Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 22nd August 2014

•August 22, 2014 • 34 Comments

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Previously on TJ13:

#F1 History: Part 1: Alberto Ascari and the Lancia D50

The #F1 Bar Exam: 21st August 2014


OTD Lite: 1954 – Fangio wins Swiss Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas wants to remain with Williams…for now

Hamilton, Rosberg disagree over need for talks

‘Too old’ Vergne on quest for new F1 team

BelgianGP FP1 report

Super Max is back

BelgianGP FP2 Report


OTD Lite: 1954 – Fangio wins Swiss Grand Prix

On this day, 60 years ago, Juan Manual Fangio took his Mercedes W196 to his fifth victory of the season. After having started the season with victory in two races with Maserati, whilst awaiting the arrival of the Mercedes project, he would add another two victories before the championship arrived in Switzerland for the 1954 Grand Prix.

The following year, after the Le Mans disaster, the Swiss authorities banned motor-racing from their country, something that to this day means drivers can live in Switzerland without paying taxes as offcially motor-sport is not recognised as a profession, I digress.

A further two victories in 1954 meant that the Argentinian won his second championship to equal the great Alberto Ascari. Renowned journalist Denis Jenkinson always insisted he had a top 5 drivers of all time – Ascari, Stirling Moss, Jim C;ark, Gilles Villeneuve and Ayrton Senna.

As the earlier historic feature today explains, Ascari in the Lancia had the measure of Fangio and with better relaibility would have challenged him to titles. The fact he was killed in 1955 would appear to confirm that as Fangio’s contemporary there was no finer challenger.

The Jackal

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Valtteri Bottas wants to remain with Williams…for now

Toto Wolff wants his protege with him at Mercedes. Mclaren want to sign him as they struggle to source one of the top three drivers to Woking and yet Valtteri Bottas is not looking to move anywhere – confident that Williams will improve once again next season.

With Max Verstappen’s astonishing rise to Formula One, it is somehow refreshing that Bottas is looking at the longer game, “I don’t see a reason to look around at this moment, but it’s too early to say and it’s better to wait for confirmation.”

After some truly dreadful seasons where the once great champions brushed the lowest positions of points scorers, Williams seemed to be moving in the right direction with the Maldonado victory in Barcelona in 2012, yet in a year dominated by difficult to understand tyres, Williams lost direction once again.

Last year, with Bottas and Maldonado, the young Finn’s abilities were displayed when he qualified third in a wet Canadian qualifying; yet fell back quickly in the dry race conditions.

Pat Symonds has proven to be an inspired choice as he has brought focus to the engineering side of the team. After chasing the Holy Grail of exhaust blowing and the Coanda effect, Symonds just removed it from the car and the gains were instant. Bottas moved forwards with his performance in America last year qualifying legitimately in the top ten.

With the departure of the poisoned Maldonado, Williams have invested the money from his get-out clause wisely and attracted sponsors to buffer up the team’s balances. Their historic relationship with Renault would have proved disastrous this year and it’s with good fortune that Wolff arranged a supply of Mercedes engines.

“I really think this team is not at its peak yet. The direction is right and I’m confident this team can be better than what we’ve seen this year. I’m really confident here and wouldn’t mind continuing.”

“It’s a big step. We aimed to be better but it has been a positive surprise how competitive we have been at times. I’m really happy for how much we have improved this season also. From the first race in Melbourne to this race we are a much stronger team and a much better team. There is only one way that can go and that’s to get better.”

With eleven races completed Williams lie fourth in the championship with 135 points and Bottas has stood on the podium three times already. With Paddy the Enforcer applying his engineering skills to the Mercedes, WIlliams are looking more likely to win a race than at any point so far this season…

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(source GMM with TJ13 comment)

Hamilton, Rosberg disagree over need for talks

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg emerged from F1’s summer slumber disagreeing about how to tackle their rivalry over the remaining eight races of 2014. Before the holidays began, the title-battling teammates’ tenuous relationship was stretched even thinner when Hamilton refused to obey a team order in Hungary.

Championship leader Rosberg, probably referring not only to Hamilton’s refusal but also Mercedes’ reaction, admitted on Thursday that the Budapest situation had been a “mess”. The German was saying little more than that. Filling in the blanks, Hamilton told reporters: “He (Rosberg) has asked the team to sit down. He wants to discuss it. I on the other hand think it’s in the past — it’s done and dusted.”

But the Briton confessed that, when he heard the call to let Rosberg past on a different strategy in Hungary, he wondered if Mercedes had decided to put its eggs in the Rosberg basket. “Ultimately the team wants to win,” Hamilton told F1’s official website. “Sometimes you are in a situation where you have to make a decision — let’s put all our eggs in one basket, because that gets us the best result. In that moment it wasn’t easy and for sure I left there (Hungary) thinking,” he admitted. “I was uneasy about it.”

Hamilton said the situation is clearer now and if boss Paddy Lowe issued a clear team order this weekend at Spa, it would be “down a gear and let him go!” On the other hand, his intentions for Sunday and beyond are clear. “I want to win the championship through my ability and fair opportunity,” said Hamilton. “I sure don’t want to finish second and be known as a nice guy.”

TJ13 comment: So there we have it ladies and gentlemen. the Enforcer has left Nico and Lewis quaking in their silk lined unicorn-leather driving booties. Of course if the leprechaun says so, I’ll let him go… when behind the scenes Niki Lauda will be telling Hamilton he has his back, we will fight them on the beaches.

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(source GMM with TJ13 comment)

‘Too old’ Vergne on quest for new F1 team

Jean-Eric Vergne says he understands why Toro Rosso has dropped him for 2015 in favour of Dutch teenager Max Verstappen. The Frenchman said at Spa-Francorchamps that he learned of Red Bull’s decision only hours before the rest of the world did.

“I have only one thing to say,” he is quoted by RMC Sport at Spa-Francorchamps. “I will always be grateful for what Red Bull did for me. We can’t forget that they gave me the same chance three years ago that they are giving Verstappen now. So I totally understand the decision. Toro Rosso is a team for young drivers, and I am apparently too old,” laughed the 24-year-old. “Maybe I should shave more often to look younger!”

Vergne said he is determined to stay in formula one, and will use the remaining eight races of 2014 to prove he deserves to. “It will not change the way I drive,” he promised. “I think there will be more eyes on me now because this Toro Rosso label will be gone from my head and I’ll be of interest to others that maybe didn’t look at me before. “It is in difficult times that you can show your best. I have a positive mindset.

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost said on Thursday that he will “pray to Jesus Christ” that Vergne’s car is reliable for the rest of 2014 so that he can prove what he can do.

Asked if Red Bull will actively help him find a new seat, Vergne said: “This is a discussion I am having now. Many people have called me to help me but I am convinced that the best help will be for me to get results,” he added, admitting he has already had “a little bit” of contact with other teams.

TJ13 comment: There has always been class about JEV and rather than attack the team like previous drivers who have been released, he thanks them and finds humour in his age and appearance. Fingers crossed that he retains a place on the grid but with so many teams struggling for funding in Ecclestone’s Xanadu it could well be we have seen Vergne gracing the F1 grid for the last time.

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BelgianGP FP1 report

After a 3 week break from Formula One racing FP1 could not come fast enough for most fans. Also, after yesterday’s comments in the Drivers’ Press Conference about how ‘easy’ F1 has become (less physical but still complicated) we waited with baited breath to see how Alexander Rossi and Andrew Lotterer got on in their first FP1 session as F1 racing drivers.

As the lights turned green it was the Caterham cars of Marcus Ericsson who was out first with Lotterer not far behind. The due were followed by Valtteri Bottas, Jules Bianchi and Rossi.

Thirteen minutes into the session, with not much happening on track, news came out that Super Max will indeed be racing for his beloved Marussia team this weekend. It appears “contractual issues” has been resolved and and there was indeed a stash of cash found under the couch in the motorhome.

Back to the track though and McLaren’s Magnussen set the first timed lap crossing the line in 1m53.405 followed by Button and Bianchi. Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Perez and Rosberg all set times, but were all slower than Magnussen’s 1m53.

Two minutes later Rosberg set the record straight and went fastest with a 1m52.143. Alonso is back on the track and going for his first flying lap. Rosberg then bettered his time to a 1m51.724. Alonso showed that there is some life in the Ferrari and slotted it into P2, only 0.213 behind the Mercedes. The effort seemed to have been too much for the Ferrari of Alonso was seen driving very slowly around the track as he nursed the car back to the pits. Maybe a bit more exercise for your pony Mr Alonso?

Thirty minutes into the session had Lotterer is in 20th, ahead of his teammate with a 1m59.640 while Rossi, who was yet to find out that he will not be driving on Sunday, was in 21st with a 2m00.383. Ericsson showed us having more experience in your car than your new teammate does not stop you from having off-track excursions as he left the track at La Source.

Back at the front the Mercedes teammates traded places at the top as Rosberg posts a 1m51.577s to take over from Hamilton who had edged him a couple of laps before. Hamilton then answered that with a 1m51.674s. It is only FP1 gentlemen but we are in for a cracker of a second half this season!

With 30mins to go of FP1 the top ten were Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Massa, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Bottas, Vettel and Perez.

Hamliton was having not of being second and was pushing but seemed unable to find the speed he needed and ended up running off the track, but no harm done. Meanwhile Lotterer was still running faster than his ‘more experienced’ teammate Ericsson, but Rossi improved to P20 with a 1m57.458 pushing the Caterham pair down to the bottom of the timesheets.

Raikkonen then managed to find speed in his steed and jumped up to P5 with a 1m52.818 although shortly after, while trying to find the limits of adhesion at La Source, he spun. While Perez moved up to P6 for Force India with a 1m52.903, leading his teammate Hulkenberg who was down in eighth, Raikkonen reported problems with his Ferrari… temperature-related apparently. With this he galloped back to the pits.

With six minuted to go Hamilton had ‘a moment’ going through Eau Rouge but managed to keep it together. Questions were asked before the session how the cars would handle Eau Rouge with less downforce than last year… well Hamilton keeps his foot nailed to the floor, and so does Maldonado. Maybe slightly smaller wings required for next year?

With the session coming to an end it is Rosberg leading Hamilton by a scant 0.097s. Alonso is third and Raikkonen in fifth. (Is Ferrari catching their breath or to early to call?) Button was doing what world champions should and was faster than his rookie teammate in fourth with ex team mate Perez in sixth, leading Magnussen who was in 7th. Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Bottas rounded out the top 10.

Time for a breather and then we are back for FP2.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:51.577 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:51.674 0.097 24
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:51.805 0.228 16
4 Jenson Button McLaren 1:52.404 0.827 21
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:52.818 1.241 17
6 Sergio Perez Force India 1:52.903 1.326 24
7 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:52.922 1.345 23
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:52.937 1.360 22
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:52.972 1.395 19
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:53.172 1.595 20
11 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:53.369 1.792 11
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:53.594 2.017 21
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:53.597 2.020 20
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:53.703 2.126 14
15 Felipe Massa Williams 1:53.968 2.391 20
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:54.189 2.612 20
17 Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1:54.335 2.758 16
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:55.336 3.759 21
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:55.782 4.205 19
20 Alexander Rossi Marussia 1:57.232 5.655 19
21 Andre Lotterer Caterham 1:57.886 6.309 24
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:57.977 6.400 24

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Super Max is back

Yesterday TJ13 reported Max Chilton (or Super Max) has volunteered to sit out this weekend to allow the team to sell his seat to obtain much needed funds and to sort out “contractual issues“. It appears Chilton is rather astute in sorting out these contractual issues when it means he is not racing.

This morning Marussia sent a request to the FIA to change their nomination for racing driver this weekend from Rossi to Chilton. This request has been approved by the stewards so for those of you who were taken aback by not being able to watch your favourite British racing driver… Super Max is back!

