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Previously on The Judge 13:
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.
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.