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Relentless Vettel (08:00)
Brundle the bumbler (10:32)
Pirelli on the brink (11:02)
Rules, rules….. (11:11)
Vettel favoured? (11:32) updated (14:28)
Mercedes play engine catchup (13:17)
Abu Dhabi sell out (18:15)
Infiniti, Infinity now Quantum (18:17)
Ferrari imploding? (18:55)
Given that the bookmakers around the world have now given up on offering markets for Vettel to win the World Drivers’ Championship, it would seem to almost all involved in the world of F1, that the title this year was a foregone conclusion.
However, almost all, does not include Sebastian Vettel as he stated following the race, “We will keep pushing.” He continued to say, “It looks very good at the stage but it’s not over until it’s over.” One has to wonder how much of an advantage would mean Vettel himself could admit that the excitement of this years Championship is purely for who will finish in the top 3.
Is this just another example of the Red Bull marketing machine/Vettel not caring how they relate to the fans? Furthermore, this was a great opportunity to show the human side of the team. These actions only open the team and individual to further criticism. So Sebastian, do you really think the fat lady isn’t singing yet?
Let’s get real, ALonso is 90 points behind Vettel with 100 available and he is the only driver who could theoretically win the WDC. Yet to do this he has to win all 4 remaining races and Vettel score a mere 9 points. Nobody in their right mind could attribute less than odds of 1,000,000 on this occurrence.
The problem with Vettel and Horner is that they’ve become so ‘on song’ with the corporate image line, they don’t even know they are doing it any more – and they sound quite ridiculous.
Having won his 3rd world title, Senna was already the idol of Brazilian sport, and now he became a great idol of world sport. He had this to say, “There is a great desire in me of improving. Getting better. That makes me happy.
And every time that I feel I am slowing down my learning process, my learning curve is getting flatter or whatever, then it doesn’t make me very happy.
And that applies not only as a professional, as a racing driver, but also as a man.
“I shall have a lot more to learn as a man, than a racing driver, because my career could last not many years. My life hopefully will go still for a long time.
Maybe I’m only at the half of my life right now, so there is a lot to go, a lot to learn, a lot to do still in life. And happiness will come when I feel complete as a whole, which definitely I don’t feel today”.
Watching these words spoken, has been described to me as ‘a mesmerising and inspiring experience’. Neither Horner nor Vettel have yet demonstrated they are capable of grasping the world sporting stage as did Senna, and their persistent mantra about ‘the team, winning, the team, winning and now…. its not over yet….’, all sounds rather shallow, boring and is most irritating.
Michael Schmidt commented this weekend, that it wasn’t always this way. He believes Vettel has been subsumed by the Red Bull PR machine, and that the young German would be liked much more were he to open himself up more to the public.
Senna understood to be a great champion of the world, he had to embrace the public side of this new found Global sports star status. On the other hand, Sebastian Vettel wants to be ‘private’ and do corporate speak. What does anybody expect the fans to think?
Brundle the bumbler
Sometimes I have to wonder why we watch some of the ‘self appointed’ guardians of F1. Having lectured the crowd in Singapore, Martin Brundle is now in possession of very secret information which he is prevented from telling anyone. This is lighting up the internet as a ‘hot rumour’.
Brundle’s last prediction was that the Pirelli deal was all signed up and complete – back in Canada – it wasn’t and isn’t.
Repeatedly throughout SKY’s 5 hour broadcast the confidence Brundle has earned over 30 years was referred to as he claimed knowledge that Nico Hulkneberg had already signed a contract – but couldn’t divulge who, where or when.
Maybe SKY feel intimidated by the BBC, and Eddie Jordan with his accurate inside knowledge has put pundit Brundle under pressure.
Anyway, what is the point of saying, I know something… but can only tell you when it’s common knowledge??? Self Promotion, Insecurity….. ?
Surely the German pundits are better than this lot?
Pirelli on the brink
Italy’s Italiaracing reports that Pirelli are upping the anti and have threatened to quit the sport for 2014 unless they can tyre test. “Pirelli is tired of tainting its name because of a Formula One in which it is forbidden to test in a proper way”.
