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Hamilton reflects (00:40)
Giedo van de Garde uncovered (01:13)
Massa to Williams (10:24)
The Russians are coming (10:44) UPDATED (18:06)
India and F1: A love hate relationship? (12:31) UPDATED (16:17)
Di Resta ‘rested’ (12:41)
Vettel – the greatest (12:56) UPDATE (18:10)
Lotus future finance uncertain (14:53)
Fancy a Ferrari? (15:27)
FOM/Ecclestone negligent as a commercial promoter
Being a commercial rights owner in any business has responsibilities which go hand in hand with the rewards. To design and build an F1 car, attend winter testing and travel the world to fulfil the racing calendar costs around £60m a year. Yet the smallest award from the commercial revenues awarded to the 10th placed team is £10m.
Further, it is the responsibility of the commercial rights holder to promote the sport. Of course in the F1 heartland that is Europe this requires little effort or funding, however, the new markets F1 seeks have little or no historic motorsport heritage and the concept of very fast racing cars as a spectacle requires promotion.
The Indian GP will not feature on the 2014 racing calendar due to the promoters being unable to afford the hosting fee’s for 2 races in less than 6 months. Senior figures in Indian motorsport fear the race will not return in 2015 due to lack of interest from the Indian nations sporting public.
So how did we get to this situation? The BIC is not in the middle of nowhere as is the Korean circuit. Just 1 hour’s drive from New Delhi should mean the event is attractive and easily accessible to the wealthier classes of Indian society.
Sauber team boss, Monisha Kaltenborne, believes that Ecclestone and FOM have failed the country in their attempt to introduce F1 to the masses.
Speaking to Autosport she observes, ““I think it is very difficult once when you leave a country to come back to it – especially where we have not really managed to establish the sport. In the first year we had the benefit of something new coming in there, and a lot was done around the race.
There was a tremendous amount of in-depth coverage, not just about telling the people the sport was about 11 teams, and all the celebrities and parties and the show. It was about explaining what are the teams about, why are the tyres important, what are the strengths/weaknesses of the people? It was very comprehensive coverage – even before the race”.
Kaltenborn argues the efforts to promote F1 in India were failing as early as year 2 of the Indian event. “That was already less in the second year, and the critics came up more about the race. Was it really a sporting event? Then people put up issues, like the tax and the difficulties many people had. That was put further ahead in the second year.
I think now it is a bit like giving up. When you know you are not planning to be there the next year, maybe the interest has gone down through that.”
Maybe FOM and Ecclestone could have made a far bigger effort to maximise the marketing and commercial opportunities that would have created greater local interest in the sport. Monisha believes, “That has been the problem – that we have not been able to market ourselves properly in there. We have not been able to convince that many Indian companies. You can count the Indian companies that are in F1 since then on one hand. We’ve somewhere collectively failed to do more there.”
This should be the role of FOM, and as part of their £5-600m receipts from the sport each year, it requires them to deliver more than a rape and pillage exercise of a promoter in a new country, if F1 is to create a stable and long lasting sporting event that the host nation can buy into.
Lewis is doing his best to make up for the deficiencies of Ecclestone and his crew by talking up the Indian GP. “I think it will come back. They have put in great efforts to put this track together. It is such an impressive track. The F1 calendar is changing every year. The fans would be missing the action but I am sure it will come back. Hopefully it will become part of culture here in India and lot more people would be enjoying it.”
Hamilton’s performance in India has been indifferent and he recognizes that fact saying, “I want to do better here. Characteristic wise it is a similar circuit to Korea. Having the experience of racing in Korea, the performance this weekend will be stronger,” said Hamilton, who is the Technical Performance Consultant for automotive lubricant Petronas Syntium.
I can’t wait to get into my car. It is different team, a different phase of my life and I want to make most of it.”
Lewis spent a few days visiting more remote areas of India and re-iterates his interest in the amazing country that is India. “At some stage I want to travel here. I want to see the countryside and want to see more of life here. India is such a big place and it has so much to offer. And I want to experience some more food, some more restaurants. I am hoping this weekend to try more restaurants with my family and get some delicious food in our bellies”.
Despite his comments suggesting Vettel was a ‘one car wonder’ and that F1 at present was a snore fest, Lewis is now avoiding politics and believes his team is still in the hunt for secondary honours. “I don’t want to get into the politics anymore. I grew up watching Michael Schumacher era. He was a fabulous driver. Vettel also has been doing very well. People want to see good contest, close races that’s what I look to do. All I want to do is race. I just love it. I have grown up doing that and want to continue doing it every time step on to the track.
Our goal is finish second in the constructor’s championships and we are working very hard on it”.
A frustrated Hamilton believes his first season with his new team could have been so much better except for the Pirelli tyre issues. “For us it is just the tyres. If we didn’t have issues with the tyres then things would have different because the car is great on both heavy fuel and light fuel. When you have to do 10, 15 or 20 laps and you have 100 per cent of tyre then you have to spend it correctly. And you don’t know how much to use and for what time. That’s the biggest trick.
Other cars have a little more down force to look after the rear tyre little bit better so we have to improve the rear end of the car to save the tyre”.
Indian cricketing god, Sachin Tendulkar, who has smashed nearly every record in the sport has announced in the past week he will retire and Hamilton recognizes his incredible achievements. “Hats off to him. He has achieved so much. We need more and more people like him in sports”.
