Montezemolo: Ecclestone is finished this time, Ferrari change working arrangements, Another radical Ferrari for 2013? Greece serious about a GP, LdM Hamilton too old for Ferrari, Suzi Perry gets BBC F1 anchor role

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 Ferrari and split project teams: A couple of stories knocking about from Maranello. Firstly Stefano appears to have kept his job. He behaved pretty strangely following the chequered flag in Brazil. As far as I’m aware, he gave no English interviews and people there since told me there was a marked departure from the usual bon homme and easy access he gives the paddock media.

Onto a dreaded topic that will surely go down in Ferrari F1 folk-lore – the wind tunnel et al. Stefano informs us that “for a few months now, we have been working on a programme of reorganization along with the introduction of new methodologies, especially concerning the wind tunnel. As you know, we are rebuilding the Maranello facility which will be closed until August. Until then, we will use the Toyota wind tunnel in Cologne”.

He continues, “We have also adopted a better method of splitting up the work between those who run the wind tunnel and those who should concentrate more on the creative side of the job. This year, we saw that when we do too many things at the same time, maybe we are not efficient enough. As regards the design, we have decided, particularly in light of the unusual demands we will face in 2013, when we will have a completely new project to work on for the future, to have two coordinators…”

“…Simone Resta, an engineer who has developed his career in Maranello and is very effective, will work on the 2013 car and Fabio Montecchi, will deal with the one for the following year. Nikolas Tombazis continues as Chief Designer. We must also apply in other areas what we have done at the track, for example in production: as was confirmed by some new arrivals from outside the company, in our “time to market,” by which is meant the time from conception to producing the parts and in our long term research.

“We are well aware that we must start off with a more competitive car, as our President has demanded,” continued Domenicali. “Clearly we have only been concentrating all our efforts on the new one from a few weeks before the final race, given we pushed right to the end on this year’s. The 2013 car will be launched at the very end of January or the early days of February: as usual, the first one will be just a launch version, while the complete one will be seen in the final days of testing or in Australia, so as to make the most of all the time available.

Ferrari design for 2013: Interestingly Il Padrino has called for a more “aggressive” approach for the 2013 car. “We will need to try to push the technical regulations to the very limit,” the godfather demands, “while maintaining our strong points from this year, or improving them still further, because the others will not be twiddling their thumbs, but not by almost brushing against illegality, as happened in 2009 with the double diffuser. However we need to adopt a different, more creative approach.”

Ferrari fans – you should be concerned. The 2012 car was supposed to be radical as was the Mercedes. The problem with radical is if you get it wrong, it goes spectacularly wrong. Whereas the Mercedes was initially quick and had a clear advantage with their unique DDRS concept. Of course the German team failed to develop the car properly and fell back.

Both Ferrari and Mercedes were radical designs in a retro kind of manner. Mercedes tried to create a mechanical version of the dominate ‘active ride’ suspension Williams had in the early 90’s. Ferrari revisited a front suspension design known as the ‘pull rod’ system. The push rod system has been dominant for the last 11 years and the last team to utilise this suspension system was Minardi in 2001. Alonso drove that Minardi car.

This first drawing compares the traditional push-rod suspension (left) with Ferrari’s pull-rod layout (right). With the pull-rod layout the springs and dampers are positioned lower in the chassis, which reduces the front suspension’s centre of gravity. Also, in the case of the F2012 the pull-rod link (right-hand black arrow) is angled almost horizontally, which may help aerodynamically. But there are drawbacks to this arrangement.

Even though in theory the pull-rod link can be thinner than a push rod, its extreme angle here neutralises any potential weight gain. Furthermore, because the pull rod is mounted to the top wishbone, greater loads are applied to the wishbone, which hence has to be stronger – and heavier – than it would have been.

picture courtesy of

So aggressive meant Ferrari started slowly in 2012 – which may have cost them the WDC title. To be fair most teams would be phased by that and shift to a slightly more conservative approach so I can’t wait for first testing in Jerez – days 2/3 – it will be fascinating.

Luca/Ecclestone Feud: I commented at the time when LdM suggested Ecclestone was too old and his faculties were affecting his ability to do the job – that this was something new. I posted in ‘on this day in F1’ an account of a Luca/Ecclestone public fight from a few years ago – but this time its different.

At the Ferrari Christmas celebration, Il Padrino said to the red family “We are very close to opening a new page in the future of F1, acknowledging the good work that Bernie has done but moving on,” adding the sport needs “a more modern view.”

Luca attempts to sugar the pill suggesting this is nothing new,  “I always say to Bernie the one-man show in life is finished. We are slowly approaching the end of a period characterised by the style of one man who has done significant things. It’s a bit of a similar case to what will happen to me: within the decade I will face this question, but when I am 75 not 82”. Another jibe suggesting Ecclestone is not just ready to finish, but way past when he should have gone.

