Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2013

100kph speed limit to be tested at COTA

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Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2013In the round-up: An automatic speed limit system designed to prevent a repeat of the type of accident Jules Bianchi suffered will be tested during practice for the next race at the Circuit of the Americas.

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F1 to trial new speed control system for yellow flag zones in Austin (James Allen on F1)

“The suggestion is that the reduced speed to achieve this will be in the region of 100kph. Bianchi was believed to have been travelling at 212kph through turn seven [Dunlop Curve] when he left the track in Suzuka, in spite of lifting off the throttle, as was acknowledged by FIA race director Charlie Whiting.”

Lewis Hamilton dedicates F1 Russian Grand Prix win to Jules Bianchi (The Guardian)

“Whether it means anything or whether it does anything, it would be great to dedicate this to Jules and his family. It will make a very small difference to them, for sure.”

Political theatre on Putin’s big day out (The Telegraph)

“[Russian president Vladimir] Putin’s hand was not totally absent before the race began. The teams and drivers had been sent an extraordinary, unprecedented edict before the race commanding ‘total silence’ during the Russian national anthem.”

Jean-Eric Vergne Q&A (Crash)

“This situation is difficult for the team. I don’t know what will happen, if they will take another young driver or not.”

Button: Ferrari still in reach (Sky)

“Only 45 points behind Ferrari. I know it’s a big ask, but last race is double points… we could possibly challenge them.”

Christian Horner: “Mercedes has done the best job this year” (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“In all honesty Mercedes has done the best job this year. What it does is motivate you, you know how much work goes into winning a world championship, and to win it four times in a row is an enormous achievement.”

Todt denies he snubbed Alonso (Autosport)

“When a guy is fighting for his life, it is so sad that people can suggest something like this.”

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Comment of the day

So what is Alonso’s “obvious” destination for 2015? Here’s a theory:

The obvious choice is McLaren. Neither Red Bull nor Mercedes want or need him, and neither have seats available.

The only other top team worth considering is McLaren, naturally, especially since they are gunning for a significant change of fortunes with the new Honda partnership.

As good as Williams may be at the moment, it’s hard to see them having the money for Alonso, and it’s hard to think that he would see them as a serious prospect for championship success, even with the sort of performances they’ve put in this year. Not that you’d rule it out, but you certainly wouldn’t say it was likely.
@MazdaChris

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On this day in F1

1994 F1 seasonAn interview Michael Schumacher had given during a recent test session made the headlines 20 years ago today when he questioned the abilities of his championship rival Damon Hill.

After pointing out that newcomer David Coulthard had twice had to move aside to let Hill past Schumacher added “I’ve learned nothing about Damon’s weaknesses, because he’s never been under pressure. I have already known his weak points for some time.”

The comments raised the tension ahead of the forthcoming resumption of their championship battle following Schumacher’s two-race suspension.

Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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  • 63 comments on “100kph speed limit to be tested at COTA”

    1. 100 km/h is a tad slow for a simple yellow, though it really depends on the nature of the track, the sector, and whether there is crew/equipment/vehicles there. It’s hard to decide a speed that works for most situations. I was thinking on 150 but that is too fast when wet.
      Nevertheless, I reckon it’s a good idea. We shall see.

      1. @carlitox, It doesn’t matter how slow it is as long as it is only for short stretch and every car has to abide by it, I’m surprised they didn’t start with the pitlane speed as an easy and known feature.

      2. I think for a simple yellow a speed limit is largely unnecessary. For double yellows that would be very much welcome.

      3. James Allen article says double waved yellows, not single as well.

      4. I think they have to be careful of setting it too low, the drivers often complain about safety car speeds being insufficient. Thing is, these cars ‘work’ mainly because of the downforce and excessive speeds/temperatures they usually operate under, so get unwieldy at lower speeds. I fully appreciate that the scenario being considered is for a short section of track at a time, but if they were talking about a true virtual safety car and the whole track became the slow(er) zone then the speed should be representative of the operating zone of these cars. Naturally, wet weather and the extremes that introduces should influence the speed.

        Has anyone worked out what the average lap speed drops by under a safety car?

    2. i disagree with the cotd. I don’t think that McLaren is the ONLY option he have left! he can still stay at Ferrari, and for Raikkonen: another early leave check!

