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The Month Of March
Hans Joachim “Striezel” Stuck driving a Jägermeister sponsored March 761 in 1976. The orange livery advertising the foul tasting booze would survive on various racing cars until the mid-nineties when it was painted on Michael Bartel’s DTM Opel.
Welcome to the Hunger Games
“Sorry, I can’t eat that or Adrian [Newey] will send me on the treadmill again.” That isn’t the Fat Hippo impersonating Vettel after a glass of beer too many. It was Vettel’s answer when some thoughtful young lady brought him a buttered pretzel during an early morning interview while filming a commercial a week before the Jerez test.
Back then I added a piece to the news for it, but retracted it again as I didn’t think it was ‘news enough’, but now it appears as if Vettel’s quip was a sign of a nasty bout of ‘Hunger Games’ being played behind the scenes as more drivers come out and confess that they’re forced to starve themselves to lose weight. The loudest among them was Jenson Button, who explained that even drivers in the 70kg territory have to lose weight to come close to the minimum weight of the car/driver package. Else they will suffer a competitive disadvantage by being limited in the application of ballast weight and cannot balance their cars as a result.
For just about every driver taller than Mr. E that is a problem. For people like Felipe Massa, who can ride a Dachshund without the feet touching the ground, that’s no problem, but for taller drivers like Danny Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg the necessary weight loss can be detrimental to their health. Early year photos of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton show both of them looking like prison camp survivors, especially Alonso appeared unhealthily skinny.
Vettel, at 1.74m of height and 64kg is not exactly a behemoth, but even he has to stay away from any food that’s not absolutely necessary. For the taller ones it soon becomes ridiculous. Anorexia in competitive sports is nothing new. Females in ice skating disciplines pairs and ice dancing tend to be very skinny as they need to be lifted by their partners, who usually don’t weigh much more than a grocery bag themselves. A decade ago, weight loss was rampant among ski jumpers and reached such ridiculous extremes that the governing body tied the ski length to the jumpers body mass index (bmi) to make extreme weight loss less effective in gaining an advantage. The also introduced a minimum bmi. Going below it, the jumper will be banned from competition until his bmi is back to less health threatening numbers.
F1 drivers never were of a chubby disposition and as a result of that they face a serious problem with the weight loss. The Fat Hippo currently registers at 114.6 metric tons. If I were to use the ashtray instead of just driving through a pothole to knock the ash off my cigarette, the additional movement of my right arm would burn some fat and lower my weight. But F1 drivers don’t have any fat to begin with. They have to lose muscle mass and that requires an insufficient intake of calories. It is patently unhealthy. Ricciardo has admitted he can’t even eat pasta. Rosberg baked his own calorie-free cookies that ended up so bland, nobody wants to eat them.
This is just another example of F1 being completely ridiculous. Instead of forcing through an anti-RB rule that most likely ends up helping RB (double points) against the will of just about everybody, they should have taken one hour to decide to increase the weight limit. As it stands now I feel a strong urge to make a donation to Miserior whenever I see Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton.
Time to cancel the Sotchi Grand Prix
Just a few days ago, I (Fat Hippo) wrote a news item arguing that the Sotchi GP should not be boycotted in the light of the Crimean crisis, but reality has overtaken me on it again. A few days ago Vladimir Putin decided that he is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler with an atrocious accent and decided to order acts of war to be committed in Ukraine. Russian regular forces have attacked military installations on Ukrainian soil and have been preventing OSCE observers from entering the Crimean peninsula for four days. Yesterday they did so with the use of weapons for the first time.
Russia is a signing member of the OSCE treaties and now violates them to bring the Crimean Peninsula “Heim ins Reich”. Putin has committed several acts of war against a sovereign country and that’s where the bucket stops. We can try “appeasement” and will likely end up with the same result we got in 1938 or we grow some balls and declare war on Russia, else we will witness Belarus, Abkhasia, South Ossetia and Moldova being attacked and annexed next.
The “free world” has only watched so far and Putin plays and relies on it. It is time to make hay. Russian sponsors and drivers have to be banned from F1. There shall be no race in Russia and Putin shall be shown his place with the business end of a battle tank. He made all diplomatic efforts impossible the moment he chose to invade a neighboring country against all international law. The last time that happened, Hitler threw the world into deadly conflict, we must not be idle now. Stop it before it is too late.
