Jonathan Neale, McLaren, 2012

McLaren unsure over FIA-Red Bull engine map row

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jonathan Neale, McLaren, 2012McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says his team is unsure why the FIA objected to Red Bull’s exhaust maps at the German Grand Prix.

Speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in Neale said: “None of us really know what it is that antagonised the FIA so much to provoke Jo Bauer into issuing the note he did on Sunday morning.

“It was quite an unusual step but I don’t think the FIA would have referred it to the stewards if they didn’t have very serious concerns.

“I’ve read the press like you have and there are lots of allusions to the fact that there might be some action taken to stop it from happening.

“And it’s really not for us to know, it’s impossible for us to tell exactly what the Renault engine is doing in the Red Bull and therefore how much of an advantage they get from it on their car – it’s an integrated performance package. I know we’re not the only ones on the grid who are looking at it very carefully.

“I think that we’ve all worked really hard through the first six months of this year to work with the FIA and with Charlie [Whiting] to get it clear what’s acceptable and what isn’t. I’ve pledged that support again to Charlie, I think Charlie and the FIA have got a difficult job there.”

Neale added he doesn’t want the situation to turn into a repeat of the row at Silverstone last year, when new rules on exhausts were introduced then rescinded after one race: “I hope we don’t get into lots of rewriting the exhaust regulations mid-season as we did last year.

“That provided a reasonable amount of upset – not matter how entertaining it was for the press or the media at Silverstone last year – in terms of us, the teams in the sport, I think consistency in the regulations is good. I think we need to put a lot more effort into enforcing the regulations instead of continually rewriting them.”

Development race “will be very strong”

Neale said McLaren were “very pleased” with the upgrade introduced at the Hockenheimring: “Everything that we took on Friday stayed on the car.

“I think that in the dry weather we were pleased. The race pace enabled Jenson [Button] to stay in touch with the Red Bull and the Ferrari.

“So on that day on that circuit in those conditions I think we’re there or thereabouts. I don’t think we are dominant but we need to keep pushing and working very hard. But yes, we’re pleased with it.”

Neale added that, based on the data seen in Germany, there’s nothing to choose between the top three teams at present:

“We believe we’ve got a competitive car. We’ve been focusing a lot on our race pace because our qualifying pace has been stronger than our race pace. And we believe that both drivers have got a good chance of being very competitive and hopefully one of them can win this weekend.

“But it’s a very close grid as you all know. Notwithstanding whether the teams are able to exploit the conditions and the tyres, you don’t need to bring very much in order to change the competitive order, nobody at this stage is going to be backing out and diverting to next year or the year after.

“I think we’re in for a very challenging race in Hungary and I suspect the rate of development will be very strong throughout August until the middle of September. But I don’t think it’s static. The three top teams have got very competitive cars.”

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36 comments on “McLaren unsure over FIA-Red Bull engine map row”

  1. @keithcollantine

    I’ve pledged that support again to Charlie, I think the Charlie and the have got a difficult job there.

    I didn’t listen to the phone-in but it reads as if he said “I think Charlie and the FIA have got a similar job there”. Or Neale is insinuating that there is no such thing as the FIA, and in reality Charlie = FIA haha

    1. Spotted that too.

    2. Fixed it, thanks.

  2. The rate at which the FIA appear to be banning controversial performance-gaining innovations leads me to believe that soon we may end up with a racing series in which all the cars are exactly identical bar livery variations and team names.

    1. It’s unfortunate. I remember when a team could come up with something innovative, be rewarded with that innovation by having a head start on its development while the other teams catch up, and then the field would get balanced at the start of next season by the regulations.

      Nowadays somebody would find something new, use it, and it’d be outlawed as soon as other teams find out about it.

      Looking at classic races recently it’s evident how innovative everybody was and the freedom they were given, as you could see wildly different shapes of cars on the grid, from the low and flat to the high and awkward. These days you could paint every car black and outside of monor body variations they’d all appear to be the exact same.

