Daily News and Comment: Monday 15th April 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day

Bahrain explosions
I am expecting some big differences of opinion amongst us this week on this matter and that is good. Yet let’s respect each other’s opinions because I see here a growing group of people who debate incredibly well and expose most angles of any subject and some new ones which are refreshing and from way out left field.

It is likely we will see a news saturation of the situation in Bahrain in the coming days. Ecclestone has been clever in repositioning the race since it was cancelled in its new slot – back to back with China. The teams are flat out tearing down their setup, travelling and building it up again to minimise time for reflection or comment.

Further it appears the news coverage of all things Bahrain but not F1 is limited to 5 or 6 days. Apparently a media specialist friend of mine tells me this actually makes the intensity of the news far greater than were there a 2 week build up prior to F1 arriving in the Gulf State.

One of the key issues will be how well both sides of the dispute have organised themselves this year. There are those who believe specialist ‘activists’ have been recruited from Iran and they will cause a more potent threat than was the case in 2012.

untitledThe four explosions yesterday may indicate the level of organisation of the opposition has indeed been upgraded. The simultaneous attacks happened around 8.30pm last night, starting in Sanabis, then Karranah and the last outside the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH).

The radical opposition group, the Coalition of February 14 Youth, has claimed responsibility for the blast in front of the BFH and warned it would continue with similar “operations”. Stolen vehicles were used and exploding gas canisters were placed inside the cars which on explosion caused chaos through a main route – the King Faisal Highway – as police cordoned off the area and diverted motorists away from the blast site.

The coalition claimed the blast was part of “Operation Warning”, which was part of protests against the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, which began on Friday. “February 14 revolutionaries have completed the operation by carrying out the explosion. Our message is clear. We will continue the escalation according to our planned operations”. This was communicated via a twitter account.

A Bahrain ministry official said, “The car was not parked on the road. It was parked in a parking area in front of the Bahrain Financial Harbour. There were no damages to the surrounding properties and no injuries. Police, Civil Defence and the explosives detection unit were called to the scene. A full investigation will be launched.”

After hacking into the Formula1.com website last year, cyber anarchists Anonymous are threatening further disruption to Bahrain GP this week saying they will aim “to wreck your little party again Mr Ecclestone”.

Journalists who were turned away in 2012 at the border are reporting they are being allowed in. Ian Parkes of the Press Association arrived in Bahrain this morning and tweeted “Well, they’ve let me in! Will I get out again! Haha!”.

Certain corporate sponsors have already said they will be cutting back or canceling again they’re invitation to guests to attend the 2013 Bahrain event.

Women in F1
The BBC has commissioned a feature to be aired tonight entitled, “Women in F1”. Interestingly if anyone was under the illusion that modern F1 was not about doing whatever is necessary to raise more cash, recent comments on this matter more than argue the contrary.

untitledSir Stirling Moss represents the traditional male view of F1 as a sport. He did however ply his trade as a driver when the death of a colleague was frequent and a driver contemplated their own mortality on a weekly basis. Further, Moss hails from an era when chivalry meant ‘women and children first’ but those burning the bra saw chivalry as chauvinism.

Sir Stirling says, “We’ve got some very strong and robust ladies, but, when your life is at risk, I think the strain of that in a competitive situation will tell when you’re trying to win. The mental stress I think would be pretty difficult for a lady to deal with in a practical fashion. I just don’t think they have aptitude to win a Formula 1 race.”

Suzie Wolff predictably has a differing opinion and it is one that should be heard because there are those who would argue that she has already demonstrated the necessary sacrifice required to get into F1.

The wannabe F1 drivers often have to sacrifice their freedom to the daily subjugation of their masters who provide them with the funding to attract a team to sign them up. Heike Kovalainen is an example of this. He refused to give up his right to play golf and work the sponsors hard in return for a continued drive in F1.

untitledSuzie too has demonstrated this level of commitment and personal sacrifice. She renounced the freedom of a single person to marry an uber rich male racing fanatic who also happens to have shares in a couple of F1 teams.

“I don’t know where to start after hearing that interview. I’ve got a lot of respect for Sir Stirling and what he achieved, but I think we’re in a different generation. For Moss, it’s unbelievable that a female would drive a Formula 1 car, which is fair enough. In the days they were racing, every time they stepped into a car, they were putting their life on the line. But F1 is much more technologically advanced; it’s much safer than it was.”

