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The month of March
The legendary Ronnie Peterson literally flies on his way to a – season best – third place finish at the 1972 German Grand Prix, around the fearsome 14.1 miles of the Nurburgring, in the STP March 721G
Australian Race Stewards
DR GERD ENNSER – MEMBER OF THE DMSB’S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FOR AUTOMOBILE SPORT, FORMULA ONE AND DTM STEWARD
Dr Gerd Ennser has successfully combined his formal education in law with his passion for motor racing. While still active as a racing driver he began helping out with the management of his local motor sport club and since 2006 has been a permanent steward at every round of Germany’s DTM championship. Since 2010 he has also been a Formula One steward. Dr Ennser, who has worked as a judge, a prosecutor and in the legal department of an automotive-industry company, has also acted as a member of the steering committee of German motor sport body, the DMSB, since spring 2010, where he is responsible for automobile sport. In addition, Dr Ennser is a board member of the South Bavarian Section of ADAC, Germany’s biggest auto club.
TIM MAYER – FIA ALTERNATE DELEGATE TO THE USA, FIA STEWARD
As the son of former McLaren team principal Teddy Mayer, Tim Mayer grew up around motor sport. He organised IndyCar races internationally from 1992-98, aided the construction of several circuits, and produced international TV for multiple series. In 1998 he became CART’s Senior VP for Racing Operations. He also became VP of ACCUS, the US ASN. In 2003, Mayer became COO of IMSA, operating multiple series at all levels, and also took on the role of COO and Race Director of the American Le Mans Series. He was elected an independent Director of ACCUS and FIA US Alternate Delegate, responsible for US World Championship events.
EMANUELE PIRRO – FORMER F1 DRIVER AND FIVE-TIME LE MANS WINNER
During a motor sport career spanning almost 40 years, Emanuele Pirro has achieved a huge amount of success, most notably in sportscar racing, with five Le Mans wins, victory at the Daytona 24 Hours and two wins at the Sebring 12 Hours. In addition, the Italian driver has won the German and Italian Touring Car championships (the latter twice) and has twice been American Le Mans Series Champion. Pirro enjoyed a three-season F1 career from 1989 to 1991, firstly with Benetton and then for Scuderia Italia. His debut as an FIA Steward came at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and he has returned regularly since.
Capricorn Group saves Nürburgring
It was the news many fans of the legendary Nordschleife had been waiting for. The track that was under threat of closure over a subsidising scandal (the fat hippo ranted about it last year) has been bought and on top of it, the buyer is not an investment group of which at least one was in the running, too.
The buyer turns out to be the Capricorn Group, a German consortium that produces engine parts, like crankshafts, pistons and piston rods for racing engines as well as composite materials. The company has production facilities in Mönchengladbach (Germany), at the Nürburgring, St. Etienne (France), Basingstoke (England), Charlotte (USA), Anzola Dell’Emillia (Italy) and Modena (Italy).
Capricorn has been running a production and test facility at the Ring since 2002 and plans to expand it into a Technology Cluster. A new company capricorn Nürburgring GmbH has been founded and added to the Capricorn Group to run the Nürburgring, the associated hotels and the amusement park. The company’s press release assured that all current racing, driving and test activities, among them the F1 Grand Prix and the hugely popular tourist weekends that allow anyone with a valid license and an insured road legal car to drive on the Northern Loop track will be continued and even extended.
For fans of the legendary track this is the best case scenario. The full press release is available for viewing on the capricorn group website
Vettel names Red Bull RB10
That Sebastian Vettel has a special relationship to his car became obvious, when he celebrated his fourth championship title in India. After performing doughnuts on the start-finish straight, he got out and worshipped his machine. Since his switch to Red Bull he has traditionally named his cars.
While the German word for car Auto[mobil] is a neuter, he chooses to give his cars female names. His first Red Bull car the 2009 RB5 was called Katie and after crashing his first chassis, he named the new one Kate’s Dirty Sister. The 2010 RB6 was named Luscious Liz (because ‘she has a nice back-end’ according to Vettel’s Top Gear interview) a second chassis in use after Monaco was christened Randy Mandy. The dominant 2011 car was called Kinky Kylie, the RB8 Abbey and the all-conquering RB9 was called Hungry Heidi.
