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GP Week : Issue 165
The rise of social media has been both a blessing and a curse for PRs, who often find themselves cleaning up the messes caused by their charges’ thoughtless comments on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Over the course of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Lewis Hamilton rediscovered Twitter, and took to updating the micro-blogging site on a regular basis. And while fan reaction has been positive, with the majority praising Hamilton’s decision to allow them a window into his rarefied world, the press have been rather less generous. While snide comments about Hamilton’s requests for recommendations for new poetry were little more than petty, the 2008 world champion shot himself in the foot with a series of tweets posted – and then deleted – on Saturday afternoon. “Damn, WTF!!,” the McLaren driver tweeted shortly after qualifying. “Jenson has the new rear wing on, I have the old. We voted to change [back to the old one after poor results in FP3 and it] didn't work out. I lose 0.4 tenths just on the straight. Nothing I could do. Now, it's about picking up every point I can from there. Jenson should win easy with that speed. ... I hope [Jenson] brings home maximum points. I'll try and support him.” On Sunday morning, Hamilton was at it again, this time tweeting a photo that showed an overlay of his and team-mate Jenson Button’s telemetry for their respective qualifying laps on Saturday afternoon. While that kind of access is prized by fans, it is also highly valuable to McLaren’s rivals, and the tweet was once again deleted in fairly short order. While drivers are given media training as a standard part of their progress into F1, the time has now come for social media training. Engaging fans is a great way to build a profile, and if managed correctly a driver’s social media efforts can improve his standing with the public. But thanks to cached files, screenshots, and the endless sharing capabilities of modern technology, a deleted tweet or status update never really disappears. Drivers must learn to think before they post any content, from potentially sensitive information to a witticism that will be read by the churlish as further evidence of a role model’s moral decline. When it was first announced that the World Endurance Championship would be opening up its engine regulations to allow for the same 1.6l turbo-charged units that will make their F1 debut in 2014, some paddock insiders began to wonder whether teams would take advantage of the opportunity to track test the next generation of engine in a different series. But while the prospect was hotly debated by journalists, senior team personnel appear not to have considered this lateral approach to legal reliability testing. Asked in Spa whether they had considered adding Le Mans style bodywork to an F1 chassis and running the development engines to destruction, Ross Brawn and Paddy Lowe admitted that the possibility had not occurred to them. Both men were keen on the cross- platform use of technology, however, which they say as a positive step for ward for motorsport. “I haven't come across that idea before,” Lowe said, “but I think the point of the new power unit in Formula One is that it's supposed to introduce a technology which is relevant to the automotive manufacturers. It is a positive direction, so if that is the case, then it must also be true for any other form of motorsport so if we can find ways of using the same power unit in other formulae then that must be a great idea.” “I think [the matching engine spec is] a good incentive because obviously it's a huge investment in a new engine and I think the technologies on this new engine are exciting and much more relevant now than the engine we have,” Brawn said. “I think it's great that the initiative is carrying through into different forms of racing but I don't think any of us would be ready to undertake such a programme plus obviously the needs for an endurance engine can be a little bit different to an F1 engine, although we do have to make the engines last longer again than at the present time so we are moving in that direction, but I think the idea of having a cross-usage of the engine in different categories is very good and could certainly help with the investment that's needed in new powertrains.” Reliability testing will be vital for the 2014 power units, as not only will teams be learning the ins and outs of their new engines, but they will be limited to five new engines per season, down from the current eight. Shelf-life is going to become ever more important, and the more test data the teams have access to, the better. “It's clear that from an engine point of view we are very keen to run the new power unit earlier because what you can find on a car is never equal to what you can find on the dyno,” said Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto. “All the dynamics of the car, gearchanges, running on bumps, whatever, is quite different to the dyno itself so we are all afraid that by the start of the season you find out that you have a big issue with the engine and the power unit, and you have no time to sort it out.” While running at Le Mans – and other endurance events – has not been considered, Lowe admitted that the idea of running a mule car to test out the 2014 engines hhad been mooted and then dropped. “There have been a lot of discussions about whether we might make what is called a mule car to run the new engine next year,” he said. “It's very expensive to make a mule car, especially when we have other programmes running as well, not just expensive in money but in terms of the people you need to design it. ... Actually, most of the teams are agreeing that we will not have mule cars. The regulations wouldn't currently make a mule car of any benefit anyway but we're not agreeing to introduce any new test sessions that would use mule cars.” DON’T BE SUCH A TWIT, LEWIS! NO PLANS TO TEST 2014 F1 ENGINES IN LE MANS. YET. F1 >>> NEWS 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: