Sutil concerned about unreliability in 2014

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In the round-up: Adrian Sutil says it will reflect badly on Formula One if there are too many technical failures in


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Sutil excited by fresh start (Sky)

“We don’t want to see races where all the cars are failing and having problems everywhere. At the end of the day Formula 1 is a show and the pinnacle of motorsport and the top range of racing – it stands out for engineering power – and if that doesn’t go well and all you see is cars breaking down, then that is not the image you want to see for Formula 1.”

Corinna Schumacher: ‘Please leave our family in peace’ (The Telegraph)

"It is important to me that you leave the doctors and the hospital so that they can work in peace. I ask you to trust their statements and leave the clinic. Please leave our family in peace."

Wolff: F1 expenditure unsustainable (Autosport)

“Probably the highest spending teams spend three or four times the money of those other teams. Is that sustainable and healthy? No.”

Brian Hart: Recollections of a racer (ESPN)

“Hart, Eddie Jordan and his technical director Gary Anderson were under no illusions about the yawning gap in resources, but that in itself was part of a challenge on which they thrived. Rather than bitch about his role as David to, say, BMW’s Goliath, Hart would openly admire the work of his corporate competitors and they, in turn, would appreciate the job Brian was doing in his little workshop.”

Onyx squad born out of the ashes of Arena for 2014 WTCC bid (Touring Car Times)

“Onyx Race Engineering, a name known for its Formula 1 team in the 1980s, has been resurrected by former owner Mike Earle, who recently ran the Arena Motorsport team until its closure in January 2013, and will field cars in the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship season built to the new regulations.”

Stefan Johansson shares his thoughts and feelings about… the ever-changing F1 regulations (Stefan Johansson)

“Well, like most other people who’ve heard of the idea, [double points for the last race] strikes me as a knee-jerk reaction yet again to the fact that one driver and team has been dominating the previous season. Sometimes you’re going to have a driver that dominates. It’s just the nature of the beast.”


Comment of the day

@Colossal-Squid on how the coming season may play out for Ferrari:

I think that there’s a lot at stake for Ferrari in 2014, and Alonso could just be one element that could cause them to fall. If Ferrari turn up with a car as uncompetitive as the F150th Italia, the early F2012 or the F138, then heads will roll. Alonso will probably walk, I wouldn’t be surprised if Domenicali was shown the door, and all hell could break loose. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that an uncompetitive 2014 will do a lot of damage to Ferrari in the long term.

This is despite all the positive steps they’ve made. They’ve hired and re-hired great aero and technical talent, they have a new state-of-the-are wind tunnel ready to go, and next year they’ll have the strongest driver line-up on the grid. All the elements should be there. I really hope it comes together.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Michael Roberts!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Louis Stanley died ten years ago today. He ran the BRM team after their glory days had passed and before the team collapsed, and also endeavoured to improve safety standards in the sport.

A recent book by his stepdaughter, Conspiracy of Secrets, made the incredible and disputed claim he was also the son of British prime minister Herbert Asquith.

Image © Force India

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50 comments on “Sutil concerned about unreliability in 2014”

  1. It is the pinnacle of the sport, top shelf in terms of engineering and power.

    But reliability is one of those things that cannot be taken away. It’s what makes the balance, like downforce vs drag.

    We experienced very good reliability because the engines were waaaaay out of date, and all the work they could do rested on improving reliability. Had the engine freeze not been inforced, we’d have had engine failures a lot more often, because as with everything, it’s a thin, thin line between extracting all you can from a specific design and failing while doing so.

    I don’t see it as a concern, it’s just another interesting thing to watch…

    1. I agree it’s nice to have a level uncertainty after so many years of super reliable cars, however, I’m a bit worried that grid penalties for changing parts of the engines will become excessive, I think in Indycar when they changed the engine rules every driver had at least two or three penalties by the end of the first year.

      Cars breaking down will not affect F1’s image, but having a completely different grid every Sunday than what we thought we had on Saturday maybe will.

    2. I agree.

      I think Sutil is misinterpreting the fans attitude towards unreliability as a failure to meet the pinnacle that technology allows. Where as in reality, it’s far more often seen as the attempt to go past the limit.

  2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    8th January 2014, 0:17

    Sutil should be more concerned by his own reliability. As an experienced driver in F1, he showed last year less racepace than DiResta, Hulkenberg, Bottas, and that’s not a good sign.

