Withdrawal symptoms!

This week started with the news that Bridgestone will withdraw from the sport after 2010 and yesterday Toyota kissed wait or bye?F1 goodbye and now there is news that Renault held a meeting to discuss their future in the motorsport.

Were Renault to pull out, it will be an extraordinary year of the exit of major manufacturer teams in F1. Honda and BMW exit is not even a year old by now. Only remaining manufacturer involvement will be Mercedes and Ferrari.

Toyota’s reason to leave sport is due to falling sales of their cars. For the first time in their history since 1937 they lost money in a fiscal year. They lost $4.74b in 2008 and are expected to lose $8.3b in 2009. This is compounded by Toyota’s F1 programme’s high costs and failure to live up-to its expectations. In last 8 years of their involvement Toyota was on podium only for 8 times. Although Toyota signed concorde agreement to remain in the sport till 2012 but the numbers have played a huge part in their decision to quit.

Renault always looked like first time to leave the sport. They are already indebted by bail out package from their goverment. Along with that Carlos Ghosn isn’t F1 friendly. Numbers can play a part there too. Recently, Renault also had to suffer from ignominy of Piquet-gate. F1 is famous across the world and such incidents really tarnish the image of the whole company. Although Renault have fired the culprits but still this disgrace will be languishing at the back of their minds and can act as another factor on why they want to withdraw.

Renault can remain as a engine supplier much like 90s when they formed a formidable champion car with Williams.

The situation never looked good for manufacturers to remain in the sport in the current climate. The economic meltdown in the past 2 years have taken a toll on manufacturers and when the core business suffers, other things are bound to suffer.  F1 is all about cycles and in the current phase the number of manufacturer entries will be low.

Max Mosley already envisaged such a scenario and he was pushing for low costs but his methods were too radical and this led to famous FIA-FOTA war. His bad mouthing in the press might have already made F1 a less attractive place for manufacturers who were considering a breakaway series.

I would be upset to see Renault leave the sport. It is my second team because of Fernando Alonso. Also, a hugely talented driver in Robert Kubica’s future will be in disarray again after similar thing happened in BMW.

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Bahrain GP: Toyota 1-2 to make the season open!

Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock will start tomorrow’s Gulf Air Bahrain GP at 1 and 2 position respectively followed by Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull _jarno-trulli-toyotaRacing. Toyoto used their experience of pre-season practice at Bahrain and if they finish in this position tomorrow, will open the season open.

The most promising part of the qualifying was the pace of Lewis Hamilton of McLaren who split Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello of Brawn GP.

With the field catching up on double diffusers and other developments Brawn GP are feeling the heat! Much dreaded will be a double diffuser on a Red Bull car as Vettel achieved third qualifying with 10.5 kg more weight that Toyota of Jarno Trulli!!

The two Ferrari are at 8 and 10 as Felipe Massa qualified 8 and Kimi Raikkonen 10. If they aren’t able to gather a point in this race it will be their worst start ever!!!

Adrian Sutil qualified 16 but impeded Mark Webber and was handed a 3 place penalty.

The best part however is the season is open and upto developments by the time championship enter European phase.

Worst case scenario

fiaMcLaren Liargate Saga

Extraordinary meeting of the FIA world council itself means that something is not right. McLaren team once again found themselves against the music. McLaren faces the prospect of a second hefty fine or get thrown out of this year’s championship or a few race suspension. McLaren are found to breach Article 151c of the International Sporting Code after the team’s behavior at Australian GP. McLaren have already accepted the charges and one of the fines is a certainty.

The journalists are already speculating the possible scenarios. Some are speculating over Lewis Hamilton’s future , others over future of Ron Dennis. The team has already found a fall-guy in Dave Ryan and dismissed him.

What will happen in McLaren if a severe fine is imposed in Extraordinary FIA meeting? Will Ron Dennis quit? Will Lewis Hamilton quit from the team after this season? What if Martin Whitmarsh is made to resign? Who is there to succeed him in the team?