A hippo rant at the time of Jerez suggested that Vettel name his 2014 RB10 Hideous Hilda or Gross Gertie, but the German went for naming it Suzie. According to Vettel, the name has no connection to any real person and the name was carefully spelt with a Z to avoid being seen as a jab at Susie Wolff, who will appear in at least two Friday practices during the season.
Stoddard: Ricciardo will not get equal opportunity
In an interview with GPUdate.net former Minardi boss Paul Stoddard has claimed that Daniel Ricciardo, the successor of fellow Australian Mark Webber, will be a dedicated number two at Red Bull.
“It’s very hard to be a team-mate to Sebastian,” Stoddart is quoted as saying. “Despite all the efforts to downplay that it’s not his [Vettel’s] team, it is his team. Daniel has to accept that he’s going to be second best, which is very hard for a racing driver to do, especially a young racing driver. If he can accept that, he’s going to do fine. If he can’t accept that, he’ll struggle. Daniel has certainly got the talent and the coolness, but he’ll never get equal opportunity.”
One could wonder, whom Stoddard expects to be surprised about that. Vettel gave both Red Bull teams their respective first wins ever, scored 100% of TR’s wins and about 75% of all RB wins, along with 4 titles. Did he seriously expect that RB would not cater for Vettel’s needs and preferences first and above all? It sounds more like a pre-emptive excuse being made up for the case that Ricciardo could struggle to match his team mate, which strikes me as an odd way to motivate a young driver.
If early signs are any indication, Danny boy already fares better than his compatriot, as the majority of testing troubles happened when Vettel was supposed to drive, including the third testing day at the second Bahrain test during which Vettel didn’t manage a single lap. It appears that Danny R. hasn’t inherited Mark’s streak of bad luck, although like his predecessor he is taller and heavier than his team-mate and may face the same challenges in terms of setup and the car’s cooling.
Luca di Montezemolo worried about “taxi rides”
Ferrari president has told Autosprint that he is worried about early races becoming “taxi rides” with drivers having to go slow to keep the fuel consumption below the allowed 100 kilogram limit for the race. The Italian admitted that he would prefer a Formula One that required drivers to drive at the limit, something that would clearly play into the hands of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. After a strong 2012, when Alonso came close to winning the title in what was clearly not the fastest car, he struggled in some races in 2013 which required a lot less raw driving skills in favour of going fast, but slow enough to keep the flimsy Pirelli tyres alive.
The latter aspect still irks LdM. “Yesterday all we looked at were the tyres. Almost all attention was focused on tyre management. It was confusing to see a driver in the lead, who wasn’t really in the lead, because he would have to come in for tyres soon. Races were too hard to follow. Now we get the fuel limit on top of that.”
But not all rule changes are met by di Montezemolos disapproval. He welcomes the additional engineering challenges of the hybrid engine systems. He thinks that experience with these complex systems will be helpful for the company’s road car division.
Ron Dennis: McLaren had lost focus
Based on their speed over the year, McLaren should have won the 2012 title with Lewis Hamilton. More often than not the “chrome arrows” were as fast or even faster than Vettel’s Red Bull, but they left the title fight to Alonso and Vettel due to lack of reliability, a string of botched pit stops and questionable strategy calls. Instead of following Adrian Newey’s example by developing a car that already was a proven winner, they binned the 2012 design and started from scratch even though 2013 was a transition year. It all went spectacularly wrong and McLaren suffered the first season in 30 years without a single podium finish.
According to Jonathan Noble, writing for Motorsport Total, returning McLaren boss Ron Dennis identified detractions due to other projects and a general loss of focus as the main culprit for the lack of success in recent years. Dennis, who admits that he got bored of a non-executive position at McLaren after just two days, names the signing of Eric Boullier as one decision that is part of his plans to bring McLaren back on track. The former Lotus man is supposed to concentrate solely on the team, something that Whitmarsh obviously didn’t do. The other projects at Woking will be overseen by a separate Executive Officer.
