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Sauber Salsa Sessions
The news broke yesterday of Sauber’s intentions to produce a dance video as the team look to rebrand themselves towards different markets. Currently languishing towards the back of the grid, it is hoped this will bring the team some more attention from media outlets all around the world.
Using team archives as well as dance sessions to be recorded over the course of the season, the video is expected to be released following the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi in November. It will include dance routines from around the world, reportedly including never before seen footage from Christmas parties in years gone by. Here at TJ13 we are hoping this does not include any from Johnny Herbert, who drove for the team from 1996-1998.
A statement on the team’s website read, “With accessibility being a key aspect in interacting with fans in the modern era the video will give a platform for all at Hinwil to relate to our fans, all around the world.” All proceeds from the video will go towards the team’s newly elected charity Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation. Having announced the partnership with the cancer research charity in February, the money raised will have a great effect on the junior scientific investigations conducting research in the fields of leukaemia, lymphoma and related cancers.
When asked about the release of the light-hearted video Adrian Sutil responded in nonchalant manner saying, “While I understand the importance of off-track promotional activities I would rather the team’s focus is solely on improving the speed of our car.” Clearly concerned following the double retirement out in Malaysia, the 31 year old continued, “We know we have to improve and we know what we have to do.”
Some have speculated as to the negative reaction from the German being a fear of being shown up compared to his Mexican teammate. Esteban Gutierrez is quoted as saying, “I’m delighted to be releasing a dance video for such a good cause. My cultural heritage involves so much dancing so I’m delighted to be able to share my passions with my fans.”
Monisha Kaltenborn who was unavailable for comment, will surely feature heavily in the video which is set to be released straight to DVD. However, in bad news for those in English speaking countries the feature length will not be released with an English voice over version. Either way, the comedy element will not be lost of seeing those within the team’s setup making a fool of themselves for a good cause.
Mclaren’s new Technical Director revealed
In a move that will shake Formula One to the core, Mclaren have announced the signing of their new technical director.
Rumours towards the end of last year suggested that Ross Brawn was being courted by the Woking based Grand Prix team in their planned return to the pinnacle of Formula One. Brawn, however, has since confirmed his retirement from Formula One. There has been significant speculation as to his reasons why but Ross has always been too much of a gentleman to disclose the reasons to the media.
Was the return of Honda – a team that Brawn has worked with extensively – the reasoning behind his desire to continue with his passion for fishing? Or was the return of Ron Dennis – a man who’s OCD’s would make Lauda’s meddling seem casual – enough motivation to consolidate his fortune and enjoy his retirement with his family?
The recruitment of Eric Boullier as the racing director left an opening within the Mclaren team’s hierarchy. The vacant position of Technical Director has now been confirmed as former Mclaren TD – Gordon Murray.
Gordon Murray is, perhaps, best known as the chief designer for the Brabham team between 1972-1987. A South African who came to England to work with Lotus, became design leader for the Brabham team and designed the iconic Brabham BT44, the fan-car and the BT 49 with which Nelson Piquet won his first world title.
He continued pushing the boundaries with inventions such as the 1981 car which would lower itself by simply flicking a switch – removing the 6cm gap as the FIA rules set down. The defence that ‘when the car was stationary it was legal’ forced the competition to adopt this method too. In 1982 he re-introduced mid-race refuelling and in 1985 designed the brilliantly conceived but ultimately unsuccessful ‘flat’ Brabham BT55. Sadly as the eighties drew to a close it became obvious Brabham was winding down.
When Ron Dennis approached him about taking on the mantel of Technical Director he accepted and his previous work with the BT55 guided him to its natural conclusion – the legendary MP4/4 as raced throughout the 1988 season with Prost and Senna. His designs won further titles before he grew tired of Formula One’s restrictive design culture and turned his attention to designing the Mclaren F1 roadcar.
After leaving Mclaren he embarked on projects that will change the motor industry forever but it appears that not only has the new F1 era enticed Honda back to the fold, but it’s technical challenges and hybrid technology has encouraged the maverick to return to his first love once again.