      It’d be nice if X, Y and Z were specified but designers would be told, “here’s a box of space, do whatever you want inside that and let’s see what happens.” That box is getting smaller and smaller with each passing season, and even each passing race.

      1. Although I agree with most of what you say, I’m afraid its the reality these days. If there were no restrictions, the cars would have the most ingenious features on them. They would lap Monaco under 60 seconds, but that’s just way and way too dangerous. Part of the reason why there hasn’t been an F1 casualty in the past 18 years is partly because of these restrictions.

        1. @vettel1 @pjtierney

          I agree with both of you. The rate at which the FIA are currently banning developments in F1 is rather saddening.


          If there were no restrictions, the cars would have the most ingenious features on them. They would lap Monaco under 60 seconds, but that’s just way and way too dangerous. Part of the reason why there hasn’t been an F1 casualty in the past 18 years is partly because of these restrictions.

          This is true…But whats wrong with that? I think the real problem is the way the FIA prioritizes. Its, saftey, then speed. In other words they go about making racing (a dangerous sport by its nature) safe, and then develop the racing. Arguably I think it should be the other way around.

          I’m a massive F1 fan, but as a Mechatronic Engineer I find my self more and more turned off of F1 from a technology standpoint. I find it so restrictive and uninspiring as a sport. It used to be the pinnacle of motor sport when I was kid but now, all I see is an aero package on wheels (I’m exaggerating a bit here but you get my drift).

          I honestly want it to be safe and no one in their right mind wants drivers stepping into a car asking whether or not they will step out at the end of the day, but you want a sport that is about RACING…i.e “A competition of speed.”

          Not, “Lets ban everything and we’ll drive whatever is left after that process.”

          You imply that if we remove the restrictions then safety will be compromised. This is not necessarily true. The rules could allow for faster cars and still keep safety. All that is needed is for the same keen attention paid to developing a fast car to be paid to developing a safe race.

          1. I agree with you that F1 has become a bit dull in the past decade for technology-people (apart from aerodynamicists ;). Also I would love to see F1 become more ‘libre’, but the FIA decides where to draw the line. It’s unfortunate that F1 is so money-driven that all teams can iterate their car’s design long enough, that they roughly come up with the exact same car. That should change, and the only solution I see is for formula 1 to become much cheaper than it is now.

        2. @andae23 – As much as I value safety (I obviously don’t want any F1 driver to die) it shouldn’t be the number one priority: the sport itself should.
          There have been no deaths in F1 since that tragic day at Imola in ’94, where a true legend of the sport passed, so safety can hardly be used as an argument now for banning much of these technologies: F1 cars are the safest cars in the world and drive on some of the safest tracks in the world.
          I think personally designers should have more freedom with the power plants as in our modern climate that would be the most relevant area to make advancements in; personally I would like to see hydrogen being used (although I doubt that will happen any time soon). 2014 is a step forward but not enough…and everyone is stuck with the same unit!

    2. The FIA doesn’t have a problem with innovation. They have a problem with teams bending the rules and stretching the truth to get it approved. Take Lotus’ reactive ride height for instance – they told the FIA that it was designed to promote stability under braking. The FIA initially agreed with that, but upon closer examination, found that the RRH was, first and foremost, an aerodynamic aid, and Lotus had downplayed that angle to try and get it approved because it was a moveable aerodynamic part.

      1. Sure enough, the FIA does have a problem with innovation, in so far as having to keep an eye on keeping it a fair competition, safe and working like a sport.

        They have no “problem” with anyone, and know full well that the minute an idea for a rule comes up, teams are having people on it both to propose almost watertight formulations and potential loopholes to exploit. They also know full well, that the few people they have are no match for what the teams can throw at development, but that the teams themselves keep an incredible close eye on the others.

    3. @vettel1 But the more you ban, the more the teams are foced to innovate. It’s part of the charm of F1 for me. How long can you get away with something?

