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10:44 11:35 12:54 (lead story updated)
Canada – McLaren drivers’ time of reckoning?
Having been apparently given a job for life by Jonathan Neale (McLaren CEO), Jenson Button may be under internal pressure from the team.
McLaren failed to score points in Canada for the first time in nearly 5 years, and following the race the British driver admitted he could have done better but appeared nonchalant when he commented to SKY, “We should be doing much better. Driving for 1 point is irrelevant, we need to set our sights higher than that”.
In the grand scheme of McLaren’s heritage this may indeed be true. Yet there are those in McLaren who think this attitude is not good enough.
When the team is battling to find every miniscule improvement it is surely disheartening to hear their lead driver make such a suggestion. F1 is about 10ths of seconds and doing whatever it takes to find them.
Having been out qualified and outraced a number of times this season by his rookie team-mate, Jenson is clearly ill at ease with himself, the team and the maybe world. We are getting used to his regular complaints to the team about Perez across car to pit radio and we have seen Jenson playing the superior statesman in television interviews where he talks Sergio down whilst Whitmarsh simultaneously defends the young Mexican.
In the meantime, Button has been throwing his full support behind Martin Whitmarsh who has been under fire in the F1 media. Asked by Sky Sports News during an appearance at Silverstone if everyone at Woking remained united behind Whitmarsh, Button replied: “As far as I know everyone’s united, yes.
Martin’s is a really good leader and he’s a proper human being as well. He’s a guy that you can trust, you can believe in. I feel that everyone at the factory, all the people I speak to when I’m there feel exactly the same. It’s so difficult for a Team Principal when a team that normally wins grands prix suddenly isn’t winning grands prix, but I think he is the best leader to bring us through this difficult time.”
It was Canada 2012 when we first heard public criticism from Ron Dennis of Lewis attitude towards his contract and Hamilton responded, “Martin is my boss, not Ron”.
Ron Dennis voting rights still mean he has the final say on appointments within the group on all racing matters. This was something the Arab investors were happy to concede at the time of their investment as they had no experience in this area.
Were Jenson’s attitude to continue, we may look back on Canada 2013 and realise it was the beginning of the end. On the other hand it may provoke the wake up call Jenson appears to require.
It is probably fair to describe the McLaren chief’s modus operandi as follows. “Cross me once, shame on you – cross me twice, shame on me”.
Which woman driver?
Employers regularly keep information from their employees for a number of reasons. An early declaration of inclusion in an impending event may cause them to relax and coast, knowing they have achieved their goal.
There has been much debate in F1 this year over women drivers, much of which has been provoked by Sir Stirling Moss, who to be fair was approached by Jennie Gow and her BBC production team for comment as part of Wolff’s ‘Women in F1’ piece for the BBC,
That broadcasting piece in itself has been rumoured in the paddock to be a ‘personal agenda setting’ item and its effectiveness will soon be for all to judge.
So, Susie Wolff is Williams test driver and we would expect her to drive in the young drivers test event in 1 month’s time – July 17-19.
TJ13 reported earlier this year Wolff stating, “For me the next logical step is to do the young drivers test, and do it well, and then see what the next step is after that. I think there’s quite a big movement just now, people want to see a woman in Formula One, the momentum is definitely there.
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, 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’.”
At the time Wolff added, “They (Williams) haven’t said anything but for me it has to happen,” Still no announcement.
Wolff throws down the gauntlet stating, “If it doesn’t happen, then I’m wasting my time. It’s all for nothing. It’s got to happen. 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.
People are really pushing now and asking why isn’t there a woman in Formula One. For me the timing is good but motorsport is a lot about talent and a little bit about timing and luck.”
Susie does not possess an F1 super license and cannot complete in a Grand Prix weekend like Bottas did in 2012. To qualify you must fulfil the following requirements under Article 5.1 of the FIA’s International Sporting Code.
A driver must have finished in the top three of the GP2 Series, Japanese Super Formula, the International F3 Trophy or the top four of the IndyCar Championship in the previous two years or be the reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Champion, or the F3 Champion in the Euro, British, Italian, Japan or Spanish series.
However, Wolf does not meet these requirements having previously competed in the DTM, where she scored four points in seven seasons, but could still be granted a licence if she completes “at least 300 km in a current Formula 1 car consistently at racing speeds, over a maximum period of two days.”
Clearly the William’s impending announcement will have a monumental impact on whether Susie remains on the fringes or quickly becomes a distant memory of another woman who just didn’t make it in F1. Yet their delay in making public who will be their ‘young test driver’ is a little puzzling.
The last woman to drive at a grand prix weekend was Giovanna Amati in 1992, whilst the last female to start a race was Lella Lombardi at the 1976 Austrian GP.
As grand pappy Judge used to say, “time and tide wait for no man [or woman]”.