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A hard job (03:22)
Records Watch (03:22)
Kimi to bail out on Lotus? (10:19)
Stewards report on the donuts (11:28)
Donuts or Sledgehammers? (12:08)
An F1 Return to India (15:24)
Ferrari self-flagellation (16:07)
A hard job
There are probably not too many people, who will envy Guillaume Rocquelin and Alan Permane for their jobs lately as both have the underappreciated task of talking to rather stubborn partners at times.
The 2013 season has at times been a p!ssing match between “Rocky” and his stubborn charge behind the RB9’s wheel. Things went hot between them at Malaysia, when Rocky urged Seb to stay behind Webber mid-race and hold off the overtaking until later, only to give him the infamous “Multi21” code later on. Since then “Rocky” seems to have lost the authority and the fastest laps have become a game of one-upmanship
This was visible (or more precisely audible) for the first time during the Monaco GP. Forced to dawdle about behind the Mercedes of Rosberg in ultra tyre saving mode and fairly fed up with it, the German stomped on the ‘loud’-pedal and set a blistering new fastest lap against the expressed wish of the man behind the pit wall. When berated for it over the team radio, and told that there was nothing to gain from that, Vettel disagreed and explained that it gave him “the satisfaction”.
India saw another rematch in the battle of wills between those two. As the team was fearing that Vettel’s car would pack in like Mark’s had done, epitomized by the frequently shown frantically tapping feet of Christian Horner, they had started to shut down all non-essential systems to reduce the strain on Renault’s fragile alternator. KERS was one of the first to go and Vettel was even banned from using the electrially powered water bottle. One can only imagine the “WTF!” in Rocky’s mind when Vettel started racking up purple sector times and he duly informed the driver: “don’t even think about it!”
Instead of a verbal riposte, Vettel gave the answer by ignoring Rocky and took the fastest lap honours off Rosberg’s hands. For once it looked as if Rocky would have the last laugh though as due to Kimi’s stop in the penultimate lap, the Finn obliterated Vettels lap time and Rocky – smugly – told him so over the radio. What he did tell him, too, was to perform the usual routine – cool down, pick up marbles come into parc fermé and wag the finger. “Kiss my arse. Not today,” was the reply. He thankfully presented a more printable variant in the English language interviews, but let the true wording slip in the interview with RTL.
If I was in a position of authority at Red Bull, I would think hard about assigning a different engineer to Vettel next year. From an outside view it looks as if those two are locked up in a perpetual p!ssing match and since the team is not willing to set Vettel straight, it could end up as embarrassing as Permane’s and Kimi’s exchange of profanities. On the other hand one should question the wisdom of RB perpetually asking Vettel to deliberately drive slower than he could. Asking such of a racing driver is like walking into the Maranello factory in a McLaren jacket. Even if the car had gone bang in a ball of fire, Vettel already was champion, since Fernando was nowhere near a points paying position. So why not simply let the guy do what he’s living and paid for – driving fast.
As predicted on Sunday morning, Vettel’s white vest at India disappeared at the end of lap two, when Felipe Massa became the first driver to lead an Indian GP, who’s not named Vettel. The one distinction he keeps is being the only driver ever to win it. He shares that honour with his buddy Michael Schumacher, who won all (two) Pacific Grand Prix ever held.
With his fourth title Vettel added to his ‘youngest ever’ collection. He was the youngest champion, double and triple champion of course, but also the youngest runner-up. Adding to that is the youngest participant of a GP weekend (Friday driver at the 2006 Turkish GP). The honours of the youngest to start a race belong to Jaime Algersuari of Spain. Vettel meanwhile is also the youngest points scorer (2007 USA Grandprix), the youngest Pole setter (Monza 2008) and the youngest winner (Monza 2008) and (by default) youngest podium finisher. Setting the fastest lap in FP2 at the 2006 Turkish GP, he also is the youngest driver to set a fastest lap in an official session. leading the 2007 Japanese GP he was the youngest F1 race leader. Some of these things can be mixed as well. Youngest pole + win (Monza 2008), youngest pole + win + fastest lap (Silverstone 20009) and youngest to score a Grand Chelem (India 2011). When he won the 2009 Chinese GP, he became the youngest to win for two differennt teams. In Suzuka 2010 he added ‘youngest driver two win a GP twice’ to the list. Jeez, kids these days…
Will the real F1 Mohammed Ali please stand up?
