The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 5th: Mercedes

•October 26, 2014 • 5 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.]

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”



It might be debatable whether Mercedes are entitled to a place in this list, after their successes in the 30’s, and again in the 50’s, but the Constructors’ Championship was not introduced until 1958 (when it was won by Vanwall) and so, as far as I am concerned, they are eligible.

Others tend to hang on (unrealistically, I feel) to a team’s ‘heritage’ and therefore, as the present-day Mercedes team came directly out of the 2009 Championship-winning Brawn team, that should also disqualify them from consideration here.

But they are here, so I obviously disagree with these two sentiments. First, the only connection between the present racing team and the previous teams is the name of the company, Mercedes – the three teams are quite separate entities… and anyway, were previously not eligible… so they must be, now.

Secondly, the 2010 Mercedes racing team was not the same team that Ross Brawn steered to the 2009 Championship. There were several people who have worked for both teams, and both teams were housed in the same buildings but, as far as I am concerned, they were not, and are still not, the same team, any more than they are the same team as the previous Honda… or BAR… or Tyrrell teams. And Tyrrell did win the Championship… so should that disqualify the present Mercedes team…?

In 2011 two teams were entered in the GP series as Lotus, and yet neither had any connection with the real Lotus team of the 60’s. In 2010 the BMW Sauber team had no connection with BMW, who had withdrawn from F1 at the end of 2009. The name didn’t change to avoid Sauber losing TV-rights money.

You are free to disagree with me – I shan’t be upset.



So… Mercedes bought a 45% stake in Brawn, along with Aabar Investments buying a further 30%, and renamed it Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team, and their first act was to assert their ‘German-ness’ by releasing Button and Barrichello (who moved to McLaren and Williams, respectively) and bringing in Rosberg (from Williams), and Schumacher, from retirement. At the same time Mercedes sold back their 40% share of McLaren.

During their first season Rosberg scored three podiums which helped Mercedes attain 4th place in the Championship. Schumacher scored three 4th places… and was also penalised for dangerous driving after pushing Barrichello towards the pit-wall in Hungary.

During the winter Mercedes and Aabar purchased the remaining 25% of what had been Brawn.


This history is too recent for me to need to remind you of what happened. I’m sure, also, you will all have your own views on what happened, and why… Most people seem to consider Rosberg was pretty much superior to Schumacher again, though they both performed less well than in 2010, leaving Mercedes still in 4th spot overall but with far fewer points.



Maintaining the same driver line up for the third consecutive year Mercedes put their cat amongst the other pigeons by adopting the McLaren ‘F’duct’ principle and developing it to also affect the front wing, when the rear-wing DRS was activated.

Prior to the first race in Australia Mr Whiting declared the Mercedes system legal. Red Bull and Lotus (the ‘Renault’ one…) asked the FIA to review this decision. Just before the next race, in Malaysia, the FIA simply reaffirmed their previous stance: that there was nothing illegal, and Mercedes raced on. At the third race, in China, Lotus filed a formal protest which was unanimously rejected by the stewards who claimed: Mercedes had sought clarification of their device from the Technical Dept. and it had been deemed permissible…

Does it seem possible the FIA was mainly justifying and defending its own original opinion on the matter, and was not actually considering the protests…? If they had agreed with the protesters they would have lost face (at the very least) with Mercedes. And you can imagine what Ross would have done about that…!

In the European GP Schumacher managed to get himself back onto a podium, and also recorded fastest lap in Germany… but Rosberg had already gone form Pole to Win in China, and a podium in Monaco, and later took fastest laps in the European and Italian GPs… but… Mercedes dropped to 5th place behind the more consistent Lotus Renault team.

Rosberg’s win was his first, Mercedes’ first for 57 years (when their other team had raced with Fangio and Moss, etc.), and the first win for a ‘German’ driver (Ho, ho, ho…) in a German car since Hermann Lang’s victory in the 1939 Swiss GP – a 1, 2, 3 for Mercedes (with also Caracciola and von Brauchitsch), followed by the Auto Unions of Muller and Nuvolari.

At the end of the year Schumacher bowed out (laughing all the way to the bank…) to be replaced by the previously announced Lewis… who had been courted by new non-executive director, Niki Lauda.



After three years the Mercedes Board seemed to be getting impatient so the musical chairs started, followed by the knife-throwing act. Ross recruited Aldo Costa from Ferrari, Geoff Willis from the collapsed HRT team, and Bob Bell and Mike Elliott from Renault. Then long-time Vice President of Motorsport, Norbert Haug was eased into an early retirement… to be replaced by Toto Wolff, latterly Executive Director at Williams, who also ‘bought’ 30% of the Mercedes team.

Toto became a shareholding executive director (commercial) who quickly snatched Paddy Lowe away from McLaren, to become executive director (technical), and these two were joined by Niki Lauda as… er… non- executive director… By the end of the year the upshot of this was an unsurprising resignation/retirement announcement from Ross Brawn.

Despite numerous set-backs, Mercedes now showed themselves to be a major player, as did Rosberg, who had not apparently bowed to Schumacher, for three years… and certainly had no intention of now moving over for ex- Champion, Hamilton. Rosberg took two wins, at Monaco and Silverstone, while Hamilton took three 3rd places, before taking his first win for his new team in Hungary, followed by another podium at Spa… while Nico went on to take two more podiums, and 6th place in the Championship, while Lewis edged ahead to 4th overall. Lewis also scored five Poles, to Nico’s three.

Together they helped put Mercedes in 2nd spot, but way behind Red Bull, and only 4pts. ahead of Ferrari.


This list of twenty constructors was compiled during the 2013-14 winter break and does not take into account any results of the current season. It seems pretty obvious that, by the end of this year, Mercedes will no longer be eligible – but they were, last winter…

[NB: and that was written of course before Sochi and as we all expected is also out of date...]

At the time of writing it is clear all is not well at Mercedes. When Toto came onboard, to replace ousted Haug, and then Brawn, he declared the position of ‘Team Principle’ was out-moded, and the likes of Brawn as being in sole charge were over. In it’s place Mercedes has installed a Roman-like triumvirate: Wolff, Lowe, & Lauda. Wolff seems to ‘support’ Rosberg, Lauda ‘supports’ Hamilton, and Lowe supports… er… himself…?

There were two main triumvirates in ancient Rome, designed to prevent one man assuming king-like supremacy which, in both cases, were reduced to one man effectively assuming king-like supremacy… and this, for a while, virtually brought Rome to its knees.

If, as appears to be the case, Wolff and Lauda are rarely in full accord, it is possible for either man to court the support of Lowe, to effect a two-man take-over but… they could both fail, and leave Lowe as top dog… At the moment they look more like the Marx brothers…

But… remember Lowe was originally courted by Toto for Williams… but, when Toto got his feet under the Mercedes table, it didn’t take Lowe too long to see where his bread was buttered… so, could Lauda already be standing on a risky-rug…?

Try Googling Toto: he has more fingers, in more pies, than most people have fingers… and the bigger they come, the harder they etc., etc… It’s not over, until it’s over, or until the fat one sings… and this Mercedes Management Mess is far from over.



6th Hesketh

7th Porsche

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

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 24th October 2014

•October 24, 2014 • 82 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 The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….

#F1 Feature: “Dear Sir”… Don’t apologise for doing your job properly

OTD Lite: 2004 – Red Bull emerges from the Cat’s claws

Haas believes small teams not properly put together

Horner believes Mercedes too selfish

Honda execs to take punishment for hybrid errors

Every youngster and his dog can drive F1 now

F1 comeback bid ended Barrichello commentary – report (GMM)

OTD Lite: 2004 – Red Bull emerges from the Cat’s claws

On this day, Jaguar Racing ran it’s last grand prix before being sold by the Ford Motor Company to Red Bull for the symbolic amount of $1. Ford also agreed to invest the sum of £400M over the following three seasons and provided the Cosworth powerplant to the team.


Jaguar had started life in 2000 after Jackie Stewart had sold his Grand Prix team to the American company. Ford’s arrogance led them to believing that a marque that historically was linked to Le Mans could transfer across their fans allegiance to make them F1’s Green Ferrari.

Two podiums over the next five seasons proved a poor return for the Detroit paymasters who questioned why Eddie Irvine was Ford’s highest paid employee and they began looking at ways of off-loading this money pit. Mark Webber secured some stunning placings in qualifying but his poor starts and the car’s propensity for destroying it’s rubber led to massive underachievement.

As Juan Pablo Montoya raced to a rare Williams victory at Interlagos, the Jaguar team found its two cars colliding as they closed this sad chapter in their history – their tail between their legs.

The Jackal


Haas believes small teams not properly put together

Following the struggles of HRT, Marussia and Caterham in recent seasons, Gene Haas is under no illusions  about the mountain his team has to climb in order to be creditable in F1. The Haas F1 Team will make its debut in 2016 after agreeing a technical deal to receive support and power units from Ferrari.

Speaking to CNN he said, “I think in the first five years it’s just surviving, I don’t have any expectations of grandeur that we are going to go out there and win championships. If we could even win one race in five years, I think that would be a tremendous success.”

“I’m not expecting to beat anybody, just maybe beat the guys at the back. I think the biggest problem they had is that in trying to get to the grid so fast they wound up having to take on partnerships that maybe weren’t thoroughly thought out and wound up making a lot of mistakes. Inevitably they didn’t have the resources or the cars weren’t properly put together because they’d rushed things.

It would seem Gene is being somewhat naive in his views on the three backmarkers mentioned. The three teams came into the sport believing the briefing that was given to them by Max Mosley of $40M budgets a season.

There again, having witnessed the relationship between Mosley and Ecclestone over the decades – they are both capable of playing the long game to serve their purposes. With Mosley facing revolt in 2009, Mr E would have lost his closest ally – that controlled the FIA – and questionable TV rights that depended on cars being present on the grid..

