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What happened to… (04:30)
Boullier still hopeful
(04:30) Updated 17:27
Kimi hoping for India return (05:25)
Todt looking likely to continue (06:40)
Massa edges closer (13:41)
Dodgy tyres again (15:42)
Lewis at home (17:42)
Rubens ruled out (14:48)
Sirotkin ‘Tomorrow never came’ (18:35)
Daniil Kvyat confirmed at STR (21:05)
What happened to…
It has been a horrible season for Formula One exile Timo Glock – or ‘that Irish fellow Tim O’Glock’ as Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond once called him.
Losing his race seat at Marussia in favour of a financially more patent pay driver, the German, who also raced for Jordan and Toyota in Formula One, found asylum in the DTM. Considering the heaps of former or at the time future Formula One drivers, who have driven in the premier German Touring Car series, it is not the worst place to be in.
Coming in at the twelfth hour in team MTEK BMW, which has competed for the first time in 2013, Glock found it difficult to adjust to the tin tops. While there was definitely nothing wrong with Glock’s driving, both the team’s and Glock’s inexperience showed during the season. A third place finish at the Red Bull Ring, in Austria, was Glock’s only points paying finish as the DTM prepared for the traditional finale at Hockenheim.
One week before that, Glock and fellow DTM driver, two times champion Timo Scheider, starred in the annual TV Total Stock Car Crash Challenge, an annual celebrity demolition derby organized by TV multi-talent, Stefan Raab, in which points are awarded for spinning other cars around or bashing them into a barrel roll.
It seemed as if the man from the Odenwald used the crazy event to drive all the frustration off his back. Starting in the 1500cc class Glock was so wild he lead the 10 minute demolition race comfortably when he scored the most spectacular moves by sending a competitos car flying over the embankment and punched another one into a double barrel roll. So big was his lead that although totalling his car after only six of ten minutes, he still ended up second.
It seemed as if these talents would come in handy in yesterday’s DTM final. In more than 20 years there hasn’t been a DTM race that was as hard fought as the bashfest in the torrential rain at Hockenheim. With the driver’s championship already decided in favour of Audi’s 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, but with both manufacturer’s and team title still up for grabs there was no holding back.
For the first time this year Glock had managed to reach the Q4 shootout in qualifying and started 4th. As the field took off, on a track so wet it would have been a race delay in Formula One, pandemonium broke out as the cars dove into turn one. Being chopped across the bow by championship runner-up Augusto Farfus, Glock sent the Brazilian into a spin and fell back to fifth, but by lap 11 he had picked up all but race leader Bruno Spengler, from Canada – the best position he had run in all year. When Spengler ducked into the pits for the first of his two mandatory pit stops, Glock took the lead for the first time in his short DTM career.
Glock fought a race long battle with Mercedes Junior Roberto Merhi, who ran second despite starting from 21st and serving a drive-through penalty early in the race. Both came in for the first time with only nine laps to go. Unlike Glock’s MTEK team however, Mercedes had gotten the tyre pressures wrong on Merhi’s car and Glock retook the lead just before the two drivers ducked into the pits again five laps later for the second stop. Hanging on to a 5 seconds lead on the rapidly drying track Glock won his and team MTEK’s first DTM race in his tenth start and helped BMW clich the manufacturers title for the second time in a row.
Boullier still hopeful
With just 4 races to go, and a 33 point deficit to make up, it would seem unlikely that Lotus will be able to finish 2nd in the World Constructors’ Championship. This is shown by the fact bookmakers, William Hill, have them at 4/1 outside chances of finishing there.
However, team principal, Eric Boullier is still remaining upbeat about the team’s chances. In an interview with FormulaOne.com, the Frenchman was bullish as to the possibility of overtaking both Ferrari and Mercedes. Lotus have scored more points than any other team (barring Red Bull) in the last 2 Grand Prix which is why Boullier thinks 2nd is ‘very attainable.’
He said, “If we continue as we have done for the last few races, then mathematically second in the standings becomes a very attainable target.” It appears the introduction of a long-wheelbase upgrade to the car has changed the fortunes of the Enstone team.
