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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Devil's in the (Lotus) Detail

Now that we've had the excitement of the live Lotus E21 Launch, the first F1 car launch of the year, we can let the excitement fade a little and turn to the experts in the F1 Tech to see what they're saying.

Before that it is worth noting that very little has changed in terms of the F1 Regulations and how we can see the E21 responding by way of design.

  1. There's a weight redistribution issue resulting from the increased weight of the Pirelli Tyres, adding about 2Kg to the overall package, so the minimum weight limit has been increased by 2Kg to compensate. This has resulted in the weight distribution requirement being revised to minimum figures of 292Kg-343Kg front to rear.
  2. The teams still have 7Kg of moveable ballast within the car.
  3. The vanity cover to hide the stepped nose has been allowed, but as James Allison said at the launch, Lotus have left it off because it weighs a few grams and, as of yet, they don't think that it will provide much in the way of benefit.
  4. Front wings have a more stringent deflection test to ensure they don't flex.  The amount the wing can deflect is reduced from 20mm to 10mm.  The experts all agree that the E21 "launch" front wing is a dummy, so we won't know its detail until testing at the earliest.
  5. The crash tests are more severe than last years - however that's governed by the FIA tests and is strength rather than design.
  6. The "active double DRS" systems have been banned, however passive solutions are still legal.  Interestingly the live Launch car did not show the Lotus Passive system, while the press pack photographs do show it up beside the airflow box above the drivers head.  

My first thoughts on the Lotus and the season ahead are:

The front and rear wings are relatively generic designs and as such probably don't tell us very much about the Lotus approach to these areas.

The nose is still "bent" or stepped if you like and the "vanity cover" set out in the above Regulations is going to be a hot discussion topic pre-season, and perhaps even into the early races.  James Allison ruled out the Lotus using the panel at this stage saying 
"We have not done it yet because a cosmetic panel would weigh a few grammes and that’s anathema. However if we find one which looks nice but more crucially which gives us a few more points of downforce we’ll put it on the car as quick as you like".
The expert thoughts on this, set out below, would appear to agree that this might well be a case of Lotus not giving anything away to its competitors at this early stage. Lotus obviously think that they've improved the car overall with James Allison saying that while it is an iteration of the E20 "the devil is in the detail and it adds up to a significant amount of performance"; as to what constitutes a significant amount of performance your guess is as good as mine.
We might be able to gauge the improvements amongst the different cars in the first race of the season but with the free use of DRS banned in FP and Qualifying only in race pace will the performance be really calcuable.  Pirelli think their tyres will provide an extra half second a lap so this improvement will also have to be added to the calculations.  Fastest race laps by each of the drivers should provide a clearer picture of how much use the teams have made of the off-season.

My first question, of course, is how have Lotus visibly altered the car over last years model:

Gary Anderson at the BBC says:
There are bigger downforce-producing turning vanes - curved bodywork - on the bottom of the brake ducts and more at the front of the sidepods, which are reminiscent of those raced by Red Bull and Sauber at the end of last year.
F1Technical's view:
The new car continues to feature a front push rod suspension, along with a pull rod suspension at the rear end of the car. The car's sidepods are largely the same, albeit different at the front, where the sidepod panel is now connected with the monocoque by a small, horizontal winglet just ahead of the radiator air inlets.
The nose itself is quite narrow and on launch specification is missing the bulbous underbelly which was present last season to help create balance.The suspension looks similar, which makes sense as the Lotus was one of the best cars last year at using its tyres.
One thing apparent on the launch car is Sauber style flow conditioners or ‘pod wings’ later utilised by Red Bull. It is thought that these little winglets have a lot to do with the airflow around the rear of the car especially around the exhaust exit and diffuser.
Also apparent in the high res studio images (below) are the odd bumps on the nose that James Allison refuses to explain. Note the lump on the right front (the left of this pic) is much larger than that on the left front. Usually you would expect to find damper mounts in this area but they would almost always be symmetrical.
Missing from the launch teasers are any turning vanes under the nose which likely means the team have concentrated their efforts in this region and don't want to give too much away to the other teams too early...The team seem to have adopted a sharp undercut in the engine cover under the Airbox.  This is likely done to maximise the upswept air from the sloped nose and re-purpose the airflow down to the rear of the car

The second question relates to the design of the area around the exhaust, improvement to which we know has become one of the holy grails since 2009

We can see once more that the team are edging their bets in the render department showing two variants of the exhaust solution. The physical launch car featured a Red Bull esque Downwash Ramp with Exhaust trough and cross-under tunnel but in the lower rendering we can see a more simple ramp configuration also ran by Red Bull throughout 2012 but can be traced back to Sauber early on in the season
The rear end of the car is the most different, with Lotus copying Red Bull Racing's exhaust ramp. This means the sidepods now feature a downward slope at the end, trying to pull the exhaust gases downward to the floor and around each side of the diffuser to increase the diffuser's efficiency and downforce generation.
The exhaust location of the car is crucial and it appears that Lotus has followed the Sauber (and later Red Bull) lead. The exhaust gasses exit from a bulge at the rear of the sidepod and the Coanda effect (in theory) draws it down to the edge of the floor in the inner face of the rear tyre. If it works properly the flow then seals off the diffuser from a vortex generated by the rotating tyre. In effect this style of exhaust could be considered a ‘cold blow’ diffuser.
Last year, Red Bull and Sauber had bodywork right back beyond the rear wheels. The exhaust gases stuck to that as the team guided them down to the gap between the floor and wheels to increase downforce. Ferrari and McLaren, by contrast, aimed the gases across a gap.
Lotus have gone for the Red Bull/Sauber approach. It's not possible to tell from the pictures so far whether they have also followed Red Bull in guiding them through a hole in the floor into the central section of the diffuser.
They were late to the party on the Coanda exhausts, which channel exhaust gas down to the diffuser, so there is more to come for them in this area than their direct competitors.
First/Final impressions?

As launched, the new Lotus E21 looks very similar to last year's E20 but developments will start to emerge when it begins testing next month.
It's certainly different to the E20 design, but will likely change before the first race in Melbourne. Aesthetically however, the car is arguably less impressive, as the new livery features more red on the sidepods and the engine cover, somewhat spoiling the magical effect of the legendary black and gold livery
The renders of the car from the front show how closely the E21 represents the previous carnation

Well it is a direct descendant of the 2012 car, that is clear. This makes sense as the Lotus was one of the most competitive cars last year.

