Heikki 2013 chances slim, Perez burns his bridges, Mercedes abandon Coanda, Luca relinquishes political ambition

Editor’s note: Thank you for the many kind words about my rehab. I am on less hallucinogenic tablets now and am raring to go for the seasons finale.

In line with recent habit of identifying far flung thejudge13 readers, I want to say Hello to those of you from Malaysia. Say hello in the comments – we’re glad of your support.

 Heikki on 2013: thejudge13 reported yesterday that Heikki may be struggling for a drive in 2013. Having had a chat with someone who knows more than me, I revealed the analysis of Kovaleinen’s performance against his team-mate which was not great – and this in part is what teams do look at.

Today in Brazil, Heikki gives a frank interview on the matter. He begins,  “I’m not too stressed about it. It is what it is. If it’s the last race it’s a shame, but the situation is quite tricky for me and there is not much more than I can do. If that’s what it’s going to be that’s what it’s going to be. I’m just fully focused on this weekend and on trying to achieve the best result for the team”.

“Who knows what’s going to happen, but from my experience it’s never good when it’s this late in the season and things have not been decided. But that’s how it is. I know I’m on the list. I still have a very good relationship with Tony [Fernandes] and the team and it could well be that I stay here, but just from my experience I know how things are in Formula 1 and when it gets late it’s never a good sign.”

“It won’t be the end, whatever happens. I have a life. I’m not going to go and kill myself,” he said. “Of course we are looking at the options, outside F1 as well, but also in F1. But even the other options require some money, and I don’t want to go that route. I told my manager not to actively find money. I don’t think it leads to anything”.

“If you have a big backer like Santander that went with you to a team it’s a different thing. But to collect the money for one season doesn’t do anything. It’s not what it’s all about. I just don’t think there is a structure for it. I think there needs to be a clear plan to go and find money to race in the middle of the grid. It doesn’t appeal to me”.

“I’ve reached a good level. I very rarely have bad races anymore. Most of time I get the best out of the car. I have a lot to offer but the situation in Formula 1 as it is might not fit me. It might not have room for me”.

“There is nothing I can do about it. I can’t get any better results to show other teams, and if the results here are not enough to go forward or to stay here then so be it.”

Of course there is truth in what Heikki says in that he can only be as good as the car will let him be, but he has another problem – that of Marussia. Due to the way the teams who score no points are ranked – Marussia are currently in 10th place having had a best finish of 12th compared to Caterham’s 13th.

Were each of the places outside the points to have a proper weighting system, then Caterham would easily be ahead of Marussia due to far greater consistency. Yet if Caterham with a KERS system fall for the first year behind Marussia who are without KERS, then scapegoats will be required. As lead driver with the expectations placed upon him – Heikki may well be that sacrificial animal.

Wasn’t a bad time for Mike Gascoyne to step aside early in the year I guess, because when I spoke with him in Jerez he was very  bullish about Caterham’s chances of scoring their first points this year.

Ron Dennis: For those of you thejudge13 readers who have been discussing the Austin Ron Dennis interview this week in the comments section, we have confirmation of our suspicions.

There was a farewell party thrown by McLaren for Lewis at the Hilton in Texas last Sunday evening. The only noteable exception was Dennis, who was ‘guest of honour’ at a simultaneous cocktail party being hosted by Exxon Mobil. Further, Ron has worn the McLaren red winning shirt in the past when attending race weekends, in Monza and Austin when lewis’ has won, he did not.

As thejudge13 suggested around the time of Lewis announcing his move to Mercedes (see archive) Dennis threw spanners in the works with public statement s he made at that time. He is not scheduled to travel to Sao Paulo and it has been made clear that Lewis father (working behind the scenes) increasingly found Dennis’s controlling manner suffocating.

Hamilton’s new management team, XIX, also found Dennis unhelpful in their contract negotiations. Dennis, in turn, was infuriated by the 2008 world champion courting controversy with his erratic  behaviour, such as posting team telemetry on Twitter in August.

It is reported today a ‘senior McLaren has spoken on the matter of the relationship breakdown between Lewis and Dennis saying, ‘I do know what has  happened. Everyone makes mistakes and Ron made a mistake. Everything went pear-shaped and I don’t think it would be fair to say any more than that.’

I know many of the team still think affectionately of Lewis, and view him as the kid who joined the team. This means they cut him a lot more slack than maybe we outsiders and Ron have done. Yet Ron Dennis is a proud man who has built a team to rival the great Ferrari and he believes no one is bigger than the team.

I still can’t help feeling that McLaren have bitten off their nose to spite their face. Lewis is clearly a class driver, who at times can be petulant and childish – but so can Vettel – its part of this child protoge thing that has not occured in F1 previously.

