Quinghua in? Fernandes to step down? Austin Sherrifs unconcerned, Marko slates Webber, FIA needs $40m more, France GP – AGAIN!!! Turkey more likely in 2013, Wolff speaks about Senna,

Marko critical of Webber: Our favourite German newspaper Bilde.de tells us today that Dr. Helmut Marko has pointed the finger at Mark Webber, after the Australian’s messy race in Abu Dhabi. at thejudge13 we think Webber was lucky not to be penalised for his move on Maldonado and his clash with Massa. After the race Webber himself admitted he should have stayed clear of the dueling Perez, DiResta and Grosjean and by not doing so ended his own race when he was too close to avoid the inevitable crash when it occurred.

Marco, not known for mincing his words says, “You can’t have more errors than that in one race. That was not a good day for him.” As if that’s not enough, Marco wants to make his opinion crystal clear telling us, “The start was no good, and the accidents were not good. It’s too bad, because it affects us in the constructors’ championship.” This is a slightly dramatic conclusion from Helmut as Red Bull will inevitably collect the 5 points they require to win the constructor’s title for the 3rd successive year.

Robin Frijns amazingly  snubs Red Bull: For those of you unaware of the lower formula racing, Robin Frijns is a very confident, fast, young dutch driver from Maastricht.  As the highest-place Formula Renault driver not attached to any established Formula One team, Frijns won the competition to test for Red Bull Racing this week in Abu Dhabi.

This is quite a remarkable story. I would publish it word for word, but the translation gets iffy. Anyway Frijns tells de telegraph he has been approached by Red Bull to join their young driver programme not once, but twice. “I have twice said no to Red Bull,” says the talented young racer. He explains why, “I know they play games. You cannot decide for yourself and if you do not do everything they want, you’re out. They treat you like a dog”.

Looks like Helmut’s got competition in the ‘being blunt’ stakes.

The greatest young promise of Dutch motor sport clearly likes to keep his destiny in his own hands, “I have in my career always my own choices and I want to continue doing. I need people around me who I can trust and I seem to feel. Therefore, Red Bull is not for me, even though I have won more than Vettel before he made ​​his name in Formula 1. ”

After a number of years in Karting, Frijns joined the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship full-time in 2011 – driving for Josef Kaufman Racing. He won the title on his first attempt, winning five races over the course of the season — including both races at Silverstone — and finishing forty-five points ahead of his nearest rival Carlos Sainz Jr.

In 2012 Frijns made the transition to the Formula Renault 3.5 Serioes — the highest tier of the World Series by Renault. This time he was racing for British team Fortec Motorsports and as in 2011 Frijns won the title on his first attempt. He won races at Aragon, Moscow and the Hungaroring and scoring five podiums and four poles over the course of the season.

Frijns’ title came amidst controversy when he was involved in a collision with rival driver Jules Bianchi in the final race of the season in Barcelona. Bianchi passed Frijns at the start of lap 21, and Frijns quickly came under more pressure from Kevin Magnussen who made an attempt to pass Frijns at the Repoil corner, but Frijns moved to block him. The move forced Bianchi wide, and he skirted across the gravel trap and into the wall and retirement. Frijns went on to finish the race in seventh place, but race stewards decided that he had caused an avoidable collision and twenty-five seconds were added to his race time, demoting him to fourteenth place.

As Bianchi had failed to score Frijns’ title remained intact, albeit under the pall of controversy. Predictably in the days following the title-deciding race, Bianchi accused Frijns of intentionally running him off the road, a charge which Frijns obviously denied.

Sounds like a combination of Senna, Schumacher and Grosjean – could be fantastic – SOMEONE GIVE HIM AN F1 SEAT.

Sauber F1 announced a couple of weeks ago that Frijns will be driving their car during the third round of Young Drivers Test in Abu Dhabi alongside the team’s testing and reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez 

Teams swear on pit radio: This is a story in one of the UK newspapers, I wasn’t going to mention it and now can’t remember which it was. Anyway, to avoid their messages being broadcast by FOM TV, the radio operators apparently deliberately swear knowing it won’t be broadcast and their competitors won’t hear the message. For those of you not on the twittersphere one of the funniests tweets I saw today went something like this – Not all teams swear to confuse their rivals on the pit to car radio…when HRT say the gearbox, suspension, steering or engine is BUGGERED….it actually is.

