Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 1th October 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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Maria de Villota (1980-2013)

F1 in Sau Paulo until 2020 (10:15)

Jenson: “Honest…. I’m telling the truth… honestly….” (10:52)

Perez under pressure & Pirelli ban illegal tyre manipulation (11:15)

Friday Practice Summary (11:47)

Wild Wheel wins Williams 60,000 euro fine (12:38)

The finger is here to stay (13:01)

Adrian admits to ‘ugly’ (14:27)

Why Alonso turned to Samuri ways (15:01)

Felipe gets there in the end (15:11)

What to expect on Sunday from Pirelli (15:48)

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Maria de Villota

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The close knit world of Formula One is today shocked to hear that Maria de Villota has been found dead in her hotel room in Seville. She was there to launch her autobiography, ‘Life is a gift’.

Maria had an accident whilst testing for the Marrusia team at RAF Duxford in July 2012 at RAF Duxford. Her car struck the tailgate of a truck and she lost the use of her right eye as a result.

Spanish motor racing president Carlos Gracia has spoken to Marca and said that Maria emailed at about midnight on Monday, “All I know for now is that her personal assistant, Arancha, came into the room and could not wake her. She was already dead. Apparently it was a natural death, but we know nothing,”

Manuel Franco, the F1 correspondent for the sports newspaper AS, added: “There were no drugs found or any signs of violence, so she is likely to have died of natural causes.” Maira had suffered at times from severe migraines since recovering from the near-fatal 2012 crash. The police reveal there will be an autopsy.

The family have posted a short statement on Facebook which says, “She had to go to heaven like all angels. We are thankful to God for the extra year and a half that he left her with us.”

A spokesperson for Marrusia has said: “We have only just heard the news and we are awaiting to find out more. We will comment at an appropriate time. If the reports are true, then it is obviously very tragic.”

Tributes and condolences abound both spoken and on twitter. A message from Sauber F1 team reads, “We are shocked to hear about the death of Maria de Villota. Our sincerest condolences and sympathy to her family for this tragic loss.”

Caterham added: “We’d like to echo the thoughts of the whole paddock and express our deepest condolences on the news of Maria de Villota’s passing. RIP.”

Former F1 Indian driver Karun Chandhok wrote: “Tragic news about Maria de Villota. Sat next to her just a couple weeks ago at FIA Drivers Comm meeting. Was doing a lot for women in racing.”

Sahara Force India added: “Very sad news coming from Spain about brave Maria de Villota passing away. Our thoughts are with Maria’s family and friends in this moment.”

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, who worked alongside De Villota as an ambassador for the Women in Motorsport commission, paid her own tribute.

“It didn’t take her any time at all until she was back (from her accident) and was planning to maybe even drive. But more important for her was to really go out there and give other people the courage that you can still do so much, even if you have such a major setback.

She’s been one of the pillars of the work the FIA ambassador programme has been doing, because when you go out there you need to have credibility, a strong personality and you need to be able to reach out to people and that’s all she could do.

She had such a tragic experience and yet she had all that courage to be out there and talk about it and still to believe in that cause, and she always had that smile on her face.”

Maria was born in Madrid, daughter of the ex-F1 racing driver Emilo de Villota. She was a former World Touring Car Championship and Superleague Formula driver competing in a number of different other events, mostly in Spain.

Having attended the European University of Madrid, she graduated with a degree in sports science and her F1 opportunity came in 2011 at the Paul Ricard circuit near Marseille where she tested in a Renault R29.

Martin Whitmarsh made probably the most emotive and evocative tribute to Maria when he commented after FP2, “The entire F1 community is very shocked by the news that Maria is no longer with us. She was an inspiration not just to women in this sport, but also to all those who suffered life-threatening injuries.

Her story, determination and subsequent inspiration flowed from F1 through sport as a whole, and to see the images of her in Barcelona on the grid earlier this year, surrounded by a throng of jubilant children, told a great story. Maria participated in the Manhattan Fans’ Forum on behalf of her team, Marussia F1, last year, and made a lasting impression on the fans who attended. She will be sadly missed, and we wish to pass on our sincere condolences to her family.”

Maria will indeed be missed by many in and around F1, as her air of positivity and fabulous smiling personality, never failed to be uplifting and bring perspective.

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F1 in Sau Paulo until 2020

Interlagos has fought off competition from the resurgent sporting capital of Brazil, Rio de Janero. Sao Paulo has secured an F1 event until at least 2020.

However, there are conditions attached. The facilities at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace are woeful and run down and in 2011 discussions began about improving the facility.

