#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 22nd December 2014

•December 22, 2014 • 30 Comments

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Previously on The Judge 13:

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

#F1 Features: Forza Rossa Meets the Caterham Circus

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 1st: Wolf


OTD Lite 1905 – Le Mans disaster victim born this day

Jacques Villeneuve muses on current F1

Montezemolo thwarted by Fiat boss again

Alonso seemingly too good believes Massa


OTD Lite 1905 – Le Mans disaster victim born this day

Today celebrates the birth date of Pierre Levegh. A name that hardly springs out as a famous F1 driver. In fact he competed in just six F1 races between 1950-51. The Parisien was considered a world class ice hockey and tennis player but his infamy in motor-sport dates to the 1955 Le Mans race that is acknowledged as the worst race disaster in history.

The story really begins in 1952 when Mercedes boss Alfred Neubauer recognised that the true victor of the race should have been the Frenchman. He had almost completed the 24 hour marathon on his own but missed a gear change in the last hour – destroying the engine – whilst leading by four laps. He was subsequently told that when Mercedes returned to the event, one of the places would be his.

The 1955 race was held on the 11th June and Levegh took the start in one of the Mercedes. As the cars came towards the pits on the 35th lap, Mike Hawthorn’s Jaguar dove into the pits and his action forced Lance Mackilns car to take avoiding action. As he moved left, the much faster Mercedes of Levegh and Fangio took avoiding action but Levegh’s car was launched into the crowd opposite the pits.

The Grumpy Jackal

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Jacques Villeneuve muses on current F1

Jacques Villeneuve was competing recently in Italy at the Bettaga Memorial end of season event. Following the event, the SKY F1 presenter gave an interview which ranged across several motorsport topics, including Formula One.

When asked about the respective moves of Vettel and Alonso to Ferrari and Mclaren, the French-Canadian believes both drivers will benefit from their moves. “Vettel was no longer wanted by Red Bull as he was no longer the ‘Golden Boy’ as if he had won it wouldn’t be seen as a Red Bull victory but as another for Sebastien. Contrary to the image portrayed, Red Bull is not a family they are interested in only one thing – to sell lots of cans”

“As to Alonso, I’m not sure of the choice he made. He needed a change but he came to Ferrari and won races. He is not a Ferrari man because when it went wrong he wanted to leave – similar to what happened in Mclaren in 2007. In my opinion when he lowers his visor – he is the best driver in F1. But outside the car he thinks only of himself. He uses twitter and the internet to his advantage but the top teams don’t like that. Ferrari is a family, and they protect their drivers, look at how they treated Kimi.”

“But Mclaren have their own problems. They had the best engine but at times struggled against Force India who have half their budget. We also don’t know about Honda. They have their tradition but so did Renault and Ferrari who built great engines in the 80’s but look who’s winning now. So Honda remains an unknown.”

“The problem with F1 is that its not exciting, the cars seem slow. You can’t fault the championship, it was beautiful and compelling and even the lack of noise wasn’t so bad but the cars aren’t aggressive to drive. Verstappen arrives, runs ten laps and is immediately quick! It seems that anyone can drive an F1 car. The current F1 makes driving too much like the Playstation, too easy.”

“In regards to Verstappen, the minimum age should be 21. You should get to F1 having won something with a wealth of experience behind you. Shall I tell you the truth? Max is being abused. I have no doubt he is naturally fast but he has no experience. It’s not F1’s role to teach a driver. Before you fight with the lives of others you should have learnt. As to Red Bull, they have put a child in Formula One and the subsequent impact is not what they expected. I think this time the media will not be as positive as they expect.”

In similar fashion to his legendary father, Jacques replied almost verbatim when asked how he would change the technical regulations for the cars: “The only limit I would put in place would be 100kg fuel for the race. Then leave it free to the manufacturers to design their ideal engine. I’d remove the hybrid parts as well leaving the use of turbos and the engine displacement to the designers. Then, fat wheels and remove all electronics. Lets see how these drivers handle all that power. Formula One has to go back to being physical and not virtual. People go to see the driver…”

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Montezemolo thwarted by Fiat boss again

With Bernie Ecclestone returning to his role as CEO at CVC there had been speculation that Luca di Montezemolo was close to being appointed as the president of Formula One Group of Companies. Apparently, last Thursday. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne stepped in and brought proceedings to a halt.

