Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 12th September 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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In house disputes rumble on in Renault/Nissan (11:50)

Todt accused of unethical actions (12:08)

Lotus shocked by response (12:13)

Massa and Lotus (13:32)

Ex-Ferrari boss criticises the recruitment of Kimi (13:53)

Mixed messages from Toro Rosso (13:57)

Now the ‘silly season’ begins (1459)

Fact of the day (15:44)

Dominicali dismissive of Hulkenberg (17:06)

Remember this? (20:13)

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In house disputes rumble on in Renault/Nissan

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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….

untitledIn 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.

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Mixed messages from Toro Rosso

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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?

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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?

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Fact of the day

From Leigh M O’Gorman: “The 1988 San Marino GP saw nine Italian drivers competing”

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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

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Remember this?

What…when…who? and any other answers/explanations

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57 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 12th September 2013

  1. Regarding Infiniti power vs Renault, Vettel seems to thank Renault on the podium routinely, almost as if he gets royalties each time he does.

  2. Ha Ha poor David Ward, resigning to run for office to avoid conflict of interest only to discover that Todt has already won the election by not entirely bribing all of the clubs to agree to vote for him, during his world tour for automotive safety last year.

    • What chance of a real investigation into the alleged wrongdoings by todt? Slim? None? Lawyers to follow? I do hope so.

  3. Agree with ex Ferrari boss. I think Alonso will have the upper hand the majority of the time but it will be interesting.

    • It might be a little uncomfortable for Alonso that Kimi is the last Ferrari worldchampion, and will be treated accordingly.
      It’s all about respect, Kimi instantly has it at Ferrari, Alonso has a big fight on his hands to get it back.

    • I wouldn’t be so sure about Alonso easily outpacing Kimi. We dont yet know, who adapts to the new engines best. On top of it, Kimi will be more popular with the team. He is the one, who delivered the last title, while Alonso is the one, who slated them in public. We saw in 2007, how well Fred copes with his teammate having the better standing in the team.

      • Kimi might be more popular but who is likely to be driving the team and working the longer hours in a leadership role? Kimi doesn’t do simulator work either so we have Alonso and his Spanish buddie Pedro on it also directing the development.

      • Drivers don’t lead development, even though some drivers like to give an impression of doing that. Drivers do give input in the handling of the car and express wishes of how the should handle for their ideal drive.

        Who developed the Ferrari, and in which direction, during Räikkönen’s first stint att Ferrari has been discussed, but even the official thruth is that a certain Mr. Schumacher was involved. Even though the car was developed without tacing in account Kimi’s wishes and actually against them, he never critizised the team in public during his stint or after it.

        For Ferrari Kimi is a known quality bort from Kimi’s earlier stint and through the recent experience of James Allison, who seems to be one of the persons who influenced Ferrari’s decision.

        Since Kimi and Ferrari know each other, I expect that they have had all the difficult issues on the table during the contract negotiations, and have solved the issues. Actually some insider had stated that the discussions on the renumeration were short, other issues took longer to resolve.

        Everything seems bright for Kimi at Ferrari.

        • Agree fully adde.

          Wasn’t Schumacher involved in the decision to implement a new front suspension on the car mid season 2009. Kimi found this difficult to adjust to. They reverted to the old one a few races later…

          “Everything seems bright for Kimi at Ferrari”.

          ….including exemption from simulator work – so I believe – wonder how Fernando will feel about this.

          • Good to see a driver who can cut themselves a good deal, and not only in terms of remuneration – simulator exemption? – well done, that man! As opposed to the rest, who sign on the dotted line, then forever bore us with whinges about how many commitments they have.

        • Obviously I meant as in giving input because as talented a driver Alonso is he’s a driver not an engineer.
          Can someone please give me a link to the official truth of Schumacher developing the car for Massa not Kimi?

          • Maybe Schumacher will do a deathbed confession?

            No, seriously, you will never see any “official thruth”.

            “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan” – John F. Kennedy

          • Actually, it was the

            Italian diplomat and foreign minister, and son-in-law of Mussolini, Count Galeazzo Ciano (1903-44). 1942. La victoria trova cento padri, e nessuno vuole riconoscere l’insuccesso. – The Ciano Diaries 1939-1943. Vol. 2.

            who first noted this.

          • My two pence worth…

            When Massa joined Ferrari with Schumi he was the obedient #2 but I’ve always liked him so was very interested in their lap and sector times. Massa was more often than not right on the money in terms of lap times etc.

            One of the key issues Massa had (and still has) is that he is a bit inconsistent, a bit like our Lewis and his emotional roller coaster.

            Before Massa’s accident he used to be very fast but crashed a lot (remember his Sauber years). I don’t think the fact that Massa was so close/evenly matched to Kimi is a sign Kimi is slow. What it shows us is what Massa is capable of if you make him feel loved and look after him emotionally.

            He may not be a world champion but he’s a great guy.

          • “What it shows us is what Massa is capable of if you make him feel loved and look after him emotionally.”

            Thought that myself and if you look at Massa alongside Alonso it was only after he had to give up that win on the anniversary of his accident that his form really dropped off.

            Just hope he gets the Lotus drive because I really think he has something more to offer F1.

            Judge – The photo is Schumi in the Ferrari after the 911 attacks at Italian GP showing no advertising.

