Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 10th March 2014

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The month of March

How The Teams Decided When To Test For Pirelli (VM)

Owners worried demise will hurt F1 (GMM)

Jacques speaks yet again (GMM)

Massa ‘impressed’ with Mercedes power (GMM)

Kovalainen’s F1 career is over (GMM)

There is hope yet for Ferrari… apparently (GMM)

The RB10-B redesign starts on the inside (GMM)

Every car may retire in Melbourne (GMM)

Gerhard Berger injured in skiing fall (GMM)

Scherzinger to follow F1 circus for a year

More allegations of F1 share dealing corruption

Weather for Aus

French-Anglo relations still strained

Putin and Eclestone meet over Sochi

Williams Martini looking forward to Australian Grand Prix

Maldonado the Great or crazy


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!

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How The Teams Decided When To Test For Pirelli (VM)

pirelli-f1_4Sunday 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:

Date Track Teams
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?

Date Track Team 2013 WCC
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?

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Weather for Aus

There’s time for this to change as 6 days in world weather forecasting is a long time. However for now….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Maldonado the Great or crazy

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.

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133 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 10th March 2014

  1. When will Villeneuve realise nobody cares about his contrary opinions anymore?? I take all his words with a pinch of salt to be honest. He’s one of those annoying people that has to have a different opinion to anyone else just so people don’t forget about him. It’s quite sad really

    • Totally agree.

      And on “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.”

      Who’s talking? The pot calling the kettle black!

    • Tommo, I presume that the journalist that asked him the question(s) cares about his opinions – if only to generate a controversial headline. Whatever else JV may be accused of, you can hardly blame him for answering…

      • True, but why the need for the extreme negativity, unnecessary put downs on drivers and dismissing of a sport that is probably going to have its most exciting season for a long long time? He’s obviously got some bitter feelings towards the sport. Can’t see why else you’d be so upset about it!

        • Tommo, I appreciate hearing JV’s opinions and am glad he is willing to speak w/o filtering his words much. I don’t always agree with what he says, but that doesn’t mean I would want him silenced.

          I think it’s fair to not like JV or disagree w/ his comments or find his critical opinions off-putting, but surely you would agree that there are many, many people the world over who want to hear what JV has to say, no?

          Say he’s stupid if you want, but to claim that “no one” is interested in his thoughts is a logical fallacy of the highest order…

      • But you can blame him for the nonsensical answers – as you might praise someone for sensible answers.

  2. So Ferrari have been sand-bagging? We’ll see.

    Massa is an idiot. Four years ago he was told by the team to move over as they chased the WDC. He knew the game then and he knows it now and he plays on it. Pathetic.
    I am enraged at Jean Todt, not only for making the public believe that Ferrari always had a number 1 policy but for signing this drippy man back in 2006. Top level sports people have steel for back bones not jelly; could you imagine Mansell or Senna complaining like little girls.

    As to the RBR policy of spending whatever they choose. No matter what level of genius Adrian Newey has, can somebody explain to me how RBR can ignore limits imposed on the teams as far as wind tunnel use is concerned – how can they possibly build a new car in a matter of weeks when lead time for some items is months?

    To me this is a team trying to breed fear where none exists

    • It looks like Carlo accidentally ate some angry pills this morning. Carlo, my dear enraged friend, when Massa was asked to move over four years ago, it was actually illegal for the team to do so as team orders were forbidden in 2010. Your rant is entirely unfounded. Massa had outqualified Alonso more than anyone else. He’s taken tragic knocks that would have broken the will of a Klingon and he still moved on.
      Sorry to say, on the topic of Massa I disagree with you in the strongest terns.

      • great Hippo, well done

        and about carlo, I don’t care about his stupid comment, italians are usually prone to this type of mental instability, as well as brazilian and any other latin people

        maybe he forgot the 3 races Ferrari screwed in strategy or failures, throwning out at least 25 points in 2008, or even 2007 when FM was fighting closely, even led the table, when suspension went out in Monza

        it’s sad when someone goes out to post comments filled with anger

        • R/T, I object to the ‘mental instability’ comment. Italians might be a bit more emotional and passionate than others, but they’re not mentally instable.

          • A bit of both
            here at the harbour at the oil platform building plant, we have many foreigners, now a “mass” of italians came with Agip Saipem, to develop and work with native brazilians, and they’re quite unstable, and emotional too
            pretty much like any latin people

          • R/T – What type of insults do you have for the other nationalities?

            Please start with the Germans, and then insult the English!

            Then would you insult the US folks, and follow with insults for the Canadians?

          • Enzo, sorry
            I don’t want to hurt any feelings, then again sorry if I indeed overreacted and missed the mark

            but I don’t think it’s fair to label FM “an idiot”

            ciao

        • Excuse me?
          Now I could just tell you to go f*ck yourself RT, but I won’t.
          What’s the matter , some Italian stallion shagged your girlfriend, and did a better job than you?
          What does RT stand for anyway, Racist Twat?

          • and enzo, mind your manners, or then I’ll be forced to tell you to go f_ck you, too
            to begin with, the conversation wasn’t even with you, and was not in these terms, so, give a break

            as for the “stallion”, the guys I know here, they’re only catch the “professionals” or the “bagaceiras”, term used to describe an “appearance challenged woman”, let’s say, simply ugly, and regarding jobs, they’re here, as many others from Spain and other countries, just cause their local economies are in the s__t, as well as many fellow brazilians took the opposite route when BR economy was sinking, so, you got no valid point in attacking, mate

            cheers

          • Enzo, sorry
            I don’t want to hurt any feelings, the again sorry if I indeed missed the mark
            ciao

          • Enzo, sorry
            I don’t want to hurt any feelings, then again sorry if I indeed overreacted and missed the mark, still

            but I don’t think it’s fair to label FM “an idiot”

            ciao

      • Will – “Felipe Baby!”

