Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 27th November 2013

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Il Padrino’s end of year sermon

Ferrari ditch pull rods for 2014

December Pirelli tyre test

Silverstone media awards

Force India admit to a dithering DNA

Austrian GP tickets sold out

First glimpse at a FormulaE powertrain

Lewis’ latest escapade

Ecclestone’s still unhappy

Italian fans debate

Red Bull Fanbouy competition


Il Padrino’s end of year sermon

Ferrari have definitely called a cease fire in their war against their lead driver. Further, as TJ13 reported at the weekend, it appears this is because Alonso has won the battle of words. He openly claimed it was him who had earned the second place in the drivers; title race and not Ferrari.

Evidence of this may be seen in that Ferrari.com and Il Padrino have in the past couple of weeks been effusive with praise for Fernando, though the Spaniards response to Luca scoring him 8 out of 10 for the season appeared dismissive.

This evening, Il Padrino gave a true president’s interview on RAI Uno to Marco Franzelli and reflected on a number of the issues from the 2013 F1 year. The conclusion was that 2013 was “definitely a year to forget, a disappointing season”. Luca went on to identify three areas of disappointment.

The first was the team’s inability to develop the car in the second half of the season, and Il Padrino states there will be an inquest as to why this happened.

The second ‘disappointment’ was the fact that Ferrari had developed a car to work with the original tyres Pirelli designed and the subsequent change Pirelli made to the tyre construction hurt the efforts of the Scuderia. Il Padrino again wants answers for this, “we will talk about it in the most suitable places”.

Interestingly, Montezemolo appears to drift off at a tangent as he reminisces over the Ferrari veto. “We have reached an agreement with Ecclestone and the FIA and we are the only team with the right of veto: more political weight than that is impossible! We are aware of our strength in Formula 1, which without us, would be completely different”.

Whether the inference is that the Scuderia, headed up by Domenicali, should have veto’d the Pirelli tyre change is not absolutely clear. Yet in the context of Il Padrino’s missive, other explanations to this reference would seem even more remote.

‘Disappointment’ number three is equally interesting. “We missed Massa’s points for the Constructors’ championship. Now we must find out exactly what happened this year and work better towards the next one.”

If this intended as a comment on Massa’s capabilities, why bother mentioning it? Massa’s gone and Raikkonen ‘the reliable’ is in. Is it the case that Il Padrino is referring to certain Massa incidents earlier in the season? Like the Brazilian’s big double off’s at Sainte Devote in Monaco caused intrigue and surprise from a number of F1 analysts.

The first of these incidents was in FP3 and Massa was surprised when the team said there was no problem with the car afterwards. When the same thing happened during the race Pat Fry was forced to admit, “Today’s accident looked very similar to what happened in the third free practice session, but in fact the two incidents are very different. Unlike yesterday, it seems that today’s incident can be attributed to a problem on the left front corner of the car. It’s too early to say precisely what happened and in the next few days, we will try and ascertain the exact cause back in Maranello”.

The subsequent investigation led to Ferrari conceding, “The findings validated the first impressions of the engineers, confirming that the accident was caused by an element of the front left suspension breaking.”

Yet despite Ferrari’s insistence that the 2 incidents were unrelated, there were a number of F1 observers not so sure and this led to suggestions Ferrari were experimenting with new a revised suspension system on Felipe’s car.

Then in Germany, Massa had another strange and unexpected off during the race at turn one on lap four. Felipe explained, “I braked at the end of the straight and locked the rear wheels, The car went sideways to the left and I corrected. Then it went sideways to the right and I spun.”

Anthony Davies, SKY analyst was not so sure. The direction in which the car spun was questioned as abnormal and again the suggestion that Massa was testing some Ferrari clever suspension systems was proposed.

This of course remains speculation, and it could be that Il Padrino is simply questioning the team’s ability to give their Brazilian driver proper race strategies which resulted in ‘Massa’s missing points’. Whatever the explanation, Montezemolo believes it to be Ferrari’s responsibility. “We missed Massa’s points for the Constructors’ championship. Now we must find out exactly what happened this year”.

