Whiting: No extra testing for V6 rules debut

F1 teams will make do with a normal test programme early next year, despite the introduction of radical new engine regulations.

Some of the engine suppliers reportedly want either an earlier or an extended winter test period ahead of the 2014 season, as F1 switches from V8 to turbo V6 engines.

But the FIA’s Charlie Whiting is quoted in Melbourne by Russia’s f1news.ru: “We have been talking with the teams, and they do not want to increase the number of test days.”

Meanwhile, the German-language Spox quotes Briton Whiting as saying he is not expecting the outbreak of any new technical controversies, in the wake of the Renault engine mapping and Williams exhaust stories.

But “In the course of a year, you never know what is going to happen,” he smiled.


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.


Whiting gives Austin track green light

Charlie Whiting has given Austin’s new Circuit of the Americas the green light to host its inaugural US grand prix in November.

We reported on Tuesday that F1’s highest-ranking FIA official was at the brand new venue for an inspection.

“Everything I’ve seen has been absolutely first class,” Whiting is quoted by the Austin American Statesman newspaper. “Progress since last time I was here has been amazing.”

Asked how the F1 world will react to the venue, he said: “I think they’ll all be really stunned.” Walking the entire layout on Tuesday, it was Whiting’s third inspection of the Austin venue, with the last to take place on the Monday before the race.

“It’s not supposed to be totally ready now,” he explained, “but we can see quite clearly that it will be (ready) without any problem at all.”

He said the best feature of the layout is turn 1; a sharp corner after a steep climb.

“Awesome is the only word I can find to describe it. Drivers and teams alike coming here for the first time are saying the same thing,” said Whiting.


Whiting in Austin to inspect Circuit of the Americas

Two months before the venue’s inaugural US grand prix, Charlie Whiting is in Austin to inspect the brand new Circuit of the Americas.

The Austin American Statesman newspaper reports that F1’s race director, safety delegate and technical development chief must give Austin the nod “or there will be no” grand prix in mid November.

Whiting’s first inspection of the bespoke circuit was in June, and he said afterwards: “It is clear that the significant resources Circuit of the Americas has committed to completing this facility on time and to FIA specifications is making a difference.”


Whiting: Schumacher drive-through wrong in Hungary

Charlie Whiting has admitted Michael Schumacher should not have been given a drive-through penalty in Hungary recently.

After the Mercedes driver stopped his engine after lining up in the wrong grid spot, he then sped in the pitlane to await the re-start. Stewards gave Schumacher, 43, a drive-through penalty for the speeding, but FIA race director Whiting has now admitted the punishment was wrong, according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. Because the race had not officially started, Schumacher’s penalty should in fact have been only a monetary fine, the report explained.

The story illustrates how the sporting regulations define a race start. It means that, in actual fact, Schumacher should be celebrating only his 299th race start this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, not his landmark 300th. That is because at Magny Cours in 1996, the then Ferrari driver did not actually start the race, because his engine failed on the formation lap.


Whiting: Schumacher should know the rules

Charlie Whiting has pointed a finger of criticism at Michael Schumacher and Mercedes in the wake of the recent Hungarian grand prix.

The Hungaroring race start was delayed when Schumacher, who at 43 is F1’s oldest active driver, lined up on the wrong grid slot. Marshals then had to push the great German’s Mercedes off the grid after he deliberately stopped the engine, forgetting that the race re-start procedure had been changed way back in 2005.

Whiting, who is the official race starter and the highest ranking FIA official at grands prix, confirmed to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that Schumacher caused the start chaos.

“Michael should know the rules,” the Briton added.

Bild asked Whiting if drivers are required to pass a rules test prior to being awarded their coveted F1 super license.

“Not by the FIA,” he answered. “We assume that a team competing in Formula One knows the rules. It is the responsibility of the teams to ensure that its drivers – its employees – know the rules,” said Whiting.

Flanked by Rubens Barrichello (326 grands prix) and Riccardo Patrese (257), Michael Schumacher (299) is the second most experienced driver in F1 history.


F1 drivers on notice about cutting corners

Charlie Whiting has briefed the stewards, including former American F1 driver Danny Sullivan, to be on alert during the Hungarian grand prix, as the FIA clamps down on drivers sneaking an off-track advantage.

Last weekend at Hockenheim, world champion Sebastian Vettel was demoted from second at the flag to fifth in the classification, for passing Jenson Button late in the race whilst off the track.

Whiting, the highest-ranking FIA official at grands prix, has reportedly warned he will be just as tough about drivers taking all four wheels outside the limits of the circuit in Hungary.

“We’ll see how it applies here at the Hungaroring,” McLaren’s sporting director Sam Michael is quoted by Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo. “There are at least four places where you can cut the corner,” added the Australian.

GP2 driver Sergio Canamasas tested the theory on Saturday and was handed a drive-through penalty for exceeding the limits of the circuit for advantage. Indeed, Whiting is understood to have insisted that not only maintained or gained positions will be penalised, but also off-track moves for lap time or ‘DRS’ activation benefit.

Mundo Deportivo correspondent Raymond Blancafort said the problem has arisen recently because of the modern trend for asphalted run-off zones and verges, where previously there was either gravel or slippery ‘grasscrete’.


Whiting: Vettel penalty was hard

Charlie Whiting has admitted that the penalty handed to Sebastian Vettel after the German Grand Prix was harsh.

Vettel was slapped with a post-race drive-through penalty after race stewards decided that the German driver had gained an unfair advantage when he passed Jenson Button off the track. The penalty meant that 20 seconds was added to his race time, demoting him from second position down to fifth.

“It was disproportionate to the offense,” said David Coulthard, who according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said that sort of move happens regularly in DTM.

Whiting does not disagree.

“The punishment is very hard,” he admitted when asked about Vettel’s demotion. “Unfortunately at the moment we have nothing else to choose from.”

It is believed the FIA is looking into introducing a raft of new penalties, including a mechanism that could delay a driver for as little as five seconds in total.

“Work is still ongoing as per the technicalities,” Auto Motor und Sport said.


FIA clarifies defensive driving rules

F1 drivers may use the entire width of the circuit to defend position during a grand prix.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting made the clarification in a note to teams, the French news agency AFP has reported.

The ruling follows several controversial incidents in 2012, including Nico Rosberg’s defensive moves against Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in Bahrain.

Whiting says moves like that, where the “full width” of the track is used, are acceptable so long as a “significant portion” of the chasing car is not alongside.

“For the avoidance of doubt,” he wrote, “if any part of the front wing of the car attempting to pass is alongside the rear wheel of the car in front this will be deemed to be a significant portion.”

Whiting hints ‘stepped noses’ to go in 2013

Charlie Whiting has indicated ‘stepped noses’ will disappear at the end of 2012.

The issue of the questionable aesthetics of this year’s field returned to the headlines this week when Lewis Hamilton wondered if McLaren took the wrong path with the sleeker design of its struggling MP4-27.

“Just look at them (the 2012 cars) and ours looks different from the others,” he said after Silverstone. “That’s a significant difference,” Hamilton added, “(although) it’s too big a change (for McLaren to make) for this season.”

But Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio has revealed that Whiting, the FIA’s top F1 official, is looking into tweaking the rule that led to the prevalence of stepped noses this season.

“The FIA is aware of the dissatisfaction of the fans in relation to the appearance of this year’s cars,” Whiting told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.