Maranello clearly feels that Il Padrino may well be harbouring a grudge or two and this appointment may have come to haunt Marchionne.

The combination of alliances that may be formed on the FOM board between Ecclestone and others is almost endless and likely to shift depending on the matter in hand and leverage which can be brought to bear.

So for now, Marchionne may have done Bernie a favour – which of course will need to be repaid at some time in the future.

Yet, as Mr. E said following Montezemolo’s departure from Maranello: “His leaving is for me the same as Mr Enzo dying. He has become Ferrari. You see him, you see Ferrari. You don’t see anything else. You don’t see Luca.”

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Alonso seemingly too good believes Massa

Felipe Massa had the ‘good fortune’ of being Fernando Alonso’s team-mate for four seasons. With the Spaniard moving to pastures new next year, little Felipe offered his opinion to Autosport on the move that surprised no-one.

“Everybody knew he was going to leave Ferrari. Maybe we saw that Ferrari didn’t give him the best car but maybe he didn’t help Ferrari to grow. If it’s going to be worse or better for Ferrari, I don’t know. Fernando is perhaps the best driver on the grid so we don’t know if it will be enough for Ferrari to make the step forward, but I hope for the best for Ferrari, anyway.”

This rhetoric mirrors an opinion that TJ13 scripted some months ago – essentially the Spanish Samurai is potentially so good that his talent will overcome a poorly performing car. Whilst this talent brings about its own virtues it would seemingly nullify any development that the team puts in place which in turn disguises a teams shortcomings in the short to medium term.

It will forever remain purely a hypotheses, yet had Alonso had left the Scuderia a season or two earlier – the Red team may well have realised the issues that required attention.

Pat Symonds worked with the Asturian from 2002 through to his second title victory in 2006 also offers a similar viewpoint to Massa: “He obviously wasn’t happy at Ferrari and if you’re not happy then it’s best to move on. He does seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time since he left Renault which is a shame as the guy is incredibly quick.

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#F1 Features: Forza Rossa Meets the Caterham Circus

•December 21, 2014 • 9 Comments

The Caterham Scam Continued: Connections in High Places
Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor landroni edited by TJ13 editor in chief Andrew Huntley Jacobs

Following the relentless investigative efforts by ProSport (a Romanian Publication), several new and intriguing elements have surfaced regarding the incredible events surrounding the fishy smelling
non-sale of Caterham and the contrived founding of Forza Rossa.

Updated 00:31 GMT Mon 22nd December 2014

I Forza Rossa and Victor Ponta

Back in the autumn, ProSport reported that they believed Victor Ponta, the current Romanian prime-minister and controversial failed presidential candidate in the Romanian 2014 Presidential elections, was the secret backer behind Ion Bazac fronted Forza Rossa (FR) project.

It has been widely assumed that the FR project was reliant upon Ponta Snr becoming president of Romania, and then delivering substantial political support and funding for the Formula One project. However, Ponta was defeated in the 2nd round of the Presidential vote mid November, by Klaus Iohannis,

Despite the exact financial arrangements for the project being unclear, the declared backer for the Forza Rossa project was Dr Ion Bazac. He is an ex-Social Democratic Party member (PSD in Romania), and is widely recognised as a close ally of Victor Ponta, currently the PSD party leader).

Back in February 2014, Dr Nicolae Bănicioiu – also a member of the PSD and the then Minister of Youth and Sport – was reportedly claiming, “To underline the serious nature of the Romanian bid, the country’s Minister of Youth and Sport Nicolae Banicioiu led a delegation that attended a meeting in the FIA logistics facility in Valleiry, near Geneva, earlier this week at which the proposals were examined by FIA engineers led by the federation’s Technical Director Bernard Niclot and Charlie Whiting”.

When asked about this, Ponta replied curtly, “Concerning Bănicioiu you should ask him! I only answer for myself!

Joe Saward who penned this article, then speculated, “From what we can understand the project involves a Romanian-owned entity with government support and funding coming from a series of Romanian businesses. The project has the support of the country’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta [who] has been in power since 2012. It would involve the facilities of Kodewa and Holzer in Germany and would be run by expatriate Romanian Colin Kolles, who has had experience running various F1 teams in recent years.”

Despite failing to ever score a point, the Caterham budget was some $70-80m, and following a littlke digging, it transpires Bazac has an estimated net worth of just $20m. It therefore stands to reason that a more capable financial backer for the Froza Rossa project must have existed. Sauber are hardly the wealthiest F1 operation, yet team owner Peter is believed to be worth around $100m.