In retrospect, whilst Tony Fernandes may have been duped, people like John Booth, Graham Lowden and Mike Gascoyne are seasoned racing individuals who have competed in the highest echelons of F1 and European motorsport. To even suggest that their cars were not put together properly is scandalous – although recent developments with the Caterham team, at least, suggest otherwise.

To this day, TJ13 has speculated on the reasons why Ferrari wants to join forces with the NASCAR team boss. In much the same way that Mattiacci’s recruitment was not to simply fill the role of Team Principal – it seems particularly rib-tickling that the Italian giant would search out an association with the owner of an American Nascar team..

Haas’ reply almost confirms his team’s status with Ferrari: “Surprisingly, Ferrari wanted to go beyond being just an engine supplier and they were going to actually help us with a lot of the basic structures of the car. We would be very proud to be a Ferrari ‘B-team’ because that would certainly teach us how to run in Formula One. We quite frankly will take all the help they can give us, because you can’t get any better than Ferrari.”

No doubt, Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams and, on the odd occasion Mclaren, would probably say otherwise.


Horner believes Mercedes too selfish

Christian Horner is assuredly the most hypocritical team principal in Formula One. In a recent interview he has offered his team’s point of view as to why Mercedes isn’t playing fair and that if they don’t let others play in their sand pit, then he will take his ball away too.

“It’s too out of kilter when you have five Mercedes cars in the top five, the immaturity of this technology is still quite raw and Mercedes shouldn’t be afraid of competition. They’re doing a super job, but I think it’s healthy for Formula One that Ferrari, Honda and Renault have the ability to close that gap. Otherwise we are going to end up in a very stagnant position.”

Something that didn’t unduly concern the Red Bull squad over the previous four seasons. With apparently questionable designs on their cars, electronics that demanded counter-intuitive driving despite regulation changes to neutralize the advantage and traction-control like systems which as Vettel stated the others would never understand how they worked – it could be suggested that Red Bull were quite content in their stagnant pond.

“It’s a bigger issue than just what is right for the teams, it’s about what’s right for the sport and the fans. It’s easy to take a self-interest position, but when you look at what the right thing is for Formula One, it’s to have competition. The rules are the rules as they are at the moment, but I think we need to be big enough to say let’s open it a little bit, be responsible on costs so that there is no impact for the customer teams, but have that competition.”

It seems scarcely believable that a high level employee of RBR is uttering these words and so therefore we would like to offer a translation – Yes, please ignore the historic articles about which we bleated continuously at the FIA, at journalists and at Pirelli last winter when they provided tyres that were unsuitable for the RB9 design. Of course we wanted harder sidewalls because we designed our car for our requirements and not to take into account what Pirelli gave us. We don’t care about competing fairly with Lotus, Ferrari and Force India who designed cars with light usage of their tyres and we will continue to badger you all until you do as we say.

Of course, RBR would have issued these opinions only on the word of Dieter Mateschitz who only a few months ago was threatening that Red Bull could pull out of F1 if the regulations stayed the same…


Honda execs to take punishment for hybrid errors

Reports reached TJ13 from Japan late last night that Honda’s president and 12 other senior execs would take an unprecedented, quality-related pay cut. “We have inconvenienced Mclaren and we are deeply sorry” announced Honda spokeswoman Akemi Ando.

For the past few months it seems that Honda have been struggling with reliability, fuel consumption and the Italian sites believed that they were at least six months behind schedule. Woking produced an updated MP4/29 especially for the Abu Dhabi test but it seems as Honda sources suggested a few weeks back that the engine will run for the first time in the 2015 Jerez tests.


And now – especially for Mclaren78…. apologies if we caused any spitting of coffee


Honda has recalled over 400,000 of its Fit Hybrid for the fifth time in a year. Currently Honda is facing lawsuits due to accidents involving airbags supplied by the Takata Corp which has been attributed to four deaths. This naturally has led to product recalls by many of the car manufacturers throughout the world that use these airbag systems.

Shares in Honda ended 1.4% down after underperforming on the Nikkei average and although the recall will cost about 5.7 billion yen ($53 million), the impact on earnings is minimal. The overall cost of the five recalls involving the Fit hybrid now stands at 16.5 billion yen.

We have inconvenienced many customers, and we’re deeply sorry,” Honda spokeswoman Akemi Ando told reporters after announcing the latest recall. Honda have also appointed Senior Managing Officer Koichi Fukuo to oversee quality improvements across the Honda organisation. Honda was founded in 1946 and such is their reliability that this is the first time they have had to create this role.

Because the recall highlighted quality concerns, the company said that over the next three months, Chief Executive Takanobu Ito will take a 20 percent pay cut while other senior executives including Chairman Fumihiko Ike and Executive Vice President Tetsuo Iwamura will give up 10 percent of their pay.

As yet, there is no truth to any rumours that Akai, Honda’s motor-sport boss has had to cut back on the sushi and rice but the hybrid unit he is responsible for hasn’t been run in anger yet..


Every youngster and his dog can drive F1 now

Chinese Adderly Fong and Israeli Roy Nissany have both completed 99 laps at the Valencia Circuit Ricardo Tormo this week in a 2012 Sauber C31.

Fong said after his Wednesday test: “I am very happy that I had the opportunity to test the Sauber C31. I have achieved my objective to complete 300 km without making any mistakes and at a good speed. The car was fantastic to drive, it is a brilliant piece of machinery.”

After a similar drive yesterday, Nissany himself said: “It was an amazing day. It was my first time driving a Formula 1 car, and it felt great. I was quite excited at the beginning, and I think I feel more experienced now.”

No lap times were issued by the Sauber team but neither was there any accidents or notable spins. Whilst Max Verstappen may or may not have the driving ability of a God he still finished the season third in the championship behind Esteban Ocon and Tom Blomqvist.

Ocon was also present in Spain this week completing over 650 kilometres in a two-year old Lotus E20 as reward for winning the Formula 3 title. Alan Permane – Trackside Operations Director of the Lotus F1 Team – was impressed by Ocon’s test, and believes it will not be too long until the Frenchman is back in an F1 car.

“Esteban drove exceptionally well over the course of the last two days, completing every task we asked of him. It’s clear he has a lot of talent as he was quickly up to speed and looked comfortable in the car. His feedback and aptitude were very promising. I’m sure we will see him in an F1 car again before too long.”

Ocon himself admitted he felt comfortable behind the wheel of the E20 almost immediately, and hopes the test in Valencia leads to more time behind the wheel of an F1 car in the not too distant future.

“The test driving the Lotus F1 Team E20 went really well, I had to adapt to the car quite rapidly which I did very well. I felt comfortable with the team straight away and the same with the E20. The word I’d use to describe the feeling of driving an F1 car is that it is just quicker. The car was easy to drive, stable and very enjoyable; it is a great car. I’m really happy with this two-day test and I hope to the get the opportunity to jump into the F1 car again soon.”

Have Formula One cars become too easy to drive? Many who have followed Formula One for years before technology took over would say yes, whilst others who embrace the technological revolution will accept that what constitutes F1 – has changed.


(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

F1 comeback bid ended Barrichello commentary – report

Rubens Barrichello’s desire to return to the F1 grid appears to have ended his days as a roving commentator.
We reported on Thursday that the most experienced driver in the history of the sport had “concluded” his commentary contract with Brazil’s TV Globo. Brazil’s UOL Esporte is now claiming Barrichello, 42, fell out with the broadcaster due to “relationship and contract” problems, and also because he allegedly used his role to “offer his services to F1 teams“.

The report said the former Williams and Ferrari driver had trouble following some instructions, like calling Red Bull ‘RBR’ instead of the name of the energy drink, for commercial reasons. But the real trouble may have begun in Singapore last month, when Barrichello reportedly told Mercedes’ Toto Wolff he was “ready and fit” to become the dominant team’s reserve driver.

Barrichello reportedly also lobbied last year to make his return to F1 with Sauber. “According to insiders,” UOL claimed, “Barrichello never accepted that he is a former formula one driver. Coincidence or not, that (Singapore) was his last outing as a broadcaster.

The final straw may have been when Barrichello appeared as an online presenter, breaching the conditions of his exclusive contract with Globo. “UOL Esporte contacted Rubens Barrichello but received no response,” said the report. Barrichello’s co-pundit and friend Luciano Burti also declined to comment. Globo denied that its relationship with Barrichello had broken down, insisting the contract was concluded “amicably“.

TJ13 comment: There is nothing quite as sad as seeing former athletes clutching at straws to maintain a fantasy in their minds that they are still relevant. Many is the time that drivers out-stay their welcome and become caricatured has-beens when even at their peak they were not of particular note.

Michael Schumacher’s return in 2010 was driven by his own desires but also Mercedes understood the value of his name. But having passed his 40th birthday at the time – it was never to build a new legacy after his first career it was to enjoy a few years at the pinnacle of the sport.

It allowed the public to see a more circumspect Michael, a little more humble and his comparative performances to Rosberg showed just what an amazing driver he still was. Barrichello was never on the same continent, never mind league in comparison during their Ferrari years; although on occasion he competed with the German.

Barrichello has always played the “Ayrton was my friend” card throughout his career but there were two things that would have displeased the legendary Brazilian to the core. Brundle made the observation once that Senna would have continued until he recognised in himself that he didn’t have that last tenth that made him the driver he was. He would have retired immediately and moved on to other things.

The other? His complete and utter capitulation to the demands of the Schumacher-centric team dynamic within Ferrari between 2000 and 2005.


#F1 Feature: “Dear Sir”… Don’t apologise for doing your job properly

•October 24, 2014 • 30 Comments


It appears the Administrator of Caterham Sports Ltd, is getting some undeserved flack in the accredited F1 press.

Contrary to the assertion of others who have spoken on this matter, TJ13 would like to explain the legal position of the Administrator in relation to the Caterham F1 team.

