Jul 06

Getting the Olympics

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The news comes through, originally uploaded by RachelC.

Five years ago, a colleague and I ran down to Trafalgar Square in our lunch break to join the crowds waiting to see if we had been awarded the Olympics. And we had! Here’s the crowd just after the announcement.

Jul 04

F1 FOTA Fan Forum

F1 FOTA Fan Forum by Santander

You may have noticed a stream of blog posts live-blogging the F1 FOTA Fan Forum last Thursday. This was the first event of its kind for the sport, coming out of blog comments on James Allen’s website. It was first come, first served for places and 150 of them were taken up within 24 hours. I saw a lot of tweets about people travelling from UK and further to attend, but for me, it was just an 10 minute tube ride (and an understanding boss to grab an extra long lunch). Santander, the sponsors, has obviously put a lot of effort into the day, with a good lunch, I assume covering the venue and the recording and then a couple of freebies for all attending.

The day was tweeted out by many of the teams and recorded for later release on YouTube, so all available for those who could not attend. There were plenty of press there as well and it was fun watching statements made as answers to questions being turned into news articles across sports sites. I even got nabbed by the BBC to do a quick sentence into a mike (not sure what for) as did others, with a write up on Andrew Benson’s blog.

There’s been a lot of response to this through blogs and comments; given my line of work, I was probably most interested in the responses about increasing fan access through social media and the web, increasing data and behind the scenes information. That’s definitely been an influence in my liking for the sport, as it makes it far easier to understand what it going on. It’s good to see the teams will continue on this path and there is pressure to increase what is being released.

The afternoon was a bit like a typical tech event I attend, mainly male with a handful of females and had the same sort of vibe, with lots of waiting to talk to the speakers and associated F1 team members. Although I’ve never seen autographs been signed at tech events ;-) Overall, it was an enjoyable event, one I’d like to see repeated although maybe at a slightly more job friendly time – the speakers apparently hung around after to chat, by which time I was back off to work.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – New Teams and Driver Skill

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Updated 4/7: added video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

?? How are the new teams?
TF: we are pleased, we got there late, building 5 months, remarkable job. every race we have improved. we deserve to be there, we are closing gap. it has made a little bit of excitement, a few dreams come to. FOTA tries very hard to help new teams, we don’t have the resources, we may one day, but important that teams have time to build, it is good to encourage them, I fully support more testing for drivers, to get new drivers….we have been treated well.

Matt Clifford: should new teams have been buddied?
PDR: the way relationship btw force india, mclaren..when Vijay came, we could get car developed, get product form mclaren, to give best possibility to maximise this. they have had good stability, it can only improve as they go forward.

Lee Cripps: In light of passing opps the slower teams create..should there be a 2 tier championship?
MW: No. you mention Le Mans, we’re considering going back…get people enthused about the different levels…that they win the level..who caress, we are interesting in an outright win…F1 should be a meritocracy, it should not be easy. since mclaren, 106 teams went. we should accept teams can fail but create an environment in which they can succeed. Lotus are doing well…Tony will make it a success,s will develop that team. HRT and Virgin, what they are doing, to there, is fantastic, people work hard in those teams, they are trying like hell, if it was effort alone..they need to build the infrastructure..it is not easy.

Ben Dixon: as tracks are redesigned for safety, so larger run off areas, penalty is not as big over tarmac rather than gravel…what can be done?
PDR: there are arguments..at the weekend, it was a street circuit,large runoff. the new tracks have carpet, and it does incapacitate. in grass, you become a passenger..they are looking for solutions that will not compromise driver. Tarmac run off gives driver a chance to slow down

Ian Spencer: there are debates about hard driving, where line has drawn. So drivers that are pushed off the road, they are not penalised. in terms of balance, should we not properly enforce the code?
PDR: i think it is difficult, it has come up in briefings, the drivers do push it other. the rules need clarifying, especially with new wings etc. Montreal, saw drivers not penalise for actions on track….

Nick Loan: would it be fair to say it is boring as less emphasis on skill..or has it always been tech?
JC: an argument that frustrates me..there is no substance to that comment. all sport has technology involved, look at skiing, tennis etc. we have a tech heavy sport, the fact is, to use the equipment takes a huge amount of skill..the guy with higher skill level drives it better. the car is much harder to drive these days…talking to Damon in 94, when driving the latest car..he says the car are so sharp you have to be even better now. skilful drivers win championships…

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Environment

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Updated 3/7 with video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

JA: FOTA announced about cut in carbon emissions, new engine formula

Martin: Fuel allowances? reduce on year, making engines more efficient?
TF: Danger is too much testing, then costs go up, and emissions go up. Not sure how to police it…ideas that should be considered. It needs to be from tech, the tech should be relevant. should an duct be used in cars, no, but kers will. they should be hand in hand, but should not make too complicated.

