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Lotus shocked by response (12:13)
Massa and Lotus (13:32)
Mixed messages from Toro Rosso (13:57)
Fact of the day (15:44)
Remember this? (20:13)
This is an annual story, and for some reason each year Renault are forced to deny there is any truth to the repeated rumours.
Jean-Michel Jalinier, the president of Renault Sport F1, is quoted by Italian publication Quattroruote that the speculation Red Bull will run 2014 Infiniti-branded V6 engines next year is simply not true.
“Despite the many rumours, our engine will not be rebranded Infiniti. Currently, we have contracts signed with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and we are also in negotiations with other teams, because the optimal solution for us is to supply four teams.”
The engine suppliers customers at present look like this. Mercedes, McLaren and Force India will continue with Mercedes power trains and they will be joined by Williams.
Ferrari will continue to provide, Sauber and with Cosworth withdrawing from F1, Marussia will also join the Italian team’s customer list.
The remaining 2 teams Lotus and Caterham will most likely stay with Renault, alongside Red Bull and Torro Rosso.
Jaliner defends Renault’s commitment to F1 saying, “In 2009, when the crisis began all over the world, we reasoned that we did not want to get out of Formula One altogether and so we stayed as a supplier. With Europe still in trouble, at the moment this is the best strategy”.
Grinning Jean-Michael adds, “Being in F1 also helps us to sell a Sandero in northern Brazil.”
The question is why does this debate return time and again. Renault and Nissan are co-owned by a holding company. It is understandable Infiniti may wish to increase its profile as a sporting marquee and therefore persists with their requests to be allowed to run a sporting division.
Yet surely someone at the top of the tree needs to stamp out the silly debates which detract from the dominant performance delivered by Renault Sport F1 over the past 3 years in conjunction with the Newey designs.
Todt accused of unethical actions
David Ward began his battle with Jean Todt by hijacking the FIA president’s expected big announcement with his own declaration of intent to run in the upcoming elections for the top job at the FIA
He issued a manifesto which challenges corruption and demands that truth and justice become the pillars of the murky enterprise that governs world motorsport.
Ward is now accusing Jean Todt of using FIA meetings and his position to extract commitments from the various world motorsport delegates to vote for his re-election from member clubs.
He released a statement yesterday stating he will report Todt to the FIA’s Ethics Committee over what he believes to be a use of official meetings for personal gain.
“The FIA arranges and pays for meetings around the world, including to discuss how regions will benefit from future FIA activities and resources. It emerges that, at these meetings, a number of clubs have been asked to sign formal written commitments to support Jean Todt’s re-election bid, in the form of ‘support agreements’.
It is vital that the FIA election processes are conducted in a fair, democratic and transparent manner. I believe that demanding signature of support agreements in these circumstances represents a serious violation of the FIA’s rules, regulations and ethical code.
The complaint will enable the Ethics Committee to investigate the legitimacy of these agreements, the circumstances in which signatures were demanded, and whether it is an appropriate use of the FIA’s resources for its staff and management to pursue Mr. Todt’s personal re-election ambitions at official FIA regional meetings.”
So the gloves are well and truly off however Todt responds telling the telegraph that letters of support have been freely and openly offered. “How can I avoid it? If you have a group of people who say ‘You are doing a good job. We want you’. I never put a knife, or a gun to someone’s head.” This may be the case, but a promise of favour is better than a knife or a gun.
Ward reveals he is asking the FIA to ensure the following.
“I would be grateful if you could arrange for my campaign website to be linked to the FIA’s own website and for your communications department to distribute to the media and to the FIA clubs any forthcoming press releases or campaign statements that I may issue during the election period.
During the election period I may, also, request clarification of various factual matters which I trust the Administration will be willing to answer promptly and objectively. I note also that the Election Guidelines requires the FIA Administration to maintain ‘a strict duty of neutrality and equality at all times’ and that they should limit ‘their relations with the candidates strictly to the content of their mission’.
I would like clarification that this duty of neutrality will apply not just to the employees among the FIA Administration but also to all external consultants and lawyers currently being paid by the FIA. It is of course, of the utmost importance that no FIA resources are used in a biased manner in favour of any particular candidate.”
Lotus shocked by response
It appears not everybody found the Lotus tweet and the picture of copulating Rabbits very amusing yesterday. The team tweeted last night, “Wow, what a response. If the image was a shock for some, sorry! “
Lotus have cultivated the image of being a ‘devil may care’ outfit and Raikkonnen has gone a long way to assist them with this. Let’s hope they don’t lose their sense of irreverence and pushing the limits.
