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Previously on TheJudge13
Times of change
Better late than never is a common phrase used in the English language meaning ‘To arrive or do something later than expected isn’t good, but it is better than not at all.’ Whilst routing through posts last night it occurred to me how apt this phrase had come to be with the Formula 1 website itself.
Those who frequent the site will be aware of the introduction before reaching the homepage, where the flash of lights is accompanied by a roar of an engine simulating a car going past your eyes. However, I was shocked to find this had all changed last night when instead of being greeted by the familiar deep zoom it was instead a whizz to coincide with the new F1
Another demonstration of a lack of uniformity in the world of F1 or was it simply that the website was lagging behind the real life? Either way, the phrase resonates as valid for this occasion, as it is just another example of the new sound of F1 being here to stay.
Double points – Double as daft
The news of the double points idea to be scrapped was music to most people’s ears, not least those at Mercedes. Designed to keep the Championship competitive until the very final round for TV broadcasting purposes, the fad could do more damage than good given the Silver Arrows dominance.
Whilst a purely hypothetical situation, it is one that really made us sit up straight here at TJ13 towers when we considered what the rule could do. Firstly, let’s assume that Russia does not occur due to the ongoing political tensions there, reducing the calendar to 18 races.
With the season 3 races old and Nico Rosberg leading by 11 points, one such variable would be damaging for the sport if it occurred. Lewis Hamilton could win 11 of the remaining 14 races and still fall short in his quest to become World Drivers’ Champion for a second time. This would only require three 2nd place finishes (to Rosberg) for this to happen.
Of course, under this calculation Hamilton would still need to fail to score in Abu Dhabi and Rosberg to win for this eventuality to become reality; which for all to happen is highly unlikely. Although, what sort of a damaging effect would it have on the sport (and how unjust would it be on Hamilton) if the WDC was awarded to Rosberg having only won 5 races compared to Hamilton who would have won 13?
Equations for the season would go as follows:
Hamilton: 1st (13 x 25) + 2nd (3 x 18) + Non-Scoring (2 x 0)= 379
Rosberg: 1st (4 x 25 + 1 x 50) + 2nd (13 x 18) = 384
Given the reliability of 2014 cars and the increased grid penalties handed out due to faulty car parts, the 2014 title could be decided by a grid penalty. For example, if Hamilton were given a 5 place grid penalty he would most probably still finish 2nd given the car he is driving. The dominance of the 2014 Mercedes challenger could backfire severely if this all played out, as Rosberg could cruise around for much of the year and wait for bad luck to arrive at Hamilton’s door. Mercedes may yet get the German Champion they are said to desire.
Hamilton would hold the unenviable record of most races won and most points gained in a season and not win the Wold Championship. Mercedes would have recorded the most dominant season ever amassing 763 points. All very unlikely to occur, but why take the risk?
Furthermore, the scenario that nobody wants to see of Hamilton and Rosberg taking each other out in the final race could happen if one knew that was all they would have to do to become WDC. Double points will only prolong the uncertainty and cheapen race wins compared to Abu Dhabi. Would we as fans really want to see a repeat of Japan 1989?
When will somebody in charge see sense?
Ricciardo’s alternative career
If Jenson Button is ‘unmarketable’ then this leaves little hope for others in the current F1 field. Much adored by many a female F1 viewer, Jenson’s appeal was clear in many an advert in yesteryear as can be seen in the ‘Head and Shoulders’ picture below.
Many thanks to frequent TJ13 commenter, DavidD who posted a link to one driver who seems to hot on everybodies lips at the moment, Daniel Ricciardo. Renault Australia have been posting videos of their new golden boy smiling away and trying new things in his Clio.
Most probably buoyed by the news that there will be no cars manufactured in Australia by 2017 as Toyota, Holden and Ford have all outlined plans to withdraw from the nation, Renault have been keen to promote their brand using the man from Perth. He is seen trying out his AFL (Aussie Rules Football) skills below.
Though this is a rather unfortunate campaign slogan, given Il Padrino’s choice of description for the modern formula 1 driver.
Russian sanctions start hitting F1
As the US and European leaders agreed last night to increase sanctions – unspecified at present – against Russia, the situation F1 finds itself in will become apparent in the near future. Certain big name sponsors are already holding urgent discussions with teams, although they are bound by huge ‘no show’ penalties from Ecclestone.and FOM.
