F1 drivers unconcerned about FRIC ban

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After the legality of the front-rear interconnected suspension systems (aka FRIC) was brought into question by FIA race director Charlie Whiting earlier this week, teams are now moving to remove them from their cars for this weekend’s German Grand Prix.

However, a number of drivers in Germany have said that the loss of the system will not be too much of a problem, and general consensus suggests that Mercedes will lose the most – albeit not enough to fall back into the clutches of the other teams.

It was thought that some of the teams could take a risk and run the system during practice, leaving the decision over its legality with the race stewards in Germany, who could theoretically disagree with Whiting. However, none of the teams will risk this, and Force India’s Sergio Perez confirmed that his team would stay safe this weekend.

“We won’t run it I think,” Perez said. “It’s pretty much taken the decision from the senior management that we won’t run it. I don’t know how much it will affect us, but I don’t expect it will have a big impact on our car.

“Some teams, of course, they have developed the system and have a much advanced system than us, and have a bigger impact than we will.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was asked about how the loss of the system would impact on his driving style, but he too was not overly bothered by the decision.

“Nothing, really,” he said. “It’s a system that has been on Formula 1 cars for some years now, but it’s not a big implication in terms of driving style or in terms of anything that can change the behavior of the car.”

Felipe Massa also felt that it wouldn’t be a huge change, and believes that the teams ahead – namely Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull – stand to lose the most from the ban.

“I think it’s very difficult to answer compared to other teams,” he admitted. “The only thing I can say is that we don’t make our car much quicker using the FRIC. For sure, it’s positive, but not a big difference, so I don’t think we will lose a lot.

“It can be that we get closer to the big teams. I really believe that teams maybe like Mercedes, like Ferrari, like Red Bull, they can have a system which is working more than our system, but it’s very difficult to be sure about that, so we need to wait and see how things work on this weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton tested without FRIC at Silverstone last week, and wasn’t affected by the change.

“It is going to be a new experience for several different people,” he said. “We tried it already in Silverstone and the car felt much the same. Naturally I think everyone has to adapt the set-up a little bit to utilise different settings.”

It will be interesting to see if there is any change in the pecking order this weekend, but given that all of the teams look set to remove the device, we should see little movement on the grid.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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