    1. @omarr-pepper I don’t think he should. Of the three drivers you’ve mentioned he was behind Di Resta(slightly), Bottas is pure speculation on your part, and as for Hulkenberg, well there are only about 4-5 drivers in F1 who are at or above Hulk’s level. And you forget that Sutil has spent 2012 on the sidelines doing nothing, so his pace in 2013 was quite respectable

      Sutil voiced a perfectly legitimate concern, he’s not the first F1 person to say that. I don’t agree with him, I think pushing the cars to the absolute limit is the essence of F1 and in doing so, some should break down. However I respect his opinion and there’s no need to take a jab on him regarding something unrelated to the topic at hand IMO

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        8th January 2014, 1:24


      2. I agree. I never really understood the negative view many have on Sutil’s abilities, but he is a solid, if unremarkable driver. He has his days where he’s exceptional (I remember him about to score 4th in Monaco before Kimi lost it coming out of the tunnel and smashed into the back of him, I believe it was Monaco 2008) but I find he’s a solid mid-fielder: good, but not great.

    2. Reliability is something different than race pace though, isn’t it @omarr-pepper? I did not see Sutil make many stupid moves causing him trouble during races, so I would say he is a driver a team can rely on. Maybe one would like a faster driver, but Maldonado shows how that can be a bit of a risk!

      As for Sutil showing less pace than Bottas, I think that is almost impossible to judge, because Sutil was faster when his car allowed it, and Bottas went best at the end of the season when Williams ditched their fancy exhausts for something that did not unbalance the car and in the damp in Canada. DiResta was hardly that much faster (he had a bit better luck though), and Hulkenberg was probably faster than everyone but the top 3-4 drivers.

    3. @omarr-pepper predictable, made me laugh :):)

  3. I beg to differ, Sutil. I for one can’t wait to see a few cars grinding to a halt with large plumes of smoke billowing out of the engine cover. Heck, at least it’s a random and natural way to spice up the racing. Unlike made-to-degrade tyres and DRS haha. It adds that constant edge-of-your-seat anticipation to race viewing, knowing the running order could change at any time.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      8th January 2014, 0:48

      @timi the problem is that DRS and degrading tyres stay next to a more “natural” solution as you mention the failures, It’s time FIA realizes some racing elements, as engine failure, are enough and they can get rid of all the artificial ideas they brought.

    2. I hope there is some reliability issues. Will make for great stories if the racing is dull from fuel and/or tire saving.

    3. I hate to see reliability impact a championship too much (unless it affects mainly cars with the biggest advantage, like Rec Bull in 2010, to somewhat balance the championships), or ruin those moments when a driver is in the middle of his one stand-out performance. But it shows that the engineers are pushing and being pushed. It allows minnows to get either surprisingly bug points hauls, or surprisingly any points at all. It can spice up a race which seems to have run its course early. It is a welcome element of randomness, and the idea that it doesn’t belong in F1 is misguided and shows a misunderstanding of just why reliability has been so fantastic the last few years anyway.

      1. *Red Bull

      2. I hate to see reliability impact a championship too much

        If that’s the case then it’s only the team’s fault, just like not having enough downforce is a design problem, lack of reliability also is.

        Or ruin those moments when a driver is in the middle of his one stand-out performance.

        Yeah, that would suck.

        1. I know, it’s just a shame to see a driver penalised by chance, seeing as even in 2 identical cars the number of retirements/incidents aren’t often spread completely evenly.

    4. @timi, yes indeed and for those people who think tactics should be a major part of F1, reliability is a tactic, demonstrated brilliantly by Jack Brabham in 1966, the 1st year of the 3L formula, he went for a light, simple and affordable engine while everybody else went for maximum horsepower, that is a great tactical decision that every team had to make, the top speed to win some races or the reliability to finish every race or something in between, that tactical decision was removed with the development and top RPM freeze.

  4. West Londoner
    8th January 2014, 0:22

    Sutil clearly didn’t watch F1 in the mid to late 1990s, when it was a rare occurrence for more than half the field to still be circulating on track by the time the chequered flag fell. And yet, there wasn’t any, or hardly any criticism of unreliability during that era…

  5. Driver numbers announced tomorrow…

    All of them, or only Red Bull?

    1. @huonsci – I’d say all of them. Vettel might get first pick, but Ricciardo is further down the list. Red Bull would not be able to announce their numbers without knowing which numbers everyone else submitted, and investing all that time and effort in investigating what numbers everyone else picked does not seem like the best use of their time when they have a new car to prepare.

