The TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast – Light Up My Christmas

•December 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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Aaand they are at it again. Completely oblivious to the fact that F1 is on the winter break, the merry band of worshippers flocked to the altar at the judge’s podcasting shed, where they were met by host Richard in a ‘mad scientist’ suit, claiming to have invented a ‘time machine’ and that he would demonstrate it next week by talking to himself yesterday. In a bid not to upset the young fellow the other’s pretended not to notice. It must be stress about his receeding hair line…

Returning after a rare absence from the panel is mad trumpetist, Matt from the distant shores of ‘Murricaland, who last time was too busy blowing… a trumpet or something. Also back in the mix is TJ13 Chief Editor, Andrew “The Biscuit Baron” Huntley Jacobs. Stomping in, seeking some warmth after spending all day in the cold waterhole, is the Fat Hippo from the misery that is called Germanyland. Next on the illustrous panel is Scalextric expert extra-ordinaire, Anil, who even left his company’s annual christmas Bacchanalia to record with the gang. Now that’s someone, who clearly needs to sort out his priorities. Last, but certainly not least, we have TJ13’s answer to Grumpy Cat – Carlo, who took bad hair day to an entirely new level. At least he’s not loosing it, unlike some.

The epicly catchy music this week is presented by Daryll Nezmo


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FIA plot against former #F1 medical delegate

•December 19, 2014 • 7 Comments

Just when all is well, Bernie appears to be back on the throne and at Christmas it’s time for peace and goodwill to all men (and maybe no negative stories about Formula One, say just for 12 days), serious allegations of grave misconduct have been made against Gérard Saillant

untitledAccording to the FIA, Saillant “became a fellow of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability in 2005, rising to Deputy President the following year before his 2011 appointment as President. Saillant has operated on many racing drivers and sportsmen over the last 20 years, including Michael Schumacher, Clay Regazzoni and the footballer Ronaldo”.

In a keynote speech delivered at the inaugural ‘Sport Conference Week’, Saillant explained the role of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability. “From our earliest focus on safety research, we have broadened and deepened our remit to become a multi disciplinary think-tank for innovation and excellence. Safety R&D, education and training, medical research, sustainability and eco management, technology development, we’ve become a hot house for new ideas and approaches to motor sport development and management”.

Last week Saillant made a day trip of 5 hours return from his base at the FIA in Paris to a hospital in Liège, Belgium. This is the hospital where former FIA employee Gary Hartstein is currently employed since he was unceremoniously fired from his job in Formula One.

This visit appears to have been undertaken with Saillant acting as an officer of the FIA, though under whose specific instructions and authority, is unclear at this moment.

Gary Hartstein alleges that Saillant made this journey with the sole purpose to persuade the Dean of the medical faculty in Liege to bring some pressure to bear on Hartstein to cease writing his Formula One blog – or even to have him fired.

In an open letter published by Hartstein he claims of Saillant, “You came here to raise the issue of whether THIS blog violated my contract at work and could therefore be a reason to fire me, or at least to muzzle me”.

According to Hartstein, Saillant brought a dossier of posts from his blog as evidence of an alleged breach of contract together with a copy of an email he claimed had been sent by Corinna Schumacher to the former F1 Doctor.

Gary Hartstein reveals a number of matters, including the way Saillant had fired him from his role at the FIA – by email.

untitledHowever, the matter of whether a blog by someone expressing their personal opinion should be used by the FIA in this way is robustly questioned by Hartstein.

“It is clearly expressing their personal opinion My blog has nothing to do with my job. In fact, things like “privacy”, and “free expression” come to mind – not as sterile principles, but as LAWS THAT YOU ARE ON THE CUSP OF VIOLATING. You and your boss [Jean Todt].

Clearly upset by this clandestine meeting, Hartstein fights back. “You have acted like a hoodlum. What you have done was not unexpected, but was thuggish and disgusting. You might wear expensive suits and a Patek Philippe, but your tactics are from the gutter.

Be aware that I’ve referred the “dossier” you handed over to the Dean to my attorney. You are on very very thin legal ice”.

If this FIA action is proven, it well demonstrates the power of social media. Since fired from his job in Formula One 2 years ago, Gary has garnered around 34,000 followers on twitter, and participated in a number of ‘non-official’ media events, including three TJ13 podcasts.

Gary’s candour on certain matters and his criticism of the FIA has given significant insight into the machinations of this highly secretive organisation, who prefer to do their business beyond the public gaze.

It now appears the way the FIA chooses to do business, is ethically suspect and more than questionable,

However, having agreed to forgo its exclusive right to regulate Formula One, by accepting $40m from Ecclestone and certain teams, the FIA have attracted the attention of the EU Commission for once again breaching a previous ruling handed down to prevent exactly this from happening.

Further, the FIA’s investigation into itself over the incidents in Japan this year which culminated in French driver Jules Bianchi’s life now hanging in the balance – was considered inappropriate.

The two pages of bullet points which emanated from the FIA’s 10 man expert panel investigation into the Bianchi crash, appeared to be merely and activity of ‘being seen to do something’ – rather than a proper examination of accountability and responsibility, as Gary explained in last week’s TJ13 Courtroom Podcast

 

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 19th December 2014

•December 19, 2014 • 11 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

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: Well that solved entirely nothing…

#F1 History: The Geelong Revival: History in Sound and Motion – 1926 – Talbot at the First British Grand Prix


OTD Lite 2005 – Alonso signed early for a change

Mario illien signs up to the Renault PU roller coaster

Williams aiming for race wins in 2015


OTD Lite 2005 – Alonso signed early for a change

After the never ending saga of will he-won’t he join Mclaren for 2015, Fernando Alonso was finally announced as the new Mclaren-Honda driver last week. At the same time, Jenson Button was put out of his misery by being signed for a further two years; although as Alonso proved, these contracts are worth less than leading brands of toilet paper.

Of course this was all quite different to the announcement made on this day nine years ago which stunned the F1 world.

48979Mclaren announced to the world that the new World Champion Fred was to drive for the Woking outfit from 2007 onwards.. still over a full year away. Of course this put the proverbial noses of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Montoya firmly out of joint seeing as they were the teams current drivers.

Rumours had emerged in mid-season that Kimi had, in fact, signed for Ferrari for 2007 hence prompting Ron Dennis to pursue the Spaniard and unveil him to regain some pride.  It would never do for Ron to be out-smarted by Il Padrino..

For any fans of Mclaren, they will be hoping that this time around the end results are very different. For any fans of any other team, they can’t wait to see the bearded Asturian throw his toys out of the pram again – especially if ol’ Jense happens to beat him. Heard it hear first….

The Grumpy Jackal

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Mario illien signs up to the Renault PU roller coaster

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has confirmed that Renault is working in collaboration with Mario Illien who was spied in the Red Bull garage during the last Grand Prix weekend in Abu Dhabi.

He is investigating the current problems that Renault has suffered with their power unit. Although the unit has improved over the last few months, it has never attained the performance levels of the rival Mercedes engine.

Horner said “It’s positive that Renault have started working with Ilmor. The company has face similar technical challenges in Indycar. Mario has a lot of experience and will be able to look at the project from a different perspective.”

As to what Re Bull offered the engine manufacturer: ” We’re talking simulation models, the optimisation of the air flow and the like. These are areas we have experience in and we are able to help.”

The problem for Mercedes’ rivals is that whatever work they have implemented over the past season and winter months, many feel sceptical that they could close the gap significantly to the German manufacturer. Although Bernie Ecclestone wants to see a return to aspirated engines for 2016, it seems that if you have the choice – if you can’t beat them, join them!

Lotus has swapped from Renault power to the Stuttgart power unit and after tests found they have saved 18 pounds in weight; but perhaps most importantly added 85 BHP..

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Williams aiming for race wins in 2015

Winning is the very clear goal for Claire Williams. After a slow start to the season where the FW36 proved the slipperiest car in race trim but lacking some downforce in comparison to Mercedes, the second half of the season saw much improved results.

With Red Bull being the only team to win a race other than Mercedes, Williams were always going to struggle to vault them in the final standings, Yet a pole position, nine podium finishes and third in the constructors was a huge turn around from 2013’s disappointing ninth place.