There we go then. Let’s make F1 so safe that a regular housewife (or househusband) can do it – that’s why we can’t go racing in the wet anymore…

It would not have been too long ago that Lauda, Marko and Ecclestone would have joined Sir Stirling and heartily warbled along with Simon Cowell’s Ex’s signature tune. Yet times have changed. Red Bull wants women to buy their caffeine laden drinks so Marko signed an 18 year old girl this week to the ‘Red Bull junior driver programme’.

untitledEcclestone, with one eye on the pink dollar on the sofa is open to the idea. “There’s no reason why a woman shouldn’t be able to compete with a man. Unfortunately, the way things are, I don’t imagine a lady will ever get the chance to drive a Red Bull or a Ferrari. The only chance is with a lesser team – and they only take someone if they come with a good sponsor. Regretfully, the problem is that many ladies who could compete probably as well as the guys won’t get chance.”

Far be it for TJ13 to disagree with our glorious F1 leader, but on what basis does he make this pronouncement? We live in a world where positive discrimination and the pink and black dollar have all been regularly touted to redress the ‘imbalance’ of the market’s opinion on recruitment and promotion.

Why will this be any different in F1? I suggest it is far more likely that there will be a female F1 driver who is far less competent than available male counterparts merely because the PR marketing value is greater for the sponsor coughing up the cash.

Maybe McLaren are more open to who will become their title sponsor and drive for them than we realise. I can hear it now… the shrill verbal expulsions from Ben Sheppard when Wolff gets her first pole for McLaren next year. “And it is the Tena Lady McLaren of Suzie Somebody who claims the first ever F1 pole for a woman – Fantastic”.

Horner in denial but still spinning away
Christian Horner was notable by his absence on both the BBC and SKY F1 broadcasts following the conclusion of race in Shanghai. He usually pops up for an amiable chat with Johnny et al where his pre-prepared sentiments are given oxygen – often without challenge.

I noticed he has been grooming Suzi Perry too this weekend with a charm offensive and ‘open and honest’ profferings. Probably this is designed to make her feels safe in his presence and reduce the possibility of her ever having the tenacity to ask him a really tough question..

untitledYet the Red Bull shambles is not going under the radar, last night twitter was full of side swipes at the team from Milton Keynes. One of my favourites came from Fake Charlie Whiting. “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” – Napoleon Bonaparte & Christian Horner.

At the end of his regular post-race interview with the written media in Shanghai, it was put to Horner that some conspiracy theories were already doing the rounds. With a dismissive wave of the hand Horner cut off the questioner barking, “That’s complete rubbish. Forget conspiracy. We’re all about trying to get two cars to finish as high as we can. Anybody that thinks that there’s a conspiracy here against one, or either, or any driver doesn’t know what they’re looking at.”

What indeed are we looking at Christian? A team that currently is a shadow of its former uber efficient self? A team that used to say it valued the collective effort beyond the call of duty as the source of its winning edge?

untitledAnyway, Christian quickly gathers himself and remembers chapter 3 from ‘The good manager’ is entitled – ‘Setting the agenda’. So he marches on regardless of any objections to give his opinions on how Mark will deal with the multiple humiliations heaped upon him by his team.

“I think he’ll be fine.He’s a tough competitor, he’s driving very well, and he was driving back through the field. We made some big changes overnight to gear ratios, downforce levels and set-up to assist him to do that and as we see with these tyres at the moment the way his strategy was going it was working well for him.

He was back in the thick of it. The contact was unfortunate and then obviously to retire the car was even more unfortunate. Our objective is to get both cars to the finish as high as we can.”

Was it really necessary for Horner to appear churlish and mention the driver contact with Vergne? What does it achieve? What was his point? Christian rarely utters anything without a pre-contemplated rationale – and if this was him winging it – is it another example of the loss of grip on a modus operandi that was once so successful?

untitledThere are people who communicate in a permanent corporate mode and marketing speak and it is most amusing when in times of trouble they cannot recognise how ridiculous they sound when the spin they are spinning is obviously only of interest to them.

