#F1 Qualifying Review: Rosberg make it 11-7 under the Abu Dhabi lights

•November 22, 2014 • 13 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

2014 Abu Dhabi GP - Nico Rosberg

 

Like well trained actors prowling the footlights, the main players took the stage today for the last Qualifying session of 2014, providing a distraction for the real story fiercely percolating in the background; the political coup of the midfield and the shape of F1 going forward. With their backs against the wall, the spectre of the EU has been raised as the stakes are literally life and death for the trio of Sauber, Lotus and Force India and the gloves have come off in the press as well.

On track the roles are well rehearsed however, and it will be no surprise to learn that once again it was Rosberg who would provide the fastest lap in Q3, with Hamilton not getting as close being the only wrinkle this time out. Williams managed a second row lockout with Bottas getting the better of his more experienced teammate. Further down the grid it would be the battle between Ferrari’s and the battle for P10 that would steal focus away from the swirling drama of the driver’s championship as less than 0.2s covered the runners between 10th and 14th, setting the stage for some real racing tomorrow. Button too got more drama than he bargained for in his potential swan song, but with his troubles yesterday already hanging over his weekend, it’s not a real revelation that they echoed into today’s session.

Even further down the field it was Will Stevens managing to come good and finish within 0.5s of Kobayashi in the recently revived Caterham but no real surprises, other than it was the bottom 5 being dropped instead of the bottom 4 since overall numbers were up to 20 this weekend.

As it has been all season, the battle of the teammates dominated the session with the storylines set and the audience awaiting only tomorrow’s denouement to cap off a fascinating season both on and off track.

Q1

Sunny and warm, no other real way to describe the weather at Abu Dhabi, with the ambient temperature at 26°C and the track 33°C, a drop of 12°C from FP3. Many stories echoed through the paddock as the main focus remained the battle between the two Mercedes men for the Drivers’ Championship. Given that Hamilton needs only P2 and the Mercedes look to be a second clear of the field at least it is likely that the story of tomorrow’s race will be found further down the field.

As the lights went green there was a moment of breathless anticipation before Magnussen rolled calmly out of his box and headed toward pit exit, to be neatly edged as a rather eager Stevens jumped out of the Caterham garage just in front of him, claiming the glory of being first on track.

Following that dynamic duo was Button, then Kobayashi, Massa, Raikkonen and finally Rosberg, advancing the clock toward the 16 minute mark. Interestingly, Rosberg started on the Super Softs, meaning they will favor the Prime tyre and feel their advantage lies there, but the McLarens were out on the Softs, suggesting they could extract some performance there. Or, possibly they just hadn’t thought it through properly.

As the minutes ticked past 16:00 Hamilton emerged from his slumber and Perez got his first timed effort underway. Lotus and Sauber threw their lot in as well with the Option tyres, making for interesting bedfellows in the tyre department.

Perez cracked across in a 1:43.856 followed by Stevens in a 1:45.781. Magnussen followed up with a 1:43.171 and as the 13th minute ticked by it was the Williams of Bottas that took P1, upping the ante with a 1:42.344 and Massa unable to better it. To the surprise of no one, Quali darling and recent BAMBI winner Rosberg (it’s a German sporting award, seriously) stamped his authority all over P1 dropping the times into the 1:41′s.

But it was a surprising Hamilton that came through half a minute later and 0.1s faster to claim first honours, both of the Mercedes men with lockups aplenty in their first efforts.

Early days at the 11 minute mark and the leaderboard featured some unusual names as many of the midfield ventured forth on the Options whilst much of the sharp end had tried the Prime for their first efforts. Hamilton, Rosberg, Bottas, Hulkenberg and Massa were the top but as the teams reset for second efforts there were clearly going to be changes in the final wave as everyone went to the Options to ensure making Q2.

As the track settled, a lonely Bottas pulled a P3 as Rosberg rolled into the garage and the track began to empty, with only the Red Bulls yet to set a time and Kvyat was well into S3 on his first lap. Ferrari hovered suspiciously around the drop zone as their car appeared to not enjoy the Primes at all, setting the stage for some interesting moments for the tifosi at the close of Q1. Although, one could be forgiven for thinking they were getting used to it at this point of the season.

Kvyat jumped into the mix splitting the Williams at 8 minutes to go with the Mercedes firmly parked in the garage. Red Bull decided to get on with it, with both their cars on track as 7 minutes came and went.

Bottas and Massa finally joined the rest of the sharp end in the pits as Red Bull began to dial it in, with Ricciardo having the early advantage on his teammate. Vettel crossed first in P4 and not surprisingly, the Colgate Kid took P3 dropping Seb to P5 as the rest of the field began to circulate in anticipation of the showdown for P15.

3 minutes to go and both McLarens were down near the bottom of the time charts, along with usual stalwarts Gutierrez, Sutil, Kobayashi and newcomer Stevens. Button got on with it and leaped up to P4.

As Magnussen got on with it the Ferraris improved, Raikkonen far more than Alonso, P5 compared to P11. But neither was as good as Magnussen who came through in P3 with less than a minute left.

Down at the desperation ditch, it was Lotus looking for a way out with Maldonado, Gutierrez, Sutil, Kobayashi and Stevens all on the outside looking in as the seconds ticked by.

Ricciardo and the Mercs stayed in the garage as Massa attempted an uncharacteristic late effort.

Alonso came through in P11 with Perez behind him in 14th. Maldonado improved to 16th temporarily however it would not be enough to keep him in with a chance. Gutierrez slotted into P15 however he was hard done by Perez jumping to P14 and putting him right back out. Sutil then leapt over Grosjean to take P15 and stick the knife firmly in, once again denying the unlucky Frenchman Q2. Massa’s late effort was good enough for P3. Grosjean, Gutierrez, Maldonado, Kobayashi and Stevens were headed to the showers early as the rest went on their merry way preparing for Q2.

Q2

Sky quick off the draw to tantalize the tifosi with tales of the return of St. Ross to the scarlet fields of Maranello, where clearly the winds of change are blowing cold and hard, though they are quick to use the word rumour liberally.

As the session starts, it is Sergio Perez first on track followed by Hulkenberg and Raikkonen. Rosberg shuts his visor and follows, not far behind and no doubt looking to reverse the outcome of Q1. Sutil then went and Hamilton trailed behind and then the exodus was truly on. By the 12th minute only Button was left in the pits as twilight descended in the desert and Perez looped towards the conclusion of his first lap – a 1:42.467 to set the bar. His teammate was the first to get a crack at it and failed, coming just behind, but before anyone else could have a go, it was Rosberg off the track into T11 with big lock up. This left the door wide open for Hamilton, who promptly took advantage and laid down a 1:40.920, well clear of the rest of the field.

Nico gathered himself for a second go as the rest of the field plowed through; Massa, Alonso, Perez and Raikkonen rounding out the top 5 with 8:30 left to play.

Conditions continued to get trickier as the sun dropped, bringing increased wind and cooler temperatures to the track. Rosberg’s second effort showed the degradation of the tyres as he finished almost 0.5 down on Hamilton, good enough for P2. Bottas took P3 as the field retired to the pits to ready for their second run. Massa and Ricciardo rounded out the top 5 and at the bottom it was the 2 McLarens having set no time with Sutil and Raikkonen in front of them.

As the clock wound toward 4 minutes it was Hulkenberg and Magnussen first out with Button following closely. Soon the rest would follow but it was Button who seized center stage. In the middle of his out lap the team radioed him with a desperate message to cool the car and box as they had incorrectly fueled the car, in tribute to Sam Michael no doubt. Replying with utter disbelief “Are you serious”, Jenson nonetheless brought the car back into the pits as the precious seconds dripped off the clock.

By the 2 minute mark it was clear that only Danny Boy and the mighty Mercedes would stay put in their garages. Interesting choice for Rosberg, as he would now be starting the race on a set of flat spotted tyres that were also one lap older than Hamilton’s. But clearly he felt pole was more important and saved an extra set of tyres for Q3.

On track, with Button still not having set a time, the bottom of the time sheets featured Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Sutil as well as the now properly fuelled Briton and his teammate Magnussen.

Magnussen was the first McLaren up, taking P8 and demoting Hulkenberg to P9. Button was next through, claiming P6 despite his team’s wobbles and yet again demonstrating the depth of choice for McLaren in terms of drivers. The carnage continued for Force India as Vergne ruthlessly seized P10 as the checkers fell.

But the session doesn’t end until the last car crosses the line and it was Kvyat with a stellar lap to put K-Mag out and himself into P8, ahead of Vettel and Raikkonen, who had barely crawled into P10 after the flag dropped. As they headed for the pits it was Magnussen, Vergne, Perez, Hulkenberg and Sutil in that order who headed for the lounge, but with nary 0.2s between P10-14 there should be some good battles in the midfield tomorrow.

Q3

Bottas was first out of the pits but after only a minute gone he was followed by Massa, Vettel, Rosberg, Kvyat, Button and Ricciardo. Hamilton was the tail of the snake momentarily however Alonso followed him up with only Raikkonen left sat in his garage. The latter having decided to only give it one shot in the final session.

As the sun dropped into the desert, Massa was given one timed lap on his tyres and Hamilton complained of a vibrations in his tyres, not the first time he’s had that complaint. Bottas was first to get underway and as he came round, Massa was already setting faster sector times behind him.

It was Rosberg who was on fire though, going purple behind Felipe as he chased the wily Brazilian through the twisty bits of the track.

Hamilton was even faster and looked to be set to maintain his advantage as first Bottas and Massa took P1, before Rosberg crossed the line with a 1:40.697. It was not to be for Lewis though. A scruffy exit of T20 cost him his chance and a decent chunk of time as well, leaving him 0.3s off his teammate and only 0.1 ahead of Massa. Behind them it was Bottas and Ricciardo whilst Alonso ran off track at T1 somewhat spoiling his efforts with 7 minutes left to go.

By time the field were all back in the pits there was a scant 4 minutes left and certainly much for Lewis to think on.

The field began trickling back out round the 3:30 mark and it was the points leader last of all, departing with just 2:35 left in the session and everything on the line.

