Judges Chamber: Has #F1 gone down the rabbit hole and up the spout all at the same time?

•November 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Seldom has a Formula One weekend been so packed with rumours and stories of such a wide-ranging and diverse nature. Further, seldom have such grave issues been at the forefront of F1 and the various participants speak so openly and freely about them.

I, and the TJ13 site have been advocating what is now called ‘the virtual safety car’ from almost since the website’s inception. I personally, along with a few others in a group, took this matter up with ‘the horses mouth’ earlier this year.

The conversation was lengthy, and I presented the fact that double waved yellows were meant to be an immediate extreme caution to isolate a dangerous section of the circuit where the safety car could not be present in an instant.

A number of other scenarios were discussed, but were dismissed out of hand because we were told, “the safety car is currently the highest and best intervention we have studied and settled upon”.

In addition the comment was made that the end of the safety car would be bad for the show and that Bernd would lose his job.

No matter.

So it’s good to see in Austin, finally, the virtual safety car being tried for the first time, though with a mixed response from the drivers. Grosjean complained he found managing the delta times “vey very difficult”, whilst Maldonado commented, “it’s very easy.”

Formula One drivers eh?

Despite Whiting’s rhetoric in Sochi, this solution does not “take it out of the drivers’ hands” how fast they drive, but merely replaces the previous FIA reduction in speed the divers were compelled to deliver – of 0.5 seconds for a double waved yellow cautioned mini sector. A ridiculous regulation which breaches the FIA’s own Sporting Code.

We shall see whether the FIA admits they were wrong in their F1 interpretation of the WMSC Sporting Code regulation, which requires all motor sports competitors to “Slow down… and be prepared to stop” – in whatever category of racing they are competing.

One lighter moment which has occurred this weekend is the renewal of Ted Kravitz’s, Sky presenter, spat with Christian Horner. I hear Kravitz said live on air to the Red Bull supremo (of sorts) “I’ve been trying to catch up with you all day; what’s going on?”

Horner replied, “Friday’s a busy day Ted, you should know that”. Kravitz compulsively quipped, “It is… for the rest of us”.

What followed was the furry faced Christian Horner explaining what would happen with Sebastian Vettel during qualifying in Austin. Predictably this included stabs at “fragile engine units” and “silly rules” which apparently Red Bull never complained about though have been in existence all year.

Horner’s lament invoked the plight of the fans, apparently all desperate to see four times world champion compete properly in the qualifying event. However, Christian revealed that Sebastian would complete merely one lap in Q1 to ensure he was not thrown out of the race under the 107% rule.

This suggests Red Bull have been leaned on by the FIA over their proposal to ‘not bother’ sending Seb out at all in qualifying, as previously other drivers have not competent in qualifying, but demonstrated in the free practice sessions they are competent to race.

Bernie Ecclestone has been holding one on one meetings with all the ‘larger’ team principals here in Austin and from his publicity stunt on SKY with Ted Kravitz, you have to assume he is pushing an agenda for less teams, B teams and the death of the current smaller competitors in F1.

In defiance of the FIA’s agreement with the commercial rights holder, Mr. E declared that if 2015 saw just 14 competitors in F1, that’s the way it would be – and life would continue as normal.

This seems to be in response to a threat made by Force India, Sauber and Lotus to boycott Sunday’s race in Austin. Though Lotus later tweeted a denial they were refusing to race, stating,”That’s kinda why we’re here.”

Bob Fernley though claims there is an agenda from the bigger teams to driver the rest out of the sport.“CVC and the teams they have empowered have got some form of programme in place because nobody (otherwise) would have teams going out of business.There is a (financial) split that is inequitable.”

If you listen to Toto Wolff’s arrogant and dismissive attitude in the FIA press conference, its easy to see where Fernley is coming from.

Further, Ecclestone stiff armed Bobby Epstein – promoter of the COTA event – to tell SKY viewers F1 was not the same without the noise of the old V8 engines. Ecclestone then empathetically added that it was not fair on the promoters, because they had signed contracts for ‘a product’, which wa now not being delivered

I have been asked several times this weekend, what I believe to be Ecclestone’s agenda, and the answer is simple: to create as much chaos and uncertainty amongst the F1 participants that like headless chickens they fall prey to the lurking fox.

It could be that Bernie is calling out the FIA in defiance of the 100 year commercial rights agreement, whilst all along he has GP1 trademarks, agreements with circuit owners and Ferrari in his pocket to set up a new series.

He and CVC do own GP2 and GP3 which would be an attractive offer to race promoters as a package to travel the globe to each GP1 race event.

There have been a number of rumours this year about Ecclestone showing an interest in ex-F1 engine manufacturer – Cosworth, though none confirmed. Still, its not a leap of unbelievable proportions to envisage a GP1 series being proposed with Ferrari and Cosworth engines available for all series competitors, whilst the simultaneous call is made to Mercedes and Renault being “join us if you like”.

Of course for the Scuderia to split from the F1 brand with which they have become synonymous, would be truly astonishing. And whether the new Ferrari management are prepared to get in bed with Ecclestone he way Il Padrino used to do is up for question.

All this just points to the kind of threats and pressure various F1 participants are likely to face in the coming days and there will be huge choices for them to make which could see a split in the global premier racing series similar to that which occurred in North American single seater racing over a decade ago.

In the space of just over an hour, Toto Wolff appeared to make himself the pariah of all genuine Formula 1 fans. In the most compelling FIA press conference maybe ever, he propounded the view that Formula One was at the very “high end” of motor sport, and if you can’t afford to be in the sport, you should just bugger off.

He was clearly well briefed on the idea of a two tier Formula One which would see 5 big teams run 5 B teams as the sport begins to look more and more like DTM from a participants perspective.

Yet Jean Todt clearly had some influence on this panel of team bosses, as Gerard Lopez, Monisha Kaltenborn and Vijay Mallya (sporting the finest mullet seen since the days of Chris Waddle) were open and frank about the plight of the smaller teams.

The put to bed the argument the lie that the smaller teams just ‘spend what they can’t afford’ and explained how costs have been forced upon them without their consent. Further, that the funding they receive is a pittance when compared to the cost of designing a car, buying an engine and turning up to race at each event on the F1 calendar.

Further, even Eric the believable concurred that the distribution of the $900m funds to the teams should maybe examined again. Wolff as defiant, stating he would not support this proposition.

As someone who felt a wealth of goodwill towards Mercedes at the start of the year, I have to say Wolff is destroying any goodwill amongst passionate neutral Formula One fans, with his arrogant know it all attitude – all gleaned in the 2 minutes he has been part of the sport.

Stuttgart would do well to study the FIA press conference form today, and ask themselves some hard questions over the image one of their brand ambassadors is presenting to the world.

Today saw the staff of Caterham allowed back onto the Leafield premises for a meeting where their futures were outlined.

The staff are being forced to take 2 weeks unpaid leave whilst the Administrator deals with acquisition enquiries from between “6 and 12 interested parties.”

The administrator admitted he was finding it difficult to contact Colin Kolles as certain questions of impropriety require attention.

All the seized equipment from the various bailiff companies has also been returned to the jurisprudence of the Administrator including the simulator rig, the car and the other assorted parts and memorabilia which had been removed.

In a separate and bizarre turn of events, Romulas Kolles – ex director of Caterham Sports Ltd explained in an interview in Romanian that he had recruited ”spies” during his brief tenure as director. One of these was the man affectionately referred to as ‘Mario’ by the Leafield staff – the ex Romanian footballer cleaner come Romulas Kolles replacement as company director.

Other ‘spies’ presumably included a whole new set of race weekend drivers to ferry the race team around at each event. Though, TJ13 sources informed us they didn’t understand English and slept in the minibuses over night.

If you’re going to do something, at least make a vague effort do it properly.

In a separate interview, Mario (Cojocar John Constantine) now admits he was recruited to “design and build race cars for Caterham and Forza Rossa”. Cojocar also confirmed that despite their assertions to the contrary that Forza Rossa have “obtained confirmation of their permission to participate in the FIA Formula 1 2015 season”.

Romulas is ill in Germany and was contacted by ProSport – a Romanian publication. They extracted from Kolles father the fact his son is now ‘somewhere in America” and he was merely “a consultant to Caterham”.

Critically he revealed Kolles and Ecclestone have been ‘working together’ and that Mr. E had been using his influence to help Colin achieve FIA approval for a Formula One team entrant.

I am proud of the reporting TJ13 has delivered on this story, despite consistent ridicule from those in the established media. Our sources on the whole have been impeccable.

That said, in one or two cases certain individuals left Caterham preceding the Administrator’s takeover, joining other teams such as Lotus and Red Bull. These friends of TJ13 then stayed in touch with their colleagues back in Leafield, though information via them from their friends still at Caterham became a slower process, especially from the Caterham logistics team.

Yet facts such as Kolles using Caterham Sports Ltd resources to design LMP1 cars such as Lotus under the name CLM – became transparent pretty quickly – CLM, Caterham Le Mans? The car debuted in Austin in September, its origins shrouded in mystery.

What is clear is that Colin Kolles is a reprehensible individual, a liar and probably a thief. He has been assisted by his side-kick Mafredi Ravetto – who whilst maintaining a pretence of “Hi know nothing” becomes less believable by the day.

As has happened in other sports, it is imperative the FIA set up a process to identify “fit and proper” individuals who are licensed to own and run Formula One teams.

Amusingly this question was asked earlier this year in the House of Commons. ‘With the recent conviction of the former owner of Birmingham City for money laundering, the fraud convictions of the putative owner of Leeds United and the fact that we still don’t know the identity of the individuals that own Coventry City, will you agree with me that we need a proper fit and proper person test to be applied to the owners of football clubs, administered by the authorities and if necessary given the legal security of being underpinned by statute?”

These charges could all probably be laid at the door of a single individual and levied at his recent period of dalliance with the livelihoods of the Caterham staff and families.

None existent Swiss based Arab investors spring quickly to mind. Start a liar, end a liar.The FIA needs to act and act swiftly on a multiplicity of levels; so the time is ripe for Jean Todt the hero to emerge and save the sport, though understandably, many of us are not holding our breath.

Oh and by the way, there’s is apparently a race this weekend – somewhere in the US of A.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 31st October 2014

•October 31, 2014 • 30 Comments


This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

The #F1 Bar Exam: 30th October 2014

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: “Do you have a problem with that?”

OTD Lite: 1999 – Hakkinen wins in Japan and clinches his second title

“We told you so” and the plight of the lesser

Ecclestone Model Not Just Bad for Small Teams

Forza Rossa still waiting for FIA approval (GMM)

Caterham’s Ericsson set for Sauber switch (GMM)

No unleashing of Nico and Lewis yet (Updated 14:21 GMT)

COTA FP1 Times

COTA FP2 Times

OTD Lite: 1999 – Hakkinen wins in Japan and clinches his second title

1999 Mika Hakkinen

We stay in Japan! On this day in 1999 Mika Hakkinen won the Japanese Grand Prix and in doing so secured his second consecutive World Drivers Championship. Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine completed the podium to give Ferrari their first constructors championship in 16 years!

