Sauber’s year-old engine plan “makes sense” – Ericsson

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In the round-up: Marcus Ericsson says he understands the reasoning behind Sauber’s decision to use 2016-specification Ferrari engines next year.

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We’ve had some fascinating debates on F1 Fanatic over the years but even I’ve been surprised and pleased by the response to the latest one on Max Verstappen’s defensive moves. Here’s Clive putting the case for the defence – make sure you join in the poll here.

Everyone seems to be missing the point in these discussions of “Verstappen’s defence.” If the leading driver moves to block before he has seen on which side the following driver is going to pass, he is opening the door and might as well change his name to Fisichella. The aim is to prevent a pass on the side that the following driver has chosen – anything else is just stepping aside and saying, “Please pass me.”

What makes Verstappen’s moves so apparently dangerous is his incredibly fast reflexes (hence Hulkenberg’s admiration and Hamilton’s refusal to protest). All this talk of “the braking zone” is nonsense – such a zone is determined by the quality of the car, the bravery of the driver and the state of his tyres, not by the viewer’s estimate. One very good way to send a car into a spin is to jink suddenly while braking so that there is no way Verstappen could make his sudden block if he were in HIS braking zone. He does it beforehand and it is not his fault if his zone is shorter than anyone else’s.

The exaggerated uproar at Verstappen’s blocks are typical of the early years of any great driver’s time in F1. Have we forgotten already the fuss made about Hamilton’s apparently miraculous passing moves in an era of no overtaking? Is it so long ago that Senna annoyed everyone by his immediate speed and racecraft and his complete lack of false modesty?

The plain fact is that Max is what we have been waiting for – that rare driver of such talent that he will be remembered forever. Splutter and protest all you want when he does the impossible – some of us are already getting his pedestal ready.

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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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59 comments on “Sauber’s year-old engine plan “makes sense” – Ericsson”

  1. The plain fact is that Max is what we have been waiting for – that rare driver of such talent that he will be remembered forever.

    The plain fact? Certainly not an opinion or a prediction at all!
    I like this comment by @gt-racer over the one-eyedness in the COTD. Amazes me that F1 will go to such great lengths as the halo to prevent injury, but aren’t willing to stamp out a (potential) cause of accidents for which such a safety device is required.

    1. Nice COTD but Max’s overly defensive moves don’t only happen in the braking zones like in Spa with Kimi Raikkonen when both drivers were pedal to the metal.

      Yet, it’s refreshing to watch a driver pushing it to the limits in these days of “here you go as you’re on fresher tyres”. And the other drivers will think twice before trying to overtake him.

      However, that one in Spa was clearly over the top and should at least have resulted in a reprimand.

      1. agreed. at suzuka i thought he positioned his car well to defend into the chicane (but as the COTD stated, it would have made him a sitting duck on the following straight, a la fisichella 2005). hamilton made an error in committing so much to the chicane, though to be fair he was running out of laps.

        but spa was nothing of the sort – if you’re driving along the motorway at 60mph and jink right to block someone in the fast lane travelling at 80mph it is insanely dangerous. i know you can’t exactly compare driving on the road to a GP but kimi was probably at 200mph and only his reactions/good sense prevented a crash. in my opinion that’s not racing.

        what happened at spa was not really different to what schumacher did to barrichello at the hungaroring – and unless i’ve mis-remembered, MS got punished.

        1. Schumacher moved slowly right, leaving a car width gap next to the wall, and then continued to squeeze once Barrichello was next to him.

          And I think you are right, Verstappen does the same as Schumacher, although later and more quickly – at the time Verstappen moves, there is a gap on the right that Kimi could move into, but he pulls out and Max continues to move right. Max could argue he only continued right once he saw Kimi had decided not to go there. But that leads to the response why move right anyway.

        2. @frood19, yes, Schumacher was punished in that instance with a post race penalty. However, Derek Warwick (the driver representative that weekend) did mention that the stewards were actively considering giving Schumacher the black flag (i.e. disqualifying him), but were unable to because the race had ended before they could issue it.

          As has also been pointed out, it wasn’t the first time that Verstappen has pulled off that sort of defensive move on the Kemmel Straight either. In 2014, he did exactly the same thing to Auer in a Formula 3 race – it was, in some ways, a nastier incident as he actually hit Auer to ensure that he couldn’t pass him.

