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Webber gets a new chassis (11:57)
Schumacher reflects (11:57)
Large drivers and sumo wrestling (12:03)
F1’s first night test (12:18)
Russian optimism? Or delusion? (12:50)
Lewis Jilted again (13:21)
Happy Birthday Murray (14:39) updated (17:43) with 2 videos
Alonso: Kimi no quicker than Massa
Despite the frequent kicking he is receiving from Maranello, Fernando is playing the game well. If the Ferrari hierarchy want him to quit, there is no sign yet he is playing ball.
In fact Fernando is demonstrating how mentally resilient he can be and is beginning the mind games with his co-driver for 2014.
“For next year, with Kimi, we can do a very good championship for Ferrari, and try to again score as many points as possible,” said the Spanish champion.
Alonso ads provocatively, “But I think in terms of speed, Felipe is not any slower. When they were racing together, Felipe was as quick as him in a way”. In fact during their time together at Ferrari Massa out qualified the self styled ‘iceman’ 25-20 and in races where both finished Massa was again ahead 15-14.
Fernando muses over 2014, “So, if we have a competitive car, we will enjoy the season, and we will do very good things. If we have a not very competitive car it will be very similar to this season I think.”
Alonso conceded the fight for this year’s drivers’ title was over some time ago and candidly explains, “Obviously when you finish the possibilities of winning the world championship, it is more difficult to motivate yourself no doubt. But first we are fighting to be second in the world championship, which is obviously not a happy goal.
There are another 22 drivers who are in a worse condition than you, because they are third, fourth, fifth and 10th etc., but there is a big target of second in the constructors’ championship. I think it is very important for the team to improve its position in the constructors’ championship”.
In what appears to be more a whimsical hope than reality, Fernando suggests, “It will be important to close with Felipe his remaining races with Ferrari, and would be nice to be both in the podium, to be celebrating a victory or whatever happens. I think the whole team deserves this whole kind of happiness. We will work very hard and [it] will be easy to motivate in this aspect.”
Alonso: Vettel’s advantage is his car
Lewis suggested last weekend, that Vettel was responsible for making F1 as boring as it was in the era of Michael Schumacher. He then realised the negative headlines this generated and in a ‘love in’ session on twitter he acclaimed Sebastian as truly great and funny and deserving of all the success he….. (yawn).
Alonso doesn’t appear to care what people think. Despite the fact that only Fangio and Schumacher have won 4 consecutive driver titles Fernando is adamant that Sebastian’s qualities will only be apparent later in his career.
“He has been close to perfection, all these years and winning the championships, but it is true that he had an advantage in car performance all these years, so we see how good he is later in his career because, at the moment, he is better than anyone and he is winning all the championships.
But we saw also Hamilton starting in his first year nearly winning the championship, and in his second year winning the championship. But then he didn’t win any more.
Sometimes you have the car to do it, sometimes not. At the moment Red Bull and Vettel are a very good combination and too good for us.”
Alonso does make a fair point, the Red Bull cars have been the class of the field for 4 years, with Webber almost winning the title in 2010. No other team had 2 drivers in the mix at that point. It is difficult to argue against the fact that by winning 4 consecutive constructor’s titles means that Red Bull have produced the best car.
Alonso: In the land of the Samurai
Sebastian Vettel may love the Japanese GP, but Fernando sees the pilgrimage to Suzuka as an annual holy calling to the home of his adopted ancestors.
He tweets sagely today, “He Who Knows Others Is Wise. He Who Knows Himself Is Enlightened”. This is promptly followed by……
… I guess materialism and F1 merchandising eventually overwhelms even the ancient ways of the Samuri,
Webber gets a new chassis
Mark Webber is making light of the blazing inferno that was his RB9 car in Korea. He told reporters today, “We’re used to bushfires in Australia. No problem.”
It was suggested to Webber that he didn’t appear to make much effort to extinguish the blaze as he exited the car and then loitered for several seconds. Webber smiled and explained, “I pressed for the extinguisher in the car, but it didn’t work. The marshals could speak no English, so what could I do? I couldn’t blow it out.”