The problem for Lewis is that unlike in cricket, the opportunity to break all records and be a god like legend in F1, is not about the individual talent alone but requires a a car capable of delivering this opportunity as Vettel has had.
Giedo van de Garde uncovered
Rarely does TJ13 merely publish an article from another site. However, this post from ESPN, an interview with Giedo van de Garde is worth just leaving alone and letting the Caterham driver speak without interpretation.
Q: One of the things I’ve always liked about you as a driver is that you’ve actually got a sense of humour. You take the piss a bit on Twitter, you roll with the punches… You’re a three-dimensional human being. Is this because you had a normal family life, or was it a concerted decision to show people that you’re a real person?
GvdG: I am a real person. I like to show myself, what I’m doing, what goes on in my life. I think the most important thing is humour, because the more you laugh the happier you are. This is my philosophy. I’m getting married this year, and I’ve been with my girlfriend for 10 years. She always says ‘you’re really funny, and that’s why I like you’. I say, ‘oh, so it’s not because of my looks, then?’ It’s important to laugh. I have good people around me – my trainer, my friends, my girlfriend. We always have fun. You need to enjoy yourself, because you only live life once.
Q: I didn’t realise it was this year you were getting married; for some reason I thought it was next year. Your proposal was so sweet. How far in advance did you decide that that was how you were going to do it?
GvdG: About two weeks. I was sitting in the car with my manager, coming back from a meeting in London, and we drove back. I said ‘I want to ask my girlfriend to marry me’. He said I should do it with my Formula One car, as I had a show the next week, and I thought ‘hey, that’s a good one!’. So we told the organisation [City Racing Rotterdam] and the team that I wanted to do something, but only him and I knew what it was. When I went on one knee, my girlfriend was really surprised. The good thing was that I invited all my best friends, her best friends, our families… More or less 50 percent of the people were crying. It was good fun – a special day.
Q: She’ll never forget that moment, will she? So what was scarier – trying not to make any mistakes on the run, or getting down on one knee in front of all those people?
GvdG: Both, I think! Normally when you get in the car you just do your thing and that’s it. You’re not scared, or excited. But that was just a different feeling. I still had to come back to the end, because there was a tent with all of our family and friends. But I think I did a good job – I did some donuts, stopped the car, and then got on one knee. I was quite nervous. You never know what’s going to happen – if she says no, you get embarrassed.
Q: So do you get to spend much time with her on the road? I know it’s hard in this life, with all of the work commitments.
GvdG: In Europe it was quite nice. I live in Holland – in Amsterdam – and travelling from Amsterdam is quite easy, so after the race I could spend a couple of days at home, and then travel to England to go in the simulator, to work with the team. Of course, now it’s busy. She came to Singapore, but that was her last race. At the beginning of the year it was tough, but she’s known me for 10 years, so she knows that I have to do the job and she’s fully behind me. But that makes it exciting, you know? After two or three weeks away, you really look forward to going home.
Q: You need to miss people?
GvdG: Yes. I have friends who work from eight till five, they come home, and then they spend the whole evening sitting with their girlfriend on the couch. They call me and say they’re bored, they don’t know what to do. Get a job like me, man!
If only we could all be racing drivers… So how did you decide that you wanted to be a racing driver? Lots of kids start karting, but actually setting your focus at a really young age – that takes dedication.
Gvdg: It does, but on the other hand I think it’s good that some people have this focus. I started when I was nine years old in go-karts, I went higher and higher. I won the Dutch championship when I was 12, and the European championship later. But the moment I was world champion in 2002 was a big achievement, and I decided I wanted to reach Formula One. But you really have to live a different life to all your friends. They’re going to school, going out, going out with girls, having fun, whatever. And you really have to dedicate your life to your sport.
Q: You’ve got the fitness, the mental preparation, learning the tracks… A couple of years ago I interviewed Pepe Oriola, the WTCC driver. He was about 15 at the time, and he said one of the weirdest things was that he’d go off and do a race on Sunday and then on Monday he was sitting in lessons, thinking about racing lines he’d missed instead of algebra. Did you have that when you were at school?
GvdG: Of course! I was living in Italy for a year, and that year I did school in Italy. It was a bit strange – sometimes I had to come back for a month, two months, go to school. But in the end it was okay – I got my diploma, so my mom was happy, and I could continue racing. But I was always thinking of things I could do better, about the car, about my fitness level, about the preparation… It’s the same now. My phone bill is quite high because all day I’m calling people – can we do this, can we improve that? You should always try to improve yourself, to become a better human, to become a better athlete.
Q: And these are all skills that are going to stand you in good stead as you reach your 30s, your 40s, your 50s. You’ve got time management, dedication, planning, how to deal with competing interests. You guys are all set up for conquering the business world if you want to later on.
GvdG: Sure. I think that when we’re done racing, all of us, we’ve had a really good education about life. It will help a lot if you start a business, or whatever – you’re really determined. That’s one interesting thing you learn in this sport.
Q: Also you get to see the world, eat crazy food, meet people from Timbuktu to Tobago. What’s your favourite part of the travel? Is it the food, the hotels, the new cultures?
GvdG: Everything. I really like it – I’ve been living out of a suitcase since I was 10 years old. It’s good fun. You meet a lot of people, you become interested in what’s happening in the countries you visit. It’s a wonderful experience.