Il Padrino goes on to discuss a couple more issues. Turning to Alonso, he feels it necessary to qualify his 8 from 10 score he awarded the Spaniard for his efforts in 2013. “He is right to be proud of second place: he had a great season. We must give him a quicker car and he will get the most out of it. Eight out of ten, instead of ten? My eight is worth a ten because it’s a score I give as an incentive: I hope to give it him next year [a 10] and to give an eight, at least, to the team. For next year I would like to present him with a car that’s even better than Red Bull”.

Fernando’s flippant remark when asked what he would like for his birthday back in the summer clearly irked the Ferrari president who metaphorically ‘tweaked’ the Spaniard’s ear. Yet he now admits, “I was furious because in some ways he was right”.

The revisionist position Luca takes infers Fernando’s 8 is most creditable and the score for the team is far less – he hopes in light of a successful season the team can then be as good as their driver has been this year and score an eight.

When the president of Ferrari feels it necessary to placate a driver in this manner and score him ahead of the team, that is not a place he wishes to find himself – and someone is responsible for Luca finding himself exactly where he is.

Il Padrino has a few comments regarding Ecclestone. Bernie has referred to Vettel as the new Senna. “Better than Senna? Ecclestone says what suits him but there is no doubt he is a great driver”.

On the matter of the F1 supremo’s replacement, Luca mocks Ecclestone’s view that Horner is the man for the job. “Ecclestone sees Horner as his successor? As the years go by, he more and more enjoys making jokes and I’m happy he still has the desire to do so…”. Clearly were this scenario ever to play out, Il Padrino may exercise the  Ferrari veto.

Finally the president of Ferrari looks to the future of the FIA. “Todt will be reconfirmed and I expect strong changes, because for too many years the Federation has always been the same and, as in everything, a change is required. Having said that, a strong sporting authority is always a priority for Ferrari”.

We can all say, here.. here to that sentiment, Though whether Todt can haul himself out of the high life that defines the current role of the FIA president, and become useful to F1 is dubious. David Wards idea for a chief executive appointment within the FIA to run F1 must not be dropped..

What is clear is Il Padrino’s 3 ‘disappointments’ all place responsibility firmly at the door of the Scuderia team. To publicly declare he wants explanations for these failings, will require someone to provide acceptable answers.

And if not…?

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Ferrari ditch pull rods for 2014

In 2012, Ferrari boldly went it alone on a suspension configuration in an attempt to steal a march on Red Bull. They switched from the current universal push rod system to a method conversely known as a ‘pull rod’ system.

Gordon Murray first introduced the idea of ‘pull rod’ suspension to F1 in his 1970’s Brabham designs, though the last teams to use this mechanism were Minardi and Arrows just after the turn of the millennium.

The reason pull rods fell from fashion was they are hard to implement in a high nosed car. The advantages of a pull rod lie in the possibility to make the nose lower, assemble most suspension parts lower to the ground and thus lowering the height of the car’s centre of gravity.

The downside of pull rods is that access problems increase when the removal of components like the dampers are necessary – due to their low location inside the monocoque. Interestingly, prior to Ferrari’s switch to pull rods in 2012, the last driver to drive an F1 car with such a system, was Fernando Alonso in his rookie year with Minardi.

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Today Autosprint reveal that the 2014 Ferrari will give up on the pull rod suspension concept. This switch in philosophy is interesting, as Ferrari previously believed the new 2014 design regulations which include lowering the noses of the cars would mean pull rod suspensions would become more widely used.

The 2014 design was being worked on by Rory Byrne prior to James Allison’s recruitment to Maranello, however it is probable that Allison’s influence has led to the team dropping of the pull rod system in favour of the simpler push rods.

Allison is bold about Ferrari’s future due to changes in regulations and charges to the team: “I found a team hungry for success and determined, a team that is optimistic about the future and aims to return to a position of dominance.”

In F1 you cannot fix everything overnight. The team has analysed, one by one its weaknesses and we will continue to do this even when we return to the top. “

Even though Ferrari have criticised the aerodynamic importance of modern F1 cars, Allison is pragmatic. “Its no secret that in this area we have been lacking in recent seasons. For this reason we have invested heavily in this last year and a half and at the end we will see the fruits. “

What would be a delicious irony would be were the new Newey designed RB10 roll out in Jerez with a pull rod suspension system. Hearts in the Ferrari garage may briefly stop beating and a communal panic attack may be shared.

