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Post 25.02.2015., 11:13 AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

hattrick
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Poštovani posjetitelji F1pulsa,

otvaram ovu temu kako bi mogli imati na jednom mjestu ekskluzivne novinarske tekstove iščupane sa raznih izvora,
te popularne časopise iz ovog sporta.


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Nedavni Autosport magazini:

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Autosport - 19 February 2015.pdf -link preglednika sa mogućnošću skidanja pdf-a

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Autosport - 12 February 2015.pdf

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Ostale publikacije Autosport magazina koje ste možda propustili.... :

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AUTOSPORT+ PREMIUM CONTENT

The unanswered question of F1 testing

Now Mercedes has shown a glimpse of its true potential, there is one team yet to give anything away in F1 testing. MATT BEER reveals what Williams has been up to

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For the first seven and three quarter days of 2015 Formula 1 winter testing, the team everyone has been striving to catch was refusing to let anyone see where it was putting the goalposts.

While some others were throwing softs, super-softs and qualifying fuel loads at their cars in bids for reassurance, Mercedes pounded round on hards, winter hards and mediums, racking up ominously high lap tallies.

The silver team's swaggering confidence was demonstrated not by blitzing everyone with dominant glory runs, but in feeling comfortable enough to rehearse pitstops while others were still hoping their cars stuck together for a lap. Unusual diversions such as trapped nerves (Nico Rosberg), high fevers (Lewis Hamilton) and spins on cold tyres (Rosberg again) were quickly shrugged off.

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Williams is unlikely to be at Mercedes' level, but how close can it get? XPB

And with 45 minutes of Sunday afternoon remaining, the champion team answered the 'how cool is Mercedes playing it?' question. Rosberg popped out for a couple of quick runs on mediums and got within 0.2 seconds of the pace Romain Grosjean set on super-softs during what appeared to be full-bore qualifying simulations.

As Pirelli estimates mediums are 1.5-2.0s slower than super-softs, that 0.2s gap generated some pretty depressing mathematics for the Silver Arrows' opposition. And it wasn't as if Lotus was a false benchmark, with every indication that the now Mercedes-powered team had put last year's misery far behind it already. The E23 seems a quick car. The W06 effectively blitzed the best it could offer.

At least it was another question answered and something closer to a certainty from testing. We now know Mercedes is very fast, that several teams have made clear improvements (Ferrari, Lotus, Sauber, probably Toro Rosso), that others haven't made all the winter gains they prayed for (Red Bull) and that some are very much a long-term work in progress (McLaren).

That leaves one big question mark lingering: what's going on with the team that came closest to beating Mercedes on merit in 2014? Is Williams's absence from the top of the timesheets because it's the darkest horse in the pitlane or because it's failed to push on from last year's renaissance and is poised to be swallowed up again?

Well, would a team panicking about its performance feel comfortable dedicating a whole day to pitstop practice, as Williams did on Saturday? A dicey weather forecast played a part in that decision, but many others switched plans once the rain swiftly dispersed.

Not Williams, it was happy for Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas - who confirmed with a deadpan smile that the FW37 handled well in the pitlane entry - to rack up 40 pitstops between them, with Bottas only doing one late batch of proper flying laps.

A brief performance run was tried on Sunday, but otherwise the focus was race simulations. And the first test at Jerez was all about reliability. An upgrade package that chief test engineer Rod Nelson coyly described as "a reasonable step" is being saved for the final test. This is a team playing its cards so close to its chest, that they're currently zipped in an inside pocket. And every variation of the 'so when are you going to show your hand?' question was met with a grin and a new way of circumnavigating the answer.

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Bottas has mastered the art of giving nothing away during pre-season LAT

Though Bottas admitted that next week's new package "is going to change the car behaviour", he clarified that the change is something that would affect the "fine details of car balance", not some drastic surgery required to rescue an off-course design.

"We know there's nothing major wrong with the car that we can't fix by adjusting the set-up," he added, and both drivers underlined that so far the FW37 basically feels familiar, with a few FW36 weaknesses, such as traction, seeming better.

As Williams reacclimatised to being a frontrunner last year, leading lights such as Massa, Rob Smedley and Pat Symonds kept emphasising the key thing it still lacked was the procedural sharpness and detail attention that teams more accustomed to winning had.

It didn't need to rethink its car design philosophy this winter. It knew its engine would be spot on, and it's happy the new Mercedes power unit is a clear step forward over 2014's. It just needed to stop letting things slip through its fingers. Being competitive wasn't a problem for Williams in 2014. Being close enough to perfection was.

Hence pitstop after pitstop this weekend, simulating adverse events such as steering wheel changes and cars arriving in the wrong order, making sure every procedural nuance and unusual eventuality was rehearsed.

"I think last year we learned a lot because the competition is so much tighter at the front and every single little mistake we made or I made, or if we did some things with the strategy, always costs more when you are at the front," says Bottas, as he reflects on how different this winter feels to last year's.

"Any mistake we've done has been more visible to us and to everyone. In 2013 if we had a bad race strategy or if a driver made a mistake it made a bit less of an impact.

"I think if we can start the season at the same level that we finished last year - as a team and how we operate - we are a team that can win races if we have a quick enough car. We are more ready to maximise the potential of the car [than 12 months ago]."

One area where Williams has offered clear evidence of strength is tyre preservation. Multiple red flags prevented a head-to-head full-distance comparison, but when Bottas and Grosjean set off on simultaneous soft-tyre runs at the start of planned race simulations on Sunday, the Williams's times only dropped off drastically after 14 laps compared to seven for the Lotus. On the hards, consistency was strong on this tyre-hungry track, and a 27-lap stint was reeled off.

"We quite enjoy the challenge of going for a compound that's a little bit on the edge - we like to think we could do something about making it live," said Nelson, when the Mercedes drivers' tyre complaints were relayed to him.

"Sometimes that doesn't quite work out for you - Bahrain last year is a case in point. But like all these things, you have a problem and it makes you work in that area and you begin to understand it."

Much of what hampered Williams in 2014 didn't require analysis or improvement, it just needed the natural calming of nerves that comes with more experience of being in the thick of things.

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When a day of pitstop practice is a choice, it's usually a good sign LAT

Asked if he'd give the Melbourne wall more space this year after squandering a potentially brilliant first grand prix of 2014 with a mistake, Bottas joked that it would only be "one centimetre", emphasising that it wasn't a matter of being more cautious, just less panicked and over-excitable; now confident enough in the long game not to let desperation spoil the first opportunity: "If we have a good car in Melbourne, it's not going to be a new situation for me."

It's that calm, but miles from complacent, attitude that pervades Williams's winter. It's not about to spring Mercedes-beating pace out of the bag, but it feels very strongly that it's doing the right things to move it closer to where it wants to be. And it doesn't need to reel off a 1m24s around Barcelona on super-softs to achieve that.

In a paddock full of people trying to pretend they're either not looking at rivals' pace or can't properly judge it yet, Nelson has no qualms about admitting Williams is doing its best to do both. When Daniil Kvyat's Red Bull parked in the pitlane, a Williams man was straight up to its diffuser, camera in hand.

"Whenever you're at the track you're trying to work out how competitive you are relative to other people, as that allows you to work out what sort of risk level you're prepared to accept," he says.

"We're always looking at other people, what they're doing, guesstimating their fuel loads and looking back at what they did at these events last year relative to the start of the season.

"I think it's reasonable to say that Mercedes have got the legs on everyone at the moment.

"We're reasonably... not satisfied, that's the wrong word... but we know where we are, we know where there are performance deficits and where we need to do work.

"We'll be a little bit slower than Mercedes and I hope we'll be a little bit quicker than Red Bull."

Which puts Williams right between the teams that have won the last five championships (six if you include Mercedes predecessor Brawn GP). And everything about the determined, disciplined and meticulous approach it's taking to this winter suggests that's the kind of company it now intends on keeping.

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Post 25.02.2015., 11:25 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

hattrick
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AUTOSPORT+ PREMIUM CONTENT

McLaren-Honda has no excuses

GARY ANDERSON argues that things should be going much better in testing for F1's most celebrated reformed alliance given the resources available

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It's getting perilously close to the start of the season for McLaren-Honda, and things haven't gone well in testing so far.

Mercedes showed what was possible for a first attempt at the Formula 1 V6 turbos last year, and by that comparison Honda should be doing much better.

Remember, Honda had a season of being able to see how other people went about things and will have had some insight from McLaren on how Mercedes operated its engine.

It's not as if Honda suddenly decided halfway through last year to build an F1 power unit; this has been on the cards for a long time.

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Alonso's crash ended a tough week for McLaren XPB

Honda sees F1 as a great challenge for its engineers. Regardless of whether or not it has been competing in any given period, it has always followed grand prix racing very closely.

