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Alonso and Politics: You have to love Ferrari and when I reported there was a new communications man in charge, Renato Bisignani, I was concerned we’d see a drastic change. I need not have been worried. This went out on their website today – I’ll publish it word for word
Madonna di Campiglio, 17 January –Alonso, politics and rivals: a lot has been said about this triumvirate during 2012 and someone – over the other side of the Alps – has felt the need to kick off 2013 on the same note. Clearly, the media who do their job and usually enjoy these verbal skirmishes, made the most of the situation, repackaging some of these now classic questions for Fernando.
The Spaniard did not want to get caught up in a war of words and replied with wit. “I don’t think I am good at politics, I just drive the car. Some recent remarks have surprised me, but I can’t see the sense in them. Some say they don’t read them, don’t hear them and don’t see them, before adding that they are not influenced by them: so clearly they do read them, maybe at night…Why do I say Hamilton is the strongest? Because it’s what I think, it’s my personal opinion and there is nothing political in that. Lewis has always won races ever since he has been in Formula 1, even in years like 2009, when he had started the season with a car that was two seconds off the quickest. When you look at what happens on track, you are well aware of what he is doing, that’s a fact. Last year, Rosberg won in China, therefore I expect that this year, Lewis in a Mercedes can win more than one race.”
“I did not say that Vettel was not the strongest or that he did not deserve his three titles,” continued Fernando. “There have been periods, like in 2011, when his performance level was fantastic and he was definitely the best. As of today, it’s impossible to say who will be our strongest rivals in 2013. Who will have the best car, who will have done the best job of preparation and had the best development, who will be the luckiest: there are so many factors which go to make the strongest combination of driver and team.”
“On the technical front, I think that this year, the key will again be the management of the exhausts,” said Fernando, on the topic of 2013. “It’s true it’s not as important as two years ago, but we saw last year that it still played a significant role and that everyone worked on it a great deal. The tyres are not as critical, unless there is a specific problem, as for example we had with the hardest compound in 2011: they are the same for all the teams and, if they are within the mean point, they won’t make the difference, neither for the better nor for the worse.”
Okay Helmut – it appears we have a giant game of tennis or poker going on across the Alps – they’ve seen your 10 and raised you 20 – and we’ve not even been to 1st testing yet.
Fernando’s customary winter growth on show
De La Rosa official Scuderia Ferrari reserve driver: Pedro is filling an empty seat. Spanish paper Diario AS reports this and Dominicali says, “I hope this (replacing Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa) doesn’t have to happen, but he could be a (race) driver in the event that it is necessary.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but i don’t think Ferrari had a reserve driver in 2012. Anyway, it has been suggested Fernando is having an increasing influence on the team with the appointment of De La Rosa who were good friends during their time together at McLaren
Stefano denies this to the La Gazzetta dello Sport, “We took the decision as a team. We needed to make a jump in quality in that (simulator) area, and Pedro met our requirements perfectly. Then, if he does get on with both Fernando and Massa, that’s even better! We can therefore avoid confusion (in the team)!” he smiled.
De Grassi on 2013 tyres: Lucas talking to Brazilian media TotalRace is happy testing for Pirelli, “But other than that I’m still talking to three teams about being a test driver and helping them with the development side.”
As to his opinion of the 2013 rubber Lucas believes the tyres are quire different from those used in 2012. “This year the tyres are a bit softer overall, so they will be a little easier to work with as they get fewer blisters. The shape is also a little squarer to increase the contact area, but this will not influence the tyres much.”
“But we will probably go back to having more pit stops. The teams were starting to understand the tyres a little better, so they were having fewer stops,” and this is something Pirelli are determined to address he explained.
Perez Rosberg fastest German in F1: Sergio is getting quite perky even though there have been suggestions that he would have like McLaren to sign De La Rosa as a friendly latin face.
He tells our favourite German tabloid Bilde, “In terms of pure speed, Nico Rosberg is the fastest German,” but quickly adds politically, “But Sebastian is the more complete driver and a great champion.”
