Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 13th September 2013

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TJ13’s 1st Birthday (10:09)

Ferrari pairing: Universally questioned (10:22)

Pirelli tests with 2011 cars – yeah right (10:32) Updated (12:54)

Ferrari: Chiefs and Indians? (12:42)

Dominicali pays tribute to Massa (16:07)


TJ13’s 1st Birthday

untitledJudge Towers

Hey hey. We’re 1-year-old today. Walking, talking and using computers – not bad huh?

TJ13 was born because as an F1 fan foremost of 30 odd years and also someone who has been involved in F1 and knows a few people, I looked at what was out on the internet there and thought. I bet a dedicated group of fans could do a better job.

Let me say I have high regard for F1Fanatic, James Allen, Joe Saward and Adam Cooper to name but a few, but the English-speaking F1 journalism and fan sites appeared to be missing something, or each have good bits but not the complete package. Let me say, TJ13 is just beginning – those of you here today will see that journey and there are many who comment who became a fundamental part of TJ13 back in September-December last year.

Those of you who have been joining in here for some time will remember I have ranted occasionally against the stilted nature of English F1 journalism and reporting. There’s Autosport – who now charge unless you want to read the news snippets written by an apprentice journalist, and even then you get 20 visits a month.

James Allen’s site is great but you may get one post a day from James. F1Fanatic have a large debating community, though most of the content is summarised and links to other articles. I wanted news – a bit more tabloid style or say ‘Private Eye’ even. I wanted less respectful and less sycophantic writing about F1.

Of course F1 is glamorous and global, but why not call a spade a spade – whether its Dominicali, Whitmarsh, Ecclestone or Todt. Who cares? They’re only human and at times get too close to matters and don’t see the bigger picture as we do..

So for me I hoped we could develop a community of commentator’s like F1Fanatic and we hit 102 comments on Monday just gone – our record ever. It’s building, and thank you to all of you who join in – as Colin commented yesterday – some of the new guys who’ve arrived whilst I was in ‘the jungle’, have brought some fabulous insights, wit and humour.

Then there’s the  authors, Danilo, Enzo, Carlo, Adam, Matt, John, BDP, BJF, Alastair, James, Ernie and the good doctor Beck… God I know I’ve forgotten people… sorry! I have to say some of the contributions from you guys are first rate and any motorsport publication in the world would be graced and enhanced by the content.

@F1Extra particularly, along with too many others to mention have promoted us well on twitter. Lots of re-tweets and links to the stories. Many Thanks

The moment of change came when a guy called Lloyd who is travelling the world contacted me over Christmas and persuaded me to ask for help – I was sinking – I run a business and at times was struggling to get content out. The irreplaceable, incredible and the mainstay of TJ13 put his hand up and offered to help. John Myburgh.

There was another individual who I think prefers to remain anonymous – if not you know who you are – and it was then TJ13 had its second birth.

Anyway, I’m feeling like I’m getting a bit sycophantic about TJ13, so time to shut up. If I’ve forgotten anyone, I’m writing this in between meetings – apologies.

We have a lot more to come, but if you wish to get involved just ask. Some of our writers had never written articles before and English is not even their mother tongue.

We could really use some help early morning on the news desk would be most appreciated, as from 00:00 to about 10:00 GMT we have no cover. I’m aware we are truly across all time zones.

Anyway – some champers later I think – onwards and upwards.. “to infinity and beyond”  – not Infiniti by the way 😉


Ferrari pairing: Universally questioned

Former 7 times world champion Michael Schumacher tells Bild, “For motor sport fans it will certainly be a blast, and make for a tough competition,” adding, “It will be exciting to watch. But Ferrari with Fernando and Kimi — it sounds like an explosive mixture.”

Schumacher was ‘forced’ into retirement when Ferrari recruited Kimi, who then went on to win the world title in his first year with the team.

Speaking in a French TV broadcast, Alain Prost adds his 2 francs worth to the debate, “Speaking as a fan I would say it is good to have two number ones together. I think it’s a choice born from a certain tension between Fernando and the Scuderia that has been clearly evident during the year.

Prost infers internal difficulties lie ahead for the Scuderia and questions whether Dominicali can handle what he has been presented with. “Now he [Alonso] will no longer be the undisputed number 1, at least not initially, and I’m not sure Stefano Domenicali has the ability of a Jean Todt or a Ross Brawn to handle a situation like this. In Italy the press applies a lot of pressure, so I presume that sooner or later there will be trouble.”

