A Tale of 2 drivers – same team – ex-mates, Mallya Criminal Summons, Ross Brawn goes fishing? Tim Goss McLaren’s new Technical Director

Toro Rosso: Best buddies now not even friends

Sometimes when reporting the news, it’s easy to get a cheap headline by taking out of context things said by those who are at the heart of the story. I read a secondary source reporting on this article from Melbourne based  publication ‘The Age’ and that source was highly selective on the quotes they represented.

The article reveals that prior to joining F1 team Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne were the best of friends.

untitledHere is what JEV had to say in full. I’ve stripped out all the comment and explanation offered by the original reporter. The context of the interview is set against the backdrop that Aussie Mark Webber only has a 1 year contract with RBR and it may be the case that for 2014 Toro Rosso will provide their sister team with his replacement. This would be either JEV or Ricciardo, depending on how they perform this season.

JEV has this to say about his team mate: ”I don’t know if it’s because we are in F1 or he thinks he has definitely beaten me that we cannot have any relationship, but, no, we don’t see each other away from the track and we are not friends. But to be absolutely honest, I don’t mind. He’s a good guy. We are both clever people. 

I have absolutely no problem with it because when it comes to the time when we need to work together to improve the car and to move the team forward, we can do this. We have a good working relationship. I don’t care about going on holiday with my team mate. I have my friends and I have enough of them and I don’t need any more.’ 

We’ve never come to blows or anything like that. ‘There’s never been a moment which has separated the friendship – it’s just grown apart with competition. I imagine we’re probably like most other team mates. We don’t really talk away from the track. We’re just doing our own thing. I think it’s how it should be as well. 

‘I think when you’re direct rival with someone, you want to have your own space. I think it would be sort of hard to have a true friendship because at the end of the day, we’re fighting for maybe one spot and there can’t be any conservative approach about it. 

So I think it’s good that we keep our distance. We’re very competitive and that’s how it should be. “ 
Ricciardo’s thoughts are towards the goals he and the team have set. ‘The team’s goal is to get ahead of some of our rivals that we believe we can compete with. ‘That group is the Force Indias, the Williams and the Saubers. We’d obviously love to finish ahead of them, which would put us sixth in the constructors. 

For me, the aim is get as many points finishes as I can and just to really get the most out of the car. Obviously, to beat JEV [Vergne] in every qualifying and every race is also the goal – some really convincing results which will separate me from him and maybe from a few others as well. It’s hard to say whether that’s going to be a podium or whether it’s going to be an eighth.” untitled

Vergne thinks differently about targets. ”Personally, I have none, As a team, we would like to finish sixth in the constructors’ championship. When you think about it, that might look impossible  That means a lot of things that we need to do, but in the end, everyone will start from zero.”

Here we have 2 very different characters. Ricciardo like Grosjean usually appears on our screens with a huge grin and you get the feeling he almost can’t believe he’s in F1. Yet underneath that open delight in his life at present, there is clearly someone who knows the game – beat your team mate – and has the courage to state that this is his target and it is by this standard will he be defined as a success or failure.

JEV is all together a more serious chap. I remember in Canada when they did the SKY piece where they went together to visit the Cirque du Soleil and tried out various items of acrobatic equipment. Jean Eric was a lot more tentative and Ricciardo wanted to be in the show that night.

Without resorting purely to nationalistic stereotypes, Jean Eric appears far more cautious over his personal performance expectations but is he naïve to make the public comments over his friendship with Daniel and it’s decline. My interpretation is the JEV is feeling the pressure a little and if Daniel is he doesn’t appear to be showing this.

Mallya Criminal Summons

Writing the headlines for Vijay stories is getting difficult. It used to be a case of ‘More trouble for Mallya’. This of course becomes ‘Even more trouble…’ but the incessant stream of disastrous events besetting the owner of the Force India team means trying to map the incremental extra trouble each new event brings is limited by the availability of English grammar particles. Often, More, Even more, much more, a lot more, tons more and most. I am tempted to suggest this is ‘very’ unique.

untitledAnyway more trouble again for Vijay as India Today reports he has received a summons for criminal offences relating to the non-payment of taxes. The amount in question is $15m with a further $5m added for interest and non-payment charges. The hearing will be on April 19th – the Friday of the Bahrain GP weekend. Maximum sentence possible is 7 years in an Indian prison.

