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Where now for Maldonado? (06:00)
Sergio heard the jungle drums (12:36)
Heikki in at Lotus as Ferrari pay Hulkenberg (12:45) UPDATE (14:00)
McLaren P1 Sold Out (13:33)
F1 Moscow bound (14:51)
Where now for Maldonado?
With the news yesterday that Felipe Massa will partner Valtteri Bottas at Williams next year, it leaves the crash kid Pastor Maldonado in the dark for 2014. His only guiding light at the moment being his petro dollars that he brings in the form of the Venezuelan national oil company, PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.). The video below shows the good and bad sides of Pastor.
How many crashes can you count there?
His blistering (but inconsistent pace) is certainly an attraction. With only the solitary podium and win to his name currently, it seems unlikely at the moment that he will be able to add to this. For his sake, let’s hope his sponsor money can find him a seat somewhere relatively competitive.
Brace yourself: First details about 2014 cars are leaking
Since the mid-2000’s F1 seems to be on a test run of how ugly the cars can get before broadcasters will start to limit their programs to a mature audience only. Cars, which looked liked they were designed by someone violently sneezing into a sack full of carbon fibre shards, where supposed to be pruned off all the bits and pieces nailed to their outer shells by the 2009 regulations.
But the removal of all the composite pimple’s came at a high price. Front wings were widened and rear wings were narrowed, which completely messed up the aesthetics of the cars. Compared to the sleek designs of the early 90s, the 2009 cars looked like the result of a tragic farming accident.
The next round of turning Beauty into the Beast followed for 2012, when the lowering of the nose-tips led to the emergence of the hideous stepped noses, the so-called ‘platypus cars’. The cars were so ridiculous looking that for the first time since the hilarious tea-tray side-wings of the late 90s a technical rule was introduced for purely cosmetic reasons, when teams were allowed to introduce a ‘vanity cover’, which hid the ugly nose hump
With everyone busy talking about next year’s power-trains it went nearly unnoticed that we’re in for another visual insult and it will likely come from the pointy end of the cars again. For ‘safety reasons’ the nose-tips have to be lowered again from now 55 centimetres to just 18.5 centimetres. One doesn’t need an aerodynamics degree to know that those things are going to make Gonzo from the Muppet show look like George Clooney.
First hints of impeding visual attack came from Mr. Aerodynamics himself – Adrian Newey, who issued a preemptive apology earlier this year that his 2014 design will be a minger. Another voice of concern was another Adrian – Adrian Sutil, who said in an interview with “Motorsport Total” : I’ve only seen some things so far, but I’m sorry to say, they’re going to be hideous. Everybody says that. They’re going to be horribly hideous.
Autosport.com has now posted a first draft of a possible 2014 nose design and what that shows is, that Sutil’s statement was not an exaggeration. Little kids will be scared and run screaming.
Sergio heard the jungle drums
Funny how the BBC was writing Perez’s obituary on his McLaren career on Monday, and yet the first sign from Sergio that he has gotten a whiff of anything comes today. It is commonly accepted that Kevin Magnussen will replace the Mexican for 2014, though no official announcement has yet been made.
EFE is reporting that Perez has described 2013 “the most disappointing season in my career”, and for McLaren, “probably the worst season in history”.
Sergio does not pull his punches when he explains McLaren’s mistake. “It’s a great team, I have no doubt of it, with a very capable crew, but I think it lacked organisation and a little bit of humility to face the reality. McLaren took a long time to recognise the reality of where we were, which was scoring points on a good weekend, and not winning races”.
There are certain people who it is not worth burning your bridges with and Sergio is full of praise for his boss. “I think Martin is a great leader, I have nothing (bad) to say about him. But a team does not depend only on the leader, it depends on many things that were not good enough,”
Perez clearly has views on who is responsible and we may yet hear in time where he places the blame. There were rumours early in the year that McLaren could revert to the 2012 car, yet the embarrassment this would have caused for certain individuals would have been monumental.
So We know, Sergio knows and Martin knows but as yet isn’t letting on. There may be good reason for this.
Heikki in at Lotus as Ferrari pay Hulkenberg
A TJ13 source close to Lotus is saying that Davide Valsecchi will not be replacing Kimi but in fact it will be the Finn, Heikki Kovalainen. Interestingly, Heikki has upped his twitter offerings over the past few days, with plenty there about his increased training programme.
As reported yesterday, Lotus attempted to recruit Nico Hulkenberg for the final 2 races of the season, the German even travelled to Enstone for a seat fitting earlier this week. This bid we now know failed because Sauber paid their German driver with the up to date remuneration to which he is entitled.