Q: I think it’s a great education. If you could take every child and throw them around the planet we wouldn’t have any more wars – they’d learn that we are all the same, fundamentally.
GvdG: We are all the same. That may be one of my strengths in this world – a racing driver is the same as a mechanic; everyone has to do their own job, and they’re all talented.
Q: That’s actually one of the things I’ve noticed inside the Caterham motorhome – you and [Alexander] Rossi seem to treat everybody exactly the same. You’ve always got a smile, a hello, a friendly comment. You don’t distance yourself because you’re drivers. You’re part of the team.
GvdG: There’s no sense not doing it. Maybe if you’re Sebastian Vettel you have to distance yourself a little bit, but I’ve had Seb as my teammate and he is also a guy who really likes to hang out with the team and make sure everybody’s behind him. It’s a human skill.
Massa to Williams
Felipe Massa looks set to follow in the footsteps of fellow Brazilian drivers before him and join the Williams F1 team for 2014. The withdrawal of the Venezuelan pot of gold from all their racing drivers worldwide appears certain to see Maldonado leave the Grove based team this year.
Unlike his Ferrari team mate, Felipe is not an avid tweeter, and has restricted the number of people he follows to less than 200. However, recently he has added to his list Susie Wolff and the Williams F1 team twitter account too.
Having recently spent time in Venezuela, Claire Williams with the teams legal representatives have most likely come to some compromise arrangement over the remaining $70m outstanding on the contract with PDVSA, In Formula 1 the focus on survival or success is usually merely on the year ahead so Williams financially secure from the PDVSA payoff can now offer an experienced driver a seat for 2014.
Whilst not snubbing Felipe, Lotus have made it abundantly clear that they want Hulkenberg for 2014 and so the range of opportunities for an F1 seat are limited for the popular Brazilian driver. With Pat Symonds now on board the Williams team look have some clout in their technical department which combined with a driver of Massa’s skill will give hope to their fans that there will be a resurgence in performance.
The Russians are coming
The great fear of the west following WWII was exactly this. Hundreds of billions – if not trillions – of dollars were spent on military intelligence, armies and nuclear warheads to stem the mighty hoards which we all believed were about to swarm from the Motherland to takeover the world.
Now the Russians are coming for F1 it appears, and in some numbers.
Today, AMuS reports that Vitaly Petrov is back in F1-land – with a bag of cash over his shoulder – an alleged 30m euros of sponsorship. Yet whether this will see 3 Russian drivers on the 2014 grid, or merely just the 2 is still unclear.
For the past years, Sauber has been funded to some degree by the Mexican dollar, though it appears Russia’s gazillions are one way or another to replace this source of funds. Reports from Switzerland suggest that Sirotkins backers are already 4.5m euro’s in arrears on the agreement struck and this has opened the door for Vitaly.
When questioned over Sergey Sirotkin’s future schedule, Monisha Kaltenborn was notably vague. “Our goal is to prepare Sergey Sirotkin for Formula 1 as we have said, but there is some flexibility in our activities with him…”
TJ13 believes that the team at present are considering naming Sirotkin as their test driver whilst they recruit the Gazprom backed and more experienced Petrov. With 58 GP’s behind him, Vitally is no mug and given a competitive car has demonstrated he can deliver results. His best being a 3rd place in Australia in 2011.
Ecclestone,may be corrupt, but he can smell the next few billion. He knows if Russia embraces F1 then there will be a season of untold bounty. The invasion will see the servants of the Motherland swarming toward F1 bearing innumerable rubles which may be spent in many and diverse fashions.
Sorry… couldn’t resist this
There will be a hearing before the Indian Supreme Court on Friday for a petition seeking to cancel this weekend’s Indian GP. The complaint is based upon the fact that the race organisers Jaypee Sports have failed to pay the tax due from last years race.
“We will hear the petition tomorrow,” said Chief Justice P. Sathasivam.
The court has exercised its powers against Jaypee Sports previously when 25% of the revenue from the first Indian GP was frozen whilst a tax dispute was settled. That ruling followed Public Interest Litigation filed by campaigner Amit Kumar, the same man who is behind today’s petition.
Kumar successfully argued in 2011 that Formula One was entertainment and not sport, and should not benefit from tax exemptions granted by the state of Uttar Pradesh which borders the capital New Delhi. As a result, entertainment tax, applicable for large-scale shows and sponsored festivals, has been levied on tickets this year for the first time.
A spokesman for circuit owner Jaypee Sports International Limited acknowledged previous tax problems in 2011 but refused to comment on the new court case. “We will wait for the court’s directive this time around as well. Whatever the court says, we are ready to follow,” said Askari Zaidi.
Asked about the claim that taxes had not been paid last year, he replied: “Why should we comment on somebody’s allegation?”
Should the event be cancelled, Sebastian Vettel will be crowned as the 2013 drivers’ champion, though the fizz in the champagne would be diluted were it to occur under such circumstances.
Head of Indian Motorsport, Vicky Chandhok, said in the past few minutes, “no chance at all” that the race will be cancelled. “The courts don’t take kindly to having to stop an event. The justice system will take its course but it’s not going to affect the event”. He also suggested this kind of action is easy to bring in India and is part of the democratic process.
The future of the Indian GP is in doubt and so this may be the courts final opportunity to recoup monies owed from Jaypee Sports. The most likely outcome will be one similar to that enforced by the court previously.
