Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 1st May 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day.

Comment of the day

This comment was made during a debate about management styles, yet it appears to embody the philosophy of F1 culture fairly well.

Adamac39 commented, “The saying if it’s not broken, don’t fix it comes to mind!….or even if it is, ignore it until it becomes a huge problem”.

Mercedes Manouvres

Ross Brawn is staking out his pitch and does not want more whole scale changes within the team

“F1 is about a massive engineering exercise, as well as the sporting side with the drivers and the team. You must always look to improve both sides, but without damaging what you already have. It is a very delicate evolution.

It is very easy to damage what you already have, so you need to make sure that if you do big changes, you know where they are going to end up.

We have a good aero group now. We can always strengthen it, but we must strengthen it by enhancing what we have. We must not damage what we have because it is a great group of people now – and on the sporting side it is the same.”

Toto however thinks,

“We have started already to change things internally on many things which are not visible on the weekends and are not visible externally.

We have looked at things internally: about the structure, how you communicate internally and responsibilities. That is an ongoing process actually.

But I can only make up my mind properly if I understand the whole picture and you cannot understand the whole picture after three months.”

Maybe it’s the same story on different sides of the coin. Toto did tell us last week thathe and Ross were now very close and at times communicated in a non-verbal manner. How does that work? A nod here, raised eyebrow there and the occasional wink?

We shall see.

Christian Aid Week: Review

Following TJ13’s special series on how the man that is Christian Horner was formed and forged and became the team boss of F1’s dominant team Red Bull – it appears Christian has rebounded from his crushing experience where Vettel’s boot – fully adorned with lucky charm from Grandma – was found pressing into his neck and had to be surgically removed.

Full of self assurance Horner now announces, “I report directly to Dietrich, who has always been tremendously supportive. He sets high standards.

Helmut has responsibilities elsewhere with the young-driver programme but he has no operational responsibility or input into how we operate as a racing team. He’s an advisor to Dietrich, and he’s obviously an experienced hand.

Part of his role is that within the Red Bull corporate world, now that it’s such a large company, he has enabled Red Bull Racing to retain its independence. That allows me to operate with the freedom to manage the business and manage the team how I see fit.

Dietrich is the chairman and a major shareholder, so of course I answer to him,” said Horner. “But he gives me the autonomy and he has a trust in me that I represent the team as well as I can, and he gives me very much a free hand to run and operate the team; to recruit, to operate the team the best way that I see fit.

Of course I keep him updated. And of course with any major decisions – be it on the drivers for example – it will ultimately [the decision] be with him.

But he has always followed and backed the team – whether that be an investment in capital expenditure, or be it in an engine change.”

So, let’s get this straight. Dieter recruits the drivers. Marko runs the driver academy and daily whispers in Dieter’s ear. Vettel decides how the race strategy will be run and Christian… is fed to the media like a lamb to the slaughter and in Milton Keynes gets Adrian coffee so he can concentrate?

Gay is Okay in F1

Firstly let me say I respect Will Buxton and greatly miss his insightful GP2 advocacy and commentary on the world feed this year. The Buxton blog is one I follow and look forward to each publication.

Yet Will’s latest offering is surely a sign that Bernie has screwed up the F1 calendar of 2013 with the huge gaps between F1 action when we all start debating topics that may be of the genre, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin”.

In his recent post, “Racing ‘DNA’ – diversity needs acceptance”, Will’s describes his inspiration as follows. “I’ve been thinking about the topic quite a lot recently. Why haven’t we seen more women racing in F1? And it has led me down many paths. Paths based not simply upon gender, but upon nationality, race and, latterly, paths based upon sexuality”.

The big sporting news in the US of A this week is that NBA Jason Collins has ‘come out’ and apparently “to the American sports world it is a very big deal”. This causes Will top ponder the topic of gaiety in F1 and he walks us down the now perfectly asphalted motorway path which argues the fairly predictable ‘gay is okay’ message.

Look there’s nothing wrong with this piece, we discover there are a gay PR couple in the paddock today and some driver in F3 in the 70’s was also gay. Yet it feels as though Will is boxing with shadows because in F1 this is not an issue and neither is sexism.

The fact of the matter is that in the modern era of pay-to-drive we see good young drivers unable to get an F1 seat, whilst those with less ability and skill make it because of the money men behind them.

