Daily F1 News and Comment: Sunday 5th May

Is the wizard of Oz F1 outed?

Late last night, I picked up on a statement that hit my radar as ‘not normative’. Our favourite emperor, Mr. E, was asked about how the Concorde agreement is progressing.

Previous responses have been fairly consistent. The teams (except Marussia) are a done deal and it is the FIA and the constituency of the sporting regulations group that are holding things up.

Interestingly, Bernard is now claiming it is the lawyers who are causing the problem. “We are doing what we have to do with the Concorde Agreement,” he says. “The money side is all agreed. The financial side, for a change, is not a problem.

The hold up is generally lawyeres[e]. They write something down and the other one says, ‘I don’t think it should be written like that, it should be written like this.’ Then the other one says ‘I don’t know about that.”

Sounds like the F1 supremo is somewhat frustrated.

Could it be that there is a new-found confidence amongst those dealing with Ecclestone and that they are prepared to argue their case to the nth degree? Pirelli clearly won’t be cowed, even though Ecclestone said in Bahrain that the deal was done.

Then there’s Marussia, probably the team that has made the biggest progress going from 2012 to 2013. No deal from Bernie – no big deal at present is their message.

The Turkish government told Mr. E where to shove his offer of a bargain basement F1 hosting fee, Nurburgring similarly got offered a deal of a lifetime for a 1-off contract for 2013. China and Korea are believed to have negotiated reduced hosting fees, and Belgium has had a sweetener to keep hosting a race for 3 more years.

The wizard of Oz was a little man presenting as a giant – the ultimate con artist. No similarities there, then.

Horner’s loss of authority

Here at TJ13, we’ve felt for Christian in his time of need. Our ‘Christian Aid’ week, which took a historical peek at the Red Bull team boss’s history and achievements, in an attempt to help him rebuild his lost confidence.

Yet, the story from Malaysia – multi21 – just doesn’t seem to be done and dusted.

Anthony Davidson, who can hardly be accused of being part of the sensationalist media, says today, “What happened in Malaysia is still a pretty hot debate. From the fans’ point of view, they want to watch a motor race and that means watching the fastest drivers battle it out, team-mates or not. As a driver myself, I wish that was always the case, but things are never as simple as that.

From a teams’ point of view, a driver is an employee and, when the time comes, team orders are to be obeyed. Unless Red Bull take some discipline with Seb, they are in danger of creating a monster. A true leader tells his troops how to behave.

Christian Horner [the team principal] has done a phenomenal job, winning six world championships in three years. But he and the decision makers have to take control. Seb must realise there are 600-700 people working incredibly hard for him in the factory. And they lose their bonuses unless the team delivers as a team. If it happens again and the team doesn’t react, it will look farcical, and management within the team will be seen to have less power than their driver.”

For F1 fans, the most important thing is the drivers’ championship. But maybe they don’t realise that, for the teams, the most important thing is the constructors’ title. A considerable chunk of a driver’s salary comes from the revenue a team makes through where they end up in the championship.”

Davidson makes an interesting point, which appears to have been lost in the hysteria of reporting on this matter, when he raises the spectre of, “if it happens again…”.

Could it happen again? Red Bull has attempted to mitigate this by announcing that team orders to drivers are no more. Yet, this merely prevents them from having to give Sebastian an order based on pre-agreed scenarios.

Mark Webber has felt for over three years that Vettel receives preferential treatment from the team in spite of the continual Milton Keynes propaganda about both drivers being treated equally. This has been clear starting with his comment at Silverstone in 2011, “Not bad for a number 2 driver”  up to the post-race interview in Malaysia this year, where Webber announced to the world that the team would ‘protect’ Vettel from sanction.

There are 15 races left, and some believe the team will plot events to avoid the scenario where Webber and Vettel will find themselves racing on the same bit of [tarmac]. Tyre degradation and evolving race strategies do somewhat facilitate this, but Webber and Vettel will go wheel to wheel at least once and probably more than once in this year’s championship.

Previously, the team could put out a call to Mark, and they may attempt to do so again, despite claims of ‘no team orders’, but there will be one thing on Webber’s mind – to beat his team mate when given the chance.

Alan Jones – who is a steward in the up coming Spanish GP – sums up matters today in typically succinct Aussie manner. “Seb has proved he can’t be trusted, so from now on Mark must view him as just another enemy.”

Jones reflects on a similar situation, which he found himself in during his F1 career, “I had a similar experience with Carlos Reutemann in 1981.” He refers to an incident in the Brazilian GP, when the Williams team gave Reutemann instructions, which he ignored, and Reutemann went on to take the checkered flag ahead of team mate Jones.