Prior to the signing of Alonso, when the Spaniard was touting himself to anyone and everyone, Martin Whitmarsh commented on a Kimi Fernando pairing to Turun Sanomat. “I cannot imagine they will be happy together,” said Whitmarsh. Kimi generally doesn’t care about who is at the wheel of the other car, but Fernando will not deal with it well. Of course, both of them are clearly among the best drivers in Formula One, so Ferrari has an incredibly strong line up, but it could also put the team in a difficult situation.”

untitledLa Gazzetta dello Sport, runs with, “bold but dangerous. They are two roosters in one henhouse, so they say, even if Kimi is not a rooster at the level of Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton. But it will no longer be a team at the feet of one driver.”

There is still a very strong possibility Alonso will leave Ferrari before 2014 – but I’ll explain another time.


Pirelli tests with 2011 cars – yeah right

During the Monza weekend, it became public knowledge that this week Red Bull were doing a Pirelli test in Barcelona. McLaren too have mooted interest in ‘helping out’ the Italian Tyre manufacturer.

RB_morphChristian Horner admitted to SKY that test driver Sebastien Buemi and Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo would pilot the 2011 RB7.

Sometimes in life you just have to trust me. I said before the summer shutdown that no such thing existed for certain teams – even for the mandatory 2 weeks – car development was being delivered.

Take my word on this too, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren (should they test) have and will significantly modify their 2011 cars for these tests. To the extent that much of what was underneath the bodywork in 2011 has been replaced or revised to replicate performance dynamics of the 2013 cars.

You may understand why I gave Horner et al a hard time over ‘testgate’ and issues surrounding the investigation by the International Tribunal. It was hypocritical – but all part of F1 I agree.


Ferrari: Chiefs and Indians?

Though mocked and regularly criticised for recruiting too many chiefs, Mercedes appear to have blazed a trail which may have serious implications for F1 in the future.

Ferrari have caught on, and as the team with allegedly the ability to apply the most resource to delivering a racing car, their recruitment continues too. Autosport reports today that they have signed Lotus’ head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer.

There as yet is no official announcement from Ferrari, but it is believed de Beer’s contract at Enstone runs only to the end of 2013. He will apparently be deployed in Maranello to work alongside current head of aerodynamics, Loic Bigois.

This again is a break from the norm, where in past times there would be 1 individual responsible for such a technical area of the team.

Of course Ferrari demonstrated their commitment to ramping up their technical structure when they signed Lotus’ technical director, James Allison earlier this year. It is likely James has identified de Beer and maybe others he believes will lead the charge to restoring the prancing horse to the head of the field in 2014-15.

This of course is another blow to Lotus, who it appears are shipping key individuals like a sinking ship taking on water below.

It is desperately important that Lopez et al deliver the investment deal from Infinity Racing to shore up confidence that the team will have sufficient resource with which to deliver and develop a competitive car in the future

Rumours of Renault investing heavily too still abound, yet TJ13 believes this is not imminent, and there is a ‘wait and see’ state of mind in the upper echelons of Renault/Nissan over how competitive the French designed power train will be in 2014.

This relentless drive to add high level technical director’s into their infrastructure by Mercedes and Ferrari looks to be leaving McLaren a little light in the high level brain power stakes, yet only time will tell.


Dominicali pays tribute to Massa

“At the start of the summer, we had a meeting to assess the situation and I reiterated that renewing our agreement was one of the options on the table, maybe it was even the most likely. Then came a series of difficult races, for him and for the team and in the end, we realised the best choice, for both parties, was to make a change.

I think that, even for Felipe, the time had come to look outside what had become his home for twelve years and which, to a certain extent, will always be his home. You see, I saw Felipe arrive in Maranello when he was just a kid and I will see him walk out of here a grown man.

Together we have lived through some great moments and some dramatic times, which has made the personal rapport between us something special. Obviously, the biggest disappointment is that I didn’t get to see him become world champion, which he almost did in 2008.

That day and indeed that whole year, there were some incredible incidents which went against him. The lesson in sporting dignity he gave the world that day on the Interlagos podium and also the maturity he displayed while talking to me last night will always stay with me.

I am proud to have worked with him in our team for so many years and I’m sure he will know how to do some great things outside the Maranello environment.” (Ferrari.com)


79 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 13th September 2013

  1. heres to more years of franetic ‘down the pub’ banter . . . first placw I check is with theJudge13
    . . .
    cheers your honour 🙂

  2. Happy birthday Judge! Watching how quickly this project has grown over the past 12 months has been fabulous.

    I haven’t been able to comment on articles as regularly as I have liked, however the scale of debate is continually growing day by day and it’s great to see.