Today’s actions which saw the staff locked out of their place of work reveal that fairly quickly, the Administrator has established the view that despite Kolles’ and Manuel’s assertions to the contrary – and the emergence of a new company CF1 – that Caterham Sports Ltd, who the Administrator is legally responsible for – own the race cars together with factory-based assets to build the cars, has not been shut down – yet.

The lock out today of all employees (including management) involved in Caterham Sports Ltd is merely the Administrator ensuring that there is no possibility that the assets of this company from being secreted away.

The staff have not been dismissed, this is all part of the Administrator forcing those responsible for the day to day running of Caterham Sports Ltd to ‘prove’ the entity is a ‘going concern’ and is not simply racking up more and more debt.

The role of the Administrator is to protect the interests of the creditors, whilst ascertaining whether the business can be funded properly to continue – WITHOUT – incurring further debt, which would dilute the current creditors/employees claims for payment against the known assets of the company.

These assets are valued not at cost, but estimated realisable value. This means that despite an F1 front wing having a cost of say $100,000 associated with it, it may merely be capable of generating to anyone other than the Caterham F1 team (or Caterham Sports Ltd) a memorabilia value of substantially less than its cost.

Administrators perform this role on every kind of company in every kind of sector possible, and need NO specialist knowledge of every global cottage industry or international empire to deliver their obligations in a proper manner.

They add up the recoverable value of what is owned; subtract the value of what is owed to creditors/employees and if the result is positive, the company is ‘solvent’, if negative – it is not.

The first duty of obligation to which the Administrator of Caterham Sports Ltd is beholden is to ensure that the assets of the company are safeguarded; they are the security for the employees and the creditors and they must not be placed at any risk which will diminish the result of either parties’ claims for monies owed.

So if the Administrator believes there is a possibility that the Caterham F1 race cars and race equipment will disappear off to Austin and beyond, never to return, he is forced to disallow this course of action. The exception is, should sufficient collateral be lodged with the Administrator, to an amount equal or greater than the recoverable value of the assets at risk of flight, he MAY allow them to be removed from his jurisdiction.

That said, he would almost definitely also wish personal guarantees to be provided (enforceable in law, and recoverable) by the director(s) of Caterham Sports Ltd, should the assets never return.

This presents the current Administrator with questions to be answered; due to the fact that Colin Kolles recently sacked/removed his father from the board of directors of Caterham Sports Ltd, and appointed the Leafield Romanian cleaner – Constantin Kojocar (affectionately nicknamed ‘Mario’ by the Leafield employees) – as the sole director of Caterham Sports Ltd.

‘Mario’ does not appear to have a substantial investment or ownership in any company such as GCC Facilities (, hence the Administrator’s concern is not unreasonable.

Further, the recent plan which conspired to send the cars to Germany direct from Sochi gives the Administrator no choice but to believe the ‘flight of the assets’ is a more than remote possibility.

The second role of the Administrator is to establish whether the company is funded properly to continue its operations, whilst the matters of creditor and employee claims for payment are properly negotiated.

The director(s) of the company, which is under the Administrator’s jurisdiction, are required to ‘prove’ the likely income of the company for the foreseeable future, together with the likely expenses.

This is the business plan which the Administrator will assess as viable, should income be greater than expenses, or not viable should the expenses be greater than the income.

The Administrator will then do two things. Firstly, assesses whether he believes the expenses are a reasonable forecast, and if he believes this to be the case, the company will be run on this exact expenditure budget – without exception.

They will also assess the ‘projected income’ to the extent they will speak to those who the director(s) of the company claim will be providing these funds to establish the certainty of the director(s) claims.

Having established a reasonable view on the expenditure and income, it is a simple task of ascertaining whether the latter is equal or greater than the former.

It has been argued that “the Administrator has not had the time or the opportunity to read and understand all the different agreements related to the team (basically the equivalent of the Concorde Agreement) because if he thinks that quibbling over the rent at Leafield and not looking at the big picture of what happens if the team misses Austin, then there’s not much hope and the creditors are probably not going to get much.”

The accusation against the Administrator is that he simply doesn’t ‘get’ how Formula One works. “if the team does not keep trying to win World Championship points in the final three races. The team is unlikely to succeed, but if it’s not at the races, it is 100 percent certain to fail and that will guarantee 11th place for the second year running and a dropping revenues of cataclysmic proportions. One hopes that someone has told him this already.”

As already stated above, the Administrator is legally obliged to examine the likely nature of future revenues and ensure they exceed proposed future liabilities.

Therefore, the question is, if the above ‘possibility’ is the basis for the Administrator to agree the ‘likely income’ that Caterham Sports Ltd will receive, should he allow the company to sink further into debt with the hope this income will be achieved?

Given the fact that Caterham have spent more cash than any other F1 team in history and achieved the dubious record of doing so yet at the same time failing ever to score 1 point in the Formula One championship, how should the Administrator assess the likelihood of the team outscoring Marussia in the final three races and earning the $35m the tenth placed competitor team in 2014 will receive for their entrant status at the start of the following year’s competition?

Mario is indeed an impressive individual at what he does; and today Caterham staff revealed that since his promotion to director of the company, the toilets at Leafield have degenerated into a vile place of desolate abomination.

However, more importantly, does Mario’s proposition that the Caterham F1 team will almost definitely score points in the remaining three F1 races carry much weight with the Administrator?

Suffice to say for now, this is as remote a possibility as this writer’s whimsical fantasy that would see Japan relocated from its current location to a place off the East coast of England, providing a duel purpose of a land bridge to Eastern Europe together with the fact that the fabulous F1 circuit of Suzuka would be more accessible to the British and European F1 fans.

Despite Ecclestone’s chameleon-esque assertions today that he would like to help Caterham F1, we but all remember his consistent assertions of old, that for him, a 10 team Formula One competition is preferable to one which includes 11 entrants.

So, can Caterham be saved? The answer is yes, but the cars must make the FOM freight flight on Saturday bound for Austin. If this does not occur, the team will be in breach of their commitments to the commercial rights owner to attend every F1 event on the annual calendar and be thrown out of this year’s competition and effectively the sport.

This will require the ghost ‘Swiss based Arab investors’ to stump up an appropriate amount of cash and lodge it with the Administrator of Caterham Sports Ltd; this is presuming they’ve not lost all their petro dollars on a gamble on Daimler Benz future share price, as did Aabar

This is THE ONLY way, as Ravetto has asserted is their wish, continue in the vain hope that their Caterham adventure – as they state – will earn them a profit from their ‘investment’ in the Caterham F1 team.

Further, F1 fans should always ask themselves this question when they read an article which is an apologetic, defending or appealing on behalf of the intentions of F1 characters or companies; Is there any reason this writer could be influenced to express the vicariously imbibed view that he/she expresses?

Do this, and in most cases, the credibility of the information purported will be appropriately qualified.


#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….

•October 24, 2014 • 36 Comments


To those that inhabit the land of tweets and social media – what did we all do before the tinternet was rammed into our lives? The world has become smaller with the unlikeliest friendships developing in a similar manner to bacteria in a petri dish.

Once again the guilty have assembled – only this time in the infamous shed behind the Judge’s towers. By all accounts his Lordship has invited Hugh Hefner and some associates to dine on young quail flesh and copious amounts of mead so the chambers are out of action, sorry reach…

Back slapping and welcomes are given to our very own Hippo on his return from therapy – although the doctors note suggests it may be a while before the Vettel fetish has subsided with this one… hang on… the Doctor’s note is signed by returnee ex Formula 1 doc – Gary Hartstein who allowed us an insight into the sinister mind of the Toad from Suffolk who told him to “F*** **f”.

Trumpets Matt Matt signed in with a sharp inhalation and blasted out musical introductions for the afflicted before lending his Murican radio voice to the proceedings and finally Editor and historian Carlo completed the line up with the show’s very first stalker asking him a question directly.

Oh yes, almost forgotten, Spanners appeared in the production somewhere but rumours persist that he was still looking for his manly bellow after producing a shrill ‘girls’ scream when he ventured on to a proper go-kart track the preceding weekend.

So grab a latte, a smoothie or even a beer and settle down as the show must go on and learn why we did land on the moon and what the hell ‘Lego Hand’ actually means..

This week’s song is The Vigil by Habu

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Step 1: Navigate to in Chrome on your mobile device.

Step 2: Bookmark the site URL in Chrome.

Step 3: Go to your Chrome bookmark and find your podcast icon, long-press it, then tap the “Add to Home Screen” from the pop up menu.

Step 4: Now go to the home screen of your Android phone and you should find your app installed there.

The #F1 Bar Exam: 23rd October 2014

•October 23, 2014 • 1 Comment

Welcome to another week of TheJudge13 F1 Bar Exam.

Last week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, team, race and track where the photo was taken. Can you also name the car (type) and where the driver finished in the race?

de Beaufort-1961-germanyThe answer(s) I was looking for were: The driver in the photo is Dutchman Carel Godin de Beaufort where he raced for Ecurie Maarsbergen (Dutch team) during the 1961 German Grand Prix that was held Nürburgring. It was held over 15 laps of the giant 14.2 mile Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit for a race distance of almost 213 miles. The race also celebrated the 100th race since the establishment of the World Championship in 1950.

De Beaufort took his Porsche 718 – Flat-4 to a 17th place in qualifying and finished the race in 14th, one lap behind race winner Sir Stirling Moss in a Lotus-Climax.

(Deep breath) Jonkheer Karel Pieter Antoni Jan Hubertus (Carel) Godin de Beaufort, a Dutch nobleman and racing driver was born on 10 April 1934. De Beaufort took part in Formula One between 1957 and 1964 and competed in 31 World Championship Grands Prix, becoming the first Dutchman ever to score points in the Formula One World Championship, and numerous non-Championship Formula One races.

In early years he was considered something of a mobile chicane, and a danger to other drivers on the track however in later years he managed to master the loud peddle better and matured into a competent and popular competitor.

