- Helping you drive happy

A well deserved summer break

The world of Formula 1 will stop spinning for a month following the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, and everyone will surely use this refreshing summer break to regroup after a controversial and emotionally draining first half of the season.

Pirelli tires
F1 teams found out at the beginning of the year that the 2013 Pirelli tires wore out very quickly -- in fact, too quickly for most. They were outraged, and rightfully so: Why spend tens of millions of dollars to develop a car when the excessively fast-wearing tires are no good after 3 laps? Fortunately, the problem now seems to have been fixed by mixing the new compound with last year's rubber.

The Mercedes scandal

The German manufacturer was labelled a cheater by competitors after it conducted private, nearly secret tests with Pirelli against strict F1 rules. The subsequent disciplinary hearing resulted in a ban from a mid-July young driver testing session at Silverstone. For many teams, the penalty was little more than a rap across the knuckles.

Where will Kimi go?
Kimi Räikkönen may stay at Lotus or head over to Red Bull to take the spot left open by Mark Webber's upcoming departure. However, he's not the hardest-working driver around, and a move to Red Bull would mean lots of technical work, not to mention high-profile marketing operations -- which he absolutely hates. Given his hefty contract, expect the Finnish driver who talks like a penguin to race for Lotus again in 2014.

Bernie is indicted
We knew that Bernie Ecclestone was walking a tightrope ever since Gerhard Gribkowsky claimed to have received a bribe from the F1 tsar to boost stock value in order to smooth the sale to CVC. A German court indicted Ecclestone, and F1 manufacturers are now mad as heck, especially Mercedes which doesn't like participating in a sport headed by a man who will have to face justice.

The return of Honda
Thank God, it was not all bad news and controversy on and off the track: The announcement of Honda's return to F1 provided a happy and much-needed silver lining. The Japanese manufacturer will build an all-new 1.6L turbocharged engine for McLaren -- and maybe another team -- to race with as early as 2015. That's great news, because with just 3 engine manufacturers committed for 2014, F1 suddenly became vulnerable to any big blow. My guess is that Honda is back to win, not merely for a cameo. By teaming up with a strong partner like McLaren, Honda will be well positioned to succeed.

Enjoy your summer, dear F1 folks, and see you again at the Belgian Grand Prix in late August -- hopefully well rested and refocused.

A well deserved summer break
Photo: WRI2