      I think it’s a nice balance, sure I’m always interested when new technology comes along, but I understand the greater picture in the grand scheme of things, particularly when it comes to protecting the level of competition we’re currently enjoying. Innovation is all well and good until you end up with complete domination by one team.

      1. @andrewtanner

        The balance used to work well. It’s not anymore. Yes banning a technology and engineers to come up with something else in its place works, but it starts to slow and you can see that in F1. The innovation has slowed considerably. If you compare it to say the 80’s when teams first started experimenting with ECU’s it was a breakthrough. Most road car manufacturers had though of it and even tried it but it didn’t prove to be that much of a success. Then F1 showed how it could be used to significant advantages.

        What in F1 today do you think is that big a breakthrough? Carbon Fiber has been on road cars for ages so its not that. Maybe Kevlar fuel cells, but road cars have a lot more metal protecting the fuel supply. KERS is really the only candidate and to be fair, road cars have been think about that for a loooong time.

        The curve is flattening and the innovations are almost non-existent :(

    4. I think that in this case its pretty clear that Red Bull are trying to do exactly what was meant to have been forbidden at the end of last year, so its only following up on that decision to now close any loopholes and get rid of exhaust blowing as far as possible @vettel1

      1. @bascb – it was more of a general comment just spurred by this particular instance. My point was that the rule book is too constrictive in our current times.

        1. Fair enough then @vettel1, I agree that it would be a welcome step to redefine what’s allowed and what’s not in a way to enable the different teams to pursue different alleys of development to make for more variety and real innovation instead of just them honing these last grams of aero downforce like we have seen recently.

          The big question is, how to do that while also keeping a check on extreme developments that risk upsetting the balance so far that one outfit runs away with the sport as we have seen all to often in the past, including money thrown at the cars.

          1. @bascb – the RRA is attempting to tackle the latter, and as for the former I’m afraid I don’t think it possible to have everything; if there are gains to be had chances are one team will be able to utilise them better than the others. Perhaps and idea may be to do as they have done in the ’80’s by awarding points for the ten best finishes by the driver over the course of the season – that will allow for the other teams to catch up with a reasonable chance of winning.

          2. @vettel1 the point with the RRA is that it limits all facilities that can be used more or less to the same extent to save cost though. Instead wouldn’t it be more interesting to allow a wider scope of using different ways of development and differing parts to work on, but having to focus only on some areas, while others might focus on other areas.

  3. I’m reading this entire thing as follows: Red Bull has got two illegal cars, and the FIA are aware of this. So instead of disqualifying Red Bull from qualifying and potentially the race, they made a deal on sunday morning. Red Bull may start the race from the positions in which they qualified, but they should fix their car before next race. They made this official by hanging up a note which said: ‘Although the FIA doesn’t except all Red Bull’s arguments, the Red Bulls are allowed to start the race.’ And sure enough, the FIA clarified the rules concerning engine mapping a day after the race.

    1. I disagree with your conclusion regarding the RedBulls as illegal. F1 is the pioneer of development in motor racing because teams, engineers and manufactures are pushed to find that “extra” edge. It has been that way for many years. From ground effects, 6 wheels, the FW14b, F-duct and DDRS the sport has always evolved. This current trend of re-writing the rules throughout the season has to stop, its political garbage. If a rabbit finds a hole, surely it’s his burrow to use.

    2. You say

      I’m reading this entire thing as follows: Red Bull has got two illegal cars, and the FIA are aware of this

      But you are reading that wrong I’m reading this entire thing as follows: Red Bull has got two illegal cars, and the FIA are aware of this @andea23

      The cars would be illegal if Red Bull would sent them to race in Hungary with the engine mapping they had last race. Before that they were just inside what could be read from the wording of the rules, be it only by a hairs width,
      Despite doing something that in all intentions was against what the rule had been targeting to forbid, only now that the rule has been added to to prevent this, what they had been doing was not illegal before this clarification was issued.

