Start, Melbourne, 2015

Mercedes ‘not sure we can cope with 21 races’

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Mercedes’ executive director Toto Wolff warns he isn’t sure his team can cope with the 21-race 2016 F1 calendar.

Comment of the day

The last Caption Competition of 2015 may well have been the best – a bumper crop of funny suggestions were harvested. Here’s my favourite:

Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi, Manor, Red Bull Ring, 2015

Farmer: “The Manor guys are ignoring the blue flags again…”

Big thanks to everyone who joined in and honourable mentions to @Scalextric, @Dirksen, @Illusive, @JerseyF1, @Pokerman, @Tribaltalker, @Eurobrun, Jmlabareda, @Eriko and @Ragwort for your excellent suggestions.

Keep an eye out for a review of all this year’s Caption Competition winners coming up soon.


Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 2015
Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 2015

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen attended a Christmas dinner with the rest of the Ferrari team last weekend.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Dermot Farrelly and Carlo Grlj!

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

Toro Rosso announced their drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi would be replaced by Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne on this day four years ago:

Author information

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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  • 66 comments on “Mercedes ‘not sure we can cope with 21 races’”

    1. Woot!

      Finally I win something!

      1. Congratulations!

      2. CG, nice one too Theodonz

    2. That Vettel and Raikkonen photo deserves a Caption Competition.

          1. Ferrari trial new 2017 seating position!

    3. I can not wait to see Mick Schumacher in F1
      I hope he will drive for Merc and win a championship which for sure will draw a smile on Michael’s face

      1. Another son of an ex-driver? Out of the billions of people in the world we get all these sons of former drivers. Personally, I think it’s better to see new names in the sport.

        1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
          14th December 2015, 8:30

          What if Mick Schumacher races under the name Betsch? Better for you? Or are you just bitter that a son of a WC beat Hamilton?

          1. Come on, why bring Hamilton into this! Besides, you should probably read some of my recent comments @peppermint-lemon.

            Anyway, my point is that if talent was the main criteria for getting into F1 and not connections, we’d have hardly any (maybe none) sons of former drivers.

            All it does is remind me of how hard it is for those that weren’t born into F1 to get into it. No bitterness here, sorry to disappoint.

            1. Anyway, my point is that if talent was the main criteria for getting into F1 and not connections, we’d have hardly any (maybe none) sons of former drivers.

              I’m not so sure.

              Children of previous racers have a huge advantage: Their dads can pass on knowledge, teach them techniques etc. The are also more likely to get their children involved in motor racing at an early age. We see the same in many areas: e.g. The child of a scientist or engineer is more likely to have an interest, and therefore pursue a career, in science or engineering.

            2. I think talent is still the main criteria which is why we have had only a small number of F1 sons succeed in F1. Not to be crass here but in the case of Jacques and Mick, they respectively didn’t and don’t have their dads to pass on knowledge and techniques etc. But they did and do have lots of insiders with their eye on them so that can’t hurt, but ultimately if the talent is not there then people trying to push their own agenda on these lads will only come across as looking predatory.

              For me having the name can help open doors obviously, but it can also create issues of ‘over-hype’ as Nico warns, added pressures (they’re expected to be as good and to win out of the gate), and they risk a bigger letdown if it doesn’t all work out and indeed the pre-requisite talent isn’t there after all.

            3. @drmouse I understand your point, nature + nurture, but Schumacher jnr has done nothing to set the world alight. I think it’s a shame he’ll get preferential treatment over the next Michael Schumacher.

          2. That makes no sense at all. Someone makes a comment about the Schumachers and you shove Hamilton into the conversation? What’s he got to do with anything?

            Bizarre, truly bizarre. You should think before you post.

            1. Almost like replying to a comment about Schumacher by only whining on about someone mentioning Hamilton? Apples & Oranges there.

      2. @john-h Completely agree, I hate political dynasties (do we really want another Bush or Clinton as president?) and would like to see new names in the sport instead of ‘sons of’ …

        1. Well, given the choice between Jeb, Hillary or (for example) Donald Trump, I’d be quite happy to see a political dynasty continue.

          1. But that’s not the choice.

    4. Ferrari should stick to building cars and stop wanting to tailor. Those suits fit like a car cover over a bicycle! Horrible suits!

    5. Not sure that I agree with Toto on this one. I think that any organisation who employ over 700 people should be able to make 25 meetings over the course of 9 months. Even then around Hungary we have nearly 7 weekends with one race and an enforced holiday.