One of my favourite sayings on responsibility is this. “You can fail many times, but only become a failure when you start to blame others”. Time for a new wheel gun supplier…. fuel bowser manufacturer… driver that doesn’t crash into others… anything else to add to the list Christian?

Perez under pressure
What I do like about the BBC covering F1 races live, is that I can flick over from SKY F1 when a certain “I add nothing to the discussion other than inane drivel” pundit of theirs is given the microphone. During the Malaysai weekend this was not possible and when I heard this ‘expert’ suggest Perez was fortunate McLaren’s car was rubbish as this would buy the Mexican some time – I flailed for the right button but none was available.

Anyone with half a brain cell of F1 knowledge is aware that no matter how pants the car – and F1 driver has a team mate who is a reference point by which they can be assessed and judged. TJ13 has so far been restrained in criticising Perez, however there are voices of concern beginning to mutter.

During yesterday’s race, Martin Brundle pulled no punches when he said, “I still don’t understand why McLaren didn’t sign this guy [Hulkenberg] up. His talent is abundantly clear and I would have signed him 10 times before Perez”.  

untitledMartin Whitmarsh’s observation of Perez in China is that “Sergio is not satisfied with his performance this weekend. He is a young driver and he had a difficult weekend”. If Sergio is taking comfort from his understanding boss then he shouldn’t as Whitmarsh adds, “he is not satisfied with himself and nor should he be.”

Okay, the stewards and common sense agreed that the incident with Raikkonen was one of a ‘racing nature’ but Whitmarsh suggests he thinks Perez has been too meek. “I think he has been very polite so far, and he needs to toughen up.”

Yet it’s not good enough to just be a junior rookie at McLaren. Some sign of a ‘special’ talent is required and at present many would argue we are not seeing this. A quick surf around the F1 websites reveals many are questioning again McLaren’s decision to appoint their Mexican driver.

Ecclestone urges SKY to give away free boxes
Never let it be said that F1 does not spawn innovation. Bernie Ecclestone is now brainstorming with the brightest minds in 21st century satellite and cable data communications. He has called upon SKY TV to distribute free decoder boxes to anyone who wishes to watch F1 in the UK.

Ecclestone has never been particularly well known for his ‘slowly slowly catch a monkey’ strategies preferring the ‘bull in a china shop’ approach or a philosophy of “do what I say or I’ll sue your ass” technique.

untitledCunningly Bernie he is suggesting to SKY that they donate hundreds of thousands of these pieces of kit with only the F1 race available free of charge.  People will be intrigued by what else the magical box in the corner can deliver and say to themselves, “‘why can’t I watch the rest’ and they will sign up. Kids will say ‘my friends at school watch this so why can’t we?’ Sky are very good with that kind of idea. It would use Formula One to drive their subscriptions.”

Genius plan indeed. TJ13 has been told on the QT that Ecclestone did in fact want SKY to take a far tougher approach than this. Team’s of grufters were to roam the streets at night with armfuls of boxes. They were instructed to ‘ensure’ people accepted with joy the gift of a “Bernie Box” which in fact would take control all forms of media during an F1 race  – making it impossible for anything else to be viewed on any kind of screen in the host property .

Apologies. We appear to be getting all Big Brother bothered here after that dead Pope rocked up.

untitledSeriously, loss leaders are not a new idea – why not give it a go SKY? Mmmm. then again maybe it’s the cost of installing hundreds of thousands of satellite dishes with no guaranteed financial return that’s prohibitive.

In a desperate bid to prove Il Padrino was wrong about his fading faculties, Ecclestone demonstrates he is once again ahead of the curve and recommends SKY wait “for some sort of wireless system to come in where you don’t need a dish” – source PitPass.

47 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Monday 15th April 2013

  1. i really don’t get the discussion about wether or not a woman would be able to drive an F1 car. it is 2013, by now, woman fly fighter jets, which i think is a bit more dangerous and exhausting than driving in circles, no matter the speed. the only difference in abilities i can think of between men and woman is that we are probably better prepared to use a urinal and that woman can give birth.

    by the way, bernie ecclestone said more than 20 years ago that he needed a black driver and a woman in f1, so i think he is disagreeing with sir sterlings opinion for quite some time now, even if it might just be for marketing purposes.