Alan Permane credits this, by saying, “There’s no doubt that the long-wheelbase car has benefitted our performance.” He continued to state, “We’re qualifying better, racing better and we’ve been on the podium for the last three races at a variety of tracks from Singapore to Suzuka.”
One can only imagine how this would have worked if it had been coupled with the 2 year failure of a project, the Double DRS. It appears there is life after James Allison, the now Ferrari bound ex-technical director.
Marussia aiming high…perhaps too high
British newspaper, The Telegraph, has reported on the accounts of Marussia F1, highlighting the fact they have been given a £10 million loan by the taxpayer owned, Lloyds Banking Group. This was all done before selling it’s stake in the team in April this year.
The report from Manor HoldCo, the team’s parent company, showed that borrowing have risen by £33 million in 2012. The 10th place in the WCC, which they lost to Caterham at the final race in Brazil, with a 12th position for Vitaly Petrov, appears to have hit them very hard.
Lloyds’ private equity division, Lloyds Development Capital (LDC), first invested £10m in the team in 2009, to give it a 25.3% stake of the then, Virgin Racing. A spokesman for the bank said the sale of the team enabled the bank to “recoup the full value of its investment in the business”.
So even if an F1 team isn’t making money, it is still a very valuable asset. Marussia’s GP3 team made a net loss of £178,000 showing it’s not just the top tier of motor racing which is still suffering the effects of the global economic downturn.
The 2011 documents included Marussia’s aim for a podium finish in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix next year, however, this goal is absent in the most recent accounts. The 2011 and 2012 seasons have been a reality check it appears. The phrase, ‘Learn to walk before you can fly seems appropriate here.’
Kimi hoping for India return
After a 7th place finish at the Buddh international circuit last year, it appears Kimi Raikkonen is fond of the Indian GP. The Finn is not known for passing a strong opinion on…well…anything, so to hear him talk this way is a surprise.
The Ferrari bound driver said, “It’s a pretty impressive track and the country is a bit different from some of the other places we visit.” He continued to say, “For me, the circuit is nice. It was easier to learn than the Korean track; it’s not as technical but it’s good. It’s always nice to come to a new place like India.”
The lack of simulator work appears to have made it harder for Kimi in Korea, in 2012, when he finished 5th behind the man he is set to replace at Maranello, Felipe Massa. What can we speculate is the reason Kimi really wants to return to the New Delhi circuit?
If he wants to maintain his 16 point over Lewis Hamilton in the WDC, he will need to improve on his grid position in the last 5 races. 8th, 11th, 13th, 9th, 9th have been underwhelming by anybody’s standards, given Romain Grosjean’s 3rd in Korea and 4th place start in Japan.
Todt looking likely to continue
Rumours had been circulating that Jean Todt’s only challenger for FIA presidency, David Ward, was about to give up his bid in order to support Mohammad Bin Sulayem, who was seen as more likely to be victorious in his campaign.
However, Daily Mail correspondent Jonathan McEvoy now reports that Bin Sulayem, the high-ranking Middle Eastern official, has taken himself out of the running.
The significance of this is that Todt has “effectively won re-election“, McEvoy affirmed, because Ward “is struggling to enlist the 26 nominations he requires by the deadline of November 15“.
A statement from Bin Sulayem read: “Following careful consideration, I can confirm that I have accepted Jean Todt’s invitation to support his re-election and to stand for a second term as FIA vice president for sport“.
Alonso and Magnussen future teammates?
Reports are circulating this morning that the 2014 and 2015 driver markets have had significant developments over the weekend. Firstly, Fernando Alonso may have found a way out of his Ferrari drive, with McLaren and Honda agreeing to split his retainer payment, were a deal to happen. Secondly, the young Dane, Kevin Magnussen, became the Formula Renault 3.5 2013 Champion in Spain this weekend.
Danish tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet, have stated they feel the Spaniard and McLaren protégé will be teammates in 2015. Magnussen has been heavily linked with the Marussia seat that currently belongs to Max Chilton, for 2014.