Not known for making empty promises, Dennis showed faith in a refocused team to deliver wins this year, which considering that they use Mercedes engines this year appears not to be the riskiest of predictions.
‘Encouraging signs’ in Schumacher recovery – manager (GMM)
Michael Schumacher is showing “small, encouraging signs” in his long recovery from “severe injuries”, the seven time world champion’s management announced on Wednesday in a rare official update.
The statement follows speculation the great former Ferrari and Mercedes driver’s family has now been told Schumacher, 45, is unlikely to recover, almost eleven weeks into his coma after a skiing fall in the French alps.
But Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm said in the communique on Wednesday: “We are confident Michael will pull through and will wake up.
“There sometimes are small, encouraging signs, but we also know this is the time to be very patient.”
The Schumacher camp has been criticised for not disclosing enough information to the media and his legions of fans about the German’s recovery.
Wednesday’s statement said the family is in fact “extremely grateful” for the sympathy and interest, but “it should not be forgotten Michael’s family is dealing with an extremely intimate and fragile situation.
“It is very hard to comprehend for all of us that Michael, who had overcome a lot of precarious situations in the past, has been hurt so terribly in such a banal situation,” Kehm said.
Vettel could exit amid Red Bull crisis – Marko (GMM)
Red Bull needs to up its game or risk losing Sebastian Vettel.
That is the admission of the team’s always-blunt Dr Helmut Marko, as quadruple reigning world champion Vettel prepares to either retire or finish outside the points as the 2014 season kicks off this weekend in Melbourne.
Marko admitted to Germany’s Bild newspaper: “If our disastrous state does not change soon, I could not blame him for thinking about a change.”
Vettel, 26, sat down with his mechanics in Melbourne on Tuesday for his traditional pre-season dinner, where he named his uncompetitive RB10 car an unspectacular ‘Suzie’.
Marko told Sport Bild magazine: “After the test in Bahrain, we would be happy if we finish in the points in Australia.
“We know that we have a good car,” he added, “but we’ll only know if the engine is good if we get it to work properly.
“The decisive factor is the new software that our engineers wrote for Renault.”
The undoubted favourite for the Albert Park opener is Mercedes, and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday tipped Lewis Hamilton to win the title.
But 1996 world champion Damon Hill told the Daily Mail: “I would warn Lewis not to underestimate Nico (Rosberg).”
Indeed, the flamboyant 2008 world champion Hamilton is often the Mercedes driver on everybody’s lips, but the German told the DPA news agency that he doesn’t mind.
“I do feel that the fans appreciate me,” Rosberg said, “and I am grateful for their support.”
Team chairman Niki Lauda said opinions about Mercedes’ drivers are often formed because of Hamilton’s “brutal force of talent”.
But he told the Austrian broadcaster ORF: “Nico is characterised in that he thinks in a very technical way — almost like Vettel.
“The two (Hamilton and Rosberg) complement each other very well.”
Rosberg said: “I have a feeling that this could be our year and that’s very exciting.”
Still, the 28-year-old and the Brackley based team are cautious. “To say now that we will become world champions because of the good tests would be totally wrong and premature,” boss Toto Wolff told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.
And a forecast of rain for Melbourne is making Lauda nervous.
“We have never driven with these turbo engines in the rain,” he said, “so it is possible that even more problems could turn up.”
Is Red Bull Racing stretching the rules again? (Rubbished)
It appears that Red Bull are circumventing the rules once again in their search for speed for their troubled car.
This morning at the RAAF Air Force base in Victoria (around two and half hours from Melbourne) a ‘filming’ day had been organised which had an F/A-18 Hornet drag racing the Red Bull car. This in itself is not a problem – it’s straight line running after all.
An observer told TJ13, “it was a great event and the noise of both powerplants was awesome!”
However after the actual filming was completed, and the jet removed, the Red Bull car would appear periodically and complete a number of laps using the runways and taxiways as a form of track.
With the venue being a military base, photography was banned and any brave individual who felt the slightest inclination to secretly record anything was informed explicitly by the military police they would be arrested if they did so.
