Mercedes rebuts Ecclestone’s engine claims

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Mercedes has contradicted Bernie Ecclestone’s insistence that the current V6 hybrid turbo engines have no relevance to road cars.


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Mercedes F1 engine boss rejects Bernie Ecclestone hybrid claims (BBC)

"Mercedes F1 engine boss Andy Cowell said road cars would soon be using 'exactly the same' technology."

Felipe Massa says return of refuelling to F1 would improve racing (Sky)

"It’s a lot slower compared to how it was with the refuelling. I’m sure the race will be more interesting and nicer for the driving – more sprint racing."

Lewis Hamilton to seal £30m-a-year deal with Mercedes (The Telegraph)

"A public statement should be released over the weekend, barring a last-minute change of plan."

Kvyat hits back after Marko warning (Autosport)

"I know my potential and at the moment it's enough. Let's see if I will be able to show it to the world one day as well."

Raikkonen expects fair treatment from Ferrari (Crash)

"I know Maurizio (Arrivabene) from before and we had a good relationship but yes it's different how the team is being run this year, how things are being done in the team and I think it's only good changes."

Monaco is never boring – Vettel (F1i)

"I know some people think this is a boring race to watch on television, but for those who are doing the driving, that’s absolutely not the case."

Pastor Maldonado: “I think we are not that far from Williams” (Adam Cooper's F1 Blog)

"We were expecting to be a little bit more competitive in Spain in quali, we weren’t, but we did a great strategy on saving tyres for the race at the same time."

Interview with Felipe Nasr: “Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher inspired me most” (Sauber via Google+)

"When I went to Europe for my first championship in Formula BMW Europe in 2009, I chose the start number 12 and won the championship in my rookie year. That’s why I want to keep this number."

Mika ’98: Maxing out Monaco (McLaren)

"I remember thinking to myself: “Mika, you’ve won the Monaco Grand Prix. Not every driver can do that. So you’re good enough to win the World Championship. You are. You really are. Now go and win it, Goddammit!”"


Comment of the day

An interesting view from @Mazdachris on why Audi doesn’t need F1:

I think not everyone appreciates the difference between exposure and brand value reinforcement. Participation in motorsports, for auto manufacturers, isn’t just a case of getting the name of the manufacturer in front of the public.

A good friend of mine has a senior position in a marketing firm, and he told me once that most people misunderstand advertising. They think it’s about convincing new customers that these are brands worth buying. When in fact, 75-80 percent of the target for marketing will be existing customers. The real purpose of advertising (and nebulous marketing operations) is to reinforce the values of the brand to people who are already loyal to the brand. So if you own an Audi, and you see an Audi commercial which talks about the quality of the car, the luxury, the exclusivity, it makes you feel good about your purchase and reminds you of all the things you love about your car. You’ll then almost certainly buy another Audi. Likewise, if you own the old Audi R8, and you just saw the new one beat all comers at the Nurburgring 24 on its first outing, chances are you’ll be looking on the Audi site already and considering whether you should upgrade to the new one.

It’s this reason that keeps Audi (among many others of course) from joining F1. Brand exposure is fairly meaningless unless the exposure reflects the qualities of the brand. The two crucial things that Audi would need from a motorsports venture which supports its brand values are, firstly, success – this is an obvious point but if you were to see Audi languishing at the back in the same way Honda have so far this year, that exposure damages the brand rather than reinforcing it. And secondly, it must showcase their unique technology. F1 does not give Audi the freedom to do this as the cars are all 90% identical. Even having success in F1 wouldn’t necessarily have much brand impact if the perception is that the success is based solely on finding loopholes on an otherwise identical car.

This is why Audi are sitting pretty in sportscar racing. It may not have the exposure of F1, but it couldn’t be more in keeping with their brand values. Of course, in GT racing, the link is obvious, but endurance prototype racing is absolutely on message as well. Again, think of Audi’s brand values – cutting edge tech, intricate Quattro all-wheel-drive systems, ultimate reliability, the best diesel engines in the world, and so on. In LMP1 Audi gets to demonstrate every single one of these brand values. And they’re really really really good at it too. To the point where their success has given them almost legendary status. Sure, most casual motorsports fans probably couldn’t name a single driver in Le Mans. But mention the race and they’ll almost certainly know one thing – that Audi have dominated the sport for over a decade with their diesel powered prototypes. You can’t buy that kind of advertising.