Bild am Sonntag, the German newspaper, has written of how the McLaren-Alonso possibility is looking ever more likely. With regard to Button, it appears winning a WDC in 2009 with Honda and having very strong links to Japan through his girlfriend, Jessica Michibata, are not enough for the manufacturer to desire his services.
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, has insisted he is not worried. “I do not fear losing Fernando,” he said when speaking to the German magazine Sport Bild. “He has a contract and he recently made clear that he is staying. He wants to win with us, and we want to win with him.”
What’s the worst that can happen for Alonso? When he last drove for McLaren, it was against a hotshot up and coming rookie (in 2007) and the pair got on like a house on fire. Does lightning strike twice?
Massa edges closer
Felipe Massa could be closer to driving for the Toro Rosso team in 2014. TJ13 reported not long following the Ferrari announcement that Massa would be leaving the Scuderia that there had been conversations between both the Brazilian and the Red Bull sister team.
According to Luiz Razia, there is a seat for sale at Toro Rosso. He makes this aqnnouncement on twitter.
Roughly translated this sarcastically states, “There’s a rumour that they are selling the second seat at Toro Rosso. What a novelty. It has been sold for a few years now 🙂 any more news?”
Brazilian Razia was all set to make his debut for Marussia this year until his sponsors disappeared into thin air.
Italia racing appears to support Razia’s assertion suggesting a group of Russian sponsors are collaborating promote Daniil Kvyat who is merely 19 and a less experienced Red Bull ‘young driver’ than those ahead of him in line for the ‘time served’ opportunity to drive and F1 racing car.
Massa of course in believed to bring substantial sponsorship cash with him which indeed may prove to all, Toro Rosso is not what most people think.
Customer cars on the agenda again
One of Ecclestone’s red line issues in the two bilateral agreements negotiated between the FIA/FOM and FOM/the teams has been the new F1 Strategy Group. This allows for 18 votes on the committee, 6 from FOM, 6 form the FIA and 6 form the teams.
Today the newly formulated body will convene and on the agenda is the matter of customer cars. This old chestnut has been kicked around for time and memoriam, and at present is not permitted under the current regulations.
Ecclestone recognises that F1 is unsustainable in its current form due to costs, but realises the attraction of 6-7 teams only being able to compete in F1 would be a disaster for the sport.
The alluring idea would likely mean that the works teams Ferrari and Mercedes together with McLaren and Red Bull would probably be the only teams building cars. The rest would be forced to purchases their car (to varying degrees of completion) from these teams. The customer cars would not be able to compete with the ‘works’ cars as they would likely be older iterations of the new cars the big four teams would run.
Costs would be lower for the customer teams and more teams could probably enter the sport.
Any softening of the current definition of ‘customer cars’ is likely to endanger the smaller manufacturers ability to produce their own cars.
Bob Fernley argues the commission is “unethical and undemocratic” however Ecclestone knows that on this topic, the larger teams are broadly in favour of the customer car idea.
Former FIA president Max Mosley has suggested the F1 strategy group may be illegal under EU competition laws and is quoted as saying, “To my knowledge, Mercedes has sought legal advice and the answer was that it is contestable.”
On the face of it, it appears wrong that all competitors are not represented on this commission and that the Technical and Sporting Working Groups will be downgraded.
Williams technical chief Pat Symonds thinks that F1 had previously benefited from having input from technical staff in the Technical and Sporting Working Groups, rather than solely relying on team bosses who have different agendas.
“What I’m fearful of is that I think the TWC [Technical Working Committee] as it is now will still be used as a body for let’s call it ‘technical debate’. That ‘technical debate’ will reach conclusions, because that’s what debates should do,” he said.
“They were, particularly the technical one, pitched at the level where it was composed of a number of people who had the ability to make decisions, but were not divorced from what was going on.
The difference is that it’s then up to the FIA how they treat those conclusions. And I guess my fear is that they will be selective about it.”
Dodgy tyres again
Earlier this season, my keyboard would refuse to produce the combination of letters that spelled ‘tyres’ anymore. The spin coming from certain quarters over the Pirelli 2013 tyres was outrageous yet Pirelli were perceived by the casual observer to be the culprit.
