Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 3rd September 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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Ricciardo confirmed for Red Bull 2014 (01:13)

Michelin vs Pirelli: Todt vs Bernie: Silly reporting vs Common Sense (10:15)

Richter scale reviewed (10:59)

Re-named: Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya (11:42)

What will Toro Rosso do? (12:33)

Kubica still in full flow (14:49)

McLaren: How the mighty have fallen (16:40)

Monza: Untouchable? (18:20)

Mallya: The brains behind it all (18:53)

Comment of the day (19:19)

Irony of DRS (20:45)

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Ricciardo confirmed for Red Bull 2014

TJ13 exclusively reported on Friday 12th July that Daniel Ricciardo would be testing for Red Bull on Sunday 14th July for the team at the private Spanish test facility in Idiada near Barcelona. In fact this news has not since been reported by any other F1 news source.

In the following daily #F1 news, TJ13 reported Ricciardo would drive in the Silverstone Young Drivers’ Test. Red Bull’s original programme for Silverstone included Ricciardo, Webber and Vettel but interestingly when the rules for current F1 drivers testing for Pirelli at Silverstone became clear, Webber was dropped from the line up and only Ricciardo and Vettel tested the prototype rubber compounds.

TJ13 heard and reported during the following week that Ricciardo was a done deal for the 2014 Red Bull drive, despite Horner suggesting in Hungary that late entrant was under consideration.

Red Bull enjoyed their attempts to destabilise their opposition during the summer break with the hints that either Raikkonen or Alonso could be under consideration for the vacant Webber seat. This also threw the F1 media into confusion.

So, as the established F1 media are reporting tonight, “The worst kept secret in F1 is confirmed”, Ricciardo will replace Mark Webber in 2014. Yet this was only given any credence by the paddock press core when Webber briefed that an Australian would replace him prior to the Belgium GP.

Horner said tonight, “It’s fantastic to confirm Daniel as the team’s race driver for 2014. He’s a very talented youngster, he’s committed, he’s got a great attitude and in the end it was a very logical choice for us to choose Daniel.

He’s got all the attributes that are required to drive for our team: he’s got a great natural ability, he’s a good personality and a great guy to work with. Daniel knows what the team expects from him.”

The Perth-born Australian, the driver with the biggest smile in the paddock even without Monday’s announcement, made his excitement evident as Reuters reports.

“Since joining F1 in 2011, I hoped this would happen and over time the belief in me has grown; I had some good results and Red Bull has decided that this is it, so it’s a good time.

Next year I’ll be with a championship-winning team, arguably the best team, and will be expected to deliver. I’m ready for that,” added the driver, who has recently moved to Monaco from Milton Keynes in England where Red Bull are based.

It will be a great challenge to be up against Sebastian Vettel, I’m looking forward to that.”

TJ13 has reported consistently the political battle during 2013 between the ‘nominal’ team boss Christian Horner and the teams ‘special advisor’ Helmut Marko and it appears the Austrian has once again won the day.

Marko stated before Budapest, “A decision will be announced in August”, and we can be churlish and observe that it was on September 2nd. Yet Horner before Belgium last week said that there would be no decision before Monza…. Mmm.

Adrian Newey has supported the Marko line tonight saying, “From Red Bull’s point of view that also fits well because the driver that Christian and I feel is the most promising is part of the Red Bull young driver programme.

The decision actually reminded me a little bit of a similar situation we had when I was at Williams. Nigel Mansell was leaving and we needed someone alongside Alain Prost.

We could stick with Riccardo Patrese or take a punt on a young driver called Damon Hill who was our test driver at the time. I think it’s good to bring young blood in and give promising drivers a chance.”

For those of you aware of Williams historic politics, you’ll know this example Newey alludes to is really an example of praxis – post rationalisation of a prior event.

Nevertheless, Kimi is not joining Red Bull and the savvy Finn most likely rationalised that joining a team that is moulded around their 3 (maybe soon to be 4) times world champion is not a smart move.

Yet joining Ferrari at the behest of Il Padrino is a whole different matter. Ferrari recruiting a driver who is already a world champion for Ferrari alongside their current number one driver would be an earth shattering departure from their distinct number one and number two driver policy.

Red Bull have demonstrated over the past 3 seasons that a driver line up where competition is at times close, delivers constructors’ titles whereas Ferrari’s policy has been a failure. Massa is no longer good enough to push their number one driver to the very limit and is also not there to pick up wins for the team when Alonso has a poor race or a DNF.

