The #F1 Bar Exam: 24 April 2014

•April 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to another week of TheJudge13 #F1 Bar Exam.

Last week’s question(s): Can you name the driver in the photo, the race and where he finished in the race? Who won the race?

The answer(s) I was looking for were: The driver in the photo is Giles Vileneuve driving a Ferrari 312T4 (Ferrari Flat-12 engine) during the 1979 Dutch Grand Prix and Zandvoort. Vileneuve did not finish the race due to his left rear tyre bursting and causing him to spin. The race was won by Alan Jones in a Williams-Ford (FW07) from a recovering Jody Sheckter (Ferrari) who, after this race, only needed 4 more points to win the Championship.

Villeneuve had started the race from the third row of the grid but was in second by the end of the first lap and he passed Alan Jones for the lead in an incredible manoeuvre by going around him on the outside of the Tarzanbocht corner on Lap 11.

Villeneuve passing Alan Jones:

He had a three second lead over second place Alan Jones when his rear left tyre exploded, sending him into a spin and then into the gravel at Tarzan. He managed to extricate his car from the mud and dirt, throwing it all over the track, and proceeded to complete the remainder of the lap on three wheels. The car was sliding around the track with the rear left suspension dragging on the ground.

He had the whole lap to go as he slid off just after the start finish line. By half way around he was only on 2 wheels as the right front wheel was now off the ground due to the left rear wheel suspension having been completely destroyed with the wheel hanging off the rear of the car. He still managed to control his car and get it around the circuit with only one steering wheel and one driving wheel on the opposite side of the car.

Villeneuve driving on two wheels:

Gilles was fighting for the championship that day and he wasn’t going to just quit. Gaston Parent, Villeneuve’s manager said, “Gilles was blowing his stack, yelling,Put a f***ing wheel on there! Let me go out again!Finally they made him see the back of the car was a disaster. Then people criticised him for dangerous driving again. His argument was that he didn’t know it was so bad. But, believe me, Villeneuve would have gone out again on three wheels! That was the way he was“.

After his death Alain Prost said, “Gilles was the last great driver. The rest of us are just a bunch of good professionals.

Well done to Taflach, Thomas888, Vik, Reinis, Tim, Yanik 050, Milestone11, btracing17, Johnny, Andrew, Alex, Clyde, Emil, Toleman Fan, Cassius42 and Tony.

This week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, the car model and the race in which this accident happened. Who won the race?


Please provide your answers in the field below:

Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 24th April 2014

•April 24, 2014 • 42 Comments


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 TJ13:

#F1 Driver Focus: Fitness to Race (Part I)

Mercedes secret confirmed

Mattiacci begins flexing his power

Chinese flag official in need of hearing aid

Hakkinen blasts Vettel for ignoring orders (GMM)

The first morning’s proceedings from Munich courtroom A101

The way it once was at McLaren

Mercedes secret confirmed

Paddy Lowe met up with Giorgio Piola before the Chinese Grand Prix and congratulated him on his discovery of one the secrets that has provided Mercedes with a dominant car.

“Giorgio, you have uncovered one of our secrets but I’d like you to see the car at the end of the season so you can appreciate the other innovations we have designed which deserve as much credit for the car’s performance.”

Last year, Ross Brawn had spoken before his departure that the initial design route for the Mercedes W05 was too conservative and a decision was made after the summer break to chase very specific design goals with the new car.

As has been reported in recent weeks, the turbo and a smaller compressor are located at either end of the engine with the MGU-H mounted in the middle and connected by a shaft. The compressor is situated nearest the bulkhead whilst the turbo is located close to the gearbox. This design route was chosen because in its original spec – the hot air was heating the air coming through the air intake that was feeding the engine.

The heat exchanger for the engine has also been housed within the chassis with cooling ducts designed into the chassis. The Mercedes team also chose to use a very short exhaust which loses about 15bhp from the optimum; but the team felt the benefits of more efficient cooling allied to a less aerodynamic compromise out-weighed the loss of this power.

Aldo Costa and his team have thus been able to reduce the frontal area of the car and the placement of the relevant parts have allowed the team to reduce their dependency on longer cables, wires and pipework, which in turn has brought the car closer to the 692kg weight limit.

Mercedes have also chosen to  run a larger turbo than the opposition and its reduction of turbo lag means less power needs to be harvested from the ERS to keep the turbine spooled off throttle. The surplus energy is transferred to MGU-K which delivers instant energy to the power train whilst increasing economy.

The significance of this design is that although the MGU-K is limited to recovering only 2MJ from the braking system, the MGU-H is unlimited and the Mercedes can therefore recover all it’s power levels in the regulated 36 seconds per lap that would require the other teams 50 seconds to achieve. In essence Mercedes do not have to waste a lap replenishing the full amount of electrical charge as their competition currently has to.

Ferrari and Renault are aware of this ‘secret’ installation but due to the FIA’s homologation freeze of February 28th, they are powerless to do anything this year. In a year of massive change, with limited testing both before and during the season and with the biggest change in technology in a generation, it would have made more sense to allow the manufacturers a twelve month period to get their technology up to requirements.

There are arguments for and against testing but in a similar manner to last year’s disgraceful witch-hunt of Pirelli, something has to change. Why would any company want to get involved in F1 when the supposed benefit to road car development is hampered by restrictive rules that do not allow progress.


Mattiacci begins flexing his power

Reports from Italy are suggesting that the new team principal Marco Mattiacci has already begun making changes to the Ferrari infrastructure. He has received confirmation from Luca di Montezemolo that both human and financial resources will be made available to identify and effect a change for the 2014 season.

LdM and MM are reorganising the race department to produce technical solutions faster than the competition by streamlining internal procedures – “…implementing a simplification of the organisation aimed at strengthening key areas to add to the performance of the car. In addition support will be given to suppliers to reduce the reaction time to requests arriving from Maranello, limiting the delay of each component from prototype to the finished product.”

The Reparto Corse is still unsure if the F14-T’s current form was displayed in Alonso’s drive to the podium or if it’s true pace is what was displayed by Raikkonen. In similar fashion to Vettel, Raikkonen is struggling with his new car and despite him “looking like the man who left Ferrari in 2009″ observers insist he hasn’t lost his ability over the winter after an impressive season last year.

In Spain in three weeks time Ferrari is expected to debut a new ‘extreme’ nose that has been kept under wraps since the launch of the car and further developments in fuel are coming from Shell who have reduced the horsepower deficit to Mercedes to around 20bhp. The software technicians are working on updates that will allow better integration of the two electric motors and a new aero package will be ready for the F14-T’s first major upgrade.

Perhaps of most significance is the message coming from Ferrari. There are still 15 races to go and it’s the ideal opportunity to assimilate the working groups into a collective whole. The 2015 design has already had about two months of work dedicated to it but any developments from this season will be built into the design of the new car.

Mattiacci is seen by the Agnelli family as Ferrari’s ‘Golden Boy’ and has delivered record sales to the company in different zones around the world. The politics behind his appointment will become clearer as time goes on but it’s a remarkable coincidence that he is taking over the most demanding job in Formula One at the same age that LdM took over the presidency of Ferrari in 1991.


Chinese flag official in need of hearing aid

The first indication the world had of the chequered flag being waved before the scheduled number of laps had been completed was when Lewis Hamilton stated to the Mercedes team – “I’ve just seen the flag”.

Martin Brundle and David Croft argued the message and couldn’t come to any definitive conclusion as to what Lewis had meant. It was shortly after the race that the full implications became clear.

Article 43.2 of the sporting regulations dictates that if the chequered flag is waved early, even in error, the race is over which nullified Kamui Kobayashi’s last-lap pass. A fight over 17th position will never make the headlines but it does not bear thinking about the legal consequences if it had been a pass for the race victory.

With two laps left to run, local race director Zhunag Tao asked Charlie Whiting if a white flag should be shown for the penultimate lap. Zhuang relayed Whiting’s response to the flag man saying “No flag now” but the Chinese official did not hear or misunderstood the word “No.

Considering the vitriol being expressed by different factions of F1 – as to the lack of noise with the new era – it seems astonishing that an official could even suggest ‘sound’ as being a problem.


Hakkinen blasts Vettel for ignoring orders (GMM)

Fellow world champion Mika Hakkinen has criticised Sebastian Vettel for ignoring team orders. Although Red Bull and the German driver have claimed Vettel ultimately decided to let teammate Daniel Ricciardo past in China, initially he answered “tough luck” when the radio call came. Finn Hakkinen, the now-retired 1998 and 1999 title winner, is unimpressed.

“For Vettel it’s an unpleasant surprise that Ricciardo is beating him,” he said, “but instructions from the team have to be followed. Even last year I was surprised by Vettel’s behaviour towards his team, and now it goes on,” Hakkinen, obviously referring to the ‘Multi-21′ scandal involving Mark Webber in 2013, told Hermes in an interview.