The expert conclusion would appear to be that it's quite like itself from the front, its got a Bull's bottom and a sideways glance might convince you to remain Sauber (sorry).

Monday, January 28, 2013

Photographs of the Lotus F1 Team E21 Unveiled at Enstone and Online

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - the photographs of the new E21 interspersed with a couple of the E20 just for the purpose of comparison.  All photographs copyright of their owners and appear courtesy of the Lotus F1 Team.  I'll say more tomorrow, I know that you just waant to get to know the first new car of the season!

E20 Launch Last year
Copyright: LAT Photographic

E20 at first test in Jerez
Copyright LAT photographic

The Lotus F1 Team E21 was launched this evening from the team’s Enstone base in Oxfordshire, England.
Revealed to team partners on site, streamed live on YouTube and broadcast live on Sky Sports News in the UK, the E21 will contest the 2013 FIA Formula 1 World Championship with drivers Kimi Räikkönen (E21 n°7) and Romain Grosjean (E21 n°8).

The bumph accompanying the launch states that the E21 continues the design themes seen in its race-winning predecessor, the E20. However, it is pushing last year’s concepts even further as well as incorporating some innovative technical solutions. The new car also features a slightly tweaked livery, incorporating an extra touch or red.

The Third Driver for the season is GP2 series champion Davide Valsecchi

Team Quotes

Eric Boullier, Team Principal:
"I think it is fair to say that great things are possible from the team and the E21. The leap we made from 2011 to 2012 showed what we are capable of. Add to this the continuity and potential of our driver line-up and we have a very powerful cocktail for the season ahead. Our ambitious plan to turn ourselves into one of the top teams in Formula 1 is coming to fruition and now we need to harness this with strong and regular podium results."

James Allison, Technical Director:
"The E20 proved itself to be an effective racing car – particularly towards the end of last season – so there is an element of expectation from the E21 and plenty to build upon. We have continued with our design themes and tried to create a more efficient and faster racing car based on all the lessons we learnt last year. How successful we have been in this task will only be discovered when we take to the track at the winter tests and – more significantly – at Grands Prix."

Kimi Räikkönen, Race Driver:
"Of course, I’ve not driven the E21 yet so it’s difficult to say what could or could not be possible for the year ahead. We know we had a good car last season, but everyone is working hard to make the best package. I will be working with the team to help get the car as strong as we can, then in Melbourne we’ll have our first taste of results. It’s a long season from there. 2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013."

Romain Grosjean, Race Driver:
"I can clearly say I want to score a lot of points for the team – everybody knows that – but I think it would be wrong for me to say I want to finish in a particular position in the championship. I really want to jump out of the car as many times as possible thinking that I did a good job. Knowing that everything I could do, I did, and feeling proud of my race or session. I hope to feel that way as many times as possible this year."

Further Interviews with Kimi, Romain, Eric Boullier & James Allison

Kimi Räikkönen: “2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013”
The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion talks of his hopes for his second season with Lotus F1 Team after a successful comeback to the sport
What are your thoughts heading into your second season with Lotus F1 Team?
I’m feeling pretty good. Last year was my return to Formula 1 and it went pretty well. This year will be my second with Lotus F1 Team and my eleventh season overall in Formula 1 so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect. I’m sure it will be an exciting season and I’m sure there’ll be lots to talk about. For me, I will continue to do the best I can; let’s see how good our car is, and how good the cars of the opposition are too.
Is the continuity of going into your second season with the team beneficial to you?
It helps. It’s not a massive thing which will suddenly mean you start winning all the races, but it’s nice to be at the same team as you understand how they work, and they understand how you work. We quickly developed a pretty good way of working together last year and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue this season.
Are you still learning as a driver?
I don’t think you ever stop learning, but there is less to learn than if you’re a rookie. I don’t think I could say I’m a rookie. We had new tracks last year; that’s always something nice to learn and for me best learnt on the tracks themselves. There will be a new car which we’ll want to develop and get working at its best. There are always changes in the sport; some small, some big. Generally everything’s pretty similar, and the feeling of racing on track is pretty familiar.
This is the second year of a two-year deal; are you thinking of 2014 and beyond?
I’m not really thinking beyond this season at the moment, but I’m sure there will be talk before the end of the year. I enjoyed my comeback to Formula 1 last year and there’s no reason to say I shouldn’t enjoy the 2013 season too. I know there will be big changes to the cars and regulations for 2014, so who’s to say that won’t be exciting.
Have you set yourself targets and objectives for the season?
To do the best job I can. I’ve not driven the E21 yet so it’s difficult to say what could or could not be possible. We know we had a good car last season, but everyone is working hard to make the best car. I will be working with the team to help get the car as strong as we can, then in Melbourne we’ll have our first taste of results. It’s a long season from there. 2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013.
Do you think the team has what it takes to win a championship?
Yes, I think they do. It’s clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they’ve won championships. Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future. Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win. The team have beaten everyone before and there’s nothing to say they can’t do it again.
Are you looking forward to working with Romain again?
We had a pretty good relationship last year and it’s clear he’s fast and motivated. On track we were pretty close to each other at times but we didn’t have any issues. It’s good when you have a team-mate who’s fast and works hard. I think we should be fine in 2013.
Do you think you proved a point in 2012?
Maybe for other people, but not for myself. I knew I could still perform well in Formula 1 given the right opportunity; it was only other people who had doubts.