Yet India and F1 appear to have a strange love/hate relationship. The Times of India states today, “Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone had already removed India from the 2014 schedule, leaving the future of the event at the $450 million Buddh International Circuit in doubt.
After initially citing “logistical” problems, the billionaire was quoted in July as saying that “political” reasons caused India to miss out next year”. The news source then rather pointedly comments Ecclestone’s reference to politics was in fact, “believed to mean the lack of government support for his private empire”.
Karun Chandhok expresses frustration at bureaucratic problems overshadowing the Indian GP and has said it casts India in a negative light.
“I think brand India is getting affected. People should not underestimate the power of F1 and power of sport. For the teams and drivers it is a big headache to reach here… you need to have an extra lawyer for the Indian GP,” he added. “The bureaucratic process is so big and it should not be.”
Apparently Chandhok has been been inundated by requests for help from foreign journalists who had been unable to get their visas in time.
Will the bickering lovers be re-united in 2015? Only time will tell.
Di Resta ‘rested’
Reports are emerging from the paddock in India that Paul di Resta will be replaced tomorrow James Colado due to him feeling unwell.
However, a BBC employee observes, “Di Resta looked and sounded fine when he spoke to the media at 2pm in Noida”.
UPDATE: Apparently Di Resta will drive in FP2??????
Exceptional illness management….
Vettel – the greatest
Funny how TJ13 is setting the current agenda for F1 debate 😉
Christian Horner appears to have joined our discussion on how Vettel ranks amongst the ‘greatest’ F1 drivers.
“Mark Webber is a very good driver. Before Vettel came into the team, his reputation was as a future champion. But this year in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel has beaten Mark 14 times and won nine times. If it was all about the car, we would be first and second in the drivers’ championship, but we are not,” observes Horner to Spox.
Unsurprisingly, Christian continues to elaborate on Vettel’s greatness suggesting, “For me, he is now on par with Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher.”
Mr. Charles Bernard Ecclestone appears to concur with his malleable F1 colleague. “People don’t know how many titles Senna would have won, but Vettel is probably the best we’ve had. People complain about him winning everything but the racing is good”.
So there we have folks. A definitive answer to our debate from two of F1’s eminent minds.
UPDATE: Now Fernando wants his say. “It’s also down to the fans, they have been watching TV for many years and they can support more one driver or another driver, which often depends on which country they come from. For some people he will be the greatest in history and for some people we need to wait a few more years to see what he can do in future, because there is still more time.
For some people the greatest of all time will be Ayrton [Senna] because he is probably the most popular around the world. There is Michael [Schumacher] and many names and it depends which country you ask the question in.” (ESPN)
Lotus future finance uncertain
Some may think Romain Grosjean has somehow let the cat out of the bag when speaking to reporters today in India. When asked about his future he replied, “No, there is no announcement or anything. Everything is open for the future, I feel good here but I think they are trying to solve the financial trouble and it puts everything else on the back foot”.
The fact that Lotus has failed over the past 4 months to secure the funding they announced is hardly news, yet clearly the team is in no position at present to offer contracts to drivers until the inward investment for the team is concluded
Grosjean is philosophical about when the team may resolve their issues as he observes, “I think I waited until the 16th of December last year so hopefully less than that because I’ve planned holidays before that; it would nice to go on holiday with my future sorted! I’m not in a rush; I would be lying if I said having a contract signed would be easy. It’s always better to know what you’re doing in the future but so far I enjoy the races, I do my best and that’s all I can do.
It’s the game of the sport in general. Yes, it would be terrible if it was forced on me to leave Formula One, but what else could I do? I drive my best, I’ve had some good races, good results and I’m open to discussions, but so far nothing.”
Boullier commented 2 weeks ago that he was aware team employee’s CV’s were circulating the paddock, so the ‘financial trouble’ to which Romain refers is not insignificant or behind closed doors.
Fancy a Ferrari?
“Fifty years of Ferrari.” That was the banner leading the Scuderia into the 1997 Formula One season. Fifty years of racing. Fifty years of checkered flags. Fifty years of creating the most iconic sports cars on the planet.
The chariot that would carry the Scuderia into its next half-century was the F310 B. In an article titled Decades of Winning, which chronicled Ferrari’s grand prix history after 50 years, author Pete Lyons describes the visual impact of the F310 B in its natural habitat: “Michael Schumacher’s needle-nosed F310 B, screaming through the rainy streets of Monaco, a glistening crimson nucleus amidst a comet of silvery spray; Ferrari’s first Grand Prix victory this year (1997) was a work of art.”
While the new car for the 1997 season was developed by John Barnard, who left the Scuderia before competition began, Technical Director Ross Brawn and Chief Designer Rory Byrne were persuaded to join the team from Benetton by Schumacher after Barnard’s departure, and they were under the guidance of Jean Todt. The F310 B first appeared at the 1997 season opener, the Australian Grand Prix, and it quickly showed its potential, with Schumacher qualifying 3rd and finishing 2nd on race day. By the end of the 1997 season, the F310 B had accumulated 102 points for the season, with pole positions in Canada, France, and Hungary, wins in Monaco, Canada, France, Belgium, and Japan, and with fastest laps at Monaco, France, and Britain.
RM Auctions are to offer in November one of the cars Ferrari used that year in their sale entitled, the art of the automobile. It was the last of the ‘wide track’ cars developed by Ferrari prior to the regulation changes enforcing narrower vehicles in 1998.
