Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 22nd January 2014

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Caterham and Sauber complete lineup (09:00)

Paul di Resta returns to DTM (09:00)

McLaren passes crash tests (09:00)

Fat Hippo’s Rant: Worst fears coming true, but Ferrari gives hope (09:00)

The Legend is back! (09:00)

Fernandes ready to quit (09:00)

Force India reveal their livery (09:25)

Van der Garde spurned Caterham (12:03)

A small battle won for Ecclestone (12:14)

Desperate Di Resta (13:41)

Newsflash re the fat hippo (14:04)

TJ13’s testing rule of thumb (14:08)

Abiteboul attempts to calm troubled waters (14:41)

Schumacher (16:48)

Usher’s offering (17:44)

Smedley and Massa no more (17:52)

“Doing an Ijaz”


Caterham and Sauber complete lineup

As reported yesterday, Guido van der Gaarde has signed up with Sauber as their 3rd driver, while Caterham filled the same spot with Robin Frijns. As Lotus have proven with Davide Valsecchi, the job is largely ceremonial, but remarkably most teams this year have been quick to assure that their third drivers get Friday outings and the odd test day outing here or there.

It looks as if the train wreck that was Heikki Kovalainen’s outing with Lotus has convinced some of the more stubborn team bosses that you need to keep your third driver match fit and current on the car, so if the need arises you can actually use him or her for what the job description says.

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However, Kamui Kobayashi reveals he is now driving for free. He told those present in Leafield yesterday, “I am free. You get more money than me, We paid with my fans’ donations and I have to really thank my Japanese fans. I think I could not get this seat without my fans.

I don’t need money. I just want to drive. I don’t care about money. I want to be a success in my life and bring the team that success. This is my goal.”

Tony Fernandes was seemingly dismissive of Kamui’s apparent sacrifice. “Whether I get a million, half a million or save two million, in the scheme of things makes no difference when you are talking about 80 million pound ($131.36 million) budgets,”

Mmm. Such an attempt at indifference from Fernandes smacks of hypocrisy. We have an an Asian branded team… with an Asian driver… lets see how many sponsor badges from the Asia region Caterham manage to sport in 2014.

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Paul di Resta returns to DTM

With a test at the Portuguese track of Portimao, Paul di Resta returned to his new old team – AMG Mercedes, where he is paired with Gary Paffet, another former DTM champion. All in all DTM will have no less than seven current or former champions on the grid: Paul di Resta (GBR), Bruno Spengler (CAN), Timo Scheider (GER), Martin Tomczyk (GER), Gary Paffett (GBR), Mattias Ekström (SWE) and Maik Rockenfeller (GER).

Di Resta has also been mentioned as a prospect for a third driver role with Mercedes in F1, but neither side has made any comment so far. Di Resta’s new old colleague Paffett is a long time tester for McLaren, Red Bull Racing’s Antonio Felix da Costa will drive for BMW this year in full Red Bull colors.

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McLaren passes crash tests

After failing the first attempt, McLaren’s 2014 challenger passed the mandatory FIA crash tests or, as some say, the car is so ugly, the wall repelled it and it therefore remained intact, but more on that later. The team announced the good news on a Twatter or something.

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Fat Hippo’s Rant: Worst fears coming true, but Ferrari gives hope

Ever since Autosport ran a feature showing a penis-nosed F1 car back in November ’13, fear has been that some 2014 designs may fall from the ugly tree and hit every limb on the way down and Vettel may have to name his car Gross Gertie or Hideous Hilda this year. And if the interview snippets from, well everybody, are any indication, we might have underestimated the sheer fugliness. According to Auto Motor & Sport‘s Tobias Grüner, the nose of this year’s Mercedes is called “Bob’s knob” at Brackley, after Bob Bell, who designed the abomination and was the first, who warned FIA about the impeding visual desaster.

An f1technical.net user predicts this to be the nose design of the RB10

An f1technical.net user predicts this to be the nose design of the RB10

Adrian Sutil describes next year’s brood as “simply hideous”, while the man, who replaced him at Force India is a little more diplomatic. “For many the front wing and the nose will need some getting used to.” says Nico Hülkenberg. Charlie Whiting meanwhile describes the impeding train wreck as follows: “I can’t give away too much obviously! But we’ve seen a lot of looks, strange by previous standards, particularly the tip of the nose which has to be 300mm lower (than 2013). So each team is doing their best to overcome the disadvantage aerodynamically of doing that, and so are coming out with different ideas. I think what you’ll see is some interesting things which a lot of people will think are a little ugly, a little odd. But I’m sure we’ll all get used to it.

The list of things to look forward to is getting short. The Hippo relocated from the pond to a river called Denial and stubbornly hopes that at least someone comes up with a solution that won’t scare the children, while others try to take it with humor, like an Autosport forum member by the name of Andrew Hope: “Now I want to see if the 2014 regs have made the back of the cars look like vaginas. It could lead to some interesting first-corner accidents. It might be a great way to get some testing for young drivers if 9 races after a crash, a GP2 car is born.