Romain Grosjean: “I want to score a lot of points for the team”
With his first full season of Formula 1 now in the bank, Romain Grosjean looks ahead to 2013 and a chance to build on a promising start to his second Lotus F1 Team career
How is the Romain Grosjean that starts the 2013 season different from the Romain Grosjean who started the 2012 season? How have you changed?
Well first of all I’m older! No, it’s clearly different for me this year. I have much more experience in Formula 1 and even if I knew the team before, I now know how to work with the engineers much better on the technical side. I also know all the tracks and understand better the various challenges of a season. Generally things worked out pretty well, although some things didn’t always turn out as good as we wanted. It’s going to be very interesting to start the new season.
What are your targets or objectives for 2013?
I can clearly say I want to score a lot of points for the team – everybody knows that – but I think it would be wrong for me to say I want to finish in a particular position in the championship. I really want to jump out of the car as many times as possible thinking that I did a good job. Knowing that everything I could do, I did, and feeling proud of my race or session. I hope to feel that way as many times as possible this year.
What did you learn most last season?
It’s tough to pick just one thing. You start your career in Formula 1 thinking ‘Okay, that’s a new challenge, a tough challenge’ but then you work into the season and you think ‘Whoa! This challenge is even bigger than I thought!’ All the elements of a Formula 1 season including the travelling – energy-wise, managing the jet lag – the media and marketing stuff, the physical demands and preparation for driving the car are quite something. I know what I need much better now and that’s what I’ve learnt from last year.
How good did it feel to finally get confirmation for 2013, which came very shortly after you became the ‘Champion of Champions’ at the Race of Champions?
There were a few things which we had to go over before a decision was made and for sure it wasn’t nice waiting, but it was certainly very nice to get the confirmation. The timing was good too; just after the Race of Champions win, which was a coincidence. It allowed me to have a much better winter.
How much input have you had on the E21? Did you have a wish list of what you would like?
All through last year, the feedback given about the E20 was interpreted by the development team for the E21. This means there’s a lot of information from me and Kimi which went into this car. It’s difficult to say after the season ‘we would like this or that’ for next year. I think it’s more about the work done during the whole season; discussing this or that, or an idea about this or that. After twenty races you know more-or-less what has been good with the car and what hasn’t. Hopefully we’ve made the right calls for this year.
How exciting have the developments been behind the scenes at Enstone?
I like the development process and I really like seeing the new car ‘growing up’. You see the first design, you see it being tested in the wind tunnel and then finally after a long time you see the finished car. It’s very interesting and I really like to follow it and understand as much as I can, without being an engineer. It’s always good.
Do you think you have a point to prove in 2013?
I think everyone is waiting to see if I’m able to be consistent, which is where I was lacking a little bit last year. I know it and I’ll do everything I can to prove to people that I’m able to achieve this goal. 
The Team Principal wants to play with the big boys in 2013
How are you looking forward to 2013 and what do you hope can be achieved?
I think it is fair to say that great things are possible. The leap we made from 2011 to 2012 showed what we are capable of. Add to this the continuity and potential of our driver line-up and we have a very powerful cocktail for the season ahead. Our ambitious plan to turn ourselves into one of the top teams in Formula 1 is coming to fruition and now we need to harness this with strong and regular podium results.
What advantages does the team have compared to its championship rivals?
We are lean and hungry. Enstone knows how to win championships, but it is a while since we have won so we are very eager to taste glory again. We have a fantastic facility at Enstone and one which has benefitted from significant and strategic investment over the past couple of years. We have a highly accomplished technical and design team who last year produced a fantastic car, the E20. The E21 builds on this. We have a superb driver line-up with the 2007 champion, Kimi, and a hungry young gun in Romain. We have further strength in our partners and we are certainly primed and ready for action.
How do you see the driver dynamic evolving through the course of the season?
We know that both drivers work well together and their skills and talents complement each other. Kimi has such a wide range of experience and he knows how to react to any situation or circumstance. He’s also a superb resource technically. Romain has superb raw speed which we are confident will be harnessed in a more effective manner during races in 2013. Both are competitive individuals – as racing drivers are – and this pushes each one of them and the team to better things. It was clear how much we benefitted from having two very talented drivers in 2012 and I can only see this getting even better in 2013.
Where does the team’s focus lie in 2013?
It is certainly an interesting year. On the one hand, we have the season ahead and the very strong desire to achieve great things. On the other hand, we have significant technical changes around the corner in 2014 and an element of resource will naturally be focused on this area. On the track we want to achieve the very best results possible and this is true off track too. In every element of our operations we want to be the best.
Are there formal targets for 2013 and what are they?
We want to do better than we did last year. 2012 was a good season for us – certainly in the context of the previous season – but we, like every team in this highly competitive sport, want to win. We want to make regular appearances on the podium, and add to our tally of appearances on the top step.

James Allison: “There is an element of expectation from the E21”
Lotus F1 Team Technical Director James Allison looks to the season ahead
How different are the 2013 regulations compared with 2012?
After a string of quite eventful rule changes and interpretations in the years since 2009 it looks as if 2013 is going to be a year of regulatory stability. There are only a few, very limited changes which comes as a considerable relief to the entire grid given the size of the transformation bearing down on the sport for 2014. Mind you, even with no changes to the text of the regulations, we never stop poring over the rules to look for new loopholes. Quite often, young engineers fresh from university will point out an ambiguity in the text of a regulation that has been settled for decades because they are looking at what is written with fresh eyes and no preconceived ideas about what is actually intended.
Will the cars we see in 2013 look much different from those we saw in 2012?
I’m guessing not. There is one rule which opens the possibility for a change as we will now be permitted to fit a non-structural ‘vanity panel’ on the upper surface of the nose as a means of avoiding the duck-bill style designs that we saw in 2012. However, such a panel is optional and I would not be surprised if the majority of the grid chose not to make use of it. The panel will add a few grammes of weight and so is only likely to run on the car if a team can find a performance benefit for doing so.
Does continuing with two drivers give the technical team benefits?
The best thing about sticking with our 2012 pairing is that they are both fast! Fringe benefits also include not having to re-invent the seat, pedals, steering wheel and so on. Not having to establish fresh relationships between engineers and drivers is also welcome.
What is completely new and what is more familiar on the E21?
Depending on where you look, some parts of the new car are a ground-up redesign and in other areas we have further optimised the best bits of the design philosophy we’ve adopted for several seasons. The front and rear suspension layouts are substantially revised to try and give us better aerodynamic opportunities. The front wing is a continuation of the concepts we have worked on since the 2009 rules were published. For the rear wing system, we’ve continued to try to work on having a satisfactory level of rear downforce stability whilst having maximum DRS switching potential.
Talking of DRS; what about the so-called Double DRS Device?
This is an area we continue to work on and the passive nature of the switching of our device means it is not outlawed by the latest regulations. It is not something which will be a silver bullet to transform our car, but it is something which could add performance as part of the overall design.
Are there likely to be any further ‘secret weapons’ in the arsenal for 2013?
That would be telling.
Does the E21 have great expectations on its shoulders?
The E20 proved itself to be an effective racing car, so there is an element of expectation from the E21. We have continued with our design themes and tried to build a more efficient and faster racing car based on all the lessons we learnt last year. How successful we have been at this we will only know once we take to the track at Grands Prix.
What can we expect from Pirelli’s 2013 tyres?
We had a brief taste of the development tyre on track at Brazil and it did appear to be a step forwards. Pirelli have also published the compound list for 2013 and we are happy to see that they are sensibly aggressive choices. Pre-season testing will give us a much better idea of what to expect, but most of the indications suggest that the tyres will play a helpful part in making another attractive season.
What are the goals and targets for 2013?
In terms of goals and targets, we never set out to build the second-fastest or third-fastest car; we set out to build the fastest and most effective car that we possibly can. We want to improve our car in all areas from last year’s and we want the improvements we make to be greater than those made by the opposition. However, having said all that, the official target established by the team’s owners is to achieve a minimum of third place in the Constructors’ Championship. 