    • Hi Pott.. good to hear from you.

      “by the way, bernie ecclestone said more than 20 years ago that he needed a black driver and a woman in f1, so i think he is disagreeing with sir sterlings opinion…”

      This is the same Bernard Charles Ecclestone who said he thought “all women should wear white – the same colour as domestic appliances”. I have been caught out too many times appealing to Mr. E as a source of authority my friend 🙂 Welcome to the club…

  2. In order to tick all the boxes what you need is a black, one legged lesbian to drive in F1. hehehehe

  3. By the way, what else can happen to Webber’s car, apart from set fire to it?? If it is not a conspiracy then he has to be the unluckiest driver in F1.

      • Australia’s confusing to me, all my (male) relatives have the same or either or first two names as me. Bloody inventive lot. Actually, that applies elsewhere too. So you see, that’s how I reckon someone called Mark is distinctive, and I had to be a fan . . .

        All of which is about as obvious as MW’s car turning into a tank so conveniently.

        Don’t worry, TJ, I’m just cranky over that, and as a result grumpily plotting a return to paying attention hereabouts . . .

          • Holiday? Phaw! If lunch is for wimps . .

            Following a bread crumb trail left behind by my horizon – vanishing heart, BJF! Not sure if chasing what it’s chasing or trying to reunite myself with a vital organ . .

            anyhow, bit distracted, and happy to be back, it’s hmm, not been dull, but much less fun without you guys! Hope to regain form asap. ~ j

          • Good to be back, TJ!

            I may blow a bit hot and cold for a while, depending, but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, though I prefer the Jane kind, and they never seem to grow for me .. .

            shall be back on the case in due course.

            from now on, if I take a “holiday” just assume something went well, very well 😉

          • Hi, Rpaco! I have a mate who used to insist on addressing every girl he met outside his clique as Sharon . . . went down very well in Hampstead . .

  4. I have never understood McLaren’s decision to hire Perez and he is lucky it is Button and not Hamilton in the other McLaren or things really would be getting embarrassing. Keeps reminding me of Michael Andretti. He didn’t last the year, will Sergio?

      • That has to be it as nothing else adds up.

        Remember McLaren said they carefully analyzed his performances before signing him but anybody can see there wasn’t much between him and Kobayashi and as a benchmark De la Rosa was well matched with Kobayashi before that.

        We all know Pedro is nothing special so surely if Perez was he should have throttled Kobayashi in the same car. What’s more supposedly the reason Perez wasn’t given serious consideration for the Masa replacement was that Bianchi was easily faster in one of their Ferrari academy tests.

    • I’d say it is mixed luck with Button being his teammate.

      Hamilton definitely is fast, but Perez would benefit from Hamilton’s setup and development of the car. Which would toe Perez along a bit, as Button was last year when he “went the wrong direction with the car”.

      Button spoke a lot pre-season about being ready to lead McLaren. So far, I haven’t really seen a good demonstration that he is any good of a leader, more just a good talker.

      But then, I’m biased towards Hamilton. Whether it is my imagination or not, I can see the size of the wake he left.

      • JB is just too chilled to lead, IMO.

        Thing about leading the way is people don’t always follow as you expect, so you have to be both attractive in your pitch, “this way, dear boy”, and a right unt when they veer off. “I said THIS way!” and many can do the first but few switch from the second, back, neatly with any grace. Assuming this is the nicer, collaborative, kind of leading. Then also as to the first, it’s one thing to show, and another to tell how you did it. So what’s effective is when you have enough in common you can dissect your style and explain that in ways that overlap someone else’s style. I’ve no clue how this works in F1, when all start so young. I know this works in Squash, but then I’d been coaching my mates, so they had been brainwashed a certain way, by me. I reckon it is way way harder in F1. Frankly, developing alpha stereotypes so young is a bit wrong, in my book, leaves too many unlikely to be open to learn, by the time they are in top formulas. I reckon one of the reasons we’re seeing younger guys in the sport is also connected to the fact that if they continued much longer down the paths they take, their minds would freeze up. In not long gone eras, certainly when there were privateers, I reckon minds were more open.