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BelgianGP FP2 Report

So after a morning dominated by Mercedes everything remained normal during FP2 with Mercedes yet again dominating the standings except that Hamilton swopped places with Rosberg to take the honours. The due was yet again followed by Alonso in his Ferrari with Massa in fourth, Button in fifth and Bottas in sixth. Kvyat, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.

The session started with Super Max heading out first, keen to get some milage in after having to sit out the morning’s session. Unfortunately the joy was short-lived as he had to return to the pits with turbo problems.

At least he got out for a few laps which is more than can be said for Vettel who yet again had the honour of getting all the bad luck. An electrical problem meant the German needed a new engine and that was FP2 over.

Only 10min into the session though and Maldonado was yet again testing the structural integrity of his Lotus by putting his E22 into the wall at Pouhan. As the session got red flagged he tells his team “I’m OK”. It is probably a good thing we don’t hear the mechanics in times like these.

As the big hitters started slogging it out it was first the McLaren of Button (can they be called big hitters?) leading the timesheets but as the real big hitters came out first Rosberg went fastest. He was displaced by Hamilton and then Alonso got his pony to trot round fastest in 1m51.693.

Another red flag was caused by young Mexican Gutierrez who did a major slide before parking his car in the run-off area facing the opposite way. Quick to point out the problem the Mexican said something broke in his gearbox.

As the session was restarted McLaren yet again found themselves at the sharp end of the grid with Button going quickest of all with a 1m50.659 with Magnussen second, both McLaren drivers on the soft tyres.

As with Vettel things are just not going right for Raikkonen. Seven minutes after the restart and he had a misfiring engine which required “something” changed… hmmm.. like the engine maybe?

As the front runners bolted on their soft tyres for a ‘quick’ qualifying run it was Hamilton who set the fastest time of 1m49.189 displacing Rosberg’s previous fastest lap of 1m49.793, a whopping 0.604 faster than the German. (Bets for pole on Sunday closed right about now unless of course Rosberg is hiding data again.)

The top ten of the session was set as the soft runs completed with about 26min of the session remaining and the drivers settled in to do further long runs. With the two Mercedes drivers lapping in the 1:54s and tenths of each others times the race is setting up to be another thriller.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.189 26
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.793 0.604 28
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.930 0.741 19
4 Felipe Massa Williams 1:50.327 1.138 24
5 Jenson Button McLaren 1:50.659 1.470 31
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:50.677 1.488 26
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:50.725 1.536 25
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:50.977 1.788 16
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:51.074 1.885 31
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:51.077 1.888 26
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:51.383 2.194 26
12 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:51.450 2.261 29
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:51.573 2.384 28
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:52.196 3.007 25
15 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:52.234 3.045 18
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:52.776 3.587 23
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:53.955 4.766 7
18 Max Chilton Marussia 1:54.040 4.851 18
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:54.050 4.861 30
20 Andre Lotterer Caterham 1:54.093 4.904 24
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 2

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#F1 History: Part 1: Alberto Ascari and the Lancia D50

•August 22, 2014 • 8 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: Jennie Mowbray

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Airman’s Odyssey~

Vittorio Jano’s latest creation, the long-promised Lancia D50, eventually materialized at the closing race of 1954, the Spanish Grand Prix at Pedralbes. The under-wraps production had been the hot topic of the paddock all season. Testing had begun in January and prior to each race the rumours would spread that the car was finally going to make an appearance, only to have it come to nothing. The grapevine whispered that Jano had designed a machine that possessed cutting edge technology, but was proving difficult to perfect. All of Italy hoped that it would be capable of competing with the might of Mercedes-Benz who so far had been leaving the rest of the field in their wake.

D50 3

Vittorio Jano’s Fleet of Formula One Cars

Vittorio Jano’s engineering career had been long and productive. He joined Fiat as a junior draftsman and proceeded to work his way to the top until he eventually became head of the Fiat design team working alongside Luigi Bazzi. After Bazzi fell out with Fiat in 1923 and moved to Alfa Romeo he advised they hire Jano to help develop their uncompetitive Formula One car, the P1. Nicola Romeo, owner of Alfa Romeo, dispatched Enzo Ferrari off to Turin to track down Jano and offer him twice the salary to work for Alfa. It took less than a year for Jano to finish his stunning Alfa Romeo P2.

After the P2’s first practice session at the 1924 French Grand Prix, gleaming silver in sunshine as it had not yet been painted in the traditional Alfa Romeo deep crimson, an Italian journalist wrote, “While waiting along the edge of the road with eyes pointed at the course, it seemed to us that a bullet had just passed us by. The silver car proceeded firmly on that imperfect surface, and the singing of the engine gave the impression of uncommon power.” The car won its first race, the 1924 French GP with driver Giuseppe Campari at the wheel, and Alfa Romeo’s four cars took out the top four places at the Monza GP – much to the delight of the local supporters.

Jano’s next project was the Alfa Romeo P3 which also won its first race, though its most famous victory would be when Tazio Nuvolari drove it to victory at the 1935 German Grand Prix against the might of the Mercedes and Auto Union stables. In 1937 Jano had a dispute with Alfa Romeo’s general manager and deserted Alfa to sign up with Lancia as their chief development engineer where he spent many years designing their road cars.

Lancia Automobiles

Vincenzo Lancia, an engineer, racer and test driver for Fiat, founded Lancia in 1906. After he died in 1937 his wife took over the running of the company, and then in 1947 his son Gianni Lancia, also an engineer and test driver, became president. Gianni Lancia had always had a passion for motor racing and after achieving instant success in sports car racing with first their standard 2-Litre Lancia Aurelia Coupe winning its class at the Le Mans 24 hour in 1951, and then their Jano designed D24 sports car which won multiple races, he decided the company had what it took to build a competitive Grand Prix car. They were fortunate to already have Vittorio Jano on the payroll – they just had to wait for his latest Formula One design!

Vittorio Jano on far right with Luigi Villoresi, Alberto Ascari and Eugenio Castellotti
Vittorio Jano on far right with Luigi Villoresi, Alberto Ascari and Eugenio Castellotti

 The Lancia D50 Finally Appears

When the Lancia D50 finally appeared in Spain its innovative construction was immediately obvious. Frequently an engineer starts with what is already known and then works to improve it with small modifications and adjustments. The Lancia D50 was a clean-sheet design…Jano had completely rethought the physics and aerodynamics of his new model from the ground up to make it a breed apart from the rest of the field.

Smaller, lighter and lower than the opposition, the engine was angled 12 degrees which allowed the propeller shaft to run to the left of the driver instead of underneath him. This then resulted in a lower centre of gravity as the driver was closer to the ground. Paniers between the wheels contained the fuel tanks, instead of being placed in the rear of the car as was usual. This concentrated the weight between the wheels and also improved aerodynamics.

The car also contained Formula One’s first V-8 engine which was also a Jano design. Because it was shorter and squatter than the standard straight 6 and 8’s used by the competition it could also be load bearing. The engine was incorporated as part of the chassis which further lowered the weight of the vehicle (so why did I think that Colin Chapman‘s Lotus 49 was the first car to use the engine as a stressed member?) It had a rear gearbox that was likewise incorporated into the chassis.

D50 Cutaway

With the engine in the front, the driver and the fuel in the centre, and the gear box in the rear the weight was distributed between the wheels rather than in front of or behind them. This also affected the whole handling of the car. The Lancia D50 had significant weight over all four wheels which discouraged it’s propensity to slide the rear wheels. However when it did start to slide it was difficult to control and a spin often resulted.

The 1954 Spanish Grand Prix

Reigning (and double) world champion Alberto Ascari had not been able to come to an agreement with Ferrari and had signed with Lancia for the 1954 season. As their car was not yet finished he drove twice for Maserati – after the departure of Juan Manuel Fangio who had left for Mercedes – and once for Ferrari. Finally, the Lancia D50 was ready to show to the world and Ascari showed its potential by putting it on pole (a whole second faster than Fangio) for its inaugural race. He also set the fastest lap before having to retire on lap 10 when the clutch failed.

D50 grid

The 1955 Argentina Grand Prix

For the 1955 season it was expected that Mercedes Benz with their W196 would have some long awaited competition with the new Lancia D50 being able to match it for speed. In the first race at Argentina, which still holds the record for the hottest Grand Prix on record, none of the three Lancias finished. Ascari qualified in 2nd with an identical time to Juan Manual Fangio but both of them were half a second slower than Jose Froilan Gonzales in the Ferrari. Ascari crashed on lap 21. Luigi Villoresi had a fuel leak on lap 2 and Eugenio Castellotti had an accident on lap 35. Fangio won the race over a minute ahead of the Ferrari in second, though he sustained such a bad burn to his left leg from his exhaust that he was left with a permanent scar.

Lancia D50

The 1955 Monaco Grand Prix

It was almost four months later that the next race for the season was held at Monaco. By now Ascari had taken his Lancia to victory in the non-championship rounds at Pau and Naples. Fangio and Ascari once again set identical qualifying times and the stage was quickly becoming set for a battle of reliability rather than speed. Stirling Moss was only one tenth behind them both in the second Mercedes.

Fangio led at the start, followed by Moss in second until half distance when Fangio was forced to retire because of transmission problems. It was on lap 80 that Moss’s engine expired and Ascari inherited the lead. He was still on the same lap when his brakes failed going through the chicane and his Lancia crashed through the barriers and splashed into the harbour. He was very lucky to escape with only a broken nose. The race was eventually won by Ferrari driver Maurice Trintignant, the only race that season not won by Mercedes.

The Demise of Lancia

The Monaco Grand Prix would be Ascari’s last race. Four days later he traveled to Monza to watch Eugenio Castellotti test a Ferrari 750 Monza sports car which they were to co-race in the Supercortemaggior 1000. On the spur of the moment he decided to drive a few laps and wearing his street clothes and borrowing Castellotti’s helmet he set off. It was on the third lap while going around the high speed Curva del Vialone that the car unaccountably skidded and then somersaulted twice. Ascari was thrown out of the car and died a few minutes later.

Lancia had spent a fortune to enter Formula One, but it was now all falling apart. Faced with ever mounting debt along with the loss of their star driver, Alberto Ascari, they started to cave into pressure from their multiple creditors. What had looked like a dream come true with pole position at their first race and a competitive car against the might of Mercedes-Benz was now ending in a nightmare.

However, things were not well in the world of Formula One. Two weeks after Ascari’s death there was the tragic accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans when Pierre Levegh’s crash resulted in carnage in the unsuspecting crowd. The French Grand Prix was called off first, followed by the cancellation of the German, Swiss and Spanish Grand Prix’s. Several countries were threatening to pull out of car racing completely. At the end of the year Mercedes announced their withdrawal from all motor sport. Would there be a Formula One competition at all in 1956?

Next: Part 2: Juan Manual Fangio and the Lancia-Ferrari D50

The #F1 Bar Exam: 21st August 2014

•August 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to another week of TheJudge13 F1 Bar Exam.

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

Joe Kelly at the 1950 British Grand PrixThe answer(s) I was looking for were: The picture shows Irish privateer Joe Kelly driving his Alta GP3 at the 1950 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. He qualified 19th and on the last row of the grid, over 15 seconds behind Farina who was on pole. He managed to finish 13th but wasn’t classified as he had only completed 57 laps, 13 laps behind race winner Farina and less than 90% of race distance. Fangio was 12th but retired at 62 laps with an oil leak.