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On this day in F1

The third round of the 1990 World Sportscar Championship was won on this day 25 years ago by Martin Brundle and Alain Ferte behind the wheel of a Jaguar at Silverstone. Here are highlights of the race:

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48 comments on “Mercedes rebuts Ecclestone’s engine claims”

  1. Good grief, a well reported article from Benson without misquotes or added useless verbiage, and a comment on Monaco that is totally correct and sheets home the blame where it belongs.
    As reported, F1 is once again relevant to the motor industry and will contribute to the last remaining vestiges of pleasure in driving on the road by giving us cars that are not only economical with fuel but are more responsive than earlier attempts at making cars economical by fitting smaller less powerful engines that only saved fuel in traffic jams.

  2. So Felipe likes the idea of refueling, so too, I expect, will Rosberg and all other drivers who are capable of putting a very fast lap together but only when they have clear track ahead and behind them, these drivers are the ones that have difficulty when conditions change or they find themselves in traffic, they are very fast drivers but not very good racers.

    1. That Räikkönen article … Yet another useless piece of writing where the author goes great lenghts to allude heavily to Räikkönen being disadvantaged last year – which isn’t in any way related to what the Finn said.
      Sooo tiresome.
      And even if his words were to mean what the author of the article implies they mean, that would be quite an … interesting view from a driver who owes his sole title to the fact that his team decided to favour him in the last 4 races of that season.

      1. Sorry didn’t mean to post that as a reply.

  3. i really LOVE mika’s blog! he writes with such a passion (even for a finn!) reading it, you get details so tiny that only a f1 driver can know. I would love to see more of that kind of blogs or interviews… (besides, i find funny to be reading it and in my head sounding his trademark slow pace and emotionless delivery, even when he’s talking about going absolutly flat out in the exit of the swimming pool!)

    1. Surely you mean “especially for a Finn”, I must read it.

    2. @matiascasali – Definitely a fun and detailed article from Mika. Like “You are there!”

      1. @matiascasaly, @bullmello. Indeed, an excellent read, it also backs up Coulthards opinion piece about driving flat out.

  4. Good win for Jaguar, but a little less impressive if that truck came 2nd. WEC certainly give us variety.

  5. I wonder why Massa wants refuelling allowed again?

    Years at Ferrari with refuelling: 4.
    Wins at Ferrari with refuelling: 11.

    Years at Ferrari with race fuel: 4.
    Wins at Ferrari with race fuel: 0.

    1. Okay.

      Years at Ferrari with race fuel: 4.
      Moral wins at Ferrari with race fuel: 1.

      1. Thanks for the stats to back up my opinion.

      2. Races after Singapore that Massa could have used to put right all the moral injustice: 3.
        Chances of Massa still racing F1 in 2017: ?

    2. @kazinho 2009 saw the best true racing we’ve seen in F1 since the 70’s and there was refuelling, there wasn’t Felipe Massa though. One stat can’t be relevant. The poor overtaking on refuelling era is not related to refuelling at all but to DRS and Pirelli.

      1. The poor overtaking on refuelling era is not related to refuelling at all but to DRS and Pirelli.

        Except the jump in overtakes in 2010, where they where still using the bridgestones, and there was no drs

        1. It was called F-duct and KERS back then

          1. There was KERS in 2010? I thought it skipped that years. And I don’t see how F-duct is comparable really.

  6. I don’t know who putted f1 in that place where they have to improve road cars, that’s smth I’ve been wondering for long long time, as I guess the main reason they introduced these silent engines just to improve road cars……

  7. The whole “road relevance” argument is a red herring.

    First, the raison d’etre of F1 is not (in my view) and never has been road relevance. Have a look at a modern F1 car. It is a single seat, open cockpit, open wheel vehicle. Traction control, ESC, ABS and various other common technological aids are all banned. I could go on forever about the differences between F1 cars and road relevant technologies, but the point is that F1 is not meant to be a laboratory for developing tomorrow’s technologies or even applying today’s technology. The racing must always come first, whether or not the technologies deployed are relevant to road going cars.

    Of course, that is not to say that various technological developments first seen in F1 (or other motorsport categories) don’t ultimately make their way to road cars. Double overhead camshafts (Peugeot, 1912) and disc brakes (Jaguar, 1953) are two examples that spring to mind. However, the critical difference is that these developments found their way into racing cars for the primary purpose of making the cars perform better. The filtering of these technologies onto the road was an incidental consequence, not the purpose of the exercise.

