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Jacques speaks yet again (GMM)
The month of March
The March 701 of 1970 was March’s first F1 design. They supplied 6 teams that year and the car scored a win for Jackie Stewart and 7 further podium positions at the hands of Chris Amon (March Engineering), Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell) and Mario Andretti (STP). Not bad for a debut design!
How The Teams Decided When To Test For Pirelli (VM)
Sunday morning I was scanning through some prior news and noticed many of the comments to James Allen’s Friday afternoon story on the Pirelli 2014 test schedule were asking (and speculating) as to how the teams ended up with their particular dates. Amongst the 60+ comments from Friday and then Saturday morning, no one knew. Additionally, most were confused as to the advantages and disadvantages to teams for tire testing on the various days.
Those were good questions. So I went to Pirelli’s original release, and quickly learned the answer.
I then looked at other stories written about this Pirelli news release. I looked at works by Adam Cooper, Autosport’s story (which was unattributed), FOM (aka Formula1.com), ESPN, and others. None of these stories explained the mechanism of how this schedule was determined.
What was missed?
Early in the afternoon of last Friday, March 7th, Pirelli released this 2014 tire test schedule:
|April 8th (Tuesday)||Bahrain||Caterham|
|April 9th (Wednesday)||Bahrain||Mercedes, and Williams|
|May 13th (Tuesday)||Barcelona||Sauber, and Toro Rosso|
|May 14th (Wednesday)||Barcelona||McLaren, and Force India|
|July 8th (Tuesday)||Silverstone||Ferrari, and Lotus|
|July 9th (Wednesday)||Silverstone||Red Bull, and Marussia|
Pirelli’s press release with this schedule started with, “Following the agreement between Pirelli and the 11 Formula One teams…” Then the last paragraph of the release explains, “Each team will have to devote one day of testing this year to tires for 2015, as written in the latest sporting regulation (under article 22.6h).”
Hmm… What does Article 22.6h of the Sporting Regulations say?
In summary, SR Article 22.6h says that between the last winter test (Bahrain 2), and December 31st, there will be four tests for all teams to test a car for the teams’ own development. The tests will be at a track that has just hosted a Grand Prix, and will start within 36 hours after the Grand Prix. Each test will be two days long.
Hence in Pirelli’s release we learn that on the Tuesday following three different races, (the Bahrain GP, the Spanish GP, and the British GP), there will be these open team tests. The press release also mentioned the fourth test, which will be on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the final race of 2014, the Abu Dhabi GP at the Abu Dhabi track. For that final test all teams will be supplied with only prototype tires.
So… back to the question that everyone, (including The Judge), was asking… how did Pirelli and the teams come to agree to this schedule?
That agreement was guided by Sporting Regulations Article 22.6h, “…Allocation of dates will be negotiated (by all teams) with the appointed tire supplier who will give priority to teams according to their positions in the previous year’s Championship.”
I’ve created an alternate view that tire test schedule by adding the 2013 Constructors World Championship positions.
Is there a pattern visible in it now?
|April 8th (Tuesday)||Bahrain||Caterham||11th|
|April 9th (Wednesday)||Bahrain||Mercedes||2nd|
|April 9th (Wednesday)||Bahrain||Williams||9th|
|May 13th (Tuesday)||Barcelona||Toro Rosso||8th|
|May 13th (Tuesday)||Barcelona||Sauber||7th|
|May 14th (Wednesday)||Barcelona||Force India||6th|
|May 14th (Wednesday)||Barcelona||McLaren||5th|
|July 8th (Tuesday)||Silverstone||Lotus||4th|
|July 8th (Tuesday)||Silverstone||Ferrari||3rd|
|July 9th (Wednesday)||Silverstone||Marussia||10th|
|July 9th (Wednesday)||Silverstone||Red Bull||1st|
With two exceptions, teams that finished higher in the WCC choose the later test days. Why?
And what about the two exceptions of Marussia and Mercedes? Why did they choose to be the exceptions?