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December Pirelli tyre test

Ecclestone’s has created a culture in F1 which in all other walks of life is truly ridiculous. Being organised with advance decision making is not a value anyone in F1 appears to understand. As late as last Friday, there was no consent on how Pirelli were going to be able to test tyres for 2014 prior to Jerez.

The teams had an opportunity to test the 2014 prototypes during FP1 and FP2 at Interlagos, but the persistent rain meant they new rubber saw just one lap in the hands of Red Bull. Ross Brawn was then asked whether it was feasible for a team like Mercedes or for any team on the grid to provide Pirelli with a December test. His laconic drawling Horner-esque response said it all.

“I think whatever flows now has to be fair for all the teams. I think we’re in a very delicate position. I think we all want to help Pirelli provide the best tyre they can next year but it would be unfortunate if one team had the benefit of running a tyre to the exclusion of all the other teams. Today would have been the ideal situation for everyone to get a first look at the 2014 tyre, take the data away, and that would have been reasonably fair.

I think if we end up with only one team running the 2014 tyres before next year, with no provision today or no ability today to run the tyre, that could end up a pretty unfair situation, that someone’s going to have an insight into what the tyre does and how it works. So, I think we have to look at that very carefully, how we can do something that is fair and proper for all the teams”.

It now appears that on Sunday at the behest of Ecclestone and Lauda, there was a hurried get together of team bosses. Pirelli have offered to put on a tyre test between 17-19th December in Bahrain where each team will have the opportunity to send 1 car and driver(s) at the Italian tyre manufacturer’s expense.

It is thought that the FIA will be asked sanction 2013 cars and race drivers though time is short as Michael Schmidt of AMuS today writes, “The decision must be made by Wednesday, for logistical reasons.”

That’s today folks – and Renault may have a busy week repairing a few R27 engines.

If Pirelli fail to gain support for this test, it is almost inevitable F1 will have tyre problems in 2014. The enormous leap in torque may persuade the tyre manufacturer to make ‘bullet proof’ tyres, however, this would most likely lead to a reduction in grip. Add this to the torque increase and fans could be watching regular powerslides akin to those possible on Mario Kart.

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Silverstone media awards

Nominations for the 3rd Silverstone Media Awards is open and fans are invited to vote for their favourite F1™ and MotoGP™ media coverage during 2013. Catagories range from Broadsheets to bloggers.

Should you wish to vote for TJ13 we suggests you select the category, “Best F1™ ‘Blogger”. There is no drop down list of entrants so simply write “TheJudge13.com” in the box next to this category.

Here is the link – Silverstone Media Awards

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Force India admit to a dithering DNA

Martin Whitmarsh was clearly upset by the team boss who reneged on their deal to employ Kevin Magnussen for 2014. Backed into a corner, McLaren were forced to put their money where their mouth was and recruit Magnussen into Perez’s seat for next year.

There were a number of occasions in the Interlagos paddock when Whitmarsh made it crystal clear he had made it his personal mission to get Perez a drive for 2014. Finally he looked relieved and was most candid admitting on the BBC forum that “it doesn’t look good for Paul [di Resta]”, as Perez would be replacing him at Force India.

The very fact that Whitmarsh in almost an unprecedented fashion was interfering with the Silverstone team’s timing of their driver announcement speaks volumes as to who may have done the ‘reneging’ in the first place.

The up-side for Force India is that this made them look positively decisive when compared to the panic stricken and cash short Lotus. However, it is often said you can’t change a leopards spots and so today Bob – builder of fast cars – sets out to right this new found positive perception F1 fans may have that Force India is indeed becoming decisive.

Fernley admits to ESPN, “The stumbling block at the moment is who’s going with Lotus and until that’s resolved it’s very difficult to know what’s available. At the end of the season, we’ve got two very good drivers and there’s got to be a compelling reason to change one or both. We don’t really know which drivers are available yet.”

So Force India wishes to play second fiddle to Lotus? Even Nico Hulkneberg demonstrates this is not a great plan when stating it was ‘unlikely’ he would be driving for Enstone in 2014 and was ‘sceptical’ of their financial situation. Though Nico did enquire at the weekend whether he had an option to stay with Sauber and was told he didn’t.