When the new regulations were being discussed four or five years ago, Honda will have known about it and had a bunch of engineers playing around with concepts and designs to try to understand the challenges. So it's not exactly new to Honda.

That's just one of the reasons why I think it should be doing a better job. The fact is a lot of work will have been done on the dyno. They will be using a transient dyno that really puts the power unit package through its paces, which is something Mercedes did superbly heading into last year.

The running at the circuit in pre-season testing should be about exploring the final five per cent of the package in real-world conditions.
Take the MGU-K seal that failed during the recent Barcelona test. That's something you must discover on the dyno, not at the track. This preparatory testing is all about proving the fundamentals of whether such kit works, so I don't understand what's gone wrong there.

A team like McLaren will have a remarkable selection of test gear, such as gearbox dynos and rigs that put loads through the suspension. The days when you arrived at the circuit having stuck your finger in the air, tested the wind and went in with a best guess have long gone.
So why is Honda struggling? Is it because it doesn't have the sophisticated test facilities that current F1 requires?

There will always be glitches; that's unavoidable no matter how much dyno work you do. But what Honda has suffered should not happen. The functionality of an F1 car, including things like the gearbox and gearshift, should be a given. At the track, you are refining it.

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Neither driver managed to get out of the pits for long XPB

This is why I am so surprised at the problems McLaren and Honda have been facing. You could argue that with just one team, difficulties were inevitable, but I would go the other way and say that with the available technology, many of these problems are avoidable, unless somewhere along the line you are not using the facilities to the maximum.

Given what's happened, it would be a surprise if there aren't more problems lurking. Every time the car leaves the garage, I imagine the team has no idea what's going to go wrong next.

And that's particularly problematic because the enormous complexity of these hybrid engines means that every time you try to extract that extra fraction of performance, you will encounter new difficulties because you're changing the loads going through everything. McLaren is not getting the chance to work through all this.

Both team and engine supplier have been upbeat about this project and the level that it should be able to start at. But it's not 1988 anymore - this is a completely different world.

I'm also concerned about some of the things the team is saying. I'd much rather there was evidence of some willingness to bash heads together and try to get something done, instead of trying to put a brave face on it. It seems that everyone is happy.

McLaren wants to be able to do 100 laps in a day, park the car in the garage, give it a polish and be ready to start again first thing the next morning. But this isn't happening. I just don't believe this stuff about expecting problems.

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Alonso has tried to put a brave face on McLaren's winter LAT

Take Fernando Alonso's crash. A statement was released saying that there was no change in the aerodynamic loads on the car, it was because of a gust of wind. But wind changes the aerodynamic loads - that's why the driver has to deal with sudden understeer or oversteer and all of a sudden is in the wall.

While there's a degree of McLaren trying to clarify what happened given some of the inevitable rumours that do the rounds, it's simply not true that there was no change. Why say these things? It makes you question the mindset in the team.

Overall, the approach needs to be more aggressive. Too many times we hear statements like 'we gathered lots of data today so we are not too disappointed only to have done three laps'. It's barely worth even saying that, so somebody needs to grab the team by the throat and make it work.

It's essential to understand how you got into this situation, because there are only two-and-a-half weeks to go until the season starts in Melbourne. The clock is ticking.

It's not just about continuing to do the same thing – you have to analyse why things aren't working. If you don't identify the fundamental weakness, you'll keep going around in circles (or not, in the case of McLaren-Honda!).

McLaren is a team that I have a lot of respect for. I worked there in the 1970s and it has had a huge amount of success. But look at what's happened in recent years.

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A 1988 McLaren-Honda lurked in the garage as a reminder of historic success LAT

When the regulations changed in 2009, it had trouble with the new aerodynamic rules. And there were a lot of excuses in the years that followed. Former team principal Martin Whitmarsh paid the price, but there still seems to be a problem.

I am blaming a lot of this on McLaren, rather than just Honda. And that's because this is a partnership. The bottom line is that McLaren-Honda has to be able to run reliably in Melbourne in order to have a shot of getting a decent result.

But if there is still the chance that every time the car rolls out of the garage something is going to go wrong, that's going to hold it back.
Once you are into the race weekends, there's very little time to be wasted. In testing, you compile all the information you need to run the car, so ideally you know what to do when you are presented with different circumstances during the season.

That applies to set-up work too. You need to identify and understand how the car reacts to set-up changes, but right now McLaren will not have that data.

This makes the final four-day test in Spain that starts on Thursday vitally important. Another test spent not doing the miles because of problems will mean McLaren and Honda start the season firmly on the back foot.

And it's a long way back from that kind of situation given the strides being made by the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams and Mercedes.

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Post 25.02.2015., 11:43 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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AUTOSPORT+ PREMIUM CONTENT

10 things we learned from the second F1 test

We're now two-thirds of the way through Formula 1 pre-season testing and a clearer picture is starting to emerge. Our team from the paddock picks out the main themes from the four days of action By AUTOSPORT staff

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After kicking off pre-season testing for the 2015 campaign at Jerez, Formula 1 teams were eager to get more representative running at Barcelona last week.

Performance runs from different teams stole the show in terms of headline laptimes but the opportunity for more relevant data collection meant race simulations were a significant feature of the second test.

That means while the pecking order is yet to be fully established, and remains unlikely to be entirely clear before the Australian Grand Prix, last week provided more clues to where each team is with just four days of testing remaining.

Here are the key lessons learned from an intriguing four days at Barcelona.

McLAREN-HONDA IS FALLING FURTHER BEHIND...
Ben Anderson (@benandersonauto)

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The renewed McLaren-Honda partnership has suffered a troubled genesis so far and that continued during the second pre-season test.

The MP4-30 had to stop running early on Thursday, thanks to a faulty seal on the MGU-K component of the Energy Recovery System. Despite efforts to fix the problem with a redesigned part, Honda could not get on top of the issue and thus its entire test was compromised.

AUTOSPORT sources suggest this is a key problem that other manufacturers faced when first developing engines for this V6 hybrid turbo formula.

McLaren-Honda is only too aware that the longer it spends battling basic reliability problems (and thus having to run the car in a detuned state), the longer it will take to discover and fix the further problems that will inevitably come from running the car at full power.

With only four more days of testing remaining before the first race of the new season, time is rapidly running out for McLaren-Honda to be 'race ready' for Melbourne.

Fernando Alonso's unfortunate crash on the final morning - caused by the double world champion over-correcting a snap of oversteer after running wide on the exit of Turn 3 - brought the curtain down early on a week to forget for McLaren-Honda.

...BUT BUTTON'S OPTIMISM COULD BE JUSTIFIED
Ben Anderson

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Jenson Button must feel like the unluckiest man in Formula 1 right now. The 2009 world champion has only amassed 86 laps over four days of testing the McLaren-Honda MP4-30.

That's an average of 23 laps per day - the lowest among any of the drivers who have got behind a wheel so far this pre-season.
Nevertheless, Button is incredibly optimistic about McLaren-Honda's potential - suggesting the MP4-30 may well become a race-winning car before the end of 2015.

That seems an outlandish statement from a driver who, by his own admission, "hasn't pushed this car yet".

But McLaren is so convinced by its new Peter Prodromou-inspired aerodynamic concept that it truly believes Button's optimism is justified.
Final-day crash notwithstanding, Alonso is believed to have no complaints about the chassis from his time in the car, while Button has reported 'incredible traction' from his limited running.

It's early days of course, but the MP4-30 is still running in launch specification, yet is already faster than its predecessor, and McLaren is sure it will develop into a genuine frontrunner once the engine is working properly.

McLaren has flattered to deceive in the past, though, so we will have to wait to see whether Button's words were spoken out of vain hope or realistic expectation.

MERCEDES IS IN FRONT
Scott Mitchell (@scottmitchell89)

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Before the final hour of the four-day test, Mercedes hadn't shown its hand. Other teams trialled the soft and supersoft Pirellis to varying degrees of success, but Mercedes seemed content to do its own thing.

So it's difficult to work out which was more ominous: the long-run pace in which it was a second quicker than Red Bull, or the one-lap pace on medium tyres Nico Rosberg displayed to almost top the final day against the supersoft-shod Lotus of Romain Grosjean.

Either way, the metaphorical flexing of muscles was impossible to ignore. When Hamilton went toe-to-toe, or at least as much as you can in testing, with Ricciardo on longs runs on Friday, the result was clear: the Mercedes was, on average, 0.5 seconds per lap quicker on hard tyres than the Red Bull on mediums, and around 1s per lap quicker on the same compound.

Rosberg can play it down all he wants but, adjusting for the medium compound tyre's pace deficit to the supersofts, that Sunday lap was equivalent to Mercedes going 1.5s (or more) faster than Lotus.

