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What worries Gary Anderson about Cadillac's F1 plan

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I’ve been in Formula 1 and motorsport in general for over 50 years and in that time I’ve seen many teams come and go. Some have succeeded, but unfortunately high percentages fail.

Andretti and the General Motors/Cadillac project is the last to throw his hat in the ring.

Success or failure is judged only against your own expectations. Back then, when there were 26 cars on the grid and you only got points if you finished in the top six, it was very difficult to be on the scoreboard. You could finish seventh every weekend, but end up with zero points.

However, as long as your own expectations were met, you could live with it. The real problem came when your sponsors’ or partners’ expectations were higher than the results, and that’s when things usually go wrong.

Now that there are points up to 10th, it’s a little easier to get a few to keep your backers happy. With only 20 cars on the grid, it also makes things easier as half the field will score in every race.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Mexican Grand Prix Race Day Mexico City, Mexico

Even so, one only has to look at Williams to see how tough it still is. It’s a good team but they don’t have the speed. With potentially an 11th team (at least) and two more cars entering the fray this will make it 10% harder to score points in the drivers and constructors championships so it’s not something the teams that are there now go welcome with open arms.


Jaguar United States Grand Prix 2000 Indianapolis

In terms of expectations, work crews are probably the worst. I classify a factory team as a car manufacturer that produces its own engine, or as we should now call it the power unit, and its chassis. The most consistent example from my time in F1 is Ferrari – they’ve always been there, always making their own car and engines. He is still fighting.

My most direct involvement with a works team was Jaguar, then owned by Ford Motor Company, which also owned our engine supplier Cosworth. The advantage of being a full-fledged works team is that you can work together to integrate the engine into the chassis, but that didn’t really work with Cosworth. We were always treated as a client team, getting what they gave us and having to make do. Cosworth was 100% supported by Ford in this area.

Everything Cosworth did was magic, while everything we did as a chassis maker was inadequate. When you can’t even tell that one engine has a little less power compared to another and that’s why the top speed of the cars is different, it makes things very difficult.

Ford management was also very confident in its own engineering abilities. One of his senior people came to one of our engineering meetings and his first comment was “if you don’t do it the Ford way, we’ll find someone else who will” . How’s that for motivation?

As far as he was concerned, we had to integrate as much as possible with his engineering prowess. Each time we did this it took months instead of days to get information and when it came it was the size of a phone book. The philosophy was that ‘x’ search time equaled ‘x’ report weight. I didn’t have time to digest what was being sent to us, I just needed a one-page preview to give us some information.

One of the challenges Ford wanted to address was the Jaguar R1’s roll cage for 2000. At the time, it was a carbon fiber component with a titanium insert on top. It was a bolted/glued component that had to withstand the loads specified by the FIA ​​in the regulations, so pretty much a self-contained component. We bought into that and Ford took about three months to offer us something to build to get our cars to the first race.

We had the first lay-up detail after about six weeks. Surprisingly, it was half the weight we had expected, but Ford was 100 percent confident it would deliver. Our questioning was not very well received by management, so we created one, put it on our test bed and, surprise surprise, it failed spectacularly. As far as Ford was concerned, we hadn’t done it right, but we knew we had done it and in the end he accepted that it wasn’t up to par.

Johnny Herbert Im Jaguar Heute Im 1.freien Training Zum Formel 1 Grand Prix Von Italian

Off his team went back to an overhaul and we received the lay-up data for that. The same thing happened again: instant failure.

At that point, we were only about three weeks away from shipping the cars for the first race, so a bit of pressure was setting in. Ford redid the lay-up and we did another one. By the time all of this was done there was about a week left before the cars were dispatched for the first race, so we had to do the real FIA test before we could compete. We bolted it to our test chassis and, under FIA supervision, it failed again. Luckily, in the background, we had made one of our own, and guess what, it passed the test. We had used this design on the test car, so we know we had a solution if needed. By going out and building one to our own specs, I was actually lectured on not believing in Ford’s engineering abilities.