It is believed that the ‘Hulk’ has fallen from favour with Peter Sauber since he visited Lotus prior to the US GP for a seat fitting. Swiss media are currently criticising Sauber’s ‘ego’ and suggest unless he steps down and relinquishes all control of the team – Sauber may not make the grid in Australia.

When challenged that in fact Hulkenberg has already signed for the team, Fernley responds, “There have been stories like that for a few weeks now and Nico is one of the drivers we’d like to look at.”

To be fair to Bob and his merry men, the team has refused to sign drivers with the cash they bring as the main criteria. This is evidenced by their commitment to an at times hostile and critical dour Scot who has driven for them for 3 years,

Fernley re-emphasis the team’s commitment to recruiting drivers on the basis of talent rather than for cash. “As long as we’re not diluting the performance, because the shareholders are very clear about what they are looking for and that is performance. It’s [driver selection] always going to be on talent, if we can get money it’s a bonus.”

That happy bonus should be on its way in the form of Checo and some $10m, whose season was not so bad when his results are properly compared to Button. His drive from 19th to 6th in Brazil underlined when the McLaren car was good, he could get the most out of it as did Jenson coming from 14th to 4th.

Still, if Bob wants us to believe the team have dithering in their DNA – who are we to argue.

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Austrian GP tickets sold out

Whilst the Red Bull Ring awaits planning permission for the construction work already under way to add extra capacity for the return of the Austrian GP in 2014, ticket sales have been booming.

In just 2 days the first 70,000 tickets between 95 euro (GA) and 495 euro (Weekend seat in the Start/Finish Line Grandstand –covered) have been sold according to news agency APA. Such has been the demand for tickets that the computers managing the online sales couldn’t cope and shut down.

untitledRed Bull Ring is requesting a capacity increase to 80,000 on Saturday and Sunday and 30,000 for Free practice on Friday which will mean crowd capacity for the weekend is raised to 190,000.

Whatever people think of Mateschitz, the demand and speed of sale for F1 tickets priced so reasonably may be a lesson to other F1 promoters whose venues are half empty.

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First glimpse at a FormulaE powertrain

The V8’s are now a thing of the past for the world’s premier racing series, and ‘powertrains’ are now all the rage.

Here is the first picture of what will drive the FormulaE cars. McLaren Electronic Systems have designed and will deliver the actual powertrain and electronics, while Williams Advanced Engineering will supply the batteries producing 200kw, the equivalent of 270bhp. This will be linked to a paddle shift sequential gearbox, supplied by Hewland, with fixed ratios to help reduce costs further.

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Formula E’s new fully-electric race car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, completed is successful test debut last week at the La Ferté Gaucher circuit near Choisy-le-Roi, France.

Unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the new single-seater was driven by Lucas di Grassi who will be undertaking the early test and development work. The zero emission car completed around 40 laps over two days with the initial task of checking all systems were functioning correctly.

“It is a great feeling to be driving the Formula E car for the first time,” said Di Grassi. “I can assure all the drivers will have a lot of fun with this car – it has quite a lot of grip and the electric motor produces huge torque.”

Bernie Ecclestone is quoted by Spanish publication Marca today as stating, “I do not think the formula E will take place”.

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Lewis’ latest escapade

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Ecclestone’s still unhappy

Is it just a stereotype that the older people get, the more dogmatic they become. Today, Spanish newspaper Marca reports Bernie is not happy at all about the retirement of the old F1 V8 engines.

When asked whether the radical rule changes for 2014 were necessary, the F1 supremo replied, “No I don’t, but let’s wait and see. “I think its a mistake, but I don’t think it is going to change Formula One – we’ve changed the rules many times and it has always been the same sport.”

Unable to resist his hobby horse, Ecclestone adds, “It was thought that, if we had smaller engines, more manufacturers would be attracted to Formula One. But nobody else seems to be coming,”

Given Bernie’s self confessed tendencies toward memory loss, he’s probably forgotten about Honda.

Interestingly, when pressed over the revised calendar circulating the paddock in Texas and the absence of Korea, New Jersey and Mexico, Ecclestone responded, “We will not have Mexico and India next year.”

