Daily News and Comment

Massa – part of the strategy

It appears horses heads are aplenty at present. Charles Pic must have received one for almost taking out Alonso in Melbourne and Felipe has been clearly ‘got at’ by Il Padrino and the boys.

Protocol amongst a number of teams is that the leading car on the agreed lap for a planned pitstop get’s the call to come in first – or at least the option, and despite running ahead of Alonso in the Melbourne GP Alonso got the nod for the first stop ahead of Massa.

This appeared to give Fernando the undercut which put him past Massa and Vettel when the round of pit stops had been concluded. Flavio Briatore commented, “Felipe should not be at all happy,” and following the race itself Felipe was clear when he stated, “Yes I was upset when Fernando got ahead of me. That was the only problem of my race, where I lost two positions.”

untitledOne week and a horses head later, Felipe is singing a different tune. Speaking to Brazil’s Totalrace he now claims, “I was not penalised or disadvantaged. When we were in a group of cars, Fernando came in earlier … it’s always easier when you take more of a risk.

“It looked like it was going to hurt him, but it ended up working out. Of course, if you’re fighting for the best and that happens, you’re upset, but of course it was not a disadvantage or even team orders. Not at all. I was part of that strategy and it didn’t work out. It was not easy to understand the tyres with such little practice.”

TJ13 is hearing that lovers and friends of the equine fraternity are concerned about their recent rapidly dwindling numbers in the Italian countryside.

UPDATE: Felipe has also been replaced as one of the 2 directors of the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GDPA) today by a vote that has promoted Jenson Button. Pedro De La Rosa, chairman said “”It’s good for the GPDA as we have two world champions as directors now.” The other ‘director’ is Sebastian Vettel.

Matters under discussion included the recent fines handed out by the stewards in Australia. The drivers understood that were they to pay significantly higher fees for their F1 super license that they would not be fined for misdemeanours. Two drivers were fined for pit lane speeding in Melbourne.

The decision was to leave the matter with the FIA for now.

Kubica rejected  DTM

Robert Kubica tested a DTM car in Portugal over the winter break and it was believed that he would race in that series during 2013. However, with little notice Kubica announced he was entering the WRC, in modified class 2 car.

DTM as a circuit racing event may have given some indication as to whether Kubica could realistically expect to return to F1 at all. Following the DTM test and the failure for Kubica to be declared for the series it was presumed in certain quarters that the team had declined to offer Robert a drive.

untitledHowever, today in Spanish publication AS, Robert informs us “I had an offer to race in DTM, but I chose rally even though it’s a hundred times more difficult. I made the decision late because I wanted it to be right and, hopefully, later this year I will be happy with my choice. DTM is a very difficult championship, with a very high level, and maybe for me it would have been easier to race on circuits, as it’s what I know.”

Dissapointingly for many Kubica confesses, “I don’t think much about Formula One. Definitely the easiest choice would have been to do the DTM. But today my limitations mean I cannot drive Formula One on some of the most physically demanding circuits.

I also have limitations to do the rallies and so I will work hard this year and if I can overcome my limitations, I’ll have time to think about returning to Formula One,” he added hopefully.

Grosjean gets B-spec car again

Many people were not aware that in Melbourne, Romain Grosjean did not have the same specification of car as did his team mate Kimi. Certain parts arrived late on Saturday which meant he had little time to properly set up the car. The result was Grosjean qualified nearly 3/10ths of a second slower than Kimi and finished a disappointing 10th in the race.

Speaking in Sepang today James Allison confirmed this, “He’s [Grosjean] not had an easy weekend either here or there, because we haven’t been able to provide two cars in exactly the same configuration on either occasion. Here, once again, we only have one set of kit and we’ve chosen to run that with Kimi and Romain is disadvantaged for that.”

TJ13 believes the missing bits are a key aero upgrade and Allison explains, “We will always try to get two sets available but (it’s) not always possible. So he’s had a difficult set of circumstances and he’s also up against a team-mate who is really firing on all cylinders.”

untitledWhen Eric Boullier answered in the principal’s press meeting last week that the team had the budget for the development fight, I didn’t realise it meant by just planning to do this for just one car. Romain is entitled to expect as many buttons on his steering wheel as Kimi – in my humble opinion’

Hey, but that is the life of a number 2 Formula 1 driver. Unfortunately, this disadvantage will not be reflected in Adam’s adjusted ‘Victim’s of Circumstance’ table for publication next week.