The F1 world is very, very small. One TJ13 reader this year described it as a street, not a village, and it is clear ideas and stories circulate again and again. In defending Sebastian from the hecklers, Horner likened the Red Bull protégé to Mohammed Ali. His point was Ali got booed because he was winning everything.
Yet today, the big chief of Red Bull, Didi Mateschitz, now likens Alonso to Mohammed Ali. He suggests to Kronen Zeitung that Alonso has staged a coup on the hearts and minds of F1 fans. “Alonso’s psychological warfare is of the worst kind”.
Mateschitz believes that the whole PR from Fernando – that he is fighting Newey and not Vettel – is designed to detract from Sebastian’s abilities and achievements. He notes that Alonso is a master of stirring up the crowd and cites Fernando’s cap throwing antics when Brundle was lecturing those jeering, as a perfect example of this.
Despite the rumours that Newey is off to build an America’s Cup challenging entry, and that Vettel will leave Red Bull for Ferrari sometime in the next 2-3 years, Mateschitz gives the impression, he is in F1 for the long-term. When asked whether he was building the most successful F1 team in history, he replied, “Please ask me that in 20 years”.
Kimi to bail out on Lotus?
TJ13 did a piece a couple of weeks ago which suggested all was not well with Lotus and Kimi. He hasn’t been paid on time for a second year running, something the team admits, and we suggested that if the Finn felt he had lost his motivation he would ‘bugger off’. (Raikkonen: I would simply bugger off)
Since Kimi announced his departure to Ferrari the Lotus team have made it clear they were hurt, if not betrayed, by this decision. They are a team who are highly active in social media and have made their feelings clear. The latest offering was a cartoon they published on Kimi’s birthday of a Machiavellian Alonso shoving a birthday cake into Kimi’s face.
To be fair, as TJ13 reported the idea of the Finn returning to Ferrari, this was a bolt from the blue – a Richter scale 9+ F1 event – particularly when you consider the manner in which Kimi was ousted from Maranello first time around.
Lotus had bent over backwards (hence the copulating rabbit pictures) to accommodate Kimi and his ‘devil may care’ ways, so Raikkonen’s decision to return to the team which shafted him, causing him to retire from F1, was indeed a big surprise to the Enstone outfit.
Since then, it has been plain for all to see, Romain Grosjean is the favoured driver for the rest of 2013. This is not particularly spiteful or vengeful of Lotus, it is normative when any driver leaves a team. Lewis discovered this last year, something he revealed as ‘most difficult’ when the phone goes silent and all technical discussions ceased.
However, there was a bust up between Lotus’ Permane and the rather fiery Iceman in public following the Indian GP, and TJ13 sources have now revealed there were threats from both parties that they would fail to see out the season together.
During the Singapore weekend, difficult conversations apparently took place between Raikkonen and his long time favoured race engineer, Mark Slade. Kimi explained that Ferrari were refusing to allow him to take Slade with him – even though Mark has worked with the Finn at both McLaren and Lotus.
Kimi also told a group of engineers that he was sorry to be leaving, but that Ferrari was like a family to him. One allegedly responded angrily, “supposedly we were your true family for the past 2 years – or so you told us”.
Alan Permane is now known to be the individual who swore at Kimi over the team radio in India, and he took to twitter, justifying his actions. He received death threats for his comments and removed the offending tweets. Yet he had this to say….
Were Kimi to ‘bugger off’ you would expect him to do so immediately, otherwise it would appear to contrived. Yet the Lotus E21 is expected to favour the Abu Dhabi circuit more than any other, and of course saw a Raikkonen victory in 2012.
Eric Boullier issued an apology yesterday on the team website for the incident in India.
“Romain was 2 seconds per lap faster than Kimi at that time, so it was not even a team order. By asking Kimi to let Romain pass, we just made the obvious choice, as Massa could have stolen our podium. With hindsight, this radio message could have been sent in a less emotional way. There was a lot of tension, a lot of potential technical problems, and some of the words that flew around were simply not appropriate. I know that quite a few people were surprised and I can only apologise for that on behalf of the team. It won’t happen again”.