      I understand that it is a pressure on a team is immense. Mark Webber said in his recent autobiography that engineers at William were frequently working at 60 hours a week. If these are the working conditions the engineers face, and the whole team is exhausted from 19 races then why are we running that many?

      Surely the teams should be able to come to a solution on this? I can’t for the life of me see what the problem is with simply rotating crews. If there are only 60 travelling crew to flyaways and 120 for European races I don’t see why there can’t be a B-team to come in and give the A-Team a rest. Obviously, I don’t know the extent that they do that currently.

      Naturally, I am not including the drivers in this but I strongly believe that if you made them complete 30 races, they would find a way to do it. When it comes to someone like Pete Bonnington or Paddy Lowe then I can see why Mercedes want to keep the A-Team at the track. But couldn’t they receive the exact same info from Brackley? How much of a disadvantage is that really? I don’t think that we should have people over-worked because they don’t employ more staff. The main concern with this would be the team who are struggling financially. But hopefully more races means more chance of sponsorship. Besides if the FIA did the decent thing and paid transfer costs for teams and distributed prize money fairly then the teams wouldn’t be struggling anyway.

      1. The problem is that it means 60 extra salaries, for at least 4 months, which would be enough to put half the grid under. At that point, even the manufacturer teams would be unable to justify staying in F1 with these engines because they cannot defray the costs (except Honda, which doesn’t appear to be depending on anyone except McLaren taking their engines). F1 simply can’t afford to put itself in a situation where it is dependent on rotating crews given its current cost structure.

        1. Exactly @alianora-la-canta.

          Its good that Mercedes speaks up about it, but it will hurt the smaller teams most.

      2. Not sure that I agree with Toto on this one. I think that any organisation who employ over 700 people should be able to make 25 meetings over the course of 9 months.

        It is not quite the same, I know, but our company does 4-5 trade shows per year. These involve, basically, setting up an entire shop and warehouse at a new location in 2 days, running that shop for 2 days, then dismantling it all to move to another location a week or 2 later. It involves a huge amount of man-hours for 2-3 weeks in the run up, excluding all the planning which goes on before that. As an IT tech, I have to prep and test all the computer systems and package them all up, organise the infrastructure at the event, unpack and set it all up in about 8 hours, fix any problems on site, then pack down in a couple of hours at the end.

        Now consider they are doing that 20 times over 9 months. Yes, they have more staff and other resources, but that takes even more planning and organisation.

        They are not going to 25 meetings, they are building and dismantling entire workshops at 25 locations spread across the globe. And that’s before you even start the actual racing!

        1. Thanks for your comments, @drmouse, @bascb and @alianora-la-canta. I completely agree about the enormous workload and that the teams at the back of the grid would struggle. However, I can’t see why in a sport with an annual income of £1b that any team struggles at all. At the end of the day, we are here to watch cars race. I think F1 and Ecclestone in particular play the ‘elite club’ hand too often. It is for this and many other reasons that I am in favour of the much derided cost-cap. I think the arguments on this have been far reaching and not always productive but I have noticed more and more support for it in the last year. After all, for testing in Jerez we were unsure of the futures of Force India, Marussia, Sauber and Lotus and had lost Caterham weeks earlier. For me, a cost cap is the only realistic solution. Essentially, the only teams we had left that were guaranteed starters last season were either manufacturers or multiple world champions. Another facet of my anger at the management is that we never see new teams truly prosper. Force India have been excellent in their time granted, but the three that came in under a false premise in 2010 have failed miserably. Hopefully, Haas have themselves in order or the sport will have quite a sorry list on its hands.

          1. What is needed is a sensible distribution of money, that doesn’t result in the vast majority of the money going to the teams that least need it, teams that aren’t quite so prone to game the system (which is the second-biggest problem with cost caps: there are no ways to satisfactorily de-“game” them in an international context, especially one involving multiple EU nations), for rules open enough for speed not to be primarily gained through expensive iteration and re-iteration, and for the top team not to be generating more debt per year than the middle-income team generates in its entirety (including its own debt generation).

            The last completely new team we saw prosper was Stewart (founded in 1997, now bearing 4 titles via successor team Red Bull), and that says something about how deep the problems run.

          2. Your gripe is with Bernie. As the above comment states, fairer distribution of wealth would need to be in place before a 21 race season would make sense.