Triumph in Formula One is invariably reliant on multiple interlocking pieces, all falling into place at the right time. It demands a creative designer, cutting edge technology, a swift engine, reliable machinery, a driver able to push the car to its limits but not to breaking point, and possibly most importantly, money…a lot of money. It also requires having all the stars align at exactly the same time…i.e. luck! Alta had the first three, at least sometimes, but unfortunately three out of six isn’t enough for ultimate success in Formula One.

The 1950 British Grand Prix was the inaugural race of the new Formula One World Championship. At the back of the grid were two locals driving Alta’s, the first British single seater racing car to be built after the cessation of World War Two. Even in those now distant times factory teams had the brains and more importantly the capital to outspend and outpace the opposition that may have had passion and intellect but little funds to back it up.

The Alta was the brain child of brilliant engineer Geoffrey Taylor. Taylor had constructed his first car in his father’s stables in 1928 at the age of 25. It was a road-going sports car which he called an Alta. In 1931 he formed the Alta Car and Engineering Company and he specialised in making handmade racing cars to order. Prior to WW2 he built 12 cars which were known for their speed, but unfortunately tended to be unreliable. He spent most of his company’s profits funding his own racing, using his original prototype car in sprints and speed trials, continually upgrading it with all his latest developments.

During World War 2 Alta’s engineering capabilities were consigned to the war effort, but as soon as the war was over Taylor began collecting the materials needed for constructing the new design he had been developing. Due to the post war shortage of materials It took three years to construct and over the next couple of years he made three cars, all of which he sold privately. He was a cut above the majority of the private manufacturers in that he designed and manufactured the complete car: not only the chassis, suspension and coachwork but the engine as well! Even in 1950 this degree of individual autonomy was rare in the building of a Formula One car – they were already a dying breed to the might of the major car manufacturers, multiple departments and immense monetary backing.

Taylor redesigned his post war chassis to be more aerodynamic and further refined the independent suspension he had been working on previously. It was powered by a supercharged 1.5 L engine that he had also designed and built himself. He used a tubular chassis to lower the overall weight but unfortunately reliability continued to be a problem.

Irishman Joe Kelly bought one of Taylor’s cars, the GP3, in 1950 which he used to compete extensively around Ireland. Kelly was a keen amateur who funded his car racing endeavours with the proceeds from his car dealership (at one stage having the Irish Ferrari dealership rights). The high point of his racing career was third place in the 1952 Ulster Trophy at Dundrod in which he beat a Ferrari and a Talbot. He raced at both the 1950 and 1951 British Grand Prix but though he finished them both he was unclassified due to not completing 90% of the race distance.

The Alta GP car didn’t have much success in Formula One, competing in four events with their best placed finish being when Geoffrey Crossley managing to get a 9th at the 1950 Belgium Grand Prix. Taylor and his customers never had enough financial resources to continue to develop the car, and his cars were never shown to their potential as they were only being driven by amateurs. The Taylor designed Alta engine did far better. He was able to sell them to the HWM and Connaught teams and their high point would be when Tony Brooks gave Britain its first Grand Prix victory for over 30 years when he would beat the works Maserati’s at the non-championship Syracuse Grand Prix of 1955 driving his Connaught with an Alta engine.

Well done Cassius42, Taflach, Ken, Johnny, and Milestone11!

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?

20140821_Bar_Exam

Please provide your answers in the field below:

Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 21st August 2014

•August 21, 2014 • 40 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 TJ13:

#F1 History: 1998 Belgian Grand Prix – Hill’s last victory

#F1 History: The original Spa-Francorchamps

#F1 Circuit Profile – 2014: Belgium, Francorchamps, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – Round 12


OTD Lite: 1988 Britain’s great hope suffers appalling crash

The Russian bear bites

Mattiacci fan club beginning to emerge

Massa – ‘I know how to win at Spa’ – ask the stewards

Alonso the ‘only genius’ in F1 today – Stewart

New Nurburgring owner misses payment due date (GMM)

Mark Webber turns TV pundit for Ten

Super Max out as Rossi steps in


OTD Lite: 1988 Britain’s great hope suffers appalling crash

It’s relatively easy to mock Johnny Herbert as he mumbles along in his broadcasting role with SKY TV. A happy go lucky figure that won three races in Formula One, yet on this day, twenty six years ago his racing future looked seriously in doubt as he broke both his legs in what most thought a career ending accident.

Before this, his name was being mentioned in the same stratosphere as Jim Clark – such was his potential – and after wins in Formula Ford, F3 and F3000 was set for a glittering career in motor-sport. But on the first lap of the restarted Brand Hatch F3000 race a tangle with Gregor Foitek brought about a life defining moment.

…the car was turning and aiming straight for where the bridge was. I ploughed straight into the bridge and my head was rolling around a lot. I was spinning around and then hit something else.”

“When I opened my eyes, I could see there was a big hole in the front of the car. My first impression was I’d lost my legs from the knee down, because all I could see from the way I was sitting were my knees but nothing else below that. Of course, they were there hanging down below. I remember saying: ‘knock me out, knock me out, knock me out!’ because I didn’t really want to know at that stage. But I do remember everything – I was conscious through the whole thing.”

With shattered feet and ankles, the doctors didn’t  think he would walk again, let alone race.

The Jackal

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The Russian bear bites

Russian_bearFor some teams the Russian sanctions imposed by the West are having little impact and as Christian Horner stated, if FOM says they are to go race in Russia, F1 will go racing. However, some teams are feeling the force of Western prohibitions more than others.

It was expected that Sergey Sirotkin would become the youngest F1 driver ever with Sauber (read he was bringing in lots of Rubles). Yet as the sanctions started to bite, Sauber admitted their negotiations were put on ice.

Marussia were hurriedly re-registered following the annexing of Crimea to a holding company registered in a backstreet of Dublin. However, the team claimed the Russian sanctions were not affecting their inward cash flow.

Following the downing of MH17, a level three set of trade restrictions were imposed on Russian individuals and businesses by both the USA and a reluctant EU.

During the past 24 hours, TJ13 has exclusively been informed that Marussia has fallen behind with their payments to staff and are experiencing significant cashflow problems as a result of the incremental isolation by the West on capital flows from Russia.

RBC is a leading multimedia holding company and a key player in the Russian mass media. They provide extensive business news coverage through key media platforms, and also offer mobile and online communication tools and additional services. The company’s aggregate audience exceeds 90m people.

InstaForex is a Russian Foreign exchange broker providing online trading services using an electronic communication network to execute forex trades. It provides access to trading in currencies as well as contracts for difference (CFD)s based on shares and commodity futures. The company has its headquarters in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Both these companies sponsor Marussia. Whilst the sums involved are not 10’s of millions, it means F1’s shoestring budget team now have a significant hole in their planned annual spend for 2014.

The FIA may have approved Sochi yesterday but, if a solution to Marussia’s difficulties cannot be found, there may be no ‘Russian’ team to represent the Motherland at the inaugural Russian F1 GP.

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Mattiacci fan club beginning to emerge

Recently Bernie Ecclestone gave his opinion, in an interview, in regards his initial thoughts on Ferrari’s new team principal Marco Mattiacci and generally spoke of him with high praise. Irrespective of his background not having included any motor-sport, he likened his position to the one that Jean Todt found himself in back in 1993.

Toto Wolff has also had time to assess the arrival of the new man to Formula One and offered his thoughts too. “Over the past few months I have had the chance to get to know and judge Mattiacci. It’s not ideal not having been around motor-sport but the guy is intelligent with a clear idea in his head of the direction he wants to go in. Only then will you be able to make judgements. But, I think it won’t be long before Ferrari is our most dangerous rival”

Which makes recent driver speculation in Italy illuminating. It is no secret that Alonso has been the target man of Honda’s Formula One return with Mclaren. In spite of whatever Ron Dennis publicly or privately thinks of the Spaniard – the Japanese wanted the highly rated driver aboard.

They had originally wanted a decision to be made by the 15th August but in the Catholic culture – the 15th August is an important date, as it celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. In Italy the date is also celebrated as Ferragosto with its traditions that date back to the Romans. Therefore Fernando requested the date be moved to the 20th which has now passed.

When Mattiacci originally arrived, replacing Domenicali, it was clear to everyone that Alonso was not impressed. Yet some months down the line his stance had changed and it seems that according to the media in Italy – Honda have ‘regrettably‘ given up the chase of the Asturian who looks to have decided to finish his career in red.

Which moves the focus for Button’s replacement in other directions..

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Massa – ‘I know how to win at Spa’ – ask the stewards

After the mixed fortunes of the first half of the season, with some poor results and unsatisfactory races in comparison to his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa returns from his summer break with a view to improving his results.

With the next two races at unquestioningly the power circuits of Formula One, the chances fo some great results from the Williams teams appear to be very high with the Mercedes Power Unit and their ever improving chassis proving to be a great combination.

Like the majority of the drivers, Massa himself loves the track, “I love Spa, it’s one of my favourite circuits because of the long straights and high speed corners and it’s a track we all look forward to racing at. The long straights should suit our car and we can kick the second half of the season off with some success.”

“I won here in 2008 and so I know what it takes to win…

Cue the startled double take into the movie camera, the screeching of the spinning record as it grinds to a halt and the collective laughing of all Formula One fans. For anyone who may have missed his victory, lets have a recap.

_46271113_belgium2008shorthighlights5

Three laps from the conclusion of the race, heavy rain began falling at the track. Although Raikkonen led, Hamilton closed the gap until he attempted to pass around the outside at the bus-stop chicane. Due to there being no gravel trap beyond the track limits just an ocean of grippy tarmac, Hamilton ducked out of his attempt to pass Kimi and drove across the tarmac run off area before rejoining the track after the chicane.

With the rules about gaining an advantage quite obvious, Hamilton backed off to allow Raikkonen the lead but kept up his momentum to retake the position into La Source. By the time they got to the Fagnes corner, Hamilton took avoiding action when Rosberg rejoined the circuit which allowed the struggling Ferrari through once more. Before the end of the lap Raikkonen had spun in Blanchimont and crashed into the barrier.

d08bel1406Hamilton drove cautiously on the last lap with Massa six seconds behind. But some two hours after the events, the stewards informed the paddock that Hamilton had incurred a twenty-five second penalty for not giving the place back to Raikkonen in proper fashion.

As seen at Ferrari previously and Williams this year, Massa has a remarkable ability to collide with drivers and blame every one of them. At some point it should be pointed out that he is the common factor. In the same fashion it is a little awkward listening to a man who has a startling passion for re-writing his own history.

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(Sourced from GMM – with TJ13 comments)

Alonso the ‘only genius’ in F1 today – Stewart

Fernando Alonso is the best driver in formula one today. That is the claim of F1 legend and triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who said the Ferrari-driving Spaniard is in fact the only “genius” on the 2014 grid.Asked by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca to name the best driver in F1 today, the 75-year-old Scot said: “Mentally, probably Alonso. The fastest is perhaps Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg is definitely one of the best, more consistent, and on the same level I think is Vettel. Those are the best.”

“In the world there are hundreds of millions of drivers, several thousand make their living from it, a few hundred live very well. There are 22 grand prix drivers, maybe six of them are really good, three exceptional, but there is only one genius. So if I had to choose the most complete driver I would say Alonso,” he explained.

And not only that, Stewart thinks Alonso, at 33, is in the prime of his racing life. “I think it’s the perfect age,” he said. “He has lived the good, the bad and the ugly.” Arguably, however, the present is one of those ‘ugly’ phases for Alonso; highly paid but missing a third career title ever since he switched to Ferrari in 2010. “I don’t know if he should change teams,” Stewart said, “but what I do know is that he will have to make that decision in the next six to eight weeks.”

TJ13 Comment: Jackie Stewart has always been a respected member of the F1 circus that understands the media have a job. As a driver he made time for journalists and as he moved into the corporate world following his retirement he also moved into the role of commentator.

