Daily #F1 News & Comment: Sunday, 24th November 2013

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Ferrari being Ferrari (04:50)

Caption Competition (04:50)

Whitmarsh wanted to keep Perez (05:15)


Ferrari being Ferrari

There are certain things one can rely on in life no matter what is happening elsewhere. The sun will always shine, men will always love motorsport and Ferrari will inevitably always be Ferrari.

Following on from a silly season full of stories of civil war and turmoil at Maranello it should not be a surprise to hear them up to their usual tricks. The dressing down Fernando has received from Il Padrino has not been left to rest and is certainly not forgotten by the Spaniard.

With quotes to the media in Brazil of “Second place is mine, certainly not Ferrari’s” and “We started the season with great ambition, and thought we could fight for the title, we obviously couldn’t, but i’m proud of what I achieved, second place in a car that is not the second fastest by far”, his feeling towards 2013 are clear.

However, the most poignant one I feel is “”The reason why we failed? Why don’t you ask Domenicali, because not being able to use the wind tunnel, again, didn’t do us any good.” So what is Alonso angling for here? Having clearly missed out on the possibility of another team for 2014, he is forced to put up with what he has at least for the short term.

It would seem he is footing the problems Ferrari have encountered at the door of Stefano Domenicali, with a possible replacement already waiting in the wings. The glory days he enjoyed at Renault were shared with one Flavio Briatore. For any who don’t remember Briatore’s last involvement in Formula One there is a short video explaining ‘Crashgate’ below.

[Briatore, on 5th January 2010, had his ban overturned]

Alonso could regain the control of the team which he is set to lose with the introduction of a team mate on equal terms to him, Kimi Raikkonen. Fernando could be changing tact, having not been offered an extension to his contract and Ferrari keeping Nico Hulkenberg on speed dial, the team must be feeling pretty safe driver wise.

A return of Briatore to Formula One would be hard for many to envisage, especially given he said he would never return to Formula One in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. However, there is another team boss who is soon to be a free agent. Ross Brawn could want a return to Maranello where he would be well received to manage the strongest 2014 driver pairing on the grid.

Either way, Alonso is setting himself up well for next year by stirring the stew. If the car is poor, he can walk away easily citing the fact he stood by the team for so long. Alternatively, this could see the departure of Domenicali which could see an ally of his brought into the Ferrari setup instead. Should Alonso leave, he looks as if he wants to do it the hard way. The power struggles will continue long after Interlagos.

There is a long and cold winter ahead at Maranello!

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Caption Competition

Susie Wolff, yesterday, tweeted this picture. What could have been said?

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Whitmarsh wanted to keep Perez

For a team that started and finished 2012 with the strongest car, 2013 has been a far cry from the highs McLaren are used to experiencing. The loss of their title sponsor and change in driver formation is set to shake things up along with the changes of car regulations for 2014.

It seems strange now to hear Martin Whitmarsh saying to the media in Brazil he would like to have kept Perez if they had been able to find Magnussen a drive elsewhere. There was always the option of leaving him in a Junior Formula for one more year and seeing what the options were come next season. Had another team already got their eyes on Magnussen and they were scooping up the talent before it was stolen?

Furthermore, what does this say about the rest of the grid? With Magnussen confirmed, it would now seem that Chilton is very safe for 2014, along with Jules Bianchi unless something radical changes. Caterham are reported to be interested in the Swedish GP2 driver Marcus Ericsson, so something has to give there as well, as 3 into 2 drives does not work.

Ultimately, the big lesson to take from all of this is McLaren don’t seem to have the influence towards the back of the grid anymore compared to the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull, as demonstrated by Bianchi signing at Marussia and Ricciardo in 2011, for the now defunct HRT.

The first signs of the wheels falling off at Woking?

Also, interesting to note that two drivers with big budgets (Maldonado and Perez) have failed so secure 2014 drives. Is F1 slowly turning away from pay drivers (at least at the front of the grid)?

