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00:54 09:52 11:31 11:36 11:58 12:03 12:14 12:37 14:21 14:40
Intrigue over Interviews
It is now 00:54 on Thursday, the day of the FIA drivers’ press conference and no announcement has been made as to who will attend the conference in just 15 hours. Most unusual.
Hill says Hamilton has a lot to learn
Damon Hill the 1996 F1 world champion has launched a surprising broadside on Lewis Hamitlon. Speaking to the London Standard Hill says, “I don’t want to say Lewis is naive but he has a lot to learn. He genuinely wants to pursue his career in his own way. But the sport that he’s in is a very Machiavellian place. To succeed in Formula One you have to be a bit ruthless, have a focus, and almost a business mindset. Maybe he doesn’t want to have that. He wants to get in his car and show what he can do.
For people like Lewis, there are two career paths: the Beckham model (he’s managed by the same management group). That model has shown that some people can transcend their sport. Lewis’s management seem to be suggesting that he should follow the Beckham model. Lewis has clearly a lot going for him in the personality area. His girlfriend is a famous singer. But what is the measure of someone’s success? Is it fame or is it actual success?
Maybe XIX (Hamilton and Beckham’s management company) don’t realise there is a significant difference between celebrity footballers and Formula 1 champions. The latter make split second decisions, which either result in a 150 mph crash into a wall or a successful overtaking move. Footballer’s decide whether to pass, tackle, dribble or shoot.
Whilst nobody has done a scientific study comparing IQ tests between both sports participants, it would be surprising if Formula 1 drivers were not a great deal further up the intellectual ladder than the average footballer.
Part of the reason for this is that to be a successful F1 driver, you have to interact with crucial members of the team who are highly qualified in engineering, strategy and analysis. Science rules the sport and the driver has to be in some way immersed in that culture.
It’s easier in football to become a celebrity, there are many leagues across the world and many teams attaining glory each year. In F1, 1 team and 1 driver win each year. All F1 drivers are celebrities to some extent because in the world there are just 22 of them.
Winning is everything in F1, celebrity perfumes and fashion ranges mean little to fans and the world beyond F1.
Lewis has a problem identified by a senior and well know F1 personality who told me last year that they thought he was “just a bit thick”. XIX believe this is not a problem because they made Beckham a global brand outside of football and he is certainly no rocket scientist.
Yet Beckham became a consistent ‘on message’ brand managers dream whereas Lewis is an emotional roller coaster. When he moved to Mercedes he said, “we won’t win anything next year”, then in Barcelona testing 2 he believed Mercedes could win the world championship. Last week he admitted he needed to “get my shit together” and today he is claiming he can win the British GP.
F1 drivers are primarily judged by their relative performances to other F1 drivers and to this end Lewis is unfortunate. Formula 1 is in a golden age of driver competition and Lewis has to fight for supremacy with Vettel, Raikkonen and Alosno, whereas is days gone by the duels to be F1’s top dog were often just amongst 2 top drivers.
The choice for Lewis is in fact simple and Damon Hill hits the nail on the head when he asks what does Lewis want? “Fame or success?”
Who the hell is running Red Bull? (This story pre-dates the Webber announcement)
The picture at Mercedes AMG F1 has at times appeared to be unclear in terms of who is the boss of the team. Lauda joined the party last year as non-executive chairman and then Wolff jumped on the band wagon having seen Brackley as a more likely home for success than Grove.
Clearly Brawn has emerged from the travails of the International Tribunal as the master of all that he purveys – for now anyway. Yet Paddy Lowe will be appearing in Petronas colours for the first time this weekend and who the hell knows what will happen down the line.
However, the longer we observe Red Bull F1, the question has to be asked who is running the team? Who is the official spokesperson and who decides fundamentally which drivers will be contracted to pilot the Newey designed machines in 2014?
Webber has recently been making it known that he has an option to stay with the team for 2014, and it is common knowledge he has an excellent direct relationship with the teams billionaire owner with whom all his contracts have been negotiated direct.
Where does this leaves Marko and Horner?
The Guardian is reporting today that Christian Horner still holds a candle for the Lotus world champion driver Raikkonen. Horner comments on the team’s 2014 driver lineup stating, “Kimi would have to be an option [for 2014], if he were to be available. We’re in the fortunate position that there are an awful lot of people who would like to drive a Red Bull racing car”.
Then playing the political correctness card Horner adds, “The pairing we have has been tremendously successful. How much longer Mark wants to go on is a question only he can answer. From our perspective we will only change for something better than we currently have.”
The state of affairs between Webber and Vettel has clearly not altered as Christian remarks, “There is a professional relationship but there’s nothing beyond that between them. They both know what they’re employed by the team to do and there are no pretences.”
So why is this internal debate being carried out in public? Webber who is not known for his BS states… it is his call whether he stays or goes, yet Horner calls this into question with his open-ended comments over Kimi.
The suggestion is that it is Mark’s call to stay – unless ‘something better’ is available.
