Heikki surprised at Gascoyne’s comments, Toro Rosso appoint a new Sporting Director, Sauber playing it cool on their 2014 engine supplier

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Heikki surprised at Gascoyne’s criticism: It appears fans of the likeable Finnish driver can still have some hope that he will drive for Caterham in 2013.

Speaking to Finnish media source MTV3 Heikki said he was surprised at Mike Gascoyne’s comments suggesting he should have had ‘more respect’ for the team’ and confirms it is for him Caterham or nothing, “I have no current negotiations with anyone else in F1”, and he does not believe the former racing team boss’ comments will affect his negotiations with the team.

Kovalainen speaks respectfully of Gascoyne, “He is a pro of many years” and “I’ve always got along well with Mike, even after what he’s said I have no problem with him”.

He is clear though that all discussions which are still ongoing have not included Gascoyne, “I’ve been speaking only with Tony Fernandes and Cyril Abiteboul”.

With less than 3 weeks until we hear for the last time the revs of the V8 F1 engines to mark the beginning of the F1 season, technically we are still waiting for 1 driver confirmation from Caterham and 2 from Force India.

Lotus: tweeted this picture today, calling it a ‘sneak peek’ of the E21

Sauber playing it cool : TJ13 reported yesterday that Dominicali has pretty much admitted that Ferrari are trying to get their young driver Jules Bianchi into a Force India seat for 2013. Ferrari provide engines at present to Sauber and Toro Rosso, but the second Red Bull team has declared they will be using Renault power trains in 2014.

This has led to speculation that Ferrari are trying to package up a deal on 2014 engines together with the Bianchi with Force India, and this would be one explanation why the vacant position left by Hulkenberg is still up for grabs.

Swiss publication Speed Week claim to have spoken with an unamed Suber spokesperson who says, “We do not have an engine partner for 2014, not least because several aspects with regards to the costs are still unclear.” Monisha Kaltenborn has been quite vocal on the matter of the ‘unknown’ engine costs on a number of occasions toward the end of 2012.

The Sauber mouthpiece continues, “It is a fact that we have worked with Ferrari for more than ten years and so the Scuderia is naturally our first point of contact.” This may be the case, but Sauber has a history of working with Mercedes too and I believe that people overplay the ‘Sauber is to Ferrari as Toro Rosso’ is to Red Bull angle.

Peter Sauber has proven to be a savvy F1 negotiator of deals, and Monisha will be no different. The deals Sauber have done in the past have been primarily for their benefit – not merely out of loyalty to anyone.

Jake Humphrey on 4 years in F1 from Autosport show. “It wasn’t as good a job when the BBC lost all the live races”. He says Ferrari were impossible to get to interview with. “You can’t get the guy’s heartbeat up” – re: David Coulthard.

Steve Nielson to join Toro Rosso: We’ve been looking at some of the faces and backgrounds of those in the F1 transfer market and today Steve Neilson was announced the new ‘Sporting Director’ for Torro Rosso. Steve has come up the hard way, and his journey makes interesting reading.

He trained as a police officer in the UK but became quickly disillusioned with the role and so when reading a friends racing magazine he saw a job for MSL who at the time supported the various Rothman’s sponsored teams and travelled the world as a food caterer at rally, motorcyle and sports car events.

Steve managed to secure a job as a truck driver for Lotus in 1986 and 2 years later he joined the racing team. Being good at logistics he was given the role of spares quartermaster and 2 years later he was offered the same role for Tyrrel with additional responsibility for the team transportation.

His big break came in 1994 when he was made assistant team manager to Rupert Manwaring. Nielson left the team the following year to take up the same role with Benetton but within 2 months Tyrell called him up and offered him the job of team manager.

In 2000 he joined Benetton as Sporting Director and finally had a role for several years, through and beyond the takeover of Renault until he was ‘let go’ in 2011 when Eric Boulier organised a reshuffle of personnel. Lotus (now Caterham) had offered him the role of Sporting Director the previous year but Steve had declined.

He took up the position in November 2011 and it was thought he and newly recruited designer mike Smith would deliver a car and team capable of challenging the F1 midfield. This didn’t happen and Steve was released just before Christmas.

Nielson is a character much liked in the paddock and is set to join the Italian based Toro Rosso as Sporting Director. It is not clear how much of the technical side he will oversee of the vacant role left (as discussed yesterday) by Gorgio Ascanelli.

This is a story of a man who took his chance, was good at what he did and climbed to the pinnacle of his profession with no engineering or racing background. This was often the way someone could carve out a life in F1 for themselves during the late 20th century, but I’m not sure this journey would be possible in 2012.

On this day, Jan 17th

1995 : Lotus announced they were withdrawing from F1 due to a lack of funding. “I am confident that there is a path through all this to long-term security,” said owner David Hunt, brother of former champion James. “Other than Ferrari, the Lotus name is arguably the strongest in grand prix racing. What I want to avoid is allowing the team to be put in a situation where it is going to struggle around at the back of the grid and have its name dragged further through the mud.”

Lotus of course returned in 2010, and Tony Fernandes team pretty much did just that. The a prolonged legal battle between the Malaysian ‘Air Asia’ owner and Proton then dragged the historic marque through the courts in 2011. The Genii owned team branded Lotus in 2012 brought back some respect and fond memories as Kimi Raikkonen was the only driver to complete every lap of the season, finishing 3rd in the driver’s championship.

Lotus had originally competed in F1 from 1958 to 1994 winning  6 WDC’s and 7 WCC’s. Here’s some footage Eurosport as a brief tribute to Lotus. In 1994 Lotus had 7 different driver, anyone come up with a team that used more than 7 drivers in a season.

1954 : In our continued look back at the historic Argentine GP’s that were held in January, today saw Fangio win the opening event of the year in a Masserati. Following the horrific events of 1953, the FIA decided that the cicuit should be driven in the reverse direction as it would be safer. Mike Hawthorn required a push start and was disqualified and rain added to the uncertainty of the race.

Ferrari ordered their drivers to slow down, believing Fangio would be penalised for breaking the rules and been serviced at his pit stop by 4 mechanics, instead of the 3 allowed.

5 responses to “Heikki surprised at Gascoyne’s comments, Toro Rosso appoint a new Sporting Director, Sauber playing it cool on their 2014 engine supplier

  1. Agree with Jake Humphrey’s comments re: Seb Vettel. Not a major Vettel fan at all, but I agree with the comments in the embedded video.

  2. “but Sauber has a history of working with Mercedes too”

    That was twenty years ago and Mercedes dropped them after just two seasons. I’m rather baffled about this Mercedes is going to have the best engine in 2014 talk. First, I doubt the FIA will allow any engine manufacturer to have a significant advantage, the rules will be modified to keep things relatively equal. And secondly, how many drivers or constructors WC’s have Mercedes engined cars won in the last ten years? Just one.

  3. Was going to suggest Jordan in 1993 after the second seat alongside Rubens became a revolving door. However even then they only used 6 drivers in total for the season. Clearly some achievement by Lotus to hire 7….

    • I genuinely don’t know the answer – I guess if you look at F1 teams in the 50’s with 3 cars and a high mortality rate there could be someone with more then 7 drivers.

      Also the teams racing in Indy 500 between 1950-60 were sanctioned as F1 teams, but never raced in Europe.

      So if we qualify the question – since the 2 car era….

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