“Behaving like that will, sooner or later, hurt him. Maybe he (Vettel) is planning to change teams, but right now he’s not behaving in the right way,” he added.

Hakkinen also commented on Ferrari’s shock management switch, after Stefano Domenicali was suddenly replaced as team boss by the mainly unknown Marco Mattiacci.

“Stefano is a friend,” Hakkinen said, “but sometimes change is necessary. It’s difficult to say whether Ferrari has made the right decision, but when large companies are not getting results, heads can roll.”

When asked about Mattiacci, the former McLaren driver said: “Only time will tell how he will go, but if you don’t have much experience in formula one, it will be difficult to get straight down to work.”


The first morning’s proceedings from Munich courtroom A101

TJ13 reported a number of months ago that the Ecclestone trial beginning today in Munich, would sit for just 2 days a week to facilitate the F1 – so called – “supremo’s” schedule, much to the incredulity of some of our German colleagues.

Today the long awaited trial begins, and it is scheduled for no less than 13 weeks.

The man who has shaped Formula 1 for the past 4 decades arrived in a dark suit and told the jostling media, “I’m confident, the sun is shining,” Ecclestone faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

Ecclestone is sat between his lawyer and his interpreter. The Judge, Peter Noll, begins proceedings by asking the defendant politely, “How should I pronounce your name?”.Ecclestone appeared before Noll previously as a witness in the Gribkowsky trial, but he responds “Ecclestone is fine”.

Judge Noll practices the name out loud, “Ecclestone”, emphasising the “o” as in “stone”, which performed with a German accent sounds grand and proper.

In what would appear to be light hearted banter Judge Noll observes that the indictment states Ecclestone is divorced. “I thought you were married”, queries Noll. “Both are correct”, replies Ecclestone to much amusement in the courtroom. On a roll, Bernie adds, “I like to remember the divorce part”

Judge Noll reminds Ecclestone that his current marital status may be crucial in relation to certain financial transactions. Then in a very judge like manner he concludes the checking of technicalities reminding Ecclestone, “Those were the simpler questions in this process.”

The counsel for the prosecution then read the 22 page indictment. This is followed by Ecclestone’s lawyer commencing reading of a statement on behalf of his client, it is in the first person, and he advises the court this may take several hours.

Back at base in London it appears matters are unravelling much more quickly than expected. CVC are already briefing that Bernie Ecclestone’s time in Formula 1 is over. Sources close to CVC are quoted by Kevin Eason of the Times stating, “In truth, it (Ecclestone’s reign) has been over for a while, but Bernie has been allowed to continue as the face of the sport until this legal advice, which was devastating.”

The advice referred to is that of CVC’s lawyers. Following Judge Newey brandishing Mr. E as “untruthful and unreliable” in his summation of the Constantin vs Ecclestone case, the board of CVC were advised that Ecclestone must now be removed from his public role in Formula 1.

Ecclestone was forced to resign his statutory directorships from the myriad of inter-connected companies which own the commercial rights to Formula 1. All contractual matters requiring signatures were reassigned from Ecclestone to Donald MacKenzie along with all decisions on anything more than mundane day to day matters.

CVC have been biding their time before finalising the severance with Ecclestone, believing that damming evidence of a criminal nature will emerge from the proceedings in Munich, deflecting any criticism of them acting in a precipitous manner.



The way it once was at McLaren



#F1 Driver Focus: Fitness to Race (Part I)

•April 24, 2014 • 9 Comments

Brought to you by Mark Palk (@mark_palk)  of

Editor’s note: TJ13 asked Mark to analyse driver fitness, both mentally and physically, in order to be able to push themselves to the extremes they do.  In the first of a series of articles Mark takes a more general look at driver fitness.

As a gym junkie who continuously watches rugby, boxing and likes to keep fit, I never gave much thought as to the training processes to become a Formula 1 driver until recently. After talking to a friend, and much rigorous chatting concerning Formula 1 and the so-called “sciences” behind it many questions started to enter my mind; “what sort of training do they even do? I mean sitting in a car for 75 laps can’t be that bad can it?”

Immediately as I asked myself these questions the factors of the weight of the car, the G-force and all sorts of variables to take into consideration suddenly dawned on me.

For this article, strictly for fitness reasons, I am going to stick to two of the most prolific Formula 1 athletes of today- Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. As a World Champion Button has a very rigorous training regime from the very basic to the slightly confounding, and uses a variety of different types of training to keep him in optimum racing condition. These training regimes also come from Button’s hobby of competing in triathlons as well as his passion of those fast Formula One cars. So, what does it take to maintain a man like Jenson?


Our racing driver competing in a triathlon- another one of his endurance hobbies

Strength Training- A huge part to Button’s training regime is strength training (this seemed odd to me as I had never considered it a necessity) however, in a Formula 1 vehicle that can go from 170mph to close to 0mph in 3 seconds, strength is paramount in controlling the vehicle.  It is easy to forget the G-forces these drivers are experiencing; up to 6G in some braking zones.

In an interview conducted by Men’s Health with Mike Collier- Button’s personal trainer and close friend- he admits that for prehabilitation purposes it is ESSENTIAL that lots of strength training is integrated into his every day routine. For those of you who do not know what prehabilitation is, in a nutshell, it is the preparation for injury prevention.  Of course with his head rattling around in such a confined space in the small cockpit with all the G-forces doing their work, it is not surprising that the neck can be very vulnerable to our racing driver. Button’s training regimes and the organisation of such regimes happen to be some of the most intense around, incorporating strength training at the beginning of a training season.  His pre-race mind set and routine is in place in order to strengthen the muscles in the body, especially the core and aligning back muscles. Hamilton also has his own strength tips when it comes to maintaining a race-worthy physique. His biggest strength and conditioning tip being that he sits on the end of a weight bench, almost falling off and completing multiple sets of multiple reps of weighted sit ups without using his legs. This increases the stability in the core muscles and strengthens the lower back muscles, helping him maintain race position more easily in the car.

Fun Fact: The average F1 corner will place 3 times times the weight of the head upon the neck muscles when negotiating corner exit

Cardio/Endurance Training- As you would expect from basic physics, the cars (and drivers) need to be as light as possible so that the car go as fast as possible, thus cardiovascular and endurance training regimes are considered staple when it comes to this type of athlete. Mid training season normally comes after doing most of the strength training, which is when Button embarks on his cardiovascular and endurance regimes.  What better way to do this than triathlons?

When he is not in the hot seat of a racing car, Button usually likes to fill up his schedules competing in world renowned triathlons and marathons. He finished his first complete marathon in Brazil in only 3 hours, something that most people would only be able to call an aspiration. Lewis Hamilton has also spoken about a 4 1/2 hour hike up a mountain in the alps only to run back down it. “In deep snow at points” admits Hamilton in an interview Men’s Fitness magazineHamilton also adds how crossfit is an essential part to his training regimes, incorporating lots of exercises using body weight and other unconventional objects in order to work out the body, especially the core. He affirms, with reference to crossfit the following, in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“I use medicine balls to improve my core strength. I sit in the racing position and the medicine ball is thrown at me in all different directions”


Hamilton in peak Crossfit condition between races


Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 23rd April 2014

•April 23, 2014 • 60 Comments


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 TheJudge13

On This Day in #F1: 23rd April 1962

F1 Forensics: Aero wars behind Mercedes domination

A view from the public gallery – opinion from Mike Cloud

Lopez – Renault have found two seconds in performance

Lauda is concerned by a Red Bull revival

Ferrari working on front suspension to tackle Raikkonen’s issues

Construction in Mexico imminent

Vettel left back in school

Mercedes overtures of friendship rejected by Marko

Eric the braveheart

Editor’s note: TJ13 began with a desire to offer a ‘fans’ perspective’ of this glorious sport of ours; warts and all. There are no agenda’s behind the articles and certainly no censorship from corporate interests. As a growing community, many articles are written by passionate fans but we’d like to encourage more debate and more doodles and muses from you all. A new feature is being introduced “Voice of the Fans” and will feature anyone who chooses to share their views. For anybody who has something to say, please send your words through the usual ‘Contact Us’ and we will put them into our new feature – the first entry has been offered by a TJ13 regular, Mike Cloud.

A view from the public gallery – Mike Cloud

“The Mars Bar and modern motor-racing”

I am from the UK. People here, over a certain age, will remember there used to be a Mars chocolate bar. The original one, I am talking about. It was big, full of thick nougat, topped with creamy caramel and covered in thick milk chocolate. You knew if you had eaten one, it was almost a meal in itself.

The manufacturer of this chocolate bar decided, in their wisdom, that it should all be altered. The nougat became thinner and more full of air, the caramel layer got smaller, and the thickness of the chocolate was reduced. The bars all got smaller too.

mars-bar1This was “progress”. The new “improved” bar may have had less sugar and other ingredients that are now considered bad for you, but it ruined the bar for me and I never bought another. The main reason it was done was probably to reduce the costs in making it. The customer would just have to tolerate it.