      1. @matiascasali +1. I think he has 4 serious options:

        1. Move to McLaren
        2. Stay at Ferrari
        3. Move to Lotus
        4. Sabbatical year

        However, as per Spanish media, Alonso is in advanced talks with Woking boys…

        1. I agree those would be the most serious options, but I also feel a move to McLaren is the obvious one.

          Staying at Ferrari: well, I don’t think this is happening.
          Going to Lotus: not obvious. Sure, they’ll be better next year. Sure, they’ll have a Mercedes engine next year. But they still have a much lower budget than Mercedes, they don’t have the manpower Mercedes have, and maybe the most important: they’re not a works team. They’re a Mercedes customer team and that pretty much means, combined with all of the above, that they are highly likely to be behind Mercedes.
          The same could be said about Williams. Sure, they have done incredibly well this year. But they’re still down on Mercedes and with all the money available to Mercedes, and other engine units to become more competitive, I’m not expecting Williams to move up, rather the opposite (strong mid-field contender next year but behind Red Bull and probably Ferrari as well).

          So ideally one would want a drive at a works team, of which there will be four next year: Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren.

          Red Bull: obviously out of the question.
          Ferrari: highly unlikely, going by all the rumors.
          Mercedes: also unlikely, given that Rosberg has a contract and Hamilton will probably also be there.

          That really does leave McLaren and McLaren only as the obvious choice.

          1. And to add one more thing: given that Alonso has gone on record that he won’t be driving a Mercedes-engined car next year, this further limits the options and makes a move to McLaren practically a no-brainer.

            For those who wonder: yes, I’m ready to eat those words if I’m proven wrong about this :)

            1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
              13th October 2014, 9:32

              Where did you read him saying he won’t drive a Mercedes-engined car in 2015?

            2. Got that here: http://motorsportstalk.nbcsports.com/2014/10/12/alonso-rules-out-racing-with-a-mercedes-engine-in-2015/

              He does leave things somewhat open by using “think”. Granted that.

            3. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
              14th October 2014, 13:19

              Thanks

        2. The Blade Runner (@)
          13th October 2014, 9:31

          I don’t think that Alonso to McLaren is a “nailed on” certainty as yet. If it does happen I can see some or all of the following happening:

          – Alonso is McLaren Honda’s “No.1 Driver” (even if Jenson stays)
          – McLaren bank-roll Alonso’s cycling team (they’ve been involved in cycling technology before)
          – Alonso is, as Senna before him, the face of the “Alonso-tuned” all-new Honda NSX (photo here: http://www.drive.com.au/motor-news/honda-nsx-confirmed-for-australia-20130919-2u20t.html)
          – Movistar McLaren Honda
          – If Button is retained then Santander upping their sponsorship (ALO/BUT is a Santander dream come true)

          1. “If Button is retained then Santander upping their sponsorship (ALO/BUT is a Santander dream come true)”.

            Exactly. I still think there is a good chance of Button staying on. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see Santander remaining a sponsor at Ferrari either.

            The rumours also suggest Movistar (Telefonica) are looking to return to F1 and wish to link up with Alonso again, with the destination likely to be McLaren, as you say, with their lack of title sponsor it would be a nice fit. Blackberry may be linked to McLaren if this happens.

            Unilever were also linked with a move to McLaren from Lotus for 2015, months ago.

            The McLarens could look quite different next year if all these rumours become truth.

        3. @jcost Yes, there are hundreds of different options available. My comment was in response to the quote from Alonso saying that when he announces his move, people will say it was the obvious choise. Given that the relationship with Ferrari has, as far as we know – to the point where it is being reported as fact by the likes of Autosport – irreconcilably broken down, the ‘obvious’ choice would be to go to McLaren.

          Anything else and, as someone else has said, it is clearly something obvious to Alonso but not to anyone else.

      2. A number of different journalists, in the English speaking, German and Italian media have all reported that Alonso and Ferrari have cancelled the last two years of Alonso’s deal by mutual agreement, with no compensation or buy out to be paid. The legal documents were reportedly signed by both Alonso and the team on the Thursday at Suzuka (with Vettel signing a contract with Ferrari on the Friday), if these reports are correct then Alonso does not have a contract with Ferrari beyond the end of the year and can’t just decide to stay.