Frankie Dewer: talk about environmental engine formula, but concorde finished in 2012…is there a chance for change given last negotiations.
MW: there is…this ones a good idea. The teams, manufacturers etc, we are all aligned. we did a study of our carbon footprint. the cars going round the circuit is 0.1% of emissions, it;s the other stuff. the car is a tech showcase, used to deliver tech that is relevant. it is a great test bed and accelerator to tech. as a sport, we have to look at where we are spending resource, and that is why we did a cross sport body, first body to take the analysis, publish it, commit to check it. what we have done is encouraging so far, demonstrate what we have done to date, more effort needed…a new engine, lower capacity, direct injection etc, all appropriate tech we should be showcasing, we all want to do it and need to finalise it.

Daniel Clegg: Why does f1 have this obligation, surely should do best for sport?
JC: there is a responsibility to all of us to perform tasks in green/efficient way. From engineers view, it does not matter what the ergs are, we will make the car fast..there is no downside..we have clever engineers who will develop whatever tech you point them at and seems a pop to use that dev to knock onto the car in the road, the smallest improvement in a road car will outweigh f1 savings…we are here to improve product to make it available as every day tech..the rule makers have to present engineers with genuine challenge in making car faster more efficiently. starting with less fuel is better for speed..so give incentive, they will come up with the tech
TF: it is important, there are brilliant people. if they can use brains in a way to make planet better, then they should. Everyone has to play their part, it is easy to whack industry..they should be together to make tech better.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Cost vs Innovation

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: Video added

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Joe Cardoza: So McLaren with Fduct, then copied, then FIA ban it..does this make sense.
MW: not a good example, there’s a broader story. I fought for tech, without regard for cost when starting as engineer. F1 has to be at forefront of technology, but we have to keep and sustain all the teams and it should not just be pure spending fest, there are examples where team spent and did not get results, so not just money. As an engineer, then developing things got bands, then angry. We need to keep innovative..we’ll never get it right, but we need to keep innovating, balancing cost. we need to make sure new teams, they are important to the sport, it is tough coming into sport. FOTA has achieved a few things and there is more to achieve but there are teams here that would not be there if not for cost saving drive of FOTA.
TF: down to the people who drive it, being clever and not too expensive. the sport needs new teams and innovations. FOTA is good at the balance…there is a lot of give and take and F1 is going through aperiodic of discovering of how we can work together and win together…we are finding a way of where the balance.
LC: for us, it is fundamental to keep F1 at pinnacle of technology, and transfer from track to road cars, it is important that the transfer is constant. at the moment, we have more tech on road cars than on f1. eg electronics. For Ferrari and possibility of third car..we want an option to have more teams in f1 is to have a third car for a new team, they could have a competitive car without doing an investment in tech and resources to do competitive car. this is something that should be put on the table and discussed..

James Walton: is it right that the people who design cars also design rules?
JA: info about crash tests?
JC: the rules took a step change in 1994, that brought safety to front of mind. it is impressive how much development has taken place. it never ceases to amaze people, even in industry, what the cars go through…the rules are pretty hard to meet within remit of making a lightweight car that races…a serious amount of development time is taken up with optimising the structure, you have to test and test. there is a lot of investment into this area and what you saw on Sunday is a direct testament to that work. the next level is to control speed and weight..it is impossible to make it completely safe..we are getting to point where the crash structures keep the forces down and car says safe..but forces on body still there…need to reduce weight, keep less energy..it is the big picture we need to keep control of.
MW: I think it is right, as there is not a viable alternative, F1 designers are motivated, clever and it would be impossible to find a body that would outthink their ingenuity, their design to find loopholes and boundaries. The double diffuser was not an intended piece of design, it was a loophole and that is what f1 is about to some extent. the teams do a responsible job with FIA to work in regulations. they are the only body who can sensible work out ergs
LC: the whole F1 community should thank FIA about safety job