The engine and gearbox were almost unscathed in the incident and Mark added, “The chassis was more damaged by the impact with Sutil than the fire itself.” He gets a new chassis to begin the 5th last F1 race weekend of his career.
Large drivers and sumo wrestling
After all the chit chat over certain drivers being too heavy for 2014, Jenson goes public with his helmet design.
F1’s first night test
Martin Whitmarsh revealed on his recent trip to Bahrain, he had viewed the lights which have been added to the Bahrain International Circuit. The intention is to start the race later in the day, as in Abu Dhabi, and the event will be run in the twilight.
This has initiated discussions amongst the team’s engineers this week who feel they should spend some of the Winter testing, running at night.
Apparently, the difference in air density will facilitate certain aerodynamic correlation factors, which will be of significant use for the team’s aerodynamic design department.
TJ13: It all sounds rather like hot air to me I’m afraid.
Russian optimism? Or delusion?
Marrusia are looking forward to a leap forward in 2014 as they will be powered by Ferrari and not the Cosworth engines used at present.
This to the drivers may be an intoxicating thought but it is nothing compared to the vision of team owner, Nikolai Fomenko. The Russians never made it to the moon yet and their engineers are presumably itching to prove themselves elsewhere.
The Russian news agency Ria Novosti quotes Fomenko as saying: “If we survive to the 2016 season, then I hope Marussia will have its own engines. We’re moving towards that. It’s our main aim.”
Firstly, the deal announced with Ferrari was described as ‘long term’, though for Marussia to survive for 3 more years in F1 may feel like an eternity. Secondly, the budget for such a development is enormous – north of $200m.
Yet the Russian owner clearly has plenty of cash having written of the teams $200m debt. Further, the sportscar company has already built 500 of its B1 models which have all been sold $130,000. Having shifted production to Finland, the company is currently to producing 500 B2’s and planning a B3.
Interestingly, the B2 is offered with a choice of Cosworth 2.8 V6 Turbo or indeed with a normally aspirated Marussian built 3.5 litre engine.
Is this merely a pipe dream – to the moon and back – or could the Russians build a competitive F1 V6 Turbo engine by 2017?
Lewis Jilted again
Having offered his undying respect for Sebastian’s greatness and a deep affection for his humour, Lewis was probably hoping for some kind words in return. #SpreadTheLove
Yet maybe young Seb is not as complete an individual as some believe to be the case. He seems to struggles expressing his emotions and appearing vulnerable in addition to the mental block he has to admitting that he is wrong.
Vettel was asked whether had he read Lewis’ tribute to his awesomeness and Vettel replied, “Yeah, I was told. Obviously it’s very nice to hear something like that. I think I can only give it back.”
GIVE IT BACK? What does that mean Sebastian? You don’t want the love Lewis is offering? Do you prefer the Boo’s and are you in fact Darth Vader in disguise?
Thinking about it more deeply, I guess young Seb is trying to say that he would like to reciprocate the sentiments. Excellent Seb!
Mmm, but actions speak louder than words, and Vettel’s actions lasted all of 8 words… “I think I can only give it back”.
Vettel then rambles in a kind of blushing and embarrassed fashion about the drivers as a group all respecting each other. It’s as though he doesn’t want to hog the limelight and take all the glory and adulation – for a second anyway.
Interestingly, Sebastian’s litmus test for this mutually respectful culture is unsurprisingly based upon Sebastian’s own perception. “THERE IS RESPECT AMONGST THE DRIVERS. I think that the most important thing is when you go up to another driver, whether you feel respected or not and I think that is the case”.
Really Seb? So if Fernando says you are really rubbish and it’s all Newey’s car design that’s winning you the titles, do you ‘feel respected’ or just know it is the case anyway?
Is it the case that Mark Webber hasn’t punched your lights out because he ‘respects’ you? What the hell is all this respect none sense. Mark hates Seb, Alonso hates Seb….
