Sergio Perez, Force India, Hungaroring, 2014

Mercedes’ rivals ‘will copy power unit design’

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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Sergio Perez, Force India, Hungaroring, 2014In the round-up: Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer expects Mercedes’ rivals to copy their power unit design for next season.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Coming on strong – Q&A with Force India’s Otmar Szafnauer (F1)

“Q: Do you think the Mercedes power unit layout will be copied then?
OS: Yes. I don’t understand the strategic direction of the other power units, but I’m sure that in Formula One everyone looks at what everyone else is doing, and if they believe there is something they’ve missed, which they now know… that’s just how our industry works.”

F1 is ‘shooting itself in the foot’ (Autosport)

“F1 should be engaging more with the fans and engaging more with new technologies.”

German bank rejects $33.4m offer from Ecclestone (AP)

“Separately [to his recent court case], Ecclestone’s lawyers last week had offered to pay the public-sector bank 25 million euros, though they said damage to the company wasn’t evident. The bank said it rejected the offer, without giving reasons, and didn’t say what its next move would be. The offer expired Friday.”

Money makes Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One world go round (The Guardian)

“This will not have amused those teams struggling for survival towards the back of the grid, forced to watch as the private equity firm that controls the sport and employs Ecclestone, having creamed off more than half the revenues over the past eight years, prepares to sell it on at a large profit.”


Comment of the day

Jakob wants to see Nico Hulkenberg get a chance with a top team:

I am pretty sure I’m not the only one who likes to cheer for the underdogs of a particular sport. I have often found myself cheering for drivers like Johnny Herbert or Timo Glock. Guys who fight on despite the machinery and sometimes due to part luck part skill manage to beat some of the big guys.

It seems to me that Hulkenberg has the role of the popular underdog in the current field and gets a lot of credit for his results because they are not achieved with a top car. I certainly enjoy watching him and enjoy his high finishes. I wonder how (if) his popularity will change if he ever gets that top drive he seems to deserve.

Too bad Ferrari didn’t take a chance last year instead of Raikkonen.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

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If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Two-times grand prix winner Patrick Depailler was born 70 years ago today. Sadly he lost his life in a testing accident at the Hockenheimring in 1980.

Image © Force India

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  • 54 comments on “Mercedes’ rivals ‘will copy power unit design’”

    1. German Gp highlights from the FOM Highlights channel:

      The Highlights channel is one of the 5 additional content feeds FOM send out to broadcasters (OnBoard-Mix, Pit Lane, Driver Tracker & Timing are the other 4).
      Its basically a rolling highlights feed with things constantly getting added/removed over the course of a session/race. The video above is the final loop shown before FOM ended the channel.

      I really wish Sky (Or BBC for there live races) would make that available somewhere as from what i’ve seen of it there’s a lot of cool extra stuff shown on it which doesn’t always show up on the world-feed.

      1. It’s all available on the red Button I believe.

        1. Really? Available even weeks after?

          1. No, just live unfortunately. It would be nice to be able to access it not live, but seeing as FOM don’t even let us have any access to the main feed other than when it’s live I can’t see that happening.

        2. @jleigh The other 4 feeds (OnBoard, Pits, Timing & Tracker) are on Sky’s red button but the FOM Highlights channel which that video is from isn’t as for some reason its the 1 FOM feed Sky decide not to broadcast anywhere.
          Only 2-3 broadcasters do take the Highlights channel which is a shame as its great.

          Sky have there own highlights feed which they produce themselfs using the world-feed & there own commentary but its rubbish & unlike the FOM feed doesn’t have any unseen material.

          1. Ah, I wasn’t aware the sky highlights were different. I’ve never actually watched them!

          2. @stefmeister how do i get access to the full onboard race or even the onboard highlights? (along the lines of Canal+’s onboard features: )

            1. FOM don’t produce an OnBoard highlights feed & I believe Canal+ are the only broadcaster to do that sort of thing.

              The OnBoard channel is only available through broadcasters & not every broadcaster makes use of it.
              There is a torrent site (Where i do upload all the sessions from the onboard channel) but the link to that site is not allowed to be shared & its an invite only site thats currently not accepting new members.

