Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, Interlagos, 2013

Whitmarsh to work with FIA on shaping F1 rules

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In the round-up: Former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is to work with the FIA on future Formula One regulations.

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Not a lot of people are impressed with the new driver line-up at Williams:

When did Williams become a team of also-rans hiring ‘pay drivers?’ Admittedly they fell on hard times in the post BMW years but the Williams of present have real potential with to challenge the big three teams with the best engine, a solid chassis, decent backing and sponsors, Paddy Lowe and a top rate technical team.

But we saw last year the relative performance between Bottas to Massa to Stroll. How many points will Williams lose this year due to driver choices? And more worryingly, what does this say about the current state and future prospects of Williams, and Formula One as a whole?

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  • 47 comments on “Whitmarsh to work with FIA on shaping F1 rules”

    1. This Williams driver lineup is not a good one- Williams needs a a top line, experinced driver again. If a top line driver got into the team and with Paddy Lowe being TD then they would see more success than they are going to see this year.

      And WilliamsF1 fell on hard times exactly when Patrick Head was demoted. That was the single worst mistake Frank Williams ever made as team boss. Without Patrick Head, WilliamsF1 would have been nowhere. But who knows- even with their limited budget, maybe Paddy Lowe can turn things around.

      1. They’re not going to make much progress even if Paddy Lowe designed a car capable of challenging Mercedes. As you mentioned the gap between a driver like Bottas and Stroll is incredible… and Sirotkin is still an unknown.

        It’s safe to say that a driver line up of Perez & Ocon would gather nearly double the points than a driver line up of Stroll & Sirotkin in the same machinery. The pay driver formula does get in more funds to Williams, with which they can use to build a competitive car, but those gains are completely negated by slow and amateurish driving.

        1. @todfod,
          Very true, that’s why Haas’s decision to stick with Magnussen and Grosjean, even though Ferrari pushing for their own drivers is quite remarkable. Same with Renault with their effort regarding Ocon or Sainz.

          Goes to show how much difference an experienced and skilled driver would make. Force India didn’t compromise with their driver selection for a while now and that is one of the reason behind their success.

        2. In addition to the pace of the drivers, a pair of inexperienced drivers generally won’t give as good feedback so the development of the car will be less effective than it would be with someone with a lot of practice under their belt, again countering the extra income to spend on the car.

          It’s a bit of a vicious cycle for privateer teams, that they score less points so they need more money from driver sponsorship so they have (usually) less talented people behind the wheel scoring less points. I would hope that in future it becomes more financially viable to run an F1 team and this effect lessens, but for now we just have to settle with the fact that at least there’s still a pair of Williams on the grid somewhere.

      2. What better drivers are available to Williams then? At best they could gamble on Wherlein.

        They have a bigger issue that their car is simply not good enough and it has been getting worse relative to other teams since 2014.

        1. @patrickl

          What better drivers are available to Williams then?

          Heck, the reason why Williams don’t have better drivers available to them is because they didn’t aggressively look for any top drivers to hire. They were chasing the money, which is what they got with Stroll and Sirotkin.

          If they really wanted good drivers, they could have at least tried for getting Hulkenberg back for 2017. They could have signed Jenson for 2017. They could have at least given Kvyat and Wehrlein tests to gauge their speed. They would support more young and promising drivers other than Stroll.

          1. @todfod You really have to keep reality in mind. Top drivers don’t want to drive for back marker teams.

            They could not have signed Button, because he’s not interested. I seriously doubt Hulkenberg would be interested either. Why would he move from an upcoming manufacturer team like Renault to a back marker team like Williams?

            So the only drivers which are actually available to them are drivers that currently don’t have an F1 seat and Sirotkin at least seems like a good one.

            They took a gamble on Stroll and they hope will prove himself in his second season. They might be proven wrong, but to pretend that Kvyat or Wehrlein are a sure bet is also silly. Especially Kvyat really showed that he’s unreliable and crash prone.

            So they can chose a driver like Wehrlein who might be 1 or 2 tenths faster, but brings 10 million less in sponsorship. They need the car to improve, so they need that money. Makes perfect sense if you realize their options are slim.

            1. @patrickl
              Back marking team? Really?

              Seems to me they’ve been top of the midfield teams since the 2014. They actually finished 2014 ahead of Ferrari! Bottas used Williams as a stepping stone to get in to Mercedes. If you think a team that fights for 4th on the WCC cannot attract a better driver for talent than Stroll, then you’re kidding yourself.

