Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 27th March 2014
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Ice-Man versus The Samurai – Battle of the season?
In a recent BBC article David Coulthard put forward his opinion about how he felt the relationship between Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso would develop at Ferrari. As with most observers, his feeling was that over the course of a season Alonso would ultimately finish ahead.
Coulthard understands Raikkonen’s modus-operandi – “When I was team-mates with Raikkonen at McLaren from 2002 to 2004, he was either asleep in the back of the truck or driving very quickly. There was nothing in between – everything else is a waste of time and energy, as far as he is concerned.”
“The Alonso I know, both as a rival and former colleague at the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, has more application. Because Raikkonen does not give a stuff about anything anyone else does, it would be pointless for Alonso to try to get under his skin. It just wouldn’t work.”
Unsurprisingly Jacques Villeneuve felt he should add his opinion and according to the 1997 F1 World Champion the evidence is clear that Alonso is seeking to destroy Raikkonen – the psychological war has begun. Villeneuve drove for Renault in three races in 2004 where he was comprehensively beaten by Alonso and knows what drives the Spaniard.
“Fernando’s plan is obvious — he wants to beat Kimi at all costs,” said the French Canadian. “In the first three races Fernando is trying to destroy Kimi psychologically and get the team to rally around him,” Villeneuve said. “In the tests it was all calm, but in Melbourne Fernando showed his true potential.”
Raikkonen struggled all weekend with his poor handling Ferrari and Alonso comfortably beat him in qualifying and the race. But Villeneuve tips Raikkonen to fight back.
“Kimi is not an ‘iceman’,” he insisted. “He has created this image to isolate himself, but like any driver, he doesn’t like bad results. But I don’t think Kimi fans should worry — he also had problems with the handling in 2007 but he still became world champion.”
Many people have questioned why Ferrari re-hired Raikkonen and there are a number of opinions – but many fans believe that Kimi is raising Alonso’s game more than the little Brazilian Felipe Massa ever could.
1996 Monaco winner Panis not impressed by new F1 era
Olivier Panis has offered his views on the new ‘Green’ Formula One and it appears that he is not a fan of the direction the pinnacle of motor-sport has developed towards.
The Grand Prix veteran admitted he was shocked when he first heard the subdued sound of the new V6 turbos. “I think the sound is part of Formula One because it allows you to feel the power of these machines. Now it’s not there.”
In a career spanning ten years he raced with a variety of screaming V10 engines including Renault, Honda, Peugeot and Toyota. In 2000 he was the test driver for Mclaren Mercedes and spent considerable time testing and developing their V10 car also.
Panis continued that the sport had left him feeling frustrated. “Formula One has ceased to be what it was before. The races were sprints, not marathons. It has evolved into endurance racing. They say that electric cars are the transport of the future but I am not sure about that,” he added sceptically.
“Electric cars create new problems, such as disposal of batteries. I do not believe electricity is the ‘new fuel’ for motor vehicles. Formula One has never been ‘green’ it’s about performance and that’s what the fans love.”
It appears Panis will not be joining his former team-mate Jarno Trulli in testing and signing up to the Formula E Championship when it is launched…
‘Great’ Vettel finally wins Laureus award (GMM)
Sebastian Vettel has finally won the coveted Laureus world sportsman of the year award.
It was the Red Bull driver’s fifth nomination since he began to dominate Formula One with Red Bull several years ago. But, according to an official Laureus statement issued after Wednesday’s gala ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, only his 2013 triumph saw him “join motor racing legends Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost” in winning four titles, “but he did it more quickly than them”.
“To be nominated for the award is a great honour for me and to win the award is truly very special,” Vettel said after receiving the award in Malaysia. “It is totally a very special moment for me as I can sit among the great sporting legends,” he told a press conference.
The Laureus statement said Vettel, 26, is now “one of the greatest drivers of all time”. Vettel beat fellow nominees Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, both athletes, as well as basketball’s Lebron James, tennis’ Rafael Nadal and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo
Fuel ‘arguments’ could return in Malaysia – Horner (GMM)
Team boss Christian Horner is not ruling out more fuel-flow controversy for the next two race weekends in Malaysia and Bahrain. Red Bull’s appeal against the Daniel Ricciardo disqualification in Melbourne will not be heard by the FIA until after the forthcoming double-header.
Until then, Horner said on Wednesday that the reigning world champions are convinced they did nothing wrong in Australia by ignoring Charlie Whiting’s advice and following the actual technical regulations to the letter.
The Telegraph also quoted him as questioning the behaviour of other teams, who are buying “hundreds” of the FIA-approved fuel sensors and choosing only to use the ones that allow the best performance.
“Whether there will be further arguments over the course of the next two weekends in Malaysia and Bahrain, ahead of the appeal hearing, remains to be seen,” Horner told the British broadcaster Sky. “Hopefully we’ll have a sensor that works … that there isn’t a discrepancy. “If there is a variance then it’s something we will probably have to discuss with the FIA, and we probably won’t be alone in that position,” he added.