Diffuser Saga

What will happen if we consider Brawn Mercedes, Toyota and Williams to lose FIA’s Court of Appeal verdict on their diffusers. That result will mean that all the points of Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli ……. will be annulled. The matter that Court of Appeal will hear next Tuesday is to answer whether Brawn Mercedes, Toyota and Williams have illegal diffusers on their cars? The double decker diffusers which the 3 teams are using increases grip and downforce of the cars and such a difference in the downforce is proving to be very pivotal in the current season where we have seen all these 3 teams dominating. The design of diffusers is approved by Charlie Whiting and when Max Mosley was asked about the designs he was impressed by them.

If the aforementioned 3 teams lose the verdict it would be a travesty for the fans. The fans which saw the end of Ferrari-McLaren domination as good for the sport will be devastated by such a result. The teams with small budgets will find these results hard to assimilate and might consider leaving sport in these hard financial times.

Are testing times misleading?

56761180With the pre-season testing almost over, it is a good time to guess the pecking order of the cars during the season or perhaps not? With STR4 of Toro Rosso launched only yesterday, it was the first time that all the ten teams ran together this season. The analysis can be seen at grandprix.com.

When we look at the testing times there are a lot of unknowns e.g. how much fuel was in different cars, track conditions for the given track time, what is the average lap time for a car, etc. Also, teams heads to different tracks making side-by-side comparison impossible.

Still, we can learn about the reliability of the cars through these tests. If Mclaren rear wing is stalling during these tests that means that something is not well in the car. But the continual use of sophisticated data monitoring techniques means teams are increasingly well-equipped to sense failures before they happen, and bring their cars into the pits before any mechanical / other failure.

Also, pecking order is hard to determine from these tests. Many say that few teams use low fuel loads to show promising times to sponsors in these testing.

I, personally, don’t look at the time order during various tests but look for any reliability news.

Who wants a car?: Car sales further tumble!

car_manufacturingThe recession is hurting the car sales deeply. We thought the last data was worst but the recent data is more bad!

Deliveries at VW, Europe’s biggest carmaker, dropped about 20 %, compared with 2.9 % in December, while BMW had a 24 % decline and similarly Mercedes suffered a fall of 31 %.

Meanwhile Toyota says the forecast for its operating loss might be 3 times its previous estimate. The company expects a full-year net loss of 350 billion yen. This will be first loss making year in the history of Toyota.

“I’m expecting a big loss for next year, too.” said Takashi Aoki

The car industry’s sales have dropped to its lowest since the early 1980s. Famed companies like GM and Chrysler are working to avert bankruptcy with $17.4 billion in bail-out loans and face a Feb. 17 deadline to prove they’re viable.

Meanwhile, FIA continue to work towards bringing the costs of running a F1 team down. The aim is to reduce spending to around $65m a year.

The intention is to achieve this by carefully going through every aspect of the Formula 1 cars and examining which parts should be performance-related and which can be standardised with no harm being done to the spectacle of the sport.

This will be intended to give GP2 teams opportunity to jump to F1. FOTA is already working towards making some good changes to the sport along with FIA as the feeling is very clear among teams that the sport needs a balance between spectacle and cost to survive.

New Toyota TF109

toyota_tf109_2009f1car_21

Panasonic Toyota Racing launched yesterday their new challenger TF109.

Toyota is second team to launch car in 2009 after Ferrari. Many feared team to leave after the eternal rivals Honda left the sport. But with the launch of new car Toyota have confirmed their commitment to the sport. The commitment is also affirmed with a new three-year deal with its title sponsor Panasonic and a significant new partnership with the European subsidiary of the American real estate company RE/MAX. This is good for the sport after the loss of Honda who are yet to find a buyer.

Gallery

An early comparison of F60 and TF109 – F1fanatic

Vid Gallery

A new year and new cars!

A new season within 3 months, new rules and regulations, new cars. Yes, new cars!

Ferrari are to launch their new car today at Mugello.

Toyota will unveil their TF1.09 via the web on 15th January. McLaren take their turn on the 16th January. Then the 19th will see Renault and Williams on the Portuguese track at Portimao, while the BMW will be launched on the 20th on the Valencia circuit in Spain. Red Bull’s big day comes on February (9th at Jerez).

There are no official dates for Toro Rosso and Force India.

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