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Previously on TheJudge13
What Lauda thinks
In his normally direct style, Niki Lauda told us exactly what he thinks in the aftermath of the Bahrain GP.
Rosberg is failing – Coulthard
Fresh of a second consecutive weekend of being beaten by his teammate, Nico Rosberg was extremely vocal in expressing his displeasure on the podium immediately after the race. As the AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson conducted the post race podium interview while attempting a world record for the most handshakes in a question set, Rosberg’s body language showed a man who was clearly agitated at what must have felt like a missed opportunity.
Whether it comes as a serious body blow will be seen at the next race as Hamilton was able to hold him off, even though he was on the faster tyres. Rosberg said, “I strongly dislike coming second to Lewis, I have to say that but it was definitely the most exciting race I have ever raced in my whole career.” For a man who does not often use extreme words, more likely electing for words like nice it shows the disappointment he felt at the time.
Having complained about his teammate earlier in the race, Rosberg will have felt aggrieved by when Hamilton said, “It was really exciting, Nico drove fantastically well, it was so fair but it was so hard to keep him behind me, I was on a real knife edge at the end but just managed to take it.” Hamilton was able to smirk as he said it, knowing that holding onto first was paramount for maintaining any kind of Championship charge.
Ex-driver turned BBC pundit David Coulthard weighed into the argument saying, “This victory in Bahrain plus the thrashing that he has missed Rosberg in Malaysia, Nico has been hit hard.” Clearly missing the fact Rosberg’s car was suffering in Malaysia, but nevertheless he has a point.
It is these kinds of situations that a world champion would take advantage of, when the safety car gave Rosberg a clear advantage with the tyres on his wagon. Nico will pick up a few wins this year purely down to the fact Hamilton will suffer misfortune or not be on top of his game all the time, however, the title would look likely to be heading the way of the Briton. The bookmakers in the UK would agree, making Hamilton the odds on favourite at 8/15.
Coulthard continues, “If he is like this in a form, then Hamilton is probably the best driver of Formula 1.” A statement few would be able to argue against, even if you do enjoy wallowing in lakes. So it would seem the title is Hamilton’s to lose now he is in a better place. Any of his fans will be hoping the status quo will remain for the chances of this to happen.
As Alonso and many others have shown previously, what you do off the track can have a great effect to what goes on on the tarmac. The time for Nico Rosberg to start playing more on the mind games side has come, as being the “nice” guy is not the way to become Champion.
Perez carries a chip
While not normally a fan of copying interviews into the news, this one with DNA India seemed particularly interesting.
[You’ve had three podium finishes before with Sauber since your Formula One debut in 2011. Where do you rate this one?
I think definitely this was one of my best and most special races because I had to fight my way back, fight against Nico (Hulkenberg), Daniel (Ricciardo). This podium means a lot to me after the difficulties I had at McLaren. Leaving the team at the end of the (2013) season and being able to fight my way back and put the car in the podium is something really special for me. I don’t know if it’s my best race, but it’s surely one of my best races in Formula One.
This is Force India’s best start to a season. Were you expecting results so soon after a disappointing year with McLaren last year?
After I left McLaren, I really had very few options and one of them was Force India. So I wanted to come and do my best for this team. I was really hoping to have some good results. I left McLaren because I never really had the opportunity to fight for the podium since my time with Sauber. So I’m very happy with this.
The McLaren snub put you in a really difficult situation. And the podium finish meant Force India knocked off your former employer to third in the constructors’ standings. That must’ve been even more satisfying, isn’t it?
Yes. It makes me really proud to be a part of Force India because it’s a small team, which is doing a great job. We’re very hungry and very successful. I’m really happy to be a part of this team.]
TJ13 comment — normally a lot more diplomatic in post-race interviews Checo seemed to let slip how he really feels towards the Woking team that gave him his P45 in November of last year. Now in a car that appears to be faster than theirs, Perez was in no state of mincing his words.
Firstly, mentioning the lack of possibility to fight for podiums at McLaren shows the clear disappointment he felt at not having a chance in a front running car. He then goes on to place emphasis on how FI is a small team doing a great job, most probably hinting at what has been rumoured many times previously that he was never fully accepted at the team.