Poor understanding of the tyres had led certain teams to produce their 2013 cars to be far less effective than others at optimising the aerodynamics of the car and reduce tyre wear. This led to tyre pressures and camber angles being run which exceeded the Pirelli recommended limits substantially. The tyres explode and the rest is history.
Pirelli always contested the tyres were safe if operated properly, however any company suffering the torrent of abuse about it’s product – whether fair or not – would do as Pirelli did – change the tyre.
Hembery warned us all more than once that a stiffening of the original; 2013 tyre would see ‘Red Bull run away with it’ – which is exactly what has happened.
Anyway, Pirelli are not the only tyre manufacturer who has been questioned over the durability and safety of their product.
Michelin – who manner hanker for to return to F1 – were embarrassed because their tyres were so fragile, they recommended all their runners in the 2005 US Grand Prix withdrew from the race. This left 6 cars contesting the event.
This weekend, those of you who follow Moto|GP will know that Bridgestone – who built the bullet proof tyres which carried Schumacher to title after title – announced that they could not guarantee the durability of the tyres for more than 10 laps of the 27 lap race.
Dorma (MotoGP’s governing body) therefore decided the following changes would be made for the race. Drivers must change bikes either on lap 9 or lap 10. A lap 9 pit stop would require a further stop before the end of the race.
Any rider who failed to comply would be disqualified and the honour of being disqualified went to championship leader Marc Marquez for coming in on lap 11.
Dodgy tyres everywhere when you look carefully enough…..
Quantum Motorsport/Lotus announcement delayed
The twittersphere welcomed a new member today. – Quantum Motorsports. They have tweeted 3 matters of note thus far.
16 th October: “Launching soon”.
18th October: “Launching 10:10 GMT 22.10.13”
21st October: “Thank you for the early positive support. We look forward to bringing you announcements soon”.
It’s like a version of “up – up – and away”… which takes days
In the meantime Nico Hulkenberg has repeated again this time to German TV ZDF, “There is nothing to report and nothing is signed.”
F1 too safe and not challenging enough
The future of F1 TV punditry appears in safe hands when the old hacks move on. To be fair, they had little to do as they watched the processions that were called races as the like of Schumacher eeked out 0.1s per lap over Mika to condemn each ‘race’ to a slow death.
Yet gone are these days when it was one long coffee break for anF1 commentator, and now we hear them complaining that even they are confused by the modern strategies and number of pit-stops because their pieces of paper for recording stops only have room for 4 – so they can’t count above that???
Anyway, speaking to the Guardian, Anthony Davidson hits out at the modern F1 circuits and suggests the fear factor has been removed from F1 with serious consequences.
“I feel a driver should be challenged and should be punished for mistakes; it’s what makes people follow the sport in quite a gruesome way – it’s the danger, racing drivers should be heroes.”
TJ13 argued in the 3 part ‘booing pandemic’ articles that to be a hero requires more than being the statistically most successful at anything.
To be fair, Davidson is not suggesting we have a death toll akin to the late 60’s and 70’s. “We don’t want to see fans get injured or drivers get injured or killed but the drivers should get punished. On some modern circuits it’s pathetic when you see drivers going off the track and nothing happens,” said Davidson.
Whether liked or loathed, drivers were universally respected in days of yore when they put their lives on the line every time they entered the cockpit of a racing car. Yet improving safety and retaining historical challenges are not mutually exclusive asctivities.
Other sports have faced similar challenges. Historic golf venues, for example, when emasculated via technological advances have found ways to re-create the challenge of the course given a new era of competitor with better equipment.
We hear modern F1 drivers refer to the relative simplicity of corners like 130R and Eau Rouge and this is an indictment on the sport’s governing body’s desire to retain the challenge of such great sections of F1 history in a modern yet equally challenging and ‘punishing’ form.
What is missing is the “fear factor”, argues Davidson. He compares the challenge of the Degner corners at Suzuka, where a misjudgement will put you in a wall, against Copse at Silverstone – “A ballsy high-speed corner that is not a challenge because you have a massive run-off area of Tarmac on the exit”.
