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Kimi rocks up (13:00)
Another new helmet (13:30)
Friday Free Practice (15:30)
FOM TV get with the times (16:00)
Strong words from Kimi (16:47)
Caption Competition (17:03)
Read Bull finally beaten – by girls in bikinis
The Red Bull team has finally been handed a defeat this year and they might even start to understand the pain they’ve been inflicting on the poor Samurai from Oviedo as it was the fourth defeat in a row. Nominated for the “Austrian sports team of the year” award for the fourth time on the trot they also lost out the fourth time. This year Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger, beach volleyball players, won the title and the Milton Keynes outfit only came third.
Movember: Face fur for a good cause
Not shaving for a good cause is something of a tradition in English speaking countries. Team McLaren will participate in this charity action as they’ve done in years past. “You shave in October and then let it grow a whole month,” explains Jenson Button, who was seen with a somewhat ridiculous looking ‘stache last year.
Not only on the track, but also in cyberspace the team is sending their Gilettes on a month of hiatus. I have seen my ‘Tooned’ character. He’s got an enormous mustache,” Jenson explains with a laugh. “I’ve got no idea if I can manage that in only a month, but I’ll do my very best.”
Sergio Perez will participate for the first time this year. After seeing his digital counterpart in ‘Tooned’ he approved: He looked very Mexican.
TJ13 is represented in the furry endeavour by the Fat Hippo, who’s had a bit of a head start on the McLaren boys…
Webber ‘close’ to a switch to Ferrari
Just 3 more race weekends left in F1 for Mark Webber before he heads off to Porsche and a return to sports car racing. I suspect we will be hearing more and more anecdotes from Mark Webber in the coming days and today he reveals the truth over the ‘Webber to Ferrari’ rumours last year.
Most successful F1 drivers appear to feel a stint at Ferrari before they end their career is mandatory and Mark Webber had his chance. When asked how close he came to joining the team from Maranello, he replied, “Very close.”
It was so close that when Webber called Mateschitz to discuss the matter, Didi begged him to stay for one more year. Webber reveals though that, “we couldn’t get a final agreement with Ferrari or I would now be sitting in Felipe Massa’s car. I had set myself a deadline by when I would know what was going on. On the Thursday before the Canada GP 2012, I made the decision – to stay another year with Red Bull Racing.”
This decision was announced during the Silverstone weekend.
What is it with Ferrari and Australian drivers? We all know about their national criminal ancestry, yet this surely isn’t the reason for Maranello’s reluctance to get at least 1 blower of the didgeridoo into a red car.
It could be the way Ferrari does business. No ‘no nonsense ‘aussies presumably can’t be bothered with their politiking. Ferrari regularly negotiate pre-contract contracts – which are worth jack – as Alan Jones testifies.
In 1978 Ferrari claimed they wanted Mario Andretti as they thought an American F1 driver would be good for road car sales in the USA. He signed with Lotus so Ferrari aoffered Alan Jones the drive.
Contracts were exchanged but when Jones arrived in Maranello pre-season, he was taken aside and told quietly that Enzo had decided to recruit Gilles Villeneuve instead. Jones then called Frank Williams who snapped up his services and a couple of years later he led the rebuilt Williams team to a championship in 1980.
Urban legend has it Jones resented the way Ferrari had treated him and refused to ever get behind the wheel of a Ferrari sports car. Further, in 1982, Ferrari driver Pironi had a prang, which put him out of the Italian GP at Monza. Jones was called and MAranello wanted to offer him the drive. Alan refused to even take the call and the team recruited Mario Andretti as a stand in replacement instead.
Ferrari’s dithering may have been costly. Getting Webber on board for 2013 would have given Maranello an insight into few of Red Bull and Newey’s trade secrets.
Kimi rocks up
Come Friday and FP1 and the Iceman who traded fiery verbals with trackside operations director , Alan Permane, was in his Lotus and ready to run. Gerard Lopez plays down the whole matter, “Of course, recently a lot was made about the comments between Alan Permane and Kimi during the course of a tense moment in a race, but this was just one exchange taking a matter of seconds in the course of a two-year relationship. It certainly wasn’t the most beneficial few seconds, but you have to step back and accept that everyone is passionate about racing and sometimes these things do happen”.
