Whiting clears Red Bull over ‘rubber’ nose

Charlie Whiting has played down claims Red Bull has pushed the rules further than any rival with its supposedly ‘rubber’ front nose.

Video footage of a mechanic removing Sebastian Vettel’s damaged front nose during a recent pitstop caused alarm in the F1 paddock, as the nose appeared to bend, flex and twist as though it was made of rubber. Reports suggested the team, famously led technically by the so-called ‘genius’ Adrian Newey, had pushed the envelope further than ever in the realm of flexible parts. But subsequent reports claimed Red Bull’s nose actually behaved quite normally, given the qualities of the tips of F1 cars’ noses for the FIA crash-test requirements.

Indeed, Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s technical chief, is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint: “What happened with Vettel in Abu Dhabi was an extreme case, because the mechanic grabbed the nose and gave it a twist.

“I am sure that would also happen on any other car,” he added.


Renault suspects supplier to blame for quali debacle

Renault suspects equipment failure caused Sebastian Vettel to be pushed to the back of the grid in Abu Dhabi.

Actually, Red Bull pointed the finger of blame at its French engine supplier, revealing that Renault engineers asked for the German to be stopped at the side of the track after he qualified third last Saturday. Then, when FIA scrutineers could not find the mandatory litre of fuel in the RB8’s tank for sampling, team boss Christian Horner insisted it is Renault’s decision to crunch the numbers for qualifying.

However, Renault’s top F1 engineer Remi Taffin suspects the French marque is actually not to blame.

“We need further investigation,” he is quoted by the Spanish daily AS. “We have checked the numbers, we have looked at what we did with the ‘robot’ and each number says there should have been enough (fuel). Along with the supplier, Red Bull is now checking (the fuel equipment/robot).

“We have checked everything on our side and we have not seen any problems,” added Taffin.


New flexi saga questions ‘rubber Red Bull’

The seemingly never-ending saga about bendy Formula One cars is back in the media spotlight, and as ever championship leader Red Bull is right in the middle.

Multiple videos depicting the front nose of the world champions’ 2012 RB8 car have emerged in the wake of last weekend’s Abu Dhabi grand prix, showing the extreme tip of the front nose section to be apparently made of some sort of ‘rubbery’ material.

The best videos of the ‘rubber’ Red Bull can be seen at:





“Is this legal?” wondered a report by Italian magazine Autosprint, with Tuttosport adding: “Should it (the nose) not be a rigid part?”

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport journalist Tobias Gruner, however, thinks the controversy is a “false alarm”, because the front 150mm of the nose extremities are “always made a little softer” for the purposes of the FIA’s mandatory crash tests.

But Gruner also acknowledged that engineers from rival teams are similarly analysing the images, with “at least one team” thought to have already contacted the governing body. As ever, right at the heart of the latest technical controversy is Red Bull’s designer Adrian Newey, who was recently labelled a “genius” by McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton.

“His cars are veritable works of art,” agreed British broadcaster Damon Hill, who in 1996 won the championship at the wheel of a Newey-penned Williams. “I don’t want to go too far, but he is the Michelangelo of Formula One,” he added.


Red Bull ‘not involved’ in qualifying fuel debacle

Red Bull has distanced itself from the blame, following Sebastian Vettel’s disastrous qualifying session in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

Disqualified from the session after scrutineers could not extract the necessary litre of fuel for sampling, the championship leader had been asked to stop the car urgently following advice from engine supplier Renault. It emerges that Renault feared damage to the engine and other systems if Vettel’s RB8 had been left to run completely out of fuel.

“We saw some numbers going down,” said Vettel, “and in order to save the engine, save the pumps in between etcetera, we decided to stop the car, convinced that we had enough fuel in the car to provide a sample.”

So why wasn’t enough fuel put in the car for the decisive qualifying session?

“It’s difficult,” team boss Christian Horner is quoted by Germany’s RTL, “because Renault was sure there was enough fuel in the car. What happens is the engineers for the engine side calculate the amount of fuel to be put into the car. As a team, we (Red Bull) are not involved in it,” he insisted.


Horner blames ‘human error’ for qualifying debacle

Christian Horner has admitted “human error” led to Sebastian Vettel having to start Sunday’s Abu Dhabi grand prix from the back of the field.

After qualifying third in Abu Dhabi, the championship leader was asked by his Red Bull engineer to “stop the car” on the track, apparently with a technical problem. But when the scrutineers tried to extract the mandatory 1-litre fuel sample from the RB8, the pot fell a few hundred millilitres short, resulting in the German’s disqualification.

He started the race from the pitlane, Vettel only rescuing his title lead by charging through the field to third. So what happened at the end of qualifying?

“To be honest, we have no clear answer but I suspect that it was human error,” team boss Horner is quoted by Germany’s Sport1. “Renault gave us a clear statement that we should stop the car. Because we feared that it could be something that damages the engine, we followed their instructions,” he added.

“We had to explain to the stewards why we stopped the car, they accepted our argument, but then we had to give the one litre sample.”

Horner said Renault has not been able to explain why too little fuel was put into the RB8.


F1 teams use foul language to hide secrets

F1 teams and drivers use foul language to hide crucial race tactics and information from their rivals, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The topic of swearing hit the headlines after Sunday’s Abu Dhabi grand prix, when Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel both swore during their podium interview with former F1 driver David Coulthard.

