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.
Here 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.”
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.
Anyway 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.
It 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.”
He 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.
In 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…