How closed did Irvine really get to becoming Ferrari’s first world champion since Jody Scheckter in 1979?


“We told you so” and the plight of the lesser

Known for being the quiet ruler within the FIA it has not stopped Mr Todt to do a “I told you so”.

The FIA has released a statement saying they have been ‘informed’ of the financial difficulties being faced by Caterham and Marussia and the uncertainty surrounding their participation in the final races of the 2014 championship.

However, understanding that the might of the FIA is better applied to smaller teams, our leaders at the Place de la Concorde has now stated that it is the responsibility of the FIA Stewards to determine whether or not a team has failed to fulfil its regulatory obligation to take part in all events on the calendar and to take whatever action they deem appropriate.

In an attempt to show how considerate they are the FIA states they have “every confidence that the Stewards are fully aware of the financial situation of the teams concerned and these matters are always assessed with extreme care and due regard for the circumstances involved“.

The FIA also want to assure all other teams that things will get better.

Looking beyond the end of the 2014 season, these failings once again acutely raise the question of the economic balance of the FIA Formula One Championship and justify the position, expressed many times by the FIA, in favour of any initiative that will help reduce costs in order to ensure the survival of the existing grid or attract potential new entrants.

As such, the FIA, in close cooperation with FOM and the different stakeholders in F1, will continue to work towards maintaining the attraction of the championship and the equitable participation of the teams in it in the years to come.

One can only wonder what new initiative the FIA will introduce to ensure more ‘equitable participation of teams’. One thing is certain though, unless true leadership emerges from the FIA – little will change.


Ecclestone Model Not Just Bad for Small Teams

When it comes to financial difficulties, in Formula One it’s not just the teams that are at risk. An ongoing tax dispute between Circuit of the Americas and Travis County Assessment District who appraise the track reveal the desperate economics behind the circuit owners.

Originally thought to have cost between $300-$450 million to construct, the last appraisal set the value of the property at $271 million dollars, with a tax bill due in the region of $7 million dollars. COTA on the other hand, believes that the property has dropped to roughly $100 million dollars and therefore should owe no more than $3 million, give or take a few pennies, a depreciation worthy of a brand new Mercedes just driven off the lot.

COTA president Jason Dial said that the larger tax bill would add roughly $50 to every ticket sold.

Despite the rosy report recently touted by circuit chairman, Bobby Epstein, focused on the positive economic impact on Austin and the surrounding area, the fact remains that the track itself continues to lose money, at least by their reckoning. That’s not difficult to believe, as FOM not only keep revenue from trackside advertising, but from TV rights and corporate hospitality as well.

One has only to look at the recent events with the Nurburgring and Silverstone to see how hard it is to make money at a circuit and how quickly the value disappears.

And for those who felt the numbers in the Greyhill Advisors report seemed a bit ambitious, an interview on kut.org with Ben Loftsgaarden of the firm sheds light on the source of those numbers. The report factored in all the activities at the circuit for the year not just Formula One (more than 200, including a music venue), as well as indirect effects. Looked at more narrowly, the direct impact of all activities on the track for the year was $515 million dollars, with less than two hundred people employed by the track.

Still, as the race weekend gets underway COTA are currently $4.6 million dollars in arrears to authorities, with an additional $830,000 in penalties awaiting the outcome of the court case this spring. According to Epstein, “The venue cannot afford that kind of tax bill. If it creates an upside down company, I could see the property — without the race contracts — going up for sale.


Forza Rossa still waiting for FIA approval GMM

Forza Rossa, a Romanian project targeting a debut in formula one, has played down reports it has already been granted an entry by the FIA. Reports this week suggested that with Caterham now close to collapse, advisor Colin Kolles is set to return his immediate attention to Forza Rossa.

But a statement attributed to Forza Rossa, published by the respected Romanian outlet prosport.ro, insisted: “For the moment there is no official engagement between Mr Colin Kolles and Forza Rossa F1 Team.
The statement clarified that Caterham was never “related” to Kolles’ involvement at Caterham, contrary to recent speculation.

Manfredi Ravetto, until recently the boss at Caterham, also denied the reported links between the failing Leafield based team and Forza Rossa.

The investors involved (in Forza Rossa) should have met with Bernie Ecclestone at Monza, but I didn’t see them,” he is quoted by Italy’s Omnicorse.

I do not think there is a future for that idea.

But the reports earlier this week had quoted court documents as suggesting Forza Rossa has been granted approval to make its F1 debut either next year or in 2016.

But the Forza Rossa media statement said: “We would like to inform you that we don’t yet have an official and public confirmation from the FIA regarding our participation in the formula one world championship.

Until the FIA official statement any information on our participation in F1 is pure speculation.

The Spanish news agency EFE is reporting similarly, quoting a man by the name of Bogdan Sonea, who is apparently the marketing director or Forza Rossa Ferrari, the official dealer of Ferrari road cars within Romania.

The latest paddock whisper is that Forza Rossa may now be distancing itself from Caterham because it sees buying the similarly failing backmarker Marussia – already powered by customer Ferrari engines – as a better option.

Also rumoured in the Romanian press is that Forza Rossa will be based in Germany, with cars powered by Renault.

We’re still awaiting official confirmation from the FIA to enter formula one,” Sonea said.

He added that the project is purely privately funded, without the rumoured involvement of the Romanian government.


Caterham’s Ericsson set for Sauber switch GMM

Marcus Ericsson looks set to keep his formula one career alive by signing with Sauber for 2015.

Said to carry some $18 million in personal sponsorship, the Swedish rookie is trackside in Austin this weekend despite the absence of his failing existing team, Caterham.

I had the ticket anyway,” he told Speed Week, “but I came here because I want to maintain contact with the sport.

I’m sad that I cannot drive but it’s important for me to meet with some people,” the 24-year-old added.

Roger Benoit, the veteran correspondent for the Swiss newspaper Blick, claims Ericsson will replace either Adrian Sutil or Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber next year.

The news came as the Swiss team’s boss and co-owner Monisha Kaltenborn slammed the financial situation in F1, as the struggling privateers begin to collapse.

I think I’m beyond the stage of frustration,” she said.

It’s one thing to always talk about this terrible scenario that some teams are not going to be there, but that the sport and the people responsible for the sport have let it come that far is extremely disturbing,” Kaltenborn added.

I think the worst part is that we’re damaging the sport with this so much that I think the owners of the product of the sport should think what they’re doing here.

The Spanish sports daily Marca said one struggling team, perhaps Sauber, has illustrated the point by leaking the precise minimum cost of putting two cars on the grid for the entire season — EUR 94.4 million.

So with Ericsson’s millions said to be arriving in 2015, attention now turns to who – the strongly Mexican-backed Gutierrez or German Sutil – will have to make way.

Sutil doesn’t think it will be him, insisting on Thursday there is “no change” in his contractual partnership with Sauber, which continues through 2015.

Gutierrez, meanwhile, said: “I think in the next three weeks we will know what will happen with me. Nothing in life is guaranteed — and that goes even more so for formula one.


No unleashing of Nico and Lewis yet
Translation of a German language interview in Der Spiegel

Mr. Wolff, under your leadership Mercedes won the constructor championship for the first time. How hard did you party?

It was all rather tame. After all, the season isn’t over yet and we want to win the other title that F1 has to offer as well. On Sunday in Austin we want to make the next step in that direction.

The Mercedes cars have been utterly superior this year. When were you sure that you will win the constructors title?

After the race in Suzuka, in October

Come on! At the time your team was already 190 points ahead of Red Bull. You only needed 25 of the 215 theoretically attainable points. There was all but a theoretical chance.

I’m pessimistic on principle in that regard. Before you have reached the goal with undeniable certainty, you must not sit back. There is always something that can go wrong. I call that the necessary element of paranoia.

Pardon, the what?

The necessary element of paranoia. It’s important, because you must be gripped by the fear of losing every day. This fear doesn’t make your life particularly pleasant, but it spurs you on, makes sure you never stop.

Okay, let’s approach this differently: Which stages of the season do you think were the most decisive?

The start with six wins in a row was important, and it was equally important that we didn’t slow down after the summer break. Instead we won four of five races. In the years before we were always put in our place after the summer. This year we proved that we can not only defend our advantage, but actually extend it.

The first race after the summer break at Spa did not exactly go well. Nico hit Lewis’s car and the upheaval was enormous.

That surely was a disastrous Sunday for us. We had pulled all stops to make the cars even better over the summer and for that we had brought a substantial upgrade for Spa. To throw away the race needlessly when running 1 and 2 was a bad hit. At this point we had the impression that not everybody respects how much effort the team has been investing into our success.

You are talking about Nico Rosberg, the culprit.

I talk about the fact that it was necessary to meet and muck out the stable. We dealt with it behind closed doors and since then there’s quiet.

In Spa you said, something like that must not happen again to not endanger the constructors title. Well that one’s obviously settled. Will the drivers now be allowed to run free of team orders?

No, definitely not. There is still the drivers title, which is much more relevant as far as media coverage is concerned. It’s the drivers title the viewers are really interested in. The gap of Lewis and Nico is not yet big enough to unleash both of them.

Ricciardo is 92 points behind championship leader Hamilton and there are only 100 points still up for grabs.

Necessary element of paranoia, remember? Frankly, I’m not interested going to that 50-points race in Abu Dhabi while Ricciardo can still theoretically steal the title. I want that decided beforehand. And when we have the luxury of our drivers being safe, even in theory, then we might consider letting them run freely.

You mentioned Abu Dhabi where there will be double points. What do you think about this new rule?

From a sporting point of view, complete rubbish. It values one race higher than the other 18. I can understand that they want to keep the suspense up until the very end, but I hope that the only suspense at that time will be whether Hamilton or Rosberg will be crowned champion.

Can you guarantee that both of them will drive for Mercedes next year? After all, there seems to be some action on the driver market: Vettel will most likely go to Ferrari and it is rumoured that Alonso wants a Mercedes seat and Hamilton is named frequently in connection with McLaren.

Nothing in life is one hundred percent guaranteed, but the chance of Lewis and Nico driving for us next year is 99.9%. They both have valid contracts for 2015 after all. We want to continue working with both of them.

You must be quite excited about next year. The rules remain relatively stable and the history has shown that once a team has established a technological advantage, it dominates for years, like Ferrari between 2000 and 2004 or Red Bull from 2010 to 2013.

To quote baseball legend Babe Ruthe: ‘Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s game’. It must be our goal to improve even further and not sit back or the successful times could be gone quite soon.

Translation by Fat Hippo

TJ13 comment:

So, what is Mr. Wolff saying? With 100 points on the table and Ricciardo being 75 points behind a Hamilton/Rosberg 1-2 in either order this weekend will then finish Ricciardo off.

We then can have proper racing in Brazil and Abu Dhabi?

This season for many will always have the stench of Mercedes AMG F1 management interfering in the only uncertainty around who will win what this year.

Further, Wolff forgets he did not deal with ‘the matter’ behind closed doors. One driver told the world that his team mate admitted driving into him deliberately and then the team announced Rosberg would be disciplined – without disclosing what this ‘discipline’ would be.