No engine to power Stefanovich’s F1 bid (GMM)
Zoran Stefanovich has admitted he had to withdraw his bid to enter formula one in 2015 because he could not agree an engine deal. Alongside Gene Haas and Colin Kolles’ separate bids, Serbian Stefanovich – who also tried and failed to enter F1 with departed Toyota’s assets in 2010 – recently renewed his push to join the sport.
F1’s governing body has delayed making a decision about the twelfth team for 2015, but Stefanovich has confirmed reports he is no longer in the running. The biggest problem, he told Italy’s Omnicorse, was that he was unable to agree terms with either Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault for a customer turbo V6.
“Our view is that everyone should play the game on the same field,” he said, “but we were not able to close a contract for the supply of an engine with one of the existing manufacturers, and we talked for a long time with all of them. Since we did not reach an agreement on the power unit, our participation was compromised and we were forced to stop in the middle of the selection process,” said Stefanovich. “There was no equality of treatment,” he complained, “but we do have a future in F1.”
Indeed, it is rumoured that Stefanovich has been in talks with Marussia.
When asked about those contacts, he answered: “I have had contact with several teams for several years, which is a known fact. I don’t think I need to go into the details of any ongoing negotiations at this time.”
Schu manager dismisses F1 doctor Hartstein’s pessimism (GMM)
Michael Schumacher’s manager has hit back at claims ‘really bad news’ about the F1 legend is now just around the corner.
Former F1 doctor Gary Hartstein claimed that, more than 12 weeks into the great German’s coma, it is “less and less likely” Schumacher will recover. He thinks “really bad news” about the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver’s prospects might be issued soon, due to the “terribly dismal prognosis”.
Citing sources, Hartstein was also critical of Schumacher’s early treatment following his skiing fall on the French ski alps, and predicted doctors at the Grenoble hospital will eventually move the 45-year-old out of his bed if a patient with better prospects needs it.
In the wake of Hartstein’s comments, Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm said: “What I said in my last statement is still true. We remain confident that Michael will pull through and wake up, and we are fighting for that together with a team of doctors that we trust,” she told Bild newspaper.
The German newspaper report questioned Hartstein’s claims that his comments were based on the information of “usually impeccable sources”. “Bild knows that, during his time in formula one, Hartstein was never close to Michael Schumacher. He has not had contact with Schumacher’s family or the doctors,” the report added.
Mercedes switch no fluke for Williams – boss (GMM)
Claire Williams has denied the British team simply lucked into being powered by the best F1 engine for the sport’s new turbo V6 era. Having struggled to just ninth in the 2013 standings with Renault power, Grove based Williams is now working with the field-leading Mercedes. And the FW36 is regarded as probably the best 2014 car behind the works Mercedes.
Some think Williams simply lucked into the best engine for the revolutionary new era, but deputy boss Claire Williams insists that is not so. “We were in our second year with Renault after a long history with them,” she is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace. “But we did a huge amount of research into understanding how Renault and the other manufacturers would go with the rule changes.”
“It was obvious early last year where some of the manufacturers were in the developmental stage,” Williams explained. “We talked with Renault and Mercedes about it, and we decided to go with Mercedes. It was a very conscious decision,” she added.
Williams admitted that the team’s close ties to Mercedes’ Toto Wolff – still a co-owner and also husband of test driver Susie – helped the talks along. “We were able to exchange information with him,” she revealed.
McLaren’s new sponsor logo for Malaysia
As we saw in Australia, McLaren has tweaked the livery of its 2014 car from the one which ran during winter testing. The Woking based team’s entry this year tested throughout the winter in an all silver livery, with ‘MP4-29′ marked in black on the sidepods.
TJ13 reported on the Wednesday before Australia McLaren had revised the paintjob for the MP4-29’s sidepods, and it now featured black livery markings which were reminiscent of the team’s old ‘West’ era. However, this area was being prepared for a very large Mobil transfer which was applied in time for FP1 on Friday.
Similarly, in Malaysia, the black sidepod area will be featuring a large sponsor logo, however this time it is the Esso brand, which is a subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
McLaren boss, Ron Dennis, stated in February, “Our cars will not feature a title sponsor at the first event, but it will definitely feature a title sponsor in the next few events.”
Dennis at that time revealed that a number of knock down offers had been made by sponsors wishing to be associated as part of the team’s official race entry name. Coming off the back of their worst season since 1980, clearly led to opportunistic approaches from commercial partners.
However, Big Ron was unbowed and invoked the old maxim, form is temporary but class is permanent. “When you have a run of poor results people push the rate card down – I won’t accept that. I know what this company is. I know what this grand prix team can achieve and that requires the correct recognition when it comes to the commercial relationship with the principal sponsor. We turned away stopgaps.”
TJ13 revealed in November that the Woking team would not run this year with a title sponsor. McLaren have never done 1 year deals for the privilege to be associated with the historic British racing marque’s name. Further, TJ13 believes Honda wish to be the only associated name with McLaren in 2015, unlike the “Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault” tri-partite arrangement, which dilutes the recognition the engine manufacturer brings to the partnership.
So far ExxonMobil appear to have a prime slot on the MP4-29 for the first 2 races this year. But good ‘ole Ron likes to keep us guessing and may also be playing possible suitors off one against the other.
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