Ferrari, however provides a glimmer of hope. If the picture of a covered car shown on their Twitter account is really the yet-to-be-unveiled 2014 challenger, not all may be lost yet. The nose is low, but there’s nothing dangling. It’s a girl!

We have a saying here in Germany: The eye eats, too, meaning that a dish does not only need to be nutritious and tasty, it also has to look appetising. No other dish proves that better than Blutwurst (blood sausage), which is also commonly called Tote Oma (dead granny). Now, some tell me that it is really tasty, but I simply can’t eat something that looks as if a slightly ill cook emptied his bowels on my plate.

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What the FIA people have to realize is, that what most viewers and the trackside audience are doing is WATCHING, so if you bring out something that looks like the aftermath of a tragic farming accident, people will be put off. The hideous platypus noses already stretched the suspension of disbelief thin for some people. There is only so much you can “get used” to. I never got used to Tote Oma and I’ll never try.

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The Legend is back!

Great News! No, it’s not about the Dacia Sandero – ALEX IS BACK!

The Fat Hippo is normally not easily moved to tears, but there is one man, who reduced me to a sobbing wreck no less than four times – Alex Zanardi. The first time was, when he had his horrible shunt during the American Memorial 500 on the Eurospeedway in September 2001. There we were, my Father and I and saw the driver we had come to see split in half before our eyes.

The wonderful thing about Alex is, that he fought back and became an inspiration for many people. The second time he made me cry, when I saw youtube footage of the 2001 Caschi d’Oro, just over 3 months after the accident. It’s even more moving now, as the man, who congratulated him first is now fighting for his life himself.

The third time came about in 2003 at the Eurospeedway again, when CART built a specially adapted car, so that Alex could finish the 13 laps that he had missed in 2001. Not only did he do that, he did it at a speed that would have qualified him 5th on the grid! I had goosebumps so hard, you could have sawn through a log with my bare arm.

Alex shows off a unique talent at the Eurospeedway in 2003. When taking off his overall, he just leaves his legs in it and uses a different set.

Alex shows off a unique talent at the Eurospeedway in 2003. When taking off his overall, he just leaves his legs in it and uses a different set.

The forth time he made me “pee from the eyes” came when he won the World Touring Car Championship race at Oschersleben in 2005 and I wasn’t the only one. Seeing a grandstand full of grown men in tears is a unique experience. After 4 years and as many wins in the WTCC Alex took up handcycling and after winning several marathons he topped it off by becoming Paralympic champion in London – twice!

In late 2012 he tested a BMW DTM car and for a while he was rumoured to join the series. Although that sadly never happened, it seems to have woken up the old spirits and Alex returns to the track with Roberto Ravaglia’s BMW team that he drove for in the WTCC. He’ll drive a specially modified BMW Z4 GT3 in the Blacpain Sprint Series. It’s just great to see you back on the track again, Alex. They race in Spa in late July and on the Nürburgring in late September, so don’t expect any Hippo’s Rants on those weekends.

The series even wrote a “Zanardi rule” into their rule book. Blacpain sprints last one hour and normally a driver switch is mandatory. Zanardi will be allowed to run the whole race on his own as the specially adapted prosthetic legs he’s using for racing make it a rather slow process to get in and out of the car. A mandatory minimum pitstop time will be imposed on Zanardi’s team, if they gain a time advantage from the missing driver switch, but in GT racing it usually takes longer to change the wheels than it takes for two drivers to switch places.

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Fernandes ready to quit

No one is quite clear as to why the FIA launched a 5 week process to recruit new F1 teams for 2015. The whole thing appeared to be rather truncated and the rumoured crop of potential candidates are hardly inspiring.

The last intake of team newbies were promised a budget capped competition of £40m. yet on their first day in class they realised they had been conned and the sign ‘welcome to hell” was displayed prominently next to Headmaster Ecclestone’s desk.

Of course the3 became 2 with the demise of HRT, and the 2 have not even been close to scoring a single point in 4 years of endeavour.

It appears the 3 could become 1 at the end of the season as Tony Fernandes has had enough of the money pit that is his F1 Caterham team. At the unveiling of their 2014 drivers Fernandes was catagoric.

“The sport has to examine itself,” he said. “I’m in a fantastic position to see two sports – football and Formula One. Every week I go to a game nervous as hell, whether we’re playing Yeovil, Doncaster or Leicester, because football is unpredictable.

It’s no secret people are paying more money to watch football, TV rights are growing, global audiences are growing, so what are they doing right that we’re not doing right in Formula One?

We spend all our time looking at how long a piece of pipe is, Kers etcetera, but the racing stays the same, with the same three or four teams there winning. There is no underdog who comes in.