    Second, even if you take a different view and think that road relevance should be a factor in the formulation of F1 regulations, the question is whether that goal is more important than the survival of the midfield and backfield teams, and therefore arguably the sport itself. The cost of these engines is simply unaffordable for all but the major teams. We can acknowledge the fundamental problems of unequal distribution of prize money, a challenging environment for sponsorship and falling viewers both live and on TV. However they are largely the result of commercial arrangements which are locked in place for many years, whether we like it or not. One thing which the FIA can control is the technical and sporting regulations which govern the sport, and therefore the type and cost of engines used in the sport. If it’s a choice between the survival of the smaller teams or “road relevance”, I’ll take survival any day.

    Third, if these engine technologies are road relevant, and assist in the development of tomorrow’s cars, then it’s actually worse for the manufacturers. Because if that’s true, they should be paying all the R&D costs, not seeking to recover them from the smaller teams. Lotus, Sauber, Force India etc. should not be expected to pay for the costs of developing technologies which will benefit Mercedes, Renault, Honda and Ferrari road cars.

    Let the manufacturers bear all the R&D costs, charge the teams no more than the previous generation of engines, and the smaller teams will have a better chance of surviving and doing what they were created for, which is to race cars not subside the manufacturers’ development budgets.

    1. +1 couldn’t have said it better myself

    2. You went to great lengths to state the most obvious thing in F1,we all have brains and know that F1 is less road-relevant than it advertises to because of being single seater,no aids etc. (DUH!)…F1 is a competition between racers with lots of talent,money and self-confidence but even they (heads of motorsport departments) still have to justify the expenditure to the shareholders and non-petrolhead fans/customers so use the road-relevant tool!Personally It doesn’t bother me at all as at least (to a certain degree) it keeps them honest and not make them waste money even more than they already do (plus it’s an incentive for amazing technology).The other thing is that the FIA can’t do anything about it as the ones who make the engines are the manufacturers so they make the rules,we can squeal as much as we want but it’s pretty much “their engines,their advertising,their money,their rules”.Money CAN and should be saved elsewhere but people should stop stressing about the engines or road-relevance.

    3. Why should they carry the R&D cost. Take Williams they gained massively from the Merc engine.
      The better Merc makes the engine the better for the teams that has signed on for the engine. They gain from development from the engine.

      Merc engine boss explained it nicely where the new engines are relevant. Just the part where it takes out the lag from turbos makes it relevant to motor cars of to day.

      Like in every sport F1 teams have to learn that you can not keep on chastising performance and for get about your budget. Funny that if they cut cost on one thing teams spend it on some thing else.
      It is also cheaper to gain time threw engines then it is to do it throw aerodynamics . If you also go and look by how much the price of engines have gone down from last year (last year around 30 million for the engines this year around 20 million for engines) . Smaller teams have already saved around 10 million this year. It is just a shame that the smaller teams will spend it on some thing else and then complain that the saving measures that has been taken is not working. In ever professional team sport on earth the teams with the most money will win or at lease be comparative.

    4. I like your essay @tdog. Exactly because they try things to make the cars better, these things tend to get more broad use over time in the “real world”.

      What is not better about engines that use 35% less fuel AND have better torque and top speeds? Heck, in the real world, the noise reduction is an extra bonus if you look at what is done to make cars LESS noisy.
      The only thing that really has a crazy rate of burning money vs. use is aero development, although even there the new systems and methods developed do find their way to aerospace, avionics, turbine development and other fields where flows are studied. And for road cars while the idea is often opposite (reduce drag more important than finding any downforce) still what is learned about the flows does get used too.

      I do agree with you that especially for the engines/drive train the customers should not be the ones paying the cost for it, and would like to see a maximum for what they can ask (lower than currently)

    5. ColdFly F1 (@)
      20th May 2015, 8:12

      Good comment @tdog. However, it seems to support the ‘road relevance’ view more than anything else.
      And second that view. MB 1 : BE 0.

      PS also a team like Williams has created a nice side income stream based on their KERS and aero knowledge.

