Plans to shorten F1 weekend rejected; testing set for changes


Plans for the Formula 1 race weekend to be reduced from four to three days have been rejected as the teams discuss changes to the sporting regulations for the 2015 season.

According to German publication Auto Motor und Sport, the proposed changes were rejected at a meeting in England yesterday between the main players in Formula 1 (the teams, the suppliers, the organizers, and the governors). However, changes to both pre-season and in-season testing are set to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council in the coming weeks.

In Canada, reports emerged suggesting that, in order to aid cost cutting, the Thursday programme for teams and the media in Formula 1 would be removed. Instead, media duties and briefings would take place on Friday morning in place of the first practice session. There would be just one practice later on Friday evening, allowing fans to come to the track once they had finished work.

This would have removed a day of travelling out for all involved in the sport, thus cutting costs. However, it would also have put an increased burden on the teams with just a single session, which, given the times that it was due to start, may not have been entirely representative. For the media, it also meant that any news broken in the morning on Friday could have been made redundant by the events in practice later that day. Instead, the weekend schedule is set to remain the way currently is for 2015.

A ban on tire warmers had also been proposed, but this too has been rejected. Pirelli will instead pay teams €200,000 each to put its logo upon the warmers. This sponsorship should ease some of the costs.

Testing has been altered, though. This season, teams had three pre-season tests (one in Spain, two in Bahrain) plus eight days worth of in-season testing, spread across four days following a grand prix. For 2015, all of the tests taking place over the winter will take place in Europe – most probably in Jerez and Barcelona, as has been the trend – and teams will get just four days of in-season testing.

The rejection of the changes made to the race weekend schedule appears to be for the best. It would have placed a greater deal of pressure on the teams and personnel travelling to races, without saving a huge amount of money. In the grand scheme of things, this approach to cutting costs was a very small-scale one.

The changes made to testing are similarly sensible. Less running in-season will aid cost cutting, as will keeping everything in Europe. The reason for holding two tests in Bahrain this year was largely due to the rain-affected tests in 2013; Bahrain rarely is affected by wet weather. Clearly, the teams are happy to accept washouts that may occur in Spain at the beginning of February.

Any possible changes made to either the sporting or technical regulations for next season will need to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council. For now though, it appears that the routine weekend structure is set to remain in place, and other ideas will need to be put forward to address the cost crisis in the sport.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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