This particular F310 B, chassis 179, is the eighth of just nine built, and it is the first of two lighter-spec examples that had been built with a slightly higher fuel capacity than the first models. It made its first appearance with Michael Schumacher in the driver’s seat at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. As Schumacher was accustomed to the heavier iteration of the car, he struggled to find a set-up that he liked, so he reverted to the older spec car and placed an excellent 3rd in qualifying. On race day, 179 was set up for dry conditions, but, sadly, the race began under the safety car in a torrential downpour, so Schumacher opted for the same car he qualified in.
Eddie Irvine found himself behind the wheel of 179 at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on the 7th of September, where he qualified in 10th and would later finish in 8th place overall. Irvine would continue to drive the same car in the following round of the championship, at the Austrian Grand Prix, where he qualified 8th but failed to finish. Williams would emerge victorious with the Constructors’ Title by the end of the season, but Schumacher was in the running for the Drivers’ Championship until the final race of the season, which is a testament to the potential of the F310 B.
“Representing 50 years of continually evolving motorsport technology, the F310 B is a remarkable example of automotive technology. In terms of Formula One history, it marks the beginning of a series of vehicles that brought both Ferrari and Michael Schumacher multiple World Championship titles, making Schumacher the winningest Formula One driver of all time. Included in the 1997–1998 issue of Autocourse, John Barnard stated that he designed the car to be “easy to drive, stable, and consistent” on the race track, making it an excellent choice for a newcomer to the world of Formula One racing. For the track day enthusiast, there simply is nothing better than the rush that a car of this caliber can provide”. (RM Auctions)
This lot will be offered on a Bill of Sale as lot 118.
FIA Drivers’ Press Conference Transcript
Drivers – Giedo van der Garde (Caterham), Max Chilton (Marussia), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing), Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus).
Q: I’m going to start with a question for Nico, Mark and Kimi, as, with all due respect to our back row, I think you three gentlemen are best placed to challenge Sebastian Vettel for victory this weekend. He’s won the last five races, he’s won both Indian Grand Prix from pole position and he’s led every lap as well. Simple question Nico: how do you beat a man in such form?
Nico Rosberg: Well, I’m here to do that, that’s for sure and the last couple of races have not really gone to plan, a lot of bad luck also. But, I have a very good car at the moment. I think the Red Bull is a bit quicker than us but you never know, you know. If we really get everything right on a weekend like here in India then it’s possible to beat Mark and Sebastian in that car. That’s what I’m here to do, so I’ll give it everything and we’ll see.
Q: What about you Kimi? What have you got up your sleeve?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think I have to do a bit better in qualifying. That would help a lot. That would give ourselves a good chance then to try to beat them. It’s not just only them though, so we’ll see what happens here.
Q: It’s tricky Mark, you were on pole in Japan, it didn’t quite work out in the race, but what’s the secret? Can Sebastian be beaten?
Mark Webber: He’s on a phenomenal run obviously and as you said his stats here in the last few years he’s been pretty strong. It needs a perfect weekend – pole, perfect race, perfect strategy, perfect everything to obviously put him off the top step, so that’s got to be the plan.
Q: I wish you all perfection this weekend. Back to you in a few moments. Max, if I can turn to you next. Japan, your fastest qualifying lap there beat both Caterhams and your team mate Jules Bianchi. Was that your lap of the season?
Max Chilton: It was one of them. Obviously, it was a bit of a standout performance because we managed to out-qualify both Caterhams and Jules, but I’ve had good laps in the year and I’ve been very happy with certain laps but in Japan we just managed to get things right. It was a bit of a manic last lap and I managed to just get enough space and just got the most out of the car and the car performed well. As Nico said earlier, if you get everything right then you get good performances.
Q: I’ll ask Giedo about the perspective from the Caterham side of things but Marussia are still hanging on to 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship with four races to go. It’s vitally important, financially, for a team to finish in that 10th spot not 11th, so how are things? Nervy, tense, determined, excited?
MC: It’s definitely tense but I believe that when you’re passionate and working on the best result possible, you get the best out of yourself and the team. At the moment we’re doing that. It’s definitely going to be tight but we’ve got 10th at the moment and we’re hoping to keep it that way until the end of the season.
Q: What about from the Caterham side, Giedo? Anything can happen I’m sure in the last four races but is there extra pressure given that you’re not the team in 10th at the moment?
Giedo van der Garde: Yeah, a little bit. Of course for us it’s very important to get the 10th place back. I think the last few races we’ve seen that we’ve always been in front in the race compared with Marussia, so the one thing we need is a little luck and the only thing we can do is maximise ourselves, maximise the car, maximise the team and the rest is luck.
Q: Well, good luck with the luck if it comes your way. Daniel, it’s been a few weeks since you were announced as a Red Bull driver for next year and you’ve had time to come to terms with that announcement. How has life changed? Has the attention grown race by race?
Daniel Ricciardo: No, not really. I think around the time of the announcement it was pretty hectic with the media and everything but it’s nicely calmed down now. It’s good. I’m sure once I hop in the car next year it will probably rise again but it’s been a quiet few weeks. I had a bit of time to myself, which is good.
Q: Have you started to focus on what you need to do next year against a man who is likely to be a four-time world champion, or is the focus still on this season? How do you cope with that?
