Breaking News: Tuesday 12th March 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day as news stories ae breaking. Follow @thejudge13 for the tweets that announce  a new story has been posted.

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Changes to Albert Park

There has been little in the way of modifications since 2012 – no Massa kerb etc. However, the kerbs on the exit of turns 14 and 16 had sunk due to subsidence prior to last year’s race; they have been repaired and will appear comparatively taller to the drivers this weekend.

Shade cloth was introduced last year to reduce glare and will be installed again behind the debris fence in the section of track between turns two and three.

FIA Press Conferences

Thursday 05:00 CET: Drivers

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber (both Red Bull), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) and Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso).

Friday 08:30 CET: Team representatives

Toto Wolff (Mercedes), Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren), Eric Bouiller (Lotus), Jean-Michel Jalinier (Renault) and Paul Hembery (Pirelli).

Stewards

Paul Gutjahr, Vincenzo Spano

Driver Steward: Danny Sullivan

Sullivan drove the 1983 Tyrrell in Formula 1 before he later won the Indy 500 race and the IndyCar title. This is his 4th time as a steward.

John Watson dismissive of McLaren’s driver selection

John Watson has accused his former F1 team McLaren, of merely hiring a sponsor funded seat paying driver to replace Lewis Hamilton for 2013. Watson drove for McLaren between 1979 and 1983 winning 5 GP’s for the Woking team.

untitledWatson was dropped at the end of the 1983 season when negotiations with team boss Ron Dennis. It is alleged that Watson asked for more money than dual World Champion Lauda was earning, citing having won a GP in 1983 where Lauda did not. Dennis instead signed Alain Prost for much less.

John suggests of McLaren that “Politically they have always tried to employ the best possible drivers who were available. Not who they could afford but who were available. There were other options and some of those were probably ones I would have gone for,” and he claims that Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen were far better options.

In a rather damming manner John concludes, “Unfortunately they’ve ended up with Perez and the fact he’s associated with Carlos Slim will have some value to McLaren. McLaren have always sought the best talent and clearly that is not the case right now.”

Koby to drive Le Mans

Kamui Kobayashi, who some feel unfairly lost his Sauber drive at the end of 2012, is racing again in 2013. He will compete in Le Mans style GT sports car racing. He tested for the Ferrari associated AF Corse sports car team, and now has a contract to drive in this years World Endurance Championship behind the wheel of a Ferrari 458.

“It’s an honour for me to become part of the Ferrari family,” said Kobayashi – in a very brief statement.

Bernie’s office – what can you see?

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Italian military flags on Ferrari livery

You may remember the furore caused back during the Indian GP weekend in 2012, when Ferrari included national military flags on their cars’ livery in support of the 2 Italian marines – Salvatore Latorre and Massimiliano Girone – being held pending trial in India for manslaughter of fishermen.

untitledWell it appears the Indian Supreme court at the request of ‘someone’ unspecified in the Italian government allowed the sailors home in February to vote in their national General Election.

On returning home the 2 men duly voted and were permitted a few weeks to see their friends and family. However, there seems to be some kind of misunderstanding over the affair. “Now we are finally happy,” Latorre told Italy’s ANSA news agency and added he and his colleague were “happy to go back to work”.

He continues, “I thank the President of the republic, all institutions, the government and the Italian people who have always supported us with a great number of postcards that never made us feel alone, I also thank all those who have supported us through social networks”.

Caught on the back foot somewhat, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said that the Italian government’s unilateral decision not to send the two marines facing trial in India was “unacceptable”.

untitledThe External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid, had said that India would respond to Italy’s decision after going through its note sent on Monday.

What is this note? It appears the Indian government has been sent a communiqué from Rome over the matter which has not yet been read over 24 hours later. Khurshid comments “It is a matter of our countries collectivism. We will read the papers first. Let’s see what they have to say and what the reasoning is. Only after that I can say anything.”

Maybe colonialism didn’t achieve what some thought it did after all… and as for Italian diplomacy…. Sorry, I’d love to know what is in the ‘note’. Ideas TJ13ers.

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Don’t forget to join TJ13, Charlie W and others and play along. We have 32 contenders so far….

You have to simply predict the pole position, fastest lap, person who will make up the most number of places during the race together with the order of race positions from 1-10.

There were 20,000 global entrants last year and I managed to finish in the top 400. They had a prize of $35,000 of motorsport ‘vouchers’ for the global winner and other prizes for certain race weekend achievements.

Also there are 3 ‘experts’ to play against – Autosport and 2 others I don’t remember (I think Herbert was one) – and they were soundly beaten by TJ13 🙂

Anyway we have our own league within the global game called “TheJudge13 All Star F1 racers” so if you fancy a bit of fun and banter why not enter.

Hamilton on all things Hamilton

Lewis is asserting today he is finally his own man. He tells the Daily Express “I feel I can express myself a lot more nowadays, I am comfortable with who I am.