  2. Max thing. It’s racing, I know the current rules actually forbid such driving which is ilogical. I’d argue that ruling is a paradox to racing. One day if Max causes a crash following “his” move I hope nobody’s hurt and that he gets the right punishment for it, as in all avoidable collision incidents that end badly.

    1. I think the worry might not be with Verstappen having a crash while doing it, but with drivers who try to copy it who are not as good at pulling it off @peartree

      1. This! Now imagine recent crash kids, like Nico or Seb Vettel, pulling a move like that on Hamilton….

        Lets say USA GP, Nico moves under breaking and Lewis is unable to avoid him…. Oh teh drama that would ensue.

      2. @bascb Honestly, I think he’s got to be good for being so quick to make effectively make that move. Good for him, it’s racing in my view. I don’t like though is that it appears to be a lack of double standards and I also don’t like the lobbying, these 2 things I don’t like, as you pointed out the drivers or teams that haven’t been able to pull it of.

        1. uh I don’t like though is that it appears to be a lack of double standards

          I suppose you mean that without the “lack” there @peartree?

          As Keith showed, it does not seem to be agains the rules per se what Verstappen is doing, just against the driver etiquette. And yeah, I think we should be happy to have a driver who can pull the move off, and shows there is a defence possible. If he does go over a line, they I am sure the Stewards will exemplarily penalize him for it.

          1. @bascb “rule” whatever you like! Now seriously, I was not accurate when I implied that moving under braking was actually against the rule. Let’s be honest, when moving under braking which is in fact as you pointed out only against the driver etiquette, is a factor on an “unavoidable accident” investigation, the “move” then is effectively going to be held accountable and reason a penalty. Concluding that “the move” is not against the rules, but yeah it is against the rules.

            So you guys say and I agree, give Max a penalty if he goes out of line, but then not only we allow for the endangerment of other drivers, as we also open the scope for some nasty tactics. For instances, if Raikkonen had not taken avoiding action against Max at spa, he would have crashed against Max and we would penalize Max, so next time out, do not avoiding Max, he’ll earn a penalty, just try to damage the car too much. Nico in germany, if he had not avoided Max, he wouldn’t consequently get a penalty of his own, he chicken out of the move, so don’t, don’t care about your car or safety be gutsy, Max will pay you for the repairs on your car. So with that in mind I would rather have a binary answer. Either we let drivers off the hook if they clash as a result of a braking zone entanglement or we do not let them do it regardless of whether it works out fine or not. Clarity is only achieved with a yes or no.

  3. You can say what max is doing is bad or dangerous but what he is doing is legal. He himself interpreted the rules that no other driver had interpreted. It helped him get 2nd in japan so its working. But lets not forget that lots of legendary drivers have bent the rules and even broken them to benefit themselves by putting danger aside

  4. Lewis Hamilton in Call of Duty is exactly the kind of thing that will likely be dismissed or ridiculed by a lot of the established F1 media, when it is in fact going to reach the exact audience that Formula 1 should be making more of an effort to attract.

    1. This guy has a point. +1

    2. Meh. At least I’ll be able to line up against him and take him down with my ACR

    3. It certainly means tying in with a wider audience @willwood, even if we will make fun of it at the same time :-)

    4. Game will probably have trouble starting then

      1. Wow… this hás to be COTD hahaha

    5. @willwood I consider F1 quite a ‘nerdy’ sport, with its many regulations and attention for detail, its amazing engineering and precision racing, its tendency to discuss high level car development; its respect for tradition whilst at the same time working towards a better racing environment; not the treats you’ll find in the average CoD player,…

      1. @xtwl And I’m sure they consider F1 fans to be the type of elitist snobs that would make exactly that presumption about them too… ;)

    6. I personally Hamilton’s appearance here as being a personal interest, and unrelated to racing – similar to Webber’s cycling or Button’s triathlons – that is, unless he appears in the game in his Mercedes racesuit, spouting one-liners like “Wow, this gun is as fast as the Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid!“. It is smart of him to commercialize his personal brand in this way, beyond the standard product endorsements and advertisements.

      Whether his presence in the game will increase interest in F1 among games will depend on which part of the CoD game he’s featured in – whether it is the single-player campaign or the multiplayer. A larger percentage of people tend to get games like Call of Duty, Battlefield for the multiplayer, so his presence in the SP campaign will tend to be overlooked beyond a sentence or two in reviews (though there are single-player diehards too!).