It appears that the company philosophy of ‘all tyre publicity is better than none’, as espoused many times by Paul Hembery, has indeed now changed. Tired of the negative publicity from all quarters over their tyres, Pirelli wants to ensure they are not the centre of attention for 2014 – and as yet there is concern they may well be so.
The Pirelli management are demanding an Abu Dhabi tests when F1’s new strategic committee meets next Monday. “Pirelli wants the same treatment that Bridgestone and Michelin had, when they could test their tyres at length,” says Raymond Blancafort of El Mundo Deportivo, adding, “Marco Tronchetti Provera could leave F1 without tyres [for 2014.
This state of affairs is absurd as we are around 3 months away from the start of Winter testing. Is the FIA completely paralysed from the infighting over the up-coming elections? If so, David Wards ‘executive officer’ responsible for F1 appears a more and more necessary appointment the FIA must make.
To embrace their partnership with Reneault, Remy Taffin was selected by Red Bull to attend the podium ceremony on behalf of the Red Bull team.
However, he was scuttling around in the drivers’ ready room behind the stage, panicked by the fact that an FIA official had refused him access to the podium unless he was wearing a Red Bull shirt. He had his yellow Renault Sport shirt on, as do all the Renault employees and engineers.
By the time the drivers were announced for the presentation ceremony, Taffin had found a rather large Red Bull shirt, He was presented with the trophy for the race winning constructor, and beamed with satisfaction as he repeatedly pointed to the name ‘Renault’ on the right sleeve of his newly acquired Red Bull top.
Red Bull have again done themselves no favours in the way they handled the decisions around race strategy for the team.
Yes, we are all agreed that in the past Webber has been harder on tyres than Vettel. Horner claimed yesterday Webber had run out of tyres on his first stint so they pitted him on lap 11. We can’t know for sure whether this was in fact the case because even though on lap 10 Webber had lost 0.4s to Grosjean, this had happened also on lap 7.
Red Bull did exactly the right thing by splitting the driver strategies when the window opened for the 2nd tyre change for a 3 stop strategy. This put pressure on Lotus and Grosjean the way the 2 Lotus drivers did so to Vettel in Germany.
However, they didn’t offer the opportunity for choice of strategy to their lead car.
Webber displayed metronomic consistency with his lap times the second run of 14 laps, and there was no sign of drop off when he was called in on lap 26. The question being asked is – why did the team not offer him the 2 stop strategy?
Webber claimed to SKY following the race he had questioned the team over the radio when they called him in early for stop number 2. “After that first stop the guys said ‘We’re still on two [stops] – no problem, look after the tyres, we can get to the target lap’. That was the plan”, It clearly was the plan Red Bull wanted Webber to hear.
Yet Christian Horner stated after the race, “The key aspect was obviously the first stint. We went in to the race hoping and thinking it would be marginal for a two-stop but we believed that probably in clear air we could do that. I think the first stint dictated everything for us when Mark put Grosjean under quite a lot of pressure and went through the tyre phases pretty quickly to the point that he’d run out of tyres by the lap he pitted on.
That was pretty early in the race, which was too short for us in our own minds to make a two-stop really work because you’d effectively run out of tyres in that last stint”.
Why not just tell Webber the plan had changed? The Aussie explains further, “I was looking to wait off the back of Romain and then squeeze up to the back of him between lap 28-31 or 32. Then I think on lap 25 the guys said we’re going to three-stop, which is five laps shorter than the two-stop anyway. I asked the guys ‘Are you sure this is right?’ And they said ‘Yes, we’re going to give it a go’, and we gave it a go; you’ve got to give it 100%.”
When asked why he didn’t over rule the team’s decision, Webber reveals, “I don’t have the whole chess match in front of me. I have what’s in front of me here, I thought that Romain was strong on the option but not so strong on the prime. When I decided to pull the pin and go straight on the back of him I could do that quite straight-forward.
Then I went there and thought ‘OK let’s wait again, we can still sit on the two-stop and wait for him to have some tyre problems at the end’ but they then said ‘No, we need to pit now, let’s go for the three’. They had more information, they always generally do in front of them and that was it.”
