This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines (tweeted) with links, please make sure you use #F1.
McLaren and Alonso for 2014 (01:30)
Todt the unbelievable (10:50) updated (13:18)
Fernando makes waves again (12:40)
Mercedes respond (12:57)
Stewards and Race Control (13:10)
Schumacher on Retirement (21:15)
McLaren and Alonso for 2014
TJ13 has continued to state that the relationship between Fernando and Ferrari is terminally destroyed. It may be that Il Padrino can let ‘bygones be bygones’ and take a pragmatic view of their number one drivers antics.
Yet Alonso has taken a severe kicking from Maranello this summer which included being publically humiliated on his Birthday, as Montezemolo published a statement on Ferrari.com stating he had tweaked the Spanish world champion’s ear.
The mainstream media are even reporting that Ferrari’s recruitment of Kimi over Hulkenberg was because they had little confidence Alonso would be with them in 2014.
Last week TJ13 reported Kimi’s new contract is bigger than Fernando’s, something which would represent another smack across the face for Fernando. Even if this were not true, the Italian media have since reported it to be the case without a Ferrari rebuttal from La Stampa or the Horse Whisperer.
Martin Whitmarsh is one of the more considered team principals in terms of what he says to the media. He also presents a public perception of believability and being fairly open and honest. He appears to find it difficult to lie to or deliberately mislead – by being slick and evasive – those who interview him than say someone like Christian Horner.
When Whitmarsh was asked about Honda earlier in the season, his grinning response which lacked a denial pretty much confirmed what he himself did indeed confirm days later in Japan.
This weekend Whitmarsh has stoked the rumour machine over the McLaren 2014 lineup. Following reports that McLaren F1 racing lost £3m in the last financial year, Martin makes a point of telling the Guardian, “We could afford to bring Alonso here next year. In all probability for 2014 the die is set but who knows in the future. I shouldn’t be stoking wild rumours of his return in 2014 but would we welcome him back, be delighted to have him back in the team? Of course we would.”
Brundle claimed live on SKY that he hears this weekend that the Jenson 2014 deal is done. However, Brundle’s record on ‘inside advance’ stories lacks the pedigree of Eddie Jordan’s. He declared the Pirelli deal for 2014 ‘done’ – as per his source – at the Canadian GP.
McLaren are indeed stalling, and we must ask why? It was confirmed this weekend by SKY commentator David Croft, that they have made no approach to Nico Hulkenberg and indeed have had no discussions with him over driving for them 2014. Why? Are they merely happy with their current drivers or is there a bigger fish than ‘the Hulk’ out there they hope to net?
Why don’t McLaren just confirm their current drivers for 2014? One theory is Jenson is hanging out for a 2 year contract to see him through to the new Honda era, whereas the team are offering just one more year.
Perez situation is more interesting. We are now 14 races into the season and there are just 5 more left. The team are clearly in possession of all the facts regarding Sergio’s abilities, yet the failure to confirm his position for 2014 suggests there are issues beyond the Mexican’s control under consideration.
The biggest decision McLaren must make is not about drive lineup, but over who will replace Vodafone as the team sponsor. Woking HQ is believed to be negotiating a record team sponsorship deal in excess of $150m a year and this in itself has consequences.
Whilst nobody can guarantee McLaren will build a title winning car, but a sponsor spending this kind of money is most likely to expect to have confidence in McLaren’s drivers abilities to make the most of the equipment they are provided.
In the meantime, Fernando continues to demonstrate his disconnect with the team. When asked whether he could still challenge for the title this year, he told SKY, “It has been the same for the past four years; and now we are the fourth fastest team in the field”. Alonso does mitigate this criticism when he adds, “But we have been able to fight for the title three times, so we can be proud,”
McLaren, Brawn and Uncle Tom Cobbly
Following the initial stakeout of his territory when the Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe posse came charging over the hill, Ross Brawn has been hinting for some time he will leave Mercedes sooner rather than later.
This weekend he informed the chairman of the Mercedes AMG F1 board he will leave at the end of the year.
Sometimes, it is as simple as 2+2=4.
Martin Whitmarsh stated this weekend, “This year we cannot be satisfied where we are. So we have been recruiting in the technical team, strengthening that quite a lot actually.
There have been quite a few new starters this year. There are some yet unannounced that will be headline grabbing when they are announced, so there are things going on clearly. We have to look at ourselves as a team, from the top of the management all the way through to our technical team, to make sure we can return to winning ways as quickly as possible.”