“when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” – Sherlock Holmes
No diet as Hulkenberg admits eating McDonald’s (GMM)
Nico Hulkenberg has denied being one of the drivers obsessed with extreme weight loss. Amid rumours of deliberate dehydration, when it emerged that a driver had passed out last week in Malaysia, eyes turned to racers like Nico Hulkenberg, who standing at over six foot is one of the very tallest on the grid.
But the German has revealed he actually ate McDonald’s in Kuala Lumpur! “This was the exception rather than the rule,” Hulkenberg smiled to Germany’s Sky, “but this was an emergency — I was really hungry and needed to have something. There’s a McDonald’s on almost every corner,” he grinned.
Hulkenberg said he is not obsessed with his weight in 2014 because, as a tall driver, he has worked hard throughout his career to be as light as possible. “I think some of the other guys had some more weight in reserve that they had to lose now, but for me I’m more or less what I was at the end of last year. I couldn’t lose any more,” said the Force India driver.
One of the drivers who has lost weight is Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, despite the fact he is at least 6 centimetres shorter than Hulkenberg. “I had to make the sacrifice if I want to balance the car perfectly, the diet alone is easy, but training with little food is hell,” Rosberg told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag. “I have eaten no sugar since early December — for my dream I’m living like a monk,” he smiled.
Red Bull denies dropping Ricciardo appeal
Red Bull has denied rumours it is preparing to drop its appeal against Daniel Ricciardo’s Melbourne disqualification.
The story goes that FIA president Jean Todt, angry with world champion Sebastian Vettel’s crass dismissal of the new turbo V6 engine rules as “shit”, was offering to drop a disrepute charge if Red Bull agrees to drop the appeal.
“Utter nonsense,” Dr Helmut Marko is quoted by Germany’s Sky. “I have no idea where that came from. We are preparing for the appeal hearing,” he insisted. Team boss Christian Horner on Monday denied that the FIA had even contacted Red Bull about Vettel’s swearing.
But when asked about the incident, Todt said: “It is something we will deal with internally. Unfortunately we have a tendancy to forget the beauty of motor racing and formula one and concentrate on behaviours that are not my priority,” he is quoted by French television BFMTV.
Even with the appeal hearing looming, arguably Red Bull’s bigger priority is the performance of its Renault-powered RB10, and the deficit to dominant Mercedes. Horner is expecting a tough weekend in Bahrain. “Their (Mercedes’) advantage will be bigger than it was (in Malaysia) because it’s quite a power dominated circuit,” he said.
Mercedes, however, is not resting on its laurels.
“We saw one of our competitors here (in Malaysia) receiving 50 boxes of new parts on morning and evening flights,” Toto Wolff told Austrian television ORF. “We need to do the same.”
Frijns blazing a trail
Whilst chatting with a senior Red Bull member of the team, I suggested back in January the year, 2014, would be marked by the emergence of the new generation of F1 drivers.
Daniel Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen and Valterri Bottas all look well set to progress well and upset their team mates on a regular basis, though Marcus Ericsson has a lot to do if he is to survive beyond the year. One thing is worthy of note though, is that it’s difficult to make judgements on the beautiful Max C and Jules Bianchi, because they are running in the a class which is not really F1 – particularly this year – and particularly at the present time.
However, one driver who has yet been able to make his mark properly in F1, is Dutchman Robin Frijns (FRIJNS, FRIJNS, FRIJNS!!! – yes I can’t wait you mad orange folk). Speaking to another individual who has a lot of driver development experience, it was suggested to me, this lad could be top class star and a genuine contender for at least 1 WDC. Red Bull Racing attempted twice to sign him to their young driver programme, though Frijns declined.
Well Frijns gets to join fellow countryman Giedo van der Garde and drive in FP1 this Friday. He tweeted today, “As part of my contract with @CaterhamF1 my car will be wrapped in orange foil each time I drive in FP1, like in Bahrain. Oranje!!! :))”
Followed by this picture.
It seems this young man intends to blaze a trail wherever he goes.
PDVSA sponsor ends badly
I wonder why?
Lewis v Nico
Some erroneous reporting by careless journalists led to headlines on Monday in certain publications suggesting Lewis said of Nico “I blew him away”. In fact Lewis had said, “I was pulling away” which both the Englishman and Mercedes went to great lengths to correct.
