Red Bull haven’t shown their real car yet – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes’ head Toto Wolff believes Red Bull haven’t shown their true machine for 2017 yet.

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Who is and who isn’t a ‘pay driver’?

The term ‘pay driver’ is one which causes confusion. If you look at the 2017 grid, there are several drivers who bring funds to their teams in one form or another and are therefore ‘pay drivers’ in the broadest sense. These include not only drivers who probably shouldn’t be in F1 like Marcus Ericsson, but also Sergio Perez (because of the significant financial backing he brings to his team) and the likes of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon (because of the engine price cuts Mercedes offer teams to give them a seat). People used to often say Alonso could be classified as a pay driver because if you put him in your car, certain sponsors followed him (like Santander or Mutua Madrilena).

Now obviously the Alonso argument is silly, but Perez’s situation is exactly what muddies the waters. His backing secured him a seat after a good (but not great) junior career and he then proved he deserved to be in F1 through the strength of his performances. He is now a pay driver who you want to have in your car. The likes of Lance Stroll and Jolyon Palmer could argue that they are in F1 on merit because they have won key championships in the junior formulae, but the primary reason for them being in F1 is their financial backing.

I agree with Ross Brawn’s sentiment, F1 needs to have a grid filled with the 20 best drivers in the world. We have no room for the likes of Taki Inoue or Jean-Denis Deletraz, but there is fundamentally no issue with a talented driver bringing a budget to a team given the economic climate of the day.

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Keith Collantine
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43 comments on “Red Bull haven’t shown their real car yet – Wolff”

  1. Green!!!!!

  2. Honda:
    – Heads rolling?
    – Or a scapegoat?
    – Or the Japanese in-house culture led to Gilles Simon being ignored?
    – But most importantly… Honda had an engine expert?

    1. What if they painted it with a green planet, would that help?

      1. Oh I see what you did there!

    2. 1990’s Honda Civic vtech to did it happen. Lol

      1. *tec not tech


        1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
          7th March 2017, 1:43

          Perhaps this is the year VTEC will finally kick in yo… may require overnight parts from Japan.

        2. V-tech is probably right in this situation……

    3. According to that BBC report he joined Honda in 2013, which was two years before Honda became the preferred engine supplier for McLaren, and when they did there were problems that should have been sorted out before the season started. It is hard to know why these problems appeared, but one suspicion is testing wasn’t very thorough. Now we have seen Honda engines for two years, presumably made with a lot of his expertise, yet on the eve or the start of this third season we are seeing problems that sound as though Honda are making basic mistakes.
      The problem I see isn’t that Simon left because his ideas were being ignored, but that solutions were not forthcoming. It is less important who develops a solution than that the solution works, and hopefully is future proof as well. A good solution will stand the test of time.
      On the other hand, if solutions aren’t forthcoming, or if solutions and upgrades arrive at McLaren and are unreliable, then you have a problem, which appears to be where Honda are now.
      Sadly, there comes a point when, if jobs are on the line, and one has to suspect that McLaren’s new management will be wanting to show they are good at their job, then changes have to be made. As I see it this situation shouldn’t have arisen, but it has, so changes do have to be made.

  3. Honda will always be playing catch up which is a shame.

    1. It’s funny looking back at the year of their introduction and other teams claiming they’d have an advantage due to being able to see what already works

      1. They did have the advantage of just copying the best layout… but chose to use their ingenuity instead.

        1. @todfod, the layout is one thing, it is what is happening inside the motor, what compression ratio for instance? variable compression? pre burning in combustion chamber? what combustion pressure in combustion chamber? – those things in this new era might be more important than the layout of the ancillaries, and that is why they are kept secret from the public by all manufacturers. Mercedes have a couple years advantage in the technology over Honda.

          1. Same thing though. McLaren had the Merc engine as a costumer in their car for 2014 as Honda was already incomming and preparing for 2015. I’m sure there were restrictions in what McLaren could share about it with Honda but I’m also sure they did it anyway. Honda just didn’t want to copy anything. They wanted to do it their own unique way

    2. As will Ferrari and Renault…

  4. Well I guess it doesnt really matter does it?

    Honda have produced another dud, and the Mclaren chassis doesnt seem to be all that great either.

    So I guess we’ll have another year of GP2 then.

    1. I think we can say with some confidence that the Honda engine is below par (again) but how can you judge/right off the mclaren chassis. Surely no one can actually say whether it’s good or not since they don’t have a decent enough engine in the back to show what it could do

      1. But even with the engine behaving poorly, reports from first round of testing were that Alonso was having to fight the car through the corners– lots of corrections. By contrast, Hamilton’s on-board looked like a leisurely drive down the motorway.