Ponta and Forza Rossa appear to be intrinsically linked and ProSport has offered a relationship tree explaining the key players in the Caterham and Forza Rossa affair. All are Romanian and three of them, bizarrely, part of some dentist syndicate:

  •  Victor Ponta, current Prime-Minister in Romania, reportedly lending political
    support to the Forza Rossa
  • Dr Nicolae Bănicioiu, current Minister of Health and ex-Minister of Youth and
    Sport, and close to Victor Ponta, led in February 2014 a Forza Rossa delegation
    to the FIA
  •  Dr Ion Bazac, ex-Minister of Health and currently a businessman reportedly
    close to Ponta, is the official head of the Forza Rossa project
  • Dr Colin Kolles, is an integral part to the Forza Rossa project via his KODEWA
    operation based in Greding (Germany)
  •  Romulus Kolles, Colin’s father now in his ’80s, was named director at Caterham
    and recruited 3 Romanians on the internet, including Constantin Cojocar, to spy
    on the staff at Leafield
  •  Constantin Cojocar, ex-football player and chief of a bus depot, miraculously
    promoted overnight from janitor (and spy, it seems) to sole director and shareholder
    of Caterham during Colin Kolles’ tenure as head of the management
    team. During his interview with ProSport he was in Greding, in Colin Kolles’
    KODEWA facilities, which are now undeniably linked to the Forza Rossa operation

 

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Figure 1: Six Romanians and a controversial plan to enter F1. The potential hierarchy among the key players involved in the Caterham scam and the Forza Rosso project (courtesy ProSport).

 

 

II Forza Rossa and Colin Kolles’ KODEWA

There appears to be little doubt now that there was a conduit between the Romanians and Ecclestone – who of course is keen to recruit more lambs to the slaughter – and in the case of Forza Rossa, the gopher was Colin Kolles as his father Romulous explains. ”The Kolles name appears in the FIA application, because he went to obtain all the necessary approvals from Ecclestone.

For some unknown reason, the FIA appear to have a strong desire to fully exonerate Mr Ponta from any implication in the F1 project..

As shown in the cover letter sent by FR to the FIA, and signed by Dr Ion Bazac, a former health minister, Dr Colin Kolles was more than just part of the future plans of FR. In June 2014 Bogdan Sonea, the marketing representative at Forza Rossa, was confirming to the press that “Colin Kolles will be be our partner, given his experience in F1, in preparing and ironing out all the details related to our participation in F1”.

This could well be seen as a rather vague statement of intent and come October 2014, when the entire Caterham operation was going going belly up, FR duly quickly reneged on their claims to be intrinsically linked to Dr Kolles.

They now stated, “For the moment there is no official relationship between Mr Kolles and the Forza Rossa F1 Team. The involvement of Mr Kolles with the Caterham team is his personal choice and has no link to the Forza Rossa project which will activate in Romania.”

Given the December 2013 cover letter provided to the FIA – reported above, this appears most unconvincing. Back then, that document outlined the Forza Rossa structure and that the team’s mysterious backers would provide the “financial platform” for Dr Kolles’ German-based KODEWA to, “act as the operational arm of the Romanian entry”. In other words, Kolles wasn’t merely and advisor but instrumental and essential to the very existence of the new Romanian team.

Kolles’ KODEWA base in Germany was always set to provide the infrastructure for the technical side of the Romanian F1 project, without which the new F1 team Forza Rossa, could not exist.

Given these previous statements of intent, Forza Rossa’s current position that “there is no official relationship between Mr Kolles and the Forza Rossa F1 Team” and that the “involvement of Mr Kolles with the Caterham team is his personal choice and has no link to the Forza Rossa project,” appears tenuous to say the least.

Were Kolles to have jumped ship from the Forza Rossa project, the backers would have registered this matter back in June 2014. they didn’t and the statements they have since released smack of ‘covering ones back’ when the shit hit the fan over the Caterham mismanagement and intellectual property theft allegations brought by TJ13.