What is disappointing is that thoughtful spectators of F1 were asking the right questions about this. The journalists were given the information to answer these questions to a much greater degree than they did. But they failed to do so…
A common question amongst F1 spectators and a few journalists, is what is the difference between a tire test for the tire manufacturer versus a team testing tires for themselves, or a team testing new bits for their car?
The answer is that on a tire test run for the tire manufacturer, the tire manufacturer specifies the whole test program. They will specify the instrumentation, the set-up, everything. They will want to create a good, repeatable baseline, and then they will test various parameters of tire performance against their baseline. To gain good valid data, the tire manufacturer will require other parameters to stay the same to help clearly delineate the differences in performance amongst their various prototype tires being tested. All the teams know this.
To prove that is the case, the sporting regulations require the run plans of the test, and their results, be made available to all the other teams.
So that leaves the question… Why did Mercedes and Marussia switch their dates?
Owners worried demise will hurt F1 (GMM)
F1’s owners are scared Bernie Ecclestone’s demise could hurt the sport. That is the claim of the diminutive Ecclestone, who remains the F1 chief executive and ‘supremo’ even amid a corruption scandal that could see him jailed.
The 83-year-old likened his situation to that of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose retirement last year coincided with a decline in the great football team’s form.
“I have got a sneaking feeling our board are probably football enthusiasts and saw what happened when they got rid of that guy from Manchester United,” Ecclestone told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, writing in the Sunday Express.
Meanwhile, McLaren’s returning supremo Ron Dennis has said he does not think Christian Horner – reportedly Ecclestone’s personal pick – should succeed the 83-year-old.
“Personally, and I have nothing against either Christian or any other team principal,” Dennis told British Sky television, “I don’t think it would be a wise decision to put any former team principal into the position of running Formula One.
“There’s too much conflict,” he insisted.
Jacques speaks yet again (GMM)
1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve says Sebastian Vettel’s run of titles is definitely over.
“He’s not going to win this year for sure,” the French Canadian, who is set to return to the Indy 500 this year at the age of 42, is quoted by Italian publications including Autosprint and La Repubblica.
“To me, Renault seems completely lost and unable even to finish a Grand Prix. Even if they (Red Bull) are making a new car for the European races it won’t change anything — maybe they’ll do 30 laps instead of 15. It’s not the car but the engine.
“I’m joking, but why bother going to Australia? They can’t do half a grand prix and are slower than most. Williams now has the Mercedes and it’s only because of that they’re doing so well.
“It’s good for (Felipe) Massa, because he was finished and for a few years didn’t even seem like an F1 driver. I think that shows just how good his car is. We’ll have to see if they also have the money to develop.”
Beyond that, however – and Mercedes’ obvious advantage – the former Williams and Honda driver is not entirely sure what will happen in 2014, as F1 undergoes its technological revolution.
“I don’t know if it will be a great championship. It could even be funny,” said Villeneuve, “because in Australia we could see a Marussia on the podium.”
He thinks Kimi Raikkonen’s move from Lotus to Ferrari for this year, even though he will be partnered by the excellent Fernando Alonso, was a good one.
“For the first time, I see him working seriously. Maybe his year without pay was good for him,” said Villeneuve.
“Alonso is a fighter from the first lap and so he might use too much fuel,” he explained. “It also depends on the attitude that he (Alonso) has. The Alonso of 2012 could win this year, but not the Alonso of 2013.”
Villeneuve also predicted a tough season for confused spectators, and thinks F1 has missed some obvious opportunities to spice up the action.
“The fuel limit is a good idea,” he is quoted by La Repubblica, “but it should be the drivers saving fuel and not the electronics.”
Villeneuve admits Mercedes is the obvious 2014 favourite, but said the Brackley squad’s weakness is the driver lineup. “Hamilton and Rosberg are not friends,” he said, “but to me it seems entirely too flat, without a spark. It has to be tougher than that between teammates.”
And unlike Red Bull, Villeneuve says Ferrari cannot be written off yet.
“At the moment it’s not the best car, but it’s not so far back,” said Villeneuve. “They can recover. We’ll know much more after five races.”
