Open top menu


I'm Matthew Somerfield, a freelance journalist focused on the technical elements of Formula One. It has been a pleasure to provide content via this site for the last 5 years, which has led me to several paid freelancing jobs along the way. I'm currently plying my trade with and working alongside the legend that is Giorgio Piola.

This has seen the content here diminish as a result and I'd like that to change. In order to accomplish this I need your financial support, as I need to break free of the shackles of doing this part time. If you like the content I've been producing and want more of it I'd ask that if you can spare some change each month it'd go a long way towards transforming this site into the technical behemoth I know it can be.

As such I've set up a 'tip jar' over on Patreon and will continue to set goals and rewards based on our success -

14 Mar 2013

Charlie Whiting sat down with this press earlier today to discuss matters of a Sporting and Technical nature, although I've omitted a few of the questions as they didn't seem relevant I have transcribed the rest of the presser here:

Question: In regard to the mapping of the Renault engine is it the same as Hockenheim, or what is it that they are trying to do?

Charlie: I obviously can't tell you exactly what they are trying to do, but after Hockenheim we issued a clarification to limit the amount they could change the ignition timing, based on a reference map taken from one of the first 4 races of last year. We felt that if we allowed them the flexibility to choose any map from the first 4 races where the sort of arms race on exhaust development hadn't really started, that would be a good starting point. Then we allowed them 2.5 degrees +/- from that reference map of their choice. Some teams want to go outside of that this year and so we explained to them that they can't. Technical directives stay in force until they're incorporated into the rules or superseded. Everyone accepted that, I think Renault were under a slight misapprehension that they could choose a different reference map, but we explained to them that they couldn't.

My Notes: Having the ability to choose a map from any of the 2012 races or a new map rather than the first 4 as a reference map would have allowed the teams to take further advantage of exhaust blowing. The FIA having already realised the potential that can be extracted from this during 2012 have made the wise choice of retaining the first 4 race reference map directive.

Question: Charlie, we have had a fair amount of controversies over the last few years with Double Diffusers, Hot & Cold Blowing, Flexible Wings, where do you detect right now, critical areas where we might drop into further discussions?

Charlie: I'm not aware of any similar controversies (if that's the word you want to use) so at the moment I don't think there are any, but one never knows what might pop up during the course of the year. We atteneded the 2 Barcelona tests in order to try and ensure that when we got here neither we or the teams had any nasty suprises. Jo and I were there and we had a fair few discussions with the teams over a number of things. The purpose of that was that we didn't have those discussions here and to some extent hopefully thats worked.

My Notes: Already mentioned above some of the Renault teams ran with what could be classified as illegal mapping during the Barcelona tests. However nothing is illegal in testing and so the teams and Renault returned to their other maps after consulting with Charlie. Williams and Caterham both ran exhaust blades mounted within their exhaust channels, to which Charlie reminded them of a Technical Directive issued that prohibited the re-ingestion of exhaust gases downstream of the exhaust. In both cases Charlie's presence at the pre-season test alleviated any pressure on the teams and FIA before the teams reached Melbourne.

Question: Can you just clarify the reprimand situation? As in 3 reprimands and an exclusion potentially

Charlie: No, 3 reprimands and a 10 place grid penalty, thats the rule same as last year, nothing has changed.

Question: Could you clarify when a Physiotherapist, is a physiotherapist and when not and also why some of the teams are adamant they'd like to take this decision to the stewards

