Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 21th September 2013

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Lauda shows his funny side (09:00)

Raikkonen the mercenary (09:00)

Sir Jock weighs in his two pence worth (16:00)

New rookie testing agreed in principle (18:00)

Kimi has a pain in the backside (18:19)


Lauda shows his funny side

It has been 37 years since Lauda’s horrific crash on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. As part of a promotion for the movie Rush, Lauda was asked to do an interview with an US news presenter. To make it more dramatic the interview was scheduled to be held at the scene of his near fatal accident, the fast left kink before Bergwerk.

Kipferl In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung Lauda said, “Well, it was one of these American morning shows. They came to the Nürburgring with a blond woman, tall, everything where it is supposed to be. They all expected – ‘ooh, he’ll probably weep. That’ll be a huge emotional moment‘. I bought a Kipferl (piece of pastry, pictured) at the hotel and hid in in the trackside gras-strip beforehand.

Lauda goes on saying, “She starts: ‘Mr. Lauda, how is it to be here…‘, I said : ‘Just a moment!‘ and walk into the grass. She asks: ‘What are you doing?‘ I said: ‘Oh, look, here’s my ear!‘. She was done. She lost it. They had to do it (the whole take) all over again.

In Rush Lauda is shown as a very serious man with little or no humour. It must have caught the news presenter off guard a bit…


Raikkonen the mercenary

In Thursday’s driver press conference Raikkonen stated the only reason he left Lotus was because they could not pay his salary, “…the reasons why I left from the team is purely on the money side, that they haven’t got my salary so it’s an unfortunate thing…

This statement has now earned the rebuke of Lotus F1 team boss Gerard Lopez. Speaking to Welt Lopez said, “He [Raikkonen] will get his money, as in previous years and as agreed, at the end of the season. I am very confused about the timing and content of these statements by Kimi.” Lopez claims they gave Raikkonen a chance to prove himself by giving him a competitive car for his comeback other than what Schumacher had.

But what is really going on at the Enstone outfit? It is not just Raikkonen, Allison and De Beer that has left. There has been a constant brain drain from Enstone over the last year and the news that Raikkonen is leaving has started a domino effect with Blick reporting that a further 20 engineers applying for positions at rival teams.

It appears that the problem is far deeper than just Kimi and his salary. Is the Enstone team on the brink of collapsing? And what is the outlook for the rest of Formula 1?

Listening to Boullier answering a question at the Team Principal’s Press Conference yesterday about Kimi leaving because his salary has not be paid at says it all. “… He’s going to be paid, that’s true too and if you want to have a little bit more of the story, last year in the same period it was the same story: we were owing him some money but at the end of the year he was fully paid.

It’s just the way we manage our cash flow. Unfortunately we are not as rich as some other teams on the grid. You can also understand that a team capable of winning this year and fighting for some podiums may not be as sustainable as it should be. We have obviously favoured our people working in Enstone which is understandable I think, obviously the car development because this is the essence of Formula One if you want to keep competing. So there is nothing else behind this story.

At the end of the day it boils down to the cost of the sport. Tony Fernandes said the he was promised a sport at a lower cost but nothing is cheaper, in fact, it has become more expensive and this has resulted in a three tiered Formula.

Is Kimi a mercenary looking out for number one only or is Formula 1 yet again staring down an abyss with no plan of how to make it through. Are they [the teams] hoping that enough teams will die in the journey to enable them to get through while they hope it won’t be them? What will need to happen for the teams to wake up and stop squabbling between themselves for the leftovers from Bernie’s table?


Sir Jock weighs in his two pence worth

As Team Lotus’ consultant/adviser/ambassador (delete as applicable) Sir Jock (Stewart) has the great job of adding his two pence worth to everything the team does… or that happens in Formula 1 for that matter. Not happy with losing the experienced and consistent Raikkonen Sir Jock now advises Lotus to go for Hulkenberg or Di Resta rather than Massa.

Speaking to Motorsport-Total Steward said, “I think that Hulkenberg and Di Resta would be a good choice. Both are very good drivers and are on the way up. Both have already learned a lot, and of course, still have a lot to learn, but I think it’s better to invest in the future than to take an experienced driver who may have been in Formula 1 for too long.” He is obviously referring to Massa here.

He goes on to say, “Take Massa as an example this year, up and down. Sometimes very good but in other races not good at all. That is why Ferrari is not doing well in the Constructors Championship. Imagine if they did not have Alonso!

All valid points Sir Jock but do you realise your team is on the brink of implosion? While Massa may not be that consistent he could be very valuable however Hulkenberg does need a good drive. Assuming Lotus can build another competitive car for 2014 It would be a great place for Hulkenberg.

And Di Resta, will he still be on the grid next year?


New rookie testing agreed in principle

F1 teams have agreed on a rule change proposal that will enable more frequent use of rookie and test drivers during the first free practice session on Fridays. This proposal has yet to be approved at the World Motorsport Council. The wait won’t be long as they are meeting next week in Croatia.

To facilitate these rookie tests free practice will be extended to two hours. A driver change within the session will also be allowed so that the regular driver, who had to step aside for the rookies is not disadvantaged any longer.

This proposal allow the teams to run rookies without impeding the preparation of their regular drivers.

How will it work? Well it is proposed that the rookie drivers run during the first 30 minutes, before the ‘usual’ 90 minutes of free practice start during which the regular drivers do their usual preparation. To facilitate this change an additional set of Pirellis will be provided. The catch is that this set of tyres can only be used in the first 30 minutes of practice.