“This was amazing for our team. To come from P9 to P3 is an amazing transformation. One of the biggest in motorsport history. The guys in the factory the job they have to do in order to achieve wins. We closed the gap to Mercedes over the second half of the season so I don’t see why we can’t close it.”

“But it’s all about the competition. We don’t know where Ferrari or Red Bull are going to be, or what will happen with the engine regulations but tats part of the excitement of F1″

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#F1 History: The Geelong Revival: History in Sound and Motion – 1926 – Talbot at the First British Grand Prix

•December 19, 2014 • 3 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: Jennie Mowbray

“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.”
~John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men~

History is by and large silent and still. It is read in books and examined in pictures. Archaeologists dig and sift through dirt looking for clues about people and their lives from centuries ago. Castle and cathedral stones will never disclose their secrets of ages past.

I have visited the Beaulieu National Motor Museum and been amazed at the beauty and technology of the cars, but silence was still pervading. The cars seemed mute, no longer alive but mere skeletons of what they had been previously in their racing lives.

Talbot at Speed

In contrast to this was the spectacle of a 1926 Talbot Grand Prix car which took pride of place at the 2014 Geelong Revival. It was not only stunning to look at, but we were also able to watch and hear it hurtle at speed down the ¼ mile track where it set a time of 16.1 seconds, not much different to what our modern family car is able to achieve.

Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq (STD Motors) was an Anglo-French motor company that in 1926 was attempting to do a Mercedes. There was to be a change in regulations with engine size being reduced (yet again) to 1.5 litres in an endeavour to curtail the speed of the cars, and STD Motors were attempting to outdo the opposition by revamping their chassis and engine design. Italian designers Vincenzo Bertarione and Walter Becchia had departed Fiat in 1922 for employment at STD Motors. Their new Grand Prix car was assembled in Paris as a Talbot-Darracq.20141130_094810

For the first time it was no longer mandatory to have a mechanic ride with the car which left more options for innovation. The result was a beautifully streamlined car with a tilted engine which in turn allowed the driveshaft to travel to the rear wheels along the left side of the driver. As the driveshaft no longer had to pass underneath the driver, he could now sit lower in the chassis, which significantly lowered the overall height of the whole vehicle. Befitting the theme of low and sleek was a distinctive sloping front radiator.

It had a straight eight engine which had been block welded for additional strength and utilised forced induction through a supercharger. It was built like a Swiss watch, involving 200 roller bearings to minimize internal friction, and could put out 160 bhp at an, astounding for the time, 7000 revs.

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The Talbot was launched at the inaugural British Grand Prix, the fourth of five championship rounds for the 1926 Grand Prix season. Their three cars were all decked in British Racing Green in honour of Brooklands being Sunbeam’s home race and were piloted by British driver Henry Segrave, and French drivers Albert Divo and Jules Moriceau. They were up against the might of three cutting-edge Delages whose first race had been three weeks before at San Sebastian Grand Prix, but no-one had a trouble free run.

Albert Divo and Henry Segrave started in a spectacular fashion and initially led the race, with Delage driver Robert Benoist hot on their heels in third. Unfortunately mechanical problems started besetting Talbot early in the race. Jules Moriceau’s race was over on the first lap when his front axle broke coming off the banked section of the track. The pace of Divo’s car deteriorated prematurely and he pitted on lap seven to replace his spark plugs but despite this he continued to struggle, dropping down through the field. Segrave led until he pitted for fresh rear tyres but unfortunately his car then began to belch flames, finally catching fire in the pits resulting in his retirement. Divo managed to keep his car moving and nearing the end was up to third due to retirements in front of him until his supercharger exploded on lap 83 (out of 110), which finally terminated his race.

The Delages were not having an uncomplicated race either as their cars had become “mobile ovens” due to a major design fault with their exhaust situated too close to the cockpit resulting in the floor of the cockpit becoming progressively hotter during the race. This wasn’t just a minor inconvenience – the drivers were actually at risk of severe burns to their feet. During pit stops they would jump out of the car and stand in water to try to cool their burning feet. It was a battle over who would quit first – the man or the machine.

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Louis Wagner’s Delage engine succumbed on lap six and later in the race he took over Robert Sénéchal’s car when his feet became too scorched to persevere. When Robert Benoist blistering feet caused him to quit, team owner Louis Delage had a car that was still running but no-one willing to drive it. He was fortunate to have Andre Dubonnet (WW1 flying ace, bobsledder at the 1920 Olympics, and occasional racing car driver) volunteer to pilot it, even though he had never driven the car before. Wearing a lounge suit he jumped into the car, to attempt to get it (and his soon to be fiery feet) to the finish.

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Only three of the nine cars that started finished the race. The replacement Delage drivers managed to endure the roasting of their feet and Wagner won the race with ring-in driver Dubonnet managing third. Local driver Malcolm Campbell (of speed record fame) delivered a crowd pleasing second place driving his Bugatti 39A. (At the time neither Segrave or Campbell was the current land speed record holder, John Godfrey Parry-Thomas had broken it in April 1926 after besting Malcom Campbell’s time, who had broken Henry Segrave’s time that was set a month before that. Parry-Thomas’s record lasted almost a year until Campbell broke it again in April, 1927.)

Delage took their cars back to France to re-design their exhaust system and didn’t contest any more races in 1926. Bugatti was the dominant car during the 1926 season, winning three of the five championship rounds. Talbot did achieve first and second with Segrave and Divo at the Junior Car Club 200 race at Brooklands and took out all three podium positions at the non-championship race at Montlhéry, France.

In 1927 Delage would dominate as Talbot had run out of money to finance their racing excursions and the only major race they attended was the French Grand Prix where they finished fourth behind the three Delage’s. All three Talbot’s were then sold to Emilio Materassi who used them to form the first privateer racing team, Scuderia Materassi, which then became the inspiration behind Enzo Ferrari’s decision to start his own racing team.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 18th December 2014

•December 18, 2014 • 18 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Well that solved entirely nothing…


OTD Lite 1987 – Senna and Mansell clash

Ferrari ridicule heighten as culling continues

Villeneuve’s ex engineer looking to move to sunnier climes

BBC’esque scenes in the podcast shed


OTD Lite 1987 – Senna and Mansell clash

On this day – fifty nine years ago, Vijay Mallya entered this planetary sphere that we call Earth. God I’m bored already!

Let’s fast rewind back to 1987. The circuit, the imperious Spa-Francorchamps. The gladiators a young Brazilian called Senna driving a Camel Lotus and a moustachioed Leone called Nigel driving a Williams. From third on the grid Ayrton led Mansell on the fast lap and as they exited the fast Pouhon corner, our ‘Nige” went for the outside of a rapidly closing gap.

As would be repeated over the coming seasons, these two hardest of racers gave no quarter and on this occasion both pirouetted off the circuit. Senna into retirement and Mansell with a crippled car. When he finally retired he went to find the Brazilian to give him a little of his mind and the two began to argue and punches were thrown.

Of course, back in the day when drivers had balls, could shave properly and could use their fists without fear of stupid penalties these two titans went at each other. By the way, for any new F1 fans… what you see in the video beside the road… that’s grass and gravel traps but they have all been consigned to history now.

The Grumpy Jackal

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Ferrari ridicule heightens as culling continues

Not a day goes by, it seems, that the blades at Ferrari are sharpened ready to plunge in the next under-performing member of the Maranello staff that Sergio Marchionne has taken exception to. With recent high profile expulsions the social media, the world’s media has headlines which mock the current approach to team building being operated by the famous Stable.

Yesterday two more senior engineers were given their exit papers to leave Italy as the Scuderia appears to be plunging deeper into the quagmire that seems to have infiltrated the organisation.

Hirohide Hamashima was recruited to Ferrari back in 2012 after having been the head of the Bridgestone Sports programme previously. His task was to form a better understanding of the new Pirelli tyres, but since the 2014 Ferrari F1 cars’ tyre usage wasn’t the best – Hirohide is also now surplus to requirements.

Rumours in Italy are also suggesting the Neil Martin will soon join him through the red revolving door. Martin arrived in Maranello following the strategic debacle that lost Ferrari and Fernando Alonso the title in 2010 after having worked in a similar position with Red Bull. He was recruited by Pat Fry – who worked with Martin at McLaren. Yet since the departure of English colleague, Neil Martin’s position has been weakened.

