Will Gray

  • Tech Talk: Does F1 need its summer break?

    Formula One gets back on track this weekend after a three-week factory shutdown – but as the calendar continues to seek space to expand is the mid-season break really that important?

    Not long ago, the F1 calendar consisted of just 16 races, starting in late March and ending in early October. Since Bernie Ecclestone began inviting in an increasing number of new nations, it has grown to as many as 20 and now runs from early March to late November.

    Travelling the world to go racing may sound glamorous, but it’s now an extremely intense schedule for those on the road.

    Grand Prix race weekends do

    Read More »from Tech Talk: Does F1 need its summer break?
  • Formula One gridFormula One grid

    The mid-season break is typically the time teams decide whether to push on with development on their current car or hold back and concentrate their resources on next year’s machine.

    This time, because of the radical new 2014 regulations, that decision is more important than ever – but what does stopping development now really mean?

    Next year’s cars have been zapping resource from the top teams since before the start of this season, but the importance of getting it right next year has led Mercedes bosses to admit they could now even have to sacrifice a continued title attack to put their all

    Read More »from Tech Talk: F1′s biggest gamble – when to give up on the title and focus on next year?
  • Gray Matter: Is F1 missing out on top talent?

    F1 came under fire from Mark Webber this week for filling its grids with pay drivers instead of taking on top talent – but is this really the case and if so what can the sport do about it?

    This year’s grid contains five rookies, and all but one made it onto the grid thanks to financial backing.

    Esteban Gutierrez joined Sauber thanks to funding from multiple Mexican backers; Giedo van der Garde took fashion brand McGregor’s millions to Caterham; Max Chilton was helped into F1 by his father Grahame’s company AON Consulting; and Valtteri Bottas brings money to Williams from trade conglomerate

    Read More »from Gray Matter: Is F1 missing out on top talent?
  • What was left of Niki Lauda's car after his crash in 1976 (Imago)

    In the 1970s, Formula One averaged one death per year, not to mention countless other lucky escapes.

    The dangers, drivers claimed, were unnecessarily high.

    When Niki Lauda somehow dodged death at the Nordschleife in 1976, progress had already been made but there was a long way still to go.

    Sir Jackie Stewart, who raced in the 1960s and 1970s, was one of the leaders in the crusade for improved safety and continued his campaign when he retired in 1974, with a focus on improving both the circuit layouts and the cars themselves.

    “We were losing an immense number of drivers,” he recalled in a US

    Read More »from How F1 went from death trap to relatively safe
  • Gray Matter: What do Lotus and Sauber deals mean for F1?

    Recent deals for Swiss privateers Sauber and Genii-owned Lotus look to have at least solidified two of F1’s ‘non-premium’ teams – but where do those new investor agreements leave F1 and its financial future?

    Earlier in the year, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh openly claimed in the FIA press conference in Bahrain that “there are maybe four teams that have financial stability” – instantly implicating the other seven on the grid as being in not such good health.

    A Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA) has been in place to control costs since 2010, but few believe it has legal legs if anyone were to

    Read More »from Gray Matter: What do Lotus and Sauber deals mean for F1?

  • F1 - Niki Lauda crash Nurburgring, 1976) by Rikkonen

    Niki Lauda is lucky to be alive. It was 37 years ago on August 1 that he was trapped in a fiery hell. And it was a miracle that he survived.

    As the Ferrari driver steamed into the fast left Bergwerk kink on the 73-corner Nordschleife Ring on lap two of the German Grand Prix, his world was about to be turned upside down.

    The 27-year-old Austrian was reigning F1 champion and was comfortably cruising towards his second consecutive title. With just seven races left, he had almost double the points of his closest rival.

    The German circuit, however,

    Read More »from “Another 10 seconds in there and I would have been dead.”
  • Tech Talk: How did Hamilton do it?

    Lewis Hamilton achieved what he said would be “a miracle” when he won in Hungary on Sunday – so how did Mercedes manage to claim victory in probably the worst possible conditions for their car?

    In one of F1’s hottest races ever, a heat wave at the Hungaroring track put track temperatures up to 55 degrees. For a car that eats tyres even in cooler conditions, that was expected to spell disaster for Hamilton. Pirelli tyre boss Paul Hembery even admitted it looked to be “just about the worst scenario” for exacerbating Mercedes’ problems.

    Even when Hamilton managed to secure his third consecutive

    Read More »from Tech Talk: How did Hamilton do it?
  • Gray Matter: Is Symonds Williams’ saviour?

    It’s been another season of disappointment at Williams but could the arrival of Pat Symonds as technical chief be the penultimate piece of the retirement jigsaw for Sir Frank?

    Williams is a team founded on the two vital pillars of F1 – a strong team manager (Sir Frank) and a technically excellent lead engineer (Patrick Head).

    Succession planning has been in process for some time, with Williams and Head both trying since the mid 2000s to nurture new blood to take on their mantle and deliver a stable future for the team.

    On the technical side, Head chose young engineer Sam Michael in 2001 after

    Read More »from Gray Matter: Is Symonds Williams’ saviour?
  • Tech Talk: The impact of F1’s tyre and pit changes

    This weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix will see the introduction of two major changes that could have a significant effect on race strategy – but what are they and why could they have such a big influence?

    After a stopgap solution for the last race in Germany, Pirelli will introduce new spec tyres at the Hungaroring.

    These new tyres, which combine the 2012 construction with the 2013 compounds, were brought in to improve safety after the Silverstone blow-out issues and Pirelli’s aim was to deliver a new solution that was safer but gave similar performance to this year’s tyres, to avoid causing

    Read More »from Tech Talk: The impact of F1’s tyre and pit changes
  • Gray Matter: Who’s Who in the Young Driver Test?

    Plans to run race drivers in this week’s crucial F1 tyre test have gone mostly out the window, leaving a group of young drivers to do the running – so who are they and what do they know?

    The FIA have given teams the option to use race drivers at Silverstone to help test out a new Pirelli tyre to be used from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards but restrictions on what they can do with their time has seen the likes of Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen withdrawn from service.

    The focus has been put firmly back on young drivers who, by FIA definition, must have driven in two Grands Prix or less, and

    Read More »from Gray Matter: Who’s Who in the Young Driver Test?