              I also upload a lot of OnBoard on my Mediafire account:

    2. While I agree with Martin Brundle’s tweet that is posted in this article. He deleted another tweet that he tweeted 5mins before that one where he suggested that he didn’t think that the extra bit of tarmac in the run off should have any affect on the drivings tackling the corner. Karun Chandok then replied with a sensible comment suggesting that a driver who makes a mistake in the parabolic should pay the penalty of a slow drive out of the turn and therefor have slower terminal speed. Then 5mins later Brundle posted the tweet which now appears in this article. It’s nice to see that commentators such as Brundle can get it wrong too, but good to see he saw reason and changed his mind, unlike other powers that be involved in running the sport.
      Note: I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the exact quotes as they were deleted. It happened roughly Midnight UK time (10pm Australian time)…

      1. Oh hang on, he edited the original tweet. You can see Karun’s tweet as the 5th response, not to mention all the people disagreeing with him straight up….
        “Karun Chandhok ‏@karunchandhok
        @MBrundleF1 – I think the point is that if it’s gravel or grass then the difference between the good & the great carrying speed will be more”

        1. @dragoll Interesting, thanks for that – I didn’t see any of the earlier tweets.

    3. I don’t think there was any doubt that rivals were going to copy Mercedes’ power train as much as they could. The only question is, do the rivals actually understand how Mercedes achieved such a great advantage in its lead car, compared to Williams and McLaren who seem to be a bit hit and miss while the Merc seems to be light years ahead of everyone…. So, while Renault and Ferrari will copy the configuration, will they actually understand what it is that made that Mercedes powertrain such a beast.

      1. Yeah it’ll be interesting to see. I think the competitors will make strides. It’s possible Merc will too. I wonder if, and maybe somebody already knows this, Honda is doing it the Merc way, or will they be rethinking, since having learned of Merc’s design, what they were going to bring to Mac?

        It’s more than just the p/u of course…the marriage to chassis, the chassis, and crucially the digital communications within.

      2. I think the teams that use Mercedes customer power units were not told of the split turbo and all the advantages that brings until they actually got the power units. The Mercedes team knew about this from day one and designed their car around the power unit.

        That was obviously in the Ross Brawn era, I wonder if they can keep this advantage going.

        1. how many teams still were succesful two seasons after Ross Brawn left? that’s a good question don’t you think?

      3. I would like to see someone do better than just ‘copy the Merc power solution’.

        A ‘Hot V’ layout might have some advantages that would work in the F1 power unit system. Bolting the twin-inlet turbo right to the cylinder head would eliminate the need to have a huge volume of exhaust pipes. It would also eliminate the need to then wrap and insulate the headers to keep the heat and energy in.

        I am a huge fan of the F1 tech and I am hugely disappointed with Renault’s power unit. Too bad we have to wait till next year for some ‘tech competition’ regarding the power units.

    4. Completely unrelated to the Round-up but saw a tweet today by @ScarbsF1 about Di Montezemolo leaving Ferrari in the next few days. Could it be because of Aldo Costa’s recent comments about the Scuderia?

      1. According to this Italian website Di Montezemolo is not leaving – he will become President of Alitalia Etihad but only on the condition that he will also remain President of Ferrari. Interesting times ahead though.

      2. LDM is to be president – a non exec role that requires turning up to board meetings about 4 times a year. A lot of people confusing this with a CEO role running the actual airline. Also Etihad is Abu Dhabi. And where is Ferrariworld? Yes, Abu Dhabi.

    5. Providing it costs heavily to run wide may as well be tarmac as race ending gravel

      I don’t see why drivers should be allowed a second chance, to be honest… They are having it rather easy as it is, with all the corners we have in the calendar which allow extreme risks with very little in terms of penalty.

      Why should the Parabolica be the same? It’s like anyone playing videogames instead of actually driving: you don’t mind the risks, so you go all out. If you make a mistake, you get a second chance, so the truly great drivers will have less of an advantage over those that just didn’t have the balls.

      I totally dissagre with Brundle here. Controlled risks (as in risks that don’t endanger lives) are good. They should exist. It has to be tricky, it needs to be tricky. It’s exciting if it’s difficult and you make it work.