2013 may prove to be a tough year, unless they can build a car that suits Jenson’s sensabilities becasue for sure Perez may become a great driver, but I think not in 2013. And for Lewis, unless Mercedes have a secret new car under wraps, it could be a long hard year for him too.

Sergio burns his bridges: A golden rule in business, sport and life is when moving on to pastures new, you should leave in favour and good grace. Wittingly or not Perez has blown Sauber’s big announcement of the weekend.

When asked by Spanish journalists how strong he felt Sauber would be next year, Sergio replied “The car will be strong because the rules don’t change much, and the team have a good experienced driver in Nico and he will have a strong team-mate in Esteban”.

The journalists then pressed Perez on when Gutierrez would be confirmed as Nico’s team-mate, Sergio laughed nervously saying, “we are waiting for the announcement”.”

This of course may have been a mistake, or could even be Perez speculating. Regardless it again shows a naivety that will need to be dealt with pretty quickly when he hits the media spotlight that will shine brightly on him at McLaren.

Perez admitted lying to the press following signing for McLaren. He was questioned directly in Singapore about why he stated 2 weeks earlier he was not speaking with any top team. The young Mexican’s response was words to the effect that at times it was better to lie than tell the truth – as it made life easier.

It appears Martin Whitmarsh is right. Sergio doesn’t know what’s going to hit him in 2013 as McLaren’s new young hope.

 

Drivers Press Conference: A Schumacher love in – and rightly so. Lewis again emphasises how he may be at Mercedes but will still come back regularly for lunches in the McLaren hospitality – to stay in touch with everyone.

Bruno Senna does appear quite confident, unlike Kamui who has looked downbeat regularly. I guess with $10-12m behind him he should appear somewhere in F1 2013.

Drivers with Money: Joe Seward today reckons that “Jules Bianchi and his supporters can raise around $4 million but Bruno Senna is probably able to raise $10-12 million”. There seems to be a swell of opinion that Bottas will get the Senna seat at Williams, but I can’t see why they would take such a chance when Senna delivers this kind of money and has not had a particularly bad season – but it is the paddocks overwhelming view.

If we disregard Maldonado’s win in Spain (which of course was monumental) then Senna has been more consistent in the races even though Maldonado has blistering qualifying skills.

Sutil to Force India also seems surprising to me. given his criminal record in Germany. There are countries that he may have a problem entering. Canada, the US and China are pretty strict on criminal convictions – even though he has a Chinese sponsor Lenovo.

So what will be of the final empty seats? If Williams release Senna then I could see Force India or Caterham offering the nephew of Ayrton a seat. Marussia may be under pressure to have a Russian driver particularly for 2014, other than that Chilton could get a 1 year contract as he has undisclosed cash to bring to the team.

It appears Charles Pic may be out in the cold. So my money (today) is on Bottas to Williams, Senna to Force India, Petrov/Chilton to Marussia and Bianchi along with Giedo van der Garde to Caterham. Much as I would like to see Alguesuari back in F1, I think his consistent publicity ‘nearly’ announcements are a front to impress teams he is negotiating with.

Mercedes abandon Coanda: The team have not managed to make this exhaust system work properly this year due to the DDRS system that shifts the balance of the car when open. So I guess with the loss of power being around 8% due to racing at altitude, the team believes it is better not losing further power from an ineffective exhaust system that reduces engine power still further.

Luca puts on hold political ambitions: Today il Padrino of Ferrari has decided to support Mario Monti for a full term as Italian Prime Minister. For us F1 fans this is fantastic news because the traditions of Ferrari will be maintained for at least another 5 years.

Traditions that include briefing against your own via La Stampa, sacking each year at least one senior member of the Ferrari F1 team for failing to bring world domination to the prancing horse, hiring a world-class driver to win the WDC and then getting rid of them because they become too important to the team – Schumacher, Raikkonen and at some time Alonso?

Anyway, we will continue to have for the foreseeable future the wonderful, passionate, irrational and self-indulgent pronouncements from Montezemolo that provide us with the intrigue and debate on a weekly basis we have come to love and expect.

There are many people who do not understand Ferrari’s historic view of itself and until they realise Ferrari would rather bask in the glory of being Ferrari than win – comment on their irrational behaviour is moot.

McLaren look back on 2008: As Lewis leaves the team, McLaren have put together this 2 minute reflection on the race in 2008. Even they can’t get Bernie to release footage under copyright it seems.

And here is some proper footage. Looks as though FOM have been hunting it down on youtube though – can’t find the final lap with English commentary – so we have this.

Alonso admits muzzling: Alonso has recently claimed to have a passion for twitter. However he revealed today there were many things he would love to tweet during a race weekend but said, “there is a press department that constantly keeps an eye on me”.

He mischievously added he would love to tweet pictures from the cockpit of his car if he could. Now that I’d love to see – flat out through au rouge, one hand on the wheel and his iphone in the other.