Car Launch Dates

Just for those of you who have contacted me for clarification of the car launch dates:

Car Launch Dates
Lotus                January 28
McLaren          January 31
Ferrari              February 1
Force India       February 1
Sauber             February 2
Red Bull           February 3
Mercedes         February 4
Toro Rosso      February 4
Caterham         February 5
Williams           February 19

No confirmed launch date for the Marussia as of yet.

As far as I'm aware most of these are taking place online, though the last four on the list are taking place at Pre-season testing locations.  Red Bull's Launch I'm unsure about because I haven't looked up the where and the how as of yet.

Susie Wolff Test Driver?

Williams has today confirmed that Susie Wolff will be the first to get behind the wheel of the FW35 next month at Idaida and will "do the majority of aerodynamic testing this season"

Susie Wolff - Williams Third Driver for 2013?
Courtesy Williams F1 team: Copyright:Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic
I'm presuming that the Idaida test will comprise straight line testing of aerodynamic components.  This circuit has been frequently used for this purpose over the course of a number of seasons.

For Susie to be the first behind the wheel this test will have to take place prior to the launch of the Williams on February 19th which will coincide with the first day of testing at Barcelona.  An opportunity for some enterprising (non-F1) photographer to get exclusive shots of the new car before it's launch.

What is not clear is exactly what her role is to be.  No mention is made as to whether she is the de facto third driver and the press release from Williams is carefully worded to state that she will be continuing her role as Development Driver, but then goes on to make it clear that her role has been expanded significantly on last year's.

Susie, on her role at Williams states:
Increasing my role this year will further this progression (development as a driver) and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the FW35 for the first time next month. I’m showing that women can play a role at the top level of motorsport and would like to thank Sir Frank Williams and the whole of the technical team for the trust they continue to show in me.
Mike Coughlan's statement is where the obfuscation takes place:
Susie has proved herself to be a valuable addition to our driver roster and her feedback during simulator sessions is second to none. As a result we will be stepping up her role this year and I’m looking forward to the progress we can make with Susie’s input in conjunction with that of Pastor and Valtteri.
This is why I wonder whether she is given the step to Test Driver - her input in conjunction with Pastor and Valtteri - no mention is made of another driver who might provide input.  This of course could be down to the fact that Williams have made no decision as of yet, however, it may well be that what is left unsaid may provide insight into the Williams frame of mind, no driver will be named and no commitment to Susie will be made in the form of Job Title.  That plan would pave the way for the team to bring a third driver on-board should one be needed at a later date but will also allow both Team Drivers to partake fully in the FP sessions leading up to qualifying and the GP's throughout the 2013 season.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

F1 2013 car launches begin tomorrow

Now, finally, the pre season comes to life.  I'm getting excited because the first of the car launches takes place tomorrow. The Lotus challenger gets revealed tomorrow at 19.15.  Like many of the teams, Lotus have decided to launch their car online, with the car being revealed live on the Lotus YouTube channel and on Sky Sports News.

Gone are the days when we fans had to wait for surreptitious pictures to appear on dodgy websites before the mainstream guys got back from whatever expensive, glitzy, junket launch location had been chosen.

It is great to be able to "attend" the event and see everything as it happens.

Last year it was the Caterham that launched first and the step nose caused a lot of controversy when it was revealed.  When the majority of the other challengers exhibited the same design approach the discussion centred upon whether it was a better approach than the McLaren.

That question still remains to be answered given that last year McLaren imploded in mid-season with a series of mistakes when the car was clearly dominant that probably cost them the WDC in the shape of Lewis Hamilton.  Jenson Button's challenge was scuppered by a series of poor drives in the early part of the season when he couldn't get his tyres to work properly. McLaren are to launch online on Thursday.

The cars are likely to sport a relatively homologous nose design this season given that the "step nose" teams will be putting vanity panels over the nose to hide the step. It must be the first time in F1 history that a design element has been introduced solely for the purpose of making the cars look better - a case of "fibreglass" surgery? I couldn't resist!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pirelli's 2013 degradation factor a complete unknown

I was listening to the Pirelli webcast presentation of their new tyres earlier in the week, while going about my own work at the same time, and having listened to what they had to say I was looking forward to the Q&A when I could ask them a question.  Unfortunately work intervened in the form of a phone call and 15 minutes later, when I checked back in the Q&A was over - I had missed my opportunity.

Luckily, in the twitter age, direct access is available so I could ask @Pirelli_Media after the fact.

 what compounds were tested in Brazil and did the data collected at FP mean any changes were made?

  1. To which they responded:

 It was the hard tyre with its new construction but not yet new compound. Feedback was good - no major changes made.

So, the teams have absolutely no data on degradation levels going into Jerez?  I asked the question:

 So teams know the feel, weight, & impact of the 2013 tyre but have absolutely no idea of degradation levels until Jerez?

To which they responded:

 Yes It's true. Our 2013 range of tyres mixes up the cards once more.

Understanding the tyres was a critical part of the 2012 pre-season testing, but the data would have been difficult to process as it must have impacted upon the teams' understanding of their new cars
Courtesy: Pirelli F1, © FOTO ERCOLE COLOMBO
The presentation made clear the fact that degradation levels were going to be higher on the new compounds and that the tyres degradation levels would rule out one stop pit strategies, so, the teams will, just as last year, have only the tests at Jerez and Barcelona to get to grips (pardon the pun) with the new tyre compounds and their degradation levels.

And, just as last year, they will be testing them in European late Winter/early Spring conditions.  I'm going to assume that this will once again lead to a lottery in Australian, Malaysian, Chinese and Bahrain weather conditions which are likely to see temperatures significantly higher than the teams experience in their February pre-season testing.