It seemed this year in April that Ecclestone’s patience was running out with the Interlagos management as the plans to move the F1 pit lane from its current location to the back straight between turn’s 3 and 4, had stalled.

An irritated Ecclestone stated, “Interlagos’ promises to upgrade have not been met and the relationships and feelings that I have for the race are no longer enough.

The track is one of the best in the world, for sure,” said Ecclestone. ”Yet the facilities for the public and for the teams are the worst on the calendar. It doesn’t have to be like here (Shanghai), but it must meet our operational needs,” he added.

Of course a number of circuits, Silverstone most notably, have had a gun put to their heads over poor facilities. Ecclestone makes it clear to Sau Paulo’s mayor, “We can’t keep pushing the other tracks while Interlagos remains as it is year after year.”

Since then in July a tender for an all-new three-storey pit and paddock complex, and revisions to the layout has been launched. Globo reports the new deal was signed this week and includes a deadline of 2015 for when the circuit upgrades are to be in place.

A chirpy Bernie – for whom the F1 calendar in recent years has become something of a monkey on his back – commented, “I am very happy that the mayor agreed to the investments that we asked for many years ago. If this had not happened, for sure we would have considered not having the race here. We are very happy now.”

This is still a most lenient time scale for what is a relatively non-complex development when compared to building COTA or making ready the New Jersey street circuit, Clearly, Interlagos place in history still stands them in good stead together with the fact the Ecclestone is struggling to deliver to his bosses their demands of no less than 20 races each year on the F1 calendar.

Clearly New Jersey for 2014 is most optimistic as is Mexico. There is no news on whether the Austrian authorities have finally sanctioned all that is required for the Red Bull Ring to host an F1 race for next year. Yet even if they do, at best there will be 20 races in 2014 with India leaving the calendar and Russia hosting their inaugural event in Sochi.

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Jenson: “Honest…. I’m telling the truth… honestly….”

At times you have to understand the dynamics within a team to interpret what various members from that team are prepared to say on a range of topics.

Yesterday, during an interview with Formula1.com Jenson Button was asked, “There are a lot of rumours around the staff movements for next season, not only about who will be your team mate, but also that there will be a top level technical person joining McLaren. Do you have any information on this?”

Button’s answer is interesting. “I am not involved in any of these processes, and (team principal) Martin Whitmarsh would be the best person to ask. One thing is for sure, though, Ross Brawn will not join the team next season”.

We all expect the first part of Jenson’s response – the classic ‘I’m not the one who would know about that’ denial. However, Jenson then goes on to answer the question directly and categorically. This would be an unlikely response – whether true of not – were it to come from the lips of Ron Dennis himself.

Mmm.

Brawn of course will have been party to detailed information surrounding the Mercedes V6 engine developments, and have significant knowledge of how the team in Brackley are designing their car around the specific requirements of the new powertrain.

This knowledge would be most helpful to another Mercedes engine customer.

To this end there will be clauses preventing him from joining another team for a certain period of time, the nature of these is at present unknown.

Yet we can be certain that good old Niki Lauda will not be able to hold his water on this matter – should he be questioned about Brawn’s departure this weekend  – and he’ll then spill the beans in an attempt at self justification.

Mmm. Whether it is indeed ‘salmon procurement’

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 or plain old McLaren net fishing – there’s something fishy about this outburst of direct ‘truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth – honest govner’.

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Perez under pressure & Pirelli clamp down on illegal tyre manipulation

Some people just don’t learn. Perez having accused Pirelli of producing a tyre not fit for purpose, arrived in Suzuka and upped the anti even further.

Pirelli had explained the tyre failure on the Mexican’s McLaren was due to the excessive lock up by Perez when breaking at the end of the pit straight into turn 1. The rubber was in effectively burned away leaving the tyre to delaminate a few hundred metres further on.

Sergio is not content to accept this and stated yesterday, “That something happens after a brake lockup is absolutely unacceptable. I’ve never heard of a brake [lockup] automatically leading to an explosion of tyres. For me it was not normal: it’s unacceptable that the tyre explodes.”

Perez does admit though, “We could see that the tyre temperatures were going up, which is why I braked five metres earlier and with less pressure on the pedal. I was surprised when the brakes locked. I came around the corner and the tyre exploded on the straight.”

Such righteous indignation Sergio! Mmm – more whiffs of fish today….

In FP2 today in Japan, Sergio lost the adhesion from his Pirelli tyres at ‘the spoon’ as he made a mistake – deciding that rubber gives better grip when off the racing circuit. He spun the car and hit the barrier sideways in a heavy impact. He initially refused to get out of the car when requested to by the marshals.#Karma?