The source of the cash appears to emanate from Maranello, who clearly did not want the strong pairing of Grosjean and Hulkenberg challenging them in the constructor’s championship.
Eric Boullier was heard to comment, “We are fighting for third place in the constructors’ championship and we need a driver with experience and used to fighting for points. I’m not saying that Davide does not deserve a chance, because he did a great job and we are pleased him, but he lacks experience.”
The bad news for Davide Valsecchi is that other information leaking out suggests that he has spent very limited time in the simulator like Michael Schumacher did migranes and nausea – just a few minutes into each session. With limited testing, the route into an F1 drive will almost invariably mean spending significant amounts of time in the simulator and this may mean Valsecchi’s hopes of becoming a driver in Motorsport’s premier series are over before they’ve begun.
This could be the opportunity Heikki needs to re-ignite his F1 career. After a Stella debut in 2007 for Renault when he beat his more experienced team mate Fisichella finishing 7th in the championship, Heikki moved to McLaren following Alonso’s swift departure.
He finished 7th again in 2008 when his team mate Lewis took the drivers’ title, but a lack lustre 2009 saw him just 12th scoring less than half the points that Hamilton managed – and he was on his way out of the team.
Lotus are indicating they will not make an announcement today.
McLaren P1 Sold Out
Ron Dennis has received criticism in various quarters for being deluded in his ambition and dreams for McLaren beyond F1. At the opening of the new Woking facility in 2009 Dennis stated, “Ever since we revealed the McLaren F1 sports car in 1992, it has been a long-held dream of mine to launch a McLaren sports car company,
British designed and British built has always been important to Ron. “Designing, developing and selling globally the best sports cars in the world is just half of that equation; building them to previously unmatched levels of quality, with ground-breaking technologies in a production facility in the UK is key to satisfying that dream.”
The British Entrepreneur did though have other options, “It would be easy enough to consider building McLaren sports cars in existing productive and experienced foreign factories; a number of which are knocking on our door. However, McLaren is a great British company founded over 40 years ago that should, in my view, continue to design and build our own products.”
The latest mighty McLaren machine to roll off the production lines is the P1 supercar and the first of the 375 to be built was delivered to an unnamed customer last month. The P1 is the successor to the McLaren F1, which was the world’s fastest production car in its day, but the P1 is not designed to win back that crown from the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. To power the P1 to break the 267.9 mph record would have meant adding significant weight, at the expense of handling.
The P1 though is an incredibly quick thoroughbred supercar, 0 to 62 mph takes just 2.8 seconds and from there the car can come to a full stop in under 100 feet. The 3.8-liter engine paired with an electric motor delivers almost 1,000 BHP and from 0-186mph it takes a mere 16.5 seconds which is 5.5 seconds quicker than the McLaren F1.
The base price is £866,000 though almost all 375 models will be uniquely customised by McLaren Special Operations bringing the average price to around £1m and the allocation for the American market was sold out earlier this year. The final sales orders surged in following an auction at Pebble Beach where an original McLaren F1 was sold for $8.47m.
Allocations for the Asian and Middle Eastern markets were also sold out before the summer and only the European market had models left unsold. Yet, it was confirmed a few days ago that the P1 had lapped the fabled Nordschleife in under 7 minutes and since then the last remaining P1’s have been acquired.
So that’s that folks. If you were thinking of buying one, but couldn’t decide… you missed the boat.
F1 Moscow bound
Moscow has a race track called The Moscow Raceway. It opened in 2012 and hosts a round of the World Series by Renault, the World Superbike Championship and Germany’s DTM touring car championship. The circuit is also certified for F1 testing, but not to hold an F1 race.
Yet in a rather strange turn of events, Russian Sport publication R-Sport reports “Plans for a new Formula One track on the outskirts of Moscow took a major step forward on Tuesdayt”.
The location of the proposed venue is close to the city’s Vnukovo airport. “It is planned to open a race track that will be able to host competitions of the very highest level, right up to Formula One racing,” said city planning official Vladimir Zhidkin.
Tilkedrome fans will be pleased to know, “The design of the race track in Vnukovo will be carried out by the renowned German company Tilke GmbH.” Tilke designed the Sochi circuit which is the 3rd longest in F1 behind Spa and Silverstone and set to host the inaugural Russian GP next year.
There are a number of major projects planned for the 1,380-square-kilometer area, which is mostly rural land and was transferred to city government control in 2011.
Sochi have a contract until 2020 though for some reason the venue has fallen from favour with the Russian government who are committed to paying for an F1 race for 7 years. There had been talk of a street race in St Petersburg though this new venue will probably become the home of the Russian GP as soon as it is completed.
Alonso to drive or not to drive?
Ferrari have issued a rather short and almost terse statement on the condition of their Spanish driver.