The picture was actually posted at 5.06am yesterday morning, and as such hi-jacked Ferrari’s big day. It was accompanied by the message: “So Kimi is off to Ferrari for 2014; it hurts a little bit… # F1 # Raikkonen”
The Oxfordshire-based team has more than 290,000 followers on Twitter and so far its early morning tweet has been re-tweeted 10,900 times. Further, 2,269 people have favourited the tweet.
Massa and Lotus
Predictably, Massa is being touted to replace Kimi at Lotus. Speaking to Canal Plus, Felipe’s manager – Nicholas Todt – said, “What is certain is that other teams are interested in Felipe.” Todt adds a proviso, “Felipe will never play second fiddle in a small team, so what we need to do is find him a car that allows him to play a leading role in Formula One.
For sure, the best team today, the most interesting seat, is the one left behind by Raikkonen. After that, is it the only interesting seat? We’ll see. It will be important to pay attention and be responsive in the coming weeks.”
Many people believe Nico Hulkenberg is a champion of the future and would be keen to see him in a front running car like the Lotus yet Eric Boullier suggested they would take their time in deciding. “Felipe Massa is also available, so he is inevitably on the list. But let’s not go too fast in activating the ‘plan B’. We are the only team left with a good seat available, and so inevitably this will affect many people.”
The departure of Raikkonen appears to have strengthened Romain Grosjean’s hand for 2014 from a continuity perspective and Boullier suggests, “It can be good for him, because after growing for two years next to a world champion, he can unite the team and build it around him and prove he can be the leader. It can be an opportunity for him, but he must finish the championship well.”
This would appear to suggest Massa is not favourite in Boullier’s eyes, as the Brazilian’s manager states his charge would have to be ‘the leader’.
No one knows better than Massa’s friend Brichello that, “there is life after Ferrari, and I’m proof of that. To race for Ferrari is the most sensational thing there is, but afterwards there is a release, a little less pressure. There is a moment of pain, but then life afterwards, and even things in life that are better,” Barrichello told Globo.
Ex-Ferrari boss criticises the recruitment of Kimi
Former Ferrari sporting director – Cesare Fiorio – has criticised the decision of his old team to recruit Kimi Raikkonnen as he believes developing a younger driver would have been a preferable choice.
“I’m not a fan of the new hiring,” Fiorio tells Gazzetta dello Sport. “I admire his talent, but I don’t agree with his lifestyle and his technical approach. I wouldn’t have gone for him. In my opinion it’s a conservative choice. I would have gone for an emerging driver rather than one at the tail end of his career.He doesn’t live like an athlete and to be champion in F1 talent is not enough. You need physical, technical and psychological effort and, from what I know and have seen, he’s the type of guy who takes his bag and leaves shortly after the sessions. I don’t know how much technical contribution he can bring.”
Cesare believes this will enhance Alonso’s reputation and suggests he is unconcerned by the move. “Why should he? In my opinion Alonso is happy: his worth will grow by beating him [Raikkonen]. I don’t see any problem ahead. In any case, the new pairing will be the strongest in 2014: the Mercedes pairing is close, but Rosberg is very inconsistent, he does exceptional things and then disappears. Kimi instead is a hammer in the races, a fighter, even though he’s not an ace in qualifying.”
You may be interested to know, old Cesare has a chequered past….
In 1989, Fioro debuted as sporting director of Ferrari, and was tasked with making the team competitive again after some disappointing seasons in the mid-80s. The team won the first race in Brazil with Mansell and then again in Hungary and Portugal but poor reliability prevented the team from competing with the McLaren and Williams cars.
In 1990Ferrari employed the reigning World Champion Alain Prost and almost won the title, losing it in Japan with the second of the infamous Prost-Senna collisions. Fiorio was sacked by Ferrari weeks before the beginning of the 1991 season.
In 1994 Fioro returned to Formula One as team manager of Ligier, then owned by Briatore, but he was released the following year when Tom Walkinshaw bought the team. He was briefly involved with the Forit team in 1996 until its demise mid-season, and then returned to Ligier and remained there until the team was taken over by Prost and became Prost Grand Prix.
Towards the end of 1998 Fioro joined Minardi as sporting director and he remained there until the middle of 2000 when he resigned after a disagreement with team owner Gabriele Rumi..
