Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 8th August 2014
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Previously on TJ13:
Parabolica paved. “What’s the fuss?” Brundle (UPDATED 15:46 GMT)
OTD Lite: 1982 German GP – Tonight in the Blue corner…
Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Rocky Marciano, Nelson Piquet, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis…. what? Piquet?
Before you all assume I have taken leave of my senses, today marks the anniversary of one of the funniest battles in Formula One history. Forget battles of the four wheeled variety, or James Hunt decking a marshall. Forget also Senna bipping Eddie Irvine on the nose for his insolence or Schumacher trying to nab David Coulthard at Spa in 98. No, today’s trip down memory lane has more in common with the silent movies.
Following Didier Pironi career ending accident from the day before, Ferrari fielded one car for Patrick Tambay who went on to win his first ever Grand Prix. But what most people remember is the flying Brabham of Nelson Piquet coming up to lap Eliseo Salazar on the 18th lap. The Brabhams had been running for some races with softer rubber and half fuel tanks to build a cushion so as to pit and have the advantage of new rubber for the latter stages of the race.
As they came up to the Ostkurve chicane Salazar left the racing line for the Brazilian then forgot to apply the brakes and kissed the Brabham into retirement. Piquet vaulted from the car in rage and began to try hitting a man still wearing a crash helmet. When that proved ineffective, he tried to doe-see-doe the shocked Chilean.
Montezemolo looking likely to leave Ferrari
Reports were emerging last night from Italy’s Affaritaliani online newspaper that Luca Montezemolo is about to be unveiled as the President of the newly formed Alitalia-Etihad airline. James Hogan, the President and CEO of Etihad Airlines has been in detailed negotiations with the former boss of Confindustria and the current president of Ferrari. Il Padrino has recently been the subject of much press speculation including a feature published on TJ13 on Tuesday -#F1 Features: ‘The Family’ losing its grip on Ferrari .
The rumour is building in Italy is that Montezemolo will leave the Ferrari team after 23 years in charge and will be replaced by the Fiat boss – John Elkann. When Fiat recently merged with the Chrysler concern to form FCA, LdM was noticeable due to his absence – and there has been a marked cooling of relations between Elkann and Sergio Marchionne towards the ‘old guard’ represented by 66 year old Luca.
None of the rumours mention the role of Marco Mattiacci so far, who on a whim, LdM promoted to team principal: “Immediately I looked inside the company, because inside the company we had very good potential people, and Marco Mattiacci, for his characteristics and what he’s done in the past in Tokyo and China and America, he has the capability to manage people. There were no other alternatives because, first of all, I made the decision and also I did not have time to think of somebody else and I didn’t want to leave an open position. In 99% of the time I am happy to let people grow up in the company.”
With friends like that…
Mattiacci is a close friend of Elkann and Marchionne and belongs to the new school of management having won prestigious industry awards for his leadership. At the time of MM’s recruitment, Il Padrino spoke of his dissatisfaction with where Ferrari were in terms of competiveness: “I did not expect a team so less competitive of my expectations at the beginning of the season. We have to understand and be clear of what are the problems, why we are not competitive and to improve the situation as soon as possible without losing our calm. We have to have it clearly laid out in front of us what the short-term goals, medium-term goals and our long-term goals. This is what is important to first understand and then react.”
Yet it was Aldo Costa’s damning revelation recently that revealed where the problem with Ferrari lies. “In 2008, we in the racing team thought it essential to have a new wind tunnel to remain competitive. We were told there was no need. In Ferrari, all the strategic decisions were always made by (Luca di) Montezemolo. He took them when Ferrari triumphed and when Ferrari ceased to triumph.”
As the TJ13 feature explained, MM is embracing new technologies and putting in place structures for the long term future of Ferrari whereas LdM is seemingly stuck in his ways in his wish to return to the old ways of development.
