Canadian F1 Grand Prix

Axed Ferrari engine chief says he simply followed orders over design


Former Ferrari engine chief Luca Marmorini has said that he simply did as he was told when designing the engine for the 2014 F14 T car, and does not feel that blaming the team’s poor performance on his department was fair.

Speaking to Italian journalist Leo Turrini for the first time since his departure from Maranello, Marmorini said that he had been asked by the management to make a smaller engine that would be made up for with superior aerodynamics.

However, this did not prove to be the case, with the team scoring just two podium finishes so far this season whilst the Renault and Mercedes power units have gone on to win races.

“In short, it was made ​​out that all the woes of the F14T are the fault of the power unit; as if a company with the history of Ferrari had forgotten how to make engines,” Marmorini said. “With my colleagues I packaged a power unit with a certain size, a smaller version of the Mercedes and Renault, because we were asked by the project manager of the car, Mr. Tombazis.”

“[Tombazis] said we want a very compact power unit with small radiators, because the power loss will be compensated with aerodynamic solutions that will guarantee us an advantage over the Mercedes and Renault cars.

“It’s been exactly like that, except that, when we were confronted with the competition, the horsepower was obviously less, but this was not compensated for by aerodynamics.”

Marmorini also revealed that he had spoken just twice to new team principal Marco Mattiacci: once when he arrived, and once when he left.

“In three months, I exchanged just a few words,” he said. “We saw each other twice, the first for the greetings, the second when he gave me a letter that confirmed my farewell to the company.”

Marmorini confirmed that he is not looking to return to Formula 1 at any time soon, but that his stance could yet change.

In the ‘year of the power unit’, Ferrari has clearly been a step behind. The team will be hoping to finish the season inside the top three in the constructors’ championship before focusing on getting back to the very front of the field in 2015.

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.