Daily F1 News and Comment: Friday 3rd May 2013

This page will be updated through the day

Comments of the day

There is a viewpoint that suggests that those who die young, receive undue adulation for their impact or achievements. Senna divides F1 fans as much as he unites them. So here were 2 comments from yesterday that were part of the Senna movie debate.

CavallinoRamapante – “I saw it and didn’t think it was that great. As someone who followed F1 in those days and saw Senna race many times it is quite often one-sided and bordering on fanboy adoration. The producers trying to make Prost out as a villain was plain wrong. And the video quality was atrocious. The producers struck me as guys that would be Hamilton fans today”.

Charles responds – “I agree about the adoration. It steps over the line into being like a hagiographic style calender gaze. Didn’t really give you a sense of the racer. However, complaining about the video quality : lol. How old are you? I thought it looked superb – the graininess of the original tape footage – on Blu-ray.

They had such an advantage with some of that footage that hadn’t been seen before. The footage at the end in particular was unforgettable, quite moving. For me watching the BBC’s F1 coverage with James Hunt commentating on Senna (then reading his piece in the Telegragh on Monday) was what really got me into F1 in the first place. Not as showy but as posted by the judge elsewhere, I take the BBC doc as a more substantial piece of film making.

And Thanks for the piece above”.

Check out thejudge13 TV YouTube channel – we’ll be putting some Senna stuff up there over the next day or so. Click on the subscription button (it doesn’t charge) just sends you notification when F1 material is posted.

Mrs. Wolff ups the anti

Suzi Wolff was announced as the development driver for the Williams team in April 2012. At the time her husband had recently taken over the reigns from Adam Parr as the team’s CEO and all was rosy in the garden. Then in January this year, Toto jumped ship, leaving Williams in a hurry when given the opportunity to join Mercedes AMG F1 as CEO and bought around 30% of the Brackley based team.

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Once… happy times

Suzi remained at Williams and Toto declared there was no conflict of interest even though he had shareholdings now in 2 Formula 1 teams.

Even though Suzi was the development driver for Williams she did not drive at the young drivers’ tests the team performed at Silverstone in July 2012 – that responsibility was given to Valtteri Bottas who was managed by her husband Toto and who had been taking Bruno Senna’s seat on Friday Free Practice 1 sessions on GP weekends.

Of course Bottas is now a full F1 race driver for the Williams team and Suzi has remained as the reserve driver. She has been making some noise this season since her husbands departure for Mercedes about being the ‘young driver’ for the team’s testing programme this year.

Yet it appears that Williams are not exactly jumping through hoops to give Suzi the test drive as she states, “They haven’t said anything [about me driving at Silverstone] but for me it has to happen. If it doesn’t happen, then I’m wasting my time. It’s all for nothing. It’s got to happen”.

Wolff believes there are those in F1 who think she is not up to the job of driving an F1 car. “There’s many people who think it’s going to be embarrassing for me to drive on a young driver day because I’m going to be so far off the pace,” she said. “For me, it’s incredible to hear such comments.

I wouldn’t be doing aero tests if I hadn’t shown some kind of capability. People forget we’ve been racing at a high level for a long time. It’s not like you are just plucked from obscurity and told ‘drive the F1 car’.”

Staking her claim, Wolff points out, “I am the development driver, so it cannot be that a young driver test comes and you don’t put your development driver in. But you never know, so let’s see.”

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Exasperated? Not getting what we want?

Suzi has been high profile in the F1 media recently, the subject of a couple of programmes looking at women in F1. On the matter of female drivers getting a seat in the world’s premier single seater racing event she claims, “It’s a change that has to happen in people’s heads…Bernie says many things in the press but behind closed doors he’s doing a hell of a lot to help me come into Formula One because he knows from a business perspective it has to happen.”

For now, there is silence from Williams on the matter – and Mrs. Wolff may appear to be sounding a little desperate.

Red Bull cost cutting

Even though the RRA is dead in the water, Red Bull F1 appear to be looking to save a few quid. Maybe it’s down to the expense of Christians self-esteem therapy, but quality is definitely suffering.

Sebastian’s visit to Sochi on his way home from Bahrain was much publicised as he drove an Infiniti around a circuit that doesn’t exist in the rain.

