Funny how from week to week the Monday morning feeling following and F1 weekend can be quite different. With Japan and Korea being back to back the contrast is stark. Last Monday, I was still buzzing from the Japanese GP. not that the battle for the win was great, but there was a lot of good racing down the pack, the fans were amazing, Kamui getting his podium at last before he loses his F1 seat, Grosjean’s latest incident…lots of stuff to think about and write about.
Today…Zzz…I’m struggling. Part of the reason is I think my post race thoughts posted yesterday for Korea was more comprehensive than the one from Japan, so there are fewer loose ends to tie up today. Another the reason is that the F1 circus is battling its way back from the remote part of S. Korea and today is a quiet news days. Any way let’s see what’s going on.
BBC – Old News and Wrong News
You can spot quiet news days, for example, today the BBC F1 story is a re-hash of something we have known about for months – Vettel/Ferrari possibly/maybe 2014. Even so, someone at Red Bull just told me the team have been forced into action and brought forward their post race debrief from Tuesday to today 3:30pm – to quash the rumours.
This story has always been a non-story because Ferrari have over the years signed many pre-contracts with drivers that have never come to fruition. The most famous was in 1978 when Ferrari wanted and American driver to popularise car sales in the USA. Their choice was Mario Andretti, but Lotus pulled a coup and captured his services for 1979.
Ferrari turned to Alan Jones who signed a contract and when he landed in Italy he was told they’d now signed Villeneuve and his services were not required. Don’t feel too sorry for Jones, he went to Williams just at the right moment as the ‘ground effect’ era was beginning. Williams developed this technology better than the rest and jones was world champion in 19080.
(UPDATE: nice to see since writing this, both ‘the horse whisperer’ (Ferrari Insider) and James Allen have written complimentary analysis – link)
Its amusing to see the changing title of the BBC story over the day, each change is about an hour apart.
Ferrari plan for Vettel arrival – Vettel poised to race at Ferrari – Vettel set to join Ferrari in 2014 – Vettel MIGHT join Ferrari in 2014 :)
Another news agency appears to have problems with its F1 reporting. Firstly it is shocked by the result of the Korean GP??? More amusingly it struggles with its spelling (pic).
Ferrari – Its not over until ‘the fat lady sings’.
I feel as though I’m getting to know Luca de Montezemolo personally. He has had much to say each week for the past month or so, and this is usually a sign that all is not well at Ferrari. He is revered in the team like ‘the Godfather’ and so when he speaks – you must pay attention or else. The article dismisses the idea that they are trying to poach Adrian Newey as Luca points out without him they have won 8 constructor titles in the past 13 years. Further, the Godfather indicates that Vettel to Ferrari in 2014 is also a non-starter.
Alonso has a contract to 2016 and Luca -in a fowl mood – says, “I don’t want to have two roosters in the same henhouse, rather two drivers who race for Ferrari and not for themselves. I don’t want problems and rivalries, which we didn’t have between Schumacher and Irvine, between Schumacher and Barrichello, between Alonso and Massa or Massa and Schumi or Massa and Raikkonen”. (Ferrari.com) So there you have it BBC – you’re speculation today re: Vetell/2014 is ill-informed.
Montezemolo also talks about the car. He is still being defensive over points lost due to Alonson being ‘taken out’ in Spa and Japan. This view of the world smacks of self-justification, and that attitude is a distraction tool and prevalent when someone knows they have problems they really need to resolve.
Luca continues, “We are a few tenths off the pace in qualifying” and this is really quite an achievement when you consider the Red Bull has had a new DDRS systems and uprated suspension over the same period. Ferrari in that time have only brought updates that are mostly wing optimisation parts – for the different circuit configurations, but the rest has not changed much. If they do have a big upgrade due as promised, maybe everyone is being a little premature awarding the title to Vettel by the end of Austin.
The ‘fat lady’ is in her dressing room has begun her vocal warm up methinks.
Mercedes – Maybe Helmut Marco is right
If we cast our minds back to the beginning of the season, Mercedes were expected to challenge the ‘big 3′ this year. It is their 3rd year as a works team and they have spent fortunes on kiting up with all the best equipment according to Lauda. Its easy to forget…
Australia: Schumacher qualifies 4th, Rosberg 7th
Malaysia: Schumacher qualifies 3rd, Rosberg 8th
China: Rosberg on pole, Schumacher 3rd – NICO WINS!
Bahrain: Rosberg qualifies 5th, finishes 5th
Korea: Rosberg qualifies 9th, Schumacher 10th – Schumacher battles to finish 13th
The slide has been consistent over the season, and the car is at least 1 second slower than the Red Bull in race trim. An ex-F1 driver last week suggested that heads needed to roll because Mercedes had spent a fortune and were trundling around like a Torro Rosso (my article link). Well both Torro Rosso’s finished easily ahead of Schumacher on Sunday.