Variables remain at play, but Rosberg was more than half a second quicker than the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat on the soft tyre – which itself should have had a 1.2s advantage.

The bottom line is anyone hoping that Mercedes tripped up over the winter and lost its advantage will have had a chill run down their spine on Friday – and a bigger one on Sunday.

RIVALS STILL HAVE AN EYE ON FERRARI
Matt Beer (@mattofautosport)

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After its headline-grabbing antics at Jerez, Ferrari was lower-key at Barcelona. More teething problems interrupted its running and it didn't feature at the top of any timesheets.

But that didn't stop it being the team that came up in conversation most often when asking other drivers and teams who else was catching their eye. From Daniel Ricciardo's surprise when told that Kimi Raikkonen's Thursday time was set on medium tyres, to Nico Rosberg's insistence that of all the teams making progress it was "especially Ferrari" that seemed to be in much better shape going into 2015, there was consensus that Maranello was regaining ground.

Engine performance was repeatedly singled out as the element that will make the difference for Ferrari this year, and the encouraging pace Sauber showed – between problems, of which there were quite a few for the Swiss team – underlined that.

It's not just on-track where Ferrari is a different prospect; the mood at the team is lifting too. Sebastian Vettel continued beaming, and was quick to dive in and help with the clear-up after an embarrassing out-lap spin into the gravel on Saturday. Maurizio Arrivabene raised plenty of laughs when he suggested Kimi Raikkonen was smiling so much he was concerned the usually taciturn Finn was "sick".

Arrivabene was quick to stress that the brighter atmosphere comes from a cultural change and a different way of handling Ferrari's recovery than the previous regime, dismissing a suggestion that Fernando Alonso's departure had removed a black cloud from the garage.

"I know Fernando very well, it is not fair to put the finger on Fernando," Arrivabene said. "It was the overall situation. It was quite under pressure and when people are under pressure, with everybody trying to cover themselves, this creates a kind of mess into the team."
And tidying up that mess is going rather well so far.

THERE MUST BE MORE TO COME FROM RENAULT
Ben Anderson

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner's assertion that Renault is in a "completely different position" compared with 12 months ago is entirely justified.
Last pre-season, Renault-powered cars could barely run at all without breaking down.

At Barcelona last week, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat clocked up 418 laps between them as Red Bull ran race full-race simulations for the first time. That's almost 100 laps more than the Milton Keynes squad managed during the full 12 days of pre-season testing in 2014...

Reliability is undoubtedly better, which is crucial given the need for teams to use one fewer engine per driver this season, but question marks remain over the performance of the Red Bull-Renault package.

So far, Mercedes looks to have potentially increased the advantage it held over the rest last year – certainly if the pace of its race simulations compared with Red Bull's are to be believed.

Ricciardo said there was "more to come" from the Renault engine, while Horner described it as "a work in progress".

Renault says it will introduce planned upgrades and run its new engine at full power for the first time at next week's final test. Perhaps then we will get a fairer indication of whether its target of halving the gap to Mercedes before the first race of the year is realistic.

SPARKS ARE POINTLESS BUT PRETTY
Matt Beer

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The iconic sight of Ayrton Senna's McLaren and Nigel Mansell's Williams wheel-to-wheel down the Barcelona pit straight in the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix – sparks scattering in their wake as they jousted inches apart – is precisely the kind of evocative image that F1 wanted to recreate when it mandated titanium skidblocks for this year.

And heads did always turn in the media centre whenever cars pulled out to pass each other on the pit straight and kicked up mini pyrotechnics behind them as the rulemakers had hoped.

There's no mature way of saying this: sparks in F1 really do look cool.

But at a time when F1 has far greater problems than whether its cars leave a pretty trail or not, the return of sparks has been firmly filed in the 'fiddling while Rome burns' category by exasperated critics.

The key thing to remember is that sparks and financial sustainability for F1 needn't be mutually exclusive. They're products of entirely separate debates.

And it's unlikely that F1's finest brains needed many minutes to come up with the skidblock plan, so it's not as if devising it is the thing that's delayed the teams, FIA and FOM transforming the sport's financial balance or reinvigorating its public profile.

Sparks aren't going to save F1, nor will they destroy it. But they are quite cool.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER
Scott Mitchell

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Max Verstappen shouldn't be a statement to single-seater rookies across the world that Formula 1 doesn't have an age limit. But he shouldn't pay the price for being what many believe is a prodigious talent.

So it would have been particularly disheartening for his detractors to see what a solid job he has done for Toro Rosso so far.

At Barcelona he was flawless, and he and rookie team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr topped back-to-back morning sessions over the weekend.

Their speed was never in question but the composure to deliver it in testing on rare performance runs, and to look so at ease on track during longer race simulations, was as much a statement as their table-topping efforts.

OK, Sainz spun into the gravel on Friday and crashed hard on Sunday. But drivers of far greater experience, of world champion calibre, made costly errors too.

Sebastian Vettel spun on his out-lap, Nico Rosberg did the same and Fernando Alonso crashed at the same corner as Sainz just a few hours earlier, with the exact same consequence to his team.

That, plus the job Pascal Wehrlein performed in the Mercedes and Force India, is proof that talent and performance need to be the ultimate evaluation criteria.

What we saw at Barcelona was proof that the rookies aren't out of their depth, and that you don't have to be a 17-year-old to make a stupid error in an F1 car.

FORCE INDIA'S GAINS ARE DEBATABLE
Scott Mitchell

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One of the most common questions before – and during – the second pre-season test was why Force India bothered taking part when it was using its old car.

When asked by AUTOSPORT to explain the decision, Sergio Perez insisted on Friday that Force India was gaining useful information on the 2015 Pirelli tyres. But whatever characteristics the new specification rubber showed will not necessarily translate over to the new Force India that runs next week.

Perez claimed there were a few minor aerodynamic parts that would feature on the new car as well, but it was a party line that you felt was as much to convince the team as it was anyone else.

What casts a further question mark over the supposed gains the team got from running is that it didn't have the new Mercedes engine. Trackside, the Force India was significantly quieter than the Mercedes and the Williams, for example, and while noise is hardly the ultimate barometer of performance, it made it obvious to everyone that this was very much a 2014-spec car.

Testing is about honing performance. Plenty of teams – with McLaren-Honda the most obvious, but Mercedes, Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull all included – have found frustrating, mileage-limiting issues over eight days of testing, and had to balance reliability and performance tests alongside that.

Force India has to cram that into four days. And the feeling is that the old car's appearance will have done little to reduce that workload.

LOTUS IS ON THE WAY BACK
Matt Beer

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Lotus was fastest on three of the four days, but all its table-topping efforts came from pure performance runs – short bursts with soft or supersoft tyres.

On Sunday it abandoned a race simulation interrupted by multiple red flags and switched to what it called on its social media – with characteristic cheekiness – a "go fastest simulation", and did just that.

But simulations aren't reality, and Rosberg getting within 0.2s of Grosjean's supersoft pace while using mediums burst everyone's bubble.

But none of that detracts from the progress Lotus has made over the winter. A miserable 2014 build-up full of delays and reliability problems set the scene for a woeful season.

Twelve months on and it's a different world in the team. Lessons learned from last year's design, plus a switch to the all-conquering Mercedes engine mean the E23 is a "huge step" on from the unloved E22 according to both drivers.

And Pastor Maldonado insisted that Lotus wasn't bolting on supersofts to showboat, but because with the car running so reliably compared with 2014, it had a relative abundance of time to try things and it would've been daft not to assess car behaviour on all tyre compounds present.

"We are at the top [of the times] at the moment, but it's the way that we're at the top that matters," said Maldonado. "Everything is flowing much better than last year, without any problems. Everything we do in the car, it is reacting to the changes."

As test driver Jolyon Palmer put it after his debut with Lotus on Friday, the crew isn't talking much about how great 2015 will be, more about how painfully bad 2014 was and how Lotus can't be back there again.

'Going fastest' may only be a simulated experience for now, but 'going slowest' is unlikely to be on the agenda this time.

WILLIAMS FANS NEEDN'T WORRY
Matt Beer

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As Lewis Hamilton celebrated his world title last November, Felipe Massa was leaping into the arms of the Williams team celebrating coming very, very close to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victory. So why is the team best placed to topple Mercedes in late 2014 spending so much of '15 pre-season testing at the bottom of the timesheets?

If it's there next week, when it plans to do qualifying simulations for the first time, then it will be time to worry. For now, everything about Williams's actions suggests it's having a deliberately slow-burning winter.

The car is an evolution of last year's successful chassis so the focus has been on addressing weaknesses, sharpening operations and ensuring reliability, rather than trying to revolutionise performance.

For some teams, the answer to the 'why didn't we win in 2014?' question is 'the engine was substantially down on power' or 'the team was wildly dysfunctional'. Those are problems that required major winter surgery. At Williams the only factor missing was often a sharper strategy or more self-confidence, and those flaws are best tackled methodically.