It may appear to outsiders, that Sergio Marchionne is removing many of the foreign engineers and re-enforcing the Italian element of the squad. Yet it must be remembered that during the 2014 season, there were many non Italian designers and engineers recruited by Ferrari. And lest we forget, Sergio is in fact an Italian-Canadian-American, so it is unlikely he is adopting a Luca de Montezemolo style approach – which following the Brawn era set about attempting to build the team with mostly latin bred employees.

Marchionne has demonstrated he can turn around out-dated institutions with fresh ideas and people, and by implementing them quickly. Sergio took the helm of the Fiat group when they were close to bankruptcy in 2004 and by 2006 they were profitable again.

In 2009, as CEO, Marchionne negotiated the merger with Chyrsler to extend the empire and the resulting group, the FCA, became one of the fastest expanding automotive company stories to be written.

The leaqdership of Il Padrino became increasingly more autocratic during his final years – as he was unwilling to delegate even quite small decisions at times. This was revealed recently by the talented, and now Mercedes designer, Aldo Costa.

So there is hope amongst the tifosi – that just maybe – the ‘Marchionne Massacre’ will bear fruit. The methodology is simple – to change the culture quickly, you have to quickly change a lot of people.

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Villeneuve’s ex engineer looking to move to sunnier climes

More news has emerged on Twitter over the last twelve hours. In addition to the speculated signing of Bob Bell to Ferrari next year – it is being suggested from our TJ13 Italian sources that Jock Clear is about to leave Mercedes and join the Red Army around March next year.

As a high profile engineer – he would be quite a coup for the Italian team – considering his friendship with Jacques Villeneuve. They teamed up originally at Williams when JV joined the team and won the title together in 1997. At the time Clear had displayed animosity towards Micheal Schumacher after his clumsy attempt to push Jacques off the track failed.

He would go on to engineer the Canadian’s car at BAR and eventually took up more senior roles with Mercedes. But either NIki Lauda rubs people up the wrong way or these senior personnel don’t appreciate the way Mercedes works – that of course is an unknown but an exodus of staff to a rival is unprecedented in modern Formula one.

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BBC’esque scenes in the podcast shed

In a bid to make the TJ13 courtroom podcast even more awesome than it already is, we tried to solicit the British Boradcasting Company’s help with recording. Well, it didn’t go too well. But despite this little challenge, stay tuned for another release of TJ13’s flagship production coming soon…

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#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 17th December 2014

•December 17, 2014 • 19 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Well that solved entirely nothing…


OTD Lite 2001 – Toyota launches their new F1 challenger

Ecclestone lives to fight another day

Ferrari encourage resignation of two Fry and Tombazis

Who’s afraid of the big bad competition – Wolff is!

Renault find 5% improvement over the season

Police find RBR trophies in lake

2015 Parc Ferme rule and others


OTD Lite 2001 – Toyota launches their new F1 challenger

“Oh Lord, Toyta will dominate F1. Their budget is beyond the rest of the teams put together. They have Mike Gascoyne and they have built a super factory in Cologne”

That was the reaction of a number of fearful F1 fans back in 2001 on this day -when Toyota finally unveiled their super team to take World Championship glory – except it didn’t work out like that.

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Despite triumphs in World Rallying and sport-scar racing the arrogance of a few of the Toyota personnel created mirth in the F1 paddocks around the world and the world’s biggest car manufacturer would eventually call it a day as they failed to achieve one victory in 140 Grand Prix starts.

With middle men drivers brought in to a team that had no real ambition to push the limits – citing reliability as the most important ingredient due to their corporate image – it was always going to prove futile to expect a challenger.

Possibly the most amusing chapter in the whole saga was when they employed Ralf Schumacher. The press were merciless – obviously the Japanese didn’t realise that the talented one was called Michael…

The Grumpy Jackal

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Ecclestone lives to fight another day

Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed his latest challenger, Paul Walsh, the man CVC had lined up to succeed Ecclestone and run Formula One.

CVC had lined up Walsh as the Chairman of the group of Formula One companies and hoped he could work along side Ecclestone with a view to superseding him in the future.

Walsh is a sharp corporate operator, with experience of expanding the global marketing of local brands such as Haagen Dazs and selling the InterContinental hotel group in what was described as ‘the deal of the decade’ – for the sellers Grand Metro – for whom Walsh was employed.

The Times reports Walsh has walked away because he demanded his role in Formula one had “complete accountability and authority.” Apparently there was neither and he did not wish to be a “puppet or figurehead”.

CVC now look weak, they have failed to appoint their man to the board, and their response will be interesting, as clearly Ecclestone has undermined their wishes.

One insider in the paddock expresses the widespread disappointment held among senior Formula One team members. “Paul would have been great for F1; he loves the sport and he had a lot of ideas. We are all back where we started and it looks as though nothing has changed.”

The F1 strategy group meets this week with a wide range of issues to discuss. However, the unexpected outcome of this regulatory forum has been often that no agreement can be reached – and Ecclestone needs to pull some white rabbits out of hats – to prevent the image of F1 continuing to be dragged through the mud.

This latest failure of CVC to assert their authority over Ecclestone, will surely see them return with an even more steely resolve. This may be a war of attrition, but as Bernie continues to talk down Formula One – CVC are losing value on their investment, month by month.

As suggested by TJ13 commentators – CVC should consider letting it be known they are now in discussions with Adam Parr. BOOM!

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Ferrari encourage resignation of two Fry and Tombazis

It would be impolite to suggest that Italy is in some form of celebratory mood this evening – or that somewhere a bearded Spanish matador is nodding his head and wondering why Fru and Tombazis hadn’t been canned during his watch.

Ferrari have confirmed changes of their hierarchy reported earlier by TJ13 – and with immediate effect, Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis have both left Maranello for pastures new.

Both men had been part of the Ferrari organisation for some years. Empty promises of upcoming changes appears to have made their positions untenable. In what is a pressure cooker environment – failure year on year means it becomes inevitable that the new broom sweeping through the Gestione Sportiva’s corridors, would collect these two -‘not much loved by the tifosi’ characters too.

So in a little over a year, Ferrari has lost two team principals, arguably the greatest driver on the grid, their main engine and chassis designers, their charismatic President and countless others in this ruthless cull.

sergio_marchionne_pic_mainYet this should have come as no surprise. Senior management within the Fiat organisation could testify to the fact that when Sergio Marchionne’s attention is focused on an failing enterprise – he leaves few or no survivors. This decisive and ruthless trait as part of Marchionne’s leadership of Fiat, has proven to be his genius which is recognised the world over.

The Scuderia organisation is being made more streamline. James Allison will assume for the interim period the role Fry was undertaking whilst contract talks continue with Bob Bell.

TJ13 reported last week that Simon Resta would be promoted from deputy to Chief chase designer and his compatriot in the engine department is Luca Marmorini’s replacement Mattia Binotto.

A number of other changes have been effected over the course of the season with heavy recruitment of engineers from both Mercedes and Red Bull. Interestingly, Alberto Antonini, a journalist for various Italian publications and TV commentator for Rai and SKY Italia – has been tasked with establishing a team focused on social media.

It would be unjust to blame the departing men for all of the Scuderia’s woes but the Italian giant has needed to make a visible purge for some time. With the Italian nation sceptical of plans to float Ferrari – only a winning return for the Reds will placate the Tifosi.

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Who’s afraid of the big bad competition – Wolff is!

Contrary to the beliefs of many, Toto Wolff is convinced that changes at the organisations of Ferrari and Williams will bear fruit far sooner than most can conceivably expect.

Having been in Stuttgart for talks with Mercedes about the 2015 budget Wolff expanded on his fears of increased competition next year. “It will not be easy to continue the winning streak next year. I think Williams and Ferrari will be more competitive and could possibly give us some problems, Add to this, Honda are partnered with Mclaren and it is impossible to ignore their progress.”

With the new season mere weeks away, Wolff took time out to reflect on certain situations that arose though 2014. “Earlier this season, we had a meeting with Rosberg and Hamilton and told them we would not give team orders but that we would not tolerate inner conflicts or any collision between our drivers.