Wolff therefore is alone is responsible for the tidal wave of subsequent speculation that he, Lauda and Lowe have “managed a points transfer” amongst their drivers in recompense for the wring Lewis suffered in Spa.

This is a given since never in Formula One history has a team mate collision – treated as a racing incident by the stewards – EVER been escalated such that a public declaration of guilt and discipline has been pronounced on one of their drivers.


COTA FP1 Times

The results are in as the F1 circus starts are rolling again after three painfully slow weeks. Lewis Hamilton nailed his name to the top of the time sheets in FP1 and was closely followed by his team mate Rosberg.

Perhaps the surprise of the day (so far) is Button in the McLaren. The Frome Flyer got his silver arrow (not one of THE Silver Arrows) on top of the time sheets for quite a while however he had to settle for third behind the real Arrows (sliver ones that is). It is early days but for the McLaren to be 0,378s adrift in the hands of Button is a good result. Perhaps he has been promised a contract if he does well this weekend? The question remains though, with which of the many teams his manager are referring to…

Young Russian and soon to be Red Bull Racing driver Kvyat got his Toro Rosso into 4th (Soon to be ex RBR Vettel was down in 7th and his soon to be team mate Ricciardo was 17th, although the Aussie had some gremlins with his car). K-Mag slotted in at 5th, a whole second and a bit behind Hamilton. He was followed by Alonso in the Ferrari, Vettel, Nasr (standing in – or is that sitting in – Bottas’ Williams), Hulkenberg and Verstappen.

Verstappen taking another outing in his soon to be Toro Rosso Team car was just under a second slower than Kvyat.

With the session almost over the FIA decided to test their “Virtual Safety Car” and the drivers having to drive to a pre-set lap time from the FIA. This is a response to Jules Bianchi’s Suzuka crash as was decided that drivers need to slow more for yellow flags. Now does that differ for sectors or is it the whole lap that counts?

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.941 28
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.233 0.292 32
3 Jenson Button McLaren 1:40.319 0.378 27
4 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:40.887 0.946 33
5 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:40.987 1.046 29
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:41.065 1.124 27
7 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:41.463 1.522 20
8 Felipe Nasr Williams 1:41.545 1.604 19
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:41.722 1.781 24
10 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:41.785 1.844 32
11 Felipe Massa Williams 1:41.907 1.966 21
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:41.965 2.024 23
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:42.329 2.388 28
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:42.333 2.392 23
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.359 2.418 23
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:42.516 2.575 24
17 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:42.598 2.657 5
18 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:43.229 3.288 26


COTA FP2 Times

It seems weird publishing times with only 18 cars…. When was the last time we had only 18 cars in FP?

Back to the action then. Business as usual with Mercedes staying on top, Hamilton leading Rosberg. How many millimetres is in 0.003s?

Our Spanish Samurai is showing his hand in the Ferrari Truck in 3rd place. Kimi however is down in 6th, apparently not feeling the car… maybe less vodka Kimi, it may help your senses.

Ricciardo seem to have got his rodeo hat on and plonked is bull into 4th place. Would it not be great to see him on the podium on Sunday with a Pirelli Stetson? It would suit his beard.

Massa got his Williams into 5th… not much more to say about the little Brazillian’s FP2.

From highs to lows for our Russian, 7th is all he could get out of his junior bull.

K-Mag got one over Button as they take up 8th and 9th with Hulkenberg in the top ten again… in tenth.

And that is it folks, till tomorrow… let’s see which of our favorite Silver Arrow drivers gets poll.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.085 18
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.088 0.003 34
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:40.189 1.104 29
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:40.390 1.305 30
5 Felipe Massa Williams 1:40.457 1.372 36
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:40.543 1.458 32
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:40.631 1.546 34
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:40.641 1.556 38
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1:40.698 1.613 36
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:40.800 1.715 25
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:40.828 1.743 37
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:41.054 1.969 31
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:41.110 2.025 36
14 Sergio Perez Force India 1:41.123 2.038 35
15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:41.158 2.073 37
16 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:41.332 2.247 33
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:41.420 2.335 34
18 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:43.980 4.895 19


#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: “Do you have a problem with that?”

•October 30, 2014 • 8 Comments


Roll up, roll up! Another week and another F1 Courtroom Podcast. This week our host Spanners assembles the panel to address one of TJ13 reader’s questions about engine regulations for next year and how it may impact Honda.

3 car teams rears it horrendous head again and discuss the merits and who will benefit.

But who is this week’s panel I hear you ask…

From the land of beer and fast cars The Fat Hippo graces us with his presence. Also from afar our trumpet master Mattpt55 complains about watches and time zones and closer to the shores of… well joining Spanners on the mud island is Anil Parmar from Formula E Diary.

But wait, that does not conclude the panel. From the choppy waters of the Isle of Wight Matt Somerfield (also known as SomersF1) joins us for this rather technical episode.

Hope you enjoy it and please leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher.

Ah, Stitcher. Yes! For those TJ13 readers that are not fond of fruity products we may have found a solution for you. TJ13 can now be found on Stitcher, another platform that allows anyone with a smart phone to download their app and listen to TJ13 F1 Courtroom Podcasts, and some other ones too.

This week’s song is from Rhiannon Mair and it is called ”Those Days Are Gone“.

You can follow Rhiannon Mair on Facebook or Twitter

To access the Podcast player Click Here (you can also download the file from here)

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The #F1 Bar Exam: 30th October 2014

•October 30, 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?

John Surtees -Honda RA273 271- 1967 Dutch Grand PrixThe answer(s) I was looking for were: The driver in the photo is British driver John Surtees during the 1967 Dutch GP held at Zandvoort. Here Surtees is driving the Honda RA273 V12 for the Honda Racing team. He managed to qualify 6th but did not finish the race due to a throttle problem.

John Surtees is known as the only man to have ever won world titles on two wheels and four. Seven world titles on two wheels and one in F1. Even the greatest challenge to man, the incredible TT on the Isle of Man was mastered by Big John, winning six TT’s. The man responsible for Honda pulling out as a constructor because he quite rightly refused to drive the RA302 which he deemed too dangerous, so right was he that in it’s only race it killed poor Jo Schlesser within 3 laps.

Back to the race though. The 1967 Dutch Grand Prix saw the debut of the Lotus 49, equipped with the Ford Cosworth DFV engine. Having tested it for a long time, Graham Hill took pole for the race. However for his team mate  Jim Clark it was the first time he ever drove the car, which led to him only qualifying in eighth. Hill retired from the lead while Clark started to get a feel for the car as he fought his way to the field to record the car’s first victory in its first race.

Behind Clark it was Souther Trio with Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon placing second to fourth.

Well done Iestyn, Mike, BTRacing17, Johnny, Chris, Cassius42 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?


Please provide your answers in the field below:

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 30th October 2014

•October 30, 2014 • 51 Comments


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:

#F1 Features: GP2 or back of the F1 grid?

#F1 History: 1988 – Ayrton Senna wins his first Formula 1 World Championship

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….

OTD Lite: 1988 – Senna wins first title

Mr E – the mischevious old man

Hulkenburg settled and waiting big team chance

Fernandes – Big teams have too much money

OTD Lite: 1988 – Senna wins first title


Ok, I couldn’t resist, but if you want to read more… click here

To know and to act are one and the same. Tomorrow’s battle is won during today’s practice. Control your emotion or it will control you.

The Samurai Jackal


Mr E – the mischevious old man

Even at 84 years of age, Bernie Ecclestone has a mischievous side to him. Whilst the business of making money dominates his every thought, he is not shy when it comes to stirring up a hornets nest.

With both Ferrari and Renault championing the relaxation of the freezing regulations to assist parity between the engine manufacturers, Mercedes has quite obviously taken the opposing view.

With Jean Todt seemingly in terror of making any decision which would enhance the pinnacle of motor-sport, it is left to the Octogenarian to inject a little humour into the proceedings.

“The thing to do is to freeze the Mercedes engine but not the others,” stated Mr E. “That would make sense but it won’t happen. I was saying the other day, that if Renault improved their engine and Ferrari and Mercedes gained similar amounts then it would be status quo.

“Hamilton and Rosberg would still be racing between themselves as they are competitive men who want to win but it would be better if they were fighting with other teams.”


Hulkenburg settled and waiting big team chance

Nico Hulkenburg remains many peoples choice as the most under-valued driver on the grid. On countless occasions his name is offered in connection with many of the top teams and yet he never seems to get the break to prove his ultimate ability.

Ferrari held serious talks with the Hulk during the summer last year before ‘texting’ him to say his services wouldn’t be required. As reported on TJ13 several weeks before the announcement of Kimi Raikkonen being signed by Ferrari, speculation centred on Hulkenburg being in the prime seat to replace Felipe Massa.

In actual fact he was lined up in the event that Alonso chose to leave Maranello for pastures new.

Speaking of his re-signing for Force India for 2015, Nico offered a sage point. “It is great to have a stable environment for a change and not have to change teams. The contract renewal was in fact very easy to complete.”

Since his debut in 2010, the German driver has changed teams every year but his focus remains on the future: “My day in a top team will come, but until then I will do my utmost and enjoy my work.”


Fernandes – Big teams have too much money

According to Tony Fernandes, there is no place in Formula One for teams like Caterham. He also mentioned something that we at the chambers have been suggesting for a number of weeks – specifically that one of the grandees was potentially looking to purchase Caterham.

Speaking on Sky Sports News, TF spoke about why he had turned his back on F1.

“People can blame whoever, but the big teams are as much at fault as anyone. The gap has become way too big and it’s money. And so I thought, ‘Well, I can’t compete’. But I can compete at QPR; I can compete at Air Asia.”

“The sport has to examine itself as well. Ultimately we couldn’t carry on and we would have eventually gone into administration anyway or closed down the team.”

As administrators moved in last week, Fernandes admitted “There are people who want to go racing, for different reasons and Caterham has everything there to do it.”

“There may even be teams within F1 who want a second team – a Red Bull/Toro Rosso situation. So we’ll give it maximum support but it’s not something I want to get involved in anymore. You’ve got to immerse yourself in it. Racing’s over for me.”

His final rebuttal highlighted the commitment needed to run a successful F1 team : “Unless I give up and become a Ron Dennis – scary thought.” Although by Ron’s own standards his complete focus hasn’t delivered success yet either.


#F1 History: 1988 – Ayrton Senna wins his first Formula 1 World Championship

•October 30, 2014 • 9 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Carlo Carluccio

Have you ever sat with your feet in a stream and watched the current swirl around your toes? The clear cool water skipping over small pebbles and moving inexorably towards a destination unseen? This was the effect that Senna had on millions of people; a force of nature that could not be denied.

Ayrton SennaIt seems scarcely believable that over a quarter of a century has passed since I switched on the TV at 5.00am to watch Ayrton Senna win his first World Championship. It seems unfathomable that he was taken a mere five and a half years later, leaving behind a legacy that to this day, feels strangely unfulfilled.

Twenty six years ago, a Grand Prix didn’t have the blanket coverage we enjoy today. The internet was still to be introduced to the public and the only methods to find out how qualifying had progressed was to either be present at the event or look up the results on a teletext service.