We know McLaren have recruited Sauber’s chief designer Matt Morris already, yet that doesn’t fit the ‘headline’ grabbing category to which Whitmarsh alludes.
The mild mannered Englishman, who is known as ‘the bear’, has a CV unrivalled in the world of F1. Having flirted with sportscars for a couple of years, Brawn returned to F1 as technical director of the Benetton team.
Schumacher won the WDC in 1994 and 1995 and the team took the constructors’ title in the latter year also. Brawn was credited by much of the specialist press at the time with being an important part of these championships, particularly in terms of devising race strategy.
The ‘bear left Benetton a year after Schumacher and joined Ferrari in 1996 and immediately in 1997 the team from Maranello began challenging the dominant McLaren’s and Williams teams for titles, even though the Ferrari was an inferior machine.
Schumacher’s first three years were all about re-building, and then as technical director in 1999 Brawn oversaw the design and development of the car which won what was to be the first of 6 consecutive constructors’ titles.
Brawn was considered the linchpin of the Rory Byrne and Jean Todt collaboration during this period. However in inimitable Ferrari fashion, having relinquished the title to Benetton late in 2006, Ferrari announced that Brawn was to leave the team.
Red Bull tried desperately to attract Brawn’s services as they sought to put together a package and key personnel to lure Fernando Alonso to drive for the ‘new’ team.
Yet Brawn was in November 2007, it was announced Ross would become the team principal of the Honda team. Though the team were average in 2008, Brawn knew they could build a championship winning car for 2009. Yet with the withdrawal of Honda at the end of 2008, Brawn was left to go it alone and renamed the team Brawn GP.
The title was all but Jenson’s after just 7 races in 2009 and Brawn was to sell out after just one year to Mercedes Benz.
The next 3 years may have been the leanest period for Brawn since he joined Benetton, but in 2013 the team from Brackley finally began winning races and dominating qualifying sessions.
Brawn had great respect amongst the Honda racing people, and even though the manufacturing company pulled the plug on the works team in 2008, Ross’ relationships with the Japanese remained strong.
It is thought he may operate during 2014 in some kind of liaison role between McLaren and Honda.
Having suffered the imposition of ‘’bull in a china shop’ Lauda appearing on the scene, and then Toto who? rocking up with a rival to Brawn in tow – it is hardly surprising that ‘the bear’ would choose to run for the hills.
McLaren have for some time appeared weak from a technical leadership point of view, because Whitmarsh is clearly little more than a media and man manager. The recruitment of Brawn as the technical figurehead in Woking is an appointment which could only be ‘bested’ – in the headline grabbing stakes – to the announcement that Newey is to head up a car design department for a Red Bull rival.
So is it really as simple as 2+2=4, or may ‘the bear’ still end up elsewhere?
Todt the unbelievable
Todt the unbelievable
We have heard extensively from David Ward about his plans to reform/revolutionise the FIA in recent weeks. It is a matter of weeks before voting takes place to elect the next president of the FIA
Today Jean Todt has launched his campaign website. It would not be unreasonable to expect this site would have a post which detailed Todt’s manifesto.
Okay then, maybe there is an outline of some broad themes that will define his approach to another 5 years running the world’s motorsport governing body.
There could have been listed a roll call of Todt’s achievements during his first term.
So what is there contained within this publication to inspire the FIA members to vote for the incumbent president.
Well, the heading is, “Jean Todt and his team 2013: Moving forward with the FIA family”.
Excellent… Moving forward is a good idea. But then it wouldn’t be clever to run a slogan saying, “doing nothing again for 5 years”.
There are a few pictures of Jean at work and play and is a short letter to those who are interested and it says the following.
My team and I are pleased to welcome you to our campaign website for the FIA Elections on 6 December, 2013.
This site is dedicated to discussion and debate about the future of the FIA, a process that I hope will be conducted in a constructive manner, respectful of both the federation and individuals alike.
On this site you will find information about our team, our record in office and our plans for the future. To begin we will present a comprehensive review of the strengthening and modernisation of the FIA undertaken during my first term as President.
In the coming days we’ll explain in more detail the key reforms we have introduced during the past 4 years.
Then, over the coming weeks, my team and I will outline our plans for a new term, and our strong desire to continue to move forward together with you as part of the FIA family.