This is all well and good, you might say, but what has this got to do with F1 racing? In the past racing was much simpler. Some of the drivers even built their own cars. Almost anyone with the enthusiasm could join the sport. No multi-million pound business back then. Cars were simpler too, although a lot would be considered death traps these days. Now it is all run by computers. Look how complicated the modern steering wheel is. All Jackie Stewart had on his steering wheel was a big spanner, taped there in case of emergency. Back then it was man and machine.

Today is is man, machine and computer and the costs are astronomical. The sport continues, but it is only available for the “big boys” to enter F1 and even some of them are finding it hard to survive. Everything is regulated, down to the last millimetre, down to the last gram. Innovation is stifled. A lot of the regulation is there to prevent designers from making dangerously fast machines. I am all for trying to keep speeds within safe margins. However, cars have become too complicated now. One tiny sensor, of the 100′s in the car, can give a reading that will put the car into “limp home mode”. Or the sensor can fail or give a faulty reading causing the car to stop. I hope they don’t ruin the racing by developing in this “computerised car” direction and think the customer, us, will just tolerate it.


Lopez – Renault have found two seconds in performance

Lotus believes that the gains Renault have made in recent weeks has found around two seconds a lap in performance.

Lotus chose to miss the first test of the winter and have experienced problems ever since. The lowest point for the team was during the test when two engines blew in testing and curtailed their running after 16 laps on consecutive days.

Lotus owner Gerard Lopez said: “We didn’t expect to have the engine issues we’ve been having, we came out of the windtunnel essentially knowing we had a really good car. But the problem is when you start putting things down on the track, unless you can actually lap you can’t do any set-up work. So we’ve had huge, huge issues and delays because of lack of lapping essentially.”

In China, Renault provided upgraded engines believed to be on a par with the Red Bull works engines and Romain Grosjean made Q3 for the first time this year. Progress since the post-race Bahrain test had been significant and unleashed what the team always believed was the fundamental potential of the asymmetrically tusked car.

Lopez continued: “The stopwatch doesn’t lie – we moved two seconds forward in terms of performance – which is huge. The car is good. Romain had some diffuser issues on Saturday, but based on lap times and derivatives of that, we probably should have gone for P6 [in qualifying] if we hadn’t have had any issues. That is really where we believe the car belongs.”

“Renault is promising a fairly interesting step up for Barcelona,” he said, “Ever since I saw the issues we were having with the power unit, I’ve essentially said our first race is going to be Barcelona, and I stick to that.”


Lauda is concerned by a Red Bull revival

Great chassis? Check. Most fuel efficient power unit? Check. Reliability? Check? More chiefs than Indians? Check… so what the hell is Niki Lauda paranoid for?

Mutterings from both professional and casual observers alike are grateful that Mercedes’ management is allowing their drivers to fight for race victories – so huge is their current advantage over the rest of the F1 field – and yet the Mercedes non-executive chairman sounds out a cautionary note.

“It is looking good, but let’s be careful,” said Lauda. “There are a lot of races to come. The Red Bulls are famous for coming back, and Newey is there. He wasn’t here (in China), so he sends something new for Barcelona I’m afraid. Things can go wrong in any way. But, at least the start point for us is not a bad one.”

Lauda believes that the Spanish Grand Prix will be a big test for Mercedes and give a true answer as to whether or not it is set for title glory. “For me the biggest worry, which I am always worried about, is that we keep on working. The most important time is the next three weeks, as everyone will come up with a new package – plus Barcelona is a very particular circuit. It is hard on tyres, and not so much about engine alone.”

“You need a good car/engine combination. This will be very important information for me personally to see how the season will continue. If you are on top of the game in Barcelona, then it is a bit easier but Barcelona for me is a key race.”

At the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, Mercedes dominated qualifying but by the end of the race Rosberg had fallen to sixth – over a minute behind the winner – with Hamilton, an exasperated twelfth, having incredulously exclaimed he had been passed by a Williams.

Mercedes finished second in the standings last season after a strong campaign but following Hamilton’s victory at the Hungaroring before the summer break – Red Bull returned and were never challenged again.

It is likely that the pattern from the previous seasons causes concern for the Austrian. Mercedes have begun each year strongly and fallen away as the development war gathered pace throughout the season. It may just be possible that Lauda’s warning carries a certain prudence.


Ferrari working on front suspension to tackle Raikkonen’s issues

With the Italian media’s relentless post-mortem of Ferrari’s self-inflicted problems, attention has fallen on the under-performance of Kimi Raikkonen in the four races to date. Whilst the irrepressible Alonso secured a podium position in China – Raikkonen struggled through to finish eighth. This was not the expected performance of an ex World Champion returning to the Italian squad.

During the post-race Bahrain test, a crack developed on the chassis being used which halted further running. Therefore in China Raikkonen received the new one but he refused to blame the new car for his ailments.

“It’s probably more to do with my driving style, I don’t think I work the tyres very hard, so when it’s wet and cold it’s hard to get the tyres working. If there was an issue with the car it would not be fast on new tyres. The new tyre works well until the grip from the rear tyres goes away, then you have to go slower and you start cooling down the tyres more and everything goes around and around and you cannot fix it.”

Ferrari had upgraded the front suspension on Raikkonen’s car in an effort to make him feel more comfortable in the F14 T, but the 2007 world champion struggled for grip in China and remarked, “There’s not just a magic thing I can suddenly change in my driving and fix. It works for you in some places and against you in some.”

The fact that Ferrari are concentrating their attention on the front suspension may reveal a clue to the actual problems Raikkonen’s suffering with. Ferrari has been running pull-rod suspension since 2012 and quite obviously the man from Oviedo is accustomed to it’s driving characteristics. Raikkonen has joined from Lotus which, like most other teams, uses the conventional push-rod suspension. Could this small anomaly be the real reason for his apparent lack of pace?


Construction in Mexico imminent

As TJ13 has regularly noted, the paucity of $3-400m plus cathedrals of racing Bernie has been able to recently stuff into the FOM pipeline. The huge projects that were required for the Indian and Korean GP’s now lie empty and desolate and they have been replaced this year by the Russian and Austrian GP’s.

Whilst Sochi is a new circuit, much of the infrastructure required for brand new modern F1 venues was already in situ following the 2014 winter Olympics. Dietrich Mateschitz had already given the former ‘A’ ring in Austria a facelift, and so the incremental infrastructure expense was relatively small to procure this year’s F1 event.

As an aside, when part of the F1 calendar, the ‘A’ ring was not the favourite of most F1 fans. Racing was often dull and predictable but we will have to wait and see what the renewed Austrian GP throws up this year before making much further comment.

Austin was the last big shiny new ‘from out of the ground’ F1 venue. It is reputed to have cost Red McCombs and his buddies over $450m. So for those living in denial that there is an F1 cash crisis, ask yourself where is the next Austin coming from?

Well Mexico has been lurking in the background for some time, and there were serious talks of a brand new Tilke-house of F1 worship rising from the dust near Cancun. The big problem which TJ13 can reveal is that Austin, Texas promoters have a deal with Bernie Ecclestone and FOM which prevents any competing F1 race within 1,500 miles of COTA until 2016. Interestingly this would allow New York, but rule out Long Beach and of course Mexico.

The legal restrictions negotiated by McCombs is the reason we have not seen a flurry of activity in Mexico since the return of the historic GP was first mooted during the 2011 season. Due to the huge investment in the circuit, COTA initially demanded a five year moratorium on races ‘close’ to them though this was settled at four with guarantees that in 2017 the race in Texas would be ‘sufficiently removed on the calendar’ from any competitor event.

This made the provisional 2014 calendar circulated in Monza highly dubious as the Austin and proposed Mexico events were back to back.

There is already bad blood between the promoter of the Mexico GP, Tavo Hellmund, and COTA as TJ13 outlined here in the article “Law suit involving Austin GP promoters” (Nov 2012). Tavo’s father, the recently departed Gustav, was a good friend of Ecclestone’s and responsible for bringing F1 back to Mexico in 1986.

Of course Charlie Whiting and Hermann Tilke visited the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez last September to inspect the current state of the facility and the specify the required upgrades which would see F1 return to this historic venue.

It is not clear yet what these upgrades must be. The track surface was historically ‘bumpy’ due to geological activity in Mexico and surely entire racing surface will be lifted and completely re-laid.

Regardless, work will commence on Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez next week. The circuit when last used by F1 was beyond the city limits but over the years it has become engulfed by the spread of the metropolis. To this end there may be some human cost to reclaiming the venue from the homeless who live there before any serious construction can begin.