      2. @khanistanf1 Well you know, in 2014 the renault was pretty rubbish… Red Bull kinda won three races and was generally not to shabby because of a good car. 2015 as well renault wasn’t exactly the engine to have. Well Red Bull kinda wasn’t quite as much of a joke as Mclaren the past few years.
        On the other hand, the last two years before switching to Honda, Mclaren kinda didn’t look impressive you know?
        Bottom Line, generally speaking a great chassis shows at some point or the other. As does a rubbish one. Like Mclaren.
        Everybody in that team is just so full of it, it really is hilarious.

        1. @mrboerns

          I agree. Renault weren’t particularly strong in 2014 or 2015, and Red Bull were responsible for their own glory just because of a great chassis. No one’s saying Mclaren’s chassis is phenomenal, but there is not a lot of scope for making a great chassis when you are lacking 100hp. Obviously, you cannot add a lot of drag and downforce on a car that is already dead slow on the straights and lacking peak power. So, the philosophy of the chassis will always be compromised due to the poor performance of the engine.

          1. @todfod, just wondering, why do you keep repeating the comment that the engine is 100bhp down on power? I know that Alonso made a comment about the engine being that far down on power, but he was being intentionally flippant in that interview to emphasise that the engine was down on power (the difference was probably closer to half that figure).

            Even allowing for a potential power deficit, there were some areas that McLaren did not do particularly well at last year, with poor rear traction due to the suspension geometry being cited as one example where McLaren made mistakes (a mistake that they then tried to get around by trying to increase rear downforce). To that end, there were some comments that Boullier made recently where he tried to downplay some of the claims that the team made about their chassis in 2016 (having previously claimed it was a top 3 chassis, in his more recent comments that became “4th best chassis”).

          2. Didn’t GPS Analysis and Honda’s own words state that they’re where Mercedes were at the beginning of last year? ~ 100bhp is actually a reasonable, given the subtle developments Mercedes have introduced that seems to just deliver more power, more often!

  5. People get on Ferrari a lot but their video with the whole team or a big part of it being recognized is pretty cool on them to make everyone feel special

    1. At least they’re not posting the same .gifs of dancing cats over and over again like some teams do.

      1. What teams are posting dancing cat gifs? Are they racing cats? I knew I led a sheltered life…but this…

  6. It’ll be interesting to see the second test session. There’s no doubt about Red Bull having a few tricks up their sleeve, and Ferrari are definitely gunning for it as well this year. Really hoping we have a great battle between Hamilton, Ricciardo, Max and Vettel this year. It’s an absolute shame that Alonso can’t join the party in his GP2 car.

    Honda on the other end of the spectrum are super spectacular in the disaster department. Gilles Simon leaving them is a clear indication of a poor work culture with an inability to harness external expertise. Just goes to show why they were so incredibly poor at just copying a Mercedes layout. I’m sure they tried to use their ‘minds’ and innovate the wheel on Mercedes’ layout…. probably in the shape of a fuel tank.

    If you thought 2015 was rock bottom for Mclaren… look out for 2017.

  7. RE COTD, he’s not wrong, there is very subtle nuance, a sliding grey scale in what is and isn’t a pay driver. And Perez is the perfect example of a pay driver who came good. I personally think it’s all subjective, some don’t mind this element in finding a seat as much as others do. I’m on the latter part of the spectrum, and I really don’t like it when drivers are chosen for economic reasons. Luckily I don’t think the field has ever been as bereft of pay drivers as it is right now, with only Stroll, Ericcson and Palmer not there purely on merit. Granted, a 20 car field means lese backmarkers, but it’s an encouraging sign.

    1. @hahostolze Palmer and Stroll are precisely why it is difficult to say “no pay drivers”…because they both won junior formulae which would justify their inclusion in an F1 field… (even though the fields were weak in the years they both won).

      1. But surely part of the reason they were able to win those junior formulae was because they were able to pay for a top quality seat there also. That seems to reinforce that they are indeed pay-drivers.

    2. one thing that is rarely talking about regarding pay drivers is why they have the money in the first place – for people like stroll and max chilton it’s a family connection, but for people like perez, ericsson or maldonado there must be a reason why they get the millions vs. some other guy. if you are a sponsor you are going to want to sponsor the best up-and-comers. the situation is more complex than “pay driver < non-pay driver" because the pay driver (sponsored driver) is likely to have something about them in order for them to get the sponsorship in the first place.

