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Previously on The Judge 13:
#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Well that solved entirely nothing…
OTD Lite 1905 – Le Mans disaster victim born this day
Today celebrates the birth date of Pierre Levegh. A name that hardly springs out as a famous F1 driver. In fact he competed in just six F1 races between 1950-51. The Parisien was considered a world class ice hockey and tennis player but his infamy in motor-sport dates to the 1955 Le Mans race that is acknowledged as the worst race disaster in history.
The story really begins in 1952 when Mercedes boss Alfred Neubauer recognised that the true victor of the race should have been the Frenchman. He had almost completed the 24 hour marathon on his own but missed a gear change in the last hour – destroying the engine – whilst leading by four laps. He was subsequently told that when Mercedes returned to the event, one of the places would be his.
The 1955 race was held on the 11th June and Levegh took the start in one of the Mercedes. As the cars came towards the pits on the 35th lap, Mike Hawthorn’s Jaguar dove into the pits and his action forced Lance Mackilns car to take avoiding action. As he moved left, the much faster Mercedes of Levegh and Fangio took avoiding action but Levegh’s car was launched into the crowd opposite the pits.
The Grumpy Jackal
Jacques Villeneuve muses on current F1
Jacques Villeneuve was competing recently in Italy at the Bettaga Memorial end of season event. Following the event, the SKY F1 presenter gave an interview which ranged across several motorsport topics, including Formula One.
When asked about the respective moves of Vettel and Alonso to Ferrari and Mclaren, the French-Canadian believes both drivers will benefit from their moves. “Vettel was no longer wanted by Red Bull as he was no longer the ‘Golden Boy’ as if he had won it wouldn’t be seen as a Red Bull victory but as another for Sebastien. Contrary to the image portrayed, Red Bull is not a family they are interested in only one thing – to sell lots of cans”
“As to Alonso, I’m not sure of the choice he made. He needed a change but he came to Ferrari and won races. He is not a Ferrari man because when it went wrong he wanted to leave – similar to what happened in Mclaren in 2007. In my opinion when he lowers his visor – he is the best driver in F1. But outside the car he thinks only of himself. He uses twitter and the internet to his advantage but the top teams don’t like that. Ferrari is a family, and they protect their drivers, look at how they treated Kimi.”
“But Mclaren have their own problems. They had the best engine but at times struggled against Force India who have half their budget. We also don’t know about Honda. They have their tradition but so did Renault and Ferrari who built great engines in the 80’s but look who’s winning now. So Honda remains an unknown.”
“The problem with F1 is that its not exciting, the cars seem slow. You can’t fault the championship, it was beautiful and compelling and even the lack of noise wasn’t so bad but the cars aren’t aggressive to drive. Verstappen arrives, runs ten laps and is immediately quick! It seems that anyone can drive an F1 car. The current F1 makes driving too much like the Playstation, too easy.”
“In regards to Verstappen, the minimum age should be 21. You should get to F1 having won something with a wealth of experience behind you. Shall I tell you the truth? Max is being abused. I have no doubt he is naturally fast but he has no experience. It’s not F1’s role to teach a driver. Before you fight with the lives of others you should have learnt. As to Red Bull, they have put a child in Formula One and the subsequent impact is not what they expected. I think this time the media will not be as positive as they expect.”
In similar fashion to his legendary father, Jacques replied almost verbatim when asked how he would change the technical regulations for the cars: “The only limit I would put in place would be 100kg fuel for the race. Then leave it free to the manufacturers to design their ideal engine. I’d remove the hybrid parts as well leaving the use of turbos and the engine displacement to the designers. Then, fat wheels and remove all electronics. Lets see how these drivers handle all that power. Formula One has to go back to being physical and not virtual. People go to see the driver…”
Montezemolo thwarted by Fiat boss again
With Bernie Ecclestone returning to his role as CEO at CVC there had been speculation that Luca di Montezemolo was close to being appointed as the president of Formula One Group of Companies. Apparently, last Thursday. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne stepped in and brought proceedings to a halt.
Maranello clearly feels that Il Padrino may well be harbouring a grudge or two and this appointment may have come to haunt Marchionne.
The combination of alliances that may be formed on the FOM board between Ecclestone and others is almost endless and likely to shift depending on the matter in hand and leverage which can be brought to bear.
So for now, Marchionne may have done Bernie a favour – which of course will need to be repaid at some time in the future.
Yet, as Mr. E said following Montezemolo’s departure from Maranello: “His leaving is for me the same as Mr Enzo dying. He has become Ferrari. You see him, you see Ferrari. You don’t see anything else. You don’t see Luca.”
Alonso seemingly too good believes Massa
Felipe Massa had the ‘good fortune’ of being Fernando Alonso’s team-mate for four seasons. With the Spaniard moving to pastures new next year, little Felipe offered his opinion to Autosport on the move that surprised no-one.
“Everybody knew he was going to leave Ferrari. Maybe we saw that Ferrari didn’t give him the best car but maybe he didn’t help Ferrari to grow. If it’s going to be worse or better for Ferrari, I don’t know. Fernando is perhaps the best driver on the grid so we don’t know if it will be enough for Ferrari to make the step forward, but I hope for the best for Ferrari, anyway.”
This rhetoric mirrors an opinion that TJ13 scripted some months ago – essentially the Spanish Samurai is potentially so good that his talent will overcome a poorly performing car. Whilst this talent brings about its own virtues it would seemingly nullify any development that the team puts in place which in turn disguises a teams shortcomings in the short to medium term.
It will forever remain purely a hypotheses, yet had Alonso had left the Scuderia a season or two earlier – the Red team may well have realised the issues that required attention.
Pat Symonds worked with the Asturian from 2002 through to his second title victory in 2006 also offers a similar viewpoint to Massa: “He obviously wasn’t happy at Ferrari and if you’re not happy then it’s best to move on. He does seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time since he left Renault which is a shame as the guy is incredibly quick.“