Never afraid to confront officials, circuit owners, renegade journalists who mocked his stance on safety – he also spelt out to Senna about his reckless driving as a World Champion and watching Senna’s  demeanour change from smiling to defensive before uttering the immortal line “if you don’t go for a gap – you are no longer a racing driver.” was brilliant confrontational interviewing at its best.

In similar fashion he has not been slow to tell drivers what he thinks of them in recent years, with particular views on Hamilton’s self-destruct button at times bringing forth responses from Fittipaldi and Lauda as well. Having coached Romain Grosjean between 2012-2013 the transformation with better mind management has been startling.

Stewart’s revelation about Alonso is hardly new news. He is generally accepted as the greatest all rounder on track by everyone but what is more significant is Rosbergs inclusion in to a top four now, on a level with Vettel, yet no mention of the Colgate Kid who has been spanking Seb’s rear all year for having the temerity of humiliating Aussie legend Mark Webber for five years..

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New Nurburgring owner misses payment due date (GMM)

The Nurburgring’s sale has hit a fork in the road.

Nurburgring © F1 OnlineIn March, the financially embattled German grand prix host was bought for a reported EUR 77 million by a Dusseldorf based automotive group called Capricorn.

Capricorn has since been successfully negotiating with Bernie Ecclestone about a new long-term race contract.

But Rhein Zeitung newspaper has now claimed that Capricorn has not paid the second due instalment to the Rhineland-Palatinate state.

Citing sources, the report said the amount of 5 million euros became due on July 31. To date, Capricorn has only paid one instalment in the same amount.

It is assumed that Capricorn’s financing from banks has come to a standstill because the European Commission has postponed several times the decision on the legality of the sale,” Rhein Zeitung reported.

A spokesman for the financial recovery experts in charge of the Nurburgring insolvency said: “We have a timescale shift for the second purchase instalment.

“We still expect the sale to go ahead,” he is quoted by Speed Week.

And Capricorn chief Robertino Wild told Auto Bild it is “untrue” the payment delay is in fact due to the company’s own financial problems.

This is a completely normal process. The operation of the business is going very well,” he added.

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Mark Webber turns TV pundit for Ten

tenplaylogoFor those who has missed the drawl of Aussie Mark Webber since retiring from Formula 1 fear not, Mark is back… if you live in Australia that is.

Today Australian broadcaster Network Ten announced Webber will join Matt White as co-host of Ten’s 2015 motorsport coverage. This will include V8 Supercars Championship races and highlights, live Formula One races and live MotoGP races.

Commenting Webber said, “I am delighted to be extending my relationship with Network Ten for the next couple of years, especially after enjoying my punditry role with them at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Ten have been tremendous supporters of motorsport and F1 in particular for some time and certainly provide the best coverage in Australia of international and domestic categories.

Of course for those in Europe who miss Mark there is no alternative yet except to move down south…

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Super Max out as Rossi steps in

ChiltonNight of the long knives.. or be that 3 weeks? When F1 took its mandated summer break who would have thought Max Verstappen would be favoured above Sainz Jnr for the Toro Rosso seat and Kamui Kobayasi would not race at Spa in facour of Lotterer?

It has not stopped there though. As TJ13 reported this morning, all is not well at Marussia and it appears it has cost Super Max his seat for the Belgian Grand Prix.

In a statement, on behalf of Super Max, Marussia stated he has ‘volunteerd to sit out for this weekend’s race to allow the team to attract much needed funds by selling his seat’.

And the winner of his seat is 22 year old American and Caterham Reserve driver Alexander Rossi. Speaking about the appointment Team Principal John Booth said,

Although it was not our intention to offer Alexander the possibility to race this season, in light of the circumstances we are pleased to be providing him with the opportunity to make his Grand Prix debut at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Franchorchamps. Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible, but for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action.

As can be expected Rossi is delighted about getting the opportunity to test his mettle against fellow compe… at the back of the field stating, “It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula 1 for the first time and I cannot thank the Marussia F1 Team for the faith they are demonstrating in me.

It’s a very big moment for me and there’s a lot to prepare in a short space of time, but on the other hand I have felt ready for this for quite a while now. It is also exciting to be given this opportunity at such a fantastic and historical circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. I can’t wait to drive the MR03 from tomorrow and I hope to reward the team with a solid race weekend.

Max will be present this weekend to ‘support the team in any way possible’ while Marussia is in talks with several new investors and it is expected everything will be back to normal at Monza with Super Max back in the driving seat.

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#F1 History: The original Spa-Francorchamps

•August 21, 2014 • 8 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor: Cassius42

Spa-Francorchamps Circuit

When asked which circuit is their favourite, it is generally Spa that receives the accolade from the drivers who all relish its challenge; feeling that a win here is a prime requirement for their CV. Intriguingly, the Belgian Grand Prix is not a race that is won on multiple occasions by a variety of drivers. Since the revamped circuit was introduced in 1983, the most successful drivers have been Schumacher with six victories followed by Senna with five and Raikkonen with four to his name.

These achievements have come on the shortened 4.5 mile circuit, but it was the longer – I would say original but it was subject to several, small changes over the years – layout that really established Spa’s reputation. Only the greats such as Fangio (3) and Clark (4) showing their mastery of the circuit, but any driver who won here could take pride in that achievement.

wet 1966 race

The wet 1966 race

The shortened circuit was built in 1979 after the track had been dropped from the F1 championship after the safety concerns came to a head. It was Jackie Stewart’s accident in the 1966 wet race that prompted the start of his safety campaign, when he crashed at the Masta kink with his BRM ending upside-down in the cellar of the farmhouse on the outside of the corner. He was trapped in the car with broken ribs and soaked in petrol and it was left to two drivers, Graham Hill and Bob Bondurant, to free him using borrowed tools from a spectator. It took a couple of years but it sounded the death-knell for the race and after 1970 it was dropped from the calendar.

Racing had been taking place on the roads in the Ardennes Forest since 1922, based on the roads linking the three Belgian towns of Malmedy, Stavelot and Francorchamps. It covered 9.3 miles (14.9km) of narrow public roads, in a basic triangle shape. The start line was originally on the downhill run from La Source and the famous Eau Rouge – Radillon combination was added later as a replacement for a loop that twisted to the left to cross the stream further up its valley.

Burnenville corner

Burnenville corner

At the end of the Kemmel straight the original track turned left, instead of right as now, and started the fast sweep to Burnenville, passing this village in a fast right hand sweep, and Malmedy. Here was the start of the famous Masta straight, which was only interrupted by the fast left-right Masta Kink, between farm houses, before arriving at the town of Stavelot. Just before the town was a sharp right hand turn at a junction – followed by a long uphill straight section with a few kinks called La Carriere. The track continued through a fast unnamed right-hand turn and then came Blanchimont before some hard braking for the La Source hairpin and the finish line.

The circuit soon became notorious due to its extremely fast nature which provided a challenge and also made it extremely dangerous. Attempts were made to slow the circuit with a chicane at Malmedy but conversely at the end of the subsequent Holowell Straight, the sharp hairpin at the entrance to the town of Stavelot itself was then bypassed by a quicker, banked right hand corner.

The first Grand Prix was in 1925 and was won by Antonio Ascari (Alfa Romeo), whose son Alberto would win the race in 1952 and 1953. Pre-war the race was won by the legends of the sport; Ascari, Nuvolari (1933, Maserati 8CM) and Caracciola (1935, Mercedes-Benz W25). Later Fangio would win three times in three different cars and in the sixties the race was dominated by Jim Clark, winning four times in consecutive years, although he hated the track after his friends (team mate Alan Stacey and Chris Bristow) were killed in the 1960 race.

That weekend was regarded as one of the darkest in Formula One until the events at Imola 1994. Moss had an accident at the Burnenville curve during practice and did not race for most of the year. Mike Taylor also crashed in practice when a weld on his steering column failed which left him paralysed and ended his career.

In the race Chris Bristow, in a private Cooper, was dicing with Willy Mairesse when he got off line at Malmedy, crashed into a four foot high embankment and was hurled into some barbed wire killing him instantly. Five laps later, Alan Stacey was hit by a bird in the face and also killed.

John Surtees won the wet 1966 race after half the field was eliminated in the first few laps due to the conditions; it would prove to be his last race for Ferrari after his fall out with team manager Eugenio Dragoni. The following year was notable for the only GP victory for the beautiful, lightweight Eagle in the hands of Dan Gurney. The light weight of the magnesium and titanium chassis allied to its slippery shape made the car fast, with an average race speed of 146mph and reaching a top speed of 196mph. This was one of the few races where the low budget Weslake engine lasted the full distance.

1968 Chris Amon - Ferrari

1968 Chris Amon – Ferrari

In 1968 the first experiments with aerodynamics in F1 had begun to appear for the first time. Chris Amon qualified his rear-wing equipped Ferrari on pole position by 4 seconds over Stewart in a Matra. To put the developments into perspective, Amon’s teammate Jacky Ickx did not have wings on his car and could only qualify 3rd.

1970 - Rodriquez BRM P153

1970 – Rodriquez BRM P153

1970 was to prove the peak of the old high-speed circuit and would be the last GP run there even though  attempts were made to make it safer by installing Armco crash barriers. In his chase of eventual winner Pedro Rodriquez’s BRM P153, Chris Amon set a lap record of 152mph – which whilst formidable pales against the winner’s race average of 150mph.

Three weeks previously, Rodriguez had gone even faster (160mph) in the formidable Porsche 917 during the 1000km race but the offciaal outright lap record belongs to Henri Pescarolo, driving a Matra at the 1973 Spa 1000 km World Sportscar Championship race at an average speed of 163 mph (262 kph) although Jackie Ickx had been faster in practice.

On its return to the revised track the winner’s average had dropped to 120mph. So after a gap of 13 years and the introduction of the first turbo era, the new circuit retained much of its character but in a safer configuration. It was drastically shorter (4.5 miles), but was still a mix of long straights and fast corners in a picturesque setting and replacing the unloved Nivelles or Zolder tracks.

Fangio takes the lead

Fangio takes the lead

The high speed nature of such a long circuit could result in particular problems during the event as early races would last over 3 hours with wet conditions and reliability affecting the outcome. In 1956 the start was wet and Juan Fangio dominated practice, taking pole by over 5 seconds from Stirling Moss. Fangio made a poor start dropping to 5th  but he soon made up ground to lead after 5 laps, showing his mastery of the track in wet conditions.

As the track dried he continued to extend his lead only to retire with transmission failure, leaving the win to Peter Collins’ Ferrari. This was only after Moss had stopped with broken wheel on the Radillion climb from Eau Rouge, Behra (Maserati) fell back with a misfire and then Castellotti (Ferrari) retired; also with transmission problems. Moss then performed a feat unheard of nowadays, by sprinting back to the pits and taking over his team mate’s (Cesare Perdisa) car, which he took to third place.

The circuit was a challenge both relished and feared by the drivers. It was as much a mental challenge as well as a physical challenge. The mental strain came from all the fast corners needing to be taken perfectly; they were all important to lap time. Any slight mistake at one corner meant that it affected one’s speed through the next corner, and the next one and down the straights.

Getting a line wrong or even a slight lift through any corner on the track, but particularly through corners like Burnenville or Stavelot, would result in a loss not tenths of seconds but whole seconds instantly from their lap time. Only La Source was a slow speed hairpin where a more powerful car or one with better traction could benefit.

Porsche 917 exits Masta kink

Porsche 917 exits Masta kink

This was in addition to the fact that at the speeds normally attained here any slight error could, and did, have serious consequences as the track was lined with trees, telegraph poles, houses, stone walls, or embankments and until 1970 no barriers. A prime example is the Masta kink where a house looms large in the sights as the drivers negotiate the tricky left-right corner.