Always a Porsche devotee (he only drove two World Championship races in other cars) he was a familiar sight at both Championship and non-Championship races in his orange Porsche 718, bought from the Rob Walker Racing Team. Although the 718 was outclassed even in its first year with him, he persisted with it as it was the only design into which he could fit his burly frame.

The size of the car, and a streak of self-deprecating humour in de Beaufort himself, earned it the nickname “Fatty Porsche“. With stereotypical aristocratic eccentricity he often drove without shoes, and at his final race in Germany was even seen taking practice laps wearing a Beatles wig, rather than his helmet.

De Beaufort died after an accident at the Nürburgring during practice for the 1964 German Grand Prix when his car suddenly left the track at the infamous Bergwerk corner. He was thrown out of the car and suffered massive injuries to his head, chest and legs.

Initially he was taken to a local hospital, but was later transferred to a major neurological hospital in Cologne. He died from his injuries three days after the accident.

Well done to Johnny, Vik, Milestone11, Cassius42, Mike, Chris and Tony!

This week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, team, race and track where the photo was taken. Can you also name the car (type) and where the driver finished in the race?


Please provide your answers in the field below:

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 23rd October 2014

•October 23, 2014 • 37 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 The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Craig – “The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Heard”

OTD Lite: 1977 – Villeneuve huge accident in Japan

Michael calls time on his F1 journey

Vettel just a simple boy at heart

Rosberg appoints himself ‘title hunter’

Doctor asks for patience with Schumacher’s recovery

Official Statement from Tony Fernandes and Caterham Group

OTD Lite: 1977 – Villeneuve huge accident in Japan

It’s amazing how perceptions change over a given subject as the years pass by. With music and film, moments of genius that truly took the breath away at their inception become merely parts of the fabric of life and their significance and relevance become neutered.

Gilles_Villeneuve_Japanese_GP_Fuji_1977_Crash2_resizeOn this day in 1977, Gilles Villeneuve somersaulted out of the Japanese Grand Prix after hitting Ronnie Peterson on the sixth lap. His flight took him into an that was forbidden to the public and his car hit several spectators and a marshal – killing two of the people. The French-Canadian was unhurt and when interviewed later spoke of it being sad that the two had died but he felt no guilt because they were in a restricted area.

What was an acceptable remark nearly four decades ago – in an era of immense danger in F1 – would be abhorrent today and peoples sensibilities have changed enormously. Motorsport is dangerous – reads the legend on the ticket – something that had been considered banished forever.

The Jackal


Michael calls time on his F1 journey

“If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all” goes the old saying and if it were to apply to any person in Formula One, not many would argue that Sam Michael’s carries this particular epitaph with him.

TJ13 commented on Monday that several names at Mclaren were about to be culled from the employee register and confirmation was received yesterday that Michael would be returning to Australia with his family after the culmination of the season. Reports suggest that he had resigned back in March which would appear a little unusual as he still holds his post seven months later..

At times over the years, any misfortune that befell any team he was employed by created mirth on forums and motor-sport sites – yet it was difficult not to believe he had upset somebody in a previous life. He joined Jordan in 1994 after his previous employer, Team Lotus, went bankrupt.

He was race engineer to Ralf Schumacher and later Heinz Harald Frentzen before joining the Williams team as Senior Operations Engineer before being promoted to the role of Technical Director in 2004. Finishing fourth that season was the highlight of his years in charge as the team stumbled aimlessly towards the back of the grid. He resigned in May 2011 after the Grove’s team worst ever start to a season and emerged at Mclaren in 2012.

Irrespective of any beliefs in the esoteric realms, Mclaren have steadily fallen away from their usual position at the head of the field and it would seem that Ron Dennis suggested a nice life in the sun may be best for his family.

One down, how many more heads to roll?


Vettel just a simple boy at heart

With the three week break between Sochi and Austin, Sebastien Vettel took advantage of the break and visited the Staffordshire County showground for the Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show – not as a celebrity with all the VIP passes in place but as a regular customer with three friends.


Sharon Tasker said: “We were working our way through the queue and then my colleague Helen just stopped talking. I looked over and there was Sebastian asking for four tickets. We’ve had many star guests come to our Stafford events but they are always a part of the show and are on stage speaking or doing signing sessions.”

“It was a surreal experience to see one of the world’s most famous sporting stars come wandering in and it certainly caused a buzz among staff and visitors.”

The show is about restorations of historic bikes and they have an auction that raises money for charities. Star guests at the event included former World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty and his former rival Pierfrancesco Chili.

Classic bikes and racing memorabilia helped raise more than £1 million for children’s charities at the Bonhams auction. Blur’s guitarist Graham Coxon auctioned seven of his bikes which raised £25,000 in funds for the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) and a further £104,540 was received for a 1914 Flying Merkel V-Twin.


(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Rosberg appoints himself ‘title hunter’

Nico Rosberg has admitted he will think more about his own interests now after Mercedes wrapped up the constructors’ championship in Russia. The German has fallen 17 points behind in the intra-team chase for the drivers’ title, after Lewis Hamilton won the last four grands prix on the trot.

Some believe Rosberg is tightening up just as Hamilton is hitting his stride, but the German announced he will “attack with full force” beginning with next weekend’s US grand prix. “The remaining tracks are among my favourites,” he said, referring to the final flyaway trio of races in Austin, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

“I have never felt pushed into a corner,” Rosberg is quoted by Germany’s Sport Bild. “I am a hunter, I am hunting for the title and I have no reason to give up. There will be a tough fight over three challenging races,” he continued, “and I have no doubt that after thinking about the team, now it is going to be more about our own interests.”

Alain Prost, the F1 legend, agreed that although Hamilton is ahead in the standings and on form, Rosberg cannot be counted out yet. “It’s more in favour of Hamilton,” said the Frenchman, “but he can always make a mistake at the wrong time. I would say it is 55-45,” he told Spain’s AS newspaper.

TJ comment: ……………………………


Young Nico?

It’s fine to take a few moments to recollect yourselves. If this were a war zone, Hamilton would be the Special Forces operative, stationed within yards of the target on which he has sent the co-ordinates back to  action a bombing run or gathering intelligence reports in dangerous live environments. 

Nico would be grasping his rifle in hand, more than likely taking a swig of water to keep hydrated and then immerse himself in the latest Call of Duty game…


Doctor asks for patience with Schumacher’s recovery (sourced from Der Spiegel)

Jean-Francois Payen was one of the doctors, who worked with Michael Schumacher for months after the German’s skiing accident last December. After visiting the seven-times world champion in his home in Switzerland, the medic gave a few encouraging words to RTL Radio.

According to Payen, Schumacher is no longer comatose, but will need a lot of time. He reckons that a recovery from the massive brain injuries is possible in one to three years. “Live after brain trauma progresses in stages.”

The Doctor said he visited Schumacher to assess the progress of the patient and asserts that Michael is in best hands. Schumacher’s wife Corinna cares perfectly for him.

“The wife has done everything possible to assure he can make progress. Being surrounded by family is good for the recovery. She has an unbelievable strength of will”

After 9 months in hospital Schumacher returned home on Sept. 9th and has since been continuing his road to recovery with the family.


Official Statement from Tony Fernandes and Caterham Group

Tony Fernandes, Caterham Group co-Chairman:

In June 2014, I decided, together with my co-shareholders, to sell my stake in the Caterham F1 team. We agreed in good faith to sell the shares to a Swiss company named ‘Engavest’ on the basis that Engavest undertook to pay all of the existing and future creditors, including the staff. The continued payment of staff and creditors was so important to me that I ensured that the shares would not be transferred to the new buyers unless they complied with this condition.

“Sadly, Engavest has failed to comply with any of the conditions in the agreement and Caterham Sports Ltd (the UK operating company of the F1 team) has had to be put into administration by the bank, with large sums owing to numerous creditors. Our agreement with Engavest was very clear: there was no legal obligation to transfer the shares to them unless certain conditions – which included paying creditors – were met. Those conditions have not been met. Our lawyers have asked Engavest several times to comply with these conditions but they have failed to engage.

“If you agree to buy a business, you must pay its bills. They have breached that promise and now, sadly, it is others such as the employees and the fans of the Caterham F1 team that will suffer if the team ceases to race. I sincerely hope that this will not be the case and that a solution can be found.

Graham Macdonald, Caterham Group CEO:

We genuinely believed, at the time, that the sale of the team was the best route for the staff and creditors of the Company, as we felt it secured its long term future. The whole agreement with Engavest was based around a low consideration for the business, with easy payment terms so that creditors and staff could be paid.

“The buyers were made fully aware at the time of all outstanding liabilities. However, it appears to me that they never had any intention of paying these liabilities.

I go on to question how anyone who was interested in the long term future of the business would appoint one of their  cleaners – Constantin Cojocar – as the sole director and shareholder of the UK operating Company?

We continue to see claims and counter claims from the F1 team which are totally unfounded. Not only have they failed to pay the creditors (and have even left our shareholders to pay some of the creditors on their behalf), but they have failed to pay us anything for use of our factory and site, or anything for the use our brand name.

“In short the new owners have paid us nothing and now the administrators have been appointed they want to walk away from their liabilities.


#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 22nd October 2014

•October 22, 2014 • 82 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 The Judge 13:

#F1 Features: Make or Break for Hamilton

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Craig – “The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Heard”

OTD Lite: 1989 – Prost drives into Senna

BREAKING NEWS (Updated as stories come in)

Mclaren partners prepare to go to war

Villeneuve – Mclaren wronged Alonso in 2007

Weber says Vettel ‘too sensitive’

Caterham Adminstrator gets tough

OTD Lite: 1989 – Prost drives into Senna

Alain Prost had declared his intention before the race weekend had even begun. If Ayrton Senna attempted to pass him, he would not back out of a potential collision as he had previously. The Professor had the advantage of leading the title race by 16 points and did not need to win either of the remaining two races. Senna did.