              If you’ve got a big sign on the board saying ‘seats for sale’ then you’re not going to attract the right talent.

            2. @todfod Whatever you call them, they are no place for a driver with any true ambition. Apart from Kvyat, you haven’t named a single driver who would even consider Williams.

              It’s just that Keith has this love for Kubica that he needs to make it out like Williams are only doing this for the money because he doesn’t want to admit Kubica isn’t really all that good.

              In reality just about all drivers bring sponsorship money. Perhaps not directly, but sponsors do follow them. These teams need hundreds of millions. That has to come from somewhere.

            3. Whatever you call them, they are no place for a driver with any true ambition

              @patrickl . They’re no place for the Strolls and Maldonados of the world either.

            4. @todfod Well then Williams should stop operating I guess. You solved it!

              Reality check again. Yes they are. Although in this case they deviated somewhat from their usual combination of “experienced driver + upcoming talent”, but instead they keep Kubica around as a development driver.

              Maldonado wasn’t that bad and Stroll also showed good results in the junior series. It’s too early to toss him aside.

              Again, you really need to try some reality instead of this dream that every team should have top drivers and just get free money elsewhwere.

            5. @patrickl

              Maldonado wasn’t that bad and Stroll also showed good results in the junior series. It’s too early to toss him aside.

              Talking about reality checks. Maybe you should practice what you preach

            6. @todfod Lol, says the guy who proclaims Williams should pick Kvyat. Like he is any better than Maldonado.

            7. @patrickl

              I said they should have given kvyat and wehrlein a test.. But I guess that means a seat in your vocabulary.

              Take your meds and call it a night

          2. It baffles me beyond belief that no team has tried to get Jean Eric Vergne back in a seat. He would have been excellent for Williams.

            Whilst I think Ricciardo is a better package, he didn’t exactly embarrass Vergne!

            Bring back JEV!

    2. Whitmarch is still CEO of Land Rover BAR, isn’t he? How deeply is that sailing-team connected to its main sponsor? Haven’t heard of anything F1ish from Tata, but with Jaguar they do own a possible brand to enter, depending on where “sustainable” ends up in the long run.

      1. Jaguar are deeply within the Formula E realm now, i wouldn’t hold your breath for an F1 appearance in the next decade.

        Not to mention that Jaguar having an insider within the FIA would create a conflict of interest for Whitmarsh, and fundementally undermine his role in financial regulation and fair play

    3. Wiliam$$$$$…

    4. I was never very fond of Monisha Kaltenborn, but I respected that she never denied that the team had to run pay drivers (as far as I can remember). Williams… well, they have a different approach.

      1. Kubica was reportedly also bringing 8 to 10 million. That’s just how it is. In the end Kubica simply wasn’t fast enough. He wasn’t faster than Palmer when he tried out for Renault and he was slower than Sirotkin when Williams tried him out.

        So both of those teams went for the better driver and that wasn’t Kubica.

    5. I miss Whitmarsh in the F1 paddocks and pit lanes. Still, though, I didn’t really see this coming, LOL.
      – Who will become Gasly’s race engineer for the next season now that Matassa has left the team to join Ferrari? Pierre Hamelin who worked with him during the Malaysian and the Japanese GP weekends is Hartley’s race engineer already, so he isn’t an option for Gasly for next season.

    6. Funny that Whitmarsh was given a role in the FIA to help with the financial regulations since he has been the main responsible (by accident) for this non sense expensive hybrid formula :) His decision to let Brawn use Mercedes engines has caused a never ending snowball effect => :
      Mercedes brought Brawn, then lobbed to get this hybrid Formula, over spend in development and dominated F1. Marchionne went crazy, Ferrari over spend and all the Gestione Sportiva HQ is renovated (wind tunnel, simulator,new partnership with Mahle, new Partnership with AVL that only lasted 2 years due to the recent reliability issues… Honda spent millions to make an engine that lasts the formation lap. Renault recently joined the party… What’s next ?

      1. @tifoso1989 How exactly did his decision to let Brawn GP use the Mercedes-engines lead to the introduction of the current engine formula? Mercedes could’ve lobbied for the current engine formula even if they had continued in F1 solely as an engine-manufacturer post-2009 as well.
        Furthermore, they weren’t the only manufacturer that pushed for the current engine formula, but Renault, for example, pushed for these V6 turbos as well even harder than Mercedes actually.