Winner Raikkonen recalled the media giving him “sh*t” for not smiling enough after his previous victories, while Vettel used the F-word not only with Coulthard but also in the post-race press conference. Referring to when he smashed through a trackside marker board during the race, the championship leader told the world’s assembled media: “I thought, Well, now the front (wing) is f**ked”.

Coulthard told the Gulf News that the swearing was “embarrassing”.

“(It was embarrassing) because it goes out live to the whole (television) feed. I guess they don’t really enjoy doing those interviews on the podium,” he mused.

According to the Guardian, teams and drivers also use foul language as a weapon to censor crucial information from rival teams. The newspaper said an employee of Bernie Ecclestone’s television company monitors pit-to-car radio chatter, selecting excerpts for broadcast.

Journalist Richard Williams writes: “While making inquiries about the protocols surrounding this form of supervised eavesdropping, I made an interesting discovery. Although the teams have no control over the selection of these snippets, they do have one weapon at their disposal: when passing information they are keen to conceal from others, they ensure that an obscenity forms a prominent part of the conversation.”


Comeback ‘iceman’ planning long party after win

Kimi Raikkonen returned to the winner’s circle in Abu Dhabi in his inimitable style.

Once derided for being robotic and shy, the 2007 world champion is now widely loved for being the ‘iceman’ — a nickname dreamed up by the press but now tattooed with pride on the Lotus driver’s forearm. On Sunday, after scotching the view that F1 comebacks cannot be successful by driving to victory, he had scolded his engineer mid-race for talking in his ear about the gap to second place.

“Just leave me alone,” he said. “I know what I’m doing.”

Afterwards, he was asked on the podium by his former McLaren teammate David Coulthard to let the world in on his emotions.

“Not much, really,” said 33-year-old Raikkonen. “Last time you guys (the media) were giving me shit because I didn’t smile enough, so maybe this time (you will) again.”

Later, he told another reporter: “Like I said, I’m happy, but there’s nothing to jump around about.”

Raikkonen admitted, however, that despite drinking rose water on the no-alcohol Arab podium, he would find somewhere else to celebrate later on Sunday.

Asked ‘how many days’ he will dedicate to celebrating the win, he answered: “As long as I manage to get myself to the next race I think the team is happy.”

And when told it was the first time a ‘Lotus’ had won a grand prix since Ayrton Senna in 1987, Raikkonen was completely unsentimental.

“It’s a name,” he said. “It’s the same team since Fernando (Alonso) was there (as Renault), just a different name. It’s a great name for us, (a) good past but you know I race for the team whatever the name is, I don’t really care.”


Vettel disqualified from Abu Dhabi qualifying

Sebastian Vettel, who provisionally qualified in third position on the grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, has been excluded from qualifying. The German driver will now start the race tomorrow from the back of the grid.

Vettel stopped on track after his qualifying lap, following an order from his team. Although race stewards agreed that his actions were acceptable under the rules of force majeure, the post-session scrutineering report revealed that an insufficient amount of fuel remained in the car for sampling.

Stewards scrutinised the telemetry from his car and allowed Red Bull Racing to state their case. However Vettel was deemed to have infringed article 6.6.2 of the 2012 technical regulations which states that “Competitors must ensure that a one litre sample of fuel may be taken from the car at any time during the event. Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the stewards of the meeting), if a sample of fuel is required after a practice session the car concerned must have first been driven back to the pits under its own power.”

It is not the first time this season that a driver has been excluded from qualifying thanks to fuel issues. In Barcelona, Lewis Hamilton took provisional pole only to have to start the race from the back of the grid after a fuelling mistake saw him unable to complete his in lap and therefore not have enough fuel for the sampling. Despite starting last, Hamilton battled his way to eighth position.

Abu Dhabi GP Stewards look into Vettel stopping on track

Red Bull Racing have been asked by the race stewards to explain why Sebastian Vettel’s car did not return to the pits after his qualifying lap.

Vettel secured third place on the grid behind Lewis Hamilton and teammate Mark Webber. However on his in-lap, the German driver was ordered to stop his car via team radio and he pulled over at Turn 19.

According to F1 regulations, drivers must return to the pits after their qualifying session to allow a one litre fuel sample to be taken from their car.

Article 6.6.2 of the technical regulations says, “Competitors must ensure that a one litre sample of fuel may be taken from the car at any time during the event. Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the stewards of the meeting), if a sample of fuel is required after a practice session the car concerned must have first been driven back to the pits under its own power.”

As yet, Red Bull Racing have not revealed why Vettel was asked to pull his car over.

Murdoch set for F1 meetings in Abu Dhabi

Media mogul James Murdoch is in Abu Dhabi for talks with F1 chiefs, the Mirror newspaper reports.

The report said figures from top teatms McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes are set to meet with Murdoch, the News Corporation and Sky official.

The Mirror said Murdoch’s father Rupert, arguably the world’s most influential media figure, has had his interest in Formula One sparked by his British channel Sky’s new subscription coverage of the sport. Now he is considering “a bigger slice” of F1, the report added.

Interestingly, FIA president Jean Todt is also in Abu Dhabi for a rare grand prix attendance. Asked if the entire future of the sport could be on the agenda, a key F1 figure is quoted as saying: “Why not?”