On the 47th lap, six from the end, Senna took the inside line into the chicane and Prost turned into him.

Of course as a Senna fan, I would see it that way, but aerial footage of the collision (impossible to find it seems) shows that Prost turned in far too early to have made the apex – a similar trait that his son Nicolas displayed admirably when he collided with Nick Heidfeld in the inaugural Formula E race. Immovable object meets irresistible force.

Senna received a push start as his car was still on the race track – something that was allowed – and went on to win the race passing  Alessandro Nannini in a similar manouvre. But it was now that Jean Marie Balestre – the French President of the FIA – came bearing his power over the sport. Senna was excluded from the race, effectively securing the title for Prost.

It was this that Max Mosley found to be utterly disturbing and would lead to his running for Presidency against what he believed was a manipulative regime and for once the British publications voiced their opinions in favour of the Brazilian and against the French collusion.

The Jackal



Sam Michael leaves McLaren to return to Australia


Mclaren partners prepare to go to war

In recent weeks TJ13 has been reporting that things do not look rosy for the Mclaren group currently. With another lacklustre year almost over, the return of Honda is causing huge media interest for the coming season.

Speculation continues as to the stage that the Japanese manufacturer is currently at – with its engine – and talks with Fernando Alonso are daily in the rumour mill yet get no closer to finalisation. The latest news is that the Spaniard is waiting on ‘developments at Woking’, before inking the offered contract to join.

The TJ13 DN&C yesterday reported the a major shake-up and culling of staff within the McLaren motorsport division, following the whisper that the relationship between the founding partners of Mclaren International had collapsed.

d08brn789Italy’s Autosprint reveals today, that there is a serious division between Mansour Ojjeh and Ron Dennis, who joined forces in 1981 to establish the team. Ojjeh has always been a close friend’s of Ron’s and funded the Porsche designed Tag-Turbo engine that dominated F1 for three years. But recently, Mansour underwent a double lung transplant, and whilst during his recuperation – the Ronster was making it known he was looking for funding, to buy our his partners.completely.

Ojjeh is currently in talks with billionaire Lawrence Stroll, over acquiring a controlling interest in the Mclaren Group from the Mumtalakat holding company. Were this to happen, , Ron Dennis would most likely be ousted from the Woking team – ironically in much the same fashion that Martin Whitmarsh was removed.

With the investors sensing blood, Big Ron is currently preparing a financial report to be released to the shareholders at the end of November. The subsequent meeting may prove to be pivotal in deciding whether – as did Ferrari with Il Padrino – the days of the McLaren godfather have now passed.


Villeneuve – Mclaren wronged Alonso in 2007

1640.2Americans’ often harbour a certain disdain toward their Canadian neighbours,  in a similar manner to the one which exists between England and Scotland. However, the abrasive character of Jacques Villeneuve at times appears to make ‘Muricans’ of us all..

The 1997 World Champion has almost become a caricature of himself and most comments he makes to the press appear to be met from the readers with ridicule and scorn. With the backdrop of Alonso’s uncertain future, Jacques Villeneuve decided that it was appropriate to revisit the 2007 season and discuss how Mclaren gifted Ferrari the title.

Of course this review from Villeneuve is superficial at best. There is no recognition of the ‘secret information’ which Mclaren had in their possession; information of such a sensitive nature that a interpreter was engaged, to convey the Fred the precise meaning of what was being said.

Never one to demonstrate his cerebral prowess, Villeneuve merely waxes lyrical – on what Woking did wrong.

“When Fernando stepped in the Mclaren, he faced more or less the same situation I had with the arrival of Jenson Button at Bar-Honda. Basically, they said “Lewis is our future, you’re just the World Champion, so shut up. They used Alonso as a teacher for Hamilton so that the Briton would learn as much as possible in his first season. It was also the main reason he caused the team to implode.”

“It wasn’t necessary to focus on a rookie winning the title immediately. Lewis would have soon made it to the top. They could have been patient. Fernando was the World Champion – that they recruited from Renault. It was basically Mclaren that made the mistake. Fernando only did what he could do.”

Or in English parlance, the pseudo Samurai thought first of himself, as always..


Weber says Vettel ‘too sensitive’

On the few occasions this year that we’ve seen mark Webber at an F1 weekend, he has been remarkably gracious in his defence of his former team mates inability to master the Newey 2014 Bull as he is regularly out performed by Webber’s “son and heir”.

Yet now, in a surprising attack….. Oh….. hang on…..Errm…

Will Weber, Michael Schumacher’s former manager who brokered the mega remuneration deals with Ferrari for Michael – then took his 20% – has decided it’s time for 5 last minutes of fame.

With the world expecting Ferrari to imminently confirm their new driver as Sebastian Vettel, Weber says that Vettel will never emulate his former client – because he is “too sensitive”.

 “If something is not working well, the pressure at Ferrari is greater than it is anywhere else. It is not always ‘peace, joy and pancakes’, but a lot of politics.

I think if a Fernando Alonso cannot deal with it, then no one can,” Weber said. “Sebastian is much more sensitive than Michael.”

The man in Formula 1 who always looks on the bright side of life, Helmut Marko, reckons Weber is right.

“Michael benefitted in his time from an unlimited number of test kilometres and close cooperation with the tyre partner Bridgestone,” Marko observes. That said, four dominant years at Red Bull, would suggest that with a level playing field for all – this didn’t and shouldn’t hinder Seb.

It may be that Sebastian indeed has his work cut our for him should he arrive in Maranello. The latest car for 2015 is not good, so much so that already the ‘spoken only behind closed doors’ working title for the project is codename “666”

The 2015 F1 offering from Ferrari will be the first designed from scratch by James Allison

That said, this year in Ferrari-land has felt like a re run of the Great Italian Wars, such has been the general carnage, in fighting and blood-letting.

Schumacher arrived at Ferrari when the Tifosi had been beaten into submission year on year, such that the expectation of wining much was none existant.

The Schumacher years in the minds of the Red Team fans are still fresh, and expectation high.

However, should Vettel deliver, then surely his contribution would rank ahead of Fernando’s and even greater than Michael Schumacher’s, when considering the lowest of low ebbs Ferrari find themselves at right now.

Remember Seb’s got 4 fingers up and some time to go. Michael finished on 7.


Caterham Adminstrator gets tough

As reported by TJ13, the Caterham cars returned from a short vacation in Germany following the Russian GP. The plan was to spruce up the livery, add some windscreen wash and oil, then send them on their way to Austin.

However, the Administrator appointed to manage the affairs of the Caterham F1 debacle has scuppered this plan. Finbarr O’Connell now says, “My legal advice is that I own the cars and won’t be allowing the cars out of the factory until I reach an acceptable agreement,” said Finbarr O’Connell

Further, last week TJ13 received reports that a factory in Banbury was being prepared as a contingent should the team be forced from its current base in Leafield. This may now be necessary fairly soon, as O’Connell is insistent,  “We are allowing 1MRT (the team) to use our facility while we negotiate a settlement. They need to reach an agreement with us.”

All the alleged fuss and bother about who owns what, appears to have been resolved already as the administrator is flexing his muscle to ensure assets (cars) are not about to head to the land of Disney anytime soon.

This ‘confused ownership’ nonsense has been perpetrated since Ravetto attempted a smoke and mirrors charade prior to the Japanese GP, with another of his “Hi know nothing” Fawlty Towers soliloquies.

The fact is, if 1MRT have been paying or appropriate fees to Caterham Sports Ltd who were contracted to supply and maintain the F1 cars, then the assets – the cars and race equipment and factory fixtures and fittings – still belong to the company now under the control of the administrator.

Manfredi and his buddies are left with little and stand Gollum like clutching the precious racing license signed by the FIA.

It is unbelievable that anyone still buys the ‘Swiss based Arab investor’ nonsense. Even were these ghosts of the night real, and refusing to pay debt left undisclosed by Fernandes, they should know how much it costs to run even a shoestring version of operations at Caterham.

It appears the Administrator may have struck a fatal blow to the Kolles master plan of syphoning away cash provided from the pay drivers to develop his Forza Rosso car on the QT – whilst barely maintaining a skeleton effort to run the Caterham 2014 cars until Abu Dhabi.

So then, 20 cars for Austin? Yes, unless a real world oil backed cheque of some significance, lands on the Administrators desk and arrives with the precision of the historic reputation of the Swiss based clockmakers.

#F1 Features: Make or Break for Hamilton

•October 22, 2014 • 142 Comments

Brought to you by Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

The very nature of Formula One’s driver rotation means the pilots come and go in waves.  We, the fans, are often left to compare drivers of different generations as a way of quantifying their skill and to define their legacy long after their racing overalls gather dust in a wardrobe.

Some such drivers divide opinion over how they should be considered, if perhaps their statistics flatter their relative talents.  To my mind, the most recent of these was the 2009 World Drivers Champion, Jenson Button, who is undeniably one of the most intelligent drivers behind a wheel of racing car, although it could be argued lacks the outright pace.  There are many who feel that he ‘lucked into’ his Championship win by simply being in the right place at the right time, as the double diffuser from Brawn GP dominated proceedings from the off.

When Button moved onto McLaren there was a direct comparison with another World Champion, Lewis Hamilton, who for all intents and purposes beat the Frome man.  The statistics would tell you that Button beat his teammate (Button outscored Hamilton over their 3 seasons together), although arguably it was Hamilton who drove development and was the team leader, until an errant tweet from Hamilton that many will recall.

The infamous telemetry tweeted by Hamilton, following the Spa 2012 qualifying

The infamous telemetry tweeted by Hamilton, following the Spa 2012 qualifying

The discussion of who is the better driver of the pair is something better left for another time.  My attention was drawn to a comparison between Lewis Hamilton and the 1997 World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve. The parallels are uncanny and will be sure to raise eyebrows…

Let’s examine the career of the older of the two, the Canadian, Jacques, son of Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve who sprung into Formula One in 1996.  He burst onto the scene with Williams, in the FW18, the quickest and most reliable of the season charging to pole position at the season opener in Australia.  He was only denied the race victory by an oil leak, but still managed to hold on to second place.  A podium on his debut; just like a certain driver from Stevenage managed 11 years later.

