Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 24th September 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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Differing Opinions about the Alonso/Webber reprimands (01:00)

Fernando Alonso’s cycling team plans go bust (01:00)

Stats watch (01:00)

Boos spur Vettel on (06:27)

Raikkonen may miss rest of 2013 season (13:26)

Ferrari sends Red Bull invoice (14:20)
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Differing Opinions about the Alonso/Webber reprimands

As if Mark Webber hadn’t had suffered enough bad luck already in Singapore. After his last lap retirement, the Australian netted the third reprimand of the season for riding as a passenger on the sidepod of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

Alonso had stopped on his in-lap and had offered his friend a ride home to the pits. The Spaniard, too was reprimanded for that. For Webber’s reprimand, his third of the season, has more consequences – he’ll be handed a 10 place grid penalty at the Korean Grand Prix.

The amateur video of a spectator shows the situation. Webber runs away from his stricken car onto the track and waves Alonso, who stops right in the middle of the track just meters after the exit of turn 7 and waits for Webber to get onto the car.

Meanwhile Nico Rosberg barely manages to miss Webber weaving hard left, while just moments later his teammate Hamilton has to clutter over the curbs, narrowly missing Alonso’s parked car on the right side.

The opinions about the reprimands differ. Hamilton, who was apparently shocked by the sudden obstacle can understand the FIA’s reasoning. Speaking to Fox Sports Hamilton said, “I was doing my in-lap, came around the corner and Fernando was there, and I was really shocked. I went to the right of him, but if Mark had been walking across where I went then I would have run him over.” (Should there be a prize for stating the obvious?)

Hamilton’s former teammate Jenson Button thinks the reprimands are too harsh. “I’m disappointed about the reprimands. Fair gestures like that shouldn’t be punished. Perhaps Alonso could have stopped at a safer spot. Stopping on the track right after the exit of a blind corner isn’t really clever.

Is Formula 1 becoming too sanitised or should drivers (and everyone involved in the sport) be more careful? Remember the knee-jerk we had when we had a wheel bouncing down the pitlane?

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Fernando Alonso’s cycling team plans go bust

Basque telecommunication company Euskatel has confirmed that the talks with Fernando Alonso about the purchase of the professional cycling outfit Euskatel-Euskadi have broken down over disagreements. They refused to reveal why the negotiations had failed to work out, saying that the confidentiality of the talks “has to be respected by us.

However it has now become clear the sticking point was that Alonso wanted to replace the current management have former pro and current Oakley representative Kiko Garcia to head the project. The latter will then also be able to appoint his own staff. Alonso’s desire to relocate the team from the Basque country to Asturias was also said to be an issue, as was a request for an audit of the team accounts.

This means the iconic orange shirts of the Basque squad will be gone after this season and the once proud cycling power Spain will be left with only two major professional cycling squads – the ProTour team Movistar and second tier Pro-Continental squad Caja Rural.

So what does this have to to with Formula 1. Well after Alonso had all the F1 media haning on for his announcement, expecting him to announce his parting from Ferrari, things just does not seem to be going right for Alonso.

Ferrari has now decided to focus on the 2014 car which means Red Bull and Vettel has their 4th consecutive tiles wrapped up. The best he can hope for is 2nd this year and then hope that Rory Bryne, James Allison and Dirk De Beer can build him a car that can take him to his third championship next year.

Only it won’t be that easy. With Raikkonen as his teammate and just as consistent as he is will it be a stroll in the park? We know Alonso is liked for his brilliance behind the steering wheel of the Ferrari, not his brilliance as a person in the Ferrari family.

How will this play out now that his dream of a cycling team is over? Fiat and Santander was rumoured to have been the team’s backing and that would have made leaving Ferrari ‘difficult’. Now… what’s next Mr Alonso?

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Stats watch

Unlike his idol and long time friend Michael Schumacher, Vettel openly admits that he cares about statistics and records and he’s added to his tally at Singapore.

By scoring his 33rd career victory he his now the most successful driver on the grid. He had equaled Fernando Alonso’s tally of 32 victories at Monza and is now the sole leader in this regard among currently active drivers.

Singapore was Vettel’s third ‘Grand Slam’ of pole, fastest lap and leading every lap. Only 6 drivers have more Grand Slams: Jim Clark (8), Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher (5), Jacky Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell (4). With a single Grand Slam (Singapore 2010) Fernando Alonso is the only other current driver to achieve one.

With his 20th fastest lap Vettel equaled Alonso’s tally in another category.

He passed Nigel Mansell in terms of laps led and finds himself in fourth place behind Schumacher, Senna and Prost now. His 2,147 laps on the business end of the field still look somewhat pale in comparison to his buddy Michael Schumacher’s 5,111. This season he has so far led 394 laps, meaning he led for more than half the season so far.