Lewis and Nico have made a lot of their ‘togetherness’ and ‘long standing friendship’ and repeatedly reminded us they go back as far as their karting days. The impression is that there will be no division between the drivers within this team.
If this were to be the case, this could be the biggest miracle F1 has ever seen. Particularly, when so early in the season it is highly probable that either Hamilton or Rosberg will be the 2014 F1 drivers’ champion.
Despite the press reports that Red Bull are making giant strides forward, the gulf between them and Mercedes, it appears at present that this will be a bridge too far – but that’s another story.
So, as the two drivers, realise begin to realise it will in fact be one of them claiming a rare and most coveted championship, the tension will inevitably grow between them. Toto Wolff claims the team have anticipated this scenario and are doing all they can to keep the waters untroubled from the left to the right hand side of the garage.
“We are spending quite some time discussing those things, discussing scenarios and discussing situations,” Wolff said. “It’s Mercedes and it’s the team that comes first, but one day it will be rubbish. It’s all academic and we will run into situations where we have to manage [the drivers] – they are still very competitive creatures.
The intra-team rivalry has been there since the beginning. It’s been there since last January. What makes a difference is that these guys have known each other for such a long time and they have a fair relationship with each other, but it doesn’t mean that they are not extremely competitive and that they will try to use every advantage they can.
What is important is that we try to make it very clear from the beginning that the team has come from very far off, we have been fifth [in 2012], and you saw it last year in Malaysia that we ran into a situation that we didn’t manage in the way we should have managed because we were surprised how competitive we were, compared to our own feeling.”
The British Press on Monday were cocka-hoop, pretty much declaring that Lewis had struck a near fatal blow to his team mate by beating him in such a fashion in Malaysia. Yet as always this kind of Lewis’ fever is likely to be an over-reaction.
The Daily Mail wrote, “What looked like a piffling one-pipe triumph for a driver of Hamilton’s brilliance was a massive statement of intent in what, at this early stage of the season at least, is a private championship duel between the two Mercedes’ men, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.”
The Daily Mirror dramatically declared, “Few victories have been as significant as this,” and the usual circumspect Jenson Button appeared to join the euphoria stating this was, “Strike one to Lewis.” W’ll forgive Jenson for forgetting that in fact strike one was Nico’s in Australia.
Further, the win for Nico in Australia together with Lewis’ DNF has set the Englishman a huge task in the first part of the season. Reliability aside, the Mercedes cars are set to record 1-2’s in the next 2-3 races and should Lewis triumph in each of these duels, he will leave Barcelona with a mere 3 point lead over his team mate.
There’s been little from Mercedes on whether Rosberg had some kind of problem with his car in Malaysia, but should anyone think over a race distance Lewis is nigh on 20 seconds quicker than Nico in the same car – then they need to take a long lie down in a cool dark place.
Red Bull giant steps across a universe wide gulf
There is a view that Red Bull are taking huge strides towards Mercedes since Sebastian Vettel commented following the race, “we’re making bigger steps than them” and “it’s only a matter of time”.
We’ll cut Seb some slack today, but it would be fascinating to know what he basis this comparison on. Ok, both cars would have probably completed the race distance had Ricciardo not fallen so far behind and been retired. Yet this is hardly a step forward in terms of relative reliability when we consider the number of MGU-K shafts used by Red Bull already, From this perspective, Red Bull and all the Renault runners are quickly falling behind Mercedes.
However, the vision of Red Bull taking giant strides towards Mercedes is a relative one. Marching across the ‘milky way’ would require the biggest of giant strides. However, if at the same time your competitor needs only to take baby steps to arrive at the same destination – at the same time – then the size of the galactic stomping step width is irrelevant.
10 weeks has lapsed since TJ13 reported the night before the Jerez test that the Renault engine would be only able to run 250km over the next 4 days. The prognosis given was that the fixes would take 15-20 weeks.
Mark Hughes writes, “Renault will have the first of their hardware fixes ready for Barcelona”. Looking at the gulf between the Mercedes and Renault it may take a whole season for the French engine manufacturer to catch up.