        Perhaps you could share some perspectives that you’ve seen from Brazilians on any negative impact that Rob Smedley may have had on Felipe Massa.

        For instance, have folks thought Smedley was slightly demeaning and patronizing in his communications with Massa, (“Thatta boy!”, Felipe Baby!”, etc.)? The relationship tended toward a father / son relationship which is a little disturbing to see at the highest level of racing.

        I’ve often wondered if Smedley’s subtle tone was purposeful to ensure Massa’s compliance as a #2.

        If that is true, then it follows that having a more typical relationship with his race engineer at Williams will help Felipe to better visualize himself as a lead driver.

        I’ve not yet seen anything on that angle, but am hoping we will this season…

        • to begin with, brazilians have something called here by famous writter as “complexo de vira lata” loosely meaning “slum dog complex”
          FM had a beautiful fighting history to climb up the ladder until coming to F1, yet brazilians often mock and insult him, they did it even more with Barrichello, making fun of anything, and not giving credit to any of his successes
          to some point, being brazilian too, I hope Rob stays far away from FM, race wise speaking

          • Funny you mention Rob R/T. I have a friend who works for Aston Martin but used to work for Lotus cars. According to him Smedley is not rated by the engineering folk at all… whatever that may mean.

            Sam Michael also springs to mind but then, both are working on F1 while I’m not.. maybe I’m just jealous 😛

          • Don Quixote
            by no means I’m attacking Rob, he’s certainly a talented guy who studied and fought to be where he i now

            I am saying, race wise and also personally wise, seems they got a very strong, brotherly tie between them and us, latins, we tend to get comfortable and perhaps lazy at our professional posts when treated without pressure or at least some professional distance
            I think this is the point raised by Vortex

          • I see. One thing that has struck me with FM is that he is very emotional (maybe passionately emotional) but I get the feeling that when he feels loved he is incredibly strong. If not… Out the back he goes…

        • Vortex,

          I’m not a great fan of Felipe – basically because I’m a McLaren fan (that really enjoyied Interlagos 2008).

          What I saw – from Sauber to Ferrari – was a driver who lost one of its main characteristics: aggressiveness, fighting spirit.

          Forget the sad year he and Hamilton were crashing in any the race. I speak of something more subtle.

          I can not say that Rob Smedley is guilty, but that paternalistic relationship (and flawed IMHO) does not seems ideal for the F1 environment. And it is clear to radio communications we had access.

          Here in Brazil, we use a lot of soccer to make analogies with everything else. For example we tend to classify technical directors in 2 types: the only motivators (ie Tata Martino) and those who have mastered the tactic (ie Guardiola). Seems to me that Rob Smedley hasn’t many technical resources and ends up appealing to the emotional side of things.

          But it’s just an impression that I bring with me.

    • Interesting point about RBR there Carlo, you have a very good point. It wouldn’t surprise me if some RedBull subciduary companies sub contractor is running a wind tunnel day and night somewhere to bring them the numbers. As you remind us they have spending power by the bucket load. There is no spirit of the rules, only the wording of the rules.

    • I tend to agree with Carlo. Massa reminds me a lot of Patrese. A solid number two but never viewed as a WC calibre driver. It’s somewhat amusing that many people claim he was the 2001 European F3000 champion, when in fact he was the Euro F3000 champion – which was a completely different and much lower calibre series. It’s widely believed he got into Sauber because Barrichello pulled some strings at Ferrari, got into Ferrari because of Todt and his son and stayed because it would have looked bad to drop a loyal driver after he nearly got killed in your car. I wish him well at Williams and won’t miss the half dozen members of his family giving those stupid thumbs up in the Ferrari garage.

      • It’s amazing that Massa was virtual WDC for like 5 seconds, right (or however long it was)?

        I’m not sure how folks can claim Felipe Massa was not WC calibre driver, when he almost won the WDC!

        That he might not be WC-caliber anymore, after his accident, is a fair point to try to argue, but surely a guy who is virtual WDC in the final GP (which he won) and still finishes second overall after an epic season-long battle … well, he was WC caliber that year for sure!

        • Eddie Irvine almost won the WC and I doubt many would claim he was a WC calibre driver.

        • great comment, Papp
          not ’cause I am braziluan, but, FM fought in 2007 until his suspension expired in Monza and in 2008 Ferrari threw lots of points throughout the season
          Monaco, leaving him out
          Canada also leaving him out too long
          Hungary and the last lap blown engine after that fantastic pass at Lewis in the start, and the fast pace during the race
          also that cock f_____ s__t in Singapore when he was leading
          and still he lost the title for tiny margin

          therefore I should agree with our german freund Hippo when he says FM had more blows than any Klingon will would stand

          • I’m brazillian too, and I say if FIA not helped Ferrai, 2008 WDC would be decided before Interlagos. IMHO.

      • Indeed, Massa was basically Italian F3000 champion if I remember correctly. He was very raw when he came into F1 in 2002 – I can remember Brundle saying he had the pace but was prone to errors. 2003 and a full year of testing sorted that out – and by mid 2006 he was starting to beat Schumi to race wins on his preferred circuits.

        I am surprised to hear about Barrichello – especially as he was effectively replaced by Massa – pulling strings (although, for a countryman is understandable). I thought Massa must have been mentored back then a bit like the “Ferrari young driver program” that exists now.. e.g. Fuoco just won Italian Formula Renault 2.0 like Massa did. Felipe (with some Italian roots) came to Europe as an entry level champion in 2000, winning Eurocup in the same year (other winners include Kobayashi, Bottas, Frijns, Vandoorne..). After a 4th championship in a row (in 3 years.. Frijns-like), he was quickly taken under the wings of the team, after a nod to ‘Ferrari junior team’ Sauber, not being dropped for over a decade, even after a lull in performance recently (Just imagine Alonso-Kubica as a driver pairing..).