Vettel left back in school

In a treat for Hungarian F1 fans, Red Bull will provide a demonstration of their cars on the streets of Budapest, May 1st. The will be represented by their new number one driver – Daniel Ricciardo – and ex legend, David Coulthard, who are both honoured with meeting the Hungarian people. Meantime, Sebastian Vettel has been kept back in school and set extra homework by his master Adrian Newey,

This extensive manual for study is entitled, “How to drive a formula 1 car in 2014″.  ;)


Mercedes overtures of friendship rejected by Marko

The good old days are surely returning to F1. Bitter feuding between the senior personnel of the bigger teams, annual court appearances before FIA tribunals and an open despising of each other regularly expressed in the media.

Ron Dennis rode out into the public gaze last weekend on his cloud based chariot – nick named, “holier than though”. He lambasted Red Bull for not acting with integrity over contracts McLaren have with employees. He accused Christian Horner of failing to act in a “correct and professional way.”

When later asked by Ted Kravitz whether it was hurtful when people questioned Red Bull’s ethics, Horner’s riposte was, “Not when it’s from Ron Dennis.”

Dennis apparently later sought out Christian on the grid to wish him “a happy easter” Horner revealed.

It’s all just a game and the F1 guys who once raced in muddy fields know exactly how it should be played. Have a big fight and then pretend to all be friends following its conclusion.

TJ13 was criticised for inaccurately reporting on the day of the Red Bull appeal hearing that Mercedes had requested a three race ban for Red Bull, though of course a few days later this transpired to be indeed the case.

Red Bull’s newly evolved version of Ferrari’s horse whisperer – the Red Bull Spy, was acerbic following the hearing at the FIA’s international Court of Appeal. In a post on the team’s website, ‘the spy’ wrote, “The big news we’re digesting is that the playful scamps at Merc decided to have a good old sticky-beak at our appeal and requested we receive a three-race ban.

In true cold war rhetoric, the discourse continued, “There’s a few pursed lips from our management at that but they’ve decided to rise above it and not comment – but down here at the coalface you can be sure we’re telling out mates in the next garage along where they can shove that three-pointed star”.

Niki Lauda decided to offer the olive branch and deliver a Sachertorte – famous Austrian chocolate cake – to his adversaries pit garage during the Chinese GP weekend. This was clearly not received with the ‘genuine’ goodwill the former 3 times world champion intended.

Red Bull’s point man, Dr. Marko, made his feelings clear to the associated press over the peace offering when he commented on Lauda’s actions.  “He thinks everything is over with a cake? I think the next time he wants to eat pasta with us, he should put on a bulletproof vest.”

In life the ‘new money’ and ‘old money’ are often used to contrast the new pretenders to the game with the old hands who have been at it quite some time. The former are often characterised as loud, brash and flash; whereas the latter appear to deal with etiquette, are affable whilst at the same time being capable of an embrace of friendship whilst drawing the assassins knife and inserting it in the back with faultless precision.

Clearly Niki is from the ‘old money’ school and his cake was no peace offering – rather an opportunity to gloat face to face at his adversaries defeat.

The brash turn of phrase from the Red Bull Spy, written by their head of communications, which suggested Mercedes shove that three pointed star” would have better adhered to the rules of the game had it been more eloquently crafted. Maybe, “Insert their famous marque’s historic pointed emblem into a small aperture not usually known as a receptacle,” would have done the trick.

Further, Marko equally appears from the more modern tradition and the Red Bull Spy’s assertion that the Milton Keynes team principals would be rising above the fray – was clearly lost on him.

In some way these exchanges of rhetoric may infer that Dennis and Lauda are ‘old money’ and possess a sense of irony and breeding; whilst Horner and Marko are defined by the brashness of the PR machine which markets Red Bull fizzy drinks.

Mercedes ‘pit bull’ lawyer, Paul Harris, launched repeated frenzied attacks on the integrity and competence of the Red Bull team at the appeal’s hearing last week, yet this was obvious to all merely a payback for the actions of Horner et al. over ‘testgate’ last year.

All is fair in love and war in the paddock – once famously described by Lauda – as a pit of vipers.


Eric the braveheart

There were some who questioned the reasoning behind McLaren’s recruitment of Eric Boullier. Yet it is becoming clear that his skill set was well targeted by the Woking based team.

Having been wheeled out time and again alongside the con-man Mansoor Ijad, Eric’s job at Lotus evolved during the closing days to primarily one of convincing a sceptical world of something which was indeed unbelievable.

TJ13 coined the phrase, “doing an Ijad”, which represents presenting oneself to be – or be doing – something which most others find incredulous.

Last week, McLaren handed the Frenchman the job of making the big announcement of a “new and exciting partnership” between Gillette and McLaren. The reality was an extension of an existing agreement.

Today Boullier on a McLaren phone in asserts the title sponsor arrangements are moving forward. “The plan Ron discussed is happening,” he states.

TJ13 reported in December that McLaren may not sport a title sponsor for 2013. Due to breach of contract, Vodafone who should have been visible on the cars this year, would have been forced to pay a considerable amount of the contractually agreed sum regardless of them withdrawing from the sport.

McLaren then announced they would be ploughing in Group shareholders profits this year to plug any funding gaps the racing team may suffer.

Boullier persists, “Until we have signed the package, signed the final contract obviously nothing will be announced or changed. As long as we are in that position we will keep going with what we are doing now.”

So, big ‘Ron’s plan’ is moving forward. This plan appears to be to create smoke and mirrors around the lack of a title sponsor for as long as McLaren can get away with it. Who is in the pipeline and why they are not yet revealed, we can only speculate.

Though we now know why Eric was recruited to Woking – for his indomitable brave heart in presenting to the world the unbelievable.


On This Day in #F1: 23rd April 1962

•April 23, 2014 • 6 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

- 1962: Premature end to the Greatest never to win a title.

On this day – Easter Monday – Stirling Moss entered a minor Formula 1 race known as the Glover Trophy at the Goodwood track in West Sussex. He was competing in a Walker run Lotus 18/21 – essentially a 1960 Lotus 18 re-bodied with 21 bodywork.


About halfway through the race he came into the pits with gearbox trouble and by the time repairs had been completed he had dropped to 17th and a lap behind leader, Graham Hill.

In his effort to un-lap himself he broke the lap record and prepared to pass him as they approached St.Mary’s Corner at 110mph.

“Graham always used to take a wide line whereas I took a narrow one, so I saw my opportunity to pass him. But then he came and took the bit of road I needed, which forced me onto the wet grass, so I went straight into this earth bank at 100mph without a seat belt on, as they weren’t compulsory in those days, and that’s the last thing I can remember.”

article-2226334-15CF4C12000005DC-144_634x781It took the St John’s Ambulance people 45 minutes to cut his limp and unconscious body from the wrecked Lotus with a nurse gently holding his hand throughout.

Although his external injuries were visible it would take X-rays to reveal severe bruising to the right side of his brain and doctors weren’t sure he would survive. He would remain in a coma for 38 days in Atkinson Morley Hospital in London and was partially paralysed for six months afterwards. He left the hospital on 20th July 1962.

Berenice Krikler was the resident clinical psychologist at the hospital and would work with Innes Ireland, Graham Hill, Bruce Mclaren and Jack Brabham to establish a benchmark with which she could make observations of Moss during his rehabilitation.

Tests on his co-ordination and concentration proved he shouldn’t get back into a racing car but racing drivers have an innate belief in themselves. A test in a Lotus 19 confirmed his worst fears.

“It was an easy decision to make at the time, because it was the only decision to take. I had to think. I had to give orders to myself – here I’ll brake, here I must change down, and so on. And another thing; I used to be able to look at the rev counter without taking my eyes off the road – not only that, but I could see the rev counter and a friend waving to me all at the same time. I’d lost that, that had gone. I knew that if I didn’t get out I’d kill myself and maybe somebody else. So, at 32, my plans of continuing to race until my late 40s like my hero Fangio were over.”

Just over a year later Stirling Moss reluctantly retired from the sport that had been his passion since childhood – and became a household name.

A poignant video:

#F1 Forensics: Aero wars behind Mercedes domination

•April 22, 2014 • 21 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 Technical Analyst Lorenzo De Luca

It was no surprise when Mercedes won in China. Not even a poor qualification for Rosberg prevented the three-pointed star taking the first two steps of the podium once again. Mercedes has won the first four races of the season easily and it looks very unlikely they will be stopped.

For anybody hoping that the smaller gap between Mercedes and their opponents showed progress in the chase – don’t be deceived; out of the first four track on the calendar the Chinese track was the one, which puts less emphasis on power units and fuel consumption.

Indeed, for the first time this season, we have returned to a race being decided by tire wear and aerodynamic efficiency and it’s not a coincidence that we saw the top teams dominate the top positions ( apart from Mclaren and Raikkonen ) .

