#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 30th September 2014

•September 30, 2014 • 25 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

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Previously on The Judge 13:

On This Day in #F1 : 30th September 2001 – Murray Walker


OTD Lite: 2007 – Toyota’s corporate blandness invades F1

Nico and Lewis become driving instructors

Mercedes dominate despite worst reliability

Alonso – out of the Italian frying pan into the Japanese fire

How to keep Fernando happy… as seen on Twitter

Silverstone Grand Prix Tickets, Finance now available

Lotus losing money again


OTD Lite: 2007 – Toyota’s corporate blandness invades F1

As mentioned in the comments yesterday, on this day Sebastian Vettel ran into the back of Mark Webber as they followed close behind Lewis Hamilton’s Mclaren. Hamilton took a sensational victory in such poor conditions that the circuit paid back entrance fees to spectators that couldn’t even see the track from their stands.

And in the final laps Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa took leave of their respective senses, and played at being Villeneuve versus Arnoux at Dijon 1979. How they didn’t get penalised was beyond most observers.

But what I found fascinating was the behaviour of the organisers of the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji. The circuit prohibited spectators from setting up flags to support their favoured teams and drivers. With the exception of Toyota.

Why Toyota? Former Benetton mechanic and Fuji TV F1 commentator, Tetsuo Tsugawa explained: “…Although I have worked in Formula One for thirty years, this is the first time I have seen a Grand Prix race without seeing fans wave the flag of Ferrari. I think this is inexcusable. What I heard was Fuji Speedway prohibited flags and banners of F1 teams, but I saw a Toyota F1 flag in the stands of the Toyota-owned circuit.”

“The track later said the flags were not prohibited, but there was a miscommunication between the race organisers and the staff of the circuit. However, many fans familiar with Formula One noticed the strangeness of the circuit without the team banners.”

Of course it wouldn’t be fair to just write about the criticism they received. After all there was praise too…

“I would like to say congratulations to Fuji Speedway for hosting this race for the first time in 30 years. The facilities here are excellent and the race was well organised.” offered the Team Principal of Toyota F1, Tadashi Yamashina. You couldn’t make it up!

The Jackal

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Nico and Lewis become driving instructors

TJ13 presents the fourth installment of the Allianz road safety campaign featuring Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – filmed no doubt in happier days..

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Mercedes dominate despite worst reliability

“We have enhanced controls, recruited other experts, shortened the time of replacement of various components. But while our car is a reference point in performance, from the point of view of robustness we have a problem, “says Toto Wolff.

Auto Motor Und Sport carried a survey recently about the comparable reliability of the first four teams in the 2014 World Championship. Surprisingly, Mclaren has accumulated the highest distance covered with 8277kms and only three retirements. Second behind them is Ferrari with the distance covered of 7,989kms.

Red Bull is third on the list, and despite having failed to finish on five occasions have covered 7,729kms. Which staggeringly leaves the Mercedes in just fourth position having completed the distance of ‘just’ 7,639kms.

The most recent issue for the Silver Arrows team was the breakdown of the wiring on the steering system of Nico Rosberg which seemed inexplicable seeing as the car had not been moved after qualifying had finished. But the first retirement was the spark plug cap in Australia that accounted for Lewis Hamilton.

Of course between these breakages has been the failure of the braking systems on both cars in Canada, Rosberg’s gearbox failing in Britain, Hamilton suffering problems with his brakes in Austria and Germany and a spectacular fire in Hungarian qualifying.

After a daunting pre-season testing regime – that frightened all the other runners into fearing they couldn’t compete this year – Mercedes have slowly moved way from the early season dominance to a point that the chasing pack can see chinks in the silver armour.

A despairing Niki Lauda stated: “Every time it’s something different, it can not go on like this.” It is no surprise that the Leprechaun constantly tells all that will listen that he is relevant because it is unlikely the paymasters at Stuttgart do..

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Alonso – out of the Italian frying pan into the Japanese fire

Last year, media reports stated categorically that the Renault and Ferrari engines were some way off of the performance of the Mercedes engine. Considering how secretive the teams are around in-house developments it was always staggering to have neutral observers being able to accurately predict what has in fact transpired. But essentially, with teams made up of 100’s if not 1000’s of staff it is practically impossible to mute an entire workforce.

Italian sources are reporting that Honda is currently around three months behind schedule in just being able to run an engine in anger. This isn’t the twenty weeks repair schedule that TJ13 learnt about from Renault; before anybody else got wind of their problems in Jerez this year. This is fundamentally more serious and it appears that the 2015 season could well prove to be a frustrating year for Mclaren drivers – enduring worse than any of the Renault powered drivers have suffered this season.

The design of the engine hasn’t been signed off yet and currently Honda is having problems with fuel consumption allied to a lack of horsepower. Honda has invested massively within Japan and has passed over the work on the Energy Recovery System to their partner Mclaren Applied Technologies. Although this group developed the electric system for the P1 hyper car, they are currently struggling to integrate this with the Japanese engine design.

It is practically impossible that the three drivers courted by Woking do not know the current situation and whilst they may accept the money offered for what is likely to be a difficult season, would they want to consign themselves to three years of unknowing?

This possibly explains why Ferrari have decided to play hardball with Alonso. They refused his terms of extending his contract for $30 million per annum and Marco Mattiacci has become detached in his dealings with the Spanish superstar.

As an amateur magician, Alonso understands the playing of cards intuitively but is he prepared – at 34 years old next season – to gamble himself to a project that will gradually see his personal competitiveness begin to wane.

Whilst many remember the old alliance between Mclaren and Honda as a dominant one, the F1 landscape has changed in the intervening quarter of a century. The last engines that Honda built for their own team in the mid 2000’s were both under-powered and had heavy consumption.

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How to keep Fernando happy… as seen on Twitter

ByoND5NIcAETXsk.jpg_large

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Silverstone Grand Prix Tickets, Finance now available

Silverstone have launched a partnership with Zebra finance which offers finance opportunities for those wishing to purchase tickets for the British GP in 2015.

“To celebrate the launch of our new instalment plan option we’re offering 0% interest on all ticket purchases made through Zebra Finance.  This offer will only be around until 17th October 2014, so don’t hesitate, purchase your 2015 British Grand Prix tickets today using the instalment plan. 

The repayments via the Zebra Finance Instalment Plan are illustrated with the Representative Example below.

Amount of credit £755
Repayable by 9 monthly instalments of £83.89
Total amount repayable £755
Annual rate of interest (fixed) 0%
APR Representative 0%

 

 9 month example based upon purchase of 2 tickets of £345 each plus car parking of £65”.

This offer is only available to those purchasing full 3 day grandstand tickets and approval or rejection of an applicant occurs within an hour.

Of course Zebra finance are not doing this for the love of Formula 1, they will receive a commission or benefits in kind from Silverstone to fund the administration of the scheme.

The cost of attending the British Grand Prix weekend for a family of 4, even attending GA – with accommodation and travel is unlikely to be less than £1,000 and more likely £1,500.

This speaks volumes about the state of F1’s finances and the cost to race-goers. Certain German outlets are describing this as ‘grotesque’… Finance a car… finance a visit to the British GP.

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Lotus losing money again

Despite suggestions from the Lotus team deputy principal Federico Gastaldi, that “the immediate future is bright and we are all working hard to be well prepared for 2015”, the BBC reports Lotus 2013 loses have increased from the £55.3m in 2012 to £64.9m in 2013.

Further, the team is spending around £130m a year on its F1 programme and they are around £130m in debt to Genii shareholders.

The CEO of Enstone Matthew Carter claims Lotus budget is relatively modest when compared to the bigger spenders in Formula One whose annual budget is in excess of £1/4 billion ($400m).

Carter claims that for 2014, following a programme of redundancies and the introduction of new partners, the Lotus team will post numbers close to break even.

This is all very positive news, and rightly so considering Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll is now considering buying the Enstone team.

TJ13 reported earlier this year, that Lotus and Renault were close to doing a deal which would see the Enstone outfit as the Renault works team. However, the disaster that was the Renault power train and the subsequent and necessary significant input from Red Bull engineers, who were shipped to work full time in Viry – put pay to this.

There have been many who believe Red Bull has been the unofficial Renault works team for some years, though Helmut Marko rejected this before the Singapore GP 2014.

“That was never the case. For many years we’ve been a customer team for them like all the others and it’s only our success that has made us move closer together – under such conditions Lotus was, for a long time, the secret darling of Renault. That has only changed very recently. What followed was the announcement that Red Bull is the official works team of Renault”.

It is for this reason Lotus are now looking to Mercedes for a power train, and have a pay as you go deal in place – which is not ideal.

Much of the value to the Genii investors would have been based upon the fact that Renault were seriously considering buying the team back, though now it appears ‘Lotus Renault’ will be just ‘Lotus’ in 2015.