Sergio Perez clearly feels much more at home with the Force India team producing the goods at the race which will not bring back happy memories from 2013. Going up against Button for 2013 was always going to be a struggle, which I’m certain the man from Frome did not make easy for Perez. With Magnussen having a family history with the Woking team and no big regulation change around the corner, Button is not afforded this luxury in 2014.
The McLaren and Force India internal battles will be interesting to track this year. Who do you think will come out on top in both teams?
Jean Todt and Ron Dennis share attack on Vettel
For anybody who remembers the rancour that existed between Jean Todt and Ron Dennis – will find it surprising that they seem to be aligned with their respective beliefs in regard the spectacle of F1.
Jean Todt became an adversary of Ron Dennis when he took over the running of the Ferrari team in the early 90’s and remained a thorn in the side until he left to become President of the FIA but this weekend both men attacked a common target – Sebastien Vettel.
Mclaren boss, Ron Dennis, called Vettel “disrespectful and being a world champion requires a dignified approach to everything. Putting aside the language for the moment the sentiment is inappropriate. He should reflect he has had a period of dominance and just because it has been somewhat shaken by Mercedes doesn’t give him licence to be disrespectful of the obligations placed on him as world champion.”
Jean Todt echoed these sentiments, “I would not expect from an icon of the sport, who is Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion and an ambassador of the sport, to say something negative because it has a big influence,”
To voice an opinion or not to voice an opinion – that is the question. With both men old enough to be Vettel’s grandfather maybe its a generational problem but fans have to decide if they want every word uttered to be so censored or if they want their sporting heroes to speak their truth…
Nico given “Dummies guide for beating Lewis Hamilton”
The official line from Mercedes between the Malaysian and Bahrain Grand Prix was that Nico Rosberg had suffered a problem during the former race because there was no reason that Lewis Hamilton should have won by seventeen seconds.
The British press is reporting that the German team had a detailed report prepared for the German driver when he arrived in Manama – barely three days later – highlighting where Hamilton was strongest and how to beat him.
“Someone in the team did a huge study on my pace in Malaysia,” said Hamilton. “And since I arrived in Bahrain, Nico had a big document of all the places I was quick and used that to his advantage.”
If these rumours are indeed true – and not merely misunderstood interviews – it would lend credence to the belief that the German team would rather win with Rosberg to give the manufacturer more visibility.
The problem is that drivers routinely look at each other’s telemetry which explains driving styles and other pertinent issues and when Hamilton suggests someone in the team, the reporters are conveniently forgetting that ‘someone’ also includes – Nico.
After Monaco last year, where Rosberg mentioned to Vettel about the secret Mercedes test, either he is unable to keep secrets or he attempts to unsettle the opposition with what seem to be misplaced rumours.
The problem is that all the data in the world is not going to overcome the intuitive driving ability of Hamilton – when he feels secure in his environment. Maybe it is this psychological crutch that Mercedes and/or Rosberg will attack over the coming months but for the time being Lewis spoke very tongue-in-cheek when he requested similar treatment from Mercedes for the Chinese Grand Prix.
“I will do the same for the next round in China and hope I can capitalise. He’s already said he’s going to go for it in China. I know I have a lot of work to do,” added Hamilton. “I am going to study hard for the next two weeks and giving it a lot of thought and digest a lot.”
Ricciardo better than Webber ‘not fair’ – Vettel (GMM)
Sebastian Vettel insists it is too early to say his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo is better than Mark Webber.
Ricciardo, who like Webber is also Australian, has already made Vettel’s life difficult in 2014, and in Bahrain the quadruple world champion even had to obey team orders. “Daniel is quicker than you,” Vettel’s engineer told him. “Let him by, please.” German Vettel said he complied with the order because “I realised that he was just faster. It would have been pointless for me not to (move over),” he is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
But does all of this mean that, at the very least, Ricciardo is better than the recently-departed Webber, a winner of 9 career grands prix? “It would be unfair to say that after three races,” Vettel insists. “Daniel certainly is doing his job very well, but a fair comparison is very, very difficult.”