Should the WMC approve the change it will be good for teams further down the grid as they can now generate additional income from young guns wanting to give F1 a try.


Kimi has a pain in the backside

Kimi’s departure from Lotus appears to be more painful than expected. The Finn took part in qualifying, which saw him finish a lowly 13th. Singapore is known for being bumpy which does not help a sore back at all! His sore back, which started after Friday practice and got worse on Saturday almost lead to him abandoning the weekend. The cause appears to be a pinched nerve.

While doctors and physiotherapists try to alleviate the pain, Eric Boullier is mildly optimistic that his star pilot will make it through the race on the twisty, demanding track. “It looks as if he’s more or less ok,” he told Sky Sports F1. “He’s not exactly in the best of shapes, but it’s ok.

Should Raikkönens problems get worse he would have to sit out the race and it would be too late for test and reserve driver Davide Valsecchi to take over. This is definitely not what Lotus needed. Less Constructors points means less money, something they need badly!

Obviously there are those out there with “inside information.
Source: LooseWheelNut


11 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 21th September 2013

  1. There are 2 groups of teams, the haves and the have-nots. No-one knows where the divide lies. Only the haves can change things. But the have-nots are the ones at risk. Ergo, nothing will change – except the number of teams.

    When will the teams ‘wake up and stop squabbling between themselves for the leftovers from Bernie’s table?’ When there are so few teams that Bernie closes his shop. Ie. too late to save the status quo.

  2. “I like to race. That’s the only reason why I am here. It doesn’t matter which team it is but the reason I left Lotus was purely on the money side.”

    I’m not sure mercenary quite covers it, but it’s close. Loyalty only goes so far. Being exploited / screwed around is a small step away. Kimi has seen that step being taken evidently.

    Comments this weekend from Lotus suggest that last year Kimi was paid the performance-based part of his coin after the season, so I’d guess that Kimi leaving isn’t so much about the timing of the payment. Rather, as you say, I think he can see the writing on the wall so far as Lotus’ financial security (or lack of it).

    Has F1 ever had a business plan for the sport that suited anyone except Bernie & the sharp end of the field? Is it worse this time around? The sums of money sloshing around are certainly bigger than ever, but is the relative poverty of the smaller teams the same or worse than in the past? These aren’t rhetorical questions, I’m actually interested.

    • Certainly if you go back 50 years or so, the guys at the back were often working on a shoestring, preparing cars in a lock-up in a South London suburb, arriving at the circuit on a trailer behind a Bedford van, with the driver and his mate wielding the spanners, mostly perhaps in non-championship events (of which there used to be many before being outlawed – in 1984 I think). I would imagine their tiny budgets were relatively similar. However, those intrepid guys rarely had to commit to a full season, could drop out of individual races as and when they chose (and they didn’t have so many ‘fly-away’ events then) and, if they went belly up they didn’t have so many outstanding bills to pay (far fewer staff and no wind-tunnel time for example).
      I think a major difference now is the sheer number of employees and that, one has to say, the major teams brought upon themselves – certainly it’s a sign of the times but we’re now into a situation where people are being employed (often for fabulous fees) just to prevent another team having them… This sort of selfishness can only cause more headaches for the poorer teams.
      I see no way of turning the clock back (who can…?) but no doubt the FIA will continue to introduce even more regulations in their forlorn attempt to reduce costs.
      Maybe the only solution is for the teams to wrest more money from Bernie et al but… only the major teams will be able to do this… but… they will still keep the lion’s share for themselves – and the back-runners will suffer even more.
      It always strikes me as sad when so many F1 fans assert that the tail-end Charlies should simply go to the wall if they can’t keep up… but does anybody REALLY want 10-car grids in what most of us also assert is the best motor-racing formula in the world…?
      Sorry – didn’t mean to go on… 😉

  3. I remember way back, in school, being taught about the King of Spain’s ear (or was it his beard…? Maybe I didn’t pay attention…) but I would pay cash-money to see the out-take of this ‘Lauda in the (bull)rushes’ clip.

  4. Stewart’s comments are also interesting for who he doesn’t mention… Perez, Sutil, and other talented drivers.

    It must be hard for Enstone to go fishing for good talent when folks think you don’t have real bait…

    The Enstone team may be due for another evolution.

  5. Speaking money problems, of the current four top teams, Blackberry’s recent PR that they’re now sailing over a financial cliff will be of concern to a Brackley based team…

    • I would hazard a guess that Merc would not have a problem finding another sposor, especially since they’re a secondary sponsor anyways.

  6. The more I hear from the smoke and mirror boys at the pretend Lotus on their star driver walking on them, the more I want to puke, then laugh at their monstrous egos’. I’m sure if positions were reversed their blase attitudes’ would be very different.

  7. Greetings:) I visit your blog almost every day for the past 3 months and I quite like it.
    The first post is to thank you; and to express my regrets how often people misunderstand things and each other in life. Not saying this to be against anyone, just this is the way life can be.

    For what it’s worth, Räikkönen’s back problem is an old injury and has troubled him throughout his career. Excuse me if I don’t find it funny teasing him on that even if he was considered committing such a crime by leaving a team banking on him still wouldn’t honour a contract. Maybe it’s cultural difference, i just don’t feel it right.

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