      This AOL article mentions one of Hamilton’s lines in the game “I’m right behind you!” which would imply it is the single-player campaign. Amusingly, it states that it’s a line that Rosberg wouldn’t like to hear at COTA, though I personally think Rosberg would be plenty chuffed to have Hamilton behind him than ahead!

      Interestly, UFC/MMA champion Conor McGregor is also set to appear in the same game.

      This latter point does make me wonder whether it is more of a case of the Call of Duty publishers trying various approaches to keep the interest in their long-running game series high, instead of it primarily being a case of Hamilton using it as a marketing platform. A previous iteration of the game had the antagonist modelled after actor Kevin Spacey, with him providing voice acting.

      1. The Blade Runner (@)
        19th October 2016, 11:12

        I can understand why they’ve got Hamilton involved.

        Kimi would be far more interesting though… :)

        1. @thebladerunner – He’s already got the ideal callsign for that :-)

  5. Am I being overly cynical if the thought that with the Snapchat IPO around the corner, maybe Hamilton’s antics last race were more than just having a bit of fun? That they actually were a planned promotion trick?

  6. Call of Duty revenue in 3 days when it was released in 2015, was $550m. That’s just 3 days!

    Now you’ll find the usual cynical comments, like that of Mark Gallagher, who rather than focusing on what this means for F1, chose instead to be petty. This is massive advertising for a sport that’s struggling to attract new audiences.

    Say what you like about the guy, but he has done more to promote more to sport than any other driver in it’s history.

    1. You’re discrediting quite a lot of drivers by saying that.

      1. This is not about discrediting anyone, It’s a factual.

      2. He is a celebrity, but MSC in the 2000’s, Senna in early 90’s were way bigger household names.

        Soon Max Verstapen might overtake him… In popularity aswell.

        1. They’re all celebrities, look up what the word means.

          1. “It’s a factual.” Really. And of course you have the numbers to support that.

            Since LH seems to gravitate more towards the Kardashian type of world, I question whether LH is out there promoting F1, or just himself…his own brand. From what I gather the audience has not grown during LH’s tenure.

  7. VES might be leaving F1 before he reaches the title as WC…I’m afraid that his driving will take him into a serious accident sooner or him a lot -but I’m not shure where his driving will take him..crazy cats does get their skin ripped…but he has done a lot better than the experts said he would, considering his age… like his attitude though..

    1. Unfortunately, he’ll be fine. It’s the person who goes airborne over his rear wheel we need to worry about.

      1. Unfortunately, he’ll be fine.

        Bit over the top this remark.

        1. Bit over the top the Unfortunate.

  8. Seems to me Clive Allen is the one on his verstappen painted ‘pedal stool’.

    Max moves too late… we generally see great racing without such moves and that’s why his defences are noticeable. Even with online racing, that type of defence is regarded as blocking.

    @Clive-Allen, the only drivers we’ve heard from re Max defensive driving are Kimi and Seb and they weren’t complimentary. Any ‘admiration’ for this defensive driving from other f1 drivers will surely come when they perform the same manoeuvre and Max responds with a ‘touche’!

    1. I am afraid @Clive-Allen was correct there were already drivers who were complimenatry on those moves. And i agree with his statement as a whole.

      The reason i replied is that sometimes i question the knowledge of the fans commenting on this discussions. How many do have race experience on a track? I have some experience in Racing Carts and the lower formula’s but i will be honest i drove against Senna (carts) so that experience is different then the sport is now.
      What do you want to seen Racing or just drivers Who are trying to make fast rounds on a circuit?

    2. I think the Hulk already professed his admiration by saying “I would, if I could” to paraphrase his actual words.
      And this is the guy who actually pulled off a slick overtake at the same chicane at Suzuka.

      1. “See you later.” instant classic.

    3. Even with online racing, that type of defence is regarded as blocking.

      Well, the move is illegal in Indycar while being legal in F1. It’s not surprising if Americans are angry online if you do a similar move.

      What Verstappen is doing is legal and he hasn’t caused any (major) incident yet. Why are some so enthusiastic to kill the last bit of excitement in this sport?