In 1988, with McLaren enjoying a season of domination, it would have been shocking to find anyone but a McLaren on pole. With that in mind, and with eleven pole positions already to his name, it would have been just as shocking to find anyone but Senna on pole. Prost had achieved it twice, in France and Portugal and Gerhard Berger had claimed the pole in Britain. Otherwise it was a place reserved for the mercurial Brazilian.

Yellow text on a black background merely confirmed the facts, Senna was on pole from Prost but there was no depth to the story, that had to wait for the weekly race report in Autosport magazine.

Napolean, De Gaulle, Balestre and Todt have a chequered history when it comes to balance and rational behaviour. Before the Japanese race, Balestre took the extraordinary step of sending a letter to Mr Kume, the President of Honda, and released it to the press.

“…all over the world eyes will be riveted on the Japanese and Australian Grand Prix, the results of which will be decisive for the drivers. We should make every effort to ensure utmost technical objectivity reigns over these two competitions and that equipment (car or engine) of equal quality be made available to the two drivers of the McLaren team, for otherwise the image of the World Championship, present and future, would be tarnished. I thank you in advance for helping the FIA to achieve this end by giving the necessary instructions to all the Honda technical executives who may play a part on these two forthcoming events.”

Alain Prost

The implication was that Honda had been providing inferior specification engines to his countryman and that was why Senna was beating Prost. It was a highly provocative move by Balestre, one that was designed to aggravate Senna and upset Honda. It worked and Honda was furious.

Mr Kume was cold in his response. “Honda Motor Company Ltd sees fairness as the highest requirement of its philosophy for conducting business, and sets this quality as an ideology in its corporate dealings. For the last two races, Honda will continue to supply identical engines which will allow the drivers supreme examples of their skills, as we have always done in line with our basic ideology.”

The final paragraph read: “Finally I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for consistently performing your important role as president of FISA.” The irony was completely missed by the arrogant President.

If Balestre was blatant with his nationalistic bias, at least it was understandable. What was more cynical was the bias of supposedly professional journalists and their subtle, repeated personal agendas.

Senna had irked the British press at the end of the 1985 season when he forced Lotus to not sign Derek Warwick for the subsequent season. His reasoning was that Lotus did not have the infrastructure or budget to support two number ones.

Senna would come to be known as the most ruthless individual that ever raced; yet the club that was so offended by his antics is unofficially christened ‘The Piranha Club’ and has demonstrated fierce ambition regardless of any outcome to others.

Warwick understood the reasoning and never had a problem with the decision, “At the time I understood what he was doing even though it destroyed me, it’s my belief he that he did it for the right reasons – and that was for him. We spoke about it afterwards, he apologised but said it was, he believed, the right reasons for him and the team. With history behind us, you have to say it probably was. He wasn’t afraid to face me, no.. he wasn’t afraid to face me.”

When the campaign failed to get Warwick reinstated, the fans and the press were livid and set out to destroy him. The press would systematically highlight Senna’s ruthlessness in a Machiavellian light and insinuate that he was fearful of an equal team-mate. Senna may not have shown it but he was deeply hurt by the accusations of cowardice. His relationship with the British press never returned to normal.

Their jingoistic response was based around the fact that Senna had 1) refused Warwick – Britain’s number one driver – a significant career opportunity and 2) attacked Lotus which at the time was – historically – the most successful British team and an institution; suggesting they couldn’t run two cars equally.


I offer, as evidence, Nigel Roebuck’s own words in his qualifying report for the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in October 1985.

“I have, I know, gone on about Senna and Lotus. To do otherwise would be to give a false impression of how Brands was last Friday and Saturday, of how one man dominated, psychologically and otherwise”

By contrast – barely three years later – Roebuck’s reporting of the Japanese Grand Prix barely concealed his abhorrence for Senna and the journalists blatant support of his “friend” Alain.

Friday 28/10/88

“Alain was not feeling great. ‘I slept for an hour last night, no more than that. I should have taken a tablet but the later it got, the more I was afraid to. In case I was drowsy in the morning’. Prost went on, ‘ I went the wrong way on set up this afternoon too. As it got cleaner, the track surface changed and we altered the settings to cope with it. Obviously, we went the wrong way, but tomorrow has to be better in all ways.’ he concluded.”

“And Ayrton was quite happy with his car. Indeed, some said, he nearly smiled as he talked about it.”

Saturday 29/10/88

“Prost was on a quick lap, but Stefano Modena declined to let him through. Alain backed off, it was to be the first of many frustrations for him – which must have been further increased when Senna came out, found a clear lap and went quicker than before. Ayrton was now under 1:42, the only man to do so. Prost, in fact, was the only other driver under 1:43.

Prost, though felt it was still his for the taking – if he could find an unhindered lap. Right at the end of the session he did. It was clearly an exceptional lap, obviously his fastest so far, maybe the pole. Into the final chicane, out of it and the stopwatch looked right. But over the line it was still 0.3 away from pole…

‘My fault’ Alain admitted, as he always does, ‘That was my only absolutely clear lap all day, and I was sure I could take the pole. It was good all the way round until I accelerated down to the finishing line and got second instead of fourth. Stupid!  Still I know that I’m competitive for tomorrow. My only problem was with the pop-off valve which was cutting in a bit early’. His humour was good.”

“Senna, by contrast, may have been on pole position yet again, but wore his usual po-faced and bored expression. The face of so much modern professional sport and remarkably unattractive and graceless too. ‘My first set of tyres was badly out of balance, so I only went hard on the second’, he commented. Had his quick lap been clear? ‘Yes’ A babble of conversation our Ayrton.”

Sunday 30th October 1988

Images from Japan tumbled through the cathode ray tube settled in the corner of the room whilst muted voices whispered as the household slumbered upstairs. Despite Japan being the home of state-of-the-art electronics, the cameras seemed to have been smothered in a thin film of sandy Vaseline and whilst the captured frames are not sepia toned, there was an element of nostalgia in the live satellite broadcast.

They say the camera never lies, but that morning the colours of F1 were subdued, the reds didn’t carry the same aggressive violence they held track side. The fluorescent oranges of the Marlboro branding were lifeless and the whites looked as though they were fabricated from Lotus Blossom petals.

Was this a Hollywood special effect to make the drama feel historic in nature? It felt as though we were being honoured a glimpse of a pre-ordained coronation that would become our memories.

As the cars came round to the grid, Senna pulled up on the right hand side of the grid. He adjusted his visor slightly to prevent misting and focused on his start procedure.

“You must think of everything in that enormous turmoil at the start of a race, it is a totally unreal moment, it is like a dream, like entering another world.”

The voices increased in pitch as the red light illuminated and as they changed to green Senna launched and practically stopped. The movement suggested a learner driver judging a biting point but this was the best in the world… surely not!

“I thought it was over for me right then.” He waved his arms frantically to warn the pack behind: “Stalling was my fault,” he said, “and partly a very sharp clutch”. 

After a run of four victories in the mid season he had crashed out in Italy, finished sixth in Portugal and fourth in Spain. Was this the pressure finally affecting him? Yet something guttural kept suggesting this wasn’t the end of the chapter merely a final test to be overcome.

Suzuka is one of the few circuits in the world that has a decline from the start-line. In the days before sophisticated electronic transmission and anti stalling technology, a driver could bump start an engine. His car began rolling forwards and he had just enough momentum to bump start the engine. It caught, died again and finally caught properly. Senna was on his way but engulfed by cars swarming around him. He would enter the first corner in fourteenth position.

His astonishing presence of mind allowed for a combination of it all to last barely four seconds. Whatever pressure had been felt before was replaced by the racer once more.

By the completion of the first lap, Senna was up to eighth. Prost was nine seconds up the road and cruising. Senna was taking the type of chances that were his hallmark and passing the cars that stood between him and Prost.

Prost had a gear selection problem, of course, but despite being in the greatest machine on the track which had dominated the season, he was “controlling the pace, taking care of the fuel

As Stirling Moss once said, “You’re either a racer or you’re a driver and there’s a big bloody difference. Drivers are easy to find, racers aren’t.”

Senna completed the second lap in sixth place, he passed Boutsen for fifth on the third lap and surged past Alboreto for fourth the next time through. He was now twelve seconds from the leader.

Berger gave up his third place on the eleventh tour and with a light drizzle falling, Senna began making in roads into Prost’s lead. The Gods had smiled on their favoured son because there was nobody on earth that could match the Brazilian in slippery conditions. Senna was truly inspired relying on his instinct, reactions and improvisation to close an eleven second gap to two seconds within two laps.

As they came to complete the twenty seventh run through 130R, Prost had hesitated on the main straight behind the Rial of De Cesaris. He remained behind, into and through the chicane and ran wide on to the kerbs. He had caught his wheels on the damp kerbing which pitched his car into a slide, his correction and obvious release of throttle was sufficient to lose momentum to Senna.

Afterwards, Prost would moan about his gearbox and the press gratefully blamed it in support. It was also quite obvious that the press office was disappointed that Senna won..

It was here that history took place. Prost moved to the centre of the circuit to pass the back marker and Senna ran along the wall and assumed the lead of the race.

Prost would again report gearbox issues after the race, yet with ten laps to the finish he began closing down the gap to Senna: 5.4, 4.1, 3.4, 2.9, 1.5… and then the rain started once again. Ayrton put it beyond any doubt and pulled away once more.

Two laps from the end, the rain had returned heavier than before and he pointed to the sky demanding the race be ended. The officials did not react and he had to wait till the completion of the fifty-first lap.

Out of the chicane he came, punching the air – with both hands – again and again in celebration as he crossed the line. He looked upwards thanking God.

Then he slumped back in his seat, his head against the headrest and the tension gave way. The tears seen through the visor seemed more than just joy, it was as if they were the culmination of a life’s desires and the fulfillment of a destiny. The world would never be the same again.

I still can’t believe that it’s over. I love to win. That is why I joined McLaren and Honda, I wanted to be in a winning car. The fact that Alain Prost was in the team made no difference at all.

How do I feel? At the moment I can’t take it in that I’m World Champion, but I feel as if I have lost a great weight off my shoulders. The race was amazingly hard because of the circumstances right from the start: through the traffic and slippery conditions. It was a fantastic race really. Until today, I have always said my best drive was at Estoril in 85 – my first win. But not anymore, this was my best.

Reginaldo Leme of Brazilian TV asks, “You were so focused on your goal that you sacrificed many friendships on the way up, you shoved people aside. Now that pressure is off, will it be different?” The answer was fresh tears running down his face.

Fuji TV set up a video recorder with a recording of the race in his room in the Suzuka Circuit Hotel. That night, alone and in darkness he relived the thoughts and pictures “of the greatest race of his life.

Gordon Murray, the 1988 McLaren MP4/4 designer was interviewed by Christopher Hilton some years later.

Q: Did you go to the championship decider in Suzuka?

A: Yes

Q: Was he wound up before that?

A: He was pretty wound up but I say again he could handle it. I used to talk to him for hours and hours and hours. I loved working with him. He was a much more complete driver than Prost was.