“Generally we had no problems but the situation became impossible after Spa. We spoke to them again reminding them of the strict rules and the situation improved and settled down. Ultimately, to use adjectives to describe them, Lewis is impulsive whilst Nico is ambitious”

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Renault find 5% improvement over the season

Renault has told the press that their Power Unit improved by 5% over the course of the 2014 season..

Cyril Abiteboul spoke about changes to the designs of “the components has made the unit more robust” and the team who worked on the chassis integration have learnt a lot for cooling requirements which has led to advancements in energy management and improved drive-ability and efficiency.

“With the help of our partners, Total, we also neutralised the feeling of knocking which was produced in the cylinder and these have improved the results.”

Numerical data has been gathered which confirms the 5% increase in performance despite rules being ‘frozen’ by legislation.

“It’s true that second place in the constructors was not our goal but the result shows that we never stopped pushing and constantly improving. “

5%…. no word from Ferrari on their progress this year but many believe the Mercedes advantage is so great that the others would need a double digit figure improvement to close the gap significantly.

But then there’s Honda……

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Police find RBR trophies in lake

Thames Valley Police reported to Red Bull that they had found a number of the trophies that had been stolen during a night raid on the 6th December.

After a farewell party held for Sebastien Vettel, the thieves broke the gates of Red Bull’s HQ and driving a dark Mercedes shattered the glass entrance before grabbing around sixty trophies before fleeing from the site. The British police found roughly a third in a lake in Berkshire.

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A spokesman for the police service said: “Some of the trophies that were stolen have been recovered from Horseshoe Lake near Sandhurst. We have around twenty but are checking with Red Bull to determine the exact number because some of them are damaged.”

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2015 Parc Ferme rule and others

The recent meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Doha, kicked out regulations it had sanctioned in its meeting held the week before the Austrian GP.

Last week the media headlines were about the scrapping of standing starts and double points, though some 2015 regulations agreed back in the summer remain.

One of those is that the F1 cars will be placed into ‘parc ferme’ at the start of FP3 and not following their participation in Saturday qualifying. This will of course mean that the team’s will have to settle on their weekend set-up at least 3 hours and 1 track session earlier than previously.

This rule penalises the bigger teams ability to react swiftly and make substantive changes from session to session during an F1 weekend.

Another rule for 2015 is a ban on non-European pre-season testing. In 2014, two tests were carried out in Bahrain with the promise it would cost the teams no more than to test at the traditional venue of the Circuit de Catalunya.

Further, there will be two in-season tests of two days each in Europe (instead of the current four). Two of these four days must be reserved for young drivers.

The FIA appear to have had a sudden burst of common sense with the next regulation change. The last date at which the sporting and technical regulations can be changed without unanimous agreement has been moved from 30 June to 1 March each year, starting from 2015.

Many of these regulations impacts on R&D done by the teams prior to June for the following seasons cars, this avoids wasting time and resource.

There was a proposed tyre blanket ban for 2015, but that has been rescinded

The Friday curfew has been extended from 6 to 7 hours on race weekends. It increases to 8 hours in 2016.

Wind tunnel and CFD hours have been reduced and teams can use just one wind tunnel per calendar year.

A number of new regulations concerning skid blocks were introduced to ensure that they are made from a lighter material (titanium – which should create pretty sparks too) and are better contained.

Other rules will be formed to ensure that the brake discs rotate at the same speed as the wheels.

Finally, there has been much talk of the listing of the Korean GP being a ruse by Ecclestone to ensure that each car may still use 5 engines in 2015 – an agreement based on 20 or more races.

However, the wording and the spirit of the regulation is currently in dispute as merely listing F1 events should not define the the number of engines available to each driver per season.

It was intended that in 2015, given 19 races, only 4 engines per driver will be permitted. Given the fate of Marussia and Caterham, it is unlikely a number of teams are going to opt for the extra 25% cost of using a fifth engine unnecessary based on a phantom race schedule.

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#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 16th December 2014

•December 16, 2014 • 42 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Well that solved entirely nothing…

The Fall of the Empire: Part Two, The nuts and bolts of revolution


OTD Lite 1982 – Chapman dies leaving astounding legacy

Gutierrez signs as third driver at Ferrari

Montezemolo still bitter at Ferrari exit

Haas buying Marussia bits

Formula Sochi Bankruptcy Filed

Hamilton again accuses Rosberg of cheating in Monaco


OTD Lite 1982 – Chapman dies leaving astounding legacy

Ahh dear friends, as usual in the months of winter, there is little to pick other than births and deaths of different individuals. But today’s anniversary is arguably the most influential designer of cars that motor-sport has ever seen.

Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman died of a heart attack back on this day in 1982 and a chapter of racing history was brought to a premature close. The company he had started had danced on the world’s greatest circuits and overcome the might of Ferrari but with the sad demise of this genius Lotus floundered on before collapsing in 1994.

His cars became icons of the sporting era and whilst his design innovations are beyond doubt, maybe his longest lasting legacy was the introduction of non supplier sponsorship with the Gold Leaf Lotuses in 1969. Throughout the 70’s the cars became synonymous with the black and gold of JPS and he oversaw their last title victory in 1978 – tossing his cap high as they took victory once more.

Books have been written about his treatment of various drivers over the years, his disregard for their safety have become the stuff of legend and the DeLorean scandal would have seen him serve time at Her Majesty’s leisure but to anyone that rejoices in the beauty of a Formula One car – we thank you Mr Chapman.

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The Grumpy Jackal

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Gutierrez signs as third driver at Ferrari

Mexico has one of the world’s largest economies, it is the tenth largest oil producer in the world and is the largest silver producer in the world. The world’s richest man, Carlos Sims, originates from these parts.

Whilst Ferrari American CEO, Marco Mattiacci, was in charge he stated that Mexico would become Ferrari’s new China with a burgeoning market ready to enjoy the luxury brands. As a man who had helped grow the distribution network in South East Asia he would seem to have his finger on the pulse.

Where once Sergio Perez enjoyed the attention of being a Ferrari Academy driver it should therefore come as no surprise that fellow Mexican Esteban Gutierrez has been appointed by the Scuderia as their third driver for 2015 – joining Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastien Vettel.

“It is an honour to become part of the Scuderia Ferrari family,” commented Gutierrez. “A team with such an exceptional history, it is for me the beginning of a new path for my future and I’m going to do my utmost to contribute to the achievement of the targets set by the Scuderia.”

“I want to thank everybody for their belief in my potential; this will bring a great opportunity for me to develop further and get to the top in the near future. With all my passion and dedication, I’m now looking forward to the start of this new venture.”

Maranello’s new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene added: “We are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to Esteban who, although young, has plenty of experience relating to the new generation of Formula One cars, I am sure that, with his experience, he will make an important contribution to the development work of the team in the simulator.”

“Welcoming Esteban also means opening the gates of Ferrari to a driver from Mexico, a country where the Scuderia still has a lot of fans, just as was the case 50 years ago in the days of the Rodriguez brothers.”

It remains to be seen what happens with the remaining Spanish contingent that joined the fabled team in the Alonso era as support drivers – but Pedro De La Rosa has tested and raced with the Mclaren outfit prior to his signing for Ferrari in 2011.

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Montezemolo still bitter at Ferrari exit

Luca di Montezemolo received an award along with other notables from the motor-sport world including biking legend, Giacomo Agostini.

In a ceremony held in a hall of honour in Rome, the gathering received the prestigious Golden Collars – which is seen as an award of merit amongst the athletes and celebrities.

The award is in recognition for contributions made to the Italian national motor-sport clubs and careers and Il Padrino received a “Man of Sport” award for his 24 year career as President of Ferrari.

As stated several months ago on TJ13, Montezemolo is now running the Alitalia corporation but gave his thoughts on the current state of Ferrari.

“I always root for Ferrari, but for me a chapter has closed – and possibly for Ferrari too. Now another opens that seems more financially focused but it is still an important stage.” he said in pointed reference to his replacement Sergio Marchionne.

Luca continued: “In this hall, there is a wonderful Italy with a great team spirit. This is an Italy that has both values and determination. Looking from above, my 19 world championships prove that what unites us is our great passion for our country. By putting into action this cohesion, this passion and determination – we will always be world champions.”