Following the British Grand Prix, Pirelli became insistent that teams follow their absolute limits on how they set up the tyres – particularly the angle of camber and tyre pressures. Advantages can be gained in tyre performance by running these beyond the recommended limit, however this overly stresses the integrity of the tyre as it is not designed to operate at these levels.

There are also guidelines on pre-heated tyre temperatures which should not exceed more than 110 degrees c and for less than 1 hour in total. Again exceeding this limits will damage the structural integrity of the tyre.

A Force Indian team member admitted this week to AMuS that, “The heating systems are easily manipulated. If you boost [the temperature] more than allowed, you have an advantage”.

Pirelli has clamped down on enforcing the operating guidelines of its tyres, amid rumours some teams were not playing along.

After the tyre-exploding British Grand Prix this year, the FIA backed Pirelli’s move to force teams to stay within certain operating guidelines.

Pirelli has responded this weekend in FP1 and FP2 so far, making random checks on teams pre-heated tyres with probes calibrated by their own engineers.

Now then, let’s see….which teams are struggling to get heat into their tyres…….?

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Friday Practice Summary

The Red Bulls dominate Friday practice with their closest rival, Rosberg’s Mercedes over a quarter of a second slower than Vettel. The first session had given the team from Brackley some hope as both their cars topped the timing sheets as the chequered flag fell.

Hamilton was a disappointing 0.590 seconds slower than Vettel, though recently, Lewis tends to come good on Saturday after promising less Friday afternoon.

The Lotus surprised a number of people with their pace and Grosjean waqs a mere 9000th second slower than Kimi. Having completed his qualification simulation run, Raikkonen then spun in the middle of the fast Dunlop Curve and beached the car in the gravel during his race-simulation. He managed a mere 17 laps to Grosjeans 30.

Ferrari look as though they want to be anywhere other than at a race weekend. Alonso was unusually irratic and he ran wide at both the Hairpin and the Spoon Curve during FP1. During FP2 he spun his car on his hot lap and ended his qualifying simulation almost 0.4s slower than Massa who himself could manage just the 8th fastest time of the day.

Though, Pat Fry suggests the time sheets are irrelevant. We didn’t manage any quick laps on a low fuel load and so I don’t think the final Friday time sheet is particularly representative. Now we must be cautious, trying to reduce the gap to our closest rivals, while also not underestimating what those behind could do”. 

It was inevitable following his two outbursts directed at Pirelli, that Sergio would make a mistake and trash his car. Suzuka is how it used to be everywhere (no car park run offs) and drivers had to be far more precise over their positioning of the car than at most of the Tilkedromes the young guns are bred on today.

Somewhat chastened, the Mexican driver said, “My accident during FP2 was my error. I was setting the car up for the entry to Spoon, put my right-rear wheel onto the grass, and just lost the back end. At the speed I was travelling, and with relatively little run-off, there wasn’t much room to scrub off speed so I went straight into the wall”. 

Interestingly, McLaren’s Jonathan Neale confirmed Jenson’s contract is resolved but that, “internal discussions” were under way of the future of Perez.

Di Resta, another driver under pressure, could only manage the 14th fastest time but was just quicker than Sutil. “The car was quite difficult to drive today”, said PdR, “but we’ve worked hard to try and optimise the balance. After each run, we changed some things and I think we’ve learned a lot as a result. The long run consistency seems reasonable, but we need to make sure that we can deliver the performance with both the medium and the hard compound.”

Maldonado also bashed up his car early in FP2 at the Degner Two corner, where Bianchi and Van der Garde had done something similar in FP1.

Suzuka, certainly is a proper test of the drivers skill, unlike many other modern venues, and the carnage today demonstrates that better than ever.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car              Time       Gap      Laps
 1.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1m33.852s           35
 2.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1m34.020s  +0.168s  35
 3.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1m34.114s  +0.262s  36
 4.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1m34.202s  +0.350s  17
 5.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1m34.411s  +0.559s  30
 6.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1m34.442s  +0.590s  36
 7.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m34.473s  +0.621s  30
 8.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1m34.698s  +0.846s  35
 9.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1m34.912s  +1.060s  34
10.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1m35.087s  +1.235s  32
11.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1m35.089s  +1.237s  36
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m35.109s  +1.257s  34
13.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1m35.182s  +1.330s  34
14.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1m35.275s  +1.423s  35
15.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1m35.341s  +1.489s  25
16.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1m35.709s  +1.857s  8
17.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1m36.136s  +2.284s  41
18.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1m36.722s  +2.870s  6
19.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault      1m37.630s  +3.778s  31
20.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1m37.905s  +4.053s  36
21.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1m38.121s  +4.269s  33

Kovaleinan returned behind the wheel of the Caterhim in FP1 and he said, “It was good to be back in the car, especially at Suzuka which, for me, is the best circuit in the world. We ran through a pretty standard FP1 session and from the first laps the car felt okay with the overall balance slightly improved from the last time I drove it in Monza.