DR: Definitely still my main focus is on this year. Obviously aware of the competition I’ll be up against next year and slowly employing a few things to help me out for January and to settle in with the team but yeah, still very much focussed on the rest of the year with Toro Rosso. I guess once the season’s over after Brazil I’ll make the conversion, start getting in the simulator and trying to figure out what makes Seb so quick and try to learn quickly.
Q: Nico, this morning, tell us about your bus journey into the track. Kind of a special bus ride with some under-privileged children, stepping out of the Formula One bubble for a moment.
NR: Yeah, it’s nice. I’m involved in the Laureus Sport for Good programme, so this morning I took a bus journey to the track with a whole bunch of children from the local community. In the end just trying to be a little bit of an inspiration to them, to show how good sport is for personal development really, to learn about discipline and to learn to be with people and respect other people and things like that. Also, to show them the importance of education. That was the aim – but they also had a great time. We had a good time, we played a bit of soccer together, and showed them the racing car. So, that’s good, yeah, a very nice programme.
Q: Brings you down to earth a little bit, I suppose?
Q: Kimi, this is your second year coming to race in India. Do you notice the popularity that you have? Does it spur you on when you get to the track? Does it give you extra motivation?
KR: I think it’s very nice to have it but I mean I’ve only really seen the hotel this morning, from the airport to the hotel, and the circuit. So, especially today there were not many people when we came here – so I feel it less than at many other places but I’m happy that there are fans here. This circuit is nice and hopefully we can have a good weekend for all of them.
Q: When you come to what is still a relatively new venue, would you like to take more time out to see a bit of India?
KR: Yeah – but I think it’d be a little nicer if you come when it’s not a race weekend, so when you have proper time and not during the weekend. But for sure I’m sure there’s a lot of nice places to go and see.
Q: And for Mark, your last time in India in Formula One, four races to go now. Do you relax more as the final race approaches or does the desire to get that one more win – at least – intensify race by race?
MW: My mentality hasn’t really changed, mate, from the start of the year. Still enjoying driving the car to a degree and no exception to that. The last Grand Prix, obviously the best racing track in the world in Suzuka – unfortunately they can’t design them like that anymore – but it’s a beautiful circuit. This is not bad and yeah, some good tracks to look forward to. That’s the bit that I still enjoy – to a degree. And… yeah, I think the last four is not really changing how I go about it. It would be nice to get a top result before the year’s out but…yeah… it’ll be four weeks and that’s it.
Q: Would it change your view of Formula One and how you remember the sport if you didn’t get one more win?
MW: No, wouldn’t change it.
Q: Still look back fondly?
MW: Yeah, of course. I would never have thought when I left Australia the results and the career that I’ve had. So, another win or so, of course it would be nice but it’s not going to change my retirement too much.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Abhishek Takle – Richland F1) Mark, following the last race, you said you were surprised at the switch in strategy from a two stop to a three stopper. Having gone over all of the data, do you still feel the two stop was quicker, or are you satisfied with the strategy switch?
MW: I haven’t gone over any data whatsoever from the last race. I still stand by what I said at the time but obviously a bit surprised that we elected to do that. Having a three stop, you’ve got to pass two cars to win the race instead of maybe sticking to a two where we just focused on trying to beat Romain. What I said at the time is still pretty accurate today.
Q: (Sandeep Sikdar – IndoAsian News Service) Nico, Mark and Kimi, we’re quite uncertain about the future of Formula One here in India. I wanted to know what exactly is the feeling in the paddock regarding visiting India, coming to India for the Grand Prix?
NR: The track is fantastic to drive, they’ve done a really good job with that. There’s a growing fan base and a lot of fans in India. It’s great to be here and it’s a pity that there’s no Indian Grand Prix next year and I hope that maybe some time in the future we can come back again.
MW: Yeah, Nico’s right. Obviously the fan base is certainly growing very very fast. I know cricket is the number one sport here by a long way but they’ve certainly shown some incredible enthusiasm to try and understand and get some… attract some interest in the sport. They’re proud to have a very very high profile sport which Formula One is and the track layout is sensational. The enthusiasm… they’re doing what they can to hold a very nice event here but it doesn’t seem to have been enough for next year. I hope that we can come back in the future.
Q: (Bharat Sharma – IndoAsian News Service) For the front row, if you talk about the track, most drivers have praised the track, they like the layout but as far as overtaking is concerned, there’s only the first sector which has a real chance of overtaking, so how do you see the track in terms of overtaking opportunities?
MW: That’s generally the case at a lot of circuits actually. There’s not any more than one or two chances these days. The second and third sector are quite quick, it’s not easy to get a move done there so yeah, most of the focus is on the first sector and the beginning of the sector. But that’s not against the circuit, that’s how a lot of tracks are and we like the rest of the rhythm and the layout because it’s quite challenging, it’s quite quick, a little bit of undulation so there’s a lot of good qualities inside this circuit. As you said, the racing maybe hasn’t been super exciting over the last few years, maybe it’s not going to be the same on Sunday but time will tell.
Q: Is that right, Kimi, there’s really only the first sector where you can get past?
KR: In a normal situation, yes, but on some of the circuits there’s not even one place. You might get a chance in some other places – it depends – but it’s a good race circuit. Last year I got stuck behind (another car) but that can happen anywhere.
Q: It rather drives the set-up, Nico, doesn’t it? It’s a compromise track anyway, but you need to give yourself that chance of getting some overtaking done?