Vettel was on it as Lewis began his out lap and Bottas was warned not to hold up Kimi as the Elder Finn was on a hot lap. Ricciardo immediately had the better of Vettel but Bottas had the measure of them both and even Rosberg was unable to top his S1 time as he tried to buy himself a little insurance with his second effort.

S2 saw their fortunes reverse as Nico went 42 dead and Valterri languished 0.2 behind. Hamilton had a massive lockup into T1 thoroughly putting him on the back foot with nearly 0.2 lost in just that one moment.

The tripartite contest continued, with Hamilton making up some time on Bottas through S2 but still losing out to Rosberg.

The last sector was tragic for Bottas, even though he was fastest of the chasers. He was just unable to take Hamilton for provisional P2, the aero might of the Silver Arrows being too much for the Williams in the end.

As it stood, Bottas was 0.004s adrift of Lewis and as he continued to carve away at Bottas, Rosberg finished his lap by improving on his already stellar effort with a 1:40.480.

Hamilton kept his head in it and managed to improve as well, to a 1:40.866, plenty of margin over the Williams but farther than usual from his teammate.

Behind it was the rest of the field, marching two by two, Massa trailing Bottas, Vettel trailing Ricciardo, and then the odd couple of Button and Kvyat. The last pair were Raikkonen and Alonso, the Finn having upset the Catalan in his last appearance for the Maranello marque, only the third time this year that Kimi has topped Fernando.

Of course, as with all good things it was not to stay that way as Grosjean was being forced to start from the back due to his component usage (things must be tight at Lotus as it would have been simpler and less damaging just to replace the PU and start from the pitlane) whilst Red Bull (quelle surprise!) failed post race scrutineering as their wings flexed too much under load.

That fact had been evident for years on the World Feed,  it appears that the FIA had finally got round to designing a proper test and have trotted it out for the last race. As a result, Red Bull will start from the back of the grid with “modified” cars and a butthurt Christian Horner took to Twitter to defend the team and “accept” the official ruling.

At the front tomorrow’s race looks to be fought primarily round the pit stops as in Brazil. A poor start for Lewis could see the Williams get involved and with a top speed of 341 kph they could prove tricky to pass, as Mercedes lag them nearly 10 kph through the DRS zones. Behind them, however, there is an amazing lot of cars that are very close on pace and the battle for those last 2 points could be epic in the closing laps, especially with the Bulls being relegated.

Happy watching and it has been a real pleasure covering qualifying for you all this season.

Qualifying Results:

# Driver Ctry Team
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams
4 Felipe Massa Williams
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
8 Jenson Button McLaren
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
11 Kevin Magnussen McLaren
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
13 Sergio Perez Force India
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus
18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
19 Will Stevens Caterham
20 Romain Grosjean Lotus
Romain Grosjean – Four place penalty as part of 20-place penalty for power unit changes

#F1 and European Union Article 82

•November 22, 2014 • 6 Comments

Brought to your by TJ13 Editor in Chief: Andrew Huntley-Jacobs

The European Union Article 82 was the lever used to pry the commercial rights from the FIA back in 2001. The EU commission ruled that the FIA was in violation of Article 82 because of the manner in which TV broadcast rights were awarded.

Here is the relevant clause.

“Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the common market or in a substantial part of it shall be prohibited as incompatible with the common market insofar as it may affect trade between Member States.

Such abuse may, in particular, consist in:
(a) directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions;
(b) limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers;
(c) applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;
(d) making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts”.

The talk of the paddock in recent weeks has been whether the EU will intervene in the current crisis facing Formula One. Specifically to answer whether the bigger teams may be deemed to be in collusion with the commercial rights holder, and specifically in breach of a) and c) above.

This belief is based upon the concluding comments associated with the 2001 EU investigation into Formula One. The result was the FIA were forced to sell off the commercial rights to Formula One, and the issues then were surrounding the abuse of a ‘dominant position’, and it is this which once again is raising its head.

“The European Commission has concluded a thorough investigation, prompted by a number of complaints, into the way international motor sports is organised and commercially exploited. The Commission has now formally told the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the body in charge of international motor racing, that it considers the FIA to be abusing its dominant position and restricting competition” (June 2001).

We should note it was not just the FIA criticised for abusing dominant positions, the commission added the following.

“The Commission has sent the same statement of objections to two companies controlled by Mr Bernie Ecclestone: Formula One Administration Ltd (FOA), which sells the television rights to the Formula One championship, and International Sportsworld Communicators (ISC), which markets the broadcasting rights to a number of major international motor sport events. A statement of objections is a preliminary procedural document and not the Commission’s final verdict on the case”.

“One of the Commission’s most significant conclusions is that many of the contracts concerning the commercial exploitation of international motor sports, particularly those involving broadcasters, were concluded on the basis of a situation unlawful under European Union (EU) competition law. These contracts would therefore have to be renegotiated if the Commission’s initial view is ultimately confirmed. The Commissioner responsible for competition, Mr Karel Van Miert, stated: ‘We have found evidence of serious infringements of EU competition rules, which could result in substantial fines.’

Specific measures were enacted to loosen the stranglehold on TV broadcasters and race promoters, though the detail is not relevant to the here and now.

However, the recent creation of the F1 Strategy Group and the F1 Commission has been a divisive issue within Formula One during 2014. The question being asked is whether the FIA has reversed it’s position that appears limited to being a ‘sports regulator’ and once again via it’s participation in these bodies, has acquired some partial responsibility for current alleged ‘commercial conflicts of interest’.

To this end, the leaked letter this week from the ‘smaller teams’ to Bernie Ecclestone – appearing to plead for a last ditch effort to resolve the current discrepancies between funding for the F1 teams – deserves a closer examination.

The broad issue contained within the correspondence relates to whether the distribution of funds amongst the teams by the commercial rights holder is equitable. Yet this document is in fact a well structured complaint and prima facie evidence that the FIA and Formula One is  governance is once again in breach of EU statutes on competition.

The smaller teams claim they have no voice, as they are excluded from the F1 Strategy Group, which consists of 6 teams and 6 delegates from each of the FIA and FOM.

The leaked letter states clearly,

“70% – 80% of the FOM income has to be allocated to the engine. For us, as engine customers, the engine technology, i.e V6 or V8 turbo-charged or hybrid, is of much less significance, as opposed to engine manufacturers, who are using Formula One as a marketing tool to showcase high-end technology. Unlike manufacturer-owned teams, our core business is Formula One.

“Yet, we have no choice but to spend most of our income on the engine, and the remaining 30% is by far not enough to construct, enter and run a team over a twenty race season.”

The smaller teams have attempted to mitigate the impact of this by suggesting cost control measures, amongst others, one suggestion was limiting the number of front wings allowed to be used per team during a season. However, the F1 Strategy Group has veto’d these topics for further discussion and regulation.

The letter then continues, by attempting to demonstrate that the exclusion of teams from certain processes and decision making forums is anti competitive and those involved are effectively a ‘Cartel’.

This is a loaded phrase and alone designed to catch the eye of the EU Competition Commission.

“The shareholder’s (sic) focus during the negotiations was on securing the co-operation with big teams in view of the planned IPO; we were effectively given no room for negotiation. Furthermore, the impact of providing various share options to key people and entities may well have clouded their judgement in respect of creating what is effectively a questionable Cartel comprising, the Commercial Rights Holder, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams, controlling both the governance of Formula One and apparently, the distribution of FOM funds.

Yet the power packed punch is in a mere sentence towards the end of the document. It is alleged, “Whilst the FIA are involved in The Strategy Group, they are impotent to act”, which if true is clearly in breach of the Formula One 2001 ruling given by the EU.

Looking back again to 2001, once the FIA had enacted the sale of the commercial rights in 2001, the EU Commission released a concluding statement, which stated; “Following discussions with Competition Commissioner Mario Monti, the FIA agreed to modify its rules to bring them into line with EU law. After consulting interested third parties and the Member States, the Commission is now ready to close the file. The modifications introduced by FIA will ensure that: The role of FIA will be limited to that of a sports regulator, with no commercial conflicts of interest”.

So the argument is simple. Did this action from the EU Competition arm of the Commission enshrined the principle in relation to Formula One that the FIA alone should regulate the sport? Or is the current system whereby certain teams are involved in regulating the sport through the ‘Cartel’ of the F1 Strategy Group acceptable?

The Strategy Group consisting of only 6 teams, the FIA and FOM, forms the basis for the agenda to be put before the F1 Commission. It is run on a simple majority-voting basis.

So, the allegation of the smaller teams is that should a majority refuse to ‘send up’ an issue – including regulatory proposals – to the F1 Commission where all the teams are represented – then that topic will remain stymied inside the remit of the F1 Strategy Group and the hands of the FIA are tied.

If the EU Competition Commission does decide to investigate the FIA’s ‘independence’ from commercial influence, there are number of matters for consideration.

Of these, the new 2013 funding arrangements for the FIA based upon the F1 teams entrance fees may demonstrate undue influence is being imparted by the bigger teams.

All teams pay a flat fee of $500,000 to enter a Formula One season. Then the winning constructor from the previous year must pay $6,000 for every constructor point scored, the others pay $5,000 for each point they accrue.

At present this means should Mercedes finish in Abu Dhabi with a 1-2, then they will owe the FIA over $4.4m more than Caterham, Marussia, Sauber, and Lotus. Of course the FIA will represent that with them – money does not buy influence.

However, it may be expedient and quick for the EU Competition Commission to initially just issue a clarification on their 2001 conclusions, which appear to enshrine the independence of the regulator in F1 from any commercial influence.

In most sports, the representations of the competitors are duly considered by the regulators, and a path deemed to be for the good of the sport may be plotted.

Yet in Formula One, it is the teams who are heavily involved in agreeing or vetoing the regulations – both technical and sporting.

There appears little rebuttal that this is currently the practice. When asked during the Abu Dhabi Friday Press Conference, “Is it logical that the competitors in the sport make the rules?” Claire Williams replied, We don’t have an alternative and until we do, that’s the option available to us’.

Despite indicating earlier this year that they were observing Formula One, The EU Competition Commission has yet to self initiate an examination of matters within the sport.

Yet it may be the case, that it is more expedient for the EU Competition commission arm to act when a complaint is lodged.