Forza Rossa and Walking PR disasters

Given the fact that FR insist they are to be 100% private effort with no government support, they appear to be remarkably unconcerned about flaunting their government connections. On 24 Nov, Forza Rossa made an emphatic official press release:

 

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Figure 2: Forza Rosso Application Page 1 (courtesy ProSport)

 

 

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Figure 3: Forza Rosso Application Page 2

 

 

Beginning with July 2014, the project of FR to participate in the F1 World Championship in 2015 has been halted, and categorically not delayed [or canceled] because of electoral reasons, as was speculated in the press.
Strange, then, that on 31st Oct 2014, 3 months after the pretended halting of the project, FR Holding announced via a press release: ”The documentation sent to the FIA includes clear and detailed informations on the means, place and equipment that shall be used for the F1 team.”

Furthermore, it transpires that FR applied to the FIA as a Romanian team, but they did not have even a national license from the Romanian Auto Club (seemingly the only body accredited for issuing such licenses).

When asked by ProSport, the Romanian Auto Club responded with “No one contacted us [on this matter].”

Whilst the proposed Forza Rossa team has no racing license even at national level, they do have a PO Box in Cyprus by which they can be contacted.

It now seems that the Caterham racing license was actually of particular importance to Kolles, FR and sidekick Manfredi, along with the valuable Intellectual property for a 2015 car – paid for by Caterham’s creditors.

What is clear though, is that team Forza Rossa stated their motive was to be “promoting Romania worldwide through projects of highest media return and reputational standing; in order to achieve the final goal of showing Romania and its capabilities worldwide”, Yet the FIA application may imply that they were not doing  particularly good job…

3_home_geek_Documents_TJ13_translations_fia-response-july-2014

Figure 4: FIA response to Rorza Rosso

Caterham’s creditors meet tomorrow to decide the fate of the company; and whilst there has allegedly been very recent interest from investors willing to buy the Leafield team, the FIA regulations meeting in Doha on Dec 3rd 2014 – in effect killed the last vestige of hope for a buyer for thebackmarker F1 team, recognisable in green.

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 1st: Wolf

•December 21, 2014 • 22 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: BlackJack’sBriefs

As with my series on drivers, I started with the Wiki ‘List of Formula One Constructors’ and quickly reduced 136 to 43 eligible constructors by removing the Champions, and those hopefuls who failed to last beyond two or three seasons, and also those who only competed before 1958. [See Part-20 – Intro for details.]

“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Walter-001-W-11st

Wolf

I’m sure many readers will be surprised by this result – some readers might be thinking: ‘What… Who…?’ Before getting embroiled in a discussion of debateable merit let me remind you of my original attempt to be objective, even in a subjective world. Those of you who clearly remember the decade of flared trousers and platform shoes might recall that Walter Wolf Racing experienced just one magical, fairy-tale year in F1, followed by two seasons of increasing frustration.

One of my original criteria, in order to quickly sort the wheat from the chaff, was that a team needed to have existed in F1 GP racing for at least three years and, on this count, Wolf qualified. Secondly, as the team didn’t hang around long when the going got tough, as for example did Ligier, Wolf didn’t suffer the iniquities of many ‘point-less’ years to drag their score down…

So… although this result might be a surprise, if you accept the way I transparently handled the statistics, Wolf is a deserving victor…

1977-07-W-1aa

Walter Wolf was born in 1939 in Graz (home also of Jochen Rindt), Austria, to a German bricklayer and Slovenian mother. Oddly (or perhaps not) his background and upbringing was not too dissimilar in style to Guy Ligier. From a poor, post-war beginning (his father was held in a Soviet prison camp until 1954), Walter emigrated to Canada in 1960 where, by dint of hard work, and a few useful contacts (for Mitterand, read Trudeau… and also Helmut Schmidt…), he established himself as a building contractor, oil-driller, and oil-dealer. In the energy crisis of 1973/74 he made a sizeable sum, and a number of useful friends in Saudia Arabia. By the 70’s he owned a string of Lamborghini Miuras, a personalised Countach, a Mercedes S-600, a Learjet, a couple of Jet Ranger helicopters, and a power-boat. Not a yacht, though, which he apparently considered ostentatious.

He also marketed the ‘WalterWolf’ aftershave, his own range of cigarettes, and sold motorbikes bearing his name.

interpol-01-W-1By 1972, Walter left Canada and lived for many years in London, Cannes and Switzerland, mixing with presidents and politicians, and a touch of royalty, before returning to Canada to (later) involve himself in politics and he, or his associates, were implicated in the AirCanada Airbus scandal… and later by the collapse of the Slovenian government on corruption charges which led to the new government seeking the arrest of Walter Wolf for his alleged involvement in an arms-related bribery scandal.