In a sport governed by utter greed, self obsession and gazillions of dollars it is most probably that a fairly average woman or gay racing driver will get an F1 drive ahead of a more competent male heterosexual – because some sponsor will decide the pink pound/dollar or the female charge card dictates this will make them bag fulls of cash.

I did enjoy the fact my mind conjured up the image of a bunch of camp guys bouncing up and down on the couch getting overly excited watching an F1 race – there are fabulous layers of possibilities. Before you say it… yes I know gay men are not necessarily camp – I do have a large number of gay friends.

Yet many of them do have a penchant for a drama and I’m sure the ‘new’ Lewis would give our gay F1 spectators on the sofa food for hours of debate about whether he is – or isn’t – repressing his true sexuality.

Will Buxton is a great writer and a wonderful idealist as was Bruce McLaren and Colin Chapman and in F1 today there are far too few around. Give me 1 Will rather than any number of Bernie’s every day – but this just feels like we’re all bored because  there is no F1 action and so we are making conversation for conversations sake.

Recommended Reading: The Buxton Blog

Senna said

You may have your favourite Senna saying, one of mine appears timeless not just when considering F1 but in human nature per se. “Money is a strange business. People who haven’t got it try hard to get it. People who have it, are full of troubles”.

Here’s some cars you may recognise 🙂


Taki Inoue

This Japanese driver is remembered fondly by many F1 fans and since hanging up his driving gloves has become something of an F1 comedian – particularly on twitter. For those of you not endowed with the twittershpere, I’ll post – as and when they appear – a select number of Taki’s inimitable insights into F1 and life in general.

Yesterday he was reading about how terrible matters were for the youth of Spain.

@takiinoui tweets, “The jobless rate under 25 years old in Spain is over 50%. Oh dear….How many workers lost a job when HRT finished?”

Taki is a present travelling his native Japan and enlightens us with how things are now since the Nuclear tragedy.

@takiinoue “In Japan after Fukushima Nuclear disaster, we stop consuming the electricity. Now we can get hot water like this”.

Embedded image permalink

Here’s a couple of tributes the lovable but less than competent Japanese F1 driver.

Stewards leniency confirmed and is Jenson losing the plot?

TJ13 reported a couple of weeks ago that there had been a meeting during the winter in Paris where the great and good in F1 thrashed out matters relating to driving standards and penalties. This meeting was not reported by the F1 media and no statements were issued either.

It appears there was a consensus from the group that drivers were being penalised too much in 2012 and further rookie drivers were being punished for sins their mentors would be excused.

Mika Salo, the driver steward for the Bahrain race, has spoken to Finnish TV and it appears he is supporting the new stewarding mandate.

“We saw really good racing in Bahrain. I encourage just this kind of hard fighting, which should not be punished.

[Jenson] Button was angry when Perez hit him, and yes, of course, it could have spoiled both their races. But while Perez drove pretty aggressively, it was good racing,” says Salo.

Alonso could have fallen foul of the stewards in tougher times when his DRS flap was deployed outside a DRS zone. Mika clears this matter up stating, “It was a technical problem, so we had nothing to investigate.

We were not asked to, and none of the other teams said anything about it. Actually, while he (Alonso) had a great chance to win, the fault spoiled his race.”

Perez has now been vindicated by a number of ex-F1 drivers for his ‘tap’ on the rear wheel of his team mate and for once the politically assured Button has been made to kook rather churlish.

Jenson is clearly embarrassed by the team radio messages played during the race by the FOM TV producer. In a post race interview with SKY Martin Whitmarsh was being showed playback footage that included Jenson’s nigh on hysterical pleas to the team.

At this point Jenson who had been watching the live SKY broadcast in and adjacent building came running out to join the interview and put forward his point of view.

Yesterday Jenson was again was attempting to explain his high pitched shrieks at the pit wall when he said. “The problem with the radio is that my message is not meant for the masses, it’s meant for the team,” explained the 2009 world champion, who said he did not intend his comments to be made public.

“In a way it’s a pity that TV companies just choose the messages they want, because they can come across in the wrong way.

“I was obviously angry, but the anger was supposed to be kept within the team, because I am radioing the team, I’m not radioing TV companies.”