The current crisis was sadly foreseeable. During my time in Russia I learned that many Russians are extremely right-wing and anti-semitic. Most of their views make the tea party look like a communist joke. A rather shocking line I heard often was: “Where the Ukrainian walked along, even the Jew can’t find anything of value anymore.” These are the same people, who now “protect” the Russian interests in Ukraine. Someone once said: “He, who doesn’t learn from history is doomed to repeat it. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”
Horner tips Mercedes driver for 2014 title (GMM)
Red Bull boss Christian Horner is predicting an all-Mercedes silver duel for the 2014 title.
“Lewis (Hamilton) and Nico (Rosberg) — who else is there?” he is quoted by the Times after a disastrous winter for reigning quadruple world champions Red Bull. Horner may not sound confident about Red Bull’s chances with its struggling Renault-powered RB10, but he is not writing off the Milton Keynes based team.
“If people write us off, that’s their choice,” he said. Horner insisted Red Bull is “up for the challenge” of nonetheless climbing a “pretty steep mountain” in 2014, acknowledging that the team’s position right now is not good.
“It seems the Mercedes-powered teams are in good shape and we are, er, not,” he smiled.
Renault is taking much of the blame for the crisis, but car designer Adrian Newey admits Red Bull might also have been wiser.
“Looking back,” he told the April issue of the Red Bulletin magazine, “it would have been smarter to concentrate full power on the new car earlier on.
“(But) in August, no one could have guessed that we would be so far ahead by the end of the (2013) season,” Newey added. Outside Red Bull, there are cries of relief that Red Bull’s run of dominance appears over.
“One team destroying it for four years, having ass-whipped so badly, is not good for the sport,” Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is quoted by the Express. I’ve been flying through all these airports and keep bumping into someone from a different country who says they used to watch F1 but not anymore,” he added.
McLaren’s Jenson Button fully agrees that Red Bull’s problems are good for F1. “It’s sad to say we think like that but it’s the case. They’ve been too dominant,” he is quoted by the Telegraph.
Horner, however, suggested that Mercedes’ advantage could prove just as boring in 2014.
“If they were to finish two laps ahead of the opposition in Melbourne, that wouldn’t be a surprise, based on what we’ve seen in pre-season testing,” he is quoted by the Mirror.
“They invested more, they invested earlier. They have got themselves into a good position.”
Horner claims that with the ‘power unit’ so important in 2014, Red Bull is at a slight disadvantage compared to its main rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.
“The split between chassis and engine is obviously different in our team than it is at Mercedes and Ferrari,” he is quoted by the Guardian. We’re not totally integrated.” But even Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull’s billionaire team owner, thinks a change of colour at the top of the order in 2014 could be welcomed by F1.
“Two hearts beat inside me,” he told German news agency DPA. “As a fan, I am glad it is more exciting again — maybe our dominance is at an end.”
With reports of a recent ‘hissy fit’ already denied, Mateschitz tipped Sebastian Vettel to “cope” with his new position on the grid.
“I don’t think he will have a problem coping with the current situation,” he said. “Just like the entire team, he accepts the challenge.”
Vettel, speaking to Austrian Servus TV, agrees: “We were very successful in recent years, achieving many things, but we always knew it would not always be so.”
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda would agree with that assessment of the pecking order. “I say it reluctantly,” he told the Austrian broadcaster ORF, “but I’m assuming that the first three grid positions (in Melbourne) will have Mercedes engines.”
Barrichello hopes Massa fights for title (GMM)
Felipe Massa can take his Williams all the way to the 2014 title.
That is the view of Brazilian countryman and F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello, who completed the last of his more than 300 grands prix amid the same Grove based team’s slump in 2011. Williams’ slump, however, appears over now, with the specialist German magazine Auto Motor und Sport finding that the new FW36 could even be faster than the works Mercedes based on race simulations at the Bahrain test.
“Felipe has a good chance at Williams,” 41-year-old Barrichello, likening Massa’s Ferrari exit to his own “rebirth” at Brawn GP, told Globo. “I hope he can go very well, win races and fight for the title, just as I did that year (2009).”
Barrichello is travelling to Australia this week, where he will continue his role in 2014 as an expert pundit for Brazilian television.