Sauber appear to have blown an offer from Stroll as reports in the Swiss media suggest the Canadian investor believed they were asking too high a price. So the Genii investors must now take a long hard look at their predicament.

The team has lost money for the past 2 years and the prize money they will receive for 2014 will be around $18m less than it was for finishing fourth in 2013.

A deal which sees the Genii investors get their cash back – may in fact be as good as they can expect. But will they take that – or believe the perpetual dream that big money can be made from owning a Formula 1 team?

On This Day in #F1 : 30th September 2001 – Murray Walker

•September 30, 2014 • 10 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

- 2001: Go! Go! Go! Go! Formula One’s legendary commentator Murray Walker hung up his microphone in style after the 2001 United States Grand Prix.

Two weeks had passed since the Monza GP, and almost 3 weeks since the sad events that unfolded in New York on the morning of Tuesday 11th September. There was some speculation regarding the running of the US Grand Prix, as it would be the first major sporting event held on American soil since the tragedy. The fans that attended embraced the sport and said their thanks with countless banners throughout the 185,000 crowd.

Murray Walker’s last commentary would cover the final victory of Hakkinen’s career. A fitting end to two great F1 careers.

His decision was based on the fact he was 78 years of age and he would rather leave than be asked to leave. Throughout 2001, he had chosen a lighter work schedule and avoided the races he didn’t particularly enjoy.

While the future of Mika Hakkinen had been on everyones lips for the previous few weeks, at Indy the focus of all conversations was the retirement of Walker as TV’s front man.

A special send off was organised by the Williams team on the Friday night marking the end of an era. Colleagues who had worked with Walker, team bosses, Ecclestone and all the drivers were present. It spoke volumes for his personality and professionalism that everyone attended.

The evening included personal memories from a number of different people.

Coulthard: “He has created great television out of sometimes boring races and makes every event seem like losing your virginity.”

Irvine: “It was amazing. He can makes the most boring race sound great. I used to get excited because he did make mistakes, but it did really annoy me”

Some of my favourites include,

You can cut the tension with a cricket stump.

Eight minutes past the hour here in Belgium – presumably eight minutes past the hour everywhere in the world.

And now, excuse me while I interrupt myself.

Are they on a one stopper? Are they on a two? And when I say they, who do I mean? Well, I don’t know. It could be anybody.

Do my eyes deceive me, or is Senna’s Lotus sounding rough?

But for me it has to be,

Murray: So Bernie, in the seventeen years since you bought Mclaren, which of your many achievements do you think was the most memorable?

Bernie: Well I don’t remember buying Mclaren.

Straight from the horses mouth, some more Murray-isms to enjoy:

An extraordinary career, he was recognised within Britain and other countries around the world that received their commentary from the BBC service as the “voice of F1″.

Yet he could also speak in measured tones if the circumstances required him too.

A humble and self deprecating man, this last clip exemplifies perfectly what his voice could bring to the most solemn of sports.

Thirteen years on and he is still missed.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 29th September 2014

•September 29, 2014 • 49 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly

Previously on The Judge 13:

#F1 Polls: Driver of the Weekend Report: The year to date

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 7th: Porsche


OTD Lite: 2002 – Ferrari’s contrived US Grand Prix finish

F1 starting to recognise that the cars are too easy to drive

Ericsson to continue with Caterham in 2015 – if they are still competing

No handbags at Red Bull

Force India turns to Toyota for wind tunnel (GMM)

Ferrari loses legal battle with engineer (GMM)

McLaren expecting a ‘tricky’ Suzuka

Verstappen Japan debut

Tweeting it wrong


OTD Lite: 2002 – Ferrari’s contrived US Grand Prix finish

On this day – twelve years ago – Ferrari recorded the closest finish in F1 history. Well, at least since the timing system had changed to 1000ths of a second. Just 0.011 separated Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher as they crossed the line. Which in itself would suggest an almighty fight to the line.

Sadly in a season of Ferrari dominance, Schumacher had led the ‘race’ throughout and as they approached the line attempted to stage a dead heat.

2002-US

Many felt that it was Schumi repaying his team-mate after the Brazilian had given up victory in Austria that year. The team had been vilified after the Austrian debacle and the tirade of abuse continued here. The arrogance of the management of Ferrari seemingly astonished that the public wasn’t taken in by their simple explanations of manipulating events in their quest for glory.

Ferrari’s reputation has never really recovered from those days – thanks Mr Todt – and to many remains an organisation run on a sense of entitlement. Most members of the tifosi enjoyed the success of the team whilst despairing at the contrived nature of the races.

Ultimately, when a team has built a dominant car the best method of publicity is to let the young warriors fight – irrespective of good or ill fortune.

The Jackal

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F1 starting to recognise that the cars are too easy to drive

“Today, you could take a young child from school and put him into an F1 car and he would be able to sustain the forces. From the physical side F1 has never been easier.”

Josef Leberer works for the Sauber F1 team but is most famously known for his close friendship with Ayrton Senna and as his personal trainer back in 1990. Following the recent SIngapore Grand Prix he was speaking about the differences between the current F1 and that of the late 80’s – early 90’s and suggested looking at drivers finishing races back then to see how far F1 has come in terms of driver comfort.

“I’m sure many current drivers would like to show their ability in comparison to the drivers in the past, but things have changed a lot on the physical and mental side. Back then drivers would be in pain for days with bruises on elbows, pain in the hands from gear changes and their necks would need rest following a race – it was much harder than today…

“It’s nice to have young drivers, but I have memories of drivers exhausted at the end of races, sweaty and having pushed their physical limits to almost be fainting by the end of races. Now drivers don’t even sweat anymore.

Daniel Ricciardo seemingly sings from the same hymn sheet, “From the physical point of view, it is definitely not a walk in the park, but it is easier than it was a couple of years ago. If the cars are quicker they’ll be physically harder to drive.”

Alain Prost also believes that the public perception of the F1 ‘Playstation’ era has lessened the interest in the sport and the time is ripe to make the cars harder to drive.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with Max Verstappen, but it’s true that he’s going to be able to drive the car no problem, this was absolutely not possible in our time – the cars were so difficult to drive. the first time we went to Portugal it was not possible to make a complete day of testing at all, no way!”

“It was physically really difficult, which is not the case today, I think the speed of the cars during the races and the grip is not very good. It’s quite slow, so you need to have a proper Formula 1.”

The FIA have said they will look at the regulations which allow drivers to become accredited for an FIA super license, though the implication is they will enforce restrictions to ensure drivers aged 17 are no longer eligible – and all this by 2017.

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Ericsson to continue with Caterham in 2015 – if they are still competing

Max Chilton is supposedly too pretty and his daddy too wealthy to worry about not being in Formula One with one of the tail-end teams. His performance matters little even if the British media felt it worthy his record of finishing all his races in his rookie season…

Likewise Marcus Ericsson trails round at the back at a speed that should require the safety car lights mounted on his rear wing. His speed is beyond question – the world and any debutant drivers in the other Caterham have already seen that it is classed as ‘SLOW‘ and yet the new Team Principal Manfredi Ravetto claims that Ericsson demonstrated his ability in Singapore.

As a newcomer dealing with a team that is collapsing from within – Ravetto’s demeanour would seem simply staggering as he states they have been talking to Marcus’s management and sponsors about his seat next year “because this year the team has invested in the growth of the driver.

Then he states the real reason behind Leafield’s enthusiasm for the slowest driver on the grid: “Next year we will be glad to have him back in our car and… make money from this investment rather than see it end up in some other machine.”

Attento Manfredi – don’t let Mr E. hear you can make money from F1 – he’ll decrease your share of the F1 purse even further.

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No handbags at Red Bull

Despite the fact that Daniel Ricciardo easily beat his team mate and having taken all three non-Mercedes wins this year, he maintains that this had no detrimental effect on the relationship with his team-mate. Unlike his predecessor, Danny boy has so far had no public spat with his colleague from the other side of the garage.

“We are at a point where I have won three races and he none, yet he relates to me the same as he did from the very start,” the Australian explains in an interview with Channel 7. “We still exchange data and info about the car. He tells me how his daughter is doing and much more. Considering that it is a relationship between motorsports team mates, it couldn’t be better.”

TJ13 comment: The relationship between the Red Bull drivers could have gone spectacularly wrong, but it didn’t for several reasons. The first is, Daniel Ricciardo does not carry the baggage of history which Mark Webber did. Webber’s relationship with Vettel  began in 2007, when an inexperienced Sebastian clattered into the back of his car during a safety car period, yet the very same ‘Kid’ came in two years later, scored the first win for Red Bull and dominated within the the RB senior team.