The usual suspects were on the podium in Melbourne last year but the races were anything but predictable
Copyright: Pirelli F1
Continuity of design might have occurred which should have led to closer racing amongst the top 5 and the midfield, but lack of continuity in the tyre compounds may well mean that, for the second season running we don't see the best cars battling it out at the front as tyre strategies are likely to determine the early race outcomes once again.

It might suit Checo at McLaren and it might suit the Lotus cars, all of whom showed they were good at dialling the tyres in, but for sheer speed it should suit the Red Bull's, McLaren's, Ferrari's and, hopefully the Williams as the tyres are designed to reach optimal temperature more quickly than last years.

Williams showed the car was a good overall package by winning in Barcelona, a very technical track where the majority of tests take place.  Pre DRS, KERS, and Tyres the intimate knowledge the teams had of the track and it's make-up tended  to mean that the races were not particularly exciting unless it rained.
Copyright: Pirelli F1
Anyone with a good underfloor aero package, that can give good mid-corner downforce should also benefit as Pirelli say that the Tyre's construction lends itself to increased mid-corner grip which allows the drivers to get on the power earlier on exit.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ross Brawn and Nick Fry to resign from Mercedes?

I've seen a lot of twitter chatter about Paddy Lowe moving from McLaren to Mercedes.  It comes from an article in Bild and says that the move is a done deal.  The story basically says that Toto Wolff was bringing him to Williams to replace Mark Gillan but, now that he has been appointed to Mercedes Paddy has been persuaded to bring his talents to the German Marque.

There's speculation that Ross Brawn and/or Nick Fry are to leave Mercedes
Courtesy Mercedes AMG
That is the primary thrust of the story but it is the last paragraph which really interests me.  If you pardon my interpretation of the Google translator's interpretation of the German story which says:
"insiders also question whether Ross, the new Mercedes-constellation plus the People Lowe referred to Mercedes team boss Brawn and Nick Fry is his right hand. In England, there is speculation that the two are about to throw in the towel"
Is this not the real story here?  This is speculation which I haven't heard from any online or offline source and I'm wondering just where the information comes from.  The only reference that I can see is a single line in Autosport's story about Toto Wolff which says:
"Team CEO Nick Fry remains a part of Mercedes for now, but his future role is being discussed".
Whether that constitutes speculation that Brawn and Fry are leaving Mercedes AMG is questionable.  No sources are quoted in the Autosport article in respect of this statement and it appears that it is based on the Mercedes Press Release sentence:
Together with Ross Brawn, Lauda and Wolff will complete the management of the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 racing team
Is the omission of Nick Fry intentional? After all this was written by PR people to announce Wolff's appointment.  I'd be interested to know where this is going - I can see it now "Ross Brawn to Williams" - spectacular!

On a lighter note Lewis Hamilton visited the Mercedes Factory yesterday and the photo below shows a beautiful picture of the grid history of the Silver Arrows in F1 - Oh yeah, Lewis is in the picture too! The video of his visit is on the Mercedes AMG Petronas Website and youtube.  I've embedded it below.

Can I have this one for my company car?
Lewis gets up close and personal with what looks like Fangio's Mercedes-Benz W196R which brought him 4 wins and one second place in 1955 winning the WDC.
Courtesy: Mercedes AMG

Monday, January 21, 2013

Glock out at Marussia

Is this the saving grace of the off-season?  Instead of talking about rumours in regard to vacant seats we are now faced by the departure of Timo Glock from Marussia "by mutual consent" - by mutual consent read "Marussia wants money driver".

Marussia are the only team on the grid in 2013 that haven't given this Blog access to their media centre so I don't have any direct access to their news stories or pictures.  This may well be due to the fact that I have spent quite a lot of time criticising the team's performance; it may be down to the fact that I was of the opinion that one shock result over the course of a 20 race season should not entitle you to leapfrog in the WCC over a team who has consistently beaten you throughout the rest of the season and it certainly doesn't entitle you to get too upset when that position is taken away from you.

The fact is that over the course of the season the Marussia team were just not strong enough to challenge Caterham in any serious way.  Towards the end of the season the battle was closer as Caterham slipped backwards and the Marussia team worked harder to exploit their rivals failings, but, any sane assessment of 2012 would accept that the team just weren't good enough to deserve 10th.

It would have required a points finish to change my mind on that one.

As for Timo Glock I would feel that he is an F1 driver that has failed to achieve his potential (as have so many before him).

His two seasons with Toyota in 2008/2009 showed that he was capable of achieving great results in a not so great car.  He finished 4th in Canada and Singapore and 2nd in Hungary in 2008 but then finished the season by giving away Felipe Massa's WDC, with family already celebrating, to Lewis Hamilton.  But his 2009 season showed just as much promise with some great qualifying performances, two podiums and some strong drives in a car that, once again, did not live up to Toyota's hopes.

Toyota's departure left him vying for seats down the grid and, unfortunately for him, he ended up with Virgin  Racing and from there to it's later incarnation as Marussia.

From the back of the grid, racing against HRT F1 it was always unlikely that his ability behind the wheel would shine and, without the backing of sponsorship, in a team with little in the way of a bankroll, it was only a matter of time before the dollar signs dictated that he would lose his seat.  Much like Heikki Kovalainen, his mate, his years at the blunt end of the grid, with a team that gives little opportunity to showcase his abilities, has meant that he is overlooked by the potential paying teams ahead.

Once again his career is moving him away from Formula One, as it did after his very brief deputising spell at Jordan in 2004, lets hope that he once again impresses outside the fold, as he did in Champcar in 2005 and GP2 in 2006/2007 and returns to F1 in a strong car that allows him to realise his F1 potential.

Until then, there's a new seat available in F1 for 2013 if you can bring enough money to the table!

Williams Press Release: Wolff Confirmed to Mercedes

Williams F1 Press release as worded


21 January 2013. Grove, UK. Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC (WGPH, Ticker: WGF1) today announced that Toto Wolff, one of its Executive Directors, will be leaving the Company with immediate effect to take up a new role with Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Toto will be relinquishing his seat on the Company’s Board of Directors but will retain his shareholding. Team Principal and majority shareholder Sir Frank Williams will continue to oversee the running of the Company with Toto’s responsibilities being shared between members of the Board’s Executive Committee.