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Italian fans debate

If it looks as though Ferrari have had a few internal differences of opinion, then the tifosi have been at it hammer and tongues amongst themselves for some time.

There is a strong rumour in the paddock this weekend that Pat Fry may have worn the red overalls for the last time and his options are

1) to take a different route to work in future – ie to Faenza – and he wouldn’t even have to relocate home

2) return to England and effect an exchange with James Allison by taking up gainful employment in Enstone.

The first of these speculative suggestions is based upon the opinion that Franz Tost and the good doctor Marko have been at loggerheads for much of this year.  In any such battle within the Red Bull empire there would be just one winner – Marko. So it could be that Tost will shortly be returning to the Austrian Tirol from whence he came.

However, Franz does have something of a temper, it was alleged he assaulted driver Scott Speed after the first turn confusion caused by rain in the 2007 Nurburgring European GP. A torrential downpour between the parade lap and the start of the race caused carnage on the first lap. Nico Rosberg and Scott Speed were casualties of the “river” flowing across the circuit at turn one.

Tost later denied the incident and Speed was furious so he went to the press describing the acrimonious situation at the team, stating that “after coming out and denying this stuff, it’s just another very dishonest thing that Franz and Gerhard have said in the media to damage me and Tonio”. Scott Speed also stated that he didn’t want to race for Tost and Berger again.

Of course he got his way and on 31 July 2007 Speed was released from his contract at Scuderia Toro Rosso and replaced by the Sauber test driver – Sebastian Vettel.

Should Tost actually have ‘bested’ Herr Marko, then the Italian fans are concerned that James Key would be replaced by Pat Fry and he would return from whence he came to Sauber.

Ferrari fan MT76 states, “Frankly I do not mind, honestly Fry was a disappointment, so many promises and words but little else., I believe that few will regret it [Fry leaving].

Other’s are not so sure. Titian believes that Fry has been influential in “the development of the car in 2014, therefore, knows too many things that can be ‘sold’ to the competition”.

Gray appears all to aware of Italian stereotypes and doesn’t want a “dell’italica attitude to announce a saviour and then behead him if it does not perform the miracle. Fry for me is working with long-term projects and has developed structures in key areas such as aerodynamics and the investment in the wind tunnel.

The idea of Ross Brawn returning is also treated with mixed feelings. Some believe it would in fact be the second coming of the messiah whilst others are concerned after 4 years at Mercedes his team has won zip.

TJ13: Dear Lord…. if I’m re-incarnated can I please come back as an Italian….. and a Judge 😉

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Red Bull Fanbouy competition

Name them all – left to right

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25 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 27th November 2013

  1. Are you suggesting that this might be publically building up to the “Domenicali out, Brawn [or perhaps someone else] in” announcement suggested by several reasonably “in the loop” pundits over the weekend?

    Just asking 😉

    • ….”over the weekend”

      You been skipping court RK? 😉

      ‘High level management reshuffle’… was predicted here before the weekend 😉

      The ‘Brawn to Maranello’ – bit I’m not so sure about….

  2. “Il Padrino’s end of year sermon” is another excellent article!

    I have a question about the veto…

    LdM says, “We have reached an agreement with Ecclestone and the FIA and we are the only team with the right of veto…”

    Is anyone familiar with how this lever of power actually works?

    My understanding is that Ferrari hold 1 of 18 votes on the “The Strategy Group”. That group operates on majority vote. Ferrari don’t have veto power there, I assume (I’ve not seen it reported).

    The Strategy Group can only make recommendations to either the “F1 commission”, or the WMSC. Does Ferrari have veto power on this F1 commission?

    I’m confused about the operations of those political structures, candidly…

  3. Is it just me wondering whether the limiting factor at Ferrari is the relationship Di Montizemelo has with the team? This bad impression of an elderly Enzo Ferrari? It always seemed that Ron Dennis’s OCD handicapped McLaren’s performance while he obsessed over the shininess of the garage floor and maybe the same effect has a different manifestation now at Ferrari?

    Oh and risking being found in contempt could your honour please check a dictionary on the correct use of “infers” as its almost daily misuse in this column is causing pedants like me anxiety. The correct word is “implies”.

