Lauda gives Brawn vote of confidence, Barichello wants back in F1, Lauda lectures Webber, Major sandstorm Abu Dhabi, F. India reject pay drivers

Torro Rosso unchanged driver paring for 2013: It’s a busy day for news – my fingers can’t keep up. Anyway sacking both their drivers last year and then amusingly producing a fairly woeful car, it was inevitable that the Italian Red Bull team would announce no change in their driver line up for 2013. There’s not reallt a lot to say about this, other than what I’ve said already. If I can think of something to say I’ll add it later or if anyone else has ideas please feel free to comment. End of announcement!

FIA Press Conference Shedule: Abu Dhabi

DATE TIME GUEST
Thursday, Nov 01 1500 hrs Jenson Button (McLaren)
Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)
Charles Pic (Marussia)
Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)———————————
Friday, Nov 02 1900 hrs Ross Brawn (Mercedes)
Antonio Cuquerella (HRT)
Pat Fry (Ferrari)
Andrew Green (Force India)
Remi Taffin (Renault Sport F1)

Wow, Pat Fry – there isn’t a chance in hell the row over upgrades with Alonso and the near miss F1 2012 twittergate #3 won’t be mentioned. Force India appear to be turning up a week late, but Andrew Green predictably not be able to confirm anything about Nico’s replacement as the list of candidates is still growing. Petrov, Pic and Ricciardo will be the naughty boys on the back row. Hopefully someone will ask Ross about his relationship with ‘Lord Lauda’. Poor Antonio will be quizzed as to whether the cars have been to Kwik Fit for some new brakes. Kamui will need tissues as its likely to be his last appearance at such an event and most people won’t even know who Remi Taffin is (something to do with V6 2014 engines).

Sauber announce Hulkenberg: The worst kept secret in F1 for the past 2 weeks is finally out. Nico signs for Sauber. It is not clear yet whether he has a 1 or 2 year deal but Team boss Monish Kaltenborn in rather a stalking kind of way tells us, “We’ve been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive. That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula One. An obvious highlight was how he scored pole at Interlagos in 2010 despite the most challenging external conditions. He clearly showed that he can seize the chance if it arises. But high spots like that are one thing; systematic teamwork is another – and on that score I have confidence in Nico too. I’m sure he will fit in very well with the Sauber F1 Team. We look forward to working together with him.”

Nico is also obviously more than delighted about 2013, “I’m really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team. It’s a well-placed team and very competitive. Plus it’s a team in which young drivers have repeatedly delivered exceptional performances. I would like to take up that baton. The Sauber F1 Team is currently going through a very positive development and I’m certain that together we can achieve a lot. Until that time I will remain fully focused on my job with the Sahara Force India Team. I’d like to thank the management at Sahara Force India for giving me the chance to return to Formula One as a team driver.”

If the deal is only for 1 year it may be an indication that Ferrari have made certain overtures and of course this means the end for poor old Kamui, but I think he knew it was coming – looking at his demeanour. Shame after his great podium in Japan and the incredible support from the Japanese fans.

Lauda gives Brawn vote of confidence: In English premier league football, when the chairman tells the media they have “every confidence in their manager”, they are usually doomed within days.  Lauda has been appointed the point man for Daimler-Benz as the chairman of the Mercedes F1 team. “The job has already begun,” Lauda told Bilde newspaper. “I have a lot of contact with Ross Brawn. I want to learn what the problems are.”

The 63 year old revealed he has already been to Mercedes’ Brackley factory three times, giving fuel to speculation he might soon replace Brawn, three years after the Michael Schumacher project is acknowledged to have failed.

But Lauda insists he has a “great relationship” with Brawn and asked if Brawn’s job has ever been in doubt, Lauda answered: “Never. It’s not even been discussed. Ross has not been in danger and he never will be. He’s the boss, I’m just the head of the supervisory board. I just have to look at everything and ask ‘What are the strengths, what are the weaknesses?'” added Lauda.

thejudge13 has already reported Lauda as saying he thinks the team has wasted money and with the state of the art equipment they now have, if Lewis is not competing for the title next season – heads will roll. I did an article on “How Lauda got the top job in Mercedes F1” (LINK )and we looked at Niki’s previous experience with Jaguar. It is inconceivable that there will not be friction and confrontation in the coming months – it’s why we love F1 I guess!

Lauda tells Webber to move over: Webber at the weekend made it clear he was out to win the Indian race and would not move over for his team mate Vettel. When asked whether Webber should move over to maximise Vettel’s points in Abu Dhabi, Lauda commented “Webber is not going to say that, because he obviously doesn’t want to show any weakness. But unless sheer hatred prevails, which isn’t the case at Red Bull, you would rather see your own team win than someone else.” (Bilde)

He added, “Racers have a certain intelligence, that was the same for me. “If I had no chance to win the title, I was motivated to help my team-mate.”

Well Niki here’s a fact. Drivers hate being beaten by their team mate more than anyone else because they have the same equipment and it shows which driver is better overall at winning races and titles. Secondly, when did Lauda ever move over and help a team mate to a title – never. He was never in a team where his co-driver won the WDC – to be fair to him this was probably because the years Lauda was in the best car, he not the other team car won the WDC .

Sandstorm in Abu Dhabi: Nothing new in the middle east, but apparently the region has this past weekend suffered an abnormally bad one which has caused structural damaged in parts of Abu Dhabi. Apparently the track has not been affected in this way, but it is covered an a huge blanket of sand. The high winds and flying sand had early F1 arrivers from India screening their faces from the stinging grains and running for cover in their hotels.

