Having had time to reflect on the 2014 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix what are your thoughts and how would you rate the race? Is the racing better than last year or has the sound taken away some of the excitement from Formula 1? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
Brought to you by TheJudge13 reporter Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)
The rain of the previous day was long gone as the Mercedes cars showed once more the battle this will be left for best of the rest. Nico Rosberg encountered problems with telemetry; tyre marbles stuck in the front wing and a first lap contact with Valtteri Bottas, but still managed to recover to 2nd demonstrating the might of the Silver Arrows.
Off the grid
Fernando Alonso made his customary flying start, catapulting himself up into 3rd position after the first corner, save for a contact with Felipe Massa who played a dangerous game of weaving through the starting traffic down into the first corner. The Brazilian could count himself fortunate to still be running given the force of the impact with his former teammate, although little did he know what was to come later.
At the end of the first lap Lewis Hamilton had pulled out a 1.514 second lead on the chasing Sebastian Vettel, with the Briton’s teammate down in 6th. The misery of Bahrain looked set to continue for the McLaren boys as they continued to struggle compared to the other Mercedes cars languishing outside the top 10.
Nico Rosberg tried to fight back through the field, but took until lap 4 to overtake Massa who had been holding up Rosberg on the previous lap. With Rosberg now up to 5th, his fightback to 2nd could commence into some free air allowing him to hunt down the two Red Bulls and Alonso ahead.
Lewis Hamilton continued to pull away from the chasing pack, as Alonso’s front left tyre showed some graining relatively early on (lap 5). Hamilton’s former friend, Adrian Sutil, failed to make it past lap 5 with accident forcing him into a retirement for a third weekend in a row. A penny for his thoughts would be invaluable right now to see his former team, Force India, fighting at the front of the grid as he currently fights to merely finish a race.
No challenge – no problems
Lewis Hamilton continued to control the race from the front as he reported that graining was “not causing any problems” even though the rest of the field were reporting tyre wear to be an issue. Nico Hulkenberg continued to catch Felipe Massa, as the German hunted down another top 6 place. On lap 8 Jenson Button was the first driver to box for a scheduled stop, seemingly going onto a 3 stop strategy as he took on the slower but more durable medium tyre.
Lap 10 saw Romain Grosjean pit from 10th position, having made Q3 for the first time this year. The following lap saw the concertina effect of one driver pitting triggering Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa to also dive into the pits. The latter had a disastrous stop with tyres not being ready as well as his left rear tyre taking a long time to come off the car. It wrecked his race leaving him firmly down in 21st position.
Lap 12 saw Alonso and Hulkenberg box and rejoin in 7th and 11th position respectively with cars ahead that had still not stopped. When Vettel pitted and rejoined he lost out to Fernando Alonso due to the undercut and the Spaniard never looked back. Hampered by the poor straight line speed (22kmph slower than others) meant that track position was always going to be of paramount importance for the Milton Keynes cars.
Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne stayed out for an extremely long stint on their first set of tyres, which would pay dividends later in the race. Lap 16 finally saw Daniel Ricciardo pit and rejoin in 5th place, just behind his teammate. With all other cars having taken their first stops by now, Lewis Hamilton was enjoying a 31.376 second lead on lap 17, but was forced to pit a lap later with the rubber on his Pirellis wearing thin by now.
A 2.9 second stop meant no dramas for the man from Stevenage, who comfortably rejoined in first place. At the same time Rosberg hunted down the now sitting duck Sebastian Vettel in 3rd place, easily passing him with DRS and the greater straight line speed. 1 lap later and it was the turn of Daniel Ricciardo to challenge the 4 time World Champion. When Vettel was told to let the Australian through, he first asked what tyre he was on before responding with “Tough Luck” when finding out they were on the same tyre.
Rocky, Vettel’s engineer soon put him into line with Vettel letting Ricciardo through at the first corner. While the McLarens continued to fight, with Kevin Magnussen passing Gutierrez for 14th they showed little promise of breaking into the points. Rosberg continued to go in search of a 2nd place in what had turned into a weekend of damage limitation for him.
On lap 28 the bad luck continued for Romain Grosjean who had lost 4th gear and continued to lose more until his retirement a lap later, at the same time as Vettel struggled with his tyres but was told to stay out and endure the pain eventually switching to a 2 stop strategy. Lap 34 would see Vettel’s frustration at an all-time high as Kamui Kobayashi took the opportunity to unlap himself on fresher rubber.