There may be a rude awakening for Williams and its fans when the 2015 field finally has a proper head-to-head. But for now, all the longer-run data, driver feedback and hints dropped by the team suggest that Williams is just focused on painstakingly addressing what took the edge off its 2014 performances and doesn't feel any need to flaunt itself publicly in February.

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Post 26.02.2015., 23:21 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

Felipe
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Post 27.02.2015., 01:40 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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..primljeno na znanje. ;)
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Post 03.03.2015., 22:31 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Williams starts to show its hand


Felipe Massa set the fastest Barcelona lap of F1 pre-season testing on Thursday. BEN ANDERSON and KARUN CHANDHOK believe the true picture of Williams's 2015 potential has started to emerge

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Fans of the Williams Formula 1 team may well be getting excited as we come towards the end of pre-season testing, and perhaps with good reason.

The first two tests of 2015 have been solid, but deliberately unspectacular for the Grove-based F1 squad. It has quietly gone about its business, focusing on the basics of the FW37's set-up, trying to improve areas of operational weakness last year (such as pitstops), and putting plenty of mileage on a Mercedes engine that must do more races this year before it can be changed without incurring penalty.

Meanwhile, the world champion works Mercedes squad has caught the eye with ominous long-run pace and frighteningly fast laptimes on the medium-compound Pirelli tyres. At last week's Barcelona test, new Mercedes customer Lotus set the ultimate pace, thanks to Romain Grosjean's last-day flier on supersoft rubber, but Nico Rosberg was less than 0.3s slower in the W06 - on mediums.

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Williams will be hoping to have closed up on Mercedes over the winter © XPB

Such similar pace between cars on tyres two full steps different in compound is remarkable, and although he tried to play it down afterwards, Rosberg's lap was also fractionally faster than anything Red Bull, Ferrari or Williams managed on the soft tyre last week...

But all the teams will claim the second test meant little, and that this final one is the test that counts - the one where they need to get their collective acts together in readiness for the first race in Melbourne.

Today, for the first time, we got a glimpse of what Williams might be able to do this year. Felipe Massa set the fastest lap of the Circuit de Catalunya so far in pre-season testing. The Brazilian's 1m23.500s best lap on soft tyres – an effort he described as a "good lap" – was over three seconds faster than Williams managed to qualify on here last year (on one of its weaker circuits).

Perhaps more encouraging than the headline laptime is that Massa managed to lap within roughly three tenths of Rosberg's eye-catching effort from the last test when the FW37 was shod with medium tyres.

It's difficult to extrapolate, of course, given the laps were completed on different days, in different conditions, with (possibly) different fuel loads. But it's as close as we have got thus far to a like-for-like comparison, and it seems (especially given that Massa reckoned he lost 0.15s passing a slower car in Turn 3) that Williams is certainly right in the mix.

Massa reported after his penultimate day in the car that an upgraded single-pillar rear wing, turning vanes and other detail aero changes to the FW37 were working well.

"It was giving what we expected and that is good," Massa says. "We didn't have any problems, any instability that you can have in the rear wing. It's a delicate point to work so it was good."

Rear instability was a big problem for last year's Williams, which ate its rear tyres too hungrily over a race distance. The team tried several times to introduce a better rear wing, but couldn't get it to work properly within the limitations of free-practice running at grands prix.

If Williams has now conquered this problem, while retaining the straightline speed advantages it enjoyed from its low-drag philosophy last year, it could be in great shape.

"We are still quickest on the straight; we are working to just make the car a little bit better in terms of downforce, but we still have an efficient car in this area," confirms Massa.

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Rear tyre management was a Williams weakness last season © LAT

"And [today] I think you see that, when we wanted the laptime, it was good, on a track where we were not in great shape [last year].

"I think it can be positive. I don't know actually to answer 100 per cent if we really made a step, but compared to last year the car is easy to drive and is a little bit better, a bit more stable.

"We still need to work on degradation, because it is not low, for many people, maybe not Mercedes! But for many people it is not low. So we work to make the car more consistent, but it was a positive day."

CHANDHOK'S VIEW

Massa clearly isn't getting carried away with himself, which has been a pre-season theme for Williams, but his performance on-track today certainly impressed ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok, who was watching trackside for AUTOSPORT.

"This morning I watched the second half of the lap and the Williams looked really good," Chandhok says. "It looked very easy to drive, it was on a long run and Massa appeared to be driving really within himself – he wasn't using the kerbs, he had no lock-ups and he wasn't looking wild.

"The times were still really competitive – he was within eight tenths or so of Lewis Hamilton [on medium tyres] and I was surprised because I thought he would have been much slower.

"This afternoon I went to the first three corners, and then to Turn 4; he did around five laps on the medium tyre after the red flag and the car looked like it had a lot of understeer, but it was quite consistent and the pace was reasonable so I think it was Williams doing race work.

"They were putting understeer in to try to protect their rear tyres as that was their weakness last year.

"Then he pitted and did one or two laps on the medium tyre with much less understeer. I thought, 'OK he is getting ready for a qualifying run here', and sure enough he came out on softs.

"He only did one lap when he did his fastest time and the lap looked good, but it still looked controlled. Both of his two fastest laps looked quick but controlled, so I think they have got a bit more in the tank.

"I was genuinely really impressed with Williams today."

Like Massa, Chandhok reckons Mercedes, which only completed half a day's running before being sidelined by an engine problem, still holds a crucial edge. But he believes Williams could run Mercedes closer than last year at certain tracks, and maybe (stay calm, Williams fans), just maybe, win the odd race this season.

"I would put Williams second behind Mercedes from what I've seen so far," Chandhok adds. "The Merc looks mega, it looks perfect, Lewis can do whatever he wants with it. His only problem is getting temperature in the tyres, but obviously when you go to a hotter race it will be fine.

"What could be interesting is a race like Melbourne, where you don't get scorching temperatures and the surface isn't very abrasive, so it is not that easy to generate tyre temperature. That may be a problem for Mercedes; we will have to see.

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Raikkonen looks more at home in the Ferrari this year, reckons Chandhok © LAT

"The thing you always have in the back of your head is, will Mercedes allow Williams to win? It doesn't look good for your customer team to beat you.

"But I think Mercedes likes to see a battle, as long as it is all-Mercedes cars, and I get the feeling they wouldn't mind Williams winning a few races."

THE REST

While arguing Williams looks a potential bit-part challenger to Mercedes this year, Chandhok also reckons Ferrari has closed up dramatically after a terrible 2014.

"I thought the Ferrari at slow speeds looked really good, and Kimi Raikkonen looked as good as Daniil Kvyat's Red Bull did through the slow corners," he says.

"Kimi looks much happier this year – it is a car he can drive – but in the high-speed corners I don't think they are as good as the Williams.

"I think the Ferrari is infinitely better than last year, but I would still say: Mercedes, then Williams, then Ferrari versus Red Bull, depending on the circuit.

"The Lotus was a strange one. Romain Grosjean looked messy today, like he was overdriving and trying to force a laptime out of it. Obviously the engine is going to help them and it looks a much better car than last year's, especially through high-speed corners.

"The Toro Rosso, I really wonder if they are running different engine maps to Red Bull. The back of the car always looks like it is moving around too much on traction. It just looked a bit wild.

"It looks like Carlos Sainz turns the wheel very aggressively too, but I'll reserve judgement until tomorrow [when Verstappen is in the car] to see if it's a driver thing.

"The Sauber, honestly it just looked like a heavy racecar.

"McLaren? Well, McLaren is McLaren..."

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Post 03.03.2015., 22:43 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

hattrick
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Chandhok answers your testing questions


KARUN CHANDHOK has been our expert eyes at the Barcelona Formula 1 test this week, and he's also been answering your questions about how the 2015 field is shaping up

Ex-Formula 1 racer and current Formula E driver Karun Chandhok has joined AUTOSPORT's team for our live coverage of the Barcelona F1 test this week.

As well as observing the cars from trackside and adding his insight to our commentary, he's also been answering readers' questions on what he's learned from the test so far.

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@TopherF1: Based on what you've seen of testing, who do you think could be the surprise package of 2015?

Karun Chandhok: I don't think there's going to be a major surprise in terms of a team, but I think Kimi Raikkonen could be in better form than we'd expected, and I think Max Verstappen will be a lot more complete for rookie than people perhaps expect.

He doesn't look like a rookie. He drives very consistently and in a really good way. He's not too aggressive, but he's got enough aggression to get the tyres working when he's on the harder tyre, for example.

You don't see him locking up, you don't see him going off. I think he's mighty impressive.

It's hard to tell if he's that far ahead of the other rookies until we get to a race weekend. He'll be going to Melbourne, a track that he doesn't know, and it could be different.