  6. Great interview with Stefan Johansson. I really love it when people who know the ins and outs of F1 speak their mind, uncensored. I particularly love this quote

    “I don’t for a second believe that the net worth of Ron Dennis is the same as Vijay Mallaya or the Russian guy who owns Marrusia for Example, or even Tony Fernandez of Caterham. The difference is that there is 100% dedication to winning and that means whatever it takes to get the job done, I frankly don’t believe the bottom of the grid teams are capable or prepared to do that, hence they are where they are…”

    I cant agree more. The aforementioned characters are in it for the business aspect of F1, not because they are racers! Sauber survives and puts up a respectable fight year in year out, even when they are up against it because Peter Sauber is a racer, same goes for Williams.

    1. Wholeheartedly agree.

    2. Well said.

    3. Cold shower for some people with big egos.

  7. 3 cheers for Stefan Johansson, it is pretty obvious that it is Bernie and the FIAs constant gimmickry that is really driving costs up, it is great to hear someone with the experience and knowledge that SJ has confirm my own thoughts on F1s failings. Why can’t we have someone like SJ running the show ?

    1. @hohum – Could you please explain that? How, exactly, is the FIA driving up costs by introducing gimmicks? DRS is based on the F-duct, which was introduced in 2010. By the end of the 2010 season, most teams had some kind of F-duct system. DRS, however, was not introduced until 2011. Compare that to the teams themselves, who spent millions of dollars developing the Coanda-effect exhaust systems without any input from the FIA.

      Once again, you are making statements that are broad, sweeping and downright wrong for the sake of demonising the sport’s governing bodies. And worse, you present these as being factual statements, as opposed to the highly-biased opinions that they are. If the FIA and FOM came out tomorrow and announced that they were introducing every change you thought was necessary to save the sport, you would still criticise them for not doing it sooner.

      I suggest you tone it down please. You are being deliberately misleading.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys, I am not demonising the FIA/FOM nor am I being deliberately misleading. Have you read the interview with Stefan Johansson and taken note of what he actually said, and not just about DRS but such misguided items as refuelling-mandatory tyre changes-kers-engine longevity-testing bans- etc.etc. Even the attempts to reduce costs lead to increased costs because the wealthy teams find a work-around like simulators and employ 16-20 people to change tyres forcing the smaller teams to either match this spending or fall further behind and lose out again in the revenue division.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys, I am not demonising the FIA/FOM nor am I being deliberately misleading.”

          sorry, @hohum, but I agree w/ PM: you’re demonizing FIA at least! The interview w/ Johansson is replete w/ instances where he makes factually dubious claims, offers incorrect analysis, or simply doesn’t understand the reality of the situation (or is playing to his own bias). He makes some valid points but does a lot of slagging off of the rulesmakers and the sports mgmt w/o presenting a full complement of details, and you seem happy to cheer him along.

          1. @joepa, So your analysis, facts and reality are right and the analysis, facts and reality of an ex F1 driver who is still involved in racing at the highest level is wrong !?
            I am happy to cheer him on because my analysis of the facts and reality have lead me to the same conclusions, I have been making these points in this forum since I joined. The head of Ferrari also agrees, but what would he know !?

  8. “We don’t want to see races where all the cars are failing and having problems everywhere. At the end of the day Formula 1 is a show and the pinnacle of motorsport and the top range of racing.”

    Two words Adrian: “Monaco 1982” Oh, and two more: “Monaco 1996.” Both races had high unreliability, but both are classics. Valencia 2011, where all 24 starters finished, is not a classic. More cars retiring is not a bad thing for the sport, the ridiculous reliability of the last few seasons is. With a bit more unreliability people in smaller teams, I’m referring to the likes of you by the way, are more likely to score big points and podiums (your stated aim for 2014), so it is a good thing. It’s a far more natural way of spicing things too, everyone expects highly strung racing cars to break down every now and then.

    1. Adrian seems not to notice that today’s F1’s “lack of unreliabily” is not helping the viewers numbers.
      Yes, people want to see their heroes win. And maybe they don’t wan’t to see the terrible mishap of Alboreto in 1985 when he lost his title with a string of mechanical problems in his Ferrari. But true F1 fanatics are not there just see their heroes win, they want the gamble. Like in the 1980’s when a driver had cross his finger for his engine or turbo not expiring (many races in 1980s), or not to be out of gasoline (like the 1985 San Marino glassic).
      With the “luck of unreliability”, you could just wait for the official result as well as watching a race where nothing happens. I want the fragile F1 engines back.

  9. I’ve come up with a solution for the double points: what if we extend the double points to 18 races from the end? More is more, right Bernie?

    1. I’d love it! And I ‘d be even more extreme, let’s make it 19 double points scoring races. It would add up to the sport, oh wait…

      The nightmare continues day after day. Still not a single sign of regret for that unpopular rule.

      Maybe we, fans, should create a FOFA (Formula One Fans’ Association) ?