Q: Thats a very controversial statement.

A: Well, I think he was and I worked with them both.

Q: For Senna to win at Suzuka has to be one of the great drives.

A: Oh yes, absolutely.

Why was Ayrton Senna special? What ingredient made the world take notice so early in his ascendancy? What was it about this man that transcended the very sport he considered his personal fiefdom? Which unwritten rules would be redefined to describe his other worldly talents?

Many questions have been presented and no real tangible answer has been provided. It is hardly surprising because Senna himself was continuously growing and learning about himself before his death. The thirst for knowledge indicates a desire for growth and if the subject is still growing, all answers are by definition merely temporary.

This was a man when aged twenty two, racing in Formula Ford 2000, had the self confidence to turn down paid Formula Three drives with Formula One contracts attached, from Ron Dennis, Peter Warr and Bernie Ecclestone, so as to leave his future options open. Quite unlike the current method of taking on talents and paying for the very best equipment until they have reached the summit. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are two that immediately spring to mind.

Then there was the first F1 test with Williams at Donington in 1983. The car had previously been around the track in 61.7. Senna had beaten this on his eighth lap and lowered it to 60.1 within 23 laps. He then walked away thanking the Williams team for the experience.

Quantum physics has become fashionable in the twenty first century and various sources describe the science simply, as all energy in the universe being vibrationally connected to everything else.

There could possibly be some truth in this esoteric belief and explains why people were not indifferent to this individual. There was a tangible human quality to him that people could feel and warm to, and children – perhaps the most discerning judges of character – absolutely adored him.

Maybe this is why the Japanese idolised him. His racing prowess was beyond question, as was his charisma and enigmatic personality. In Senna they recognised the mythical spirit of their own samurai. The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen influenced the samurai culture and Zen meditation became an important teaching due to it offering a process to calm one’s mind. Senna read the bible extensively and would use this in his quest for inner knowledge and peace.

The origin of the word ‘genius’ dates back to ancient Rome and yet to this day, 2,000 years later, we still have no precise definition of what constitutes a genius.

It is said that there is but a fine line between madness and genius and surely this would be an appropriate description of Ayrton Senna.

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” - Schopenhauer

Ayrton Senna

#F1 Features: GP2 or back of the F1 grid?

•October 29, 2014 • 10 Comments

Brought to you by Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

Since 2010, when three new teams were released into the wild world of Formula One, little progression has been made by drivers at the back of the grid towards the front.  They have seen 21 drivers pass through their ranks (8 HRT, 9 for Caterham/Team Lotus and 6 for Virgin/Marussia – with Pic and Chandhok driving for more than one team) at the back of the field. Most have paid for their seats and none have progressed from the rear-gunning rides to bigger and better things in F1, apart from Daniel Ricciardo who had the might of the Red Bull young driver programme behind him.

With this in mind, it begs the question of whether ‘racing’ for one of the new teams actually helps your career?  Having recently won the GP2 title, it would seem the future is bright for Jolyon Palmer.  The publicity and plaudits given to the man from Horsham would surely bring him to the forefront of a team principal’s driver shopping list, although recent history would show this is not strictly the case.

Year 1st 2nd 3rd
2012 Davide Valsecchi Luiz Razia Esteban Gutierrez
2013 Fabio Leimer Sam Bird James Calado
2014 Jolyon Palmer Felipe Nasr* Stoffel Vandoorne*

*still to be confirmed

Above are the last three years of GP2 winners, runners-up and third placed drivers which shows just how indirect the route to F1 is.  Only Esteban Gutierrez has made it into a full-time seat thanks to his Mexican money, while the rest have found it difficult to break into the premier series.

Davide Valsecchi was famously snubbed by Lotus in 2012 despite being their test driver. Heikki Kovalainen was taken on for the final two races and failed to score a point.

James Caldado was the test driver for Force India in 2013, before being replaced this year.  He has instead followed the racing path in the World Endurance Championship for Ferrari.

By the end of 2013, Sam Bird had spent 3 years competing in GP2. This year he has tried his hand at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the World Endurance Championship and most recently the Formula E Championship competing for Virgin Racing.

Luiz Razia has been set to take a seat at Marussia, replacing Timo Glock in 2012, until his cheque was lost in the mail. So close, yet so far for the Brazilian who has now been lost from European motorsport fans as he has followed a career in the Indy Lights Series, racing for SPM.

Breaking the mould

Other drivers who did not finish in the top 3 have recently made it into the top level of motorsport. Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson finished in 4th and 6th positions in 2012 and 2013 respectively.  Given their relative lack of success, perhaps they are not the best drivers to judge. However, they have both had their chance to showcase their talents and advance to a drive further forward on the grid.

Fabio Leimer was not mentioned in the list above with good reason.  He is one driver who opted against the typical route into the sport.  He wanted to achieve a drive on his talent alone, not on his bank account. The driver who, in 2011 had reportedly spent $16,000,000 on his motorsport career thanks to his backer Rainer Gantenbein, decided that running at the back of a Formula One race was less beneficial than competing in GP2.

Gantenbein said back in 2011, “I regard it as an investment. It would be great if some money would flow back to me if Fabio makes it to Formula One. We had some talks with Virgin and HRT, but I prefer to give him a third season in GP2.”

Actions speak louder than words, as they say with this one being no different.  The rejection of Formula One’s backmarkers screamed the message from the rooftops of the opinion the ‘new’ teams are held in.

Hardly camera shy - Leimer celebrates his 2013 Championship

Hardly camera shy – Leimer celebrates his 2013 Championship

Skip forward 3 years where Leimer has found the paywall many drivers face impossible to penetrate and $14 million has not been enough to break into the premier tier of racing.  Leimer could not afford the $28 million which Sauber were quoting a drive at – as the heavy backing, from Carlos Slim, of Esteban Guteirrez allows them some stability.

With Giedo van der Garde promising “many millions” for a 2015 seat, Leimer does not have a chance of holding out for a seat.  Gone are the days of Minardi being afforded the privilege of choosing the drivers they think will have the most chance of succeeding, now forced to take on drivers that can help to pay the bills.

Gantenbein spoke about F1 this year saying, “It’s a bottomless pit.  At some point you have to pull the plug.”  As noble as it was to refuse Virgin and HRT for the 2012 season, perhaps it lacked a taste of the reality that drivers nowadays face – if a driver is not linked to a young driver programme of one of the front running teams, they will be required to bring money with them.

F1 is “sick

The current culture of the sport is “sick” according to Gantenbein, who sees the sport’s pay driver syndrome as an endless vacuum of investment which leads to little.

Freshly crowned GP2 champion, Palmer, has said on a few occasions he is confident of a race seat next year.  Comma Oil has sponsored Jolyon, as well as PalmerSport, MSV, 3663 and Comtact, although how long they will be able to provide him with the required level of backing is questionable.

The £1.8 million of sponsorship required for GP2 is a long way short of the £10 million plus for F1.  Palmer would be required to hit the ground running and prove his worth within a very short time frame in order to remain there.

Given what has been described above, he would be better following the route Alex Lynn has done.

On the verge of winning the GP3 title, he is currently sitting very comfortably.  Following his 2013 Macau GP victory he approached Helmut Marko and asked to be inducted into the RB young driver programme.  He was duly accepted and now receives the backing of the energy drinks giant.  This path into F1 is much more direct and guaranteed route which could pay dividends in the future.

Alex Lynn on the podium for his 2013 Macau GP victory

Alex Lynn on the podium for his 2013 Macau GP victory

Only time will tell

If Palmer were to sign with one of the backmarker teams, then managed to impress one of the teams further forward enough to warrant a contract then I will be proven wrong, but for the moment I can say with some confidence that trundling around at the back of an F1 grid does very little to aid your career.

Few team principals will be heard talking about how in demand Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson are – or at least not on their driving skill alone.  Being part of a young driver programme/academy and competing in a lower series is far more conducive to furthering your career than paying for a drive at the back of the grid.

Rather than becoming just another statistic, racing in a different series would be preferable for any young driver – as we have seen many do with Formula E.  The bottle neck of young drivers currently vying for positions within the sport means waiting for a seat will be necessary, as the driver congestion is set to continue until prize money distribution changes.

I hope, perhaps in vain, that both Leimer and Palmer are given their opportunity to impress at the top level, although it seems that, for the moment at least, this is merely wishful thinking.


#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 29th October 2014

•October 29, 2014 • 76 Comments


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: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….

Breaking News

OTD Lite: 1995 – Schumacher closes Benetton chapter

Marchionne officially begins his tenure at Maranello

The staggering cost of competing in F1

Prost doubts Renault can catch Mercedes in 2015

Williams memories from the USA

Haas, the F1 drug begins to take effect

Breaking News

London 13:35

FIAT Chrysler are to sell 10% of Ferrari via an IPO to new investors. The rest of the business will be distributed to the shareholders of FIAT Chrysler, though not through a corporate related structure.

The news was announced by FIAT CHRYSLER CEO and new Ferrari President, Sergio Marchionne.

Marchionne stated, “Following our acquisition of the minority interest in Chrysler earlier this year, the transformation of Fiat and Chrysler into FCA was completed earlier this month with our debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

“As we move forward to secure the 2014-2018 Business Plan and work toward maximizing the value of our businesses to our shareholders, it is proper that we pursue separate paths for FCA and Ferrari.”

This will mean Ferrari will become a completely separate legal entity, It is believed via the distribution of shares, the Agnelli family will retain about 30% stake in the business though their voting rights will be greater than this.

It is as yet unclear what will happen to the intellectual property and brand image rights, which were stripped away from Maranello and are owned by an overseas subsidiary of FIAT. This is where Ferrari makes most of its profit.

OTD Lite: 1995 – Schumacher closes Benetton chapter

michael-schumacher_1520533cMichael Schumacher secured what would be his last ever F1 victory in any livery bar red at the Japanese Grand Prix on this day. His nineteenth win for Enstone brought his championship to a close as he prepared for pastures new. His final tally for the year would read as nine victories – matching the record set by Nigel Mansell in 1992 but it could have been higher if not for some bruising run ins with Damon Hill that year.

In a similar manner to Vettel joining the Scarlet team, nobody could fully understand why Schumacher was leaving a winning outfit and joining a perennially under-achieving team other than the lure of vast amounts of money. Whilst Vettel has an appreciation of the history of the sport, Schumi never did.

Speculation amongst the media was that Michael had tired of having his name associated with a corrupt regime at Benetton – but most likely his manager Willy Weber knew exactly what a Ferrari title win could mean to his legacy and bank balance.. and yet when Schumacher left the Maranello factory after his first days work there, it was late in the evening and he spoke of feeling the hair on his neck stand up – Ferrari gets to you in the end.

“A warrior is worthless unless he rises above others and stands strong in the midst of a storm.”

The Samurai Jackal


Marchionne officially begins his tenure at Maranello

Sergio Marchionne arrived in Maranello yesterday to begin the turnaround of the Ferrari team. He had been to a press presentation in Milan at the Balocco track as Alfa Romeo unveiled the new Giulietta Sprint and then made his first formal visit to the Scuderia.