There is another theory: perhaps Vettel is simply struggling to adapt to Red Bull’s new and unfamiliar place in the pecking order. “Sebastian is not used to driving cars that are not perfect,” driver turned broadcaster Martin Brundle noted. “Daniel is.”
The Italian newspaper Tuttosport agrees: “Vettel shows the best of himself when he’s driving alone at the front. He is not used to fighting in the bunch. “Dealing with the competition of Ricciardo is a new thing for him.”
Only F1 noise will change – Todt (GMM)
When it comes to engine noise, most F1 players are open to turning up the volume of the turbo V6s. “We’re examining this problem with the three engine manufacturers involved in F1,” said FIA president Jean Todt. However, the Frenchman – who rebuked Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel for using an expletive to describe the quieter sound – said it is obvious that those making the loudest complaining noises are the ones who are struggling.
“Do you hear Nico Rosberg complaining?” said Todt. “Did you hear Sebastian Vettel complaining last year?”
But even the engine sound will not change unless Mercedes – the dominant V6-powered force – and its happy customers agree. “We need the unanimous agreement of teams, otherwise we can’t change anything,” said Todt. So when it comes to removing fuel flow meters, adding fuel or shortening the race distances, Todt warned that the only way Mercedes’ competitors can catch up is by doing a better job. “It seems that Mercedes is stronger. I don’t have the power to say ‘let’s slow them down’,” he said.
That attitude is music to Mercedes’ ears. “I think Jean has taken a very sensible line,” said team boss Paddy Lowe, “so I hope all of that (rule change talk) could be put behind us.” Without a doubt, Sunday’s thrilling Bahrain grand prix has also buried a lot of the arguments about F1 needing to urgently change because the races are boring.
“I think if we were to ask Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, they would not see themselves as taxi drivers,” Todt, referring to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’s criticism of the 2014 formula, is quoted by German media. Britain’s Sun newspaper agreed: “Sorry Luca, the only taxi is for you.”
The actual engine sound, however, is another matter, as even Mercedes agrees that the fans should be listened to. “If this is an issue, let’s work on it, let’s understand what we can do,” said Toto Wolff. “But this is a defined topic, not the sport as an overall.”
Todt, however, insisted there is even an upside to the quieter engines. “To get passion and emotion, you need to have some noise,” he agreed. “We must see if we can implement a bigger noise. (But) my friend Bernie has a hearing aid because his hearing has been destroyed by the noise,” he told the Times.
Marko states safety-car made Bahrain race a ‘thriller’ (GMM)
Dr Helmut Marko is not convinced Sunday’s Bahrain grand prix was a F1 thriller.
After all the carping about the radical 2014 rules having turned F1 into ‘formula yawn’, Bahrain was hailed as a timely and highly-entertaining spectacle.
“There was a lot of criticism beforehand,” Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg told German television ARD as Tuesday as he began post-race testing in Bahrain. “But people who watched the race tell me it was one of the best ever.”
But Marko, whose employer Red Bull is one of the teams most vocally unhappy with the new regulations, is not so sure. “Only after the safety car was it a really great race,” the outspoken Austrian told Red Bull-owned Servus TV.
There were only ten laps of the 57-lap Bahrain race left when the safety car for Esteban Gutierrez’s roll-over shunt finally pulled into the pits. It was then that Lewis Hamilton’s epic duel with his Mercedes teammate Rosberg really began.
“If the safety car had not come out, it would have been a relatively bland race,” Marko claims. Rosberg said it is “logical” that Mercedes’ rivals are not happy with the current situation.
“We made the best of the new rules and are absolutely dominant at the moment,” he admitted. “That the other teams don’t like it is logical. Last year, it was Red Bull doing the best job, now it’s us. So it’s not nice that now the others are crying all of a sudden about rule changes,” Rosberg added.
Ecclestone manipulating the Formula One teams again
There is no record of Bernie Ecclestone’s links to the Machiavelli dynasty but his business ethics would suggest a connection between the genetics of the families.