  5. I must know Judge, does it ever get tiring up there on that box? You do so have a knack for sanctimonious and dramatic rhetoric. It has become an art form… almost. A great deal of your posts are imbedded with that air of pompousity beyond reproach. You must go through gavels like sliced bread! On the occasion I check in, for some amusement, I find myself feeling like I am reading about a melodramatic, cubist version of Formula One. Perhaps what Formula One might be in an alternate universe. Similar to our Formula One, but slighty off. Georges and Pablo would be proud, in a literary sense of course. In fact even Paul Cezzane would be happy with the evolution of his impressionist work, again in a literary context. The intensity employed in your ramblings on most matters (trivial or otherwise) is bemusing, yet amusing at the same time. The Judge 13, are you a fan of Jackie Stewart? The resemblance is uncanny.

    • Welcome, your holiness.

      To be exhumed to face the court of opinion once is unusual, but now for a 2nd time (possibly 3rd – depending on which version of history one subscribes to) is most fascinating. It must be noted we do not usually converse with a pile of dust however your erudite observations are most intriguing and you have set us a fine task indeed to sift the evidence and arrive at a deductive conclusions.

      May it be noted that our mysterious guest appears to hail from a minimalist tradition, as in our more lavish genre we have not a soap box but a rather more grandiose object entitled ‘the bench’. You have though noted well that it is conveniently set with a preferential vertical advantage.

      Moving on. May we assume from your authoritative use of the collective possessive pronoun you lay some claim to F1? Could it be you are a ‘shop steward’ for the North American teachers whose pension fund made such an excellent investment in “Bernie’s dream” at a ‘one day only price’?

      If not then maybe you are philosophically aligned with the atheist persuasion who grandly know that it is they alone who are able to view the panacea where the great religions of the world each blindly fumble around their own ‘bit of the elephant’.

      Never mind. We (and I use the term advisedly – but humbly – and not in the Royal sense) are honoured that you consider we may be popularising an artistic genre and further re-interpreting it in both a new medium and against such a contemporary scientific setting. An achievement indeed.

      In conclusion, you may have been privy to some inside information as I do admit to having not seen eye to eye with Sir Jock for a while. Yet unbeknown to most, our mutual friend Sir Stirling recently brokered a truce between us having reminded me of the incomparable bravery of the drivers of his era.

      This is a particularly stark juxtaposition when set alongside the duplicitous and shallow ‘silver spoon fed children’ who populate a small but significant portion of the F1 grid today.

      Finally, I must proffer that my chambers are open whenever the capricious whim should take you to check in upon us once again. 😎

      • That’s all very nice and gracious Judge, but just tell him to get his bloody bank sorted out will you? Remind him there is always more room under Blackfriars Bridge.

  6. “. There are those who believe specialist ‘activists’ have been recruited from Iran and they will cause a more potent threat than was the case in 2012”

    That is my opinion too, i work in off-shore and have visited the region several times, most Bahraini think that Iran is behind the protests, the majority of Bahraini belong to the Shi’a branch of Islam, the Al Khalifa family, rulers of Bahrain belong to the Sunni.
    Iran is mainly Shi’a, they would like nothing more then to overthrow the Al Khalifa and install a Shi’a “government” that is Iran friendly so they can expand their influence in the region.
    It’s almost impossible to form an opinion through our Western eyes and way of thinking, Middle Eastern politics is the biggest hornets’ nest you’ll ever see.

  7. Women do generally carry less muscle than men on average but it is only an average of course. I used to be a youth sprinter, but through lack of training I am now probably less strong than my sister who is in the army and going out as a part of Herrick 18. There could easily be an advantage to being a strong woman driver in this period of F1 – the race is not a flat out 1.5 hour qualifying stint any more so peak performance is a little lower than 5 years previous. A woman may have a little less body weight which will also give a better car, a la Vettel has over Webber, which was analysed (here? or elsewhere) and came back with half a tenth a lap was it? Through e.g. 0.5 mph higher cornering potential. But this can easily be enough for Pole position vs. Second on the grid.

    Wolff has driven in the World Karting championship and many years in DTM/single seaters on the pace so is a leading candidate to be a female development driver. Similarly Visser has done well in Karting and now single seaters so is also a potential driver at this stage. There are other leading female drivers such as de Silvestro and Patrick and many others. So it’s only a matter of time for a female competitive in F1. But Van der Garde was a World Karting Champion and Petrov started in Ladas, so you never know, she may come from left field!

