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Schumacher no update (Updated 17:20 CET)
New Year’s wishes
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy New Year and thank the TJ13 team who have provided us with high quality material over the Christmas break during my absence.
As always in life, 2014 will come to epitomise a moment in time for each of us that has varying shades of colour. For some it will be a joyous and momentous year and for others maybe not so. Yet we will share life together during this time against the backdrop of a new and exciting F1 season.
www.thejudge13.com had a fantastic 2013, and at times was ranked in the top 200,000 busiest sites on the World Wide Web. We welcomed many new friends and our community expanded enormously.
2014 will see us expand further and this in itself will bring challenges which we should relish. The year again will deliver further opportunities for some of you to get closer to the sport you love through research and writing and seeing the results of your endeavours published here.
Should you feel you can contribute to TJ13 in this way, please feel free to contact us. As some of our contributors have proven, you don’t need to have done this sort of thing before – and we have people who can help in editing and writing development.
So onwards and upwards…. To Infiniti and beyond?…..
Kimi put to work by Montezemolo
2013 was indeed a year of surprises. Okay, on track matters became rather predicable, but in many other area of F1 there were some shocks indeed.
I suggest there was no surprise bigger than the idea of Kimi returning to Ferrari to partner Fernando Alonso for 2014. Il Padrino had made it clear in 2012 that this kind of arrangement was not the Ferrari way. He mocked the idea that Maranello would place “two roosters in the same henhouse” yet Ferrari will field the only driver line-up which consists of 2 world champions.
Early indications from the Ferrari boss suggest Kimi will be expected to ‘facilitate’ Fernando though most of us hope and expect our favoured Finn to upset the applecart at times.
Il Padrino made it clear at the pre-Christmas Ferrari engine reveal that Kimi is entering a new world of work and endeavour. Gone will be the relaxed environment at Lotus where Raikkonen pretty much came and went as he pleased as he will be “extremely busy since the beginning of January to work in this strange machine that I don’t like at all, the simulator,”
Kimi doesn’t do pre-race track walks and has gone on record stating he learns nothing from spending time in the simulator, yet Ferrari have invested heavily in this technology and the Finn is expected to do his time in the virtual car.
Jenson Button spent a lot of time in the McLaren simulator early in December and told journalists, “It’s about getting an understanding of the power unit and how we are going to put the power down, because it’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be a lot of simulator work and running through other things that are going to help us put the power down, because I don’t think any of us are used to having torque. I’ve raced for 14 years in F1 and I’ve never had torque so it’s going to be a new experience”.
Comments like this suggest we’ll see a lot of rapid gear changes as drivers flick up through the gears controlling the revs in a desperate bid not to spin up the wheels, which has been suggested will be possible in gears as high as 4th and 5th.
“In reality I think it will be easier than in the simulator, “Jenson adds. “The initial oversteer is very difficult to feel in the simulator – that initial feeling that you get through your bum in a race car. I think it will be easier in reality but we’re going to find it tough. In high speed corners you’re off power for so long and you just can’t get the power down.
You’re waiting the whole time. It’s not like now with so much downforce and so little torque that you can just floor it and even if you run a bit wide you just understeer off the circuit. But with the 2014 car if you floor it in a corner like Turn 3 at Barcelona, you don’t just drive off, you immediately lose the rear because there is so much torque. It’s not a balance issue, you have torque and we’ve never had that before.
I don’t think it will be more exciting to drive. We are going to be fighting for grip the whole time, so I don’t think that will make it more exciting.”
If what Jenson says is true, we could be in for a delicious year of F1 racing with cars slewing sideways on the exit of corners as the drivers struggle to control the torque. Let’s just hope the McLaren simulator is better than their 2013 car.
What is certain is that the loveable vodka swilling, fag puffing, carefree Kimi looks set for a year where his nose will be put to the grindstone by Ferrari away from the track.
Are McLaren without a 2014 title sponsor?
Despite Ferrari’s best efforts to self mutilate at every given opportunity, McLaren have been making the news recently for a number of reasons.
Firstly, they just concluded arguably their second worst season ever ironically as they celebrated 50 years in F1. Secondly, they ditched an up and coming driver in Sergio Perez who they announced in 2012 as having a multi-year deal, stating they would develop the young Mexican over that time.
Ron Dennis is currently trying to buy back control of the McLaren group, and Martin Whitmarsh is traipsing around the world in pursuit of Fernando Alonso – brandishing contracts akin to love letters – like some stricken teenage girl.
Yet the real tale is McLaren and their title sponsor. Such is the exclusiveness of this opportunity to partner with McLaren. In 50 years the team has had just 4 such financial backers.
Vodafone withdrew a year early from their deal with McLaren and slipped away into the night quietly following the race in Interlagos. The party line is that Vodafone have changed their marketing strategy and are withdrawing from a number of different sporting sponsorship arrangements.
Yet some change in long term marketing strategy is no reason for a multi-national organisation to cancel a multi hundred million dollar deal. Further, “a contract is a contract” you can hear Ron Dennis state, “and we are entitled to be paid” regardless of Vodafone’s change of heart.
Of course the persistent rumour is that Vodafone came to the decision to withdraw from F1 because they did not wish to have their name emblazoned on the cars during the Bahrain GP 2012, but commercial regulations imposed by FOM do not allow sponsors this freedom.
The Vodafone brand was displayed on the cars in 2012, though the telecoms giant managed to circumnavigate the regulations in 2013, by doing a deal with ‘Zoin’ who are a ‘non-equity’ associated entity to Vodafone in the Middle East.
