Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 2nd January 2014

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New Year’s wishes

Kimi put to work by Montezemolo

Are McLaren without a 2014 title sponsor?

Schumacher no update (Updated 17:20 CET)

Lewis tweets attract hostility

Vigil for Schumacher


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?…..

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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.

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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.

untitled2012 McLaren car in Bahrain

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.

untitled2013 McLaren car in Bahrain

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.

untitled

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???

untitled

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.

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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.

German magazine "Der Spiegel" published this photo from the scene of the accident.

German magazine “Der Spiegel” published this photo from the scene of the accident.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’

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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.”

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51 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 2nd January 2014

  1. Never mind the atmosphere, gone will be Lotus is what I keep seeing in the rumor mill. Have they sorted their financing yet?

    Jenson’s comments aside I’m still of the opinion that the drivers that are best in the wet will have the early advantage. Most likely Seb, Fred, Kimi and Lewis, but I recall JEV putting in some good times and there may be some other happy surprises further down the grid. Should also make putting pressure from behind a lot more entertaining to watch, as the possibility for mistakes seems to be much higher this year.

    • JEV does excel in the wet, and it seemed that pushing the envelope in one lap Q wasn’t his strongsuit. So by that account he should indeed thrive in 2014 and it will be pleasing to see this. Someone like Chilton could really struggle (up to 1 second off the pace without the extra torque.. only competitive at Monza), hence Marussia are hoping anyone else will come along with some cash to trump him. We should see the return of Kamui Kobayashi hopefully somewhere!

      • Would absolutely love to see Kobayashi back, he was vastly entertaining. Always felt like he got a bit of a shaft in the split strategies dept. And we’ll see… finally some real uncertainty at the start of the season. Like a breath of fresh air. I just hope it lasts longer than the first 1.5 laps of the season

  2. I don’t know if anyone here is familiar with Grand Prix Legends, but it really does describe the driving experience of the BRM H16 engine. All the torque is in the 8-11k range, along with the hp, and it has 6 gears (5 were allowed in the rulebook of the time!) to try and put the power down. It’s almost like a throttle lag, as you have to accelerate 1 second before the power kicks in from low revs in 1st (this will be eliminated in 2014), but you can spin the wheels without a loss of torque from 1st gear to low 5th. Changing up seems a bit like driving with CVT! By contrast, the V8 cars sound more like the 1969 mod with wings.

    Clark managed to win a race with this engine, but he likely had a better chassis (Lotus 43) than Stewart (BRM), although BRM was competitive in the 1.5L era up to 1965.

    • You’re right about the 2014 motors, supposedly the ERS will keep the turbo spooled nicely, but I just suddenly wondered if a little bit of lag might not be a bad thing as it would potentially keep the wheels from losing traction as the car exits turns. Time it right, and it would let the driver get on the throttle earlier without the potential for swapping the ends of the car unexpectedly. Wonder how legal that would be? Hmmm….

      • Might we not see drivers cornering in a higher gear and shifting down then back up on exit to maximise traction?

        • Yes, I’m sure you will, but if they can spin the gears in the first 5, I’m not sure in low speed corners they’ll be shifting down to 6 then back up. What I’m trying to say is that if you can regulate the torques coming on by gradually spinning up the turbine or inducing a bit of lag, then you may be able to gain an advantage with traction. If, of course, that sort of thing is allowed.

    • Iestyn – It’s brilliant you should mention the BRM H16 motor, and Jim Clark’s win with that beast. Less than two months ago Peter Windsor published the most incredible video blog about that beast and Jim’s win in it, (I’ve shared the link below).

      What I found most interesting is that Clark’s victory was due to his soft touch in babying that rather fragile engine to the checkers. It’s yet another illustration of the skills of managing a vehicle’s limited resources in a race and succeeding. That was a primary skill of drivers back then, and continues to be an important skill today.

      http://youtu.be/y9qmDtAICNQ

      • Nice, I think I saw it a few months ago.. the sound at fire up was great! I remember some of Clark’s deft wins.. at Watkins Glen the next year, there’s a picture of him taking the flag with the left rear suspension literally just about hanging on! It would be comical if that also didn’t happen (susp/tyre) badly less than 6 months later..

        Indeed, there are guys who have a bit of that touch now still, while others prefer to go flat out all the time and recover from any mishaps this may induce (e.g. some of the tyre blow outs last year).

  3. Very interesting thoughts on the McLaren-Honda tie up. I’ve heard of it being a significant investment from Honda, but didn’t realise that it could mean effectively being title sponsors. I thought something would work out with GSK or possibly Sony, being ‘lower scale’ title sponsors than in previous years, with the McLaren-Honda partnership still being emphasised. Despite the works agreement, I had hoped Lotus or Williams would get customer Honda engines, but it seems like they are OK to stick with their current engines (and Williams are pleased with Mercedes already).