The impressive rookie display continues
In what became somewhat of a procession towards the end, all the front running cars pitted with no major dramas for any of them. At lap 40 the impressive start for Daniil Kvyat looked set to continue for another points finish, now 3 from his first 4 Grand Prix.
Lap 43 saw Rosberg take 2nd place from Fernando Alonso in what had seemed inevitable for some time prior to the overtaking move. Rosberg had made it up alongside of the Spaniard even before the DRS zone. Alonso managed the gap back to Ricciardo to claim a welcomed podium for all at Maranello, even though the man from Perth got close towards the end.
Never one to miss out on the action, Pastor Maldonado briefly held up Ricciardo which cost him somewhere in the region of half a second.
The final laps saw the biggest fight for 6th and 7th between Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas in a repeat of the final laps in Melbourne back in March. This time it was the Hulk who came out on top to hold of the Williams driver.
Sober and sultry
The post-race holding room prior to going out to the podium was a dour affair with the tension between the two Mercedes drivers palpable. Rosberg managed to grimace and carry a smile on the podium, but the disappointment was seemingly impossible to hide as Rosberg’s Championship lead was cut to 4 points following a dominant display from Hamilton.
There will be a lot more to come on this battle in the near future. Not the most interesting race, but it would have taken something remarkable to impress following the excitement of Bahrain previously. The biggest story to take from the weekend is Ricciardo finishing 25 seconds up the road from Vettel who has some work to do to adapt to the 2014 cars.
It seemed the way the drivers pulled into the parc ferme perfectly demonstrated the way the weekend had gone for the top 3 drivers. Lewis Hamilton had pushed ahead and never looked back, pushing his position marker even further ahead than it was placed. He really seemed to be in cruise control towards the end of the race, knowing it was in the bag to take him into the top 10 all time GP race winner with 25.
Nico Rosberg pulled in and was a far less animated figure than that of Hamilton. 2nd place must have felt like a country mile away from his teammate. And finally, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso pulled into the final position wonkily but he got there in the end. It may not have been the perfect weekend, but the Spaniard made it there in the end.
As he was oh so keen to point out on the podium, he is now in 3rd place in the Championship which looks to be the most fiercely competed position in the standings. Whether the Spaniard can deliver the goods in 3 weeks in Barcelona will be a completely different story…
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:42.232||27.100||2|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:44.109||47.800||2|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:44.147||54.3||2|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:44.387||82.6||2|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:44.136||1 lap||2|
|11||Jenson Button||McLaren||1:45.101||1 lap||2|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:44.748||1 lap||2|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren||1:47.282||1 lap||2|
|14||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus||1:44.743||1 lap||2|
|15||Felipe Massa||Williams||1:44.103||1 lap||2|
|16||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber||1:44.374||1 lap||3|
|17||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham||1:46.808||1 lap||3|
|18||Jules Bianchi||Marussia||1:47.597||1 lap||2|
|19||Max Chilton||Marussia||1:44.834||2 laps||3|
|20||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham||1:47.275||2 laps||3|
|R||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||RETIRED||26 laps||2|
|R||Adrian Sutil||Sauber||RETIRED||48 laps||1|
World Drivers Championship
World Constructors Championship
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Previously on TheJudge13
Newey with Webber at Silverstone, not in China (GMM)
Adrian Newey chose overcast Silverstone over smoggy Shanghai for the weekend of the Chinese grand prix. Speed Week reports that Red Bull’s technical boss will not be on the Shanghai pitwall on Sunday because he is actually trackside at Silverstone.
It is at the British grand prix venue that the season opener of the world endurance sports car championship is taking place, and Newey has been spotted chatting with Red Bull’s newly-retired driver Mark Webber. This weekend, Australian Webber is kicking off his new career as Porsche’s lead prototype driver.
“It was just a shorter journey to Silverstone than it was to Shanghai,” a smiling Newey explained.
Dennis hits back at Horner’s stance on Fallows (GMM)
Ron Dennis is keeping the pressure on Red Bull, after an employee reneged on a deal to switch teams. On Saturday, the McLaren supremo vowed to take F1′s reigning world champions all the way to the High Court, after Dan Fallows decided at the last minute to return to Red Bull rather than start work at Woking.