James Allison noted: “Any team in F1, good or bad, are all pretty impressive organisations – and it is much, much easier to make them worse than it is to make them better, you need to make big changes and small changes at the same time. The changes that need to be made are in an absolute sense quite small, but there are lots of them and they have been happening for some months. Marco’s arrival has helped galvanise more of them, and I think that across the board in Ferrari there are changes that are extremely helpful to moving us in the right direction.”
Over the years it would seem that Luca’s aristocratic family genes have risen to the surface as he increasingly adopted an Enzo Ferrari-like mindset. The one stark difference is that Enzo owned the company, LdM has only ever been an employee.
Yet as one chapter closes, another one starts…
‘Arrogant’ Paddy Lowe claims credit for Mercedes performance
In what appears to be a staggering claim of monumental self importance, Paddy Lowe has taken credit for moving Mercedes on since taking over the reins after Ross Brawn decided to leave.
He joined the Brackley based team from Mclaren in June 2013 in the role of executive director and along with Toto Wolff who together with Niki Lauda in effect forced Brawn into retirement. Brawn knows the old adages of “too many chiefs, chefs…” etc and issued an ultimatum to the unholy trinity. Either he was in charge and spoke for the team, or he was offski..
Loew says, “The team was on the ascendency over the last two to three years, and through last year was starting to win races and get pole positions more regularly. Credit to Ross, he had been part of that process. I think I’ve come in and taken that forward to the next level.”
“I see gaps that Ross hadn’t covered and fill in those gaps. Rarely are there places where I’ll go ‘what was done before was wrong, and we’re going to go 180 degrees.’ It’s more about adding to what existed before. Ross has been out since December, and time passes. So, no disrespect to Ross, but that’s old history.”
“It’s been a fantastic year. It’s a year we realistically couldn’t have dreamt of achieving. So far, we’ve produced historic results and we want to keep that up. Formula 1 is very unforgiving; you’re only as good as your last race. So, we’ve just got to make sure we’re not falling back.”
Lowe at times has looked over-whelmed with his role in managing the Mercedes team, and appears furtive during the media interviews – as though checking his shadow isn’t about to pounce.
Wolff and Lauda are consistently merrily blabbing away to whomever will listen, as they flex their respective corporate muscle.
The lack of decisivenes was not more apparent than in Hungary, when Lewis ignored an instruction given over the radio. Mercedes have learned from their mistake and from Brawn’s previous example and elevated Lowe as the man to make the order in future.
It will not have escaped Stuttgart’s notice that both drivers obeyed Brawn’s instructions with little debate. Then again, this could merely be a reflection of the differing levels of respect.
The irony of his words appears to escape the “great” man – Lowe.
Paddy has been gifted a stunning, reliable car that had the Formula One fraternity quivering in Jerez when they considered the daunting prospect of utter domination for the year by the Silver Arrows.
It could be said that the “Paddy effect” and the application of his finely honed abilities has in fact delivered hope by the bucket load to the likes of Williams and Red Bull.
What is evident, is that under Lowe’s leadership, the cars have become increasingly unreliable as the season progresses.
It must not be forgotten, that in 2012 Mclaren had the quickest car in the field, yet under Lowes technical guidance unreliability and operational errors scuppered any chance for Lewis Hamilton to becoming the drivers’ world champion.
Paddy’s final McLaren design was the 2013 MP4/28, which on level was the worst car McLaren have ever produced. It was the first Woking design since 1980 which failed to secure a podium position in an entire season.
Those who were concerned, other teams may take years to catch Mercedes now live in hope.
Add arrogance to demonstrable incompetence, and in Paddy Lowe we have the classic, “Pride before a fall” scenario….. just waiting to happen.
Frank Williams must be spinning his chair…… around and around……. in gleeful anticipation of a 2015 season – not seen at Grove for many a year.
As reported earlier this week in TJ13 Daily News and Comment, Ferrari have sent a message to Alonso indicating their indifferent to his $50m salary demands.
Fernando may have got the message, as he breaks his holiday silence on twitter to state. “A thing that’s not true, even if is copied a thousand times, will remain false….. Always helpful to remember this”.
