Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

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Episode 54 - Don't mention fuel burn again // This week's podcast recaps the regulation changes for the 2008 season

Published by Christine Blachford

Our build up to the 2008 season continues - we've looked at the drivers and the teams, now it's time to look at the regulation changes for this year.


Taking advice from the comments of this post, I'm tempted to withhold his show notes.

Good week / Bad week

Williams get a much needed cash boost and Super Aguri say they'll be there, whilst Ron Dennis and Silverstone both get some bad press.

News and views

McLaren have some unwelcome visitors to their factory and the resulting fall out just drags the espionage affair ever onward. We catch up with testing news, Vettel in a Red Bull, electronic flags and all the talk about Hamilton. Team Williams have two interesting tidbits about their drivers past, present and future.


Taking a closer look at the technical and sporting regulation changes for 2008, including the engine freeze, four-race gearbox and qualifying tweaks.


We asked for your Australia predictions and we certainly got them. There's still room to send more in though, so check here for more information. Some excellent emails from Joel (meeting lots of drivers), Shashank (about the 2010 India GP), Andrew (F1 Merchandise in Tesco?) and Rhodders (Jackie Stewart interview).


Loads of people signing up to the Sidepodcast league on - if you haven't yet, now's your chance to join in the fun. Sidepodcast Diaries are back on YouTube, and F1 Minute turns 100!

  • Brilliant show. You've gotten tons of feedback. Methinks you're well on your way to the F1 mainstream. Not bad after only being online for what, 16 months or so?

    As for the MES ECU, Microsoft is doing A LITTLE PR. It's in a case study found on their website, available for public consumption. But the documents were created with corporate clients in mind. Here's the links in case you're interested:

    Besides, as it is, they've got bigger problems, what with Windows Vista imploding and some Microsoft senior management apparently having predicted that that would happen (which has resulted in a scandal and lawsuits). McLaren PR is the least of their worries right now.

    As for Fantasyracers, it was nice hearing my team name, guys. And, well, in case both of you end up somewhere in the murky midfield, you should highlight your performances after every race. Think of it as a Sidepodcast super-head-to-head. :)

  • Nice, good to know that my man Kovalainen gets a lot of support, I guess I was the only one to put Alonso on the podium? Ha-ha!

    And I'm betting on Fisichella to outperform Sutil by a large margin, Adrian is not that good otherwise he would have ended up in one of the top teams this year which didn't happen; he's likely to follow Tiago Monteiro's path.

    Kovalainen 2008 F1 World Champion!!! Yeah!

  • 4.10am! I stayed up until about 2ish to see how bad I sounded.

    Great show guys.

  • 4.10am! I stayed up until about 2ish to see how bad I sounded.

    sorry about that. we obviously recorded it much earlier, but libsyn (the people who host our files), had some kind of issue whereby a ten minute file upload took roughly 2 hours.

    as we put up both an enhanced podcast and a regular mp3 file, it took a very long time.

  • Scary time!

    Hope work's not too bad today!

  • Great show guys.

    I thought the flag lights had been on steering wheels for a few years now. I have certainly seen onboard video of them in use so maybe it was a trial. It is ridiculous that it has taken this long to replace bits of coloured cloth with lights at the trackside. Imagine trying to see a flag at Fuji last year.

    In the early 80s I used to go to stock car racing and they had flashing yellow and red beacons all round the track. All it took was one switch to be pressed and a race could be neutralised or stopped. This kind of thing makes the F1/high tech nonsense look really stupid.

  • Just a quick question about something on the podcast...

    You said that teams are only allowed two cars at a race and this means no more spare cars.

    Unsurprisingly the regulation is hardly worded clearly:

    28.1 Each competitor may have no more than two cars available for use at any one time during an Event. Any partially assembled survival cell will be deemed to be a car in this context if it is fitted with an engine, any front suspension external to the survival cell, bodywork, radiators, oil tanks external to the survival cell or heat exchangers.

    Now I took this to mean that each driver could have no more than two cars available, therefore the team could carry two race cars and one spare car (as two spare cars would theoretically be available to one driver).

    I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if I had interpreted it wrongly, but does anyone fancy clearing it up?

  • I think this is the same problem we have with the freebie engine change - whether that's for the team or the driver.

    It's the word competitor, I think, that's confusing me.

  • Indeed, I have just been looking at the regs and there are references to drivers, competitors, teams, makes and constructors. Clear as mud.