Young Seb collects himself and realises Lewis has been offering him an olive branch of love and in turn he has meandered off and philosophised on the subject of mutual respect. It’s all rather cold Sebastian.
Seb gives himself a quick – but not too painful – mental lash and he manages to blurt out, “I think Lewis is one of the best drivers currently in Formula One. I get along quite well with him lately so I can only say ‘thank you very much’ and give it back”.
It’s like a 14 year old boy on his first date, and the older girl says she loves him…. he runs away home to mummy… OMG!!!! What to say????
Don’t worry Seb, as your friend Martin says – it’s all about the winning.
And don’t worry Lewis – there are plenty more fish in the sea.
(The quotes are correct in this piece, however it is written as a humorous interpretation of what lies behind the comments and is not intended to be real or a representation of reality)
Boullier hints again Lotus favour ‘the Hulk’
As TJ13 has continuously reported, Eric Boullier keeps letting the cat out of the bag over whom he would prefer to replace ‘the Iceman’. In Yesterday’s news we suggested that Hulkenberg was waiting for confirmation over the team’s inward investment from the Infinity Racing deal announced many moons ago.
Speaking to reporters today, Boullier confirms this deal is the linchpin for any driver announcement the team will make. “I think we are nearly there. Once we have done this [Infinity deal] we can afford to pick the driver we want”.
Again Eric makes it plain it who he favours adding, “I could be tomorrow, it could be next week, but I will not bring Nico here if we see we cannot afford him.” This must be music to the talented young German’s ears following the both Force India and Sauber failing to pay him as agreed.
Lotus are clearly pushing for Renault to adopt them as a quasi ‘works team’ in some fashion as once again the team principal states, “We would like to discuss a branding opportunity with them and maybe something even closer”.
Yet staff in Enstone have become nervous over finance, and whilst Boullier confirms they have all been paid, he admits he is aware that there are Lotus’ employees circulating around the paddock.
This persistent appeal to Renault to invest is in fact holding up the Infinity deal, as the equity arrangements are clearly dependent on who invests in totality and how much.
Drivers not happy about losing their ‘bear’
There is nothing in the panacea of sport that engages me as wholly and regularly as the unfolding family chronicles of Formula 1. Whatever Lauda claims, it was the prospect of working with Ross Brawn that was key to attracting Lewis to drive for the Brackley team.
Lewis sees in him, the man who developed the counter normative race strategies for Michael Schumacher during his Benetton years and credits him with the lion share of the monumental achievement that was Brawn’s part in re-inventing the Scuderia Ferrari team.
Prior to the arrival of Schumacher and Brawn, many believed Maranello had become an embarrassment and a shadow of its former capabilities. Yet Brawn, Byrne and Schumacher – and of course Jean Todt – made the red cars great again despite accusations at times of dubious practices.
Lewis rocks up in Brackley for his 2013 season and expected little from the W04. He was content to await the new all conquering Mercedes engine that would be produced for 2014 and a car designed under the watchful eye of ‘the bear’.
Now 4th in the driver standings, with an outside chance of overhauling 2nd place Fernando Alonso, Lewis has a race win, 4 pole positions and an average qualifying slot of 3rd on the grid. This is beyond his wildest dreams.
Now he hears that the man who propelled Michael Schumacher to greatness is about to leave, and the chap who designed his previous 4 McLaren cars which failed to deliver him a title will replace him.
Speaking in Suzuka today, Lewis enthuses about Brawn, “He’s a great boss. I don’t know what his plans are for the future, but I’d like him to stay. We had some really good conversations when we sat together before I made my decision [to join the team]. He took me through where the team was going and was very influential in bringing me to the team.”
Having lost big brother Michael last year, Nico Rosberg is also pining over the possible loss of Brawn. Being positive he saiud, “It would be great if he stays because I get on well with him and I think he’s a great team principal”.
So it appears both Mercedes drivers will be most upset if they are to lose their ‘bear’ and he his replaced by a leprechaun who may have mislaid his pot of gold.