The ‘Russian’ F1 team, Marrusia F1, are in fact managed and run by the historic British marque Manor Motorsport. John Booth established the British marque in 1990 and the team in various guises have competed in a number of single seater series. To describe Marrusia F1 as a Russian team is stretching the point, as there are hardly any personnel employed there originating from eastern tip of the Gulf of Finland.
Manor Grand Prix were established in 2009 and ran in Formula 1 under the brand Virgin Racing during their inaugural season. The name changed to Marrusia F1 when John Booth sold a controlling interest to Marussia Motors of Russia.
Unlike Caterham, which receives all most of its cash from the parent company in form of a whopping great management fee, Marussia F1 trades as a stand alone business. So far, it is this fact alone which has prevented the team from having its cash supply cut off due to the EU freezing the bank accounts of its associated owners.
However, there are no details available of the next round of sanctions about to be launched by the EU, but should these include asset freezes of companies owned by Russian entities, Marussia F1 will last no more than a week before they run out of cash.
Marussia F1 have attempted to protect themselves. In a recent move to distance the F1 company from it’s owner, the parent company registration was altered from ‘Marussia Motors’ to ‘Marussia Communications’ – HQ listed to an obscure address in a Dublin street. Whether this will satisfy the financial authorities only time will tell.
In other related news, Sauber may also about to collapse once again into financial turmoil as the assets of Boris Rotenberg are frozen. Rotenberg owns the SMP bank who are sponsoring Sergey Sirotkin – in other words bank rolling Sauber to some extent.
Boris Rotenberg is a close political ally to president Putin and the Ria Novosti news agency is reporting that scores of Russian athletes sponsored by SMP are about to find their abilities to compete stopped dead in their tracks.
SMP Racing, who are the motor racing fund of the bank, describes the freezing of its European bank accounts as “political blackmail”. In a statement, the bank pleads, “We ask Europe and the US to listen to the voice of reason by removing the constraints on Russian athletes’ participation in international competitions,”
Everyday the storm clouds appear to hover over the F1 big top tent, and here is yet another brewing in the east which in time will sweep into the bubble of the F1 circus and wreak its multi-faceted wrath.
F1 Drivers threaten to strike over unpaid wages (GMM)
F1 drivers are threatening to strike if their teams do not pay them.
Germany’s Sport Bild reports that, in Bahrain recently, Kimi Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson was seen arguing in the paddock with Lotus team boss Federico Gastaldi. Reportedly, that is because the Finn, who switched to Ferrari at the end of last year, still has not been paid in full by Lotus for the 2013 season. The magazine claims that Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil and Kamui Kobayashi are all also waiting on overdue payments. It is believed that, under the auspices of their union, the GPDA, the F1 drivers have signed a document vowing to strike if the growing trend of not being paid continues.
Sport Bild claims that Raikkonen – not a GPDA member – and one of F1’s very highest earners, Lewis Hamilton, have refused to sign the document. Hulkenberg would not comment. “What we talk about in meetings, we keep to ourselves,” said the German, who moved from Sauber to Force India for the 2014 season. He admitted, however, that unpaid wages is an issue for the drivers.“That’s right. The teams are aware of the situation — the driver can be easily replaced. Maybe not with the same quality, but they (the teams) do take advantage of that.”
Hulkenberg also expressed some understanding for the situation of the teams. “They are not doing it (failing to pay drivers) for fun,” he acknowledged. “The money just isn’t there. The sport is too expensive.”
F1 move ‘impossible’ for Danica Patrick – Haas (GMM)
Danica Patrick, the world’s most famous female racing driver, will apparently not be making the switch to Formula One with Haas. The 32-year-old drives in Nascar for new F1 entrant Gene Haas’ team, but Haas said on Monday he plans to hire from within the sport for his first year and hopefully pair that driver with a young American. But he warned that it would be “impossible” for any driver to juggle a Nascar seat whilst preparing for the big switch to F1.
“I’d certainly never expect any of our current lineup of drivers to want to be able to do that,” said Haas at a news conference alongside his F1 team boss, former Jaguar and Red Bull chief Gunther Steiner. “It would be really impossible to accomplish that and survive. Just the thought of jumping into a formula one car from a (Nascar sprint) cup car would be very, very difficult,” he insisted.