Villeneuve fought with Hill for the title that year, eventually losing out, having taken 4 victories.  This was a record for a rookie season, something which Lewis Hamilton would equal in 2007.  Both drivers were thrust onto the Formula One scene and rose to the challenge of the limelight.

It would be in their second season that both Villeneuve and Hamilton would triumph, again in dominant cars.  Heinz-Harald Frentzen had replaced Damon Hill at Williams, as Heikki Kovalianen had done Alonso, with both Villeneuve and Hamilton effectively being made the number one driver in their respective teams.  Both drivers fought a Ferrari driver for the title and secured the Championship at the final race of the season.

Left: JV celebrates in 1997 Right: Hamilton following the dramatic 2008 climax

Left: JV celebrates in 1997
Right: Hamilton following the dramatic 2008 climax

The parallels are there for all to see, but are not limited to just what happened in their early careers.  Both flew the nest in search of building their own Championship winning team to cement their future legacy.  The outcome of JV’s career has become part of the fabric of F1 history – having left Williams he failed to ever come close to winning the title again.  He would remain a one season wonder after failing to win another race after 1997.

JV moved to the newly founded BAR team, but was unable to repeat his previous successes. He scored a handful of podiums, before Craig Pollock, his team manager and long-time supporter, was fired and replaced by David Richards.  As soon as the support from inside the team was removed, he soon became uncomfortable within the confines of the setup.  His $15 million a year salary was called into question given his under-par performances on the track.  Whilst Villeneuve saw out the remainder of his contract, he drifted further and further out of favour as incoming teammates were better received than the Canadian, who on more than one occasion criticised the team.  Ironically, it was Jenson Button who had muscled into the BAR setup and out-scored JV firmly making himself at home within the team.

The alignment of Hamilton’s exit from McLaren and JV’s from BAR is staggering.  As soon as their feathers were ruffled and things did not go to plan they packed their bags and left.  The big money offer that Lewis Hamilton is chasing at the moment is undoubtedly part of the delay, which means justifying his value is of paramount importance.

So what now for Lewis?

2014 is now arguably a year of make or break for Hamilton.  Having left McLaren after so much poor reliability had cost him the chance to win in 2012, if the same were to happen in 2014 – with Mercedes – it would leave him in a difficult position.  He beat Nico Rosberg resoundingly last year (although much of this was due to Rosberg’s poor luck – which is demonstrated in the Victims of Circumstance final table for 2013) even though he was still bedding into his new home in Brackley.

Now without the guiding hand of Ross Brawn, he is left much more exposed than the previous year.  Given the pre-season expectation that he would not struggle against Nico Rosberg, and should beat him hands down, it would do no end of damage if he were to be outscored by his teammate.  JV was forced out of BAR after being beaten by his teammate for the second time in his career; a fate which could soon afflict Lewis Hamilton should he fail this year.

With just a year to go on his contract he finds himself in a precarious position in Formula One.  The big question, which currently is purely hypothetical, is where will Lewis go to should he be forced out of the Brackley fold? A return to McLaren is unlikely, racing with Vettel at Ferrari is also unlikely, both of the Red Bull seats will likely already be taken, as well as Bottas firmly making Williams his at the moment.  Even with a 17 point lead in the Championship, Hamilton says he is not feeling secure in the title fight.

Should he lose, he may even be forced into taking a sabbatical like JV did as he waits for a top seat to become available, although this would be highly unlikely with Alonso seemingly heading towards that fate.  At this point, what would be left of his legacy with his title win a distant memory?

The future is highly uncertain for Hamilton with so much more than just a world title resting on the next 3 races.  Should he win, he will almost certainly be offered his new contract, but more importantly he would cement himself as more than just a one season wonder. The next month is the most important of Lewis Hamilton’s career – I for one cannot wait to see how the drama unfolds.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 21st October 2014

•October 21, 2014 • 94 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 The Judge 13:

Does #GP2 need DRS?

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Craig – “The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Heard”

OTD Lite: 1984 – My kingdom for half a point

Enter a new party in the Caterham con (UPDATE 14:20 GMT)

Kobayashi Concerned over safety of his Caterham car

Sid Watkins’ hometown – Liverpool – to honour memory with new building

Verstappen has same English teacher as Vettel

Mclaren and Podromou gearing up for 2016

Hulkenberg secure for 2015

FIA panel of experts appointed to examine Bianchi crash encouraging

Moscow Raceway gets green light for F1

OTD Lite: 1984 – My kingdom for half a point

In the days before electronics controlled everything, HD TV transmissions and race meetings worth 50 points to the winning driver – men used to sweat to complete race distances, fighting their cars, circuits and each other. Only the top 6 would score points – 9 for a win,followed by 6,4,3,2,1. Unlike the 21st century, scoring a point meant achievement rather than everybody gets a prize for completing the egg and spoon race..

Formel 1: Niki Lauda und Alain Prost 1984

Thirty years ago today, Niki Lauda secured his third world title with just a half point separating him from Alain Prost. If the numbering system makes little sense in where the half point came from, you have to go back to the Monaco Gp that year.

Run in torrential conditions, the race was stopped barely past half distance as the itsy-bitsy Toleman team was about to win with a young newcomer called Senna at the wheel – hence the awarding of half points only.

If the FIA had allowed the race to run its full distance – even if this Brazilian interloper had won the race, Prost would have taken six points for second rather than the 4 1/2 he received for the win.

With that cheery thought we would now be calling Prost the five time World Champion, and Niki merely a double champion…

The Jackal


Enter a new party in the Caterham con

UPDATE: 14:20

TJ13 has been informed that Caterham F1 have now defaulted on contracts with their Academy drivers. They are owed prize money which the team is retaining.

Neither the drivers nor their representatives have been contacted, but they have been deleted from the Caterham website.


AS TJ13 reported would happen last week, Caterham Sports Ltd has now been taken into administration. London based accountants Smith & Williamson have been appointed as Administrators for the Leafield based F1 car manufacturer.


Unlike certain writers who have little knowledge of how these things are handled, this may well offer some security to employees still remaining as employees of the Caterham company referred to above.

Further, the bailiffs have not sold any of the goods they removed from the Leafield premises – not because there is uncertainty over which company owns them as implied by Manfredi Ravetto and publicised by his favourite F1 writers, but because a creditor not represented by the bailiffs when they were given permission to remove assets act – filed a separate legal action – petitioning for the winding up of the company on the 11th November.

This action by the latter creditor protected their interests from being jeopardised in the sale by the bailiffs, where only the creditors who had the seizure order were benefiting.

The owner(s) of Caterham Sports Ltd have since recovered the ball back into their own court from the court hearing listed for Remembrance Day, by applying themselves for Administrative oversight. This action today was a result of Caterham’s own doing.

This will presumably buy them time beyond the hearing on the 11th November (when they may have been ordered to cease activity), to beyond the date of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Employees have been forced to play the “which company is employing me” Hokey Cokey as letters informing them their contracts would be moved to 1MRT (foreign holding company) were issued, then apparently revoked.

There will be NO CONFUSION as to who owns what as the accountants will quickly get to work.

Also, there are UK laws which prevent assets from simply being shifted from one company to another with the intention of asset stripping, particularly when one is listed in the UK and one is listed abroad eg from Caterham Sports Ltd to 1MRT. To avoid this requires highly skilled operatives, detailed planning and usually a string of international operations.

The management/owner(s) of the Caterham F1 team appear clearly to not fit the description in the paragraph above

As TJ13 has stated many times, this appears to be little to do with saving the precious F1 racing license, held by 1MRT – and more about milking parts of the current pay drivers revenue stream to design a car for 2015.

This car is unlikely to appear in green colours and under the name of Caterham.

For now, the Administrators believe, “Positive discussions were held between the administrators and the team manager, Manfredi Ravetto, and also with the financial backers of the team on Friday 17 October and it is hoped that these will lead to a financially acceptable arrangement for the continuation of the relationship between the Company and the F1 Team”.

This illusion may well subside should the misrepresentations which have been made to current creditors and staff continue.

In that case, “if a financially acceptable arrangement cannot be agreed between the administrators and the Caterham F1 Team the administrators will then enter into dialogue with other interested parties with regard to a sale of the business and assets of the Company”.

What is for sure – proper scrutiny of the shady dealings behind the scenes will now occur, and the “Swiss based Arab Investors” will have to put up – or shut up.

If you wish to acquire an F1 team, there are things more precious than running it into the ground to avoid paying creditors a few million pounds in the Administration process.

It may be the creditors are awarded 10 pence in the pound for the monies they are owed and some form of Caterham could rise as a phoenix to continue. Though with the brain drain and bad reputation as an employer within the industry, good staff will be reticent to darken the doors of Leafield if they have other opportunities in F1 valley.

Then again, if you just want to pillage a company for all its worth, buy it out of insolvency on the cheap and ship it off abroad – you wouldn’t care.

Sometimes being an F1 writer and close to those at the top of an F1 entity has its disadvantages, when their explanations are deceptive by intent, and you are too close to the tree to see the forest.


Kobayashi Concerned over safety of his Caterham car


Drivers rarely drive into the team pit garage during a race, climb out of their cars without knowing what is wrong with them. Even when this happens, by the time they speak to the press, they are ‘in line’ with the teams thoughts on the matter.

The news from Russia once again saw Manfredi Ravetto doing his Fawlty Towers wide eyed uncomprehending Manuel stare, as he declared “Hi know nothing” about the claims made by Kamui Kobayashi that the team had retired the car to save mileage.

Ravetto added, “We saw an issue on the brakes – a problem that Kamui had already reported on Saturday during FP3 – so we decided to change them, but the problem persisted so we decided to stop.”