Charlie: Well I don't know if all of you are familiar with what we are talking about here but there is a new rule this year that allows a maximum of 60 operational staff. (Operational Staff = Members of the team involved in the operation of the car) The purpose of this was to try and take the old FOTA rule which was 48 working personnel, however they had a whole huge list of exceptions to this. What we felt would be better is to put it into the rules, all the teams wanted this in order that it could be better regulated. We came up with the number 60 which sounds like an increase but infact is a slight decrease in most cases due to the number of exceptions in FOTA's application. There was some discussion about what should be considered operational and what should not, we have a list of exceptions (Team President, CEO, Reserve driver, medical doctor etc) There was some discussion about Physio's but opinion was divided and no specific provision was made for it. (originally discussed in the Sporting meetings in Monaco last season and further discussions held in January this year and once again a there was a difference of opinion over whther a Physio should be included) What became clear is that Physio's did different things within different teams, some would literally only look after the driver (Pat them on the head when he wants it, feed him, give him drinks and hold an umbrella over him and those sorts of things) and so how could you say he is involved in the operation of the car? Whereas some operate a pit board as an example or fit tyre blankets. So I felt the best intepretation is that if a Physio is just doing what everyone would deem the duties of Physio and not doing any other tasks he should not be counted within the 60. Some teams disagree, we have made out position clear. (At least 2 teams have had to change the way they work)
Question: One of the rule changes for this season was the banning of active Double DRS, but don't you think the passive one it's even more unsafe. Don't you think there is a safety issue, especially how the system activates. Especially when the driver goes on the brakes still having the Double DRS operating (He means DRD but as he is mainstream media he is still using DDRS)

Charlie: Well there is no Double DRS, lets be quite clear about that. You can have a blown wing (DRD) a bit like Mercedes did 2-3 years ago if you remember? Long before the DDRS of last year. The principle point is that two things were introduced to stop the type of system used by Mercedes (& Red Bull) last season. First (most important one) the DRS cannot be used to open or close a duct (Cannot change the shape of any duct within the Rear Wing) Any ducted areas should be unaffected by the movement of the top flap. The other thing we did was to stop any air being ducted through the Front Wing pillars (pylons) so there is no front to rear connection. So in another words you could still have some form of, I think the expression is Blown Wing where you could have a purely passive effect normally by the function of the speed of the car. I don't think there is any evidence to suggest that, that may be dangerous.
My Notes: DRD (Drag Reduction Device) is a difficult one for the FIA to regulate as the Periscope lies within the central 15cm exclusion zone between the Rear Wing Endplates that allows teams to use Y75 Winglets (Monkey Seats) etc. Charlie also knows that the effects generated by these devices is minimal when compared to say the F-Duct and so teams will only use them on circuits that they will glean a large advantage from (Long Straights). The person who posed the question is refering to re-attachment issues when in the braking phase when using DRD and alluding the instability issues. I'd argue however that poorly designed DRS can contribute just the same problems and that the safety issues lies more in DRD's fluid switch stalling the wing in a high speed corner.

Question: Could you briefly run through the prcedure in regard to rule changes as there is obviously no sporting working group, no Formula One commission. How does the system work?

Charlie: In the absence of a Concorde agreement which of course we hope will be ratified shortly, we revert to the sporting code. The sporting code is pretty clear about rule changes, we consult the teams via what is essentially a technical working/sporting working group. We then make proposals to the World Council (so those proposals don't just come from us but from the teams too, just as we did with the TWG – Technical Working Group) We put this forward to the WMSC and say the majority of the teams would like this, so very little difference with the exception of the Formula One commission as the only step thats missing. The old majority was 70% but we don't have a fixed majority all I can do is say to the WMSC is we have 6 etc teams in favour of this and then it's upto the WMSC how they proceed.

Question: Looking to next year, can you sum up the fundamental aero changes in the rules?

Charlie: No, (laughter around the room) With a bit of time I could, but a question like that is quite detailed and frankly I just don't have that information off the top of my head. (Come and see me later and I'll run through it with you, there are too many to give you an accurate answer I'm afraid)

My Notes: I wrote a piece on this recently and although it's not exhaustive of all the minor changes it covers all of the major shifts in aero for 2014:

Question: Has a fuel weight for 2014 been decided upon yet?

Charlie: 100KG's

Question: There was something about KERS in Parc Ferme you were talking to the teams about?

Charlie: Yes at Monza last year, one of the Toro Rosso cars wasn;t safe in Parc Ferme and the mechanics that were in Parc Ferme knew nothing about KERS, didn't have any KERS gloves or anything to treat a car that was unsafe. They couldn't get hold of the team via the radio and it was just a bit of a mess. So put forward 6 or 7 points that we would like / a procedure that they should follow after the race for a 15 minute period until we’ve established all the cars are safe. I just wanted to remind the teams of that, as sometimes when you talk to them about these things half way through last year they tend to have forgotten.