HRT annouce Ma Qinghua or not?: The China Daily USA is reporting the 24 year-old from Shanghai, will represent the Spanish team HRT for F1’s 2013 racing season.The team announced at a press conference in Shanghai on Tuesday afternoon, Tencent’s sports channel reported. Ma made his debut during an official F1 practice session for HRT at the Italian Grand Prix on Sept 7, making history as the first Chinese-born driver ever to drive an F1 car at an FIA-sanctioned event. He later took part in practice sessions in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, and has apparently won over the HRT team with his level of expertise. (Chinadaily.com)

Yet the team website is no so clear. David Mancebo, HRT Formula 1 Team Business Director: “At HRT Formula 1 Team we are very happy with Ma Qing Hua since he began with us. He has progressed notably in his development as a driver and has fitted into the team perfectly. He’s a driver with incredible talent and great potential. Ma Qing Hua has achieved a historic milestone for Chinese and world motor sport by becoming the first Chinese driver to make his debut in Formula 1. He has also met the expectations of every challenge he has been presented with and which were more complicated each time. Our team is a young one with a project which is still under construction that looks to the future and, without a doubt, we would like to continue counting on Ma Qing Hua for the future as we have done this year”.

I think not – yet anyway.

Austin Traffic update: County officials met Monday to discuss lessons they learned from Saturday’s Formula Run footrace, in which traffic jams several miles long were reported on Texas 130 and FM 812 leading into the circuit. At the same time, they gave assurances that more effective plans are in place to control traffic for the Formula One race that is two weeks away.

“You can expect some delays … (but) Saturday’s event was nowhere near what the F1 race is going to be,” Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Roger Wade said. “Folks need to be patient and remember it’s the first event of its kind in our area.”

The expect some 36,000 cars to use park and ride facilities and are urging fans to check the maps distributed around the city for the most convenient way to access the track. (www.statesman.com)

Team and driver FIA fee’s hiked: Nice to see again thejudge13 is on top of things. We reported on the cost of the driver’s super license yesterday and the Times newspaper has kindly filled in some gaps.  It emerged in Abu Dhabi last weekend that teams have been told by the governing body that the price of their official entry fees for the 2013 season are definitely increasing significantly. Red Bull are facing an entry fee of more than $3m for 2013 as the teams are being ‘taxed’ on their previous years success.

The Times says, “(FIA president) Jean Todt is on a mission to fill the FIA’s coffers and is thought to be trying to raise an extra $40 million. Formula 1 drivers will also have to contribute”, with Eason saying the cost of their super license is facing “massive hikes”.

Jenson Button reportedly paid $200,000 for his credential when he won the title in 2009, but this year’s champion looks set to pay double that amount. This is because the fee for teams and drivers has a variable element that depends on the number of points they score. thejudge13 thinks it is not that unreasonable as the more points teams score, the bigger the prize money. This is a method of redistributing some of the wealth from the bigger to the smaller teams.

Further, I believe the FIA has been starved of cash due to the deals Mosely did unwisely with Ecclestone. Stewarding and race management is an area we have been constantly critical of and some investment in full time Marshalls each running a 300m section of track at every event would speed up track clearance. Further, the marshalls running around the track with brushes after Rosberg’s collision with the HRT just looks stupid. There has to be better solutions to all these matters including 5 hour waits for Hamilton decision Spain, Vettel/Alonso decision post qualifying Japan and Vettel in Abu Dhabi.

All cars should give a mandatory 1 litre sample and cars involved in the title race or further up the grid should be tested first. Then Charlie can have his dinner in peace, rather than getting indigestion and having to rush back to work. 😀

France now Magny Cours: For regular readers you’ll know my thoughts on Bernie and the race calendar – suffice to say the language from Seb and Kimi on the podium has nothing on what I’d like to write. However, having a torrent of foul language will not help matters. Seriously – it’s a bloody joke – we go racing in about 100 days and we don’t know where we’re going???

I still think we could end up in Istanbul and the reason I believe this is because France is a potential long term partner for F1 and just to get a replacement for New Jersey on the calendar for 2013 may mean giving a discount on the race fee. This sets a precedent if it is with France and Ecclestone is unlikely to want to do this – hence Istanbul for a one year stop-gap measure fits the bill well.

Anyway, Ecclestone is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport today: “If we go to France (next year), it will be Magny Cours.” We all saw Alain Prost at the weekend in Abu Dhabi – he was talking about Paul Ricard as a possibility for a 2013 French GP and with 3 French drivers now on the grid, Ecclestone is short a race for 2013 following the withdrawal of New Jersey – can I just say on this I am led to believe this is definitely postponed – whatever Bernie says.

Paul Ricard has been considered the favourite to fill the gap in the schedule, partly due to the Le Castellet venue’s links to Ecclestone. Irked by the constant references to Paul Ricard belonging to him, Ecclestone insists Paul Ricard is not owned by him but is merely part of his family trust called Bambino, which is “nothing to do with me”. Well Bernie would say that, because if the UK authorities believe otherwise, he’ll get a bill of around $1.5bn.
“If we go to France, it will be Magny Cours,” he added and the date would be 23 June, the week before Silverstone. “That would make sense, wouldn’t it?” said Ecclestone.