“He’d got no lawful right to change his mind in that way,” Dennis told us from Shanghai. Dennis said Fallows did not answer phone calls, texts or emails, but when asked about the legal battle on Saturday, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner hit back: “Perhaps Ron would have been better giving me a call.”
Dennis has now described Horner’s attitude as “a bit rich. We formally emailed Christian Horner more than two weeks ago, asking him about Dan Fallows’ whereabouts, so it’s a bit rich for him to say ‘Why didn’t Ron call me?’ now,” said the 66-year-old.
“The point is that Fallows has a legally binding contract with McLaren yet Red Bull chose to ignore that and instead convince him to return to Red Bull,” Dennis told us on Sunday before the Chinese grand prix.
TJ13 comment: It appears that Ron Dennis may be somewhat hypocritical in his choice of words. Adrian Newey had signed a contract with Jaguar F1 in June 2001 and was to take over for the 2002 season, yet Ron Dennis came back and made Newey an offer that would prove irresistible. Newey changed his mind and remained at Mclaren before the Red Bull team was created from the remnants of the Jaguar F1 team.
Whitmarsh set for $10m McLaren payout – report (GMM)
Ousted boss Martin Whitmarsh could walk away from McLaren with a $10 million payout.
Last month, when Eric Boullier became the British team’s new chief in the wake of supremo Ron Dennis’ return to power, it was rumoured Whitmarsh agreed not to speak to the media while his contract payout is negotiated. “Martin is a friend,” Dennis said in March. “Some decisions you take in life are not that easy, and I will not elaborate.”
Britain’s Daily Mail now reports that while Whitmarsh’s severance package is still being negotiated, it is “likely” to be around $10 million. Correspondent Jonathan McEvoy said the figure is more than $400,000 for each of the 24 years Whitmarsh served at McLaren.
Lotus bullied over budget cap axe – Lopez (GMM)
Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez on Sunday indicated he was unhappy to have joined the opposition against the introduction of budget caps. The powerful ‘Strategy Group’ teams – comprising the ‘big four’ Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren but also Williams and Lotus – recently wrote to Jean Todt indicating they would not approve the FIA president’s cap proposal. Williams is included in the group due to the team’s past success and history, while Lotus is also a member after finishing the 2013 season in fourth place.
But Lopez hinted to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that the two smaller teams were bullied into signing the letter. “Williams and us were pulled over the table,” he is quoted as saying.
The biggest teams, however, argue not only that the proposed $200 million cap would not help their small rivals, but that it could not even be effectively policed. And Mercedes’ Toto Wolff is quoted on Sunday: “It makes no sense to introduce rules that are not supported by the three major teams.”
The big teams’ counter-proposal is for cost cuts to be achieved by introducing some new technical and sporting regulations. “We need to find meaningful limits,” Wolff explained, “such as extending the parc ferme or the curfew. We need to discuss, for example, whether it is sensible to fly in new parts on every day during a race weekend, or 24 hour shifts before races.”
The small teams, however, are sceptical, believing that the big teams are already finding ways around the existing cost-saving measures, such as limited wind tunnel use. “When I see the downforce of the big teams, it’s impossible within the allowable limits,” a representative of one small team is quoted as saying.
With the sun setting on the 2014 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix who was your driver of the weekend? This takes into account more than just the race, it includes practice, qualifying and the race as well as the manner in which the drivers handled themselves over the weekend talking up their chances for a win or beating their teammate. Let us know why you voted the way you did in the comments section.
Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55
-the best in Scrutineering, Stewards’ Decisions, and other assorted FIA documents looked at slightly irreverently
There’s the race we see on telly, and then there’s the race behind the scenes. One rarely talked about by reporters but told in part by the official FIA documents. Here is a selection of this weekend’s documents for you to peruse at your leisure. Enjoy.
Wonder where all this great stuff came from? Right Here
From the Who’s Been Doing What to Whom Dept
Seriously? Security Personnel *and* CCTV? What the heck has been going on at that weighbridge?