If this is the case, then The Times is reporting that Anneliese Dodds, a British politician, has written to the European Commission’s competition arm with grave concerns about F1′s governance.

Whilst F1 has appeared historically to lurch from periods of crisis to relative calm and back again, the current chaos and the plethora of bizarre proposals to resolve the status quo, is indication amongst the forums and comment sections of Formula One websites, that the fans of the sport believe Formula One is at an all time low.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 21st November 2014

•November 21, 2014 • 68 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:

The #F1 Bar Exam: 20 November 2014

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Romanians in the cupboard


OTD Lite: 1943 – Jacques Laffite birthday

Alonso admits Ferrari ‘love’ had faded (GMM)

Politician says F1 breaching EU competition agreement

Record breaking punishment without consequences (Updated 14:32)

Vettel stars in hilarious Promo Video


OTD Lite: 1943 – Jacques Laffite birthday

Laffite lit up an era of Formula One during the late 70′s and early 80′s before suffering a career ending crash at the 1986 British Grand Prix. His sense of fun and humour was loved by all but behind the facade lay an extremely quick driver who challenged for the World Title in 1979 with the iconic Ligier Gitanes.

A winner of six Grand Prix, he ended his career at Ligier and broke both his legs in the crash at Paddock Hill bend at Brands Hatch. The subsequent safety regulations forced a design change thereafter that the drivers feet had to be positioned behind the front axle line.

He has since turned his attention to commentating for French TV and remains a popular figure around the F1 paddocks.

jacques_laffite__austria_1982__by_f1_history-d641873

The Grumpy Jackal

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Alonso admits Ferrari ‘love’ had faded (GMM)

Fernando Alonso endured an uncomfortable moment in Abu Dhabi on Thursday afternoon. On the day his Ferrari departure was finally confirmed officially, the Spaniard had to appear in the FIA’s press conference ahead of the 2014 finale. To his right was Sebastian Vettel, the man who replaces him at Maranello. And on his left was Jenson Button, his potential teammate at McLaren-Honda next year.

However, neither his McLaren move nor Button’s future are yet clear. So when asked by a journalist if he would like to have Button as his next teammate, Alonso wriggled in his seat and struggled to find an answer. A joking Button then leaned in, intensely grinning and staring at the Spaniard and saying “Take your time” amid the laughs of the press corps.

More seriously, Alonso admitted that he decided to quit Ferrari a couple of months ago when he realised he was no longer in “love” with his role in red. “I felt it was the time to find new projects and new motivation,” he said, admitting he “didn’t agree so much” with some of the decisions Ferrari was taking. “We waited for this year, for the new car, the new turbo era and this year around summer time, September, I felt that it was time to move.”

It is understood Alonso has definitely now signed for McLaren, but on Thursday he denied that when he made the decision to quit Ferrari in September, he already had an alternative lined up. “I had that decision (to leave),” said Alonso. “I have to be happy, I have to be motivated, I need to love what I’m doing and in September I felt that it was not the case. After that I started to look at some possibilities and I trust what I will have.”

Meanwhile, Alonso denied that McLaren’s delay of the driver announcement until after December 1 is so he can assess the results of the British team’s test with Honda power next week.

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Politician says F1 breaching EU competition agreement (GMM)

With F1′s biggest names swapping teams and the 2014 championship entering its decisive showdown, the furore over the future of the sport enjoyed a brief sojourn on Thursday. But on Friday, the civil war between angry small teams on one side and Bernie Ecclestone, the grandees and owners CVC on the other will be back on pole position.

A meeting between Ecclestone and the furious Lotus, Force India and Sauber is set to take place in Abu Dhabi, as the teams suspect a concerted effort to drive them out is now well under way. They have now abandoned their boycott threats, but an even bigger threat for Ecclestone and the FIA may have emerged.

Anneliese Dodds, a British politician, has written to the European Commission’s competition arm with “grave concerns” about F1′s governance, according to the Times newspaper. It follows a letter from the small teams to Ecclestone last week accusing F1 authorities of operating a “cartel” through an inequitable distribution of income and the big team-dominated, rule-making ‘Strategy Group’.

“There was an agreement made between F1 and the European Union about competition some years ago and it seems that has not been stuck to,” Dodds said.

The Times said Dodds’ letter follows a dossier having been sent to the EU capital Brussels, revealing secret information about the Strategy Group and how the most powerful teams are also given the bulk of F1′s commercial income.

Also of interest to Brussels could be the way in which the FIA, despite its sole role as the sport’s regulator of rules and safety, recently concluded a deal with Ecclestone including a 1 per cent shareholding of the commercial rights.

Stuck in the middle of the civil war is Williams, a mid-sized private team enjoying a run of form that was granted a place in the controversial Strategy Group due to its history. Deputy boss Claire Williams confirmed: “We occupy an intermediate position between the two camps. On the one hand, we are sympathetic to the position of the three teams, but we also understand the position of the top teams.”

At the same time, I do not agree when the Strategy Group is called a cartel, as it was formed with the consent of all the teams, including those who are not represented. But for us, the politics are not relevant. We do not come to a race weekend to spend our time in debate. If other teams want to do that, it’s their decision,” she is quoted by f1news.ru.

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Record breaking punishment without consequences

His season was largely an anonymous one, because a) his car was utter ©rap and b) his team mate stole the little screen time the team got by mindlessly cluttering into anything that happened to cross his path – staionary or not. But finally Romain Grosjean has something to write home about as he is now officially the man, who was whacked with the biggest grid penalty ever – a massive 20 places penalty for changing ICE, MGU-K and Turbo for the 6th time. Since he will qualify on the butt-end of the pack anyway, the loss of positions will be minimal though and the penalty will not carry over into 2015.

Update

The powers that be have decided that depending on how many places Romain cannot be dropped back, because he already is near the end, he’ll have to take a time penalty :

positions/time penalty

1-5 : 5 seconds
6-10 : 10 seconds
11-20 : drive through penalty
> 20 : 10 seconds pit stop penalty plus stop and go penalty

One has to wonder why Lotus didn’t do what RB and Vettel did in Austin. Change everything and start from the pitlane…

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Vettel stars in hilarious Promo Video

Sebastian Vettel, disguised with a fat suite, a hilarious mullet and a fake beard appeared as a car mechanic in a hilarious prototion video for tyre dealer Tirendo. In a candid camera style prank he abuses customer cars with the customers still in it, telling them in a thick Cologne accent: “Your car makes squeaking noises, Mrs. Hansen”.

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#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Romanians in the cupboard

•November 20, 2014 • 13 Comments

Header_2_Banner_Podcast

The rowdy gang is back in the podcast shed. The follicularly challenged – and therefore slightly distressed – host has his hands full to restore order as the panel again features the trigger-happy Project Manager, who refused to stop shooting at the Hippo.

Also on the panel is Nutella-addict and local expert for racing kitchen appliances – Anil. Completing the crew is TJ13 noise and official documents expert Mattpt55 from the distant shores of The United States Of Americaland.

Also featured is Sir Andrew Jacobs Earl Of Huntley, who in his well-known soothing, impeccable aristocratic baritone entertains his subjects with a well-crafted recitation of The Comment Of The Week. Later in the show the Earl’s illigitmate son AJ joins in live from the scene of the crime in Abu Dhabi.

A special thanks to BlackJackFan for inspiring the opening of this podcast.

This week’s Artist is Northband with “Hand That Bit The Apple“.


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Step 1: Navigate to http://thejudge13.podbean.com/mobile/ in Chrome on your mobile device.

Step 2: Bookmark the site URL in Chrome.

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

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

The #F1 Bar Exam: 20 November 2014

•November 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to another week of TheJudge13 F1 Bar Exam. As many of you would have heard I am away for a few weeks however, The Hippo is stepping into the breach and will be running the exam in my absence. However, he will not be sending emails so you will have to wait until the next one is posted for the answer. (JM)

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

mansell-lotus91-Rio-1982The answer(s) I was looking for were: The driver in the photo is British driver Nigel Mansell driving for Lotus in their Lotus 91 – Ford during the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix held at Jacarepagua. In this race Mansell qualified 14th and managed to finish in 3rd.

Two months had passed since the 1982 South African Grand Prix had been gripped by a drivers strike and the teams arrived in a sweltering Rio De Janeiro with renewed hope for the future.

In a manner reminiscent of the dominant Mercedes this year, the turbo-charged cars had finally reached a performance level that put them beyond the reach of the Cosworth powered brigade and it was most clearly visible along the back straight when the turbos ate their aspirated competition alive.

Renault’s Alain Prost took pole position from the Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve followed by the Williams of Keke Rosberg and Rene Arnoux’s Renault fourth. Nelson Piquet qualified merely seventh just behind the Argentinian legend Carlos Reutemann who was taking his final Grand Prix start – before leaving the Williams team – as a confrontation between Argentina and Britain was escalating towards war in the Falklands.

The Cosworth brigade had been dealt a blow when the FISA outlawed the flexible side skirts – thereby reducing their downforce and effectively their competitiveness and several of the teams looked for loopholes within the regulations.

Several of the normally aspirated teams began running water-cooled brakes with additional water tanks built into the chassis. The idea being the tanks would empty very quickly at the start of the race due to the fluid evaporating, thereby allowing the cars to run up to 55kgs below weight. Towards the end of the race they would stop and fill them up once again and would be back up to the minimum weight as required by the regulations.

Incredibly, although running underweight was illegal in any other FIA-sanctioned championships it had never been written into the F1 regulations. In effect this allowed the cars to compete with the far more powerful turbo.

The Race

Villeneuve took an early lead after a tardy start from Alain Prost with Arnoux following close behind. Piquet had moved up to sixth before passing Rosberg for fifth position. Two laps later Prost made a mistake which gained the Brazilian another place.

Slowly he made his way through until on lap 17 he lay second to the French Canadian and reeled him in and begun to apply pressure. Uncharacteristically Villeneuve spun off and Piquet eased away from the pack.

Rosberg had also navigated his way forwards and followed Piquet through the remainder of the race. From early on Piquet could be seen resting his head on the inside cushioning of his cockpit as heat exhaustion started to play a part. Rosberg had worn a primitive ice-vest that kept him cooler for a while longer but Ricardo Patrese had succumbed and spun out. He made his way to the pits and had to be lifted from the car.