The second reason us Daniel does not do smack talk. With him comprehensively outscoring Vettel this year, he could have been smug, yet he isn’t and pays proper respect to his team mate. In return he receives the same respect back. Vettel congratulated him for each and every win and even posed for the winners photo’s without pulling a sour face like Rosberg did after Singapore. For all the explosive climate at RB over the last few years, there seems to be an air of harmony in Milton Keynes. Maybe it’s that very climate which makes Vettel cope rather well with what can only be described as an annus horribilis.

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Force India turns to Toyota for wind tunnel

Force India is the latest F1 team turning to Toyota’s state-of-the-art wind tunnel in Cologne. It emerged in Singapore recently that Caterham is developing its 2015 car in the Cologne tunnel.

Previously, Ferrari relied heavily on the Toyota facilities amid its troubles with its own tunnel at Maranello. “We haven’t used the one in Cologne for really quite some time,” said technical boss James Allison recently.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport also reports that, with McLaren leasing wind tunnel time to Marussia, the Woking based team also uses the Toyota facility. And Force India is now beginning to turn to Toyota. “Our wind tunnel was originally built for 30 per cent models,” said technical boss Andy Green, “so we don’t have enough room around the 50 per cent model.

From next year, a new cost cutting measure is that each team can only use one wind tunnel per season, so Force India has nominated Cologne. The report said Toyota charges about EUR 100,000 a week for the privilege.

TJ13 comment: So the promised $50m investment from Vijay – made to years ago – and a wind tunnel for the Silverstone team is now finally revealed to be a fantasy.

Wind tunnels are an important part of modern F1 comeptition and Ferrari have had their own share of wind tunnel difficulties. The Maranello facility was repaired, upgraded and recalibrated by October 2013, but previously they too had been using the Toyota tunnel from 2012 and designed this year’s car fully in the Cologne based complex.

Mclaren also have been using the same facility for the last couple of seasons with it would appear similar results.

Of course it could be mere coincidence that these two ‘grandees’ have suffered some of their worst form in a generation – it could be that the people in charge of aero really don’t have a clue – but could it simply be that the Toyota facility has a reputation that has been unjustly earnt.

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Ferrari loses legal battle with engineer

Ferrari has lost a legal battle with a disgruntled F1 engineer. For 2012, Briton Steve Clark joined the fabled Maranello team from Mercedes, where he was a highly respected senior technical advisor. It was reported at the time that Clark’s new role would be in charge of Ferrari’s race engineers.

But Italy’s specialist Autosprint and La Gazzetta dello Sport separately report that Clark was subsequently ‘demoted’ to a role in Ferrari’s non-F1 projects, including working on the Italian olympic team’s bobsled design.

Clark reportedly sued the team in the local Modena courts, arguing that the demotion to a role outside of F1 caused “serious harm to his career”. The judge reportedly agreed, declaring that his ‘demotion’ was contrary to his contract. The reports say Ferrari has been ordered to reinstate Clark in his contracted F1 role or an equivalent, which could result in a departure settlement for the 48-year-old Briton.

TJ13 comment: An interesting article which demonstrates the dictatorial vision of the ex-President of Ferrari – Montezemolo. Clark was hired by Pat Fry and Stefano Domenicali to bring his expertise to Ferrari and was moved in the endless games of politics played out in Maranello.

As Costa explained earlier this year, every person recruited – and every decision on investment made – had to pass by Il Padrino – he refused to delegate authority. It will be interesting to see if the new regime empowers its people or disables them because simply – ‘We are Ferrari’

Of perhaps more pertinence is that once upon a time the power in Maranello was greater than the law – effectively. How times have changed..

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McLaren expecting a ‘tricky’ Suzuka

Jenson Button appears not to be relishing the upcoming Japanaese Grand Prix in Suzuka.

“I think circuits that have a high-speed nature but not a big change of direction will be fine, like Brazil, but Suzuka could be tricky for us,” explained the British driver.

“It is a shame, especially for the future of this team, that it could be a really tricky race for the team. But we have a few little things that could help us.”

The McLaren has visibly been twitchy through the high speed corners at circuits with those characteristics through the 2014 season, though Jenson’s comments suggesting a disappointing result in Japan will affect “the future of this team” are surprising.

“Traction has been a big issue [this year], and also when the car is unsettled it is very difficult. In gradual high-speed corners we are reasonably good, but on corners with a sharp turn-in we are nowhere.

We have no initial turn-in, we don’t get it in, and then the rear falls over. The change of direction in high speed is the same. For the first part we are good, but as soon as you change direction and go over the central part of the steering wheel we lose speed.

It has been a weakness, and something that has improved over the year”.

The 2014 regulations have seen a substantial amount of aerodynamic downforce stripped from the cars and it is this which Button highlights has been problematic for the Woking team all year.

“I think it is just a lack of downforce. We started the year knowing we had a lack of downforce but wanting a driveable car – which it is. But the problem is we needed to start pushing it to make it more edgy – and we’ve done that!

But it’s all great planning for next year.”

McLaren have been 3rd or 4th best amongst the Mercedes engine cars for most of the year, and would be detached from that group of teams had Force India had the budget to deliver proper in season development.

2013 saw McLaren fail to score a podium, which was rectified in Australia 2014, however Button does not expect a repeat of this unless others fail. “I don’t think we will be quick enough to get a podium. We could get close enough for it if people in front make a mistake, but I don’t think we will get it [on merit alone].”

But why is Japan so important to McLaren that it may “affect the future of the team”?

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Verstappen Japan debut

Franz Tost is known to be one of the most uncompromising of the team principals left in Formula 1. He allegedly got into a brawl with Scott Speed following the 2007 European GP at the Nurburgring.

Speed left the team immediately and Sebastian Vettel famously got his opportunity.

Back in Singapore Tost was his usual grumpy self with plenty to say at the team principal’s press conference. He dismissed the FIA’s proposals for changing pit/car radio broadcasts as, “absolutely not necessary,”

Tost argues, radio is entertainment and information which when shared improves the fans understanding and enjoyment of the sport.  “For me it’s absolutely nonsense what we are discussing here because in all the other kinds of sports a coach gives some information, instructions to a football player, for example, on the sideline or wherever.

“This does not mean that the sportsman is not able to do his job, he can do his job, he does do his job, but maybe he can do it in a better way, it’s just a performance improvement. Therefore I don’t understand it.”

During that same conference, Tost revealed to a rather surprised audience, that Max Verstappen had completed a test at the Adria International Raceway and fulfilled the requirements for his FIA superlicense. Further, Tost revealed Max would be driving FP1 in Japan.

Max will become the youngest ever F1 driver when he takes to the grid in Adelaide next March. “I am very much looking forward to taking part in a Free Practice session at a Grand Prix for the first time. It is good preparation for next year, even if it’s not something I could have imagined a few months ago. To already be participating in a practice session is of course a dream come true,” Verstappen said.

“I have actually been to Suzuka before, to take part in a go-kart race on the track that is located next to the main circuit’s back straight. My dad has raced at Suzuka many times and he told me it’s not an easy track to start on. 

For me it will be a very valuable experience, spending some time in the car and also getting used to working with everyone in the team, to prepare myself for next year. I am not going there to break any records, I just want to gain experience. I have spent one day driving this track on the simulator, which helps a bit, but it’s no substitute for driving it for real. 

My first impression is that it’s not an easy track and for example it looks hard to get the combination right in the first esses. I have one and a half hours to drive there and I’m looking forward to doing a good job, for myself and for the team.”

For JEV fighting to save his F1 career, missing FP1 in Japan is a blow.

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Tweeting it wrong

Mercedes conducted a “forensic analysis” of the issue that affected Nico Rosberg’s car during the recent Singapore race. It showed the steering column electronics had been “contaminated with a foreign substance”.
“The contamination was not visible and did not manifest itself until Sunday as Nico went to the grid,” Mercedes said on Twitter.

The timing of the announcement could not have come at a better time for the conspiracy theorists to have a field day, dreaming up all sorts of wonderful schemes from the Stuttgart team. With just 5 races to go, the twittersphere was sent into overdrive when Mercedes tweeted, “To clarify, the contaminant was a substance used in normal pre-event servicing of the component. Not a conspiracy!”

William of Occam would be having a field day with his razor at the moment, given raft of theories abounding at the moment. But loose lips do sink ships and Mercedes team management and drivers have all at times made pronouncements that feed into the current speculative fever.

Mercedes currently appear rather sensitive to the charges, but lies the truth is that as the end of the season approaches and resources are deployed more and more into next year’s project, backroom politics becomes increasingly important to the quest for the WDC. Both drivers have been around long enough to know how to play the game and each is doing their utmost to swing the pendulum in their favour.