Fernandes to step down: Following the successful announcements in Paris of the new Caterham/Renault joint venture, according to information from ‘Motor-Total.com’ Tony Fernandes will leave his post as team principal of Caterham racing team in Formula 1. They suggest the  Malaysian businessman had announced in the months prior to entry into the elite class that he would be only an interim team manager was, but then obviously pleased with the job and stayed longer than planned.

In fairness, Fernandes has recently been in the paddock less and less but there are conflicting opinions on who would take his place as head of the F1 team. Cyril Abiteboul and Jean-Francois Caubet have been touted but the latter is reported as retiring today in Autosport.

Wolff damns Senna with faint praise: The influential shareholder and executive director Toto Wolff indicated the team want to keep Maldonado but Senna’s future is less certain. “Bruno is very intelligent and very sensitive and that means he is putting a lot of pressure on himself. Whether it is the name or not, I don’t know,” Wolff declared.

“Every racing driver in F1 is very competitive and Bruno is trying to fight the fact that he hasn’t had a huge racing education, as the [Senna] family didn’t want him to go racing. But he has made his way into F1, which means that he is good. “He has an extremely fast team mate and he needs to follow his path. He is pushing very hard and we are trying to support him as best we can.”

Yet the Austrian, increasingly cast as the eventual successor to team principal and founder Frank Williams, told the official Formula One website (www.formula1.com) ahead of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix that a decision on drivers for 2013 was still some way off.

Whitmarsh Q&A: Excellent job by Phil Duncan – some of the questions are very well worded, forcing a definitive opinion. If only all journalism was like this. I’m just going to comment on some of the things the McLaren boss said and you can read the original piece here.

It appears that thejudge13 speculation over McLAren and Cosworth has been put down. Whitmarsh says Mercedes engines will be on the McLaren car for a number of years. I suppose that could still be 2 more, though there is a person who works for McLaren and comments on here from time to time – he claims there is an engine contract untill 2015 (the end of)

I like Martin’s honesty when asked about Perez. Too many F1 bosses would be saying of a new young signing that they would definitely be a WDC and Martin doesn’t. The key Whitmarsh believes is how he handles the pressure of driving for a top team. He makes the point well, that before Red Bull won a title, only 2 teams were expected to turn up week in and week out and make the front 2 rows of the grid – McLaren and Ferrari.

Martin accepts without question, Hamilton should have won more titles with McLaren, though he defends the team’s record since inception in 1966. “No team has won more races” and they have won around 25% of them in that time. He refuses to apportion blame other than equally between the driver and the team. Lewis on the contrary is quoted today saying that reliability has cost him the title this year.

It seems as though Martin is suggesting if Lewis have approached the season with the same attitude as Alonso, he may be closer to his second WDC. “Part of our disappointment has got to be because in many of the races we have had the quickest car throughout this season and arguably Ferrari have never had the quickest car. Fernando is a phenomenal competitor and he is very, very good at wrestling whatever points are potentially available on the table on any given day and bringing them home. He is a phenomenal competitor.”

Finally, Whitmarsh is fairly scathing about the layout of the Abu Dhabi circuit and is baffled why all the new circuits have struggled to deliver overtaking opportunities – without DRS/KERS. He explains, “If you go back to the days before DRS, so when we weren’t effectively creating artificial overtaking or before the Pirelli tyres and KERS, then 90 per cent of the overtakes happened on six corners in the world.

“Without too much genius if you design a circuit you study where they were. Brazil always produces a great race. Spa always produces a great race. And you say “well what it is?” The overtaking is a  sequence. It is a corner which allows you get close followed by a straight which allows you to slipstream and a corner which affords you an opportunity to overtake. It is a sequence, so you can’t just look at where the overtake happened – it’s being geared up from at least one corner and a straight before. So learn from that. If you don’t want to get any more scientific, just go and measure it, and replicate it when you are building a new circuit.”

So people, what do we think are the great corners in F1 that do not require assisted overtaking. I’ll start with the one’s I think Martin is alluding to.

1. Senna S, Interlagos, Brazil
The steep climb out of the Junção corner, and the long left-handed sweep onto the pit straight allows drivers to run close to each other without being affected by turbulent air too much. The circuit is quite wide on the entry into the corner, and offers equal grip across the circuit. A long braking zone also allows driver to brake later into the corner and pull off some excellent moves. Famous moves at this corner over the years include Jenson Button on Kamui Kobayashi in 2009, Lewis Hamilton on Giancarlo Fisichella on a damp track while on slicks in 2008, and David Coulthard passing Michael Schumacher for the win back in 2001.

