Pat Fry, Ferrari, Bahrain, 2014

Reduced garage time a reliability worry, says Fry

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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Pat Fry, Ferrari, Bahrain, 2014Ensuring cars run reliably will be more difficult at races than at tests because teams cannot work on them for as long, says Ferrari technical director Pat Fry.

“Through the tests we worked 24 hours a day, running shifts to ensure the car was ready, but once we get to Melbourne we are more restricted by the rules regarding what we can actually do and how many hours we are allowed to work,” he said.

Under the rules team members are barred from working on their cars for eight hours on Friday night and six hours on Saturday night during race weekends.

Teams are allowed six exceptions to this curfew during the season – an increase from the two permitted last year – but may not use more than one exception per race weekend.

“There’s a huge increase in complexity, so just working out the best way to build the car, change parts, rebuild it and how to be best prepared in Melbourne is a major task,” said Fry.

“In the past, the reliability of Formula 1 cars has been incredible, but this year, their sheer complexity means it will be challenged, particularly in qualifying and the race,” he added.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Reduced garage time a reliability worry, says Fry”

  1. Teams are allowed six exceptions to this curfew during the season – an increase from the two permitted last year – but may not use more than one exception per race weekend.

    I can see the teams lobbying the FIA to have this rule changed. Based on the pre-season tests some teams could use up their year’s allocation of curfew violations in the first 6 races!

  2. Could we see some cars not starting Melbourne race at all? That’d be a farce.

    1. I can definitely see cars breaking down right on the grid like both Stewart GP cars did in Australia ’99. Considering how problematic the cooling on the Red Bulls is I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen to them. Which would be kinda funny as Red Bull used to be Stewart all those years ago!

    2. @osvaldas31

      Could we see some cars not starting Melbourne race at all?

      You mean like Hulkenberg last year?

      1. @keithcollantine Yeah, something similar. For example, if a car breaks down in qualifying and team just does not fix the car until the race.

      2. You mean like Hulkenberg last year?

        If it was just one car that couldn’t start, no big deal. But what if it’s half a dozen? As someone who is paying a small fortune to travel to Melbourne to watch Sunday’s race, I hope that common sense would prevail if a bunch of teams had used up their free pass on Friday night and still needed additional time to be ready on Sunday. Given the state of the Renault teams in particular, it’s not an implausible scenario.

        1. But if it is only the Renault teams, that would be less bad a situation than Indy 2005, and F1 let that happen, so I wouldn’t count on common sense over competitive advantage too much @tdog!

    3. It’s definitely a possibility, since the new cars require 2-4 times the amount of labor to replace parts compared with last year.

  3. petebaldwin (@)
    11th March 2014, 11:00

    Seems like this limit should be removed for this season to be fair.

    I understand the concept behind it but it’s not reasonable considering the changes the teams are having to deal with this year.

    1. @petebaldwin what you are suggesting would be less fair to both the constructors and their employees.

      The current system is designed to protect the working conditions of the staff by not having them working 24 hours (or alternatively lowering team costs by avoiding 24 hour shifts). In recognition of the technical challenges the exemptions have been increased to six times. Removing this limit would increase hardship on the employees and give a distinct advantage to the least well prepared teams and those who have designed and constructed unreliable or difficult to repair cars.

      As it is the rule is perfectly fair since it applies equally to all and gives adequate exceptions to cover bad luck but not bad design.

      It will be interesting to see how many teams use up an exception in Melbourne (and if it’s used up on Friday night then they’ll have to hope nothing major breaks in quali).

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        11th March 2014, 12:53

        The problem is that the regs now mean that standard repairs take hours instead of minutes.

        I hadn’t taken into account the working hours of the mechanics but from experience, I imagine most of them aren’t keen on the idea that they can’t work on an issue with the car because of the curfew.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if all teams use theirfirst curfew break in Australia!

  4. It´ll be interesting to see what happens to the pole sitter and second place car when they are making their way to the grid after the formation lap, I lebieve we will see some very very long formation laps in order to bunch up the field and not sit as long with no cooling taking place.
    I can only imagine some of the radio comments happening on their way to the front line!

    1. A clever man in midfield would stand a better chance at the start than the front row. Overheating reduces efficiency and with the new electrics it could produce an interesting first corner.

      1. To be honest, I think the time it takes to form up on the grid has become a joke. The pole sitter should not be there for as long.

        IMHO, they should set a time limit. Every car must stop in their grid box, but there is a limit to how long they allow. The clock starts when the pole sitter is parked. If the grid has not formed by the end of that limit, the start procedure kicks off anyway. Anyone left behind must then still stop in their box then set off, while everyone else has already started. And anyone who is deemed to have been holding people up on the formation lap gets a penalty.

        I know there would be kinks to work out, but a variation on these rules would help.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          11th March 2014, 12:57

          @drmouse – what if the delay is caused by the guy in 12th? The guys the rear of the grid would get screwed for everyone else’s mistakes.

          I agree though – something needs to be done.

          1. @petebaldwin – That’s why I said there needs to be penalties for people holding them up.

            It’s not a perfect idea, but I think it would make a great starting point to stop the ridiculous amount of time it takes the grid to form.

          2. Simply ensure the pole man bunches them up properly..but they all like to create a bit of room for practice starts, brake warming etc, so they often only have themselves to blame. If none of that was allowed and the pole man kept to a delta time then the form up would take half as long.

        2. @drmouse How is the grid taking a long time to form up a bad thing? I love it.. it takes a long time, but it builds up so much excitement and adrenaline for me.. it’s a feeling which I only get just before an F1 race begins, nowhere else. It’s absolutely brilliant.

          1. I completely agree. Just listening to the high revs, watching the cars wiggle about, gradually getting quieter before a bit of silence with the occasional rev as the last car lines up. Then comes the screaming terror that is 22 if the worlds fastest cars.

            Lights out.

    2. QUESTION; Do these enginesPUs not have starting motors built in that will allow them to turn off while waiting on the grid?

  5. While every team’s ultimate goal is performance, it would be interesting to see if some teams actually have/had a completely different approach this year: simply to make the car as easily workable as possible. For the early races at least it could be very good to have a car that would take, say, 2 hours to change major parts of the power unit instead of a whole night. Then again, by the end of the year, the car would probably be obsolete (at least in terms of pace) as the others would have improved their machines.

  6. I still predict 6 finishers, for various reasons.

  7. If one that crash and have a accident on FP3 (3 hours before Qualify), for example, forget about the Qualification, will start at the end. Crash in

  8. I will go out on a limb and say 14 finishers, 3 out of fuel and 5 mech failures

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