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Reflecting on Monaco, for a second time…
Di Montezemolo continues at Ferrari
When the now ex Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned last Friday it was widely expected that Matteo Renzi, the Democratic Party leader elected this past December, would become Prime Minister. And that is what happened. Renzi was sworn in on Saturday and was joined by his brand-new cabinet consisting of sixteen ministrant members.
Further, a number of political commentators in Italy believe that Renzi wanted Di Montezemolo to join this cabinet but it appears the love for the Scuderia is still so strong, so very strong. Di Montezemolo was offered the post of “Made in Italy” minister, which he refused. Renzi then offered him the post of Minister of Economic Development, something that would most definitely suit Il Pradino’s skill set but Di Montezemolo does not wan’t to leave Ferrari even though he is very passionate about politics too. As much as Renzi tried to convince him to join it was not to be.
The new Minister of Economic Development is Signora Federica Guidi. She was born in Modena (second home town of Ferrari) and worked at Ducati. She was also president of the Young Entrepreneurs in the Emlia Romagna area (where Ferrari is) as well as vice president and later president of Confindustria (the Italian employers organisation) and so was her father.
And how does this tie to De Montezemolo? Il Pradino was president of Confindustria between 2004 and 2008 and there are those who believe there is a connection between Guidi and Montezemolo…
So for the foreseeable future Mr E can enjoy the almost undivided attention of Montezemolo… talk about having you cake and eat it!
CVC’s MacKenzie not happy
This coming week the Formula 1 Strategy Group is meet and decide on a number of changes including Mr E’s double points for the last three races and a new format for qualifying.
AMuS reports that CVC’s Donald MacKenzie is not happy with teams taking tactical decisions in Q3 to save tyres and has been lobbying to change how the shootout for poll position gets conducted and it appears this is the driver for a new qualifying format in 2014.
TJ13 reported in February there was a new proposed qualifying format, which it now appears is sponsored by the majority shareholder of F1’s commercial rights. Qualy will be split into three session, 18min, 15min and 12 min. Additionally the top 10 in Q3 will be given an extra set of options for this session. But here is the catch… they have to start the race with the tyres on which they set their fastest times on in Q2 to ensure they get no benefit by sitting out Q3.
AMuS are suggesting in addition the rest of the field that did not reach Q3 will also receive a set of options, but for the race, giving them a better chance in the race and apparently most teams have already agreed in principal to this new format.
Bahrain Day 4 – in motion
A compilation of footage taken during day 4 of Bahrain – enjoy
Imminent F1 woman racer? No chance!
There has been speculation that the Haas F1 application process will be the vehicle which delivers the first F1 woman racer for many years as the American racing team has Danica Patrick in their stable.
The topic of female F1 drivers has been surfacing regularly over the past 2 years and the driving force behind this mostly attributed to Mr. Ecclestone. Amusingly, Mr. E was asked back in 2005 about the possibility of women F1 drivers and he quipped, “I’ve got one of these wonderful ideas that women should be all dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances.”
Times have indeed changed, and Bernie now realises potential of women drivers in F1. This could enhance viewer numbers and in turn sponsor opportunities to market the female dollar.
Back in March 2013, Ecclestone stated on the official F1 website, that he would like to see Danica Patrick try out in F, though added she would “hardly want to give up the exposure she has in the USA to come here and maybe not make it”
At the time Patrick was competing in her first full season in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series and remarked, “I did see something about Bernie’s comments. They sounded complimentary, and it looked like he was kind of acknowledging my ability to drive a car”. However, “I always said unless it would be something I would want to do for real, as in race a Formula One car, I don’t see any point in testing it. It’s a lot of work to get fitted in a car comfortable enough to be able to go drive it.”
Giavanna Amati struggling to control the Brabham
Today the world’s F1 media are getting excited because Williams have announced Susie Wolf will be driving in 2 Friday practice sessions and during a full 1 day test. It has been noted this will be a historic time because she will be the first woman to drive at a Grand Prix weekend since Giovanna Amati competed for Brabham in 1992.
Williams Technical director today said, “Susie has become a valued member of our driver line up and 2014 will see her take on more responsibilities as we seek to make a strong step forward in performance,” adding that she, “has demonstrated a natural talent for developing a car and providing strong feedback and these sort of characteristics will be key this season as teams seek to quickly understand and refine the radically overhauled 2014 cars.”