This amount is apparently only for the returns due in 2008-09. The amount outstanding to date is around $80m which is 10% of Forbes last estimation of Mallya’s total assets.

The Kingfisher Empire has debts in total approaching $2,000,000,000 and analysts are uncertain as to the real value of assets covering this debt. Most economic airline experts believe Kingfisher Airlines needs a capital injection of $1bn in cash from an investor for it to have a chance of surviving. Vijay has been promising new airline investors are imminent for almost 2 years.

untitledIt appears the Indian authorities are slowly chipping away at Vijay; repossession his personal Airbus 320, revoking Kingfisher’s license to fly and the banks are threatening repossession of the family estate and other property and investments. Could it be that as was the case with Al Capone – another liquor Baron – it will be tax fraud charges that seal Vijay’s fate.

Paddy and the Garden

You may not realise my friends – at times I get some stick behind the scenes for my opinions and information. However, when proven right I hope you allow me a brief moment to bask in the sunlight.

I believe TJ13 first broke the story of Paddy Lowe and his exclusion from participating in the McLaren MP4-28 launch. The launch of McLaren’s 2013 car was for me the best of this year’s F1 launch offerings. However, you may have noticed following the highly emotive reflections from beyond the grave from Bruce McLaren himself, the fabulous parade of historic McLaren cars and the grand sheet removal by best buddies Jenson and Sergio: it all stalled and ground to a halt.

The original launch plan did indeed have further content. I believe it was considered best to exclude all contributors rather than just omit Paddy.

Anyway it was late at night and the caffeine and sleep deprivation forced me to write what I considered a pretty amusing piece called ‘Where’s Paddy?” which took me back to a childhood game.

So today mainstream UK media the Guardian is reporting Paddy Lowe will not be travelling to Melbourne and is about to do a long cold year of garden leave.

This will of course raise the obvious question – what will then be of Mr. Ross Brawn? Well unless things have changed Ross has dealt with this scenario. In “Brawn to stay – for now” (it’s worth a re-read) TJ13 reported

On the matter of Paddy Lower possibly replacing him, Brawn had this to say. “I know the situation completely, Mercedes want a long-term commitment. And obviously, with a lot of additions [in recent personnel], I want to see how things go before I make a final long-term commitment.”

“And so we have to have things in place (pauses). It’s rather like my succession plan at Ferrari. When I decided I was going to stop at Ferrari, we built a succession plan and I am part of that, I’ve talked to Paddy, we know the situation. Like any of us in life, if we are excited by what we are doing we carry on doing it. So that’s what I want to do.”

untitledHe further clarified his position

“If I choose to leave then Paddy will come”. The most Mercedes will admit to at present is that they have approached Paddy Lowe. Offers to Lowe to join Mercedes AMG are contingent on Brawn’s long-term plans.

Lewis says, “I’m assured by Ross (Brawn) that he’s here for the long term. I’ve had lots of positive experiences with Paddy Lowe but he’s part of McLaren as far as I know.”

Byron Young of the Mirror says when asked about Paddy Lowe replacing him, Brawn responded ‘I know all the plans for the future at the team and I hope I will be part of them for a very long time.’”

Jenson may not be overjoyed initially as he was quoted last year as saying, “I’d be disappointed if Paddy moved from the team because that’s the guy who’s going to help me achieve in the future.” Somehow I’m sure he’ll cope just fine.

So when Paddy emerges from the garden, what will Ross do? Now age 58, he has guided 3 different teams to 8 F1 Constructor’s titles in 14 years, he is an ‘Officer of the Order of the British Empire’ and is worth an estimated £100m. Will he call time on it all? Hang up the earphones for good?