By the end Prost had recovered some ground and took third behind the leading duo but as ever in Formula One – the story wasn’t finished yet. Renault protested the top two finishers but interestingly none of the other aspirated cars and the scrutineers agreed. The top two were disqualified and Prost inherited the lead. The team naturally appealed but it was dismissed by the FIA some weeks later.

So after two races of the season, Prost had a 100% score of 18 points (9 per race win) with John Watson trailing on 7. Eventual champion, Rosberg, had just the 2 points from a fifth place finish in South Africa and would survive a destabilising season to secure the title with just one victory.

Well done Glyn, Cassius42, Simon, Johnny, Milestone11 and Mike.

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

20141120_Bar_Exam

Please provide your answers in the field below:

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 20th November 2014

•November 20, 2014 • 92 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: I can Shoot People in South Africa

#F1 Circuit Profile: Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Yas Marina Circuit – Round 19


OTD Lite: 1957 – Germany’s lost champion born

Mclaren delays announcement again

Schumacher and Bianchi facing long road to recovery

Mercedes desperate to avoid title breakdown – Lauda (GMM)

Massa is Rosberg’s best hope for title – Glock (GMM)


OTD Lite: 1957 – Germany’s lost champion born

Stefan Bellof was a mercurial talent who would be killed in an accident at Spa’s Eau Rouge corner as he attempted to pass Porsche team-mate Jacky Ickx into the fearsome corner.

A winner in Formula Two, the feeder series to Formula One back in the 80′s he rose to prominence with his works Porsche Group C drives and racing for two seasons with the Tyrrell organisation. Perhaps his most famous race was the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix when he finished third behind Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Of course his sweet handling naturally aspirated car was the perfect tool around the rain swept streets of Monaco but his daunting speed in the Group C championship underlined his ability for the future.

At the time of his death, many thought that he was scheduled to become Germany’s first F1 world champion

The Grumpy Jackal

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Mclaren delays announcement again

It would appear that Ron Dennis has learnt some valuable lessons at the hands of Eric Boullier this season. Throughout the year the french Racing Director has stated dates for a major sponsorship announcement and these have all slipped by.

In a similar vein, as recently as Monza at the start of September, Dennis stated that: “As for a decision on driver line-up, it certainly won’t be in the next few days and it won’t be at the end of the season, it will be something in between.”

Obviously as we enter the final two weeks of November this date has been changed once again. Mclaren issued a statement via their Twitter: ‘Guys, we know you’re awaiting news on our driver line-up. We’ll announce after Dec 1 – you’ll hear it here first. All eyes now on Abu Dhabi.

Therefore, in what appears to be a hugely discourteous campaign Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen will have to wait until after the first of December for their futures to be resolved. With Fernando Alonso expected to return to the Woking-based team from 2015 the choice for the second seat is still undecided. Boullier prefers to keep Button due to his experience which would assist Alonso and Honda upon their return whereas Dennis prefers the youngster.

The Mclaren statement concluded that: ‘Selecting the optimal driver line-up for a Formula One team is clearly an important process, and it is therefore one that requires precise and prolonged analysis.

‘That being the case, and in order to avoid distracting the race team from its primary objective during the final grand prix weekend of the season, which is to secure the best possible on-track results, we have decided to defer our final deliberations relating to our 2015 driver line-up until a date no earlier than Monday December 1st.’

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Schumacher and Bianchi facing long road to recovery

Phillipe Streiff reported to the media yesterday that Michael Schumacher remains unable to speak, he has memory problems and is confined to a wheelchair. Streiff himself suffered an accident whilst testing in Brazil in 1989 which left him a paraplegic.

The Frenchman, who is a good friend of Schumacher’s, said: ‘He is getting better but everything is relative. It’s very difficult. He can’t speak. Like me, he is in a wheelchair paralysed. He has memory problems and speech problems.’

Streiff is a good friend of Schumacher’s and visited him whilst he was in hospital. With a personal fortune of close to half a billion the family has the funds needed to pay for the army of physicians that he will need in his recuperation but the process will be a long one. Perhaps more poignantly is the family are still struggling to deal with the hand of fate that devastated the Formula One legend after a seemingly innocuous fall.

Further news from France confirms that Jules Bianchi who also suffered severe head injuries during the recent Japanese Grand Prix was flown home to Nice on Tuesday. It was decided that although his condition remains serious he was stable enough to be moved back to his home country.

Bianchi suffered a diffuse axonal injury to his brain and had been kept in an induced coma since his accident but having been removed from the ventilator and breathing unaided the decision was made to return him home for the next stage of his recovery.

Get well soon gentlemen

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Mercedes desperate to avoid title breakdown – Lauda (GMM)

Mercedes is determined to ensure the 2014 title is decided in Abu Dhabi by events other than a technical failure. Team boss Toto Wolff has already said that given the unpopular double points system for the championship finale, it would be a “nightmare” if Lewis Hamilton loses to Nico Rosberg because the British points leader breaks down.

The German outfit is remaining impartial for the decisive round of the drivers’ intense title battle. “For me, both are now world champion,” team chairman Niki Lauda told the German broadcaster RTL. “I have seen two Alpha males, top athletes at the very highest level.”

Lauda denounced Bernie Ecclestone’s double points system as “stupid”, but said Mercedes is determined that the title is at least decided through a fair sporting outcome.

“Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and myself have done everything possible to provide both drivers with the same conditions,” said the F1 legend, “so that technical problems do not decide the race. We have looked at every part of the car and engine and tried to shorten the life of the parts. Wherever we can, we have installed the newest components possible.”

“If there is still a technical problem,” Lauda concluded, “then it is not something that we could have done anything to prevent.”

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Massa is Rosberg’s best hope for title – Glock (GMM)

A strong Williams driver is Nico Rosberg’s best hope of winning the 2014 title against the odds. That is the claim of former F1 driver Timo Glock, who six years ago played a starring role in the championship showdown when Lewis Hamilton managed to pass him on the thrilling last corner of the Brazil finale.

The infamous Glock pass deprived Felipe Massa of the title, and the Brazilian has never forgotten it, remarking mere days ago that “a certain German” ended his title chances. “After so many years, that (Massa’s comment) was surprising,” Glock, now a works BMW driver in the DTM series, told Germany’s Sport1. “I read what he (Massa) said with a smile.”

Curiously, Massa has now been put in the middle of Hamilton’s latest championship battle, this time against his Mercedes teammate Rosberg. Rosberg needs a driver to split the two silver cars on Sunday’s Abu Dhabi podium, and in Brazil two weeks ago the German nominated the on-form Massa, who now drives for Williams.

“The best chance for Rosberg would be a technical problem,” said Glock, “but nobody wants to see the title decided by that. I also believed that Williams can be very strong in Abu Dhabi again, so he (Rosberg) can also hope for Felipe Massa or Valtteri Bottas (to do well).

He (Rosberg) still has a chance,” Glock continued. “I think in 2010 Sebastian Vettel was in an even more difficult position and he still managed it in the end. I think both of them would be deserved world champions,” he said. “At the end of the year Hamilton was definitely stronger, but Nico was stronger at the beginning.”

Asked about the highly controversial double points, meanwhile, Glock answered: “I have found the scheme of putting so much importance on one race a little strange. But if Hamilton’s car fails, then he probably would have lost the world championship with the normal scoring anyway,” Glock added.

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#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 19th November 2014

•November 19, 2014 • 64 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: I can Shoot People in South Africa

#F1 Circuit Profile: Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Yas Marina Circuit – Round 19


OTD Lite: 2009 – Raikkonen – History about to repeat itself?

Haas F1 expands in preparation for 2016

Renault appear to be in trouble heading towards 2015

Webber not surprised at Vettel switch (GMM)

Correspondent slams underperforming F1 drivers (GMM)


OTD Lite: 2009 – Raikkonen – History about to repeat itself?

On this day confirmation arrived that Kimi Raikkonen had decided to take a sabbatical from Formula One. He was being replaced at Ferrari by Spaniard Fernando Alonso who also brought his personal bank to offer funds to the sport’s richest team.

cf8f930be7159422ddcfb96a891bc3e9After having secured his World Title in 2007, the Iceman’s subsequent form showcased the talent of journeyman Felipe Massa who challenged for the 2008 title and was leading his illustrious team-mate before his season ending accident in Hungary in 2009.

Of course Mr “stop talking I know what I’m doing” went on to win in Belgium 2009 and all his fans decried that if Ferrari had followed his direction earlier they would have witnessed more success – except Mr Magnum Lollies is hardly the most demonstrative character in motor-sport.

So off he toddled to World Rallying before his journey returned him full circle to Maranello and another frankly disappointing season. Will Alonso leave the Scuderia or will he force Kimi out once again after Fred’s recent unsavoury contract negotiations with Mclaren-Honda. Either way, as when Schumacher retired in Brazil 2006, Kimi is unlikely to give a s**t…

The Grumpy Jackal

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Haas F1 expands in preparation for 2016

In 2011 – Ford ‘persuaded’ the Ferrari team to withdraw the name of F150 which they had christened their F1 challenger that year. It, of course, should be stated for the record that although this Ford truck and the Ferrari F1 cars could be mistaken for their colour, their individual architecture is unlikely to confuse even the hillbillys of the deep south.

Of course this is all old history except that Ferrari’s B team – otherwise known as Haas F1 – has appointed an engineer to oversee their entry into the pinnacle of international motor-sport whilst combining his duties running the Haas truck racing team, otherwise known as Nascar.

Matt Borland has assumed the position of vice president overseeing the technology transfer between the Formula One team and their sister team, the Stewart-Haas Nascar team. Using their combined technology base to enhance both factions competitiveness.

Having built himself an excellent reputation within the Indycar and Nascar worlds he is equally excited about the new challenges ahead, “I love being an engineer and building things. This way I have the best of both worlds. I contribute to Stewart-Haas’ increasing competitiveness and to also build an F1 team. There are method s we can apply to the Haas F1 team which will strengthen ot and I am proud to be able to handle this”

Of course no mention was made of similar bold statements emanating from a certain BAR team back in the late 90′s. Their brave rhetoric was that Reynard, their constructor, had won every time on their debut race – it was almost inviting failure.