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Michelin vs Pirelli:  Todt  vs Bernie: Silly reporting vs Common Sense

There is a growing body of opinion that believes the as yet, shy and retiring… nay almost reclusive…. Presidente of the FIA is about to go Frankenstein. The reasoning is thus: Without a Concorde agreement, the hand of the FIA is strengthened enormously and Jean Todt will suddenly become a legislator that will make Thatcher’s Conservative Government legislative reforms of the early 80’s look like a child’s bedtime story.

Of course the FIA and Todt in particular have taken unusual steps this year when responding with legislative action to unlock the stalemate over the Pirelli proposed reforms to the 2014 tyres. Further, we had FIA intervention and a rather bizarre dictum over pit lane safety following Red Bull’s ‘accidental’ release of Webber’s car in an unsafe manner.

And so to the thorny matter of who will be providing the tyres in 2014. Bernie wants Pirelli; Todt wants Michelin, and time is very, very short. Of course each company has a different agenda, with Pirelli supplying the high degradation style tyres and Michelin wanting to be eco-friendly and Pascal Couasnon, director of motor sport for Michelin said recently, “We really don’t like the way F1 is presented today, not at all. It disappoints and even angers me.

You don’t create a good image of such an important automotive product – a tyre – by changing it every few laps or even every few corners.”

The problem for those who wish to see Michelin join the sport is they need to deliver as plausible methodology as to how a ‘built to last forever’ tyre will not see a return to the Schumacher/Bridgestone bore fest that saw F1 TV audiences across the globe tumble.

The latest of these attempts to square the circle is from someone who should know better. Citing Racecar Engineering here is the Michelin ‘clincher’.

“’At the Le Mans test day in June, Audi ran a fourth car on narrow tyres to give Michelin the live track data that it needed to build safe tyres for an 870kg hybrid, which ultimately in Toyota’s case could deliver around 1000bhp in short bursts when the hybrid system is active’,

Andrew Cotton wrote. ‘Compare that with the 2014 Formula 1 cars, and Michelin’s tyre test could have significant meaning. Michelin therefore already has live track data for a hybrid car and should be able to build tyres to the demands of Formula 1, even allowing for the extra downforce and cornering speeds of a Formula 1 car over an LMP.”’

I’ll let the readers of TJ13 pick the bones out of that one, but a more absurd rationale I’ve not heard for quite some time. On any level it appears to be mere piffle.

Michelin have further spoken out on seeing tyre widths increased substantially. Cousanon adds, “If F1 is ready to go to 18-inch wheels, we’ll definitely be in the championship.”

Just before the shutdown it emerged that Pirelli had requested some changes to the dimensions of the tyres for next year – they wanted to increase the rear-tyre width by 20mm to 400mm (14 to 16 inch) and the diameter to increase from 660mm to 690mm. The FIA said no.

The rationale that ‘no Concorde agreement means Todt can act unilaterally however he wishes and be seen to ‘save the day’ is nonsense.

Of course the FIA’s intervention to break the stalemate over Pirelli’s request to amend the 2013 tyres was a popular action amongst F1 fans and media alike. Yet just days later the FIA pit lane safety dictat was dismissed almost universally as utterly silly and band wagon reactionary codswallop.

Further, Jean Todt is now facing a challenge to his presidential ambitions and TJ13 is hearing that he is ready to concede on the Pirelli 2014 matter. He is however desperate to limit the length of that contract and to that end where we may see some FIA limitations introduced.

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Richter scale reviewed

TJ13 ran this piece on Ferrari during the first few days of the Summer shut down, “Alonso/Ferrari rift grows” and it was here where the first mention of the Richter scale was made. Interestingly some other F1 sites ran with the analogy.

The next news story that same day was “Ferrari offer to Raikkonen”, it would be a great refresher for you all to nip back and read these pieces (click here).

Subsequently we confirmed that Kimi had signed a Ferrari contract on the Thursday prior to the Hungarian GP race.

Remember, at the time Alonso was in Samurai twitter heaven and briefing against his own team at every opportunity. His ear was subsequently ‘tweaked’ by Il Padrino which resulted in twitter revealing a frantic hard working/training Fernando, popping his head above the parapet during the summer break when the rest of the drivers’ were surfing or chilling.

Lewis by the way I now hear was in LA trying to persuade Shirtlifter to chill out. She is demanding babies from Lewis – and now – as a pre-condition of their ongoing relationship. Of course the Polynesian born beauty (for now) knows her aged body clock is ticking and no babies means no alimony one day when required.

I digress. A return of the ice man to Ferrari – whenever announced – will be a 9 on the Richter scale, simply because of the way he was booted out of the team to make way for Alonso when he still had a year on his contract.

