We've talked at length about the regulation changes, but one of the fundamental things that they affect is reliability. In recent years, Formula One has seen most drivers getting to the end of a race on any given Sunday. Now, looking ahead to the 2014 season, there's no guarantee that all runners will see the chequered flag, if indeed any of them do!
F1 Debrief is back, revamped and ready to face a brand new Formula One season. On this show, we discuss personnel changes, all the money pouring into Grove and the Brazilian succession plan. With just one topic on the agenda, we go in-depth at Williams, weighing up the many pros and fewer cons of life at the Oxford team.
Eagle-eyed Sidepodcast readers will have noticed there has been no call to action in terms of submitting your audio predictions for the 2014 season. It's not that we think the year ahead is going to be impossible to predict, although that is going to be my excuse. The predictions megamix is one of those things that has had to be postponed to next year, as we battle with that pesky thing called time.
The Crashed Ice championship returns to the wintry climes of Russia, as Moscow prepares to host the third round of the 2014 season. Having not been to the country since 2011, there are plenty of those new to the city, and to the track situated on the banks of the Moskva river. Apparently, the last visit to Russia was the coldest in ice cross downhill history, "with temperatures plunging as low as a bone-chilling minus 30 degrees celsius." I don't envy the skaters or anyone in the crowds!
As part of the negotiations for Pirelli to continue their tyre supply for the foreseeable future, the Italian manufacturers demanded that teams give up one day of their in-season testing for exclusive tyre work.
Even before we saw Red Bull’s diabolical pre-season testing, we were looking forward to a sea change in the order of Formula One teams. The Austrian squad’s four consecutive world championships have been secured with varying degrees of domination but 2013 was a step beyond. The fastest driver with the fastest team deserve the title, regardless of the effect it has on the championship, but I think most would agree that it’d be nice to let someone else have a go.
The Williams team today revealed one of those terribly kept secrets in Formula One, that they are partnering with Martini for the coming season. It’s a multi-year agreement that makes Martini the title sponsor of the team, and they are rebranding themselves Williams Martini Racing.
The 2014 class of F1 drivers has seen quite a shake up from the previous year, with only two teams retaining both their drivers from last season. Everyone else features at least one driver change, with Caterham featuring an all-new line-up for the coming year. It’s not just in the race seats where things have changed, however, we’ve also got some shuffling around the paddock in regards to the test driver roles as well.
Over the past seven days, the drivers have wrapped up their pre-season testing programmes and now prepare for the racing to begin in Australia. There's just a brief moment for some down time, which is why we see Lewis reconnecting with his pets, the Toro Rosso boys playing a spot of table tennis, and Romain Grosjean answering questions about a former teammate.
McLaren endured a very difficult season in 2013. Although the results on paper show they score points often, and fought well in both qualifying and the race, it certainly wasn't the season the team were looking for. They finished the year fifth in the championship, which is their worst performance (if you discount the disqualification from 2007) since 2004. Almost a decade of finishing third or better in the title fight meant 2013 was a big disappointment.
F1’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli have announced the compounds they will be bringing to the first four rounds of the 2014 season, with all bar Malaysia running the mediums and softs. Sepang will feature the hard and medium compounds, as the rubber will have to deal with the higher temperatures there.
Three weeks of pre-season testing are now complete as the final day in Bahrain wound to its conclusion today. Where normally teams would have turned their attention to long-run race simulations and short run sprints for pace, we’ve seen mechanical troubles dominate throughout.
There were still mechanical problems aplenty in the final day of testing in Bahrain, as several drivers were forced to change their engine, and there were eight red flag periods. The stop start session drew to a close with Lewis Hamilton on top, as Mercedes continued to show how strong they were. The team were not without their problems, however, as a gearbox problem delayed Mercedes getting their day started.
February has been a month of watching and waiting. Two final weeks of pre-season testing were undertaken by the teams, with varying degrees of success. We rounded up each day with a post, as we waited to see who would come out on top, and who would be struggling with time running out before Australia. There have been a few site tweaks, and some great guest posts, plus Christine's Rankings made its 2014 return!
The story of Red Bull's fall from grace this pre-season took another turn for the worse today, with Sebastian Vettel climbing in the car after a three hour wait, only to find he couldn't complete the installation lap. On his next attempt, he didn't even make it out of the pitlane, so Red Bull gave up their plans for track time and concentrated their time spent in the garage.
Sergio Pérez made it two days in a row at the top of the timesheets, posting the fastest time early on and retaining the position throughout the day. Fernando Alonso was less than a tenth of a second behind him, but it was third place that caught most of the attention. Red Bull had a far better day, with Daniel Ricciardo completing 66 laps and finishing within two tenths of a second of Pérez.
FOTA, the F1 Teams’ Association, has called time, closing down with immediate effect, after six years of the teams working together to better the sport. The secretary general of FOTA, Oliver Weingarten, said: “I can confirm that FOTA has been disbanded as a result of insufficient funds to continue and a lack of consensus among all the teams on a revised, non-contentious mandate.”
Friends may be a decade or two old but its legacy lives on. Not only is it still on TV constantly, but now we want to tie it back to Formula One. As suggested by Lukeh after reading our suggestions for Sky Sports F1's top ten races, it's time to label F1 races with Friends-style titles.
A new name hit the headlines today, as Sergio Pérez swept to the top of the timesheets with a lap time almost a second faster than second place. It was a surprising name in second too, with Valtteri Bottas also near the top. Both drivers completed over 100 laps, with Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren joining the century club.
The final week of testing is about to begin, with teams facing just four more days of running before they have to pack up and prepare for the 2014 season proper. It's not been an easy test for many, as reliability issues have hit hard and the sheer volume of changes to the cars has made it a slow start to the year.