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Renault appear to be in trouble heading towards 2015

Was Sebastien Vettel pre-warned about the state of play at Viry Chatillon? Red Bull has been pushing and lobbying the FIA to relax the engine freezing parameters to allow some in season development. It appears that Renault engineers are no happier with their 2015 engine design than they have been with this seasons lacklustre effort.

With Christian Horner claiming a horrific 75bhp deficit to the Mercedes engines – reports from Caterham suggest that all is not well in Milton Keynes land. Caterham is desperately attempting to finish the season and prepare for the 2015 season – although no mention is mentioned of the Romanians who wanted to fund an entry.

The real prospect of running a 2014 chassis for next year is negated by the fact that the engine fixings between the 2014 and 2015 power units are fundamentally different. In fact so much so that the FIA has been asked if they could run the engine in the old configuration otherwise Caterham would not be competing to which the FIA as ever chased the snails around trying to find answers from this most secretive of clubs.

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Webber not surprised at Vettel switch

Mark Webber has backed his former Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel’s move to Ferrari. The duo shared a famously tense relationship whilst paired together, but Australian Webber has hailed quadruple world champion Vettel’s talent since retiring from F1.

Asked by Austria’s Salzburger Nachrichten if Vettel’s expected switch from Red Bull to struggling Ferrari was a surprise, Webber answered: “No.

“I’ve always expected him to eventually go where we all now expect him to go now. His next team will be his last in F1,” 38-year-old Webber predicts. “He was frustrated, he wants results, but he also knows better than anyone that he will need to be patient. Perhaps the decision is really correct,” Webber continued. “When Lewis (Hamilton) left McLaren, everyone said he was crazy. Look at him now.”

TJ13 Comment: It’s been on the cards for some years that Vettel had a Ferrari arrangement in place with Stefano Domenicali. After his resignation back in April, Seb was one of the few who called him which SD alluded to cryptically in an interview.

Beyond that the wunderkid always wanted to emulate his hero, Michael Schumacher, and Ferrari was always on the horizon. Of perhaps more interest is the fact Webber believes Ferrari to be his last team. Does this mean he looks at this as a ten year project or would he be looking to retire in a handful of years, barely into his thirties?

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Correspondent slams underperforming F1 drivers

A journalist for a leading British newspaper has dealt a heavy critique of some of F1′s so-called ‘pay drivers’. As he ranked the performance of the field of 2014, Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson said Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado deserved to be dead last.

“How many Friday practice sessions passed without Maldonado crashing?” he wondered. “Around $43 million of sponsorship money ensures he’ll be there next year.”

Next in the firing line was Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson, who according to Johnson “was so poor that an F1 novice (Andre Lotterer) came in for one race in Belgium and was around a second a lap quicker. Explain that,” he said.

The correspondent said Ericsson is now switching from Caterham to Sauber “due to money, with his credentials slim at best”. The driver Ericsson is replacing at Sauber is Esteban Gutierrez, who according to Johnson was “utterly anonymous all season”.

Another well-backed driver struggling to find an alternate seat for 2015 is Marussia’s Max Chilton, who while “solid and likeable” is “not quick enough for formula one” according to Johnson.

Also critiqued in his 2014 ranking was the outgoing world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was listed as just the 13th best driver of the year. “Has this been the worst title defence ever?” he asked. “Unreliability has not helped, but he’s failed to quickly adapt to the new cars.”

TJ13 comment: The man is hardly a genius in his rating system – he really should contact BlackJack;sBriefs to obtain a more rounded calculator. After all we have been ridiculing Crashtor throughout this season in race reports, FP1, FP2 and FP3 sessions, erm, qualifying, DN&C articles…

As to Ericsson, look above at Maldonado comment…. and repeat.

But what we find completely reprehensible is that beautiful Max has been lined up for an attack…

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#F1 Circuit Profile: Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Yas Marina Circuit – Round 19

•November 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This weekend Formula One visits somewhere that was described as ‘the richest city in the world’ in 2007, and certainly is in the big league when it comes to finances – Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

15_Yas_Marina_Circuit_Track_Dusk_Photo_courtesy-of_YMC

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will leave Abu Dhabi as champion and second placed finisher in the 2014 Formula One World Championship – only their order hasn’t been decided just yet. We are guaranteed to see a different champion in F1 for the first time since 2010, and the result will either place Rosberg as the third German to win a championship, or it will elevate Lewis Hamilton to the proud position of winning the world championship on multiple occasions. We’ll have to wait and see.

History

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was announced in 2008, one year after a ‘Formula One Festival’ had taken place, and first appeared on the calendar in 2009.

The venue itself is one of the most modern circuits of all time, with all seats part of grandstands, and an extremely large amount of floodlights in order to hold a race at twilight.

Attention was attracted to the circuit by many things, but a unique feature of the track is having a pit lane exit that runs underneath the first turn – fortunately, no one has crashed in the tunnel so far! Additionally, it does mean that if you did an out lap followed by an in lap, you would have done a very weird figure of eight.

It does get criticised a lot for being flat, processional, and having many of the problems that many of the tracks show these days. But they drive under a hotel that lights up in different colours and Bernie says that the organisers can have the race for as long as they want it, so I guess we may as well get used to it.

Indeed, this year it not only has the privilege of hosting the season finale (last year, it hosted round 17), but controversially it also has the honour of being the only race worth double points. In short, it is now theoretically twice as important as any other regular season race, ever. If you’re a fan of that, I recommend the NASCAR finale from Sunday, because that could be where the concept will end up.

Circuit Characteristics

Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit Characteristics © FIA

The lap begins with a slow corner followed by a series of fast corners into the exit of the first sector. This is marked by a chicane leading into a tight hairpin which sees the cars reach the lowest speed on the lap.

After this, the drivers go down one of the longest straights of the year, reaching around 320 kilometres per hour, before a quick chicane leads them to another straight (and DRS zone) followed by another chicane.

This final sector is often compared with Monaco due to the proximity of the walls, and it is also a little bit similar to the second and third sectors in Korea due to the speed. Once the drivers go under the hotel, it is a relatively simple fast two corners up to the line.

The lap record at the track is held by Sebastian Vettel at 1:40.279, and the track sees the drivers complete 68 gear changes per lap while spending 73% of that on full throttle. It is a high downforce track.

A Lap of Yas Marina with Lewis Hamilton:

Form Guide

Nico Rosberg was victorious last time out in Brazil, and realistically needs to win the race to stand a chance of taking the title. However, Lewis Hamilton has won more races this season, and there were certainly indications in the last race that he should’ve taken that one as well. If a mechanical failure hits one of them though, it’s game over, unsurprisingly.

Elsewhere, Ricciardo will be third in the championship, while Vettel, Alonso and Bottas are fighting for fourth place. Button and Massa will be squabbling over seventh place, with Hulkenberg potentially also in the mix. Eight points separate Magnussen in tenth and Perez in twelfth, with Raikkonen in between. At the back of the grid, Sauber and Caterham – amazingly – will be looking to score points to move them above Marussia, although that shouldn’t make a difference to their prize money relative to the Russian-registered team after all.

Yas Marina with Pirelli

The final grand prix of the season will take place in Abu Dhabi, using the soft and supersoft tyre: a step softer than last year’s nomination of medium and soft. Yas Marina is a circuit that Pirelli knows well, having completed some of its private testing there before entering Formula One back in 2011, with Abu Dhabi being a well-known venue for official tests as well.

This year is no exception, with the final two-day test of the season taking place straight after the grand prix, from Tuesday to Wednesday.

The track surface is quite smooth, featuring a variety of 90-degree corners. The other defining characteristic of the grand prix is that, like Bahrain, it starts in the late afternoon and ends in the evening – meaning that the track tends to cool down as the race goes on, which affects strategy.

This year double points are on offer, so the stakes are even higher and teams will be concentrating on strategy harder than ever, while prioritising a safe finish. The weather tends to be warm and dry, with the track well-suited to the supersoft and soft compounds: the fastest tyres in Pirelli’s range.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPaul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:It’s always a pleasure to return to Abu Dhabi and this year’s event will be even more significant than usual, with the drivers’ championship being decided and double points available. The strategy is normally greatly affected by the unusual track evolution, due to the falling temperatures caused by the late afternoon start. This was the case in Bahrain as well, which turned out to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable races of the season earlier this year.

As a result, the free practice sessions will be particularly crucial, as the teams try to gather as much information as possible about how the car will perform on both compounds: not just with different fuel loads, but also with different track temperatures.

As so many points are on offer, there is a big opportunity for teams that have less to lose to try an unexpected strategy, in order to make some potentially significant gains.

Jean Alesi © PirelliJean Alesi, Pirelli consultant:I’ve never driven a Formula One car in Abu Dhabi but I like the track, especially because of its high levels of safety and the long straight that provides a few overtaking opportunities, thanks also to the use of DRS. As the race starts at 5pm, with ambient and track temperatures gradually dropping, the ability to adapt to a changing situation is essential. These varying conditions affect tyre pressures too.

Having said that, the biggest stress for the drivers this year will be the fact that the race counts for double points. Even with his normally qui important point advantage, current Championship leader could see it all taken away from him by just a simple mistake.

The circuit from a tyre point of view:
The supersoft tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures. The soft tyre is a high working range compound. With the two softest compounds in the range and a smooth track surface, warm-up should not be an issue.

We can expect a certain degree of thermal degradation that could influence the strategies and the setup of the cars. The first and third free practice sessions are usually run in conditions that are not representative for qualifying and race due to much higher temperatures experienced during the day.

The first part of the circuit effectively consists of a series of non-stop bends, which heats up the tyre compound. The compound then gets a chance to cool down on the long straight, with the cars on full throttle for around 15 seconds, with the equivalent of around 800 kilograms of downforce.

To help gain maximum traction, the cars are often set up with quite a soft rear end at Abu Dhabi, but this can lead to increased rear tyre wear. If the set-up is too stiff at the back, the opposite problem can occur: excessive wheelspin, which also takes life out of the tyres.

