Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 19th September 2013

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Webber gives his 10 cents worth (08:00) updated (09:45)

Button out in the cold…surely not (08:00) updated (09:45)

F1 is a UK sport? (08:00)

Jacques and insanity (10:08)

Is Fernando really faster than Massa? (21:17)
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Webber gives his 10 pence worth

Once again the subject of being a pay driver is discussed, but this time from a much less likely source. The outgoing Aussie, Mark Webber, has gone on record to show his backing for fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, which goes against the current trend of the modern era of Formula One.

In what has come to be expected from Webber, he was straight to the point in saying, “It has become normal to see a driver getting a seat not because of his talent, but because he’s paying.” TJ13 contributor Adam Macdonald, covered his honesty in an article earlier in the year, Honesty to make us honestly unhappy?

The no nonsense approach from the Webber really will be missed when he moves to the Porsche supercars series at the end of the current campaign. He is quoted by Totalrace as saying, “I don’t think that’s (pay drivers) very good for F1.” However, there is one slight issue with this.

Perhaps Webber doesn’t remember that the only reason Ricciardo was given the HRT drive in 2011 was due to the financial support he received from the Red Bull Young Driver Programme. Ricciardo replaced Narain Karthikeyan for the 10 races that year and Vitantonio Liuzzi for 1. Of course young drivers need to be given the opportunity to succeed, but this act in 2011 would surely make Ricciardo a pay driver wouldn’t it?

Interestingly, Jonnathan Neale – MD of McLaren – was questioned over the progress of the team’s young drivers and he had this to say. “I’m not in a position to be specific about what’s happening, but I can say that both Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne – who are currently dominating the World Series championship – are really exciting prospects for the future.

I think it behoves us as a sport to make sure that both those two fantastic individuals find their way into Formula 1. Certainly on current performance you’d expect them both to get there.”

McLaren believe they are close to ensuring Magnussen has an F1 seat next year, but are tight lipped about where. Neale cautioned that the final graduation into F1 had caught out many highly-rated young prospects over the years, it was imperative for McLaren to handle Magnussen and Vandoorne’s next moves carefully.

“The step between coming through the junior series and coming into Formula 1 is pretty challenging, and we’re still trying to figure out the best way for them to do that. I can’t be specific, but we’d expect to see them in Formula 1 in the not too distant future.”

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Button out in the cold…surely not

Yesterday TJ13 reported the option McLaren had on their current due have expired. Button, a man with a WDC to his name is not one to be snubbed easily.

People often forget his 2004 season where he claimed 10 podiums in 18 races, and finished 3rd in the WDC. The man from Frome is no stranger to contract disputes as during that season he was embroiled in contract negotiations that eventually turned into disputes as well.

2005 also had similar shades to now, where Button once again found himself in hot water as he tried to back out of the agreement he had signed with Williams. In the end Williams were paid £18 million in compensation. So what is it about silly season that Jenson loves so much to be a part of?

It still strikes as rather odd that McLaren would want to replace Button with Massa though. Whilst Massa would bring much more sponsorship than Button currently does, the Woking based team already have the TelMex money of Sergio Perez topping up the coffers. Button told the SKY UK yesterday,”It’s not an issue for either party.

In the McLaren Vodafone weekly teleconference yesterday, McLaren MD Jonathan Neale said he would have no problem changing the driver line up for 2015. “We’ve shown in the past that we weren’t afraid to make the changes that we felt that we needed to in the team, whether it was inside the organisation or in the driver line-up, in order to get the job done.

We’re really excited about the return of Honda and are working really hard behind the scenes to make that successful. But we’re also looking forward to what we hope will be a very competitive powertrain from Mercedes in 2014.”

When questioned about the driver line up for 2014. Neale replied, “We don’t comment on rumour mill or drivers until such time as we’re ready to make an announcement,” and added, “I hope that it won’t be too much further now before we’re able to clarify what’s going on”.

A former world champion is surely safe in his job when the need for stability for next season is even greater, given the regulation changes. Furthermore, his Japanese links can only aid his cause for a new contract. So if it is all a money game then Jenson has to feel he is sitting comfortably, right?

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F1 is a UK sport?

It has been suggested on TJ13 before that Formula One is for all intents and purposes a UK sport. Whilst it does have a global appeal, as it travels to all corners of the globe, much of the technology is centred in the UK as well as other aspects, like the commentary being exported to countries far and wide.

Yesterday saw this trend continue as an ultra-modern factory to produce parts for Formula 1 cars was confirmed to be built in Derby. EPM, an advanced composites company supplying parts to Force India were awarded £4.75 million to start the project. Managing Director Graham Mulholland said, “It is jaw-droppingly inspirational that a council should show so much vision in setting up this fund for businesses that want to make a difference.