James Bernado: the role of test driver is restricted, is this frustrating, or will it develop?
PDR: the teams are as frustrated as the drivers, they want to bring young guys though, bump older guys out (laughter). there’s not a lot of testing involved, the system i have, (Friday) is the best one there. We need more time in seat during winter; for dev it is a harder process, not knowing what the component will do, eg from safety.
JC: lack of testing is same for everyone…the reliability over the last few years is remarkable.. Putting emphasis back in design office, at thinking. but lack of pop for young drivers is terrible. it is refreezing to see guys coming through and see them test. that is the talent of future and the driver pool we have at the moment is in danger. the talent is there, button time in the car is lacking, you will not be in the pace. It has taken Michael time to get up to speed, how difficult for the guys next year. the guys making diver decision are not very patient with young talent, they get 6 months, not enough….when Alonso arrived he had had a few years in a F1 car.
MW: cutting testing was right at time, we need to ease back now. teams don’t what others to get more time then. we need to change approach and find ways to test more…
LC: It’s like a football team, frustrating if told you cannot train more than once a week, everyone wants to train as much. we were too emotional cutting the testing, (personal view) we need to rethink the situation, an opportunity to make F1 closer to you…as only opportunity is race weekend, then problems with ticket prices, so an option is testing sessions eg in Silverstone, Monza. JOck would love to have testing, Michael himself..

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – The Overtaking Question

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: I’ve added the video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Christopher Nolan: F1 has reached a turning point, FOTA has won concessions, FIA under new management. Circumstance, luck and tech. is it diff to find solutions to overtaking. Can the rules be relaxed to allow this?
MW: A popularise view that we should have more overtaking..in first few races we did 39 takes, largely due to the fact we made a hash of qualifying if too much overtaking, then intrigue goes away, quickest guy at front etc. Media has a little too much of a fetish about overtaking..we are doing some things, rear wing next year, the regulation that accompany it are critical and not enough through yet, eg proximity sensor seems sensible to work with. we need to try and be prepared to say we are wrong and pull bank, not what we do traditionally, we run into them, heave to experiment, people want F1 to be meritocracy , what quickest driver,/car, wants a little unexpected to happen, we’ve had fanatics races, a good championship fight.
PdR: the drivers are keen to overtake, but the safety involved; they don’t want to see what happens in US, where all slip stream. you want to see people taking after mistakes. FOTA have come up with some good ideas, but we need to address it…

Q: It used to be about braking, now it’s about slipstream..why not make braking harder.
JC: Understand, but the level of driving is so good that these guys do not make mistakes, there is still a distance…they will hit it on the nail every lap, and there is only one racing line and unless you are on it, you can’ go faster enough. It’s not tech, brakes etc, it’s the drivers. We have to come up with ways of circumnavigating the skill level, without going away form the skill. we don’t want situation where it is pointless to defend..I like a 15 lap dinging when they never overtake then a simple overtake, Watching CH defending himself is fantastic. We have to be careful not to lose what we have this season.

John Elvey: How can you use tyre supplier to enhance racing?
LC: the combination of Montreal was special, normal choice of tyres, (same as Bahrain), we had a different surface. it is difficult to say more difference, as we have to keep in mind safety, don’t need to push random. it depends on Pirelli what they what to do and will look with engineers to go this direction but not too far.
JA: one safe tyre and one edgy tyre.
TF: threes should be a real difference…more strategy. i hope they are different and have an impact on race.

Josh Piggot. Not the amount, but the opportunity, Reducing grip and increasing mechanical grip is seen as best way..what is the best way to follow through corners.
PdR: Canada was quite special, bit were close on performance…but degraded differently. as a driver, you lose downforce, as they close up, when things work, you can follow closely..what they did last year has improved and it will improve next year.

Q:Frank Durney: Have to agree we have had a great year,..we should not change too much,,we should use tech and knowledge to do this. never seen that more mechanical grip gives more overtaking. If so, then worst races in wet..sims show that grippier tyres would have lot of overtaking

Zachary: Surely it would be unfair to give on;y the following driver the ability to adjust wing, better with all
JC: don’t have a strong opinion. we need to think to understand the implications. what we tend to do, we tend to pose a change on the format we see at the moment, we need ot look beyond that, to where they will all develop, what are the engineers going to go. what the implications are. I don’t know if that is the solution. we have to be careful how we go about this, I would have said lets try this..but with season we have it would be a shame to go the wrong way and give us another problem, we need to think and let brains think about,
MW: we give our drivers a variable rear wing and other teams don’t like it. We need to option, we can';t design in last minute and we have to be careful of how to deploy it.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Fan Experience and Show

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: I’ve added the video from the event

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Q: Daniel Hughes. What are FOTA doing to reduce cost of GP? YOu did say 12 months ago (I think) that you were doing something to reduce costs but they are no less this year.
MW: Don;t recall making statement; but may have! regrettably the teams have no control, in a direct sense, but clearly cost of tickets..is high and prohibitive…there are GP that we go to that aren;t fully attended. is an issue. t do with traditional model of F1 and will come up as a recurring theme. as a business model, sold as expensively and venue as expensive as can. the money has been prong into teams and parts of sport..we need to be more engaged and today is a small example, we need to consider show and that there is ale, we need tt do something different and engage in new media in a way that has not been done. a lot of pop to improve, don;t n=know who to do quickly. the concorde agreement, comma agreement, we the tams have to re-negotiate and I hope her eis emphasis on reinvesting, to a greater extent in past.