The winning strategy last year was a two-stopper. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel started on the soft tyre, pitted for the medium on lap 14, then pitted again for the medium on lap 37 never losing the lead.

Yas Marina in 3D with Pirlelli

Yas Marina and Brembo

Brembo - Yas Marina

* Turn 08 is considered the most demanding for the braking system. © Brembo

The same considerations which were made for the Bahrain circuit are also valid here, although the make up of the track leads to lower speeds and therefore less stress on the brakes. On this track the stress the braking system is subjected to is in any case quite significant and above average: here the drivers spend more than 18% of each lap with a foot on the brake.

The 13 braking sections are rather demanding and the heated pace and torrid climate, with their correlated effects of increased grip and stress, can create thermal dissipation problems as well as problems with friction material wear.

Memorable moments

abu-dhabi-GP20092009 – Polesitter Lewis Hamilton battled with Sebastian Vettel for the lead, with the German overtaking after the first pit stops. This was a contest that the Brit eventually lost due to retirement caused by a brake failure.

2010 – The championship battle headed to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the year, and the first lap saw Schumacher and Liuzzi collide, bringing out the safety car and allowing many cars to head into the pits for a change of tyres. Due to the durability of Bridgestone’s tyres, championship challengers Alonso and Webber were unable to gain any places without the cars in front pitting, which they declined to do, meaning that Vettel won his first ever world championship.

2011 – Effectively the opposite of 2009, with Vettel retiring due to a puncture and Lewis Hamilton going on to win the race.

2012 – Kimi Raikkonen won his first race since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso having to settle for second ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who drove well through the field in order to maintain his championship lead.

2013 – Vettel won the race from Mark Webber, which equalled the record for most consecutive wins in a season.

Support Races

Jolyon Palmer – him of potential Caterham fame, according to last week’s news – has wrapped up the GP2 title after a season including four victories, one of which came during the last race weekend in Russia. With 40 points on offer, the battle for second place in the championship is simply between 2015 Sauber recruit Felipe Nasr and McLaren programme driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who is guaranteed at least third place. Both drivers had a podium finish in the sprint race in Russia.

The GP3 series has also reached a similar stage, with Alex Lynn far enough ahead of everyone else to take the title. Mathematically, everyone from second to eighth has the possibility to finish second in the championship, although this battle is likely to come down to Dean Stoneman and Marvin Kirchhofer; the former currently having spent the most time on top of the podium this season after wins in Spain, Belgium, Italy and Russia.

Previous Results

Year Driver Constructor
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2012 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault
2011 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2010 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2009 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 18th November 2014

•November 18, 2014 • 54 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: I can Shoot People in South Africa


OTD Lite: 2003 – Passing of legendary F1 journalist – Jabby

Mercedes backed Paffett to leave Honda backed Macca’s

Ecclestone to clamp down on online media in paddock

Horner says Renault 75hp down on Mercedes

Last of the season’s FIA Press Conferences

Will Stevens to drive for Caterham

Smaller team’s leaked letter

There’s hope for Lewis yet

Sutil in possible breach of Sauber contract


OTD Lite: 2003 – Passing of legendary F1 journalist – Jabby

photo_autograph_crombac_3_400x502On this day nine years ago, one of the most respected F1 journalists in history passed away after a long battle with cancer. Gerard ‘Jabby’ Crombac was held in the same high esteem as other notable journalistic legends, including Denis Jenkinson, following a lifetime of reporting on the Formula One world.

He was a close friend of both Colin Chapman and Jim Clark – who he shared a flat with in Paris – something that would be similar to Lewis Hamilton sharing accommodation with Ted Kravitz; although come to think of it, neither Lewis or Ted deserve to be compared to the two aforementioned legends.

The Swiss born journalist founded Sport-Auto magazine in 1962 and remained its chief editor until 1989. Famous for wearing a tweed flat cap and with a pipe hanging from his mouth – this man became a legend amongst his peers.

The Grumpy Jackal

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Mercedes backed Paffett to leave Honda backed Macca’s

Long-time McLaren test driver Gary Paffett will leave McLaren at the end of 2014 due to his long term association to Mercedes. He started working with the Woking team in 2006 completing thousands of kilometeres of testing and subsequently hundreds of hours on the team’s simulator.

“I’ve loved working for McLaren and hope my feedback and input over the years has been beneficial,” Paffett said. “The engineers I’ve worked with have been kind enough to say that it has. I have many friends at McLaren, and I wish all of them the very best of luck for the future. Fingers crossed for a McLaren grand prix win or two next year!”

McLaren CEO Jonathan Neale paid tribute to Paffett, “Gary has been an excellent member of the McLaren team for the best part of a decade, and his technical input, on test track and in simulator alike, has been hugely important to us. Just as important, he’s a great guy. We wish him well.”

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Ecclestone to clamp down on online media in paddock

Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to clamp down on the proliferation of internet journalists in F1. After controversially rubbishing the power of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter last week, the F1 supremo is now warning that online publications will find access to the paddock more difficult in the future.

He told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt: “Choose your race for free, enter the paddock, meet the drivers. How do you do it? Set up a website. I’m going to have a good look at the accreditation because it is a bit of a joke,” 84-year-old Ecclestone added.

Meanwhile, amid Marussia and Caterham’s troubles and with other small teams demanding talks with Ecclestone, the diminutive Briton sounds determined to plough ahead with plans to introduce third cars per team.

“We are talking about all the different options with third cars,” he told City A.M. “The contracts just say they have to run a third car if it drops below the limit. We are talking about what the right way is to go.”

TJ13 comment: With the clearest indication yet of F1 still being run as a dictatorship we now have Mr E apparently taking heed of Coffee Shop Joe and clamping down on the new wave of information.

This however, will change little. CSJ’s complaints are about ‘bottom feeders’, who he claims cut and paste news, never enter the paddock anyway.

Further, there is a new confidence abroad amongst employees who work within Formula One and are happy to share their knowledge and experience to trusted publications – who they know will publish the truth. The fact the teams now employ many hundreds of people, makes it impossible for them to identify from where the information is emanating.

What is also evident, is that the greatest value the ‘experienced’ F1 writers who frequent the paddock bring, is their comment and opinion given the information they have. This is not happening.

Earlier this year, CSJ reported he had known for many weeks of the FIA’s fuel flow measurement irregularities, but it was a matter that should be kept from the public.

More recently, James Allen – respected highly by this site – refused to offer comment on the latest meanderings from Mr. E, setting his readers cryptic clues and responding to TJ13′s Editor in Chief by stating, “If you can’t see what Bernie is doing, I’m not about to tell you”. 

With Bernie’s dismissal of social media, Jean Todt famously not using even email and with the likes of Toto Wolff offering that the teams were looking at how to monetize the medium, F1′s archaic principles rear their head once again but as with all dictatorships they eventually crumble..

Fans have suffered from the loss of FanVision, fans are refusing to watch live Formula One races if it means taking out pay-per-TV subscriptions for hundreds of currency units, attendances are falling at circuits due to high ticket prices and fans are now bemused by the loss of the entertaining radio messages which used to be broadcast.

NASCAR meantime is booming. Viewing figures are high, sponsors are flocking to shell out hundreds of millions, circuit promoters make money, fans pay 10′s of dollars – not hundreds to attend an event – and TV access is plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

F1 Fans are being let down by their sports media, the sport’s regulator and ripped off by the commercial rights holder however an incremental buck can be extracted from them.

F1 fans will only suffer so much – and then they’ll vote with their feet.

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Horner says Renault 75hp down on Mercedes

Christian Horner has put an alarming horse power figure on Renault’s deficit to dominant Mercedes in 2014. “Our engine has 75 horse power less than the Mercedes,” he declared to the Italian publication Autosprint. A big argument is taking place at present between struggling Renault – Red Bull’s works supplier – and F1′s other engine marques Ferrari and Mercedes.

Renault and Ferrari are pushing hard for the so-called engine development ‘freeze’ to be relaxed, but Mercedes is understandably resisting.

“If you look at the speed in the corners,” Red Bull chief Horner said, “we are always the best. Unfortunately we don’t have the power that we need. When you are 75 horse power down, it doesn’t really matter what else you have. What can you do? Nothing.”

He thinks it is unfair that when Red Bull was utterly dominant in the past, F1 did not hesitate to clamp down on the team’s aerodynamic advantages. “I do hope that Renault is able to close the gap for the future, but it’s not easy,” said Horner. “Because if you freeze a new technology so early, it is very difficult to fix all of the problems that you have.”

“In the past, always with the aim of slowing down Red Bull, there were no doubts whatsoever about altering the technical regulations when we had all the double diffusers, blown diffusers, flexible parts, engine maps,” he added.

TJ13 comment: Spiceboy, Christian ‘for the good of the sport’ Horner appears to be speaking from a place of pain. Draughtsman Adrian Newey has not muttered a word about the unfairness of F1, it cyclical yet Horner has run out of toys to throw out of the metaphorical pram.

It is not the FIA’s fault that Renault designed a poor engine which appeared in Jerez last winter with clear instructions not to exceed 250kms. It’s not the governing body’s fault that Renault’s arrogance in regards the homologation freeze being lifted last year led to a year of pain.

Of course, when the MIlton Keynes squad was rewriting the “not in the spirit” context of the regulations in their favour, the FIA were forced to remove all dubious designs. But it’s interesting that the newly bearded one chooses to include a design feature that had to be adopted from the Brawn car in 2009. The big boys wanted it banned, and after the third race in China, the FIA accepted it’s design and forced the others into a development race.

Still when you are used to defending your actions it’s probably a natural reaction to take blame for everything.

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Last of the season’s FIA Press Conferences

The attendees for these are reportedly selected by the FIA (Jean Todt), yet at times there’s a feel that Bernie has influence in some way. Not this weekend.

Team Principals Friday

Robert Fernley
Christian Horner
Monisha Kaltenborn
Gerard Lopez
Marco Mattiacci
Claire Williams
Toto Wolff

Drivers Thursday

Fernando Alonso
Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton
Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Rosberg
Sebastian Vettel
 

Friday looks set for a last ditch public appeal to be made by the smaller teams before we see F1 weekends and the prime race include mixed category cars in the very near future.