The word is that Lotus will try their passive DRS system this weekend which could make Kimi even quicker. Air is taken in above the driver’s head, either side of the main air intake for the engine – via 2 ‘ear bud’ like slots and piped down the car. The air exists at the rear and is used to reduce drag at the rear of the car when travelling at high speed.

Surprise surprise – not

The worst kept secret in F1 is sneaking out. TJ13 was one of the first to report the Paddy Lowe story and from the moment Toto Wolff bought a share in the AGM F1 team there had to be a question mark over Nick Fry’s position of CEO in Brackley. Whilst Toto has managed to fudge the issue with Ross Brawn nicely and slipped into the FIA press conference last week, “Ross does not report to me”.

untitledApparently despite stating last week that “the team has gone through many shareholdings and restructurings. It was BAR, then Honda, then Ross brought the team, it won the world championship and now it is Mercedes. So it is about calming down the situation and giving the long term view and commitment”, the hungry Wolff has decided on his first prey.

Nick Fry will step down quietly as CEO of Mercedes but will retain a consultancy position with the team for the rest of the season. He joined the team in 2002 when the were called BAR and so a 12 year association with Brackley will slowly fizzle out by the end of the year. I wonder if he and Paddy will be ‘consulting’ together over the coming months – on how to make the perfect cup of tea.

21 responses to “Daily News and Comment

  1. Everyone needs to move on re: kubica. He looks to be a very talented rally driver, more than kimi for example, so lets see what he can do there and celebrate it. Bog knows, the WRC needs all the help it can get.
    Also: is kubica hiding his gimpy hand in that photo…? Has anyone seen it post-surgery?!

    I find it very interesting that flav would call out massa’s disadvantaged situation. Doesn’t he still take home a portion of Alonso’s salary? Props to him if he does – he often could see the bigger F1 picture while those around them lived in their own bubble.

    • Yes to the hand Q – it is not good. And he hides it all the time. From what I hear he’ll not drive in F1 again. Shame, but you live life to the max and you take your chances I guess.

  2. Poor Massa but I guess he just tries to survive and carry on driving in a competitive car. Hence changing his tune. I wish he had more balls.
    But I do remember Rubens. He used to be a bit outspoken about Ferrari’s favouritism towards Schuey. Then his contract was up for renewal and he got a child. I had heard a rumour back then that there was some small print in his contract not to be criticise the team again. Maybe that was a myth but interestingly Rubens was very compliant since then and duly on the way down.

      • Eventually to Honda/Brawn and throw a tantrum their about being treated like a number 2 on Button’s title charge and thus be replaced.

        Then to Williams and publicly complain about the car and the team and be replaced.

        Barrichelo never really left F1 as he is still their under the disguise of some Scottish fella called Paul di Resta.

  3. Hopefully Massa continues to do good to see how Ferrari handle it or more interesting how Alonso handles it.

  4. Romain Grosjean well and truly lost his mojo in the latter half of 2012 season. This year he is well and truly the no.2 driver.

    Felipe got his mojo back in the latter half of 2012 season. However, after Melbourne, it will be surprising if he tries holding up Alonso in any of the laps ever again. He will have been made an offer he can’t refuse, one prancing horse will have lost a head, and Massa will now understand that he is well and truly the no.2 driver.

    Meanwhile Lewis has tweeted that he is having dinner with Nicole at a Malaysian restaurant. His ass will surely be on fire tomorrow if he has chosen a Malaysian curry dish.

    • It is 2004. Jarno Trulli delivers another outstanding qualifying lap, finishing once again ahead of a certain Fernando Alonso.
      Apart from Monaco which he won, in races you would see one Renault gaining places and the other falling back.

      Fast forward to Ferrari, circa the 2010- 2013 seasons. Once again we have a very fast qualifying expert who can find a lap within himself, but teamed against him is one the hardest racers the sport has ever seen.
      A man who is acknowledged as relentless throughout a grand prix.