Anyway, Haas admitted that a more pressing matter for the next few weeks is to decide whether he is organising a team for 2015 or 2016. “I think 2015 is too close and 2016 is too far — that’s kind of where I see it,” he said. “If we wait until 2016 were are going to start delaying and spending even more money because we will be a neutral.” The likely plan, he said, is to pair with a chassis partner like Dallara and “arrive with a car” for the start of the first season.
“We are going to have to beg, borrow and steal to arrive at that first race so we can compete,” said Haas. “I would say we like 2015, but depending upon who we select as our partner, I don’t know if they can provide all of the infrastructure and technology that we need. I think it’s one of those things where we are going to have to find out in the next few weeks,” he added.
Haas said he is expanding his Nascar headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina, to accommodate the F1 team, adding that a satellite base in Europe is also likely.
Red Bull lose their appeal
In the shortest of statements, the FIA released the decision of the International Court of Appeal.
“The Court, after having heard the parties and examined their submissions, decided to uphold the Decision N°56 of the Stewards by which they decided to exclude Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s car N°3 from the results of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.”
The International Court of Appeal is the final appeal tribunal for international motor sport entities. Established under the FIA Statutes and the FIA’s International Sporting Code it resolves disputes brought before it by any of motor sport’s National Sporting Authorities world-wide, or by the President of the FIA. It can also settle non-sporting disputes brought by national motoring organizations affiliated to the FIA.
There is no higher court of appeal.
The court’s decision and reasoning together with any incremental sanctions will be published by the end of the week.
“Red Bull have issued a statement following the decision. “Infiniti Red Bull Racing accepts the ruling of the International Court of Appeal today. We are of course disappointed by the outcome and would not have appealed if we didn’t think we had a very strong case.
We always believed we adhered to the technical regulations throughout the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. We are sorry for Daniel (Ricciardo) that he will not be awarded the 18 points from the event, which we think he deserved. We will continue to work very hard to amass as many points as possible for the team, Daniel and Sebastian (Vettel) throughout the season.
We will now move on from this and concentrate on this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix”.
It is almost certain that Red Bull will be given incremental sanctions over and above the DQ of Daniel Ricciardo in Melbourne 2014. At least this will include an incremental fine, costs for the other parties participation at the hearing and costs for the administration of the FIA court. The total of these plus Red Bull’s own costs will be a large 7 digit number, maybe close to 8.
This hearing will establish landmark principles for the governance of F1. The matter of the legally binding nature of technical directives will be now be clarified, and we may see prescribed classes of directives arising from this – each with varying degrees on authority and sanction.
There has been an era in F1 where the co-operation between the teams and the FIA on regulatory matters which arise each month have been dealt with by and large by agreement and the clarifications issued by Charlie Whiting. The effect of this arrangement has been a reduction in teams’ protesting the legality of others cars, race results being overturned at a later date and lengthy court proceedings to decide upon these matters.
Those days may well be over.
What is clear, Red Bull’s decision to defy the FIA was taken prior to the start of the Australian GP. From lap 1 they refused to acknowledge the fuel flow sensor measurements and insisted on relying on their own modelled calculations. The potential ramifications for this course of action would have been clear to Marko, Newey, Horner et al, yet they chose to pursue the path they did.
TJ13 reported hours following Red Bull’s announcement to appeal this decision, that there was more at stake than just the 18 points for Ricciardo and the team. Clearly, Red Bull were waging a battle to have the fuel flow sensors removed from the 2014 regulations.
Yet unusually, the thinking behind this campaign appeared to be thwarted – even to to the layperson, due to the fact that the sporting regulations themselves were crystal clear in their intention, though required a small clarification to ensure they were watertight.
The FIA realised this and briefed in detail influential media individuals that this would result in a reduction in safety – as closing speeds would rise due to clever engine maps delivering short high bursts of potentially unlimited power. Further this would see the engine manufacturers concentrate on the combustion engine development, rather than enhancing the auxiliary power available from the new ERS systems.
It was a fight Red Bull could never win.
Yes there are questions about the accuracy of the sensors, but the fact that the majority of failures have been related to Renault modified installations did not help Red Bull’s case. What is clear, is the sensors are not perfect yet, however, the idea of teams self regulating fuel flow is a nonsense and open to clear abuse and manipulation.