Most modern corners Davidson states, “are borderline too safe. The FIA have done an incredible job, amazing when you think of where it used to be in the 60s and the 70s, and the cars are going faster now than ever before. The problem is, the safer the circuit becomes the more ruthless the driving becomes. So today there is such little respect for each others’ safety on the track. They feel like they can bang wheels in a straight line, but ‘the car is mega-safe – it will take it’ is the belief and therefore you get this crazy, almost borderline reckless driving coming into play.”
There was a big debate in 2012 following the antics of Grosjean and Maldonado whether today’s young F1 drivers showed too little respect for others and the circuit. Well here are the reasons why that may be the case.
Clive Bowen, MD of Apex Circuit Design told Autosport in May this year, “Knowing there is virtually no consequence to running wide has made drivers think they are invincible. We are nurturing young drivers who don’t know what to do if they encounter a low-grip surface.”
Bowen advances the idea of a 4 metre grass verge between the edge of the circuit and the run off area which of course would in all probability mean that an ‘off’ into the current car park areas would be much less under control than at present.
Anthony Davidson has the authority to speak on this matter as in 2012 whilst competing in Le Mans suffered a high speed and most dramatic crash. He recalls, “I pretty much thought I was going to meet my maker. I didn’t hit my head throughout it, so my memories are completely intact. The way the engine stalled in mid air – I could hear the sound of the wind going over the car – thinking about my family and the fact that I was probably going to die.”
Even so he firmly concludes, “There has got to be compromise with safety and I feel its just going to far at this stage. As a driver you have to live with the fact you might die one day. Otherwise you might as well just play computer games.”
Lewis at home
Rubens ruled out
There has been speculation about a return to F1 for the sports longest serving competitor and whether he would drive indeed for Sauber. Speaking to ‘Jovem Pan , Barichello now admits, “The near future is in the stock car series. Probably with an extension with my current team and sponsors.”
Sirotkin ‘Tomorrow never came’
Whilst Kevin Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Antonio Felix da Costa fought for the title in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Sergey Sirotkin struggled into 9th place in the championship – some 213 points behind the eventual winner.
The highlights of the year were 2 podiums – a 2nd place in Arden and a 3rd place in Hungary. Since the Sauber announcement he could do no better than 12th place.
The young Russina had this to say at the weekend when surrounded by the world’s media following the final round of the championship in Austria. “This was the worst season of my life; I was very unlucky. Every time I would say, ‘tomorrow…. next time’”. Yet tomorrow never came for Sirotkin but it is fast approaching for his F1 debut in Australia.
Asked whether he was ready for the up coming challenge, Sergey revealed “Our preparation programme has just started so I am not quite ready but by the time the first race comes, I will be ready, I know that. There is nothing I am afraid of; I am looking forward to it”
Exactly what the Russian kid will be ready for is not yet clear, even though he believes the step will be no problem.
“It’s a bit different driving an F1 car. I need to get used to the power steering. It took a bit of time but we were happy with our lap times at Sochi. The minimum speeds in the corner are very similar to my current car. The step that needs to be made is not surprising, it is to be expected like any other championship”
Of course Sergey will get plenty of miles under his belt during winter testing in Jerez and Bahrain, but it is tough for a driver to emerge from the Formula Renault series and perform well in F1, particularly having had their ‘worst season’ ever.
Daniil Kvyat confirmed at STR
Scuderia Toro Rosso confirmed that Daniil Kvyat will drive for the team from the start of the 2014 Formula 1 season. The 19 year old Russian, who is part of the Red Bull Young Driver Programme, will be Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement for the coming season.
Kvyat will partner Jean-Eric Vergne, who will be retained for the next year. The Rome based youngster has been competing in GP3 and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship this year, so will have no problems with any language barrier.
Franz Tost had this to say on the matter, “We are pleased to continue our policy of bringing on drivers from the Red Bull Junior Programme. Daniil is a very talented driver, which can be seen from his results in all the junior categories.”