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Re-named: Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya

Back in March 2010, there was concern over the continuation of the race held annually in Barcelona. The CNA (Catalan News Agency) reported, “From 2013, Catalunya and València will share the organisation of their Formula-1 Grand Prix in order to reduce costs. In 2013 the race would be held in the Catalunya Circuit and València would not host any F-1 race. In 2014, it would be the other way around”.

Valencia subsequently gave up its slot on the F1 calendar, yet there have been murmurings during 2013 that the shared deal may yet be back on. Any hope Valencia had of this arrangement being introduced may today be dashed as the Spanish media are reporting that the Catalan circuit based in Montmelo has been re-named.

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Prior to the world banking melt-down, the Barcelona GP was one of the success stories with GP crowds in the region of 140,000 and as CNA reports, it was “sustainable” and a nil cost to the regional government. Yet with crowds plummeting to around 80,000,  the cost to the Catalan government rose in 2011 to over 5m euro’s.

It appears that common sense has prevailed, because this amount is a drop in the ocean compared to the costs of Singapore and Australia and the regional government has this week agreed a sponsorship deal with the circuit which has hosted the Spanish GP since 1991. The economic benefits from the international travellers visiting Barcelona for the F1 event, spending money in the city, must surely in this scenario make the case that the local authority spend is in fact an investment.

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What will Toro Rosso do?

So Kimi is not going to join his mate Seb at Red Bull, Massa’s future is (as always) in question. Alonso is busy, busy training and being a good boy and Toro Rosso have some decisions to make.

Early indications are that Marko – despite previous reassurances – is agitating for a complete driver change for the Red Bull sister team in 2014.

This of course makes no sense from a team perspective, but that depends on how you interpret the role of Toro Rosso as part of the Red Bull F1 family. Simply put, If there is no where for Vergne to go in the Red Bull driver hierarchy over the next 2 years, why keep him?

Felix de Costa is the red hot favourite to replace Ricciardo, but if Vergne is to be shown the door, then Carlos Sainz Jnr is Marko’s favourite to step up to the plate. He has been running simulator sessions this week in Milton Keynes and enjoying the hospitality of the world champion team.

Yet there is of course there is the Massa conundrum. There is no doubt Felipe has been a top driver, but whether his accident and subsequent treatment by Ferrari has diminished his racing powers no one can really say.

TJ13 reported following Germany that Ferrari have been using him to test radical car development components which would explain the crashes in Monaco and Germany. Should the ‘Ferrari way’ of running their 2 drivers be about to change, then a driver like Massa would be a huge asset to a team like Toro Rosso in a way that the likes of Sutil and Hulkenberg would not – even were they to be willing to move to the Italian based outfit.

Toro Rosso do not need money, but in a year where the changes in F1 are so enormous, it could be argued that to benchmark their efforts with a driver of Massa’s proven quality would be most beneficial for their future.

2014 is but the dawn of a number of years of car development where heading in the wrong direction will have ramifications for more than just one season and Felipe may just at present be under consideration to replace the unfortunate JEV.

So the choice for Toro Rosso appears to be either recruit 2 new young guns for 2014 or to pair one of them with a proven driver of quality who will help the development of the car for the team.

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Kubica still in full flow

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McLaren: How the mighty have fallen

From winning races in 2012 and pushing at the top of the constructors’ championship, McLaren have been a shambles in 2013. It is all down to too much change too quickly. The Newey philosophy has been for some time one of evolution from year to year, yet McLaren thought they knew better and Sam Michael accepts this during a McLaren phone in stating, “With this year’s car we took too many risks compared to what we had to, particularly as we were winning Grands Prix at the end of last year. 

We know we made a mistake and we’ve had many an engineering discussion about that internally, (but) we know what we’re doing going forward. The team of guys that designed this car are the same team that designed winning cars previously – they’re all the same designers, engineers and technicians so I’ve got every confidence that they can do the same again next year.”

Yet these accusations were levelled at McLaren during the early flyaway races and Whitmarsh stated they would not return to the philosophy of the 2012 car, but would get the 2013 car working as it was designed to perform. With just 8 races left, they have failed in this objective.

McLaren’s ambitions have also collapsed into hoping they can achieve a podium in 2013 as Whitmarsh explained. “Monza should be good for us, but it will be difficult to score a podium on merit, particularly as we start to concentrate a lot on the 2014 car,” said Michael. “Although we’re still bringing parts to the 2013 car, they’re not the normal developments you’d bring when you’re pushing in a performance race against other teams; they’re parts that are results of studies for 2014.

They can still be quite effective, but they’re less known in terms of looking forward three or four races knowing exactly what’s coming. So to predict where a podium might come, that’s quite tricky, but we’ll keep pushing until the very last race to try to make that happen.”