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44 responses to “Daily #F1 News & Comment: Sunday, 24th November 2013

  1. Re- caption comp

    Wolfe- so then boys, Toto has really been neglecting his marital duties. What do ya say to a spit roast?

    Pastor- will it get me a drive for next year?

    Bottles- see Pastor, look what your gonna miss, I can have her all to myself next season once you bugger off. Plus Claire been sniffing around…….

  2. BRIATORE … as a convicted sports fraudster serving an 8 year ban for doping in pro cycling, I don’t ask this lightly or w/ a hint of irony, but is anyone else made slightly uncomfortable by the thought or Flav’ returning to lead a team, especially when he’s done everything possible to avoid accountability for his unconscionable order to Piquet, Jr. to crash himself out of a GP???

    • I’m not so sure Alonso didn’t have more to do with it. We posted an article a while back about all of Alonso’s controversies.

      Also, do you not feel people should be given a second chance Joe?

    • Flav would certainly not be someone who I would chase to join my team. That is for sure. They guy is a liability to any employer, how could a team owner sleep at night knowing Flav is taking care of things?

          • Fair enough. However, people will always remember the ‘Fernando is faster than you’ order, but if it had been those 7 points that won Alonso the title he would be in the record books, not Vettel. Cheating will and can get you places, even if it is dishonourable.

        • Adam, your comments on this subject are a little bit surprising.

          If we look at what Flavio was able to do for the owners of his team, we see that he succeeded in chasing away their primary sponsor (ING) in the middle of a season.

          Consequently, he also succeeded in chasing the team owner (Renault) out of the very business of owning an F1 team.

          When we review the sad situation in Enstone today, we have two wealthy Luxembourg real estate playboys, calling themselves Genii, who were able to rescue the team from Flavio’s ruination by buying it at an undervalued price. But they’ve had to operate a large team as beginners, at a running loss. They’ve attempted to sell part of the team to a known shady character who speaks well but can’t deliver the money. Part of the reason for this is Flavio ran a large team into the wall in a grand way, so now we have beginners trying to manage a large F1 team. This all originates back to the choices that Flavio made for his owners not that long ago.

          If one looks at the engineering and driving talents that existed at Enstone back then, it’s not too surprising that his team won two WDC’s. Given what Flavio had back then, he should have built a dynasty, not what we see today.

      • He ran the second most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program the sport has ever seen… j/k

        • lol…exactly. First it was Lance/USPS, then me/EPOSINO, then the DDR w/ their State Plan 14.25!! (note: it really bummed me out that USADA, w/ whom I cooperated more than any other athlete before or since, made the politically-motivated charge that USPS was the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program the sport has ever seen, conveniently ignoring what Danilo can tell us was going on in East Germany…).

    • One of the very best things that happened to F1 recently is for Flav to be exposed and banned.

      I suspect the rumor of Flav returning to F1 via Ferrari is false.

      But, if that rumor were true, it would speak very poorly of LdM’s leadership abilities.

      • Well LdM appears to have lost control recently. Also, Flavio has a successful F1 party business already I believe so that must be keeping him suitably busy.

        • Hmmm… yes. And a TJ13 article that focuses on LdM’s leadership would be a joy to read…

  3. I think McLaren’s problem is they thought they were too important and too good to lose. They have been a bit of a joke with their procedures over recent seasons and I really feel that Lewis could have had at least 1 more title under his belt and they could have had at least 1 more constructors title too if it hadn’t been for silly ‘mistakes’ made by the team. They seemed happy to just win a couple of races but couldn’t get the momentum to get a full campaign together. Think people had lost a little respect for them, with their just making do and ok to look a bit silly from time to time attitude. They lost a little of their shine.
    I hope that this season has taught them that winning is everything and hero to zero is a very, very short journey! But zero to hero is a far less direct route. They really have been F1’s embarrassing friend this season so it’s no wander the other teams (even lower down the grid) don’t want much association with them.