All the F1 champions: Watch this great montage of the F1 champions before FOM take it down.

On this day pre-F1, Nov 23rd 1919
Andre Boillot in a 2.5 litre Peugeot won the first major post-war race in Europe, the Targa Florio, over a gruelling, snow-hit and foggy 268-mile road course in Scicily. His finish was one of the most unusual in racing history. As he braked for the final corner he lost control and spun into the grandstand less than 30 yards from the line.

Spectators helped push his car from the wreckage and, dazed and bloodied, he manoeuvred his damaged vehicle over the line in reverse. Aware he faced disqualification, Ernest Ballot, the owner of the car in second place, sportingly persuaded Boillot to drive back to the point of the accident and re-cross the line going forward. He did so, securing an undisputed win.

Exhausted, he immediately collapsed. The race also featured a young Enzo Ferrari, driving a Lancia, and was notable for Antonio Ascari driving straight off the road into a ravine.

Ascari’s car in a ravine

(This page will update throughout the day – as stories arise)

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18 responses to “Heikki 2013 chances slim, Perez burns his bridges, Mercedes abandon Coanda, Luca relinquishes political ambition

  1. Ok, I’m mexican and I’m currently in Mexico. Here it’s considered a fact that Gutierrez will drive for Sauber next year. Newspapers and TV news take it for granted. Last week Televisa, the biggest TV network in Mexico announced that the contract would be signed the Thursday before the US GP.
    A couple of weeks ago Carlos Slim Domit, son of Telmex owner and head of their drivers development program said to the press that they have an agreement with Sauber for next year and that that agreement includes a Mexican driver. Past weekend Slim Domit confirmed that next year Mexico will have two mexican drivers in Formula 1 and that the date of the announcement is Sauber’s decision.
    Even more, Fox Sports Latinoamerica, the network that broadcast Formula 1 in all spanish speaking countries in America has been talking about Gutierrez and Sauber “closing the deal” since the Japanese GP. I just watched their transmission of the US GP weekend and they already announced (past Saturday) that Gutierrez will drive for Sauber next year (interestingly no commentor said it directly, but is was in the news bar during their one hour review of practice sessions and qualifying). Perez has been more or less openly speaking of Gutierrez as Sauber’s driver in 2013 with Mexican media and Fox Sports Latinoamerica for some time now. I guess he is too used to it that when asked today by a spanish speaking media he just did what he has been doing lately, openly talk about it.
    If that’s the case (that Gutierrez is already signed by Sauber) I don’t understand why they want to keep it secret. If the opposite is true (that Gutierrez isn’t signed for next year) then I understand even less what is going on.

    • Thanks for that Juan – we obviously don’t get the same coverage as you in Mexico – that is really helpful.

      By the way, I really hope Perez does well at McLaren – but I call it as I see it – and he will have a lot to learn

    • They probably wanted to keep it secret so as not to demotivate Kobayashi in his last few races for Sauber.

  2. Greeting from Malaysia. I’m surprised that u mention Malaysia at last. Been coming here for news and gossip almost everyday on F1 since ur second posting. Love the insight and inside story. Keep up the good work. I know that I’m hooked. Get well soon.

      • Been going there since 2000. Its a great atmosphere over there. The humidity and the unpredictable weather make it one of the best races around like it was this year. Who on earth can predict Perez will have a go at Alonso for first place. And remember the year when the race was stopped after torrential rain and Jenson win, 2009 I think. Have u been to Malaysian GP before? If you’re coming over, do let me know, I would really like to meet up and have a chat.

        • Thanks for the offer – I love the Malaysain GP never predictable.

          I’m looking to do 2 flyaway weekends next year, each with back to back races – So I’m waiting for the final calendar.

          Options at the moment are from Aus/Mal – Jap/Korea – USA/Braz and Ind/Abu D.

          Will let you know if coming though – always great to meet hardcore fans.

  3. Pic confirmed at Catheram ( multi year contract ) he brings in Total, Renault And EADS
    Guttierez confirmed at Sauber
    Sad for Heiki and Kamui

    • It is, but maybe a bit less golf and some sponsor brown nosing could have saved Heikki o afraid its not what we want but is the way of F1 at the mo

    • Did you hear Martin Whitmarsh comment tonight? When told Lewis said he felt like he was a student going on leave from his home McLaren, Whitmarsh said, “Lets hope its a gap year”

      • I just looked for the comment on internet. Is Whitmarsh playing mind games with Hamilton and Perez? The one he seems to favour is Button. What’s your opinion?

        • I think Martin wanted Lewis to stay – Ron Dennis got authoritative about matters. He said publicly that “in the contract, Lewis works for me” and that set the tone for XIX to tell Lewis he wasn’t loved anymore.

  4. Hey there, just became alerted to your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

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