They should *really* start flossing
Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Jennie Mowbray
- 1927: Birth of Phil Hill – Scholar, Tinkerer, and Racer
“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
~Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea~
Young men and fast cars have always held a magnetic attraction to each other and it was no different in Southern California in the 1940’s. Phil Hill’s first racing pursuits were unofficial, following the time honoured trail of young men racing their cars on public roads, pitting themselves and their vehicles against each other and the clock. So as not to attract any unwanted police attention these contests were held at night in the hills to the east of Los Angeles. They named themselves the California Sports Car Club which was then shortened to the Cal Club.
Phil Hill’s first car was an MG TC which he bought in 1947 from a dealership specialising in foreign cars which was situated on the exotic sounding location of Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, which was as yet to get the world-wide fame that it now possesses.
In 1949 the Cal Club held their first legitimate race meeting when they hired the Carrell Speedway, a half mile oval, and managed to persuade more than 8,000 people to buy tickets to come and watch the racing. Hill’s MG had now been supercharged and he entered it in all three sports-car races, winning his first race, a three lap sprint as well as the 25 lap main race later that day. It would soon become obvious that, in the words of racer and commentator Sam Posey, “He could jump into anything and make it go fast.”
After seven years in Formula One which included winning the Driver’s World Championship for Ferrari in 1961, he concluded his illustrious racing career with a win in his final race, also in a sports car.
For the 1967 season he was driving a Chaparral 2F in the World Sportscar Championship and team boss Jim Hall said, “When Phil agreed to work with us it was a real boon because we had not done international racing with our cars and I knew we needed somebody who, number one, knew what they were doing and, number two, was smart enough to talk about it.”
Although the Chaparral 2F was the fastest car on the grid it struggled with mechanical reliability the whole season due to its 7.0 litre engine being so powerful it destroyed its transmission in every race they entered but finally it all came together for the last race at Brands Hatch. Even then, they had a driveshaft failure during practice which meant they only qualified third.
The six hour Brands Hatch race was the first truly international non-Formula One race to be held in Britain since the Goodwood TT’s of the 1950’s and it attracted a full grid of 36 cars. Everyone who was anyone in Grand Prix racing wanted to be in it. Ferrari bought four works cars and their drivers included Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon while driving for Porsche were Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Jo Siffert and Bruce McLaren. John Surtees was driving a Lola as was the soon to be crowned World Champion Denny Hulme who was partnered with his boss Jack Brabham.
Ferrari and Porsche were fighting it out neck and neck for the championship with only one point between them but Phil Hill and Mark Spence bought their distinctive snow white bewinged sports car home in first place for their sole points finish for the year.
It would be Phil Hill’s last race. He said later, “I returned to Santa Monica, where the telephone rang with those offers to drive, but never from the sort of front-row team for which I was willing to work. Maybe my two years with Chaparral really had spoiled me. Very possibly I had been unconsciously looking for a way out. Most likely it happened to be the right time to call it quits, having spent half my 40 years racing automobiles. One thing is certain. I never lost much sleep worrying about it.”
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Previously on TheJudge13
FP2 Review – Hamilton quickest, but not happy
Brought to you by TheJudge13 reporter Adam Macdonald
A tight first session gave us very few answers with a cold track and teams not wanting to push the boat out too much. Lewis Hamilton (and mechanics) started the second session in a race against time to make it out. A team of Mercedes personnel worked to get the car floor properly reattached amid a swarm of media surrounding the garage.
Meanwhile, out on track it was Kvyat who set the early pace with a 1:41.279. Giedo van der Garde joined David Croft in the SKYF1 commentary box, as he remarked on how good it was to see the slow motion replays of cars locking up. Something it will be interesting to see develop as the track rubbers in over the weekend.
Despite being 3 tenths down in the final sector, Vettel took the top honours going 0.192 faster, only to bettered by first Massa, then Ricciardo, Rosberg and Alonso immediately after. The latter two managing to dip into the 1:39s, with the Ferraris seeming to be much more competitive than in Bahrain two weeks ago.
20 minutes into FP2 and we finally saw the Iceman, Kimi Raikkonen, grace the Chinese tarmac. The Finn wasted no time in annoying Esteban Gutierrez, slowing while staying on the racing line. He slotted into 15th position, which he then improved to 6th, 1.757 seconds off the pace of his Spanish teammate.
Maldonado strapped on the soft compound tyres and went 4th fastest with a 1:40.455 which will have come as welcome news for all involved at Enstone. Following Sergio Perez’s first flying lap on the soft tyre, the delta between the prime and option tyre would seem to be 2 seconds.
