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Mature is the way forward
The 9 on the Richter scale that was reported by TJ13 raised many eyebrows within Formula One. How could fire and ice function together in a team that has such a rich tradition of number 1 drivers – and does not usually shy away from this truth (I refer to Ferrari) as some teams do. *ahem Red Bull*
Mark Webber was on the receiving end of such treatment during his tenure behind the wheel of the Red Bull. Whether Kimi Raikkonen will be subjected to such favouritism, or lack of, remains to be seen. However, Stefano Domenicali believes the pair can function well for the Maranello squad.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Domenicali said, “I’ve found him more mature, like all of us, more experienced, very close to the team.” So 4 years away from the Ferrari appear to have done Kimi some good then.
He continued, “Our decisions are taken in a rational way, not emotionally. We have considered the need to pair Fernando with a driver with extra strong motivation and an experience that allows him to manage such a difficult season as this year.” So it’s not all about Kimi’s ability and was he hired because of the need to have someone there who can offer a genuine challenge to Alonso?
“A driver that knows how to manage the pressure of teaming up with Alonso and racing with Ferrari, which is always under the spotlight and if it ends up second it’s a tragedy.” And there the truth is outed – “the pressure of teaming up with Alonso“.
Those who question whether Massa was viewed as a genuine competitor or just a puppet have their answer. He was never able to maintain his form as he did before his Hungaroring accident in 2009. The public ear clipping Alonso received was for much the same reason David Beckham was made to leave Manchester United, the individual was starting to believe he was more powerful than the institution.
Kimi Raikkonen, a driver who in the words of Domenicali “is conscious of his capabilities“, will have the mental strength to go head to head with the samurai Alonso and not worry about mind games or a slight dip in form. This is arguably the reason why Nico Hulkenberg was never realistically in the running for a seat at Maranello. If anything, he was only being used to lower the price the main target would cost.
In this most interesting game of chess, the next move is Alonso’s. Whether he can melt the ice man and reassert his dominance over the team remains to be seen. Will it be Alonso of 2007 that rises to the surface and throws his toys out the pram or have 7 years more experience strengthened the Spaniard’s resolve?
Mark Webber did the sensible thing getting out Red Bull when he did. It was only ever going to be downhill from here as the goalposts change this year, not being afraid to step down. At least now Massa has the chance to lead a team which he so rightfully deserves, even if it is a year or two too late. Furthermore, Alonso has the chance to further prove his credentials and put to bed the claims he only wins in a team where he is preferred. The book Samurai Chess combines the seven samurai principles and teaches the reader how to apply them to their gameplay. I wonder if Fernando has read it?
Embracing the future and welcoming change with open arms has not always been something the FIA has done well, but with Formula E a little over a year from its inaugural season, there is much interest around the new tier due to the different tangent of racing it will bring.
Nobody wants to see it become another A1GP given the way that came to end, but is announcing a ‘Drivers’ Club really the way forward? The thought of watching a driver, like Sebastian Buemi, for many will not be a huge draw to the series. A pilot who has had his chance to prove himself but did not manage to make an impact doesn’t carry huge weight.
The ‘Drivers’ Club seems more like a list of drivers who have not been fortunate enough/not had the funds to secure a race seat – sounding more like a Formula One reject list. Whatever your opinion of somebody like Jaime Alguersuari, having not driven since 2011 he will be at best rusty. That, combined with learning a new car type on a new street circuit doesn’t seem like the best way to market the new series. Why limit the club to only experienced drivers?
Including hot prospects for the future would get people talking as well as raising the driver’s profile. Surely seeing fresh and upcoming talent is a more mouth-watering prospect than seeing a driver who is trying to relaunch his career.
F1 drivers surprised by V6 torque (GMM)
For those trackside, the biggest obvious change since the end of the 2013 season has been F1’s new, milder engine note.