    • … no contempt at all SP…

      Funny how someone in authority using a word incorrectly influences you for many years… Bloody 1970’s hippy English teachers….

      Infer: deduce or conclude (something) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.

      So inference is the action of the recipient of information, rather than the provider…. interesting…..

      • Thank you, that is indeed the point. Ted Kravitz is another who habitually uses infers when he means implies. Maybe you can have a clerk deliver this judgement in his direction?

    • Shari – Agreed about LdM… He’s had a wonderful career, but recent leadership suggests that FIAT should be reviewing options now for his position…

      • It seems fairly consistent that when we have a story on Sauber based on partial information, later information reveals a different story than what was implied by earlier partial information.

        This story that Peter Sauber didn’t want Hulkenberg in 2014 for emotional reasons is a good story. It is worth examining the source of the current story.

        There are other factors about the 2014 Sauber team that are not mentioned. A concurrent, unconfirmed story is that America Movil (Claro and Telmex) sponsorship have left Sauber for 2014 to go with Checo to FI.

        The rubles from Russia are apparently a no show, and the Russian sponsorship deals may have fallen apart.

        Outside of Sutil’s Medion sponsorship, I’ve not seen any positive recent news about Sauber’s 2014 budget, nor sponsorship.

        In addition, the team told Hulkenberg earlier that he was free to pursue other options, as they were over-budget and indebted to him (couldn’t pay him).

        So the decision to close the door to Hulkenberg may have been made due to the poverty of their budget.

        Or the decision may have been made because Sutil didn’t want to be teamed again with Hulkenberg.

        Those are two alternate theories, but perhaps this Prideful Peter story may be speculation as well…

  4. Is it so hard to do well at the PR front? Lotus did some funny tweets and shirts but come on their holding on to Quantum theory is just plain stupid. Ferrari are whispering politics. Red Bull (no need to explain). Force India reeks of stubborn pride.

    I think they all do stupid things PR wise, but maybe they do it to entertain us.

  5. Pretty strange camber angles on those illustrations, Judge. Perhaps that’s why the suspension didn’t work!

  6. “.. His drive from 19th to 6th in Brazil underlined when the McLaren car was good, he could get the most out of it as did Jenson coming from 14th to 4th. … ”

    Factor in the absence of Kimi and Romain plus the displacement of Felipe and Lewis from their true potential places, and you get Jenson finishing 8th and Checo in 10th at best.

    • Yes, a good exercise in luck for McLaren; for once, their reliability has gained them some positions! Rosberg was unlucky to finish behind Button as well, from holding his first stop at bay incase rain came (and losing 10 seconds to Lewis in the meantime). He didn’t have as much pace though so would have been just holding station ahead of the McLarens. Perez was actually faster here than Button I think. From many places behind on lap 1 he finishes just a few seconds off the team leader.

      Maybe reliability will be more key though in 2014, perhaps we could see another slow McLaren rising through the failing field!

  7. “it doesn’t look good for Paul [di Resta]”
    Why does Whitmarsh now say this if Perez goes to FI…? Surely if Magnussen had gone there, as he intended, the effect would also have not looked good for Paul…
    Half the time I just don’t understand what all these people are saying (trying to say) – and the other half I don’t believe…
    But I love the intrigue… 😉

  8. . . . “Dear Lord…. if I’m re-incarnated can I please come back as an Italian….. and a Judge”
    Beware… you might get what you wish for… and many Italian judges sadly don’t seem to last long… 🙂

  9. LOL at the School Run. One wonders if they gave the girls transcripts of Lewis’ race engineer for preparation. “I wrote a song for you” ” Not while I’m in the braking zone, c’mon man I’m tryin’ to drive here”

    x-D

    • Haha it’s either that or he’s trying to show Nicole he really could be a good father….one last attempt maybe

  10. FE will be the new F1.
    Maybe RedBull gets 2 or 3 years in F1 and split to FE – with Newey

    • After CVC has destroyed F1 by taking it for every cent it can, people will drift away no doubt

  11. I hope your honour will be providing us with the answers to the picture question, how am I meant to know all the names of all those spectators lol

    Seriously though, I feel a bit inadequate that at a push I can name 3, would be 4 but I don’t see Newey!

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