The politics behind the events at the court of appeal were most interesting. Mercedes ‘pit bull’ legal advocate, Paul Harris, regularly poured scorn on Red Bull’s position. He mocked them for ‘forgetting’ to remove a spare unused sensor prior to flying their spare chassis back from Melbourne to Milton Keynes. He accused them of arrogance, insular thinking and provoking a course of action which if adopted by all the competitors would lead to the law of the ‘wild west’ and ‘anarchy’. (See TJ13 articles in the Daily News and Comment yesterday).
Meantime, the FIA legal eagles remained sanguine and almost above the fray. The FIA will not hit Red Bull with race bans or extreme punitive punishments, because Jean Todt is aware of the fragile nature of Formula 1 at present.
However, it seems for a second time in 9 months, Red Bull have forced Mercedes and the FIA into bed together the result on both occasions has not been favourable to the Austrian team.
There are some smart cookies in Milton Keynes, but the thinking behind this caper with the FIA always appeared to be a lose – lose for Horner and his merry band.
To compose a sentence with the two words ‘F1’ and ‘crisis’ has become routine recently, as the concepts are regularly becoming synonymous. The commercial rights holders are desperate to sell their stake in F1; the long standing supremo of the sport, wheeler dealer Ecclestone, looks set to be convicted of a criminal offence in Germany; Lotus, Marussia, Williams, Sauber, Force India and Caterham are under some kind of threat; the sport is continually being degenerated by senior figures who should know better – Di Montezemolo.
For many it appears the return of the dark days of 2008/9 are imminent. Yet slowly and surely, Todt and the FIA appear to be grasping the nettle and asserting their authority little by little.
McLaren announce ‘new’ partnership
Yes, the title is misleading, but this is McLaren’s choice of words.
McLaren have enhanced their partnership with “the world’s leading men’s shaving and lifestyle brand”, Gillette.
There must be something in the shaving foam at this time of year, because in 2013 the team from Woking announced “an innovative and dynamic marketing partnership that will kick off at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
The partnership will reinforce both brands’ quest for the most superior technology, design and performance in their respective fields. Activation throughout 2013 will include dedicated television spots, an innovative digital campaign and in-store events throughout Asia to highlight and promote the partnership”.
It appears today’s announcement is not the ‘title sponsorship’ deal many expected Gillette to secure. Gillette states it is, “enhancing its collaboration with McLaren Mercedes, one of the most prestigious and successful teams in F1 history. The two brands are extending their partnership to bring to life an innovative marketing campaign focused on Precision Engineering”
The partnership is extended beyond Asia to include Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
It appears little has changed for Eric Boullier as he is the one chosen to present the glossy presentation. “It is very exciting to be able to announce a new partnership between McLaren Mercedes and Gillette. Gillette is synonymous with precision engineering and with innovation. These are values we hold dear at McLaren as we strive to deliver world beating performance. The fact that a global brand, of the stature of Gillette, has chosen to engage in a major multi-national partnership with McLaren Mercedes is also a reflection of the strength of our brand and our ability to reach millions of avid motorsport fans around the world.”
Gillette like Red Bull is in reality a marketing company – indeed one of the most successful in the world. They
precision engineer mass manufacture razors and associated product for pennies and sell them for CVC-esque multiples.
Schumacher updates to end when he leaves hospital – Kehm
Like all the greats of Formula One, Michael Schumacher was a divisive figure. For his countless legion of fans, he had a similar amount of people that disliked/ hated him. For all his skills on the track even his contemporaries had strong opinions about his manners.
His tenure at Mercedes changed many peoples minds of him as he struggled to come to terms with a poor machine and a new generation of drivers, and he effectively became a more approachable man because of it.
Irrespective of which Schumacher the fans recognised, his tragic fall whilst on a skiing holiday – and his subsequent recovery has received coverage around the world; this is a human tragedy which could befall anybody not just an elite athlete.
Sabine Kehm – Schumacher’s manager – has told German TV that updates will cease once he leaves the hospital. The family have been highly critical of medical commentators and the media during his coma – just last week a reporter tried to gain access dressed as a priest to get a photo of the ex-F1 star – but many neutral observers have also been critical of the reluctance of the family to release any news as to his condition.
Kehm explained that is what he would have wanted: “Michael Schumacher is in a coma and cannot decide what is reported about him. We, of course, know how he deals with such things and try in his interest to handle these matters for him.”
Possibly, as time passes, his family will review this decision and allow the goodwill of millions to offer some support. The story may move away from the front pages but reporters will still wish to be the ones who get the scoop and some of these vultures are blood-thirsty to say the least.