When Webber said this, he hadn’t heard Horner’s comments which make it plain the team had decided ABOUT 14 laps before the call for his second stop that he would be doing a 3 stop race.
The Australian was clearly upset on the podium, choosing to stand the other side of Romain Grosjean and as far away from Vettel as possible during the Eddie Jordan interviews.
Sebastian was flawless yesterday, and may well have beaten Webber and Grosjean had it been he that was put onto a 3 stop strategy; though the German’s podium comments recalling how he had been hunted down and caught in the past – had a hint of a pre-planned defence of the team’s decision to 3 stop Mark.
This is clearly just another example of why people believe Vettel is favoured by the Red Bull team. They believe this because Vettel has has been favoured, clearly he still is being favoured, and all we want is for Red Bull to admit it and stop treating us like fools.
Watch out Daniel, 2014 may get very rough!!!!
Mercedes play engine catchup
Renault this set the new record this weekend for providing ‘the grunt’ which has taken the most pole positions in F1 history. They overtook Ferrari’s 208 powered pole positions, setting 209 as the new benchmark – this despite the company only joining F1 in 1977 as an engine supplier.
Vettel has 20% of these pole positions and the current Renault V8 has scored 62 pole positions since 2006 which is 44% of the available poles.
Renault-powered cars have won 160 Grands Prix and 11 Constructors’ titles, with 7 drivers using the engine en route to 10 drivers’ crowns.
Rob White, Renault Sport F1 deputy managing director, commented, “It is tempting to say this is just a number, but it is a source of immense pride for everyone at Renault. Since 1977 we have been able to consistently power cars to pole position, demonstrating not just the overall strength of the expertise within the group, but our ability to work with the teams to create fast cars.
Our ethos has always been to provide the means for the chassis teams to be able to design the best car they can, with as few compromises as possible. We’ve kept this tradition from the very first V6 to the final V8 that will race for the last time just a few weeks from now. To get this record gives us even more motivation to maintain our success rate into the challenging era of the new generation 2014 V6 turbo”’
Prior to the current period of domination, the Renault V10 reigned supreme in the 1990s. Between 1992 and 1997 and that was on pole for 77 races, almost 80% of the GPs held.
In between these time periods, we saw the Ferrari power unit dominate in the hands of Michael Schumacher, though whether Maranello can produce a V6 Turbo engine that will dominate F1 for the next few years, is questionable.
The common assumption within the world of F1 has for some time been that Mercedes will build the best engine/ERS package for the new regulations in 2014. TJ13 was informed earlier this year by the designer from one of the teams building a new F1 V6 engine, the trade off will be between greater reliability and weight.
Renault believe they have the balance about right, though admit to pushing the envelope on the issue of weight.
Much of the new V6 powetrain talk has been about torque. We have heard that the torque capabilities of the 2014 engines could see driver’s spinning up the rear wheels in 4th and even 5th gear.
This and recent revelations from Renault over how they have been manipulating torque in the current engine design, is causing some concern for the German badged engine outfit in Brixforth.
Toto Wolff commented this weekend that he believed the Renault engine mapping and torque manipulation has been the significant factor in the rapid advance of RB9 development since the summer. He admitted, “If that’s the case, we need to find out why we have missed something”.
With Newey pushing the limits on design in partnership with Renault – the masters of engine configuration – TJ13 has recently heard genuine concern expressed from a competitor that Red Bull/Renault may again be dominant in 2014 – unless engine reliability issues strike.
Brawn’s future and some recruitment in general
The future role of Ross Brawn is now out in the open following the weekend in Suzuka. When asked directly by SKY about his future in Brackley, Brawn candidly replied, “I think we need a very clear definition of who is in charge and obviously I need the motivation to carry on.”
The team has senior management staff which includes Brawn, Paddy Lowe, Aldo Costa, Bob Bell and Geoff Willis – together with the ‘hands on’ shareholder interlopers – Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda. Ross was asked if he would walk away from the sport if Mercedes didn’t give him the answer he wishes and he smirked and replied,“Not necessarily walk away from the sport.”