The local promoters had requested Red Bull provide them with publicity photographs which they could use locally and Red Bull agreed.

Vettel lines up dutifully behind the car and… hang on a minute… That’s incredible. Newey has clearly excelled himself and re-written the very laws of physics.

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It’s MAGIC!!!!

We have a levitating RB9, right in front of the dignitaries. In fact it looks like the bull is bucking, about to rear up on its hind legs. Look out guys… rampaging bulls are not good so close up.

Aha. Know I see. The car is not really there is it? TJ13 has a very skillful reprographics expert who helps us with our art work from time to time and I’m betting he wouldn’t produce anything like that in photoshop.

Rumour has it, the red Bull PR department are taking their fair share of cost cutting and have agreed sell their copies of photoshop and make do with Windows Paint for a while – and it shows.

Marko watch

Christian’s therapy costs may rise a little further today as the war of words between the good Austrian doctor and the now nominally titled ‘team principal’ rages on. Christian made a typical lengthy statement about roles and responsibilities 2 days ago – why use 10 words when 10,000 will do.

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A committed Marko watcher

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.”

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Horner before multi-21

Whatever we think of Marko, he is a least concise. Helmut tells Spain’s El Confidential that in fact, “I am a director of Red Bull Racing alongside Christian and whatever happens in the team comes to me and, if necessary, I take it up to the owner (Mateschitz), so I take the final decision.”

Questions are now being asked of Horner… what in fact does he now do?

Right then urm… so Helmut you and Christian are both directors with similar titles… however ‘whatever happens in the team’ you know about and make a judgement call on… and if necessary it is you that speaks to Dietrich on the subject and not Christian.

These comments appear to be getting beyond the usual Horner/Marko exchanges, and you have to question what the result of it all will be? Could it be the door has been opened by Vettel’s failure to follow Christian’s instructions in Sepang and through that door Christian will exit???

Rossi to get FP1 in Canada

Having been called away at the last minute to driver for Caterham in GP2, reserve driver Alexander Rossi will now test for the team in FP1 at the Canadian Grand Prix next month.

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…and moody… yes that’s good!

Rossi explains, “The weekends that I’m not doing GP2 I’ll be looking to be drive the F1 car in Friday practice sessions and that will start in Montreal. Beyond that I’ll be doing at least one more, and possibly others, but it’s hard to say exactly what will happen because in F1 you never know for certain until you’re in the car. Whatever happens, the more time you can spend in an F1 car the better.”

Having fitted a number of upgrades to the CT03 in Bahrain, the team appear satisfied with their improvement. Further upgrades are planned for the Spanish GP in Barclona next weekend and Rossi is clearly bullish. “The good news from the F1 team is that we made some good progress in Bahrain with our performance.

I think everyone was a little bit relieved to be honest because we’ve had some updates that have come and gone and they haven’t really produced the results we were all expecting. The fact that we made a small step forwards in Bahrain is a good boost for everyone and we’ll have more parts coming in Barcelona and at other races this year, although we have to take into perspective that everybody else will too”.

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..now whistful and longing…Girls will love you

In his role as reserve driver for the F1 team, Alexander was not able to drive in the opening GP2 round in Malaysia, however he did make the podium in Bahrain and believes he has a shot a the title.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a run at the championship this year and that’s what I’ve got to target. I’ve only scored points in one of the opening four races but I’m still seventh in the championship. There are still 18 races left so it’s a long season and I wouldn’t want to go into a championship thinking about anything other than a shot at the title.”

German’s want Bridgestone back

One GermanF1 media outlet ran a poll with it’s readers. With just over 7,500 votes recorded 67% of the readers overwhelmingly voted for Bridgestone to replace Pirelli in F1.

F1 Fact: No. of wins for tyre manufacturers.

Goodyear          368

Bridgestone      175

Pirelli                   87

Top 10 F1 radio messages

For those of you bored with ‘yes yes yes…’ and ‘leave me alone…’ there’s a couple of others in here of definite interest. Strong language is used BE WARNED!!!