        As a driver – Massa seems to have peaks and troughs.. we could say the same about Button. All do to some extent – even Vettel prefers some circuit types over others. Hamilton and Rosberg shine at certain times. But the guy who seems to do well everywhere could arguably be Alonso or Raikkonen IMO (granted, they have lost that edge of Q pace with age, and gained it in the race). As a dark horse, I would have Hulkenberg…

  3. On tyres, my guess is that Merc switched with Marussia so that they have an early influence on tyre development…maybe. What this shows me is that they will try do a Brawn, all out to win as many races as they can early on and then be impossible to catch for the titles even if the others catch them in engine and tyre development.

    • My take is that Mercedes are pretty confident about their current form, therefore willing to give up their ‘own’ testing program early on and freeing up some time later on in the season to develop for themselves, whereas the other teams probably want to catch up as quickly as possible and hence want to delay the Pirelli-day as long as possible…

      • That was my initial thinking as well… It reflects Mercedes’ high confidence in their reliability.

        To help see this better, perhaps we should flip this whole view on it’s head so to speak, and look this from Pirelli’s view point.

        We can assume that at Bahrain2, when Pirelli solicited the teams for their choices, they essentially lined up in reverse order of their finishing positions in the 2013 WCC. So RB and Mercedes test on the very last day, Ferrari and Lotus on the 2nd to last day, etc.

        Three tracks… but the latter two tracks, Barcelona and Silverstone have similarities in that F1 cars will run very high lateral (aka cornering & side) forces, and comparatively less longitudinal forces than Bahrain.

        For Mercedes to step out of their place in line and sacrifice an April test day at Bahrain indicates that Pirelli find Bahrain to be very important as a test track for the Pirelli development program.

        Thanks to Mike Coughlan, Pirelli already had one competitive, reliable team to test at Bahrain, Williams. But looking at what Caterham and Marussia were doing at Bahrain 2, they decided they really want another reliable and/or competitive team there.

        Meanwhile at the very last test, Silverstone, Pirelli have at least 2 strong teams (again from the Bahrain2 perspective) in Ferrari and Mercedes. Everyone believes that Red Bull will be more reliable by Silverstone. So that is 3 teams for Silverstone that should be competitive and reliable. So Silverstone would be logical test from which to cherry pick a vulnerable team to give up a Bahrain day.

        Clear View, in his comment below points out how Pirelli may have convinced Mercedes to instead sacrifice a Bahrain day. As you say, Mercedes appearing to be so very well prepared at Bahrain2 may well have also been a factor.

    • McLaren78 – Influencing tire development appears logical.

      Clear View has expanded on this theory in his comment below, and I’ve added a political element to this theory there as well.

  4. Interesting that after Bernie, now Massa, believes that Rosberg will come on top in the intra-team Merc battle.

    Maybe we need to have a quick pool for the TJ13 readers prior to the Melbourne curtain-raiser.

    • Merc is obviously in the best position right now, but they only have one driver, who can pace himself and adapt to the ridiculous greenpeace memorial runs we’re going to see this year – Rosberg.
      Lewis is a natural racer, maybe even the fastet there is, but he can’t save tyres or fuel worth squat, which is why most people put their money on Rosberg.

      • That is very true, however Rosberg has never fought for the title and that might unnerve him, who knows…

        One’s for sure. This year will make or break Hamilton’s, Vettel’s, Alonso’s and Kimi’s reputations.

        • My reckoning is only Lewis’s and Fernan’s reputations will be greatly damaged this year…

          • Well, I’m not sure how much damage can be done on Lewis, I mean people already think he’s thick, that he can’t develop a car, that he’s not a thinking driver, that he can just drive immensely fast for one lap and can overtake (probably better than anyone) when his tyres and fuel are optimal for the whole race.

            On the other hand, most regard Alonso as the best driver and Kimi a merely top-5 entity. That’s where the most interesting battle will be.

            And on Vettel, well, he’ll probably win the intra-team battle there, but this year will determine whether Ricciardo will have a career as another ‘excellent’ no 2, or something more.

          • “… but this year will determine whether Ricciardo will have a career as another ‘excellent’ no 2, or something more…”
            Register now for my Top-20 Drivers… etc… 2018… 😉

            Re: Fernan/Kimi – if Fernan beats Kimi, Kimi’s reputation won’t be as badly hurt as if Kimi regularly beats Fernan… Something similar might be said with Lewis/Nico…

      • Lewis on a good day can beat anyone, his problem is he lets things outside of the car get in the way of concentrating on his race craft fully. Hence his erratic performances in recent times, allowing the frustration to bubble to the surface and effect his racing. Rosberg ? He’s not been at the sharp end of a championship fight before in F1, Lewis has a few times. If it comes down to those two, Lewis might have the edge. I really dislike all the hate that gets spewed towards Lewis, it’s almost as inane as the rubbish that is thrown at Vettel. I personally want to see Vettel under pressure via RedBull being on the backfoot to show just how good he is, which this looks like it will be. We may see Vettel pulling performances out of the RB10 that nobody expects or he could throw his toys out of the pram if Redbull can’t get on top of the RB10 issues, let alone Renault’s power train woes.

        Kimi vs Alonso will probably be the more interesting team battle, can’t see Kimi moving aside for Alonso even early on in the championship. Which Alonso are we going to get this season ? The one that won two championships in the face of Schumacher and Ferrari or the one who throws his toys out of the pram at the drop of a hat when things are not going his way.

        • Lewis is surely one of the most talented pure racers currently competing today, no?

          Yet as you say, for all his natural talent and passion, perhaps he’s mentally-weak (relatively speaking, in comparison to his direct competitors?), or if not “weak” per se, perhaps, like you say, he wears his heart on his sleeve and requires all forces outside the car to be perfectly harmonized so that he may drive effectively in it.