But I think he's tremendously impressive.

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@AnilJassi24: How does the McLaren look compared to last year and will the chassis allow them to compete once engine gremlins are over?

KC: On paper, the car looks great. Eric Boullier was very positive about the downforce numbers they're seeing and about what the drivers are saying about the chassis balance.

But if you're driving around 3-4s off the pace, everything feels different. It's totally different when you're driving on the limit.

It's hard to answer until they get closer to the limit.

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@BrendanDelfino: Do you agree with those who say the engines "sound a bit better and are a little louder" than last year? How do they sound to you?

KC: I think they sound cleaner and more refined than last year. They're just more sorted, particularly the Mercedes.

All three engines - Honda is still developing - sound distinctive. But to be honest I didn't have a particular problem with the sound last year. I think they sound good.

I can't quantifiably say if they sound louder or not. But they sound fine.

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@TheFinalCountUp: How do low track temperatures in testing affect teams in terms of preparation for hot-temperature races like Malaysia?

KC: I think the low track temperatures are really very detrimental for doing any form of useful testing.

Speaking to the engineers and the drivers, they really struggle to get any useful information until about 11am because the track temperature is too cold.

They can't get enough heat in the tyres, they can't get enough balance in the car.

So really before 11am they're doing pitstop practice, start practice or maybe reliability work, where you're just driving round and round for the sake of putting mileage on things.

There is no ideal scenario. The teams that are reliable would prefer to test in Bahrain, where it's hot, better for the tyres and better to get an idea of overheating for the hot races. But if you have an issue, it's obviously harder for getting parts sent out from the factory.

If you're having issues, you'd rather be in Europe. And obviously the cost of testing in Bahrain is higher, so it's a tough choice for everybody to make.

Maybe it's a compromise. Instead of doing 12 days in Europe, you do fewer days in total but split it between Europe and Bahrain. Maybe do one proper test in Bahrain at the end when the cars are sorted, and then the freight can keep going from there to Melbourne and doesn't have to come back to Europe.

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@bdooley2008: Who is looking good on long-run pace? In the race sims last week, Bottas appeared to maintain consistent pace far longer than Lotus.

KC: I think it's hard to judge from looking at last week because it's constantly evolving and new bits are coming all the time.

Mercedes still looks the strongest. The car just looks comfortable to drive, and it's strong and for most part the car is reliable. They've done a massive amount of kilometres.

I think Mercedes is clearly the favourite and a step ahead of everyone else.

For the other teams, you really have to look at the end of this four days when everyone's brought all their new parts.

Lotus is new to Mercedes so has got more to go through, whereas Williams is a bit more sorted.

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@sangeet_09: How is Force India's new VJM08 design? and @prakharnagalia: Any big changes except the nose on the VJM08?

KC: It looks like quite a solid car, but it's very much in launch spec. The team has got an update from the design base coming and I'm not sure if it will make it to this test or if it will be for Melbourne, but I think that will be the full spec.

There's a solid base there that looks like a sensible car. But we'll have to see the ultimate spec at the first race. It's obviously playing catch-up to everyone else, by a long way.

As well as the nose, there are some differences at the rear and on the sidepods.

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@Amit_Mandalia: From what you've seen at this test, which cars are looking the most balanced on circuit?

KC: The Mercedes is clearly on top. The Williams looked quite good yesterday, but today I was watching Sebastian Vettel on the softs and the Ferrari looked pretty good too. It had looked OK on the hards earlier. So I think Ferrari has made progress.

But I still think it's Mercedes on top, Williams second, Ferrari and Red Bull probably equal third behind Williams. It's very close between those three.

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@Mohsin_N17: Which team do you think has made the most improvements over the winter?

KC: I think Ferrari. Last year's Ferrari really didn't look like a good car, and when you look at it on track now it looks like a car that responds and that the drivers can drive.

Last year they always looked like they were fighting the car and struggling to get the nose in. There was just an imbalance. It just looks a much better car in terms of chassis balance.

The whole team structure is a bit different. Speaking to people at Ferrari, it's a clean slate in many ways. In the past it was perhaps a situation of being 'Fernando Alonso's team'. Although there was no clear number one and number two, the team gravitated towards Fernando – and rightly so, because he was the faster driver for the past five years.

Now it's a clean slate. Kimi Raikkonen's probably a bit happier with the car he has now and feels he can drive it in the way he likes to drive it.

They still fundamentally need horsepower. I think Ferrari is not just missing performance to Mercedes on the engine side, it's the chassis too. You'd say it's probably 65 per cent engine deficit and 35 per cent chassis deficit to Mercedes.

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@Garysayswhat: Should we hold out much hope that someone can give Mercedes a bigger challenge this year?

KC: At the moment it's hard to tell. I would say Williams has the best chance to do it, but being a Mercedes customer team, I'm not sure it would really be able to put together a championship challenge. It might be able to win the odd race

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Post 03.03.2015., 22:49 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Ferrari drops posturing for proactivity


Ferrari's wild-looking Formula 1 concept car signalled a new approach at the Maranello team, which is ditching pointless posturing in favour of proactivity, says JONATHAN NOBLE

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"Progress is never achieved by endless repetition, but by breaking the chains of habit and the cycle of inertia. Progress is the result of us choosing not by-products of the past, but catalysts of a future."

Those were the words that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne used in a letter he addressed to factory staff last year when he wrote about his vision for the future of the Maranello team. And while he might have been talking about the need for fresh management to make the most of a new era, his comments ring true for a different path that Ferrari has embarked upon more recently on the political front too.

It's one that culminated in that stunning F1 concept-car image that swept through the internet last week.

There was a time - both during the autocratic rule of its original founder and under Luca di Montezemolo - when Ferrari had a tried-and-tested revolutionary tactic it would unleash when it felt the need. Whenever those in the corridors of Maranello grew frustrated with the direction F1 was taking, it would threaten to shut up its grand prix shop and race elsewhere.

That is exactly why, if you ever get to wander around the Ferrari museum in Maranello, you can find the Ferrari 637 proudly on display. It was an Indycar, penned by Gustav Brunner, that got as far as testing at Fiorano in 1986 but never actually raced.

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New boss Marchionne has not been afraid of making bold statements at Ferrari...

The push for it came amid concerns from company founder Enzo Ferrari that F1's future engine regulations were taking the sport in a direction he didn't favour. Has a familiar ring, doesn't it?

In fact, if you look back in recent years - the threats to create a breakaway grand prix championship (in alliance with other teams), or go racing at Le Mans, were all fuelled by unhappiness about a path F1 was taking.

But as F1's political tides have shifted in recent years, with Red Bull emerging as the dominant force and Bernie Ecclestone's closest ally, Ferrari's ability to get its own way by staging a noisy protest has diminished.

In fact, di Montezemolo's final public thump of the tub - when he hit out at F1 for 'taxi-cab racing' at last year's Bahrain Grand Prix and called for urgent changes to the fuel-efficiency rules - backfired dramatically when the Sakhir race turned out to be an absolute thriller.

The Marchionne broom that has swept through Maranello has stopped such militant showmanship, and instead there are now more subtle attempts to achieve a way forward that actually works.

When, for example, Ferrari grew frustrated at Mercedes' unwillingness to accept any compromise over a potential engine 'unfreeze' last winter, did it go public and threaten to quit F1? No.

Instead, it kept its head down and privately challenged the FIA over F1's engine-homologation rules and their failure to explicitly state a date for when the 2015 power units had to be lodged.

Very rarely do teams go up against the governing body in this way and succeed, but Ferrari pulled off a masterstroke that has served to change the whole F1 engine-development platform going forward.

It's been a similar story of action rather than words in the battle to shape F1's rules revolution for 2017 too.

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Talks of factory Le Mans return was just Ferrari posturing to get its own way © LAT

Rather than simply complain about what is being discussed, Ferrari has been proactive on the matter. That is why it followed automotive industry practice by producing its concept F1 car.

Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene spoke last week of the drawing being a 'provocation'.

It was a call to arms for F1 to talk about the realities of what could be achieved if it got its top brains together and came up with positive solutions, rather than bickering and worrying about short-term gains.

"Our competitors - they are cars in video games," said Arrivabene. "If you look at cars on these games, they look fantastic, well designed, and cool.

"And if you are asking a guy who is 18 years old if he prefers to play for one hour on a video game, most probably he prefers to do that than watch the grand prix. This is one of our competitors.

"We need to try to liberate the creativity and create a beautiful car. We will not say we were first or second [with the concept], or ours is better. We are happy to try to move the status quo."

Indeed, dancing around the edges of F1's rulebook - thinking that agreeing to ban drivers from changing helmet designs is the limit of progress needed - doesn't cut it anymore. Ferrari's concept car (just like its Indycar) may never make it as far as racing, but that wasn't the point. It was about pushing the debate on - being extreme but in a positive way. And fuelling discussions.