Interpol issued his photo, with the caption:

Wanted by the judicial authorities of Slovenia for prosecution / to serve a sentence.

But, in his earlier days, where Ligier was a successful rugby player Wolf was a member of the Canadian down-hill team in the 1964 winter Olympics.

And both men had a love for fast cars, motor-sports, and F1, from a young age.

By 1975 Walter owned 51% of Lamborghini, apparently saving the company from total collapse… and, through Gianpaolo Dallara [see: 20th – Dallara], had also met Frank Williams who was then running Frank Williams Racing Cars.

To fill the gaps… Frank was another ‘poor boy’ (but not much of an athlete), with an equal desire to get into motor- racing. He was also a ‘wheeler-dealer’, with fingers in many pies, and a public phone box outside his private garage that he used as his ‘office-phone’. He gave up driving in the mid-60’s and formed his own team, buying an F1 Brabham, for Piers Courage in 1969, which much angered my hero because the car had been sold expressly for use in the Tasman Series, and then be converted for F5000. But it’s an imperfect world. Piers placed 2nd in both Monaco and the US GPs…

Frank was approached by De Tomaso who built a car designed by Dallara but a crash that killed Piers only hardened Frank’s demeanour, while De Tomaso pulled out. Frank soldiered on, in an apparently worse financial state than Caterham have recently suffered, but managed to acquire backing from Motul and Politoys to build their own car but, in the hands of Henri Pescarolo, the steering failed (!?) and the car was heavily damaged. Chris Amon later tried the car but refused to race it.

Frank mysteriously changed sponsors every year (his ability to get them didn’t seem to match his ability to keep them…) and after changing to Marlboro and Iso Rivolta, for just one year, now went without, having presumably saved a few pennies from previous years and Laffite, taking a sabbatical from Ligier, placed a magnificent 2nd to Reutemann’s Brabham in Germany.

1977-03-W

But, in 1976, Frank sold 60% of his outfit to Walter Wolf, who had also just acquired the remnants of the Hesketh operation [see: 6th – Hesketh], and some of the assets of the Embassy Hill team, with Frank retained as Team Manager. To say it didn’t really work is perhaps an understatement and it seems to be under conjecture whether Frank was fired, or walked. Whatever, by the end of the year Frank went off (with Patrick Head and a few others) to form Williams GP Engineering… leaving Walter to pick up the pieces… and this he seemed to do with gay abandon – or, these days, perhaps I should say, with gusto…

Walter Wolf Racing was formed for 1977, Peter Warr was lured from Lotus as Team Manager (leaving Frank as ‘business manager’, to seek sponsorship, before he upped and left…), Harvey Postlethwaite had already joined (from Hesketh), assisted by Patrick Head (and even a fledgeling Ross Brawn was lurking somewhere in the workshop…), and Jody Scheckter arrived from Tyrrell (after four wins in three years).

1977

It is probable that many fans and competitors, at the time, had enough reason to feel sure of a good year for Wolf. Harvey produced the WR1-Cosworth (with some assistance from a young Adrian Newey) and the team played safe with just one entry for Jody, and off they went to Argentina for the first race. Reigning Champion, James Hunt, took pole, with Watson and Depailler (in the 6-wheel Tyrrell) alongside. Jody was way back in 11th but he pushed hard in the race and kept his head, as others around him lost theirs – or rather, lost wheels, ran out of fuel, broke suspensions, transmissions, over-heated, or just spun off… and the jubilant Scheckter came home the victor, 43 secs. ahead of Carlos Pace’s Brabham and Reutemann’s Ferrari – the first time a new car from a new team had won first time out since 1954… and, even then, Mercedes was hardly a brand-new team…

1977-02-W

After the US GP West Walter was apparently in conversation with Enzo who was so confident of winning a third Monaco GP they agreed: If Wolf won, Enzo would give him a Ferrari. But… if Ferrari won, Walter would have to buy two Ferrari road cars… A perhaps small point is that it isn’t recorded where this conversation took place… because Il Commendatore rarely attended race meetings at this time, and certainly not across the ‘pond’.

Well, Scheckter proved Argentina wasn’t a fluke by going on to win at Monaco (with fastest lap as well) and, true to his word, Enzo sent Walter a 512 Berlinetta Boxer—but there was a bill attached – allegedly Enzo retorted, ‘The car is free, but the tires are not.’ Later, Wolf allegedly asked his neighbour, Gilles Villeneuve to take the car to the factory for a service. Gilles apparently drove it so hard on his return, that it had to go back again – for new brakes and tyres.