Whilst this is a rhetorical performance from Luca, there is no denying the stereotype contained within of Ferrari. The Scuderia would rather glory in being Ferrari – than win anything – which is reflected in the barren years since the end of Brawn, Schumacher et al.

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Haas buying Marussia bits

The rather sad event of the auction of over 2500 Marussia F1 team lots is being held today. You can watch live here http://auctionhq.net/view-auctions/live-sale/id/91/

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The doors open today on the auction for the assets of the defunct Marussia F1 racing team. The Marussia prize money for finishing 9th in the WCC is to be distributed amongst the teams, though this will be weighted by the percentages used to allocate the current ‘pot 2′ prize funds.

One of the bidders at the bankruptcy auction will be Gene Haas, who announced he is considering locating his Haas F1 European operations along with 250 staff in the old Marussia F1 team building.

Haas model for building a Formula One team has been questioned, but he again hit back last night remarking. “If we did it the way Caterham and Marussia did it we would have the same result so I think we are going to do it differently.”

It appears that Haas is awaiting a regulation change in Formula One which will allegedly allow more parts to ‘bought in’ rather than manufactured in house by each team.

Gene is clearly proud of his revolutionary view of how to run a Formula One team. “A lot of the teams in the UK build everything themselves. They seem to have this English mentality that this is the way it has to be done and that is just not our business model at all.”

A relaxation of the customer components rule was not on the Doha agenda for the World Motor Sport Council, and the agenda for the F1 strategy group meeting set for Thursday this week is packed with more pressing matters.

Further, even though a standardised of F1 car parts appears to be more cost effective, the smaller F1 teams have opposed this to date, presenting their own options which include a restriction on the number of iterations of a component design during the season.

Finally, it is also uncertain whether the FIA – who granted Haas F1 license under the current component manufacturing restrictions – are willing to make this concession.

As ever – the politics of bartering reign supreme in the viper pit. Even Ecclestone has suggested the teams tear up their remuneration contracts with FOM – and re-write them to deliver a fairer distribution of income.

Yet for anyone following Formula One even in the last five years, it is evident that being promised something – like a regulation change – and the promise being carried out – are two distinct and separate matters.

So even if Haas gets the regulation change, the team will have just a short time to demonstrate whether his rhetoric and subsequent actions are harmonious.

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Formula Sochi Bankruptcy Filed

Yesterday, the Krasnodor Court of Arbitration received a petition to declare the race promoter for the Russian GP – “Formula Sochi” – bankrupt. The full extent of the liabilities were undisclosed.

However, there is a petition listed by “Formula Sochi” on December 23rd, to reclaim 2.5m roubles from ex-CEO Alexander Bogdanov and Sergei Bondarenko, as well as ex-business manager Alexei Belousov.

The claim states they misappropriated Formula Sochi funds totalling around $38,000.

What is certain is that the cost to anyone who wishes to promote the Russian GP in 2015 will require double the number of roubles to meet the Formula One hosting fee that was paid for the inaugural race in 2014.

This morning at 1am, the Russian Central Bank announced it would raise its key interest rate from 10 to 17%. This is the single largest increase in Russia since 1998, when rates soared over 100% and the government defaulted on debt.

The cost of Russia’s battle with the West over Crimea and its actions in Ukraine has seen an unprecedented. $80bn of Russia’s currency reserves spent unsuccessfully defending the rouble in 2014 alone. Further, the capital drain from the Russian economy this year stands in excess of $130bn.

Adding to Russia’s woes is the fact that the cost of a barrel of Brent crude fell below $60 yesterday for the first time in over 5 years. According to Moody’s, Russia derives about half its budget revenue from oil and natural gas taxes. As much as a quarter of GDP is linked to the energy industry,

The BBC reported the deal struck by Ecclestone for the Russian GP to be for 7 years – 2014-2020 – with an annual hosting fee of $40m.

The highest annual fee ever paid by a Formula One host was around $60m funded by the South Jelloa regional government. Given the current exchange rate, the cost of a Russian GP in 2015 would be the equivalent of an original deal for a staggering $80m, and given analysts outlook for the future of the rouble, we could see this number even double again.

 

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Hamilton again accuses Rosberg of cheating in Monaco

In a documentary being filmed for Sky Sports F1, Lewis Hamilton states, “From Bahrain Nico did one thing, Barcelona I did one thing, and then Nico took it to another level in Monaco which definitely made it very difficult for us, for me,”

Hamilton is referring to the use of ‘unauthorised’ engine settings used by himself and Rosberg in Bahrain and Barcelona. He goes on to reiterate he believes Rosberg cheated in Monaco and indirectly appears to suggest the team then lied to the stewards when defending their German driver’s actions.

“Nothing has changed about my opinion of what happened [in Spa], it is the same for Monaco”, Lewis adds. ”But that is cool because I am world champion now.”

Just when you thought it was safe…………..

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The Fall of the Empire: Part Two, The nuts and bolts of revolution

•December 15, 2014 • 7 Comments

In part one of this series, we began to explore the notion put abroad that Bernie Ecclestone is the benevolent dictator of Formula One, and as with all dictatorships one day their rule comes to an end.

The conclusion of each dictatorial dominion is of course unique, however there are signs for the critical observer, that Bernie’s number is almost up. CVC are on the brink of appointing Paul Walsh as the head honcho to the Formula One group of companies. Walsh is known to be a savvy and tough operator, which in itself sends out a message of intent from Donald McKenzie, the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the private equity company which owns the commercial rights to Formula One.

Ecclestone’s response has been interesting. He invited a number of the English press to his ‘lair’ in West London, described by the Telegraph correspondent as follows.

“With its garish black window frontage, anonymous sign and slightly dated decor, it is like walking into a Roger Moore-era James Bond movie. Ecclestone still lives in a penthouse ‘above the shop’”.

The following 90 minutes was described as the usual ‘riddle’ laden discourse for which Ecclestone is renown, though the self-styled ‘supremo’ was revealing when pressed on certain matters. These demonstrate the sands are shifting beneath Bernie’s feet, as do other indications analysed in part one of this series.

Dictators rarely know when their time is up and succession planning is not usually a part of their management style and make up. To date the matter of life in Formula One after Bernie has in his mind been restricted to quips and conundrums. Notably, when questioned in the paddock about his successor in 2013, Christian Horner happened to be ambling by and so Ecclestone claims that Horner’s presence then, was the sole inspiration for his reply – which suggested the Red Bull Team boss may be a worthy protégé to be mentored and eventually run the Ecclestone Empire.

The millions of wasted words written on the idea of Formula One being run by Horner, may well have been the source of enormous amusement to Bernie, who delights in the fact that his every word is treated as gospel. Yet to those not immersed in the frenzy of the F1 circus, these disseminations have become increasingly frequent over the past months; and the impression they convey to those not familiar with the ‘Ecclestone way’ is of an individual who is barking mad and completely bonkers.

This of course isn’t a problem, when a crazed entrepreneur is responsible for merely their own destiny. However, with billions of pounds on the line, investors such as CVC become nervous as to the effect these rambling performances are having.

The fact that Bernie invited a select group of public opinion shapers to respond to the leaks from CVC regarding the imminent appointment of Paul Walsh, in itself is an indicator as to the mind-set of Ecclestone. Add to this that Bernie addresses the issue of his successor for the first time in a non-frivolous manner and we have another of those ‘Fall of the Empire’ moments before us.

Since the turn of the year, Ecclestone was forced to resign his statutory directorships in all the Formula One group of companies owned by CVC due to his impending criminal trial. CVC could not be seen to do nothing and the alternative many corporations would have opted for would be a suspension on full pay pending the outcome of the trial.

Even though Bernie was ‘acquitted’ by the Bavarian legal system, Mackenzie has been in no hurry to re-instate these statutory powers and Ecclestone’s hands are tied in a number of ways, one of them requires him to refer all matters of a contractual nature to the board for approval.

Therefore the appointment of a hands on chairman such as Walsh, is further indication that CVC are distancing themselves from their once golden goose. Ecclestone is candid about Walsh, “Donald [Mackenzie] is directing it,” Bernie admits. “Do I have any input? Probably not.”