Perez is confident he can win races this year and continues, “”I am 100 percent sure that the McLaren will be better than my Sauber, which is why I need to set high goals. They (McLaren) have the money, they have the people.”
Despite not scoring a point since signing for McLaren in September with 6 races to go in the 2012 season, the young Mexican in rather bullish fashion believes he is already a better driver and would not make the same mistake he did in Malaysia. “If I could do that race again, I would win it.”
Car Launches: Mercedes have booked the circuit at Jerez for a day of filming. I was lucky enough to be at the Caterham equivalent last year the day after the first test. They will unveil their car at the circuit on morning of filming, Mon 4th February.
Nico will drive the car on the first day of testing in Jerez. I’ll let you into a little secret here – if you want to know who the team value for feedback the most, look who gets day 2 on the first week of testing.
Toro Rosso will also unveil their car at the Andalusian track on the same day as Mercedes. However, they will probably have to wait until 5pm when the German team’s filming session is complete.
Ferrari superstition: A rather remote news source from Brazil reports Stefano is upping the anti for more testing ahead of the 2014 engine introduction. He’s calling on the FIA, “Let’s meet to discuss the issue, We need to test some more.”
This and other comments were made to Brazilian journalist, Livo Oricchio who informs us that for superstitious reasons, it is unlikely Ferrari will officially name this year’s car. Mmm. Science, technology on the limit and ……13?
Webber and Raikkonen swap: Not teams, but race engineers. A strange and mostly unreported comment from Red Bull today, “”We can confirm that Ciaron Pilbeam has left the team to take up a new position with Lotus. We’re pleased to welcome Simon Rennie (Kimi’s engineer) to Red Bull Racing who will be Mark Webber’s race engineer.”
FIA announce @F1doc Hartstein’s replacement: This was published on the FIA website last night.
Dr Ian Roberts has been appointed FIA Formula One Medical Rescue Coordinator and will work within the FIA medical team at Grand Prix during the 2013 F1 season. He will report to Professor Jean-Charles Piette, the FIA’s permanent Medical Delegate to F1.
While Professor Piette will oversee emergency operations from race control, Dr Roberts will deploy to the track. His primary role there is to supervise the response of the local medical team.
Based in the UK, Dr Roberts is a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care and a veteran HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) practitioner. He is vastly experienced in trackside emergency response and is best known within the motorsports community as the chief medical officer of the Silverstone Circuit. As part of his role at Silverstone he has been chief medical officer of the British Grand Prix for many years. He sits on several motorsports medical advisory panels, including those of the FIA Institute and the UK’s Motor Sports Association.
No ‘Da Vinci Code’ story to be found here I’m afraid. Gary Hartsein who was mysteriously replaced without comment from the FIA said on twitter, “Congrats to Ian. Would certainly have been on my short list. Really good doc, skilled leader, great guy. Lots of luck, and have a great time”.
Autosport Show Videos: BBC race lead commentator Ben Edwards. Here’s what Ben had to say taking the job last January – followed by his views 1 year on.
On this day, Jan 18th
1953 : We continue the Argentine GP focus from the earlier years of F1. This day saw the inaugural GP of Argentina which was tainted by the death of at least 7 spectators. It is estimated over 200,000 people attended the race and on lap 40 Nino farina lost control of his car and ploughed into the crow who were spilling onto the circuit.
Farina swerved to avoid a spectator wandering across the race track at the Buenos Aires Autodrome. Despite the tragedy, the race continued and was won by the to be dominant Alberto Ascari who achieved something that Vettel can only dream of. Pole position, fastest lap, race win – and he lapped the entire field.
Sorry no video from this year, but Argentina has had its fair share of incidents. It is remarkable how the fuel must have sprayed everywhere in a split second over Deniz’s car. The ‘must be able to get out of the car in 5 seconds’ rule is definately understandable.