Happy Birthday Murray
Forgive me non-Uk readers, but ‘unless I’m very much mistaken… and I’m not’, today is the birthday of someone who whilst I was a child was ‘the voice of F1’ to me. Murray Walker’s excitement, passion and even the verbal faux pas engaged me in the sport I have come to live, breath and dream about.
Murray Walker is a British institution and I remember a number of his famous spats with James Hunt in the commentary box – who often rolled up wasted from a night out prior to the race.
Such was the fame of this British institution, Pizza Hut engaged the services of Murray Walker and Damon Hill to star in their advert.
Murray as a commentator oozed passion and excitement, but we were all writing for the famous Murry-isms or mistakes that he made which included at times being the master of stating the obvious.
There’s little that brings a tear to the eye of thejudge, but I’ve just spent half an hour reading many Murry-isms, some of which I remember hearing as I watched on the family TV at home.
Here’s a few of the best, though there are many more in the locker for another time.
REMEMBER many of these are shouted with great excitement in a high pitched voice into the microphone
“And it’s Mansell, Mansell, Mansell Nigel Mansell.”[it was actually Alain Prost]
“Jean Alesi is reborn. Last year he was driving a car that he couldn’t have done well in even if it had had two engines in it, never mind one.”
“You can’t see Alesi’s Ferrari because it isn’t there!”
“Blown it for Ferrari!!!……Blown it for Irvine!!!…….I don’t know what happened, but there was a major malmisorganization problem there!!!” [pit stop problem]
“..and Schumacher is leading Michael Schumacher”
“Damon Hill is leading and behind him are the second and third men!”
“There’s only a second between them….. One…… That’s how long a second is.”
“The two McLaren drivers are so hot they look like 2 fried lobsters in silver suits”
“That’s history. I say history because it happened in the past”
“Rene Arnoux is coming into the pits … lets stop the startwatch”
“..in fact IF is F1 spelt backwards!”
“And here comes Mika Hakkinen, double world champion twice over…”
“Its Senna, its Senna!!!” (Pause) .. “its either Mansell or Senna.”
When Pedro Diniz’s Sauber caught fire ” Fire! Fire! Diniz in the oven”
“And David Coulthard does stay ahead of Coulthard. (Realising his mistake) Personally, I don’t think David is THAT fast – Sorry McLaren fans!!!”
“Freedom of Budapest for Bernie Ecclestone? Theres a laugh. He could buy the place and still have enough left for Berlin.”
“We’re watching Ralf Schumacher… son, of course of double world champion Michael Schumacher
“…and HERE COMES DAMON HILL IN THE WILLIAMS!!!!…..this car is absolutely unique!….except for the one behind it….which is exactly the same…”
“If that isn’t a lap record I’ll eat the hat I don’t normally wear.”
“And the Williams pit are getting ready for Hill, the tyre coolers are coming off”
“We’re now on the 73rd lap and the next one will be the 74th.”
“Mansell is slowing it down, taking it easy. Oh no he isn’t! It’s a lap record.”
“It’s not quite a curve, it’s a straight actually.” (referring to the Tamburello at Imola)
“The status quo could well be as it was before.”
“Jenson Button is in the top ten, in eleventh position.”
“And there’s the man in the green flag!”
Murray: “First man out is Marques in the Arrows. Of course he’s going out early to generate some media interest”
Martin Brundle: “I’m sure he would generate some interest if he went out in the Arrows because Marques drives for Minardi”
Murray on M Schumacher’s fight for championship glory with Ferrari: “…and it’s something he’s been trying to achieve since he left Benetton in 1958!”
Interview with Mansell after the Austrian GP 1987:
Murray : “How did you get that nasty bumb on your head Nigel?” [Nigel leans forward to show the camera as Murray pokes it with his finger !]