            I wish I was in charge…

      3. As a thought, when you look at some tracks it appears they can have different configurations, so why not do one configuration one week, and then a totally different configuration the following week. I realise there will be knock on effects, like Hotels that have an extra week of F1, and the city expected to pay an extra week of “hosting fees”, and such like, but it would reduce the need to do unpack and pack up and travel.
        Another option is to have a “bye” week, so Mercedes just tell everyone they won’t be attending that week, but are staying home. I realise that will be disappointing for a lot of people, but it would also give the other teams a chance to fight over the podium (unless Mercedes loose their current dominance during this off season).

    6. Regarding Seb & Kimi’s seating sitting in those sofas, aren’t those racing bucket seats inside?

    7. Am I the only one that thinks Kimi and Seb sofas looks very uncomfortable?

    8. I can imagine that Rosberg is quite right, having got it himself to an extent at least. But surely that pales in comparison to the advantage it gives him if he indeed wants to advance his racing career. All he has to do to get to F1 is drive relatively well. His name will attract sponsors and open doors like none other. So many drivers never even get close to F1 because of how expensive racing is or just simply getting looked over, even if they do have the talent.

      I can imagine his rivals would dream of getting such attention.

      1. Since I am a huge JV fan and therefore know a lot about his career, sure for him too it didn’t hurt to have the Villeneuve name, but he still had to have the talent to back it up because he was expected to win. But what that did for him at an early age was it taught him how to deal with pressure, and it taught him that he indeed was not Gilles and so he had to make doubly sure he was his own person and not just a son trying to follow in his Dad’s footsteps.

        Sure Mick should be able to draw attention and sponsors more easily, but I think he will pretty much have to drive as well as any potential F1 candidate because teams and sponsors will not want to appear like they just hired him for his name and the attention, if indeed it turns out he doesn’t really have what it takes to be in F1.

        I can’t profess to know anything about what Mick has been up to. Has he been dominating kart races? Is he showing signs of F1 potential? Is it his burning desire to be in F1? If not, he’d be swallowed up pretty quick if he only gets hired for his name, or because a team was only trying to beat other teams to getting him signed.

    9. Why would they worry about 21 races when they win the constructors in the 17th round?

      1. If they just did about 15 races, it would give the others a chance!

    10. Lift the fuel flow restriction and they will start working back up the RPM band to the 14K limit(latest I recall they don’t go much over 10K cause it starves out). Seems that is the only way you get more decibels back.

      1. @reg The current engines are limited to 15K, however due to reliability and fuel efficiency reasons teams rev the engines up to 12,5K at most

      2. It is a bit of a conundram as they want to show increased efficiency and noise is a waste of energy. What is efficiency in F1 same power as V8 engines but using 100kg of fuel rather than 150kg or having 300 bhp more than v8 engines and using the same 150 kg of fuel. I would say the latter as more power for the same fuel use is a sign of efficiency but from a perspective of increased power?

      3. ‘lift the fuel flow restrictions’

        You do know that that would mean that the teams would need to redesign the engines to cope with higher fuel flow. Since these fuel flow restrictions were in place from the beginning, the trams designed their engines to cope with the current fuel flow. Increasing it means that the trams will spend much more money on toughening up the ICE and engine prices which are already high, will go even mire expensive. Half the grid will be gone by a couple of years. It’s not as simple as ‘oh, we’ll just increase rpm, or fuel flow’. Important things like that have immense ramifications on the engine, and therefore it needs a redesign. I don’t think that there current engines can withstand 15k rpm or higher fuel flow than the current limit

        1. Trams=teams

          Damn autocorrect…

    11. The thing about Mick Schumacher jr. is that he’s not shown to have anywhere near the talent of his father and most likely not enough to reach F1 either, so I won’t worry. More Mathias Lauda than Nico Rosberg.

    12. ColdFly F1 (@)
      14th December 2015, 9:16

      @keithcollantine – question/suggestion:
      I always love the Caption Competition, and like to look up the ‘runners up’. This can be a bit laboursome as you only give refer to their @usernames when registered (for non-registered users you refer to the comment).
      Is it possible to either: 1) list the other funny captions below the photo, or 2) link-in to the comment as you do with non-registered contributors?

      1. @coldfly It would be nice to have a better solution for this, especially when we get such a good selection of caption as this weekend. I’ll keep it in mind for next year.

    13. The problem with F1 at the minute is not DRS. It’s not that drivers cannot follow each other. It’s not the tyres or the engines. It’s this:

      There are too many races.