The notoriously fickle weather of the Ardennes region of Belgium can also play it part in races. We have heard pit to car talk during recent races of the problem of the track being wet at one part of the circuit but dry elsewhere. If this is a problem with modern communication and weather satellite data, imagine the danger potential in years gone by when the circuit was twice as long.

Drivers would have no idea of circuit conditions and would often drive flat out into a rain shower, that could be heavy, that hadn’t been there on the previous lap. This often meant accidents, such as the 1966 race where a heavy rain-storm caused 7 drivers to aquaplane off at Burnenville.

The modern circuit is now a purpose built facility and was closed to the public in 2000. However, the old circuit is still part of the public road in the area and is well worth a visit, if only by Google street view, or try it out for yourself on Grand Prix Legends.

Old and the New

Old and the New

Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 20th August 2014

•August 20, 2014 • 49 Comments

Go Motor Fleet - Insurance

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 TJ13:

#F1 History: 1998 Belgian Grand Prix – Hill’s last victory


OTD Lite: 1999 Schumacher’s broken leg OK for football

McLaren feeling confident

How to spice up an interview

Willy Wonka looking forward to the challenge of Spa

‘Kid’ Verstappen the big talking point at Spa

Ron’s Revolution

…but yeah, I’m not bitter or anything


OTD Lite: 1999 Schumacher’s broken leg OK for football

On the 11th July 1999, Michael Schumacher broke his leg in an accident on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix. His return would be on 17th October 1999 – over three months later.

With an ever improving Ferrari team, many felt that 1999 would prove to be Schumacher’s year and early season victories shared between Ferrari and Mclaren bore this out. However by the time of the British event, Irvine was pushing for a new contract and made no secret that he was going to fight Schumacher equally – which many felt led to the shunt that curtailed Schumi’s title challenge.

schu99

With the full support of his friend Jean Todt, Schumacher remained at home recuperating and only ventured into Mugello, on this day, to test his leg for a return to support Irvine’s title challenge. After completing five laps he limped away in ‘pain’.

It was only a chance phone call from Luca di Montezemolo which unearthed the truth about the stricken patient. When asking his daughter if he could speak to her dad, she replied he was out in the garden playing football.

If Alonso’s ear got tweaked last year because he said he wanted a faster car for his birthday, one can only imagine what Michael listened to, but miracle of miracles he was in Malaysia for the following Grand Prix, assisting the team in its challenge.

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McLaren feeling confident

After a second season of under performance and woe McLaren will arrive in the Ardennes forest with a renewed sense of optimism that they can finally deliver the necessary results. Barring the extraordinary double podium finish in Australia, the team have not scored at all well – especially given they have the best powertrain sitting within their chassis.

Jenson Button said, “I go into the second half of the season feeling incredibly refreshed and positive. There’s no better place to resume the season than at Spa-Francorchamps. It’s one of the best circuits in the world, and it’s a place where driving a Formula 1 car always feels incredible.” Having fallen out of love with Formula One in the first part of the season, the summer break will have been welcomed, giving Jenson the chance to recharge away from the media circus. The death of such a big influence on his career, his father John, clearly affected the Frome driver as he has appeared closer than ever to girlfriend Jessica Michibata.

Button will be hoping to relive the success he enjoyed in 2012, as will Kevin Magnussen who also won there in 2012 while driving in the Formula Renault 3.5 series. Furthermore, he enjoyed victories in 2013 with the same series and a win with Formula 3 in 2011 at Spa. The Dane said, “Hooking up a quick lap there during qualifying is just fantastic, because the track just flows from one corner to the next, and the car is so fast and assured that it almost feels effortless. It’s fantastic. I think the second half of this season will be incredibly important for us.

Indeed, incredibly important as the team look to climb the Constructors’ table where they currently lay in 6th place, 1 point behind Force India, but 38 behind Williams. Finally, not to be outdone by his drivers and wanting a piece of the limelight for himself there was the Racing Director, Eric Boullier.

He said in a blinding statement of the obvious, “We had a disappointing race in Hungary to send us into the summer break, but we’ve analysed the issues we encountered, and we believe we now understand what went wrong.

…analysed the issues….understand what went wrong??? It hardly takes a rocket scientist to work out that putting the wrong choice tyre on a car makes it go slower.

The Frenchman continued, “Spa and Monza are tracks where every team runs a unique downforce package, so it won’t be until Singapore – where we resume with a more conventional set-up – that we’ll get a clearer read on our progress, but I think we have reasons to be optimistic.” To read between the lines is another easy one here. The low downforce of our current package will suit us, but we will need to do our homework for Singapore, a street circuit as tricky as they come.

The optimism is to be expected, but at what point are the staff at Woking going to realise that not everything that glitters is gold? When will the media stop asking Eric ‘The Believable’ questions?

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How to spice up an interview

Just to be different, Puma set English comedian James Corden the task of interviewing Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes, going around a track. Lewis praised the interview as it “was something different” from the norm.

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Willy Wonka looking forward to the challenge of Spa

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a book written by British author Roald Dahl about an eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka, and a young boy who wins a golden ticket which culminates in the prize of the chocolate factory itself.

No this isn’t a metaphor for the adventures of Mad Max Verstappen but for the eccentric mutterings of one of Formula One’s most out-spoken ex-team owners – Giancarlo Minardi.

Ever since returning to prominence with his observations of a ‘traction control’ blessed Red Bull in Singapore, Minardi is gaining a respect amongst the serious followers of Formula One and with the return to action with the forth-coming Belgian Grand Prix it seems that his finger is on the more intriguing pulses of the traveling circus.

Having mentioned a return by Cosworth, it was only a few days later that TJ13 received word from Brixworth that engineers had been offered offers from the rival concern. In more recent weeks, the suggestions that Bottas could be Mercedes bound due to his manager being none other than Toto Wolff seemed far fetched initially. Until Mercedes revealed that they had extended Rosberg’s contract but were merely talking with Hamilton.

“As we enter the end of the season, traditionally Belgium and Italy are two intense weekends when plans for the future are revealed. We will see what negotiations the various teams conclude over this period. Belgium also holds special memories for me as it was in Spa 2005 that my team passed into the hands of Dietrich Mateschitz.”

“Honda is on the hunt for a super top driver to work alongside Kevin Magnussen as they want to return in a big way after the large investment s they have made with Mclaren. Consequently, Button should not be part of Mclaren’s plans any longer. Also, at Mercedes, only Nico Rosberg has signed a contract extension with Mercedes because the situation between Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull is not clear currently..”

“As to Ferrari, there will be no big changes as Fernando Alonso is waiting for more guarantees on the technical side, but in life and especially F1 you can never tell. Marmorini’s outburst is synonymous with great nervousness, therefore Mattiacci has to bring peace within the organisation.”

“Red Bull has shaken up the market with signing Max Verstappen, the son of Jos Verstappen who raced with me in 2003. He is doing well in F3 but next year will be a new driver with Toro Rosso alongside Daniil Kyvat… the games have begun.”

“Spa and Monza are two very tough challenges and gives the Mercedes PU a proper opportunity to consolidate it’s advantages, despite a few issues recently with reliability. Williams however could well be the outsider to provide a challenge. It will be interesting to see what innovations are part of the upgraded packages because in spite of the holidays, brilliant minds will continue working on new solutions for the end of the season and the upcoming one.”

“Best of all is that we have had some great races, which show that all the complaining since the beginning of the season has been futile. Despite the momentous changes, this F1 has been great to watch.”

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(Sourced from GMM – with TJ13 comments)

‘Kid’ Verstappen the big talking point at Spa

F1 has emerged from its summer slumber, but the big talking point at Spa-Francorchamps will be a 16-year-old ‘kid’ who doesn’t even have a license to drive a road car. “Because he lives in Belgium, he cannot start lessons until about six months before his 18th birthday,” manager Raymond Vermeulen told the German newspaper Bild.

He is referring, of course, to Max Verstappen, the 16-and-a-half year old who has been signed up by Toro Rosso to debut next year and make history as F1’s youngest ever driver. But Verstappen, the son of former F1 driver Jos and female karting sensation Sophie Kumpen, is unfazed, particularly as a top-three finish in the FIA’s top F3 category will ensure he receives the most important document — a F1 super license.

“I think the biggest step I had was karting to formula three,” he told the BBC this week. “I think F3 to formula one will be a smaller step. The cars are really safe. I think it’s more dangerous to bike through a big city than race in an F1 car.”

He told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “The biggest adjustment will be the life around it all — the attention, the full agenda, the travelling. But I’m pretty relaxed. I have never had nerves or stage fright, and I won’t now.”

Verstappen may not be worried, but his age and inexperience may make some of his 2015 rivals nervous. “What the senior drivers will think about it? Don’t ask them, because they won’t like it,” admitted F1 broadcaster Tony Jardine. Verstappen said: “These are guys I only know from television, and some of them my dad even raced against. I’m thinking about being in the driver’s briefing and saying to Fernando Alonso, ‘Can you move over, please?’ But once I’m in the car I’m not afraid of anyone.”

Toro Rosso gave another teenager his F1 debut this year, and Daniil Kvyat is now regarded as a new star of the sport. “Everybody has the right to an opinion about my age,” said Verstappen. “Of course its beneficial if you have more experience, but you only gain that from driving the car. At Red Bull and Toro Rosso there will be plenty of people to help me.”

John Watson, another broadcaster and a former driver, sides with Verstappen in the new era of cars that are easier to drive and unprecedented safety conditions. “The age aspect is no longer as compelling as it was in my generation,” he told the Mirror. “They can put the kids with talent in simulators and help make the technical side second nature.”

And as far as F1 legend Gerhard Berger is concerned, Verstappen is a cut above. “To switch from karting straight into formula 3 and go straight to the front is something I’ve never seen,” said the Austrian, who is now the FIA’s junior series chief. “Max stands out,” Berger told Auto Bild.

Sports physio and performance expert Camiel van Druten told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “Does it matter whether you’re 17 or 19? Max is strong and mature.” But all that doesn’t mean the speed of Max’s rise to the pinnacle of motor racing hasn’t given father Jos – whose first F1 teammate was the great Michael Schumacher – pause for thought.

“The past few weeks has sometimes felt unreal,” he admitted. “In the middle of negotiations, I was constantly asking myself — ‘Is it the right decision? Is it too early?’. Of course he is missing experience, but it was a well thought out decision. The bottom line is that I am the one who knows Max best. People need to understand that he is extremely adaptable and he learns extremely quickly. And formula one is different now to what it was twenty years ago, with all the advanced simulators for example.”

Just before Red Bull signed on the dotted line, Verstappen was put at the wheel of a much more powerful Formula Renault 3.5 car. “Straight away he went like hell,” said Jos. “He will also know how to drive a formula one car. Red Bull is also the benchmark when it comes to building young talent. This is especially true for motor sports.” Verstappen snr said he will travel to all or most of the grands prix next year, but only to be there for Max rather than play an overly active role.

“I will not interfere with the team or the car,” Jos promised. “I will just be there for when he needs me. I’ve done everything for my son and now it feels as though I have to let go. I think with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, he is in the right hands.”

TJ13 comment:

As Max said, F1 is safer than cycling through a big city. With the simulators available to these kids F1 has become a real life Playstation game. When people like John Watson and Gerhard Berger speak people usually listen or mock but Watson is right, age is no longer a valid concern it seems.

As to Berger, it may serve him to watch a few season reviews – a certain Kimi Raikkonen went from karting to Formula Renault  to Formula One within a year. Not F3 will say the pedantics. In which case, I’ll mention Jarno Trulli. World Karting champion, he entered and won a few F3 races at the end of 1995 due to his karting commitments. In 1996 won the German F3 title and was in F1 in 1997. By mid season had replaced an injured Olivier Panis and led the Austrian Grand Prix until his car failed.