        1. If the Ferrari paperwork is all done why would Ferrari not make an announcement?

          1. I suspect there is a lot of gamesmanship occuring with respect to driver contracts for next season.

            It’s possible that Ron Dennis may be getting his own back with Alonso for the Spygate scandal that transpired in 2007 and is just pulling his cord with no intention to actually hire him for next season. This could potentially leave Alonso with no option but to announce a sabattical at the last moment, finding himself in a position without any prospect of a competitive drive next year.

            It’s also possible that Ferrari may be delaying any official announcement concerning their driver lineup in an attempt to minimize the possibility that a driver such as Button can secure a competitive drive for next season. It is surely in the best interests of Ferrari to influence the state of play to achieve this objective.

      3. I get the feeling after Spa, Mercedes or particularly Niki seem to be really siding/getting behind Hamilton more and more..and any chance of Alonso replacing Hamilton at this point is Zero. Racing for another Mercedes powered team will not give Alonso the opportunity to fight for the championship he so desperately seeking… that leaves only McLaren who have a “chance” to take on Merc.

        On a side note….
        With Merc falling out of love with Rosberg would it not be cool if out of left field came the news that Seb has actually signed for Mercedes replacing Rosberg….and that is why no announcement have been made…..

        1. Why do you say the Mercedes has fallen out of love with Rosberg?

          1. Slower the Hamilton, cheats, puts himself in front of the team.

            Now the last two would be fine, all drivers do that, but if you’ve not got the speed to back it up, patience runs out fast and suddenly the team takes offence.

      4. @matiascasali Exactly but I do think that Williams is a possibility because landing Alonso means getting along £100m in sponsorphip. That said however my guess is that he’ll stay at Ferrari or rather than Mclaren he’ll go to Mercedes since Lewis is the one going to McLaren.

    3. We already have a pitlane speed limiter, how about using that for the sector with yellows? I know some tracks have quite a slow pitlane speed that might be too slow (60kph) but using the 100kph setting would do the trick. Everyone slowed down to the same speed, no worrying about drivers not lifting off enough, no worrying what the delta time should be…

      1. But as long as it is the same for everybody, and only in the yellow sector 60kph should not be a problem, most yellow sectors would not be longer than a pit straight so an additional 20 seconds per lap under yellow should be no-problem and certainly better time-wise and entertainment wise than 8-10 laps per incident behind the safety car.

        1. But this system breaks when there is a short yellow. 60 kph is very slow, which wouldn’t matter if everybody passed the yellow… But what if only 3 cars are affected? What if it’s left for an arbitrarily long time affecting one championship candidate but lifted just before the next passes? There would be an outrage.

          1. We have individual drivers benefiting or suffering now depending on when a safety car is called and if they can dive into the pits in reaction to it. Drivers with a big lead when a safety car comes out now lose it all.
            I’m not up on the rules about when yellows are retracted and it reverts to green, but as long as they are followed and the change happens at the same trigger point (all vehicles & personnel back behind safety barriers?) then I think it will have less influence on the outcome than a safety car. And the drivers can race for the rest of the lap.

          2. @meander, I hadn’t thought of that and I totally agree, but then MW has some good counter arguments. Maybe, or definitely, only double yellows should mandate a speed limiter and possibly every car should be obliged to limit their speed over that section, even if it has returned to green by the time they arrive (yellow/green combo ?)

            1. @hohum , @meander , @MW – F1 may indeed lead the way with a technical solution for flagged areas during a race and maybe even with a virtual safety car. This is as it should be. Some details need to be worked out, but it looks doable.

            2. If the cars are limited to 60kmh ,after lets say 2 laps the tyre/brake temp would drop well below optimum heat ,then upon release you have the whole field racing in cads well below par . In my opinion this would be more dangerous than the present system

            3. @brian – the tyres and brakes should be OK because they would be racing for the rest of the lap, its only around the accident that they would be slowed

          3. So what if one championship candidate passes and another doesn’t? The point is entirely moot because double waved yellows, as it stands, should ALREADY incite drivers to drive slowly. The entire definition of double waved yellow is that they have to be very careful, that they have to be ready to change direction or even come at a full stop because after the next corner the track might be blocked or people might be on or next to the track.

            This limiter is put in place because the drivers can’t be trusted in following that rule (I know that can sound harsh, but it is).