    6. Again whats with the misleading headline ? actual statement was “I’m sure that in Formula One everyone looks at what everyone else is doing, and if they believe there is something they’ve missed, which they now know… that’s just how our industry works.” nothing new in this blog of course .

      1. Actually, you yourself have chosen to edit the statement to your side by neglecting the first 13 words.

        Q: Do you think the Mercedes power unit layout will be copied then?

        OS: Yes…

        Hence the accurate headline.

        1. gotcha, i take that back then, i did not think first part was relevant, now 3 beers down it makes sense ;)

      2. @f1007 He was asked “do you think the Mercedes power unit layout will be copied?” and answered “yes”. The headline is entirely accurate.

        nothing new in this blog of course

        Based on the above presumably this is a reference to some other completely innocuous headline which you misread?

    7. A bit of clarification please regarding Bernie.
      The person who received the money gets 8 years jail convicted of taking a bribe. The person who gives the money walks away not convicted of giving a bribe.
      So now why doesn’t Gribowsky spill the beans on Bernie’s trust? He is in jail anyway.

      1. Gribowsky was convicted of taking bribes whilst working as a public official, not taking a bribe from Bernie regarding F1.

        Bernie’s charge was more specific.

        Also, even if Gribowsky did plea now, it would be worthless – he’s a convicted felon and was also pretty unreliable when in the dock at Bernie’s hearing.

        1. @optimaximal

          But he was convicted of taking bribes. If Bernie did not bribe him (which is legally now the case) then who did? If no-one, then he should be found innocent of accepting bribes. Either that, or Bernie IS guilty, and Germany should now be considered to have a corrupt legal system.

          Actually, regardless of which scenario, Germany has a corrupt legal system.

          Anyone who doesn’t think that this stinks is sticking their head in the sand. I don’t wish anything bad to happen to anyone, but it seems that only serious illness or death will be the only way we can get rid of this parasite from our sport. The legal system certainly isn’t going to help.

          1. Adam, I’m w/ you my friend. This is as reported by “The Independent” on Aug 5th: “Judge Peter Noll said in his concluding statement: The charges could not, in important areas, be substantiated”. The charges against Bernie were clear…The 256-page indictment against Ecclestone, formulated after a two-year investigation, accuses him of bribing a German banker. So who bribed him? Why is he still in jail?

            1. Well, one thing is Gribowsky. Who fully knew that he was working on behalf of a German/Bavarian state owned bank and therefore seen as a civil servant for his case. Taking a sum of money to influence something (as he himself admitted doing) is clearly against the law.

              And then we have Bernie. Bernie clearly did pay Gribowsky. And he was on trial for bribing a civil servant. But its hard to prove that he actually was clear about Gribowsky being a civil servant in the first place. And then all the legal stuff, etc. making it not quite as clear that Bernie was intentionally paying a bribe.
              Off course the reality is that he did very well pay off Gribowsky and that its highly likely that the purpose was indeed to have the guy present materials to the BayerischeLB board to support a sale to CVC. But it remains for the prosecution to prove it, and the judge mentioned that their case was not as well founded to be a certainty.

            2. @bascb

              In the UK, ignorance is no defence. As we’ve found out recently, Germany has some kind of mickey mouse legal system, so anything goes there.

              The argument about intentionally paying a bribe doesn’t stand.
              1) If it was paid as blackmail, then it wasn’t a bribe – it was blackmail, and Gribkowski should be tried for that.
              2) If it was paid as a bribe, then Gribkowskis conviction remain valid, and Bernie is guilty.
              3) If it was paid as some other, legal payment, then Gribkowski is innocent of his bribery charge, and Bernie has paid $100m for nothing.

              Clearly, none of those three scenarios have happened. The whole think stinks.

              Anyone German with an ounce of decency must be hanging their head in shame at their openly corrupt legal system.