    I have loved being part of this project from the early doors and look forward to watching and helping grow Judge over many more years! 🙂

  3. Happy birthday – if that’s what you can say to a website! Blog is too light a term to characterise this platform, which I am hoping will continue to grow in the near future. Not too much though – I would guess that at some point the discussion may start to suffer from having too many involved. But since that’s a negative feedback loop, an equilibrium state will be reached.

    Thanks for creating TJ13 – and cheers to many more years to come!

    • Auq

      Don’t worry about that. One of the reasons we keep all the stories together is to keep the debate together.

      We can split up the content, which will focus each debating line into more specific areas in the future.

      • That is a very good point, I’m delighted to hear that. It is very reassuring to see how you’re always on top of things. I personally believe TJ13 has a long road ahead :).

          • He ain’t heavy, he’s the judge……

            Only found the site this racing season but it has now become the 1st stop each day I check out the soap opera that is F1.
            Thanks for the effort you guys put in and the fact you”re not afraid to make fun of the characters from time to time.
            I think the other F1 journos are to frightend of Berni revoking their paddock passes so tow the line like good little sheep.

            Thanks again TJ13 I’m looking forward to sharing the journey as it continued to grow.

  4. HBTY!
    thank’s for great readings even sometimes it’s deliberately lighting fire at gas station 🙂
    I have been around reading almost from beginning, I sometimes can’t shut up and express my views – more and more lately.
    keep up good work.

  5. You’re now one of my continuous open screens, next to Saward, F1F, newsnow and the dutch F1today (hi mr Monza! I never bother to comment over there because half of the comments are about some ‘Filter’). Keep it up!
    Indeed I like the tone of voice

  6. Great blog. Congrats on the anniversary. Also good to hear a bit about you – the judge – who we know so little about. Incredible that you have such insight and inside info but your identity remains a mystery. Just adds to the mystique of this site.

    • It will have to remain that way too because there are a few occasions each year where someone very well known wants to get information out without being attributable.

      You’d be surprised who lurks out there looking in from the deep beyond 😉

  7. Finnish daily Turun Sanomat writes that Steve Robertson has confirmed to the newspaper that the contract of Kimi is a solid 2 year contract, not a 1+1 or 2+1.

    Now I have to decide whether Robertson speaks the thruth or not…

    • We believe and have reported since last week it is a 2+1.

      The options are not always disclosed at the time of signing as they have a raft of caveats from both sides.

  8. About Alonso, I’ve been wondering about a straight swap with Vettel or Hamilton. Would be stupid of Hamilton, but I think Vettel would like some cheering at next years Monza.

  9. Happy Birthday TJ13, I was here pretty early on and have been impressed at the quantity of content, and the quality given the quanitity (if you see what I mean!), and thank you also to the Hand of the king and Varys behind the judge that help him make it all possible.

    What boggles my mind is how you will continue this growth, but I’m looking forward to finding out!

  10. Nice work on a year of life, Judge. I love your work – your site doesn’t drink the Kool Aid but neither is it a figurative miserable old bastard. Genuine fandom with well justified cynicism is the right tone.
    Good darts!

  11. I’m afraid I’ve not commented as often as I’d like, but nevertheless this is a site I come to everyday for F1 news. Whilst I was travelling South America it was my favourite source of updates for all things Formula One. So, from someone who normally prefers to lurk: Happy Birthday, and I hope this site continues growing as it currently is.

  12. Happy Birthday! Really appreciate all the hard work put in by all involved even if a lot of days don’t have time to comment much on the stories.

  13. Thanks for the best F1 site there is. The daily news/speculation/humor aggregation is great, but some of your stuff is sensational – I thought your coverage of Testgate, for example, was absolutely seminal. If my mind isn’t playing tricks on me, your rumors are far more frequently true than not.

    • Thanks CTP for your contributions and hopefully we do get it right more than wrong – but nobody’s perfect.

      It’s the Massa tea leaves and sources which are confusing at present. I wouldn’t usually do this until I know more, but it appears he is second favourite for the Lotus role and I am still not convinced that TR are in fact not interested in him. It’s weird but JEV is being watched closely and needs to deliver in the final 7 races.

