Teams saving tyres in Q3 could be a thing of the past
With the current engine and aerodynamic regulation changes promising to shake up proceedings more than ever before, the FIA is set to further spice up the spectacle in 2014 by changing the qualifying format.
Amongst today’s other big talking points to round off another busy week in F1, Lotus is finally set to run its new E22 in Jerez and Bernie Ecclestone predicts Force India victories this year.
Teams opting not to run in Q3 to save tyres is the major sticking point
Only five short weeks before the start of the Formula One season in Melbourne, the FIA is set to shake up the qualifying format to further boost the spectacle of the sport.
Autosport revealed on Thursday that motorsport’s governing body has set a meeting date for February 21, with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and team bosses to discuss changing the format.
One of the major concerns of the current qualifying format was teams backing off in Q3 or simply electing not to set a time in a strategic bid to save their tyres for the race.
Amongst the solutions believed to be pushed forward are forcing the Q3 drivers to start with the tyres they set their best Q2 lap on or alternatively giving them an extra set of qualifying tyres for Q3 that are not to be used for the race.
Such a change would need the unanimous backing from all teams involved at the meeting to be pushed through in time for the season opener in Australia on March 16.
Having been forced to sit out the opening four-day test session of the season due to development issues, the Lotus team is to run its new E22 chassis at Jerez on Friday.
The running will be as part of a promotional filming day. As a result, the car will be limited to 100km and will have to run on demonstration tyres.
In any case, with the troubles experienced by Renault in the recent test session at Jerez and with Lotus having unveiled a controversial twin-tusk front nose in its interpretation of the new aero regulations, the test should generate no shortage of interest.
Pastor Maldonado will be the driver behind the wheel of the E22 and wrote on Twitter that he was excited to be getting back to action.
finally back to the track work, planing a filming day in Jerez today. looking forward to drive the new E22— Pastor Maldonado (@Pastormaldo) February 7, 2014
Hulkenberg in action for Force India in Jerez
Staying on the subject of Lotus, Nico Hulkenberg has revealed he is uncertain whether not moving to the Enstone team will benefit him.
Hulkenberg was a strong candidate for the Lotus drive after Kimi Raikkonen jumped ship to re-join Ferrari. However, a combination of factors—including the team failing to secure investment from Quantum Motorsports—led to Lotus opting for the well-backed Pastor Maldonado.
When asked if he was relieved to re-join Force India in light of Lotus’ current plight, Hulkenberg said it is too early to judge. Per Autosport:
It is difficult to say. There is a bit of uncertainty and it is quite an unclear situation at the moment [for Lotus]. But I don't know whether that affects their performance at the moment. That is still to be seen. We will see how it develops for them."
I think the team has grown. You can see when I came back to the factory first, the infrastructure has changed. There are more people as well and the team is growing, so it is a good signal.
Bernie Ecclestone with Force India boss Vijay Mallya
If Nico Hulkenberg is unsure whether or not his move to Force India will pay dividends, the man who runs F1’s commercial matters is sure he has done the right thing.
In light of the radical new engine regulations that have already seen reliability issues aplenty during the Jerez test, Bernie Ecclestone is sure that Force India can not only achieve podiums, but race victories in 2014.
Per Indian news agency IANS (via ESPNF1):
Why a podium? I would love to see them win a race. And I am confident they can achieve that. They might not be as strong as the Mercedes but as their customers, Force India should progress farther up the grid.
Anything can happen under the new regulations. So I would not want to comment much on what could happen this season. The way things worked out at Jerez, Mercedes seem best prepared to succeed with Rosberg winning the title.
Young GP2 front-runner Felipe Nasr is to fill the role of test and reserve driver for the Williams F1 team, as revealed by Autosprint via GrandPrix.com.
With Williams having already acquired the services of Felipe Massa, Nasr will be the second Brazilian in the team. The move will bring more valuable funds to the privateer outfit, as he is backed by Banco do Brasil and Sky Brasil.
Nasr’s new role will require him to run in Friday morning practice sessions for half of the races on the 2014 calendar and participate in testing during the season.