Massa ‘impressed’ with Mercedes power (GMM)
Felipe Massa has admitted he has been “impressed” with his switch to Mercedes power for 2014. It is the first time in his F1 career the diminutive Brazilian has not been powered by a Ferrari engine.
The Mercedes team, and its customers McLaren, Force India and Massa’s new employer Williams, are tipped to lead in 2014 with a superior ‘power unit’ for the new turbo V6 regulations.
“I went to the (Mercedes) factory and I was impressed,” Massa is quoted by Italy’s La Repubblica. There are rumours Mercedes has come out so strong in 2014 because the German carmaker has invested four times more money than Ferrari.
“I don’t know whether it is four times,” Massa said, “but definitely to see them at work made an impression on me.”
However, he denied that he deliberately shopped for a Mercedes-powered team for 2014. “No, but with a regulation change that is about the engines, you know that they (Mercedes) know what they are doing.
“And from the moment I arrived at Williams I felt very wanted, which is a fantastic feeling.”
Massa’s last comment suggests that he no longer felt loved at Ferrari.
“I will not speak badly of Ferrari,” he insisted. “I was there many years and I lived some beautiful moments. And some very bad ones as well.”
He does not hide that Hockenheim 2010, when he was told ‘Fernando (Alonso) is faster than you’, was the low point.
“They did not let me win a race that I deserved,” said Massa. “It was not just the team order that hurt me, but the fact that I had come back from a very bad accident. It would have been very important to me.”
Asked if he often behaved ‘too loyally’ to Ferrari, he admitted: “Yes, maybe I did. But now it’s the past and it doesn’t matter.
“I remember the wonderful years at Ferrari, and the friendships with many people.”
Massa, 32, said he thinks Mercedes has the best 2014 car, and when asked ‘Hamilton or Rosberg’, he answered: “(Nico) Rosberg.”
But when asked who he would put money on for the title, Massa grinned: “I don’t like talking about myself…”
Kovalainen’s F1 career is over (GMM)
Toni Vilander thinks his Finnish countryman Heikki Kovalainen’s F1 career is over. Having lost his Caterham seat, Kovalainen looked to be putting his career back on track when he secured the Lotus seat for the last two races of 2013.
But Kovalainen struggled, and despite Caterham wanting an experienced non-pay driver at the wheel this year, that job went to Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.
“I think it’s quite a difficult situation for Heikki now,” Vilander, a Finnish sports car and former GP2 driver, told Finnish radio Nova.
“If I had to say yes or no, then I would say that Formula One is now in the past for him,” he added.
“The Lotus seat at the end of the season was not good PR for Heikki. We know that jumping into a new car at the end of a season is difficult, but he should at the minimum have scored points,” said Vilander.
There is hope yet for Ferrari… apparently (GMM)
Ferrari is yet to reveal the full potential of its 2014 car. That is the view of former F1 driver Mika Salo, who raced a few times for the fabled Italian team in 1999 and is now a pundit on Finnish television. Many believe that, in the 2014 pecking order, Ferrari trails most of the Mercedes-powered teams, but 47-year-old Salo is not so sure.
“Ferrari has been pretty much hidden,” he told Finnish radio Nova.
“When you look at the sector times for the tests, some are very good but some are ridiculously bad. They are covering up their pace and no one really knows where they are,” added Salo.
The RB10-B redesign starts on the inside (GMM)
Crisis-struck Red Bull is taking a vastly different car to Melbourne for the first race of 2014. That is the claim of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, even though the German is not expecting to be competitive this weekend after a disastrous winter for the team and engine supplier Renault.
“Only in the comic book world do such processes (to improve) work that quickly and immediately,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
“But only in Melbourne will we know how far away from the competition we actually are.”
Renault’s Jean-Michel Jalinier has now admitted that Renault-powered cars will not be in a position to win in Melbourne, but he expects the picture to change significantly within “three to five races“.
And Vettel said Red Bull is also working hard. “The car we will use in Melbourne will only be the same as the one we tested in the winter on the outside,” he said.
“Inside, it will be different,” added Vettel.