            And so it doesn’t matter who passes or who doesn’t. They should drive slowly anyway.

            1. I don’t think it sounds harsh – you’re right. The drivers can’t be trusted to slow because the pressures on them not to do so are so great! They spend their careers trying to gain every tenth of a second they can. Why slow down to 100kph if you can get away with 150kph? You’d be going against everything you’re there to do!

              The only sensible solution is for the speed to be dictated for them.

            2. Why slow down sufficiently? Because marshalls (those people that volunteer in order for you to go racing) are in the near vicinity of the track. Because a fellow driver could be sitting unconsciously in his car at a track edge. Because… because so many stuff for which double waved yellows were invented. Double yellows which you, as a racer, know the exact meaning of, and how to behave.

          4. Just make sure that every car will pass the sector under yellows the same amount of times, and only lift the yellows once the whole field as gone through once (or twice, thrice, etc).

            This would only leave exceptional cases where one driver would overtake another driver somewhere else during the lap, where the yellow would have been lifted in between them.

            This is my suggestion anyway.

            @meander

    4. Alonso’s obvious destination HAS to be McLaren. Otherwise, it’ll be obvious to him, but not a good choice.

      McLaren is the only “Works” team with seats available (appart from Ferrari, but they are dreadful) with a chance of producing something good next year.

      1. And I’m pretty sure the commentators at point have said Alonso has sponsorship from Honda next year

    5. Vettel will start Austin from pitlane and not take part at all in qualifying…? Will half the field do the same in Abu Dhabi? The impact of some rules…

      1. @mtlracer Abu Dhabi is double points, so no, they won’t take a hit in the final race. But the race before, we will see half the field sit out, as they all take a penalty to fit a fresh engine for Abu Double.

      2. I’m not 100% on the rules, but wouldn’t that mean his grid drop just rolls over to the next race ?

        1. no, only one race gets the penalty, so expect a lot of pre-emptive engine changes in USGP and Brasil…

        2. I believe engine-related grid penalties get carried over up to one race, but it doesn’t apply when you do the whole change and thus start from the pit lane.

    6. Total silence during national anthem is just being respectful and not a bad thing, talking during a minutes silence for a fellow driver is very disrespectful so I was not surprised to see the poisoned dwarf chat with people during the silence. That man is disgraceful.
      His return to the f1 scene is the worst thing to happen ever. Bugger off Bernie.

    7. If Jenson leaves McLaren where will he be next year? Lotus? I think JB is too relaxed for someone facing retirement.

      1. I don’t know. While he was being congratulated with 4th place, which is a big result this year, he had a face like he’d been told to clean the whole McLaren building with a Q-tip.

      2. On the contrary it seems Jenson is downbeat in interviews and resigned to losing his seat at McLaren. Alonso vs Button would be an interesting inter-team battle.

      3. @meander @ju88sy @jcost
        Button put on a very brave face in his interview with the BBC, but said something along the lines of: “I’ve already had a great, successful career. It’ll be more devastating if a youngster like Kevin doesn’t have a seat next year. Don’t feel sorry for me, whatever happens.”

        It really does sound like he knows his future.

        I highly doubt this is the case, but what if McLaren were going to sack Kevin and Jenson was like: “hang on there… That’s not right!”, and took the hit himself.
        I’m not sure Jenson’s THAT noble and sacrificial, but if that DID happen, I hope Kevin or McLaren have the guts to admit that to the world.

    8. The pre-race anthem and silence was very ad-hoc and very under prepared. The sky coverage struggled to work out exactly when the silence was beginning, and having Bernie walk up and down the line positioning people reminded me of a school teacher placing their pupils into proper position. These drivers are adults, please treat them with some decorum. Furthermore, it was too much, given the events of the week prior, to be pulling off stunts like this to apease powers that be…

    9. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      13th October 2014, 9:36

      Based on sporting results, It’ll be a bit strange if Ferrari lets Alonso go and retains Räikkönen. We are talking about .5 to 1 second here.

      1. Alonso wants to leave mate. He’s not being canned.

      2. He just wants the best for Ferrari. He knows that Raikkonen has a contract and won’t leave, so clearly it is Alonso’s responsibility to make space for a better driver.