Taking control of a rudderless team, he has settled in a new office within the compound and will be a weekly visitor to the factory as he strives to place Ferrari back at the top. The recent poor showing at Monza left the bespectacled boss “raging with high blood pressure”

He met the heads of the various departments and with Team Principal Marco Mattiacci in attendance repeated his desire to see Ferrari back at the top. Although he officially took over the Presidency back on October 13th, he has started to realise the breadth of the problems afflicting the team.

The new 2015 car, which was codenamed 666, is now beginning to deliver better ‘points’ in down force measurements and when compared to the current F14-T it has larger side pods  – suggesting a more aggressive power-plant is installed requiring more efficient cooling.

Of course, the team is not optimistic in their pursuit of Mercedes in 2015, but confidence is slowly creeping back into the squad and there are some development parts that will be tested over the remaining three races.

It will be fascinating to see whether one of the most impressive automotive industry executives ever, can empower the Scuderia to move beyond its current malaise. Given the wonders Marchionne worked with the dead duck that was FIAT, you’d be a brave person to risk your shirt betting against that he’ll deliver in Formula 1.


The staggering cost of competing in F1

With Marussia and Caterham having entered administration in the last seven days, the next two teams that are carrying heavy debt is Sauber and Lotus with £22m and £64.9m respectively. Even Williams, currently third in the world championship has declared losses of £20m for the first six months of 2014.

Last year, Martin Whitmarsh warned F1, “I fear that we will have a crisis and then we will have to get real and sort it out. I cannot see, in their shoes ( the smaller teams ) how you can construct a sustainable business model”

Around the same time Bob Fernley, Force India’s deputy team principal said that CVC had been “a disaster” for the sport. “I think they have done an absolutely awful job. In my view they are the worst thing that has ever happened to Formula One. They have done nothing whatsoever for the sport.”

When one considers they have made an estimated $8.2bn from the investment back in 2006 and the teams have to split an annual prize fund of around $750m it’s not impossible to see why the teams that Luca di Montezemolo branded a joke in 2010 have all disappeared.

Autosport received a copy of a letter that Caterham, Marussia, Sauber and Force India sent to Jean Todt detailing the expense of F1 which didn’t include driver salaries, hospitality and marketing.

Hybrid power system $28 million

Gearbox and hydraulics $5 million

Fuel and lubricants $1.5 million

Tyres $1.8 million

Electronics $1.95 million

IT $3 million

Salaries $20 million

Travel and track side facilities $12 million

Chassis production/manufacturing $20 million

Wind tunnel/CFD facilities $18.5 million

Utilities and factory maintenance $2 million

HR and professional services $1.5 million

Freight $5 million

TOTAL $120.25 million

Of course this is merely the average cost, Mercedes according to some have spent four times as much this season.

Times are tough.

Mclaren have chosen to forgo the revenue from a 1 year title sponsor whilst they await Honda and that Williams has sold its title to Martini for significantly less than the going rate 10 years ago.

Then there are plenty of teams whose livery is but sparsely unadorned with cash paying sponsors. Perhaps it is time that Mr. Todt, woke from his slumber and regulated F1 to reduce costs – as did his predecessor Max, who by the day is looking a preferable choice of FIA p[resident.

The problem is, Jean Todt is an ex Team Principal of Ferrari – who during his tenure had eye watering annual budgets in excess of the GDP of some medium sized sovereign states. It is therefore most unlikely Monsieur Presidente will arise from his Louis XV four poster bed and embrace the reality of ‘the real world’ in which mere mortals do indeed dwell.


Prost doubts Renault can catch Mercedes in 2015 (GMM)

F1 legend Alain Prost doubts struggling engine supplier Renault can catch dominant Mercedes in 2015. Having faltered at the start of the new turbo V6 era, Renault – whose prominent F1 partner is the outgoing world champion team Red Bull – can upgrade its 2014 engine to the tune of 48 per cent under the existing ‘freeze’ regulations.

But Mercedes’ rivals are arguing for the ‘freeze’ to be further relaxed.“It will be hard for them (Renault) to catch up with Mercedes,” quadruple world champion Prost, a Renault ambassador, told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

“But it also depends on whether there is a change in the development timetable (the engine freeze) by the FIA. A total freeze as it is now is synonymous with stagnation,” Prost argued. “But just opening up everything is too expensive. A good compromise is needed. We should not make a final judgement about Renault until next year,” he added.

At the same time, Prost thinks it is understandable that Renault fell behind Mercedes just as the rules changed so dramatically, given Red Bull’s run of title domination at the end of the V8 era. “It was almost inevitable that Mercedes would start with an advantage,” he said.

“Last season I was saying that it would be hard to beat them as they started developing much earlier. Renault was always defending a world title in the last years,” Prost explained, “while Mercedes was able to concentrate fully on the new project.”

TJ13 comment: The Renault brand ambassador speaks of a Renault that seriously underestimated what the Stuttgart manufacturer was willing to invest, not only in man hours over the last three years but also a spend double that of Renault and Ferrari.

Renault appear to have been complacent believing that the FIA would grant them favours – as in the past – and allow 2014 development beyond the initial homologation date back in February.

Whilst we may believe it is ridiculous that a new technology has restraints against it and the other manufacturers cannot close the gap, but it would have been the same if Ferrari or Renault had produced the dominant engine.

Possibly the most misleading part is the assumption that Renault were fighting on two fronts – developing both the V8 and V6 engines. For some years there had been a development freeze on the V8 engines. Of the engine manufacturers pre-2014, Mercedes were considered the most powerful, and perhaps Renault the most frugal but Renault were twinned with Red Bull.

Of course Renault is using the four-time F1 champion to posture on their behalf, but before every fan walks away in despair, ‘unfreeze’ or ‘no unfreeze’ – Mercedes should be affected by the law of diminishing returns.

Put simply, using state of the art current technology, if Mercedes have designed an engine that is 90% delivering what is achievable given its architecture, then most likely they have a smaller number gains left to make – relative to Renault and Ferrari.


Williams memories from the USA

Courtesy of Martini Williams Racing.

For large views, click on the pictures – you can then scroll 1 by 1 through these fabulous photographs


Haas, the F1 drug begins to take effect

Before we start, FOR THE RECORD, this author would seriously love to see a USA backed F1 team running and being successful in F1.

Yet Haas F1 is ploughing a tough furrow by basing its operations in the US of A. If we park up the issues of travel, which are immense, the big question is whether Haas F1 can attract enough experienced F1 engineering talent to make a real go of producing an F1 car that is competitive.

It is beyond doubt that even by assembling even the most brilliant scientists the USA has to offer, without the data from competing in F1 for years, were Haas F1 be forced to build their own car to the current regulations – it would be a fail.

Experienced F1 engineers, designers and race strategists is something Haas will struggle to get in sufficient quantities to relocate to Charlotte, but this will be no problem; because Haas has been told the regulations which force teams to predominantly produce their own cars are proposed for change.

If this change transpires into reality, The NASCAR team owner may indeed benefit from being an F1 customer team – the like of such are not present in the sport. of Formula One.

However, following the departure in 2008/09 of a number of big manufacturers from the Formula One, Bernie and the FIA promised three new entrants that things were about to change. Budget caps would be introduced and the cost of competing in F1 would be significantly reduced to accommodate their meagre budgets.

‘Lies, lies and damned lies’ has been proven to be the epitaph, for HRT, Caterham and Marussia.

So, let’s be clear. At present Haas F1 must produce predominantly their own car until the regulations re: bought in components are in actuality altered.

Haas F1’s business plan is built upon this regulatory change being enacted and just like HRT, Caterham and Marussia is at present on a promise – that things will be different.

Despite all this uncertainty, Mr. Haas appears to be getting a ‘fix’ already from the F1 drug of eternal promise.

USA today reports, “In early September, Gene Haas was at a trade show in Chicago when he realised how much his decision to start a Formula One team already was paying off”.

An ebullient Gene Haas said, “I’ve got all kinds of people wanting to take their pictures with me. That’s never happened before. … It was insane the number of people coming by saying, ‘Great to know you, great to know you’re involved in Formula One.’ Everybody sees we’re aligning ourselves with ultimate motor sports project.”

Even in the NASCAR garage, most of the drivers now are shaking my hand,” Haas asserts. “I think they’re interested. They say, ‘We’d like to see what that Formula One stuff is about.’ I say, ‘Sure, come on over.’ I think they have a natural curiosity.”

Be not mistaken. Gene Haas is going for this project in earnest. He’s opened a new 125,000-square-foot building to house Haas F1 and has recently signed Adam Jacobs, the former sports marketing manager for beer giant Anheuser-Busch

“It’s a great opportunity to develop and launch a global brand in an organization led by someone as driven and accomplished as Gene Haas,” said Jacobs in a press release. “With strong support and leadership already in place, Haas F1 Team is clearly positioned for success. I look forward to helping shape the ways we achieve that success on and off the racetrack.”

What’s for certain, if Haas F1 fails to succeed in Formula One, it won’t be because of small minded thinking or a lack of ambition.

However, Formula One throughout history has demonstrated its inability to accommodate new members into its exclusive club. At times this has been though ineptitude and on other occasions via intransigence – and with the sport once again in crisis, accommodating the needs of others is the last thing on anyone’s mind.


#F1 Circuit Profile: 2014 – United States, Austin, Circuit of the Americas – Round 17

•October 28, 2014 • 18 Comments

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


This weekend, arguably the most important racing series in the world finds itself in one of the most important countries in the world. The series is – obviously – F1, and its destination is the United States of America.

The race will be the 64th Formula One race to be held in the United States, in addition to being the 36th edition of the United States Grand Prix and the third to be held at the Circuit of the Americas.


Formula 1 has had a long history with the United States, starting from the very first season in 1950. 42 years after the very first United States Grand Prix was hosted by the Savannah Automobile Club in 1908, the 1950 Indianapolis 500 counted as the third round of the World Championship, and continued to be on the calendar until after the 1960 season. Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio and Rodger Ward were the only drivers to compete in the Indy 500 as well as other championship events in the same season in 1952 and 1959 respectively (the latter most notably entering a midget car into the 1959 United States Grand Prix).

Speaking of the 1959 US Grand Prix in Sebring, that was when the first World Championship race took place to Formula One rules, and it was won by Bruce McLaren in a Cooper TF1. The following year F1 visited California, before attempting to make itself at home at Watkins Glen (fairly successfully), Long Beach, Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas, Pheonix, and the road course at Indianapolis.

Formula One was lured to Texas through Tavo Hellmund and Red McCombs’ negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone, and the satisfaction of officials in Travis County. At a track which has many corners loosely inspired by legendary circuits across the globe and designed by Hermann Tilke, the inaugural event was deemed to be a success, with the track providing good racing and overtaking opportunities.

Circuit Characteristics

Austin GP Circuit Characteristics © FIA

Form Guide

Like Sebastian Vettel last year, Lewis Hamilton has stepped up his game and hit form at the right time. Even though it would take some serious bad luck for Nico Rosberg not to be in contention for the championship in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton’s streak of four consecutive victories for the second time this year have meant that he has accelerated away from his nearest rival.