Whilst it is known that Schumacher was fiercely protective of his families privacy – it is also true to say that when he had accidents he always acknowledged the concern of the crowd with a thumbs-up. A practice that all motor-sport contestants pursue.
Niki Lauda furious with Ecclestone and Montezemolo
Niki Lauda is in a unique position.
This goes beyond his Grand Prix success – and now what appears a successful Formula One team – but also because he has worked extensively with Luca de Montezemolo and Bernie Ecclestone in the driving capacity.
Their combined criticism of the new era of F1 has irked the great Austrian to respond as he finds their attitude both irresponsible and counterproductive.
Speaking to Autosport magazine Lauda stated: “If Ron Howard would have said, ‘I am making a ‘Rush’ movie, and I can tell you guys that this is the worst movie I ever made’, then this is what was happening to Formula 1. If he had said it before the movie came out, then nobody would have gone to see it.”
“So what we are doing now, because of these different influences, is destroying our own sport. I think it all started in Australia because the organisers complained about the noise level, and Bernie has complained from day one about the noise. Then it got its own dynamics and di Montezemolo came in and said there is not enough fuel. Out of this momentum everyone threw their own trouble in, and I have never seen such a stupid approach to a problem. How can you do that?”
“If we would stop this bulls**t ourselves, then it will go right away,” he said. “The noise issue will stay, because fans always hear the noise, but the rest will disappear. And it should never have come to this point now where we destroy our own sport. That was my biggest concern.”
To the casual observer it would seem it’s easy for Lauda to take this approach as his team is the one that is dominating but he countered: “I do not care who wins, but it is extremely unfair now if everyone moans and bitches because the first races were won by Mercedes. Red Bull and [Sebastian] Vettel bored everybody over the last half of the season by winning nine races, and nobody said anything. That is unfair. Thank god, I can only say, that after last year’s Red Bull dominance that there is somebody else now. That is the best you can do to a sport, so leave it alone.”
Lauda is a tough character and not universally liked. Throughout his career his objective was to dominate the races or the boardrooms of companies he ran. The cynical will believe that he speaks on behalf of a team that has an advantage which it has worked hard for. The romantics will believe he speaks as a common man. Either way, the game of politics in F1 has just taken another twist.
Sao Paulo renegotiate F1 deal
We all thought the deal had been done in April last year for the home of the Brazilian GP to retain its F1 event. Ecclestone commented in Bahrain: “I’ve just received a letter from the mayor and he’s guaranteed to revamp the whole facilities there, which will be good, we’ve been waiting long enough.”
Mr. E had been threatening Interlagos for a number of years with cancelling their race unless they seriously upgraded their facilities. For a time this refurbishment was to include extending the circuit back beyond the pre-1990 redesign, though local officials consistently argued this was not realistic.
Claudia Ito – MD of the Sao Paulo circuit – did say the planned redevelopments will see the pit lane – one of the longest on the F1 calendar – moved, with new garages, hospitality facilities and media centre incorporated into the project that will be situated on the track’s second straight (between turns 3&4).
“The municipality, who is the owner of the circuit, have an idea to build a new pit lane and garages and everything. They will move the entire pit lane area to the straight on the other side of the circuit: new entrance, new exit, new buildings.”
One of the reasons Ecclestone wanted the paddock area shifting is because it is pretty cramped for the teams to operate in. Mark Webber, in his inimitable style once described the venue as, “It’s a little old-school in many ways. The facilities are pretty cosy, but it’s a beautiful little track.”
Confirmation that new deal had been struck leaked out in the build-up to the Japanese GP last year, but only after F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone had apparently spread the net for a potential replacement. The problem was that the rival to Interlagos – the Jacarepagua circuit – had been demolished to make way for the Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic development.
There was the possibility of a Sochi style development around the new Olympic facilities briefly discussed, though FOM had little faith in the race promoters ability to deliver. So Sau Paulo was safe.
Yet, it now appears the deal was not in fact concluded. Behind the scenes the management of the Autódromo José Carlos Pace have been chipping away at FOM and Ecclestone, refusing to part with the kind of cash he wanted them to spend.
This means we now have a final, final announcement – maybe) and the $70m redevelopment which has been agreed will please the traditionalists amongst us. The proposed relocation of the pit lane and paddock will now not happen. Work will commence this summer which will see improved hospitality seating around the Senna S curves.