This was trailed by the teams official twitter account as follows, “This radio message was simply not appropriate. I can only apologise on behalf of the team“, with a link to the full article on the team website.
Since then @Lotus_F1Team has been remarkably and noticeably silent in the twittersphere for some 18 hours – which is highly unusual 3 days before Friday free practice begins. There is a sense of crisis in the team, and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see the outcome of the Boullier led talks today between Raikkonen and Permane.
Will Kimi see out the season or will an eager Davide Valsecchi – already talked up as a possibility for a full-time drive for 2014 by Boullier last week – find himself thrust into the limelight this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Brawn to leave Mercedes this year
The arrival at Mercedes AMG F1 of Wolff and Lowe saw a tumultuous period where in the end, Ross Brawn was left to calm the media speculation over him being ousted and Lowe installed as team principle.
Wolff has insisted from day 1 his role is to manage the political and commercial aspects of the team and Ross Brawn was responsible for the day-to-day and trackside activities. This is something Brawn has consistently refused to play ball with and indeed it was he, not Wolff or Lauda, who successfully piloted the team through its most difficult political storm at the International Tribunal.
The BBC report today that Mercedes have failed to agree Brawn’s role for 2014 and so he will be leaving the team at the end of the year. Apparently, Mercedes believe the idea of a single team principal is an outdated philosophy and they were hoping Brawn would stay on in another role.
Brawn is a difficult character to read, but if something is a non-issue, he will usually refuse to be drawn on it in any way. When Brawn comments on speculation, leaving 1 or 2 options open, it is clear something is going on behind the scenes.
During the weekend of the Japanese GP, Brawn made himself available for comment on the matter of his role within Mercedes, and made it clear that he would only stay if he was team principal. Niki Lauda subsequently declared publically he had given Ross the assurance this would be the case. Clearly something has changed and Mercedes management is not ‘at one’ with itself.
Rumours of Brawn acquiring Wolff’s shares in Williams were circulating about 2 months ago, though this was specifically denied by Brawn himself. Brawn has also made it clear he does not wish to return to work in Italy. This reduces the field of options somewhat.
McLaren and Honda are the obvious options, and Brawn’s comments about ‘long flights to Japan’ and him finding difficulty dealing with the Honda management in previous years were blatant smoke screens. Ross Brawn would never issue such negative comments against a major F1 player unless they were pre-agreed to deflect attention from the ongoing discussions.
Remember McLaren’s denials of a relationship with Honda just a couple of weeks before Whitmarsh popped up out of the blue in Japan and addressed the world from Honda HQ?
Clearly, the most advantageous financial position for Brawn is for Mercedes to be in breach of his contract outright – which may in turn mitigate any garden leave period within the said employment terms.
Today’s BBC story is clearly not leaked by Mercedes as they are refusing to comment, so it may be one last ditch attempt for Brawn to negotiate a final year in sole charge of the Brackley F1 team. Yet, TJ13 expects an announcement proper of Brawn’s exit prior to any proper information being released concerning his next project at McLaren/Honda – which we reported months ago and stand by today.
Stewards report on the donuts
Another amusing offering from GPD, following his hoax Ferrari invoice for a Webber taxi fare fooled the German media.
Donuts or Sledgehammers?
A certain section of F1 fans would like to see more NASCAR type entertainment. Pitlane driver punchups and donuts are all par for the course. As suggested yesterday in the TJ13 News, a regular donut demonstration by the winner following each race would have devalued the impact of Vettel’s jubilant celebrations in India.
Yet things can always be taken to a new level. During a Truck race at Martinsville, Kevin Harvick blocked team mate Ty Dillon from pitting, how did the team react? Check the clip out particularly from 1 minute onwards…
Hamilton Global Ambassador for Save the Children
The cynics may suggest Lewis Hamilton’s PR is improving rapidly. Yet gone are the days of petulant complaints about unfair treatment from th e stewards and silly references to ‘Ali G’ racist suggestions.
Since Lewis parted company with McLaren, he appears to have found a new way of ‘being’. The split from celebrity girlfriend and wannabe mother of Lewis’ babies seems to have been a positive influence on Lewis too.
