The news stories together with post race thoughts following the interviews. First some news…
Less races for Europe: Whilst Bernie is usually newsworthy and highly entertaining, he is either actually becoming senile – or I am just sick and tired of his monotonous monologue on a certain subject. The race calendar and new circuits. We were told in an interview on SKY that Europe will be losing another 3 races on Friday, and then on Sunday according to Mr. E France and the Paul Ricard is close a 7 year deal.
Then after Nurburgring telling us they have a contract for an extended race deal, Ecclestone contradicts this, “Yes, there are negotiations with Hockenheim about the race in 2013,” (Wirtschaftswoch).
I’m getting really bored with the silly track in/out game.
Bernie’s birthday bash: There was an unassuming gathering for champagne at breakfast on race day. Most team principals were there but only 2 drivers popped in – Grosjean and Hamilton.
Bernie knows how to woo an audience, he was today batting for the ‘Kart’ to get a drive with Force India, he is of course keen to see his sport succeed in the lucrative Indian market, and 35 year old Karthikeyan is at risk of bowing out at the end of the year. Ecclestone suggested the two sides should get together. “I think Narain should be driving a Force India but you have to talk to Vijay and see what he says,” Ecclestone told the Times of India.
Yet earlier this weekend, Mallya’s deputy chief Bob Fernley ruled out signing Formula 1’s only Indian driver on the basis that Karthikeyan is not good enough. According to India’s Telegraph newspaper, he inffered he would get involved “I think Narain should be driving for Force India. I will talk to Vijay and see what he says.”
Clearly Bernie doesn’t really differentiate much between the teams further down than about 5th, something Force India may object to.
Hamilton: Had a new helmet design, he really is committed to his new Lewis the Zen warrior image. “If you believe in yourself nothing is impossible” inscribed in Sanskrit (the primary language of the Hindu religion). I wonder if Lewis actually is encountering all this wisdom or whether XIX is just doing a PR job. I wonder if asked, what Lewis would tell us is his favourite quote.
Alonso ‘fighting Newey’: Fernando may at times speak off the cuff, but you can tell when he is making a pre-meditated point. This sounds like one of those statements when after a poor qualifying he said “At the moment I am or, or we are not, fighting against Sebastian only, we are fighting against Newey”. Possible a dig at his Ferrari designer or sour grapes aimed at Vettel. Maybe Alonso is wishing in 2014 he was going to a Red Bull car and doesn’t care about roosters and chickens at Ferrari at all.
The race: Not an epic but fairly engaging throughout. Probably the best moments were at the start involving Alonso, Button and Hamilton with some awesome wheel to wheel racing over the first lap or so. It couldn’t be described as dull though due to the tense battles at times between Webber, Alonso and latterly Lewis catching a KERS stricken Webber. Grsojean again kept his nose clean finishing only 10 seconds and 2 places behind his world champion team mate.
Other minor battles were also at time quite compelling but significantly Paul Hembury of Pirelli admitted after the race that the choice of tyres was probably too conservative. He reflected the super soft instead of the soft would have forced a number of teams towards a 2 stop strategy thus mixing it up a bit more.
Newey on designing a Ferrari: Following the race Adrian Newey was interviewed by SKY TV shown in the Uk only. Damon Hill asked him whether he would yet like to design a Ferrari, he whimsically responded, “I guess just like drivers, perhaps aspire to drive for Ferrari – it’s the same for designers – but I’m very happy at Red Bull. I think that window’s come and gone”. I’m not aware of Ferrari ever wooing Newey, but he’s earning more than most of the drivers on the grid and has complete control – something Ferrari never give to anyone. Surely he’ll finish his career at Red Bull – or will he?
Red Bull development finished for 2013: Newey also confirmed after this weekend, “all the development focus would now switch to the 2013 car. Anything new for the RB8 was now in development and they needed to focus on next year “otherwise we’ll be in a mess at the start of next season”.
Vettel and the sparks: We all saw for about half a lap in the closing stages Vettel’s car throwing a shower of sparks into the air. What we didn’t see was Vettel running wide and damaging the bottom of the car slightly. Interestingly, the damage was only evident when Vettel used the DRS to pass Pic – and this is because when the flap is opened there is a shift in balance from the rear to the front of the car, forcing the nose down and throwing up the sparks like a firework.