Jody finished the year with a third victory at Wolf’s home GP at Mosport. He also took fastest lap in the final race in Japan, and had also taken pole position in Germany, and stood on the podium six more times, to place 2nd in the Championship. It was an amazing, and well-earned result. In the first sixteen races of the season Scheckter finished nine times, and every one of them on the podium…! Of the seven DNFs, he was invariably at the front when forced to retire. Only Japan was a bad race, where he finished 10th.

Although it was Lauda’s year, Mario Andretti won the most GP to take third behind Jody, with Reutemann and Hunt close behind. With only one car to score points Wolf had to be satisfied with 4th place in the Constructors’ Championsip, behind Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren, but well ahead of Brabham, Tyrrell, Shadow, Ligier, Fittipaldi, Ensign, Surtees, Penske and March.

It wasn’t only Wolf who surprised everyone this year. Shadow took their only victory [see: 10th – Shadow]; Gunnar Nilsson had his only win before cancer sadly ended his career; Renault arrived with a ‘new-fangled’ turbo car; and it was the last year a BRM qualified to race. It was also the year of the appallingly, tragically unnecessary death of Tom Pryce who crashed into a wayward marshall at a chaotically supervised S.African GP.

1978

The team remained the same, but with a new car for the ‘ground-effects era’. However, other designers had jumped ahead of Harvey, especially Chapman’s team, and it was Lotus’ year. Although Jody stood on the podium four times, and came close to winning occasionally, it was a disappointing second season, as Jody dropped to 7th, and Wolf were pipped by Tyrrell and fell to 5th.

However, 3rd and 2nd places in the final two American races augured well for 1979.

Andretti was the last American to win the Championship, indeed the last to win a GP. His teammate, Ronnie Peterson was postumously awarded 2nd in the Championship following another tragic and, by today’s standards, unnecessary death.

1978-01-W-2

1979

Nothing lasts for ever, though perhaps for few of us does it only last one year. Jody was lured away to Ferrari, where he took the World Championship. He was replaced by Hunt whose heart, after retiring from seven of the first eight races, no longer seemed to be in it, perhaps hardly surprising… James retired from the sport before the end of the season, and was replaced by newcomer, Keke Rosberg… who retired from seven of the other eight races… Walter decided it wasn’t fun any more, and sold off the team to Emerson Fittipaldi, who merged the assets with his own team… the last of the driver/constructors in F1.

1979-01-W-3

It was a short time in F1, and is probably almost forgotten, if not unheard of, by most F1 fans today but that one magical season (along with Walter’s ability to acknowledge it could be futile to persevere) was statistically sufficient to have this team take the number-one slot in this series… and that first season was real ‘Hollywood’.
Walter rarely bothered with sponsorship deals, claiming he wouldn’t put other companies’ stickers on the car and make it ugly, only relinquishing with Olympus Cameras for 1979.

In a rare interview for Motor Sport, Walter expressed his view of the 70’s v. the 10’s

“Today, motor racing is all very corporate. It is a business, not a sport any more. In the 1970s we would all stay at the same hotel, drivers and teams, we would have dinner together. We were friends. After the race we would hate each other for a day or two, then we would be friends again. Today people don’t talk to each other, you would never see people from different teams having dinner. And after the race, each driver rushes to the airport, or if a driver retires he is gone without waiting for the end.”

3 wins, 10 additional Podiums, 2 Fastest Laps, and 1 Pole Position, spread over just 54 GP race entries (just 35 in their two scoring years…), and one of the most beautiful cars, and paint-jobs (also in 1977, as the later models were pretty average looking), gives Wolf pride of place in this series.
I include this 21st.C. version of the WR1… because I like it…

21stC.bastiani-01-W

There is a Wolf WR1 on display at the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and a Wolf WR7 at the Cotswold Motor Museum.

Finally… what of Interpol…? First, the charges mentioned here are a year or so old, and I’ve been unable to find more up-to-date information.

Unsurprisingly Walter Wolf professes innocence and asserts he will return to Slovenia, when his health has improved, also claiming he only “sent gas masks from Poland to Yugoslavia”, and “introduced Croatian and Slovenian politicians to Israeli arms dealers”. There is a related court case in Austria, and a threat of a re-trial in Croatia, and a former colleague is still suffering bribery charges in Germany as well as being involved in the Airbus scandal.