      1. Yea exactly!Sauber (which for some reason people think is a tiny corporation run from a garage) has one of the best most expensive wind-tunnels and regularly rents it out. One of their customers is the Swiss ski team (amazing huh?). Like i said in the comment above people over-stress when it comes to road-relevance!It’s not like manufacturers can say “we are just doing it because we can”,they have to put a reason behind it whether for marketing or to make the shareholders happy.Besides it’s good advertising that despite the uber complicated tiny engines the cars are still several seconds faster than any other race car. Money can and should be saved by better (not completely democratic though) distribution of funds.Just my 2 cents…

    6. F1’s supposed need for road relevance hasn’t arisen because people thought that’s what would be the most interesting or something. The reason why is because, if F1 was not road relevant, then manufacturers wouldn’t want to join the sport.
      I think without road relevance we would still have Ferrari (F1 is important for their brand), Red Bull etc. and probably all teams except maybe Mercedes. However, in terms of engine manufacturers, without these new engines it’s likely that Renault and Mercedes would have left the sport, and Honda would have never come back, leaving us with only Ferrari (and maybe Cosworth if we stuck with the V8s). The reason why F1 has strived to be road relevant is because it wants to attract manufacturers which wouldn’t have joined the sport/would have left otherwise.

      1. Completely agree.
        Without new engines it would be Formula Ferrari. And the new engines are technologically amazing and will evolve further in next few years.

        With respect to the noise level issue, if BE hadn’t raised it at Australia 2014 would it be discussed so much now?

        1. Ecclestone wasn´t present at the Australian GP 2014 and has judged the engine noise via TV. That says it all….

    7. My current car is 1 year old and I’ll probably buy a new one in 4/5 years and by that time, being a hybrid will be a deal breaker for me. If in 2019 my choice is between a loud V8 or a silent and efficient V6 hybrid, I’ll pick the latter.

    8. How road relevant are 2,4 V8 or V10 engines? Please tell me the number of road cars equipped with V10 engines?

      And do you really think the V8 would be a bargain buy for the smaller teams they are not, they had to be revamped and redesigned. The current Hybrid PU are conceived getting cheaper in the next years, but only if they don´t start to fumble around making them “powerful, noisier” and so on.

  8. Very interesting COTD @Mazdachris

    1. Indeed, fantastic COTD @Mazdachris, thanks for that :)

    2. Very interesting indeed. In wonder how all the Renault-drivers out there think about their next car purchase…

    3. Thanks guys, and thanks @keithcollantine

    4. Agreed. Very good comment. What I found interesting that the articles about Audi’s lack of interest to join referred to Audi and not Volkswagen AG. Many other brands in the stable that could be an option (rather than Audi)…

  9. But mention the race and they’ll almost certainly know one thing – that Audi have dominated the sport for over a decade with their diesel powered prototypes. You can’t buy that kind of advertising.

    I didn’t have a clue who did what at Le Mans until I read it here, on F1 site, two years ago. So much for that advertising. And I’m the kind of guy who visits a dozen of F1 sites every day, many times per day.

  10. So Bernie Ecclestone thinks energy efficiency is irrelevant to modern cars. I know which of them I think is irrelevant in the modern world.

  11. Mika Hakkinen’s article is absolutely fantastic. How he establishes his plan to brake a bit earlier for Saint-Devote to warm up the front tires some more. A clear sign to me how immensely skilled these drivers are.

  12. Neil (@neilosjames)
    20th May 2015, 10:59

    I hope Lewis Hamilton announces his £30m a year contract by saying he’s delighted to have a new £25m a year deal and that Mercedes are happy to pay £28m a year for his services, while thanking the team for paying him £23m a year and noting that Nico Rosberg doesn’t get the £32m a year he gets.

  13. Peter-Williams
    20th May 2015, 11:26

    Vote NO to refueling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Voted no & left a comment giving my reasons.

      Just arrived in Indianapolis ready to work the 500 this weekend :)
      Will once again be working one of the Super-Slow-Mo cameras for ESPN this year.

  14. @mazdachris – Great COTD, really spot on. That is not to say there haven’t been well-reasoned arguments making Audi’s participation possible. In an upcoming article for AUTOSPORT, a colleague of mine makes the powerful point that F1 would give Audi the opportunity to expose its e-tron hybrid technology, seen as Audi would almost certainly badge their V6 as a member of the Audi e-tron family. For Audi, e-tron is the future of its premium car production, with Q7, A6 and an R8 e-tron planned for 2016, and F1 participation would allow Audi to head off the announcement of upcoming hybrid premium Mercedes models in the coming year. This is undeniably a powerful argument.