Though Mercedes’ PR department may be ruing it currently, the fact of the matter is the current drama is all that stands between the fans and possibly one of the most boring seasons ever imaginable, and eventually they will reap the benefits. Sometimes doing things the wrong way, turns out to be the best way.

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#F1 Victims of Circumstance: Marina Bay 2014 – #SingaporeGP

•September 29, 2014 • 7 Comments

Brought to you by TJ13 Courtroom Reporter & Crime Analyst: Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

 

[For those who are new to the page; TJ13 attempts to remove certain aspects of the race to give a fairer reflection of the race result.]

First impressions will, I am led to believe, last forever.  Therefore, those that have more of a propensity to certain results will be expected to do so for all of time.  The harsh reality for a driver that does not find his feet immediately is that he will most probably face an impossible battle to win the doubters over.

I know I have been guilty in the past of writing off the chances of Marcus Ericsson to deliver results given his previous career in GP2 and route into the ‘big time’.  Credit where it is due as the Swede drove an impressive race to bring home his best finish in the sport.   However, there were still those who boasted his success was only down to the misfortune of Kamui Kobayashi, forced out of the race before it had even begun.

Once more there is a demonstration of why GP2/3 and other feeder series require greater spotlighting and media coverage.  Drivers would be afforded more time to adjust to life in the higher tier, as well as a range of other benefits. Well done to Marcus for his result, although to me it simply highlighted the problems young drivers face.  Something needs to change.

Kamui Kobayashi leaps clear of his car after pulling up on the formation lap

Kamui Kobayashi leaps clear of his car after pulling up on the formation lap

So what really happened?

Kamui Kobayashi: Another week, another retirement for the green team as their existence continues to lie in the balance.  It must be heart-breaking for the Japanese fans to watch their idol fail to finish each race, so fingers crossed for some better luck at his home race.  He is reinstated to 21st place.

Nico Rosberg: Nothing the German could have done about a contamination to his steering column.  The most telling piece of footage of the weekend was the exchange between Toto and Nico in the garage.  Allegiances will become more prominent as the fight for the title tightens.  After his DNF here, winning is everything for Nico.  At least he gets awarded 2nd position here.

Daniel Ricciardo: Even though he had car troubles, it is not for certain he would have been able to pass his teammate.  Whether Red Bull should have enforced team orders is another matter.  He remains in position.

Jenson Button: As the other McLaren driver overheated, the older statesman was forced into retiring from the race.  He may soon be forced into retirement if Honda get their way with Alonso.  After such a promising drive, Button deserved a decent points haul.  He is reinstated to 9th place.

Esteban Gutierrez: Having shown so much promise in the races early stages, the anger that came out was understandable as the Mexican was robbed of the first point of the season.  He is reinstated to 10th place.

Adrian Sutil: The regular result of a DNF for Sutil was no different here in Singapore.  He is reinstated to a net 16th place.

Max Chilton: While he did pick up a puncture forcing him to pit once more, it almost certainly would not have made much difference to the end result.  Chilton stays in position.

The Verdict
This leaves the revised results table looking like this:

Revised Race Position Driver Result comparison Points Points Difference Grid Position
Start Revised Position
1 Lewis Hamilton = 25 = 1 1
2 Nico Rosberg RETIRED 18 +18 2 2
3 Sebastian Vettel -1 15 -3 4 3
4 Daniel Ricciardo -1 12 -3 3 4
5 Fernndo Alonso -1 10 -2 5 5
6 Felipe Massa -1 8 -2 6 6
7 Jenson Button RETIRED 6 +6 11 7
8 Jean-Eric Vergne -2 4 -4 12 8
9 Sergio Perez -2 2 -4 15 9
10 Esteban Guttierez RETIRED 1 +1 14 10
11 Kimi Raikkonen -3 0 -4 7 11
12 Nico Hulkenberg -3 0 -2 13 12
13 Kevin Magnussen -3 0 -1 20 13
14 Valtteri Bottas -3 0 = 8 14
15 Pastor Maldonado -3 0 = 18 15
16 Adrian Sutil RETIRED 0 = 17 16
17 Romain Grosjean -4 0 = 16 17
18 Daniil Kvyat -4 0 = 10 18
19 Marcus Ericsson -4 0 = 22 19
20 Jules Bianchi -4 0 = 19 20
21 Kamui Kobayashi RETIRED 0 = 20 21
22 Max Chilton -5 0 = 21 22

 

Below, the revised World Drivers’ Championship:

Driver Revised WDC WDC Points Difference
Position Points
Lewis Hamilton 1 281 +40
Nico Rosberg 2 272 +34
Daniel Ricciardo 3 175 -9
Sebastian Vettel 4 128 +4
Fernando Alonso 5 116 -15
Valtteri Bottas 6 104 -18
Felipe Massa 7 87 +22
Jenson Button 8 69 -3
Nico Hulkenberg 9 48 -24
Kimi Raikkonen 10 47 +1
Sergio Perez 11 37 -8
Kevin Magnussen 12 25 -14
Daniil Kvyat 13 11 +5
Jean-Eric Vergne 14 13 -6
Romain Grosjean 15 4 -4
Esteban Gutierrez 16 1 +1
Jules Bianchi 17 0 -2
Adrian Sutil 18 0 =
Kamui Kobayashi 19 0 =
Max Chilton 20 0 =
Marcus Ericsson 21 0 =
Pastor Maldonado 22 0 =

*Those with 0 points will not be ordered

What they would have said

Either way, the momentum is most definitely in the Hamilton camp as we head to the Suzuka.  Were the gap down to just 15 points then we would still be talking about whether Rosberg can hold on for the Championship win.  Perhaps the poor reliability is a blessing in disguise as the mind-set is completely different, now needing to beat Hamilton.  If he is going to win in 2014. he will have to do it the hard way.

Had Magnussen and Kvyat not had problems with overheating cars and malfunctioning drinks bottles, their races would have been differently, or so they say.  However, call me a sceptic, but it seems a very convenient excuse to me for a slow car, at least for Kvyat.  An issue of driver safety to be addressed for years to come perhaps.

Quote of the Day

Seth Godin the American author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker once said, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”

Time to get back to basics then

Time to get back to basics then

In an age where so much is invested into car development maybe someone should remind the designers it is humans that drive the cars.  It doesn’t matter how complex your front wing becomes, if your driver isn’t cared for then it will affect their race.

#F1 Polls: Driver of the Weekend Report: The year to date

•September 28, 2014 • 30 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Still I Surprise

With the latest TJ13 Driver of the Weekend poll, Singapore, closed and the end result was different to what I said initially in a previous analysis. There was a late turn around in sentiment with ‘The Finger’ coming up from behind (pun intended) to usurp then leader ‘Hollywood’ as the official TJ13 DotW of Singapore.

SingaporeGP DotW 2014

2014 SingaporeGP Driver of The Weekend

Few can deny ‘The Finger’ deserves his top spot, the first victory for him this season. The soon to be ex World Champion did a great drive to second place!

Last year’s winner, ‘Iceman’ did not even feature on this DotW poll. While ‘The Finger’ won in convincing manner who can forget the Iceman’s drive from 13th to 3rd…

SingarporeGP DotW 2013

2013 SingaporeGP Driver of The Weekend

GP winner v TJ13 DotW analysis:

Below I have updated the data and analysis in this type “GP winner v TJ13 fan base” analysis on perception…

Standings to date
Grand Prix GP Winner TJ13 DotW
Australia Britney K-Mag
Malaysia Hollywood Hollywood
Bahrain Hollywood Hollywood
China Hollywood Teflonzo
Spain Hollywood The Finger
Monaco Britney Jules ‘ribbet’ Bianchi
Canada Colgate Boy Colgate Boy*
Austria Britney Valeri Bolt-Ass
Great Britain Hollywood Valeri Bolt-Ass
Germany Britney Hollywood
Hungary Colgate Boy Teflonzo
Belgium Colgate Boy Colgate Boy
Italy Hollywood Colgate Boy
Singapore Hollywood The Finger

Notes:
– Out of 14 races, only on 4 occasions did a driver do the TJ13 double of winning the GP and getting crowned as the TJ13 DotW.

- Therefore in 10 GP’s, the TJ13 community collectively decided someone OTHER than the race winner was the better performer. Interestingly, from a sociological perspective, the TJ13 community collectively see’s beyond who actually won the race, which I originally didn’t bank on. It’s a bit like @F1esty’s analogy of 1000ppl guessing the weight of a cow, and the average somehow being correct.

- Most DotW winners are Colgate Boy and Hollywood, both have 3 DotW’s, followed by The Finger, Teflonzo and Valeri Bolt-ass with 2 each.