In football, what’s great is a Yeovil going into a cup game and beating a Manchester United. That can happen in football.”

untitledFernandes will strike a chord with many F1 fans when dismissing the double points proposal. “That is a fake fix. What’s better is to solve the issue and make the racing more compact so a Sauber, a Lotus or a Force India could cause an upset.

That’s what people like to see, what people like to watch, and that is what is missing in Formula One. The gaps between the haves and the have-nots has made racing boring.”

Unlike the Mallya Empire, Tony Fernandes appears to have grown an airline business which in fact makes money. However, he is adamant he will not continue to pump cash into the black hole that is Caterham F1 unless changes happen – and happen quickly.

“My message to the 250 people here [in Leafield] is we have to go for it this year. This is it – the final chance. We’ve given you the best infrastructure, the best potential drivers but it is now down to all of you to go and do it.

If we’re at the back I don’t think I’m going to carry on. Nothing is set in stone but after five years with no points there is a limit to one’s patience, money, motivation, etc, so it’s an important year.

I need to feel like we’re going somewhere. If I feel we can compete, then great but if we’re not competing then we have to seriously examine ourselves and ask ‘does this make sense?’ If we’re not competing, two seconds behind everybody else, then we haven’t made any progress.

When I started a two-plane operation I saw a massive opportunity, and even though I had no money, we found a way to build 150 planes. So that’s the thing. If we compete, then we have to find a way to do things, to go for it. That’s the competitive spirit in every human being.

But if we were still a two-plane operation and losing tons of money every year then you’d have to say ‘what’s the point in carrying on?”‘

Let this be a lesson to Mr. Haas et al who may be considering joining F1. Fernandes realised that having his team located in Norwich was prejudicial to their ability to recruit quality F1 engineering talent, so they relocated to Leafield and are yet to score a single F1 point. What hope has an outfit based 3500 miles away in Charlotte USA?

Fernandes sentiments could of course be an attempt to attract a new F1 ‘wanna be’ to buy out the Caterham team rather than commit to the thankless task of a complete start up – which is clearly nigh on impossible for less than a few gazillion.

Gone are the grand visions of the Caterham brand using F1 to promote their car manufacturing division, despite the fact that they have an ongoing project with the Alpine brand of Renault. F1 is just too expensive, and for those outside the top 5 or 6 makes no business sense at all.

Week after week we hear from the various great and good in F1 about how unsustainable the current financial models are, yet nothing ever gets done. The buck at the end of the day stops with Ecclestone, who maintains “the teams have more money than God”.

Mr. E’s F1 competitor model is a do or die proposition, yet only the few can ‘do’ and the rest will eventually ‘die’. This is fine so long as there is a long line of mugs ready to tread the delusional path Fernandes now realises he chose to follow.

The reality is that despite the enormous rule changes and the current uncertainty over how each team will fair in 2014, the likes of Caterham and Marussia will be again doomed to score NIL POINTS and trail the rest of the field by some margin.

English fans of a team like QPR will understand the fact that Fernandes’ roll of the dice in the football casino is as likely to lose him fortunes on his pig bladder kicking lads as he is to quit ahead of the game. This contextualises the Caterham owner’s commitment to his F1 team where the odds are stacked even more heavily against success.

As usual F1 will treat Fernandes declaration of intent as unimportant as they plough on trying to best each other at all costs. Yet if Caterham go down or withdraw from F1…. in that moment the next F1 crisis proper will be defined.

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Force India reveal their livery

This morning Force India have revealed themselves for the year to come. It will come as somewhat of a shock to those used to the team’s light colourscheme used since 2009.

Dark and mysterious some might say...

Dark and mysterious some might say.

 The VJM07 is a far cry away from it’s predecessors with what seems to be much more mature looking livery.  The dark nature of the car sees it move away from the colours of the Indian flag.

Almost no new design innovations can be seen on this, as we will have to wait until next week in Jerez for the team to show it’s hand on this front.  However, technical director Andrew Green had this to say, “Almost every single part is a new design, from the front wing right back to the diffuser.

The genetics of the VJM07 still lie in the 2013 car, but we’ve had to achieve the same results in a slightly different way.  It’s been a massive job to accommodate all the changes to the power unit – it’s the biggest change I’ve witnessed in the sport since I started in 1990.

If this is the case, then it could paint a depressing picture for the next year to come given the dominant nature of the RB9 in 2013 (following the summer break and switch of tyres).

He continues, “Cooling has been the biggest challenge with most of last summer taken up trying to understand the cooling requirements of the power unit, and how best to optimise it in the chassis.”

Given the problems Red Bull have had over the past 2 years cooling their KERS unit there is hope yet for the other teams.

The side profile manages to more or less hide the nose tip from view and according to Andy Green it’s a provisional one anyway. “Our nose is a launch spec and later we will have an updated front end of the car, which potentially is quite different.”

“We had to take quite a pragmatic view of it and say we’ve got to go testing so we’ve got to get a car out of the door. As much as we want to push the boundaries of the impact structure, because we know how important they are for the whole car, we don’t have the resources to push it to the limit in our first iteration, so we need a banker. The nose that is on the launch car is a banker.”