Mercedes are fairly dominant constructor-wise, with Red Bull the only other team to record a victory this year. Odds are that this situation won’t change at any point in the near future, but hey, there’s always 2015. (Unless you’re Caterham or Marussia… Nah, too soon. Here’s hoping they stay).

tj13TV presents – A lap of COTA with Lewis Hamilton

Circuit of The Americas with Pirelli

©Pirelli P Zero SoftThe Circuit of the Americas in Texas is one of the newest venues on the Formula One calendar, having been inaugurated only in 2012. The medium and soft compounds are nominated here for the first time (with the hard and medium chosen for the last two years). This versatile selection of compounds for 2014 is designed to cope with the varying demands of the track, which takes in three long straights, but also a number of more technical corners.

These include the long Turn 1 – a constant radius hairpin that puts plenty of energy through the tyres – as well as other fast direction changes, reminiscent of Silverstone or Suzuka. With 20 corners and impressive differences in elevation, Austin is a very busy lap with some unique challenges, such as an uphill braking area after the start that makes it difficult to find the correct braking point. In combination, this all makes for an exciting track that both drivers and spectators enjoy immensely.

The United States Grand Prix also marks the start of the final sequence of back-to-back races of the year, with the teams then heading straight to Interlagos in Brazil, where the same medium and soft tyre nomination has been made.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPaul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:As is the case for every automotive manufacturer, America is a key market for Pirelli. So we are very pleased to be heading back to Austin, which is a great city to spend time in as well as a fantastic place to race. With the track surface now three years old, it has become more mature and should theoretically offer better grip than previous years.

The medium and soft tyres are expected to put us on track for a two-stop race, although we will have to confirm our projected data after free practice. A lot will depend on the weather. Even though the race takes place in November, warm but variable conditions are still likely, so thermal degradation will be an important factor. How much that influences wear and overall degradation with the new generation of cars this year – and therefore the race strategy – is something we will only find out when we get there.

On both previous occasions, the winning strategy has always been a one-stopper: also because the race comes relatively late in the season, by which time most teams have developed a good understanding about how to get the most out of the tyres.

Jean Alesi © PirelliJean Alesi, Pirelli consultant:Austin is above all a really exciting circuit for drivers. There are good possibilities to attack and to overtake under braking for Turn 1, and also through the esses, where a number of different lines are possible. Plenty of overtaking opportunities normally ensure a good grand prix; this track is far from boring.

The variation in temperatures is another important factor: last 2 years it was definitely cold in the morning, but hot when it came to qualifying. That makes getting the tyre into the right operating window an additional challenge for the drivers and teams in America.

The circuit from a tyre point of view

Pirelli P Zero Medium WHITEThe three long straights tend to cool down the tyres, making the braking areas critical, as tyre temperature will have dropped slightly. This also then affects the turn-in into fast corners, as the compound has to get back up to temperature very quickly.

The medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures. The soft tyre by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures. There was an extremely variable range of track temperatures throughout the US Grand Prix weekend last year, from 18 to 37 degrees centigrade.

The mixture of straights and corners require a compromise in terms of downforce, placing a strong emphasis on mechanical grip from the tyres. As well as the long Turn 1 and fast changes of direction in the early part of the lap, Turn 11 also places heavy demands on the tyres. The driver starts braking as the car is turning into the corner, creating an uneven distribution of forces on the rubber.

The winning strategy last year was a one-stopper. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel started on the medium compound and then pitted for the hard tyre on lap 27. The top 12 finishers all stopped just once.

tj13TV presents – COTA with Pirelli

COTA and Brembo

Brembo and COTA

* Turn 12 is considered the most demanding for the braking system.

The Austin track can be considered to have a medium demand on the braking system with the drivers using the brakes for about 14% of the time on each lap, but it is characterised by two very sudden braking sections. The T12 turn is worth a mention. It is one of the most demanding of the season in terms of dissipated energy (about 2673 kW) and one of the most sudden for the driver with a G force of -5.5 Gs.

Memorable Moments

1959 – Stirling Moss led away but retired after five laps, and Bruce McLaren took the lead on the final lap to become the youngest man at the time to win a Grand Prix; the previous leader Jack Brabham ran out of fuel and managed to push his car over the line for fourth place and a World Drivers Championship.

2002 – Notable for having the closest finish in a F1 race since timing to a thousandth of a second was introduced, with Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello attempting to set up a dead heat, but only succeeding in lifting the Brazilian driver to the top step of the podium by 0.011 seconds (interestingly, I think that record for the closest finish at Indianapolis was beaten by the fantastic finish to the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 this year, go and check that out).

2005 – One of the wonderful races that comes into the category ‘notable for what happened away from the track’. Due to tyre failures, only six drivers started the race due to safety issues. Needless to say, the crowd were not pleased. Schumacher won, with Barrichello second, Tiago Monteiro in third to become the most successful Portuguese driver by points scored, Narain Karthikeyan finished fourth to achieve his only points finish and the only one for an Indian driver, while Christijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher scored their only career points finishes in fifth and sixth.

2012 – After qualifying on pole position, Sebastian Vettel looked on course to win, before having his progress interrupted by HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan, who was unable to move out of the way of the German driver for a short period, which allowed Lewis Hamilton to come up and complete a DRS-assisted overtake later in the lap, in what would be the race-winning overtake.

Support Races

Ryan OckeyIn the 2014 Ferrari Challenge North America, Ricardo Perez leads the standings by 38 points from Ryan Ockey, with two rounds to go. At the last round in Watkins Glen, Ockey had two third place finishes, while Perez could only finish on the podium once. After this round in Austin, the series will conclude with a round in Abu Dhabi.

Despite having one less win than his nearest challenger, Earl Bamber is leading the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup by five points from Kuba Giermaziak, the only other driver in mathematical contention for the title. This weekend will be the final round of the series, and the only double header on the calendar.


Previous Results

Year Driver Constructor
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2012 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 28th October 2014

•October 28, 2014 • 79 Comments


This page will be updated throughout the day.

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

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

Previously on The Judge 13:

The FIA and FOM share the blame equally for failing #F1 teams

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….

OTD Lite: 1930 – Birth of a visionary money making leviathan

Indian brothers make ‘serious’ offer for Marussia team

Toto Wolff prioritises the manufacturer teams

2014 US GP – Equal smallest grid in a decade

London High Court announces Caterham debts of £16.2M (UPDATE 14:19 GMT)

Marussia brake-by-wire being investigated by FIA

Ferrari drivers and cars

Airlifting stricken cars on circuit was tested by the FIA

COTA claims annual economic benefit to Austin is $900m

Massa face exchange

The mystery of the Caterham cleaner revealed

OTD Lite: 1930 – Birth of a visionary money making leviathan

As a Scorpio born on October 28th, you are known for your ambition, passion and cool nature. Outwardly you are calm and may even appear calculated to others. This outer reserve is the opposite of your inner workings, which is greatly passionate and this drives you to get all you want from life. Highly ambitious, you will work tirelessly to achieve your goals, but your drive and people skills create a variety of options for you to explore. Your ambition will be well-suited for a career in business or media.

20130718bernie-ecclestone-1Who said that horoscopes were hocus pocus? On this day, Bernie will possibly take time out from his ambitions of running the world or from having countries around the globe kissing his wrinkled derrière whilst enjoying immunity from public prosecution.

Bernie may well be sat simply with his friends… associates and just playing a round or two of monopoly.

In dutiful servitude, proffering the drinks and nibbles, will be the the BBC and Sky F1 broadcasting teams, as they revel in his omnipresence, before publishing copy that would shame the internal Russian media system.

Satire aside, Mr. E is responsible for galvanising a rag tag and bobtail bunch of petrol heads into a global sporting phenomenon that they claim ranks alongside the Olympics and the World Cup.

Yet greed and power appear to have transformed what could have been an outstanding sporting legacy into a cynical epitaph. Chin chin Bernie..

I have a high art, I hurt with cruelty those who would damage me.”

The Samurai Jackal



Happy Bernieday


Indian brothers make ‘serious’ offer for Marussia team

Baljinder Sohi and Sonny Kaushal, the Indian steel billionaires have made an offer which has established them as ‘serious’ in the eyes of the Marussia Administrators, FRP Advisory LLP.

The offer is to fund the team to the end of the season, and depending on the monies received from FOM, settle the outstanding creditors – not in full – but to a percentage of what they are owed.

Currently, Marussia by finishing 9th in the F1 constructors’ championship, stand to earn just over $60m. The debt in the business is reputed to be $46m.

This would see the brothers then double the balance of cash remaining having paid the creditors in part.

The figure of a £55m ($88m) – cited by the Telegraph – is an offer made by the brothers to the Administrator and is based upon $44m remaining from the cash in and the debtor’s being settled, with a further $44m being added to fund the team for 2015 from the brothers.

The Administrator has made a counter offer, which is being considered.

Sohi claimed today, “We are very close to a deal, but it has to be the right price. We have put in a serious offer and we will see what happens.” $16m was the estimate of the difference between what the Administrator requires and what the brothers originally offered.

Time is short because the team are funded to the 31st October, however, if a buyer is not found by then, the Administrator will be forced to declare the business no longer ‘a going concern’.


Toto Wolff prioritises the manufacturer teams

An interview with Toto Wolff scheduled for publication in Friday’s Financial Times, the Mercedes boss for many will reveal the current ‘newbie’ attitude in Formula 1 towards the smaller teams.

“We have a certain responsibility to the rest of the field, but this cannot be our main objective. We have seen in the past more than 100 F1 teams that have come and gone. It’s good that in the past the commercial rights holder has tried to take care of the very loyal, important teams for F1.”

“It is clear that Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams those guys have been around or ever and they have healthy business models. It’s clear that you are trying to put more emphasis and priority on keeping those teams in the sport than teams that have just come in, where it is unclear what the shareholders’ purpose is, what the shareholders’ targets are, whether funding is a bit of a struggle from year to year.”

“But I think this is how F1 has always been. It hasn’t changed massively (compared) to the past.”

The problem with Wolff’s view which appears to support the idea of fewer teams going forward in F1 and a sport only made up from those who have the best financial backing is that this process of natural selection will always eliminate those who are toward the rear of the grid.

Kill off Caterham and Marussia, maybe Sauber and Lotus too, and we can have the super teams all competing with 3-4 cars each and there is no fear of a team running into financial disaster.

Yet when the current smaller teams are gone, it will mean the likes of Force India are at the back of the pack. Their sponsors and backers may then get sick of coming last and decide, enough is enough.

Even were F1 a sport filled with rich manufacturers spending hundreds of millions each a year – someone will finish last in the constructors’ championship. The result is predictable, because just as in 2008/9 when we saw the wealthy corporate entities like Honda, Toyota and BMW leave Formula 1, this will happen again.

So what then if one of the BIG FIVE has a poor year, finishing always at the back – there comes a time when even these vast empires of wealth can’t compete – and they leave.