Average lap times chart


If the Mercedes domination is no longer a surprise, behind Hamilton and Rosberg we saw an interesting fight between Red Bull and Ferrari. As I said before, it was decided by tire wear and aero efficiency and the pace shown by Alonso and Ricciardo was very similar. Only the wrong strategy and the internal fight with Vettel prevented Ricciardo from scoring his first podium.

Sector times\fastest lap\top speed chart


The chart above clearly shows that Mercedes domination is not only due to the simplified design of their power unit and their special turbo arrangement, but the W05 has also proven a very good downforce level as they set the fastest times in each sector of the track. The biggest gaps to their competition are evident in sectors two and three where the requirement of downforce and power delivery is more crucial.


Mercedes W05 helped by their new nosecone which though similar in design differs in height and length, in order to improve the airflows quality and speed under the chassis.

Thanks to the lower temperatures in China, Mercedes revised the coke bottle design, “closing” the exhaust outlet by giving them a more tapered design


Also changed are the “ears” behind the airbox, now bigger to improve the cooling of the power unit elements


Red Bull confirmed they are the second best team on the grid as they were the only team to set comparable times in the first and second sectors to those of the Mercedes drivers. The difference in speed at the end of the long straight differed by as much as 15km/h between Mercedes and Red Bull – this highlighting the power difference between the two power units.

There were no significant aero updates for Red Bull – apart from some little changes to better adapt the car to the track layout – but Renault introduced some big improvements to their power unit. A new lubrication circuit of the turbo, the MGU-K shaft and the exhaust manifolds which are now smaller and more compacts.

Ferrari, after the Bahrain debacle, seems to have returned where the F14-T belongs, behind Mercedes and Red Bull. In similar fashion to Renault, Ferrari introduced just small improvements – a new fuel and electronic mapping helped improve the performance of the power unit espcially during the traction phase.

A few little detail changes were seen with aero upgrades such as a larger new brake duct that has been designed to channel the airflow around the outside of the wheel and works in conjunction as a new blown front axle.


Force India and Williams, confirmed their positions behind the top teams, even if the aero efficiency is not as good (look at the gap in the second sector), but the low aerodynamic drag will help them throughout the season and make them an insidious enemy for everyone aiming at the podium.

In China, Force India brought many new updates, the most important but also not visible was undoubtedly the interlinked suspension system ( or as Mercedes called it FRIC ) which for sure helped the VJM07 in the corners.

We also saw a new deflector on the side pods, now directly anchored to the bottom of the side pods, and a new rear wing end plate, with many slots to increase the downforce


Even on the FW36 we saw some changes, the first and most evident was on the rear bodywork as it was more tapered due to the lower temperatures traditionally seen in Shanghai, and with a big fin .


Interesting also the work done on the duct over the side pods. It’s now bigger and this helps prevent the detachment of the airflow.


The Lotus E22 showed good pace in what proved to be giant steps. It is still some way behind the top teams but Lotus received the updates from Renault which allowed both Grosjean and Maldonado to have a more normal race week-end. China was also the first time we had the opportunity to see the cars new tapered bodywork in similar fashion to the Williams.


And also a new Red Bull inspired rear diffuser with some vortex generators in the central section.


The Mclaren crisis continues, if we can call it so and after the good performance shown in Australia, the Woking team seems to have lost a lot of performance despite the steady updates introduced on the car. In China there was a new front wing end plate which carried two spoon shaped profiles to increase the upwash of the air-flow


Now teams have three weeks to study a lot of data and try to correct what has been wrong on their cars. Spain, as always, will be a crossroads for the whole season, most of the teams will introduce a completely revised aero package for the car which could affect the rest of the season .

Don’t expect to see a change in the first two positions – Mercedes will continue its triumphant ride to the championship. The fastest lap recorded by Rosberg in China was 1 second faster than everyone and clearly indicates that they still have the margin to be able to go faster. For competition it will only be a mixing up of the positions behind them…

Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 22nd April 2014

•April 22, 2014 • 66 Comments


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 TheJudge13

F1 GP Predictor Summary – Shanghai 2014

Ron Dennis hauling Mclaren back into line – slowly

The Iceman under attack from passionate Italians

Cesare Fiorio offers solace to Domenicali

Magnussen prefers Button to Alonso – Mclaren-Honda not ready for Alonso

Lewis Hamilton gets ‘money can’t buy’ gift from Lauda

Vettel suffering “the pressure effect”

Mercedes Dominance not seen for 22 years

Ron Dennis hauling Mclaren back into line – slowly

It would appear that Ron Dennis’ intervention and subsequent takeover at Mclaren was desperately required. The podium that Kevin Magnussen scored on his debut was ultimately a case of ‘flattering to deceive.’ The MP4/29 was designed by Tim Goss but after it’s stellar debut, has proven to be not only the fouth best of the Mercedes powered cars but has also fallen behind the Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams.

The race in Shanghai confirmed that Mclaren are currently the seventh best outfit and this is of some concern to Honda who will be entering into an exclusive arrangement with the Woking team next season.

Honda have already funded Mclaren with €100 million as the team continue struggling to find title sponsorship. Italian reports suggest that Honda would be willing to buy out Alonso ‘s contract and insert him beside Magnussen in a co-ordinated deal with Spanish sponsor Movistar so as to have an established top line driver, but Alonso is waiting to see how the situation develops at Maranello as Mclaren is not in a position of strength either.

What has surprised Dennis is just how much F1 has changed in just five years. Mclaren may have secured the services of former Red Bull aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou who is currently on gardening leave, but his colleague Dan Fallows changed his mind and returned to Red Bull. Dennis may pursue this through the courts but as in everything F1, it will come down to compensation. It begs the question as to why bludgeon a potential employee when he clearly doesn’t want to move.

Omnicorse explains: There is a significant re-organisation being undertaken at Mclaren as the Technology Centre is not producing the results that were expected. The original plans were to entice University graduates to the team to grow within the Mclaren group and then replace the engineers that were head-hunted by other teams but the one glaring problem was that all the graduates were inexperienced in F1. This infrastructure will also inevitably take some time to correct.


The Iceman under attack from passionate Italians

The Italian press is ramping up the pressure on the ‘Iceman’. Considering one of the most fascinating aspects of this season was to be the inter-team fight between Fernando Alonso and the incoming Kimi Raikkonen the results so far have been somewhat .underwhelming.

Stefano Domenicali signed Kimi Raikkonen against the wishes of the team – in response to the dominant position Alonso had created around himself in Maranello. Whatever people feel in regards Alonso’s personal qualities, he is undoubtedly a brilliant racer and now with the resignation of the much-liked SD, Kimi is suddenly in a much weaker position, especially as new-comer Marco Mattiacci has backed FA as number one.

Leo Turrini has written in his blog about the delicate situation that Kimi is caught up in. As a Kimi fan he is ‘suffering the torments of hell’ and yet explains in an honest appraisal this isn’t a team sport like cycling where the team shares the baton.

The calls for the lynching of Raikkonen have increased but Mattiacci has confirmed that Ferrari does not share this view. It’s interesting in itself that Turrini feels the need to mention this in his blog in defence of the one he calls “Blond.”

Perhaps more damning of Kimi is the use of the nickname – “The Holy Drinker”


Cesare Fiorio offers solace to Domenicali

Cesare Fiorio ran the Lancia competition department in the 1970′s and 1980′s and as head of the sporting activities for Fiat was assigned the Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo. In 1989 he was appointed sporting director for Ferrari but an extraordinarily successful career was brought to a dramatic end when he was sacked before the start of the 1991 season. He returned with Ligier in 1994 before moving to Forti, Prost and Minardi before leaving the sport and becoming a commentator on RAI.

In a recent interview after the Chinese Grand Prix he offered some interesting angles.

“It’s a real shame that Domenicali has been aggressively blamed by the very people who adopted the same approach with Costa at the time of his removal. It is a classically simplistic view that spectators offer without knowing the real reasons for successes and failures. These convictions can be spectacularly wrong.

As to how Marco Mattiacci will manage the team without F1 knowledge, the truth is 80% of all management decisions are common whatever the business. The remaining 20% is specific knowledge and experience which is not learnt in a month or even a year.

A good manager will surround himself with reliable and experienced people who can help him make the right decision – he will delegate authority and empower them so we have to give Mattecci a chance to express himself.

Ultimately, 2014 is not going to be a year to fight Mercedes but one area where the newly appointed manager will direct his attention is to give back to Maranello political weight within the sports institutions.”


Magnussen prefers Button to Alonso – Mclaren-Honda not ready for Alonso

In what would appear to be one of the least surprising admissions made by a Formula One driver, Kevin Magnussen admitted he would prefer Jenson Button to Fernando Alonso as a team-mate.

The 21 year old Dane remarked, “I’m happy now. I think having someone like Jenson – easygoing, speaks very good English, knows how to explain things and very experienced and fast is ideal. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate.”