Mmm…. How many filming days have RBR now had? Was there an F1 observer there to count mileage?
For now we don’t know.
As the judge was meanwhile informed, Red Bull used an RB7 to film a feature with the RAAF for Top Gear Australia. This therefore does not concern the testing regulations.
The seriousness of F1
F1 is indeed a serious business, and historically was even more so. The ‘Daddy of the Garagistes’, Colin Chapman, was accused of killing his drivers with excessive designs which reduced driver protection during a crash. Serious stuff.
Of course today, a driver can crash head on with a barrier at 300 kph and most likely avoid even a broken bone. But F1 is still a very serious business.
It may be that there are so few competitive events, 19,20 or 21 races, which focuses the mind of the fans and those in the sport on a whole range of other topics – which become most serious indeed.
The weight of history bears heavily on the shoulders of certain individuals such as Montezemolo, Sir Frank and Ron Dennis, together with the weight of a wage bill which see’s the industry employ both directly and indirectly over 6,000 people. Livelihoods are a very serious matter.
We the fans bitch and squabble in the forums over who is better than whom, where the line between cheating and playing the system should be drawn and quicker than ‘jumping jack flash’ a serious feud develops where the matters of decency and morality become points of principle. Seriously serious.
The uproar double points has caused is indeed a measure of how deadly serious we the fans are. Yet as I suggested when this news broke, it is inevitable F1 will find a solution to ensure the championship is decided regularly in the dying moments of the season. This is just the beginning.
Regularly, the heightened DefCon One nature of the seriousness rolls unintentionally into parody – akin to an ‘end of the world movie’ by Steve Martin – and there is nothing more amusing than watching one of our F1 players take themselves way,way too seriously to the point of farce.
TJ13 since its inception recognises this is a large part of F1, and at times the only way to remain serious about the over egged mega seriousness we may be presented with, is to recognise the parody and chuckle heartily.
Hence last year we had “Christian Aid” week in honour of a certain Mr. Horner. Many readers were surprised by the buff nature of Christian’s body once his team Red Bull uniform was stripped away. Daily News and Comment: 23rd April 2013
What is really tremendous to observe is when the much over egged seriousness, becomes parody to all looking on AND this is also recognised by the purveyor of the uber seriousness.
In an interview with The Guardian, Christian Horner amiably chats through where Red Bull are at, and indeed there are encouraging signs the smouldering relationship with Renault is on the mend and no divorce will be necessary.
“The split between chassis and engine is obviously different in our team than it is at Mercedes and Ferrari. We’re not totally integrated. We have an extremely close working relationship, and there’s an awful lot of exchange of information and ideas”, Horner reveals. All of our 47 grands prix have been with Renault power.”
Good ole Chris leaves us with a slight but sneaking suspicion that a Renault works team based in Milton Keynes is not an impossibility at some point in the future. Especially when we consider that Lotus lobbied so very for this, but were refused.
Mateschitz at some point will have had enough of F1, so the battle between Red Bull and Lotus this year could indeed be for the exclusive affections of… and a marriage to… their current French mistress from across the channel.
In a way, it appears that for the first time in many a moon, the pressure is off Christian. He calmly suggests, “The bottom line is Mercedes have got a bit of a march on people. They invested more, they invested earlier. They’ve got themselves into a good position. If Mercedes were to finish two laps ahead of the opposition in Melbourne, that wouldn’t be a surprise, based on what we’ve seen in preseason testing. It’s massive”.
Wow. No protests of breaking the RRA with 400 engineers working on the Brixworth engine project compared to Renaults sub-200???
Further, Monsieur Horner takes responsibility for the plight his team finds themselves in at present. “We aggressively pushed the boundaries on the packaging of the car, as Adrian always does, to try and get every bit of aerodynamic advantage. Pushing the boundaries in all areas is what Formula One is all about. It’s about getting the most out of every single element”.
Has Christian undergone a personality transplant? Thankfully not, as momentarily he slips back into self justification mode. “Sometimes to find the limit you’ve got to go over where the limit is, otherwise you don’t know where it is. We’d rather make a quick car reliable than a reliable car quick. It’s far harder that way round, and I think fundamentally the car we’ve got is good.”