    However clearly, as you say, they feel the WEC-DTM-GT combination is sufficient. In my view, there are three key reasons for this:

    (1) They are masters of all three, and is taking a nearly continuous stream of victories at well-attended and prominent venues like the Nordshliefe, Macau, the Norisring, Spa, Silverstone and of course Le Mans. They not only have the best cars in each of their respected fields (R18 e-tron quattro – RS5 DTM – R8 LMS Ultra), but the most formidable stable of drivers of any manufacturer and probably the best driver of each field (Lotterer – Rockenfeller – Vanthoor – IMO). As things stand, Audi are guaranteed motorsport success most weekends.

    (2) Audi is expressly marketed as a brand for the more enthusiastic automotive fans, with VW producing similar yet cheaper “catch-all” rival product for the more blandly inclined. The viewership of the WEC and DTM neatly correlates to their European market in premium products. An F1 participation would seek to improve upon its American and Asian exposure in the sportscar market; a less than urgent ambition.

    (3) For every Mercedes AMG, there is a Honda, or a Toyota, or a BMW in F1. F1 has a habit of humiliating manufacterers, and when Audi is the unofficial master of motorsport, I would doubt that to be deemed an seducing prospect. F1 simply isn’t the WTCC, which Citroen is now dominating because it decided to hurl resources its way; even though Mercedes effectively have, you can’t buy success in F1.

    1. Oh I do agree, there are plenty of arguments in favour of F1. I just think overall the decision for Audi is pretty clear, and pretty easy to understand. When you’re talking about a brand which has had success in just about every form of motorsport going, you should really take heed when they say that F1 is not the environment for them. As a motorsports fan, with a love for everything pre-war, I would absolutely love to see a full on showdown between Mercedes Benz and Auto Union. But the sport is just not what Audi wants to be associated with at the moment and I think that’s perfectly understandable. As I said on the other thread, I don’t think it would take an enormous change in F1 to change their position. But it would have to be cheaper, fairer, and cleaner than it is at the moment.

      1. @mazdachris It would take a notable change to the formula, but I’m not sure if enormous is the word I would use. Audi need to sell more sportscars (TT and R8) in the Asian market especially to make a fourth generation of the R8 viable. A juncture is approaching Audi, and seeing a boast in Asian R8 sales comparable to the American one of recent years would mitigate VW reallocating its R8 funding to Porsche, Bugatti or Lamborghini come 2020. In Japan especially, F1 might hold the key. There are undeniable temptations for Audi.

        Yes, F1 would need to be very different. I doubt Audi would want to enter F1 unless it was arm-in-arm with Michelin, and without greater technical freedom in the drivetrain especially. A reintroduction of testing might also sweeten the pill. Put simply Audi would want to be assured of not marring its stunning record in motorsport, and right now, F1 cannot give that assurance. However a decade from now, when VW tells Audi in no uncertain terms to stop dominating Le Mans and take the F1 plunge or reenter rallying, I suspect Audi might relent.

        I will get off the fence, I think Audi could be VERY successful if it did enter F1.

    2. Good points. But also ask yourself, if you were a large corporate would you invest in F1 when the brand is soiled thanks to the way it’s run, and the bad publicity around BE in the last few years? F1 is tainted with the smell of corruption from Bernie’s court cases and the back room dealing that goes on. Increasingly we have GPs in countries with dubious human rights records and no motor sport heritage but a desire to be on the telly. And it isn’t a level playing field thanks to the way the teams are funded. So the impression is that the leading teams are not necessarily the best. I love F1 (despite my cynicism about it) but wouldn’t associate any business of mine with it.

      1. @shakennotstirred It didn’t stop Honda, a manufacturer who didn’t exactly need more motorsport exposure with its role in the commercial juggernaut that is IndyCar and being the team behind Marquez dominance in MotoGP. In fact Honda made its announcement to return at the height of Bernie’s bribery trial in 2013.

        Personally I would rather be associated with the deeply competitive, yet generally well mannered world of cloaks and daggers in F1, than with the frequent and overtly abysmal practice football and FIFA sees everyday.

  15. One thing they never got right about refuelling, was pitting under the safety car. I fear we will have a repeat of that mess, and that can only be a bad thing.

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