      1. Whoops, I see I slightly miscounted :P

        1. @andae23, and I thought you were just trying to get a rise out of us Australians, if Bernie really wants to extend the WDC he should perhaps give the 1st. race quadruple points as it seems to be the race most likely to be won by a non RBR car.

  10. Budget caps are hard to implement. Some leagues have implemented a salary cap and imposing financial penalties for those who go beyond the cap, but some teams are so reach that they don’t mind paying ‘luxury tax’ like they say in NBA but usually budget caps are implemented not only for financial reasons but also to level the field compressively, here I think Wolff is worried about the financial part of the business because teams are trying to hard to be competitive but they’re draining their pockets and are too reliant on sponsors, so their lack of cash generating trading goods puts F1 in a very unsafe place.

    1. Maybe they shouldn’t try to cap the budgets but limit resources in a different way: what if all teams get 2 hours per day in the same windtunnel? X terraflops on the same supercomputer? Etc.

  11. Just on the topic of Schumacher’s family being left alone. It is common sense and common courtesy to leave them alone, this is a stressful time for all of us, but most importantly the Schumacher family.

    1. Actually, @kieferh4, Corinna Schumacher really gets my goat. She’s happy to live a lifestyle of utter, fantastic wealth, made on the back of her husband’s amazing skill as a professional athlete with a huge global fanbase, but then when their idol is tragically almost killed, she has the nerve to scold the public for being interested – passionately – in the fate of their hero?


      This story can – and should – be covered respectfully ongoing.

  12. Reliability for any major change is obviously a problem, but I have a nasty feeling that it will not be the biggest challenge this year — in many races, drivers will be controlled by “delta-fuel”, not “delta-time” or “delta-tyres.” In fact, fuel may well surpass DRS as the way to overtake, as there will be more power available towards the end of a GP for a driver who has managed to conserve fuel from the start.

  13. We hear this kind of COTD every year: Ferrari must up their game this year and bla bla bla … every year is another failure and nothing changes

    1. @paeschli Saying nothing changes is a bit of a reductive statement. Look at all the top people that have been hired and fired since 2010 at Ferrari. There have been pretty big changes behind the scenes. It became obvious in 2013 that Alonso is getting increasingly frustrated, as is Luca di Montezemolo. Luca gave senior staff gifts of knives during the last season for crying out loud!

      What I’m saying is that Ferrari looks like a volcano at the moment. There’s a build-up of pressure and expectation from years of failure and near misses since 2007. If this pressure isn’t relieved by success soon, it’s going to blow.

  14. I think it will be some technical problems…

  15. Oh, look. Another personality from a high-profile team bemoaning the spiralling costs and calling for change, but doing nothing about it.

    Do Toto Wolff and Luca do Montezemolo think we are all idiots? They’re the biggest spenders, but they continually act surprised at how much money is being spent by teams, as if there is a phantom twelfth entry somewhere spending more money than everyone else.

    If they genuinely had no idea how much they were spending, they would not be running their teams in the first place. So they go through the motions of this ridiculous charade, trying to keep a straight face for the public, while in the background, Groucho Horner, Chico Whitmarsh, Harpo do Montezemolo and Zeppo Wolff throw bundles of money at a car.

    1. And I’m pretty sure there were enough Marx Brothers for every team principal to have a namesake.

    2. Yep, smoke screen.

      I’m more frustrated that at that level, you would imagine all the teams have competent people to market them. But no, now days it’s seems it’s better to cry about cost and hire pay drivers.

  16. COTD: I believe it’s a big of a dramatic scenario. Ferrari managed to build a decent car for a past few years. I would be worried about Alonso if he leaves Ferrari. Unless he joins Red Bull, which is highly unlikely – to all the dreamers: NO, Vettel will not join Ferrari if Red Bull keeps on winning – Alonso will have tough time to find a team that can build a good car that consistently.

  17. I welcome the prospect of retirements due to mechanical/technical failures. I know the concept of freezing the engine regs was introduced to cut down costs but it seems somewhat contrived. I would rather the engines, ERS, gearboxes etc. being pushed to the limit – till they break sometimes. Anyway, it is assuredly better than the other stuff that dictates the running so much (stupid high deg tyres).

    1. And really how much does it cost to have a highly skilled team of engineers, such as every F1 team has, rebuild an engine between races, not as much as it costs to buy engines guaranteed to run 5 or eight race weekends I hazzard to guess.

  18. its like with Nelson Mandela. Journalists were circling him like vultures for almost year before his death. I bet they already had their obituary pieces written just waiting for the news that it happened. Sick.

    they should just leave the hospital and Schumi recover.

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