Whichever way his career goes, be it like Vettel’s or like his father’s – his signing has ultimately revealed what many fans have long suspected – it’s far too easy now. Welcome to the dawning of a new era…

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Ron’s Revolution

Some call this the silly season, others realise it is the time of year when the movement between the tectonic plates is accentuated. Last year it was Kimi and this year another big name is reputedly on the move.

TJ13 is hearing that by Monza… Jenson will be joining Martin Whitmarsh in the Ron Dennis Revolution… and is JEV is moving up … and not on…. after all?

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…but yeah, I’m not bitter or anything

There’s nothing quite like forgiving and forgetting is there Fernando? Maybe time to let bygones be bygones…

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#F1 Circuit Profile – 2014: Belgium, Francorchamps, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – Round 12

•August 20, 2014 • 4 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 ‘Track Profile Specialist’ Alistair Hunter

2014 FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX

After a well-deserved summer break for the Formula One community, the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend signals the start of the final eight races of the season. The 2014 edition of the race will be the 59th in total; it will also be the 47th to be held at one of Formula One’s most popular circuits, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Spa FrancorchampsHistory

The original circuit was designed as a fifteen kilometre long test of skill on public roads in Belgium in 1920, with the first ever Grand Prix race held there five years later, won by Antonio Ascari as part of Alfa Romeo’s championship-winning 1925 season, and the last completed race of the Italian driver’s career before losing his life at the French Grand Prix one month later. Due to the high speeds possible at Spa, as well as legendary corners, it became very popular with drivers and fans alike, but due to these high speeds on roads not designed for racing, disasters often occurred, with 51 drivers and officials losing their lives there during the circuit’s long history.

This led to the organisers finding a new home for the Belgian Grand Prix in two places – Nivelles-Baulers and Circuit Zolder. The former hosted two events between 1972 and 1974, but poor finances and a deteriorating surface led to a rapid decline that ultimately saw it transformed into an industrial estate, although it is possible to see the track layout from space. The latter was also doomed to lose out to Spa-Francorchamps, although Zolder did host five times the number of Grands Prix, and has had a much more successful life post-F1, with events such as the World Touring Car Championship venturing there every year.

Formula One, however, reappeared at a much shorter and safer Spa circuit in 1983, and from 1985 all editions of the Belgian Grand Prix have been held there, albeit with minor one year absences in 2003 and 2006, while the track has occasionally been tweaked, most notably with the addition of a chicane at Eau Rouge that was promptly disposed of, and the modification of the Bus Stop chicane.

Unlike several of the newer circuits on the calendar, the track does not rely on F1 and its support races alone. Aside from this event, the Spa 24 Hours and 1000km of Spa are both important events held there, in addition to a round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

Circuit Characteristics

20130825_Spa_Circuit_Characteristics

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit currently holds the record for the longest track on the 2014 Formula One calendar at 7.004 kilometres; without significant advances in safety and television broadcasting, it is unlikely to be beaten at any point in the near future. The sheer size of the track means that while there may be heavy rain in one area, it can be rather dry in other parts – a phenomenon that is often seen on other circuits, but not to the same extent as this one.

The long straights mean that 71% of the lap is spent at full throttle, and around 48 gear changes are needed per lap. The lap record of 1:47.263 was set by Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing in 2009, while the fastest lap around the track was recorded by Jarno Trulli, just under three seconds faster at 1:44.503.

Drivers can reach speeds of around 315 kilometres per hour at various points around the track, while their speed will be aided by the two DRS zones into Turn 5 and Turn 1. Both of these places are good zones to overtake at the track, although others can be found at places such as the Bus Stop chicane and, for the particularly brave, Eau Rouge.

The medium downforce nature of the track can shake up the order in the race – the most recent example that I could think of would be the 2009 edition of the race, where Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella took pole position and a second place finish in his final race for the team, a result that would have seemed impossible anywhere else.

A lap with Lewis Hamilton

Form Guide

Mercedes are, without a doubt, the team to beat this year, and any prediction about the race will ultimately favour them. The fact that their drivers have won 9 out of the 11 races so far this season is actually an understatement – they had the pace to win all of them. A common theme in the past few races has been for Lewis Hamilton to make his way well from the back of the grid, so if he can repeat last year’s qualifying achievement of being on pole, who knows what he might do?

Nico Rosberg is the championship leader by eleven points, and he will be expected to finish in the top two, so there shouldn’t be any change in the standings; however, after the summer break, it could be possible that one of the other teams steps up their development in a similar way to Red Bull last year and really challenges, anything could happen.

Only two drivers on the grid have won the Belgian Grand Prix multiple times, and that honour goes to Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who have won here on four occasions (2004, 2005, 2007, 2009) and two occasions (2011, 2013) respectively. Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are all drivers who have won here once, and I think that we’ll see something from Hamilton this weekend that propels him onto the list of drivers who have won the race on multiple occasions, joining eleven others with that achievement.

Of course, these are just pointless thoughts, so I guess we’ll just have to wait until the race and see…

Pirelli and Spa-Francorchamps

The Formula One season resumes after a three-week break for one of the most eagerly-anticipated races of the year: Spa-Francorchamps, where the P Zero White medium tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres have been nominated, a softer choice compared to last year, to promote different strategies.

At just over seven kilometres in length, Spa is the longest lap of the year, while its mixture of fast straights, flat-out corners, abrasive asphalt and swooping elevations put maximum strain on the tyres. As if that were not enough, variable weather – with frequent heavy rainstorms – are a common feature of this picturesque circuit, located in the Ardennes Mountains.

All of this can lead to a high incidence of safety cars, so the ability to react fast, as well as the insight to formulate an effective strategy, is vital. Often it can be raining on one part of the circuit but completely dry at another part, meaning that the versatility of cars, tyres and drivers is tested to the limit as well.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPaul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:Spa is one of the most epic circuits of the year, and a track we know well from our experience of GT racing at the Spa 24 Hours too. An adaptable tyre is the key element, able to work equally well within the very wide range of track and weather conditions that we often see in Belgium.

Despite the fact that tyre wear and degradation is traditionally high at Spa – the result of the multiple energy loadings put through the tyres – we have been able to nominate the soft tyres here as well as the medium for the first time since 2011, with the softer option liable to be the preferred choice in qualifying due to a significant time gap.

This is because of the length of the lap, meaning also that strategy is a very big factor in Spa: there is more time to be won and lost by being on the right tyre at the right time than at many other venues. It’s the sort of race where, under the right circumstances, it’s absolutely possible to go from last to first – and that always makes for a very exciting grand prix.

Jean Alesi © PirelliJean Alesi, Pirelli consultant:Spa is simply the best when it comes to driving pleasure but it’s also very difficult – both in wet and dry conditions. From a tyre point of view, it’s really demanding.

The asphalt is very abrasive, so tyre wear is always high. When I first started driving we had qualifying tyres and it was actually hard to get to the end of a single flying lap on those without experiencing some sort of blistering. By the time you got to the bus stop chicane, just before the pits, the tyres were already very worn.

Now it’s different as the tyres are a lot more resistant. You need quite low downforce for Spa, otherwise you won’t have the speed on the straights, and that’s really where you get the time. The abrasiveness of the circuit actually becomes an advantage when it’s wet, which is quite a frequent occurrence. Even when it’s raining, there’s still quite a lot of grip.

The circuit from a tyre point of view:
The key to Spa is managing the colossal amount of energy going through the tyres, from every direction. At Eau Rouge, for example, the engines are at maximum power, the cars are travelling at 300kph, and there is a negative compression in the region of 1g, as well as about 5g of lateral force.

This adds up to an unparalleled demand on the tyre structure and shoulder, not seen anywhere else during the year

The medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures – which is often the case at Spa. The soft tyre by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures. Rain is common at Spa, but there was no rain at the Spa 24 Hours last month or last year’s Belgian Grand Prix either.

The low downforce set-up used for Spa often affects braking. With less force pushing down onto the car as it slows, there is a risk of the wheels locking up, which can lead to tyre damage through flat spots.

The winning strategy last year was a two-stopper, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel completing two stints on the medium and a final stint on the hard tyre (which were nominated in 2013) to claim victory from second on the grid. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean finished eighth, stopping only once.

Pirelli and Spa-Francorchamps Tyre Demands

Brembo and Spa-Francorchamps

Brembo - Spa

* Turn 18 is considered the most demanding for the braking system

At just under seven kilometres, this is the longest track of the season. Despite the presence of two braking sections (the “Les Combes” at the
end of the Kemmel straight lines and the “Bus stop” chicane right before the finish line) which are characterised by extremely high energy forces, the rest of the track is rather light on the braking system because of its fast turns.

These of course result in less demand on braking and ensure excellent cooling
of the system itself. While most braking issues are related to heat, the adverse weather of the Ardennes ( At one stage in its history it had rained at the Belgian Grand Prix for twenty years in a row. Frequently drivers confront a part of the course that is clear and bright while another stretch is rainy and slippery.) result in problems connected to excessive cooling.

Memorable Moments

Obviously, with such a long history, narrowing this down to five good races is always going to be a struggle. I’ll stick with the ones I mentioned last year, although there are – of course – others that could probably deserve mentioning.

1985 – The Belgian Grand Prix was moved to September due to poor track conditions previously, and while Alain Prost had been looking in good form, rainy conditions saw Ayrton Senna’s Lotus-Renault take victory.

1995 – Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill did not have the best grid positions, but the failure of David Coulthard’s car while he was in the lead allowed the duo to battle it out on track for the victory, as Schumacher emerged victorious in a contest that entertained many fans around the world.

1998 – After a serious pile up at the start of the race due to limited visibility, the restarted race saw Schumacher lead comfortably before crashing into the back of David Coulthard after a major misunderstanding as the German attempted to lap the McLaren driver in conditions with visibility still impaired; the aftermath of which would see Schumacher march down to the McLaren garage in anger in order to confront the Scot. Up front, team orders led to Damon Hill taking the first victory for Eddie Jordan’s F1 team ahead of Ralf Schumacher.

2008 – Notable because of the stunning conclusion to the race – once again, rain caused havoc, as Raikkonen’s comfortable advantage was eroded by Lewis Hamilton. The Brit then overtook Raikkonen by going wide at the Bus Stop chicane and then appeared to give the place back, before overtaking him after the finish line. Kimi then crashed out, Hamilton got a penalty for being judged to have not given the place back, and Felipe Massa won instead.

2009 – Kimi Raikkonen took his last victory for Ferrari by getting past surprise polesitter Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India thanks to good pit strategy and the advantage of being able to use a KERS system on such a long circuit. As the battle at the front distracted us from the championship battle between Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing (also due to the championship leader being taken out by some rookie called Romain Grosjean), it was good to see Fisichella get the team’s first pole position and podium finish

Support Races

Once again, Formula One is accompanied by the GP2, GP3 and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup series as it heads into Belgium. The GP2 series is led by Jolyon Palmer, who finished with a fourth and a second place over the last race weekend in Hungary, and now has a lead of 43 points over Felipe Nasr, who could only finish sixth and third.

Arthur Pic – brother of former Marussia and Caterham driver Charles Pic – won the feature race but lies seventh in the championship due to the Hungarian race win being his only example of ending up on the podium this year, while McLaren prodigy Stoffel Vandoorne finally got his second race victory of the season in the sprint race, and he is third in the championship, albeit a long way from the leaders.

The GP3 leader is currently Alex Lynn, who scored 20 points with two fourth place finishes at the last race weekend, while the second placed driver Richie Stanaway won the feature race and followed it with a sixth place finish in the sprint race, closing the gap between them by nine points. The other driver to be victorious in Hungary was Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser, who only scored his third victory of his three year GP3 career to elevate him to tenth overall in the championship.