Montezemolo then turns to the imminent charges Ecclestone is facing over bribery and corruption in Munich, “First of all, I hope for Bernie and F1 that nothing will happen. If Bernie is accused under process [formally charged with an offence] I think he will be the first to step back in the interests of Formula 1. This could be bad for F1.”

This bit I like the best from Il Padrino, “Every so often, Bernie likes to play the boss and gets involved in matters that don’t concern him – godfathers no longer exist, at least not in Formula 1.

Clearly the off the cuff comment from Ecclestone about Ferrari’s letter to the FIA over flag gate being ‘a joke’ has cut deep as Luca again addresses this. “Interpretation of flags, be they yellow or blue, is nothing to do with him and he used expressions that I do not accept. Our behaviour in this instance was not only transparent, but perfect, and maybe he would do better to think about attracting bigger crowds and more youngsters, and to discuss more with the television stations and the media.”

I have said it before this year a number of times over Ecclestone/Mercedes, Ecclestone and the 2 legal cases pending, Ecclestone and Montezemolo, CVC appointing headhunters for a CEO for FOM  – a tipping point has arrived and for better or worse Bernie will be with us not much longer.

Ferrari’s next drivers: It appears to be Ferrari dominating the news today. Luca di Montezemolo admitted he see’s reigning Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel is next in line for Ferrari’s ‘number 1’ race seat. “If, tomorrow, Fernando would withdraw for any reason, let’s say he moves to Hawaii with his girlfriend, then I would want Vettel,” laughed mischievous presidente from Maranello (Auto Motor und Sport).

Alonso is of course tied in to 2015 (maybe 2016) and Luca is quick to assert, however, “I’m incredibly happy with him. He is more than just a driver”. He then compares Alonso to past influential Ferrari drivers Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher, saying Alonso is “a bit of both”.

But LdM also doesn’t spare his praise of German Vettel, who while contracted to Red Bull has been the subject of long speculation his future could be in the red car. “He’s young, he has his feet on the floor, and he has an indomitable will to win. Schumacher made me aware of him years ago because he knew him from his karting years. I must say, Michael was right.”

Montezemolo admitted Vettel, 25, is higher on Ferrari’s wish list than is Lewis Hamilton. “Because he is younger, and because Ferrari would be Hamilton’s third team. And if you’ve reached your third team, your career is already in its second half.”

Indeed, Montezemolo said he doesn’t even mind that Vettel accused Ferrari of playing “dirty tricks” in a bid to beat him to the 2012 title. “In the heat of battle,” said the Italian, “you can always say something emotional.” Luca  rules out pairing Alonso with Vettel, saying that sort of star studded line-up would be “difficult”.

For now, that keeps Felipe Massa in a job, even though Montezemolo hinted he is keeping his eye on the next generation of potential Ferrari drivers. He suggested he will be watching Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean very closely.

“Next year, we have two and a half new driving pairings: Perez at McLaren, Hamilton at Mercedes, and the half is the ‘new’ Massa with us. “I am very curious to see how Hulkenberg goes with our engine at Sauber, and also the young man who on the first laps this year was sometimes a little too fast,” Montezemolo smiled, undoubtedly referring to Frenchman Grosjean.

Bernie’s Christmas card: Depicts Hamilton and Lauda robbing Mercedes. Every year Ecclestone commissions an original cartoon for his annual card, depicting a contemporary Formula 1 issue with a mischievous tilt. For 2012 the card shows Lewis Hamilton abandoning his broken down McLaren and leaping into a Mercedes saloon.

The silver road car is being driven by the red capped Niki Lauda, and in the passenger seat is a big golden bag of cash for Briton Hamilton. They are bound for Stuttgart, which according to the roadside sign is “Not far”.

Greek GP: I have been contacted directly by who are clearly pretty serious about bringing F1 to Greece. I personally haven’t been particularly critical of this in fact I would love to see a race in Greece for 2 reasons. I have spent a lot of enjoyable time in Greece and 2) the more European races there are – the better as far as I’m concerned. Here’s a video they sent me.

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Nico Rosberg: Has this Christmas offering for you.

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Lotus and Twitter: I know many of you don’t use twitter (yet) and I’ll come back to that another time, but I have found this year fascinating the ways the teams have utilised this medium. Lotus for me are by far and away the best. They exude fun, not taking themselves too seriously and are constantly engaging and innovative in the things they post.

This is a perfect example of them making the most of Kimi’s image. Text exchange between Kimi and the latest Mrs. R.

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Ferrari Xmas survies the end of the world: The time for the end of the world has come and gone and we’re all still here. So Ferrari have obviously waited and now they know Christmas is happening – we have their Christmas video. Ferrari’s PR department are working hard today.

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BBC F1 Anchor: The BBC have announced Suzi Perry, 42 who previously presented the BBC’s MotoGP coverage for 10 years, will be the replacement for Jake Humphrey. “She’ll bring real energy and years of experience to one of the biggest jobs in sports broadcasting,” said BBC Head of F1 Ben Gallop.