“We’ve got ourselves a car that we can go testing and racing with. Several weeks ago we started pushing the design boundaries because we think there’s performance in it. There are new concepts coming through.”

On the subject of the new colour scheme, Mallya had this to say, “The VJM07 looks stunning and the new livery reflects the way Sahara Force India is evolving.  I’ve always believed our cars have been the most eye-catching, but adding black as a main colour gives us a fierce new look.”

Fierce and stunning are not words that we would associate with the new look.  The move to black is most likely to incorporate the Claro video (a version of YouTube in Latin America and most importantly Mexico) branding onto the car. The Force India team principal continues, “When I founded the team my first ambition was to launch the first Indian team on the grid, but the next stage in our evolution is to develop a global brand.

There’s nothing like selling your soul for a dime is there Mr Mallya.  As TJ13 has reported on many occasions before, all is perhaps not well financially with the Silverstone based team.  What do you think readers?  Is the “fierce” new look going to be a hit?

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Van der Garde spurned Caterham

Giedo van der Garde stole some of the thunder from Tony Fernandes when he tweeted his departure from the team to join Sauber in advance of the announcement from Leafield of their 2014 driver line up.

It now appears this was no act of petulance having been turfed out to make room for a rookie, but Giedo claims to De Telegraaf he chose to leave Caterham to improve his career opportunities.

Of course the role with Sauber is as development driver, though it apopears van der Garde has negotiated a number of FP1’s and testing sessions behind the wheel.

“I liken it to Jasper Cillissen,” said van der Garde. He is referring to a Dutch goalkeeper who transferred from one football team to another, sat on the bench for a year but ultimately went on to become highly successful.

When asked why he refused Caterham’s offer, Giedo replied, “I take it because this is a better option. My goal this year is to show what I can do and race for Sauber in 2015. I’m a driver who wants the maximum possible, not to race around at the back.”

TJ13 senses the hand of Ferrari behind the scenes. Having lost Perez and now Hulkenberg from their ‘junior F1 team’, Giedo was impressive in the latter part of his first F1 season and may indeed be a good F1 driver for the future.

Further, Tony Fernandes threat to withdraw from F1, has been common knowledge within the team for some time as the Asian businessman is frustrated at Caterham’s inability to beat Marussia in the constructors’ championship.

Only time will tell whether taking the stick to the Leafield employees will inspire them or force them to consider circulating their CV’s in F1 valley.

This leaves Sergey Sirtokin out in the cold. There has been no talk of the Russian investment for months and TJ13’s Swiss F1 journalistic connection reveals Sauber will not field 2 test drivers.

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A small battle won for Ecclestone

…but the war is by no means over.

Bluewater, the company who claim they would have paid more for the F1 commercial rights than CVC, had issued proceedings against Ecclestone for damages of $650m in a New York court. They also make plain they would not have retained Ecclestone as the CEO had they acquired the rights, as did CVC.

They claim CVC won the right to buy the rights due to Ecclestone’s $44m bribe of German banker Gribkowsky.

Today the supreme court in New York has rules they do not have the jurisdiction to hear the case because, “critical events underlying the claims in this lawsuit took place in Germany, England and elsewhere in Europe”.

This will bring little joy to the Ecclestone heart as the biggie in Munich is set to go ahead in April this year. Further, Bluewater may be better served bringing their action against Ecclestone in the UK or Germany – so this is a merely a reprieve for now.

…but the war is by no means over.

Bluewater, the company who claim they would have paid more for the F1 commercial rights than CVC, had issued proceedings against Ecclestone for damages of $650m in a New York court. They also make plain they would not have retained Ecclestone as the CEO had they acquired the rights, as did CVC.

They claim CVC won the right to buy the rights due to Ecclestone’s $44m bribe of German banker Gribkowsky.

Today the supreme court in New York has rules they do not have the jurisdiction to hear the case because, “critical events underlying the claims in this lawsuit took place in Germany, England and elsewhere in Europe”.

This will bring little joy to the Ecclestone heart as the biggie in Munich is set to go ahead in April this year. Further, Bluewater may be better served bringing their action against Ecclestone in the UK or Germany – so this is a merely a reprieve for now.

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Desperate Di Resta

Having announced he will return to DTM in 2014, Paul di Resta still hankers after the glory days in the F1 paddock. He tells the Scotsman, “Everyone knows I didn’t leave F1 because I didn’t perform… there were other issues”.

What can you mean Paul? Regular public criticism of the team… failing to take responsibility for your own mistakes…. Having an ex-SAS trainer who tried to punch the living daylights out of a team mechanic who made a joke about you?

Possibly all of the above and more. Yet Paul wishes to portray a positive outlook. “If the opportunity comes up, I’m still young enough that I can get back in there. Racing in the DTM makes sense and it lets me combine something with F1 and keep my foot in the door should something come up,”

There are no clashes between the F1 weekends and races on the DTM calendar, so this may indeed be possible.