Speaking about Toto Wolff’s departure Sir Frank Williams commented; ‘’I would like to thank Toto for his hard work, dedication and commitment to the team during his time as a Director of the Company. He was a key support to me as Executive Director last season, deputising at a number of races when I was unable to attend. However, positions such as the one offered to him by Mercedes do not come around often. Toto has a long history with them and I certainly was not going to stand in the way of him accepting this once in a lifetime opportunity. Toto will retain his shareholding in Williams and will always have a place at Grove but make no mistake; we will fight him hard on the racetrack! I am sure he will be a strong asset for Mercedes and on behalf of the whole team I would like to wish him the best of luck in his new role. I’m lucky to have a very professional group of people around me and the Company’s Executive Committee will continue the work they have been doing to ensure a successful future for the business.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's happening in F1?

Sorry about not writing much over the off-season but that is purely because, sadly, there's little, if any, news that I think is exciting enough, or that I have enough knowledge to write about.

Along with that I'm neck deep in work which means that every waking moment is spent trying to achieve numerous deadlines and get the money in (the most difficult task of all).

I'm not out of the loop though. I'm keeping abreast of all of the stories that are feeding the F1 sites through this difficult hiatus before the first wheels turn in anger during pre-season testing.

It was Joe Saward's blog (in the Blog section on the Right-Hand-Side), along with Leigh O'Gorman of The Motorsport Archive that convinced me, even though I already knew it in my heart of hearts, that stories revolving around car launches, driver rumours, chassis passing the mandatory crash tests, etc. were only being written to enable me to keep publishing content, rather than for their newsworthiness.  These things are futile to a certain extent but they do keep our F1 vacuum filled during the long cold days of Winter.

I just don't have the time to indulge myself at the moment so I'm hoping that all of you who have read my content during last season will come back to see me once the car launches and testing get under way.

Mike Gascoyne was right, The step nose was prevalent at the F1 2012 car launches
There is always anticipation and excitement in watching the covers come off the new season challenger from the teams. Last year we had the Caterham out first with its stepped nose and Mike Gascoyne's comments that a lot of designers would choose this route to comply with the 2012 Regs.

I have to say I hated the step nose and was absolutely delighted when the Mclaren Mercedes emerged from under the covers with a pure, clean, unadulterated shape.  When the other challengers emerged from their wrapping it was clear to me that, either the McLaren boys had got it right and everyone else was wrong, or they would have to change in order to compete.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 2012 season F1 launch
McLaren Car Launch 2012
Pretty, wasn't it? A beacon of shining silver amidst the broken nosed opposition
Once again I was wrong. Upon the emergence of the NewNewey Red Bull with it's - shockhorror - step in the nose I began to anticipate a battle for supremacy between the McLaren and Red Bull design philosophies.

The Red Bull confirmed that the step was going to be competitive
Copyright: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
I still feel that the McLaren had the capability of winning the 2012 World Constructors' Championship; I think if they had gotten to grips (pardon the pun) with the tyres from the outset that they would have walked away with it in the first half of the season.

Personally, no matter that I hated the look of the step nose, F1 has never been a beauty contest but rather an incredibly competitive sport; so it is speed, aerodynamic efficiency, and grip that count, not looks.

Ugly is a symptom of regulation and speed: If it's fast the look of it doesn't matter. Aesthetics is all well and good but it won't fit in the trophy cabinet.  Look at Gary Anderson's 1991 7UP Jordan 191 - at the time it was definitely the prettiest car on the grid and, for a first season car it produced a 5th place in the Constructor's. But it was beaten into 4th by the Bennetton B191 which was a very a very ugly, early aero version of the 1994/1995 sharknose design, and was further beaten by the Ferrari 642 with its circular shaped mid-section comprising sidepods with huge air intake ducts in combination with a sharp, thin and low nose.

Rambling aside, my point being that while it is always desirable that an F1 car look pretty, really all that matters is that it is fast and reliable.

I want good looks but at the end of the day I'd prefer good racing and if that means 22 Christian Bale Batmobiles lining up on an F1 grid I'll still be watching (and maybe supporting the prettiest ugly one).

Thus we come to it. Why did this vanity cover come into being to cover up the step?  No aero advantage is allowed to be gained through its introduction, it is simply aesthetic.  It's simply a form of plastic surgery to make them appear less ugly - like a boxer getting someone to fix his broken nose.  Pointless, daft and futile; it takes time and effort away from the design process.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Forti F1 Owner passes away

Italian Guido Forti has passed away at the age of 72 in Alessandria in northern Italy.

Best known for the Forti Corse F1 team that bore his name, I always thought of it as Forti Ford, He had plenty of success with his team in Formula 3 and Formula 3000 in the 1980's and early '90's before deciding to bring the name into Formula 1 in 1995.

He'd been working on the F1 project since 1992 when he met Abilio dos Santos a wealthy Brazilian with a son who wanted to go racing- one Pedro Diniz.

Pedro's family got huge sponsorship deals with Parmalat, Marlboro, Gillette, Duracell and others which formed the base of Forti's budget and all featured prominently on the yellow primary background colour of the FG-01. A mish-mash of sponsorship which any of todays teams would love to have, regardless of the visual incongruity.

The money enabled the team to work on the F1 dream.

Forti had a very modest budget of about 7.5 million to go F1 racing and, after designing the first Forti F1 car the FG-01 in a Pretorian Wind Tunnel, they had to put in the only engine they could afford, a Ford ED 3 litre V8. The car was the only one on the grid to sport a manual gearbox, all other teams had switched to semi-automatic on the steering wheel.

In the second car Forti hired Roberto Moreno who was far too good to race as a number two driver to Diniz. As Joe Saward said about the team in a review of the 1995 season
"The Forti was a fearful pile of junk and not even Roberto Moreno could make it go quickly. Diniz has some talent, but it will be his money which wins him a Ligier seat in 1996. Moreno should not have been driving for Forti. It was sad to watch"
Their lack of pace was shown up at the first race in Brazil where the cars were over 6 seconds behind Damon Hill on Pole in the Williams but in the race (no 107% rule) Diniz managed to finish even though he was last, seven laps down on Michael Schumacher, Moreno went off. The season was a solid, if poor first one for the team and they looked to improve in 1996 by acquiring a customer deal for the new Cosworth Ford JS 3 litre V8.