The Argentinian later offered to ‘bury the hatchet’ with Jones, who instantly retorted, “Yeah in your back”.

Jones believes his countryman can win races and even the title this year and he observes that “there are clearly a number of drivers capable of winning a race [in 2012]. In that situation, the title will be won by the most consistent performer. We know that Mark is good enough, and has a good enough car, to perform consistently.”

What we do know is that Vettel and Webber will race each other this year, just as Jenson and Sergio did, last time out. There are three long years of pain burning in Webber’s chest, and Vettel ought to take care.

12 responses to “Daily F1 News and Comment: Sunday 5th May

  1. Webber may not have helped Vettel win his titles, but he can sure as hell prevent him from winning one.

  2. I agree with everything said about the Red Bull team orders and Mark racing Vettel… However, be it Vettel’s luck or indeed a conspiracy by RB, Mark has been nowhere close to Vettel since Malaysia which is a pity. I am sure Mark will not be giving him any presents.

    The problem in all this is that Mark is a gentleman racer. He seem to have his values and races by them. Vettel on the other hand only have one value “win at all costs” and that makes Mark a bit weaker in a race.

  3. One thing people seem to have missed (repeatedly) is the chip on Webber’s shoulder. He has this notion that because he’s not European, he is not favoured. Even his dad mentioned this in the interview with SKY (UK) after the Malaysian GP.

    When will he realise that he gets out performed by Vettel, and that’s why they favour him?

    • Good question Adam however I think it was the same with Barrichello and Schumacher. Schumi was just better than Barrichello (IMHO) and the team supported him.

      Unfortunately for Mark his team mate is one of the best and having a “victim” mentality will not help him. I still think he is at a disadvantage to Vettel because he is a more of gentleman and the team does support Vettel more.

      • Maybe that is something that makes a true champion. It’s the same mentality that is needed in the business world to succeed – a cut throat edge.

      • I can’t reply to you further down, for some reason, where you reply to me. But, thank you for a very good explanation of counter-intuitive driving. I understand it now. 🙂

    • Yes but it’s also a bit of a chicken and egg thing too. If RB always develop the car for Vettel, and always give him advantageous pit strategies and the new shiny bits first (remember Silverstone) of course Vettel will outperform Webber, as he has an equipment and strategy advantage as well. What interests me are the times Webber edges Vettel seems also to be the times when the car has had its aero advantage knocked back, particularly with the EBD last year. Until Newey got back on top of the regs, there was a period of time where Vettel looked fairly off balance. Still, I think Vettel is the quicker of the two, but Mark can make the car pretty wide when he wants too. Can’t wait for them to go at it wheel to wheel, though I’m pretty sure the rest of the team will do their utmost to keep it from happening.

      • It would take anyone time to adapt their driving style to the non OTBD (regular) style of driving. The fact of the matter is Webber was unable to adapt to the counterintuitive style of driving that Newey builds cars for!

        • I have heard this “counter-intuitive” style of driving mentioned before. What exactly does it mean? Obviously it is not turn left and you go right….. but is it to do with speed entry into and out of corners? Or the amount of understeer or oversteer the car gives depending on the choice and the wear on certain tyres?

          • Hi Mike. Then way the Red Bull worked with the exhaust blown diffuser is that you came into a corner fast, turn in, and then when the backend of the car starts loosing grip (going into oversteer) you accelerate to get exhaust gasses to flow over the diffuser and create more downforce. This normally happens before the apex of the corner which is not the way you would drive.

            Old school racing meant breaking in a straight line, come off the brakes as you start to turn in. You would then start feathering the accelerator as you hit the apex of the corner and start unwinding the steering wheel.

            If you were heading for the corner too fast as you do with an EBD the car would most likely spin out or you have to come off the throttle to loose speed and keep the rear from stepping out. With EBD you plant the throttle when the rear starts stepping out and this is counter intuitive.

            Vettel seem to have master the art of driving like this whereas Mark still prefers a car that acts normal. If you develop the car for EBD (high rake etc) it will not behave normally and Mark is fighting the car rather than just guiding it along.

        • Entirely adapt to be fair, he’s still pretty quick even at his “advanced” age. But my basic point is that they have developed the car almost entirely to suit Sebastian, give him the best strategies and the newest parts first. None of that entirely mitigates the fact that Seb is faster, but it does make him look faster relative to Webber than he actually is, in my opinion.

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