    This is Renault's assessment of the impact:

    "This regulation means the disappearance of spare cars from the team garages. This is a logical move towards greater cost-efficiency in an era of nearly flawless reliability up and down the pit-lane. Teams will likely take one less chassis to the races than in previous years (in most cases, a total of three in 2008, compared to four previously)."

    So it looks like there will be no spare car per see, but that teams will still bring a spare chassis to the races in case of a write-off in practice/qualifying. The driver will be permitted to use the new car, but will have to start from the pit lane.

    Artile 28.2 reads: Any driver who decides to use another car following the qualifying practice session, or whose car has a change of survival cell, must start the race from the pit lane following the procedures detailed in Article 38.3. Under these circumstances no restrictions on fuel load will be applied.

    So no spare cars -ish!

  • You can just imagine the situation where we have a repeat of Spa (98?) where a load of cars are damaged. Instead of some of the drivers taking spare cars we are going to end up with a race with 12 cars.

    This strikes me as a pointless regulation. The only effect will be to make the mechanics work harder in the event that the spare is needed and increase the chances of a mistake.

  • If a driver has an crash in qualifying which causes the session to be stopped before they set a time, then under the new regulations they will be unable to rush back to the pits and jump in a spare car to try and qualify.

    Previously they would have been able to but would have been penalised 10 places for an engine change.

    (I think that this is correct?)

  • Yeah, your montage is much better than the Rocky one! So is the roll call, very good. Obviously, very well edited though! Thanks for the promo, I'll be sure to return it. Great show guys, make sure "me" doesn't see any notes in the future.

  • Roll call, or role call? Hmm, role call me thinks. Whatever...

  • Obviously, very well edited though!

    I think you mean well-rehearsed, Ollie.

  • Obviously, very well edited though!

    cheeky bugger!

    unless you meant the rock n' roll music of course?

  • I just checked out you diary #10. Really enjoyed it. Love the ringtone. Proper F1 music.

  • cheeky bugger!

    You edited out all my erms, ers, and whatever crap I came out with. Next time I have a big meeting at work I'll record in advance and get you to sort it out before hand!

    rock n’ roll

    Speaking of which, when are you gonna start comment editing so I can steal the code? [/joke]

  • You edited out all my erms, ers, and whatever crap I came out with

    ooooooh, sorry, i read it as if you thought the role call was edited. and we practiced hard to get that right.

    do apologise young chap.

    yes the phone calls were tidied up, as all good montages should be. also we figure if people trust that we won't make them sound silly, they might call us more often... won't you?

  • when are you gonna start comment editing so I can steal the code?

    at present we're favouring a preview button. because seeing the comment in context without the silly html angle brackets helps a lot.

    comment editing would need to be done in php (in order to ensure you could only edit your own comments). if we go that route - we are open to bribes :)

  • Actually, it's roll call, the roll being a list of names. Role means a function or part played so you would be calling out a job description, which wouldn't make much sense.

    Sorry to be so picky but it's part of my campaign to ensure the survival of English... :D

  • But isn't 'roll' made of bread? Or what you do when you fall down a hill? Unless it's a roll of names, as in you go down the list? I defer to Clive 'cos he's clever.

    @"me": No worries, sometimes my comments are all over the place. The roll/role call was great and the phone messages perfectly edited to my pride-saving benefit. I'm better suited to a conversation and pint than a 'speak to a voicemail' situation - less chance of getting nervous and messing it up.

    comment editing would need to be done in php

    This is as far as I've got with it (sort of). I need peeps to register with the site before I can get it to work, which is something I'm not keen on doing with the blog.

  • This is as far as I’ve got with it (sort of). I need peeps to register with the site before I can get it to work, which is something I’m not keen on doing with the blog.

    i was thinking more: set a temporary cookie in the browser (say expires after 15 minutes) and as long as the cookie is valid then allow editing.

    a 15 minute window of opportunity to re-read comments and make changes should be enough to let people fix any glaring typos.

    that way no-one has to remember any passwords.

  • Another great show, very entertaining as well :)

    I'm not that surprised that F1 merchandise is showing up in the big(ger) stores, easy cash is probably what it's all about. If you want F1 merchendise you usually have to visit an online catalog or something along those lines, which an take up quite some time. I wonder why it hasn't been done earlier.

    What I think is a bit strange is the following: I can clearly remember that about ten years or so ago you could buy a scaled model of Schumachers Ferrari at a local petrol station. I remember this because I've been nagging my dad's ears off untill he got me one :p

    Anyway, I believe it was a Texaco station back then, and I can't seem to remember them being involved in F1 at that time, so I don't think the scaled models were there due to sponsorship agreements. (Although I could be mistaken as I was only 12 at the time.)