“Anyone doubting Fernando Alonso’s dedication to the Ferrari cause should think again. The Spaniard will be in Austin, Texas, right on cue to take part in the USA Grand Prix, as he himself confirmed on Twitter.
As a result of the compression injury to the back that he suffered after hitting the kerb in Abu Dhabi, nine days ago, he will struggle to be in perfect shape, but he is still totally determined to play his part for the team in this final part of the season, when every point is important in the fight for second place in the Constructors’ Championship.
‘I am pleased to see that Fernando is so keen to give it his all, even when he’s not at his best,” President Luca di Montezemolo told http://www.ferrari.com. “It shows how attached he is to us and I am sure that his example will be a further boost for the whole team in its efforts to end this season in the best way possible.'”
Yet Ferrari’s handling of this matter has led to speculation that Fernando is using this injury to exact some kind of revenge on the team for the way he has been treated. The impression this year from Maranello is that given any opportunity, they want to put their lead driver in his place.
The catalogue of events include, very public ear tweaking on Fernando’s birthday, the recruitment of Kimi breaking the long Ferrari tradition of a number 1&2 driver and the recent snide comments about Domenicali having to baby sit him – all have not gone down well with Fred.
The very fact that Il Padrino unnecessarily makes a point of stating, “It shows how attached he is to us” in itself leads one to ask what is going on?
The whispers are coming thick and fast today, but it has been suggested to TJ13 that the funds advanced from Ferrari to pay Hulkenberg were not merely to prevent him driving for Lotus. In fact there is concern that Alonso will not/not be able to drive this weekend and Nico is Maranello’s back up plan.
Who are Sauber to argue, they are a Ferrari customer and have long been seen as the team where Ferrari driver hopefuls are given a chance to demonstrate what they can do in F1.
TJ13 has been tracking Alonso on twitter, and to say he is behaving ‘out of character’ would be an understatement. On Monday Fernando said, “Hello! Packing the bag for Austin, with some pain still, but eager and confident to help the Team. I will try to give 100% as always!”. Since then we’ve merely had another supporting the Unicef action in the Philipines and today’s offering which states, “Remember very soon will be ready the expo in Madrid. Helmets ready for transportation… ;)” and this picture.
There has been no news whether Alonso has seen the FIA medical delegate yet, or when that event will take place or what criteria must be met. In the modern world of 24/7 news and the internet, Ferrari don’t appear to understand their behaviour is not normal.
Conversely, Fernando’s management of his twitter account suggests he knows exactly how to use the modern media to create speculation without his boss having a clue what he’s doing/not doing.
Piquet heart surgery
Media in Brazil are reporting that the F1 world champion of 1981, 1983 and 1987 – Nelson Piquet – has undergone emergency heart surgery in Sau Paulo. Piquet, now 61, was discovered to have heart problems in 2011.
Though unconfirmed, the surgery is believed to have been necessary following a heart attack.
Schumacher considered by Lotus
Bild is reporting that Michael Schumacher was asked by Lotus to drive for them in Austin and Interlagos. At a DVAG event, Schumacher apparently revealed he had “even had requests this year” to comeback to F1.
You can almost hear Schumacher chuckling to himself, “I can’t help it if everyone loves me so”.
Yet Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm telss Bild, is adamant, “I do not find it unusual that he has been asked. If you look at Nico Rosberg in relation to Lewis Hamilton we have a lot by which to assess Michael’s last three years. He drove as an equal to Nico and Nico is equal to Lewis. “
A TJ13 reader suggested Lotus ought to call ‘our Nige’ to replace Kimi. Well Mansell is in Texas as the driver steward representative for the weekend… so who knows???
Sergio Perez reveals he will not be at McLaren next year – on twitter
Just in….. Sergio Perez has posted this on twitter in English and Spanish
A rather classy response from the young Mexican you might say.
Martin Whitmarsh was quick to comment to media in the paddock. “First of all, we would like to thank Checo for his kind and gracious statement, and for being a fine team member during the 2013 Formula 1 season. There are still two grands prix yet to run this year, and our collective focus is on scoring as many points as we can in those two remaining races.
Checo has made many friends during his time at McLaren – and, together, as a team, we intend to do our utmost to help him finish his year with us with two good results, especially here in Austin, where he has so many fans. We wish him well for the future, and are sure that he will have many successes ahead of him.
As regards our driver line-up for next year, no 2014 deal has yet been signed with any driver except Jenson, and we therefore have nothing further to announce at this time. As and when that situation progresses, we will make a further announcement accordingly.”
No comment from Martin on their Mexican driver’s on track performances, but however you look at this – McLaren have screwed up one way or another.