The Slovenian prime-minister has been convicted of bribery in a €278m. defence deal with a Finnish company that resulted in a €3.6m. ‘kick back’ for both Walter and his Austrian ‘connector’, who has already been convicted. Walter has admitted that he did receive €2.3m. of this… for his “legitimate consulting fee”.

Walter asserts his Lichtenstein accounts have been frozen since 2008, he has disbanded or left his many companies in Croatia and Slovenia, had given his 7,000 acre ‘logging’ ranch in Canada to his children twenty years ago, and is now effectively broke.

When asked, about his playboy image, he denies he “ever ran around” when he was married (though both wives divorced him for such reasons). “I’m not going to say that when I was married and in Hong Kong that I didn’t meet people – that when I was in Shanghai and there were those half-Asian, half-European girls who look like [raised his eyebrows], hell, fine…” And then added: “I’ve done lots of things in life, but I have principles. There’s not a woman in the world that can say I paid her.”

Some principle…! However… maybe Walter doesn’t include women that others paid for, as ‘gifts’ to him… Or the gifts he bought, and gave to women… Oh, come on… It happens…!

logo-W-2


Previously:

2nd Ligier Pt 2

2nd Ligier Pt 1

3rd Eagle

4th Honda

5th Mercedes

6th Hesketh

7th Porsche

8th March

9th Jordan

10th Shadow

11th Toleman

12th Toyota

13th Alfa Romeo

14th Sauber

15th Arrows

16th Stewart

17th BAR

18th – Surtees

19th – Lola

20th – Dallara

The TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast – Light Up My Christmas

•December 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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

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

The epicly catchy music this week is presented by Daryll Nezmo


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FIA plot against former #F1 medical delegate

•December 19, 2014 • 34 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

•December 19, 2014 • 23 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

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

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


OTD Lite 2005 – Alonso signed early for a change

Mario illien signs up to the Renault PU roller coaster

Williams aiming for race wins in 2015


OTD Lite 2005 – Alonso signed early for a change

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

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

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

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

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

The Grumpy Jackal

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Mario illien signs up to the Renault PU roller coaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Williams aiming for race wins in 2015

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

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

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

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

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

•December 19, 2014 • 6 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: Jennie Mowbray

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

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

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

Talbot at Speed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•December 18, 2014 • 18 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

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


OTD Lite 1987 – Senna and Mansell clash

Ferrari ridicule heighten as culling continues

Villeneuve’s ex engineer looking to move to sunnier climes

BBC’esque scenes in the podcast shed


OTD Lite 1987 – Senna and Mansell clash

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

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

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

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

The Grumpy Jackal

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Ferrari ridicule heightens as culling continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Villeneuve’s ex engineer looking to move to sunnier climes

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

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

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

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BBC’esque scenes in the podcast shed

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

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

•December 17, 2014 • 19 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

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


OTD Lite 2001 – Toyota launches their new F1 challenger

Ecclestone lives to fight another day

Ferrari encourage resignation of two Fry and Tombazis

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

Renault find 5% improvement over the season

Police find RBR trophies in lake

2015 Parc Ferme rule and others


OTD Lite 2001 – Toyota launches their new F1 challenger

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

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

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

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

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

The Grumpy Jackal

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Ecclestone lives to fight another day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ferrari encourage resignation of two Fry and Tombazis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Renault find 5% improvement over the season

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then there’s Honda……

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Police find RBR trophies in lake

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

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

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

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2015 Parc Ferme rule and others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•December 16, 2014 • 42 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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Previously on The Judge 13:

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

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


OTD Lite 1982 – Chapman dies leaving astounding legacy

Gutierrez signs as third driver at Ferrari

Montezemolo still bitter at Ferrari exit

Haas buying Marussia bits

Formula Sochi Bankruptcy Filed

Hamilton again accuses Rosberg of cheating in Monaco


OTD Lite 1982 – Chapman dies leaving astounding legacy

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

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

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

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

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The Grumpy Jackal

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Gutierrez signs as third driver at Ferrari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Montezemolo still bitter at Ferrari exit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Haas buying Marussia bits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Formula Sochi Bankruptcy Filed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Hamilton again accuses Rosberg of cheating in Monaco

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

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

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

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

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