So a deal will have been between McLaren and Vodafone with the latter paying McLaren something in 2014, unlikely to be less than 50% of the monies due.
December 2nd 2013 was to be D-Day for the announcement of the 5th McLaren sponsor and the contenders were thought to be Telmex (or some associated brand within the Slim family empire); GSK – who partner already with McLaren in technology and education of young engineers together with some limited brand sponsorship like ‘Boost’; thirdly there is the world wide men’s toiletry product – Gillette – which is an equivalent marketing ploy to that of the quadruple world championship winning team’s sponsor, the energy drink company.
Yet during the media scrums surrounding the dismissal of Sergio Perez and the associated sponsorship consequences, Martin Whitmarsh revealed. “There will be some new sponsors, but I think probably, and I don’t know because I haven’t talked to our PR function, but there will be more of a fanfare at the car launch rather than an announcement on December 2.”
Yet all is not well in McLaren, because Whitmarsh was clearly not happy about this proposal as he added, “I think it depends on what partners want to do and where they want to do it. My own view is that [by announcing sponsors at the same time] we would be taking away from what I hope will be an exciting car launch next year, but we will see.”
The complete silence from Woking on their new title sponsor has led some to believe that McLaren have just failed to get a deal done, though this is a ridiculous proposition.
No matter how many headless chickens have been running around in Woking this year, there are people who have been working on plugging the $70m hole the team will feel in full by 2015 – pretty much on a daily basis.
No matter, those who believe McLaren are to be sponsorless for 2014 will feel their case has been bolstered this evening when the team merchandising division began some interesting marketing.
McLaren reproductive team wear is renown for the fact that bar the shoes and a couple of other items, the name ‘McLaren’ appears nowhere visible on the clothing.
However, a new range of merchandising has just been launched in the McLaren online store. “New Team McLaren branded Teamware” is now being offered. SAY WHAT???
Whilst the range is limited to the soft shell jacket and the waterproof, this is a significant departure from the norm.
So is it the case that McLaren will have no title sponsor for 2014? The arrival of Honda in 2015 may mean the team has chosen to be without a title sponsor for a year.
Renault have persistently complained over the past 2 years that they are not getting the recognition they deserve from their relationship with the 4 times world champions – Red Bull. A significant element to this gripe is because the team is known as, “Infiniti Red Bull Racing” and the Renault name follows behind a dash… “Infiniti Red Bull Racing – Renault”.
McLaren have insisted for 2015 that Honda enter a sole customer agreement with them, akin to a works team arrangement. They will receive the engines for free and so this in some way mitigates some $25-30m of the $70m of lost from Vodafone revenue. Further, Honda may choose to have a higher profile than being behind the ‘dash’ and for this they will contribute more than just free engines. McLaren Honda would be the brand.
This would create a more powerful presence for the Japanese manufacturer than Renault have – who are added on to the end of an energy drinks promotional name and that of another car manufacturer.
In just a couple of weeks the speculation will be over and all will be revealed.
Schumacher no update
Speaking on German TV last night, Sabine Kehm – Schumacher’s manager – has stated, “We will only hold press conferences when we have significant news from the doctors to report. To have to report to the press every morning would hinder the doctors, and we are all very keen for them to be able to work in peace,
I will not give status reports every day, at least while the situation remains stable and there is no change, either positively or negatively.”
It appears this is not sufficient for some as Kehm also told Die Welt, “Apparently a journalist dressed as a priest had tried to gain access to Michael’s room. I wouldn’t have ever imagined something like this could happen.”
In circumstances such as this, it is normal for a patient to be induced into a coma for several days as the surgeons deal with any bleeding and allow the swelling from the impact to slowly dissipate. It could be several more days before anything definitive is known.
Lewis tweets attract hostility
2013 saw a different Lewis Hamilton from the one who made ridiculous assertions claiming the race stewards were giving him a hard time because of his colour. Also gone were the angry telemetry tweets incited when his team mate Jenson out qualified him by a country mile.
New Lewis was more humble, reflective and at times particularly hard on himself – especially when Nico Rosberg showed him the way over a GP weekend. It seemed early last year as though something significant had happened to Lewis – had he really seen the light? (TJ13 article March 2013).
The problem Hamilton has is that he is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve and at times this appears to be a rather self obsessive attitude, particularly when set against the backdrop of F1 or even the panacea of the events occurring in the world at large.
Lewis encountered some hostility over the festive period, branded as ‘arrogant’ and ‘insensitive’ by certain tabloids, following him posting some family skiing pictures on the internet in the wake of Schumacher’s accident.
However, Jarno Trulli put matters in perspective stating, “We do our work and at Christmas we go on vacation. Just like Michael, I too am now going to the mountains to ski.”
Unfortunately for Hamitlon, he will always attract controversy and polarise opinion – and I guess that’s the price he pay for being Lewis Hamilton – which isn’t a bad life after all.
Vigil for Schumacher
Michael Schumacher is 45 years old tomorrow and though he will know nothing about it, Ferrari have called on their fans to dress in Red and hold a silent vigil outside the hospital in Grenoble where the German is being treated.
A statement on Ferrari.com reads, ‘In these difficult days and on the occasion of his birthday, the Scuderia Ferrari Clubs want to show their support for Michael Schumacher by organising tomorrow a silent and respectful event all in red at the Grenoble University Hospital Centre.’
Michael’s family who have been by his bedside since he was airlifted to hospital have also made a statement on his website. “Following Michael’s skiing accident, we would like to thank the people from all around the world who have expressed their sympathy and sent their best wishes for his recovery. They are giving us great support. We all know he is a fighter and will not give up.”