2. Les Combes, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
On the original circuit, Les Combes was a very challenging, fast right-hander that separated the men from the boys. Now it is a right-left-right sequence that gives drivers a great chance of overtaking. The preceding corners of Eau Rouge and Radillion allow drivers to get close enough to get a tow of the car ahead while not being affected by turbulent air, and with a 1.8km run-up from La Source the drivers can reach up to 200mph by the braking area. As the circuit is used all year round, it offers good grip right across the circuit, and as we seen back in 2000 when Mika Haikkinen famously passed Michael Schumacher, with Ricardo Zonta between them, to clinch a magnificent win.

3. Bus Stop chicane, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Not properly with us anymore I’m afraid. Traditionally the Bus Stop was the most popular overtaking spot on the circuit, due to the 200mph approach off the Blanchimount  corner, but since it’s redesign it has been eclipsed by Les Combes. Although statistically it is still one of the most popular overtaking corners on the calendar, and was the scene of F1’s most famous ‘overtake’ moves in recent years back in 2008, when Lewis Hamilton attempted to overtake Kimi Raikkonen on the outside, failed and took to the tarmac run-off. Hamilton passed Raikkonen at the next corner, but was deemed to have gained an advantage by running wide at the Bus Stop and was penalised.

Over to you peeps. If you cite a corner try to give us a great move around that corner and we’ll have a poll in the future on who thinks which overtakes were the greatest and by definition the best overtaking corner.

(This page will be updated today as more news develops – check back later)

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7 responses to “Quinghua in? Fernandes to step down? Austin Sherrifs unconcerned, Marko slates Webber, FIA needs $40m more, France GP – AGAIN!!! Turkey more likely in 2013, Wolff speaks about Senna,

  1. Who is going to replace Fernandes is the interesting question – he will not name him yet, but says he (maybe she) is someone within F1. Worryingly, people are suggesting it could be Flavio Briatore.

  2. You said that Hamilton passed Fisichella on slicks in 2008 at the S do Senna, but it was actually the last race with grooved tyres. Slicks reappeared at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix.
    Turn 4 at Bahrain is a good overtaking corner. The one overtake that comes to mind is Heidfeld’s pass on Alonso in 2007, but we saw some good passes there this year as well, despite drivers knowing that they had a sureshot passing chance at the main straight using DRS.
    Variante della Roggia at Monza, or to give its popular name “The second chicane” has also become a pretty strong overtaking opportunity in recent times. Whether up the inside or outside, whether Vettel-on-Alonso in 2011 or Alonso-on-Vettel in 2012, this is a really good overtaking turn, aided by the layout of the Curva Grande.
    Among others are the hairpin at Hockenheim, Turn 4 at Malaysia and the hairpin at China. What do you think?

    • Thanks for the correction re: slicks/grooved tyres. I knew it was the dry tyre just forgot it was grooved

      Thanks for your thoughtful consideration on the overtaking zones and I like your thinking on them.

      For Monza though, I would go with the Rettifilio chicane, 1st one. It was introduced in 1971 and the drivers approach the corner at over 200mph before braking for over 100 metres to get the car down to around 50mph for the turn in. This heavy and long braking zone allows drivers to pull off some great overtaking moves – Hamilton passing Raikkonen in 2007 and Michael Schumacher passing Jenson Button in 2004 being prime examples of this.

      Good shout on Heckenheim, not so sure Bahrain without assistance from KERS DRS would ever see a pass 🙂

      I like Turn 1 at Sepang and it appears the most popular spot for overtaking at the circuit over the years. The long, frustrating final turn allows the drivers to get a good tow out of the corner as they approach 190mph, and the wide corner entry allows drivers to go side by side into, and even through, the corner.

      I agree absolutely with China, I think its turn 14 you are referring to with a wide entry and long braking zone allowing cars to outbrake each other. The wide exit means drivers can cut back to try to re-take the position back. A long braking zone also means that drivers can perform a last minute braking move and surprise their opponent. It can also be the scene of multiple overtakes at once – the final lap in 2006 being a prime example.

  3. It looks like it doesn’t bother Red Bull Racing that Dutchman Robin Frijns snubbed the team in his conversation with the Telegraph. Anyway, he’s Sauber’s reserve driver now. As far as Ma Qing Hua becoming one of HRT’s racing drivers, it’s not going to happen. I feel sorry for the young man as he was supposed to be China’s first ever F1 racing driver. To this day, the HRT F1 team has not yet officially confirmed its withdrawal from F1. The 2013 FIA entry list doesn’t include the Spanish team…

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