Considering his impending court date, the relinquishing of power and apparent lack of faith from his CVC paymasters – it would seem that there are still many, within the sport, who believe he controls Formula One.
TJ13 reported on Sunday that Bernie Ecclestone had confirmed two new entries for the F1 championship – Haas and the Romanian entry headed by Colin Kolles. At the time FIA President, Jean Todt confirmed that the news would be confirmed “in the coming days” and Mr E offered: “it’s easy to put an entry in..”
Yet speaking to Associated Press in America, Gene Haas revealed he has yet to be officially notified by either party. “We needed to know about two months ago, if Mr Ecclestone says that we’re accepted and the FIA issues us some kind of notice in the next few weeks, then we can entertain 2015. But if we lose another month, I don’t think we could do it. Bernie is kind of half Formula One, so I’m sure what he says goes.”
With his trial in Germany about to begin imminently, Ecclestone – in his best traditions – has brokered a deal with the German prosecutors to schedule hearings just on Tuesday and Wednesdays so as to continue running Formula One.
Many governments, corporations and circuit owners have learnt to their dismay that Bernie only looks after Bernie, and historically he is at least four steps ahead of the people he is negotiating with. Rumours in recent weeks have surfaced that Mr E is once again playing the teams and governing bodies off against one another with the threat that Red Bull owner, Dieter Mateschitz would quit the sport if he doesn’t get his way.
“If he wanted to stop, he’d stop. He is not happy with the way the sport is being run at the moment and this is the sort of thing that could tip him over.” Ecclestone concluded.
With Ferrari failing catastrophically with the new regulations and Red Bull no longer guaranteed to win everything in sight – we have the strategy group stepping up with their pacifiers to keep peace on Planet Megalomania.
With six votes held by Mr. E, another six by the ‘grandees’ of Formula One and the remaining six with the FIA, Bernie has retained his influence to the detriment of the FIA.
Todt has been outmaneuvered – by Mr E and the teams – to prevent the introduction of a cost cap for 2015. Instead the Frenchman will have to push cost reductions through using the sporting regulations but the un-represented teams are not happy. Force India’s Bob Fearnley spoke to The Guardian: “You can’t enrich and empower certain very strong teams, disenfranchise the rest and expect us to be happy.”
Fearnley added that in his opinion, Ecclestone and the teams wanted to prevent the cost cap to drive the smaller teams out of the sport, paving the way for ‘customer cars.’
“Yeah, I’d like to see that,” Ecclestone admitted when asked about the idea of the top six teams selling chassis to the bottom half of the grid. “Whether it would work or not I don’t know.”
In the end, it all comes down to the poacher turned game-keeper. Mr E was the architect behind FOCA in the 1970’s and has fought the FISA and it’s subsequent re-organisation into the FIA ever since. It would appear that the habit of mis-direction is impossible to break.
Does Red Bull want to buy Formula One? No-one has confirmed or denied these rumours but what better way to purchase something for less than market value than by being critical of the product.
The noise is poor – Minardi made comment over the weekend that the only people that have an opinion are the ones who have experienced the cars, not the millions who receive their audio through a transmission.Yet we have heard how easy it would be to re-engineer microphones to increase the aural dimension for television broadcast. Not to mention that many people suspect that the sound is being changed before being broadcast to the world.
The cars are barely faster than the GP2. Not quite the truth – pole for the GP2 race was 1’38:865 which would not have got through to Q2. Yet with the Formula One teams we are at the start of a learning curve. When the teams speak of improving the cars this year, there is no mention made of a tenth here or there, they are suggesting significant gains.
The GMM story is also illuminating for the clues it contains:
“But Marko, whose employer Red Bull is one of the teams most vocally unhappy with the new regulations, is not so sure. “Only after the safety car was it a really great race,” the outspoken Austrian told Red Bull-owned Servus TV
Ecclestone already owns the GP1 trademark and offered, “Maybe we should turn GP2 into Formula One, it would certainly cost a lot less. We’d certainly have a lot more teams. So maybe what we’re talking about is a ‘super GP2…”