This is just one example of how difficult it can be to work with a high-end automaker who he says, because he is successful in making road cars, has the right to succeed in F1. But I’m afraid it’s a very different discipline. Toyota was the last to find out, but it cost a few billion dollars before it was time.


Andrett Cadillac 2000x1333 Website

This brings us to the various comments made at Thursday’s press conference where Andretti Global and GM announced their plans to enter F1. I’m afraid I’ve heard so much about it before and it gave me cold sweats when I read some of what was said.

As Technical Director, you want the team to take care of what needs to be done and only get involved with the automaker if you need something specific. What was said on Thursday leaves me with some alarm bells as to whether GM is likely to go much further than wanting direct involvement.

GM Chairman Mark Reuss spoke of the value that its automotive facilities can bring to the project.

“GM’s vast engineering resources will bring proven success and invaluable contributions to this partnership,” said Reuss. This includes the full talent and capability of GM’s racing staff and Michigan facilities at the Warren Technology Center and in North Carolina, as well as the expertise of our engineers and designers in areas such as combustion, battery technology, turbocharging, vehicle integration and the list goes on.

He also spoke of supporting the car’s development and said “GM’s capabilities are on par with any Formula 1 team, so we’re very excited.”

So there’s a very successful automaker assuming its capabilities are on par with the existing F1 teams that have been doing it for decades.

Right away it reminds me of the problems caused by Ford’s overconfidence and the negative impact that had on Jaguar not just while I was there but in the years that followed before Red Bull does not take over.

GM’s facilities and staff will be of a very high standard, but it’s a completely different technical challenge to produce F1 cars compared to road cars. Making facilities potentially available to Andretti if needed is positive, but what should not be done is forcing their use.


2021 Cadillac Racing Daytona Roar

Michael Andretti himself also spoke about the benefits of partnering with GM and what is billed as an all-American team.

“Having an American manufacturer behind an American team with an American driver is going to be the biggest story of the year,” said Andretti.

It happened naturally. I don’t think anything has changed that much [since GM became involved]. We’re still going, we’re still working to bring people together to form a team.

“The great thing is that GM already has great resources and people that will help us get up and running even faster, so we’re in a really good position right now.

Andretti knows GM will want to use any success in F1 to showcase its own capabilities, and that’s why he’s referring to the benefits of the resources and people it can offer.

But given that it won’t be producing its own engine, at least not initially, the risk is that GM will be too eager to justify its presence by forcibly making technical input.


Colton Herta Big Machine Music City Grand Prix by Chris Owens Largeimagewithout watermark M67521

Andretti also talked about having its headquarters in Fishers, Indiana, with a satellite operation in Europe. This makes everything doubly difficult.

I guess what he is talking about here is that the design and manufacturing will be in the United States.

However, if that shop is set up to be able to do all the rig testing and dyno running that a current F1 team currently needs, you will also need to set up your race shop to be able to accommodate anything the race can throw. .. you. Unless you equip both workshops with all the gear an F1 team needs, one of them won’t be able to run as efficiently as it should.

Considering how the Ford/Jaguar project worked, at least we were all under one roof. Designing, building and racing from one center is essential. It was just management interference continually dragging you down and wasting way too much time.

We don’t yet know how this relationship will play out, but these are red flags that mean that for all the positive aspects of the Andretti/GM partnership, it’s not guaranteed to be successful.


Formula 1 World Motor Racing Championship United States Grand Prix Preparation Day Austin, USA

If I was involved in this project in these early stages as technical director, I would need assurances on the planned structure and the final responsibilities of each.

At the beginning of a project like this, it is very easy for enthusiasm to generate gray areas that everyone believes will be sorted out later. It never happens and it usually ends with catastrophic results.

GM and Andretti have a lot to learn about F1. Hopefully their plans will come to fruition, but there will be a few bumps in the way.

If any team has the determination to get into F1, it’s Andretti Global. But the big question is: is it good enough? And will GM’s involvement be beneficial or, as was the case with Ford, will it simply cause endless problems that drastically reduce the team’s chances of success?

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