          Or maybe he’s no weaker or more emotional than Vettel, maybe Seb just has a better strategy for managing the external influences? Idk.

          This WOULD make a fascinating case study for sports psychologist. In fact, is it known if Lewis does much mental athlete training? I’d love to work with that guy!! What a fascinating challenge it would be to assist an athlete w/ that much energy and potency and emotion in their campaign to win again?

          My god, we would have so much fun, starting w/ psyching out Rosberg, undermining the German, and winning the Teammate Wars™ first, before pummeling the other German week-in and week-out, and setting the Spaniard and the (older) Finn against one another, whilst we also destroyed the harmony at Williams and then induced RoGro to strangle Crashtor®!

          lol jk

      • Rosberg’s performance weakness has been his lack of constitancy. He’ll have a good races, and not so good races. He’ll have a good stint, and a not so good stint. That’s not really the stuff of champions there.

        Although, ironically, the last time there was a major F1 rule change, another car that was designed under Ross Brawn’s leadership was able to win the WDC with a driver who suffered from the same weakness.

        In comparison, Hamilton appears to be a little bit more creative. How often have we heard him asking his engineer during a race as to which sector he is weakest in, so he can focus on finding more speed. Lewis may have tools in his magic bag of speed tricks versus KeKe’s son.

        Hard to say how things will go between these two. But I’m looking forward to the first four races, and watching these two perform!

  5. Massa gave an interview for Globo.com and said he almost did a ‘Lewis’ in Sakhir. First 2 times he was going to pit at Ferrari’s.

  6. I thimk I have the answer why Merc and Marussia swapped dates. If you remember last year, Merc had a tyre destroying rocket ship and doing the ‘secret’ test helped them out no end. So, it makes sense to want to test early because as all the teams cried out last year, you learn something every time an F1 car goes out on track. It’s possible Merc want to be sure their tyre munching days are behind them and at the same time learn a such as possible about the 2014 rubber. What it cost to get Marussia to swap is another story entirely, but I’m certain they would have made the swap worth while.

    • To add to my comment, perhaps Merc want to prove to Pirelli just how aggressive these new PU’s are and want wider tyres for next season, so if they simply shred the tyres with brute force, maybe Pirreli will shit themselves and either a) produce even more durable tyres for later season, or b) force a change to wider tyres for next year on safety grounds. I mean, let’s face it, Caterham and Marussia will not be putting the same load through their tyres as Mercedes will.

      • CV – I must commend you for your latter theory here…

        You’re first proffered theory (Mercedes will learn more about the tires for 2014 in Pirelli’s tire test) isn’t logical given that the Pirelli tire tests are blind tests of various 2015 prototype tire structures and compounds.

        Given that each team sacrifices a full day of running their own test program it should take a strong incentive to entice Mercedes to sacrifice an April test day.

        Your second theory, (the Mercedes team desires changes in the tire regs such as fatter footprint, etc.) is very good! I’d not thought of that!

        I also wonder if there is sort of “Band of Brothers” alliance between Mercedes and Pirelli that was formed as part of them being persecuted by FIA last season for their Barcelona test.

        That whole 2013 Barcelona test may have been part of a longer play strategy to stand on the FIA’s toes and get them to write tire testing into the rules. So Pirelli got what they wanted… tire tests, and plenty of them… What does Mercedes receive from Pirelli?

        Perhaps Pirelli’s invoices to Mercedes are below the market rate?

        Or perhaps there is a larger play to change the regs again as you’ve suggested here CV. Well done!

        • The logic behind my 1st theory was that although the 2013 ‘secret’ test was supposed to be with ‘unmarked’ ‘prototype’ tyres even Nico Rosburg admitted that they had a good idea of which compounds they were testing and also the team is gathering data too, if in future they get matching data from tyres in test session they can check it back aginst the historic data they collected at the test. Also, look how Merc improved their tyre use during the race (as they already had quallylicked) after the test. Also the other teams also said (although possibly slightly exaggerated) that you always learn when running a car in test conditions, even if the program is set by Pirreli. I know that they (the engineers), often say that the car is run a configurations requested by the tyre supplier, that is not to say the Pirreli run the same spec of tyre with multiple set up configurations as to assertain the opperating parameters of their product. The team knows all the set up changes requested as they have to set the car up. This means they know which set up their driver will prefer if and when they ever run on those tyres on a race weekend, also they may be asked to use set ups they don’t use much or don’t have enough track time to test a hunch and these tests may give them this insight simply because that is the set up requested by Pirreli. Pirreli need to know what the maximum camber and tow can be put through their tyres before they become unsafe. Therefore to think the car is set up once and then simply run on lots of different rubber, you are not fully grasping the idea of tyre testing.
          I think it’s very strategic of Merc to swap to an early test on all the levels I have mentioned in my previous posts above and this one.

          VM does this help you to see the logic I applied to the situation to draw my conclusions. It’s definitely a multi faceted decision ny Merc, I wander if they have been on the phone to Ross, it’s a very Brawn-esqu move.

          • CV – ?

            This is not 2013. It’s legal for teams to do their own tests now.

            All the arguments you’ve shared would apply if there was no team testing allowed at all.

            If any of these arguments had merit in 2014, then the teams would have all lined up to do their Pirelli test day as soon as possible (in April @ Bahrain) instead of the last possible day.

        • Just a addition to my answer VM about the tests being ‘blind’ tests of 2015 tyres, that early in the season I am pretty sure Pirreli will still be evaluating their 2014 rubber because as we know the lead time on tyre production is only around 4weeks as we saw last year with the emergency changes. So I shouldn’t think that they will seriously test 2015 rubber until the second half of the season, this will possibly advantage RedBull for 2015, BUT, Merc want the ’14 title so an early test with Pirelli to try and show that this seasons tyres will need beefing up mid season with regard the car development bring so steep this year. Pirelli have already said they are willing to make changes in season should they see fit and if they felt in necessary. So if Merc can not only fuel the fire on the larger tyre debate, as well as providing data that could very likely make Pirreli feel they need to tweek the tyres this season, then they will have achieved both the goals I mentioned in my theories. Let’s face it, this year is going to he Merc’s best shot at the titles as I fear when RB get a good PU in the car they will again be a force to be reckoned with.