In doing that, it was a success.

Arrivabene and Marchionne are right. Proper advancement doesn't happen by simply moaning and complaining about what is happening now, or threatening to go and do something else.

Instead, progress will come only from standing up and breaking the cycle of inertia that has been crippling F1's ability to improve itself creatively.

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Post 03.03.2015., 22:53 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Obrigado Felipe

Post 03.03.2015., 23:06 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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We rank the F1 teams after testing


With all 12 pre-season test days done, AUTOSPORT's team in the paddock attempts to rank the Formula 1 teams based on their winter achievements

Pre-season testing is notoriously difficult to read, and doesn't hold as much significance in terms of assessing form as Friday practice at a grand prix or a Saturday afternoon qualifying session.

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But it's all Formula 1 fans have to go on right now.

Even though every F1 squad will say testing doesn't really matter - because of varying fuel loads, engine settings, car set-ups, even weather conditions from day-to-day - it is still possible to get a reading on form.

AUTOSPORT has attended all 12 days of pre-season testing in Spain, watching events unfold, analysing the laptimes, and speaking to drivers and key team personnel.

As the 2015 pre-season ends, we give our assessment of how the field stacks up heading to the first race in Australia on March 15.

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1. MERCEDES
Ben Anderson (@benandersonauto)

There is only one winner here. It has to be Mercedes given the awe-inspiring pace advantage it seems to enjoy over the rest.

The W06 was often as quick or quicker than rivals on a harder compound of tyre (a super-soft shod Williams could only get within three tenths of Nico Rosberg's best effort on softs across all eight days of testing at Barcelona), which is a frightening prospect for the rest of the field if its form carries over to the first race.

We're almost certainly looking at another two-horse race for the drivers' world championship this year, but for all the ominous-looking pace on-track it hasn't been the easiest of pre-seasons for Mercedes.

Things started strongly at Jerez, with the team completing hundreds of laps and practicing pitstops and race procedures almost immediately, but it's been less straightforward since.

A high fever for Lewis Hamilton and a neck injury for Nico Rosberg disrupted the first Barcelona test, while an MGU-K failure cut short Hamilton's first day of the final test in Spain on Thursday.

The drivers have also complained about not being comfortable with the set-up of the car at times.

But it hasn't held them back on the track and Mercedes is so far ahead of the rest that it can afford to have these problems.

The luxury of its competitive advantage is that it hasn't really needed a totally smooth winter test programme.

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2. FERRARI
Ben Anderson

By any measure Ferrari has enjoyed an excellent winter.

Only what Sebastian Vettel described as "teething problems" (with sensors and the like) appeared to get in the way of its test programme, and Vettel dumping it in the gravel on his out-lap in the first Barcelona test is arguably the only real drama Ferrari has suffered so far in 2015.

This led new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene to declare at Barcelona on Sunday that the Scuderia's pre-season targets had been "absolutely achieved".

The drivers seem happy (Arrivabene even joked with reporters that Kimi Raikkonen must be "sick" because he is smiling so much!), and the team is also working well together after its autumn of discontent in 2014.

Arrivabene is determined to restore unity to the various strands of Ferrari's F1 operation and the early signs are that he is succeeding.

While not looking like a potential Mercedes-beater yet, the SF15-T is clearly an improvement on its predecessor, and rivals have been impressed.

Rosberg claimed Ferrari had made the biggest step of all teams over the winter, while Williams and Red Bull both reckon they will be in a close fight with the Scuderia to win the best-of-the-rest battle behind Mercedes.

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3. WILLIAMS
Lawrence Barretto (@lawrobarretto)

Up until last year, and disregarding Pastor Maldonado's shock win in 2012, Williams was having a pretty torrid time over the past decade, scuffling around in the midfield with hardly a sniff of a podium.

But all that changed last season when it became the team closest to beating Mercedes on merit.

Boosted by that performance, the Grove-based team has focused on refinement and ironing out the little creases in areas such as pitstops and strategy that occasionally tripped it up last year.

There have been blips, such as a late start on day one at Jerez following a problem installing the new Mercedes engine, and Susie Wolff's collision with Felipe Nasr at Barcelona was unfortunate, but otherwise it's been super-smooth.

The team dedicated a whole day of the second test to pitstop practice and ended its running early on the last three days of testing because it simply had no work left to do - now that's confidence for you.

Performance-wise, the feeling inside the team is that it will be fighting Ferrari early in the season, with Mercedes clear at the front.

But it is apparent Williams has worked hard to be better prepared to do battle with the big teams, and coupled with the look of the car on track, it is hard to bet against it doing just that.

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4. RED BULL
Ben Anderson

Things got off to a bad start for Red Bull, as engine problems stymied its initial running at the first pre-season test at Jerez, while Daniil Kvyat's mistake on his first morning in the camouflage-liveried RB11 meant he had to drive all day without a front wing.

But its prospects improved dramatically at last week's first Barcelona test, where the Renault engine ran reliably (after some initial software glitches) and both drivers were able to comfortably complete race distances.

Red Bull and Renault are undoubtedly a world away from 12 months ago, when Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo could barely complete a lap without their car overheating and breaking down, and the team is confident the RB11 is a stronger chassis than its predecessor (reckoned to be one of the best cars in last year's field aerodynamically).

But the question remains: has Renault found enough from its engine over the winter to keep pace with Williams and Ferrari?

The jury is still out on this one. Red Bull and its sister team Toro Rosso ran with different specifications during the final test, to try to solve some new driveability concerns that have emerged as Renault has introduced upgrades.

The French manufacturer is convinced of the ultimate potential of its new engine, but admits it will not be "100 per cent on top everything" heading to Melbourne, which could hold Red Bull back.

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5. TORO ROSSO
Mitchell Adam (DrMitchellAdam)

Like Red Bull, the team endured a frustrating start to winter testing, thanks to the problem with a "stupid part" linked to Renault's MGU-K water pump that limited Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr to short runs at Jerez.

Once that was rectified, the two Barcelona tests were solid, focusing on getting two rookie drivers up to speed and acclimatised with race procedures and the behaviour of Pirelli's tyres.

On that basis, it's been an outstanding success, with both drivers turning lots of laps, despite Sainz blotting his copybook twice in the first week at the Circuit de Catalunya, including a big crash at the scene of countryman Fernando Alonso's accident.

The second test featured the debut of a raft of upgrades, with technical director James Key going so far as to call it an "almost completely brand new" car.

That it was introduced so late wasn't ideal, but both drivers confirmed it was a step forward over the launch-spec STR10 and got race simulations under their belts.

A lot from here depends on Renault, but Toro Rosso appears in much better shape than it was 12 months ago.

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6. LOTUS
Lawrence Barretto

What a difference a year makes. This time 12 months ago, Lotus was in chaos following the loss of key staff and the emergence of a car it soon realised was ultimately flawed.

Fast-forward to 2015 and the mood is completely different, with the Enstone-based team buoyed by continuity in its staffing, the arrival of Mercedes as its new engine supplier and a better chassis.

The team arrived a day late for the Jerez test, after a decision to build the car up as late as possible. A number of minor glitches, including drivetrain, telemetry and power unit issues, hampered its progress.

But it bounced back at the first Barcelona test, topping the times on three of the four days and ending up with the fastest time of the week, courtesy of Romain Grosjean's lap on the super-softs.

The car looks quick, though a bit of a handful, and the feeling in the camp is good, with Pastor Maldonado describing the E23 as a completely different car compared to its troubled predecessor.

The Venezuelan even spoke about challenging the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari. While that may be ambitious, there's no doubting Lotus looks in good shape and more confident with this year's machinery.

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7. SAUBER
Mitchell Adam

The C34 made a head-turning debut with soft tyre runs at Jerez; Felipe Nasr topped the third day of running and he or Marcus Ericsson finished second on the other days.

But it's been harder work since then. In a clumsy incident, Nasr clashed with the Williams of Susie Wolff on the opening day of the first test at Barcelona, and both Sauber drivers lost significant track time over the following days with mechanical problems.

A trouble-free final week featured multiple race simulations to end winter on a reasonable note, and while the car looks a handful to drive, notably on corner entry, its drivers say good progress has been made.

This bodes well for a team that desperately needs to bounce back from the first point-less campaign in its history last term.

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8. FORCE INDIA
Lawrence Barretto

At one stage, it looked like Force India might not have a car at all, let alone have one ready to bring along to pre-season testing.

The team missed the first test at Jerez and brought its 2014 machine to the second at Barcelona, as cashflow issues with suppliers, delays with the manufacture of its chassis, and a hold-up in gaining access to its chosen windtunnel held it up.