It may appear as though Ecclestone is resigned to his fate when he reveals, “Donald always believes that I need some help. He’s probably right”. Yet the fight has not left the self-made billionaire as he qualifies this by suggesting, “It’s a case of what sort of help and for what. If you want a surgeon don’t get a dentist. Probably we need somebody to help with the marketing. It depends on what the people who employ him think. If he says I’m prepared to accept a position if it was offered to me, but this is what I want to do, then it’s up to the employers.”

Of course Walsh’s CV list a number of global marketing successes, one of which included identifying the US brand Haagen-Dazs and through proper management of the brand created a truly global reach.

Yet Walsh made his name by being ruthless in business. On behalf of Grand Met, he negotiated the sale of “Intercontinental Hotels” to a Japanese consortium for an eye watering $2.3bn in 1988. It became known as the ‘deal of the decade’. City analysts described the price Walsh secured as “off the chart” because the deal was valued at a P/E ratio of 52.

Paul Walsh will not arrive in Formula One to make up the numbers or do a deal here and there with the odd sponsor and Ecclestone has been swift to respond – again with an unusual train of thought.

“What is going to happen is that if I died now, there are enough people here to continue running the company because of the way things are set up. Would they want a frontman, particularly if they want an IPO [initial public offering]? The City would want to see someone, I suppose. The right person would come along; maybe this Mr Walsh is the one. If I was controlling the board, I would probably say this wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a woman as chief executive.”

This reference is of course to Sacha Woodward-Hill, Ecclestone’s right hand woman. Her legal training has seen Bernie successfully navigate through the perils of a number of litigation matters in the past few years and she is a director of 17 of the Formula One companies.

When pressed on several occasions about reports Walsh was being lined up to ‘reign him in’, Ecclestone curtly retorted, “He would be unique if he could do that,” adding, “First he’s got to be appointed, hasn’t he?”

Bernie believes he still has some leverage in his association with Mackenzie and CVC. “I don’t need to do anything with anybody. I’ve still got a few dollars in the bank, so I’m not looking for a job. I’m happy here as long as the board are happy. When I don’t think I can deliver I’ll retire. I’m not at that stage yet”.

So is the Ecclestone dictatorship fatally wounded? The answer must be yes. That Bernie has volunteered Sacha W-Hill as his successor to the role of “chief executive” whilst Walsh as chairman looks set to attempt to create some big value for CVC.

Roger Petersen, author of ‘Resistance and Rebellion: Lessons from Eastern Europe’ suggests the fall of dictatorships is first seen in the shift in attitude from ‘neutrality’ to one of ‘resistance’.

2014 has seen many more column inches written about Bernie Ecclestone than in recent times. This has intensified over the past weeks, such that barely a day passes without the self-styled F1 Supremo popping up with a comment on something.

However, Ecclestone’s attitude has been questioned by those previously neutral toward his regime. Martin Brundle remarked in Austin. “It’s not very helpful when your CEO expresses those views”. This followed an impromptu interview by Ted Kravitz where Ecclestone said that race promoters had been contractually short changed by the new engine sounds and he was working hard to deliver a return to the V8’s.

Brundle’s response to the idea of returning to the V8’s was – “nonsense”.

Bernie appears obsessed with fighting a losing battle over the new V6 Power Units. His latest declaration is that he will deliver change for 2016 and he intends to force a vote on the matter at the F1 Strategy Group meeting on December 18th.

However, the numbers just don’t add up. Ecclestone requires 4 teams to agree to change for 2016 by a simple majority vote. Yet Mercedes, Force India/Lotus, Williams and McLaren are highly unlikely to agree to Ferrari and Red Bull proposals.

Hitler had an obsession – called Operation Barbarossa (the 2nd front) – which historians point to as the turning point in the fortunes of the third Reich.

CVC are unhappy at the constant negativity surrounding the sport and how it affects its valuation and their investment. Instead of celebrating the technological wonder that are the new F1 PU’s their chief executive is persistently kicking up a dust storm over the matter – and it will be this which must see Ecclestone pay the ultimate price.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 15th December 2014

•December 15, 2014 • 81 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Well that solved entirely nothing…

#F1 History: First McLaren car discovered

Voice of the Fans: Why #F1 needs someone like Pope Francis

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 2nd: Ligier


OTD Lite 2006 – Ferrari legend killed in road traffic accident

Hamilton win BBC Sports Award finally

Schumacher losing sponsorship because of injury

Villeneuve – typical forthright views on Mclaren and Ferrari

Marchionne – Ferrari to embrace a future of “attack”

Williams strengthen management team

Hamilton fails to impress the British public voters

Life after Formula One


OTD Lite 2006 – Ferrari legend killed in road traffic accident

There are many legends within Formula One. Many are multiple champions that defined an era. Others contributed to epic battles on track that live on to this day; and others are of nearly men that captured the imagination of a generation.

To my mind – Clay Regazzoni belongs to the last tier of drivers who became legends. With a name that was inconceivably fast he was never destined to be a bank teller and despite an often hard racers attitude on track, he was recognised as a true gentleman off of it. He took his first victory for Ferrari in only his fourth Grand Prix at Monza in 1970 and would add another four – including winning Williams’ first victory at Silverstone in 1979.

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In 1980, at Long Beach, he had a crash which would leave him paralysed from the waist down. Yet in similar fashion to Alex Zanardi this proved no barrier to his work with disability organisations and even competing in events with hand controls, His death on this day a mere eight years ago occurred on the A1 mototrway near Parma, Italy when he collided with the rear of a lorry.

The Grumpy Jackal

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Hamilton win BBC Sports Award finally

Third time lucky is an age old cliche in England; also known in America as ‘third time’s a charm’. Although the origins of the saying haven’t ever been truly discovered some will suggest it is the Holy Trinity, others claim it originates from the gallows and if the hangman’s noose failed to execute the prisoner – the death sentence would be commuted to a life sentence.

Of course, popular folklore will tell us it is about perseverance. “Try, try and try again” Three seems to be accepted as the right number, two is too few; whereas four is deemed too many!

So it proved when Lewis Hamilton finally received the UK’s recognition by winning the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year 2014 Award.

Each year, the British broadcaster holds an awards ceremony that recognises outstanding sporting achievement and the public will phone on respective numbers to show their support for their favoured athlete.

In his debut season in 2007, he was runner-up to boxer Joe Calzaghe and in 2008 – despite winning the title – was once again the bridesmaid to eventual winner Sir Chris Hoy – the Olympian.

This year he garnered 209,920 votes from the 620,932 total and beat golfer Rory McIlroy and athlete Jo Pavey to the trophy.

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“I am so speechless. Firstly I really want to say a huge congratulations to all the champions, I’m so proud and honoured to be amongst such great British sporting talent.”

“I want to say a huge thank you to all the people who called in. I really wasn’t expecting it – McIlroy was having such an amazing year.”

“Tonight has been a huge reminder of how many great sportsmen we have here. I never thought I’d be standing up here. It’s just a dream.”

“Thank you to all the fans. I always feel we win and lose together because I feel your love when you come to all the races.”

“I’m proud to carry the Union Jack and I hope I can continue to make you proud.”

And one thing is for certain – critics of SPOTY often bemoan that the winner is lacking in the ‘P’ for Personality department.

Surely whether they love him or not – F1 fans across the spectrum can agree Lewis delivers on that score. #HeartOnSleeve

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Schumacher losing sponsorship because of injury

The debate about whether F1 is a sport or not does the rounds time and again. Famously, Frank Williams stated that F1 is a business – the sport is the two hours on a Sunday afternoon every fortnight or so.

One of the defining moments in the sport vs business evolution, was when the Lotus 49 was unveiled and seen resplendent with its Gold Leaf sponsorship. Up to that point, F1 had been the playground of the rich and sponsors were entrants or suppliers to the teams. Tobacco funds changed the sport for good.

Before the 1977 F1 season began, Niki Lauda was callously told by his personal sponsor – Romerquelle – that he would only be paid half the promised sponsorship for the season because he only had ‘half a face left’. In similar fashion over last weekend – reports emerged that Michael Schumacher was losing sponsorship contracts for what appear equally callous reasoning.

Big sponsors are withdrawing their ties from the stricken German legend as doubts remain over his recovery. Whilst Mercedes and DVAG have promised to stand by Schumi in his hour of need, many are publicly severing their ties.