      • I’m glad you shared your thoughts about the Massa tea leaves, as I’ve been wondering about his value in this market. Besides the obvious experience in helping a team to develop and set-up a car, and a known level of speed, I’m wondering about his sponsorship value.

        Two seats that folks speculate as possible for Massa, Sauber and Lotus, both appear to be in desperate need of money. The poverty of budget and engineering talent at both of those teams may diminish the value of their open seats to drivers such as Massa and Hulkenberg. Which may explain why TR has popped up in the behind the scenes rumor mill.

        Back to Massa’s value, I wonder what marketing / sponsorship deals that Nicolas Todt and Massa have in their pockets.

        And of course, Massa’s tea leaves brings up another interesting story, which is what should we expect from Lotus next season? Will their poverty (and loss of key engineering talent) result in a large drop in performance (a la Sauber from 2012 to 2013)?

        Happy birthday! Thank you for being a premier site for thoughtful folks! 🙂

      • Massa should go to IRL or Nascar. Closer to his family, no history and still good money.

        I can’t imagine anyone really interested!

  14. Aah, the ”good old days” where 10 comments on an article was deemed good, where your honour was the only writer, where the only item was really daily news, and where OTDIF1 was part of daily news, not a separate article on its own ….

    How its all moved on so quickly in such a short space of time, will be interesting to see how much bigger the site is this time next year!

    Until then, this will be the best f1 site, the one I visit last and look most forward to (as they say, leave the best until last).

  15. I remain very glad that you started following me on Twitter which led to my following TJ13 almost from its inception! I still see your Abu Dhabi Qualifying scoop revealing Vettel was being dropped down the grid several hours before anyone else confirmed it as a highpoint. Revealing that Kimi was on the radar at Ferrari while everyone else was still focused on his potential move to Red Bull would be another. However, what would you see as your own single personal highlight / achievement from running TJ13 over the last year?

    • I think we knew before Vettel – and I’m not joking 🙂

      Achievement: Engaging the fantastic band of merry helpers (who are as good as any pro writers – that stopped me from sinking and giving up. New great friends too.

      Highlight: There have been many. I thought we may have 3 or 4 advance notice stories in a year – but there have been many more. My circle of information has grown significantly too because of TJ13 which I didn’t expect.

      I enjoyed the ‘purple bull’ video a lot. I’m not most technically orientated, but along with Mrs. Judge we put in about 20-25 hours to create that pithy world exclusive – and the colour was bob on a week later when the RB10 and new website was revealed.

  16. Happy Birthday from the colonies too. I don’t comment all that often, but I have the site open all day, every day and always check the news and comments every hour or so.

    Great work!

  17. Happy birthday as well, and many congratulations, how you find the time is beyond me.

    Having had the honor of being your 1,000th commenter, I would still like to reiterate what I said then, this is the first site I have encountered where I truly felt welcomed, and it’s due in large part to you and the way in which you participate in all the conversations, as well as the wonderful atmosphere you have created on this site.

    So thanks again for creating a second home for this merry band of F1misfits, and know that whatever your personal tribulations in creating it, you have given all us participants and readers a wonderful gift.

    • Totally agree with everything you say here Matt.

      Thanks Judge, and your merry band of helpers.

      And a big congratulations. Its a pity there isn’t a real Judge towers, I’d have sent on a bottle of Bolley bubbles to wash down your supper.

      One can never have enough champers!

  18. Happy Birthday!! This is always the best place to go for news, gossip, technical explanations, speculation and discussion of all things F1, with added humour thrown in too. I raise my glass to you and your team of helpers. Cheers!

  19. re. Ferrari Chiefs and Indians “Autosport reports today that they have signed Lotus’ head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer.”

    @ScarbsF1 on twitter has these posts on 11 September which may explain the signing:

    With Head of Aero Marco De Luca also departing the team this year some big restructuring seems to be going on.

    Chief aerodynamicist Nicolas Hennel has left Ferrari after just over a year in the role, previously he was at McLaren and Renault

  20. Two things really jump out to me today…

    First, “… there is a ‘wait and see’ state of mind in the upper echelons of Renault/Nissan over how competitive the French designed power train will be in 2014.” Very interesting! Are we due for some histrionics until the three (or is it four) engine manufacturers get close to parity on the 2014 power units? I’m guessing yes.

    The second, “There is still a very strong possibility Alonso will leave Ferrari before 2014 – but I’ll explain another time” is intriguing!