“It’s hard to say where we are, but we are certainly not among the favourites to win,” he admitted.
New teammate Daniel Ricciardo, already in his native Australia, said the first challenge will be getting the RB10 to the chequered flag.
“We don’t really know if it will last the distance,” he told Fairfax Media, “because we haven’t proven it (in testing).”
Every car may retire in Melbourne (GMM)
It is possible every single car will fail to finish Sunday’s season-opening Australian grand prix. That is the claim of Roberto Dalla, the head of F1 electronics supplier Magneti Marelli. He told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport that the electronics of the cars have become so much more complicated in 2014, without a corresponding increase in the amount of pre-season testing.
“Last year,” said Dalla, “there was a single unit made by McLaren that was the brain of every aspect.
“But now it only has control of a portion, and the underlying challenge is to be able to operate like an orchestra the engine, the turbo, the recovery systems. To find the right solutions will take another two to three months,” he claimed.
“Doing it during three winter sessions with only 12 days in total was a real mission impossible. In Melbourne, it could happen that all the cars do not see the finish line, because every team experienced serious problems in testing,” Dalla added.
Gerhard Berger injured in skiing fall (GMM)
Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger has crashed whilst skiing in the Kitzbuhel district in his native Austria.
Ten weeks into Michael Schumacher’s coma, Austrian reports including the Kronen Zeitung newspaper said former Ferrari and McLaren driver Berger was hospitalised late last week after crashing at the Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental resort.
APA news agency said the 54-year-old was released from the St Johann hospital on Sunday, where he had been airlifted from the scene with a broken upper arm and operated on.
“He’s very good. He is on the road to recovery,” a hospital spokesperson said. Reports said Berger tripped on a forest road and struck a concrete drainage pipe.
Scherzinger to follow F1 circus for a year
It has been suggested to me by one or two paddock folk, that Lewis is not the sharpest tool in the kit bag. Before the meteor shower of castigations rain down, may I proffer – neither was/is David Beckham. The thinking surely was XIX would educate and develop Lewis which would allow him to speak on a limited range of topics – but on those subject matters, he would be coherent even well rounded.
Either XIX has lost interest since the days they were grooming DB, or Lewis clearly doesn’t give a monkeys, because he is no David Beckham in front of the microphone.
Lewis persists with his H.A.M. emblem which despite all his protestations is known to originate from ‘homie’ associates sayings and means “Hard as [a] MotherFU%$%£R”.
Then we see the self justification attempts which are pointless. Last week, Lewis went to great lengths to make it known just because Nico spent and up to an hour longer with the engineers in debriefs, that Hamilton wasn’t cutting any corners. In fact Hamilton would have us believe he gets through the same data in far lss time than Nico – who has an engineering qualification.
The biggest problems Lewis has encountered in recent years has been because of his relationship with Nicole Sherzinger. It has been on and then off, back on and…. leaving an emotionally vulnerable Hamilton left to bleat about how lucky Jenson is to have his “bubble” intact.
Over Christmas we saw photograph’s from both Sherzinger and Hamilton surreptitiously posted on different days in the twittersphere. A half hearted inspection revealed they skimobile featured in both pictures had the same rental number, though neither were admitting to being together on the same trip.
This appeared to be a wonderful expression of young lovers’ exuberance but strangely appeared to transmit the message, “we’re laughing at you because you don’t know what we’re up to”. Derr!!!
Anyway for Hamilton fans, the biggest threat to Lewis winning the drivers’ title in 2014 became apparent today. NO… Mercedes haven’t ditched their own engine for a Renault – ITS FAR WORSE THAN THAT.
As the Daily Mirror describes it, “The pop beauty plans to hit the pit lanes all over the world to cheer on her fella – she hopes this will put her in pole position for a permanent place on Team Lewis”.
That said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Nicole’s latest instagram offerings appear to suggest she is ageing.
Shertzinger is pulling out all the stops on the emotional blackmail angle. She has quit her job on X-factor to spend more time with Lewis. A friend is quoted as stating, “Before, their relationship just didn’t work, they never saw each other. Things were so hard that they went their separate ways. Now they hope spending more time together will lead to marriage and even having children.”