At least Kimi’s best time in FP1, some 0.7s slower than TJ13’s daring Romain Grosjean, won’t be attributed to his lack of focus following the dispute with Permane, as we are getting used to the iceman being consistently and sounbdly beaten over 1 lap by his understudy from France.
On the matter of the Lotus inward investment, Lopez infers the deal is not a dead duck as most believe. “We have preliminary agreements with the company we want to partner with, and we’re just waiting for this to be concluded. Deals like this do not move at the speed we’re used to in Formula One and we’re hopeful that we’ll conclude it in the near future,”
Come on Gerard. 5 months??? And if this is the case, then Lopez should have kept his mouth shut back in June instead of claiming a deal was done….that cleaqrly was not done at all – and still isn’t.
Ferrari on the cards again for the Hulk
It looks as though one of the most talked about drivers in F1 may be heading for yet another year on the bench. Stories which have Hulkenberg moving to Lotus, McLaren, Williams, Force India – and even to stay at Sauber – have been doing the rounds for weeks.
Yet with Lotus’ inward investment deal practically dead and Maldonado doing the rounds claiming to have in his knapsack the keys to an oil refinery – the chance of the Hulk ending up in Enstone is slim.
Sauber have young Sirotkin and the prospect of Vitaly Petrov arriving with an Oligarch’s petty cash tin containing 30m euros.
McLaren are silent at present as they negotiate the next 5-6 years title sponsor relationship, but Perez brings in plenty of mula from Central America.
It could be Nico’s best bet is to return to one of his former teams – Williams or Force India
Yet today its emerging that Ferrari have offered Nico a role as reserve driver. Having been close to a full driver contract for 2014 with Maranello – only to receive a text telling him they were recruiting Kimi instead – who knows how Hulkenberg will react, yet Maranello are clearly nervous over Alonso’s intentions for 2014.
It would be humiliating beyond measure were Ferrari to be left at the last minute with just 1 driver for 2014 and to avoid having egg on their collective face this offer to Nico makes perfect sense.
Another new helmet
The penchant for changing helmets is getting ridiculous these days. Here’s another one for Lewis.
Friday Free Practice
Session 1 times
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m44.241s 20 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m44.433s +0.192s 22 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m44.499s +0.258s 18 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m44.712s +0.471s 18 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m44.741s +0.500s 23 6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m44.929s +0.688s 21 7. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m45.040s +0.799s 19 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m45.099s +0.858s 19 9. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m45.150s +0.909s 23 10. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m45.331s +1.090s 19 11. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m45.378s +1.137s 21 12. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m45.440s +1.199s 17 13. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m45.823s +1.582s 21 14. James Calado Force India-Mercedes 1m45.924s +1.683s 19 15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m46.068s +1.827s 17 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m46.114s +1.873s 21 17. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m46.124s +1.883s 17 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m46.126s +1.885s 20 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m47.600s +3.359s 21 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m47.670s +3.429s 21 21. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m47.723s +3.482s 22 22. Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia-Cosworth 1m49.565s +5.324s 21
Man of the moment, Romain Grosjean, stole a march on the field and was quickest in the opening practice session in Abu Dhabi, with the 2 RB9’s behind Lewis Hamilton who was 2nd. The track failed to evolve and most drivers spent the session struggling to find grip.
The lack of grip squeezed up the pack, which saw the top 10 runners covered by just over a second.
The 2 Ferrari’s looked woeful with Alonso only 12th and Massa down in 17th and with the pace Mercedes is showing its probable the Brackley based team will consolidate their 4 point lead over Ferrari this weekend.
There was a moment of excitement in the Red Bull pit box when an unusual misjudgement from Vettel required the crew to take urgent avoiding action to avoid being trampled by a rampant RB9.