- Having led most of the rounds as world title leader, Britney has zero DotW wins as K-Mag in Australia, Bianchi in Monaco, Valeri Bolt-Ass in Austria and Hollywood in Germany were all deemed better performers to Britney’s GP wins.

- Of Hollywood’s 7 GP wins this season, in only 2 was he also considered the TJ13 DotW.

- Despite Mercedes having won 11/14 races collectively, a Mercedes driver has only been deemed worthy of a TJ13 DotW crown 3 times.

Summary:
A cursory glance at other sites and fan bases, and research on such polls and comments back to Australia suggests these TJ13 results are relatively universal and broadly inline with this community.

Therefore, #WhatAWastedArrow, even if only on a collective team basis. With the Silver Arrow car enjoying an unprecedented 2sec/lap car advantage season long, which in the hands of a Senna/McLaren Team or a Mansell/Williams Team or a Schumi/Ferrari Team, the world title would be wrapped up and delivered by now.

Furthermore and based on that view, I think the F1 fans would still have regularly collectively voted for those aforementioned drivers as their fortnightly race DotW because they’d see the pure extraction of the maximum performance and results from what was available. Not shenanigans, manipulations and under performance speckled with the occasional good drive.

For example I recall similar polls on Schumacher still getting DotW (or equivalent) quite regularly in the years (01,02,04) that he enjoyed his best car advantages, which incidentally were never in the 2sec/lap range. There seemed to always be a feeling of, “oh well, he earned it and ultimately he used it flawlessly. Can’t fault that.” There were no internet polls for the others who enjoy mega car advantages (Senna / Mansell / Clark) who I mention, so I can’t speak to them.

On some level, we know one of the greatest performance gaps, if not the greatest gap in history, is being relatively squandered and it’s not just the reliability I am referring to. The collective poll data above, and elsewhere, reflects that we collectively know this.

*Data Entry adjustment:
Max ‘the model’ Chilton actually got DotW at Canada. Strange joke, clearly, considering he crashed on lap 1 and took his team mate out. Second place promoted in this single instance for the analysis. All others were the DotW contenders selected.

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 7th: Porsche

•September 28, 2014 • 7 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: BlackJack’sBriefs

As with my series on drivers, I started with the Wiki ‘List of Formula One Constructors’ and quickly reduced 136 to 43 eligible constructors by removing the Champions, and those hopefuls who failed to last beyond two or three seasons, and also those who only competed before 1958. [See Part-20 - Intro for details.]

“I feel the need – the need for speed!”

F&f-01b-W7th

Porsche

Considering the international fame of the Porsche name there is amazingly little written about the company’s F1 history on the internet. OK, it was brief, lasting barely three years, so perhaps a little pre- history is deserved.

Ferdinand Porsche was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1875, taking Czech nationality after WWI, and then German, in 1934.

Helping in his father’s workshop from childhood Ferdinand joined the Lohner coachbuilding company in Vienna in 1898 and, in 1901, produced his second auromobile design, perhaps the first ‘hybrid’ vehicle, with a Daimler ic-engine driving a generator that drove individual electric motors mounted within the wheel hubs. This car won the Exelberg Rally in 1901 and broke several speed records.

1902 provided a short hiatus as military service saw Ferdinand doing duty as chauffeur to Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.

In 1906 Ferdinand joined Austro-Daimler as chief designer, and ten years later was Managing Director. He produced several very successful racing cars until, in 1923, he left the company after disagreements about it’s future but was soon given the place of Technical Director in Daimler’s parent company in Stuttgart, where he continued to create successful cars, culminating in the Mercedes-Benz SSK.

Ferdinand helped with the merger of the two companies into Daimler-Benz but his desire to produce a small light- weight car was not supported by the board and he left again, in 1929, for Steyr, but the Depression sent this small, light-weight company to the wall.

So 1931 saw the establishment of the design-consultant company of Porsche, in Stuttgart, and he and his son, Ferdinand Jr. (known as ‘Ferry’), joined forces to produce Ferdinand’s small-car dream, first supported by Zundapp, and then NSU.

In 1932 Ferdinand also developed a new single-seater racing car based on the 1923 Benz ‘Tear-Drop’, for the current 750kg. formula where the car, without driver, fuel, oil, water and tyres could not weigh more than 750kg… and that was about all. At the same time Auto Union was formed and they wanted a ‘show-piece’.

In 1933 Hitler declared every German should be able to own either a car or a tractor… and he also instigated a state motor-racing programme by giving 500,000 Reichsmarks to Mercedes-Benz… Porsche created prototypes for the ‘peoples’-car’ which so pleased Hitler the racing grant was suddenly split in two, with 250,000 going to Auto Union, creating intense exchamges between the companies, on and off the track.

Ferdinand was dubbed ‘the Great German Engineer’… until it was realised he was Czech, and Hitler regarded the Czechs as ‘sub-human’, so Ferdinand jumped ships… took German nationality, and also joined the SS.
Mercedes-Benz produced the W125, and Auto-Union the TYPE-A, -B, -C, & -D… and that part of the story is sufficiently well known for us to move on. Both cars were known as ‘Silver Arrows’.

AutoUnion-01-W

1940’s

After the war Porsche, father and son, were imprisoned, as ‘war criminals’, with Ferry being released first, He moved the Porsche operation to Austria, and designed the 4WD Type 360 Cisitalia, which never raced but the fee was used to bail dad out of jail. In 1948 Porsche also started work on the classic ‘356’, the first car to carry the Porsche name.

Now strongly ensconced in sportscar manufacture it’s not surprising the company became involved in sportscar racing. The Volkswagen company was now churning out the ‘Beetle’, and Porsche earned a royalty on all 20,000,000+ models made. Ferdinand finally visited the VW factory in Wolfsburg in November, 1950. The following month he suffered a stroke, and died in January, 1951. ‘Ferry’ Porsche continued to control the company until 1972, and remained a director until 1990. He died in 1998. In 1999 Ferdinand Porsche was declared ‘Car Engineer of the Century’.

1950’s

Porsche won its class at LeMans in 1951 and their RSK sportscar was so successful it achieved an odd notoriety – during the 50’s the FIA often found itself drawing up regulations that nobody wanted. During 1950-1951 the only regular ‘works’ teams were from Alfa Romeo, Talbot, Maserati, and Ferrari, using a 4.5 NA / 1.5 SC formula but, in 1952 Alfa Romeo pulled out and Ferrari were left as the only serious F1 contender… so the FIA decided to award the Championship to the F2 races, which were for 2.0L NA engines.

Even so Ferrari won every race, and Ascari the Championship, against works cars from Gordini, HWM, Connaught, and Maserati… and a private Cooper Bristol driven so well by Mike Hawthorn he was given a works Ferrari drive for 1953… which saw a virtual repeat of 1952, Ferrari winning all but the Italian GP, which was taken by Maserati.

1954 saw new regs. with F1 now being run to 2.5 NA / 1.5 SC engines and Ferrari, Maserati and Gordini, and a host of various private entries (mostly running the previous year’s F2 cars) were joined by the might of Mercedes.

1955 saw the arrival of Lancia, for one year, and Vanwall, and 1956 finally saw BRM getting to grips with the grids. Meanwhile the 1.5L F2 was providing good racing for British companies using a much modified Coventry Climax engine that had been designed as a lightweight ‘pump’ for fire appliances. The company were keen to develop this new market and soon bored out the engine to 2.0L, and then 2.2L as numerous privateers battled it out, often as makeweights, at the back of the field.

And F1…

But, by 1957 there was still often a shortage of entries and several GP organisers allowed F2 cars to compete as well, although the FIA ruled they would not be elligible for Championship points… and Porsche finally arrived at the German GP with two cars for Edgar Barth and Umberto Maglioli, plus a private entry for Dutchman, Count Carel Godin de Beaufort…

For a couple of years the Porsche 718RSK sportscar had been entered in F2 races, first by fitting a single, central seat, and then by removing bodywork to make them ‘open single-seaters’, which achieved some success behind the Coopers, and now they were appearing occasionally at the rear of F1 grids, until 1960… when the regs. changed again.

In sportscar racing Porsche won, outright, the legendary Targa Florio.

1960-01-W

1961

For reasons which nobody understood at the time, and which only Ferrari seemed to support, the FIA upgraded the 1.5L F2 to F1 status for 1961 which provided a very natural entry for Porsche to become fully-fledged F1 competitors. Fielding the 718/2, and then the 787, for Jo Bonnier and Dan Gurney, Porsche ran a full season, backed by de Beaufort’s private entry, and occasional entries for Hans Herrman.

With three 2nd places in France, Italy and America Porsche finished their first season in F1 in 3rd place, behind Ferrari and Lotus, and well ahead of Cooper and BRM… and Gurney finished 4th in the Drivers’ Championship.
An interesting feature of F1 at this time was the number of non-championship races… While the Championship was fought out over eight rounds, there were twenty-one non-championship events, one of which, the Coppa Italia, was won by a Porsche driven by Giancarlo Baghetti.