Cha-ching!!! The cash till rings… and Lewis future alimony payments may as well be arranged right now for a discount.
It may be that Shertzinger isn’t completely trusting her ‘boo’ as she has just signed a multi-album deal for a £3m, with Sony. She will have to promote these songs and it is therefore dubious as to whether she can attend every race. She is contracted to release a single this summer and then the first album in the autumn.
Lewis has a real opportunity this year to clinch another WDC. We shall have to wait and see whether Sherzinger’s return is a distraction or a motivation for him.
More allegations of F1 share dealing corruption
TJ13 discovered during the run up to the inaugural Austin GP, that 6% of the shares in F1 had been sold to 2 pension funds in North America. At the time we questioned whether the funds’ administrators knew what they were getting into? Further, TJ13 raised questioned whether the FIA would cancel the commercial shareholder rights should corruption over their sale be ultimately proven.
Much had been made earlier that year by CVC of their intention to float the F1 shares on the Singapore stock exchange for a $10bn valuation. Though it appears this may never have been an option.
Prior to the talk of flotation, the head of CVC Donald MacKenzie had questioned Ecclestone over the alleged $44m payment a court in Munich had deemed Mr. E to have made to German banker – Gerhard Gribkowsky, Ecclestone denied to Mackenzie any payment had been made.
Yet last November during the Constantin v Ecclestone hearing in London before Justice Newey, MacKenzie admitted Ecclestone had quite some time later put the record straight, “He told me that he had had a meeting with one of his colleagues who had reminded him that he had made payments to Gribkowsky and he apologised for having forgotten this. He told me he had never lied to me – I must say that I had trouble believing you could forget payment of $40 million.”
Exactly when McKenzie became aware of this may be of vital importance, because he was at the time ‘placing shares’ with certain global financial institutions promising them the floatation would take place.
This is normative when an IPO (floatation) is in the offing. These institutions pay a discounted price on the projected flotation share price, in return for giving credence to a minimum value of the shares. Also, the vendor knows that should the IPO not achieve its goals, they are not taking all the risk on a collapse in share price.
Earlier in the year, CVC sold 21% of the F1 shares to Norges Bank Investment Management, Waddell & Reed and Blackrock, the price they paid which valued F1 at around $7.6bn. As the IPO becomes more imminent, share placements tend to be done at a higher value, demonstrating the increasing value of the entity about to be floated.
The Texan teachers bought 3% of the F1 shares in October 2012, some 6 months after the Norges Bank et al acquisition. Strangely the deal valued the entire F1 commercial rights at just $6.6bn.
The price was falling.
These shares were part of the defunct Lehman’s bank shareholding and CVC Capital Partners tried to acquire them because they had a clause giving them first options to buy back shares from shareholder that became insolvent. However, the court rejected this argument and a deal was struck by which Lehman Brothers can sell the shares in order to repay creditors, but has to do so before June 2014.
Yet CVC had a veto ensuring that shares could not be shipped below market value and in this case there was a sale of shares which reflected a reduction in the value of F1 for the purposes of the IPO.
Of course the F1 floatation was initially delayed ‘due to the ‘poor economic climate’, or so the investors were led to believe, but the question is… when CVC sold the 21% to Norges Bank et al. did Mackenzie know of Ecclestone’s lie and his subsequent apology and explanation?
If so, was there ever any intention to float F1 from the moment the head of CVC knew his F1 CEO had made payments to the German banker?
Why does this matter? Well, for a start, the Oslo based Norges bank’s statutes dictate that it may only acquire the shares of companies already listed on a stock exchange OR for those about to IPO. When they acquired their shares were CVC merely operating a ‘cut and run’ policy on the F1 stock and had already recognised no IPO would be possible.
There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth recently in Norway over this transaction because clearly the hope of an IPO is all but gone. Questions have been raised in the Norwegian Parliament of the Norges bank’s executives and the Finance minister is also embroiled in matters. Bank reforms are proposed.