        1. @jerejj
          I’ve seen this claim that Mercedes were behind the V6 Hybrids a lot, and yeah, it’s not entirely accurate as you say.

          Renault were the big driving force, threatening to quit if they weren’t introduced. Ferrari were ambilivilant and Mercedes joined Renault in pushing.

          Here’s what I do know about the V6 introductions.
          They were originally planned to be introduced in 2011, but that was pushed back to 2014 after both Renault and Ferrari asked for more time.

          Why did they ask for more time? Simple, Mercedes began development of their engines as soon as the (2011) introduction was confirmed in 2007. Ferrari didn’t start serious work on there’s till 2009-2010, and Renault in 2010 (Further hampered by the fact that Flavio prior to his ousting had sold off half the engine development department. (Note: Some dates may be wrong, it’s early and I’m working from memory)

          Mercedes advantage comes from the fact that they were working on their V6 Hybrid engines from the start and were willing to take a couple of tough years as a team (When they took over Brawn) in the meantime.

          Ferrari and Renault asking for more time only helped Mercedes, giving them a potential full seven years to develop and refine the engine. They may have even saved money as they wouldn’t have been throwing cash at their departments to get it done in a hurry.

          Mercedes dominance comes not from them overspending, but by being smart and not sitting on their thumbs and wasting development time as Ferrari and Renault did.

          1. @nikkit ”Here’s what I do know about the V6 introductions.
            They were originally planned to be introduced in 2011, but that was pushed back to 2014 after both Renault and Ferrari asked for more time.”
            ”Why did they ask for more time? Simple, Mercedes began development of their engines as soon as the (2011) introduction was confirmed in 2007. Ferrari didn’t start serious work on there’s till 2009-2010, and Renault in 2010 (Further hampered by the fact that Flavio prior to his ousting had sold off half the engine development department. (Note: Some dates may be wrong, it’s early and I’m working from memory)”

            – Not really true, though. AFAIA, the original plan was to move to four-cylinder engines in 2013, but due to how much opposition it got they were replaced by the V6s and subsequently the move was postponed by a year.

          2. @nikkit You really made all of that up.

            Mercedes was just as much against a new engine as Ferrari were. Renault kept pushing for it and in fact they were furthest along with their engine development.

            Then Newey indicated that it couldn’t be a in-line engine and the regs should change to a V engine. So they all had to start again sort of.

    7. Patrick Head retired, and he was still a co-owner afterwards. You can’t demote a co-owner.

      1. I go to leave my first comment on here in days as a reply to someone else’s. The website says “you are posting too many comments slow down” or words to that effect. Errr… no I am not. It then takes me back to my comment. I re-submit straight away. This time it accepts it but it’s not longer a reply, it’s now a new top-level comment.

        1. Such is the way of the internet.
          Next time, reload the page and submit the comment again.

        2. Same happens to me – many times.
          There is a bug somewhere which makes a single click being interpreted as a double click. And resubmitting (even after a reload) causes the comment to be entered as a separate comment rather than a reply.

        3. Yep site is busted, been this way for a long time now

    8. I would love to see a new world champion in 2018. Lewis seems to have had one of his meltdowns before the season has even started and Seb doesn’t deserve one for hobbling his team by insisting on a subpar teammate year after year.

      Both divas need a reality check.

    9. If it took Mercedes 7 years to develop their winning engine, what hope do Aston Martin have of developing a new (simpler) winning engine for 2021. Removing the Heat Energy Recovery system does not make modern frugal engine design easy-peasy, the new combustion systems, friction reduction technologies and engine management programmes all require double shed loads of design expertise and testing. Aston mentioned it would possibly use a single cylinder testing engine to develop the technology, but Honda have shown that that particular approach does not work, you need a full 6 cylinder engine installed in a mule chassis attached to a dyno in oder to sort out problems with harmonics and vibration. What are the odds of the Aston engine proposal coming to fruition? I await a reply from a committed optimist.

      1. All of the engine manufacturers start with a mono-cylinder for the initial deign and go from there.

      2. @F1 Codger I don’t buy the claims that Mercedes started working on the current engine formula as early as 2007. It just sounds too unrealistic to be true. No way they could’ve known for sure which type of engine would be used in 6-7 years time since the engine type that was eventually chosen isn’t even the one that was initially planned/proposed to be used following the N/A V8 era.