Thursday we have the 2 Mercedes drivers – who will be media prep’d like never before. But there is a certain Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso on the panel. Vettel has revealed this week that Alonso is leaving Ferrari – as far as he is aware. May get interesting.

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Will Stevens to drive for Caterham

Having announced Kamui Kobayashi as one of the drivers for the Abu Dhabi weekend, Caterham are still thin lipped about who their other driver is.

TJ13 reveal that Will Stevens is certain to get a drive, though at present this is expected to be limited to Friday practice – and Max Chilton is expected to run there car from thereon.

Due to the factory closure following the Russian GP, the cars are both short of spare parts and have components which have run their ‘safe’ mileage.

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Smaller team’s leaked letter

It has been reported widely since late last night that the smaller teams have leaked a letter sent by them for Bernie Ecclestone’s attention. They are requesting a meeting this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

“Since Austin, Lotus, Sauber and Force India F1 have been in communication with Donald [Mackenzie of CVC] and your good self in order to highlight the critical situation independent constructors in Formula 1 are facing today. From our meetings we noted positively that our concerns were acknowledged and there was a basis for a constructive dialogue. However, after our meeting in Brazil we clearly see the direction of Formula 1 towards customer cars / super GP2. It is equally clear that the Strategy Group has no intention at all to reduce costs.”

The constant mantra from Ecclestone that the smaller teams just run their businesses badly and spend too much is addressed once again.

“70% – 80% of the FOM income has to be allocated to the engine. For us, as engine customers, the engine technology, i.e V6 or V8 turbo-charged or hybrid, is of much less significance, as opposed to engine manufacturers, who are using Formula One as a marketing tool to showcase high-end technology. Unlike manufacturer-owned teams, our core business is Formula One.

“Yet, we have no choice but to spend most of our income on the engine, and the remaining 30% is by far not enough to construct, enter and run a team over a twenty race season.”

Interestingly, this is the first comment on how the failed Concorde negotiations of two years ago, led to a new set of bi-lateral agreements between FOM and the FIA, FOM and the teams, the teams and the FIA.

“The shareholder’s (sic) focus during the negotiations was on securing the co-operation with big teams in view of the planned IPO; we were effectively given no room for negotiation. Furthermore, the impact of providing various share options to key people and entities may well have clouded their judgement in respect of creating what is effectively a questionable Cartel comprising, the Commercial Rights Holder, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams, controlling both the governance of Formula One and apparently, the distribution of FOM funds.

“Whilst the FIA are involved in The Strategy Group, they are impotent to act.”

The rhetoric is strong and the use of the word ‘Cartel’ is provocative, mitigated slightly by the prefix – questionable. This is clearly designed to threaten the powers that be in F1 with an appeal to the EU Competition Commission. Clearly this kind of threat is an indication that the smaller teams now have nothing to lose – and will go down all guns blazing.

The EU commission said earlier this year, they were ‘watching F1’, though clearly no intervention has been made. The smaller teams can file a complaint and the Commission will then investigate. This final appeal to Ecclestone appears to the basis for such a complaint – if ignored.

Were the commission to investigate and rule there was a ‘Cartel’ and anti-competitive practices, they can levy large fines – but also insist the practices be altered and give direction as to how this should be done.

This weekend is the final event of the F1 2014 calendar, and if teams other than Caterham and Marussia are in trouble for 2015, even were the EU to act – there is unlikely the time available for them to be saved by new rulings from the Commission.

For the fans of the smaller teams, let’s hope they are capable of getting to the grid in Melbourne and that the EU commission get involved.

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There’s hope for Lewis yet

Looks as though Nicole’s not yet made it back to Number One.

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Sutil in possible breach of Sauber contract

The pressure is mounting, as the usual cool calm and collected Monisha Kaltenborn erupted. “Contracts are worth nothing in Formula One” she retorted to a Formule1.nl representative.

Then when asked whether this applied to Sauber drivers, Kaltenborn denied this was the case.

Despite this assertion, it is clear that Adrian Sutil believes he has a contract for 2014 whilst Kaltenborn was behind the scenes signing up Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.

It appears then at face value that there is a breach of contract with Sutil, for which redress must be made.

Of course Kaltenborn studied International Business Law at the LSE and is fairly likely to have solid grounds for her and Sauber’s actions.

It appears information is emanating from Sauber suggesting Adrian Sutil in fact breached his contract by not delivering certain sponsorship partners.

It would be incredible to think that Sauber would sign a contract with a new driver, without the simultaneous contractual agreements being in place with their promised sponsors.

Discounting this possibility, Sauber are probably referring to clauses in most driver contracts which seek to engage their drivers’ services in attracting new sponsors for the team. These clauses are most definitely more tenuous in their enforcement and proving an absolute breach would be difficult.

So, if Sauber are suggesting Sutil didn’t find any incremental sponsors over and above those he delivered up front, Sauber will almost certainly be culpable for the breach of Sutil’s contract for 2015.

Clearly, business is business and Kaltenborn knows, the enormous amount of incremental cash which either Ericsson or Nasr bring to Sauber over and above that from Sutil, will more than cover an out of court settlement with Sutil. Or indeed should the case be lost by Sauber in court, again the up side must still be better than the down – when doing the math

The Lauda analogy of F1 being a “pit of vipers’ appears to extend even to the much loved and ‘nice’ smaller teams on the grid.

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#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 17th November 2014

•November 17, 2014 • 38 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: I can Shoot People in South Africa

Judges Chamber: The day, the #F1 music died

#F1 Forensics: An interview with Kolles Snr

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 4th: Honda


OTD Lite: 2003 – McLaren confirms signature of the Columbian nutter

Caterham announce a driver (UPDATE 12:53)

Vettel takes matters into his own hands

Wolff eyeing Hamilton contract talks on Monday

Teams’ response to Ecclestone

McLaren driver reshuffle may favour Jenson Button 

FIA got yellow flag regulation for 2014 wrong.

Is Fernandes complicit with employment irregularities?


OTD Lite: 2003 – McLaren confirms signature of the Columbian nutter

On this day eleventy years ago, staid, shades of grey (in a boring way ) Mclaren announced that they would be signing the exuberant, colourfully lingo’d Colombian – Juan Pablo Montoya to their squad. Not for the 2004 season, you understand dear reader, but for their 2005 campaign.

Of course, towards the end of 2005 they followed the same protocol and actually signed the Spanish Samurai to the grey confines for the 2007 season.

In a break with tradition, Mclaren this year have seemingly decided to do things in reverse and have yet to announce any signatories for their up-coming season – although there is no truth they will announce a package of drivers and main sponsors around the time of Abu Dhabi 2015.

Of course history would prove that JPM was unbalanced in any of his public dealings and began his season with Ron’s team having fractured his shoulder whilst playing tennis… and riding a moto-cross bike….

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Caterham announce a driver

1MRT have announced the redundancy of the remaining 230 employees of the Caterham F1 team. TJ13 reported last week that whilst 1MRT, owned by Tony Fernandes, was not under the Administration process being managed by Finbar O’Connell.

Having met the staff of 1MRT to provide them with information regarding the crowdfunding project, O’Conell penned a memo in which he requested the staff be informed of the following content.

“There is an understandable groundswell of desire for 1MRT to make you, its employees, redundant as soon after 14th November as possible. On this basis the employees will be able to begin to make their claims to the Redundancy Payments Office (RPO) which deals with all statutory claims including redundancy and arrears of wages. I am informed that it is very likely that all of the 1MRT employees will be made redundant on or before 14th November and this claims process can commence”.

“If a purchaser buys the Team after this date I have no doubt that the purchaser will make an approach to people about re-employing them.

Formal redundancy will not affect the position of the Project Team. Clearly, their objective is to try and save the Race Team and they too would hope to be re-employed by any future purchaser.

I hope that this update assists people in understanding the current position. Again, as I am only advising 1MRT with regard to its financial position and am not formally appointed over it, although I expect to be in the future, my comments here are made from the information currently available to me”.

For the staff to make the redundancy claims from the UK statutory body, the RPO, this required Fernandes to place 1MRT into Administration. Until that point, the company and Fernandes were liable for the payments of these claims.

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The employees were informed of their redundancy status on Friday.

The staff are angry that they are owed 7 weeks pay and that Fernandes appears to be hiding behind the lack of funds in what is in effect a shell type company and they are now forced to enter a process which may take some time for them to receives their dues from a statutory UK body.

Fernandes has escaped much of the criticism for the treatment of his staff since he ‘loaned’ the business to Colin Kolles. It is just inconceivable that the share transfer and consideration due for payment would be allowed to drag on as long as Fernandes allowed the alleged ‘negotiations’ to last with the ‘Swiss based Arab Investors’.

What is highly unusual is that someone would lend another person their business to be run by an agent for such an extended period of time. The potential damage to the asset base whilst these lengthy negotiations take place is too great a risk.

The fact that Fernandes did this, suggests he had no interest in concluding the affairs of his company and his staff properly and with propriety, and merely ducked out waiting for the inevitable to occur.

It appears to have been a convenient mechanism for Tony to distance himself from the Caterham operation, which ensures he does not have to properly fund the payment of the people he employed.

Once again the mainstream media care not to report this fact, so TJ13 again gives the shoddily treated workers from Leafield a voice.

However, the team is taking two cars, a skeleton race crew of around 40 people and limited parts to Abu Dhabi. Having used three race drivers this year and with Ericsson having cancelled his contract with the team – Caterham could employ one new driver and either Andre Lotterer or Kamui Kobayashi.

With Lotterer rejecting the team’s offer to drive in Abu Dhabi, this left Caterham with no choice but to confirm late last night that Kamui will be the race driver from this years pool of drivers previously employed, who would be driving for Caterham in Abu Dhabi.

“I am happy to be racing with the team in Abu Dhabi,” said Kobayashi. “It hasn’t been an easy last few weeks, so it will be nice to be back to in the car and work together with the Caterham F1 team members. I would like to thank the fans for supporting the team like they have. This team is working hard and never gives up. We deserve to be racing in Abu Dhabi and I am very glad we can race again thanks to the crowdfunding Project.”

TJ13 has been informed, that the two seats for the test event following the Grand Prix weekend have been sold, though to whom is as yet unknown.