For now, the Norges bank appears to be taking responsibility for maybe not doing proper due diligence prior to the acquisition. However, they and their partners share of the $1.6bn they paid to CVC is now at risk should Ecclestone be convicted in Munich.
In the meantime, Ecclestone is mocking the world of F1, likening himself to Alex Ferguson and implying that F1 will go ‘tits up’ if he is ousted or convicted and sent to prison.
Weather for Aus
There’s time for this to change as 6 days in world weather forecasting is a long time. However for now….
French-Anglo relations still strained
Renault Sport Director Jean-Michel Jalinier reveals in an interview with Speedweek, chose to name Romain Grosjean as the first driver likely to pick up a win for Renault in the new turbo era. “Grosjean has shown that he is very fast and very competitive. He also proved that he is going very intelligent when dividing a race. His race management has enabled him some podiums last year. Romain is therefore also a very promising candidate for the first win”.
No mention of Sebastian then?
There is definitely a political ‘blame game’ being conducted between Milton Keynes and Viry-Châtillon, as last week Helmut Marko sniped that the French engine manufacturer hadn’t started developing the engine early enough.
Jalinier is more subtle, but he returns Marko’s blast with aplomb. “How the chassis and drive train combine is discussed. Red Bull Racing builds aerodynamically a very good car and we build a powerful engine. But the best car is the one with the best compromise between these two areas. We have been working for 18 months towards this compromise”.
By the end of the weekend, we will know whether this strained relationship is on the mend – or whether it will get worse before it gets better.
Putin and Eclestone meet over Sochi
Despite the ongoing crisis between Russia and the Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin was keen to emphasize the Olympic legacy benefits of hosting Formula One racing in Sochi as he met with the sport’s supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
The inaugural F1 Russian Grand Prix will be held at Sochi’s new Olympic Park circuit in October, winding around the venues from last month’s Sochi Olympics.
Much is made these days of bids for either the summer or winter Olympics and how they will create a ‘legacy’. This is an attempt to try and prevent the sad images of Olympic parks rotting away and out of use such as those in Athens and Beijing.
“It’s very pleasing to me that the Formula One project in Sochi will be a bright and positive addition to what was done in the preparations for the Olympic Games”, Putin states. “And it will allow us later on to more effectively use everything that’s been created here, when these major competitions end.”
Putin conceded that there had been some problems in preparing to host F1 in Russia, a reference to corruption, massive wastage and construction delays, but he added: “We will overcome them.”
Sochi organizers want to move the date of the GP in 2015 to May. This apparently ties in with the high season for beach tourism in the city.
The Russian Grand Prix will be the culmination of three decades of efforts to bring the sport to Russia, dating back to Soviet government plans for a Moscow Grand Prix that never came to fruition.
The Russian GP was run twice, in 1913 and 1914 at a circuit in St. Petersberg. Race one was won by Russian, Georgy Suvorin whilst German Willy Scholl won the 1914 event. The race was abandoned following the outbreak of the WWI and the Russian civil war and it was not resumed with the establishment of the Soviet Union.
The idea of a “Grand Prix of the Soviet Union” was revised in the 1980’s and included in the provisional 1983 calendar. Though, bureaucratic barriers prevented the Grand Prix from being held.
Hungary went on to become the first communist country to host an F1 Grand Prix.
Williams Martini looking forward to Australian Grand Prix
Formula One is just 4 days away from one of the most unpredictable and exciting season-opener’s in history. Depending on whose opinion you believe, we will have no finishers in Melbourne, a Mercedes-engined dominated event and/or a race in which Renault will fail miserably.
Welcome to the dawn…
The F1 circus has always loved racing in Australia. From the historic Tasman series – through the 80’s in Adelaide to its current home; the laid back vibe, passionate and knowledgeable fans and an annual new beginning all add up to its appeal. As for Melbourne – what a city!
Back in 1996, when Melbourne hosted the Australian Grand Prix for the first time, Williams dominated the event with Renault power, Ferrari were running a new engine configuration and only eleven cars finished the race.