No sooner had he done so, did he carry too much speed on the way back to the pits and lock up before colliding with the tyre barrier. A dejected figure trundled back to the pits to be weighed and disappeared away to the paddock. Some time for reflection for Pastor now.
While the cameras were focussing on Pastor Maldonado and his wreck in the pit lane entry road, Nico Rosberg snuck into 1st place with a 1:38.726. The lap was clearly hampered by the yellow flags being waived for the stricken Lotus, so expect more to come from the Silver Arrows.
Martin Brundle reported of the speed the Force India cars were carrying into turn 1, so possibly another big weekend in store for them this week. Fenando Alonso reclaimed the top spot, going 0.27 seconds quicker than Rosberg. Ricciardo joined the pair in the 1:38s, beating his teammate who was 2 tenths slower than the Australian.
Hamilton finally put the softs tyres on, but still found the car to be problematic in handling as he voiced his concerns over the radio. However, he then went to put his car 0.141 quicker to the surprise of many including myself.
Worryingly for any Max Chilton fans (such as myself), Jules Bianchi was 1.1 seconds quicker on the softer tyre than the man from Reigate. Whether Chilton encountered problems on his lap is unknown, but if not, it is enough of a gap to keep Max awake at night. Both Marussias posted times ahead of both Caterham F1 cars.
Kimi Raikkonen was the final driver to don the soft tyres and see what he could do with them, setting a 1:39.283 still 0.8 seconds short of Alonso. The rest of the field began with their long run race simulations for the final half hour of the second practice session. High degradation was seen for all teams, including the Mercedes cars, which will come as a sign of hope to anyone wishing for a break from the Mercedes domination we have seen so far this year.
All teams seemed to go through the initial drop off phase with lap times as the tyres degraded, then seeming to stabilise. Should we see rain once more in China, a green track could play havoc for strategists. The memories of 2012 will still be painful for Kimi Raikkonen, where his tyres dropped ‘off the cliff’ here causing him to go from 2nd to 11th in the space of a lap.
Chilton’s worries continued as he spun at turn 2, similar to Kvyat in FP1. With 15 mintues go, all 22 cars were out on track and jostled for position looking to get the final bit of data required to optimise setup for Saturday. Many questions still remain, which I’m sure will be answered in James Beck’s F1 Forensics piece to follow soon.
The excitement of the session dwindled as the routine work continued for the field. The long straight developed a very clear racing line with as David Croft described it, “an oasis of rubber” as the marbles built up away from it. This could prove problematic for anyone overtaking on Sunday.
With 2 and half minutes still to go, Lewis Hamilton called an end to a troubled day on his part only heading back for a practice start. Even though he tops the session with a 1:38.315, an evening of number crunching awaits the Briton to decipher how to correct his current car issues.
Rosberg and Hamilton friendship falling apart
Some of the most breath-taking motor-racing ever witnessed by Formula One was during the 1988 campaign. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost dominated the season and their rivalry left audiences thrilled. The fact that their cars were absolutely dominant made no difference to viewing figures, in fact as the competition heightened so did the public’s interest.
This is something that has sadly been missing ever since; as teams seek to control their drivers for the benefit of the manufacturers and essentially miss the point that the, often forgotten, audience is crucial to any advertising/ marketing criteria. Whilst the advance of technology is impressive – although many times irrelevant to the real world – the real story has always been the rivalry between the drivers.
2014 appears to be another season of dominance by one team, and Formula One fans should be grateful that the management, to this point, is allowing their drivers to race. But it appears cracks are appearing between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
In China – Rosberg suggested that the two protagonists had discussed Bahrain. “Yes we sat down and went through everything, it’s all behind us and flat-out ahead.” When asked about this discussion, a bemused-looking Hamilton shook his head and flatly denied any meeting had taken place. But when pressed by reporters if their relationship was still amicable he replied, “As far as I’m aware, yeah”
It’s understandable that two driven personalities will seek to beat the other at any given opportunity and the press are infamous for mis-quoting individuals in order to raise tensions.
Before the pre-season tests began we had reports of how great a friendship these two men had since racing together in karts, yet within weeks reports emerged that Hamilton was not invited to Rosberg’s upcoming wedding. After Hamilton’s dominance of Malaysia, excuses were found for Rosberg’s tardiness and a portfolio of information provided for him by the team.