With such ‘qualities’ available to Mclaren and Honda, it is perhaps inevitable that speculation about Alonso’s future is increasing.

Whilst the promise of a Mclaren-Honda may sound like a dream to a man who has confessed he wanted three titles like his idol – Senna – he would temper this with the fact that Mclaren are in similar shape dynamically to Ferrari.

With the return of Ron Dennis – Mclaren are also undergoing a restructuring after years in the doldrums and rebuilding a design team that had been depleted in recent years as engineers moved elsewhere.

The recruitment of high profile chassis engineers is always tempered by the fact that they will not be able to start work for a period of time as they enjoy tending their petunias and vegetable patch. The full effect of their employment would not be felt until 2016.

There would also be a question mark against Honda. They dominated from late 1985 to mid 1991 with ground-breaking chassis design and two ‘pedallers’ called Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna but..

..Renault arrived with their V10 powerhouse which dominated for the next few years. By the early 00′s Ferrari, BMW and Mercedes had moved the technology forwards again – and Toyota and a returning Renault also proved competitive – but throughout this period Honda never once looked likely to emulate their previous success.

Even the rumoured spend of $1billion dollars on the 2009 chassis would likely have been wasted as the engine was overweight and thirsty. One of Ross Brawn’s most fortunate days was buying the team for £1. His next having Mercedes provide Brawn with a cutting edge power unit.

If Alonso chooses to stay at Ferrari he would be working once again with a man who contributed to his two World Titles, James Allison.

It won’t have escaped Alonso’s notice that this man designed a car that allowed Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean to challenge for race victories throughout 2012 and 2013.

If he moves, he goes up against Ron Dennis once more…


Lewis Hamilton gets ‘money can’t buy’ gift from Lauda

According to reports in the German tabloid – Bild, Niki Lauda gave Lewis Hamilton a ‘money can’t buy’ reward for winning his first ever F1 hat-trick – drum roll please….

A ride on his own private jet.

“I told him ‘If you win, I’ll fly you back’ to Europe. Otherwise Lewis would have been on a regular flight.”

By all accounts, Lauda was true to his word and flew the pair back on his Bombadier Global 5000. No mention was made of Nico Rosberg but it may have explained his demeanour on the podium.

Other than the fact that this has been published on a tabloids website, it also misses the point that Hamilton has his own $30million private jet



Vettel suffering “the pressure effect”

The cold hard facts are clear. Daniel Ricciardo has out-qualified his 4 times world champion team mate 3-1 this season. Further, TJ13 has asserted the Red Bull Racing decision to ignore the Fuel Flow Rate as measured by the FIA sensors in Australia, was a pre-medicated calculated call. Had Newey and Horner complied with the instructions of the FIA during the race, Ricciardo would have finished 4th or 5th – giving him a further 10-12 points.

This would mean that the drivers’ championship after the flyaway races would look very different. Daniel Ricciardo would be ahead of Vettel by between 1 and 3 points.

Whilst here at TJ13 we enjoy at times in speculating on the reasons behind ‘strange’ decisions and actions taking by the F1 players, nobody is suggesting that the Ricciardo DQ was orchestrated to favour Vettel.

Analysing the race in China, it seems there is an argument that Daniel was given a slightly too conservative strategy during the last phase of the race together with Vettel compromising the Australian’s alternative pit stop strategy before finally relenting and ‘letting him through’. The fact both cars ended up during the manoeuvre off line and on the dirty part of the track suggests Vettel wasn’t really playing ball. This certainly cost Ricciardo the opportunity to overtake Alonso and claim his first rightful podium of his career.

On the flip side of the coin, Vettel was disadvantaged this weekend in China by his team’s decision to pit him early for a 3 stop strategy, which was then reversed later to just 2 stops. Yet the reason for this was based upon the incremental tyre degradation Vettel had suffered during the opening stint. At present, Sebastian is not getting the same life from the 2014 Pirelli’s as Ricciardo.

Red Bull may yet rue the points lost in Melbourne and China as Ferrari may well be getting their act together and if Kimi does get into the mix, the target of Maranello to be the best of the rest looks possible.

However, despite all the ‘if’s and buts’ it is clear that given the equipment Newey has produced for his drivers in 2014, Ricciardo appears to have the slight edge over his 4 times world champion team mate.

“Sebastian’s having a tough time at the moment because he hasn’t got that feeling from the car he’s looking for,” believes his team principal, Christian Horner.

“He’s tremendously sensitive to certain aspects of the set-up, he’s not getting the feeback from the car that he wants. The compound effect of that is he’s damaging the tyre more – which is very unusual for Seb since Pirellis were introduced. It’s highly unusual for him to be going through the tyre life quicker than the average”.

Mr. H would have us remember that form is temporary, but class is permanent. “That’s just a culmination of the issues that he’s currently got and as soon as we work those out I’m sure he’ll be back with a bang.”

Adrian Newey went on record over the winter stating that of all the drivers he has ever worked with, Vettel is in a league of his own when it comes to aptitude – the ability to learn and adapt.

So the explanation for the current performance differential between the two Red Bull drivers appears to be simple. Daniel is stepping into a car which is giving him incremental performance and Sebastian feels he is in a car which does not deliver the performance he was used to in the RB9. The confidence factor between the two based upon this alone must me large.

If Newey is correct, then Vettel will be working night and day in the simulator and studying his teammate’s data, learning to correct his driving style to adapt the current machinery.

This improvement in the German’s performance should become apparent over the next couple of races, but if it does not… then we may need to look at other explanations as to why Vettel is not dominating his team mate – or even delivering performances of parity.

The politics of the Renault-Red Bull bust up pre-season and the subsequent blame game over the RB10’s powertrain’s performance may well have affected Sebastian Vettel’s approach to his driving. Instead of maxing his efforts at 100%, hissy fit or not, it would be easy for Vettel to think ‘why bother’ because the problems with the Renault engine were outside of his control – and it may be this which is the difference between the German and Australian bull riders.

Felipe Massa believes there is even more to the current lack of performance from Vettel and calls it “the pressure effect”. 

The Brazilian driver explains. “When he [Vettel] had a team that was all working for him, for all the years when he was with Webber, life was much simpler, easier. But now he is under a little more pressure and that changes the situation — the pressure effect,

I am not knocking Vettel’s talent, the driver that he is, because everything he did deserves the recognition. But this is a situation that now he has to overcome. Without doubt it shows that Ricciardo is a good driver, fast and with the talent to be there. He has arrived at a great team and so far he shows he can do a great job,”


Mercedes Dominance not seen for 22 years

The last time we saw an opening of the season where a single team dominated the lead of the first 4 races was back in 1992. Of the 224 laps to date in 2014, Lewis has lead for 164 and Nico for the remaining 60.

In 1992 it was Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese who for Williams shared the lead for the first 442 laps of the season until in the sixth race of the year in Monaco, Ayrton Senna managed to lead between laps 71 and 78.

Toto Wolf is cautious of Mercedes dominance, “I think you cannot go into a season with these new regulations and think we’re going to make four wins in a row. And I guess that also in a couple of years we’ll look back at the statistics and say, wow, that was a run”.

The reality of the situation is that having made 2 mistakes on his Q3 qualifying laps and starting 4th, Nico Rosberg drove the race in China with no telelemetry and easily regained second place behind his team mate, who drove flawlessly and without any apparent mechanical issues.

By the end of the next 2 races in Barcelona and Monaco, we’ll know whether Mercedes is likely to emulate the Williams 1992 performance which saw one of their drivers 1st or 2nd in every race of the season bar Canada and Australia – when neither cars from Grove finished the race.


Castrol #F1 GP Predictor Summary – Shanghai 2014

•April 22, 2014 • 20 Comments

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


It wasn’t quite the exciting climax we saw in Bahrain, but you can’t win them all.  China provided us with yet another example of why Hamilton has every right to be confident he will be World Champion for a second time this year.  From the unhappiness of Friday’s setup, he changed it overnight after working with his engineers and effectively went into the race ‘blind’ due to the wet running on Saturday.  It really was a drive of Champions as he dominated and never even slightly looked in danger from others.

Some sections of the media could not wait to bleat on about how unlucky Rosberg was, but the fact of the matter was Hamilton was quicker – by almost a second a lap at some stages of the race.

Another issue I want to bang the drum about which frustrated me a great deal was the “Vettel cost Ricciardo a podium” line.  It was to be expected that people would jump on some kind of Vettel bashing bandwagon given his idiotic “tough luck” call, but Ricciardo was not held up all that much by the four time World Champion.   Lap 24 for Ricciardo was the slowest of his stint (a 1:44.94) which was roughly a second slower than his stint average, which would not have been enough for him to leapfrog the Ferrari of Alonso.  Factor in the poor straight line speed of the Red Bull and the fact the race ended two laps early, these claims are nonsense.

