Welcome to FOX Sports’ Live Formula 1 blog from the Buddh International Circuit in Noida, India. We have all the latest from this morning’s practice sessions, plus the latest from several drivers regarding Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Lotus Boss Has ‘Had Enough’ Of Rookie Drivers
Lotus boss Eric Boullier says that 2014 is not the time to be bringing on a rookie – and made it clear that the team does not intend to hire an inexperienced driver any time soon.
He admitted that there’s little chance of reserve driver Davide Valsecchi being promoted.
“Davide is on the list but to bring to the grid next year a driver with no experience is a huge step for them,” said Boullier. “I’ve done it twice with them, first with Petrov and then with a semi-rookie Grosjean, and I think I’ve had enough to be honest with you. Davide is on the list because we consider him as a good driver, as a GP2 champion, but it’s true that if you favor a scenario for next year it will be a driver with experience.
“If we cannot find any driver with experience, fitting the strategy of the team, obviously we will go for a rookie driver and then Davide is obviously on the top of the list. It looks harsh, I’m sorry but it’s true.”
Meanwhile regarding Romain Grosjean’s prospects of staying on he said: “Romain has a contract signed anyway for next year. It’s just, say, a matter of confirmation. We are being prudent after last obviously. But I think it’s on its way to be confirmed soon.
“We are definitely pleased with his performance, since Germany actually. Clearly, something switched on and he is working better. I mean the same tire story as well, the latest spec of tires suit a little bit more his driving style than Kimi’s one. But yes, we are pleased that he is stepping up. We don’t have a policy of driver number one and number two but we needed him obviously to step up, yes.”
Red Bull In Control, But Unsure Of Tire Strategy
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber finished Friday practice in India on top of the times, but like everyone else the Red Bull drivers struggled to keep the soft option tire alive for more than a few laps in FP2.
Drivers suffered blistering on a track that inevitably was very green at the start of the day, and Vettel says that things might be better on Saturday.
“Obviously the soft tire isn’t lasting very long,” said Vettel. “It’s Friday, the track is rubbering in, and it’s improving usually for Saturday. Plus we didn’t use this compound for a long time.
“On Sunday it could be a short stint on the option tires, but as I said usually things improve and you learn to deal with the tire and fine tune the setup. Nevertheless I don’t think you will do a lot of laps on Sunday.”
Asked about the prospects for a one-stop race Webber said: “Obviously FP2 is generally different to the race. It can then open a window on the other compound in terms of going pretty long, so the one-stop can come into play. Who knows until the race day, really. We have to go with the pack, the pace, which hopefully is us, and then we can control the race from there.”
Alonso Hampered By Gearbox Issue
Fernando Alonso finished Friday’s FP2 session in India with the fifth fastest time after losing most of FP1 to a gearbox problem.
The Spaniard was 0.708s off Sebastian Vettel’s time, as once again the Italian team looked for one lap pace. Felipe Massa was 0.171s behind his teammate in seventh.
“It was a Friday like any other, apart from a mechanical problem this morning which reduced my track time,” he said. “Fortunately, this did not affect the program too much, with a first session given over mainly to getting used to this track again. It’s always important to get the right feeling for a circuit, and especially to try the tires, that are very important here.
“We also got a first idea of our race pace and also the rate of tire degradation: we must take into account that track conditions on Sunday will be very different to today’s. The situation is not that different to recent races. We are a bit behind in performance terms and tomorrow we must try and get a good starting position to get away well in the race and make it to the podium.”
“A problem on Fernando’s gearbox restricted his running in the morning session to just six laps,” said engineering director Pat Fry. “Some components were changed for reliability reasons and that got him back out on track in the afternoon, when he made up for lost time, working on setup and the general balance of the car. With both drivers we tried to adapt the aerodynamic downforce to the amount of grip available from this track, as it gradually improved.
“Looking ahead to the race, today it was important for us to understand the behavior of the tires chosen for this track by Pirelli over a long run. It was the usual Friday in that the time sheet has little significance, but it did supply worthwhile clues for the race and the data relating to our pace is encouraging. We just need to pay close attention to the performance of the two compounds, starting with tomorrow’s qualifying to work out the best race strategy”.
Hamilton And Rosberg Believe The Red Bulls Are Unbeatable
Lewis Hamilton was fourth in Friday practice in India, and the Briton was adamant after the session that it will be another Red Bull race – despite the prospects of tire issues mixing things up.
Hamilton was 0.6s off the pace set by Sebastian Vettel, while his teammate Nico Rosberg finished the day in sixth.
“We made some good progress over the two practice sessions today,” said Hamilton. “This morning wasn’t so good, but we completed a lot of laps this afternoon and made some good progress. It’s difficult to get the setup right here and this circuit is pretty tough on the tires so I think everyone was struggling with the soft compound.
“Our car feels pretty good at this early stage but there are definitely some areas we can improve overnight. We’re working towards a strong qualifying performance tomorrow afternoon, ideally on the second row, and then hopefully a place on the podium, that would be nice.”
“That was quite a tough day for us,” said Rosberg. “We learned a lot but still have a lot of work ahead tonight so that I can find the best setup. Generally, it seems that the main question this weekend is who can get third position behind the two Red Bulls, because they look pretty unstoppable at this circuit. But I’m confident we will have a role to play in that battle tomorrow and on Sunday.”
Meanwhile Ross Brawn remains bullish: “We had a decent second practice session this afternoon. We managed to improve the car balance relative to this morning and did the work we wanted to. As always, we now have a busy evening ahead of us exploring the data and seeing where we can make further improvements. We didn’t encounter any major problems today, so it was a good, steady start to our weekend and we will aim to build on that tomorrow.”
2014 Engines Will Sound Good, Say Team Bosses
F1 team bosses say fans should not be concerned about the sound of 2014′s turbo powerplants.
Dyno recordings issued by manufacturers – most recently Honda – have led to considerable debate about the importance of engine noise.
“Well, for sure, the element of the engine sound is very important, no doubt about it,” said Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali. “But on the other side, we need to say that in the last couple of years we’ve moved from V12 that was a fantastic engine for Ferrari with fantastic high revs, high frequency, to V10, then to V8.
“Now we’re going to be V6 with turbo and then it’s just a matter of fine tuning the noise – I mean the sound, apologies for the wrong word – and then of course that is vital for the show, above all for the people who are coming to the track, because unfortunately you don’t feel it too much on television.”
“Noise of a Formula One car is part of the DNA of Formula One,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner. “When people come to a Grand Prix for the first time, the thing that really stands out more than anything is the noise. Noise translates into speed, into excitement and so on, and I think it’s absolutely crucial that we don’t lose that element. We have to reserve judgement until we hear the cars next year; hopefully, whilst it will be a different noise, it will be an exciting noise that conveys what the sport is all about. Only time will tell.”
Meanwhile Ross Brawn is adamant that PR dyno recordings don’t tell the full story.
“I think we actually need to see the cars on the circuit because I don’t think a recording of a dyno cycle is actually that representative. If you listen to a V8 on the dyno, it sounds nothing like it does in the car. I think we should all wait and see. It is what we have and we have to get behind it and it’s an exciting new period with these power trains.
“I think we needed to make a transition at some stage, we’re making it now, there’s no going back and I think it will be exciting for the fans but we’ll see how it sounds when we get out on the circuit. I remember the early turbo days and they seemed pretty exciting to me and we’ve had a whole range of different engines since then. I don’t think – to be honest – that they’re been more or less exciting than each other. Just different.”