The rumours still abound this weekend that Brawn will join McLaren/Honda sooner rather than later and a high level of credence has been attributed to Martin Whitmarsh’s comments in Korea that recruitment aplenty was happening in Woking, but “there are some as-yet unannounced, that will be headline-grabbing when they get announced.”
McLaren were gleeful in Japan when briefing on their current Red Bull coup – having prised away Red Bull’s aerodynamics chief Peter Prodromou.
On the subject of technical staff recruitment, Jonathan Neale is adamant, “This is not something isolated. There are other things we are going to do to strengthen the team. It’s a series of things aimed at 2015 and Honda, to ensure we are on the road to victory.
Christian Horner was questioned about Prodromou leaving for McLaren and responded, “Peter is a valued member of the team, he is making a valuable contribution. We have got tremendous strength in team within the team.
The content of any contract obviously is confidential but the duration of his contract runs for quite a while yet. We’re certainly in no rush to release him early and he will be with the team until the end of his existing agreement.”
Horner was then questioned whether Prodromou would be allowed to work right up to the point when he leaves for McLaren. He replied, “Well that’s what he did with McLaren before he came to us.”
This was a politically correct answer because as Mr. Saward suggests today, “The Red Bullies are trying to make out that Prodromou cannot start at Woking until 2015. That is pure bull.
It is a magnificent irony, but no F1 aerodynamicist can be kept out of the market for more than six months because that would affect their ability to work in F1. That ruling dates back about 15 years to when a Mr Newey applied to the court in order to escape from Williams to work with McLaren”.
Maldonado Madness Re-Materialises
Maldonado said last week he was unhappy with the Williams effort, and his driving in Japan appears to bear out he feels under pressure. He has been criticised by his team mate Bottas for the move he pulled towards on the last lap of the race,
Speaking about the incident at the final chicane Bottas states, “There was no space on the track. It was not fair. If I hadn’t gone straight on we’d have crashed. Racing shouldn’t be like that.”
Maldonado unsurprisingly sees matters differently and criticised the team for the race strategy. “I got the position. I was faster than him but the strategy on my car was completely wrong.” Maldonado ran a 2 stop race as did Valterri. He continued, “We got 100 percent from the car. It’s not making a big difference [fighting for 16th place] but when you are a racer you always want to take a position from the other drivers.”
Mmm. If fighting for 16th is no big deal, why risk such a move on the last lap against your team mate – the person you least should want to collide with?
Claire Williams confirmed that the incident is to be reviewed.
Abu Dhabi sell out
3 weeks before the race, the Gulf News reports that the race promoters of the Abu Dhabi GP have a mere 2,500 tickets left for sale. The circuit has five grandstand areas – Main Grandstand, West Grandstand, North Grandstand, South Grandstand and Marina Grandstand (aka Support) and has a crowd capacity of 41,093.
There are no tickets for sale as General Admission, and prices begin at over 400 euro’s for the least expensive of seats.
In a slightly confusing statement, Richard Cregan, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said. “With fewer than three weeks to go and only one more race before the teams arrive in Abu Dhabi, the excitement is building, We’re expecting more fans than ever before this year. As we look forward to another sell-out event, we encourage customers to book their tickets as soon as they can.”
Off-track, the entertainment the promoter “promises to bigger and better than ever before, with four after-race concerts exclusive to F1 ticket holders: Amr Diab, Elissa and Hussain Al Jasmi on Thursday night, rap legend Jay-Z on Friday, MUSE on Saturday and Depeche Mode on Sunday”.
Infiniti, Infinity now Quantum
You have to love it when a group of investors stride into F1, dazzled by the glitter and glamour, believing they may make a fortune but certain to rub shoulders with the stars of the F1 circus. Some months ago (June was it?) when Lotus announced the consortium which was to buy 35% of the team as Infinity Racing – TJ13 poked fun over the possible confusion.
The fact that these people had no idea ‘Infiniti’ was the title sponsor of the all conquering Red Bull team says it all. However, following a few legal shots across the bow, the Middle East investors have decided to change the name of their motor racing business to Quantum Motorsports.