Eighteen years on, we have 1.6-litre power units supplying the grid and after winter testing Williams look in remarkable shape and not just because of one of the most iconic colour schemes in motor-sport history.
Its new partnership with Mercedes-Benz HPP was an inspired move and the car has featured strongly throughout the winter test programme.
Rod Nelson, Chief Test and Support Engineer: “There’s always a great anticipation when we arrive in Australia, largely as it will be the best measure so far of where we line up against the opposition. There are several characteristic features of the Albert Park circuit. It’s a street track so we expect a large increase in grip through the weekend as the Pirelli rubber goes down, and as we often see at other temporary tracks it’s also quite bumpy. There’s a high probability of a safety car in the race – usually it’s about 50% chance around here. The weather can also be quite changeable here as it’s the end of the Australian summer, and with the circuit being less than 1 km from the sea this can have a large effect. The race also starts late in the afternoon so visibility can become an issue for the drivers as the sun goes down. All in all, it’s a good place to kick the season off and we are very much looking forward to it.”
Felipe Massa: “I love Melbourne, it’s a fantastic place and a really good atmosphere. The people there really love racing and Formula 1 and so are always really welcoming towards us. I like the track and it’s quite a challenging circuit. I am really looking forward to racing there this year and having a good start to the season with WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING.”
Valtteri Bottas: “I am really looking forward to going to Melbourne. It’s a very nice track with a great atmosphere. It’s a new season and a new challenge, not just for me but for everyone. We will finally get to see where every team’s performance is. The track improves a lot throughout the weekend because it’s not a permanent
race track which means that we have more grip each time we go out and so you have to make the right set-up changes for each session. I really enjoy the track and I can’t wait to get racing again.”
Most observers are looking forward to the confrontation between Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen – both past champions of course – but possibly the contest between the experienced and fast Brazilian against the young but promising Finn will be the story of the season – then again that depends if you believe Massa was ever a true talent to begin with.
However it pans out, it will be glorious to have Martini back on the grid on a resurgent Williams teams.
Welcome back Frank.
Maldonado the Great
Protesting too much, is like admitting you have a problem. I DON’T SHOUT TOO MUCH…. I DON@T SHOUT TOO MUCH… I DON’T…. I referred earlier today to the fact Lewis had to protest why he spent a fraction of the time with his engineers on debrief that his team mate does, stating he just got the job done quicker, inferring Rosberg was a bit slow.
TJ13 hasn’t reported the stream of comments from Crashtor over the winter, stating he is happy with his decision – even though the team principal bailed out – even though the car didn’t go to Jerez – even though the engine supplier had done a bad job – even though his old team which he had castigated was topping the long run pace analysis and fastest lap to boot.
There’s something about Maldonado when you look in his eyes, which is perturbing. There’s a darkness which was masked by the mouth full of metal when we first met Venezuela’s most prominent motorsports protégé. Maybe this is an unfair impression formed following Crashtor using his car to ram Lewis Hamilton following a qualifying session – something to this day which amazes me.
Anyway, we ignore our friend from the dark side at our peril, so here it is… a balanced, well considered and clear headed assessment of the year ahead. Crashtor begins by protesting too much, methinks.
“In my opinion it’s the best decision ever,” Crashtor mumbles. “I saw the car first in the windtunnel and it was fantastic. It’s completely a different car, the most interesting car in the paddock, the most beautiful car, aggressive. I think they’ve done a really good job in terms of design.
Using the rules and looking at the small particulars of the car, the design looks impressive and we hope to have a good car during the season.”
However, Maldonado’s team mate who has driven for the team for 3 years reckons this is the slowest of the Renault cars this year. Yet Crashtor doesn’t want his decision to switch teams to be judged too soon.
“I don’t know if [my decision to move teams] is good or worse for the results, we need to race first. The season is long, we will see.”
So Maldonado declares causing ructions at Williams and leaving the team was his “best decision EVER”, even if his results are rubbish and Williams whips Lotus???
I refer the questioner in today’s comments to an answer I previously gave.. that someone, at any given moment F1 is talking utter nonsense.