      People who have a biased opinion of Ferrari or Alonso will always mention team orders, a view I believe to be a little naive as all teams support the strongest driver naturally.
      Be it Vettel over Webber, Hamilton over Kovalainen, Raikkonen over Grosjean, or historically, Hakkinen over DC or Senna over Prost etc etc.

      In 3 seasons, the statistics prove that Alonso is the stronger driver. His qualifying, podiums and race wins prove that. Yet people will still throw in the 2010 German GP.
      Look back to early 2010, Alonso demanded Massa move aside in Australia because he felt he could win the race. Ferrari didn’t issue that order.
      The next GP, in Malaysia, Alonso was held up by Massa, having started 20th and with a faulty gearbox. In China, he had enough and overtook him into the pit-lane.
      By the time of Germany 2010, he was the only one of the Ferrari drivers with a realistic chance at the WDC. Yet people erupted about that call, even though, word for word, it was what Mclaren had said to Kovalainen during the same race 2 years previously.

      I have no doubt that Massa has within him the occasional day where he will perform better than Alonso. On that day he will not be hounded by Alonso, mere tenths behind him, he will just disappear.
      You have seen that with Barrichello against Schumacher, or DC vs Hakkinen or Webber against Vettel and even Berger against Senna, but don’t fool yourselves into thinking they can sustain a championship challenge.

      • Perhaps it’s not really accurate to describe it as ‘occasional’ when you out qualify your teammate four races in a row…

        • Read my comment again and look at its context.
          I don’t mean the qualifying performances, I mean the races, hence why I made the point of Alonso not being mere tenths behind, but Massa disappearing…. on an occasional day.
          RB vs MSC, DC vs Hak, Web vs Vet and Ber vs Sen.

          • But it’s harder to compare the races objectively when the team compromises one driver/favors the other…

      • Look at 2012 and 2013.

        Each and every time you will find that Massa has had only one job to do – riding shotgun for Alonso.

        • 2010
          FA – 1,4,13,4,2,6,8,3,8,14,1,2,R,1,1,3,1,3,7
          FM – 2,3,7,9,6,4,7,15,11,15,2,4,4,3,8,R,3,15,10

          FA – 4,6,7,3,5,2,R,2,1,2,3,4,3,4,2,5,3,2,4
          FM -7,5,6,11,R,R,6,5,5,5,6,8,6,9,7,6,R,5,5

          FA – 5,1,9,7,2,3,5,1,2,1,5,R,3,3,R,3,2,2,3,2
          FM – R,15,13,9,15,6,10,16,4,12,9,5,4,8,2,4,6,7,4,3

          I hate being pedantic, but the bare stats provided by wikipedia illustrate that Massa has ridden shotgun very rarely.
          In 2010, he rode shotgun in Germany, but other than Bahrain where Alonso qualified 3rd to Massa’s 2nd and passed him into the 1st corner, Massa has only backed up Alonso’s finishing position once in the above years, he finshed 14th to Alonso’s 15th at Silverstone.
          It was only in the final part of the championship that Massa was available to provide some support and help Ferrari overtake Mclaren.

          At this stage last year, all fans and media were calling for his head, yet Ferrari kept the faith.

          For a team with serious aspirations of championship success, it needs a strong pairing, hence why Webber was offered a contract for last year.
          Surely the biggest statistic is that in those 3 seasons together, Massa has had 7 podiums. Alonso has 33 (inc wins in figure)

          • My mistake, I didn’t include his following Alonso in Italy, Korea, USA and Brazil. Basically when he had a team job to do.

  5. “Judge, you’re my brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.”

    Last warning…..;)

  6. RE PIT LANE FINES – Despite assurances, surely there must still be some sort of punishment, othereise, if they break the speed limit, and not get a punishment, then everyone will break it, and there will be no point of having a speed limit.

  7. I for one am just happy that Felipe has got his best form back. For a while last year it was looking like it was gone with only glimpses having shown since 2009, e.g. Germany 2010. Although his style has always needed a car that he is happy with to show his best pace. Perhaps a bit like Button in that respect?

    I feel like Alonso is unlucky to not have won more championships, perhaps because of team orders/politics in a way, but then there are also things like crashgate, which make you fairly suspicious as to whether this can equally go both ways 😀

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