What we didn’t know was that Kamui had seen something on his car which scared the life out of him. He posted on his facebook page, “Scary! Last night a suspension defect was found. There’s no spare so it was repaired by wrapping it in carbon.

It’s checked all the time but, even so, being asked to race like this is too scary! I want to go home already.

From here on there are still practices and the race to go. I’m seriously troubled. As a racing driver, should I drive? Should I safely decline? I drive again in 15 minutes…”


In Japanese this means F^@k, S*^t Bo()ocks, I'm going to die

The team confirmed there had been “small defects” discovered and rectified. 

Lets see whether the FIA act to ensure there are no safety issues with the Caterham cars, following what some see as remiss safety decisions made by FIA representatives – which may have led to the tragedy in Suzuka.

Its one thing being a bunch of allegedly rich “Swiss based Arab Investors” who refuse to pay the debts of the previous owner, but another when they can’t be bothered providing proper funding to build sufficient components for the car.

These people surely do not exist – and are a creation not of Kolles imagination, but of wilful impropriety.

Neither do serious investors in Formula 1 have a revolving door of directors listed at companies house.


F1 fans remember the death throes of HRT where the drivers were flying off the circuit into tyre walls a few laps into the races, because the team had no money for decent brakes.

Charlie Whiting needs to order repeated and systematic scrutineering of the Caterham cars from now to the end of the season – and prior to each session the drivers are obliged to drive.

Any doubt about their safety – must lead to them being disqualified from participating.


Sid Watkins’ hometown – Liverpool – to honour memory with new building

Professor-Sid-WatkinsProfessor Sid Watkins is to be honoured with a new three-storey building named after him. The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust building will include a complex rehabilitation unit, pain management programme, medical training facilities as well as a brain injuries unit run by mental health trust Mersey Care.

The Sid Watkins building will open in January.

His widow Mrs Susan Watkins said: “My husband would have been proud to know that his name has been attached to this rehabilitation facility, both its calibre and scope reflect his own attitudes to patient care, and his concern for the ongoing needs of those who suffer from neurological diseases.”

‘Sid’ as he was affectionately known, was one of the true pioneers of Formula One. He never raced a Grand Prix car but from 1978 through to his retirement in January 2005 he was a pivotal figure in the enhancement of safety throughout the F1 circus.

His passing on 12th September 2012 was mourned and celebrated equally amongst motor-racing fans throughout the world but none had greater cause to thank him than the generations of Formula One drivers who escaped serious injury because of advancements he made to circuit safety.

Formula 1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart OBE said: “Professor Sid Watkins was one of the greatest men of medicine that I have ever encountered. His dedication to the cause, his constant search for new methods of treatment and prevention have been a boon to the world of medicine, and for all those who have had the good fortune to be treated by him. His contribution to saving the lives of many people in motorsport will never be forgotten”


Verstappen has same English teacher as Vettel

“It’s bulls**t”, exclaims young Max Verstappen about the application of mental strength in the pinnacle of motorsport. At just 17 years of age, the talented teenager is about to embark on his maiden season in F1 after having finished third in his first season of single seater racing.

“I have no problems at all with mental strength,” he told Red Bull’s website. “I’m really relaxed and I don’t want to think about mental stress, or how strong you are mentally because, to be honest, I find it a bit bullshit.”

Shockingly, since the world collapsed in outrage when Vettel used the four letter word – whilst discussing the acoustics merits of the current engines – it would seem that Red Bull were quite enamoured by their young protege.

Although considering his talents were being offered to Mercedes before the fizzy drinks company took over, it is difficult to appreciate how much influence Red Bull has had – other than to force the FIA to actually look at the qualification process for a Superlicence – in their usual considered manner – from 2017..


Mclaren and Podromou gearing up for 2016

The highly regarded James Allison was courted by Red Bull back in mid 2013 to replace Adrian Newey. After leaving Lotus, many rumours emanated from F1 of the different teams he would sign for and eventually decided to join the Italians in Maranello.

His arrival in autumn last year was too late to have any impact on the 2014 design and he set about working with the different departments leading up to his 2015 design.

Peter Podromou was Adrian Newey’s right hand man at Red Bull and decided to leave the Milton Keynes based squad to return to the Woking squad. He assumed his new role in mid September after his required gardening leave and has set about integrating himself within the depleted team that he has found there.

With Pat Fry having joined Ferrari in 2010 he then recruited from Woking – James Tortora, Ioannis Veludis and Rupart Daraker to the Gestione Sportiva. Similarly a number of engineers followed our favourite enforcer, Paddy Lowe, to Mercedes with the effect of destabilising Ron’s team further.

By all accounts, the Anglo-Cypriot has already designed a new front wing that will debut at the Abu-Dhabi finale and is having an influence over the design direction of the Mclaren MP4/30. This car will be more Red Bull inspired than traditional Macca – which may not be a bad thing.

Either way, Ron Dennis is aware that Mclaren is likely to have to write 2015 off as they seek to establish a new engineering matrix. Beyond this is talk from several Italian sources that due to no title sponsor Mclaren is having to streamline their operation with rumours suggesting a culling of staff including current CEO Jonathan Neale, technical director Tim Goss and sporting director Sam Michael – with Racing Director, Eric Boullier taking on more responsibility within the team… surely a Technical Director in everything bar name.


Hulkenberg secure for 2015

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: “Everybody in the team is delighted to see Nico remain a Sahara Force India driver for next season. We rate him very highly and he has done a tremendous job this year by consistently picking up crucial championship points. We know him extremely well: he’s a true racer and he knows how to motivate the team. I am convinced he is one of the best talents on the grid and I am proud that he will continue to race in the colours of Sahara Force India.”

Nico Hulkenberg: “It’s good to confirm my plans for next season. This is a team I know extremely well and we’ve enjoyed a great year together with some special results. The team has big ambitions and I believe we can have a competitive package once again next year. We have a strong partner in Mercedes and everyone in the team is motivated and hungry for more success. I have a good feeling for 2015 and there is a lot to be excited about as we try to build on the results we have achieved this year.” (Sahara Force IndiaTeam).

So this year Vijay Mallya is not playing his usual party game of ‘here’s a lovely Christmas present Mr. now ex-driver – your P45 notice”. Nico Hulkenberg gets another season in Formula 1 racing for the Silverstone outfit.

There had been rumours the much liked and talented German driver would be forced to give way for a driver bringing more cash, though as yet the Indian government hasn’t caught up with Vijay – as they have with Sahara boss Rubrata Roy.

Force India consistently punch above their weight, given the meagre budget their once billionaire owner affords them. It appears that for now, the Slim family are putting on hold their search for a Formula 1 team to play with, and so Nico has another year of relative disappointment to look forward to.

Force India’s modus operandi is – start well – run out of money to develop the car – slide back towards the head of the rest of the field.

It may be tougher for the team next year, as Vijay’s co-share holder is clearly is short of cash.

Subrata Roy was jailed in March this year for defrauding $billions from millions of small Indian investors who were sold outlawed bonds. He was ordered to repay the investors in full, but its been a long hot summer for Roy in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

He did win the right to special privileges, 14 hours a day access to a conference room to facilitate him negotiating the sale of assets to meet the $1.4bn bail tariff.

Having failed for months to deliver on his promises, Roy was given a final 15 days to sell his hotels, which include the Grosvenor house in London and the Plaza in New York.

It is presumably difficult to sell such real estate at market value when potential buyers are aware of your situation.

Roy came up with nothing.

So on October 1st, Roy was sent back to his cell and the privilege of the use of an air conditioned luxury conference suite was removed.

Tihar jail DIG Mukesh Prasad informed the media (one imagines with a grin), “We received no further extension orders from the court and the duration for which Subrata Roy was allowed to use the conference room with special facilities ended yesterday. He has been shifted back to the jail today. He will be staying at the central jail here in jail number one,” reported the Indian Times.

Mallya is more fortunate than Roy. He has defrauded defaulted on billions too, however, his victims are the financial institutions of India, which is a country that has no bankruptcy laws, foreclosing on assets pledged against loans is a long and difficult road.

Vijay oowns an Indian cricket team in the lucrative IPL as well as a share in Sahara Force India, however, he is the the first such high-profile businessman to be declared a ‘wilful defaulter’ by the banking institutions of India.

The Indian Times suggests this reflects, “a growing frustration within India’s banking system, and beyond, about local tycoons living luxurious lifestyles, even while claiming their companies cannot repay debts to state banks”.

For now Vijay is tantalisingly beyond the reach of those who would see him put on trial. However, his public image in India has been substantially tarnished. There are still thousands of Kingfisher employees who worked to keep Vijay’s symbol of vanity and pride in the air – and have not been paid for several months work.

In the meantime – F1’s Jabba the Hutt – continues to gorge himself on any publicity – amongst other things – he can claw into his grasp.


FIA panel of experts appointed to examine Bianchi crash encouraging

Following Jules Bianchi’s horrific accident at the Japanese GP, the FIA pressed F1 Race Director and safety delegate, Charlie Whiting, to complete a report into the surrounding circumstances and within four days faced the accredited F1 media – behind closed doors.

An emotional Jean Todt attended the media event in Sochi, promising he would establish a ‘panel of expert witnesses’ to examine what should be done going forward.

This may have been a loose form of words, however, many F1 fans are angry with the implication – who did what and when in Suzuka, is now complete.


The FIA have now announced the panel, which will be headed up by Peter Wright, President of the Safety Commission, and it includes some eye catching names.

In a statement released by the FIA, they said: “The group will carry out a full review of the accident to gain a better understanding of what happened, and will propose new measures to reinforce safety at circuits, with recommendations to be made for the FIA President.

The work of the group will start this week and a full presentation of its findings is to be made at the next meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on 3 December 2014 in Doha, Qatar.

Peter Wright, Chairman of the FIA Safety Commission, has been entrusted with the Presidency of the newly established accident panel.”