“Do I feel my F1 career is over? No, definitely not,” di Resta adds though, “as is the case with any championship, I am now fully committed to winning the DTM title again with Mercedes.

But they also know I want to remain in the F1 paddock. They are well aware of the fact that’s where I want to be, and I know I have their full support. That’s hugely important for me,” he concluded”.

Rumours are circulating that Mercedes may announce Paul di Resta as their reserve F1 driver, so F1 fans may not yet be free to watch a race weekend without hearing the drone of the dour Scot’s monotone giving his opinions during the practice sessions or on the live shows.

I guess when Lewis announces that via his relationship with a certain ex-girlfriend he is to sire a protoge, Mercedes may be concerned he’ll lose the plot and need a quick fix replacement.

Yet, one opinion is that di Resta was too conservative an F1 driver and his time has now gone…. though it’s natural he should cling to any glimmer of hope of a return to the pinnacle of world motorsport.

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Newsflash re the fat hippo

Having fought for all that is good in this world and championed traditional values and the old ways of nations, today the fat hippo has made an announcement some would regard as a 9.5 on the Richter scale.

My twitter feed reads….

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This was clearly an action taken in the early hours of the morning when the Bavarian brew can lead us all astray. As an aside, Interestingly on the matter of German beer, Wikipedia states a report in 2010 showed that Germany ranked second in terms of per-capita beer consumption, behind the Czech Republic and ahead of Uastria (third) and Ireland (fourth). Thos of us from other nationalities can rest in peace that our livers are safe….

However, TJ13 has been contacted by the Twitter overlords who are concerned over the fact that the fat hippo has crossed the border into Twitterland. We informed them we accepted no liability should all that is true and lovely in their universe be made a desolate place where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Welcome DS 😉

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TJ13’s testing rule of thumb

I was informed by a wise old head in F1land, that under the new testing regulations there was a good rule of thumb to determine who a team perceived to be their number 2 driver.

“See who they put in the car for its first shakedown runs”.

Today Ferrari announces that it will be Kimi Raikkonen who will drive next Tuesday and Wednesday for the Maranello team in Jerez.

The F1 sage then told me that the teams who wish to avoid giving this impression, may split the first day between the two drivers – or over the four days alternate between the two daily.

Looks like Ferrari are nailing their colours to the mast in a bold and categoric fashion.

I’m sure this maxim will be open to the scrutiny of the  jury now, and I await with aniticipation the evidence to be brought forth.

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Abiteboul attempts to calm troubled waters

Following what has been a bombshell for the 350 staff working in Leafield, team principal of Caterham, Cyril Abiteboul seeks to soften the impact from Fernandes statement – “If we’re at the back, I don’t think we’re going to carry on”.

The Frenchman suggests, “I don’t think we should develop [the threat] angle too much. I think the angle we need to focus on is that there is a level of competitiveness that we need to get to, and that should be seen as a motivation rather than a threat. Then it’s up to me that we develop that and to make sure that the staff is together. That’s why it took some time to get the driver line-up sorted out, because we know that this is the equation that we must sort out this year.”

However, today’s revelations that Giedo van der Garde was offered a drive but chose to walk, hardly gives credence to Cyril’s assertion.

Not stepping too far out of line with his boss, Abiteboul adds, “I think he’s right, we should not lose sight that this is also a marketing activity and in order to promote a product you have to be relatively successful. You have to be seen, you have to be visible. In order to attract sponsors you have to be visible, and right now we are not”.

Fernandes threat is clearly real as Abiteboul suggests there are other activities the staff could be engaged in were the team to withdraw from F1. “I think that the message is a strong and not an easy message to get across because we have a responsibility to our 350 heads. But it’s not saying that we would possibly stop as a company because there are plenty of other activities in the road car business and so on and so forth.”

All eyes will be on how Caterham performs early season and even at the Jerez shakedown, teams usually run a few hot laps to get some perspective on where they are in relation to the competition.

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Schumacher

TJ13 has been reluctant to publish much regarding Michael Schumacher’s situation, due to the swathes of ill informed comment and opinion which has been in abundance.

However, there is one person I do trust to give informed comment and it is the former F1 doctor, Gary Hartstein. Gary is candid and explains, “I have not seen Michael, not seen his scans, and not had any contact with the medical team caring for him. I’m going to base the following on what has been said by his care team, on the things that have not been said (by anyone), and on my clinical experience (and that of colleagues) with similarly injured patients”.

Further, the only reason Gary has written on the matter is because, “The Daily Mail has done it again. With today’s headline they’ve “forced” me to take to my blog to help clarify some of what’s being said”.

There is a full detailed explanation of how Gary sees things at present here

However, for those who may not wish to read the detail, I’m afraid Gary’s conclusions are not too positive. He states, “First off let me say that it is EXTREMELY unlikely (I’d honestly say virtually impossible) that the Michael we knew prior to this fall will ever be back.