Photo by Alan ClarkeMy dad doesn’t approve of my tattoos, for example, but I don’t need someone’s approval. I don’t need you guys, the team, my mum. I am who I am. It is an important thing in everyone’s life. You just need to be accepted for who you are and be proud of who you are and that is what I am trying to do. I am an extremist, I am either hated or I am loved.”

Lewis believes many of his detractors were born during his early period in F1. “Unfortunately when I got to F1 I was saying things that meant one thing, but people took another way. That installs a memory.

When I go to Spain, people generally hate me. Whether it is something I said when I was racing with Fernando Alonso or something said to the people, they don’t forget. All you can do is try to slowly change it. There are tons of people who dislike me and tons who like me.

What I will guarantee is that when people who don’t like me meet me, they will change when I give them time.”

untitledIt is apparently this new found personal freedom and the removal of controlling influences that make Lewis believe he will thrive. “I have come from a place with a lot of control, a really controlled environment where you are restricted to do and say what you are told.

You have to keep your values and remain respectful and polite and all those positive things, but you can still be who you want to be. It makes a big difference when you are driving.

That started to show towards the end of last year, particularly once I knew what I was doing this year. I was able to loosen up and put on the performances I put on.”

There was one area of restriction and control Lewis was particularly vocal about and for now he makes light of it.  “It was a small thing, but small things matter, like my helmets,” he said. “I don’t need my suits, my gloves, my boots – but my helmet, I design. That is what I race in, wear, what people see.

untitledIt has my sweat, blood and tears in it so that is why I want to keep that. It has the memory in it. I used to get half my helmets. One year McLaren would get first choice of which helmets to keep. Now I keep them and my trophies are my trophies.”

The in a moment of realisation Hamilton adds,“The question is, do we get trophies?” questions Hamilton with a grin. “Great, I get to keep my trophies, oh shoot, I don’t have any.”

Lewis believes he has matured and is ready to set an example to others. “In the first few years, talk of being an inspiration was kind of so far-fetched, but as I get older I really come to understand what that means – being a role model.

untitledI think maturity and experience led me to this situation. I am more patient and that comes with age. You make wiser decisions and I hope that impacts on my racing, the decisions I make on the track”.

ROMAIN…….pass the shrink.

Eric the ‘Guardian Angel’

Monsiuer Le Boullier has sprouted wings and a halo and is claiming Gaurdian Angel status over his protégé Romain Groisjean. Lotus team boss tells Le Figaro that, “This is a boy who has the gift of being one of the fastest drivers on the planet”.

AngelEric was a buffer between those behind Lotus F1 who wanted the Frenchman sacked following his race ban for the incident he was involved in at the start of last year’s Belgium GP.

“F1 is a world that is uncompromising and won’t tolerate many mistakes. He [Romain] still has to learn, but must do so quickly,” says le director who played a central role in the extension of Grosjean’s contract. “I think if I had not been there, he would not be here today.”

When asked about Grosjean’s decision to reject the offer of help and instead seek the assistance of a shrink, Eric is again protective of his ward. “This comes up all the time. Any top athlete can call a shrink and in F1 the it is extremely important to have balance. Roman is not weaker than another. Take the history books of Formula 1: Michael Schumacher made ​​mistakes, as did Ayrton Senna. A high-level athlete is a combination of talent, toughness but also fragility.”

Cherub (1)Eric appears to be most understanding even ‘touchy feeley’ and maybe he is more of a cherub than an all slaying guardian angel. He assures us that Romain has been busy during the closed season. “He has worked on his attitude and his understanding of F1 and he has a tendency to be blind to things that ultimately have no importance.”

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20 responses to “Breaking News: Tuesday 12th March 2013

  1. I generally have a lot of respect for Watson and his opinions, but I find this one to be quite poor. Watson should realize that the sport has moved on after he left it, and that even McLaren has to take into account some other than purely sportive considerations every now and then. Besides, given that Lewis really wanted to leave and that Kimi probably would have stayed at Lotus anyway, I think they made a good second driver decision. Maybe not the best, but still a good decision…

    • What Wastson says probably does have an element of sour grapes in it. However, it is the honest truth. I’m sure The Judge can confirm this, but was Kimi actually signed and sealed at the time of the Hamilton departure? especially when McLaren (Ron Dennis mainly) wanted him out from an early stage. Obviously hingsight is a wonderful thing, but Hulkenberg would have been a better signing.

      I guess one thing we can all agree on is Paul Di Resta would have been an awful decision…and if Sutil outperforms him again then this will probably be his last year in F1, given he is with a very cash stricken team.

      • Fully agree that Hulk would have been the best decision and that Di Resta would have been an awful decision.