Who knows what the inimitable Mr. Brawn will decide. Ross is a keen salmon and trout fisherman, so maybe he’ll get spend some time by a river enjoying a well earned retirement out witting the fish – something Sir Sid Watkins suggested to Ayrton would be a pleasant past time just hours before the Brazilian’s untimely death.

McLaren appoint Paddy’s replacement

As I was about to press the publish button for the above 3 stories this came in – hot off the press. Tim Goss has been appointed to replace Paddy Lowe at McLaren.

Martin Whitmarsh had this to say at the announcement. “I’d like to offer my congratulations to Tim on his new position, which, after more than 20 years of exceptional service for McLaren, he richly deserves. His quiet and unassuming persona conceals a fierce competitiveness and a wealth of experience, coupled to an unrivalled level of expertise in the field of Formula One car design and engineering.

It’s a little-known fact, for example, that over the past 23 years he’s made crucial technical and engineering contributions to the winning of five of McLaren’s 12 drivers’ world championships and three of McLaren’s eight constructors’ world championships, and that he’s been the principal definer and developer of McLaren’s F1 car design function for more than five years.

untitledIn line with what Tim has said, I firmly believe that our technical and engineering team is the best in the F1 business, and that its strength in depth has always been and will continue to be an important element of our on-track success. Moreover, I’m certain that, in his expanded role, Tim will continue to lead it very capably indeed, and will evolve and improve it. That’s his brief, and it’s already clear that he’s prepared to embrace it with energy and enthusiasm.

In truth, though, this is a natural evolution in Tim’s already very successful career, and the fact that the decision to offer him our technical directorship was so straightforward for Jonathan and me demonstrates two things: the robust and logical succession-planning that underpins the senior engineering personnel structure within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and the commitment we have to developing our people, over many years, allowing their talent and expertise to flourish in a collaborative and collegiate environment.

That’s good work practice, and it’s worth lap-time.”

Tim added: “I’m delighted to have been offered the technical directorship of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – one of the most prestigious positions in global sport – and I’m greatly looking forward to making a significant contribution to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ ongoing success in that role.

As before, I’ll be leading our car design operations, while continuing the process of evolving and improving our technical and engineering function in collaboration with Martin [Whitmarsh], Jonathan [Neale], Sam [Michael], Neil [Oatley] and the rest of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ hugely experienced technical and engineering team.”

As a footnote Martin Whitmarsh remarks, Martin informs us, “Paddy [Lowe] will be performing a different role within McLaren until the end of the year. He’s been a good and successful F1 technical director, and we wish him well when he embarks on a fresh challenge in 2014.”

But for now Paddy – get to it eh…untitled

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21 responses to “A Tale of 2 drivers – same team – ex-mates, Mallya Criminal Summons, Ross Brawn goes fishing? Tim Goss McLaren’s new Technical Director

  1. As long as everyone knows what they do, within strictly defined roles, without getting into another’s way, Merc could build a really strong team. As for Macca I’m not that much worried, there is a lot of depth in knowledge and expertise within this team.

    • Agreed on McLaren. I like their methodology of continually developing their people and not ‘buying’ in too much talent.

      Where would Red Bull be without Newey? From what I know there is no Newey protoge in training.

  2. That last picture amused me greatly. As always, reading this blog seems to put you 3 steps ahead of everyone else, so good work!

  3. Obviously Paddy was neutralised for this/next season by Ross’s “outing” so he had little option but to jump. Maybe this was just a tactic to weaken McLaren.
    But apparently Ross had promised Lewis that he would be there long term. Or was this all a move by Lauder to pressure Ross and Ross turned the tables and took advantage of it. Ross is a master tactician, with a car that finally works, Merc could be a contender this season or next. But will Ross still be there?

    • I can’t see him staying. He was not happy about the whole Toto affair and how that was handled – and from what I’ve seen he and Toto are not best buddies.

  4. Did Michael not have a similar story to Ross about considering his long term options and then Lewis apparently got his seat because he could not commit when asked to do so? Now Michael, Ross and Naubert, maybe the are thinking of buying another team for £1 and selling it on again. Maybe that is why FI is still “deciding” on a driver … Just a thought 🙂

    • You are most welcome Senior Quixote. I believe you share views similar those of the judiciary and are quoted as follows. “Neither fraud, nor deceit, nor malice had yet interfered with truth and plain dealing”.