“I’ve been following all the tests and am anxious to see if the Williams car is as competitive as it seems,” he said. “The team to beat at the moment is Mercedes, but Williams is there.”
When does marketing cease to be marketing?
Repucom have been at it again, This was the company that announced to the world that from their analysis, Infiniti was the first company ever to receive the equivalence of $1bn of advertising from its F1 exposure as Red Bull’s partner. How this magical number is calculated is less clear.
“Sports holds a prominent role in the global media landscape as a means to drive audience, passion and engangement”, explain Repucom. “In response to this, we provide market leading media analytics, focused on the impact of sponsorship in various broadcast environments. We measure, evaluate and audit sponsorship activations and campaigns across TV, online, radio and social networks, print and mobile devices.
This capability is powered by the largest and most advanced media monitoring network in our industry globally. It is wholly owned and operated by REPUCOM, ensuring we offer our clients an unparalleled level of transparency and accuracy from a single and completely independent source. We are the trusted, neutral reference on the global sports market”.
So there we have it….Crystal…..
James Allen does a better job of explaining Repucom’s magic box. “The global index, which was created in-house by Repucom, quantifies consumer perceptions of celebrities, ranging from TV and film stars to sports and businessmen. It measures the individual’s key attributes, such as their appeal, influence, trendsetting, trust and aspiration through the companies Celebrity DBI in order to offer a defined list of the most influential and marketable people in their respective industry”.
Mmm… Anyway, just in case Ferrari were thinking of ditching Fred, Repucom says they should think again. Alonso has a global recognition factor of 71% ahead of Lewis Hamilton at 65% and Felipe Massa on 61%.
Global superstar and 4 consecutive time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, is globally only 4th.
“It may be a surprise to some that globally, Sebastian Vettel does not score as highly in terms of public opinion as the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Massa,” said Nigel Geach, Senior Vice President of Motorsport, Repucom.
“Alonso’s dominance in the rankings is down in large part to his international deals and association with the Ferrari brand. Despite Red Bull’s recent successes, globally, 59% of F1 fans have an interest in the Ferrari team, representing the highest levels of interest in any F1 team and with races screened across 160 global markets to a cumulative global TV audience of 1.8 billion, one can see the importance this can have on perception.”
Here it is then, the Repucom List of most marketable F1 drivers.
Top 5 Global Celebrity DBI Score/Awareness
1. Fernando Alonso 70.57 – 71.14%
2. Lewis Hamilton 64.91 – 63.65%
3. Felipe Massa 60.98 – 58.14%
4. Sebastian Vettel 60.64 – 54.30%
5. Kimi Raikkönen 59.98 – 56.40%
Top 5 UK Celebrity DBI Score/Awareness
1. Jenson Button 82.87 – 88.58%
2. Lewis Hamilton 81.69 – 90.74%
3. Fernando Alonso 67.21 – 70.02%
4. Sebastian Vettel 63.80 – 64.79%
5. Felipe Massa 62.66 – 62.32%
Top 5 Domestically Celebrity DBI Score/Awareness
1. Fernando Alonso 89.61 – 98.35%
2. Felipe Massa 88.84 – 99.20%
3. Sebastian Vettel 87.97 – 97.58%
4. Jenson Button 82.87 – 88.58%
5. Lewis Hamilton 81.69 – 90.74%
Interesting that Lewis loses out to Jenson in his domestic market, yet globally he is placed second.
Anyway, what is the actual marketing going on here? Is this a score card for those who want to partner their international goods and wares with Fred and his mates?
Or is this in fact a subtle piece of marketing on behalf of the drivers directed at their employers?
Anyway – many F1 fans will refuse to recognise this report because it is contains a driver poll which does not include Senna…. So in the trash it goes….
A certain site asked this question on twitter just now….
“Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has been revealed as the most marketable driver in Formula 1. Do you agree? Tweet”
Berger thought of Schumacher after own ski fall (GMM)
Gerhard Berger has admitted he thought of fellow F1 legend Michael Schumacher when he lay injured in the snow late last week.
Austrian Berger, a former Ferrari and McLaren driver and ex BMW and Toro Rosso F1 chief, is now recovering at home after surgery for a badly broken arm suffered when he fell at the Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental resort in Austria.