1962

Unbeknown to many a third generation was already hard at work at Porsche and Ferry’s son, Ferdinand Alexander, who would also be involved with producing the 901/911, had been burning the midnight oil.

Porsche arrived with a whole new car, the 804, their first ‘proper’ single-seater design that owed nothing to their sportscars, and were probably expecting great things. Their previous car had looked ‘lumpy’ and heavy but the new one was svelte and looked the bees-knees. Ferrari, after sweeping the 1961 Championship firmly under the Maranello carpet, found themselves at ‘sixes & sevens’ after the ‘Winter Walkout’. Ferrari only entered six of the nine Championship-qualifying rounds and, despite scoring three podiums in the first three races, even Ferrari don’t enjoy talking about 1962.

But Porsche’s potential challenge was eclipsed by the British teams getting themselves together and both Coventry- Climax and BRM came up with brilliant V8 engines which just took over F1 racing. BRM, Lotus and Cooper won the first three races (one each), and took the first three places in the Championship, winning every event… except the fourth round – the French GP…

The front rows at Rouen were taken by Clark, Hill, Bruce McLaren, Brabham, and Surtees, with Gurney 6th… and is it odd that five of these drivers were soon to produce their own F1 cars…? Certainly the 60’s were very different to today. It was a very hard race, on the bumpy Rouen road circuit and, one by one, most of the field fell by the wayside but the ‘under the weather’ Gurney and his Porsche just kept going, and kept going, and lapped everyone else to score his first F1 GP win, and Porsche’s only victory. Gurney would go on to score Brabham’s first victory, and also the first for his own Eagle car…

The following week Gurney also won the non-championship Solitude GP, at Stuttgart (with Bonnier in 2nd), and later put the Porsche on Pole in Germany, and raced long and hard with Hill and Surtees, in a rain-soaked race, until having to accept 3rd place, with four seconds covering all three… but, at the end of the year the factory pulled the plug. Allegedly Porsche felt they couldn’t make their air-cooled engine as powerful as the British V8s… or they found it all too expensive… or the Porsche dealers were unable to sell sportscars on the back of F1 success… but it also seems Ferry Porsche was simply not a great supporter of F1…

1962-01-W

De Beaufort continued to run his 1960/61 cars for a couple more years, and that was it… but, in just two full seasons, and seventeen races, this small racing effort won 1 GP, recorded 1 Pole, and scored 4 podiums – it wasn’t great, but it had been enough to justify staying longer…

Jo Bonnier moved to Rob Walker’s private team for a couple of years, without much success. Indeed, without his 1959 Dutch GP win for BRM, his was not a great career… but he lasted for sixteen years in F1, and frequently stood on the podium of non-Championship races.

Bonnier was more successful in sport-cars, twice winning the great Targa Florio, the 12 Hours of Sebring, a 12hr. race at Reims, the 1,000km of Nurburgring, and Montjuich, and at Montlhery, and finished second at Le Mans… which was also the scene of his death, in 1972, after a horrible crash spun his car over the barriers and into the trees.

Dan Gurney found an ideal niche for himself with Brabham where, in three years, he scored 2 wins and eight further podiums, before founding his own All-American Racers, and his Eagle car. Apart from one win, and a further podium, he experienced continual engine problems, and far too many retirements.

logo-01-W-3


Previously:

8th March

9th Jordan

10th Shadow

11th Toleman

12th Toyota

13th Alfa Romeo

14th Sauber

15th Arrows

16th Stewart

17th BAR

18th – Surtees

19th – Lola

20th – Dallara


Hippo’s View From The Waterhole: The PR Amateurs From Brackley

•September 27, 2014 • 59 Comments

stock-footage-a-hippo-peers-out-of-a-watering-hole-in-africa

Over the last few seasons Mercedes started to poach personnel from other teams. Nobody was safe and using conservative estimates the team now employs more designers than other teams have employed in their whole history. This is in part because apparently most things are done by committee in Brackley and partly following the old tried and tested Bayern München motto if we employ him, the opposition can’t. Unfortunately their shopping list apparently did not include press officers as they leave their PR work to the two least qualified individuals – Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff.

The two alumni of the Christian Horner School of How to Run a Team Like an Idiot have failed spectacularly at keeping their two squabbling drivers in line. Red Bull had their Waterloo at the Malaysian Grand Prix last year, Mercedes is having it – well every weekend really. Both Nico and Lewis have at various stages disobeyed what they were told to do by the pit wall brigade. Lewis most memorably did so in public as recently as Hungary.

So what did tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee do? They followed their idol Christian’s example, did nothing and let the drivers run roughshod over them. Obviously both Wolff and Lauda at some point realized that they were looking like idiots and tried to correct that. And boy did they make a monkey’s breakfast of that!

Our Chief Editor explained it at length in the last podcast. With the shambolic handling of the Spa incident Mercedes have opened the doors for all sorts of conspiracy theories just by making each and every mistake imaginable. They let Lewis get away with publicly duping the team after Hungary, but pilloried Rosberg for what was essentially a clumsy racing incident. Of course that’s going to raise suspicion about double standards being applied, because that is exactly what was done.

Not only have the Britney brigade been left scratching their heads about how it was okay to embarrass the team live on TV, but a racing incident the likes of which have happened countless times before, warrants a tribunal session at Brackley and a punishment. A secret punishment at that. Apparently it was not fit for minors, or are there any other reasons for not saying what it was?

Of course the reason became obvious when TJ13 heard from two independent sources within the Mercedes team confirming – that part of the punishment was that Nico was ordered to throw a race win on purpose, which he did at Monza. In some parts of the world that is called race manipulation, but since Pat & Flav’s creative timing of a safety car in Singapore 2008 that’s not exactly been a new feature in F1. Of course going public to say: Nico caused a loss of eighteen points to Lewis at Spa. We expect him to relinquish positions when possible to give those points back. would have made far too much sense. It is always better to do so in secret and lying about it in public.

You’d think that’s enough idiocy to last a lifetime, but Nikki and Toto are far more ambitious than that and mucked up the Singapore race too. It had all the ingredients of a classic, when their two drivers were separated by a mere 0.007 seconds after qualifying, but somehow they managed to break Nico’s car. If that was through negligence, accident or deliberate tampering doesn’t matter anymore as due to prior events all three of those are in the realm of possibility.

For a globally active brand like Mercedes, cars that suffer spontaneous combustion in qualifying or break catastrophically by being stationary in parc fermé is bad news. Nobody wants to park his S class in the driveway, only to find out the next morning that their prized possession has turned into a two ton paperweight or is actually on fire.

Most people capable of coherent thought – hell even Christian Horner for that matter – would have apologized to the driver for effing up and started a thorough investigation. But that would make far too much sense for the headless chicken brigade from Brackley. Instead they knee-jerked a lame excuse of a broken wire and released a lot of hot air about how car failures should not decide the championship. Why? Lewis has suffered pain in the nether regions three times already, Nico two times and if you’re manipulating results a la Monza, what sort of bleeping difference does an exploding motor make?

But wait, that’s not all. Toto and Nikki had another kneeslapper up their sleeve. Five days of ‘forensic examination’ later, they found out that Nico’s car died due to an invisible foreign substance, which three hours later was upgraded to an invisible substance routinely used in maintenance of steering columns. I’m surprised it wasn’t hostile pixie dust.

This new spin on things begs some questions. If that magic potion is routinely used in maintenance, wouldn’t the fact that it caused a catastrophic failure mean it was applied in the wrong way? Wouldn’t that mean someone effed up massively? And if Nico was required to give the points back to Lewis, does that apply to the team as well? And how come you’re doing maintenance work with alchemistic substances (you somehow can’t manage to tell us its name) in parc bloody fermé?

It’s pretty obvious that the bow & tie brigade at Brackley has completely lost the plot. They have a favourite outcome, don’t tell anybody what it is and are utterly inept at stage-managing said outcome. What they are currently doing quite masterfully however is damaging the name Daimler-Benz.

On This Day in #F1 : 27th September 1981

•September 27, 2014 • 6 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

- 1981: The greatest 3rd place ever?

Everyone has a different opinion; that is a given. Whatever the subject, every person will have their own personal reasons for their selection. Possibly it’s based on experience, maybe it reminds them of a specific time in their life or maybe just reignites a feeling that proves unforgettable to this day.

If the question was the best over-taking manoeuvre in history, I would imagine there would be countless ones listed. Personally, I have seen none better than Alonso around the outside of Schumacher at 130 R in 2005. The same conclusions could be reached with similar questions as to the unlikeliest winner of a Grand Prix (Panis – Monaco – 1996), the greatest first lap (Senna – Donington – 1993) etc.