Things were looking up and then Diniz jumped ship with the family money and moved, as Joe had predicted, to Ligier.
Guido Forti went knocking on doors for some money to replace the teams entire budget, and, having renegotiated the Cosworth engine deal (downsizing to year old Ford Zetec-R V8 (ECA) which in an earlier version had given Benetton the 1994 WDC) there was no money left to develop the new chassis in time for the beginning of the '96 season.

The team went racing in a modified FG-01with ex-Ferrari man Cesare Fiorio appointed team manager and two italian drivers, Luca Badoer and Andrea Montermini. and the new car being completed by Chrisa Radage and Riccardo de Marco.

The FG03 was introduced at the Nurburgring and raced for the first time at Imola. It's speed brought the team closer to the Minardis at the back of the grid with Badoer calling it very agile.   But then an Irish registered Italian group called"the Shannon Group", offer much-needed finance, for a 51% stake of the team and Guido Forti accepted the offer. The cars were given a red, green and white paintjob for the Spanish GP on the first weekend of June, where they failed to qualify.  By the last weekend in June, at the French GP the game was pretty much up for Forti.  The Shannon Group claimed they owned the group while Guido said that no money had been paid over.

Forti had not paid for their engines as of yet and without the Shannon money had no chance of paying the debt off.  Even though both cars qualified in France the only completed a few laps before being retired having used up their engine mileage.  At the next race in Silverstone both cars ran in qualifying for two laps and then stopped out on track.

Guido went to court to get back control of the team but, with no engines and no money the team collapsed. The last privateer to enter F1 with minimal budget,


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Why is F1 losing its appeal

I've just read a couple of articles on on how F1 should go about appealing to Generation Y.  This question of the ageing profile of Formula 1 fans has been discussed and argued on numerous websites with plenty of ideas, good and bad, being expressed as to how the sport can attract and keep new fans.

The problems though are fundamental.  All of the articles I've read say that F1 doesn't recognise or engage with "new" media in any meaningful way (this is probably true) but this of itself won't bring about an increase in the number of new fans, rather it can be used to improve the show itself.

Peter Maynard wrote an article for PureF1 where he identified some of the basic problems with the current F1 set up and made some staggeringly simple suggestions:

He raises 3 problems in particular:
1. the cost of an entrance ticket to a Grand Prix is becoming prohibitively expensive
This last winter four friends of mine, all sports mad and thinking about going to their first grand prix, were absolutely staggered at Silverstone’s race day-only general admission price of £135. These are people who think that paying £30 for a premiership football match is excessive and none of them were willing to pay that sort of money. This summer my wife paid £20 for a ticket for a day’s session in the athletics arena for the London Paralympics.
More worryingly than those unwilling to pay are those who are unable to pay. The dedicated fans who follow every move in Formula One through TV and social networking but simply cannot afford to experience their beloved sport in person.
2. Whilst it markets itself as a sport it is devoid of the human side that catches the imagination of the casual observer in the way that this summer’s Olympics or Ryder Cup did. Out of their cars the drivers are being turned into corporate frontmen, their true personalities hidden behind branded clothing, organised press calls and sponsors’ events. It’s telling that the driver whose comments carry the most interest is the one who has the least to say – Kimi Raikkonen.
3. Formula One may be driven out of cash-strapped Europe completely for those countries where the circuits do not rely on admission prices for their income. Races could even be held without paying spectators, there are probably enough state sponsored circuits outside Europe to hold a ‘World Championship’ – a ‘for TV and invited guests only’ event.
and he suggests some solutions:
Sponsors – let the drivers off the leash a little, wear their own clothes if they wish and allow them to chat freely to TV crews and journalists a little more. It would be easy enough to pull them up if something untoward was said or done.
Promoters – allow a little more non-choreographed, reality TV filming – drivers’ briefings, team meetings etc.
Also, open up the paddocks of the support race feeder series GP3 and GP2. Let the public meet and form some kind of identity with these upcoming drivers in the atmosphere of a Grand Prix meeting to create a greater feeling of involvement particularly in the careers of those who make it to the top. They are at the stage where they (and their sponsors) benefit from and are seeking public recognition and inter-reaction.
Drivers – pay a little more respect to the paying public on the drivers’ parade. Face them, no standing in huddles collars up, hats down chatting amongst yourselves. No mobile phones. No TV interviews at the same time – simply acknowledge and inter-react with the fans. Many drivers admit they use the time to catch up with the other drivers.
I agree with the premise of the foregoing: Yes the costs are too high; Yes the teams are too corporate; and Yes Europe cannot compete with non-European state sponsored races.  How do we create more
interest in the sport? It's not enough to de-corporate the drivers, allow filming of briefings, team meetings, open up the GP2/GP3 paddocks or improve the driver's parade spectacle.

The sport needs to reconnect itself to the paying public, to the fanbase.

What is needed is a root and branch reform of the sport itself.  It is currently viewed as an elitist sport by those who are not fans: Why is this? It is because TV footage shows the Glitterati hanging around, it is because access to the Paddock is corporate, is by invite, or is massively expensive.  It is because Grandstand seats are out of the price range of 95% of the fans and these days grandstands are being constructed on more and more of the track, cutting off the General Admission fans, who are in the majority.

The majority of Grandstands are empty on Fridays and Saturdays but yet the GA fan is not allowed to sit in them to watch the F1 cars during practice or qualifying. If you consider that TV is showing these empty grandstands to the world, what does that do to the sports image?  It makes it appear that this is a one day only event rather an an entire weekend. If you allow the GA fan to sit in the empty seats it improves their weekend, improves the TV image, and gives the, correct, impression to the casual viewer that this is an event rather than simply a race.

The worst example of this that I ever noticed was at Silverstone last season: on Saturday, during qualifying, I was taking advantage of the deluge to walk the track when I saw a family with three young kids being refused access to an empty covered grandstand.  There was no action taking place on track and the rain had been falling continuously and heavily for over an hour.  The family were simply seeking a bit of respite but, while the security guard was apologetic his line was that it was more than his job was worth to let them in out of the rain - into a grandstand that was empty of all but a dozen fans all during qualifying.

General Admission Ticket holders spend a lot of money, for them, to go to one or two races a season, or even one every two seasons.  They are hardcore, dedicated to the sport, and massively friendly.  Inside the circuit they are the lowest of the low with no access to grandstands, no permitted pit lane access, no paddock, no frills.  They spend Free Practice and the support card practice and qualifying walking the circuit looking at all of the available viewing opportunities available to them, they don't tend to complain because they are just delighted to be there to see their sport live.