In Malaysai, he apologised to Nico for the team orders which prevented Rosberg gaining a podium, and when Mercedes had a steak of poles and wins, we saw the Hamilton of old – genuinely jubilant and enjoying life.
Today the charity Save the Children have announced Lewis Hamilton is their new Global Ambassador for Education. This is part of their campaign to focus attention on the 57 million children out of school around the world.
Fresh from the Indian Grand Prix, Hamilton travelled the 1500km journey east to meet children in Kolkata, a West Bengal town on the border of Bangladesh. These kids have been rescued by Save the Children from toiling 12 hours a day performing manual labour in brick kilns, and introduced into school.
Lewis also met young children living and working on the streets who are learning to read and write via innovative education projects.
Hamilton said: “It was heart-breaking to speak to children who are desperate to learn, but are either too poor, or too far away from the nearest school to get a decent education. No child should be consigned to a life of labour – every child should have the chance to learn.”
Save the Children report that In some of the kilns in the region, children work long hours making bricks for India’s booming construction industry.
“Save the Children runs 70 schooling centres in factories which, as a result of the charity’s work, operate a zero child labour policy – this has so far lifted 16,000 children out of a life building bricks and into a life of education”.
Lewis met nine-year-old Radha, who lives beside a busy railway line risking her life daily when she crosses the tracks to get around. Until Save the Children’s intervention, she was working in a roadside hotel and had never seen or opened a book.
Hamilton said: “It’s shocking in this day and age, to think that some children have never touched a book. It is inspiring to see how Save the Children’s work helps children, but much more needs to be done in India, and across the world. We need to make sure every child has an education to raise them out of poverty.”
Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said: “Lewis is helping us to draw attention to the global crisis in education. Funding for education has dropped – costing at least a million children an education – and we urgently need to reverse that trend. The world cannot afford to not invest in the future of our children”.
Qunatum/Lotus big day for an non-announcement
TJ13 reported last week…
Could it still go ‘pear shaped’ for Lotus and Genii? They made a big announcement back in June entitled, “To Infinity and beyond”. To coin another cheesy saying, Lotus’ “going boldy where none had gone” declared on their website the following on 18th June 2013.
“Lotus F1 Team has new part-owners as of today, with Infinity Racing Partners Limited (Infinity Racing) – an investment consortium comprised of private investors – acquiring a 35% minority stake in the team.
Lotus F1 Team was previously 100% owned by an investment vehicle of Genii Capital – a global investment management and financial advisory firm headquartered in Luxembourg – which retains a controlling stake of 65% in the team and remains as committed as ever to driving the team forwards in its quest for glory.
Gerard Lopez, co-founder of Genii Capital, will remain Chairman of Lotus F1 Team withEric Lux, CEO of Genii Capital, continuing in his role on the team’s Board of Directors. Infinity Racing will be represented at board level by Mansoor Ijaz, Chairman, and Suhail Al Dhaheri, Vice-Chairman of Infinity Racing.
This fresh investment will not only help consolidate the financial status of the team, but will also aid the Enstone outfit in maintaining development objectives as it bids for World Championship success.
Although the ownership structure may have changed, it will be business as usual for the team from a personnel point of view; the factory’s 500 employees continuing their excellent work in pursuit of victory with drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean spearheading the attack under the unchanged Lotus F1 Team banner”.
Of course, there have since been a couple of huge cock-ups. The team have lost their star driver, and Nissan-Renault threatened to sue the investment company unless they changed their name. They are now known as Quantum Motorsports.
Sometimes better to say nothing and look foolish than make a big announcement and remove all doubt. Anyway, apparently Quantum trailed a big announcement for Tuesday 22nd October at GMT 10:00.
Following this there was a message which apparently blamed fluids of some description in the driver market from the big deal being announced for another week.
Today it appears the Quantum_F1 twitter account has been quietly closed. Some suggest this twitter account may not have been ‘official’, no matter, as Boullier has been trailing an imminent deal with ‘Infinity/Quantum’ for weeks now regardless. This Lotus ‘investment’ deal has become an utter joke. First announced in June and and as yet not completed!!!