Button needs to get a grip because he is losing the PR battle on this one. Whilst being challenged and beaten by his team mate would always be clearly a matter of irritation, Jenson has obviously been deeply affected by Checo’s drive and that together with his ‘girlie’ radio messages have caused one of the most sure footed of F1 media manipulators to more than stumble just a bit.

Turbo era will require enhanced strategy

I remember back in January hearing Andy Cowell – head of  Mercedes High Performance Powertrains – say that F1, “”will become a ‘thinking driver’s’ championship to get the most from the car and the available energy. The quickest strategy for completing a race will be very different to the quickest strategy for completing a lap”.

This is because the new Turbo engines will be given only 100kg of fuel (now 150kg) and from its inbuilt KERS and ERS systems will provide a combined boost of 160bhp for just over 30 seconds a lap. KERS is around 80BHP for just over 6 seconds a lap.

Add to this the significant extra torque the engines will deliver in the traction zones and tyre management by the driver will be even more complex than it is in 2013.

Sam Michael thinks the chess era has already begun. “If you look at China, the top five places were filled by five world champions – and that is not an accident. It means right now it is a thinking man’s game. The top ten guys are all very fast in terms of talent, but what separates them is their experience and ability to cope with different situations.

This places a premium on experienced F1 drivers and demonstrates Caterham’s folly entrusting their season to 2 rookies.

Michael explains, “When you have situations like you have now in F1, with high degradation, it becomes a much harder task for the young guys to adapt. The nice thing for Checo is that his team-mate is a world champion and he does know how to manage the race – so he is learning a lot from him.

There are a lot of teams on the grid now who have two young blokes or guys in the middle of their career who are faced with an extremely difficult environment now.”

There are many critics of the modern F1 style of race and the fact that drivers are not pushed to the limit 100% of the time. We’ve seen wailing and gnashing of teeth from Marko this week demanding Pirelli give them a tyre that they can drive flat out with. He’s even made idle threats that his boss may pull out of the sport if this situation is not resolved.

Yet this is not new to Formula 1. Sam Michael observes, “The type of racing you have had for the past 20 years in F1 has been sprint racing, being flat out on tyres, even with pit stops and things like that. Whereas before refuelling, before I was involved in F1, it was similar to now, as you were trying to get through the race on one stop, or no stops, as you were managing tyres.”

For those who dislike the drivers having to manage races now, anti-depressant medication may be required for 2014 to prevent suicide.

Andy Cowell added, “New rules [2014] showcase advanced technology, encourage technological innovation and put F1 back at the cutting edge of motor sport, which we believe is what the fans want.

We are putting the motor back into motor sport.”

Brits are anti Vettel

The organisers of the British Grand Prix are hoping Sebastian Vettel suffers during the Barcelona race a DRS or KERS failure, a Lewis style blow out, a Jenson/Schumacher/Webber wheel nut pit stop cock-up or even a Pastor Maldonado [Taffy von Trip] special – anything so the German doesn’t win again.

Ticket sales for the British GP are down this year so far and Silverstone MD Richard Phillips is concerned. He reveals, “If you look at the cycle on selling tickets…on the Monday after a Grand Prix Sunday you tend to see a spike [in sales]. The weekend we had Lewis on the podium there was a spike and when you see Vettel there is less of a spike”.

He continues, “I think the needle-movers [for ticket sales] are going to be basically ‘not Vettel’.

It appears talk of ‘spikes’ is all the rage in Northamptonshire as Derrick Warwick further discloses, “When we know that Lewis and Jenson are coming into the Grand Prix off the back of a couple of wins, we see a massive spike in our sales.”

Silverstone need to recoup some £40m of circuit improvements made over the past 5 years and were disappointed when talks with a potential Qatari partner collapsed in 2012. BRDC chairman Stuart Rolt cryptically stated the failure to do a deal  was due to a clash between what the property developers required and the stated aims of the BRDC, adding even more interestingly that he hoped “to get something done” this year.

Fernando’s at it again

Just in from @Alo_Oficial “Samurai…;))” with this picture attached


Marussia move closer to Ferrari

Marussia’s lack of a commercial agreement with FOM and Bernie and their sanguine attitude over this has caused a certain amount of intrigue here at TJ13. Reader CavallinoRampante has recently suggested the team may be moving toward a relationship with Ferrari that would replace the need for the paltry money Ecclestone offers to the smaller teams.