Aha. So the plan for all teams should be to build a car that is so aggressive it cannot run properly for the 12 days of pre-season testing, because….. in the end….errr…. this is in fact the best way of doing things???
We’ll forgive Christian this minor lapse as it is likely we will be continuing to see a very different Mr. Horner over the coming few weeks. Chastened…yes… and possibly even prepared to manage some self deprecation – poking fun at himself, Newey and the team.
There was a glimmer of this during the conclusion of his Q&A with the Guardian. Christian reveals – with a grin – that at the last F1 strategy Group meeting, “I was voting for double points from Silverstone onwards.”
The acceptance by Horner of Red Bull’s state of unreadiness and that Mercedes lead is “massive”, could be interpreted as defeatism, but I think this is not the case. Christian is just learning that as the famous Danish physicist, Niels Bohr once said, “There are some things in life so serious… you just have to laugh”.
Back to the Helium balloons for now!
Ecclestone should be ‘suspended’
TJ13 reported yesterday in the Daily News that one of the investors who purchased 21% of F1’s commercial rights from CVC in 2012, may have been hoodwinked into doing so.
Today, the CEO of Norges Bank – Yngve Slyngstad – tells Dagens Naeringsliv the fund may try to offload its stake admitting, “Yes, we have made a mistake.”
The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund invests oil revenues to ensure the future of the country’s welfare benefits for future generations, but the acquisition of the F1 shares has been criticised by politicians and by Norwegian media as failing the fund’s strict ethical rules.
“We have clearly indicated that we have a zero tolerance to corruption,” Mr Slyngstad states. “Obviously if this affair is not handled properly we would not want to be a shareholder. In that case we would not hold on to our shares.”
In the continuing debate amongst CVC and its partners over the whether Ecclestone should be allowed to continue in his current F1 role, Slyngstad is categorical, stating Ecclestone should be “suspended”.
Amended McLaren livery
Having no title sponsor for 2014, McLaren have been running in the chrome livery of recent times. However, for the season opener this weekend, the sidepods of the MP4-29 will be coloured black.
No explanation is yet forthcoming from the team.
FIA Press Conference Schedule: Australia
The first of the FIA race weekend press conferences has been announced
Thursday, 15:00 local time clock (clock 5:00 CET)
Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Kevin Magnussen (McLaren)
Felipe Massa (Williams)
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
Friday, 18:30 clock local time (between 8:30 clock CET)Eric Boullier (McLaren) Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari)
Christian Horner (Red Bull)
Remi Taffin (Renault)
Claire Williams (Williams)
Toto Wolff (Mercedes)
Unusually we will have 2 drivers from the same team, Red Bull.
Eric has been given the platform to speak for McLaren, though if the weekend goes well, Big Ron will be grabbing the microphone for sure.
Lotus and Force India may feel a little disgruntled as one of the team ‘boss’ slots has been given to Renault.
Most interesting!!! The FIA actually tweeted this schedule. There were times in 2013 where TJ13 had reported the schedule and line up for the FIA press events some 24 hours before it was officially released by the FIA.
Do we have a new boy in the Place de Concorde with a twitter machine?
The all new F1 podium
With past champions, but retains the silly fake flags….and at some point Jonny Herbert too!
Lauda denies money powered Mercedes dominance (GMM)
Niki Lauda has dismissed claims Mercedes is set to dominate the 2014 season because the German carmaker spent more on its new turbo V6 ‘power unit’.
“It is no secret,” Renault-powered Lotus’ team owner Gerard Lopez said this week, “that we face an extremely well-resourced rival in Mercedes who have dedicated considerable efforts to their power units for the 2014 season.”
Red Bull’s Christian Horner added this week: “They (Mercedes) invested more, they invested earlier.”
Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger told the APA news agency: “They (Mercedes) are ahead of the game because they invested more money.”
And even Ferrari is claiming it has been out-powered in the resources department by Mercedes as F1 makes its revolutionary technical shift.