All this is very confusing and we have to ask; who the hell is running Red Bull F1 racing? Mateschitz, Marko, Vettel or Horner?
Webber retires from F1
There is little that surprises me in the world of Formula 1, however the announcement later today that Mark Webber will retire does indeed do that. Silverstone appears to be the time of year when the Aussie gets himself organised for the following season, and he will be sportscar racing for Porsche and turning his back on Red Bull.
Webber says, “Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding performance and technology at the highest level. I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”
Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG says, “I’m very pleased to have secured Mark Webber for our LMP1 project as one of the best and most successful Formula 1 drivers of our time. Mark is without doubt one of the world’s best race drivers, he has experience at the Le Mans 24 hour race and on top of that he’s been a Porsche enthusiast for many years.”
Webber is being welcomed with open arms as Fritz Enzinger, Head of LMP1 adds, “I learned to appreciate Mark’s qualities when we were both involved in Formula 1. He is one of the best drivers I could imagine for our team. I’m absolutely delighted that we have such an experienced and fast regular driver onboard from 2014.”
Whilst there was a lot of debate following Sepang over Webber leaving Red Bull and joining Porsche, TJ13 was led to believe this to had settled down. Indeed Mark informed TJ13 that he was looking forward to the new turbo era of Formula 1.
So there is now a contract offer on the table from Mateschitz, who said recently of Webber, “Whether he retires, only he will choose, but Mark is definitely a candidate for 2014. He is always welcome with us.” It seems though that Webber is being Webber… he has always said what he thinks and attempted to control his own destiny as best he can – and he has decided its time to leave the F1 stage.
Many now realise how good Michael Schumacher really was since Lewis took his seat in the team, and it maybe a similar situation will arise when Vettel races against his new team-mate in 2014. Make no mistake, Mark Webber is a top driver and he could easily move to another team were he just hacked off with the way Red Bull have treated him.
Of course we thought driver line ups were looking pretty static for 2014 in the top teams, but now this opens the door for a re-shuffle once again. Everyone’s favourite will be Kimi, but don’t count out Paul di Resta (remember you heard that here first).
Mark has raced the Le Mans 24 hour race twice, in 1998-99 but after flipping the car in 99 he said would never race the circuit again. Clearly the offer from Porsche appears to be to great for him to resist.
This weekend will be an emotional one for Webber, because unlike many of his fellow racers he has made his home in England, paid his taxes and lived in a country he has come to love. The British F1 fans have little chance of success from their home grown drivers in this years Silverstone event, so their adopted Aussie son is likely to be the focus of their hopes.
I’ve seen many F1 drivers retire over the years, but I feel particularly sad to see Webber leave. I like what he represents in a modern sport driven by greed and corporate branding (well that’s the idea). A fantastic racer and an even more fantastic person.
As a pom, there is no higher accolade that I could offer him other than to say Webber alone has persuaded me… Australians are not all bad 🙂
BBC feeling the pinch?
Yesterday TJ13 reported that the second largest public broadcaster in the world was pulling out of F1 at the end of the year citing finance as the primary reason. BBC F1 lovers already understand the pinch the largest public broadcaster has been feeling since they decided to sell the complete live rights to broadcast F1 in the UK to SKY.
We remember fondly the days of Jake flying in by helicopter to Monaco and Eddie wing walking his way into Silverstone. The cuts have clearly gone even deeper this year as below is a photograph of this years ‘big arrival’ feature the Beeb have laid on for Suzie P.
McLaren support the Tribunal’s jurisdiction and ruling
Speaking on behalf of the team from Woking, Sam Michael says that “We support the decision of the FIA. You can always have a personal opinion of protests and hearings, but at the Tribunal a group of lawyers considered completely dispassionate the case. Their judgement we have to trust, because if not, who’s going to control the sport? We respect the Tribunal. They made their position clear.”
Michael pays tribute to Mark Webber on the announcement of his retirement, “Mark is damn fast, one of the fastest drivers in the entire field. We grew up in the same country, but because he is younger than me, I did not meet him in Australia”. Sam Michael worked with Mark Webber at Williams F1 and he concludes, “I can imagine me how difficult it must have been for him to take as a driver set foot in Europe.”
Horner on Webber
Christian Horner has commented on Mark Webber’s decision to leave the Red Bull team saying, “I am sure Mark thought long and hard before making what has no doubt been a very difficult decision. His achievements in Formula One are extensive and I am sure he will continue to push hard and build on that record until the end of the season”.
We support Mark’s decision, he has been an excellent addition to the team since joining us in 2007 and we wish him all the best in the next stages of his career.” A team spokesperson added, “The decision on who will replace Webber will not be made until later in the season.”
We now know the line up for today and tomorrows FIA press conferences.
Drivers: Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Paul Di Resta, Max Chilton, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Principal’s: Ross Brawn, Paul Hembery, Christian Horner, Stefano Domenicali, Martin Whitmarsh and Eric Boullier.