There was a concern for Red Bull that the plank under the car may have worn to an illegal level, yet we’ve heard nothing so presumably scrutineering was fine.
Jenson – Kimi’esque: A philosophical Jenson was congratulated on his fastest lap of the race. He reflected “the first and the last laps were great, it was just all the others in the middle that weren’t”.
Schumacher: Very phlegmatic and slightly deflated when asked did he need one more great result to end his career on a high. Michael said, he didn’t need that and “won’t be sentimental. I’m professional and will the best job I can for the team doing what we can for next year”. Must be galling knowing the 2013 Mercedes is a complete re-design and he’s been ousted before his time. Our poll on whether Schumacher should retire shows 83.89% saying no. I am stunned by this particularly as the number of votes was very high. (link).
Michael was carrying an injury today, he had a huge graze on his knee from playing football. When questioned about this he retorted, “yes but at least I got the ball”.
Kimi: To Sky Uk. “The championship is now gone – but we’ll carry on racing because we have to”. First snow falls have occurred in Northern Europe and you can see he fancies some snow mobile racing.
Massa and Raikkonen: An unusual sight in F1 – a race to be the slowest to reach the DRS line. Exiting the pits, Massa and Kimi came out together. Kimi had spent many laps trying to pass Massa, but obviously realised the DRS detection point was coming soon – he clearly braked to be second to get there, but Massa did the same and did arrive second of the 2 – he then got the befit of the DRS, easily passing Kimi down the straight and that was it for Kimi from there on.
Vettel wins Indian hearts: When asked what he liked about India Vettel replied, “the thing I love about India is that here money isn’t too important what’s important is to be happy healthy and enjoy life with your kids. Everyone here in India is warm-hearted and it would be really nice to travel around and learn much more about this country – it’s a country that has a lot to offer”. To which he received rapturous applause.
Alonso: “We’ve got new parts coming for Abu Dhabi but at the moment we are not able to win. I was pushing 120% today”. I think Fernando needs a maths lesson. Yesterday he was 100% sure he would win the WDC, yet this is clearly lower than the 120% of pushing he did today.
In a separate interview Alonso’s maths gets worse, he was reminded of the 100% and questioned whether he still so sure he would win the title. “More now” the Spaniard stated, “today we gain 8 points”? Sorry Fernando what to do mean – you lost another 7 to Vettel and are now 13 behind surely. I guess he’s saying that he started 5th and that would give 10 points – finishing second was 18 points. Therefore he gained 8 points ok? But Vettel didn’t gain any by that calculation yet is further ahead. Bernie is affecting them all.
“Fernando continued to poke fun at his old team McLaren suggesting, “inside that team there is not very good atmosphere at the moment…they were fighting each other and I was in the middle…they forgot I was there…”.
Be not deceived, Alonso is a very clever operator. He has been week after week making statements that should he pull the WDC off will make him appear like a legendary F1 driver with guru tendencies of faith driving him on (Senna’esque). In the context of winning the championship Alonso smiles and says, “Today we will remember this race”. Of course if he doesn’t, the clip will never be played again – yet if he did???
Force India: The Hulk pushes further ahead of the dejected Di Resta who again made clear it was all he had to give.
Tooned: The McLaren animated series with Jenson, Lewis and the prof. I was given a bum steer when I reported that it had been cancelled since Lewis was leaving the team – but then again maybe not. Today’s episode was most bizarre. It was a significantly shortened episode compared to the others and was 90% a Bollywood animated production from the techies at the McLaren Technology Centre…yep that was it. Gone was the Jenson and Lewis mucking around together – they just stood and watched the show. Watch it for yourselves (link)
Alonso’s first top 2 since a rain affected German GP which of course Alonso won
McLaren have now equalled Ferrari’s all time F1 record of scoring points in 55 consecutive races
Jenson Button made McLaren’s 150th fastest lap in Formula 1 races.
Vettel now has 26 wins, overtaking Niki Lauda (25) today and is 1 less than Jackie Stewart and he has had 1 fewer start. He is now in wins behind only Stewart (27), Alonso (30), Mansell (31) , Senna (41), Prost (51), Schumacher (91).
(This page will update throughout the day as I digest the post race interviews – check back later)
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