  4. Williams are in such a situation now that they just need to build a better car, Maldonado, Bottas, Massa etc. doesn’t really matter for now. At Monza they were easily 3rd last, ahead of Caterham, Marussia, but adrift of Force India, Toro Rosso etc. As this is a circuit bereft of much aero wizardry, this shows that the underlying 2013 car is just slow naturally. Force India too, on these new tyres, making it up with aero skills from McLaren (last year’s skills). Sauber, a good car underneath some dodgy sidepods/aero movements. Ferrari same good car with dodgy aero put on. RB still finding some diffuser magic. McLaren same boat as Force India with this year’s aero.

    Maldonado and Bottas are on the pace, Massa probably won’t beat them or do a Senna, qualify poorly and race back to position (helped by amazing starts).

    • not saying Bruno Senna is a GREAT driver. but I was always appalled that even in bringing some money to Williams, he nearly always had to give up his FP1 session to Bottas. of course, none of us have the inside scoop of the financials, contract details or telemetry data, but it just smelled totally unfair. once Bruno lost his ride, I lost a fair bit of respect for Sir Frank and his organization…

      • There was a lot of internal angst over this, and I believe it was one of the reasons Mike Coughlin exited Mark Gillan before Christmas

        Of course Coughlin himself has now gone been exited. Not universally liked apparently.

  5. My favourite comment from S. Fiorio is when, having run Kimi down in all his apparent failings of application etc. and implying that talent is all Kimi has on his side, he says that “to be champion in F1 talent is not enough”.

    But wait…Kimi IS an F1 champion. Er…

    Thank you, Cesare; don’t call us, we’ll call you.

  6. Think you are being very unfair on Bottas. The car is 100% the problem here as after all Maldonado done better against a known benchmark in Barrichello than the much hyped Hulkenberg.
    When the car was good at the beginning of last year Maldonado was fighting up the front and got a win. He also blew away Brunno Senna (in qualifying at least)
    This year Bottas and Maldonado are very equal in both qualifying and races. Bottas also has not made one single rookie error. Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton would also be nowhere in that Williams.
    The car has just too much of an influence nowadays to be an indicator of talent on whoever is driving it.

  7. @F1inPubs is discussing beers named after F1 drivers. A pint of ‘Hawthorn’s’ has been suggested. I’d quite like a tipple of ‘Taffy’ von Trips.

    Any other ideas?

    • We have a restaurant here in Toronto called Ascari, so I don’t see why we couldn’t have a light, summer beer with that name (awful fizzy stuff, no doubt).

      I do like the idea of “Hawthorn’s”, but surely there’s an argument for a nice, strong pint of “Moss” real-ale?

      And I’m assuming that Innis (& Gunn) isn’t just a miss-spelt name…

  8. Schu, Ferrari, 9/11 tribute. Think it was Monza, but not totally sure of that.

    Hard to believe it happened so many years ago now. One of the top three things that floored me with shock along with seeing Hillsborough unfold Sennas death.

    The power of TV….

    • And Sennas death. Sorry!

      Judge, do you know if others have problems posting from android phones on the site. I have a few different issues, can’t scroll down to the bottom or up to the top on a long post before i submit it and the speed of how quickly words appear when I’m typing is significantly slower the more posts that are on the site.

      It seems to affect me more when the number of posts increases.

      Used to have similar problems on smokin’ Joes site too.

      Might be a wordpress thing?

  9. The Ferrari with no livery was at Monza 16th September 2001.
    Ferrari ran with no sponsorship logos as a mark of respect to the victims in the WTC trajedy. Hence the black nose as well.
    He finished 4th (iirc) to avoid the press conference and the other significant event on the Saturday was Zanardi’s accident which he lost his legs in.
    Many of the F1 drivers were contemporaries and it was quite a draining week.

    • Exactly. It was the same weekend as the American Memorial 500 (renamed German 500) at the Lausitzring, which I had the unfortune to see live, when Alex was split in half 🙁 You can’t imagine what it looks like, when four litres of blood run down a banked corner…

      • BTW, TJ, John still has an article (that I wrote 2 months ago) that deals with this very weekend – maybe that’d be a good time to post it.

      • Wonderful man, very inspiring. Made Indy car interesting for me too, his pass at the corkscrew at Laguna Seca was immense.

        Did you read his autobiography Danilo? Really worth a look he you haven’t.

        Everything he’s done around motorsport, and athletics, since his accident is incredibly impressive. But its not as inspirational as his attitude.

        He’s a real role model.

        • We accuse each other of being fanboys occasionally. I admit, I’ve been a Zanardi fanboy since 1996. After his failed F1 return with Williams, he struggled in Champcars. Lausitzringt was the first race he led after his return, only to nearly die – it broke my heart… 🙁

          • I was, and still am, very fond of him so you could tick the fanboy box against me too.

  10. Judge, when is/was your anniversary – you say in the about section that you launched on the sad day that Sid Watkins passed away, which would have been yesterday (12th), but you mention somewhere above about visitors since the 17th.

    • We are 1 today. JUST realised. First post on 13th September 2012. Sid died the night before.

      Started how we meant to go on with a prediction that came true…

      • Happy birthday to all of you involved. First site i go daily.

        Delighted to be part of an excellent community too, enjoy reading posts from Danilo, Enzo, Carlo, Adam, Matt and all the other regulars to the site – gr8 to read such well informed views.

        Loads of newer visitor with excellent points to make also.

        You guys have created a brilliant virtual hang out for F1 fans who are interested in peeling back the many layers of the sport.

        Thanks!!

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