I think that it will have to be considered to be a triumph of human physical resiliency, and of modern neurointensive care, if Michael is able to walk, feed himself, dress himself, and if he retains significant elements of his previous personality. 

This is Mr. Hartstein’s best case scenario too.

Much of Gary’s prognosis is based upon comments made by the surgeon treating Michael, who on the Monday following Michael’s accident revealed (in French), “Don’t think that we evacuated two hematomas and that’s it. Michael has lots of hematomas in his brain, on the left, on the right, and in the middle”.

The devastating nature of this comment is explained by Harstein. “Damn. See, the “middle” is where all the important stuff happens – awareness, arousal, control of blood pressure, respiration, swallowing etc. And the left – well that’s usually language. Etc etc. The neurosurgeon, whether intentionally or not, painted a rather catastrophic neurologic picture”.

When men of science suggest we resort to acts of spirituality and faith, clearly things are grave indeed. Gary concludes, “There is certainly reason for worry – lot’s of worry. But no reason to lose hope. Everyone who works with head-injured patients has seen VERY severely injured patients (who were not expected to do well) recover acceptably. All we can do is wait, pray, and be behind Michael and his loved ones”.

Having avoided all material on the matter for some time, I have been rather perturbed by Ferrari’s daily posting of tributes and well wishes to Michael. I genuinely believe this is done with only the best intentions, however as the days pass each ‘#Forza Michael’ – followed by the date, someone’s name and comment – feels decidedly like a memorial to someone who has passed away.

Today’s offering was a touching memory from Luca Baldisserri.  “Michael I’ll never forget when, back in 2000 you came and said some encouraging things to me after the problems with the car at Spa. Your message was clear – never give up. Now, I’m the one telling you the same thing. We want to see the old Michael again. See you soon, Luca”.

Sadly for Luca and all of us, it appears we’ll never see the ‘old Michael again’. As Gary suggests, if you are of a world view which can beseech a higher power to intervene then this at present appears Michael’s best hope.

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Usher’s offering

For those of you who have been on the twittershpere longer than our much loved fat hippo, you may know theUsher. He drives new people to our community by tweeting links to our articles at hours when I’m fast asleep or incommunicado.

We have recently been getting 500 people a day coming from Twitterland, due to the readers retweets (instructions at top) and Usher and #F1extra’s endeavours.

Well – keen to demonstrate he is capable of more than the daily “All rise” announcement to the court, Usher will be starting a mini blog site linked to TJ13 and posting humourous and at times risque stuff.

We’ll let you know more nearer the time. For now this is an example of his handiwork…

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Smedley and Massa no more

The bromance that is Rob Smedley and Felipe Massa is over. Williams have appointed a race engineer for Felipe. His name is Andrew Murdoch and he was the race engineer for the dearly departed Pastor Maldonado. Jonathan Eddolls will continue supporting  Valtteri Bottas

F1 fans have come to love the relationship between Smedley and Massa, mostly expressed via the crackle of car to pit wall radio. Famously, Smedley relayed the heart sinking instruction,  “Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand that message?”

Apparently, Smedley’s radio transmissions to Massa have achieved a status with Ferrari fans who have recorded his messages on their mobile phones as ringtones.

Rob Smedley has been offered a larger role with Williams though its remit at present is unclear.

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“Doing an Ijaz”

Having been slated by a fellow F1 writer for inferring Mansoor Ijaz may at times appear lacking in credibility, it appears that “doing an Ijaz” is catching. When the announcement came that Lotus had failed to get their 2014 car ready in time for Jerez, a defensive Eric Boullier categorically stated. “You will see, we will not be the only team not being in Jerez,” he said. “I know this for a fact already”.

TJ13 questioned the validity of this statement at the time and now by my reckoning all the animals going testing are now accounted for, and as a collective they can be counted – 2 by 2.

Marussia have just tweeted, “For those of you asking if we’ll be in Jerez next week … we will indeed,” adding, “Can’t wait to see the new MR03 out on track!”.

It appears the extended time Eric spent with Mansoor towards the end of last season has seen him exposed to and infected by a critical dose of “doing an Ijaz”. In yesterday’s news here we learned this referred to “an unbelievable claim or statement – where the likelihood of it coming to pass or being true is practically NIL”.

The signs were evident several weeks ago that this condition was developing in Mr. Boullier. The Lotus team boss was most twitchy and uncomfortable when he asserted the team had done their due diligence on Quantum Motorsports at an FIA press conference.

TJ13 recommends going cold turkey as the best cure for this complaint. Under no circumstances should the Lotus team allow Mr. Ijaz anywhere near their shareholders register – lest the whole of Enstone become infected and they believe they have the capability to build a space rocket to send Crashtor to the moon.

Lotus have yet to announce a launch date for their car.