    Also with regard no team wanting to take young Kevin, have you considered that McLaren were just not offering enough money to smooth the deal through. I mean let’s face it, who would want a technical partnership with a, at best this season, middfield team. You would question their ability after witnessing this seasons joke, especially if you wanted aero help for your own car.
    They need to bag a constructors or 2 b4 they can fully hold their heads high again in the paddock.

    Also Martin Witmarsh is not able to drive his personnel forwards, no motivation. He is well know for his commercial and business skill, but a team principal needs to be more of a complete package. Ross Brawn is a great example, he understands the commercial side but steers himself away letting others deal with that part and allowing him to focus on the team dynamics and getting the different departments to work in harmony. That harmony is what McLaren are missing right now, they have all the separate ingredients but don’t have a good chef to blend them in the correct way to make a tasty dish.

    • Re Magnussen you make a very good point about them being a midfield team. Imagine if Force India had beaten them with the teams sharing the McLaren wind tunnel!

    • At some point this closed season victims of circumstance for 2012 will be completed. Believe me, it’s and interesting outcome. McLaren should have been up there fighting for victories had it not been for ‘silly mistakes’.

    • And on the Whitmarsh side of things potentially this is true. But I think Sam Michael must take some of the blame for this. Not convinced he is the complete package or the right man for the job.

      • Agreed, Sam Michael is a figure I never took to. Even at Williams. He talks so much PR and corporate crap, I don’t think he even knows what the truth is anymore. Every time he is interviewed its like a record being played, with the same crap being spewed out over and over. He is businessman and not an out and out racer. I feel that what I said about being happy to win a few races each season but not challange for titles, finds its origins with Sam Michael. The guy is poisonous, and cut out of the eqasion at McLaren as soon as possible. How his employers haven’t seen through his bull yet is beyond me.

        • Maybe TJ knows if he is on a long-term deal? He is uninspiring to say the least. Agree with everything you have written.

        • I spoke with two Mclaren employes over a number of beers at Silvertstone Golf Club during the GP last year, and they predicted mclarens demise back then. They reported that Big Sam was viewed as a snake, and was universaly disliked by a majority of the employees..

          • I think McLaren have started to see what they had been doing wrong, chiefly promoting from within rather than recruiting people with a good track record. I think we might see 2013 as a blip, rather than the start of a terminal decline. Next year is a whole new ball game and if the rumours are to be believed, they will have the best powertrain available. Back of the grid teams are surely not short sighted enough to dismiss a Macca proposal on the back of a failed 2013 design?

          • Interesting insight, Four Corners. Thanks for sharing that.

            As a Williams fan, I was pretty pleased to see Sam Michaels leave Williams given all the various operational mistakes that occurred under his domain there.

            It’s been interesting to see season after season of operational mistakes at McLaren since he has arrived there.

      • Agree with all.
        Even when he delivered stinker after stinker at Williams, I didn’t get why he was still there – and then he got promoted. And then he got McLaren.

        But considering what you say about talking ‘corporate crap’ I think I know why Whitmarsh hired him.

  4. I read elsewhere that Whitmarsh had shaken hands with another team principal over giving Magnussen a seat for 2014, only for the other team principal to go back on their word. Probably Force India or Marussia? If FI get Perez, they will profit by £2m (use his £10m to pay McLaren’s £8m debt due for tech transfer, wiped if they took Magnussen) and get an experienced driver. They could also sign megabucks Maldonado, or Sutil and retain his sponsorship and Mercedes engine subsidy. So, perhaps they didn’t want their driver options squeezed too early. But they would lose out slightly if Magnussen proved better than Perez and scored them an extra place up in the WCC.

    But Mallya makes his decisions usually in December – so if it were Marussia, then perhaps they went back to Bianchi, Chilton, and cheaper Ferrari engines backed with a £10m sponsorship. A shame, as Bianchi, Magnussen would be a great up and coming line up, as well as being a great comparison of the two drivers.