Polish driver Kuba Giermaziak has the honour of leading the final championship to be featured in this race weekend, with a victory last time out in Hungary making his lead over Earl Bamber even greater. The New Zealander could only finish in third place, making it the fourth time in the six races this season that he has finished behind Giermaziak. Second place in the race went to Nicki Thiim, who is tenth in the championship after only competing in three rounds; this result perfectly complimented his race victory in Germany the week before, even if he would have to win every single round of the championship left in order to stand a realistic chance of taking victory.

History

Year Driver Constructor
2013  Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2012  Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
2011  Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2010  Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2009  Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
2008  Felipe Massa Ferrari
2007  Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
2006 Not held
2005  Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes
2004  Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes
2003 Not held

#F1 History: 1998 Belgian Grand Prix – Hill’s last victory

•August 20, 2014 • 7 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor – Jeff Trocchio

As one of the most storied tracks on the F1 calendar, Circuit Spa-Francorchamps delivers high speed thrills with Eau Rouge and low speed technical corners like the Bus Stop chicane. In a few days time, it will be upon us.

We’d like to take this time to reflect on a past race here, where in 1998, Damon Hill won the Belgian Grand Prix, with Ralf Schumacher coming second, both in their Mugen-Honda powered, Jordan machines. Not too far behind was the Sauber Petronas of Jean Alesi in 3rd place.

The track was clouded in rain and drama from the start. On the approach to Eau Rouge, Coulthard lost control of his car, which caused a massive chain reaction – 13 cars were damaged as a result. After providing spare cars to select drivers, and the track was cleared, the race was restarted once again over an hour later.

On the restart, the race was reset, as were the rules of the day. Mika Hakkinen lost control of his McLaren in the first corner and was hit by Johnny Herbert in his Sauber. This left Hill in first until lap 8, where Michael Schumacher would take the lead and pull away by some 40 seconds. The rain was intermittent during this time, and teams were trying to negotiate the correct time to come into the pits.

By the time Schumacher was lapping Coulthard, a conversation was had between Ferrari and McLaren to allow Schumacher through. When Coulthard didn’t make room at Rivage, Schumacher threw his hand up in frustration. On the way down to Pouhon, Coulthard lifted off but stayed on the racing line. Schumacher collided with the rear of Coulthard’s Mclarne and ended up removing his front wing and right front wheel assembly which forced his retirement.

Once back in the pits, Schumacher rushed towards the McLaren garage and aggressively eyeballing Coulthard the whole way. After some words were exchanged with the team personnel separating the drivers, McLaren studied Coulthard’s car whilst deciding what to do with the decimated field.

Surprisingly, Coulthard’s machine only needed a new rear wing, so he was called back to the car whilst they fixed a new one in the hope that as there only 7 runners left at this stage, he may well get a championship point despite being 6 laps down.

Running at the front now were Hill, his team-mate Schumacher, and a seasoned Jean Alesi trailing in his Sauber. After a late safety car following an accident between a Benetton and a Minardi – at a number of points it seemed that the young Schumacher would challenge Hill to take victory in the Grand Prix.  However, the radio communication from the Jordan team to Hill backfired when the team informed Hill of Ralf’s pace, to which he replied, either we race for first, or we bring home a 1-2 finish.. the intent behind the words was obvious.

Team orders were enforced, and while Alesi looked to be pouncing on the Jordans at different times, the rain picked up again and he was forced to drop back. Hill came through to the end to win what would prove to be his last Formula 1 victory before he retired from the sport the following year.

Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 19th August 2014

•August 19, 2014 • 55 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 TJ13:

Voice of the #F1 fans: Lewis Hamilton – The Pioneer – Part I


Verstappen to become youngest ever F1 driver

The end is nigh for Vijay Mallya?

Where next for JEV?

Rumours tip Lotterer for Caterham race debut (GMM)

The Red Bull racing driver evolution

Smedley – don’t get caught in the middle

Caterham build for the future


Verstappen to become youngest ever F1 driver

The news broke late last night of a seismic shift in the Formula One world. Max Verstappen, son of Former F1 driver Jos, was announced as the successor to Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso for the 2015 season.

The 16 year old will line-up next to Daniil Kvyat next year, smashing the record for youngest driver in Formula One – a record which was previously held by another (former) Red Bull rookie, Jaime Alguersuari. In a shock announcement on the World Champion’s Servus TV, Verstappen was walked into the studio where his identity was revealed to a round of applause.

With so much speculation in the recent weeks and months, it can hardly be a surprise that Red Bull have snapped up the youngster into their ‘family’, but it would have taken a wild daydreamer to say he would be given the seat at such a tender age. While father Jos has commented of how mature his son is, 16 is surely too young to be considering entering the cut throat world of Formula One, isn’t it?

The Dutch driver has been racing in European Formula 3 this year, taking 8 wins from 27 races, drawing plaudits from ex-racers and experts alike. Having been heavily linked with Mercedes of late, Red Bull supervisor, Helmut Marko, has overseen his induction in the junior team with the deal breaker likely to have been the accelerated promotion into the premier series.

Traditionally, proteges have been guided via Formula Renault or GP2/3 before entering the main frame in F1, but Max has been entrusted to deliver with the metamorphic rise from karting to Formula One in just a year. The only similar story to this can be that of Kimi Raikkonen, when he took the Sauber seat in 2001. Within a year Kimi found himself driving at the front of the grid for McLaren; but lightening doesn’t strike twice…

On his appointment, Verstappen said, “ever since I was 7 years old, Formula One has been my career goal.” Understandable, yet tinted with a touch of irony in the way that Max still has to wait another month before his 17th birthday. He has been forced to wait 9 years, which is miniscule when compared to some of the drivers of yesteryear who debuted well into their 30s. Even fellow countryman Giedo van der Garde was forced into waiting until 27 years young to drive a back of the field Caterham.

With 2 teenage drivers set for Toro Rosso in 2015 the future does not look bright for Carlos Sainz Jr. and Antonio Felix da Costa. The former, who had been widely tipped to take Vergne’s seat, said this on his twitter last night, “Many people asking which way im going to take, and i say the same i took at the start of the year:hard work, perserverance and… WSR title!

Formula One will tough on young Max as he looks to continue the family name in the sport. For his sake, we can only hope that he doesn’t end up going the same way as his father and making the same mistakes…

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The end is nigh for Vijay Mallya?

For months TJ13 has reported that the end could be near for Force India Team Principal (used in the loosest sense of the title) Vijay Mallya. The funds that were promised in 2013 never came to fruition which, coupled with the mid-season tyre change, saw the team slip back down the grid. A similar story is developing in 2014 as the team’s early season promise seems a far cry away as they battle for points alone, not podiums.

The Times of India reports that the UB group leader may soon be slapped with ‘Wilful defaulter’ tag, which see him forced to resign from his position at the helm of USL (United Spirits Ltd) and UBL (United Beverages Ltd). USL, which was sold to Diageo for $3 billion, are reported to be digging deep in the financial history of the company and not liking what they are finding.

The three lenders — State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and United Bank of India — who want to land Mallya with the ‘wilful defaulter’ tag are circling the powerless craft that is Vijay Mallya’s empire currently. United Bank of India’s claim is already being fought in court by Mallya, as he is expected to do with the other two claims.

The irregular financial history of UB Holdings Ltd, Mallya’s Bangalore based parent holding company is struggling to continue to carry the bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines. Indian law states that, ‘Any company with a wilful defaulter on board cannot access banks and even capital markets for funding needs.’ This would spell the end of Mallya’s involvement as a board member should a conviction be placed on him.

Where this will leave Force India is debatable, but with a returning Mexican GP just around the corner in 2015 it would be the ideal time for Carlos Slim Jr. to act on his infrequent interest in the team. Should Gutierrez’s place at Sauber come under fire, or challenged by another largely backed driver, there could be two drivers at Force India (or whatever they will be called) leading a Mexican superteam.

The future for Force India looks uncertain, with the world’s largest liquor company already involved in prolonged talks with KPMG about USL’s financial history. The coming weeks could have a profound effect on many a driver up and down the grid as they jockey for a 2015 drive. For the fans, the fun is just beginning.

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Where next for JEV?

With the news that Max Verstappen will be taking his seat for 2015, the Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne is to be left without a drive for next year currently. His options are seemingly limited…with only backmarker teams left for him to potentially move onto. Caterham look likely to field a very different line-up to this year, with rumours of Andre Lotterer replacing Kamui Kobayashi for the coming race in Spa. Giedo van der Garde looks likely to step into one of the 2015 seats for Sauber, leaving a handful of drivers fighting it out for the second seat there.

At least the Frenchman has been afforded the dignity of knowing when his final race will be in Toro Rosso colours, unlike Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi in 2011.

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Rumours tip Lotterer for Caterham race debut

The F1 rumour mill is alight with speculation Caterham is taking a new race driver to this weekend’s Belgian grand prix. After Kamui Kobayashi admitted recently his race seat may not be safe in the wake of the Leafield based team’s sale and subsequent shakeup, the big rumour now is that the Japanese is set to be replaced by 2014 Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer.

Lotterer, 32, currently drives for the works Audi team, but he made his debut at the fabled 24 hour race a few years ago for Colin Kolles, Caterham’s new advisor who appointed another former driver Christijan Albers as team boss.

Twitter is alight with the speculation about Lotterer’s supposed race debut at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend after being spotted at the team’s Leafield factory, reportedly for a seat fitting.

But the news is not yet official, even for Kobayashi who told his 150,000 Twitter followers mere hours ago that he is “Absolutely ready for Belgium GP this weekend“.

German Lotterer, who was a Jaguar test driver in 2002, is a former F3 and Formula Nippon champion and currently running second in the premier Japanese open wheeler series Super Formula.

TJ13 Comment:
At 33 Lotterer is not a young buck anymore. Considering how Webber was struggling to master the EBD of the Red Bull and how Raikkonen is struggling to get used to the Ferrari it is difficult to see how this will end in a positive way for either Lotterer or Caterham.

Of course the German has successful experience in Hybrid/Turbo cars having driven the Le Mans Audi R18 TDI and e-tron quattro to victory 3 times in the last 4 years. But Le Mans is not F1 so the logic is not very clear here unless…. no, that’s not possible!

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The Red Bull racing driver evolution

So Max Verstappen has been signed (and will race) for Red Bull in F1 next year. But what is the perquisite for a Red Bull Racing driver?

Vettel the young

Formel BMW ADAC, DEU

Vettel the older

Sebastian Vettel - Finger

Max the young

Max Verstappen

Max the older? We don’t know yet but will we see the finger again?

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Smedley – don’t get caught in the middle

The Belgian Grand Prix is now just 5 days away, long-awaited after the summer break, many an expert will try and predict how the cars have developed over the break when the supposed shut down occurs. Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley has warned the team not to get caught out by the middle sector of the Spa-Francrchamps track.

The high stright line speed of the Williams should lend itself to track set in the Ardennes forest. However, the popular figure, thanks to infamous radio call of ‘Felipe baby’, said the team will have to make sure they are not losing out too much in the middle sector where there a number of high-speed corners.

He said, “Spa is a circuit that should suit us, there is very high drag and engine sensitivity and those features will benefit us. The middle sector is something we will have to work on throughout the weekend, and in qualifying we will need to have the tyres switched on for that sector. There is always a chance for rain in Spa, so we have to be conscious of this throughout the weekend.

Should the feared rain arrive there will be glum faces at Grove as their advantage will be significantly reduced. The high downforce of the RB cars will prove effective on slippery asphalt, also allowing for a greater speed through Eau Rouge which could prove pivotal in defending position against faster Mercedes powered cars.