Phillipe Gaydouis, owner of fashion firms Navyboot and Jet Set is one such and the report carried on the Swiss Bluewin website claims: “It’s not easy for Schumacher’s sponsors: paying out millions of Swiss francs per year and receiving nothing back since the crash.”

The moral question is – of course – should these companies be visibly distancing themselves from a world famous athlete who has suffered a severe accident which left him a coma?

“It’s a balancing act. On the one hand the sponsors must pursue economic objectives which point towards a parting. On the other hand it will not be well received in public if you are turning your back on Schumacher at a difficult time.”

Gaydoul’s spokeswoman confirmed the decision and the termination of a £4 million a year contract – and German mineral water company ‘Rosbacher” also annulled their contract with him earlier this year.

It is worth bearing in mind though, that Schumi’s affairs were always looked after by Willy Webber – the infamous 20% man. News outlets may be reporting just part of the story, because it is most unlikely that shrewd Willy would have allowed them to relinquish their contractual duties, with consummate ease.

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Villeneuve – typical forthright views on Mclaren and Ferrari

At the recent Bologna Motor Show, Jacques Villeneuve offered his opinion on the signings of the Mclaren drivers and was unequivocal in the decision made. Having partnered Jenson Button for a number of seasons at BAR and was team-mate to Fernando Alonso at the tail-end of 2004 with Renault – he probably has a unique point of view on the new Woking partnership.

“They took the right drivers, simply by keeping Button. I think the two will work well together. Jenson develops the car well; as does Fernando so for the sake of the team it was the best choice. Now we just have to see what Honda brings to the party.”

“Of course, if things go well, then it will be fantastic” but he warned “if things go wrong, inevitably after six months things will fall apart. That is his character.”

Being in Italy, it was not long before Sky Italia turned Jacques thoughts to the matter of the Ferrari pairing and the Canadian was brusque in response.

“Kimi is not right there. The Mclaren team has two drivers who will work. Ferrari have Vettel but like when Alonso was there – he will feel a little ‘alone’. Team spirit will not get Kimi winning again, and Vettel is not there to help Kimi.”

“Seb is there to win. Kimi is useless. The results will only come through in 2016. Next year they will replace everything and the drivers will work, developing the car, fitting in with the new personnel but forget 2015 as a year of success – it’s a year to rebuild.”

Oh well Jacques… why not just tell us what you really think – for a change

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Marchionne – Ferrari to embrace a future of “attack”

He may be a Mclaren driver from January 1st 2015, but Fernando Alonso was still on duty with Ferrari in one of his final engagements for the Scuderia. He was in attendance at Maranello with Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio Arrivabene spoke at the teams Christmas event.

Marchionne: “In this room, there are many very talented people. I am here to get you working at your best and to give you the necessary resources, which when combined with your ability will put our fantastic driver pairing in a position to fight for the front row.”

“I have full confidence in Maurizio. He has known this world for a long time and has the ability to steer the Scuderia in what is a difficult period for it and for Formula 1 in general. Do not fear change, be proactive and have the courage to come up with ideas”

Arrivabene also spoke at the event which was something that hadn’t been afforded Marco Mattiacci – Stefano Domenicali successor – when he first arrived at Maranello. Il Padrino habitually taking the stand in front of the worlds press and effectively muffling Marchionne’s choice of team principal.

MA: “I am very proud to work for this company, which is the best there is. A company is its people and in this case, they are very special people. Now we look forward to Christmas, but as from January, I want to see you not on the defensive but on the attack, because the aim is to get the Scuderia back where it should be.”

So it seems that Ferrari has gone back to the future. After the founders death in August 1988, Ferrari was run by faceless corporate Fiat executives who had no experience of a racing team. It took three years before the charismatic Luca parachuted into the team and turned its fortunes around.

With Luca offered to the lions, we have the return of some impressive corporate giants but who amongst them has no front-line competition experience.

Italians are not holding their breath..

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Williams strengthen management team

Williams have again strengthened their management structure by recruiting Steve Neilson as their Sporting Manager from Toro Rosso. Neilson has nearly 30 years’ experience in Formula One, most notably his time with Pat Symonds at Enstone – during their title winning seasons.

“I’m delighted to be joining a team of Williams’ history and stature in what is a very exciting time for everyone at Grove after a very impressive 2014 season,” said Nielsen. “In this role I will be able to help ensure that our operations at the race track are maintaining the highest standards and that we are maximising our performance at the race track from a sporting perspective. Williams’ has a very talented team of people and I’m looking forward to working with them.”

Steve first entered F1 as a truck driver for Lotus, though he has become a recognised Sporting Director, having performed this role for Renault, Lotus, Caterham and Toro Rosso over 14 years.

Pat Symonds said, “Steve brings a wealth of experience of the sporting side of Formula One and will help us as a team as we aim to climb further up the Championship table. He has won World Championships in the past and knows what needs to be done on a sporting level for Williams to do this again. We have a talented and ever improving race team and with Steve on board we are well placed to make further operational gains next season.”

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Hamilton fails to impress the British public voters

The BBC flagship annual sports review programme and the top prize of “Sports Personality of the Year” (SPOTY) again came under fire from the British public. The age old criticism of this ‘competition’ for the top slot is based upon the use of the word ‘personality’ as often the victor is perceived somewhat lacking in this department.

Suggestions that it should be renamed to something more like “Sporting Achievement of the year” again surfaced on social media. Yet when comparing this year’s winner to previous incumbents, Hamilton surely does meet the personality criteria even if only from a controversial perspective.

@mackay129 “Shocked by #SportsPersonality, Lewis is great sports man but makes Andy Murray look fun!!”

untitledEx-BBC Formula One anchor man was also surprised at the decision. Minutes earlier he posted on twitter, “I have a sneaky suspicion I’m sitting behind the winner of RT if you agree…” and posted a picture of Rory McIlroy.

untitledLewis is indeed a character, and the British media would find their column inches vastly reduced were he not a leading contender in the sport of F1. This was epitomised by an appearance from Bling adorned Roscoe on the red carpet with Lewis as he arrived at the award ceremony. Though Hamilton’s other dog Coco was conspicuous by its absence.

SPOTY then attracts the usual debate over whose achievement is greater than others. Clearly in Formula One, the race to the drivers’ title was a two horse race, where only Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton would become the champion.

@raggy87 “How does Hamilton beat Rory? He beat one other driver, Rory beats top class opposition consistently #joke #SportsPersonality”

The world of golf rounded on the decision, as Lee Westwood a team mate of runner up Rory McIlroy cheekily tweeted, “Technology of the year goes to the silver and red dodgem!!! Just have to win all 4 next year @McIlroyRory!”

And Sir Nick Faldo, the last golfer to win SPOTY in 1989, simply retweeted a post from Ant and Dec, poking fun at the decision. “Rory obviously needs faster clubs. D

untitledArguments then raged on twitter as to whether Hamilton’s victory was in fact an achievement of any magnitude when compared to the feats of second place McIlroy, Joe Pavey and partially a blind skier – Kelly Gallagher – who can merely see a blurred orange outline of her guide to follow as she careers down the mountain.

@AbbyFermont “Bit fed up that #jopavey didn’t win #SportsPersonality last night – thought her achievement outshone everyone else by miles.”

However, this year’s SPOTY appears not to have captured the attention of the British public as much as in previous years. Hamilton won with 209,920 votes (33% ). Whereas in 2013 the victor was Andy Murray with 55% of the vote (401,470) and in 2012 Sir Bradly Wiggins claimed the prize for winning the Tour de France with more than double the support of Hamilton (492,064).

untitled

Hamilton appears to divide opinion sharply, with the Hamfosi defending his every word, whilst others find Lewis unpalatable at times, and the criticism following him announced as the SPOTY winner was swift indeed.

Recent articles on British tax fugitives formed the basis of an immediate twitter response criticising Hamilton’s selection for SPOTY.

@CapLaryDarf “Non dom tax dodger of the year? #SportsPersonality #sportspersonalityoftheyear”

@AlexTalbot116 “Lewis Hamilton wins the BBC Sports Personality of the Year,> encourage him to pay some UK tax. Not holding my breath. #SportsPersonality”

@nick_moore added: ‘He pays no tax, has zero personality and doesn’t even have a tv licence. How does that work? @LewisHamilton #SportsPersonality #GetInspired’

untitledJohn Torrie, added: ‘#SportsPersonality An oxymoron perpetuated by the choice of Lewis Hamilton. Proud to be born British but doesn’t want to live here among us.’

