Reflections on Jerez: Part 2

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Morning all. Musings from my favourite table in temporary chambers coming up in a minute. First some Earl Grey and these amazing freshly squeezed Andalusian oranges whilst Mrs Judge gets her much needed beauty sleep…

The streets of Jerez are lined with thousands of these orange trees, and they fall into you lap (or on your head) when ripe. There are teams of municipal workers constantly harvesting the oranges as I guess they grow all year round.

…Grazias senior… sustenance has arrived so onwards and upwards


Before we get to some F1 gossip here’s a few snippets of things still going on here in Jerez. McLaren and Jenson were doing some filming at the circuit yesterday and I popped up there but had to be careful as I couldn’t let those who know me suspect my alter ego. I had an interesting time managing this…more later.

‘Jenson: the Movie’ is not looking as though it will top the charts from what I saw. There was lots of 2 lap runs, but mostly just interminable amounts of walking takes…1,2,3…..47… I suspect Jenson was not happy with the balance of his driving boots and the grip he was feeling from the pit lane asphalt.

Anyway whatever race Jenson was in, he clearly won from pole and set the fastest lap – so I guess that’s one in the eye for ‘finger boy’. I believe it’s good at this stage of the season to strike psychological blows to the heart of the enemy. Day 2 of Jenson’s filming continues today, but overwhelmed by the excitement of yesterday I suspect it is more than Mrs. Judge can take so we’ll meander down the cost and back to Malaga for this evening’s flight.

jenson film1

A couple of DTM teams are testing here next week and advance personnel have begun to arrive at our Hotel. One team is called MTek and I and can’t remember the other as I don’t really get DTM. What does interest me is that a number of them are ex-F1 garage crew and have interesting tales to tell

I am still in somewhat of an F1 media blackout, but there appeared to be a surge of rumours yesterday afternoon that Narain Karthikeyan was to get the Force India drive. Interesting that the FOM site had no Force India drivers named at all until the last week or so, and Mr. E is very keen to have an Indian driver on the grid.

Crowds at the Indian GP nearly halved from 2011-2012 and who knows what will happen should there be no Indian driver in 2013. Surely this can not be? Yet if it is at the behest of Mr. Big – no matter how silly it may seem, it is likely to occur.

To F1 matters. Many of you will not realise that a number of the race team support personnel change teams fairly regularly. Drivers, garage support crew who perform roles like looking after the fuel, builders of temporary structures etc. This is epitomised in the comment one truck driver made to me this weekend. “We’ve done the annual trick of throwing the cards up in the air, and I’m still working out whose moved where”.


These people are often long standing F1 circus members and their view of F1 is as you may expect. They’ve worked for a number of teams and see through the glamour we perceive of F1 and mostly have a sardonic view of the great and good and the goings on behind the scenes. Many of these people are my friends.

Team loyalty is not so important to them and they bluntly say what they think and believe to be true – without fear of recrimination or sanction. Many of them wish for a life outside the travelling show but as is the case for most Elephant and Lion keepers – this is what they know – and this is where they stay.

I have suggested either in the blog or in the comments section on more than one occasion that Caterham is not a happy place to be at present (I agree with JOJ that some tracking device of things said would be great). Steve Nielson, the teams Sporting Director resigned in December and then announced in January he was joining Toro Rosso.

Steve Nielsen

Steve has worked with Mike Gascoyne in 2 previous teams and is by all accounts a most likeable guy creates positive team morale. Mike has moved on to Caterham matters non-F1 and the team have not announced Neilson’s replacement. You should understand that in teams owned by millionaire business men who insist on being team principle – even though they are hardly around – the role of Sporting Director becomes more important than in teams where this is not the case.

The Sporting Director straddles the fence between management and team junior personnel. He conveys the dictates of the mogul but with an empathetic style and an arm around the shoulder.

Caterham have now an unofficial acting Sporting Director at present who is not particularly well regarded. A number of team members gave me the impression they think he’s purely in it for the money and self promotion and does not possess the man management skills to encourage people when they are pushing 20 hours a day.


caterham dark

The car is a marginal step forward on the 2012 version, and the discussion of Caterham having some clever rear end design is considered by some in ‘the know’ as humourous.

In comparison Marussia are tight organisation and the much liked, straight talking and down to earth Graeme Lowden has everyone pulling in the same direction. With KERS this year I have said before I fully expect them to move ahead of Fernandes crew, who believe he is more interested in QPR than Formula 1 and this has stretched his funds.

UPDATE 15 mins after publishing: I just read this on Interesting reflections from Jano Truli, though he was sacked for poor performance and continual issues with steering just following the Jerez test 2012 – as far as I am aware.

“I realised that we [Caterham] were only going backwards instead of forwards and that the team had no chance for the future. So given that the team was not paying me, I wasn’t so disappointed when they told me I wasn’t driving because I’d already tested the car, and it was no different [to its predecessor the 2011 Lotus T128].

“You know, me driving there would not have changed much [within the team], or my life, or my career. What people didn’t realise is that I chose not to drive, even though I had a contract in place. I gave the team a change to survive by getting in a pay-driver.”

In conclusion

On behalf of TJ13 readers, I sent David Coulthard (@therealdc) our heartfelt commiserations on the untimely death of his sister yesterday.

And finally, something amusing I thought you’d like.

9 responses to “Reflections on Jerez: Part 2

  1. It is a special breed of person who drives the heavy load the maximum hours, carefully juggled so as not to get “weekended” nor to allow one’s tacho card to be wrong in case inspected and the whole race scuppered for the want of 5 minutes road or rest time.

    Then to unload and assemble that building in the correct order, many many more hours of heavy and fiddly work. Unappreciated by most of those that will use the building. “Is he not doing anything? Well he can help get the printed matter in, why does he look knackered, out on the piss last night I suppose”.

    • I’ve a pal who does big office moves for law firms and banks (they often want it all shifted lock stock and barrel, so much for “hot desking”, imagine assembling a team, often several firms, for a huge deal, and all their stuff, plus storage archive and the lot is assembled to the most convenient office for the duration. He runs the show, (ex Para) and he, his load masters, way masters and drivers (mostly ex Army logistics) are a impressive bunch. As for the drivers, 8 hours of perfect gear shifts on typically new routes, the omnipresent nincompoops who always seem to be soft produce haulers from farther east, and rarely if ever a smooth run . . I’d say their job is as skilled and exhausting as a 2 hour race. Well said, rpaco.

  2. Karthikeyan’s king of the comebacks. He’ll still be there when Vettel and Alonso are long gone.

    How much worse would Caterham be if they missed that 10th place prize fund which they very nearly did. It’s a shame Murrusia couldn’t keep a benchmark driver like Glock so we could tell if they made progress rather than two rookies.

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