    As for the McLaren situation, they must have countered any lack of consistency or pace with the potential for the boost in sponsorship that may come alongside. It is now obvious that on consistency and pace that Hulkenberg is probably the best bet, Di Resta a good bet and Perez still a rough diamond, as shown last year with Kobayashi in a similar situation. But out of these four, di Resta would come with Mercedes engine backing I imagine (which McLaren are looking to change from) and Perez has the backing of a leading Mexican company. But if McLaren get lead sponsorship from GSK or Gillette as you were pointing out TJ13, then the question may be begged – why did they not opt for Hulkenberg? He has a similarity to Hamilton – won at every level coming up the racing ladder (with only Weber’s backing?) and it could be said would be performing similar to Hamilton in relation to Button once he is up to speed. His current speed in other slower cars would also back this up. Unless, McLaren actually plan to use their young development drivers, in a somewhat similar way to Hamilton, as a backup plan and may look at using Magnussen or Vandoorne in FP1s once another YDT/racing season has been completed. Vandoorne has so far won at 2 rungs of the ladder and is a good prospect to win FR3.5 most probably next year to make it 3. Although, historically, has only Lewis successfully graduated to become an F1 driver from McLaren’s YDT? Jan only got 1.5 seasons.

    • It was somewhat ironic then that in the BBC pre-race build up that in the track chat between DC and Hamilton, Hamilton said that DCs neck had now gone down from its former huge size and that nowadays drivers do not develop such huge necks. Indeed Hamilton’s is barely any larger than normal. This is because of the high cockpit side padding, on which they rest their heads in the corners, there is only a few millimetres movement side to side anyway now.
      I had always seen the huge neck muscle development as an obstacle for most women drivers, as they simply would not wish to look like that, so with that gone, maybe its easier now.

      Sir Stiriling is being little naughty considering who he married, Eric Carlsson’s sister Pat, also a racer. (reminding me of my laps with giant Eric but that’s a different story)

      • Looks don’t bother women who have a serious desire to succeed in a sport. ice hockey players aren’t going to survive long without the odd injury and missing teeth but women’s ice hockey is quite popular.

      • I reckon that the huge necks & fitness was also a deciding factor between the male drivers during that period. Schumacher was always the fittest while some drivers such as Trulli seemed to go off the boil in a race, with “Trulli trains”, while being ace over a qually lap and winning only at the slowest average speed race – Monaco. Trulli was also a Karting World Champion :).

        Lol at the HRT quip – Indeed perhaps if they hired Maria de Villota, things might have turned out better for her than they did. So yes, Stirling knows women can race and I guess it’s his opinion that we may not see a female win an F1 race. Given that he knows what it takes to win, especially in a dangerous era, perhaps he has more insight than we do into this area.

    • You are aware that the minimum weight of an F1 car includes the driver aren’t you? The only result of having a lighter driver might be a lower center of gravity, as more ballast could be carried. Is a lower c.g. what you elude to in your ‘half a tenth a lap’ speed differential comment?

      • Yes, I saw it somewhere recently. More ballast to play with = more setup flexibility and better optimal setup. In the US apparently minimum weight doesn’t include the driver, I think in Indycar which does give lighter drivers an advantage, and in Nascar I think they are equal up to a prescribed weight, which is like 160lbs or something and makes you think that surely a lot of the drivers are above this weight 😀

    • I’m not someone who believes that Hulkenberg is the “second coming”
      Mclaren had a fast German previously, funded throughout his junior career and won everything including the F3000 championship.
      Yet after a season with Sauber, teamed up against a rookie Raikkonen, Heidfeld was passed over by the squad.

      Hulkenberg has stood out on a couple of occasions. Brazil 2010 and Brazil 2012. Both times in middle ranking teams. (Seems strange to call Williams middle ranking..)
      In 2010, he done very little against Barrichello, yet Maldonado had the upper hand over him significantly more throughout 2011. But because of funding, the pro Hulk supporters always claim this is why Pastor has a seat.

      It’s easy to make an impact in a Force India ( no disrespect intended), or in Heidfelds case a Sauber, but it becomes a world of difference at the top table.

