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Whitmarsh will not attend Jerez test UPDATED 13:01 GMT
Van de Garde out of Caterham
An eagle eyed TJ13 operative spotted yesterday that the McGregor sponsor had been removed from Caterham’s web site, leaving us only one conclusion that Giedo van der Garde was not being retained for 2014.
TJ13 has been informed, Caterham will now announce Kamui Kobayashi and Swedish rookie, Marcus Ericsson as their driver pairing for 2014 later today.
This is the second year that Caterham have wiped the slate clean and recruited 2 new drivers to the team. Caterham missed out on the prize money for 10th place in 2013 and Italian journalist Roberto Chinchero comments that “financial support played a crucial role in the negotiations” between Ericsson’s management and Tony Fernandes.
Ericsson is believed to have a huge war chest of over $15m in sponsorship behind him and he will be the first F1 driver from.Sweden since Stefan Johanson whose last season was in 1991 driving for Footwork and AGS.
Brawn GP recruited Marcus’ services for the young driver test in December 2009. He tested alongside Indycar driver Mike Conway. Conway had the edge by three tenths of a second, however Ross Brawn commented that Ericsson had “performed very well showing exceptional maturity in his approach and feedback”.
Ericsson’s GP2 career hasn’t exactly been meteoric and there are certainly better drivers than Marcus not able to get an F1 drive. In a world where cash is King, the minor teams will no longer be a place for the genuine cream of the crop amongst the up and coming drivers – but a home for the wealthiest.
It looks as though its all over for Heikki Kovalainen too. “I got a text message from Tony [Fernandes] saying they need two pay drivers. So I guess that’s it for me. I was counting on this one 100%, so I have nothing planned now.”
The Finn stepped into Kimi Raikkonen’s seat at Lotus for the final 2 races of 2013, and whilst it is of course difficult to learn how to get the best out of a new car so quickly, his zero points scored in Austin and Interlagos left many with the impression Heikki wasn’t cutting it any more.
Whilst thanking Charles Pic for his efforts in 2013, Cyril Abiteboul hinted that Frenchman’s departure may have been due to performance issues. “Charles has some talent which can develop in a larger, more mature team”, stated Abiteboul.
Charles Pic has enjoyed an F1 drive for 2 years largely thanks to the financial backing of Idec Groupe, Lagardere and even Renault, However, there are young kids on the block with even more dosh than Pic can muster, so he must now fade quietly into F1 history as another also ran.
2014 car weight will be increased
From the middle of last season we were hearing stories about how F1 drivers would all have to dwarves from 2014 onwards. The weight of the car was raised from 642kg to 690kg and a number of F1 writers were concerned that this could drive someone like Nico Hulkneberg out of the sport due to the size of his frame and bodyweight.
Clearly the days of drivers living on a diet of burgers and hot dogs – a la Nigel Mansell – are gone for good.
As the season drew to a close, certain teams realised they were struggling to accommodate weight of the new power unit and requested the weight to be increased up to 700 kg.
Adrian Newey was a strong advocate of increasing the minimum weight of the cars. He argued that certain drivers will be very uncomfortable in the car, and that could affect their performance on track. Red Bull set Ricciardo on a training programme to lose 2kg.
The proposal to raise the weight of the car to 700kg was discussed at the previous Strategy Group and F1 Commission meetings where a number of changes in both the technical and sporting regulations were agreed.
That proposal was rejected, but at the January 14 meeting of the Technical Working Group, an agreement was reached to increase the weight of the cars to 692 kg. This was not out of sympathy for the larger drivers plight, but because the new Pirelli tyres will be 500gr heavier than in 2013.
The Strategy Group will still have to vote on, but that should be a formality.
Toro Rosso confirms Jerez
Having passed its final mandatory crash test yesterday (pictured below) the Toro Rosso ST9 is good to go and will be in Jerez for its launch on Monday next week. A statement from the team says, “A team truck will set off from the Faenza factory at the end of this week making the long trek to southern Spain, carrying not only the car but also all our hopes for the coming season.”
Daniil Kvyat is in good spirits. He tweets, “Good few days in Faenza ! Quality time with engineers , some training , and photoshoot today ! Btw STR9 is a beauty.” There is a picture attached, though this must be a junior version of Toro Rosso – can you see why?
Whitmarsh will not attend Jerez test
There have been reports suggesting that McLaren will not attend the Jerez test due to the MP4-29 failing to pass the mandatory crash tests. McLaren tweet this lunchtime, “Confirmed: MP4-29 has passed all its FIA crash tests,”
TJ13 has been informed however, that Martin Whitmarsh will not be attending the Jerez test next week with McLaren and that Sam Michael will be the senior team manager overseeing the schedule in Spain. Whitmarsh has been unavailable for comment since Big Ron returned to the helm of the McLaren group as CEO.
Whilst widely liked in the McLaren family, Whitmarsh has appeared to be under increasing pressure following the departure of Lewis Hamilton, Paddy Lowe and the annus horribilis McLaren experienced in 2013. Many within the team now feel he does not have the ruthless streak required to bring a McLaren return to the glory days.
Having failed to win either the drivers’ or constructors’ title in the past 5 years, Dennis believes it is time for a change. Ron Dennis is conducting a review of the business and will announce the individual who will become team principal in February.