A twitter account purporting to be David Ward has commented suggesting, “Empty road ahead? Just read Jean Todt’s manifesto but sadly doesn’t include his future plans. So he can still borrow some of mine!”
Here’s the link for those interested.
Fernando makes waves again
It appears Fernando Alonso is still making waves at and for Ferrari, though these waves are not tidal in terms of a points landslide.
During the Korean GP, Alonso had been critical of Pirelli. After qualifying he told assembled reporters, “The tyres cannot do five kilometres. If you push them, you finish the tyres. It’s something that is not normal. We have to be honest and the quality of the tyres is very on the limit.”
Pirelli’s commercial director, Paul Hembery, took exception to this and issued a terse response suggesting, “Of course Alonso is one of the great F1 drivers, so to hear such comments is disappointing and below the standards you would expect from such a champion. I can only suggest he goes to ask the soon-to-be four-times champion how to get the best from the same tyres.”
The politics of hacking off Pirelli from a Ferrari perspective clearly eluded Fernando and following the race, team boss Stefano Dominicali felt he needed to set the record straight.
He explained to SKY that following Alonso’s outburst he felt it necessary to speak with Hembery. “I think it was important to have communication with Paul after these words from Fernando and I think that was important for the relationship and also we are in the same boat and we need to make sure it is not an issue. We need to help them and we need to work together to make sure we get out of this difficult moment.”
Dominicali was pressed on the matter and it was suggested that Hembery’s response to Fernando had been ‘strong’ to say the least. Stefano added, “We had a meeting to clarify position together with Fernando and he apologised and I think we need to look forward. At the end of the day it is important that the thing needs to be rectified altogether because it is important to hear the frustration of the driver to make sure they can do a better job.”
Alonso has taken it upon himself to speak for Ferrari by using the Royal ‘we’ on previous occasions, most notably in his support of the retention of Felipe Massa for the 2013 season. This kind of behaviour and the subsequent mopping up exercise Maranello have to suffer is clearly not the result of driver and team working in anything that could be described as harmony.
TJ13 had received reports that Lauda had revealed to SKY Germany that Ross Brawn will be leaving the team at the end of the year. This is either untrue, or Mercedes don’t know know what their left and right hands are doing.
The team have responded on twitter as follows.
Regardless, this is not a decision for Mercedes. Brawn suggested back in July he would be handing over to Paddy Lowe by the end of the year and moving to a new role. Whether that role is with Mercedes or not only time will tell.
Yet the debacle of the media leaks over the arrival of Wolff and Lowe added to Lauda’s attempt to do a ‘back door deal’ preventing Mercedes from having to attend the International Tribunal is just not Ross Brawn style. A shoot out at the OK Coral may suit Niki, but it isn;t the way Ross Brawn operates; and he clearly was not consulted on the arrival of Lowe, though dealt with it in a gracious manner.
Stewards and Race Control
Since the launch of TJ13, there has been regular examination of the failings of the function which includes race control. On Sunday we saw the bizarre sight of a fire truck lumbering up the straight between turn 2 and turn 3 as Vettel came through the corner flat out.
The Safety car lights were quickly deployed by Charlie Whiting, and the drivers received their ‘catch up lap’ delta times immediately.
Immediately following the race, race control were briefing journalists such as Ted Kravitz that this was a unilateral decision taken by the local fire marshal and was not instigated by Charlie or his team. “A right blocking” had apparently been administered and there were suggestions the responsibility given to local marshalling would be re-examined.
Overnight, this position appears to have changed.
The Telegraph reports that following these initial criticisms, Charlie Whiting now admits he had made the call for a fire truck, although he had not anticipated that it would be dispatched from Turn One, ahead of the leaders.
I’m not sure whether Vettel’s eyes need testing but he told German media, “It wasn’t clear whether it was the safety car but then the safety car board was flashing and I lifted… and obviously saw that there was another car on the track,”
Mistakes happen fair enough, but to blame the Korean’s without proper consideration seems rather unprofessional. Charlie bobbed off for dinner and kept everyone waiting last year on a couple of decisions post Japan and Abu Dhabi in 2012. An hour’s consideration would have done no harm before briefing reporters like Ted Kravitz.
Schumacher on Retirement
It appears Schumacher is enjoying his retirement. Sporting traditional German fashion the Schumachers descended onto Octoberfest…