Yet if the following is true, “success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure, only the paranoid survive,” then Toto and his troops need to be on their guard.
It could be suggested that it is a slightly paranoid Toto Wolff who observes, “You cannot be complacent because we have seen a Red Bull right up our arse here. If you consider they have missed out on two thirds of the testing it was a necessary wake-up call for us.
In this digital world it is so easy to forget so quickly what happened yesterday. We are still speaking about four-time world champions and here is us winning two races. We have a package that seems to be very good this season, but it is not consolidated yet and not sustainable yet”.
Of course by the end of this weekend, 15% of the points available this year will be in the bank, and another Mercedes 1-2 appears inevitable subject to reliability.
The facts are Nico Rosberg won in Melbourne by a light year and was running well within himself for most of the race. Lewis delivered a similar result in Sepang, and whilst Vettel was hassling Rosberg, it is most unlikely Nico was flat out with a car working 100%.
Toto momentarily drops his guard, and the gulf he believes exists between themselves and the team from Milton Keynes becomes apparent. “Nevertheless, I don’t want to diminish the work that has been done back in Stuttgart, Brackley, Brixworth and Kuala Lumpur for our fuels. But let’s keep quiet because they are bouncing back from what looked to be horrific testing.”
If it takes x to achieve y, then you can’t achieve y until you’ve delivered the equivalent of x. How far Renault and Red Bull were in actuality behind Mercedes we cannot know, but it is ridiculous to believe they can deliver in a week or 2, what the team from Brackley took 4 weeks to complete.
If anything the gap between Mercedes and Red Bull will be far bigger in Bahrain, as the circuit is power dominated. Red Bull were slaughtered by the Mercedes in sector 1 in Sepang and there is no equivalent sector 2 where the Red Bull can fight back using its superior aero design.
Further, it is unlikely to rain in Bahrain, which will see both RB10’s starting from much further back on the grid, in the malaise where all things are possible.
Ferrari too may struggle in Bahrain as they have little time to improve their outright pace, so a return to the front is likely for Williams and Massa and Bottas should be challenging for a podium.
Stirling Moss backs Massa’s team-order rebuttal
In what proved the most talked about incident of the Malaysian Grand Prix – fans have been divided across the world in regards Massa’s refusal to follow team-orders.
Irrespective of the reasons behind the instruction – public opinion differs on the correct protocol that should have been observed. Many people believe that Massa should have obeyed the team because it may have proved beneficial to the teams points haul. Others feel – that as it was only the second race of the season – Massa was justified in his actions.
Karl Wendlinger told Austrian television Servus TV: “As a team boss I would not be pleased with him. The reason was not just they wanted Bottas ahead of Massa if he’d have passed Button it would have given them more points, which can be extremely important at the end of the season.”
Hans Stuck also echoed these sentiments: “In my long career, I have been on both sides – benefitting from team orders, or being the one who has to go behind the other. But I always followed, he is an employee of the team and, quite simply, he needs to follow instructions.”
Despite what many people believe was a clear number 1 and number 2 policy at Ferrari – there were many occasions that Massa disobeyed similar orders from the Maranello concern.
One such incident occurred in the 2010 Australian Grand Prix when he robustly defended against Fernando Alonso. After the race the Spaniard called a meeting at Maranello because he believed he had had the possibility of winning the race as opposed to finishing fourth behind his feisty team-mate.
When advised that it was too early in the season for such instructions he made his point clearly in China when he passed Massa as they entered the pit-lane.
Journalist Andrew Frankl falls into the ‘obey the team’ camp and spoke to Sir Stirling Moss to confirm his thoughts.
“Not a chance boy.” came his unequivocal reply, “If it’s not written in your contract that you must let your team-mate through, you’re racing him as much as anyone else on the track – and if it were in the contract I wouldn’t sign it. I only made an exception for one person and that was for Fangio and out of respect”
“There might be other grounds later in the season if only one of you has a shot at the title but this was race two! in his shoes I’d have done exactly the same as Massa”
It would appear that people who have never won a Grand Prix think somewhat differently to people who have won races and it seems we can still rely on one octogenarian for a balanced view…