“If we had more time,” boss Stefano Domenicali told Italy’s Autosprint, “maybe we would be more prepared for the start of the season.
“The complexity of this project is really high and our resources are, so to speak, limited.”
Domenicali said that on the other hand, Mercedes has “more specific” engine-related “firepower”, that has “exaggerated” the early phase of F1’s new era.
“It is clear that they have been in a position to arrive at the start having solved all the problems that we have only found,” the Italian insisted.
But Lauda, who is Mercedes’ F1 chairman, disputes the claim that Mercedes is so far ahead.
“We will only know when the first three races are over,” he told RTL television, “but I think Ferrari is on roughly the same level as Mercedes.
“The only one that really struggles at the moment is Renault. They do not have the reliability that we have, simply because we have done a better job.
“But that has nothing to do with money,” Lauda insisted.
Told, however, that Mercedes has clearly invested more than its rivals in the development of its new V6, the great Austrian answered: “No.
“Our team is the same as it has been; the investments for all three engine manufacturers are the same.
“Nothing has changed in the basic structure of the three companies,” said Lauda.
He also thinks Renault is probably not far away from solving its problems, however dramatic the French marque’s situation appears.
“We all know that in formula one, rapid development jumps are possible,” said Lauda.
“And if Renault just has software problems, it (Renault’s recovery) could be really fast.”
Lauda ‘annoyed’ by Schumacher rumours (GMM)
Niki Lauda has admitted to being “saddened” and “annoyed” by the constant rumours of Michael Schumacher’s medical condition. While official news is scarce, publications continue to speculate about the great seven time world champion’s health and prospects in the wake of his late December skiing crash and coma.
“Unfortunately, at the moment there is no news,” triple world champion and Mercedes F1 chairman Lauda told the Austrian broadcaster ORF. “But the rumours are constantly appearing, and it saddens me because every day I wait for some encouraging news that the situation is beginning to improve,” he said.
“Recently it was reported that Michael can breathe on his own, which would be great news but then it turned out to be wrong,” said Lauda, who is still scarred from his near-fatal Nurburgring crash in 1976. “I am annoyed by these reports,” he admitted. “Nevertheless, we are all waiting for better news.”
New V6 era is ‘pure F1’ – Berger (GMM)
Gerhard Berger is no longer critical of F1’s technological revolution. Having counted himself among the ‘purists’ who dislike the complicated energy recovery systems and fuel-saving limitations, the former Ferrari and Benetton driver told APA news agency he has now changed his mind.
“From my perspective,” he told the Austrian agency, “it is a big step forward. Until my visit to (the) Bahrain (test), I was critical,” said 54-year-old Berger, currently recovering from badly breaking his arm in a skiing crash.
“At first I found it too technical, too complicated for the fans,” he explained. “But I need to revise that. This is pure formula one. The cars are 20kph faster on the straights and they also have real power out of the corners.”
10-time grand prix Berger, perhaps best known as F1 legend Ayrton Senna’s McLaren teammate, also said he has no problem with the milder tones of the new V6 engines.
“The criticism (of the sound) is coming mainly from people who have not heard them,” he said.
India GP problems ‘money related’ – Ecclestone (GMM)
The promoter of India’s beleaguered formula one race breached its contract, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revealed. Last week, as Ecclestone announced the New Delhi race will not be run either in 2014 or 2015, the 83-year-old said the problems were mainly related to tax and bureaucracy.
But he has now told the IANS news agency: “The race promoters there (Jaypee) have not been able to comply with parts of the contract and they (the breaches) are mostly money related.”
Ecclestone said he is hoping the problems can be resolved so that F1 can return to India. “India is among the few new F1 venues where people understand the sport and want to understand it better,” said the Briton. “That is why I have greater faith in India than China.’
“I must clarify here that we still have very good relations with the (Indian) promoters and we still want to see through the remaining two years of our contract. But that can happen only if we get the financial guarantees,” Ecclestone added.
Last week, Ecclestone said an Indian grand prix was unlikely to return in 2015, but he has now opened the door to that possibility. “I am still trying for 2015 and we have got about two months time to make that happen,” he said. “We really want to get back.”