        Never found a lot about Kimi’s contractual arrangement with Lotus, but the one thing that is for sure is that he is on a low basis/high bonus per point system, and that is not something that McLaren is typically doing. Also, since the Hakkinen era McLaren never really wanted two equally strong drivers (2007 was an unintentional exception), so I’m not sure they would be willing to pair (and pay) Button and Raikkonen.

        • Di Resta revealed in January this year that McLaren spoke with him over the possibility of a drive around the time Lewis was leaving – but matters did not progress.

          Not the brightest thing to say was it Paul?

      • There were some questions of a political nature in Woking over the re-signing of Kimi.

        Further it has been suggested the Vodafone contract may not be renewed. It is believed to be one of the biggest ever from an external sponsor in F1.

        • Just like there were some questions of a financial nature in Enstone over the re-signing of Kimi because he did so well that they ended up not being able to pay the other employees because of the bonus payments to Kimi. Seems that now that Kimi has answered the questions that were raised about his motivation they have agreed on a higher base/lower bonus per point system, but time will tell if that was the right decision, eversince his comeback there have been rumours that Kimi is only back in it because of the money…

          • The risk for Lotus is that Kimi will have some happy memories about how much money ‘simply not being motivated’ can bring to him.

            I’m also not buying into all this ‘leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’ marketing, it is nothing for the real Kimi to keep on wallowing in it.

            So my prediction: hungry Romain will outperform overfed Kimi this year…

          • I hope so, I’m hoping for good things from Romain this year, he showed flashes of extreme talent, worthy of a future world champion, but got overly chastised after a few mistakes, I have a feeling he’s coming out fighting this year, and I can’t wait to see if its true!

    • If someone as mediocre as Button (most of his wins have been flukes or in the superior Brawn car, and he managed only one pole at Mclaren) managed to beat Lewis (as seen by the eyes of the F1 press), then there is hope for Perez to equal or beat Button.

    • Just to back that up Schumacher has said that he will not become a tv pundit because he feels he is already behind in his knowledge of current/new cars and systems.

  2. re. Lewis’s interview in the Express today:
    It is the mostly the same as in the Guardian yesterday and the Mail today. I guess it may be a syndicated article.

    • Maybe maybe not – quotes are not protected by copyright so today’s papers may be ‘bandwaggoning’.

      I didn’t get around to posting it yesterday – plus with my Lewis feature due for posting, I wanted to put that up first…

      • Just saw your retweet of Lewis’s pic in front of his Merc.
        There is another later tweet by Lewis of a pic of Melbourne skyline where his caption to the pic reads
        ” Mar 10
        Rise & shine #pt1 6am, just had breakfast with JB & now going for a long run. Hope you have a nice day! Bless”.
        Question – do you think by JB he means Jenson Buton?

        He has also given a schedule for his twitter chat on Friday:
        “Lewis Hamilton @LewisHamilton
        On Friday 15th, 9pm Australian time, 11am London, I will be doing a live Q & A on here. Spread the word & be sure to tune in. Bless”

        • I can’t help feeling we’re going to have a very very and even more very entertaining year with Lewis out of the car…

          I hope also inside the car he drives like hell inside creates some on track/championship excitement.

          Hey – better Lewis telling us he ‘hopes Roscoe doesn’t do a turd’ inside his new plane – otherwise he’ll have to get a new one – than mechanical Michael S in his pomp.

          • Judge, I have an idea for you to increase the number of your followers on twitter.

            Post a few tweets on Lewis’s twitter feed and you may get a few join you from his 1,404,375 followers.
            🙂

          • I don’t think – super twitter users – like Lewis allow your comments to be shown to others. I can’t see other people saying things to him.

            I think they have special privileges… Surprisingly.

  3. I thought kimi’s none return to woking was due to the fact the kept cleaning Ron’s drinks cabinet out during his previous tenure

  4. I think Perez was the best option when Mclaren signed him, but that taking into account performances throughout the year, Hulkenberg would have been a better choice.

    I say this because Hulkenberg’s performances in the first half of the year were nothing special, Di Resta definitely had a better start to the year. I’m sure part of this was down to the fact that Hulkenberg did not have a full time drive in ’11, meaning that there was a bit of catching up to do in 2012, whether there were any other factors, i’m not sure. Also, Perez’s best performances were in the first half/two thirds of the year [If I’m correct, Perez hasn’t scored a point since agreeing to race with mclaren].

    Hulkenberg showed in the last half though that he is quick and consistent and a likeable character. Would have interesting to see where he would have finished had he not collided with hamilton in brazil.

    I cannot see Raikkonen back at Mclaren, with all their contractural obligations etc [although I did expect to see him back there in 2010 instead of Button].

    Fun Fact: Despite recent domination by german drivers, Mclaren have only ever had 1 german driver in their team: Jochen Mass from 1974 (last 2 races) to 1977, meaning that had they signed Hulkenberg instead, he would be only their second ever german driver.

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