Even though this name change has occurred, no deal is yet completed and Eric Boullier hinted in Japan that the team is in talks with ‘a sponsor’, as well trying to persuade Renault to extend the depth of their relationship with Lotus from 2014 onwards.
Nico Hulkneberg issued a warning to teams courting his services for 2014, that he wanted matters to be finalised by the end of October. TJ13 has been regularly reporting Boullier favours the recruitment of Hulkenberg, and the Frenchman is now quoted in the Sporting Life saying, “I would love to sign him. He is our choice”.
Yet Eddie Jordan claims that the Hulk is going to Force India and Martin Brundle claims he knows where Nico has signed for 2014, but he promised to keep the information in confidence so he can’t say any more than this. Mischievously, David Croft of SKY suggested Brundle write it in a ‘sealed envelope’ so he could check post the final announcement.
Yet Hulkenberg himself when asked where he would be driving in 2014 replied to SKY News, “I’m sure it will happen in the next couple of weeks, I’m confident we will get something sorted.”
Were a deal done with Lotus, then Hulkenberg would have no need to be cautious. However, if he is to return to Force India the small matter of telling Sutil or Di Resta ‘au revois’ would require him to ‘keep quite’ until this had been attended to.
Hulkenberg to Force India would be a bit of a shock to many, and were Alonso to leave Ferrari – then the deck of cards is properly up in the air once again.
Back to the top of the story, maybe TJ13 readers could conceive of names for new ‘racing companies’ other than Infinity(i)
Did the stock markets of the world collapse today? Have I missed something? Lots of angst flying around here at TJ13 today – Oh well, shall we pander to the masses? Nope – so let’s stir up some more 😉
TJ13 has been reporting for some time that Ferrari claim to have kissed and made up with Fernando, yet they appear to take every opportunity to have a dig at their current lead driver. Last week we read about Fernando on his ‘big day out’ noted to be “under the watchful eye of Stefano Dominicali” by the Ferrari.com writers.
The marriage is over, it is a matter of how long the divorce will take – and how much will it cost whom.
Fernando has said blatantly to SKY in Korea, that Ferrari have not built and developed properly a title winning car for the past 4 years. Alosno criticised the car heavily in Hungary and was rebuked by Il Padrino.
A more coded response from Fernando following the Japanese GP suggested, “The problem is our development. The problem is that we didn’t adapt to the tyres or had the steps that we planned. We arrived at the races in July with some updates that looked good on paper, but not so much on the track and I think that slowed down the performance improvement that we should have had”
To be fair to Fernando – what else can he say? Granted his qualifying effort has not been great in recent times, yet Ferrari sit him in the garage for the majority of the first half of FP3 week after week, when the rest are pounding around getting track time and gathering data.
Pat Fry is quoted on Ferrari.com today as saying, “For the last four races, we will evaluate if it is worth bringing some improvements to motivate the drivers and team over the closing stages of this championship”. WHAT!!!
This must be a comment sanctioned from above in Maranello, yet I can’t help feeling the sacked head of communications, Luca Colajanni, would never have something like this attributed to a senior member of the team in print.
Gary Anderson today suggests the root of Ferrari’s problem is their management. “I would have to question whether they have any structural management.
That is Alonso’s biggest problem. When he doesn’t see any structural management, he starts to be the manager, and having a driver do that is the worst place a team can be.
I talk to a lot of people and some of the stuff I have heard about Ferrari and how that team functions is absurd for an outfit of that standing. Something has to change there pretty soon if they are to be the team we all think they should be”.
Can Dominicali survive as team boss for another year? He will argue Alonso has destabilised the team and ask Montezemolo for 1 more year.
Of course Alonso could have won the 2010 drivers title, but the team made the wrong strategy call in Abu Dhabi. Of course he was close in 2012, but that was due to a lead Alonso had built up whilst Vettel failed to master the driving style of the RB8 along with some reliability problems.
This year when Vettel was 40 points clear as was Fernando in 2012, many fans hoped Ferrari would do as Red Bull did in the closing part of last year and come on strong. The opposite happened. The car is miserable and they are probably only the 4th quickest car on the grid at present.
Ferrari have not been ‘at the races’ for some time and so why should we believe in 2014 they will be any different?