As for the predictor league, it was another strong showing for many retaining the high-scoring start to this year. Here are some of the highlight performances…

Follow the leader

We have a new leader in the TheJudge13 league as dbkil took over at top rising 80 places with the top 6 all predicted correctly as well as the pole, winner and fastest lap bonus.  Even with audacious choice of Kamui Kobayashi as most positions gained the team still managed 74% prediction accuracy.

Charging into the lead!

Charging into the lead!

Also a strong performance

Strong is really an understatement for this team, as Aetherym rose 129 places, breaking the 300 point barrier in the process.  Now sitting 4th in the league, just 32 points off the top this is one team to watch for in Barcelona.  Predicting a stunning 7 of the top 10 correctly contributed to the team amassing 181 points for the week.  Congratulations!

Week 4's most improved and one to watch...

Week 4′s most improved and one to watch…

The only way is up

Not an entirely bad weekend for Nederman F1, however, such is the strength of the league the team still dropped 43 places to 109th in the league. A little more luck would have seen it become a very successful weekend, so better luck next time in Spain.

In need of just a little more luck

In need of just a little more luck

Nobody saw it coming

It seems that once again Williams will be thanking Pastor Maldonado for the strong rear suspension, but this did them no favours when it came to the pit stop and the rear left wheel was slow coming off the car. Felipe Massa has been largely disappointing this year given his pre-season billing, could Barcelona finally be his podium opportunity?

Those with sharp memories will recall Felipe taking a third place there last year after a strong showing from the Ferraris.

Food for thought

Jenson talked after the race about how the McLaren would struggle on front limited circuits, which must come as a worry for their fans with development being slow from the Woking team in recent years.  It has been a much debated subject of late whether Jenson Button is actually any good at developing a car.  Assuming he is not, this puts a lot of pressure on his young Danish teammate…

Remember when…

In this section there will be a question each week to test your memory from GPs gone by. The idea is not to look it up but see if you can remember it first!

Tyre degradation has always been an issue at the UBS Chinese GP, with 45 pit stops at this year’s edition.  How many pit stops were there in total in the 2013 race? Can anyone name the driver who pitted on lap 1?

(Answer will be posted in the next Predictor summary)

Last question’s answer

The question was: Over 3,000 men and women worked on the construction of the Bahrain circuit.  How many work hours is it estimated to be in total?

Answer: A staggering 8,265,000 hours of work went into completing the circuit which has received international acclaim and has potential to seat a 50,000 crowd.  This may not sound all that impressive compared to the bumper crowds in excess of 100,000 at Silverstone, Melbourne and others, but this is 7% of the country’s population.

Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 21st April 2014

•April 21, 2014 • 33 Comments


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 TheJudge13

On This Day in #F1: 21st April 1985

F1 Race Report: 2014 ChineseGP

F1 Polls: How would you rate the 2014 CHINESE GRAND PRIX?

F1 Polls: 2014 CHINESE GRAND PRIX – Driver of the Weekend

McLaren feeling Whitmarsh effect – Lauda (GMM)

Ricciardo beating Vettel ‘surprise of the season’ (GMM)

Alonso’s smoke and mirrors act against Ferrari

‘Focused’ Hamilton on charge for title – Lauda (GMM)

McLaren feeling Whitmarsh effect – Lauda (GMM)

McLaren is going through a ‘Whitmarsh’ effect, according to F1 legend Niki Lauda.

Just two weeks ago in Bahrain, Jenson Button said the only quicker car in the field was the dominant Mercedes. But in China, both the 2009 world champion and Kevin Magnussen were non points-scoring midfielders. Button sounded particularly frustrated.

“I don’t think (other) people brought that much (new parts) here, so I don’t know what we’re doing really,” he said. “Hopefully back at the factory they can stay positive and update the car because at the moment this isn’t good enough.”

McLaren’s new boss in 2014, Eric Boullier, said he sat with Button and Magnussen after the race in China, because “they are both frustrated. But I can promise you that if you look at the data, you can see that McLaren are coming back, and that’s what is most important,” he is quoted by the Mirror.

Lauda, who is Mercedes’ F1 chairman, thinks that after the depths of McLaren’s 2013 crisis, the British team is now struggling for form in the wake of recent management reshuffles.

“You have to say that last year the McLaren was also not a top car,” said the great Austrian. “So you have to overcome this bad performance from last year and the new formula. If you have the new ingredients, you can be lucky. But if you don’t have them and there is a big change with (Martin) Whitmarsh going and Ron (Dennis) coming back, these things take time to change. They don’t happen overnight,” Lauda explained.

TJ13 comment: Paddy Lowe was gracious after the Malaysian Grand Prix by crediting Ross Brawn as the architect behind the Mercedes success. In itself a pragmatic view but one which would have been noted by the senior management in the team. Anybody believing that the Mercedes W05 was the work of the team assembled under Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff should wait until the 2015 season before crediting them with the work. With Brawn and Bob Bell having already departed and the recent talk of staff cutbacks – it will not be long before Mercedes starts to unravel. Ferrari and Red Bull have had dominant periods over the last 15 years because the nucleus of the team has remained the same.

As to Mclaren, maybe the problem is closer to home than people realise. In 2013 and 2104, irrespective of the car provided by the team, one thing has remained constant. A relatively new driver/ rookie has sat in the opposite car to the team leader.

In mid 2012, Jenson Button lost his way with set-up, and eventually copied Hamilton’s data after some very poor results. Mclaren found they were struggling as they followed Buttons’s design direction and when the focus was switched to Hamilton’s lead they finished the season with arguably the fastest car. With their talisman leaving for Mercedes, Mclaren have been left with a driver who’s input is questionable at best and has not shown spectacularly against either Perez or Magnussen.

A driver of refined ability – he dominated the early part of 2009, but as the car developed around Barrichello’s input he fell back and didn’t win another race, something that Rubens managed twice post-Silverstone. Whilst Santander may find Button uninspiring for their market, maybe Honda who have a high opinion of Button will secure his tenure beyond 2014, although having seen Magnussen walk through the paddock with Santander sponsorship on his fire proof underwear, maybe the Spanish banking giant is keeping it’s fires stoked at the Woking team.


Ricciardo beating Vettel ‘surprise of the season’ (GMM)

Upping the power of the RB10′s Renault ‘power unit’ is no longer the only problem at Red Bull. The reigning world champion team is now contemplating how to get its quadruple consecutive title winner back up to speed.

Sebastian Vettel has struggled to match new teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s pace in the new turbo V6 era, and in China the German’s mood appeared to hit a new low when he responded to a team order with the words “tough luck”. Team boss Christian Horner insists Vettel is simply yet to find the right ‘feel’. “We know Seb is very sensitive with the car and how it enters into a corner,” he explained.

Dr Helmut Marko, the champion of Vettel’s career since boyhood, is refusing to rush to judgement. “We cannot judge where Daniel and Sebastian are at the moment in terms of their duel,” he said. “It’s too early. We need to find the setup for Vettel so that he can be the ‘tyre whisperer’ again,” Marko is quoted by Der Spiegel.

At the same time, Vettel’s struggle is reflecting brilliantly on Ricciardo’s reputation, having failed to completely prove his worth when he stepped up from Toro Rosso. “For me he has been the surprise of the season,” said former F1 driver Jean Alesi. 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve agrees: “Ricciardo was always a good qualifier but not as quick in the race. But now he’s also a strong racer.” And former Mercedes chief Norbert Haug said: “Going one-up against Vettel is one of the most difficult tasks any driver can do.”

Vettel’s specific struggle aside, Marko admitted that the trend since Red Bull’s calamitous winter season has been generally upwards.

“A podium today was in the realm of possibility,” the Austrian said, referring to Ricciardo’s fourth place, a few seconds behind Fernando Alonso. “But we also see that Ferrari has made significant progress.” Marko thinks part of the secret of Ferrari’s success in China was a new blend of Shell fuel. “We are also hoping to soon get a fuel that is more efficient,” he said, amid reports Red Bull’s current Total fuel may be damaging the mandatory fuel flow sensors. But Haug warned: “Certainly, Mercedes will not stand still and just watch the others get closer.”

TJ13 comment: Over the weekend Horner agreed that Ricciardo has been “outstanding” so far in 2014, but he warned against underestimating Vettel. “The one thing you can be sure of is he will be looking extremely hard at this weekend and this race to understand where the differences are, what he’s struggling with, where we can improve,” he said. “No driver will be working harder in the three week gap to bounce back in Barcelona.”

It’s interesting that the same press who spoke of the Mercedes dossier that had been handed to Rosberg prior to China failed to mention that Vettel would be receiving a similar dossier from Red Bull. It’s common practice between team-mates, if one is struggling for a particular reason the drivers share information, and yet journalists paint a very different picture with select words they use..