      1. It’s because they’re the best that their country has to offer, but not necessarily the best in the world.

        1. But I think the main sentiment of Brawn’s opinion of pay drivers is not to judge whether this or that pay driver came good or not, nor even what defines a pay driver. His sentiment has more to do with seeing an F1 in the future that doesn’t have smaller teams forced to take on pay drivers for their money. He’d rather see them strong enough to not need to forgo talent over money. I don’t think he has anything against the drivers themselves…just against an F1 that currently has teams so in need of money that the result is a grid of not necessarily all the best drivers in the world, which it should be for the pinnacle of racing.

  8. @Geemac & @Keith Collantine

    It seems to have escaped both of you that F1 is above all a commercial venture. Certainly, there is a lot of hi-tech involved but that has to be financed and there is no way in which firms such as Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari would remain in F1 should they decide that the technological return and marketing exposure; goodwill, does no longer justify their investment (Honda 2008/09, Toyota 2009/10 and BMW 2010/11 and anyone?). For hi-tech companies such as McLaren and Williams, F1 is a vehicle to develop their technological know-how and a platform from which to market it.

    As to drivers, just forget the tag “pay driver”! *Every* driver, the much vaunted Lewis Hamilton included, is assessed as an advertising board and their employment based on an estimation on who will generate the greater market interest. Of today’s drivers with a top berth, only Valtteri Bottas can claim that commercial merits played a minor role in his employment. The other five all hold special commercial attractions – Lewis Hamilton (British, black, multiple VC), Sebastian Vettel (German, multiple VC), Kimi Räikkönen (personality legend, VC), Daniel Ricciardo (Aussie, potential VC), Max Verstappen (teenager, potential VC).

    @Geemac – when you say “Now obviously the Alonso argument is silly”, all you achieve is to confirm your own ignorance.
    @Keith Collantine – To choose such an ill-informed comment as COTA reflects poorly on you. Also, you would do well to remember that without Marcus Ericsson, Sauber would have folded in early May last year but that is perhaps why you hate him as you possibly believe that had Sauber folded, Manor (a British venture) would still be on the grid?

    1. Well, aren’t you a jolly likeable sunshine? Seems like you really aren’t.

    2. It was a curious read until you started pointing fingers

    3. Henrik, the way that you choose to give your opinions (which are not wrong) reflects poorly on you.

    4. Comment of the Americas’. Hands down.
      The Marketing Value Of Vice Champions Is What keeps the companies behind f1s top Teams afloat. And Damn Those imperialistic brits!

  9. “He refused to comment on reports Simon left as his ideas were being ignored.”

    Statements like this are my pet peeves. if there’s a dictionary entry for dishonest rhetorical devices, this should be the prime example. He could’ve said almost anything, as long as it’s not too far-fetched, and the reaction would’ve been exactly the same, i.e. Simon refusing to comment due to contractual reasons.
    So what does this rhetorical device really achieve? All it does is promote the reporter’s opinion, regardless of whether it’s actually true.

    To put things into perspective:
    In the light of growing diplomatic tensions between Germany and Turkey, Turkey’s president accused the German government of ‘nazi methods’. The German government (initially) refused to comment. Does this mean it’s 1939 all over again? Of course not, but quite a few people in Turkey are inclined to believe this crud, because some media present it as the truth.
    And that’s why I loathe journalists writing something like that. It makes me want to hand them a drive-through penalty and two penalty points on their driver’s licence, if you get my drift.

    1. @nase – journalists like that are the ones who popularized the response “No comment, and that’s off the record.”

    2. petitio principii- assuming a premise or ‘begging the question’ That bugs me too, mostly because it is a foundation of ‘click bait’ and there will be no substance to the story.

  10. Towards the end of last season I mentioned that FOM were running test’s in preparation to have live streams of the in-car cameras on the official app this year. Then I later mentioned that this was looking increasingly unlikely due to contractual issues with broadcasters & it now seems as if it won’t be happening; At least not in time for the start of the season-

    Adding to that I gather that everything is ready to go, They have a version of the app built with all the new bits in place & are ready to launch it whenever they are able. However due to the way the contracts are & these exclusivity clauses i’ve discussed in the past there not able to roll it out until all the rights issues have been worked out.

    Several broadcasters around the world already have there own services in place for accessing a lot of the in-car cameras & have put a lot of time & money into developing there services & buying the rights to those extra angles & as such don’t want to give those services up.
    I gather that FOM did consider geo-blocking some features in those regions but ultimately want everyone to have access to the same content so would rather try & work out the rights issues before rolling the extra stuff out in some places & blocking them in others, Especially since getting around geo-blocking is relatively simple anyway.

  11. GREEN !!

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