        1. ‘No way they could’ve known for sure that many years in advance’

          1. In F1 the first to do research, is the first to “help” taking the FIA decisions.
            IMHO Mercedes made an engine, and lobbied heavily to get the regulations matched to their designs. Since the others weren’t even started, they had nothing to complain about/ lobby for…

            1. Renault pushed for the current engine formula as well even harder than Mercedes actually, so, therefore, Mercedes wasn’t the only manufacturer that lobbied heavily for the current V6 turbos.

    10. Funny, I just read the comments for that 2013 article about Sirotkin, and opinions on him seem to be largely the same as they are now (mixed). Probably not surprising considering his results have remained largely the same, too.

    11. @todfod Agreed – And more importantly, a Button / Hulk / Di Resta character with years of experience for various teams would fill the Massa role of car development, mentoring the young driver in the team, informing set-up choices and with sponsor pleasing personality to boot.

      Compare McLaren; A similar team with great heritage who have fallen on harden times – paying big money for Alonso… who more than justifies his price tag with his fan and sponsor pleasing personality, his wealth of experience and his undoubted skill.

      Please tell me there’s more to Formula One than $$$$…. or have I just wanted the last 25 years of my life?!

      1. Please tell me there’s more to Formula One than $$$$…. or have I just wanted the last 25 years of my life?!

        Until they fix the income distribution and overall commercials of the sport, we’re going to be stuck with a 3 tier category of drivers – 1) the cream of the crop – (Hamiltons, alonsos, vettels, verstappens, ricciardos, etc) 2) the hopefuls – (Perez, Ocons, Hulks, Bottas, Sainz, etc) 3) The don’t deserve to be in F1 category – (Palmers, Strolls, Ericcsons, etc).

        1. @todfod This “fix the income distribution” nonsense is really not going to help anything. Say a team like Sauber gets 30 million extra, because that’s the scale we are talking about when the Ferrari and Red Bull bonusses would get divided.

          Do you seriously think that 30 million is going to get a team like Sauber any higher up the order? They would then have say 130 million versus close to half a billion of budget for Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. Drop.In.The.Bucket.

          I understand that the smaller teams would like to have more money, but it’s not going to “fix” anything at all. Sauber will still need pay drivers.

          1. @patrickl

            Sure. You’re right. Giving 30 million extra to Sauber won’t change anything…. Pfft

            By commercials I also meant overall distribution of income between teams and income distribution gaps between 1st place and last place. I’m not just referring to royalty payments.

            Cost capping is difficult to implement or else that would make the biggest difference.

            1. Overall distribution of income is already ridiculously even. Apart from the bonusses. Which for instance Williams also receives. So it really is only around 30 million which the smaller (non historic) teams would receive extra.

              Cost capping is the only way to do anything. Even though there will always be a gap. I’m pretty sure if Sauber could get by on 50 million, they would just drop their budget to that over time. Still teams with more ambition like Force India would be even more competitive.

            2. @patrickl

              Overall distribution of income is already ridiculously even

              Man.. You really are deluded, or simply ignorant facts. For 2017, Ferrari earned 180 million USD in payouts as compared to Haas that only received 19 million USD. If that’s your idea of even… then I have no words for you.

              Cost capping is the only way to do anything

              Cost capping is a part of commercials. I don’t even know if you’re agreeing or disagreeing with me anymore

            3. @todfod Try some reading comprehension as a side with your dose of reality. Please! This is getting embarrassing.

              You claimed that the PRIZE money without bonuses was distributed unfairly. And that is simply not true.

              If you look at actual price PRIZE money, Ferrari gets 77 million and Sauber gets 49 million. That is what I call ridiculously even yes. It’s ridiculous when a team that ends on P2 gets so little more than the team ending second to last.

              Of course you are trying to be clever by adding the bonuses which I already said where the only reason for any perceived unfairness.

              Ferrari indeed gets a 100+ million bonus. That’s why they get so much, but that is because of the BONUS. Now suppose you divide those bonus payouts evenly, then you get 30 million per team. ie 30 million more for Sauber. Is that really that hard to understand? THINK before you try to be clever!

              And of course another exception like HAAS who are new and for one year weren’t eligible for the 40 million which everybody gets.

              I’m truly done with your uneducated nonsense. Try at least to understand reality before you come up with your dream scenario’s that will magically fix everything.

            4. @patrickl

              Are you on acid?

              Please show me where in my comment I have mentioned the words ‘Prize money’. I was talking about overall income distribution between teams.

              I’m sorry if I didn’t go through the rest of your rant. It just seems as pointless as your interpretation of my comment

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