From the Spanish GP 1995:
“and Eddie Jordan is in fifth place”… (actually Eddie Irvine)
“…the enthusiastic enthusiasts… ”
“…and now, just in case there is any CONFUSION this is the race order on lap 19: David Coulthard leads and has yet to stop; Hakkinen leads and has yet to stop…”
“And now the boot is on the other Schumacher”
“And Senna wins the 1999 Monaco Grand Prix”
“And Hill congratulates Schumacher. They’re not bosom buddies, but they’re not far off!” (Hill was actually critising Schumacher for heavy-handed driving tactics.).
“You might not think that’s not cricket, and it’s not, it’s motor racing”
Jim R (TV anchor): “It’s over to the big Easter Bunny of Formula 1, Murray Walker.”
Murray: “I don’t know about the big Easter Bunny, Jim. I used to go to the Bunny Club in Park Lane quite a lot, but my wife’s watching the programme so enough of that!”
“So while we wait for them to come on to the podium, and I’ll interrupt myself when they do…”
Murray: “It would be wonderful for David Coulthard, for McLaren and for Britain if he could get Pole Position, because he has yet to get one this year, and I have seldom been anything like as much impressed as I was by his dignity and fortitude in the face of enormous adversity at the British Grand Prix meeting two weeks ago.”
“And in front of David Coulthard, the scarlet McLaren of four-times Monaco Grand Prix winner, Michael Schumacher.”
“Two lights on, three lights on, four lights on, five laps on…”
“Yes! Jean Alesi has just gone round in 2 minutes and 2 seconds, so that’s three seconds faster in the Prost than Alesi in the McLaren.”
“Two World Championship leaders on the front row. Mika Hakkinen, 80 points. Alongside him, Michael Schumacher, 78 points. Mika Hakkinen on the second row of the grid…”
Jim Rosenthal: “We’re a bit worried about these earthquakes. Did the earth move for you over there?”
Murray: “Not only the earth Jim, but the commentary box as well! It was the most incredible experience.”
Murray: Shouts at the monitor “Wake up on the left, there! This is a terrific race going on.”
(A McLaren mechanic is lying down on the garage floor)
Germany 2000: “Well, where’s Mr. Half-wit now…”(A half-wit walks across track to protest about his dismissal from his job in a Mercedes factory somewhere. Chaos ensues and Barrichello and Ferrari are eternally grateful.
Belgium 1995: An after-race interview with Damon Hill
Murray: “I have to tell you after the race when you were talking to Michael [Schumacher] I said that it proves that you are good friends with him, was it not that sort of conversation?”
Hill: ” Well not suprisingly Murray, you were wrong!”
“Senna 1st, Prost 2nd and Berger 3rd that makes up the top four!”
“We’re now on the 73rd lap and the next one will be the 74th.”
“And this is the scene from Ayrton Senna’s mirror… sorry, from his camera!”
“It’s the second Bennetton victory of the year. It’s the second McLaren victory of the year.”
“If it’s a two lap strategy”
“… he’s on 4 grooved front tyres”
Qualifying, Hungary 1999:
“The McLaren looking as steady as a rock”. … and just as he says this: the McLaren slides off the apex of a bend.
Murray: “What’s that? There’s a BODY on the track!!!”
James Hunt: “Um, I think that that is a piece of BODY-WORK, from someone’s car.”
Murray: “There’s a fiery glow coming from the back of the Ferrari.”
James Hunt: “No Murray, that’s his rear safety light”
Murray: “And there are flames coming from the back of Prost’s car as he enters the swimming pool.”
James Hunt: “Well, that should put them out then.”
James Hunt: “Situations like this, Murray, sometimes give rise to the funniest little things. There’s one portable toilet at the end of the pit-lane. Michael Schumacher decided immediately upon rejoining the grid he wanted to go to it. And shortly afterwards Mika Hakkinen and Ralf Schumacher arrived and had to stand in an orderly queue while Michael spent a penny, and they all came back out again.”
Murray: “So the Germans got to the loo first of all.”
TJ13: Thank you and get well soon Murray. Wishing you a very happy 90th birthday from TJ13.
Di Resta Defensive?