      1. Miss Understanding
        19th October 2016, 22:47


  9. What makes Verstappen’s moves so apparently dangerous is his incredibly fast reflexes …

    I have looked at the video of this incident on Youtube. Verstappen’s reaction time to Hamilton’s attempt to overtake looks very normal and not in any way extraordinarily fast. The danger is because Verstappen moved in front of Hamilton when he was already trying to pass. What is fast is Hamilton’s reflexes to Verstappen’s change of direction, and his avoiding colliding with the rear of Verstappen’s car.
    I’m not surprised Charlie Whiting wanted to have a chat with Max Verstappen.

    1. Verstappen’s move might not be fast in absolute terms, but is probably fast in that it comes from a driver who is also looking ahead to optimize his line through the chicane at the same time he looks rearwards to interpret a passing move and close off that line.

      1. This move shows a lack of skill and normal reaction times. There isn’t anything meritorious about it.

        1. normal reaction times

          @drycrust If the move is legal, helps you hold your position and shows a lack of skill, why isn’t everybody doing it?

          1. @paeschli The reason most F1 drivers don’t do it is because it is so very dangerous. Part of the problem is other “Verstappen hopeful” drivers may think it is perfectly legitimate and safe racing tactic, which is at least half wrong: It isn’t safe, and is banned in at least the Indy car series. Hamilton narrowly avoided colliding with Verstappen because Verstappen moved in front of him as he was trying to overtake. Everyone has the right to overtake another competitor in a race, that is why it is called a race, but Verstappen seems to want a special rule that says people can’t overtake him when he isn’t the fastest competitor. Rosberg won this race was because no one could go faster than him. Verstappen, on the other hand, proved he wasn’t second fastest because he had to pull out in front of Hamilton, rather he was the one who it was most dangerous to overtake.
            People come up with these ideas such as “Verstappen has lightning reflexes” to try and justify his behaviour, but there isn’t any evidence that this was a case of lightning reflexes.

  10. re COTD

    that pedestal has been buffed and shined since he joined F1

    I saw no evidence of that in this case, reacting to it might require some nice reflexes though, as such, well done Ham for not hitting him
    I don’t think it should be more rules about this, but saying that the move require more skill than anything else is to me ridiculous


      Es ist eine Kunst, genau im perfekten Moment rüberzuziehen, so wie er das gemacht. Und dadurch Kimi die Luft zu nehmen. Es ist nicht so leicht, das so zu timen. Wenn mir das so gelingen würde, dann würde ich mir auch erstmal auf die Schulter klopfen.

      Here a quote of Hulkenberg saying that timing your move perfectly, like Verstappen is doing, is a form of art.

  11. Sauber really questionable…

    Candidates for poor 2017 right away. All their competitors will have stronger engines… At best they can Mimic Toro Rosso. Start strong and fallof after.

    If they start poorly they might not be around for 2018.

    1. @jureo – if you read the headline as “makes fiscal sense” instead of “makes racing sense”, you’ll see that their hands were sort of tied in that regard. :-)

      I agree with your broader point – Toro Rosso seem to be going backward this year as the year progresses. From consistent point finishes in the first half, they’re now struggling to finish in the points and are often being beaten by Haas.

      That said, Sauber’s goals for 2017 might be less lofty than that of Toro Rosso for 2016 – Sauber are probably aiming at just getting into the top 10 constructors to be eligible for prize money, than to be seriously challenging anyone in the midfield. Sauber’s dire performance this year despite a good 2016 Ferrari engine indicates that it is not the engine but the car that needs working on, and their decision allows them to focus funding on the car, particularly with the changes in aero/tire regulations for 2017.

      1. @phylyp I would be very surprised if Sauber aren’t the backmarkers next season

        They will supposedly invest in car development by saving on engine costs. The thing is, with the increased focus on aerodynamics, in order for your car to work properly you will need power to move that extra drag along. They will be in the back-foot compared to everyone else especially when the season starts to unfold, as they will reach a point where that engine won’t be able to give them anything else.

        This might render in-season development less effective compared to their direct rivals. Toro Rosso is the perfect example, they probably have the best car aerodynamically wise of those around them (manor, sauber, renault and maybe even williams) but that year old engine is clearly a set-back

        Add to that the worst (IMO) line-up of the entire field and you are left with very few reasons to be optimistic about them.