    So it would would seem that in terms of selling F1 merchandise they tried to take the same route as they are taking now 10 years ago, backed away and now have decided to try again. I wonder what obstacles prevented this approach 10 years ago in the first place.

    As for using lights instead of flags, I don't really know if it matters that much whether you use the one or the other. Teams are able to electronically monitor any flag being waved at any corner at any time, and they can notify their drivers over the radio.

    And finally, I would prefer an edit button over a preview button. I know it takes a lot of effort, but it's worth the wait :)

  • Oh, I loved the role call as well. Thanks for giving my team some extra publicity! Haha! Although I'll probably never hear the end of it when one of you two scores better over the course of a Grand Prix :p

    The montage was a wonderful idea as well, liked the tune you used. I was somewhat afraid my accent as a non-native speaker would be dominant, but I have to say I'm happy with what I heard. Will definitely call in again!

  • Alenyaa, are you sure that was Texaco? It could've been Shell, you know. After all, they were Schumi and Ferrari's sponsor. Unless the local Texaco station owner is a Ferrari fan... :)

  • In English we tend to give some words plenty of work to do and others get an easy ride. It is so for "roll" and "role" - "roll" has many meanings, including the ones you mentioned, Ollie, whereas "role" only has to cope with a couple. In the context of calling the roll, the word is related to "scroll", which would be rolled out to read any list it contained. You might even be eating a roll at the time, but your role would be the roll caller.

    English is famed as the language with the greatest number of words. It may seem strange, therefore, that we demand so much of some words and so little of others, but this is typical of the English and so their language. We do not take easily to rules and regulations and fill our chatter with exceptions, anomalies and odd spellings. Any attempt to impose a poll tax upon the people or the language will receive short shrift indeed.

    And when was the last time you saw the word "shrift" in print? ;)

  • are you sure that was Texaco?

    I think it was. I remember it changing name a lot though, and because it's quite some time ago I'm not completely sure it was Texaco. I am certain it's never been a Shell station though.

    I guess he could have bought the models intending to sell them on.

  • Thanks for including us in the montage sidepodcast.I didn't sound as bad as i thought i would and trust me : i'm not that posh in real life; that was my telephone voice, ha ha!.

    Hey Ollie!, at blog F1.Good to hear you on the montage mate.I regularly check out your site.

    Hey, this is bringing out some the voices from behind the blogs.Really good idea sidepodcast.You wont forget us all when you hit the big-time, will you?.

    Keep up the good work ;)

  • If a driver has an crash in qualifying which causes the session to be stopped before they set a time, then under the new regulations they will be unable to rush back to the pits and jump in a spare car to try and qualify.

    Previously they would have been able to but would have been penalised 10 places for an engine change.

    If they change engine after the qualifing session has started they go to the back of the grid. The ten-place penalty is only for changes before qualifying. This has always been the way since the engine rules were introduced.

  • Some thoughts:

    1) Tech regs are not boring:) Not to me anyway. Half the reason I enjoy F1 so much is the tech advancements. Which means current F1, with it becoming so standardized, is not as interesting as it once was:(

    2) All these changes don't save a dime. Was reading last week about how one unnamed team member has said that rather than save money, teams are now just taking the money they'd spend on the engine and investing it elsewhere. This persons team had spent an absolute fortune, that would have gone into the engine. What did they spend it on? Remodeling the airbox. Total gain from the millions of dollars they spent researching this? 4 bhp.

    3) While it wasn't mentioned on this show, the wind tunnel testing limits: How in the hell are the FIA going to police this?

    4) Gearbox regs: Curious how this rule is implemented. Gearbox has to last four races. Surely ratio changes must be allowed. You can't expect the teams to run the same ratios in Monaco that they do in Canada. Or Hungary and Monza/Spa. How exactly is this rule working, since surely the parts for the ratios are a core component of the gearbox, and there's no way on Earth they can run the Monaco box in Canada etc...

    5) Note to those who live at Silverstone and are bitching about noise etc...: WHY DID YOU MOVE NEXT DOOR TO A RACE TRACK THEN, JACKASS? I mean it's not a new track, it's been there since after the war. It held the first ever official round of the world championship in 1950. CARS DRIVING FAST THERE IS HARDLY A SURPRISE.