Unlike the comatose Schumacher, who tripped on a rock and struck another with his head in the French alps, 54-year-old Berger fell on a forest road onto a concrete drainage pipe.
“Further to the left and I would have hit my head on it,” he told the Austrian news agency APA.
“Good and bad luck lie so closely together.”
Berger confirmed that he had surgery on the injury to insert a plate with twelve screws in his arm.
“Even a nerve was injured, so I cannot really move my wrist, but I will again. The bottom line is that it was painful, but I’m glad it was that and no more.
“I already have some plates in my body, so it’s just one more.”
Asked if he thought of Schumacher’s serious injuries when he was laying in the snow, Berger admitted: “Of course I did.
“It was similar to him — I was not going fast or doing a risky move.”
Berger, who recently attended the Bahrain tests, will watch this weekend’s Melbourne season opener from home.
Hamilton looking forward to more open competition
Lewis Hamilton is a divisive figure in Formula One. There are no doubts he has mood swings and that his emotions are available for viewing at all times. I believe – in the enlightened world – that’s referred to as ‘wearing his heart on his sleeve.’
Yet his character is assassinated constantly for whatever utterance is made; such as his comment following the 2011 Monaco GP with its racial tones.
In the modern age with every utterance transmitted around the globe in seconds, this could be classed as a fatal flaw. Yet we – as fans of the sport – constantly feel nauseous with drivers that just tow the party line. We are all passionate about this sport and we want these warriors to reflect that but when they do they are metaphorically destroyed.
In a recent BBC interview he answered a few questions that critics may dismiss as whining and bleating but if these words had been expressed by Alonso, Button or in the past Webber – would they have been accepted with a slight nodding of the head?
“One team destroying it for four years, having your ass whupped so badly, is not good for the sport,” he said.”You want a championship that goes to the wire. I hope the changes enable that to happen this year.”
Of course this is a selfish view but Alonso speaks in similar tones; especially regarding “racing against Newey”. It was whilst interviewed in Brazil that Alonso made a comment about Vettel’s character and abilities being put under the microscope when he doesn’t have a dominant car any longer.
Who could have guessed it would be so soon?
Neither Alonso or Hamilton have enormous respect for the current World Champion’s abilities and while it appears Red Bull will try to circumvent rules or use their influence to bring tyre changes to suit their car; there are many observers of Formula One who feel the same. Irrespective of the close finishes in 2010 and 2012, why is it that Vettel – a four times champion – does not command the same respect someone like Schumacher does? The latter is regarded by many as the best of his generation but nobody feels that of Vettel… yet.
Hamilton continues: “I’ve been flying through all these different airports and bumping into someone from a different country and they’ll say: ‘I used to watch F1 but I don’t watch it anymore. And I’ll say: ‘This is the year you need to watch because this is such a new year. So much is changing. So it’s really going to be the most exciting year for any fan who is currently watching or who wants to start watching.”
It would be easy to believe the hidden message in these words is – “I have the best car and I will dominate from now on; so of course the world is a rosier place.” But will it be Hamilton’s year or is he just in with a shot?
Hamilton appears to have a good eye on his opponents saying, “Fundamentally, I think Red Bull still have an amazing car,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have a better engine than them, which will help a lot. Ferrari seem strong. They will undoubtedly be strong competitors. More surprising is people like Williams. They’ve now got our engine and they now have a competitive package and I think they’re going to be a real head-turner this year. I’m really excited for them. And McLaren are back, so it’s going to be a great battle.”
When asked about his preparations for the year he claimed he was better prepared than in the past and “secretively” more fired up than ever. “Naturally you train through the winter to be in that place but you don’t always have the package to show all that work. Every now and then you get a year where you’re able to use it. I’m hoping when we get to Australia it is that year and we’re able to show we’ve got the package to back it up with. I feel ready. I have strong opponents, but I’m excited.”
Of course he has a team-mate to beat first and with many tipping Rosberg to have an edge this is shaping up to be one of the most interesting intra team battles since Vettel/Webber in 2010.
Bernie Ecclestone, mischievous as ever, told Germany’s Sports Bild: “Hamilton will win the first race and will be World Champion this year.” When questioned as to his change of allegiance – the ‘forgetful’ 83 year old remarked that Hamilton had the best car and was already World Champion in 2008.