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Frijns: Lackey or Latent Force
It appears Caterham are seeking to maximise their income from drivers in 2014, and as such are taking their time announcing who will be doing what.
Dutch publication Dagblad de Limburger reports that Frijns has “almost certainly” secured the Caterham race seat for 2014. Citing sources “close to the team and the driver”, the article claims that the deal is “almost complete”.
The Leafield team are guaranteeing Frijns 16 days at the wheel of Caterham’s 2014 F1 car — eight on Friday mornings and eight additional test days. Dutch F1 fans can expect to see Robin Frijns in Jerez and Bahrain next month.
Robin won the 2012 acclaimed 3.5 World Renault Series but did so amongst controversy. He was involved in a collision with rival title contender Jules Bianchi in the final race of the season. Bianchi passed Frijns at the start of lap 21, and the Frijns quickly came under more pressure from Carlin driver Kevin Magnussen.
Magnussen made an attempt to pass Frijns at the Repsol corner, but Frijns moved to block him. The move forced Bianchi wide, and he skirted across the gravel trap and into the wall and retired from the race. Frijns went on to finish the race in seventh place, but race stewards decided that he had caused an avoidable collision and twenty-five seconds were added to his race time, demoting him to fourteenth place.
With fellow title rival Sam Bird failing to score enough points, and Bianchi scoring none, Frijns’ won the driver’s title.
In the days following the meeting, Bianchi accused Frijns of intentionally running him off the road, a charge which Frijns denied.
Maybe what many like about young Robin Frijns is that he is nobody’s lackey and having won the 2012 Renault World Series, Frijns was courted by Helmut Marko for the Red Bull Young driver programme. However, media reports suggest he turned them down believing that the programme and Red Bull had not treated other young drivers well.
As TJ13 has suggested several times, the role of third/test/development driver for many of the smaller teams has become a glorified way of describing the teams PR gofer as Davide Valsecchi discovered.
Frijns appears to have avoided this by negotiating hard track time behind the wheel of Caterham’s 2014 car which again proves he is no ones lackey.
Whether Robin Frijns is a latent force in F1- we will have to wait and see. Meanwhile rumours of a Kobayashi return to Caterham grow daily and it appears the writing is on the wall for Frijns fellow countryman Giedo Van der Garde.
Number 5 is alive
The metronomic manner in which Sebastian Vettel set about dominating the latter half of the 2013 season and winning the final 9 races in a row would go some way to support the view that the young German is indeed an automaton.
In the event – however far fetched and unlikely – that Sebastian fails to become F1 drivers’ champion ever again, his car will no longer be adorned with the number 1 – because Seb has picked the number 5 as his preferred choice..
This reminded me of an 80’s movie, though it told the rather weary and time worn tale of a Robot who escaped and became intelligent and human-esque, Short Circuit’s star robot coined a phrase that resonates through the ages. “number 5 is alive”.
This is indeed true in F1 again – well maybe one day. Number 5 is again alive thanks to Sebastian Vettel.
As with all things Vettel there method in his madness and unlike Kimi who picked the number 7 because it was his 2012 number and he couldn’t be bothered thinking about changing it – Sebastian explains his reasoning. “I have decided on the number five because I drove it successfully in karting in 2001 and got my first title with it in 2010,”
Of course Michael Schumacher ran with the number 5 on his way to winning a WDC title as did Nigel Mansell and as a student of F1 history neither of those facts will have evaded his notice.
There have been Holywood rumours of a remake of Short Circuit, though for now Sebastian choice means “number 5… is alive” and kicking in F1.
Double dealing double points
In F1 there’s always a story behind the story, someone attempting to get one up on someone else and in general an attempt to maximise one’s self interest. Prior to Christmas, Il Padrino announced, “I have the intention to invite [all teams] to Maranello, not to discuss a single point that maybe can give an advantage to one team or another, but to talk about the overall approach to Formula 1.”
The rationale behind this appeared fair minded. “I think the people do not have enough opportunities outside of the tough weekend of races – where you have to prepare the car for the races, the sponsors, the television, the public – to have one day peaceful talking each other to look ahead.”
Whilst there was nothing specific on the agenda, Luca appeared to be stressing the importance of forward thinking to ensure the sport not only survives but thrives. “I would like it to be in a very constructive way, without discussing anything relating to competitiveness, to discuss the nature of F1 with the teams. We have to make proposals to do something, without putting anyone in the corner – and not [do deals] under the table. I want to do it in a very open way.
I want to have more dialogue between the teams – not about competition, but looking at the problems with F1.”
All this is jolly statesman like and so it should be from the man who represents the team with the longest F1 tradition. Though behind the rhetoric was a plan to discuss seriously and idea Ferrari whole heartedly support, customer and third cars.
For better or worse it appears the FIA have hijacked Il Padrino’s altruistic planned summit and called the teams to Geneva for a meeting before the Jerez test next week. Some F1 writers are suggesting this gathering will present a swell of anti ‘double points’ feeling and the whole idea will be cancelled. TJ13 does not believe this will be the case.
In fact, Ecclestone and FOM will be pressing for the final 3 races to be awarding double points and if Eric Boullier’s position on the matter is anything to go by, the proposal will have fewer people objecting than may seem obvious.
“To be honest, I’m very neutral on this,” says Boullier. “In our case, it can change everything in the championship in the last race. It’s true that it’s a little bit of a change in philosophy, it gives a lot of credit to the last race and it does not reward the hard work of a full year”.
When pressed about whether the proposal could change again, Boullier said, “Maybe there will be more discussions about it, but I have no idea. To be honest, I am quite easy on this one.”
Il Padrino is less happy about the idea of double points, but isn’t suggesting he will deploy the Ferrari veto over the matter. “There has been this decision to give a lot of points at the last race, but I am not enthusiastic about it, It looks too much artificial. We will see.”
The name of the 2014 Ferrari
As we reported last week, Ferrari are allowing their fans to vote for the name of the 2014 F1 car. The options available are F14 T, F14 Maranello, F14 Scuderia, F166 Turbo and F616. A winner will be chosen on January 24th.
As from today, you can vote for your favourite name by going to ferrari.com and the Scuderia’s Twitter and Facebook pages. The name that gets the most votes will be revealed on 24 January at 12.30 (CET,) the day before the first photos of the car are exclusively revealed, along with a series of multimedia tools that will outline its main technical characteristics.
So Ferrari appear to be not doing a traditional launch where there will be live video, however they say, “Not only can fans make their mark on the Scuderia’s 2014 adventure, but again through the website and social media networks, they can also put questions to Team Principal Stefano Domenicali and the two race drivers, using the hashtags #askStefano, #askAlo, #Kimi.
The protagonists will answer the most interesting and stimulating questions in a video which will also go out on Saturday 25 January”.
Another Vettel is upon us
The Darmstadter Echo claims Sebastian’s girlfriend Hanna has given birth today to a baby daughter last Sunday.
TJ13 reported the tom foolery which occurred in Spa at the drivers conference when a whole range of fatherhood questions were put to Vettel and the other drivers. Amusing comments such as “just practicing” caused an unusual outburst of merriment amongst those present.
Paternal evidence via DNA is not expected to be requested, even though it appears infidelity may have occurred in previous generations of the Vettel family as Mark Webber’s parting shot to Sebastian in Brazil was “I’ll never forgive you… you bastard”.
We wish Hanna, Sebastian and baby Vettel well.