    It's like those cretins at Monza who whine about anything they want to do. If they threw up a racetrack AFTER they moved there, then fair enough. I have every sympathy for them. Not everyone is a racing fan. (We can't help it that those people are wrong.) But these people CHOSE to LIVE next to one of the worlds most famous racetracks, I think the local authorities need to say "I'm sorry, but you're an idiot. You chose to live next door to a race track, shut up" to these people. It's like punching yourself in the face then filing assault charges against yourself.

    6) Budget caps: On my old site about 3-5 years ago, I went into explicit details of how budget caps could be implemented. I can't remember my exact details. (I still have the articles somewhere.) The one thing I do remember is I had it so a team could go OVER the budget cap. So say the cap is 100 million. Any team that spent OVER that had to contribute to a slush fund distributed between the four lowest teams. So if Ferrari spent 110 million, then they had to give ANOTHER ten million into the slush fund which was then distributed among the bottom four teams on the grid. Of course I wrote all this when we had Minardi, Jordan etc... So we still had honest to goodness privateers at the back of the field, not "B-Teams". The rule was designed to help the lower teams out, but also to deter top teams from going over the cap, since you know damn well they wouldn't want to help anybody else.

    Liked the show. I like the idea that Toyota are fiddling with Trulli's car just to mess with his head. The very thought of that amuses me. I hope Toyota do well this year. Trulli is a really nice guy, something there's precious few of in F1.

    Oh, and regarding Jenson Button being nice... For what it's worth, someone I knew worked closely with him from when he was in the lower series. He became a total diva when he reached F1 apparently. She was friends with him, but once he reached Williams, she had to go through "his people" etc... He completely changed and went from being a nice guy to being a jerk.

    And as one of the people with Skype issues, I shall record my predictions. Gotta say most of the ones people called in with were boring and predictable. Though that's probably because F1 rarely throws up a truly epic race. I have a theory for Melbourne. And I shall record it to MP3 for Christine to put on next weeks show. I am probably completely wrong, but if I'm right, I'll look like a bloody genius:)

  • Wish I'd read this before I posted.

    Apparently Luca Di Montezemolo (I hate that guys name) has said he expects this years championship to be "Boring".

    Erm... I'm fairly certain it's bad form for someone WITHIN an entertainment industry to say it's going to be boring. I'm fairly certain James Cameron didn't come out before "Titanic" was released and say "Yeah, it's over 3 hours. God you're gonna be bored! But hey, you get to see Kate Winslet's boobs!"

    I find it staggering that the main guy at the top team in the sport would come out and basically tell us all not to bother watching.

  • it's allowed to change the ratios between races.

  • I am not really up on gearboxes. What is in there, besides the bits that make up the ratios? Since surely that's half the gearbox?

  • Lots of bits and pieces to hold the ratios and make them move, and keep them lubricated. There's also the outer casing - which is a fairly major component.

    The rules are here.

  • Thanks, I shall check that out. It just seems weird, as the team guy I read an interview with a couple of years back (I think it was the technical director of Renault) was under the impression that the restriction was unfeasible due to the ratios.

  • That was probably the case when the rule was first mooted. Then I'm sure someone pointed out how stupid it was and it was changed.

  • I didn’t sound as bad as i thought i would

    nice one, please do call again, we appreciated it.

    You wont forget us all when you hit the big-time, will you?

    i thought this was the big time?

  • i thought this was the big time?

    That's it mate, aim low:)

  • That’s it mate, aim low:)

    not aiming low at all. where we are right now is pretty fantastic to be honest.


    it's exceeded our expectations and then some. creating shows is fun, writing posts is fun, commenting is fun. feedback is brilliant and insightful. people phone us, just because we ask (plead) them too.

    sure you could be on tv or the radio, but then you get producers ruining everything and regulators breathing down your neck. papers need signing, everything needs approval... well okay christine still has final say, but you know what i mean.

    not only is it the big time, it's the best time. and the season is just around the corner. love it.

  • Fair point. Yeah, you're free as this point. That's part of why I got away with everything I did. Had no paymasters.

    In another field, videogames, where I DID have paymasters, I had the same attitude and... Well I got fired from three different publications:)

  • not only is it the big time, it’s the best time.

    It feels goooood, doesn't it!? I'm still impressed how you manage to do all this and presumably still get some free time. Or has Christine locked you in the studio, occasionally sliding a plate under the door?

  • Hmm, I seem to remember this mysterious thing you call "free time."

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