The second driver for the race weekend in Abu Dhabi is still currently being negotiated. Initially Joylon Palmer was believed to be the favourite as his father Jonathan had visited the factory several times prior to the first day the staff were locked out of Leafield by the Administrator. Palmer is believed to be very interested in acquiring the operation, though as yet O’Connell has merely confirmed there are a number of interested parties who came forward following the crowd funding initiative.

Also on the list of possible drivers for the Abu Dhabi race is Will Stephens, though the latest word is the Max Chilton fans are set to a surprise return of their favourite hairstyle to the grid, though this time in a green and not a red car.

UPDATE: TJ13 believes Joylon Palmer has now ruled himself out of driving for Caterham this weekend end Abu Dhabi. So its down to Max or Will.

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Vettel takes matters into his own hands

Filling in a fun questionnaire in Brazil, provided by Sky Italia, Vettel answered the question, “Sebastian Vettel is?”, by writing, “a driver for Scuderia Ferrari”.

Whether Vettel is just fed up with the delay, unsettled by Ferrari’s silence or even doing the bidding of Maranello, he was quoted on Sunday in the German publication Bild as stating, “I see myself getting along with Kimi just fine.”

The ‘Ice Man’ and Sebastian are known to be good friends and Vettel added, “He’s always straight and direct, so on the human side I expect absolutely no problems in the future.”

By doing this, Vettel is letting the world know that his understanding of Ferrari’s position is that Alonso is leaving the team. Sebastian pointedly remarked of his new team mate, “He (Raikkonen) has – thank god – zero interest in the politics of a team.”

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Wolff eyeing Hamilton contract talks on Monday

Mercedes has scheduled urgent contractual talks with Lewis Hamilton, as the team looks to keep its dominant pairing together beyond 2015. Currently, the pair are set to race together once again next year, despite clashing on and off track at times as the intensity of their championship fight heated up.

Earlier this year, Mercedes extended its deal with Nico Rosberg, while teammate Hamilton’s contract is still currently set to expire at the end of 2015. Asked why only Rosberg’s deal was extended, team boss Toto Wolff told the Austrian broadcaster ORF: “We didn’t want to be in a situation where in a year’s time there is the possibility we have to be filling not one but two places. Nico is an important part of the team, he fits in well and his performance is good so we wanted to extend at an early stage,” he said during the Sport am Sonntag programme.”

“With Lewis,” Wolff continued, “the contract runs for another year anyway and in the summer we started to discuss (extending) it (beyond 2015). We have agreed that we want to continue and Lewis has said the same but at some point we decided that it was not the right time to do it. The duel was so intense so we thought it was a good idea to talk after Abu Dhabi.

“Now we have agreed that we get together on Monday in Abu Dhabi to talk about it,” said Wolff.

If confirmed, the news looks set to lock Fernando Alonso out of Mercedes for now, following speculation the Spaniard wanted to find a stop-gap solution for 2015 in order to target Hamilton’s place in silver for 2016. But it appears Mercedes is happy with Hamilton and Rosberg, despite their run-ins this season.

Wolff was asked if he even sees the “fire” between the team’s current pairing as essential to continue Mercedes’ dominance into 2015 and beyond.

“I don’t know if fire is important,” he said. “The only thing the two are interested in is that they have the fastest race car possible. So I would say at the moment that we have a good situation. Clearly there are many others who would like to have this cockpit, but I hope our two see it that way as well and we can go on with this driver combination.”

Before the future arrives, however, the eyes of the world will be on Hamilton and Rosberg this weekend in Abu Dhabi as their 2014 championship battle reaches its conclusion.

Asked who the favourite is, Wolff told ORF: “I have been asked this question time and time again in the past days. Mathematically, the numbers are on Lewis’ side, but we (Mercedes) want to behave neutrally. Lewis is in the lead and a second place will be enough to be world champion, so Nico has to hope for a third place or worse (for Hamilton).”

“If you look on the basis of the last few races, then everything points to another one-two,” he admitted.

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Teams’ response to Ecclestone

Following Mr. E’s incoherent psycobabble about F1 not needing young fans – whilst at the same time suggesting the tobacco companies were an excellent model marketeer. Here’s what McLaren think.

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Yes it is a fake….. just like the Ferrari invoice for services rendered to Mark Webber. Ironically, Lotus used the #F1, which Bob and Mary back at Bernie’s base are battling to understand at present.

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McLaren driver reshuffle may favour Jenson Button 

McLaren have dispensed with the services of their test driver Gary Paffett today. It is probable that because Paffett remains part of the German DTM programme with Mercedes. Having developed high end Mercedes sports cars together and Mercedes holding some 40% of McLaren for some time – the final divorce settlement between the parties includes in the detail, the services of the team’s test driver who joined them in 2006.

“I’ve loved working for McLaren”, said the 33 year old British driver, “and hope my feedback and input over the years has been beneficial.

“The engineers I’ve worked with have been kind enough to say that it has.

“I have many friends at McLaren, and I wish all of them the very best of luck for the future. Fingers crossed for a McLaren grand prix win or two next year!”

Acting CEO for the Woking team commented that, “Gary has been an excellent member of the McLaren team for the best part of a decade, and his technical input, on test track and in simulator alike, has been hugely important to us. Just as important, he’s a great guy. We wish him well.”

Oliver Turvey, the team’s other test drive, took a prototype of the 2015 and the new Honda engine for a spin during a filming day on Friday at Silverstone.

There is speculation that Kevin Magnussen may now make way for Fernando Alonso and return to testing duties alongside Turvey for a season, with Jenson Button retaining his race seat after all.

Jenson recently reduced significantly his remuneration demands, in a bid to retain his drive with McLaren as they move into the new Honda engine partnership era.

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FIA got yellow flag regulation for 2014 wrong.

Without admitting culpability, the virtual safety is set to replace the ill-fated yellow and double yellow flag regulation brought into Formula One for 2014. Drivers were to reduce their speed by 0.2 seconds for a yellow flag and 0.5 seconds for a double waved yellow, which on average through one of the circuits mini 20 sectors represented a reduction in speed for DOUBLE waved yellow flags of  15%.

For some unknown reason, the FIA is suggesting it cannot confirm whether the new virtual safety car system will be finalised and ready for Melbourne 2015.

Drivers are finding it difficult to drive through such short sectors to a delta time. When the safety car is deployed, the drivers must drive to a delta time over a much longer distance and can adjusts their speed based upon the + or – timings they are presented with across each mini timing sector.

It would surely make more sense for the drivers to be given a fixed speed limiter type device to press on entering the affected section of the circuit, along with an audio countdown of beeps – from say 5 to 1 to indicate the start of the speed restricted area.

What is important is that the delta times the drivers are now being given for what would have been waved yellow flags. This is currently set at a 35% speed reduction – though it is likely this will be slowed down further.

TJ13 quickly identified following the race in Germany, that the current regulation was inadequate to bring about the effect of “slow down and be prepared to stop” for double waved yellows – as per the World Motor Sport Council’s regulation.

Clearly the 0.2s and 0.5s (15% speed reduction) regulations for 2014, were woefully inadequate, though the FIA will decide upon the final appropriate reduction in speed following the report on December 3rd from the ‘panel of special advisors’ investigating the Jules Bianchi crash.

TJ13 believes, the FIA have not yet considered regulating that all the cars must pass through the “virtual safety car zone” an equal number of times yet. This is surely something which must happen, to ensure the drivers feel the speed reduction instructions are fair and apply equally to all the competitors.

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Is Fernandes complicit with employment irregularities?

Previously we reported from a memo sent by Finbar O’Connell, the Administrator of Caterham Sports Ltd, that he was of the opinion the majority of the staff were pushing to be made redundant so they could complete their RPO forms for statutory remuneration from the appropriate UK government body.

The staff are owed 7 weeks pay, and feel Fernandes has ducked his responsibility to them (see article above).

However, TJ13 has been contacted by Caterham staff who bitterly complain this is a misrepresentation of the truth.

“There was no vote of any kind amongst the staff from which to judge what the majority opinion might be. Instead there was a small and vocal group agitating for the redundancies. There was an even smaller and less vocal group of 20 or so people who were against it. Those against the redundancies were given short shrift”.

Staff who had found other employment may have been keen for this arrangement to occur, however, it is not in the general interest of those hoping for a buyer for the team or as yet without alternative employment.

One employee commented to TJ13, “I find it odd that the administrator would move to make the most valuable part of the business, the employees, redundant if a sale is, as he claims, imminent. A new owner will be under no obligation to reemploy staff nor offer similar positions or terms. Might this be the real reason for the administrator’s keenness to make people redundant?”

Were a certain Romanian company keen to buy 1MRT, then making the staff redundant would be most beneficial to this potential suitor, who will recruit their own staff in another country – and not have to deal with the liability of the current employees outstanding remuneration.

The Administrator for Caterham Sports Ltd, Finbar O’Connell, is reportedly meeting a “serious buyer” during the Abu Dhabi weekend – so watch out for ether Kolles or faithful sidekick…. “Hi know nothing” Manfredi…. knocking about in the desert paddock.

The excuse for making the staff redundant – that they could quickly and easily apply for a statutory payment from the UK government – appears to have also been a misrepresentation of the truth. One employee divulged, “There are now 200ish people trying to fill in redundancy forms, where even something as simple “What is your employers address”, is almost impossible to fill in”.

Caterham Sports Limited who are being managed by Finbar O’Connell, do not employ the staff, as TJ13 reported weeks ago – since Kolles and Manfredi forced the employees to transfer their contracts to 1MRT.

The address of 1MRT another employee observed - “appears to be a warehouse somewhere in Malaysia”.

TJ13 reported in October – around the time of the staff employment transfer from Caterham Sports Ltd to 1MRT, that it was unclear whether staff employed by a Malaysian based company would qualify for UK statutory redundancy, which will become evident shortly.

Should ‘the Romanians’ acquire the team – then this employment transfer must be questioned by the UK authorities. Further, this transaction must have Fernandes approval, since he never relinquished control of the 1MRT. Either that, or he may have been negligent by allowing his agents, Kolles et al, to undertake such a transaction without proper scrutiny.

Tony Fernandes is unavailable for comment.
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