NR: Yeah, but it’s OK, the track has what it needs to be able to overtake well and for there to be exciting races. They’ve extended the DRS zone a bit to try and make it easier to overtake – see how that goes, should be in the right direction.
Q: (Ajay Devadason – Sify.com) Mark, is it a cause for concern that the series that you’re moving to recently had a fatality in their event?
MW: At Le Mans? Look, we know motor racing can be dangerous. It was very very tragic, obviously, that they had a fatality this year and they’ve certainly learned from that accident, I believe. Every time we step into a racing car there’s obviously risk; I accept those risks as we all do and they are always going to try and find ways to improve motor sport to a degree which is finding the levels of safety and risk-taking to the right levels. I’m certainly very comfortable with my decision, what I’m doing in the future and looking forward to it.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, in the last few races, Lotus seem to have been the second team after Red Bull. Do you think that you have the chance to try to grab second place in the Constructors’ championship in the last four races and that this could be a place to win?
KR: That’s the aim for us but it’s hard to say if it’s going to happen. It seems that the last races have been strong for our team but I have to qualify better, to put myself up there and maybe try to win some races but it will not be easy.
Q: (Kate Walker – GP Week) Max and Giedo, you are the only two men here whose futures aren’t yet set for next year, or not so that we know about. Could you both please rate your chances of staying both within Formula One next year and with wearing the same uniforms?
GvdG: Of course I hope to stay in (F1) next year but the management is very busy, talking to some teams, also Caterham. At the moment, they told me to be focused for the last four races and I’m doing that, but hopefully we will have some news soon, but it’s still far away.
MC: Yeah, I think my chances are looking good. Nothing’s set in stone yet. I’ve learned in GP2 how much continuity can help. I’d love to stay with Marussia again because you always get more out of yourself when you know the team, it’s a natural progression. We have been contacted by other teams but at the moment we know where we want to be and we’re not far away from it now.
Q: Do you two both feel you’ve met your targets and your goals for this year?
GvdG: Yeah, I think so. At the beginning, I struggled a little bit, then in the middle of the season everything fell into place and since then I’ve good speed, still have to improve the qualifying a little bit but race pace has been very good.
MC: Yeah, I think to be honest it took me a little bit longer than I was expecting to kind of get up to speed. I think it’s hard without the testing, but from the August break, when you have a bit of time to go through everything with the team, we had a really good sit down and picked on key areas where you can really enhance your performance and since then, I think I’ve proved why I deserve to be here and I’m hoping to keep that on until the end of the year.
Q: (Vinayak Pande – AutoX) Kimi, given the way Lotus is performing towards the end of this season and how Fernando has been struggling recently, how do you feel about your decision going to Ferrari next year?
KR: Good, otherwise I wouldn’t have made the decision if I didn’t think it was right for myself. It’s so competitive… and the rules, nobody really knows how it’s going to work out next year.
Q: (Sandeep Sikdar – IndoAsian News Service) Nico and Mark, Pirelli have brought different tyre compounds this year unlike the last two years, how do you think they will affect the lap times?
NR: I’m not sure. The cars are also so much quicker this year. It’s been very variable throughout the season. You’ve never been able to predict how we’re going to go, in terms of lap times from one track to another. Sometimes we’re faster, sometimes the same, so it changes all the time and I don’t know yet for this weekend.
MW: Yeah, very difficult to predict how the tyres will behave. We know how sensitive they are. Even when we had the slight change of construction during the year we see some teams coming forward, some teams going back, some drivers being happy, some drivers less happy. The tyres are super super sensitive. I think we will find out here whether it’s… last year was quite easy on the tyres, we had a pretty comfortable one stop. Whether that’s possible again, I’m not sure. We will find out on Friday with the long runs, maybe.
Q: (Chetan Narula – Planet F1) Mark, your team mate is going to be a consecutive four time World Champion and obviously you’ve had your differences with him, you’re not the best of friends but as his team mate, and somebody who’s worked with him closely for quite a few years now, can you shed some light on Sebastian Vettel, the racer and the four time World Cham… or soon to be four time World Champion?
MW: Yeah, obviously he’s had an incredible run. Some of the championships have been tight, some less tight. Obviously ’11 and this year have been pretty much a non-event but 2010 and 2012 were up to the last race. I think he’s certainly done an incredible job. I think he’s been very strong on the Pirellis; obviously (on) the Bridgestones was probably a little bit tighter but on Pirellis he’s certainly been very strong and no real weaknesses on those tyres so it’s been strong for him. Just super consistent and that’s what’s made him strong, obviously, and also getting the most out of the package. Obviously the car’s been quick and he’s capitalised on a lot of venues. He’s won with a dominant car but also he’s won with a car which some races is probably not… certainly over those four years to win races he probably shouldn’t have won races. That’s also been a quality of his.
Q: (Unnatee Gidithuri – Auto India Magazine) To you all, what are all of your opinions on the Indian Formula One fans?
DR: I think that as the boys touched on earlier, it’s growing each year we come here, there seems to be getting more and more interest. It’s good, there are a lot of seats to fill here. Unfortunately they are not always full but they are filling up each year so that’s good. I don’t think a sport can grow overnight and it does take time. It’s definitely gone in the right direction.
