There are a number of stories to catch up on so we’ll make them brief. This page will update today from 14:00 GMT onwards
Perez admits Ferrari asked him to help Fernando
It appears Ferrari do lean upon certain ‘relationships’ to favour their man when required. Sergio was interviewed by Spanish paper La Marca and as part of the Q&A he was asked did he think the other F1 drivers reacted differently if they saw Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso appearing in their mirrors.
This is what Sergio said. “You should ask them what they do – but for me this is not the case. I do not make distinctions between them. Last year, when I was speaking with Ferrari, they regularly asked me to take care of Alonso, but I do not know if they ask everybody else to do the same”.
The Spanish reporter then asked Sergio if he believed leaving the Ferrari family was a missed opportunity, the 23 year old answered: “No, it’s an experience that led me to a better place. I’m happy at McLaren, I hope to stay here for many years, maybe my entire career.”
Perez on his first day at work in Woking stated he wanted to beat Jenson and challenge for the WDC in 2013. He appears to have modified this ambition and told La Marca, he was just happy in Melbourne to have been quite close to his ‘team leader’ – Jenson Button’s pace.
“I’m happy with that because Jenson is one of the very best drivers,” he said adding, “He has won in Melbourne three times. I didn’t know where I would be compared to him, so while it’s not a relief it is reassuring that I am strong and close to a world champion.”
Well ladies and gentlemen it has been a little quiet for some weeks. Plenty of deferential praise amongst the teams for others and modesty as to how good their own 2013 cars are. Yet if you’ve been following F1 as long as I have, you would have realised it wouldn’t take long before the handbags were drawn.
Lauda is in warm up mode and before launching an attack on a competitor team he decides to practice on Pirelli. He describes the F1 tyre strategy as ‘fundamentally wrong’ and accuses Pirelli and the FIA of confusing the fans.
“The situation with the tyres is absolutely stupid,” Lauda spits out with disdain. “Artificially creating more and more pit stops is wrong,” he tells German publication Bild. “Pirelli can’t really help it as they are only doing what the FIA ordered them to do, but 90 percent of the time no one understands what is happening in the races now.”
We have to presume Niki is referring to the fact that pole sitter Sebastian Vettel finished the 2013 season opener third on Sunday, while Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen did one fewer pit stop and surprisingly from seventh on the grid.
It may be that Niki has revealed a little too much of his personal problems when he says, “My advantage is that I can ask our (Mercedes) engineers. The fans cannot. But even our people are confused. When the tyres are so soft, it’s bad for Formula One. The fans don’t understand if there are more than two pit stops. (For Formula 1) it’s a fundamentally wrong path.”
Pirelli’s Paul Hembery’s response is that “Many fans have told us they think the racing is more exciting now.”
Mmm. Is Luada speaking as a pundit – or non executive chairman of Mercedes AMG F1? I guess you can never underestimate how difficult change can be for some of the older generation.
Red Bull vs McLaren: Seconds out… round one
Lauda’s appetite for confrontation appears to be spreading like wildfire. Christian Horner has been criticising McLaren for their ECU troubles.
Whether it was rats, the ECU or the FIA that failed to allow proper policing of red/yellow/blue flags and DRS this weekend we shall know in time. Anyway apparently McLaren are now to blame for Mark Webber’s slow start to the race in Melbourne.
Webber had a terrible start and then later developed a KERS issue at the weekend Horner reveals. “You need to ask McLaren why the ECU didn’t work because he was blind and had no telemetry. It is something they need to get on top of because it caused a lot of issues during testing,” he added.
Christian Horner is of course referring to the standard electronic control unit across all F1 cars mandatorily supplied by McLaren subsidiary MES to each Formula 1 Team. MES have supplied this standardised component for a number of years and supply IndyCar and other series too as they are world leaders in the technology.
However, in advance of the quite different requirements for the 2014 season’s engine configurations, it was decided to attempt a phased in approach to delivering the necessary ECU’s. There have been some problems with the new units in testing; however Martin Whitmarsh is upset with Horner’s opportunistic attempt to apportion the blame to the unit for Webber’s poor start.
“You can also inflict ECU problems on yourself by how you set it up, but I will look into it”, Whitmarsh told PA Sport and said he was “distressed” when he heard about Horner’s criticism.
“We’ll put our hands up if it’s a fault that’s derived from the hardware or the BIOS,” he added. “I’ll be disappointed if it is our fault because in Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar, we’ve not yet stopped a car, and we’re very proud of that record.”
Martin appears to be still snuggled in his ‘winter onesie’ and needs to realise the gloves are off and the Queensbury rules were abandoned many years ago.
Sauber caught short of a car
For some team debutants Australia was a success, for Nico Hulkenberg it was a bemusing disaster. After qualifying in 11th, Nico was in the perfect grid slot to fit the medium compound tyre and attempt a Sutil type charge for the front of the field.
Yet 90 minutes before the lights were due to go green mechanics went to finalise the preparations of the C32 and “fuel suddenly splashed out of the car,” according Roger Benoit.