      We will not be deflected from exposing the truth in the murky world of F1.

  5. Benson on BBC says that Brawn will stay only for this year and Wolff/Lowe will run the team in 2014. If true, Lewis would be so peeved! How can Lowe run the team in ’14 when he’ll be out of developments all this coming year? Never liked Lauda’s involvement in that team, never liked the man!

    • I’ve just been chatting to Andrew. Lovely guy – short memory on what Ross Brawn stated categorically

      BBC article says ‘sources close to Mercedes…’ I poked fun at him suggesting it was Ross himself due to his explicit comments a few weeks about leaving and succession planning if Paddy were to join.

      Not sure he saw the funny side

      • hehehe, good comment, on the plus side Merc has kept us entertained while waiting for the start of the season and in between tests.

        • Indeed, if you’re on twitter check out the conversation – he cited “Paddy is not coming” as reason for Ross not being the best source of information and inferred he wouldn’t know what was going on.

          The full quote was. “Paddy is not coming. I want to see how things go before I make a final commitment. If I choose to leave then Paddy will come.”

          Brawn bailed Mercedes AMG F1 and Lauda out the day after their shambolic handling of ‘Bless the rains..’ arrival. And in the first couple of weeks of this site (October I think) – TJ13 noted when Lauda was appointed it would be Lauda or Brawn. If as Harold Wilson said, “A week in politics is a long time”, then a year in F1 is an eternity.

          I still find it strange Daimler just sold 40% of their F1 team – eggs on faces are yet possible and maybe while he’s still there, Ross et al might repeat Lauda’s nightmare. On reflecting on his time in charge with Jaguar F1 Lauda said, “Britons do have their unique way of solving problems. They saw away at the legs of a chair – nobody talks about anything because they of course all stick together – until they get what they want.”

          Get a chair with ‘Inconel 625’ legs I suggest Niki 🙂

          • Well that killed Paddy’s career at Macca. How can you keep a guy on when another team obviously has an agreement with him? Or again was it Ross neutralising him? This is a technique tat could decimate teams. Press release: McLaren categorically deny that Adrian has any kind of understanding with McLaren re Paddy’s position.
            Whitmarsh when interviewed said “I cannot possibly comment on any agreement with Adrian”
            Job done.

          • Hang on a sec everyone. It wasn’t Ross who ‘outed’ paddy. My sources were telling me Toto had tapped him up possibly for Williams and it was Toto who briefed the ‘Paddy on his way’ story during his day in the sun ‘I’m of to bigger and better things at Mercedes’.

            Ross said nothing – and by the time he made reference to the story and was clearing up Toto and Lauda’s mess he had clearly gathered the troops in Brackley and come up with a holding position for the press. That position was clearly agreed with AMG F1, Lauda and Toto and was ‘I will decide…I have since spoken to Paddy’, yet knowing Ron Dennis’ attitude to these scenarios – Paddy was indeed dead at McLaren whether he had a concrete deal with Toto or not.

            Brawn had this power because Lauda and Toto would have been crucified by the press should he have appeared to have been ‘pushed’ by them – especially if the team then flopped. they would then be blamed for getting rid of the most successful team boss of the past decade and a half.

          • I think it was Ross when he said:
            “If I choose to leave the team then Paddy will come. We’ve got a plan. We have a fall-back plan. It’s as simple as that.” Obviously that killed Paddy off for McLaren.

    • It was no secret last year that Hamilton was seeking a drive at RBR. I wonder if he has an exit clause with Merc to go to RBR, which would be an important part of the deal that McLaren would never have agreed to.

