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His honour is out of office today for health reasons and somebody forgot to lock the door, so nobody noticed the fat hippo sneaking into the leather backed chair… Coffee please Miss Zargosa… black and strong
Silly Season 2013 Review
Silly season is a term to describe the time of the season, when speculation is rife about, who will drive where in the next season and one must look back quite a time to find a year in which that term was more fitting than in 2013. At one point both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen where linked to the second seat at Red Bull, which would have given us the mouth-watering prospect of a clash of titans at the Austrian team, but Dr. Marko and common sense won out in the end. Considering the history of such overly competitive pairings – Pironi/Villeneuve, Mansell/Piquet, Prost/Senna, Alonso/Hamilton – one has to be clinically insane to sign two alpha males. Which makes one wonder, why Ferrari has done just that and signed Kimi to partner Fernando next year. Madness.
But apart from a few winners, like Kimi, Felipe Massa and Danny Ricciardo, the result of this year’s silly season is that several drivers are left with less than they deserve. Biggest loser of the ‘musical chairs 2013 edition’ is undoubtedly Nico Hülkenberg One has to look back until the early 80s to find the last instance of top teams ignoring a talented driver so consequently. Back in the day nobody wanted to touch an obviously lightning fast Nigel Mansell with a stick, which stranded him at a declining Team Lotus, and the same fate seems to befall Nico Hülkenberg. How someone with his undeniable talent can be left with no other option other than switching from one midfield team to another is beyond comprehension.
Lotus in itself is a rather sad story with their shady Quantum deal that never materialized, but considering their 2013 results, unless they fall apart over the winter, a Lotus cockpit is still a desirable prospect – if you can manage with not being paid that is. That such a place goes to someone like Pastor Maldonado borders on travesty. Maldonado’s only argument for still being in F1 is the money he brings. On talent alone he never made the cut, despite the fluke win at Barcelona last year. Replacing a departing Kimi Räikkönen with Pastor Maldonado is the most laughable idea since someone thought signing Jean-Deniz Deletraz was a good idea.
Another victim of the silly season is Paul di Resta. Some might argue he has solidly outscored his team mate, but forget that he has done so for only the first time in 3 years. Sutil beat him in 2011 and Hülkenberg outscored him last year and his ‘win’ over Sutil this year is down to the German suffering horrendous bad luck in the early season, the only time when the Force India was actually competitive. Adding to that, that unlike Paul, Sutil refrained from complaining about the team in public, it isn’t too hard to see, why Sutil will still be on the grid next year and Paul is left to the choice whether to take cousin Dario’s seat in Indycars or returning to DTM. Except that Dario’s seat already went to Ryan Briscoe. So DTM it is.
The real winners of the silly season are Felipe Massa, Adrian Sutil and Danny Ricciardo. After the meagre years at Ferrari, endlessly shafted and embarrassed by the team in favour of his team mate, one wouldn’t have been surprised if Massa would’ve just walked off, but he got a last chance to shine at Williams. The British team is no longer the top seat it once was, but being able to run without the team endlessly ordering you to finish behind your team mate might rejuvenate Felipe’s race craft. Having outqualified Fernando more often than any other team mate of the Spaniard ever managed to, shows that he’s nowhere near as useless as his results of 2012 and 2013 suggest.
Adrian Sutil is on the best way of becoming the next David Coulthard – a driver not quite fast enough to become world champion, but solid, dependable and experienced enough to be employable by just about everyone. It is not really a surprise that he ended up replacing Nico Hülkenberg at Sauber. And unlike some speculate, it is not a ‘no other idea’ choice by Sauber either. The two parties have been in contact since early autumn – that’s fall for those, who like to replace perfectly serviceable words with ones that already have a dedicated, completely different meaning. He’s a known quantity. You can be sure he won’t do boneheaded things on the track (Shanghai pubs are a different matter) and he brings some modest sponsor money, even if it isn’t in the same league as the contents of Maldonado’s coffers. One easily forgets that Sutil should have scored his first podium in Melbourne if it wasn’t for Pirelli’s inability to produce tyres that manage a double digit number of laps. But more on that later…
Daniel Ricciardo is on paper the luckiest boy of the bunch. He’s given the task to drive the car that won the last four world titles. His problem is, that the guy, who actually won those titles is not the one he’s replacing. On one hand he has the historic chance to show that Vettel is not as good as people think by beating him, but if he fails at that, he might just as well spend the rest of his career in obscurity, hoping for the odd win when Seb has an off day or his gear box goes boom.