            3. @fluxsource, well yeah ignorance is no viable defense for most cases. But really in the case of a bank that was nationalized due to the financial crisis, its not all that easy to say whether its employees are suddenly civil servants. I am not sure a UK court would take it as a given that everyone would have to be aware of that and its quite possible in such a case the court would have accepted a defendant not being clear in this matter too.
              As for the sum paid. Because of Gribowsky being unclear when testifying in the witness stand, the Judge seems not to have been convinced what version of events was more likely to have occured (Bernies version or what Gribowsky was supposed to uphold but failed to make certain in this trial.)
              Gribowsky would still be guilty of accepting money from Bernie, as he was still a civil servant and asked for payment that was related with his job (either for influencing it – as he admitted doing in his own trial) or for not informing his bosses about doubts about who held control of the sport (ie. the matter of Bambino being run by Bernie or not).

              There were many banks that recently agreed on a settlement instead of facing criminal charges for rigging LIBOR, for several things in the US (a case like te Libor thing, Paribas for sending USD to Iran etc, others for fraud around the financial meltdown). I do not see all that much difference really, because those were criminal charges that were hanging over the companies involved and their employees as well, not just civil cases.

          2. @fluxsource

            Bernie wasn’t convicted of bribery. However, he wasn’t found innocent either. The court didn’t return a verdict of either “Guilty” or “Not Guilty”.

            He is, of course, guilty.

            1. @cjpdk Sorry crossed wires – was referring to Grobkowski being convicted of bribery, not Bernie.

        2. And Gribowsky being a bit of an unreliable witness was surely one of the things that would have helped prevent a judge convicting Bernie @optimaximal

      2. Well not really a trust, it’s a Liechtenstein foundation. Gribowsky allegedly threatened Bernie with going to HMRC with evidence of control which means the whole lot would be taxable.
        Apart from the UK Bribery Act, most countries are fairly lax legally on the whole bribery thing and when it is actually a criminal offence.
        But of more concern, if you decide to enter F1 with a team you get vetted for your finances and have meetings with the FIA. Nice, respectable Gene Haas had his plans thoroughly vetted. But mystery “Middle East” investors using a front through Switzerland can rock up and buy a team and no one can say who it is or what the source of funds are or seems bothered to find out.

    8. “Promoters should be doing more” seems to be a common excuse for poor attendance but I think we have to look at why they not doing something so blindingly obvious while at the same time ask just how much more income if any the extra expenditure would generate. Back in Bernies heyday the tobacco companies actually did the work of promoting F1 and also kept the teams afloat with sponsorship, Bernie took the credit and an outrageous 50% of revenue, at the same time he became even more greedy and dictatorial controlling not only all the revenue sources other than ticket sales but also restricting the racing and other attractions to those he approved of, usually ones he benefitted financially from. That business model of tobacco money doing the promoting of the races and sponsoring the teams has gone but Bernie still wants to keep the control and the money, the terms of the new contract for the OZgp suggest that the promoters are beginning to ask for and get a slightly better deal allowing them to compete for catering revenue and provide additional races of their choice during the weekend, all promoters should now be pressing Bernie for more rights to provide value for money and the chance to retain some of the revenue, if they can do this they will be able to promote F1 and feel they will be benefitting both themselves and the fans and not just benefitting Bernie.

      1. I think the situation is more simple than those inside F1 want to admit and the main reason for falling attendence/viewing is due to one reason – money.

        I’ve been following F1 for years but there’s no way I’m going to pay hundreds of pounds for general admission tickets to a GP so I can spend the weekend sitting on a bit of grass, fighting for a limited view of the track, queueing for ages for the toilet, being charged stupid amounts of money for food and drink and that’s before we get to the issue of access to teams/drivers.
        Every year I check out the Silverstone website for the earlybird offers and every year I come to the same conclussion – why spend hundreds of pounds for me and the wife to go watch F1 for a few hours over three days when for the same money we can spend two weeks on the Isle of Man enjoying the TT.

        TV audiences can be explained in a similar way, I cancelled my SKY Sports subcription a few weeks ago, not because I’m unhappy with the sport or the coverage SKY provide, I’m simply unwilling to pay almost £30 a month to watch F1 so now I, like millions of other people, have decided to stream it for free.

        I love F1 but I’m not willing to be ripped off by a sport that has completely lost touch with the fans and operates a business model that only benefits Bernie, CVC, and a couple of the big teams while screwing over most of the other teams, circuits and the fans.