For the drivers, however, the major talking point is ‘torque’. The V8 engines of last year, and the radical new generation of ERS-bolstered turbo V6s, are actually producing similar overall power.
But the torque of the 2014 ‘power unit’ is significantly higher.
“When I went out of the garage for the first time, I thought ‘Wow!'” Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is quoted by Germany’s Sport Bild.
Sauber’s Adrian Sutil had an even starker experience, “When I accelerated out of the corner, I was surprised,” said the German, recalling his first moments with the Ferrari V6. I changed from third to fourth gear, lost the rear and I spun.”
Works Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg agrees: “The driveability with the turbo is a little bit of an adventure!”
More Renault trouble for Toro Rosso at Misano (GMM)
It seems Renault is yet to solve all its troubles with the new turbo V6 ‘power unit’.
After a disastrous Jerez test for the French engine supplier and its partners – notably world champions Red Bull – Renault appeared to have taken a step forward when it emerged the new Lotus had run almost trouble-free during its more recent track debut. But another Renault-powered car, the 2014 Toro Rosso, has been back in action even since the Lotus debut for a similar ‘filming’ day, allowed under the regulations for promotional purposes with non-competitive Pirelli tyres.
However, there are reports the STR9 managed only 70 kilometres at the Misano circuit in Italy, littered with “repeated” stoppages for battery and software faults.
Alonso didn’t use simulator in 2013 – Massa (GMM)
Felipe Massa claims he was the only Ferrari driver in 2013 to work in the new driver simulator at Maranello. Dropped by Ferrari after an eight-year career wearing red, the Brazilian has moved to Williams over the winter and claims he is completely happy.
“To be honest, I feel that I needed this change, and maybe it’s the same for Ferrari,” said Massa, speaking to Portuguese-language publications this week in Sao Paulo. “When time passes and the situation is the same, you end up losing motivation,” he admitted.
“I’m very happy,” said the 32-year-old, “especially the way I was received by Williams. Since the first day I arrived at the factory, everyone helped me a lot, embracing me 100 per cent and believing in my potential.
“In Williams I am being heard,” Massa continued, “but that doesn’t mean Ferrari didn’t hear me. They listened to me very well. Last year I worked on the development of the car, and in the simulator I was practically the only driver, because Alonso wasn’t there.”
Massa, however, said Ferrari’s biggest problem last year was the wind tunnel.
“Many times we saw that it didn’t work as it should have,” he explained. “At most grands prix we had new parts, but they didn’t work on the car. We began with a competitive car and ended with an uncompetitive one, which was the opposite of Red Bull.”
Ferrari get with the programme
I must write this several times a year. But I love Ferrari… not because I want them to win, but the team from Maranello represents a swagger, a devil may care attitude and at times display a complete disregard for anything that fails to add to the glory that is Ferrari.
This belief is steadfast even through eras where Ferrari are woefully lacking in F1 results. There’s a kind of homage to the old ways of the sport, almost to the point that even winning appears a dirty word and is secondary to ‘doing things the Ferrari way’ which basks in the heritage of the prancing horse.
Yet change is afoot. Fernando has been tweeting away for a couple of years, of course this was only recently brought to Il Padrino’s attention and this surprisingly resulted in merely some half hearted effort by Luca to restrict Fernando’s activities.
Ferrari appear to be are getting with the times. They may have built a fine and championship winning car, which certainly would make a change, but more interesting is a new attitude in Maranello toward social media and the voice of the fans.
This cultural shift is becoming stark when contrasted with the days when an edict was issued via La Stampa – stating the position of the red team – which no one should question. Some evidence of this was the recent social media poll run where the fans got to name Maranello’s 2014 F1 entry.
One man who is very happy to still be in a job, Stefano Domenicalli, yesterday spoke out to calm the dissenters questioning the direction and concluded with a call to modernity.