Whilst this will do wonders for the Derbyshire and UK economy in current times of austerity, by increasing the number of high-skilled jobs available, it does leave cause for concern. F1 needs to be a global sport in order to get the big sponsorship deals which ultimately take the sport to the heights that it reaches, so to have yet more jobs in the central band of England makes it even more of an exclusive sport.

Whilst it is understandable for teams to want to locate close to each other, especially the smaller teams, who can share facilities; it will cut off middle-range foreign investors in the sport if this trend continues.

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Jacques and insanity

TJ13 started with Lauda watch just around a year ago, when the controversial Austrian barged his way into the Mercedes AMG outfit. Marko was put on the ‘to watch’ list not too much later, and as we reported earlier this year the return of a certain ‘Jaques the lad’ to the paddock as a SKY Italia commentator would add further spice into the mix.

Jacques Villeneuve has lambasted Ferrari’s decision to sign Kimi Raikkonen for 2014. In his usual mild mannered and understated fashion Villeneuve said, “Ferrari are completely insane. He [Kimi] can drive a car fast, but he can’t work with the engineers, he can’t develop the car, he won’t go to sponsor appointments.”

Ex Ferrari ace, Rene Arnoux, also believes the 2 rooster policy will see one of them ousted – and sooner rather than later. Speaking to La Gazzetta the Frenchman observed, “It will last 3 or 4 races,” adding, “As far as character, I see Alonso’s as the weaker. Remember when he was at McLAren with Hamilton? The peace was short lived, and while I am the first to hope I am wrong, for winning the constructors’ title you need two very strong drivers and characters”.

Arnoux believes it will be Raikkonen who comes out on top. “He seems to be more mature these days. Sure, his character is still the same, but since he joined Lotus he appears more consistent. But, of these two, one is angry and one doesn’t care. Every Sunday there is the possibility that it will explode”.

The question Arnoux poses is whether Fernando can cope with being paired with a driver of Raikkonen’s calibre. “Definitely he has a bad temper, but this can also be a quality when it is used in battle, but not when it is used within the team, creating difficulties and divisions. Frankly, I want to see if Alonso is really up to what people say about him. In Barcelona he delivered an amazing race, a masterpiece, but then for a few races he did nothing,”

Grinning mischievously Rene concludes, “Yes, as a neutral spectator, I like Ferrari’s choice.”

Kimi has persistently been someone who dislikes and avoids at all costs the PR side of F1. Further, he is the antitheses of the Schumacher-esque driver/engineer relationship. This will surely irritate Alonso and Il Padrino (LdM) made an interesting comment earlier in the week, “I hope his [Kimi] ) public relations work will consist of wins, as well as a contribution to the team and a diligent presence in Maranello”.

Excuse me!!!

The president of Ferrari is what? Hoping……….

Hoping that his new employee will help out Alonso? Is this not already in the contract??? It’s not looking good for Fred’s blood pressure methinks.

Jenson stirred the pot a little yesterday when he hypothesised, “If Kimi starts out qualifying Fernando that would be a big one, because Fernando is not the quickest guy though as a package he’s exceptional. It’s fun for us watching from the outside, but does it make the team stronger? I personally don’t think it does.”

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Is Fernando really faster than Massa?

During a recent Shell sponsor event Massa was asked the inevitable questions (now that he is not staying on at Ferrari we may see a new Massa)

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28 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 19th September 2013

  1. Are you saying that sponsors are looking for factories to make upper thrung brackets in India? Rather than get their logo to 400m people worldwide?

  2. Morning Judge,

    I must say that while I generally agree with the point you make I think you are being harsh on Ricciardo. Yes he had support from Red Bull but he was picked to be part of that scheme on talent and am sure that if he didn’t perform he would join the long list of drivers cast aside.

    I think Webber’s point is the drivers who will never be that good but have the deep pockets so keep getting retained so long as the money flows

    • exactly. there is a difference between a driver getting a seat simply because of his personal sponsorship and/or wealth and a driver getting a seat because he is part of a development programme that pays a smaller team to take him on as an apprentice. true, technically both seats are paid for, but a driver in a development programme hat to prove his talent before being selected.

      there is also a difference between paying for a seat in order to get an entry into f1 and prove your worth, and paying for a seat in order not to drop out of f1 or to move into a more competetive team.

      • so where would Gutierrez fit into this? He was GP3 champion, but also has had his seat paid for

  3. F1 is a UK sport?: the sport (marketing business) is global, hence the global sponsors, but the industry is mainly UK.

      • Irish saying that i think applies to Jacques ‘the last thing to die on him will be his tongue’.