Alonso’s smoke and mirrors act against Ferrari

Flavio Briatore is a well known man within F1 and not entirely trusted (!) yet it’s interesting how two of his former drivers had similar traits in using the media. Alonso is particularly savvy and uses the media in subtle ways to achieve his aims and Mark Webber – managed by Briatore and a friend of Alonso – also knew how to work the media to his favour.

A successful magician has two essential gifts – the sleight of hand and mis-direction. The control of both the surroundings and audience are critical to bringing to life the illusion; the very best leave people in a state of shock, awe and misunderstanding.

From a young age, Fernando Alonso’s passion has been magic and his ability at mis-directing people has served him well in the tumultuous world of Formula One. This behaviour hasn’t been reserved for just Ferrari, it has been evidenced at Renault and subsequently Mclaren with cryptic messages of ‘feeling alone’ with the French team and then the more criminal element of blackmailing Ron Dennis to follow his bidding.

Dennis was never going to bow down to a driver and went directly to Max Mosley, ultimately to his detriment, and last year Montezemolo had had enough of Alonso attacking Ferrari and ‘tweaked his ear’ on his birthday in regards to comments about the Ferrari car.

His comments since have suggested he is committed to the Ferrari cause but seasoned followers have been questioning his words in recent weeks.

Last Thursday during the press conference Alonso spoke glowingly of Domenicali: “I think that Stefano was a great man, first of all. I’m a close friend of his, not just on the circuit. We ski together every January 1st in Italy in the mountains. We still have a close relationship. We’ve been talking all the week long. I think that will continue, because we have known each for many years and we have worked very closely for this couple of years, so that’s important, to separate work from friendship.

“Then, as a team principal, I think he made good choices, good things. Obviously we missed opportunities in 2010, in 2012. They missed opportunities in 2008 with Felipe (Massa). If not, he could probably have three championships in his pocket. I think he brought in Pat Fry, he brought James Allison, Raikkonen, so I think all the things that people ask from him he was giving to them, probably, as I said, the results in the sports are important and the pressure at Ferrari is also quite big, so he made his decision which we respect and we will try to move forward in different directions but try to move forward. I’m happy with the time that we passed together.”

“..important, to separate work from friendship.” What’s maybe important is separating the wheat from the chaff.

As recently as India 2012, Alonso was preparing to fire a warning shot across the bows of both Domenicali and Pat Fry when he wanted to reveal the car had had no updates in almost six months yet management stepped in and suppressed his concerns.

Many suggested that the dismissal of Domenicali had the hallmarks of Alonso behind the decision. It has been reported by the Italian media that Kimi being re-signed to the Scuderia was a Domenicali decision which was not supported by either FA or the team itself. Since his resignation in fact, there has been consistent talk of dismissing Kimi once again.

Does work vs friendship have the same meaning in Spain as ‘it’s only business’ has in the English speaking world? Possibly in the same manner that Horner and Webber could separate their respective business interest as opposed to personal relationship.

Before the confirmation of Domenicali’s resignation, rumours began circulating that Ross Brawn and Briatore had been mentioned to replace Stefano yet with the announcement of Marco Mattiacci one could understand Alonso’s reluctance to welcome him to the team.

Yet Mattiacci said, “Alonso is a great professional, a superb driver, probably the best in the championship. I think Fernando wants to win a world title with Ferrari. First, I need to see what is good in the team,” he told Sky Italia. “I can make interventions, but only if it will for sure give us strong additional value, because we have an excellent team. It is at my disposal to do whatever it takes to ensure a solid future.”

Alonso responded with what could seem to be an inflammatory statement to test the mettle of the new man – “In Bahrain, we were one minute behind the leaders, ninth and tenth and today we are on the podium, seven seconds behind Nico (Rosberg). I think this podium should be dedicated to Stefano, as everything we do up to July will also be the result of his efforts.”

Alonso is not a reactionary man, every move and utterance is designed for particular motives. It may yet be proved that his disapproval of the new arrival is linked to a wish to move teams – as many neutral observers have suggested in recent weeks. A move that Ferrari will not countenance having seen the performance of Raikkonen this season.

Despite his faith in his own abilities, Alonso needs to tread carefully, LdM is a consummate political player. His intentions are without doubt to be winning titles but he would be wise to learn;

you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar..


‘Focused’ Hamilton on charge for title – Lauda (GMM)

Niki Lauda couldn’t resist a jibe at rivals Ferrari on Sunday after the botched chequered flag incident near the end of the Chinese grand prix. Because an official waved the chequered flag a lap early, the results of the Shanghai race had to be re-jigged. The big victim was Kamui Kobayashi, whose last-lap pass on Jules Bianchi was stricken entirely from the record.

“I was thinking ‘am I seeing things?” said winner Lewis Hamilton, recalling the early chequer. Mercedes chairman Lauda couldn’t resist a dig at Ferrari. “We had discussions in Bahrain and the red team wanted the races to be shorter,” he grinned on German television RTL. “So this was the test,” Lauda joked.

More seriously, the great Austrian added: “It’s ridiculous and shouldn’t have happened. The Chinese people should know how to count the laps properly.” It was among the only minor glitches in Lewis Hamilton’s first-ever F1 hat-trick, as his tally of 25 victories drew even with the great Lauda’s. Lauda said the Briton is on course for his second world title in 2014.

“The only thing he has perhaps sometimes neglected in the past was the full focus,” Lauda said in Shanghai. “He was bringing the dogs to the track, he had a whole entourage of people. When the dogs were there I told him to just focus on himself, drop the baggage and concentrate 120 per cent. Now he is doing the performance you expect from him. If he had not failed in Melbourne, he probably could have won there as well,” Lauda added.

Melbourne was, of course, won by Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg, who still leads the world championship by a few points.

“There is still a lot of races to go,” said former F1 driver turned commentator Patrick Tambay. “With the equal status at Mercedes, Nico has shown to be lacking a little bit compared to Hamilton, but the season is long,” he told France’s RMC. “Before, we saw this very jovial, very smiling Nico, but now it feels a little more tense,” Tambay noted.

“Barcelona is a good guide (to form),” Lauda said. “It has a bit of everything. All the teams will bring updates. When you have opponents like Alonso, and Red Bull as well, you cannot sit back. Adrian Newey was not here, he was sitting determined at home, working hard to catch up,” he concluded.



On This Day in #F1: 21st April 1985

•April 21, 2014 • 5 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

- 1985: Ayrton Senna’s first Grand Prix victory


On this day in 1985 – Ayrton Senna would not have been allowed to start the race if the regulations were the same as the modern dystopian alternatives.

A news bulletin that evening would possibly have read: “Pole sitter Ayrton Senna was seen sitting in the warm motor-home whilst the race was postponed due to heavy rain. There was talk that the drivers might venture out and dawdle behind the safety car but the most likely outcome is the race will be run in the predicted dry conditions tomorrow…”

Todays cultured TV audience embraces anaesthetised real life events – whilst rejoicing in the most realistic CGI infested movies, with all their associated “life-like” horrific images – because the paymasters tell us it’s safe…

I am eternally grateful that I experienced Formula One before political correctness stabbed its claws in!

I remember the 1988 British Grand Prix wash out – I was there. On television I watched mesmerised as Schumacher dominated the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix or when he collided in blinding rain into Coulthard’s McLaren in the 1998 Belgian race.

There are so many more examples – all of which would have been consigned to the history books – not to legend – if the current rules had existed then.

Following the 1984 Monaco GP, James Hunt described Senna as ‘a staggering talent.’ After only his second event with Lotus the world’s media elevated him to a Championship challenger and if his Lotus hadn’t suffered such appalling reliability throughout the year, he would have been a contender – without doubt. By the 1985 European GP – Alan Henry described him as a ‘miracle’

What actually happened on this day was – the Brazilian opened the leather bound volume marked ‘Legend’ and began transcribing the next chapter.


Senna made a clean get-away from pole position and entered the first corner with a clear road ahead of him. Sixty seven laps later he took the chequered flag with only Michele Alboreto on the same lap. He had taken his first victory in emphatic style with fastest lap to complete this stunning demonstration – making everybody else look ordinary. It was his sixteenth Grand Prix..

Afterwards, the usually reserved Brazilian let himself go, his belts undone and practically launched himself from the car.


When asked by the press how he’d found the race he replied: “The big danger was that conditions changed all the time. Sometimes the rain was very heavy sometimes not. I couldn’t see anything at all behind me it was difficult even to keep the car in a straight line sometimes.”

Some years later when Senna was asked about highlights of his career he recalled: “One of the best moments of my career was my first victory in Formula One, in Portugal, in the rain. It was also the first pole of my career and together with my first championship was one of the best, if not the best moment of my career so far. It was a race full of memories, full of excitement. It is something that I am going to keep in my mind for the rest of my life, that’s for sure.”

It has remained in the minds of all motor racing fans ever since.


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