“In this situation, it’s best not to rush to draw any conclusions, and play into the hands of those scaremongers, as a propensity for self-destruction serves no purpose. Every time there are changes, there are discussions, which is natural. We have only had one test so far when there were never more than four or five cars on track at the same time. Let’s wait until we see all 22 together before saying that everything’s gone wrong”.
In this statement, Il Padrino’s ‘caporegime’ is taking on the mighty rival family of F1 supremo, Mr. E and his CVC brothers, who described the new engine regulations as a ‘farce’ and ‘completely unnecessary’.
Stefano continues, “Once a path has been chosen, one has to move forward in a constructive manner. If after a certain period of time we see that an element of excitement is really missing, such as engine noise, then we can see how best to react. Personally, I don’t think this aspect will keep people away from the racetracks”.
To be honest having stood 3 feet from the 2014 cars accelerating away from me in Jerez, yes the sound is different, but its exciting and resonates thought throughout your bones. As I reported from southern Spain, even the clips and sound recordings I posted here and on twitter were of engines hitting a max of 10-12,000 RPM. Engine sound is not a problem for F1.
One of the many and real problems faced by Formula 1, is that the fans are ageing. Here at TJ13 many commentators refer to events of more than a decade ago fairly regularly and our core readership demographics are between 30-50 years of age.
Formula 1 must attract new blood, or it will indeed die. The money folk realise this and propose double points, exploding charges on the run off areas and creating artificial rain conditions should a race get too boring.
More interestingly, Stefano is on message too. “We should be more concerned with the Grand Prix event as a whole and we need to find a strategy to attract youngsters to our sport”
Say what??? Ferrari are looking to the future of the sport without any personal gain? The majority of Ferrari road car customers are unlikely to be from the under 35 age group, yet we are hearing Domenicali calling F1 to arms on recruiting fans who are the ‘young ones’.
F1 will be inevitably be
infected affected by the ways of the young as a young rookies of the 21st century begin to find their way as drivers in the sport. I saw in our Jerez Hotel the rookies and reserve drivers hanging out, hoodies up, thumbing away frantically on mobile phones – and passing the occasional comment to each other.
So what’s the deal with Ferrari and the youth of today? Will there be a new chill out zone in Maranello sometime soon?
The Ferrari brand is the most recognizable in the world at present, so why the concern?
Maybe its because the kids of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s saw beautiful and fast cars as something to be worshipped, adored and lusted after. Most lads of my age had some kind of car poster on their wall and we played card games like top trumps to see whose car trumped all the others.,
Kids today are just not engaged by cars in the same way. So, unless Ferrari attract a whole new world of young boys and girls to do the equivalent of pinning posters on their walls and fantasise about one day owning a prancing horse, the inevitable slide of the brand’s status will begin as cheese wedge shape hover car era dawns.
This is clearly in the mind of those at the head of the Ferrari family, as Stefano makes clear adding. “We need to get back to having the car seen as an inspirational theme and not just as a means of transport, which adds nothing to our existence”.
Selling La Ferrari’s to a few hundred of the world’s elite gazillionaires will not ultimately keep the Ferrari brand where it is and this week the Ferrari brand is clearly a hot topic for discussion as we discovered the company shifted its brand related assets off shore to avoid Italian tax.
So the obvious and obtuse motif of Domenical’s speech is a shot across Ecclestone’s bows, but there is a subtext far more interesting, a discussion of the future taking place behind the red velvet drapes.
What’s certain is that should Ferrari get fully on message regarding the youth of today, then there is a chance they will lead the others along a path that revitalises young people’s interest in racing cars, the heroics of their drivers the intricacies of technology and a passion for speed.
These kids are after all the customers of Ferrari’s future.
(I bid thee all farewell as I now embark on a road trip of some length form the flooded plains and storm torn lands of Britain to the respite offered by continental Europe – specifically, the ski slopes of Italy. The TJ13 team will be here to serve the needs of the courtroom and I shall hopefully pop in from time to time whilst partaking in an aperitivo and Vin Brule.