    And despite what the marketing departments say, I would refer to RBR as Red Bull-Renault, and hope that others would too! I get the case for calling it Infiniti Red Bull in the USA though of course.

  4. Wasn’t Samsung meant to be in the mix for McLaren’s title sponsor? Surely they would also need a colour scheme change if that is the case so silver/blue would be in order!

    • The silver was adopted in 1995i think as a hat tip to the new Mercedes Benz partnership. I expect a whole new livery for 2015 when the Merc ear in McLaren history ends and the new Honda one starts

        • Thanks, I knew it was 90’s, and I knew there was sound reasoning behind it. Though to be honest I’ve never really taken to the silver, the 2007/8 McLarens are about the best the silver looked as the car wore it well.

  5. It does seem to be a sorry state of afffairs if McLaren can’t attract a title sponsor, unless as you say it is deliberate. I must admit, when the honda rumours started, I half wondered about this, and though how cool it would be if McLaren were to go back to a design based around the original McLaren Orange! A good design team could do wonders with that, and the Honda H, as it too is branded an orangy red.

    Still even if its just a year stop gap I’d say the default colour scheme for a McLaren sans-sponsor has to be orange!

  6. I still think that the decision to go to road cars has sapped McLaren more than they would like to admit. I know the sales are doing OK, but the development must have put rather a large crimp in resources for the F1 side, which cost was paid last year and may very well be paid again this year.

    The Lewis thing is just clickbait, ginning up a controversy where none exists to sell papers and attract eyeballs. All the photos I’ve seen were of him either x country skiiing or snow shoeing. Frankly the stupidity of that line of argument just boggles the old mind, but it is everything I’ve come to expect from the British press LOL.

    • This is one of my favorite F1 sites but it always made me laugh, and cringe, to see everyone under 40 totally miss the point of Hamilton’s Ali G joke.

      But the fact that Hamilton said at the time even attributed the quote “like Ali G says” and that everyone has had years now to Google the Ali G show or look it up on Wikipedia means I can’t forgive ignorant comments like this “ridiculous assertions claiming the race stewards were giving him a hard time because of his colour”.

      Is the author really so far out of touch or just couldn’t resist manufacturing a jab at a driver (Lewis) who acts his age. Isn’t it funny how all the 50 something journalists heap their praise on Jenson who is only 33 but acts like a 55 year old banker. 🙂

      Both Lewis and Jenson are British and have a WDC to their name, funny what different reporting they each get.

      Another question. How would James Hunt do in the current F1 climate. Look how much flack Kimi and LH get and they are not 1% of the free spirit he was.

  7. It’s a real shame Lewis cops souch crap for not doing anything in particular. I can clearly see why some F1 stars try to stay out of the limelight when not at the track as it opens the doors for others to criticise them for how they choose to live their lives. Yet on the flip side, the sport gets accused of not being accessible enough to the fans.

    Seems like it’s a lose lose situation to me. It’s a sad fact that it appears that detractors are often those with little or no real knowledge of F1 and unfortunately these also tend to be the trolls that will put negative comments just to write something.

    Anyone who can place a competitive time in an F1car is a hero of mine cos I know I would struggle. It’s a shame that people feel they should use their right to free speach to slurr others.

    It may be a new year but little change….

    • Its also pretty ridiculous as I’m pretty sure he’s not even skiing there either. Those are a pair of snow rackets I think, the new types looks a lot like little skis, and he certainly said hiking in his caption. He did say in another social media message he’d taken nick skiing. Still as you say, its a shame to let actual facts get in the way of the media ragging on stars, as much good as the internet brings, the way it had accelarated this road rage type of communication, both through news outlets and folks themselves is very sad. The comments on many sites being a prime example, I severely doubt many people communicate the way they do on the internet in their real lives… hmm, then again, I have met my boss.

    • What is more interesting about Hamilton’s twitter feed today was a photo of himself snowmobiling with a setting sun. Some clever folks happened to notice that Nicole Scherzinger also tweeted some snowmobiling photos today that look like they were taken in the same location. (But no photos of them together, nor mention of each other.)

      I’m not a celebrity chaser. But different drivers are more successful than others at segmenting their focus between racing and other things. I hope Lewis is able to be fully focused on 2014 as it will be his 2nd season at Mercedes, and the drivetrain is vastly different. His goal for 2014 was to step up his game a notch.

  8. I don’t know what to think -say- about the call from Ferrari. In one hand it’s nice that they show their support, but in the other hand hospital’s authorities have already asked for respect for their time and space, and Ferrari calls for a demostration in the hospital… and then, why wearing red? Red is Ferrari, not Schumacher, the support and respect is supposed to be expressed to the man, not to a car manufacturer. I don’t know, I’m sure the feelings are sincere, I just think they can be expressed in a better manner.