Reflecting on the adulation and attention Nico Hulkneberg has been receiving recently, PdR muses, “It’s very different isn’t it? I think up to Silverstone, where I was compared to Nico in terms of points, there was obviously a big difference. Since we’ve changed back, he’s had some good results but it’s the results I was having at the beginning of the year.
It’s tough to go through it but that car is very strong at the moment.
Not too long ago, people were saying he’d made the wrong decision and I’d made the right decision to stay. But if you look at it now, peoples’ opinions are maybe a bit different”.
In fact it was Di Resta who voiced that opinion earlier in the year, no matter…. Paul moves on to offer reasons for his season’s demise.
“Some things don’t happen at the right time but you would hope that people are bigger and better and people would understand that when times are hard, it’s hard to show what you can do.If you’re provided with the tools, you can do it. I’ve been provided with the tools this year and I think I’ve delivered. Sometimes we’ve over-achieved.”
Of course the tyre change by Pirelli affected the Silverstone outfit negatively, probably more than most.
“There was a sacrifice; there was a risk – and it’s bitten us slightly. The unfair thing about it is that a team with little resource, a smaller budget that has to stick by it, has been sacrificed by it. The bigger teams with the bigger resources, the bigger budgets can design new parts and bring them.”
Yet Di Resta can’t blame the tyres for his recent crash-fest over the last 3 GP’s and neither can he blame anyone but himself for failing to call for wet tyres in Monaco at the end of Q1 – as did the vastly less experienced Van de Garde
The Suzuka layout may in fact suit the Force India cars this weekend, and Paul observes, “It will be a very good judgement because the last high-speed track we had, Silverstone, before the tyre change, we qualified fifth.
Where we qualify on Saturday – which we hope will be Q3 and it will be a remarkable job if we do – I suppose will give you the impression of where we are as a team at the moment.”
Earlier this season when the team was riding high and handing our a regular whooping to McLaren, Di Resta commented more than once how he’d love to get a drive in a front running team. Now he admits, “I’d love to still be part of this team. I think they’re great people and I very much feel I’ve done the maximum I could for them.
Equally, they know what they’ve got and consistency and also the knowledge of working with the team will play a big part next year with the new rules.”
Di Resta’s comments appear to emanate from someone who is starting to believe he will not be on the grid in 2014. He is mistaken in his thinking that Hulkenberg is riding high merely because of recent form and his result in Korea. It was the week after Monza when it emerged that the ‘Hulk’ had been nominated as one of two drivers the Lotus team were considering to replace Kimi.
The cold hard facts are, the impression in the paddock formed over the past 3-4 years is that Hulkenberg is a better driver and team player than is Di Resta.
Di Resta upset a number within the Silverstone based outfit over his failure to deal appropriately with ructions caused earlier in the season by his ex-military physical trainer – and this still grates many to this day.
There are a host of exciting and talented young drivers pressing to make it into F1, and it is surely a matter of time before the happy-go-lucky, loveable Scot’s F1 adventure comes swiftly to a close.
Di Resta v Hulkenberg: Stats from their time together at Force India
Faster qualifying time: Di Resta 8 / Hulkenberg 12
Average qualifying gap: -0.275s Hulkenberg
Q3 appearances: Di Resta 7 / Hulkenberg 9
Best qualifying result: Di Resta 4th (Italy) / Hulkenberg 5th (Germany)
Podiums: Di Resta 0 / Hulkenberg 0
Best race result: Di Resta 4th (Singapore) / Hulkenberg 4th (Belgium)
Top-five finishes: Di Resta 1 / Hulkenberg 3
Points finishes: Di Resta 9 / Hulkenberg 11
DNFs: Di Resta 2 / Hulkenberg 3
Best race result (inc DNFs): Di Resta 9 / Hulkenberg 11
Ahead in two-car finish: Di Resta 6 / Hulkenberg 9
Total points: Di Resta 46 / Hulkenberg 63
Final championship placing: Di Resta 14th / Hulkenberg 11th