In particular the steering felt very responsive, even better than the last time I drove and that gives good confidence to attack and keep control through the corners. Early in the session the braking stability was okay, only in the last corner was there a slight issue as the tyres got hotter towards the end of the lap.

It felt a bit nervous in T6/7 but the opposite was true in T13/14 where it was pretty stable. We did have an issue with low-speed traction so we worked on that for run two. On the second run the rear didn’t feel as good in the high-speed section, especially in the first sector on the first quick lap. However, we’d improved braking stability and the rear tyre degradation was okay – it actually improved during the run and it’ll be interesting to see if that continues on the long runs.

On the final run the tyres had started to give up so true comparisons with the first two runs were always going to be difficult. We tried a different rear wing setting and the balance had shifted to more oversteer, but overall it felt positive, especially as the track grip levels keep improving, so I finished the session happy with the job I’d done and with the progress we’d made on Friday morning. “

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Wild Wheel wins Williams 60,000 euro fine

Maldonado’s FP1 was cut short when one of his wheels made a break for freedom at the spoon curve. The stewards have since imposed a 60,000 fine on the team for breaching Article 23:12 of the Sporting Regulations and Article 14.7 of the Technical Regulations.

Since Mark Webber’s pit lane wheel incident at the Nurburgring, the FIA are particularly sensitive about safety in this particular area and the stewards deemed this ‘a serious safety threat’ and hence the fine.

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The finger is here to stay

The issue around the booing of Sebastian Vettel appears since the summer to have replaced the vast column inches once dedicated earlier in the season to Pirelli.

Vettel maintains he doesn’t care and is unaffected by it, though the team appear to feel differently. Following his win in Korea, Vettel’s engineer ‘Rocky’ said over the radio, “”P1, P0…and Mexican wave?”.

On his return to parc ferme Vettel’s celebration, though more muted than others this year, included the idiosyncratic ‘first finger fanfare’.

SKY asked Vettel whether the gesture was a cause for concern from the team. He duly responded, “We have had a little bit of a chat as some people for some reason seem to get offended, but I think the most important is you are who you are and stick to that,”

Whilst we could drive an ocean going liner through the holes  Vettel’s philosophical argument – that would be churlish. However, a friend of mine once said to me, if you have an ugly façade on a property that is impossible to hide or remove – feature it and embrace it.

With a little help from chocolate manufacturer Cadbury, maybe Red Bull PR could cause us to view the finger as a loveable feature; and then young Sebastian may become the inspiration for F1 fans to recall endearing memories from their childhood.

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Adrian admits to ‘ugly’ 

He may be no Greek Adonis; neither is he a contender for the top 100 ‘sexiest men’ in Cosmopolitan magazine; but to Christian, Helmut, Dietrich and Sebastian, the brain inside the balding head of Adrian Newey is prized as like nothing else as a thing of creative beauty.

Newey has been absent from the past 2 race weekends because he has been beavering away – night and day – on his RB10 designs. Milton Keynes staff have seen the design lab lamps burning the midnight oil as Newey fiddles around, constructing weird and wonderful shapes. These apparitions will soon morph and form the silhouette profile of the 2014 car that will carry the hopes of those bent on continuing their F1 domination.

Yet beauty will have to be in the eye of the beholder because mere aesthetics carry no weight when their function fails to comply with the efficient laws of aerodynamics.

Adrian admits to SID, “the new Red Bull is ugly…. Unfortunately”. The reason for the unsightly aesthetics of the RB10 Newey blames on the rules governing the aerodynamics, which have forced designers to pen images of a car with a “hook nose”.

TJ13 sources close to the FIA have heard whispers that to celebrate the beginning of the 2014 season, a Barbara Streisand concert is pencilled in for Melbourne.

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Why Alonso turned to Samuri ways

This is a weekend of delight for our once Spanish matador who in recent times has found it necessary to find solace in the Samurai wisdom and philosophy. In Suzuka, home is close at hand with his adopted spiritual forefathers and Fernando explains his affinity with the ancient ways.

“There is something in the Samurai philosophy, which is lost to us: an awareness of traditional values ​​ambition, confidence and, for example, the understanding of the importance of family – these are things that are lived out in the Samurai culture

These values can be important to guide our behavior and our attitude to life. This is why I choose this type of communication more and more often.”