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Monza: Untouchable?

Antonio Rossi, a minister in the Lombardy region where the famous Autodromo is located has angrily rejected Tuttosport’s speculation that the corruption allegations and the dismissal of Bernie Ecclestone’s friend – who was director of the circuit – will result in the loss of the contract to host F1.

He declares, “The Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monza is untouchable“.

Maybe he should ask the BDRC whether a venue which hosted the first F1 race was untouchable when Bernie decides it is time to move on.

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Mallya: The brains behind it all

The self styled and once renowned ‘King of good times’ has been suffering times of great difficulty as TJ13 has been reporting for almost 12 months. Yet unlike in the good times when Mallya took the credit for all that was positive, the Economic Times writes, “Chairman Vijay Mallya has blamed almost everyone, including engine suppliers, employees, banks and tax authorities, for grounding of the [Kingfisher] carrier since October last year”.

He is wanted by the Indian Tax authorities for failing to pay over the tax deductions made from employee’s pay – back in the day when they got paid – and now via the airlines holding company, United Breweries, has filed a multi million pound lawsuit against International Aero Engines AG in a Bangalore Court, alleging they supplied inherently defective engines. Look out Mercedes!

Vijay signs of the annual company report and has sent it to the shareholders ahead of Annual General Meeting on September 24. In it he states, “In view of the difficult operating environment as well as the engine problems, your company’s airline operations and finances were severely affected.

Further, Mallya claims that “coercive action by the tax authorities, who attached the carrier’s accounts as well as the sources of revenue, Kingfisher Airlines defaulted on payments to creditors and delayed salary payments.

The annual report also castigates the company employees stating, “the absence from work (strike) by the carrier’s employees periodically, made it impossible for the airline to maintain its schedule integrity, thereby leading to stopping of operation”.

Isn’t it strange how workers who haven’t been paid for three quarters of a year, turn and become obstructive. Damned peasants eh Vijay?

This is the figurehead behind many people’s favourite second team, Force India. The other shareholder, Subrata Roy of Sahara Corporation fame, is being hounded by the Securities Authorities to repay some $4bn stolen from Indian small Investors. Yet he has pledged to do all within his power to find some investors to build the £7m flagship Force India building to be constructed outside the gates of Silverstone.

Indeed times are tough.

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Comment of the day

This made me smile from @Kenevil_F1 on twitter

– I’m not sure if I feel disappointed with some things anymore. I think I’ve moved more progressively to: “Oh, ok”

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Irony of DRS

DRS was created to enhance overtaking… that is it. Some feel it makes racing artificial while others … are there any others? Anyway, while on Twitter I came across this, it sums DRS up…

DRS

A picture is worth a thousand words (can anyone give Horner a drawing pad by any chance?)

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26 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 3rd September 2013

  1. “We could stick with Riccardo Patrese or take a punt on a young driver called Damon Hill who was our test driver at the time. I think it’s good to bring young blood in and give promising drivers a chance.”

    That is simply revisionist history. Patrese signed with Benneton before Mansell or Senna, who were both trying to get a seat at Williams, had signed a contract. Patrese figured that one of those two would be driving for Williams and he’d be out. He was never dumped by Williams. It was later revealed by Head that Williams would have probably kept Patrese or gone with Martin Brundle for 1993 season. And knowing Williams I doubt Newey would have had much if any input into the driver line-up at the team.

  2. I don’t think it is a fair assessment to say Massa isn’t good enough to push his teammate. The trith of the matter is that Alonso can’t deal with a teammate that is pushing him. Massa did push Raikonnen and after his horrible accident, had started to regain form and push Alonso until Hockenheim in 2010. The Alonso is faster than you team order destroyed his morale by making it clear that he is not allowed to push too far and that he will always have to yield to Alonso. Of course you could argue that a highly paid professional athlete should perform regardless, but I think every successful no. 2 driver needs the motivation of being allowed to beat the no. 1 at least occasionally. With Alonso, this is never the case

  3. My eyes rested on this clause: ” – whenever announced – “. Does this mean TJ13 doesn’t believe in a Monza announcement anymore?

    • Maybe Ferrari is delaying the announcement to try and get Massa to perform better?

      Anyway, Red Bull changed their mind so why will Ferrari not? The only thing that is certain in F1 is that you don’t trust what the teams say 🙂

  4. In a way it’s also logical for TR to go for a complete new, young line-up. If you see the team purely as breeding ground for the big RB team; Ricciardo signed a multi-year deal and Vettel already had one of those, so RB won’t be hiring in the next couple of years if everything goes to plan. By the time they have a slot to fill, Vergne won’t have the youth anymore, and they didn’t choose him anyway. So why not Da Costa and Sainz Jr. who could be ready in two years time to shoot for a vacant RB slot?