      1. I’m just saying there is something fishy here. Jo Bauer said it himself: these cars are not legal to race, because ‘the engines are able to deliver more torque at a given engine speed in the mid rpm rang’ and ‘this new torque map will artificially alter the aerodynamic characteristics of both cars’. Jo Bauer thus concludes that both cars do not meet the requirements of the FIA, so they are illegal. Then WHY did the FIA decide that the cars are perfectly legal???

        1. Then WHY did the FIA decide that the cars are perfectly legal???

          Because they were legal under the wording of the rules.

          What Red Bull did was against the spirit of the regulations but not actually against the regulations as written. The rules have now been re-written to specifically ban what Red Bull were doing.

          1. This isn’t a matter of interpretation like the ebd, double drs or the double deck diffuser, this is about numbers, data. It’s like saying: I’m 30 years old, but a little bit 32. That’s the fishy part for me.

          2. I don’t believe it’s against the spirit of the regs, it’s about pushing the boundaries. If it’s standardizing you wish to see, then F1 is not the sport for you.

  4. The EBD restriction last year for Silverstone was a bit of a mess, however, I think there is a difference between forcing teams to change fundamental physical parts about their car and the tweaking of a few settings in the ECU. Clearly RBR have got by without using this ECU setting all the time so while it is best to be cautious when making decisions like this, I don’t think you can draw too much of a parrallel.

    1. @andrewtanner
      I agree but then again, this way, the driver makes more of a difference don´t you think? I mean, what would you rather like to see? A championship to see who creates the best car or a championship to see who is a overall a better driver? I´d preffer the latter!

  5. Maybe it’s time Red Bull drops Newey for being so creative, and hire a HRT guy instead… and just hiring him with Dieter’s pocket money. Nobody wants a genius like Newey. He will spoil Bernie’s masterplan of having as many race winners as possible and tons of DRS overtaking every race. That’s what people would love.
    ( !!! )

    1. Or perhaps they could start using square wheels to level the playing field?

    2. HewisLamilton
      25th July 2012, 18:52

      +1 Newey was revered while designing for McLaren. I guess he is not liked any longer since he has left.

  6. Mclaren are doing as well. You could clearly hear the fart sound when watching the race. Torro Rosso in the previous race as well. Cheaters!

  7. Adam (@akitch1275)
    26th July 2012, 0:16

    I sometimes feel that people look at F1 past with rose tinted spectacles. Lotus discovered the benefits of ground effect and used it in a season before it was banned. Brabham (might have got that wrong) had their downforce generating fan which was banned. Ok, these are quite major things, unlike a little hole in the RB’s side skirts, but it’s the same thing where there’s innovation that is within the rules’ wording but outside their spirit.

    On a side note, how’s Mercedes’ Double DRS going? Is it still the only car on the grid with that system? And what’s Lotus’ new DRS that they’re testing?

  8. Isn’t it obvious? Every single ban last 2-3 years have been to hurt one team specifically. i.e Red Bull Racing. You don’t need no masters degree in comprehension to see that.

    1. Thing is I do have a masters degree in comprehension and I’ve no idea what you’re on about.

      But I would say if one team had been repeatedly cutting things a bit fine, shall we say. Well then they would be the team subject to review.

      Or are you suggesting that the more the team tries it on the less they should be brought back in line?

      So yeah, comprehension degree a bit worthless atm…

    2. @psynrg
      Yes, it’s always against creativity:
      Banning Tyre ring covers (who created that in 2007?)
      Banning Double Diffuser (ouch Brawn)
      Banning F-duct (Ouch Mc Laren)
      Banning EBD (Ouch RedBull)
      Banning Engine Map (Ouch Red Bull)
      Banning Engine Map … again (Ouch Red Bull… again)

      The problems is, as I stated before, having narrow minds in FIA… let the teams create and that’s all!!!

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