Marc Surer explains how Alonso feels “it eats away at him that he went to Ferrari with the assumption that he would win another world title”. TJ13 has repeatedly observed from Alonso’s own lips the frustration growing each year as the dawning realisation grows – another failed campaign.

Alonso has frequently called upon the design team to deliver a better car, but to what effect?

Little to none.

Gary Anderson criticises Ferrari for failing to deliver a title winning car now for 5 years. Further, he argues that if this is not possible in Maranello when the rules are fairly stable, on what basis can they expect to do better in 2014?

So Fernando has retreated from those hopes and ambitions which were the reasons he left Renault. He now dreams of the days of yore when your destiny was controlled with little more than a trusty steed and the arc of a finely honed curved katana.

The question is, now that Maranello are regularly poking Alonso, will his trust in the Samuri help him maintain ultimate self control? Will his katana (and mobile phone) stay sheathed? And will he refrain from fleeing across the Alps to find pastures new for 2014?

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Felipe gets there in the end

For someone whose mother tongue is not English, and twitter is not your natural home – covering your tracks may not be easy… Still it is the thought that counts.

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What to expect on Sunday from Pirelli

Paul Hembery said after FP2, “We always enjoy coming to Japan: the atmosphere is electric and the enthusiasm for Formula One over here is nothing short of incredible. We had two solid free practice sessions today with the teams collecting data on crossover points, the relative speed of the tyre when used for more than one run and general tyre behaviour.

Last year we saw a two-stop tyre strategy and it looks like we are on target for a two to three stop race again this year. Suzuka is an abrasive circuit and the tyres are subject to high-energy loadings with fast corners such as 130R and Spoon. It’s no surprise, therefore, that a three-stop strategy was what won this race back in 2011.

We are expecting lower temperatures for race day which will reduce the thermal wear of the tyres and some teams might try to go for a straight two-stop race. From the data we currently have the time difference between the two compounds is around 0.5s.”

The now departed (from F1) Kamui Kobayashi made a 1 stop strategy work for Sauber and held off Jenson Button to make the third step on the podium. From Pirelli’s tyre data, a one stop looks unlikely to be possible this year unless we have endless laps at the right time under the safety car.

Of course this race in 2012 was pivotal for Alonso and his title chances. As they screamed away from the line towards the first corner, Fernando had Jenson on his right and Kimi slightly back from parity on his left. An injudicious moment between the Finn and the Spaniard saw him and his Ferrari spinning off and unable to rejoin the circuit.

What a difference a year makes for Romain Grosjean. Having been banned from driving in Monza, again he was the subject of controversy when he and Webber came together in turn 2 as the Frenchman appeared to misjudge the distance between himself and Webber in 2nd place. Now Romain is the Lotus’ team’s championed driver, as Kimi deserts them in the hope Ferrari will build a decent car in 2014.

Should Kimi manage to qualify well, we should see the best battle this weekend between the two drivers in the black and gold cars if recent form is anything to go on.

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10 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 1th October 2013

  1. Even though she wasn’t a regular driver yet, I hope the F1 circus pays her some sort of respect before the race.
    R.I.P Maria 🙁

  2. I can’t help but wonder if the accident or treatment are in some way linked to this as she was so young. Very sad, must be especially heartbreaking to a family to have got over such an event only to be faced by this.

  3. Re. “… Hamilton was a disappointing 0.590 seconds slower than Vettel, …. ”

    No need to be disappointed, because as Autosport Live reported “We did not see the best of Hamilton, who was forced to back off on his medium tyre run at the first attempt, then he struggled with traffic subsequently.”

  4. Terrible news, the poor girl.

    I hope her family will be comforted somewhat by the fact that she was liked and respected in motorsport circles, and that she lived the life she wanted, even if it was cut cruelly short.

    RIP Maria.

  5. A tragedy when a person with a full life ahead passes away.

    ……..

    Even though I’m partial I cannot but reflect on the comments of the two Ferrari jockeys of -14.

    One says that the guy that got passed over is not slower than his future colleague, and that it is a “miracle” what he has achieved in his non-competive car.

    The other says after a spin, “maybe I ran out of talent” and after the second spin in five years “It was a spin. Those things happen.” and further of his collegue “hes done good” and refuses to speculate on the future of the present collegue or any other driver.

    Well, who do you deem to be confident and giving b****cks about unneccesary b*** s**t? *rhetorical question*

    PS. International media hasn’t reported Kimis answer to the question what he would have done if he would have received a order to let Grosjean past him. His answer was “Mitäs luulisit?”, translating approximately to “Well, what do you think?”. What an answer !

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