Then English bad boy footballer Joey Barton joined the fray. @Joey7Barton “Tax exiles should be exempt from winning trophies paid and voted for by the tax/licence payer.”

Lewis attempted to head all this off at the pass when he gave an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, stating “People moan and say, ‘He doesn’t live in the country, but he’s happy to raise the flag’.

It doesn’t matter what country you live in. I was born here, man,”

untitledHamilton remarked that he did pay some UK tax and claimed, “I am contributing to the country and, not only that, I help to keep a team of more than 1,000 people employed.” Though the fact that the Formula One team from Brackley pre-existed Lewis and will most likely be there when Hamilton has retired, will be used by critics to argue Lewis’ is again out of touch with reality.

Further, due to his ‘non domecile’ status, HMRC will be entitled to around 1/20th (assuming 20 F1 races and one in the UK) of Lewis race related income, however, sponsorship arrangements registered in Monaco will not be taxed.

It appears the tax fugitive label has well and truly stuck to Hamilton, though it will be interesting to see if this perception is extended to other British sport stars who choose to reside in tax havens.

A possible solution suggested on twitter when the matter of tax exiles and patriotism was raised during the Abu Dhabi weekend, would be for all the sports stars to step up to the plate and state their case honestly. If they disagree with the manner in which governments choose to fund the wheels of British society and that British sports starts are unfairly treated by the UK tax system, maybe they should come out and say so.

Amusingly, as Hamilton dashed to make the midnight deadline to be ‘out of the country’, he published a short video – thanking his fans for their support – from his private jet bound for Monaco.

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Life after Formula One

First there was the Toro Rosso Massacre; then the Sauber Salughter, which saw both 2014 drivers evicted for the 2015 season.

However, for the ex-Sauber driver Estaban Gutuirrez, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

“While confirming our full confidence in a formidable race driver pairing, made up of four times World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, a past champion with Ferrari, I am pleased to welcome Esteban Gutierrez,” commented the Scuderia’s Director General and Team Principal, Maurizio Arrivabene. “We are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to Esteban who, although young, has plenty of experience relating to the new generation of Formula 1 cars. I am sure that, with his experience, he will make an important contribution to the development work of the team in the simulator. Welcoming Esteban also means opening the gates of Ferrari to a driver from Mexico, a country where the Scuderia still has a lot of fans, just as was the case fifty years ago in the days of the Rodriguez brothers.”

Gutierrez responds, “It is an honour to become part of the Scuderia Ferrari family, a Team with such an exceptional history. It is for me the beginning of a new path for my future and I’m going to do my utmost to contribute to the achievement of the targets set by the Scuderia. I want to thank everybody for their belief in my potential; this will bring a great opportunity for me to develop further.”

Meanwhile, the latest victim of the Toro Rosso – Tost Toasting – Jean Eric Vergne, acquitted hiumself well during his first Formula E race in Uraguy. The Frenchman was second on the penultimate lap, with a fan boost of power to come – when his Virgin Racing car broke down – and ending his race long challenge.

Voice of the Fans: Why #F1 needs someone like Pope Francis

•December 15, 2014 • 11 Comments

TJ13 believes that Formula One fans should have a voice and does so by way of the ‘Voice of the Fans’ articles.

The views expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of TJ13.

Here is the latest offering from our favourite large land mammal – Enjoy

 

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

 

 

If there is an institution that is less flexible than the catholic church, it’s F1, because the effing toad refuses to do the decent thing and die. He’s worse than a cockroach – even a nuclear blast can’t rid us off him.

What F1 needs is a counterpart to Jorge Mario Bergoglio – someone who says ‘f*** y’all, I’m going to do it my way!’. Granted, Bernie has done that for ages, it just happens that ‘his way’ is the way of Satan.

For hundreds of years the catholic church had engaged in senseless skullduggery that left an atheist like me utterly bewildered. That was until an Argentinian came along and after being crowned the last totalitarian monarch in the world, he waddled out on the balcony and said ‘buona sera’ – as opposed to ‘occupy Poland’ or ‘must exterminate humanity’.

Just to get the idea – The pope is the last absolutist monarch in the world. Questioning him is a crime, or at least a sin or whatever the catholics use as an excuse to torture people. Oh wait… that was the USA, B-but I digress.

Granted, his power is limited to the 0.44 square kilometres of the Vatican – the world’s smallest sovereign state – but nonetheless, on paper he has more power than any other leader in the world. What did he do with it? He introduced common sense – holy sh*t!

He could have the whole Apostolic Palace to himself, but he decided to live in the rather spartan Vatican guest house. After being crowned pope they wanted to cart him off in a limo, but brother Jorge decided to join the other cardinals and went home by bus. Can you imagine the dwarf from Suffolk get on a bus? Not unless it is made by Maybach and he’s the only passenger.

While the Catholiban – after only two thousand years of trying – have finally elected a leader, who deserves the adjective ‘blessed’ (note to Lewis: That man is blessed, your meal is not), F1 is still ruled by Beelzebub. Ecclestone is everything that the church warns its worshippers about – greedy, selfish and he certainly don’t love thy enemy, only himself – as weird a fetish that might be.

What F1 needs is someone like Jorge Mario Bergoglio – someone to come in and do the exact opposite of what was expected of him. Someone who wonders ‘Y’know what? Why don’t we give all the money we make to the teams in equal shares?’ Or someone who says ‘F*** the strategy group, I’ll go with what the fans want.’

Like the catholic church, F1 is about to lose its relevance. While the holy men were once all about grace of charity and a life of decency, it is now all about molesting children and acquiring riches. And while there are (thankfully) no reports of Bernie doing unspeakable things to under-age boys, the greed part is very much prevalent in modern day F1 and – like the church – it is threatening to kill itself off.

Do not delude yourself – the world does not need F1, neither does it need the catholic church. Both of these institutions are there merely because there are people, who like them. But both of them need to be relevant to survive. The church currently does rediscover its relevance, because it has found a leader, who *gasp* talks about things that make sense. F1 meanwhile tries to exterminate itself by ignoring common sense.

In a bid to ‘lower costs’, it introduced an engine formula that quadrupled the costs. Yeah – that makes about as much sense as Idi Amin holding the opening speech at a human rights conference or George W. Bush being elected the new leader of Amnesty international. The people involved in running F1 are simply detached from a thing called ‘reality’. They don’t know anymore what it once set out to do – much like the church.

F1 once started as a racing series in which everyone tried to build the best car possible and tried to find people good at moving these cars as quickly as possible around circular tracks around the world. That went jolly well until lentil eating lesbians came along saying that ‘losing is not cool, you know…’.

When a certain team, which had assembled a group of congenial talent and a tyre supplier, who fulfilled their every wish, started reaping the rewards – five times in a row – things started falling apart. The rules were changed to punish success and reward the mediocre. The bright kid was told to tone it down and the stupid kid was lied to and told it is doing well. To cement that, the rules were changed to nobble the bright kid and make it easier for the kid, whose biggest achievement is not to drool on his shirt. And it went all downhill from there.

For the last decade F1 has endlessly meddled with the rules to punish success and breed mediocrity and as a result we get mediocrity – surprise! To make it appear relevant, we are told the sport has to ‘go green’ and appeal to the masses, except it doesn’t. The engines are sh*t, they sound sh*t and we get gormless teenagers on the grid, but they still haven’t managed to give a woman a fair shot at it. F1 is the catholic church – all talk, but when it comes to put it in practice, they fail. At least the church is open about it – they have it in the rules that women are verboten.

So, F1 soldiers on, advertising the Neanderthal, the hybrid engine, as the next best thing as if people couldn’t see that it is not the solution. The series should decide – either it goes back to the roots, which means building the fastest cars possible by whatever means possible – and I hazard a guess, the hybrid engine isn’t part of that – or if it wants to be ‘green’, there was a fairly good demonstration of that at Punta del Este, Uruguay on Dec. 13th.

What F1 needs is a new absolute monarch. Someone who makes way too much sense to be installed, so I blow up white smoke and declare – Habemus Papam. Make Giancarlo Minardi boss of F1.

 
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