Ferrari might wish to pray for more Mercedes pole positions. If either Vettel, Webber, Kimi or RoGro can score two more pole positions among them this year, Renault engines will take over the record for most pole positions from Ferrari. Currently Ferrari engines still top the record books at 208. Vettel’s pole was the 207th for a Renault engined car.

More hat-trick bonanza: The Singapore GP was not only Vettel’s third win in a row, it was also the third consecutive race in which Alonso finished right behind him. On top of that it was Vettel’s third consecutive win in Singapore. The last one to score such a hat-trick was Felipe Massa, who won the Turkish GP three times in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Another – albeit not really flattering – hat-trick was scored by Mark Webber, who bagged the third reprimand of the season after Bahrain (contact with Rosberg) and Canada (speeding under yellow). He shares this dubious honor with only one driver – Pastor Maldonado, who had to stand in the corner three times last year.

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Boos spur Vettel on

Those who have taken to greet Vettel with boos and hisses may actually just spur him on. In his usual, not always politically correct style Sebastian Vettel gave German magazine Der Spiegel a piece of his mind about the booing.

I didn’t give the fans the most exciting race,” he admits. “But on days like this I don’t really care much. We keep on winning and they continue to boo me. That’s not nice, but as long as they do it, I know we’re doing a good job.

While Vettel emphasizes the strength of his own team, he rejects that Red Bull is the sole culprit for the less than thrilling races lately and puts some of the blame at the opposition’s doorstep.

The difference is in the details. While the others go home to let their balls dangle in the pool, we’re still in the garage tampering with small details on the car until we’re completely satisfied,” he said. “And once we’ve got that we try to squeeze out a little more. Over a whole weekend, this makes a difference, even more so over a whole year.

Vettel is known for not giving an airborne piece of excrement about political correctness, especially in German language interviews, but such a direct statement is unusual, even for him.

It would be interesting to find out if this is just a sign of the boos finally getting to him or if Red Bull really is the team that uses the allowed garage time fully and others don’t. He may have learned a little more than just on-track antics from Schumacher, who was known for staying in the garage with the engineers until the early hours of the morning to make sure his car was just a little better and perfectly set up.

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Raikkonen may miss rest of 2013 season

Yesterday TJ13 reported that Raikkonen’s back problem may stem from an accident he had while testing for Sauber in 2001. It appears that the back problem that flared up this weekend in Singapore may put his 2013 season on hold (had to fight the urge to say ‘ice’).

McLaren team doctor, Aki Hintsa, was on hand to get Raikkonen back on his feet before the race. Rumors from Italy are suggesting that Kimi won’t be finishing the season with Lotus because of the lack of payments and is now considering considering back surgery before the end of the season.

Should this happen it may give Valsecchi a chance in the hot seat at Lotus. Another potential replacement could be Hulkenberg as his contract with Sauber has been terminated and effectively he is a ‘free’ driver.

Although it would be great for Valsecchi to get a chance to race in Formula 1 and he may be the next revelation, Hulkenberg’s stock is incredibly high at the moment. Dragging the Sauber to places it is not supposed to be in and having scored points in the last two races he may be just what Lotus needs.

Without having a points linked bonus Hulkenberg may be able to contribute to Lotus’s constructors tally ensuring they remain in 4th or try and overtake Mercedes. The question is, will they be able to pay him any money?

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Ferrari sends Red Bull invoice

Nothing is free in this world.. not even a lift with a buddy! After Alonso’s failed bid for a cycle team he may want to consider opening a taxi service…
Ferrari Invoice

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27 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 24th September 2013

  1. Ridiculous reprimand for Webber. I think as an F1 fan I want to see things like that – a spectacle. I want entertainment. Also hulk having to give a place up for (cant remember who it was for) was a bit steep. Too much involvement from the stewards I reckon. Let ’em race. I want action.

    • Watch the video, both got almost piled into by the Mercs. Alonso should have stopped in the run-off area.

      • Agree. It was dangerous, and could have caused serious injury. Or worse.

        For two intelligent chaps it was a foolish thing to do.

        • But we’re all human and make mistakes. They got reprimands so it will make them think about being stupid again.

          It’s just Webber’s bad luck that it is his third one of the season 🙂

          • To quote Mario Andretti, if Webber decided to become an undertaker, people would stop dying. 😉
            He just seems to be a glutton for punishment…

      • Talking of knee jerks (pun intended), if the Mercs had piled into Webber and broken his legs, what would we be saying about the incident now?

        Also, Webber got the reprimand for entering the race track without the marshals permission, “for riding as a passenger on the sidepod of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.”