    • Why would it have “cost” anything to Merc to get Marussia to “swap” dates?

      I thought Merc got to pick its date before Marussia so they wouldn’t’ve had to have incentivized Marussia to do anything, unless an order had already been established, and THEN Merc wanted to have Marussia’s date…no?

      • Joe – Good questions!

        It is Pirelli’s calendar. Per the regulations, (and Pirelli’s statement) the teams negotiated with Pirelli.

        Pirelli was obliged to give priority to teams according to how they finished the 2013 WCC.

        From the existing schedule, it appears that 10 teams (if not all 11) wanted to test later rather than sooner.

        Given that Mercedes finished 2nd in the 2013 WCC, and Pirelli choose to test up to two teams per day, it means that Mercedes had their pick of the calendar.

        If Mercedes wanted to be different and chose to go early, why not go on the very first day?

        How did Marussia get the last day? If there was a slot open there because Mercedes wanted to test early, then why didn’t 3rd through 9th place teams choose that last day slot (alongside Red Bull)?

        Why would Pirelli swap Marussia into the last test instead of Caterham?

        • Ahh, right. Duh. You’re right: it’s more likely that Mercedes’ and Marussia’s dates were switched, based on the scheduling of the other teams, than it is that Merc. simply picked that date and left Marussia to somehow choose the second-to-last slot they have now.

          If someone paypal’s me $100 I’ll call my friend Paul Hembery (or email him, whatever) and ask him how it all went down. However, you have to give me the exact wording for the question as you’d want it asked lol

  7. So… Mr JV Knowall speaks… and we’re supposed to be astonished by his insight…? Pur-leeeeeze…!

  8. And Toni Vilander (who he…?) thinks his Finnish countryman Heikki Kovalainen’s career is over. Nice to know this at last. I would have said (and did, at the time) his career was over when he left McLaren…!

    • I thought Toni was rather sober and respectful in his commentary – and honest.

      It’s a worthwhile question or at least interesting for speculation to wonder if HK made right choice taking the Lotus drive.

      Did his lack of performance for Lotus cause him not to get a Caterham seat in 2014, or was Caterham always likely to flick Heikki so he was justified to take the Lotus 2-race drive on personal terms … at least then he would get two more races in his F1 career for personal satisfaction (even if failed to perform) whereas if he DID do well, that mighti’ve opened another opportunity (even if it was w/ Caterham) that wouldn’t’ve existed otherwise.

      I like Heikki and think he got more out of F1 than F1 got outta him. Good job, Heikki!!! Player!

  9. Well with that final news story about Lewis and Shitslinger, we can wave goodbye to a Hamilton title this year. It ain’t gonna happen! Sadly….. ..

    • Who wants to bet on Hamilton’s form faltering as the season goes on.. Rosberg gaining the upper hand by mid-season, only for Hamilton to come back strong once Nicole leaves the paddock for promoting her music in the second half… Only for a resurgent Vettel to win the WDC on the double points rule.. victorious from Singapore onwards as usual!

      • This is Lewis’s still-unresolved issue…his relationship w/ NS = source of both strength and kryptonite, depending on its status.

        I wish they would just get married and she’d support him for the full season (which is a lot to ask if she’s still working/performing/entertaining full-time, what with all that entails).

    • CV, firstly, I don’t think it’s appropriate or gentlemanly or chivalrous for you to grossly insult any man’s female partner, but especially not the partner of a respected F1 driver who counts many fans amongst the readers here!

      Secondly, your logic is fallacious, as the one year in which Hamilton won the WDC, his girlfriend attended all or most of the races, including the last even in Brasil where he clinched the title. And she was one of the first out of the garage, running to the holding pen area to congratulate, hug and kiss Lewis when he climbed out of the car.

      But really man, I think it’s extremely bad form to insult someone’s girlfriend w/ such vulgar language (or insult any woman, for that matter).

      • Didn’t intentionaly offend it was more tongue in cheek, my wife calls her that becuse she happens to be all ‘gooie’ over Lewis, so it was my bad to use that name on a public forum.
        The reason I think Lewis will be screwed is because she is still working, promoting a single world wide is hard word and time consuming, so she is either going to miss a few races, in which case Lewis my feel abandoned and hard done by as she has broken her word. Or, she will be sooooo freakin jet lagged she won’t know what day of the week it is and that situation in my experience regularly leads to massive screaming rows, over pretty much nothing as things get said in the hear of the moment……it’s a recipe for disaster what ever the outcome of Mz Sherzinger’s love/work dilemma. Money and corporate contract lawyers can have strong influences on a person.

        • Didn’t intentionaly offend it was more tongue in cheek,

          Fair enough, CV. It’s too bad there’s not an “edit” function for comments, b/c after thinking about what I posted, I realized that you of all people probably wouldn’t be posting something like that w/ truly malicious intent, so I could’ve cut you some slack.

          I still believe it’s ungentlemanly and uncouth to slag a bird like that 😉 but given what His Honour wrote in the main post about NS looking the worse for wear, I realize I’d be fighting a losing battle on behalf of chivalry here! lol…

          Thanks for checking in and following-up w/ me though.

          And I agree that if NS is still going to be working, it could be tough for her to meet LH’s expectations … but that’s really so personal and so far removed from the info that we have access to, that it’s tough to predict how it will work out.