That said, there is ambiguity in Alonso’s rebuttal, as he could be referring to the “Fred to Macca” stories which have been circulating simultaneously.
Whatever the reason for Fernando’s hurried ‘clarification’, the tone of his communication is not normative for him at this time of year. The Spaniards usual rhetoric from the summer to the season’s close contains the message, ‘Ferrari should be thankful for how wonderful I am”.
Parabolica paved. “What’s the fuss?” Brundle
The paving over of the gravel trap at the entrance of the famous Monza parabolic curve has cause outrage amongst F1 fans and personnel alike.
One TJ13 reader suggested next will be a chiacne at Eau Roughe (though this was in fact done in 1994) or the tightening of the Suzuka Esses to reduce speeds to 40 mph.
“Why the hell do they take away the challenge in F1?” German F1 correspondent Bianca Garloff questioned.
A number of media outlets received a press release from the Autodromo circuit, suggesting this had been done with a view to the return of the World Superbikes Series to the circuit in 2015.
Bizarre to spend so much money, when that contract is not signed off and has never been reported in the bike press as a pre-condition.
Karun Chandhook onserved, “another great corner that will lose its challenge.”
“Parabolica will never be the same corner again,” added former F1 driver Jerome d’Ambrosio.
The man who ducked asking Lewis’ about his disagreement with the team, during the podium interview in Monza, Thinks differently.
“Monza’s Parabolica corner is about the track not run off. Providing it costs heavily to run wide may as well be tarmac as race ending gravel”, said Martin Brundle on twiiter. He accordingly received a tirade of opinion which shall we say, ‘begged to differ’.
The SKY presenter responded, “Charlie W told us in Hungary that cars slow twice as fast on tarmac as gravel.What’s racy and exciting about gravel?”
TJ13’s expose series on what “Charlie says”, left most readers in no doubt that at times Charlie makes the uttering of a baboon sound intelligible.
Then came a quite bizarre suggestion from Brundle.“Smart thing to do would be making all run offs like Monza chicanes where you’re forced into a slow section before rejoining so it hurts more”. ??????
Brundle appears to have fallen under Ecclestone’s “F1 good news only” dictat, and his views are swiftly denigrating him to the status of willing ‘lap dog’.
Fans are in favour of safety, yet broadly criticise the car park run off areas first seen in the Tilkerdrome’s.
They understand better than an ex-F1 driver apparently, that the penalty for getting it wrong for a driver without the skill to keep it on the grey stuff – in the days of gravel traps – was race over.
In a year where Mercedes are the dominant team, it brings home the fact who know their F1 history, that smaller teams – back in the day – had windows of opportunity to score podiums or even win races.
Gravel traps meant top cars and drivers’ chances of a DNF were incrementally higher, thus increased the level of uncertainty of the race outcome.
Flight bans to Russia
TJ13 reported earlier this year, that Marussia had quickly and quietly changed the regiseterred address of their parent company to a back street in Dublin – to thus avoid the impending sanctions,
Today the BBC reports, “In addition to the food imports embargo, Russia is banning Ukrainian airlines from transit across its territory, Mr Medvedev said in televised comments to the government.
The Russian government is also considering banning transit flights for EU and US airlines in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine, he said”.
Following a lucky escape from incarceration, the wheels of genius inside Ecclestone’s head are free to whirl at full speed once again. The official HQ of FOM logistics, may well as we speak, be re-registered registered on the new Monte Carlo haven of the Black Sea – Crimea.
Meanwhile, foreign visitors travel to the inaugural Russian GP will find the paperwork required easier to complete. According to a statement by the Governor of the Krasnodar region of Russia, application procedure for visas has now been truncated.
This was agreed at a recent meeting between the Sochi F1 race organising committee and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.
Whitmarsh finally gone
Having been spotted fell walking in Derbyshire and tending his ‘Hyper Belle Hibiscus’ and “Summer Icicle” collection – for some months; Martin Whitmarsh is as of today, no longer an employee of McLaren.