Kubica – still a long road

There’s been  a fair amount of media hype around the fact the Robert Kubica has been to Brackley and driven in the F1 simulator. Kubica confirmed this at the Azores Rally, “Yes, that’s true, I was there. But I will not tell you how many times I’ve been there or how many circuits I tried.”

untitledNot one to miss out on a media opportunity, Toto has fired the speculation further when he states today, “If there is a way to facilitate a Kubica return to racing, whether in DTM or in a Formula 1 car, we would like to do that. Any team would like a driver of this calibre. “

Kubica did a DTM test in the winter and was expected to announce he would drive in the series, yet he chose to enter the second tier of the WRC championship instead.

“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.

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.”

It is then interesting Robert has chosen to do some F1 simulator work having given the above explanations. I was discussing with a racing driver which would be easier for someone with Kubica’s injuries just last week – DTM or Rallying. With the state of Robert’s right arm, they believed that the loose surfaces the rally cars run on much of the time would stress him less than running on tarmac in a touring car – particularly when cornering.

Freelance F1 journalist Dimi Papadopoulos @F1enigma seems to be the voice of reason on the twittersphere today when mass hysteria broke out over a Kubica.  “There is a big IF in the Kubica Mercedes test of course … Guys don’t get over excited with the Kubica story. Any team would have done it”.

Check out this video and watch Robert’s use of his arm and say what you think?

Mercedes getting corporate on Lewis?

The Hamilton dream that he would be free as a bird from the MTC based corporate machine that controlled his every move appears to be fraying at the edges. We all love Lewis’ ‘my bad’… ‘sweat your ass off’… ‘WTF’ type explusions and during the Mercedes honeymoon we saw plenty of this kind of expression.

Today Mercedes are marketing “Barcelona Preview @LewisHamilton” and it doesn’t sound much like our loveable Lewis’ at all.

untitledThe state that for Lewis it feels like a “long time since Bahrain so we’re all looking forward to getting to Barcelona next weekend and starting to get into the routine of the European season. The short break has been good however, and I’ve had the chance to catch up with family and friends, and also spend some time at the factory with the guys, working on our efforts to improve.

We’ve been boosted by the results that we’ve had at the start of the season and to come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement. I’m feeling very comfortable in the car now and we know the areas that we need to improve so a lot of effort is being put in to close that gap to the front-runners.

Barcelona should be a good test as we know the circuit so well having completed most of the pre-season test programme there. The weekend should be a good benchmark of the progress we have made since then.”

Aww come on guys… The Lewis we know and love would have at least mentioned something about ‘hopefully… not running out of fuel there this year’.

Quick Quiz: What was Spain’s first permanent race circuit?

2014 tyre dimensions need to change

The tyre debate in F1 rages on – and Pirelli are the most talked about tyre manufacturer in the world. Yet should they get the deal done with FOM for 2014 and beyond, Paul Hembery has his eye on some changes he believes will be required. The issue is that the new engines are going to output torque in a very different was form the current V8’s.

The problem Pirelli have is they have no data to work with, but fortunately as Hembery tells us, “Some teams have been kind enough to share with us their simulations. This has shown that the power output is quite different​​ and of course we must take this into account in the design of next year’s tyre.

The more powerful V6 turbos with energy recovery produce a lot more torque. This means that the cars tend to spin up their wheels and have traction problems coming off the corners. This in turn may lead to overheating of the tyre. Today’s dimensions are not ideal for that. We would prefer a narrower front tyre, but a wider rear tyre, though it is probably now too late to alter the size of the tyres for 2014.”

This will alter the look of an F1 car, some may think for the better – then again as always in F1 – some will not.

Raikkonen not on the same page as James Allison

Last weekend the usually measured and understated Technical Director of Lotus suggested that the car would not need a huge amount of work to stay in the title hunt for 2013.

Today Kimi is not so sure. “For sure it’s an okay start and we’re in a better position that this time last year, but there’s a long season ahead and it’s too early to say if we can fight for the championships right to the end. It’s going to be hard to catch Sebastian if he keeps taking good results so we need to start taking more points from him, but you never know what can happen. We’ll keep pushing to improve the car and see where we end up.