        • Personally, I always think it looks cool when drivers do this, but this was done in a particularly stupid place

  2. If you watch the video, it was Kimi who forced Alonso to stop on the racing line. after Kimi moved on, it was too late to attempt moving off track. It then got dangerous as a result. Has Webber waved and waited by the side, then things would have been different.

  3. “Balls dangling in the pool… ” LOL! Classic…

    I’m not the greatest fan of Vettel as a driver, but you have to appreciate that the combination of him and RBR is awesome. And the opposition just hasn’t been able to come up with anything better. The hard work on the details just makes sure of that!

    I can’t see anyone else turning it around this season so I fear the boos will continue… I’m sure Vettel knows to take it as a compliment!

    • Agreed, you can’t hold it against the guy if he was that burning desire to win (we all the drivers have) it’s what he has spent the last decade or more working every waking moment for it. I have heard many many reports over the last 5 seasons about how Seb is driven to work that little bit longer and go to greater depths to understand his machinery and go to the N’th degree to simply get things spot on. You don’t hear the other drivers saying the car was amazing all weekend, do you think it’s because the other drivers don’t put in enough time with the engineers, the other teams are not as skilled, the drivers can’t explain to the engineers exactly what they need from the car or is it that Seb understands the engineers jobs and the engineers understand his job to an extent that they overlap sufficiently that everyone understands each other? Maybe it’s a bit of everything, perhaps the “talent” are having too much sunshine blown up their asses for doing a mediocre job.

      I’m no vettle fan by any stretch but my god the boy is shit hot right now and it’s down to the others to challenge and not for Red Bull to be slowed down by rule changes etc etc or crushing their drivers spirit. You never know if people are planted in the crowd to get the boo’s going, it happens at political gatherings so why not try to knock the wind out of Seb in order to reduce his performances. We all know the teams are ultra competitive so why put it past them, especially if you judge them on past crimes!

      I want a time machine to now move me on the the 1st test of 2014……..

      Little food for thought, not every Newey car has been amazing, he has overseen some shockers too. What is the next Red Bull gonna be?

      • The only shockers he has overseen was when he wasn’t happy, especially at McLaren. He wanted more freedom and of course he wanted to become a Technical Director at some point. At RBR he has all that and he produced wonders. If anything is going to limit him next year would be an underperforming Renault engine. Noone will come close to him in terms of chassis and aero designs (which will be limited compared to this year). For the good of the competition though, I hope he’ll have an off year 🙂

    • If the team and Vettel hadn’t created that perception of the favoured son in the best car, everyone would absolutely love Vettel’s cockiness, the same way people love Bolt.
      The Toro Rosso wasn’t a bad car when he won and then he jumped on an amazing car for the next 5 years. Alonso, Hamilton and Kimi had to settle for some below par Ferraris, McLarens and Lotuses in their years there and that also creates the perception that Vettel has yet to prove himself compared with these three.
      Maybe what we should celebrate and argue about is not who is the best driver or the best car, but the best driver/car combo, and it doesn’t come better than Vettel/RBR at the moment.

  4. For the Stats Watch:

    Kimi started his career at Ferrari with a Grand Slam in Australia ’07 (right know I don’t recall if somebody else haved others).

    • I’m afraid not. Kimi relinquished the lead to Hamilton for a while after his first pitstop. Although he came in only a lap later, he crossed the finish line in the pit lane before Räikkönen could retake the lead and had therefore a whole lead lap, which nixed Kimis chance for a Grand Slam. Only Alonso scored one in Singapore 2010.

  5. What does The Judge think is the likelihood of Kimi sitting out the rest of the season? I think it would make the rest of this season even less compelling to watch, but I think he has very good reasons to do it.

    It makes sense to ensure that he is totally ready for his season with Ferrari, as the championship is all but out of reach for him this year. With the combination of lack of payments and back ailment. Is this news from Enstone sources, or based on speculation?

  6. When I ‘heard’ of the Alonso/Webber incident I thought the reprimand was childishly pathetic (despite what the rules actually state) BUT… having now seen the video I now think Alonzo should have got a one-race ban – for the most stupid and irresponsible act of the year…! – indeed, of many years. Webber was also at fault… but he didn’t make Alonso stop right there.
    Sometimes I wonder if these boys have even passed a standard driving test. 😉

  7. Judge

    So if Hulkenberg gets to go to Lotus early, isn’t frijins saubers reserve driver still?

    Wouldn’t be sad to see that!

  8. Webber have helped Alonso in so many races over these years, so this ride was a payback from Nando … and again Mark didnt even try to overtake Alonso in Singapore. And if someone didnt know these two gentlemen have the same manager, Mr. Briatore…

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