        1. laurent gaudillat
          9th August 2014, 15:29

          Can anyone at FIA, FOM, Bernie and Monty’s offices read this post? Every single word of it !?

        2. there’s something you didn’t think: most of the world doesn’t get a GP in his country, and most of the world is getting F1 in a basic cable (or even free to air). all the comments regarding the ticket prices, are right, they are quite expensive, but it’s an euro-centristic way of thinking. Do you think, that for me, an argentinian, who have the nearest GP 2500km away even bothers about ticket prices or sky being too expensive? if i watch F1 is because i love it, i like the thrill, the technology, the cars, the drivers. That’s the important thing. When the races are boring, i don’t watch it. and i’m more like the rest of the world than you, simply because of the TV figures, i’m quite sure more than the 80% are more like me, than you (as i’ve said, i’ll be never able to see a live GP becausse it’s too far, and too expensive. but, if i don’t go to the track, the f1 won’t go down, still have like 500million people watching on tv every year…

          1. @matiascasali How much do you pay to watch F1?

            1. it comes with my cable subscription, and i pay around 12 euros/month. and, by law, if it were a argentinian driver, then i’ll get the races for free on air tv

    9. I am still peeved that the gravel trap is gone at the parabolica! I some people hate gravel traps, but I hate having massive tarmac runoff areas more than I fear the comments gravel trap haters.
      Considering how much speed the cars pick up along the straight, what happens if their brakes fail? what happens if their steering fails? what happens if they lose consciousness for some reason? Tarmac will just allow the car to go barreling into the wall at full speed, whereas gravel would at least slow the car down a little bit.
      I know that there are arguments for both points of view, but I am just sick of drivers going wide on purpose because they know they can get away with it. At this point, I wonder what the point of keeping the white lines is if they are not going to stay between them.
      I needed that rant. Long week.

      1. There’s still a gravel trap after the first 15-20 metres.

        Also, this isnt about ruining the race for F1, it’s more about making the track safer for bike racing.

      2. Lewisham Milton
        10th August 2014, 21:38

        Bring back catch fencing! Bring back earth banks, trees and funerals!

    10. Really enjoyed reading that Force India article. It gives a great insight in how midfield teams think, and what they have to achieve to be at the front. Also good to hear that their driver line-up is working so well internally. The team would do well to keep them both for next year.

    11. I love that video! Some of those tracks are challenging to guess unless you’d been around the sport for a few decades.

    12. I’ll personally get my own shovel , spade and fork to relay grass and pour gravel over these tarmac runoffs. But I understand, as others will do, that the FIM had a stand-off with Monza over the safety of the track. Clearly it didn’t pay off for the circuit as World Superbikes dropped Monza. Might be an attempt to lure them back? The FIM tend to be quite firm on safety, hence why the never returned to Suzuka over concerns there a decade or so ago.

      As for the Bernie case… seems like the case doesn’t want to die! It’ll be interesting to see where it leads to.

      And I’m fed up of the sport been constantly put down, the racing is just brilliant this season, Malaysia and China aside and even then, it wasn’t that bad! If the sport only helped circuits lower the cost of hosting a Grand Prix – therefore reduced ticket prices, used social media from the Commercial Holders to connect to the more casual fan (like I tend to do with football and cricket), promoted the sport for its fascinating technologies, and cars that are harder to master thanks to torquey engines… then we may not have this problem!

      The fact is, the sport struggles/’refuses’ to connect with my generation because it’s too insular and slack to respond to a changing world. Sure, some social networks will be a fad, just look at Bebo and MySpace. Facebook and Twitter could easily fall down the same route, you never quite know. But the internet is here to stay and therefore social networking must be harnessed. Or the sport risks me and a select few from my generation left watching and nobody else. And then they’d be no championship, which would be sad.

    13. Whilst I agree that removing the gravel trap from the first 20 metres of the Parabolica is unfortunate, I think that it has been done for good enough reasons ie. motorcycle safety.

      However,one thought I have had on it is that it could perhaps lead to more gravel traps at some of the already neutered corners on the F1 calendar. Copse at Silverstone and many other corners where there appears to be no penalty for running excessively wide. If there is a ‘safety zone’ where a car spins on corner entry and is thrown out into this tarmac area where there is an escape road around the outside of a small area of gravel that would force all competing drivers to respect the track limits.