Then the ever mysterious “Sources” claimed that Mercedes wanted a Rosberg WDC victory whilst willingly paying Lewis a huge wage. He wasn’t employed for his technical ability but for his blinding speed – it just doesn’t add up…
Obviously there are two sides to every story, but why would the press seek out the mundane versions. Is it possible that Rosberg’s nuptials are just for him and his fiancee’ or that he requested the telemetry from Mercedes as most other team-mates have done over the years. After all, Button was lost for a number of races in 2012 and copied Hamilton’s settings.
Rosberg also defended his radio transmission during the race about some of Hamilton’s defensive driving. “The majority was tough but respectable, so let’s go with that, rather than pick out one small example.”
The ‘one small example’ in question happened at Turn Two on lap 18. Hamilton cut across Rosberg to retain the lead, to ensure he was better placed to defend his position on the run down to Turn Four. In the time honored tradition of threatening the collective when inebriated, Rosberg felt the speed at which Hamilton came across him was “above the limits” and said he might “struggle to avoid” an accident in future.
It would be wise of the young German to think back to a similar event in Bahrain two years ago.
The race stewards investigated two separate incidents involving Rosberg as he defended his position from both Hamilton and Alonso by moving to the right of the track up to the white line that demarcates the edge of the track.
Article 20.4 of the F1 sporting regulations says: “Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.”
Reflecting on the incident with Rosberg, Hamilton suggested: “Fortunately neither of us got in trouble, neither of us were hurt, and hopefully we will try and rectify the rules to make them clearer so that we won’t be in that position again.”
After the incident with Hamilton, Rosberg claimed that the Brit had overtaken him off the track, a manoeuvre not allowed in the rules but he accepted: “Of course if there had been the barriers at Monaco it would have been a different story, but then again the guys behind would have backed off a lot earlier. In that situation, which I’d probably do again, it was harsh but within the rules, and I didn’t judge I was putting my competitors in danger.”
Alonso dramatically insisted: “He [Nico Rosberg] pushed me off the track. You have to leave a space, all the time you have to leave a space. If instead of such a wide run-off area there had been a wall, I’m not sure I’d be here to talk about it.” Rosberg said he preferred not to say anything until he had seen a replay.
If Lewis is in a happy place then he can be devastating as a driver which may explain some of the psychological games being played out with the media.
Ferrari unlikely to recover in 2014 – Malago(GMM)
Giovanni Malago says it is unlikely Ferrari will recover from its competitive slump within the 2014 season.
The Italian olympic chief’s name is now well-known in the F1 paddock, after Ferrari this week quoted him as saying he dislikes the sport’s ‘new’ face. “I hope the people who run the sport look again at the rules because the way formula one is now, it has much less appeal,” he had said in the quotes faithfully reproduced on Ferrari’s official website.
Now, Malago has admitted he doubts Ferrari can emerge from its competitive slump within the 2014 season, despite Marco Mattiacci having been drafted in with Fiat’s backing to replace boss Stefano Domenicali. “I think that in formula one, as well as in (grand prix) motorcycles, unlike many other sports, it is difficult to overturn your results in the same season,” he is quoted by Tuttosport. “In football,” Malago explained, “you can improve and aim to win the championship, but this hardly ever happens in formula one.”
But Steve Robertson, the manager of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, does not agree. He said the “new generation” of V6-powered cars are only “at the beginning of their life cycle. Every team is aware of the massive improvements they can make to their cars,” Robertson told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper. “I do not think any team will begin already to focus on their car for next year, at least in the same way as they might have done in the past,” he insisted.
Ferrari-powered Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez, however, agrees with Malago that the Maranello marque will struggle to catch up in 2014.
“All the teams with Ferrari engines know they are working hard, making changes, but so far it’s not enough,” the Mexican is quoted by Spain’s El Confidencial newspaper. “It will not be an easy year for Fernando (Alonso).” That fact is evident on Alonso’s face in the Shanghai paddock. The dark glasses-wearing Mattiacci finally made his first appearance in a Ferrari uniform on Friday, but several metres separated him from the team’s Spanish driver as they walked the length of the Shanghai paddock together.