We could continue with this line of thought on any subject, so please allow me to offer my opinion of the finest drive ever to achieve an F1 podium. Thirty-three years ago, arguably the greatest driver of his generation lit up the Grand Prix in Canada. His name was Gilles Villeneuve and he took his Ferrari from 11th on the grid to 3rd with a virtuoso display that today would incur penalties and race bans for it’s blatant recklessness. How times have changed!

The saturated Il Notre Dame circuit was the location for the 1981 Canadian GP. Its start had been delayed by 90 minutes to allow Ecclestone to re-write insurance waivers for the organisers. As the lights changed from red to green on a very wet track, the 24 cars launched rooster tails into the air, making visibility practically impossible. Villeneuve, in the middle of the scramble caught the side of Rene Arnoux’s Renault , causing it to spin into the barrier and causing delays to his team-mate Didier Pironi’s Ferrari.

At the completion of Lap 1, Villeneuve had moved up to 9th with his nose slightly askew after his collision with Arnoux. Alan Jones who had been leading spun on Lap 7 causing delays to Nelson Piquet who took avoiding action. This allowed Alain Prost to take the lead from Jacques Laffite. Villeneuve followed in 3rd place.

Laffite passed a faltering Prost on Lap 13 and was followed through a few laps later by Villeneuve.

John Watson eventually passed Prost and he caught and passed Villeneuve. These would remain the final finishing positions for the 1981 Canadian GP. This would be Laffite’s final Grand Prix victory and his 6th overall. Interestingly the same amount of wins as Villeneuve.

So why was Villeneuve’s podium so exceptional? One reason is that the car he was driving was generally accepted to have about a quarter of the downforce of the other cars that season. From 11th on the grid he was third within 7 laps and maintained that throughout the race, but..

Towards the end of the race he came up behind the Lotus of Elio De Angelis, who braked earlier than Gilles had expected and was caught by Gilles car. They both spun, and Villeneuve regained the road with a 180 degree power turn.

His nose had been further damaged during this incident but was pushed up completely by another incident with Mario Andretti’s Alfa. The wind pressure then folded the aluminum nose box and wing up in to the drivers line of sight. Villeneuve continued his exuberant display to the delight of his countrymen but there were fears he would get black flagged. This problem was solved when it broke off four laps from the end.

He had not been running round oblivious of the problem of visibility. With his forward vision impaired, he used his peripheral vision to navigate using the yellow track markers as reference points. Realising the black flag was imminent he waited until there no car behind and ran over ribbed curbing to dislodge the broken nose.

Laffite: ” I didn’t like racing today. The rain, it was impossible to see

Watson: “… the worst conditions I have ever driven in. At times you could see virtually nothing

Villeneuve Canada 1981Villeneuve: “… as for the rain, I didn’t mind it a bit. Nothing in the world would have made me stop. I wanted to finish in the first three so I could go up on the podium and if I had stopped in the pits it would have undermined all my efforts. It was a risk I took and I knew the consequences. That’s my way of racing and I can’t see any justification for doing it any other way.

When I think of Villeneuve, I think of his classic race at Dijon in 1979 against Arnoux and his qualifying performance at Watkins Glen in 1979.

Or his classic victories in 1981 at Monaco and Jarama, both completely against the run of play.

To temper this, I also remember him spinning off at Zandvoort in 1979 and returning to the pits at speed with the wheel trailing.

He would crash in the first few laps at Silverstone in 1981 and again, in Holland after qualifying 16th, Forghieri – the Ferrari technical director – asked Villeneuve to use the race as “300 kms of testing” for a new engine they had installed. He made up four places and launched off the back of Giacomelli’s car before the first corner. Forghieri “I didn’t say one word to him because I knew him. That was the character of Gilles

We seem to remember his outrageous driving more than the occasions which he actually triumphed. This high wire act was the very reason why Villeneuve became so revered during his brief life time, it mirrored the passion of the public.

For a man into his fourth year in the sport, to be making mistakes that would be unforgivable in a rookie seems astonishing, yet everyone pandered to him. Ferrari called him the “High Priest of destruction” and his contemporaries would comment that “he was on a different level“, “shows the man is more important than the car”, “he’s the craziest devil I ever came across in Formula 1

James Hunt felt he was too much of a speed freak for his own good. “Villeneuve has a brilliant natural talent. He lives for motor-racing and that may be his biggest problem. He drives with enormous aggression and flair, but he seems unable to combine that with common sense. I worry for him because he does things on the track which are not in keeping with his personality off the track.”

Gilles Villeneuve

Voice of the #F1 Fans: The #SingaporeGP Cinema Experience

•September 26, 2014 • 19 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Clearview

Cinema Big Screen - SingaporeGP

Although I have been an F1 fan since the early 80’s, I have never had the opportunity to attend a race in person (even though I live less than 50miles from Silverstone… my whole life). Now it’s even less likely as I currently pay a Sky subscription to watch all the races live and couldn’t justify the extra spend. So, when I saw my local cinema was showing the Singapore GP live, with exclusive and free admission to Loyalty+ card holders (of which I am), it was an opportunity I just couldn’t miss.

Doors opened at 12.30pm and by the time I’d got in, ordered drinks, food and were seated at our table, it was 12:45 and almost race time with the national anthem being played. There was a real buzz in the air and almost everyone attending was wearing at least 1 item of various teams’ clothing. I would say there were about 100 people watching with me in all.

The atmosphere flattened a little as it became clear Nico was not going to bother Lewis during the race, but never the less, as the start lights went out various tables erupted as their drivers made or lost places in the first few corners. By lap 2 it had all calmed down a bit and everyone settled down for the next 2hours. Our food and drinks arrived about 6 laps in, perfect timing and I got stuck into my cheese, biscuits and pickle (it’s a British thing).

All was fairly quiet until there was a collective gasp as Sergio Perez’s wing folded under. The moment the safety car was announced there was a stampede to the toilets and it left me to wonder what would have happened at the racetrack…

During the safety car period I took the opportunity to look at some of the cinema’s leaflets that were on my table and found I can text my order with my table number to the bar and they will bring it over with a chip and pin machine, so, I decided to give it a go and within 5minutes I had another beer in my hand without moving from my seat (that’s better than home!!).

The one thing that was apparent is that FOM/Sky still have work to do on the way they record the on-board engine sound and the ambient engine sounds, towards the end of the race the levels had improved a bit and I even checked with the cinema manager after to see if they had tweaked the sound, to which I was told they don’t change any sound settings EVER! (Apparently they get acoustic engineers in to set it up for them as the auditorium is over 80 years old and has an odd acoustic fingerprint – what ever the hell that means)

It left me thinking that the Broadcaster/FOM really need to sort this out because when you can hear the engine noises they sound pretty cool…
Anyway, I was brought back to reality when the room erupted as the safety car pulled in and Lewis streaked off into the distance. There was another cheer (albeit not as loud) when Perez passed Bottas who was driving on Ice with his old tyres.

Then an almighty cheer came as Hamilton took the chequered flag.

On my way out I spoke with the management, he told me they only opened it to members only as it was the 1st time they had tried this, but he is thinking of targeting the races the BBC doesn’t show and is planning to charge £5 entrance for non-members.

I enjoyed the whole experience and I even got my misses to watch the whole race with me without her complaining, an added benefit (watching with me that is).

Being hyper-critical, since I started watching F1 in HD for the 1st time this season, I really noticed in the cinema with the picture being projected so big that the on board shots especially where not as sharp as they are on my HD TV at home, but as I say that is being hyper-critical.

So would I go again? As the Formula 1 drivers say so often… “For Sure!

If they did decide to show all the non BBC races as a regular thing, I might be inclined to give up my sky subscription, then perhaps I can justify attending a race, or 2.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday, 26th September 2014

•September 26, 2014 • 79 Comments

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OTD Lite: 1993 – Overrated Hakkinen legend created on this day.

OTD video

Jenson Button annoyed by radio messages

Rosberg – In my day lad, sex was safe and motor-racing was dangerous

Ferrari testing ground breaking technology for the Fiat Group

Aussie Press call for Red Bull team orders

F1 calendar 2015

Subtle hint at Alonso move to McLaren?

Caterham. Is the game up?


OTD Lite: 1993 – Overrated Hakkinen legend created on this day.

Murray Walker would champion the Mika Hakkinen legend throughout his broadcasting career and his entry line whenever he rated him was that he had out-qualified Ayrton Senna once… Editors note: by forty eight thousandths of a second.

Mika Hakkinen had replaced, the frankly insipid, Michael Andretti and his first race against Senna was here in Portugal. After what had been a hugely disappointing season for the Brazilian, the Finn’s Mclaren debut woke up his combative spirit and Senna would go on to win the final two Grand Prix of the year – whereas Mika..