          It’s obvious Lewis is a highly-sensitive person (though he might not meet the “clinical” definition for that “type” of personality)…I don’t know if NS is toxic for him or not, b/c he won his WDC when they were together, but has both won and lost individual GP’s when they’ve been apart.

          It seems only common sensical though that as a man ages, he may begin to appreciate a certain stability in his personal life – if he is so inclined – and for all his “bling-bling” and pseudo-entertainment/Hollywood celebrity (that many LH critics seem to object to), one thing Lewis has not been accused by the paparazzi of doing regularly is womanizing. Apologies if he has and I’m just not aware of that aspect of his personality, but in all the years I’ve been a casual Hammy Fan­™, coverage of his romantic life seems to have focused on questions of the status of relations w/ NS. So if those can be sorted and her loyalty and support not just pledged – but demonstrated consistently throughout the season – that might be a source of positivity and strength for Lewis.

          And I hope it is!

          Cheers, mate!

          • I have to agree that when when Lewis is ‘on it’ he is near unstoppable within reason and a pleasure to watch drive, just also admit that when NS is in the pit garage she really adds some energy, well she did at McLaren. Whenever Lewis did good they erupted with joy and when he was wronged by others the whole team felt it. Was great to watch and a little bit of me really wants LH to prove his critics wrong once and for all.

  10. Vettel: “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.
    Good job he made it clear…

    • Well, we should see less cars failing to finish the race then.. unless they all spin off, of course!

    • I’m glad I tallked my husband into under cover seats now! Sunny day for practice on Friday though but looks like an afternoon thunderstorm on Sat. Wonder what that’s going to do to qualifying, They ended up having in on Sun morning because of rain last year. It’s also going to be cold! Packing my raincoat…

  11. You can see I don’t have much to do today – on holiday from my Top-20.
    I think I understand why you (we…) are paying for GMM but do we have to use the stories we’ve bought if they’re basically rubbish…?
    Hollywood has for ages bought stories (from various sources) and, if they were later deemed unbankable, they were binned…
    It’s a justifiable business pattern, I think…

    • +1, I’d rather have a good debate about the value-added article (tyre test day allocation) rather than a bunch of people slaming JV or NS…

    • Agreed – I now skip over things when I see (GMM)
      I will stick to articles by the likes of BJF, TFH, lorenzo, taflach, scarbs, etc.
      Its the insight that’s important here.

  12. That weather forcast you have up is not the same as three others I found, they all say chance of rain, one even says 90% chance of rain during the race.

      • I’m with his honourableness on this one. Australian weather forecasters get a bit overexcited when it comes to the prospect of rain

        • But our local forecast is for lots of rain (and really cold) which means a southerly change-it all depends on if it happens Sat, Sun or is delayed until Mon…

          It can rain anytime in Melbourne as it is. It’s well known for being able to have 4 seasons in one day…

  13. Saw an article where a chap from Magnetti Marelli was saying he reckons none of the cars would finish the first race.
    Has this ever happened before where there has been no finishers does anyone know? Would be a laugh wouldn’t it!

    • It has happened in horse racing 3 or so years ago in Towcester.
      In car racing, I think NASCAR is the closest. There was only one car crossing the line in a race in ’86.

    • Please don’t tempt fate! Just imagine, with nothing to commentate on, we could get to hear even more of Johnny Herbert talking bollocks. Heaven forbid!!! 🙂

    • If that well known English manufacturer and purveyor of things electrical for motor cars under the sobriquet of ‘The Prince of Darkness’ were involved here, you could take nil finishers as a given….

  14. Why all the negativity towards Lewis? You don’t win a championship, win races and get pole positions without working with the team to develop the car and providing feedback. 2011 was his only bad year in terms of having himself to blame, but people continually use that as a base on which to judge him on. He was near flawless in 2012, only to be let down by his team on numerous occasions. Anyway, calling him thick is totally unjustified, at least wait until the end of this year to make a judgement as to which driver out of lewis and nico can “think” more….
    Let yourself down on this one TJ13…

    • But you can only speculate at the of the year… At the end of the year people speculate on the following year.
      Apart from that I agree about the extended negativity that can creep into internet sites, generally, at times – though I don’t get too upset about it any more…

      • Not getting upset, but getting tired of hearing the same old things about Lewis, and for some reason it only applies to him and not any other driver on the grid. “Oh, Lewis can’t think as well as other drivers and is getting distracted by the celebrity lifestyle.” All smacks of double standards….Kimi likes a drink now and then, yet never gets criticised, just gets called a legend. Now if Lewis did that, the media would be calling for him to be hanged….
        Hope this website isn’t heading down the same double standards direction as the mainstream media…

        • …This website isn’t heading anywhere different…. it was started with a view to not be cowed by the F1 establishment and not to be sycophantic like those who need F1 grace and favour. TJ13 says what others refuse to write or say.

          TJ13 has always criticised the self delusion, pompous nonsense and stupidity which prevails in F1 almost weekly. Healthy scepticism is in its DNA….

          ….this means Montezemolo, Fernando, Lewis, Vettel, Horner, Newey, Whimarsh, Dennis, Crashtor, Ijaz, Boullier, Kimi, Todt, Charlie W, Toto, Lauda, Marko etc etc…. even Webber (when Mrs. J is not looking) have all been castigated for something listed above.

          Its what F1 does and someone, somewhere in the sport is always loosing the plot……

          Its particularly when Lewis gets a lick of the gavel, more people get upset, and they don’t realise the likes of Vettel and Horner get it 3 times as much….

          If Lewis gets it wrong this year… goes EMO and misses his chance – he may simply end up a one year WDC wonder – then all the fanbouys can argue his missed opportunities until the cows come home – it will mean NOUGHT!