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65 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 22nd January 2014

  1. And let’s not forget Kamui put aside a very lucrative Ferrari contract, and believe me, Domenicali really tried to keep him on board.

    *machismo alert!!*
    Cars are always girls in Italy Danilo (la macchina), why do you think the drivers have such a hard time getting the d*mn thing to do what they tell her to do?

  2. I think that livery looks atrocious, myself. It looks like someone has just clicked randomly with the bucket tool set to black in Paint.

    No cohesion.

    • ….Starting from scratch these teams are always playing catchup on capital spend, which affects them as much as any revenue gap in annual budget which exists. .

      It takes years for this problem to diminish…

    • …. similar to the one I have of the CEO of a certain motorsports investment company – whose name interestingly means, “the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction”.

  3. “TJ13 senses the hand of Ferrari behind the scenes”
    That would be great for the likeable Dutchman, but why would Ferrari make such a move, when they still have Jules Bianchi (for the near future) and Raffaele Marciello (last years F3 champion), for whom Ferrari arranged a seat at Gp2 team Racing Engineering, who won the drivers title in GP2 last year with Fabio Leimer.
    Marciello is the star of the FDA and is next in line after Bianchi, I don’t see where Giedo would fit in.

    • Apart from that, I’m not so sure Hulkenberg is completely out of the picture, Ferrari always had a good relationship with Force India, Bianchi was also parked there as a testdriver.
      Nico has a lot of fans in Maranello, among those Il Padrino himself.

        • When they get there way on 3 cars I still don’t see Giedo getting in, but then again, I might be slightly biased ’cause I’m dying to see an Italian driver in F1.

          • … Indeed…. as we saw yesterday in the comments section, nationality can be a highly emotive issue and colour ones judgement at times 🙂

          • Ferrari may need 3 cars with the amount of talent coming through it’s YDP.. And they can still go for Hulkenberg over Bianchi as well. But a £3m investment in Marciello (should he get two cracks at the GP2 title) says a lot about how much they rate him. Fuoco and Stroll look impressive as well..

    • .. at times it seems like Ferrari collect drivers like tourists to London collect English Royal Family memorabilia…

      … I’m also hearing that unless a certain Esteban comes out of the blocks on the pace, his F1 season may be short lived….

      … Then again Esteban’s Mexican backers are gravitating towards FI, and McGregor have a pretty nice war chest for a mid-field team.

      • A Sutil-VDG line up would be good for Sauber, both being German/Dutch. Esteban could then be the reserve at Force India, and in time (if Hulk gets poached) Viva la Mexico. I wonder if VDG’s backing is more than Sutil or Esteban’s…

    • I would love it if you’re right.
      But I have to admit to the cynical thought that Giedo didn’t want to be outclassed by fridaydriver Frijns, so he left.

  4. According to the Sauber F1 Google+ mediateam nothing has changed in the relationship between Sauber and Sergey Sirotkin.

    https://plus.google.com/110152491531383457836/posts/DHDJLYFJrMy
    (Just look in the comments for the statement from the Sauber team)

    I must say though that it seems like either GvdG or Sirotkin is going to have a really bad start to the 2015 season. This would make the performance of Sirotkin in FR3.5 this year very important.

    • Good grief. Now that’s properly disgusting 😉 With Tote Oma the cook was at least only slightly ill 😮

  5. Mumpy c*nt or not, Di Resta would be the best reserve driver in the field… I also think he wouldn’t be allowed to run his suck under the MB umbrella the way he’s been accustomed to at SFI.

      • He skipped the test to “intensify his physical training”, if I remember correct, he took the lovely Dasha to the Canary Islands.
        So that’s how they call it these days, I must be getting old…

    • Valtteri starts for Williams. So is Felipe baby finally getting a shot at being number one? 🙂 BTW Merc ran Lewis first last year, so this rule doesn’t seem to apply universally.

      • … exactly and look how much running he got after his brakes failed and he formed a new relationship with a tyre wall…

        ..anyway, Lewis wouldn’t have realised the inference so they didn’t care 😉

        • In Ferrari’s case I think it’s a rather futile gesture. Kimi will do his talking on the track. Alonso on the other hand will likely throw his toys out of the pram at the drop of a hat.

          As for Lewis ? I don’t think he would have cared if he’d noticed that or not. He set his expectations to low last season. This season will be different however. Interesting battle to come between Lewis and Rosberg. Might be as frightful as Kimi vs Alonso.
          I just think Lewis is having his teenage years now that he is free of McLaren and Ron Dennis expectation of perfection and obedience to the McLaren philosophy.

      • …well, it was Lewis’ first year, so that may have played a role, let’s see who they run first this year

      • I was pretty sure Rosberg ran first at Jerez, and the web seems to confirm this. They did alternate though, so perhaps trying to disperse the impression of number one drivers

  6. To put Kimi in the car first is a no brainer.

    The second driver will get faster lap times. If Alonso gets slower lap times at the first test, he will shatter, blame the car and generally act childish. Kimi doesn’t care about test lap times. He cares only about winning races.