Earlier, Alonso’s first statements about his new boss were far from glowing. On Thursday, he said he wasn’t even sure Mattiacci was making the trip to China, while revealing he has been talking with the departed Domenicali “all the week long”. And when asked about Mattiacci’s inexperience, Alonso answered: “It’s too early to say if it will be a very good thing or very bad. “I don’t really have much to say. I drive the car,” he later added.
Plea bargain could keep Ecclestone in charge (GMM)
Bernie Ecclestone has denied rumours he will strike a plea deal with Munich prosecutors to stay out of jail and in charge of F1. The sport’s chief executive faces up to a ten-year custodial sentence if found guilty at the end of a trial that begins in Germany next week. But rumours in Shanghai suggest the 83-year-old actually intends to strike a mid-trial deal with prosecutors whereby he pleads guilty but stays out of jail in order to remain in charge of formula one.
Asked about the plea bargain rumours, Ecclestone insisted: “No, not at all. I’m going into this trial to prove my innocence of what I’m being charged with,” he told the Telegraph.
Donald Mackenzie, the F1 boss at the sport’s commercial rights owners CVC, has said that if Ecclestone is found guilty of a criminal offence, he will be sacked.
But, citing a “CVC source”, Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson has reported from the scene of the Chinese grand prix that a plea bargain “would throw up a different set of circumstances”.
Ecclestone responded: “You should ask Donald.”
“What can I say?” the Briton is quoted by the Guardian newspaper. “I can’t speak for him.”
Maldonado hits out as 2014 race ban looms (GMM)
Pastor Maldonado has hit out at the new ‘penalty points’ system that could see him having to serve a race ban later in 2014. After just the opening three grands prix of the season, the Venezuelan already has three ‘demerit points’ against his F1 super license. Jules Bianchi, meanwhile, has four.
“I’m not sure if anyone will reach the full 12 but after three races, having four, then he should reach it very soon,” Adrian Sutil said in China. The most serious incident involving Lotus’ Maldonado this year was in Bahrain, where contact with Esteban Gutierrez caused the Mexican to roll over. But he also made a fundamental – and bizarre – mistake in Shanghai practice, when he took his eyes off the track and simply drove off it in a corner.
“I think it’s a good system,” Gutierrez, referring to penalty points, said in Shanghai. “It puts some conscience on ourselves to not do wrong moves and to respect each other and to race in a fair way.”
Maldonado, however, insists the Bahrain crash was simply “a normal race contact“, and so he is critical of the new penalty system. “We need to avoid the incident but at the same time (with penalty points) you cannot race,” he told reporters on Thursday. “We are racers and we are always risking. If you are competing, you need to take chances. So maybe they need to be slightly more flexible. That’s my opinion.”
Gutierrez is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace as suggesting the biggest problem with Maldonado is that he does not seem to be learning from his mistakes. “It is pointless to discuss the television images, because they are clear,” he said. “That’s the problem: it seems that Pastor is not recognising his mistakes, he sees things only from his side and I don’t think that’s right.”
Maldonado, however, insisted the Bahrain rollover made the “light knock” appear more dramatic due to the new mandatory low noses on the cars this year.
“With the new noses, when we touched, the car took off. So for the spectator it was quite shocking,” he is quoted by Brazil’s Globo. “I think the punishment was related to the magnitude of what we saw, not the contact itself,” Maldonado added.
Brought to you by TheJudge13 reporter Adam Macdonald
A jeckel and hyde circuit for Lewis Hamilton having effectively lost the world Championship there back in 2007, and taking a giant stride towards winning it in 2008. Both were dominant displays, with the former ending in the rain due to what for most parts was a rookie error. Now 29 years old, his teammate and only realistic title rival cannot expect him to make mistakes of a similar vein.
Mercedes have introduced a new front nose for the weekend to help with the long corners at turn 1 and 11, where the Red Bulls are expected to be quick. Having failed the crash test a rumoured 4 times, they will be glad to finally have it on their challenger – as if more than a 1.5 second a lap advantage wasn’t enough. The longest straight on the calendar will play into the hands of the Mercedes powertrain, as the shorter gear ratios could cause problems for Ferrari and Red Bull.
Kevin Magnussen was the first to venture out onto the track quickly followed by the Mercedes boys and others. Kimi Raikkonen was left stuck in the garage as his mechanics scurried around trying to fix his front suspension. The Finn departed out to the back of the garage as Giedo van der Garde readied himself for another practice session in his Sauber.