Wolff herself says, “I’m grateful for the support and belief Williams continue to show in me and 2014 promises to be a very important milestone in my career. My responsibilities within the team have steadily increased as I have proved myself, culminating in the opportunity to test the car at Silverstone and conduct straight line aero tests last season.
“Competing in two FP1 sessions, alongside an additional full test day this season will be a big step and I am looking forward to the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the FW36 on a Grand Prix weekend. It’s a challenge that I will relish and it will be a great chance for me to continue assisting the team.”
Yet this is hardly the female break though F1 may believe it needs. Susie Wolff joined Williams in 2012 and so far has taken part in just the young drivers test for a session at Silverstone last year.
Indeed, Sauber have appointed a woman test driver too, though the exact details of how much time Simona de Silvestra will get behind the wheel of an F1 car is unclear. The team say, “This year she is taking the next step in her career by joining a preparation programme with the Sauber F1 Team, with the goal to gain her super licence and prepare for a race seat in Formula One for 2015. The programme will include on track testing, simulator training, as well as mental and physical preparation”.
In stark contrast to Wolff’s snail like progress in the sport, Williams appointed Felipe Nasr as a test driver just a few days ago. He then immediately piloted the FW36 on day four of the first Bahrain test and will get not 2 – but 5 FP1 sessions in 2014.
Unless Haas makes it into F1 and delivers Danica Patrick – as many believe he will, it seems the chance of seeing a female driver doing anything meaningful in F1 is still some way off.
Woman F1 Drivers
The emerging landscape
Many thanks to Lorenzo for the articles illuminating our understanding on technical matters related to the new 2014 cars. Further, my heartfelt appreciation goes to all in the TJ13 team for keeping you informed of matters whilst I was fortunate enough to take a family break in the Italian Alps.
It appears that a number of matters are becoming clear now that 8 of the 12 days pre-season testing are complete. Firstly, Mercedes are strong, though I have a source that suggests Ferrari is hiding their true performance quite deliberately.
For the lay person, it will become evident fairly quickly that the new breed F1 cars are in fact quicker in a straight line, though slower through the corners. This is hardly surprising given the torque the engines produce and the likelihood of spinning up the wheels if the driver is too aggressive.
The class of 2014 engines are capable of 900 BHP and we saw Nico Rosberg clock a time in Bahrain test 1 pretty close to the pole position time for the race weekend in 2013.
The F14T in the hands of Fernando Alonso clocked a top speed in Bahrain of 336kph compared to a best from the 2013 entry from Maranello of 314kph. Nico Rosberg comments to AMuS, “we are incredibly fast on the straights. I guess at Monza we will be doing 360kph”.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg may be looking good for Melbourne and whilst the rest of the Mercedes teams may be feeling snug, not one of them has done the mileage required for 1 power train in 2014.
The 8 engines allowed in 2013 meant the teams had to complete some 2,200 kms with each power train. The reduction from 8 to 5 engines means now that 3,500kms must be achieved before the engine is changed.
The Mercedes team lead the way in distance covered with almost 3,000kms under their belts, though of course much of this has been delivered at well under ‘full clack’.
Mark Gallagher observes, “When I ran the F1 business at Cosworth, our standard durability test for a V8 was 3000kms; this gave us 800kms more than was absolutely required by our teams, and so provided a high level of assurance. Under the new regulations the plan would have been a durability test of, say, 4500kms”.
This is a distance which the Renault teams combined have failed to reach. Mercedes have cumulatively delivered over 10,000kms under their team’s collective belts, while Ferrari may in fact be nervous by the fact they have only managed about half this distance.
Stories are emerging that Marussia’s testing in Bahrain was disrupted by a computer virus, though whatever the problem, they are the team really in the mire. It could be Caterham emerge the strongest from a war of attrition amongst the Renault teams and in Australia score points for the first time. This would almost definitely put Marussia out of contention for 10th place in the season long constructors’ championship.
The returning Kobayashi is not so sure. “Currently we are not on Formula One level,” he told Speedweek as his Caterham was 10 seconds behind the fastest car on day 4 in Bahrain. “It’s more GP2 level. We have so many problems with the car and the times are incredibly slow.” said the Japanese driver adding, “When you look at what Mercedes is doing, it’s overwhelming, but it also shows us what is possible and in what direction we need to develop.”