        Agree that his hair seems to have given up the ghost already. Not that i can talk – mine gave up the ghost a long time ago!!

          • I have passed this question on to my wife, she said: “Jason Statham, Tyson Beckford (no idea who that is), Samuel L Jackson, Sean Connery, tell him not to worry”
            So there you are 😉

  4. This ‘be carefull with new drivers’ thing always seems a bit one sided, they always parp on about it and mention Alguersuari, and how you can be ‘too young’, ‘too inexperienced’, etc, etc. Whilst I think its unlikely, I half hope this Sirotkin fella comes in a blows his team mate away, just to shut them up… oh wait this is F1, stopping the media from trawling out the same old shite would be impossible. I guess his point is care is needed, which I understand, but I think they want to be carefull to back themselves out of risks with new guys in the top, and particularly middle teams.

    *Editorial note; its ‘intents and purposes’ not ‘intensive purposes’ (top of UK sport section)

  5. Re: Arnoux’s comments. I don’t think he’s being entirely fair on Alonso there.

    He definitely didn’t handle 2007 too well, that much is obvious. But the man had just won two championships back-to-back. He was on top of the world, and then along comes this young rookie to completely steal all his thunder. It’s somewhat understandable that he lost his cool.

    Since then though, he has eaten a whooole lot of humble pie, and seems a much more mature personality that he was more than half a decade ago.

    If you asked me to put money on who would lose their cool first of Alonso and Kimi, no doubt I would put my money on Alonso. I’m not entirely convinced either of them will, though.

  6. What about end of 2009 with Button where he was supposed to be staying with Brawn and it kept getting dragged out and next thing of to McLaren.

  7. As per usual Webbers refreshing honesty turns out to be not that honest, and not all that refreshing.
    JV’s comments are worth even less than Webbers ten pence.

  8. Surely a Jenson Fernando swop is a possibility?

    At this point i think both would be happy to do so. The teams also.

    Forget all the bullpoop of Fernando burning bridges. If Mclaren think it makes them more competitive they will do it. Ferrari get to replace one world champ with another. Everyone’s a winner.

    The only real reason i see it not happening is that Honda want Jenson to stay. They’ve a habit of wanting to place their own, usually Japanese, drivers in teams. Jenson is almost classed in this bracket due to his work with Honda, his girlfriend and the way if carried himself after the recent disaster there.

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

  9. It’s possible that McLaren is looking at the drivers they need to dominate and win the WCC & WDC in 2016. That would be the 2nd year of the Honda motor, (which may be a game changer, coming in a year later than the other motors).

    Next year, they’ll know if Perez will be good enough. They likely have a shopping list of pilots that they’re evaluating for both 2016 seats in the mean-time.

    McLaren’s comments that they’re not afraid to make changes, and Button’s many comments about how well he works with McLaren, and that the 2014 part is done, indicates disagreements about ’15 & ’16. McLaren will need a WDC caliber driver in 2015 (to adjust to the team prior to 2016), and then preferably a 2nd WDC caliber driver in 2016, (if not before).

    This would explain the contracts delay… Button would believe he could be a valuable part of that plan, perhaps. McLaren would be talking to a few different folks out there in the mean time.

  10. The comments from Kimi reported on the BBC give an interesting insight to this year and pointer to the future – he claims he’s had no payments at all so far this season. A surprise in a way that he has put up with it this long and not at all a surprise he jumped ship.

    It does also put in to question just how well Lotus will do next season – I’d guess all teams will need more money to even stay where they are next year with the major changes so if Lotus can’t even pay their drivers – and presumably will end the year with debts – then they could well end up fighting Saubers and Williams next year…

    • I agree with you Stephen. Everyone seem to want to drive the Lotus but Alison and De Beer is gone and many more. Hulk may not want to go that way, rather the devil you know than the one you don’t.

      If Lotus does not get a BIG sponsor soon I think it is game over. I am not buying this “waiting for a premium sponsor because we don’t want to sell space cheaply”. It’s all marketing hogwash. There are no sponsors at their doors trying to get on the car (which is worrying).

      • Agreed. Is anyone seeing anything positive out there that they will even be on the grid next year given their present predicament?
        Reading their who’s owed what I remind myself that the financial genii behind Genii must be sweating a little – how much of their input is actually borrowings?

        • The Irony is, everyone parped on about Vijay’s troubles, and FI’s worries in the off season, and here we are in the final run down having worried for Sauber and Lotus, and whether they can continue, watched Williams over run for another year, and FI are still paying two drivers, and fielding an impressive car.

          Could we see Nico jump from a team which currently looks crap, but might well have decent funding next year now thanks to the russians, into one that currently looks good, but next year might be shit… AGAIN… Glad I’m not making his decisions.

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