But on day two of the final test, the Silverstone-based outfit's 2015 challenger finally broke cover and was impressive straight out of the box.

Over three days, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez collectively clocked up 365 laps in the VJM08 - just 15 fewer than McLaren did across 12 days.
That's quite something considering its limited winter running, and it suggests the team has reliability nailed.

But while reliability is one thing, performance is another. Perez admits that the team is "two steps behind" and "on the back foot". Friday practice in Melbourne could be a busy one as it bids to get on top of car set-up and simply understanding its new machine.

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9. McLAREN
Ben Anderson

Amid all the talk of "aggressive" design and "ambitious" plans to beat Mercedes, the renewed McLaren-Honda partnership couldn't really have started off worse than this.

Various technical problems meant the MP4-30 spent most of the first test at Jerez in the garage (and the car was slow when it did emerge), before a faulty seal on the MGU-K component of the Energy Recovery System in the Honda engine ruined last week's Barcelona outing - and then star (re-)signing Fernando Alonso compounded the misery by crashing into a wall and sidelining himself for the final test this week.

McLaren looked in desperate trouble at this stage, with racing director Eric Boullier admitting the team was fast running out of time to be prepared for the first race.

After another bad start to the final test on Thursday (when the car managed just seven laps before hydraulic fluid was discovered lurking somewhere it shouldn't, necessitating a change of engine), there were signs of improvement, as Jenson Button clocked more than 100 laps on day two.

But, just as McLaren looked to be turning the corner, the gremlins returned. Reserve driver Kevin Magnussen lost the penultimate afternoon of pre-season to an oil leak, before a sensor problem cost Button the final morning.

The good news is that Alonso is likely to be fit to return for the first race, while the team suspects it has made a breakthrough with its earlier MGU-K problem. But McLaren is still seriously on the back foot heading to Melbourne.


Mercedes won't be breaking out into a nervous sweat just yet...
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Post 03.03.2015., 23:17 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Autosport - 12 February 2015.pdf

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Autosport - 19 February 2015.pdf
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Post 04.03.2015., 00:06 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Autosport - 26 February 2015.pdf

..tema, Alonsova nesreća i McLaren! :crvenazastava:
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Post 04.03.2015., 01:27 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Odlično :klanjam:
Hvala

Post 04.03.2015., 11:37 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Post 04.03.2015., 16:27 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Luka, Lady.. najbolje kako mogu odgovorit na hvalu je.. još jedan zanimljivi tekstić :trep: :D


AUTOSPORT+ PREMIUM CONTENT


Secret mechanic: What teams learn from F1 testing


With pre-season testing finished for the coming Formula 1 season everyone is trying to work out the pecking order. Our SECRET MECHANIC reveals how much the teams really know

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This time of year in the life of a Formula 1 mechanic can be a difficult period. The amount of work that goes into simply getting your two cars to the first race can be soul destroying. Even more so is the realisation that the weeks and months of relentless effort and long hours may not necessarily correlate with the team's level of success, or lack of.

As the cars roll out in February no one really knows how good or bad they'll be. How reliable? How responsive to changes? How easy to work on? How easy to drive? How fast?

The team waits with bated breath as the driver returns from his maiden run, albeit just a simple installation lap. Does he have a smile on his face? Are his comments positive? With his vast experience, can he tell us anything at all from just one lap?

Of course in the most part very little can be determined from a low-speed, used-tyre, exploratory lap on a cold winter's morning in Spain, but occasionally there'll be a word or two on the garage intercom, or as the driver's stepping out of the car, to raise hopes among the team just a little bit.

It doesn't take much, with a desperately expectant and worn out crew who've worked long into nights for weeks before the car's even turned a wheel, to get excitement levels up. A simple throwaway comment like "acceleration seems good"or "feels like more downforce than last year?" can be enough to get the garage whispering among themselves with what could easily still be false hope.

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A stressful period for Formula 1 teams is under intense scrutiny © LAT

Everyone naturally knows the true potential of the car is unlikely to be discovered on the first day, but such is the anticipation and excitement, having built up to this moment for months, that any clue, good or bad, is pored over by everyone looking on.

As the laps begin to unfold (hopefully) the picture gradually becomes a little clearer. While the watching world of race fans, journalists and TV crews can't look too much further than lap times, or mileage covered, for and idea of performance and reliability, inside the team the reality is there for all to see.

Is the car overheating? Are there any leaks? Brackets or floor stays breaking? Are the various systems all responding and working correctly? Are all of the different elements of the power unit working together? Does it do what the simulation said it would?

These are questions that may not present obvious answers outside of the team's garage, but inside could be causing some serious headaches. A car that seems to need constant repair or major modification in the early days is really the last thing a mechanic wants and it can feel like the pain will never end. Believe me, I've been there.

Equally, none of those things could be issues and there might be an air of relief beginning to rise. It's still too early for confidence at the first test, but to know the car's a good basis for development, seemingly reliable and has apparently decent pace, is a great feeling to have.

Rarely, but every once in a while, things just go really well. Mercedes has had that for the past two seasons and I've been fortunate to have been in that position too.

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Early pitstop practice and race simulations suggest a team is confident © XPB

When that happens, the aches and pains and the pre-season tiredness fade away. As mechanics we play a big part in the team's fortunes, but the basic car design's out of our hands. We rely on colleagues for that and when they get it that right, no one's more grateful than us.

A good racecar that mechanics, engineers and drivers all like can really boost the whole team and as testing begins to head towards racing, if the team knows it's in good shape, it's almost impossible not to allow the briefest thoughts of success to enter your mind.

Whatever we may know about our own car, we don't have the same insight into other teams, so despite being confident on the inside, few will ever be bold enough to share those feelings with the world. Press releases will be littered with phrases like "lots of work still to do", or "looks like being very close this year" to rein in expectations.

Behind the scenes though, the realisation that the car's going to be very fast can come quite quickly and as Mercedes has done this year, the focus might be moved into pushing its reliability to every limit, or simulating as many race scenarios as possible, rather than chasing an ultimate lap time.

It's a great feeling when you're discussing as a team how best to slow your car down for the remainder of testing, so as not to 'show your hand'. A rare but welcome dilemma. I've been there when we've added 20kgs of fuel to our baseline fuel load, only used old tyres, or even asked the driver to abort laps that would've put them half a second clear at the top of the timesheets.

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A driver's early impression of a car can have a big impact on team morale © XPB

It works both ways and I've also had years when the team's desperately trying not to let the world see how much they're struggling.

Taking all the fuel out for a new-tyre run at the end of the day can help to stop the headlines being about your team finishing so far off the pace, but is little more than a cover-up.

Depressing though it can be, I've occasionally had to raise a little smile in the garage when I've heard the team principal taking to the media about another "productive day" and how we've been "focusing on our pre-planned programme".

The only way that could've been true on some occasions was if by "productive" he meant we'd prevented the regular onboard fires from burning the car to a crisp and if "our pre-planned programme" really had been to do no more than three slow laps at a time before returning to the garage to replace the myriad broken parts and clean up the mess underneath the bodywork.

Testing isn't just about testing the cars. Patience, stamina, morale, physical and mental fitness, friendships, family relationships and resilience are all pushed to the absolute limit during this time of year.

For some it can set up a wonderfully rewarding season of success and bonuses, but for others it might be just the beginning of a very long and even more testing 10 months.

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Post 07.03.2015., 15:01 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

Felipe
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Autosport - 5 March 2015

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LINK
Obrigado Felipe

Post 18.03.2015., 12:48 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

hattrick
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AUTOSPORT+ PREMIUM CONTENT

Why has no one challenged Mercedes?

Far from closing the gap, the F1 pack has let Mercedes get further away over the winter. In his Australian GP analysis, BEN ANDERSON examines why and looks at the consequences of that dominance

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Only 15 cars taking the start (and 11 finishing), utter domination by one team, plus a terrible first chapter in the reunion of one of the most powerful and famous car/engine combinations in Formula 1 history. This was not the competitive beginning to 2015 that F1 fans were hoping for.

After the final race of 2014, where Lewis Hamilton clinched his second world title and capped a season of total Mercedes dominance, the fact that Felipe Massa's Williams came within 2.576 seconds of denying Hamilton the 33rd grand prix victory of his career offered a glimmer of hope that the next campaign might, possibly, be different. That may yet be so, but in the first race of the season at Albert Park those hopes came to nothing.

Any expectations that Williams - the Mercedes customer team that came closest to denying the works outfit in a fair fight in 2014 - might put its engine partner under more pressure this year were dashed. Massa finished a distant fourth, as Hamilton led Nico Rosberg across the line to record Mercedes' 12th one-two finish in the last 20 races.