    This way you don’t start the season with an Alonso out of self confidence and control.

  7. “(…) As Lotus have proven with Davide Valsecchi, the job is largely ceremonial, but remarkably most teams this year have been quick to assure that their third drivers get Friday outings and the odd test day outing here or there.
    It looks as if the train wreck that was Heikki Kovalainen’s outing with Lotus has convinced some of the more stubborn team bosses that you need to keep your third driver match fit and current on the car”.
    Maybe since most of these drivers are getting their seats by paying for them they are asking for written assurance in their contracts that they will drive in those FPs before handing the money. Mostly I don’t believe the teams really have learnt anything.

  8. “Let this be a lesson to Mr. Haas et al who may be considering joining F1. Fernandes realised that having his team located in Norwich was prejudicial to their ability to recruit quality F1 engineering talent, so they relocated to Leafield and are yet to score a single F1 point. What hope has an outfit based 3500 miles away in Charlotte USA?”
    We’re still talking about the same USA that built the Saturn V, B-2 and the Mars rover right? Engineering talent?

    • … fair point, but weren’t they funded on generous public budgets… to get the best and experienced F1 engineers to move to Charlotte is a big ask…

      ..alternatively the learning curve even for world leading engineers who have to get their heads around an F1 car will be lengthy….

      • Land of opportu… I mean high wages and low taxes. There are worse places to have such a high quality of life.

      • That depends on how many dollars Haas is willing to spend on the project. If the pay is good and there are enough resources, then it is a better place than for example Lotus or Caterham.

        • … Just for the record, I would love to see a US team in F1, however as Fernandes and Abiteboul point out, you can only spend so much for so long to claw your way towards the midfield…

          If Haas has more money than Fernandes that’s fine, but I just don’t see the factory working in Charlotte – time zones, distances and recruiting specialist talent all mitigate against this.

          … Ferrari have plenty of non-Italian’s in their team and I suspect a US team would do the same…

          In the modern global village wouldn’t a US team be better served with an HQ in Charlotte and operations based in F1 valley – I call it this seeing as the definition of ‘home counties’ appears not to stack up)?

          • I read somewhere (the original report? not sure) of them also having a factory near Brussels for compiling the car and then transporting it to the European races from there. Could they also have a hub of operations there if need be?

          • …. sounds more sensible – though Charlottle would appear more attractive to me than living in the concrete jungle that is Brussells – still Toro Rosso and Sauber manage I guess

          • “If Haas has more money than Fernandes that’s fine, but I just don’t see the factory working in Charlotte – time zones, distances and recruiting specialist talent all mitigate against this.” < – – – – agreed 100%.

            As a card-carrying, Red-blooded, non-Communist American, I love my country (both of 'em! lol 😉 but nevertheless agree w/ His Honour that an F1-team based in America simply will not work.

            Of course the communications and logistical infrastructures exist to make it possible to stay in real-time contact w/ UK & the Continent, but human beings aren't as simple to manipulate as bits of data converted into light waves over a fibre optic cable…

            Prove me wrong, Haas!!!

      • Just kidding judge. But I do take issue with the notion that an F1 team has to be atleast partially based out of Europe to create a meaningful challenge to the current teams in terms of logistics, personnel etc. I would love to see somebody based elsewhere and kick everyone’s behind. Ferrari does have english personnel but it is Italian at heart. Just like even in the US, you’d have engineers from all over the world there. Heck, their society is a lot more varied than anywhere in europe I dare say.

        • being based in USA would be the exact opposite to possessing a competitive advantage over the current F1 competitors.

          but, if they make it work, that’ll be all the more impressive.

  9. I remember 2009 and the ‘horrible’ front wings. I didn’t like them at first, but within a couple of races I got used to the new look, and simply stopped noticing it – the cars ended up looking just fine to me, even now.

    Alternatively, many of the ‘historical beauties’ (for me not going further back than 1991 though, due to me being not that much of an old fart 🙂 ) look like old-tech, just as I can’t really enjoy video games older than 5-6 years anymore, due to my brain having adjusted to contemporary looks at any time.

    All in all, F1 will be just fine, as always. I’m just a little bit sad that of late TJ13 seems to be dabbling in populism, sensationalism, and general FUD. But that’s just my opinion … man … 🙂

    Cheers, C.

    • … only authorised advertisers please…

      FUD is a brand name for hot dogs, sausages, bacon and cold cuts produced by the Mexican company Sigma Alimentos, which itself is part of the ALFA industrial conglomerate…

      Maybe FI will end up being adorned by FUD too? 🙄

  10. Interesting to note how the journalist who rapped everyone’s knuckles for only Wiki-ing about Ijaz did exactly that on his DTM piece… Not a f*cking clue…

  11. “Rob Smedley has been offered a larger role with Ferrari, though its remit at present is unclear…”

    He gets to issue team orders to both drivers ?

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