Senility takes Bernie to the night
The short one from Suffolk has added his two minor currency units to the double points debate, saying that he would prefer that the last three races would pay double points, as that would allow him to extort obscene hosting fees from not one, but three Grand Prix organizers. Of course the official reason is to keep the championship open until the final race, but everybody, who’s not been living under a rock for the last 40 years knows, that whatever the pint-sized troll suggests is ultimately meant to increase the income side of his cheque book.
Not only are the interwebs exploding with people speculating if those, who came up with the double points idea might have a cocaine habit, there’s also resistance from within the F1 fraternity. The knight in shining armour, riding into the sunset to defend F1’s honour is a nobleman from the Land of Italy – Luca di Montezemolo, who urges the FIA/FOM dominated F1 strategy group to scrap that idea at their next meeting in January. Rumours are that Ferrari might use their veto right to get rid of this lunatic idea, but Luca seems to prefer that the strategy bong smokers come to their senses on their own.
Fat Hippo’s Rant: Paul Hembery takes leave of his senses
Last time someone complained about the Hippo’s rant not being ‘ranty’ enough. The obese mammal promised to improve his skills…
At times Pirelli’s faceborg page this year read like the protocol of a Haters Anonymous convention and considering what they’ve done to F1, they deserve every second of it. Of course that doesn’t go down well with the big wigs at the Milan headquarters, who sign off a millions of Euros budget, only to embarrass themselves on the big stage. Motorsport-Total reports that Paul Hembery thinks he now has found the culprit for all the hate Pirelli have been subjected to – Red Bull. According to him, it was the constant complains of Red Bull that stirred the ire of fans and other teams alike and resulted in Pirelli being subjected to massive criticism of their substandard products.
*deep breath* 3…2…1
Are you daft, Paul? So Red Bull is to blame that people are fed up with your cr*p tyres? People don’t mind that your tyres can’t even run 12 laps, but they get agitated because Red Bull says what everyone thinks? You may want to lay off that Chianti. Force India, one of the cars that was kindest to the tyres, couldn’t make a set of supersofts last 12 laps on a light car and lost a possible podium position at Melbourne. China was the biggest farce we’ve seen since the Aix-les-Bains stage of the 1998 Tour de France. Drivers being endlessly told not to race each other. They could’ve just as well run the whole race behind the pace car.
Monaco was a modern rendition of ‘government office mikado’ – the one who moves first, loses. Cars were going so slow that Guido van der Garde posted a fastest lap in a wheelie bin, for crying out loud. You needed to give Mercedes an illegal 3 day tutoring lesson to stop them embarrassing themselves endlessly, knowing that they wouldn’t take it much longer to be humiliated on a world wide broadcast stage by your substandard product. And you wouldn’t want to ruin your chances for an OEM contract with Mercedes-Benz by kicking their F1 team in the plums every second weekend, would you Paul?
Having a go at Red Bull is a cheap shot. Mercedes was just as vocal in their criticism of Pirelli, loudest among them Niki Lauda, who lambasted Pirelli at every opportunity on German TV to the point that customers in Germany demanded ‘anything but Pirelli’ when time came to switch from winter to summer tyres. But having a go at Mercedes could hurt your chances in the business, unlike lambasting Red Bull, who except for the best F1 cars of the last half decade don’t build and sell any vehicles.
Perez (twice), Hamilton, Alonso, Vergne, Gutierrez, Massa – that’s the list of casualties at Silverstone. Was that also Red Bull’s fault? Did they have a squad of snipers stationed around the track shooting tyres or was your sorry excuse of a product just not fit for the purpose? First you tried to blame the curbs, but how come in the four years they’ve been where they are there’s never been a problem? Couldn’t it just be that your original 2013 tyres were utterly and hopelessly useless? How come that since the return to the kevlar belt construction no tyre fiascos where had and people even started to mildly race each other?
“But that gave Red Bull a free run, just as we predicted,” I hear you cry Paul and I say – so effing what? Is that your problem? You are the bloody tyre supplier, your job is to provide tyres that are safe to operate. Influencing the competition in favour or disfavour of selected competitors is not part of your responsibilities. Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus – they are responsible for making sure that Red Bull doesn’t run away with it – not you.
Just get your bloody stuff together, build tyres that deserve the name and stop blaming others for your failures, Paul. That’s the only way to stop the hate.
Christmas in the chambers from the Usher
As it’s this merry time of year, I thought I’d dust off something from the exhibit cupboard for his honour whilst he’s visiting the porcelain telephone today. Perhaps I could be accused of taking advantage but I think this is well worth the risk of potential future accusations that there is a Ferrari bias here a la FIA. Feel free to post ridicule/praise/groans (delete where appropriate) in the comments.
Merry Christmas from us at TJ13 🙂