Panel members:-

Presidency :
Peter Wright, President of the Safety Commission
Members :
Ross Brawn, former Team Principal of Mercedes F1 Team, Brawn Grand Prix and former Technical Director of Scuderia Ferrari
Stefano Domenicali, former Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari
Gerd Ennser, Chief Stewards’ representative
Emerson Fittipaldi, President of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, F1 Steward
Eduardo de Freitas, WEC Race Director
Roger Peart, President of the Circuits Commission, President of the ASN of Canada, F1 Steward
Antonio Rigozzi, Advocate, Judge at the International Court of Appeal of the FIA co-opted by the teams
Gérard Saillant, President of the FIA Institute and President of the Medical Commission
Alex Wurz, President of the GPDA, drivers’ representative

It has been amusing to read some of the F1 media writers’ impressions of this investigation once the panel was announced; particularly those who dismiss this exercise as a sham.

First to consider, is the personal connection between Jean Todt and the Bianchi family, and for that reason alone there is hope to believe the FIA president will insist proper scrutiny is applied. His selection of experts demonstrates this most convincingly.

On the whole, this is a group of individuals with a diverse and substantive weight of appropriate experience and the inclusion of Ross Brawn and Stefano Dominicali adds gravitas and an element of integrity, for those unaware of the other members and their background.

Specifically, TJ13 is highly encouraged to see the appointment of Eduardo de Freitas, WEC Race Director, on the panel. He is a calm and measured individual, who is recognisable to sports car racers around the world and perceived as a reassuring and consistent presence to not only the series’ organisers but also to its competitors.


As race director of the WEC, Freitas has multi class series races to oversee, where the braking capabilities, acceleration – and therefore closing speeds, together with top speed of the cars in the lowest class – are a gulf apart from those racing in the premier class. Ensuring the safety of all on and around the track in this form of racing, is probably the biggest challenge in world motorsport.

The Portuguese WEC Race Director, speaks five languages fluently and first became involved in motorsport almost 40 years ago briefly as a mechanic.

However, he quickly moved trackside spending time as a marshal then a Clerk of the Course.  He has been an FIA WEC Race Director since 2002 and has unparalleled experience in covering single seater, touring car and endurance racing championships on a global basis.

UntitledThis contrasts with F1’s Race Director and his assistant Herbie Blash, who began their association together working for Bernie Ecclestone in the Brabham days.

Whiting’s background is as a grease monkey. He was chief mechanic for the World Drivers’ Championship successes of Nelson Piquet in 1981 and 1983. Charlie was appointed by the FIA as F1 Technical Delegate in 1988 and in 1997 became the Race Director and Safety Delegate.

UntitledBlash too has a motorsports mechanical background, and having hung up his spanner, he moved into various team management roles, until he was recruited by the FIA in 1995 as their Deputy Race Director at all GP’s.

The different dynamic of how Race Control in the WEC operates as compared to F1, is notable. Though this is the remit for another piece, maybe from ‘the voice of the fans’.

What is of absolute certainty, is when Eduardo is called upon to make split second decisions during a race, his experience of manhandling wrecked cars trackside… as a marshal – whilst racers hurtle past – is firmly embedded in his psyche.

We shall know whether trust in this body is well placed or not, presuming that post the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Qatar, December 3rd,  a proper public presentation of their reports findings is made.


Moscow Raceway gets green light for F1

The FIA have upgraded the Moscow Raceway circuit license to a Grade 1 so it cold host a Formula 1 GP.

This would add to Hermann Tilke’s ever expanding portfolio of Formula 1 events, should President Putin feel he has more chance of making the race on time, if it’s in his back yard.

The F1 journalists who were not privileged to be accommodated in Alders Disney Hotel, were universally critical of the location of the inaugural Russian GP. Some likening it to Mokpo, but without the bars and restaurants which actually had food in their larders.


However, Moscow Raceway is actually located 100 km from the capital city near the villages of Sheludkovo and Fedyukovo, so whether this will prove to be much more cosmopolitan than Alders is questionable.

Still even an upgrade from the Alders staple diet of the cold soup Okroshka, to the hardly extravagant but warm borscht or shchi may at least warm the cockles of the scribblers’ hearts as they bash out another interview with Jenson – or not.

A statement on the Raceway’s website says, “Moscow Raceway now has a new FIA Grade 1 license

Since its opening in 2012 the track was approved by the highest sporting authorities and received T1 license which allowed to host world racing races and F1 tests and rides. After three successful international seasons Moscow Raceway has upgraded its status and now can host all kind of races including Formula 1.

Who knows, maybe we’ll have two Grand Prix in the largest land mass country on planet earth.

Does #GP2 need DRS?

•October 21, 2014 • 19 Comments

Brought to you by Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

GP2 started in 2005 following the discontinuation of Formula 3000.  In an era of large profit and unrivalled corporate spending the series seemed destined for success.  The lower sponsorship demands, around £2 million, were far less than the step above it meaning it was ideal as a progressive step.

In order to maintain its position as the most relevant series to feed Formula One there are many who would argue that there is a requirement for parity between the two. The argument would be based upon those who stand in the corner that the gap between GP2 and F1, on-track, is too much.  Of course, in this respect the difference between the two will always be there.  As the second tier is still very much in its infancy, the inaugural season in 2005, the lack of complexity is something that is pivotal to the series’ success.

Using tried and tested technology, a 4.0 litre normally-aspirated V8 engine, the cars require little mechanical input and expertise to function.  This, combined with the specification chassis provided by Dallara Automobili, is of paramount importance to keeping the finances of the racing within reach of aspiring racers.  For those that feel there is problem with pay drivers in Formula One already, the problem in GP2 would be ten-fold if development were permitted within the regulations.

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it

After watching a procession in Russia as Hamilton cruised home to victory, the need for overtaking aids is apparent and undeniable.  With such complicated aerodynamic devices circulating around a track with low degradation (due to the freshly laid asphalt), the DRS (Drag Reduction System) was clearly necessary.  However, those who watched the feature race will know to what I extent I mean when I say GP2 and F1 were chalk and cheese here.

We saw overtakes in areas not thought possible, cars going 3 a breast into a corner and, the part which interested me the most, teamwork to defend a position.  Stéphane Richelmi, teammate to newly crowned Champion Jolyon Palmer, defended for just over half a lap on much older rubber, against the chasing Mitch Evans in the Russian Time car.

This kind of defence would not have been possible if DRS had been in operation – a move which for all intents and purposes secured the race for Palmer as it allowed him to pull a small gap on Evans.  Hard, but fair racing was shown there which enthralled the onlookers. This is what will draw in audiences, not artificial aids which increase overtaking to ridiculous quantities.

Jolyon Palmer in the much less complex DAMS GP2 car - Notice the basic front wing

Jolyon Palmer in the much less complex DAMS GP2 car – Notice the basic front wing

Quality over quantity

I do not have the wool pulled so far over my eyes to not realise that all what I mentioned above was helped by the timing of the safety car.   Of course, arranging a safety car is hardly something anyone would be able to facilitate legally or indeed any fan want to see.  However, is there not a better way to increase overtaking chances?

GP2 CEO Bruno Michel had this to say when the introduction of DRS was announced, “We’ve always said that GP2 was able to produce some amazing races without the addition of DRS or any other devices, and once again the 2014 season has proved that with some close racing and exciting on-track battles.”

The GP2 boss would seem to agree with the notion set out, however, he continued, “we also have to make sure that we keep in line with our mission statement: preparing the drivers for the next step, Formula 1.” Reaffirming the importance of making the series relevant to driver progression makes sense – even more so when we consider that World Series by Renault, a direct competitor to GP2, has already incorporated the overtaking aid.

“It is important to keep adding modifications – at a reasonable cost – that will slightly tweak the technical features of our car. Formula 1 is constantly evolving. It is impossible for GP2 to remain with the same car over a long period of time when its philosophy is to prepare the drivers for F1.”

The measure being taken is clearly one which takes cost as the most important factor, as it rightfully should.  In an ideal world, energy recovery would feature on the cars as they are prepared for stepping up to the ‘big time’, however, DRS is the most cost-efficient change that can be made.

The real debate is how much GP2 stands alone as a spectacle for racing and how much it is a support series for Formula One?

Preparation is essential, but if changes cause people to switch off, the sponsors will up and leave – eventually there would be no series left.

Economies of scale

The news that the GP2 cars will feature the same DRS systems as their older siblings do saddens me.  The less aero-dependent cars will not need as bigger rear flaps, as bigger DRS zones and certainly not 2 of said zones at all tracks.

DRS systems are due to be tested in Europe later this month, where, I hope, some form of measure will be brought to proceedings.  The subsequent test in Bahrain in December will merely be perfecting the now tried and tested technology.  The fact that Michel says, “When we discussed this with the teams over a year ago, they told us that the drivers who they are in contact with were eager to see DRS on the GP2 cars,” shows that drivers are happy to have the devices on the cars.

The situation that the support Formula must avoid is one that we saw in 2011, where the new phenomenon took time to be perfected.  Formula One was able to absorb this adjustment time given the exciting finish to the previous year and the wholesale change with Pirelli tyres that year masking the DRS fine tuning.  GP2 will not be afforded the same privilege of bouncing back, so must get it right first time.

Furthermore, at what level does this wholesale change to racing stop?  GP2 will adopt the overtaking aid for 2015, which only opens the route for GP3 to eventually go down the same path.

2015 will be an experimental year for the sport as it builds on a successful year in 2014.  As noble as it is, that Michel sees following the principles that the sport set out as the most important, protecting the integrity of the racing must also be a focal point.

My suggestion would be to start smaller and increase DRS use as more is learnt about how it affects the cars – and how the fans react. Perhaps, at some races it would not be necessary at all.  Most fans would rather see races with fewer overtakes, but with more close battles than easy passes.  A lot stands to be gained, but equally as much could be lost if those in charge get it wrong…


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