Another week, another mistake for Pastor Maldonado as he misplaced his concentration (on his steering wheel instead) before a corner sending himself into a spin. There was a lack of grip out on the circuit, but this off could not be blamed on that. It seems when it rains it pours for Pastor as the dark clouds still hover above him!
Massa was the first driver to set a lap time, a 1:42.725. Rosberg soon went fastest amid reports of rain with a 1:41.063 after previously setting a slower lap. Hamilton settled in behind Rosberg and Alonso with a 1:42.142. Once again, we saw a success of the rule allowing an extra set of tyres for runners in the first half hour with a near full circuit gave fans in China and around the world something to enjoy.
Rosberg and Alonso both improved on their times, with the German being the first man to dip into the 1:40s (.840) then pitting after. Button and Hulkenberg both set quick times before, with 28 minutes of the session gone; Kimi finally stepped into his prancing horse. The thermal imaging cameras once again provided us with interesting images, demonstrating why cars were locking up at the end of the long straight with cold tyres.
The familiar lull of 30 minutes into the session then ensued as all drivers dived into the pits to ditch the first set of tyres and analyse the data so far. In his first outing with the Williams team, Felipe Nasr found himself down in 13th position as his teammate, the other Felipe, had managed 5th a full 1.9 seconds quicker.
News filtered through of Jules Bianchi having a fuel flow issue, which would see him side-lined for the session. Lewis’ engineer, Peter Bonnington, delivered the news of the Brit being down to Nico by a tenth in the first two sectors and 3 tenths in the final sector which was not met with a reply. The lull continued as the 18 degree track temperatures did nothing to entice people out onto the circuit.
Romain Grosjean was the first to break the silence on track (barely) clocking up valuable time for the Enstone team. The Frenchman improved to 7th and was joined by Daniil Kvyat, who was told he could enjoy the freedom of the circuit. The nurturing techniques of the Toro Rosso teams so far have paid dividends for the young Russian, which could be a lesson for other teams on how to treat their young drivers. (No sooner had I written this, he took too much speed into the turn 1 and spun – although he did manage to keep the engine running and recover)
The current World Champion stretched his legs and went 5th fastest, at the same time Alonso pushed his Ferrari to go 1 second quicker than the Mercedes of Rosberg setting a 1:39.783. Ricciardo went 2nd, followed by Hulkenberg who improved to 5th once more as times tumbled. With 35 minutes of the session left to run, Magnussen went 6th fastest and the Silver Arrows still yet to remerge for a second run on the tarmac.
There was no shock to hear it was the Mercedes (powertrained) cars that were fastest through the speed trap. Esteban Gutierrez trundled around at the back of the pack, not even managing to better the go quicker than Chilton down in 19th place. However, the team will be happy to have him out on track at all after a speedy repair from his mechanics.
Lewis Hamilton finally emerged with just under half an hour to go, not even finishing his timed lap before he regressing to his pit box and going back on the jacks. As another lull ensued, Bruno Senna took to inventing new words in the English language – electing for “admirating” instead of admiring. Ricciardo and Kvyat went back out on the circuit with just under 20 minutes to go. The Aussie being told to “get stuck into his tyres, then settle into a race pace.”
A group of cars made it out for a final time, mostly to simulate race conditions as tyre degradation has been very high in the cold conditions. Fortunately for those who struggle to get temperature into their tyres, qualifying is later in the day which should bring naturally higher ambient temperatures.
Hamilton’s short second run was caused by a lack of car balance bringing his session to a premature end, as the change of nose cone for Fernando Alonso provided some interest for observers. Rosberg, Vettel and Kvyat took trips off the tarmac in the closing stages, but the times did not change. The only surprise was that Bianchi did manage a cameo of laps, but still managed to go 0.5 seconds quicker than his teammate, as well as Gutierrez and Ericsson.
A cold FP1 session from Shanghai has provided very few answers for the weekend ahead, but has provided some great shots for cameramen as the cars frequently locked up down in turn 14. Alonso topped it, but what a surprise that would be if it stays the same way for the rest of the weekend. More bad luck for the Finn will be a set back at the worst possible time as he looks to impress the new boss.
Nobody has really shown their hand just yet, so still all to play for!