TJ13 has long believed and commented to the effect that Ross Brawn carefully managed his exit from Mercedes during the latter half of the 2013 season to facilitate his recruitment by McLaren as their new number one in the race team. However, certain F1 writers have suggested Sam Michael is in line to replace Whitmarsh though his experience appears rather thin and Dennis will surely go for experience.
The British media have reported these events as though Dennis has performed a last minute coup, though the wooing of Brawn and the retirement of Whitmarsh as team principal have been long in the making.
With 10 races to go, Whitmarsh intimated he would be stepping down from his role as chairman of FOTA. “We’ll see what happens, but my recommendation to them [FOTA members] will be that someone else does it. It’ll be a good opportunity for them.”
Whitmarsh went on to say, “I care about Formula 1, whatever role I’m in” and added that during his time as FOTA chaiman, “McLaren, I think, has been an extraordinarily good citizen, in my opinion, of the sport. We have tried to be a galvanising, stabilising force, trying to understand the issues of all the players”.
Bob [the builder of reasonably fast cars] Fernley has been discussed as a possible replacement for chairman Whitmarsh. There is no sign at present of a return to the FOTA fold of Ferrari or Red Bull nor either of their junior teams. Montezemolo believes he has sufficient power via the threat of the Ferrari veto whilst Horner believes he has the ear of Ecclestone as the two appear to be locked together in an eternal bromance.
The affable Whitmarsh is expected to be offered a different role within the McLaren following his long service to the group which began back in 1989.
Ferrari internship dominated by UK students
A competition for a six-month internship and subsequent contract to work in Marinello is being dominated by graduates from UK universities.
Over 5300 business and engineering graduates from a total of 23 different countries, applied for the scheme. The applicants were whittled down to a choice selection of just 96, 18 of which are from UK universities.
“This means the UK universities have fielded around 1 in 5 of all candidates worldwide,” said a Ferrari spokesperson.
“This not only shows the extraordinary strength of the academic programmes in the UK, but also the enduring appeal of the Ferrari brand to those who are studying engineering or business at UK universities,”
Institutes represented by the graduates include Cambridge University, the Cranfield Institute of Technology, Durham University, the Imperial College of London, the London School of Economics, Oxford University and University College, London.
Each candidate is due to undergo another selection stage, which will take the form of a video conference on 22 January with Ferrari staff at Maranello. Following the interview, 48 of the applicants will be permitted to go forward.
These candidates will then be invited to Maranello, in February, for a two-day event where their abilities will be tested to ascertain their potential.
A total of five successful graduates will then start their internship at Ferrari in April, followed by an open-ended contract. Three positions in the engineering department are on offer, and two are available in commercial and brand activities.
Francesco Balli, regional manager for Ferrari North Europe, commented: “We are delighted to see such a strong contingent from the top engineering and business schools in the UK.
This competition is part of the Ferrari philosophy of investing in young talent, and we are proud to offer this opportunity to some of the brightest and most talented engineers and business brains whom we expect to bring innovation and creative thinking to the Ferrari of the future.” (Autocar)
Mansoor Ijaz furious at F1 writers
In a remarkable outburst to Grandprix247, Mansoor Ijaz has slated those he calls “bloggerheads and irresponsible journalists” for questioning his character and suggested he has a previous record of dodgy deals.
“When we finish the Lotus financing, we will take each and every one of those bloggers and journalists who slandered me to task for their irresponsible behaviour,” says Ijaz, “then we will see how big their mouths are.”
Gerard Lopez stated in the last week that the deal with Quantum was dead, “we cancelled it!”. Lopez explained, “The money never arrived,” and that, “For 2014, our budget is complete with our new sponsor PDVSA.”
Yet Ijaz is defiant claiming Lopez comments were a necessary evil due to “the possibility of additional misunderstandings arising, or journalists taking liberty with the actual words uttered.” He adds he is “doing everything possible to assist me in concluding the deal”.
If we are to believe Mr. Ijaz this time, the deal to acquire 35% of the Lotus team will be concluded between the Jerez and Bahrain tests.
Yet this silly rant today reveals Mr. Ijaz has forgotten that it was he who rather foolishly named his original investment vehicle “Infinity Racing” – which TJ13 immediately observed would be problematic for a certain international car manufacturer.
Mr. Ijaz is clearly not the brightest spark in Formula 1 investment because it took some 3 months for him to realise this problem and then and Quantum Motorsports rose like a phoenix from the ashes of Infinity racing.
The scores of column inches written belittling the credibility of this man are in fact a product of his own doing. It would have been far more appropriate for Ijaz to keep his mouth shut until the deal had been concluded, rather than announce a done deal back in June 2013.
Five months later, the cash had still not arrived and Ijaz is still claiming to SKY, “We are still very going to join them [Lotus]. We have done from our part when we needed to to make sure that the assets in our portfolio were released. We’re very close to the end now – I’m pretty sure that we’ll get it done this week. We will not quit until we finish it this week – and we will finish it this week.”
Again the portfolio cupboard proved to be bereft of the said ‘assets’, despite Mr. Ijaz’s repeated insistence matters would be concluded ‘this week’.
Even were Mansoor Ijaz able to finally persuade some investors to part with their cash and let him invest it on their behalf in Lotus F1, his behaviour and rash claims have diminished his standing amongst those in F1 to that of a laughing stock.
A humorous phrase has been coined, “doing an Ijaz”, which refers to an unbelievable claim or statement – where the likelihood of it coming to pass or being true is practically NIL.