MC: It’s obviously got huge possibilities. I think there’s over a billion that live in India and that, from my calculations, is a seventh of the world, so it’s probably got one of the biggest potential markets anywhere in the world, so it’s a shame we’re not back here next year but there’s a lot of other countries that want a Grand Prix as well. It is a bit of a shame.
GvdG: I think it’s good to be back here. It is a special place, especially when you see cows on the street, dogs! It’s different to Europe and I have to say I quite like it. It’s good to see different environments, the track is very nice. Of course, it’s my second time here. Last year I saw some friends in the grandstand and hopefully this year there are going to be more.
Q: I think you tweeted a photo of a cow in the road, Nico.
NR: We had a bit of a close call yesterday because the cow decided it was going to cross the motorway just in front of us but we managed to keep out of its way, let it cross over nicely and then we could continue.
Q: Mark, Kimi’s touched on his love of India, what about yourself?
MW: Yeah, you can see the enthusiasm. Again, I don’t want to talk about the cricket too much but you see how much they love their sport with the cricket, they are super passionate about it and the same here, they want to understand, they’re very willing to understand the sport as quick as they can. It’s been a very quick snapshot for them, in terms of coming to the circuit and seeing the cars and maybe having the drivers as heroes for them. What’s also been interesting for me in such a short period of time is also the journalists here and the people are making such a good effort. Their questions, even away from the track, and different things… they’re quite knowledgeable on our sport, they want to understand which is a big advancement on some of the other fresh countries that we go to which are super, super naive. A lot of good positives about it, so it’s a shame it’s not here again.
Q: Did you watch the one day yesterday?
MW: It was washed out, wasn’t it? Not lucky for us: 296 or 293.
Q: (Rachit Thukral – RachF1) Daniel Ricciardo, two years ago you were racing for HRT. At that time, could you imagine that you could be racing for Red Bull one day?
DR: Seemed like a fair way away at the time but I think that going back years before that, since I got Red Bull supporting me and knowing what opportunities I had with them, then I think anything was possible. A lot of it was up to me. With HRT, I knew there was a bit of a road to travel on, but yeah, it’s come along quite quickly, obviously to my delight and as I’ve said, I can’t wait but if you would have said, back in 2011, that I would be in a Red Bull seat in 2014 then I would have smiled and said ‘beauty.’ One other thing I found out, just touching on the cricket, apparently myself and Mark don’t come from Australia. We come from Ricky Ponting country! That’s what they all say. Nice.
Q: (Vinayak Pande – AutoX) Mark, it’s your last season in F1. Do you think the sport is in good shape going into the future with the new regulations? Do you think that’s a good direction for F1 to be taking, or are you going to a technologically more sound series, in terms of sports car racing?
MW: Again, pretty good question. To be fair, I think Formula One needed a bit of a facelift in terms of technology, which they’re going to get next year. Maybe it’s not what we all want in terms of all the electric stuff and those type of things but that’s the way all the manufacturing and all those types of things are going in terms of car production, so Formula One should be the benchmark in terms of rolling that stuff out. How it’s going to go in terms of a spectacle only time will tell. I’m sure it’s going to be good. The main thing with Formula One is the drivers, the drivers are the important thing. You can have what cars you want but if you’ve still got the best drivers out there then that’s the most important thing. But in terms of sports cars and Formula One, obviously the technology is going to be very similar. Sports cars now are super technical as well as Formula One will be next year. As long as the smaller teams can have a chance, I think that whenever you make a big regulation change like we are going to do next year, the midfield and the smaller teams are really going to be stretched, so I think that the gap between Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren maybe is probably going to be bigger.
Jenson thinks 2014 will be extra tough for rookies
Another of F1’s glitterati joins the TJ13 debates of the week. Jenson Button began his F1 career aged 20 with Williams but he believes drivers can be ruined by starting in the sport too early.
“For me when I arrived in 2000, I was nowhere near ready for Formula 1. I had to take the opportunity – I had to – because you never know if it’ll come again. So you’re in a very difficult position when you’re that young because you’re told you have to take it – and you have to.
But if I had the option to race for two more years and know I would get into a Formula 1 car after that, I would have taken that option.”
And in that moment Button justifies the decisions of Sergey Sirotkin and Daniil Kvyat to leap when given the chance. Yet Jenson argues the complexity of the car means the opportunity could be something of a Monte Carlo or bust experience.
“You’ve got to do so much work out of the car before you get in; it’s not like every other formula. Every other formula doesn’t have drive-by-wire and all of that, so it’s a very different way of racing. You’ve got several hundred people that depend on you and listen to you and your comments about the car to develop it.
In a small F3 team, you’ve got eight guys or ten guys that might tweak it here and there, but it’s very, very different.”
A more structured and gradual approach is argued by Button to be the ideal way to enter F1, but then isn’t that Jenson all over?
“The best thing for a young driver, I personally feel, is to have a good career in lower formulae and spend time at a Formula 1 team, experiencing what a driver will go through on a race weekend – because he’s going to get a massive shock when he goes to Melbourne”.
Further Button believes 2014 will be exceptionally tough for F1 newbies due to the rule changes. “For the young kids that are coming in, it’s tough because we have such a big regulation change in 2014: you’ve got to really understand the KERS system and the power torque of the engine is very different”.
Specifically with regard to Daniil Kvyat and 2014, Button is philosophical. “He might be great and none of us will be talking about this again. And hopefully he will, for his sake. But it can also kill a career.”