    • Yes, except look how much Caterham struggled this year having no benchmarks since they had two new and young drivers.

      It may be less of an issue since there are such big regulation changes coming, but worth considering carefully nonetheless.

    • I would be surprised if Vergne got booted after only two years, less time than Alguersuari and Buemi had, considering he is right with DR, who is now going to RB! Vergne I could see developing a strong race car for TR next year.

      Vergne would be a strong marker for the incoming Felix da Costa, Nasr, Frijns, Coletti etc. But the latter would have to win GP2, and hope Marko rehires someone he let go, and the middle two have rebuffed Marko in the past…

      Sainz Jr really isn’t ready for an F1 seat yet, although I can see a strong rivalry with Kvyat developing as they approach F1. Next year, I imagine they would be in FR 3.5, unless RB relent and go for the GP2 route (which even they don’t for cost reasons!)

      There are two options really – Start anew, or continue as is. It depends on whether Vergne can improve any further (he’ll slaughter a newbie for points finishes next year, if not q pace) and whether Marko just wants to roll the dice and start with something fresh, like a new cycle of Felix da Costa/Nasr, with Sainz Jr/Kvyat to follow (and possibly Beitske Visser after that! Unlikely, but here’s hoping!).

  5. Don’t understand this rumour of Massa to TR? If we go by the argument that they would need a proven driver due to the new regs, why didn’t they have one in ’09? And do we honestly believe that RBR are not passing any technology to their sister team? TR is a young driver testing ground.

    I really can’t see why get Massa? Would such a move be linked to a future Ferrari/Vettel move? Or Alonso/RBR move? Or selling RBs in South America?

    I’d really appreciate some alternative reasons TJ?

    • …all I know is that proper conversations have taken place… no more no less…

      We can speculate and you offer some possibilities of merit, but at times its merely about a driver ensuring they have a seat.

      The you have the fact that Bernie wants a Brazilian driver in F1.

    • Maybe their experience in 09 is why they want someone like Massa. Maybe he will be a driver and coach/mentor to the young ‘uns.

      Or maybe it’s just because Massa knows a lot about Ferrari at this point and they’re just messing with Ferrari’s head.

      We’ll never know the real reasons in any event, but those are the one that spring to mind as being the best rationales.

    • Doesn’t matter if RB are passing tech to STR, unless they are passing the whole car design – which would be a bit obvious – then there will be differences in how the tech works, how the car is set up etc.

      It would be of great benefit to the team and any young driver they are training to have a good car and a good benchmark to compare with.

      Of course, there is also the possibility of STR being asked to test concepts for RB – trying new ideas without risking the lead team – so again an established driver has benefits.

      I’ve said before the RB would be better placing their second ‘young driver’ with another team rather than putting two unknowns in an unknown car.

  6. Hi there,

    Any news about McLaren taking the option over JB’s contract? Is he a free agent right now?

    • When asked about rumours of a 3 year extension – Jenson says he will stay as long as he feels competitive… So nothing on the table he can report or is happy with

    • Considering that both parties expressed their keen interest, I’d expect they’re just squabbling over details right now. It would make perfect sense if JB will stay to drive the McLaren-Honda in 2015.

  7. Makes perfect sense to put Massa in a TR. TR is there to find the next big thing, Massa is curently team mate to the best F1 driver, so it would be pretty easy to work out using Massa as your bench mark how good your new kid is.

    Also it give RB access to Ferrari info. And from Massa they’ll be able to work out exactly where there car is too, is Vettel simply a good driver in a great car or great driver in a good car ?

    • What a load of bollocks!?! How are you gonna gain data on Vettel in a Red Bull with Massa in a Toro Rosso?

      • What happened to your previous request for polite replies on this blog…?
        You are such a hypocrite…

        • Labelling someones statement bollocks is not the same as labelling the author himself a name, is it? Why would RB need Massa to work out Vettel’s worth as a driver? The guy has 3 WDCs thats all the data you need.
          I’m simply tired of peaople taking swipes at drivers they don’t like. Lewis and Vettel are top on that list. It’s unneccessary.

          • If that statement is supposed to show your qualification as a F1 journo/blogger/whatever, I’m afraid that was a clear miss.

          • Dunno. I got 1 ‘thumbs up’ for it. You got none… na-na–na-na–na… ya boo hockey sticks!!!!

            Deep breath DS – double espresso required 🙂

  8. Mmm, that DRS picture might just explain why Lewis and Nando did not work out at Macca, too polite these chaps!

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