Wolff’s short sightedness borders on absurdity. In Autosport, Ross Brawn said in November 2013, “We’re not a supporter of customer cars, we think the identity of the teams is important, the fact that the teams design and build their own cars is important”.

Two factors may be contributory to the demise of Caterham and Marussia. As James Allen noted, this was the year the V6 turbo arrived and engine prices to all teams skyrocketed.

Further, as TJ13 suggested in last nights post, The FIA and FOM share the blame equally for failing #F1 teams the FIA granting new F1 racing licenses, diluted the value of any goodwill value that Marussia and Caterham had in terms of permission to race in Formula 1.

King of the F1 world, Toto Wolff, only knows success and glory. Yet had he spent a few years working for another team, even Ferrari, he’d tweeting a slightly different melody than one which embodies the message.. ‘survival of the fittest’.


2014 US GP – Equal smallest grid in a decade

With eighteen cars set to take the start of the U.S GP it will be the lowest number of starters since the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix when BAR were completing their two race ban for technical infringements following that year’s San Marino Grand Prix.

Of course many will site the 2005 US GP at Indianapolis as the lowest number with just six reacting to the startline lighting gantry but it’s often forgotten that the cars all assembled on the grid. Due to a dangerous design inherent in the Michelin tyres, all teams that ran on the French rubber were advised to withdraw. At the end of the green flag lap, they all followed pole sitter Jarno Trulli’s Toyota into retirement.

Of course stifling boredom followed but Ferrari’s Jean Todt was never going to allow changes to the circuit – to accommodate the Michelin runners – in a year that the Scuderia were handicapped by tyre regulations. Max Mosley supported his stance and placed the blame squarely on the French tyre manufacturer’s shoulders.

Either way, a historic day for Minardi as they finished with both cars in the top 6.


London High Court announces Caterham debts of £16.2M (UPDATE 14:19 GMT)

With Caterham having applied for administration last week, the London High Court has shown a list of around 400 crediitors that the racing team owes monies to. The Anglo-Malaysian team is shown to have debts totalling £16.2 million with the prinicpal amount being against Renault which stands at about £7.4M. The unpaid bills are for the provision of the French company’s V6 Turbo engine as used by Caterham this season.

In addition to the aforementioned, there are the following: £754,090 to the Total oil company; £711,134 to  Dell Computer’s; £111,281 is owed to McLaren Applied Technologies and the last significant debt is for £20,942 which is outstanding to Formula One and Events Hospitality Services, a service company headed by Bernie Ecclestone.

Other smaller creditors include the Haymarket Media Group which are publishers of many retail magazines including Autosport. The Group was set up in the 50’s and remains privately owned by former Tory Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine.

And it all began with a pack of lies from a Charlatan who had no intention of ever concluding a transaction with Fernandes.

Here is a letter provided to TJ13 from one of the creditors. It was sent to them days after Kolles announced he was ‘taking over’.



The FIA needs to ensure better corporate governance and scrutiny is placed upon team owners and the financial state of the teams. At present they rely on Bernie’s Autumn annual guestimate of the F1 competitors financial health.

Further, to protect employees and creditors – it would not be difficult for the FIA to regulate that any transfer of an F1 team’s ownership mid-season must be done via external independent Insolvency Practitioners. This would prevent in the future the kind of scams as pulled by Colin Kolles.

Further, it would ensure that team owners take their responsibilities to their staff and to the sport in which they chose to compete more seriously. This in turn would prevent the apparent whimsical fashion with which Tony Fernandes treated his Caterham F1 team.


Marussia brake-by-wire being investigated by FIA

Autosprint carried an article yesterday that the FIA informed Marussia that they were to investigate their brake-by-wire system immediately following the Japanese Grand Prix.

In simple terms it’s a device that automatically compensates for the lack of sensitivity that the drivers experiences whilst it is harvesting energy. As the driver applies the brakes the electric motor absorbs the kinetic energy being produced. The brake-by-wire installation consists of a control unit and actuators but Marussia manufacture their own design rather than use the one produced by their engine partner – Ferrari.

Eye witnesses have declared they saw no braking effort made and there were no tell tale marks left which would show any application of them before the accident. It has to be taken into account that they would have proven ineffective on wet grass but it has triggered the FIA to request that Marussia check the operation of their system in certain conditions.

The collated evidence is to be provided to the panel of experts that have been assembled by the FIA, which includes Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali and Mekies Laurent who was a former chief engineer for Toro Rosso.


Ferrari drivers and cars

As part of our commitment to social media, we occasionally bring to your attention the efforts of other like minded F1 fans, who may not (yet) be part of the TJ13 circle of love.

Here’s an offering from @diehard_f1_fan who you can also find on faceboob and google+


Similarly… continuing the horse/ass theme…



Airlifting stricken cars on circuit was tested by the FIA

Air Zermatt believes they have had a workable solution to car extraction from the circuit following accidents. The Swiss aviation company suggests that F1 cars should be recovered by a helicopter.

In 2005, in conjunction with the FIA, Air Zermatt ran tests at the 2005 A1 GP in Dubai.

The recoveries were successful and would prevent the scenario where Jules Bianchi hit a land based recovery vehicle.

“The [Bianchi] accident could have been avoided with our rescue system”, claimed Air Zermatt’s Jürgen König to Swiss publication Blick.

One of the reasons this solution was not pursued, was because it was argued that the safety of the marshals was not reflected in what was an expensive solution.

Further, those of a more cynical inclination, may believe that the use of helicopters for vehicle recovery – would also make it too transparent when weather conditions were unfit for helicopter use.


COTA claims annual economic benefit to Austin is $900m


Circuit of The Americas (COTA) generated $897 million in economic impact to the Austin area in 2014, according to a study prepared by New York-based Greyhill Advisors.

The analysis represents all COTA events, activities and annual operation for FY 2014, defined as October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014. The time period captures one full cycle of COTA’s major annual events, including the 2013 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, 2014 MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas and ESPN’s 2014 X Games, as well as track rentals, and concert and events at Austin360 Amphitheater.

The full report, available here, was commissioned by Circuit of The Americas.

“COTA has turned out to be much more than just a racetrack,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “It’s a job creator, a revenue generator, and a destination for quality, year-round entertainment. These benefits to taxpayers result from racetrack construction that was solely funded by private investment. I commend COTA for its positive impact on our community and its contribution to Austin’s emergence as an international city.”

According to the report, there were 1.1 million attendees across all COTA events in FY 2014, leading to $731 million in economic impact. An additional $166 million is attributed directly to COTA operations.

Over the course of the year, COTA hosted six motorsports and other major sporting events, 18 concerts and 110 track rentals and other events.

Formula 1 generated $507 million in economic impact for the Austin metropolitan area

All other major sporting events, including ESPN’s X Games, generated $161 million in economic impact

Concerts and events at Austin360 Amphitheater generated $49 million in economic impact

Track rentals and other miscellaneous events generated an additional $14 million in economic impact

COTA’s annual activities and operations combined to support 9,100 jobs in the Austin metro region representing $306 million in annual payroll for Austin-area workers. Direct visitor spending injected into Austin area business establishments such as restaurants, bars, hotels and retailers totaled $423 million.

“COTA is a thoughtfully designed facility that has helped Austin successfully compete for and host events that put our city in the global spotlight,” said Bob Lander, Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO. “We attract over 21 million visitors annually – three times as many as only a decade ago. Tourism has a substantial impact on the Austin economy providing nearly 54,000 jobs and $6.2 billion in direct traveler spending. World-class facilities like COTA greatly enhance our ability to attract new international audiences and markets that widen our spectrum of business.”

Since it was announced in 2010, COTA’s cumulative economic impact on the Austin metro area has been $2.8 billion, with an average annual impact on the Austin area of nearly $700 million per year, according to the report.

Included in the cumulative impact was construction of COTA’s 1,500-acre campus, which supported more than 7,100 jobs representing $350 million in annual wages. The economic impact from construction was $918 million, the report said.

“We built COTA to be a part of the economic and cultural fabric of Austin,” said Circuit of The Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein. “We’ve created a place where Austinites can enjoy world-class sports and entertainment, and it’s gratifying to see the enormous benefit to local businesses big and small.” (Source: COTA)


Massa face exchange

Felipe is having some fun here… tweeted, “face exchange”… Look closely



The mystery of the Caterham cleaner revealed

TJ13 was the first to question the sacking of Colin Kolles father from the board of Caterham Sports Ltd and the appointment of Constantin Cojocaru – previously the cleaner at the company. That said, he is well liked by the staff and nick named ‘Mario’.

Having contacted Tony Fernandes PA, Shelley, to inform her of the accusations being made against Fernandes by Kolles side kick Manfredi, she began following the mailing list of thejudge13. Presumably it was there she saw the story of Constantin Cojocar.

Interestingly, as part of his eventual rebuttal to Kolles, Tony Fernandes mocked the appointment by Kolles of ‘a cleaner’ to the board of Caterham Sports ltd.

Yet no one was certain from where Cojocaru had emerged. Of course he was made the stooge director when Kolles decided to place the Caterham business into voluntary administration.

Racecar Engineer have revealed who in fact Cojocaru is; a 52-year-old former Steaua Bucharest footballer who played for Romania’s best team for two seasons. His career high was in the 1988 European Cup (Now the Champions League) semi-final with Benifica when he replaced team mate Dan Petrescu for the final 14 minutes of the game.

Having been friends for some time, the relationship between Cojocaru and Popescu appearsd to have broken down, as Racecar Engineer discovered in an interview Cojocaru gave to Romanian sports website Prosport.

“I came to England in August to find work, cleaning or working in a warehouse” says Cojocaru. “I left Romania because I had financial difficulties there. I had bills to pay and as the Chief of a bus depot in Brasov I was paid less than 200 pounds a month. After I finished my career as a footballer everything was grim. I had no money and nobody wanted to help me starting a coaching career.

“My former room-mate during training camps, Gheorghe Popescu, promised to help me but he didn’t. The only one who really helped me was George Becali (the currently imprisoned former owner of Steau Bucharest). I told him: ‘Gigi, help me please. I’m hungry.’ Every time he offered me money. Finally I gave up. I was ashamed to ask him any more help.”

“An Italian [or Spanish waiter], a kind of an owner here at Caterham recognised me as a former football player. He told me: ‘It’s absurd for you to clean the floors, you are a known footballer. From now on you are a director here!’ And I was appointed as executive director at Caterham Sports Ltd.”

The rest is history. Though Caterham staff TJ13 spoke to on the first day they were locked out of the factory, complained the toilets were never the same following Cojocaru’s promotion.

Clearly, Constantin is enjoying his new work and is a faithful servant to the man who gave him his big break.

“I represent the interests of Kolles, he offered me this chance. There are some serious problems here. I have to remain here right now I have no other choice. Once you enter the game you have to play it. Right now I’m in Germany, in Munich, at the main company who bought the team headquarters.”

Mmm. Constantin….. yes you are at Colin Kolles Munich base…. and maybe you should check the paperwork for that alleged acquisition…..  just in case you signed for it huh?

Still, this tale is much like the Eddie Murphy story, “Trading Places”. And for Constantin, let’s hope it all ends well…


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