To catch the leaders, we have to work twice as hard as they are,” adds Kimi. “It’s no secret that we want more speed from the car in qualifying; it’s so tight up there at the front and we really need to be on the first two rows to fight for victories every time. It’s good to be able to start the European season where we are as this is when you see teams starting to push on with lots of new parts for the cars.

It’s still early days, but to have scored strong points since the start of the year is obviously better than not having them. We need to keep scoring points in the same way; even if it’s a bad weekend for us, we need to keep finishing as well as we can. That’s how we will fight to the end of the season.”

An unusually verbose Kimi continues by reflecting on the result in Bahrain, “You’re never really happy if you don’t win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get. We could maybe have been a few places higher in qualifying which would have made things easier, but I drove to the maximum and luckily we found the pace in the car that was missing in qualifying. Let’s hope I’m happier in Spain.”

Drivers eh? Keep pushing those engineers…

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22 responses to “Daily F1 News and Comment: Friday 3rd May 2013

  1. JP Montoya…priceless! For everything else, there’s Kimi.

    I was gutted when Montoya left F1, bring him back, BRING HIM BACK!

    Oh deer!!!

    • A horse with horns! Agree, Montoya was great to have about and not just for the aggressive racing.

  2. ‘young driver’ – Suzie Wolff is 31. Were she actually competing in F1 today she would be the 6th oldest driver.

    “If it doesn’t happen, then I’m wasting my time.”

    Suzie you’re wasting your time.

    • What is crazy about the Suzi Wolff thing is if she doesn’t get a proper chance she will probably try to make out it’s because she is a woman people in F1 won’t take her seriously.

      The thing is with her prior racing results she would be no where near an F1 car if it wasn’t for the fact she was a woman.

        • and yet do we need to make a bit of an acception right now? In order for any chance of a future F1 woman driver to genuinely be in F1 they’ll have to have competed against the odds (as do all other F1 drivers with pre-F1 series budgets, series results & sometimes blind luck).

          To do that it’s down to pure numbers. There’s only about 3% of drivers who become professional racers that are women at the lower tiers so at the moment there’s absolutely no chance of a women F1 driver. To up that percentage in the coming decades and so increase the likelihood of an F1 drive, girls at the karting age need a role model so perhaps Suzie is an acceptable compromise to the ‘rule’?

          • As I’ve repeatedly said, F1 will produce it’s next female or gay driver way before pure speed merits it. #CashIsKing

          • Unless, of course, F1 has already had it’s first gay driver, just without formally knowing it. Given F1, may still not have merited it on speed though.

            As far as women, there are some pretty fast ones in the feeder series for NASCAR, Kenzie Ruston I’m looking at you. Whether any make the leap to open wheel who knows, but clearly there are some talented drivers amongst the XX’s.

            As far as championship winners, Shirley Muldowney is all you need to know. Her wiki is worth a quick read.

            My point being I think there are (and have been) already fast enough and tough enough female drivers out there, it’s just going to be the politics that keep them out and ensures the less talented will get that shot, not the skill level.

  3. What was Spain’s first permanent race circuit?

    I’m so tempted to say Catalunya. Before then it was alternating between Madrid and Barcelona and before that there was only like 5 races somewhere else. I don’t count the pre-1950 circuits.

  4. Are you sure Paul Hembery said that. I’ve heard him speak and he can speak English. That was not in English. Keep up the good work though.

  5. I don’t think there’s any evidence to support the claim that toto “bought” a 30% stake in AMGMBF1… Though the press release was worded to make you think he might have.

    • CTP – you are right – it is not confirmed in black and white. We’ll have to wait for the company to make their annual return to know exactly.

      But it is widely believed to those I’ve spoken with to be ‘significant’. So how do we write about it? Significant to some may be £5m but as a percentage that would be fairly small and inaccurate.

      Toto owning 30% and Lauda 10% appears to suit Daimler Benz who previously had Aabar holding that sort of percentage.

      They have their own troubles in Germany with institutional investors in the global manufacturing business who would prefer them to not be involved in a works F1 team at all.

      • What’s the value of his Williams investment worth today? And what did he originally pay for it?

        • Without checking out share price on Frankfurt (was about 2 euro’s a share down from the float price last time I looked) – probably – there or there abouts.

          Would have got a deal as a private placement transaction.

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