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Of course when Hakkinen achieved success in 1998 and 1999 the mutterings of Walker would always bring up the fact he out-qualified ‘the great Brazilian’ without adding any context to it.

Perhaps of more interest was the fact that he considered Mika a great champion – ignoring the fact that his only success was in a dominant Newey designed car. Those championships proved how ‘great’ the Flying Finn was according to “good ol’ Murray”… yet Mansell, Prost, Hill and Villeneuve had only won because they were in ‘Newey’ cars.

For the lads and ladettes who are too young to remember events of 21 years ago, a modern day comparison would be the criticism that is thrown at Vettel. He only wins because he has the superior car – which makes one wonder what happened to perma stubbled Mark Webber?

As an aside, Prost secured his fourth World title and ended his 13 year career with 51 race wins. Over the same period Schumacher won 83 races and seven titles but maybe of particular interest to Alonso fans – over a 13 year career he has 32 wins and just two titles..

The Jackal

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OTD video

10 years ago today saw the inaugural running of the Chinese GP. It was won by Rubens Barrichello, 2nd was Jenson in the BAR and Kimi Raikkonen was third in a McLaren.

 

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Jenson Button annoyed by radio messages

Jenson Button is an enigma? Certainly not in the enigmatic fashion of an Alonso or a Senna but in the way that no-one can really describe his talent with any real conviction.

The highlight of his professional career will rightly be his 2009 World Championship and yet for the fans maybe his courage to join the Hamilton-centric Mclaren and going toe to toe showcased a steely core that nobody expected.

Yet whilst some drivers and teams lament the FIA wanting to get rid of radio messages – Button welcomes the changes and perhaps gives away a little of why they have in fact been brought in: “The new guys coming in are told when to go faster, when to brake, how much heat, how much fuel – it is something that has annoyed me.

“In the years I have raced I have had help from a team, which is what it is about – you learn from things, you make your own mistakes, and you benefit from that as a driver and individual. For me, the way I have learned has been the best way.”

If in the new tech regs, the radio limitations end up where they should have ended up in terms of not telling us anything, that is what it should be,” Button said. “We should have to do our homework and plan ahead. And I think the more experienced drivers are better at that.”

What is perhaps ironic is that Button uses his radio to a greater extent than others – to complain of other’s driving standards or transgressing the limits of the track.

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Rosberg – In my day lad, sex was safe and motor-racing was dangerous

Two steering wheels from an era that the modern viewers of the sport have never witnessed and yet the simple circle with the three spokes perhaps underlines the simplicity of a by gone era when the sport still had a soul and engaged millions of fans worldwide.

 

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Nico Rosberg tweeted the above picture with the message:

Just found my Dad’s steering wheel in the office. Dad, it was so much easier in those days!

Britney, by all accounts speaks a number of languages fluently. He proved his cerebral capacity with exams at Williams and placements offered to study engineering at elite universities and yet he believes that the cars were easier in his father’s era – or does he mean they were simpler?

When readers comment on the misplacement of apostrophes and differences between choices of words maybe it’s time we all applied this critique! Of course if Nico was referring to the daunting fact that a wheel could actually be used to navigate a car around a track rather than control everything that the car is capable of doing then yes, his words are correct.

But what should be remembered is that both the Formula One wheel and the Peugeot sportscar wheels were attached to steering rods connected directly to the front wheels. Power steering had not been developed to any significant point at that stage.

It was only in the early 90’s that it began to appear on Formula One cars and in 1994 – following Ayrton Senna’s fatal accident – the Williams team disconnected the system on Damon Hill’s car due to safety concerns.

So yes, Mr Roserg Jr, F1 cars were simpler devices then but drivers had forearms to turn the wheel in their grip rather than what amounts to a tablet with handles today..

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Ferrari testing ground breaking technology for the Fiat Group

Mattpt55 mentioned this incident in this week’s podcast but our sources from inside Maranello have revealed the real reason for Fernando’s off-track excursion. With the demise of Il Padrino and the newly self appointed President of Ferrari being none other than Fiat/ Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne – the new business plan is to develop technologies across all the companies in the group.

Fiat asked Ferrari to test their new Sat Nav system..

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Aussie Press call for Red Bull team orders

Following years of torment which saw their national hero ‘marginalised and abused’ by Red Bull, the Aussie press appears to have had enough. Speed, in an extensive article argues Red Bull must issue team orders to maximise Danile Riciardo’s chance of challenging for the WDC.

Team principal Christian Horner maintained that it would be “wrong” of them to intervene when both men are still in with a chance of the world title.

Speed’s direct response is, “Sorry, Red Bull, but no they are not”.

The argument is simple. Red Bull have no realistic chance of winning the constructors’ title, being 174 points behind Mercedes with just 215 on offer by the end of the season. There is a greater possibility that Ricciardoi could slip through and steal the WDC.

Had the team reversed their cars in Singapore, their Aussie driver would be just 57 points behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel is 57 points behind his team mate with an almost definite penalty coming for the quadruple world champion.

Ricciardo looks like a man up for the fight and he was a mere 0.166 seconds slower than Rosberg in Singapore qualifying.

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Vettel raced in Singapore with his fifth engine, fifth turbocharger, and fifth MGU-H unit. With five races still remaining Vettel is expected to need, at the least, a sixth engine, more likely sooner rather than later.

Following an engine problem in Friday Practice, Renault conceded, “With this failure, we will have to commit to a sixth ICE (internal combustion engine for Sebastian’s car). It is now a question of where we are going to strategically introduce it, instead of how we are going to avoid it.”

In contrast, Ricciardo’s tally sits at four across each of his Power Unit’s parts, while both Mercedes drivers have an additional Energy Store and Control Electronics change up their sleeve.

If Hamilton wins in Japan and Vettel is lower than second, then the game s up for a fifth straight title for the German.

So why hasn’t Red Bull put their best foot forward in the drivers’ championship? Here are four possibilities. Firstly, Sebastian has an agreement that team orders cannot be issued to him.

Secondly, Christian Horner remembers all too well Malaysia 2013 and how Vettel usurped his authority and posed metaphorically before the world with his Geox clad boot firmly on Horner’s neck. Therefore it would be pointless issuing orders because Vettel just do his own thing anyway and make Christian look silly again.

Thirdly, Red Bull are making sure Ricciardo knows who is boss. Teach em whilst they are young… and all that.

Finally, Red Bull are a little sentimental over their time together with Sebastian. They have given him by far the worst car this year and don’t want him running off to Ferrari just yet – so be nice to Seb and he’ll stay.

Speed are not happy with Red Bull’s attitude as they conclude that failing to switch their drivers in Singapore could be costly for Aussie hero, the colgate kid. “Let’s hope those three points aren’t the difference between Ricciardo and the title”.

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F1 calendar 2015

It’s been more than 2 weeks now since the draft F1 calendar for 2015 was released leaked. It is with fear and dread that I dare broach the topic, because it appears to be the kiss of death . Yet once opened, Pandora’s box cannot be closed.

As expected the Mexican GP will return after 23 years absence. There is still no New York race and clearly all the talk of Baku has abated for now.

“We’re going to Azerbaijan,” Ecclestone told the world’s media in MArch this year. “The people out there are talking about holding a race in 2015. That may be a bit soon – unless it’s at the end of the season; that’s a possibility. But 2016 is more likely.”

It could be Ecclestone has learned from previous mistakes and released leaked the 2015 calendar only with those races which are certain, whilst working behind the scenes on securing one more race.

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Subtle hint at Alonso move to McLaren?

Sometimes the smallest hints can be telling. The McLaren website has a ‘heritage driver’ section, which includes Fernando Alonso, yet a friend of mine claimed it had only been added very recently. Thankfully there is http://www.archive.org, a website that stores archived versions of other websites – and lo and behold – at the start of the season, Alonso’s profile was not yet part of the ‘heritage drivers’ section. Hm…

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Caterham. Is the game up?

Just in.

Caterham Staff have been called at short notice this afternoon to an emergency meeting. The 2 cars from 2013 were removed yesterday, supervised by unknown men in suits – possibly administrators.

The race team were fed in Singapore by other teams, including Saturday breakfast at Toro Rosso. Reports are they owe Red Bull

Further, Renault are owed several million on the engine contract and similarly Red Bull Racing are owed a big 7 figure sums for technology they supply to the Leafield team.

Interestingly, the team have done a lot of work on the 2015 car, including wind tunnel testing in Germany. A cynic may suggest this is all very handy free information for Mr. Kolles.

A number of the race team were refusing to go to Sochi, though it now appears that Japan may be abridge too far for the green goddesses.

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