      Let me explain: I used to enjoy watching the spectacle of F1 because it was exciting. If it becomes routine, it ceases to be exciting.

      Also, drivers do not need to do well all of the time: one “bad” race among 21 will have significantly less impact than one in 16.

      Let’s cut the races down to 16. Teams will have lower costs and be able to run more efficiently. And the sense of occasion will return.

      1. Personally I disagree. I think that if the races were truly as exciting as they could be with the closer racing that everybody is dreaming about, then the more races the merrier as long as the teams can handle it. And sure costs would be down if they only ran 16 races, but so would F1’s revenues.

        I do get your point about it becoming ‘routine’ but I associate that moreso with an entity like NASCAR. F1 races need to be made more enthralling which is theoretically the very thing they are talking about doing with the 2017 changes. Once they do that I wouldn’t mind 21 races at all.

        As to a 60 hour work week…I would have thought it would have been way more, so other than the fact that I know it can be hard doing all that traveling and living out of a suitcase, I don’t see that as a big issue…many people work those kinds of hours and don’t get the time off nor the pay these guys get over a year, with the August summer break, and the off-season…and yes I know that they are working throughout some of the off-season too, but not traveling etc etc. Where there’s the will, there’s a way.

      2. But they may have realised that there are plenty of people like me, @mattb, who can’t get enough of F1. I still find it a spectacle even if it’s every other week (if my face driver has won then I’m on cloud nine for two weeks, if they lost or had a DNF then a fortnight seems like an eternity to wait to hopefully bounce back. The summer break is a killer (although I understand the need for it). On the odd occasion that I only have to wait one week then I’m buzzing :-)

      3. @MattB The only routine thing about Formula 1, other than Mercedes dominating, is DRS.

        Make the passing routine and the sport ceases to be exciting to watch. The only interesting aspect of Formula 1 is the cars themselves, behind the scene politics, and which driver/team comes out on top. Unfortunately the process of winning is no longer exciting and that is why people are turning off in the millions.

    14. Thanks Daniel Ricciardo, for speaking such sense. It will be a treat for all those attending that demo to hear a real F1 engine again, I am jealous!

      1. I suspect an agenda there @paulguitar. Personally I’ve got used to the new sound, and now I find the high-pitched scream that hardly varied quite irritating.

      2. I suspect an agenda there @paulguitar. Personally I’ve got used to the new sound, and now I find the high-pitched noise that hardly varied quite irritating.

        1. Mmm…..You might be right about an agenda actually @lockup ……

          I have heard a few people saying that they have got used to the new sound, but I am still gutted about it. I don’t mind on TV, but at he circuit, for me, the magic has gone completely. It will be just Goodwood for me again next summer, and maybe a MotoGP.

          1. There’s no right or wrong answer as it’s up to the individual as to whether they are ‘gutted’ or fine with the current sound, but it’s moot anyway as they are already planning on adding back some noise. But it’s not like they’re going to go back to V8’s for the noise, and they seemingly ‘had to’ advance F1 by going the direction they did, so it just is what it is. I just don’t want to see them now ‘fake’ the noise along with fake tires and fake passes, but I guess one could argue the added noise is indeed faked by changing the exhaust format when it seemingly doesn’t need to be, other than for noise.

            1. There were a lot of people who were upset when the sport moved away from V12s and V10s, and the sound was a reason back then, too. They got over it. The sport has to keep moving forward.

            2. @robbie

              I agree, with the ‘fake’ aspect. I have to say also, that there seems no point to me in just amplifying the sound of the current engines. That would simply be like polishing a turd!

              I think what I would like to see would be for F1 to accept that it used to be a viscerally awesome experience, and to try to get that back. I suppose I personally think of the high point being when we had normally aspirated V10 engines closing in on 20,000 RPM and 1000 BHP, and they were technologically mind-blowing too in many ways.

              If F1 wants be be seen as ‘green’, misguided though that is, they could perhaps have the option of a lightweight, technically advanced and fairly fuel efficient N/A engine. We would have the glorious sound back, and I am sure in real terms the fuel efficiency could actually be better than the heavyweight units we have now.

            3. @paulguitar you can’t have high revs because of the friction losses. You have to have a small swept volume, a turbo, low revs and the energy recovery systems to have the efficiency.

              As I recall the V10’s weren’t even allowed variable valve timing.

              Anyway the noise was ridiculous. You had to wear earplugs, and then what was the point? Now we get a much more interesting variety of noises. IMO it’s mostly that back in the day we were younger :)

              I agree with @robbie they mustn’t try to fake it, too.