The FIA are considering waiving the 107% qualifying rule for the immediate future, as they shakedown of the new powertrains continues. There are concerns that the current rule requiring a car to complete a qualifying session within 107% of the fastest time set could see several teams missing from the race.
The final test in Bahrain due to start this Thursday will see the teams will decent mileage under their belts pushing for performance, whilst the likes of Red Bull will be feeling the pressure and focusing on delivering a car that can complete the 307km of the Australian GP – the weekend of which begins in 2 weeks and 3 and a bit days.
Schumacher’s chances diminish further
TJ13 has reported little on this matter and has to date certainly refused to speculate on matters which require a high level of specialist technical knowledge.
However, I do remember soon after Michael’s accident, a neurosurgeon told me that time would indicate the extent of the damage done during the skiing accident.
The days, weeks and now months have ticked by, and of course we must respect the devastating nature of this event on Michael’s immediate family. However, the complete silence on all matters to do with Michael’s condition is becoming quite unnatural.
Schumacher is only in the news because hundreds of thousands of fans around the world elevated him to celebrity status, and whilst they cannot be in the loop over every twist and turn, they are entitled to some official update on their hero from time to time.
Yet the silence from Grenoble is deafening.
Gary Harstein – former F1 doctor who succeeded Sid Watkins takes up this theme. “I fail to see how talking to us about the significant ups and downs of this long hard process damages Michael’s privacy or makes Corinna and the kids’ journey more difficult.
This is totally unfair to the people who made Michael the celebrity he is. The people who vibrated to his victories, and were saddened by his defeats. They deserve to be told something. I didn’t say it’s their right to know… rather I said they DESERVE to know. Why on earth is their pain not being considered? How is keeping the millions of fans in the dark helping ANYTHING?”
As was explained to me some time ago, Hartstein concurs that following the removal of sedation announced by the doctors, the next step would be to wean Michael form his ventilator. Surely had this been successfully achieved, there would have been an announcement from Grenoble and/or from the family – as this would be a joyous occasion.
The fact we have not heard this is a negative. Gary is blunt on the matter.
“Let’s cut to the chase.
“If Michael is not breathing on his own, and is (as we suspect) not showing signs of purposeful interaction with his environment (I am ignoring the mouth movements of which Felipe Massa spoke), AND if there is imaging and functional evidence of extensive and irreversible brainstem damage, Michael’s doctors will discuss withdrawing treatment with the family, as under these circumstances there is essentially no chance of recovery. It is possible that this discussion has already happened”.
The former F1 doc concludes with this caveat, “Lastly, if Michael is breathing on his own AND showing signs of meaningful interaction with his environment (I very much hope, but very much doubt that this is the situation), then a certain number of people should be ashamed of themselves for denying this good news to his fans. If there is indeed progress and good news ready to be told, then the current comms strategy will go down in the annals as among the most ill-guided, unprofessional, and hurtful in the history of Formula 1 PR”.
It’s clear at times how the angle the media take when reporting the news influences the mas consciousness. Having just completed a weeks skiing with my children, the matter of safety was one regularly on my mind. One ski shop owner told me he sold more helmets in the past 2 months than in 10 years.
Yet the issues of safety on the ski slopes are fare more complex than helmets and off piste skiing. O course wearing a helmet is a sensible thing to do when participating in such an activity, yet the dangers of skiing were made manifest to me even more on this trip.
I watched someone else’s child in 10 metre viability ski at high speed towards a blind crest, in blind faith there was no ravine. On another occasion, we had ventured on a mission to ski to France and back – which required a full day and some haste. The weather in the morning was fabulous, sunglasses and light ski wear only required – and the forecast was for this to continue for the rest of the day.
It didn’t. Within 30 minutes we went form these to blizzard conditions at 10,000 feet. A member in my party had not brought goggles, we met a lady with no money and merely light clothing and my piste map blew away in the wind and my phone was out of battery.
In life, the unexpected is always around the corner – and despite experience and no matter the amount of clever forethought applied, there’s always the likelihood of an occasion catching us in a state of unreadiness.
For me, the lesson from Michael’s tragic situation is not about to helmet or not to helmet, to ski off piste or only between the markers (when they are visible). It is that life is transient; and above all the mundane routine of our lives – doing what really matters whilst there is time… is of paramount importance,
Former F1 doc’s piece in full here