      Quick Nic, Pt 2?

      • It may very well be quick nick part two, as McLaren plumped for Perez, who looks like an upcoming future star, as they did with Raikkonen. They were vindicated with Raikkonen, while I am starting to think that the 2012 Sauber was a very good car indeed. It was definitely innovative and even teams such as Red Bull have been copying ideas from it. While giving some very strong results, it also gave some less strong weekends, and this may be from either the drivers’ inconsistency or that it is a very high speed aero dependent car, maybe like a Red Bull junior.

        Heidfeld was unlucky in a way in that he was beaten to the punch by an exceptional talent, watching videos of early 2001 and Kimi driving without traction control is awesome, and reminds me very much of Montoya’s brisk application of throttle also pre-TC.

        Post-2009 and with the lack of testing, these new rookies are basically growing up in the limelight, as before this date rookies could double their mileage during the season. Hence Hulkenberg took time to get up to F1 speed (as did say Alguersuari), looking at his spin at his Bahrain debut definitely shows that. But once up to speed he has shown good pace, with the Brazil drives highlighting this.

        Maldonado is a slightly different case, as he has had many years to perfect himself in GP2, and I think if Minardi had carried on then he would have been in F1 as their 2006 test driver while winning FR3.5, and then promoted to the race team with the venezuelan petro-dollars keeping the team afloat. Unlucky for them and also drivers such as Filippi that they would have hired. So in a ‘usual’ course of action, he would have been in F1 much sooner, similarly the same I believe applies to Van der Garde, but they have been in exceptional circumstances (i.e. actually been able to perfect their development incrementally in the lower levels), while others generally have grasped at any chance that comes begging, leading to a sink or swim approach – see Pantano for an example. Hulkenberg has won an awful lot in the junior categories (6 championships), with a string of 1st, 1st & 5th, 3rd, 1st, 1st, and I believe could do what Hamilton has done – win F3 euro, GP2 first time and then an F1 WDC.

  8. Susie Wolff in 7 seasons and 70+ races in DTM scored two 7th place points finishes. Her average race finish is around 13th. DTM averages around 19 starters per race. The simple fact is she doesn’t have the talent to drive in even a mid-rank motor series. Wanting to and being able to drive competitively in F1 are two different things. It’s amusing that last season Toto Wolff said that Bruno Senna’s season was disappointing. I wonder what he would say of her time in DTM?

    • Hopefully something like :” take off that bloody race overall, now!”
      “and stop trying to be something that you’re not, now put on some tight jeans, sit down and looke nice, Lewis’ girlfriend can do it,
      Alonso’s girlfriend(s) can do it, why the hell can’t you Susie !?”

  9. I think any of the contenders for the McLaren seat were a bit of a gamble. I would agree that maybe Hulkenberg stood out as being the most consistent but he hasn’t always put his team-mates in the shade. Perez had a few very promising races last year – who can forget him hunting down Alonso in Malaysia for example – and at the time he looked like a potential future champion. Maybe he still will be, or maybe the pressure of the situation has found out his weakness.

    Don’t forget also that Button is a world champion but he is well known to struggle if the car is not to his liking. Mind you, I think his performance on Sunday would have lead to a win had he been driving quite a few other cars on the grid. I just hope McLaren get it sorted quickly.

    It could well be that Perez seemed no better or worse than any of the alternatives, and having a style similar to Jenson seemed a good choice. Quite probably the possibility of attracting a sponsor was in the background as well of course!

    I do hope though that he is given the time to settle in and show his potential. Things won’t be helped by chopping and changing drivers when the car is struggling for pace.

    • I think this is true and Martin Whitmarsh did also cite Checo’s young age and their belief that he has future potential to unlock, indicating that this deal is not short term. If they wanted the complete driver for 2013 then surely Perez falls behind Di Resta & Hulk who are performing now at what is likely their respective peaks. At the moment it doesn’t look like their similar styles are helping but we’ll have to see going forwards what happens as the car develops I guess.

  10. “What I do like about the BBC covering F1 races live, is that I can flick over from SKY F1 when a certain “I add nothing to the discussion other than inane drivel” pundit of theirs is given the microphone.”

    Hmmm, I wonder who you could be talking about ……….

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