“Her presenting ability, coupled with her love and knowledge of motorsport, make her an excellent addition.” The BBC also confirmed that the British, Belgian, Italian and Brazilian Grands Prix are among 10 races that will be shown live on terrestrial television. There will be extended highlights of the remaining 10, with all 20 races live on BBC Radio 5 live or 5 live sports extra.

So the BBC are banking on the vacant 21st July slot becoming resolved to fulfil their allocation of 10 live races. Mmm. Interesting. Will mull this over for a while.

Buy an F1 car: Buy Ayrton Senna’s fully running Toleman TG184-2 1984 F1 car. Problem is when I add it to the basket it won’t check out. (LINK)

Williams Xmas dinner #2: This must be the one for the management – guess why?

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On this day in F1, Dec 20th

The film Grand Prix was launched in the USA – although it was criticised for its lack of plot, fans loved the real race scenes mixed in with staged action. The lead character – Pete Aron – was played by James Garner and numerous F1 drivers made cameo appearances. These included Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham. The film was finally released on DVD in 2006. During filming at Brands Hatch in July 1966, Garner had to be pulled free from a blazing car after a stunt got out of hand. He suffered minor burns. “I must remember not to wear nylon socks next time,” he quipped. “They melt in the heat.”

The much awaited Rush is being lauded by some as the best effort since ‘Grand Prix’ was attempted. Anyway here are some interesting clips from and about the movie. Also look at the banking in Monza, trust me it is amazing. I stood at the top of the banked track this year and it is so steep I had to shuffle 1.3rd of the way down on my backside before I could stand up. I’m no shrinking violet – have jumped off a mountain with a parachute on my back.

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24 responses to “Montezemolo: Ecclestone is finished this time, Ferrari change working arrangements, Another radical Ferrari for 2013? Greece serious about a GP, LdM Hamilton too old for Ferrari, Suzi Perry gets BBC F1 anchor role

  1. Is it just me or is LdM doing a heck of a lot trash talking lately? I nearly fell over laughing about his Vettel comments. Mind you, that’s the same Vettel he rubbished just a few weeks ago as “only good because of his car”.

    I wonder if it is really only Bernie, whom senility has taken to the night. 😀

    • He’s playing games – he was responding to Marko’s – ‘Vettel will never go to Ferrari now’ after the insult of questioning his title.

      Even the Hamilton too old stuff is hilarious

      I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised – Look at the mind games Alex Fergusson plays with other managers, referees, the FA, the media – good fun though D)

  2. Any idea on how good Simone Resta and Fabio Montecchi are? I thought it was a bit strange to refer to Simone Resta as very effective. Doesn’t sound very complimentary. Maybe just because english is a second language to Ferrari and I am reading too much into it. 🙂

  3. Again excellent article and expert comment The Judge 13,
    LdM is excellent when it comes to the old political tricks and games

      • I’m not a Suzi fan. I wasn’t impressed with her when she did MotoGP, so not looking forward to next year.

      • I don’t mind her – I think she’ll do ok. Was never particularly a fan of Humphrey myself so I won’t be measuring her against that yardstick

      • The worst TV coverage I ever saw was Fuji TV, about 3 years ago when I was over in Japan. At the time I knew very little Japanese, and they concentrated on Nakajima for the whole race. God knows what they’ll do next year…

  4. The Kimi jokes are starting to get a bit tiring now. The best one I saw was the Apple Maps advert and that worked because it used footage of his incident at Interlagos when he had that slight detour 🙂

    • I refer you to the old journo cop-out – “I just report it” 😉
      So you haven’t acquired a “leave me alone….” beanie hat for 20 euro’s then?

      • I suppose I should just get used to it – those phrases are embedded in F1 folklore now so I’ll be hearing them for many years to come!

  5. Re : Williams Xmas dinner – You don’t hire Michael Caines to produce the “slop” that you showed earlier in the week. Do you ?

  6. re: Ferrari Foolish Facts – “And if you’ve reached your third team, your career is already in its second half”…

    Isn’t Ferrari Alonzo’s 4th or 5th team…? 🙂

  7. A note to the BBC….

    ‘Dear Auntie, the only crumpet we need on the F1 coverage is the grid girls. Please choose someone who can ask sensible questions of those who understand the sport rather than trying to follow the lead Sky are setting as they are leading you down a blind alley…’

    • Personally – I don’t think there is any “crumpet” as you call it on Sky, and I wouldn’t call Suzi that either.

      If you want someone IMO who is lovely looking, and talented as a presenter, and knows what shes talking about, the BBC should have hired Justine Monnier.

      She’s been doing the Eurosport Le Mans coverage for the last couple of years. She speaks fluent English, and is very well known in France as a racing driver & TV presenter. She’s also Yvan Mullers girlfriend, so has been around the world with him at WTCC races.


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