Last night there were observations made in the social media that one of the major financial partners in Quantum Motorsports is about to introduce Sharia law to his country – which does not fit particularly well with the ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ Lotus brand.
Another criminal investigation into Ecclestone bribery claims launched by Swiss Authorities
For Ecclestone who has ruled F1 with impunity for years, made billions for himself, played the competitors off against each other to achieve his goals, the storm clouds are truly gathering. Ecclestone is already facing 2 civil law suits in London and New York, and is awaiting to hear whether criminal charges in Munich will be brought before the court.
Today, Swiss prosecutors announce they too are launching a criminal investigation into the allegations that Ecclestone bribed officials during the sale of the F1 commercial rights in 2006.
“A criminal investigation has been launched,” Henri Della Casa, a Swiss spokesperson stated. “We have to establish the veracity of the facts and whether these would constitute a criminal violation.”
Sven Thomas, Ecclestone’s lawyer in Germany, said he had no knowledge of the Swiss probe when reached by phone today (Bloomberg). The Bambino trust, an alleged beneficiary of the deal, has a registered office in Geneva.
Legality of the RB9 investigated by the FIA
Gary Anderson floated an idea recently that Red Bull had devised a way of adjusting the height of the floor of their car. Anderson noted that the thermal images from cameras on the car displayed the ‘tea tray’ running extremely hot unusually at slow speeds.
He theorised that the brackets between the chassis and the ‘tea tray’ somehow were being adjusted by heat expansion and capable of lifting the tray whilst the car was running at speed. This would allow the car to ride lower at the front and create more downforce.
When the car was in parc ferme, the heat would have been dissipated and the legal measurements/heights would be observed for scutineering.
In a way, this would be a kind of mechanical active ride height system. AMuS reports that Force India believed such a solution would be illegal and reported the matter to the FIA.
So, in India, the FIA’s technical delegate Jo Bauer reportedly put Anderson’s theory to the test. The relevant components were heated to 300 degrees Celsius and the result? Nothing budged.
Interestingly, in the TJ13 spoof, “F1 days of our lives” – it was revealed that Newey’s secret inspiration… Jeremy Clarkson, who in fact wasn’t a bigoted, self promoting buffoon, but the world’s leading aerodynamicist…, had a similar idea. Using different components but the same heat expansion concept, Jezza suggested to Newey a method of improving downforce via heat expansion. (F1 Days of our lives episode 4: Newey’s secret advisor)
An F1 Return to India
Initial results from our survey we ran in yesterdays news on viewers feelings over the future of the Indian GP are interesting. A similar pole was run in Germany where about 80% of readers were indifferent over the event or believed the Indian GP should be permanently cancelled. So far TJ13 readers voted as follows…
42% It would be a shame if F1 didn’t return to India
30% Indifferent whether it stays or goes from the F1 calendar
28% F1 shouldn’t return to India as there are better places to go
If you missed this and would like to vote (click here)
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping (Latin flagellum, “whip”) the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o’ nine tails and the sjambok. Typically, flogging is imposed on an unwilling subject as a punishment; however, it can also be submitted to willingly, or performed on oneself – known as sefl flagellation – in religious or sadomasochistic contexts.
I thought we’d clear that up before we turn our attention once more to Ferrari-land. It has to be said, Ferrari.com comes into its own usually each autumn. There are articles posted that appear to contradict the team boss, lambast an attitude or culture within Maranello, or like this one are just simply bizarre.
Entitled, “Memories to wipe out, a park to visit”, Ferrari offer us their pre-Abu Dhabi thoughts. Ferrari world in Abu Dhabi is highly praised, though on tripadvisor it appears merely 21 out of 66 attractions listed in the gulf state. Many complaints of the park fit the category of, ‘things just don’t work’ – an old criticism of mass Italian motor engineering.
Yet as you will see there is a detailed, blow by blow account of what happened here in 2010 F1 season.
Who can forget?
Yet this review of Ferrari’s Abu Dhabi experience is written and deliciously commented from a Ferrari perspective which could be entitled – “Abu Dhabi, Woe is Ferrari”
“The outcome of the races in Abu Dhabi has never smiled on the Scuderia. Out of the eight available there have only been two podium finishes in the four races held to date, second place for Fernando Alonso in 2011 and 2012. Both of them carry a hint of bitterness with them.