    It still looks like Di Resta will be squeezed out come the end of the year, for Sutil, and if Hulkenberg misses out on a top drive, then pay drivers are definitely de rigeur in F1, until the new Concorde Agreement comes in (with more prize money going to the teams, 62%~ rather than 49%).

  5. “Is F1 slowly turning away from pay drivers (at least at the front of the grid)?”

    This is a strange question. The front of the grid (Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren) are fairly successful in obtaining their own budgets. They’re looking for multi-year agreements with sponsors, where as drivers are more likely to come and go based on performance merits at the top of the grid.

    In the mid-grid, it’s a mixture. But the new engines are more expensive, so teams are pressed very hard budget-wise over both 2013 & 2014. Which hurts Magnussen’s chances, but helps Perez’ chances.

    When we look at the two mid-grid drivers with hefty sponsorship packages, Maldonado and Perez, the impression from the paddock is they are not as highly rated as Hulkenberg.

    Consequently, it appears that the driver market was reacting, as normal, by waiting to see where the fastest driver signs. Then everyone waits for the second fastest driver to sign because he is now the fastest available driver, etc.

    Saturday, Michael Schmidt of AMuS and BBC TV’s Eddie Jordan were both reported that Hulkenberg has signed with Force India.

    This liberates seats for Maldonado and Perez, as teams that wanted Hulkenberg (Lotus and Sauber), can now negotiate for the next fastest available drivers, Perez and Maldonado… (along with Force India for their other seat).

    Adam Cooper was tweeting Sunday AM that is exactly what was happening in the paddock (Representatives of Perez and Maldonado were busy talking with Lotus and Sauber).

    • So you think Perez was taken on merit and the Mexican pesos that found there way to Woking had nothing to do with it?

      • McLaren always claimed Perez was taken primarily on merit. 14 months ago they analyzed his Sauber performances and publicly rated his race craft highly. They always said they wouldn’t have taken him otherwise. And both McLaren and he have said his performances this season were not what they both expected.

        As far as sponsorship is concerned, McLaren at that time were keen to obtain a new primary sponsor to replace Vodafone for 2014. But McLaren also stated they needed a solid multi-year sponsorship that goes beyond the longevity of any particular driver.

        Last year America Movil, (Perez’ sponsor) was looking to expand beyond their rather limited market of only the Western Hemisphere. So America Movil made a big play to go into Europe and elsewhere by purchasing the Dutch telecom company KPN. To be successful to expand KPN to become a big player in the telecom markets there would require good marketing. The primary sponsorship of McLaren would’ve been a suitable marketing tool for that purpose.

        So, Perez was attractive not only for his performance but because of his connection to a possible long-term primary sponsor. It’s easier to do the big deal when you’re already doing some business together.

        But America Movil was prevented from purchasing KPN back in August / September. That left them again with only their Western Hemisphere businesses, (Telmex in Mexico, Claro in Central and South America). The total addressable market would not justify the expense of a primary sponsorship of a leading F1 team…

        The secondary attractiveness of Perez was his connection to a possible long-term primary sponsor, (which he provided). But his primary attractiveness was his performance.

        If we look at the evolution of Grosjean, one can argue that modern F1 requires a couple of seasons to mature and sync with a team to realize one’s maximum potential there. It’s possible that Hamilton will prove that true as well in 2014 at Mercedes. It’s correct to criticize McLaren for not doing that with Perez. Whitmarsh’s comments seem to recognize that criticism as legitimate. But that team’s focus is on 2015, so grabbing Magnussen now makes sense in that context.

        • I have no way of knowing the quantities involved but I’m pretty sure Perez did bring in at least a little money. Clarovideo is part of America movil as well. The brand is active in Mexico and the rest of latin America.

  6. “I think McLaren’s problem is they thought they were too important and too good to lose”. Perez said that too, that they don’t want to accept where they are and react accordingly, they prefer to continue doing things as if they were leading the package.

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