    • It is certainly undiplomatic of Ferrari to insist on red – and I also felt they were somehow trying to gain a little publicity from this sad incident. There must be thousands and thousands of MSc sympathisers in Germany who do not own a red anorak…

      • I’m not sure about the red, problem is if you buy a Ferrari flag, it will be the badge on a red background.
        Either way, there are millions of MSC F1 fans who have Ferrari anoraks in the wardrobe. But when he had his accident, he stopped being an F1 driver but became a victim.
        Non F1 fans who may have read about him or heard about his victories on the news out-number F1 fans around the world and whilst they may not enjoy motor-sport, they will all understand accidents and how it impacts on a family.
        I believe Ferrari are sincere in their support, I’m Italian so I may be biased, but they are still fundamentally a Roman Catholic country and family is exceptionally important to them.

  9. This sounds more like a cynical ploy to create a Ferrari publicity stunt to me.
    And it is in very poor taste.

    • Those were exactly the words I was looking for -and couldn’t find- when I wrote “(…) I just think they can be expressed in a better manner”: …with a better taste.

    • Do you honestly belief Ferrari would use this as a publicity stunt?
      Why in red? Maybe because he won 5 consecutive world titles for Ferrari and the Tifosi love him like family? What’s so disrespectful about holding a silent and respectful event on his birthday?
      Ferrari are damned if they do, damned if they don’t, aren’t they?

      • And maybe he did win a lot of titles in red….but that was almost a decade ago.
        Surely the colour he was last associated with is the silver of Merc.
        So why havent Merc flashmobbed a hospital?
        My guess is they have more class.

          • If they just wanted a vigil,i could respect that enzo,its the prominence of the team colours and prancing horse logo i object to.

        • Mercedes hired a F1 legend to advertise and hopefully win races and championships. When Lauda joined, he wasted no time in “retiring” Schumacher.
          IIRC, Schumacher’s wages were easily off-set by the publicity of his attached name.
          Mercedes are a huge corporation trying to trade off other people’s success.

          Ferrari, for all it’s business and merchandising success is not close in economic power but they embody passion.

          MSC, will have a meal ready for him when he returns to his “second” mother Rosetta in his favourite Maranello restaurant. He used to eat with her and her family when testing at Fiorano, and as we all know from books and magazines, there is something that he coverts more than anything, it’s loyalty and family.

          Ferrari was always his family, Mercedes just an employer.

          One final point, everywhere I see messages of “Forza Michael” or “Forza Schumacher”. Forza by the way means strength in Italian.

          Not once have I read “Starke MIchael”

          Sayss it all don’t you think.

    • I have little doubt that if Ferrari invented a cure for every disease on the planet they would be damned for it in the eyes of the haters.

  10. “Martin Whitmarsh is traipsing around the world in pursuit of Fernando Alonso – brandishing contracts akin to love letters – like some stricken teenage girl.” Love this! A perfect take on Whitmarsh.

  11. I was amazed by Kehm’s statement: “. . . I wouldn’t have ever imagined something like this could happen.”
    How naive is this…? Has she never heard of Paparazzi…!?
    – – –
    While on the subject of naivety… I agree that Lewis gets a lot of crap flack from the media, however… pasting what most people will regard as a ‘skiing’ photo was certainly undiplomatic… and thus will attract comment. It’s automatic in the media.

    • The more I look at it the more I think kimi is a genius.

      Do what you want. Feck the begrudgers. Create a cult status. Earn telephone number salary.

      Clever guy!

    • Hey BJF, do we know who the “journalist” was, a nationality maybe? I found that sickening when I heard it. What is wrong with these people?
      What I find naive is that a person that is headline news around the world is in an intensive care unit without any security.
      When I think back to my daughters being born, I had to practically take ID to get through the remote controlled doors to see them

      • Ever heard of Fabrizio Corona ?
        This guy must be in the same league, scum of the earth.

      • Hi Carlo – I don’t think the nationality matters – they all do it – and have been for decades (at least). I was just amazed the PR person was surprised…
        I take your point about the security but the guy was probably stopped by the security before he was able to get close.
        As for your ID problem I suspect Western hospitals are more concerned about baby / child security than about celebs…
        Being an Italian in Britain maybe they thought you might have ”connections’… 😉
        Now your children are teenagers, do you need ID to enter their bedrooms…?
        – – –
        PS: This comment was not sent by my anti-Ferrari iPad. 🙂
        PPS: I am not a Ferrari fan… but I am a great Ferrari admirer . . . .

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