          Despite the RED PLANE, silly dogs, tattoos, homies and everything else Lewis talks about…. Lewis needs to step up and fast

          • fair and square, he threw away his 2007 n the same way Ferrari threw Felipe’s title in 2008, one way or another, he would still be a one hit maker

        • You seem to forget how much criticism Kimi got in Malaysia 2009 and the famous ” icecream ” scenario ……

        • hoh hum!

          For those who are puzzled about Lewis and his love for Ham, the following link might help.

          http://tinyurl.com/qz6o4jr

          This post is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person living or in limbo is purely coincidental.

    • ….Lewis has a charmed life – certainly in the British Press. Were he another nationality, I suspect he would receive a lot more criticism – and fairly so, for some of the utterly ridiculous things he has said and done over the years…. “If Roscoe shits in my plane, I’ll have to buy a new one”???

      Plus his consistent EMO – “I can win the WDC” – then “our car isn’t good enough” – mood swings, are just not the comments of someone who is particularly bright, he contradicts himself publicly. cf. Barcelona test 2&3 and races 1-6 in 2013…

      • But who are we to judge his lifestyle? His personal life is nothing to do with anyone else. Yes he publicises things, but why should he change just because he’s in the media spotlight.
        Mood swings….I can’t think of when a mood swing has affected his performance since 2011. If you’re referring to him in the interviews, then it’s because he’s hard on himself when he knows he could have or should have performed better. These guys aren’t robots and have emotions which get in the way from time to time. You can’t say he doesn’t deliver since he puts his all into it when racing….

        • formula – Interesting points raised here! Thanks!

          It’s noteworthy that in the Judge’s longer (latter) comment above he delineates what is different about this site. He has pointed out that the overall tone of this site is as a critique of F1, (versus a celebration of F1 for example).

          Regarding any driver’s lifestyle, let me add something for you to consider. First, the negativity about Lewis that is exhibited here may well be umm… misguided. For example, one doesn’t need to be an engineer to be a successful driver. One’s love life can be whatever, while winning a WDC, (whether dating, or married, or single w/out dogs, or single w/dogs). 🙂

          Second, it is so competitive in F1, that to win the WDC requires very high levels of personal focus. Consequently, personal relationships can affect a driver’s on track performance in either a negative way, or a positive way. As an example, many folks believe Lewis was distracted at times by Nicole when they were together previously.

          Third, the problem here today, is that some folks are looking at the factor of Lewis having another relationship with Nicole Scherzinger, and they’re limiting themselves to seeing a repeat of their prior relationship. Such a view fails to take in to account how both of them may have changed over time, as many people do. So thinking that Lewis and Nicole getting back together will have a negative impact on Lewis’ performance is premature and short-sighted.

          • Thank you, someone who has sense and is rational speaks. Excellent comment sir 🙂

        • Good, reasonable defense of Lewis, Formula.

          Fair criticism is just that – fair. But unsubstantiated criticism should be challenged and resolved via constructive dialogue. I like that about this site.

          It seems like it’s usually just the “new guys” – usually – who get all hyperbolic and trollish. lol.

          cheers

      • here in Brazil he would be attacked by the press and some of the people, he’s like Adriano, that talented guy who played for Inter, yet in a softer way

  15. than Nico – who has an engineering qualification

    In this context, I think the qualification of World Champion might just trump that….

    After all, Adrian Newey is a notoriously poor race driver.

    • @ Nigel

      So you think being a World Champion makes you smarter than a person with an engineering qualification ?

      I have two words to say –

      Jacques Villeneuve

      I rest my case …… 😉

      • The drivers’ championship is not an IQ contest.

        And JV didn’t get any F1 wins last year.

        I find your case a little weak.

        • ” And JV didn’t get any F1 wins last year. ”

          Your argument was based on WDC’s not on wins ….

          Moving goalposts to support an untenable proposal is merely grasping vainly at non existent straws …..

          So I find your response highly lamentable

          :p

          • oh hush!

            Just b/c someone takes twice as long to do the same amt. of work doesn’t mean they’re smarter than someone who can complete a tech debrief in 1hr vs. 2!

            lol

            😉

      • ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’
        Albert Einstein

        I think this sums the Lewis/Nico situation up. Lewis cannot be as thick as we are speculating, and just because Nico has a piece of paper saying he has intelligence, that is not to say he has more mental aptitude for driving an F1 car fast. Michael Jackson probably didn’t have a degree either, but if you ask around, he’ll be branded a genius.

        • … Lewis is deemed a bit thick because of what he says and does – tweeting the teams telemetry to justify why Jenson whipped him in qualy SPA???

          To many it seems like the actions of someone a bit thick…

        • i never quite understood how any singer could be defined as a genius.

          He didn’t play any instruments – despite what his press office stated, he never produced any music himself – Thriller and Bad were both Quincy Jones productions but he had input into some of the melodies.

          Maybe I’m unfair, I just haven’t ever been able to define what genius means.

  16. Re: French-Anglo Relations story, are there some errors in it?

    We have here:
    “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?”

    It would be surprising to not mention Sebastian, but I noticed in your quote that he says, “Romain is therefore _also_ a very…” The word also indicates someone else, perhaps ahead of Romain.

    Speedweek is a German periodical, and this interview is on-line. It’s a good interview and Jean-Michael appears to be very complimentary to Red Bull, Vettel, while he also acknowledges their (surprisingly short) timeline of 18 months.

    Regarding the first victory with the new Renault power unit, Jean-Michel offers some interesting insights in to Vettel’s abilities. Google mangles his words on Vettel into this:
    “Sebastian Vettel (gives the best feedback). He is extremely good! His statements are extremely good and he demands a lot. If the car is already very good, then he wants to tease out still more. And everywhere: At corner entry, the apex, the exit of Turn 1, then in curve 2 the same again! He tirelessly insisting improvements, which is excellent. I’m still pretty new to this job, our team there are people with much more experience. I have people who can look back on 40 years of Formula 1. They say Sebastian is as good as Fernando Alonso.”