If the sport wants to keep them going to races, and intends to keep prices at their current level, then they have to offer them a better experience.  Access to empty grandstand seats on Friday and Saturday on a first come first served basis is just one way that you can keep these guys coming back.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Ferrari to have greater head protection

German and Spanish publications are respectively reporting that Mercedes and Ferrari 2013 F1 challengers have passed the mandatory FIA Crash tests. is reporting that the 2013 Ferrari monocoque is heavier than last years to comply with new FIA minimum weight requirements and that the design will offer greater protection to the driver, this after the close call for Alonso at the start of the Belgian GP last year.

Meanwhile reports that the 2013 Mercedes, the snappily titled AMGW04, has been designed around a new "ultra-small" gearbox which has been successfully tested, the "coanda exhaust" and a new rear wheel suspension system.

Nico Rosberg exits the pits at the German GP 2012.
Can the team find the speed to compete with the front runners in 2013?
Copyright: Mercedes AMG
The publication assumes that the design will be similar to the Red Bull, particularly around the exhaust area.

The report says that Mercedes approached the new challenger from the perspective that they were 1.5-2 seconds behind the Red Bull in 2012 and on the expectation that Red Bull would find another second over the course of the off-season.  Their task, it reports, was to make up that three second gap and they say that if the wind tunnel data is accurate they have accomplished half of their objective to-date.

Of course that approach could well be fundamentally flawed as the Red Bull team, led by Adrian Newey, can probably achieve another "step" in the evolutionary 2013 car.

The design genius of Adrian Newey is likely to upset Mercedes in 2013
Copyright: Vladimir Rys/Getty Images
On the issue of design there are a lot of reports floating around the web ether that a number of teams, including McLaren, are looking at the potential of utilising the Ferrari F2012's pull-rod suspension system which had been abandoned by the sport for over 10 years in favour of the push-rod system.

The Ferrari F2012's pull rod suspension was not evolutionary but revisionary.
Reports say that other teams are now looking at it as part of their 2013 designs.
Courtesy: Pirelli F1
This was assessed by the likes of F1Technical and Craig Scarborough back when the Ferrari F2012 was launched last year- both sites have detailed graphics to illustrate the concept as does and both sites explain the system about a million times better than I could hope to:

Most striking however is Ferrari's front pull rod suspension, a feature not seen in F1 ever since the introduction of high noses. It was deemed more practical to have a pull rod, as this could run from high on the nose to low in the upright, creating a steep angle for which it was easier to setup the suspension. Ferrari though appears confident it can be done differently. With the main suspension arms slowing down at nearly 16°, the pull rod runs from the lowest edge of the nose to the uppermost end of the wheel's upright, creating a 10° angle for the pull rod. In essence, suspension travel will materialize by movement of the pull rod. Riding over a bump will pull the rod out of the chassis, something that is countered by the dampers and springs inside the car. Ferrari mainly hope that this will bring a performance advantage due to its lower centre of gravity, as the heaviest suspension components can now be placed low in the hub.
Ferrari has revived the pullrod set up for the front of the car. This effectively turns the pushrod set up upside down, now the rod passes down from the upper wishbone and connects with the rocker, which is now mounted at the bottom of the chassis. According to Fry, this set up is a little lighter and has a slightly lower Centre of Gravity. These gains alone will not pay for the systems inclusion on the car, so the team claim to have found an aero benefit. The pullrod can be thinner, but the real gain is the pullrod is mounted near horizontal across the front suspension. This places it in line with the upwash from the front wing. Just as with the wishbones, its profile can be subtly altered within the rules to help control the wake from the wing and improve the airflow over the rear of the car. Despite appearances the pullrod is as effective in moving the rocker for a given wheel travel as a pushrod. The important factor is the angle between the rod and the wishbone is connected to, rather than the rods angle to the chassis.

Jules Bianchi linked to Force India 2013 Race Seat

On New Years Eve Roger Benoit, a veteran F1 Reporter writing for Blick, stated that Sebastian Buemi had been told by Force India that he was no longer in the running for the, currently vacant, 2013 drive.  Buemi is now focused on retaining his third driver role with Red Bull Racing for the coming season.

Buemi driving the Toro Rosso at Spa Francochamps in 2011
No longer in contention for the Force India Drive
Copyright: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Benoit reports that Force India are in negotiations with Ferrari to supply the team's 2014 engine and Jules Bianchi, a Ferrari Test Driver might get the second seat this year as part of any deal.

The second alternative he proffers is Adrian Sutil, though doubts still remain about his ability to get entry visas for China, Canada and America to compete in those Grand Prix.

Roger Benoit has impeccable credentials so I'm reading into this story that Benoit considers that Bruno Senna is out of the running for the team while the young guns; Luiz Razia and Robert Frijns are also gone.  I wouldn't dismiss Senna just yet as a Ferrari engine deal would need a performance clause written into Force India's  Bianchi/Ferrari contract

If Force India take Bianchi on for 2013 as part of a 2014 engine deal with Ferrari, does it mean that they'll have to keep him for the 2014 season too?  That would be a lot of commitment by the team particularly if Bianchi failed to bring home the points next season. Considering that I think Bruno Senna might still be in with a shout should Sutil not be available for all races.

Don't rule Senna out of the Force India Drive just yet
Copyright: Williams F1/LAT Photographic
The exclusion of Buemi from the Force India race seat is not surprising.  On November 8th last I referred to another article by Benoit who had interviewed Buemi at that time:
Roger Benoit says that Force India are expected to confirm their 2013 driver line-up on Wednesday next with di Resta widely expected to be partnered by one of Sutil, Senna, or Buemi.  (I'll have to paraphrase Benoit's quote from Buemi as its is a translation) he quotes Buemi as saying that if he brought £5 million to the team he'd be immediately confirmed.

As I said at that time:
This kind of public discussion around money would probably not sit well with his potential employers so we can expect that he won't get the seat.  Sutil or Senna, £10 or £12 million?
Benoit's current consideration of Bianchi throws another name onto the list which was previously off-radar but we can expect an announcement from the team imminently given that they'll want their driver line-up finalised before their 2013 Car launch date of February 1st, less than a month away.