A quick look back to races of recent times will show in the rain Eau Rouge required a downshift, compared to being flat out in the dry – a testament to modern Formula One cars downforce. Smedley continues, “We have had a really good start to the 2014 campaign, everyone is living and learning how to race back at the top again. The objectives within the team are clear, we want to finish as high up in the constructors table as possible.

It’s interesting to see that all at Williams are keeping their cards close to their chest in terms of expectation this year. As Red Bull and Ferrari have both spoken of targeting second in the Constructors’ title this year, the Grove outfit seems content just to fighting at the ‘sharp’ end of the grid. Perhaps, merely an adage to how far they come since this time last year where they qualified 17th and 20th, finishing 15th and 17th.

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Caterham build for the future

The overhaul at Caterham of recent times has seen the team that languishes at the back of the field as it builds for the future. Sean Walkinshaw Racing has been appointed its driver development team in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship as the reshuffle continues.

Team Principal and former Formula One driver, Christian Albers, has commented on how he feels this reaffirms the teams long-term commitment to the sport. He said, “A junior formula like BRDC F4 is the perfect scenario to start a racing career and we are very happy with this collaboration with Sean Walkinshaw Racing.

If indeed the Formula 4 Championship is the perfect feeder series to link up with what does this say about paddock opinion of GP2/3? There is a growing trend of late where teams have looked away from the traditional route to Formula One, in favour of other lesser known series (Daniil Kvyat excluded).

Albers continued, “If the talent is there, it should be supported and with the SWR – CaterhamF1 Driver Development Programme we are assuring this happens, as well as confirming Caterham F1 Team’s interest for young drivers and offering them a development programme from the very start of their careers. We will be watching the drivers of tomorrow closely.” In a similar train of thought to a certain Helmut Marko, Albers pays homage to young drivers being given their chance in the sport – not forcing them to wait for their chance.

The part that Albers has missed out in his statement is how much cheaper it is to run a Formula 4 team, when compared to GP2 and GP3. Speaking to the press last year, Helmut Marko said, “GP2 is far too expensive. It costs €5 million per driver, while in GP3 is €600,000.” Caterham’s preferred route will cost a much more conservative £50-60,000 a year.

The BRDC Formula 4 Championship is held around the United Kingdom and has eight, three in-a-row events. The winner of the series earns a prize test with the Arden Motorsport GP3 team, held in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit. The prize for the winner is to feed the driver on a plate to Mark Webber’s Red Bull backed GP3 team, ready for the RB programme to poach if desired.

When the gloss wears off the team’s new takeover it will soon become apparent how much they are depending on Red Bull for their continued existence. One question that remains is as Red Bull line the team up as number two, what is the future for Toro Rosso?

Having tried to sell the team before, Dietrich Mateschitz could finally get rid of the sister team which does not pay for itself independently. As shown in 2011, Red Bull can buy a drive for a young hopeful, when they seated Daniel Ricciardo in an HRT to gain experience.

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Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 18th August 2014

•August 18, 2014 • 48 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.

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Previously on TJ13:

#F1 Features: The Generation Game – Challenges for the Future

Voice of the #F1 fans: Lewis Hamilton – The Pioneer – Part II

The TJ13 #F1 Podcast: Episode 1 – 17th August 2014

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 10th Shadow


OTD Lite: 1985 – De Crasheris crashes out in huge crash in Austrian race!!!

Paddy Lowe attacks Ross Brawn again

Marmorini’s lack of class in attacking Ferrari

Di Resta ‘determined’ to return to F1


OTD Lite: 1985 – De Crasheris crashes out in huge crash in Austrian race!!!

Andrea De Cesaris has the unwelcome distinction of having served the longest Formula One career – with no victories – of any driver in history. His 208 Grand Prix starts were largely thanks to his own personal sponsor, Marlboro, who first paid for his seat with the Alfa Romeo team in 1980 and the 1981 Ron Dennis run Mclaren team.

At the Dutch Grand Prix that year, Mclaren withdrew his car after he qualified 13th due to the fear of him wrecking another car. It is generally accepted that a Formula One driver will have between 1 and 3 accidents a year.

Yet it was around this time that he gained his new nickname – Andrea De Crasheris – as he had his EIGHTEENTH crash of the season, putting his long suffering mechanics through another tortuous routine of repairing his accident damage, or for all the number crunchers out there, the total time spent repairing his cars was around 120 hours or 5 working days..

His most celebrated accident is probably his somersaulting Ligier at the Osterreichring which occurred on this day. Following this event, the boss Guy Ligier dismissed him from the team citing that “he couldn’t afford to repair his accident damage”; which considering all his sponsorship was French government backed seemed a slight exaggeration…

In this ‘find’ we have a racing legend narrating the race and at 2m 30s, in a masterpiece of deliberate understatement remarks that De Cesaris has caused ‘just slight damage‘ to the car. What’s probably more sobering is the back of the driver. Down from his neck and across his left shoulder is the remnants of contact with the earth…

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Paddy Lowe attacks Ross Brawn again

Paddy the Enforcer has spoken out against the whole wide world as he defends his kingdom against the naysayers of the international press and fans. As has become more evident over recent weeks – this study into an individual with ‘short man syndrome’ has been enlightening to say the least.

Teamed with two shareholders of the Mercedes AMG F1 squad, he has felt the necessity to diminish Ross Brawn’s input into the current dominant team in F1 by stating that he has recognised weak areas within the organisation that needed his input as they were lacking direction before. And that anything that had been laid down before December was in fact history now. Of course the December date carries some significance as that was when his predecessor, Brawn, left the squad.

Only last week, he felt it necessary to point out how much of an excuse Ferrari and Renault were making with “short term issues that they need to learn to manage“. Of course in Paddy’s world, the increasingly fragile Mercedes is still the best package and it’s their collective efforts that have secured their continued success despite the chink in the Silver Arrows armour widening with pressure from the “fizzy drink makers” – as Lewis once christened them…

In another selected swipe at Brawn he has now expressed that the Mercedes team was surprised by the expectation that it would employ team orders between its two drivers.

“People at the beginning of this season were surprised we weren’t running any team orders, and there was a bit of criticism against us as if we were idiots for not imposing them. By Bahrain, it was like ‘you’re going to have to stop it now, look what they got up to.'”

This way of thinking was clearly instilled in the Formula One community by none other than “Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari era in the 2000’s where Schumacher had undisputed number one status in the team. Before that no one had ever thought of that.”

Of course, mention of the dominant Ferrari-Schumacher era is, by association, a guilty verdict against Jean Todt and Ross Brawn himself and in itself demonstrates how effective the media have been at making Ferrari appear to have always favoured a number one driver policy – when “before no one had ever thought of that”…

Yet the Enforcer would do well to remember that it was in Bahrain that he instructed both Mercedes drivers over the radio to think of the finish when they were fighting after the late safety car period. Yet unlike in Malaysia 2013, when Ross Brawn’s authoritative voice demonstrably received the full respect of his drivers – Lowe has been ridiculed for his efforts.

It has also been reported by several journalists and news agencies that both Lowe and Toto Wolff want to instigate team-orders whereas the ex triple Champion, Niki Lauda, wants to see gloves off racing.

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Marmorini’s lack of class in attacking Ferrari

There are times in life that a person shows so much class that any witness remains in awe. Irrespective of anyone’s view of the man, Felipe Massa showed what a classy individual he was when he accepted his huge disappointment of losing the 2008 title to Lewis Hamilton. Stood crying on top of the podium that day, he expressed his emotion to the crowd and afterwards congratulated the new champion.

Ferrari replaced him for Kimi Raikkonen this year, but even at the time of the announcement were gracious enough to allow him to inform the world. Just a few months later, Stefano Domenicali resigned/ was made scapegoat (eliminate as per your beliefs) but has demonstrated pure class in his lack of attacking the team he led for so long. Even when asked about other jobs in F1 he returned the statement that he could never do that because his heart would be with Ferrari.

In recent weeks, rumours in Italy had been intensifying that Luca Marmorini would be ousted under the new Marco Mattiacci regime which was confirmed a few weeks back.

Unlike some of his predecessors – including the engaging Aldo Costa who spoke with no malice just a resigned air in regards his dismissal from a Ferrari that was being badly managed by Luca di Montezemolo – Marmorini had no compunction in telling his ‘friend’ Turrini what really happened in Maranello.

I do not speak out for myself but there are people at Maranello who like to apportion blame when it would be best they remained quiet – basically I am defending myself.

“These people are stating that all the problems of the F14 T are due to the power unit. Get serious, a company with the history of Ferrari does not forget how to make engines! I’ll accept any accusations but not that Maranello doesn’t know how to design engines, turbos, etc..”

Let’s set the record straight. With my colleagues we built a power unit to fit a certain size blue print. It is smaller than the Mercedes and Renault designs because we were asked by the car’s project manager Mr Tombazis.”

“They asked for a small PU, with small radiators. The main purpose was although it would have less power they guaranteed an advantage with its aerodynamic solutions over the competition. It transpired exactly like that, except when we ran against the competition there was no aerodynamic advantage either.”

“I don’t want to accuse anybody, but it has to be pointed out that Ferrari has entrusted its plans to an inexperienced, unskilled person who has blind faith in others who have achieved nothing – Pat Fry and James Allison.

“Marco Mattiacci was put in place of Domenicali but in three months I exchanged just a few words. Our initial greeting when we met for the first time and when he gave me my letter of dismissal.

“Ferrari is also demoralising several key engineers who have been the foundations of the many successes the team has had. I remain calm, I have now left but I’m sorry for the engineers who are still there.”

A bitter man – no doubt. An insightful individual – only time will tell. The politics of Ferrari are only beginning to be played out, but this disingenuous individual has possibly given away within his words why Mattiacci felt he was not the right man for the task.

To blame Fry and Tombazis is probably reasonable as they have been at the helm and directing the design of the red cars for a few years but to bring in to the equation the name of Allison who has been a title winner with Ferrari between 2000-2004 and with Renault in 2005/6 is remarkable – especially considering that Allison only rejoined Ferrari on the 1st September and would have no input in this season’s design..

A popular saying in Italy is “Don’t spit on the plate that you ate from” (don’t bite the hand that feeds you) – in effect with non-disclosure agreements you tend to be less attractive to other employers. Far better to have the class of a Costa and prove your value elsewhere..

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(sourced from GMM and with TJ13 comment)

Di Resta ‘determined’ to return to F1

Former Force India driver Paul di Resta is not ready to give up on his formula one career. The 28-year-old Scot lost his seat with the Silverstone based team at the end of last year and returned to the German touring car series DTM with Mercedes.

He was linked with a potential F1 reserve role with the German marque’s Brackley based team this year, but for now he is committed to improving in DTM. “When I came back (to DTM), I thought I might be able to get to the front straight away, but that clearly hasn’t happened and we are not where we want to be just now,” said the former series champion.

“It’s too early to say what my plans are for 2015 and my thoughts are completely devoted to chasing better results in DTM and helping Mercedes in any way I can,” he told Scotland’s Herald newspaper. “But I am positive I can gain another drive in F1 and, if anything, I am even more determined than I was. The decision isn’t up to me, but I delivered good, steady performances and I have no doubt I can build on that,” di Resta added.

TJ13 comment: Paul Di Resta has proven to be a dour, cheerless individual. He had a tendency to attack the team if he felt hard done by and in a short Grand Prix career proved good and steady as he pointed out himself.

Except ‘good and steady’ in a world that is watching Daniil Kyvat, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas highlight the talent coming through into Formula One just doesn’t cut it any longer. Although if the BBC F1 team continues to employ more Scottish staff – he may have a new position alongside his main supporters club!

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