Mercedes have been recruiting expertise, and they now have four men in place who have been technical directors at other teams. Ross tells us they are all doing different and defined roles and this should lead to a high level of detailed expertise.
In contrast Red Bull have Adrian Newey who decides what the focus should be across the whole piece.
Helmut Marco scoffed at Niki “Lord” Lauda and Mercedes last week, he mocks the new recruits saying Mercedes have Brawn and “3 other art directors. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians”. (link) Funny how a label can take traction. I heard a well known media individual use this very phrase today when discussing Mercedes problems. He also suggested a team member had told him getting decisions was difficult.
Mercedes have it all now, the best equipment, a big high level team, a very fast young driver and a good development budget, but it will be next year when these people have had time to input their areas of specialism into the new car that they will be judged properly.
It’s probably a bit early to find heads on the block of the man with the scymiter and black robe.
Bye Bye Sky: I ditched my F1 lover this weekend. When I can’t be at the race, I have been watching SKY pre and post race live, but I have been pushed too far by Mr. Johnny Herbert and his amateur questions, elementary vocabulary, childlike sentence construction, repetition, trite content and general bumbling demeanor – not to be too critical. Surely he like Kamui will struggle to get a seat at the F1 table next year. I will also say that the BBC are going to suffer with Jake Humphrey leaving, he does the anchor role well and I prefer him to ex-rugby man Simon Lazenby on SKY. I did an article when the blog began just over a month ago on who would replace Jake (link) and the task looks as difficult now as then.
Alonso video: This is a very, very funny amateur video of Alonso in Korea mucking about and trying to outrun flat-out some fans and journo’s (YouTube). I know he can be very humorous but never thought he could be so silly.
Tooned: the McLaren animated mini series starring Jenson and Lewis. I did tell you all in a blog earlier this week that it would be ‘racey’ and to be fair I hadn’t seen it before Sunday, but I had been told it would cause comment. Lewis was conspicuous by his absence in the episode, where Jenson was seen helping and old lady across the road on his day off. A young academy driver is shown being taught by the prof at the Technology Centre and he is introduced to McLaren’s wall of famous drivers. Senna, Prost, Hunt and of course “our current world champion driver, JENSON”. Lewis doesn’t get a mention. All this I said yesterday, but some have suggested yesterday’s episode was made months ago. Tooned in its finished form is not made months in advance and the soundtrack can be cleverly adjusted at the last moment. The next episode following the Belgium GP (where we had twittergate #1) made reference to Lewis’ tweet the previous weekend using “WTF”. I understand since Singapore Lewis has not been back to the UK. He stayed in Asia, lost his phone if you remember, following his announcement he was leaving for Mercedes. (YouTube – Tooned episode)
Gangnam dancing:Whilst we’re on video, F1 media people making fools of themselves dancing in all kinds of locations and situations to Psy, “Gangnam Style”. I quite like the guy after seeing him talk to Jake Humphrey on the BBC. (YouTube)
NBC have captured the rights to show F1 in the states from 2013 outbidding existing contract holder cable network channel “Speed”. They will show 4 live races and the rest will be streamed. It appears though they need to learn a thing or two about drivers’ helmets and Vettel will not make that easy for them. In their big announcement, they post a great picture from the weekend of a Red Bull leading a string of other cars – with the sub-title, “Sebastian Vettel at the South Korean F1 Grand Prix is just one of Formula One’s worldwide events.” Problem is the car is Mark Webber’s (NBC). Further, in their desire to inform the great American people of the key players they have listed all the F1 drivers names – alphabetically – including reserve drivers without saying they are reserves at all – car no – and “make”. Make is not what you would think, ie Team. It is infact the engine and Buemi is driving a car with a Ferrari engine apparently. (screen shot) Does Adrian know this?
Ecclestone: In thejudge13 article (German indictments for Ecclestone 25th Sept) we reported the intentions of Munich Prosecution Service to indict Bernie for bribing a public official and that the BayernLB bank was seeking the return of its $44m payment to Ecclestone. It appears his lawyers have come up with a wheeze of an explanation as to why Bernie should keep the money. They now claim that Ecclestone had to indemnify the buyer CVC with $100m of his own money to assure them the books for F1 were good and true. A man and his word huh? (Telegraph).
Porsche: One of our favourite German publications is reporting that Porsche may consider entering F1. There is no indication as to whether this would be a full works team or as an engine supplier in the new V6 era beinging in 2014. There are no Porsche spokesman’s quotes to substantiate this, however, having owned a 911 I know they use a flat 6 engine in their most famous marque – so why do they want to develop a V6? Who knows. (Auto Motor und Sport) Having said that there could be a team up for sale in the near future (Force India: How the tower of cards will collapse)
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