Alex Hurley: In recent tines, F1 has been about improving the show in fans. but how do you bring new people, lack on continuity make it difficult. for people new
TF: new rule can befit as everything starts form beginning,t here could be too many. there are lots of fiddling around with many things and complicating. a good start to season, lot of exciting thing.s right direction, there are too many and it could be complicated for plan. the aviation does it’s best to complicate and F1 does the same. it would be good to simplify and get it down to racing and there is an effort on FOTA to make it fun

Robin Martin: Distribution of rich real time data evolving?
JC: From engineering, it is all about data, dev, making it faster. From a geeky POV I’d be all for this data, there are lot of people out there who would love this, when I watch a race, i have it all evolving, info you can pick out a glance, it would enhance their viewing. Ir timing pages, telemetry (a subset) it can be looked into. you don’t have to use it, you can just watch what is going on. there are a lot of who appreciate tech and viewing enhanced greatly. it would add a level of understanding for those who would want to. Like my Mom, who understands it, can’t see why SCH is stuck t red light. It’s not that diff and we should push it
LC: we should ask for the media, to them to explain to the fans, to explain what is going on. my own experience, in Valencia, following it,listening to Italian TV commentator, btw lap 9 and 10, assumed they did not understand, I had to explain why and what was happening. It is important that the media have more access and later on, explain what is the reasoning. so need to put pressure on .

EM: Can you see F1/FOTA extend social networking to get fans involved.
TF: Got t2 devices, one for red bull and one for lotus. It’s already started, I felt it was inclusive, so myth more that could be shared. I could listen to radio via Skype, wouldn’t it be good for fans to follow. the more open we are the better, more transparency, explain it better..I still don’t understand the safety car rules. All in favour of it. All teams have twitter and all embrace it. Teams follow each other, we need to get more out. there is more tech that will make it more interactive, fun, make it more interactive.
LC: it is not that the teams don’t want. we have to consider agreements that put limitson usage of info that have available, we would love to put radio on sites, we are limited on this. We need to keep this in mind, for 2015, for new F1
MW: long way to go, only a few years ago we spent 100sk encrypting radio so they could not listen. we said they had to stop and share. now it is available to FOM, they get it all, they can get it all and broadcast, if juicy and salacious they generally do.. we are in a commercial relationship, FOM is the commercial arm. we get wrapped knuckles occasionally for being too open. no lack of will, we need to evolve and it will, but may be not as quickly as you like

Q: Regarding Fan experience, with penalties after race, it changes results is this detrimental?
JC: very frustrating, from coal face, my everyday work is shortsighted, looking at what it does on next lap…it is frustrating form my point and I don’t know full situation. we need to get hold of, too many instances when tv goes off and it changes…that can only detract from the experience. On subject of info flow, the media have argued..they say that if this much available, it sort of detract form how exciting and spontaneous. Having the info available, you can see what people are doing, eg canada with Red bull on wrong time and say if that is there the fans will switch off. the fans like to have an in-depth knowledge…if info available you can make own judgements, if you are proved right then you are engaged.

John Porter: Views on expansion on calendar..will it be adverse if more than 20 races. Is there a balance in races?
MW: 20 races is a lot, should not go more than that. that’s 60 days..don’t think product is one you need greater exposure,. we should not grow, we need to respond to commercial pressures though. for new markets, the US is clear and obvious, we have not conquered. a huge market, they have an particular outlook on sport not ness shared. F1 has made a hash of it, not consistent venue. not developed/marketed outer there We need to be there, east and west, 5 year programme, there is an pop and there is room for both. with Europe, we must hold on to the British, Italian, Monaco,
TF: 20 is fine and we have to work them. too often, they re just thrown on there and we don’t put enough effort..all have to contribute..Turkey could be huge if we put effort there. It needs to be global. there needs ot be proper marketing, form all, we should be working US early, to get the anticipation. there has to be a lot of marketing and lot of hard work