  6. Judge, you mention the Merc selling of 40%… now I’ve been thinking while sweating away at gym… We only have Ferrari and Merc as factory teams in F1 at the moment. As a manufacturer it is a dangerous game because as rich and rewarding as success can be so too can failure to succeed be very bad for the brand (except if you are Ferrari who is … well they are Ferrari). Now, hypothetically, could it be that we are looking at a stage in Formula 1 that will be devoid of “factory” teams but loaded with engine suppliers (which should push the price down on engines and make it more affordable)? If you think about it, that is probably the only place in F1 (from 2014 onwards) that anything you do will be related to the road car industry. Aerodynamics are good to suck the car to the ground but I cannot see a future where we all will be driving single seaters to work and back..

    • Don – A number of issues you raise.

      Manufacturers or Works teams used to be typified by big spend – way more than the non-works teams could afford. I would argue on that basis the Mercedes chassis building F1 team has not behaved like a manufacturer (like Ferrari) as they have capped their revenue spend each year at around 150m euro’s – Red Bull’s most recent figures are around 250m euro’s and Ferrari will be at least that, but who knows.

      Further, Daimler/Stuttgart whatever you call them in year 1 still had Brawn et al still owned around 50% of the racing team shares. Then Aabar bought those shares and now following their withdrawal we have Lauda and ‘Bless the rains..’ owning 40%.

      The world economic crisis means global car manufacturers are not prepared to justify to their shareholders the kind of ‘unlimited’ spend that saw Honda deliver Ross Brawn with a car for 2009 which allegedly had $1bn of R&D spend attached to it. (Sold for $1).

      Ferrari moan regularly about the emphasis on aero and how it is no good to them as a car manufacturer, so until the regulations change, this is how it will be.

      The school of thought that says limit spending to say 200m euro’s and let the teams do with it what they choose without such detailed regulations is in effect what you suggest.

      Fan cars, active ride, off throttle blowing, engine mapping – ie mechanical/traditional automotive engineering would then flourish.

      But whilst there is unlimited spending allowed (RRA a joke) the only way for Bernie to have a show and not a Ferrari/Schumacher win everything by miles is via tight reg’s where aero is the biggest area of freedom.

      To be fair to the FIA they have restricted fuel use from around 150kg at present to 100kg in 2014 which should drive the engine suppliers to work hard on building ‘green’ F1 engines.

      It’s a double edged sword for Ferrari, they want big spend (inc loads of testing) AND deregulation – to get de-regulation they will have to agree to spending caps but may be concerned a Williams mini gearbox solution (for example) could embarrass them if the playing field was leveled to reward ingenuity over spending might.

  7. Nice piece of writeup Tj13…as usual

    I entirely agree with you on the JEV thing. He must be feeling the pressure especially considering that RBR might have to choose between the two for 2014. I personnally see Riccardio showing more consitency when compared to Vergne.

    As for our good friend Vijay ‘the king of the good times’ these ‘times’ seems to be over for him. It is well known in India that Kingfisher will not fly again. But according to my friends there ( in india ) Vijay enjoys excellent relationships with members of the government and he himself is a member in office of the Rajya Sabha which is the upper house of the Parliament of India, so i dont see him having real much troubles rather than political announcements made to the press,public,etc
    Bob Fearnley’s account to the fact that VM businesses might not affect the team’s future might finally be good. So long they find the 2014 engine deal with either ferrari or mercedes ( Bianchi or Sutil )

    Its true that TJ13 was first to report about the Lowe/Brawn situation. The where is Paddy piece was a great one and it turned out that nearly every one at the Mclaren launch were playing the #Whereispaddy on twitter that day.I also think the launch presentation was planned to be longer with the contributors speaking after the drivers speech but all was cancelled when they learned about the Lowe leaving intention. My point is that Ross will leave before the 2014 season starts. Lowe will be joing Mercedes in 6 months after spending some time in vegetable production and after handing over to Lowe, Ross will leave for his holiday home in the Cornwall. He has proven himself already and has nothing to prove again especially with the Toto Wolf situation.

    Anyway for Mclaren, it is clear they have the best technical team in F1, so this will not change much for them ( the Lowe’s Departure ) Ron Dennis always prefered the team perspective rather than the individual perspective. This will allow them to continue business as usual

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