      I personally can not see an issue with a 1 or 2 metre gravel trap on the exit of corners just beyond the astrograss. From a safety and cost perspective there is no great change yet the drivers simply can’t abuse the track limits which I believe is beginning to become a bit of an unnecessary issue. It’ll be interesting to see if Monza’s solution has any bearing and could lead to this simple idea being implemented.

      1. If you had a thin strip of gravel before the tarmac runoff it would probably just launch the car over the tarmac, Or get it to skip across the tarmac as Hakkinen’s car did at Adelaide ’95.

        The other reason that configuration isn’t possible comes back to why the Parabollica change was made & thats the bikes. Bikes/Riders coming off & hitting a gravel trap causes them both to tumble while tarmac allows them to safely slide across across it while scrubbing off speed & thats why the bike racers prefer the tarmac.

        All that really needs to be done to make drivers less likely to run wide is to put a 1.5/2 meter strip of real grass behind the kurbs.
        The Astro-turf works OK at slow corners as it does cost grip under acceleration, But at faster corners the downforce is enough to ensure running over astro-turf is less of a disadvantage.

        Also maybe something to look at is Bahrain as during the Bahrain weekend this year Anthony Davidson made a point during Sky’s practice coverage that he thinks more exit kurbs should be like the kurb on the exit of turn 8 at Bahrain.

        He said that while it looks as flat as kurbs elsewhere its actually configured in a way that naturally stops you going too far over it:
        Going back & watching OnBoards from Bahrain over the years, It does seem to be a kurb which people try to stay away from much more than others.

    14. Looking at these pictures of Sochi now being almost finished, I can’t help think how this is going to be a track more like Abu Dhabi without the fancy hotel than anything exciting.
      Just look at the pit building / straight. They get there through a tight sling and then 4 90°bends. The other end of it really is not much more than another 3 of those. Sure in between there are some more sweeping bends, but I really doubt it will be much better than Valencia where the straights were a tad to short to make any move stick and it was just that little bit too hard to stay on someones back through most of the track.

      1. I think it looks kinda interesting & some of the corners look like they will be fairly challenging.

        I don’t get the recent obsession with insisting tracks are made with a dozen overtaking spots & where there must be constant action or else the track is considered dull, boring etc….

        India & Korea were both good circuits, Both had interesting corners & some good fast sweepers which challenged driver.
        The drivers liked both (India was even designed around driver input) yet because neither produced 100 overtakes or constant action both were vilified by fans (Although both circuits did actually produce some good racing).

        Circuits should not be designed purely around overtaking/racing, They should be designed with some corners which are fun & challenging for drivers.

        The classic circuits put little thought into overtaking prospects or good racing & I hate it when fans seem to think all circuits should be designed just around those 2 ‘wants’. It was actally those ‘wants’ that has helped get f1 into the mess its been in the past decade with rule & circuit changes made purely for racing/overtaking & thats killed challenge & real racing.

        take the bus stop chicane at spa, that was changed purely to promote better racing & we have lost the challenge of the old configuration which was a corner where overtaking & good racing was not really possible so it was changed.

        1. Think is, having 10 90° turns in the track, one Turkey turn 8 ripoff (again?? how many do we need) but a bit less deep is not challenging for drivers, nor does it give the track a nice (or any) flow.

          I don’t care for being designed to overtake (Suzuka for example is really a great track, but not one for superb overtaking generally), but having it like this, where its pretty clear that a driver following will never be able to either outbrake another or keep right behind and pushing without help from things like DRS is just not sound design.

      2. Circuit looks like a complete waste to me and doesn’t even come close to being as challenging as Abu Dhabi, which may be boring but at least it’s very technical with many places to gain/lose ground. Sochi looks so awful I’m actually wishing the New Jersey circuit was on the calendar instead!

      3. @bascb It will be like Valencia, however, the last Valencia race was a great one once they could pass via degradation/DRS! Also, with the barriers in close proximity, I imagine there will be crashes from mistakes and safety cars at least…

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