Sebastian Vettel's podium on his Ferrari debut marked the beginning of a revival for the Scuderia, but the gains made in Maranello over the winter have only lifted it slightly ahead of Williams in the race to be best-of-the-rest. The net gain compared with Mercedes is marginal - just a little over two tenths per lap over the course of this year's race compared with last year's (adjusted for the safety car periods that affected both events), from an original deficit of around eight tenths.

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Williams has gone from chasing Mercedes to scrapping with Ferrari LAT

For Williams there is no like-for-like comparison, since Valtteri Bottas compromised his 2014 event by striking a wall, but the team certainly doesn't look as strong at the start of this season as it did at the end of the last. Although Massa felt poor timing of his only pitstop cost him crucial ground in a very close fight with Vettel, Williams said tyre degradation gave it no other option. In short, fourth was arguably the best he could have managed.

So Mercedes' most likely challenger has slipped back, the only other full works team has narrowly hauled itself into a distant second spot, while the team that most closely challenged Mercedes across the balance of last year - Red Bull - has plummeted into the chasing pack and is now threatening to quit the sport.

Daniel Ricciardo finished a combative sixth at his home grand prix, after a weekend beset by various technical problems, but the Mercedes drivers lapped him. At least he got to keep this result, unlike the second place he lost in 2014 thanks to a fuel flow irregularity. But, most worryingly for Red Bull-Renault, it has fallen back substantially on pure pace this year, to the tune of almost 1.3s per lap if you compare this race to the 2014 edition.

Meanwhile, the team that eventually claimed both minor podium places in Melbourne in 2014 - McLaren - began its new era as a works partner to Honda as the slowest team on the grid (Manor didn't run). Jenson Button was the last of the classified finishers - a twice-lapped and point-less 11th.

By switching from a supply of customer Mercedes engines to immature Honda technology for 2015, McLaren has fallen away by a massive three seconds per lap comparing this race with last year's.

Here you have four of the most successful teams in the history of the sport, and all of them are nowhere near challenging Mercedes for victory. This led Red Bull boss Christian Horner to suggest F1's rule-makers need to act, or suffer the consequences of further-declining interest in F1, while the team's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko even went so far as to suggest Red Bull might quit the sport altogether if nothing is done...

"The FIA have a torque sensor on every engine, they can see what every power unit is producing, and they have the facts - they could quite easily come up with some form of equalisation," argued Horner.

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Horner is calling for urgent changes LAT

"When we were winning, and we were never winning to the advantage Mercedes had, I remember double diffusers were banned, exhausts were moved, flexible bodywork was prohibited, engine mapping mid-season was changed. Anything was done - and that wasn't unique to Red Bull - whether it was Williams in previous years, or McLaren.

"Take nothing away from Mercedes - they have done a super job. They have a good car, a fantastic engine, and they have two very good drivers. The problem is, the gap is so big that you end up with three-tier racing, and that is not healthy for F1."

Trouble is, Horner is asking for something to be taken away from Mercedes (or given to the others), in order to close up the field. Given that he is in charge of a four-time world champion team, desperate to get back to winning ways, and struggling to cope with the limitations of a Renault engine he now estimates to be "probably 100bhp down on Mercedes", it is easy to see why.

But, whether or not the motives spring purely from self-interest, no one could argue F1 wouldn't benefit from closer competition at the front. The prospect of a tighter fight between the two title protagonists already looks thin, thanks to Hamilton turning the tables on pole-position-trophy holder Rosberg in qualifying and converting that into a comfortable victory.

Sure, Rosberg stayed close - never more than 5s adrift and only 1.3s shy at the flag - but Hamilton had the advantage of track position and first call on strategy (less critical here, since both cars could comfortably make the finish on one pitstop), and simply controlled the gap. Hamilton did most of his job on Saturday, set himself up nicely with a smart getaway (and an even smarter restart following the early safety car period to recover Pastor Maldonado's crashed Lotus), and clinched the race by ensuring he extended a crucial advantage either side of his sole stop on lap 25 of 58.

There was no contest. And that's the point; F1 urgently needs a real contest in order to maintain genuine interest in the outcome of races. Interestingly, Rosberg spoke of hope that Ferrari might be able to offer a genuine challenge to Mercedes this season, when questioned playfully by Vettel in the post-race press conference.

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Rosberg begs Vettel to give Mercedes some opposition XPB

"I hope we can have a good fight [with Ferrari]," said Rosberg. "That would be awesome."
"Be honest," replied Vettel. "Do you really hope so? Seriously? You finished 30 seconds ahead of us and you hope it's going to be closer? So you hope you slow down - is that what you're saying?

Rosberg: "I hope that you can give us a challenge, because it's important for the sport and for the fans. And I do think about the show because I want to give people a great time at home watching on TV or at the track."

So it seems even those dominating F1 are wary of their current status - not just those who used to hold that position and now crave the chance to reclaim it.
"I would fear that interest will wane," said Horner, when asked what is at stake if the current competitive order goes unchecked. "I didn't see much of Mercedes on the television, because it is not interesting watching a procession.

"The producer was looking to pick out other battles in the race and there weren't that many cars on there! The highlight for me was seeing Arnie on the podium..."
Horner's quip about Arnold Schwarzenegger's post-race officiation highlights a genuine fear that F1 is suffering from the sort of predictability that so enraged fans during the latter stages of 2013, when Red Bull dominated. The irony of Horner calling on the FIA to equalise engine performance to alleviate that concern was not lost on him...

Of course it's all too easy to forget that F1 grids often become spread out after drastic technical changes are introduced, then close up again as everyone figures out the most effective way to go racing. This is a point McLaren racing director Eric Boullier was keen to stress, despite the fact his team currently has the biggest deficit to make up.

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McLaren is coming from a long way back XPB

"I think this engine technology still has a lot of potential to unlock, so it may take more than a couple of years [for McLaren] to catch up," he explained. "I don't think this is bad for the sport. Everyone obviously wants to have all the cars racing together, like we had back in 2012, but any technical change more than sporting change in the regulations is opening the door to gaps and loopholes.

"This is the price you pay if you change the regulations as drastically as they have been changed. You have to be patient. You have a good rivalry between both Mercedes drivers. The [other] teams will catch up."

But will they? After the race Hamilton said there was "no need" to eke out more of a gap to Rosberg, suggesting he could have won by an even bigger margin... That's a frightening prospect for the chasing pack, and if true suggests the likes of Williams have a lot of work to do, given it was having to race hard with Ferrari. However, the team's performance chief Rob Smedley reckoned its deficit to Mercedes was exaggerated by the fact the Albert Park street circuit doesn't play to the FW37's strengths.

"There's no one area, no one silver bullet," he said of Mercedes' advantage. "They haven't added a widget to their car to make it go 1.4s quicker. It's just levels of excellence in all areas - they are the benchmark.

"I don't think it's bad for the sport at all. Formula 1 is all about the levels of excellence. They have done a fantastic job and I'm not going to moan because they are quicker than us."

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Mercedes quickly stretched away XPB

So perhaps it's fair to say those who are "moaning" (namely Red Bull) should focus on improving their own game, without waiting for some kind of nebulous FIA handout to do their jobs for them. In fairness, Horner acknowledges the need for his team and Renault to respond after this battering. The combination managed to win three races and finish second in the championship last season, so in theory should at least be able to repeat that feat.

"It is important we regroup with Renault and try to offer our support where we can, because obviously they are in a bit of a mess at the moment," conceded Horner. "It is not the start that Renault can afford to have. We need to be doing a lot better. We need to be challenging Ferrari, we need to be challenging Williams, and I think if we can sort the issues out then we can do that."

But Horner admits his team won't be capable of challenging Mercedes for the championship this season. On the evidence of Melbourne, no one will. Even Mercedes privately admitted surprise at how far ahead it is again this year, though team chief Toto Wolff remains wary of the resurgent Ferrari squad.

"We have won the race with about half a minute to the Ferrari. [But] if you consider what kind of jump they've made from last year to this year it is pretty impressive," he said. "What we have seen in the GPS data is that their engine is really powerful and their car is really good.

"I think it's just a matter of time. Ferrari has it all: they have all the resources, the right people, the right drivers; it's a matter of time when they can reduce the gap.
"And half a minute is not the world, i
t's not as if we lapped the whole field. It is just the first race of 20 into the season. Let's see what happens in Malaysia."
Another Mercedes whitewash most probably. The question is: how many more of those can F1 afford? If Rosberg cannot start turning the tables on his team-mate, the answer is 'probably not many'...

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Post 18.03.2015., 18:06 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Bolje pet do dvanaest nego ni jednu poslje jedan. Image

Post 19.03.2015., 20:38 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Bolje pet do dvanaest nego ni jednu poslje jedan. Image

Post 20.03.2015., 08:52 Re: AUTOSPORT + (i ostala publicistika)

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Hvala hattrick :thumbs:

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