In 2011, that was because a year earlier that result would have been good enough to give Fernando the title, but this time, it did nothing, given that Vettel had already been crowned in Suzuka. And the 2012 one for two reasons: victory probably escaped the Oviedo driver by a few kilometres – one more lap would have brought him up behind Raikkonen and into the DRS zone, which would have given him an excellent chance of overtaking – and then there were only three points made up on Vettel, who had to start from the back of the grid, because of a penalty in qualifying, the same gap that separated the two men at the chequered flag in Sao Paolo a few weeks later.
The biggest disappointment came in 2010 and it still pulls on the heartstrings of many guys in the red team kit and so many fans. That year Fernando arrived in Abu Dhabi leading the Championship and he seemed the clear favourite, having qualified third ahead of main rival Webber.
However, the race played out an incredible script, which bears repeating, even if it opens up old wounds. With Fernando on the aforementioned third place and Felipe sixth on the grid, the Spaniard was passed at the start by Button, but still had the edge over his closest rival in the title fight, Webber, while Felipe maintained position.
It was on the opening lap that a key incident occurred as Schumacher lost control of his car at Turn 6 ad spun, to be hit broadsides by Liuzzi. That brought out the Safety Car until lap 5: some drivers took the opportunity to put to switch from soft to hard tyres.
At the restart, there were no significant changes, so the race began to get into a pattern, with Vettel leading, from Hamilton, then Button Alonso, Webber and Massa. The Australian was beginning to struggle on the soft tyres and came in early on la 11, rejoining behind Alguersuari, who had already pitted The Toro Rosso driver’s “resistence” lasted little over a lap, before he let the Red Bull by. In the meantime the Ferrari pit wall decided to bring Felipe in on lap 13, to try and get ahead of Webber, but the gamble didn’t work and the Brazilian found himself behind Alguersuari.
Two laps later, Alonso stopped when he was fourth, 6.5 down on Vettel. It did get him out before Webber, thus covering the Australian, but he found himself behind two cars that had stopped in the Safety Car period, Petrov’s Renault and Rosberg’s Mercedes. Fernando’s race to the title was therefore an uphill struggle and it got even more complicated when the driver and team realised it would take a miracle or a mistake to get ahead of Petrov, despite the performance difference between the two cars.
From then, nothing much changed for the two Ferraris, who made a few places only thanks to planned pit stops from others. The lead trio, on tyres that were degrading much less than expected, were split on lap 23 when Hamilton pitted, followed next time round by Vettel.
Button now led, staying out until lap 39. In the middle of the trio, Kubica was fighting hard, before dropping to fifth when he changed tyres. After Sutil’s stop on lap 47, Fernando found himself seventh, but could do no better: at this point he would have had to pass three cars to get the fourth place needed to keep his lead over Vettel, who was comfortably in the lead.
Fernando tried his utmost to the very end, taking risks, but there was no way past the Russian, driving in obstinate yet precise fashion that had not been seen from him all year. The race thus ended with a win for the German Red Bull driver, ahead of Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov, Fernando, Webber, Alguersuari and Felipe.
The drivers’ title went to Vettel who had a four point lead over the Ferrari man. It was a very bitter end, to what had nevertheless been a great season, especially the second part. It’s not worth going back over the whys and wherefores of a strategy that seemed right at the time – as Webber was the main rival to mark – but did not with hindsight, as it did not take into account the tyre degradation effect and the real potential of the car in overtaking, even if back then the simulation tools for predicting these variables were not available.
It’s also not worth thinking how the last four years might have turned out if things had gone differently that day. Once in a while it comes to mind and sparks regret, but in sport one needs to be able to look ahead, learning lessons and improving day after day”.
There is sheer mastery in the understatement that suggests for the Maranello folk, “It’s also not worth thinking how the last four years might have turned out if things had gone differently that day”. This conveys the stark reality of the pain of the ‘red collective’ and concludes what can only be described a monstrous and gigantic self flagellant ritual – that no other F1 team could know.
No wonder Stefano was full of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ yesterday, if this is the team’s inspiration to go racing this weekend.
Forza Ferrari – my friends….(he wept from his soul)