        As the season progresses they will find themselves frustrated, they won’t be able to find more power in their engine, and probably won’t be able to make the difference with the extra investment that they are channelling to chassis and aero.

        I have said it somewhere else, and it does hurt a little to say it due to their history, but as things are today, I wouldn’t miss Sauber in the grid

        1. This yes, @phylyp

          It makes fiscal sense not to go racing at all. Even Manor seems better placed.

          Pretty much the end once FOM money runs dry, from lack of points.

        2. @johnmilk – A very good point regarding the stronger engine needed to overcome the higher drag and grippier tyres. I’d not considered that.

          1. It remains my hope that with the added drag from the bigger tires, as well as from more downforce not just from wings but from ground effects, this will result in teams running less wing in order to maintain respectable high speeds, while they are able to count more on mechanical grip and ground effects to maintain desirable cornering speeds, thus overall reducing somewhat the dependence on clean air hitting wings for the majority of their performance such as they do now.

  12. Regarding the COTD and VES in general, I didn’t have a problem with his move on Hamilton in Japan. It looked questionable in real time, but as I’ve rewatched it today, nothing strikes me as punishable or even impolite.

    My concerns are more with the unequal ramifications of bad judgment/execution that have seemed to fall in his favor. Example: ROS move on VES in Germany – It was clumsy and ugly on ROS part and while the penalty may or may not have been harsh, it was handed down to ROS. VET hit ROS on lap 1 in Malaysia and it resulted in lost points for ROS, VET gets penalty. ROS hits RAI in a pass also at Malaysia, RAI potentially loses points and ROS gets penalty. (I apologize for all being recent and involving ROS, these are just the recent ones that stand out.) In all of these instances, the incidents were fairly low-speed on hairpin or near hairpin corners and in every instance the “victim” of the incidents were not put out of the race.

    Meanwhile, just looking at the incidents VES was involved in at Spa alone, he impacted both Ferraris (VET was also culpable, imo), nearly collected RAI at the fastest part of the track, and pushed PER off (if I remember correctly). None of these incurred penalties. One was inadvisable, one was dangerous and wrong (imo), and one was clumsy at best.

    I realize that a lot of this is down to stewards and what they decide, which differs. And I’m not against new, aggressive talent. But when that goes too far, I think that those responsible need to be punished.

  13. Nobody seems to have said it, so here goes: the COTD is brilliant. If a driver leaves his braking as late as is optimally possible, there is no way at all, under a deceleration of several G, to swerve in front of a following car without spinning or running out of road (at very best, badly flat-spotting tyres and probably getting overtaken.)
    The rules dictate that one change of line (to block or hinder) and a return to the racing line is allowed; anything more could be dangerous (and yup, motor racing at 200mph is not the same as a couch-potato playing 3-D games.) The COTD very properly points out that doing this “early” telegraphs a non-competitive, blue-flag-type “please overtake, I won’t slow you down” message.
    Finally, the COTD very nicely summarizes what at least some of us want to see — competitive driving, not a boring procession with easy overtakes — and that “young blood” is one way of getting there.

    1. @paul-a I think plenty of people support/supported some of the COTD. But as I noted in my comment, the move at Suzuka is not the only move VES has made all year. There were at least 2 or 3 at Spa that were not brilliant and were either ham-fisted or outright dangerous.

      I am all for new blood, assertive moves, and making someone take the place rather than giving it to them at times. But if a peer of yours is able to best you due to a crappy rule, or at least a rule crappily implemented at some tracks (DRS), don’t risk severe injury to them by moving dangerously at high speed. Fight the crappy rule off the track.

    2. The thing is Max doesn’t leave the braking to the last moment when he blocks like that.

      He brakes a bit earlier, leaving a bit of grip on the tyres to be able to turn. You can see it in Hamilton’s onboard at Japan. You can see it on Räikkönen’s onboard at Hungary. The gap closes massively before Max moves to block.

      The “sacrifice” of braking a bit earlier is offset by the fact your rival will get spooked in the braking zone and be forced to avoid crashing, which will cancel the overtake attempt. As much as I personally hate this kind of move (and not just this one, my opinion of F1 racecraft standards in general is pretty low), it does take perfect timing to pull off. Get the braking point a bit wrong, steer a bit too late or too soon, and you’re leaving the door wide open.

  14. @Clive-Allen Superb comments. I’ll bring the golden laurel wreath.

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