Be pleasant to them and each other… and no riotous behaviour please… This is an establishment not paid for by public funds) 🙄
Stig joins Formula E
This morning the German based Formula E team have announced their drivers for the inaugural season. “Its Exactly 7 months (212 days) until @Daniel_Abt & @LucasdiGrassi line-up on grid for @abt_formula_e for #FEGPBeijing
The remaining drivers to sign up to Formula E’s new Drivers’ Club have also today been revealed with Jaime Alguersuari, Nicolas Minassian, Alex Brundle, Robert Doornbos, Christian Klien, Conor Daly, Katherine Legge and Ben Collins all joining a club – which is more of a beauty pageant.
“Unveiled last month, the new scheme features a pool of top, international names that all officially endorse the new FIA Formula E Championship and have expressed a willingness to race in the future. Today’s drivers join those previously announced bringing the total to 24. In addition, the Formula E Drivers’ Club will allow each member to experience the new fully-electric Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E car”. (Formula E)
Of the eight new names – seven are male and one female – Austrian Christian Klien, Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari and Dutchman Robert Doornbos have all raced in Formula One whilst American Conor Daly has tested for Force India. Frenchman Nicolas Minassian is a former Peugeot factory driver and Le Mans 24Hours podium finisher whilst Brit Alex Brundle – son of former F1 racer Martin – has raced in F3, F2 and sportscars, with fellow Brit Katherine Legge previously racing in IndyCar and DTM.
Meanwhile, British racer Ben Collins is a current stunt driver but is best known as the former ‘Stig’ from the BBC’s Top Gear programme keeping 500 million viewers worldwide guessing over his identity for eight years.
Jaime Alguersuari said: “I’m very pleased to be joining the Formula E Drivers’ Club. I think Formula E provides a new concept in motorsport and will be a great challenge to the drivers, especially having to learn new tracks in just one day and to race in city-centres like London and Beijing.”
This scores a 6.5 from thejudge13. Lacking in passion and not as believable as statements from other drivers
Robert Doornbos said: “I am really proud and happy to become part of the Formula E Drivers’ Club. I believe that Formula E cars are the future of motor racing and I look forward to racing again after a successful career in F1 and Champ/IndyCar. I’m positive that it will attract a lot of attention worldwide and sponsors will get to experience autosport on a new level.”
From Formula E judges this probably gets a 9 for saying this is ‘the future’ of motor racing. TJ13 says, rubbish – a 3.
Alex Brundle said: “I am delighted to be included in the Formula E Drivers’ Club and to be part of a new age of motorsport competition. The development of the car represents a new challenge in a forum which is innovative, sustainable and exciting.”
Clearly an 8 from me – as young Alex’s eloquence exceeds by far that of his alleged father.
Ben Collins added: “I’m thrilled to have been selected to join the Drivers’ Club and to be a part of the development team that will shape the future of racing.”
Sorry Ben, for ratting out your previous ‘non de plume’ persona for personal gain, you are disqualified….
Final driver signings for the inaugural Formula E season will remain up to the individual teams.
FIA Formula E Championship – Drivers’ Club line-up (total = 24):
Daniel Abt (GER)
Christijan Albers (NLD)
Jaime Alguersuari (ESP)
Marco Andretti (USA)
Sébastien Bourdais (FRA)
Alex Brundle (GBR)
Sebastien Buemi (CHE)
Karun Chandhok (IND)
Ben Collins (GBR)
Conor Daly (USA)
Robert Doornbos (NLD)
Lucas di Grassi (BRA)
John R. Hildebrand Jr. (USA)
Ma Qing Hua (CHN)
Narain Karthikeyan (IND)
Christian Klien (AUT)
Katherine Legge (GBR)
Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA)
Nicolas Minassian (FRA)
Franck Montagny (FRA)
Takuma Sato (JPN)
Bruno Senna (BRA)
Oriol Servia (ESP)
Adrien Tambay (FRA)