    Commonsense might say that Ferrari and Alonso should not part, as they’re a top driver and team. But I’m appreciative that you’ve repeated this idea, and that it’s therefore very likely that you are seeing real smoke over in that forest. Yesterday, I re-examined how Kimi left Ferrari (thanks to an interesting comment found at TJ13 around the time that you broke the Kimi / Ferrari story), and that’s a strange and interesting tale. In comparison to any other team, life at Scuderia in Maranello is very different.

  21. Imini emandi kuwe(Xhosa for Happy Birthday ) TJ13 🙂

    I have been following since the first week and am highly appreciative of this community.

    Interested in the ” Alonso may not be at Ferrari in 2014″

  22. Happy burpday TJ13, I hope the champagne is flowing? I have been an avid reader for about 9 months now, and can truly say I find your site the best out there! However , I have never commented, and thought, as its your birthday I would make the effort and congratulate you, and all your helpers on making, in a relatively short time, something that I, and quite obviously a huge amount of other people, enjoy thoroughly on a daily basis! Well done and thank you!!

    “”Take my word on this too, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren (should they test) have and will significantly modify their 2011 cars for these tests.””

    Surely TJ, you are not suggesting that these teams actually employ underhand tactics? I heard from a friend earlier that the RB/Pirelli test had been extended to a third day due to bad weather? Is this because redbull, sorry, I meant Pirelli, had not covered their full mileage allowance??


    Pats on the back, cake and party hats to everyone here—the readers and commenters too because we also play a part in the success of this community.

    Congratulations of course to the editors and contributors who make it such an educating, interesting and worthwhile place to visit. They are unsung herpes and we should regularly celebrate their effort…

    Whether it’s an opinion piece, “On this day,” news or creative piece, we probably don’t recognise the time it takes the author. For example, the cartoons recently in the news take 20 seconds to giggle at, but might take two or more hours to make! So I’m sure they appreciate our comments 🙂

    And of course, thank you Mr. Judge. Your labour birthing and nurturing this blog-baby is a joy for us all to share, tut about and feel a sense of pride as we see it grow.

    Long may the gavel bang and the baby cry.

  24. I wish I’d discovered your site a whole lot earlier then I had, y’ Honour.
    Congratulations on the day of your birth – may you have a swag of them.

  25. congrats on completion of a year….:):)

    This website has been the ‘find-of-the-year’, best website about F1 for me…Hope your honour @thejudge13 continue to enlighten the formula 1 fans,with his “judgements”….!!:):)

    • Oh yes. We’ll have another crack at the Silverstone media awards. See if we can get a sponsor or 2.

      Part of the remit of the site is to grow through quality, and recognition, not just because I can afford to pay for it.

      Read our ‘about’ page. This is also a social media experiment in what can be achieved from simply delivering quality – and a place where people want to come.

  26. Hi, everyone. This is my first post although i keep checking this website since its’ beginning. TJ13, I really love the concept of the website, I like to read it and check it several times a day, but somehow I find less user friendly than let’s say JAonF1 so that’s probably a reason I don’t participate in the debate… Keep up the good work, keep developing, and happy birthday!

  27. How about it Judge, is there any way you can persuade the lost son to come back from his self imposed exile?
    He might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but i do miss him.

  28. Wow, a year. Good job. I’ve been reading and posting here for some time and like the site and the attitude, but there is one thing……. I wish you were more transparent as to who you are and what you do. When reading Saward I know who Joe is and what he does and his bona fides; when you are reporting I feel a bit less comfortable, as I don’t know who you really are and what your connections are. Several times you have reported so as to give the impression you were attending races when you weren’t and that has bothered me a bit. Anyway, congratulations and keep it up.

    • Hi Steve

      Just judge the site by the content. Very occasionally There may be something of a ‘smoke and mirrors’ scenario. If I am to be travelling for several hours by air or just incommunicado for a day – I get a story to AHJ verbally – or in note form – and he will type it up for me, but in the first person.

      So there may be the odd continuity error.

      Thejudge13 is not primarily about revelations, but the community being developed. Anyone who participates is in essence creating ‘the court room of f1 opinion’, and TJ is just part of that…

  29. Happy Birthday Judge, well, what a year it’s been, I’ve been here since the beginning, and can remember when you were lucky to get 2 comments . . . but you have proved that the cream will always rise to the top, you have a damn fine site on your hands now.
    Special thanks to Mrs. Judge, who must have the patience of a saint !!
    Congratulations to you both.

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