Tomorrow could be tasty, I wonder if Horner and Dominicali will refuse to be positioned adjacent to Brawn and again sit on the back row and talk amongst themselves like naughty boys – as they did in Canada. At least we won’t have ‘THE empty seat’, resplendent with its full glass of water ready and waiting.
Webber retirement revealed by a slip of the tongue?
Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller let hints of the Webber appointment slip earlier today Australian time during interviews at the launch of the plug-in Panamera. The Porsche boss also told motoring.com.au that Porsche would stage a multi-car comeback at the French endurance classic.
Indeed, he stated Porsche could enter as many as three factory cars to take on the might of Audi and Toyota.“The decision was at first two cars but as we all know from the statistic point of view, three cars may make a success more sure. But then we need three drivers more and one complete team more. So we will wait and see what the rest of the year will bring and at the end of the year we will discuss again whether we can afford the third team and whether it makes sense or not.”
Mueller was evasive on the details of Webber’s signing. He did confirm, however, that Porsche has already signed three drivers for its LMP1 program. Nonetheless, his statements clearly reflected Webber’s imminent arrival.“We should have the team [of drivers] complete in the [Northern Hemisphere] autumn because they should have the opportunity to learn the car and to give the engineers the feedback and so on.”
When quizzed whether Webber F1 commitments would make this timeline difficult, Mueller told motoring.com.au’s Bruce Newton: “But he would have some time between the Formula One races … and he is such a good driver he would overcome this.”
And if Red Bull team sponsor Infiniti stopped Webber? “That would be a pity,” the Porsche boss stated.
Mueller contend’s Porsche’s LM P1 program needs the best talent. “We are looking for the best drivers and it doesn’t matter where they have been before, they have to be fast and they have to fit to our team… If someone is fast and if he fits to our team, so why not? And if Mark Webber is such a guy, why not?” (source: motoring.com.au) Clearly Webber needs to be released by Red Bull to do some track work with Porsche in the autumn, and so the timing of the announcement is not surprising.
The official announcement was to be this afternoon, as Webber clearly wanted to say goodbye to the Silverstone crowd. His two wins at the circuit put him in the company of Moss, Acari and Stewart and only Alonso of the current drivers is a multiple winner in Northampton.
Lotus ‘the device’
Lotus fans have been longing for this day, and TJ13 reported 2 days ago a source informed us that they will use their ‘device’ (DDRS, PRD or DRD or whatever the hell we call it) in the race at Silverstone. Eyes on the ground are reporting the build process is currently under way and the ‘ears’ are unveiled astride the main airbox intake.
I have to smile because for me Nissan was Datsun back in the day – and that was not good. However, Williams Advanced Engineering division will team up with Nissan’s performance arm Nismo to develop fast road cars.
Nissan explain they have chosen Williams as their partner because, “of its expertise in aerodynamics, simulation and material science”. Williams is also a world leader in hybrid technology, and played a pivotal role in developing the now defunct Jaguar C-X75 hypercar prototype.
Autocar comments, “Thus far Nismo’s products have targeted mainstream performance car buyers. Although they have sold well, Nismo is known to feel that it needs to produce an outright performance car in order to cement its credentials against more focused rivals. However, it was previously thought that the hardcore Nissan GT-R Nismo that’s expected to be revealed at the Tokyo motor show this year would perform that role”.
Could it also be the Nissan will step up to the LMP1 class at Le Mans and a Williams-Nissan partnership will help them achieve this ambition.
Williams boss Frank Williams said: “This partnership is particularly exciting because of the ambition and potential of the Nismo brand. Both parties share a passion for racing and cutting-edge technology and this collaboration will see us work closely together to develop cars that will be at the very pinnacle of automotive technology.”
Ironic Note: Williams have deserted the Renault-Nissan F1 engine partnership for Mercedes.
Massa’s new role
The trauma of the uncertainty surrounding his Ferrari drive for 2012 has clearly affected Felipe. Even though Stefano has hinted strongly he will remain with the team in 2013, Massa is hedging his bets.
Clarity at last on Pirelli tyre tests
The FIA have clarified the conditions behind the in season testing contract they have with Pirelli.
Firstly, Pirelli have to prove that the test is organized, paid for and carried out by Pirelli. The application must be submitted at least two weeks before the test. Secondly, Pirelli needs to send a precise test plan to the FIA. If the authority is then granted to the test, they will send an observer to ensure the plan is adhered to.
The other teams may send observers, and they cannot veto the test as long as Pirelli fulfills its obligation to invite each team to such a test. The test and tyre data must remain in the possession of Pirelli and may not be communicated to the test team.
There we have it then – why was this not specified in the contract which the FIA gave to Pirelli? Incompetence and lack of foresight are the most likely reasons.
This will not necessarily resolve Pirelli’s problems, because teams have been offered testing opportunities and they turned them down; most likely because there was no perceived advantage for the team in helping Pirelli test prototype rubber.
However, after all the bluster from Red Bull, not even Marko and Horner can have the face to refuse Pirelli again – as apparently ‘anytime you get to run an F1 car you are learning something’… was I word perfect on that Christian?