            4. @lockup

              It is the high revs though, that make an engine sound exciting, in my view it is the most important thing missing from the hybrids, they just sound dull and as they are really not trying very hard.

              I agree the V10’s were CRAZY loud, but what an atmosphere they created. At the races, total strangers would exchange laughs and smiles of excitement. The memories of the sounds of the engines would stay with you for a week after going to a GP……..

              When I went to the Spanish GP last year, there were people actually reading their race programs during the actual race, unthinkable at an F1 race pre-hybrids!

          2. Don’t you think the pace car sounds good @paulguitar? I love that burbling V8 personally. I dunno, to some extent I reckon it’s learning new associations with the different sounds.

            And I still think as soon as you need earplugs you’re into something a bit weird and futile. It was okay while we needed an open exhaust for power, but now they’d have that noise level for its own sake, which is a different thing really, and at risk of being fake even.

            1. I do like that V8 sound too @lockup, I actually bought a V8 road car ( a BMW 745i) because I really love the V8 sound (amongst other reasons of course).

              For me though, that is the sound of a road car, I suppose perhaps I just associate single-seaters and especially F1 with screaming, high-pitched engine sounds.

              I take your point about noise for the sake of noise, as I said in response to @robbie above, I agree that simply amplifying what we have now for the sake of it is fake and not the way to go.

      3. No. The real f1 engine was a Cosworth DFV

        Sorry to burst your bubble

        1. Back in the day, That was a specialist team’s engine. The big manufacturer teams Ferrari, Renault, Alfa Romeo and before that BRM and Matra had their own engines.

        2. And also- it was known as a Ford-Cosworth DFV, because although Cosworth was making those engines, that company’s owner Ford was paying for the whole engine program.

      4. There are a lot of unprotected ears in the vicinity of a race track, such as in wildlife, pets, insects, spectators who forgot to bring ear protection, catering staff who have already “closed that window 5 times today”, etc, who are stuck there and can’t escape. And yes, they may not rate as important to us, but those people and animals would spend the whole weekend in agony, if not the rest of their lives with permanent hearing damage. The sound of 20 V10 engines that are so loud that Health and Safety officials would demand anyone nearby must have ear protection. How are pit crews and track marshals supposed to communicate during an emergency?

        1. @drycrust

          Well, I don’t know if you are new to watching F1, but is has only been quiet for the last two years in recent times. F1 did just fine with noisy racing engines for many decades before the current generation.

          1. @paulguitar : And those with unprotected ears suffered.

            1. This is the way F1 was, and it was fantastic. @drycrust Spectators always had the option to protect their ears if they wanted to, nobody moaned about it, they just loved it. There was always plenty of access to ear plugs at the track, so even caterers who were previously unaware could easily get themselves some earplugs. I can hardly believe I am actually having to type this, nobody was forced to go to an F1 event! Perhaps the cars are too brightly coloured as well?

            2. I had already been experiencing a bit of crackling in my right ear particularly, mainly when I played my car stereo too loud…no doubt a cumulative effect over years of doing it. So when I went to Montreal I soon found out that not only would I need the earplugs, they didn’t really help, nor did plugging my ear with my finger. My right ear particularly crackled, and I still have to be a bit careful mostly with music on stereo or with headphones but I can still crank it pretty good and not have a problem.

              So I did have a bit of uncomfortableness and concern, but I can’t really say I was that worried, and it was an awe-inspiring experience, but I can’t see it is the be all and end all to the experience either.

              I’m fine with the current sound, and I’d be fine if they were legitimately louder too (not fake louder), and I certainly don’t recall people complaining when they were louder for all those years. Nobody forces anybody to be there, other than I suppose those for whom it is their job to be there and would require them quitting their job to avoid the noise.

              Newcomers to an F1 race would likely think today’s sound level is the norm, and veterans are mixed in their opinions either way…some fine with it and enjoying the more reasonable decibel level, others missing it terribly. I’m totally on the fence and will leave it up to F1 as to the importance of bringing more noise back, which it sounds like they indeed deem necessary, and that is not to say F1 always gets it right…they just will do what they think needs be done…and that likely started when the first thing BE said about the new cars was ‘too quiet’ and hence the bandwagon began. If that is some indication therefore that indeed F1 does listen to it’s audience, pardon the pun, then I guess I will take that as a positive. I hope it also means they will get the far more important stuff right for 2017.

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