    The question immediately following is, “Which Renault driver will pick up their first win in the new turbo era?

    Jean-Michel’s response begins with, “Of course, Red Bull Racing will soon be very competitive. But we have a lot of good cars.”

    It is after the Red Bull drivers that he highlights Grosjean. He then highlights Toro Rosso as possible winners as well.

    A frosty relationship is not seen in either the TJ13 translation, nor the mediocre google translation.

    What happened there?

  17. Maldonado is the definition of an asshole. I think that’s one thing all of us here can agree on, correct?

      • Well, i mean we saw flashes of speed from him particularly in Spain, where I thought he was brilliant. But then he tailed off from there. Once the red mist takes over, the guy’s a total liability and uses his car as a weapon. Ever since, he hasn’t shown the speed nor consistency. Coupled with the fact that he has been totally disrespectful towards Williams and accusing them of sabotaging his car, is the final nail in the coffin for me. He doesn’t deserve a drive in F1 in my opinion, and there is plenty of talent out there that hasn’t/can’t yet break into F1 due to drivers not being able to pay their way into the sport. It’s totally wrong.

          • Did the same to perez in monaco after winning in Spain. Says it all about him

    • Maldonado is the definition of an asshole. [note: really?] I think that’s one thing all of us here can agree on, correct?

      As a fan of Maldonado and someone with strong ties to Venezuela + Venezuelan sport: No.

      • Joe, have you had some of the’angry’ pills the fat hippo thought Carlo had taken earlier.
        It’s been a very opinionated day today.
        I wander what tomorrow will bring….lol.

        • I’ m glad it wasn’t just me that noticed this, must be something in the air today (well yesterday technically).

          It has been a very weird day, commenting wise, for this site.

          • It must be all the Express Mortgage readers clicking on the TJ13 banner at the top of that site…

        • Joe, have you had some of the’angry’ pills the fat hippo thought Carlo had taken earlier.

          Haha! No way! Just not enough sleep! Although I did just post a longish reply to your reply to me about “Shitslinger” 😉

          Besides, it’s “formula” who’s angry and ragging on Crashtor™:

          Maldonado is the definition of an asshole. I think that’s one thing all of us here can agree on, correct?

          I don’t deny that Crashtor™ tried to spear Lewis, and he (PM) looks like a villain in the Bond-esque sense, but he actually seems to be a pretty sympathetic, well-spoken (arguably misunderstood) guy, at least based on listening to interviews w/ him speaking his native tongue.

          Not that he’s a disaster and can’t communicate effectively in English. He just comes across as way more humble yet gritty-determined when he is talking about his love for motorsports, the thrill he felt from winning the first GP, how he longs to experience those sensations of being on the podium again, etc… The only thing I didn’t like was any time he had to talk about politics but he did his best to avoid that topic in the first place.

          Anyway, I’ve heard lack of sleep can mimic the effects of angry pills, so… 😉

    • I’m not someone who hates easily, but on this occasion, I must agree with formula. All I see coming from Maldonado is arrogance, cockiness and anger. The impression I get is that he feels he is the dog’s b*ll*cks because he has more money than talent, which keeps him in F1.

      What makes it worse is that everybody knows he is only there because of the money, Williams couldn’t wait to get rid of him, despite his money, Lotus desperately wanted the Hulk, but couldn’t afford to not get Maldonado. Now Pastor is bragging because he thinks he’s in a better team because of his talent, which couldn’t be more wrong.

      Maybe this year, if Lotus manage to tame him like they did with Grosjean, and we see constant real speed, then I will be prepared to change my mind, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I’m fully shocked that Grosjean got a race ban but Maldonado hasn’t, I think his racing had been noticeably more dangerous (not that I’m condoning Grosjean’s driving in 2012, it was poor).

      • Thank god that Lotus couldn’t afford Hulkenberg! Imagine that talent wasted in a Lotus this season. He and Perez were a very fast team in Bahrain. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in Australia.

        I like the adventurous design of the Lotus, and it may be fast by May or so. But I think the Hulk made a smart choice.

        I like that (despite your hatred) you point out the potential for Pastor to step up a level at Lotus, as did Grosjean. It’s what I’m curious about as well. I could be wrong, but I thought Boullier was very helpful to Grosjean. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad for Maldonado that Boullier has left.

        One story that would be interesting to know is the details of Claire Williams’ Suzuka weekend last year. The story broke then that Maldonado wanted to leave Williams, (if I recall correctly). But I saw in some recent interview during the winter tests that Massa had been approached directly by Claire during that same weekend in Suzuka. Massa said Claire asked him to not tell his manager, Nicolas Todt, about her approach inquiring about him driving a Williams in 2014, because Nicolas Todt was also the manager of Maldonado.

        Some pretty clever folks running the show over at Williams now.

        • I like that (despite your hatred) you point out the potential for Pastor to step up a level at Lotus, as did Grosjean. It’s what I’m curious about as well. I could be wrong, but I thought Boullier was very helpful to Grosjean. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad for Maldonado that Boullier has left.

          I’m concerned about this as well.

          Did RoGro improve specifically b/c of mental conditioning/prep managed by Eric B., or was RoGro’s improvement facilitated by other professionals (such as sports psychologist(s)) who were “merely” recruited to the task by Eric B.?

          And how will Eric B’s not being there impact Pastor’s potential progress?

          The Venezuelan OBVIOUSLY and indisputably has both the pace and the skills to win GPs – he’s done it already and no amt. of hating from haters can erase that victory. But if the car is capable in 2014, and Pastor fails to convert potential to actual result(s), then that will be very disappointing.

          The mgmt + staff turnover at Lotus can’t be good for creating a stable environment that nurtures and supports talent, however – can it?

          I wonder how Whitmarsh would do as “TP” for Lotus? lol

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