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Pre-Hockenheim analysis - FRIC protest threat disappears

18 Jul 2014

The threat of protests and possible reports to the race stewards for rule infringements was finally lifted last night when the FIA confirmed that all of the teams have removed their Front-and-Rear Interconnected Suspension (FRIC) systems.

The FIA had made it clear following the race at Silverstone that after investigations they now believed some of the systems being used may contravene technical regulations regarding moveable aerodynamic devices, and clearly none of the teams wanted to risk being penalised.

Nobody quite knows what to expect of their cars without the systems, but several tested at Silverstone after the Grand Prix with them disconnected. The general consensus is that they will probably lose cars two- or three-tenths of a second on lap time, but the most significant effect will almost certainly be on tyre wear. Teams are expecting to have to re-optimise their use of the Pirelli tyres to avoid an earlier onset of degradation. That means it will be a very busy day for everyone on Friday with the re-learning process.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said he didn’t expect the ban to make any difference to the overall order. “It’s a system that has been on F1 cars for some years now and there is not a big implication in terms of driving style or anything that can change the behaviour of the car. It is like changing from soft to medium tyres. Okay, you will go a little slower and some teams will adapt maybe a bit better but we will not see a Marussia on pole position or something like that. It is just a couple of tenths for everyone."

It’s just something else that Susie Wolff will have to factor in as she hopes for better fortune In Germany than she had at home at Silverstone when a loss of oil pressure stopped her maiden FP1 run for Williams after only four laps.

“I’ve worked very hard for this opportunity,” she said,” and I’m ready for it. Silverstone was disappointing, but I’m ready to go out and do my best and see what happens.”

Also hoping for a good weekend is Nico Rosberg. The German had a minor setback at Hockenheim on Thursday when he was told he couldn’t use the image of the FIFA World Cup trophy on his newly painted helmet this weekend in celebration of his country’s recent victory. Predictably, Rosberg brushed it off in typical style yesterday as he prepared for what he is referring to as his ‘second home Grand Prix’. He won the last one, at ‘home’ in Monaco, and is readying to get on the top step having never achieved a podium in the German race.

Speaking also of his recent marriage to long-term girlfriend Vivian Sibold and a new multi-year contract with Mercedes, he said: “It’s been a very exciting week for sure. We [Germany] also became world champions [at football], which was awesome. In terms of the championship, how do I see it? I just see it as the next race, which is Hockenheim. It’s our home race. I really look forward to driving here. I’m here to win, of course. I’m here to try to extend the championship leads. That’s where it ends for me. I’m really just looking at the moment, taking it race by race.

“The effort of the [German] team as a whole, how they all played together and everything was really great to see and that’s what won them the tournament I think, not any individual strength or anything. That’s what we’re trying to do as well, to really work well, everybody together, to really make the most of it. I think we’re also on the right track with that, in that respect, because to dominate the sport as we are doing at the moment, I think that indicates we work pretty well together as a team and of course there’s room for improvement but we’re going in the right direction.”

As for the helmet disappointment, he added: “All the things you have to think about, it’s amazing that even a trophy has its trademark or whatever, just sticking it on a helmet you know. That was a surprise but of course I fully understand. It was a pity as it looked really cool, with the trophy on top. Anyways, replaced it now with a big star and no-one can take that away. The star is ours.”