do. They can only be deployed by unanimous consent of the Teams and so far Lotus-Renault is withholding theirs. The only other solution mentioned is swabbing the steel belts with super glue before the rubber goes on which according to Pirelli is is likely to lead to a less than satisfactory result.
To say that Pirelli is pissed with Formula One at the moment is an astronomical understatement. They still don’t have a contract for 2014 and though Michelin is bandied about as a replacement they probably don’t feel very kindly either after being roundly abused and then unceremoniously dumped in 2010. Pirelli has officially announced they intend to do no further development on the tires in 2013.
Oh, you thought that was it? No, no; Red Bull especially, but also others, have got their nose out of joint at the ‘secret’ testing done by Pirelli and Mercedes at Circuit de Catalunya after the race there. Ross Brawn accepts full responsibility for Mercedes participation, for its part Pirelli insists that the testing was allowed under its contract and that the tires in question were 2014 development tires which would confer no competitive advantage.
Tires on offer
This week they’ll be using the Mediums and Super Softs. The Super Softs will be the tires of choice because they’re about a second a lap faster AND they last a whopping 22 laps, even under heavy fuel. Pirelli predicts a 1 or 2 stop race for Teams not in trouble. If Qualifying is done in the rain on Inters as predicted, every Team will have 3 sets of brand new ones for the race. Teams may, though given the lap time differential of 1 second per lap it’s unlikely, start Mediums and commit to a 1 stop strategy. The longevity of the tires at this particular track makes it difficult to determine if the Kevlar tires really solve the delamination problem or not. Think that covers my loose ends.
There are some speed bumps off the racing line that will probably be removed before the race but maybe not. The long front straight has the 2 DRS zones separated only by the midway chicane. The turns are tight and slow and there are not many of them which reduces the wear on tires and brakes. For a street course there are plenty of chances to pass so it could be exciting.
Thailand had been angling for a race in 2015 but Bangkok has passed an ordinance forbidding automobile racing within the city limits (not everyone loves you Bernie!).
The Live coverage will be on NBC tomorrow at 2 pm with repeats on NBC Sports at 8 pm and 12:30 am Tuesday. Coverage of the 145th Belmont is at 5 pm, also on NBC.
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- Guardian Interactive Track
- Formula One Interactive Track