In a couple of recent interviews with James Allen and Sky it appears there may indeed be legs in this idea. Ferrari are set to lose Toro Rosso as an engine customer leaving them with just Sauber who themselves have been non-committal thus far regarding the provider of their 2014 engines.

On this matter Marussia technical director Pat Symonds says, “Both Ferrari and Mercedes have been very positive with us. I say it’s near, because if it’s not then we’re not going to have a car. My original target for getting a 2014 engine deal was the end of May … but it was the end of May 2012. So we are behind where we want to be.”

One of the reasons for the inordinate delay in Force India deciding upon their driver line up until during the final test in Barcelona was due to a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari for their custom in the 2014 engine market. Bianchi (Ferrari junior driver) and Sutil (Mercedes driver) were the options open to the Silverstone based outfit. Of course Mercedes and Sutil won the day.

This has seen the young Frenchman driving for Marussia this year – a fact which Symonds believes, “hasn’t done us any harm, it’s brought us a little bit closer to Ferrari. But Ferrari genuinely wants more teams [to supply engines to] because everything is so new. I hesitate to call us guinea pigs or anything like that, but it’s better to have a few more samples of your product out there finding out what goes wrong and what’s working. I think that they wanted another team anyway and the contact through Jules has done nothing but help.”

The F1 senior statesman – Il Padrino of Maranello and Bernard Charles Ecclestone of mega bucks land- are presently in a frosty phase of their current relationship following the Italian’s jibe that the F1 commercial rights holder was possibly suffering from the ageing process and losing his grip on the commercial aspects of Formula 1.

7 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 1st May 2013

  1. Well, as Andy Warhol once said, “You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”

  2. Well silver is so not Hamilton’s colour haha. I’m sure he would look better in a blue and purple car!

  3. and on the subject of F1 politics, courtesy of Will Buxton: Surely this is just a case of sporting politics being like dominoes. Once one is started, they just keep falling elsewhere.

  4. I remember reading a piece a year or more back about gay drivers in F1. A number of names were mentioned, including Ralf Schumacher, Adrian Sutil and even Alonso!

    I can’t remember the source but someone was quoted as saying that there was a current or recent driver who is gay – the consensus was Ralf due to somewhere he’d been spotted.

    Not that it really matters, there have probably been a few, I guess the point at which we find out will be when it becomes a good career move to be known as gay, otherwise what does it really matter to the public?

    As for Mercedes, I do agree with the point that sometimes a good clear out can make the difference, but it needs to happen and then things be left to settle down. If Mercedes are planning more changes then things will never settle and they will never be in a position to push for the front consistently.

    • Problem is that Toto has just spent a lot of cash buying 30% of a business that’s under performed.

      Yet there is a senior manager in situ who is well liked and forgotten more about F1 than Wolff may ever know.

      Further, there has been a lot of change in personnel over the past 12-18 months at Mercedes. Add to that a car begins its design 8 months before it first races in earnest and it is obvious the lead times are huge.

      Then there’s 2014…

      You could argue Wolff should do little until a year from now – but having the patience to wait and not meddle must be very difficult.

  5. “Marussia move closer to Ferrari”

    Without doubt they are moving closer to Ferrari. The question is – how close do they get? As I mentioned previously I doubt Ferrari would buy them, Ferrari possibly would only want one seat for driver evaluation, Marussia can sell the other seat to someone like Chilton. But if you start seeing sponsorship on the cars from Italian company’s or company’s that are linked to Fiat / Ferrari such as Shell then you can pretty well assume Marussia are in the Ferrari fold.

  6. Taki: ‘I don’t do it on purpose… and I have toothache’…
    Would that all driver conferences were like this…! 🙂
    Be gone, doom and gloom from drivers trying to avoid having their remarks overheard… 😉

    What is it that makes some present-day pundits think that drivers didn’t have to think in the past. Maybe they didn’t have exactly the same things to think about but Prost (for just one) was nicknamed the Professor because of his ability to think. Perhaps not all were as good at it – has it ever been different…?
    Do these ‘youngsters’ have no idea what nonsense they spout…? Is their belief of having their finger on the pulse merely the result of frantic hand-wringing…? Are people becoming too stupid to realise how stupid they are…? 😉
    I blame Blue Peter… 🙂

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