“(It was) a problem with the fuel tank, which is directly behind the driver,” confirms team manager Beat Zehnder: “It must be a crack in the tank. It’s something I’ve not experienced in twenty years.”
Hulkenberg’s chassis has been returned to Switzerland, despite practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix looming in a couple of days. The team is shipping out its spare car at Sepang, whilst another is being constructed at present and will be sent to Malaysia from Hinwil as soon as possible.
“I’m bitterly disappointed but at the same time I’m not blaming anyone,” said Hulkenberg “Things like this happen in racing.”
Its funny how at times there’s so much going on and you miss the obvious. Has anyone seen anywhere in the media the question asked as to why Hulkenberg was not given Guitierrez car?
Tell Lewis he’s fighting a phoney war
My father taught me a lesson that took some time to live out. Yet when I understood it, it changed my life. ’Don’t fight battles you can’t win’ were his sage words.
Not one for suffering fools gladly, the righteous pursuit of truth justice and idealistic values have always been attractive to me. However, sometimes in life you have to accept that you just can’t win. There is an old Chinese adage that suggests, ‘if you seek revenge – dig 2 graves’.
Some of us fail to understand that not even the sheer force of our persuasive powers or even should natural justice chose to fight by our side that the situation in hand cannot be won around. It’s not that ‘you can’t win’, more that ‘it can’t be won’.
There is no disgrace in withdrawing from such a position. The perpetual confrontation will sap the life blood from you and prevent you from moving forward into a more positive place. Further, it will make you out to be an obsessive fool to those who observe the goings on.
I’m sure there are those who write F1 articles for mainstream media outlets who hibernate during winter – see what you think. Paul Weaver writes in the Guardian, “Lewis Hamilton with stoicism and self-restraint many people thought was beyond him, has mostly bitten his lip since his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes six months ago.
But on Sunday, when the Australian Grand Prix was long over, the post-race formalities completed and the night turned as black as the swans that sail on Albert Park’s lake, Hamilton turned on those who had mindlessly criticised his momentous move”.
That may be Paul’s opinion but I’m sure I’ve been listening to consistent justifications from Lewis as to why he jumped ship as he engaged his detractors every step of the way.
So yet again last weekend Lewis found it necessary to comment as follows. “It’s nice to prove people wrong, It has been everyone – particularly all the ex-drivers – a lot saying it was the worst decision ever, saying: ‘He’s going to finish nowhere; they’re going to be nowhere.’
Confusingly Hamilton then suggests, “And then they contradicted themselves, going the other way. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re either this way or that way. But it’s the bit in the middle. We have done a good job – we finished fifth. We have a lot to work on. We didn’t ever come out and say: ‘We’ll kick everyone’s butt.’ We never said that we would be crap either. The team have done well, I’m really proud of my team. I’m proud of my decision as well.”
As was suggested by a TJ13 viewer when commenting on how Mark Webber dealt with the Helmut Marko question at the FIA conference, maybe Lewis needs to tell the part time F1 writers, ‘I’ve spoken about this extensively and I’m not about to do so again”.
Interestingly, my view from day 1 of the announcement by McLaren has been firmly that Lewis was pushed and today Mr. Ecclestone has come to the defence of The Judge. Bernie states, “Ron said that he could have kept Lewis if he had wanted to but he didn’t want to. Lewis told me that he would have rather taken a year off. I don’t know why it came to blows. In fairness to Lewis, he didn’t leave McLaren over money. I don’t know what it was because of but it wasn’t to do with money. He just wanted a change I think. He probably thought he had been there long enough and wanted to move on.”
It is kind of understandable if Lewis feels pushed that he keeps justifying how much better life is now and harps on about the difference between the new and old team. Yet even if this is the reason, it’s time to move on as I’m afraid the message coming through loud and clear is – sour grapes.
I want to see the Hamilton that can take a car by the scruff of its inferior neck and wring the last drops of performance out of it to the finish line – whatever the position he finishes. Further, his very well paid management company would do well to educate their protégé in the ancient art of deflecting the haranguers with those 2 simple words that mean so much – ‘no comment’ – followed by a wining Hamilton smile.
MES apologise to Webber
McLaren Electronic Systems have just issued a statement and apologised to Mark Webber Mark Webber and Red Bull for a software-related issue that affected the Australian racer on the formation lap in Melbourne.
The new standard ECU, which features on all Formula One cars, was introduced by McLaren Electronic Systems in winter testing and will power the 2.4-litre V8 engines this season and the new 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines that are set to be introduced in 2014.
McLaren Electronic Systems say that whilst all the ECU’s ran without incident in Australia, Webber’s garage data system had to be re-started during the formation lap and, as a result, his preparations for the start of the race were disrupted.
Webber made a poor getaway from the grid in Australia, dropping from second to seventh on the first lap. However, this would appear to clear MES for the FIA for the debacle which meant that race control could not talk to the cars or control DRS directl. This puts the rats firmly back into the frame as the crime suspects.