Question: Toward the end of last year you mentioned the possibility of some sort of driver points system for driving infringements. Whats the status of that proposal, Is it done in the water?

Charlie: No it's not done in the water by no means, it's still being discussed and we discussed it with the teams in January. There was significant support from the teams for it, not unaminous support but it's quite complex and we need to get the balance right to make sure that obviously you don't issue a race ban, let's just say you have a driver with 3 infringements of causing a collision does that mean he should have a race ban or not? We're not quite sure and we need to see how this would all work and I think we will keep a record of all these things during the course of this year and keep discussing it. We'll see then how each offence sees points imposed and how they accrue, we have a draft version how we think things should be but we need to see how it's going to work and its not going to introduce too many drivers getting banned as we wouldn't actually want that. It would have to be quite serious, it is actually quite serious that a driver has a race off and so we want to make sure he deserves it. I think it needs to be run in the background, shall we say for a little while.

Question (Martin Brundle): I think I'm right in saying that throughout the year you get a number of clarifications with the team managers and other methods that then maybe get incorporated into the sporting/technical regulations the next year. Is there any reason why they can't be published so we are really upto date, as certain things we are inaccurate on if we don't know if you've made agreements, just in the same way as you publish the regulations.

Charlie: There is no reason whatsoever why that couldn't happen, infact sometimes it does happen especially with interesting technical clarifications shall we say. But there is no reason why that couldn't happen on a routine basis as far as I can see.

My Notes: I'd really welcome transparency in this region as Martin says sometimes we as journalists can't clarify everything as we wish we could as we don't have the technical directives at our disposal.

Question: On next years rules each driver are allowed to have power units for the year, so if one turbocharger blows, one power units is gone but are you allowed lets say because there is still the engine left and the KERS (ERS) are you allowed to transfer the parts to another engine?

Charlie: In principle yes, this is still the subject of some discussion but the idea is that the driver doesn't necessarily have 5 power units. He has 5 engines, 5 Turbochargers, 5 MGU's and 5 ES's (Energy Stores).... I think we have 6 different elements to the power unit, so in other words the driver can use 5 different turbochargers and when he uses a 6th he will be penalised (we aren't quite sure of the penalties yet, but it'll probably be something like a 2 or 3 place grid penalty) Then you'll get a small grid penalty for each of those elements but if you change a complete one it'll be a 10 place grid penalty. I do have to emphasize that this is not the finished article yet and is still being discussed with the teams but the principle as I say is to split it up into 5 or 6 distinct elements in order that do change element you'll only be penalised on that elements 6th usage.

Question: All of the teams are now underway with their Turbo concepts and so are the teams coming to you with loopholes and things they are finding that are forcing you to look at the rules?

Charlie: We are having lots of meetings, we have the un-official powertrain working group which is the engine suppliers and we have lots meetings with those guys and then all those ideas that emerge go to the TWG and so an awful lot of discussion going on. I wouldn't say there's a lot of flexibility but theres quite a lot of things emerge as they are a highly complex power unit and quote a lot of things that hadn't been thought of come up.

Question: On that point, the manufacturers represented in this engine working group or whatever you call it (PTWG) are there any other than the ones presently in Formula One in that?

Charlie: No

Question: Were there at any stage?

Charlie: P.U.R.E was there, but they're not any more.

My Notes: The person posing the question is most likely using the opportunity to see if Honda have been involved at any stage.

Question (Ted Kravitz): Just one thing on Pit Stops, we're seeing some pretty extreme solutions for achieving very quick pit stops and new ideas in this area. Have you seen anything borderline?

Charlie: Not yet, we are aware of some of things the teams are doing. We've not seen anything that gives us any cause for concern we are monitoring the situation during the year to see if there is anything we might need to do. Things like wheel gun pressures, size of the hoses and you know its obviously not healthy to have massive development in these areas really but we are going to monitor the situation and we've discussed this with the teams. We discussed having limitations on wheel gun pressures, length and diameter of hoses and those sorts of things but we haven't reached a conclusion yet.


Total Pageviews