In 1994, Fiorio was appointed Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana. He is currently employed by the Italian TV station RAI.
Mixed messages from Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz Jnr has in recent days been touted as a good possibility for a Torro Rosso drive in 2014 but part of this has been driven due to the poor run Felix de Costa is having in the Renault world series.
Yet today, Sainz Jnr all but rules himself out of an F1 drive in 2014. “I am keeping my feet on the ground,” Sainz Jnr tells Speeweek. “It’s no secret that Formula One is my big goal, and I’m moving closer step by step. But at the moment I’m thinking of my last race in GP3, and beyond that three races in the Formula Renault 3.5 and also Macau.”
Sainz admits there have been discussions between him and Helmut Marko, “but it was all about my assignments in Formula Renault and Macau. There was no mention of Formula One”.
With JEV not confirmed for 2014 by the team and now Felipe Nasr is out of the running too, what will Toro Rosso do?
If Boulier does recruit Hulkenberg alongside Grosjean, could we really see Felipe Massa leading the charge for the No.2 Red Bull team?
Now the ‘silly season’ begins
It always amuses me when a sport declares a ‘silly season’ to be under way. In F1, much of the established F1 media (certainly the English speaking ones) go on holiday in August from their arduous lives of globetrotting the world and hanging out in the paddock 19-20 times a year.
A ‘silly season’ is usually declared because genuine news is so sparse, that the daily columns are filled with preposterous stories and speculation. Well the Kimi to Ferrari breaking news coincided with the privileged F1 writers going to ground for a month – or fishing.
It was left to the fans and those close to people in the know to report and engage in the debate of how Ferrari may jump next.
Yet, it wasn’t a silly story at all – even though when first suggested Kimi’s return to Maranello was incredible to contemplate (Richter scale 9). Now we will have a silly season, due to the plethora of possibilities over who may drive for whom in 2014.
If you read the tea leaves, Rob Smedley – who coined the phrase ‘Felipe Baby’ – appears to be leaving Ferrari and joining Williams. Ferrari want to keep Smedley, but apparently Rob is keen to return to England after working for Ferrari since 2004.
Pastor Maldonado may or may not have another $35m of Venezualan oil money up his sleeve, but the much vaunted Valtteri Bottas has indeed disappointed this year – or maybe demonstrated Maldonado is indeed a good driver in a bad car.
Williams seem to have been on the slide for some time, and when Barichello exited, their demise appeared to become more permanent.
In 2009 Williams finished 7th ahead of Renault, Force India and Torro Rosso. Barichello joined in 2010 and the team improved finishing 6th, ahead of Force India, Sauber (BMW) Torro Rosso and the 3 new teams.
In 2011, they built a pig of a car and a frustrated Barichello was exited at the end of the year. Williams finished just ahead of the 3 new teams.
2012 was a year of highs and lows. The win in Barcelona and Sir Franks 70th Birthday among the highs, but the team was losing its way again – with personnel clashes and disagreements . Bruno Senna had 10 points finishes (31 pts) and the erratic Maldonado just 5, (45 pts) but Senna was allowed to leave to make way for Valterri Bottas.
This year, Williams are at a new low, having scored just 1 point and looking as though they’ll even struggle at times to make Q2.
Would an experienced driver like Massa boost the team’s performance?
And which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The engineer or the driver?
Fact of the day
From Leigh M O’Gorman: “The 1988 San Marino GP saw nine Italian drivers competing”
Dominicali dismissive of Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg must be bitterly disappointed in that he was very close to an agreement with Ferrari to drive their 2nd car in 2014.
Werner Heinz, Hulkneberg’s manager, has revealed that the contract had shuttled backward and forward for 8 weeks and after 5 lawyers had re-written it several times it was merely lacking the signature of Il Padrino (LdM).
Yet even more disappointingly for Heinz was the manner in which Ferrari told him that Hulkenberg would not be in a 2014 Ferrari.
“After two months of discussions, I was expecting at least a phone call. Domenicali sent us a text message at 22.50 on Tuesday.”
This is a great tale. What was so important Dominicali couldn’t call in person? Maybe he was eating pasta and drinking vodka – who knows – but a text message after spending 10,000’s euros on legalilities to draw up a contract is delightfully dismissive.
So for those who have recently accused me of being a Ferrari hater – once again “I love Ferrari”. I love their history, arrogance, in fighting and their hidden secrets – which are usually in fact public knowledge. #ForzaFerrari
What…when…who? and any other answers/explanations