Yet if anyone believed Sebastian was just taking it easy having clinched his 4th WDC last weekend, they were mistaken, The Bulls roared back in the second session to head the field once again.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m41.335s 33 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m41.490s +0.155s 32 3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m41.690s +0.355s 37 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m41.726s +0.391s 40 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m41.758s +0.423s 39 6. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m42.006s +0.671s 35 7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m42.010s +0.675s 30 8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m42.171s +0.836s 30 9. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.324s +0.989s 40 10. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m42.440s +1.105s 35 11. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.509s +1.174s 37 12. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m42.607s +1.272s 18 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m42.806s +1.471s 26 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m42.952s +1.617s 35 15. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m42.998s +1.663s 25 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m43.152s +1.817s 28 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m43.271s +1.936s 35 18. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m43.565s +2.230s 34 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m44.138s +2.803s 34 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m44.459s +3.124s 34 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m44.525s +3.190s 37 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m45.565s +4.230s 26
Kimi Raikkonen was reported to have a nose bleed as he scaled the dizzy heights of 4th fastest in the session, whilst his team mate failed to complete his qualifying simulation as brake parts began to go missing from his car. Kimi has reverted to the short wheel based E21 this weekend in an attempt to improve his recent form.
The Ferrari’s improved with Alonso 8th and Massa completing the top 10, yet the time differential to Vettel will hardly be conducive to the Maranello personnel getting a good nights sleep. The car’s lack of traction was exposed and Fernando commented, “We are eighth and 10th, but do not have much room for improvement.”
Jenson Button’s McLaren was quickest through the speed trap and he was a whisker slower than his team mate in Perez over 1 lap. The team appear to be running low down force set-ups to take advantage of the long straights and DRS on Sunday.
Perez commented, “This was a productive day for the whole team – I felt really comfortable with the car in both sessions, and really enjoyed my time on the track today. I feel happy with my car, and I don’t expect to change too much. Normally, we change quite a lot on the car between Friday and Saturday in order to refine the balance and set-up, but I don’t think we’ll be doing too much of that tonight.
The Option tyre is performing quite a lot better than it was in India. While I think we feel more comfortable with the softer tyre, it’ll still be difficult to make a one-stop strategy work on Sunday. Tomorrow, I’d like to see us get into Q3.”
Nenson was positively bullish over the cars ability to ‘switch’ on the tyres. “I also think both tyres are working reasonably well around here. I got my fastest lap on my first attempt on the Option tyre, which most people didn’t, so I’m quite happy about that”.
Di Resta who had been 7th fastest in the morning suffered a tyre failure and Pirelli’s Paul Hembery said initial indications were that it was caused by a brake problem. Adrian Sutil confirms this was a problem for him too. “It’s hard to say too much about today because we had to change the brake material in the middle of the second session.
That had quite a big impact on the car and it was difficult to make a comparison with the set-up changes. There is quite a big difference between the two tyre compounds and at the moment I’m struggling more with the medium tyres. The general balance of the car felt okay so I’m still positive we can be in good shape tomorrow.”
Sebastian Vettel reported a funny smell in his cockpit over the radio – some wag suggested they look for the dead fish Webber placed there back in India. When questioned over the comment, Vettel confessed to reporters, “I didn’t fart”.
FOM TV get with the times
Formula One which is supposed to represent the pinnacle of motorsport innovation has FINALLY decided to fit a moving camera to a car – something Indy Car has been doing for years.
Today Fernando Alonso was trialling the 180 degree camera during FP1 in Abu Dhabi.
Having said that we had helmet cam introduced and after just a few races it quietly disappeared.
Strong words from Kimi
A certain well known media individual appears to have missed the reason for Kimi’s late arrival in Abu Dhabi. Speaking in the past 15 minutes, Raikkonen tells the assembled press scrum “I almost didn’t come here and the rest of the races” and explains it was to do with far more than just a radio message.
“It’s a small part of it and those things shouldn’t happen, but unfortunately those things happened, but that’s not really the issue. It’s the other stuff and all the things together in the end. It’s easy to say that’s the reason, but it’s not that”.
“Everybody has their own view and own ideas of everything and sometimes it’s not very nice when you hear that you don’t have the interest of the team. Then you’ve been paid zero Euro the whole year so it kind of doesn’t put you in the best place. But that’s the way it goes and hopefully we’ve found an understanding on both sides as to how we should deal with the situation right now and fix the issues.”
Raikkonen arrived late in Abu Dhabi only after reaching an agreement with the team over finances. Further, he is reserving his right to withdraw his services for the final two rounds in Austin and Brasil should the team not keep their end of the bargain.