Williams and Barichello: There are times when teams bin good drivers for those of lesser proven ability – but giant piles of cash are on offer. I can’t understand why Williams allowed Barichello to leave and replace him with Senna for 2012.

Talking to Brazil’s Arenas Sportv, Rubens said today,  “I had 19 years of great excitement and pure adrenaline. For me, I would have been there (in 2012). Surely he would have scored a lot more points in a Williams car that has been predominantly good this year. The team are 34 points behind Force India who themselves are not having a steller season.

Maldonado has 33 points but 25 of those were from the race win in Barcelona. Senna has 26 points, scoring in only 8 from 17 races. Its obvious Rubens is itching for one last year when he says, “You can never say never. Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen went back. I think in life you have to have the dream of wanting to improve every day, so I cannot say no [to a possible return]”.

I know there was little to compare Williams 2011 and Williams 2012 – by way of points, with Maldonado last year scoring 1pt and Rubens 4pts. Yet last year there were only 25% of the races Maldonado finished ahead of Barichello and the Williams was a pig of a car. Yet this year, Maldonado has scored points in only 3 – YES 3 -races and in my mind Rubens would have easily done better.

Barichello observes, “When I saw Raikkonen come back I thought he would have the same difficulties as Schumacher, but he had a sensational year. He is third in the championship. “He has not fought for wins but he got six podiums. Rubens is making a big play for a seat in 2013. he compares his own time out with Schumacher and Raikkenon’s suggesting, “I say this because I didn’t stop and go to a completely different category, I’ve been more active. Physically and mentally, I would be prepared (for Formula 1).

I think its easy to argue there is a place in F1 for Barichello 2013 – but then I don’t call the shots.

Force India want a fast driver: Whether you see this as a slight on Di Resta or not, it’s a refreshing attitude in modern day F1 that Force India needs fast driver, not pay driver says Szafnauer – The Force India Formula One team have added fuel to speculation it is considering Sebastien Buemi or Adrian Sutil to replace the Sauber bound Nico Hulkenberg in 2013.

Officially, the Silverstone based outfit says it has not been told that German Hulkenberg is leaving, but other insiders consider it a done deal. thejudge13 reported yesterday that team owner Vijay Mallya admitted 2011 driver Adrian Sutil is one potential candidate to replace Hulkenberg, while Red Bull’s Dr. Helmut Marko named Force India as a possible employer for current reserve driver Sebastien Buemi in 2013.

Otmar Szafnauer, Force India’s chief operating officer, would not be drawn on the speculation, but he did hint that the team is not simply in the market for a ‘pay driver’. “If we do lose Hulkenberg to Sauber,” he told the Swiss newspaper Blick, “then we have a list of some names. We do not need a driver with millions, we need the fastest one,” he added.

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6 responses to “Lauda gives Brawn vote of confidence, Barichello wants back in F1, Lauda lectures Webber, Major sandstorm Abu Dhabi, F. India reject pay drivers

  1. Got to agree, would love to see Rubens back in F1 next year. Rather see him replace Senna than Maldonado though if he went back to Williams. Although Maldonado’s come in for a lot of stick, I quite admire him and would like to see him again next year to see if he matures.

    Di Resta’s not impressed me much at all this season. Seems a typical ‘journeyman’ driver. Rather see Sutil back, at least he had moments of brilliance when he last raced.

  2. Great pieces. Keep it up Judge.
    Something is obviously NOT right at Mercedes. Perhaps it is time for Mr. Braun to consider his position… Lauda’s problem though and to simply repeat the words of Fernando re: Massa; ‘if he is to be replaced, he must be replaced with somebody better’… I have no idea, but does the Judge know of any up and coming bright young technical wizard that could turn Mercedes around.
    What is happening at the red team… is Luca DM simply posturing, as did Big Ron with Lewis, in order to restate the pecking order with Fernando? Fernando and the way he has performed and conducted himself, this year especially, seems to me to be the consumate professional and one of the greatest assetts any team could wish for in the current world of F1. I dont really understand why LDM or Pat Fry for that matter, would want to antagonise him. Any ideas?

    • Interesting points but in answer to your final question – ask world champion Alain Prost who was sacked by Ferrari for calling his car ‘a truck’ – as pointed out by some thejudge13 readers in the Ferrari article.

      The problem for most non Italian F1 fans is they do not really understand Ferrari.

      They expect logic where there is passion and pride, order where there is chaos and
      ineptitude, a desire to win at all costs when Ferrari would rather bask in the glory that is Ferrari.

  3. “(Lauda) was never in a team where his co-driver won the WDC!”
    Small correction there, actually in his last season (1985) Prost did win the WDC. Prost completely thrashed him that year.

    • I stand corrected – but the point remains true – as you note Lauda that year didn’t stand aside he was whipped and never got in an F1 car again competitively

  4. Re: Ross B and Mercedes. I can see the boards worry/need and maybe Lauda’s remit as the hatchet man. 3 years with huge financial investment and still no delivery. This scenario would in the any other large business, lead to a re-organisation at a high level… people would be ‘seeking to progress their career elsewhere’. I would tend agree with your view that Lauda’s understatement of the risk to Brauns position would in the footabll manager scenario signal a pending departure…

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