        1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
          14th October 2014, 13:20

          Is that possible in Fernando’s mind? A better driver? Definitely not when that better driver is Vettel. Alonso has never really been … an admirer of his skills.

    10. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      13th October 2014, 9:44

      I don’t ask F1, a global sport, to exist in a political vacuum, but I do ask it to support the fundamental principles of egalitarianism and pluralism. But how can that be the case if Bernie is shaking hands with the political right’s new posterboy; a homophobic and hegemonic menace to the idyll of global liberalism? Grands Prix should be events of patriotic national pride, but not an attempt to demonstrate national superiority: the Russian Grand Prix was nothing more than a tiresome propaganda display. I am disappointed with the complete lack of political engagement by the British media, certainly compared with that of Bahrain in 2012, and the near hegemonic repetitive praise of a track that is clearly the worst layout to host a Grand Prix since the 2010 use of Bahrain’s abhorrent endurance circuit.

      1. @william-brierty – What difference does it make if someone shakes hands with Putin. You say you want egalitarianism and pluralism but whilst Bernie is in charge, you will never get that.

        In February this year, Bernie himself said “I completely agree with those sentiments and if you took a world census you’d find 90% of the world agree with it as well” when asked about Putin’s views on homosexuality.

        Whilst this lying, homophobic, cheating bigot is in charge of F1, the sport will sadly continue to be dragged to new depths.

        1. @petebaldwin – I completely agree, the fact that we see trophies presented by Crown Prince Al-Khalifa, the billionaire dictator of an insular, militarized police state, and Vladmir Putin, of whose recent Herculean portraits are proof that the cult of personality didn’t die with Stalin, is thanks to the calendar created by F1’s very own Benito Mussolini. There is much merit to be found in saying F1 needs a dictatorial figure to galvanise the path taken by teams of very competitive and very intelligent people, and that that figure needs to hold the commercial health of the sport above all other concerns. But why then with Bernie at the helm can we seemingly not create a sport that is both commercial and moral? Perhaps then it is when Bernie finally steps down that we will stop having to subject teams to pleading that “sport has nothing to do with politics” every time a new Grand Prix is established, albeit Bernie has plenty of equally repulsive henchmen ready to take his place.

          1. @william-brierty , @petebaldwin – Not being overly cynical, it would not be difficult to believe that various photo opportunities were all part of the whole Grand Prix deal. Especially the way they were broadcast.

    11. I cannot believe, and my fellow student friend who I was watching the Russian GP with yesterday feels exactly the same, that the teams need reminding about keeping quiet during the national anthem of the host country.

      If Kvyat wins a race next year, as he may well do, will people continue talking and not giving their respect to the winner? Of course not.

      Regardless of politics, hosting an F1 race is a national achievement. And until such time as my dream of the eradication of patriotism is achieved, national anthems of the host country, winning driver and winning team should be respected at ALL rounds, and not need a memo from Bernie to the paddock.

      1. Respect is usually earned, not demanded (except in mother Russia).

    12. The speed limit is a very good call but I hope they don’t stop here thinking they’ve fixed the issue. The problem remains the overly exposed head because of the open cockpit. A speed limit wouldn’t have prevented Massa’s accident nor would it have saved have saved Henry Surtees life. I’m sure there’s a lot more similar accidents that I can’t think of right now… Alonso at Spa in 2012 comes to mind. What worries me is that this might appear as the “perfect” solution until we have another terrible case of someone else being hit on the head by something completely unexpected.

    13. 100kph is okay in at the incident section, especially in the wet. However they need to have more tarmac run offs in dangerous corners as it would give more room if a driver makes mistakes. All this talk of punishing drivers should be left in the 80s

    14. I think that 100kph is about right. It won’t let the tyres cool down too much, yet it is still in theory slow enough to slow the car down with ease whatever the situation.

    15. What happens if a larger number of cars start from the pit lane? It may not happen in COTA, but perhaps in Brazil, which is the race right before Abu Dhabi. Because of the double points it’s crucial not to have penalties there.

      How will the cars start from the pit lane? What defines the order in which they start? You can’t fit six cars on the lane, and no doubt everyone wants to be the first car out of the pits.

      1. @markf1, were to busy talking about important things like driver line-ups and national anthems to worry about hypothetical situations, you need to get a sense of proportion.

    16. It’d be great to see the tech used instead of deploying of a safety car.

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