Following the race in November, the track surface will be lifted and relayed in its entirety, but most significantly there will now only be an “upgrade of the existing paddock and pit-lane areas”. This represents victory over Ecclestone for the track management in Sao Paulo, and delivers a saving on the venue upgrade of around $30m.
This is a sign of the times not unfortunately due to any nostalgia Mr. E may be experiencing in his twilight years.
With the loss of Korea and India together with Russia’s decision to fall out with most of the rest of the world, the brave new world of F1 expansion into ‘new’ and wealthy markets has stalled for the time being.
So it’s better the devil you know for now – despite the old fashioned facilities they provide.
It’s a cheap shot to kick a good man when he’s down. It’s an easy shot to kick a bad man when he’s down…. then there’s Crashtor. 😉
Its puzzling at times to try and understand why the Venezuelan driver attracts such negative publicity and negative reaction from F1 fans. He’s not the only one in F1 history to use his car as a battering ram to achieve his own ends, though the swipe he took at Lewis Hamilton appears to have condemned him in most people’s eyes.
Senna blatantly drove his closest rival off the road in turn 1 of a race with the sole objective of winning the drivers’ world title, yet he was never remotely regarded as is Maldonado. Senna clearly had a heart, and at times his emotions were on display for all to see. Crashtor on the other hand appears oblivious to anything other than that which will serve his purposes.
In a Q&A with the new Lotus PR team – who themselves aren’t tearing up any trees, Maldonado is asked whether or not he has spoken to Esteban Gutierrez since their coming together in Bahrain. Remember this incident resulted in the Mexican driver producing some spectacular footage of an F1 car barrel rolling not seen for some time.
Maldonado reportedly responds, “Yes, we have been in touch. I think it was a misunderstanding from both sides. He was out of line in the entry of the corner and I was completely committed to the corner. He said that he didn’t see me, and I didn’t expect him to turn in”.
Really? Well the stewards appear to have a different view. A 10 second stop and go penalty, 5 place grid drop for the Chinese Grand Prix and 3 penalty points on his license was their punishment to fit the crime – and some thought it should have included a race ban.
It’s surely the inhumanity Pastor portrays when confronted with circumstances such as this which riles observers. Romain Grosjean was deemed to have committed a far worse crime as he and Lewis collided causing the head of the matador Alonso – to be close to de-capitation.
However, the Frenchman has redeemed himself in the eyes of many of his detractors – ask Father Christmas (aka J. Herbert) who wanted him thrown out of the sport. His humility, admitting using a psychologist and his general demeanour convinced us he was sorry for his sins and would indeed try better.
Pastor on the other hand appears to represent values most F1 fans don’t want to see in such a privileged individual. Then again, maybe he just isn’t good enough, and so nobody cares to try and like him.
Force India – no surprise
The season is just 3 races old, yet the end of the opening flyaway races represents a mini milestone in the course of each year’s championship. The constructors’ table looks rather different than it has been for some time, with Force India climbing to the dizzy heights of 2nd.
With 44 points they are one ahead of McLaren, 9 ahead of Red Bull and 11 in front of Ferrari, which is some achievement.
Many observers believed it would be Williams or McLaren pushing for 2ns spot behind the works Mercedes outfit, but with Nico Hulkenberg behind the wheel, the Silverstone team will surely extract the maximum from their car in 2014.
Hulkenberg is 3rd in the drivers’ standings, yet it is his team mate Checo who received podium laurels in Bahrain, but Hulkenberg is confident following his best start to an F1 season yet.
“If you had told me during winter testing that I would be in this position I would have taken it straight away. It’s definitely a nice surprise and as a team we have made the most of the opportunities with three consistent weekends. We’ve shown we have a good package and we have the hunger to keep fighting at the front.”
With Mercedes power likely to dominate proceedings in 2014, the race for 2nd in the constructors’ will be an interesting battle. Of course Renault are making huge strides, but the Mercedes engineers in charge of the powertrain are not resting on their laurels.
In contrast to other drivers, Hulkenberg presents as one who is content with his lot whatever that may be and philosophic about a missed opportunity which may have seen him on the podium with the Mercedes duo.
“Given where I started (P11), I was happy to be up there fighting for the podium. I think the key moment was the safety car, which really hurt our race a lot. We had done all our pit stops and I was going really well in fourth place just behind Checo. Then, after the safety car, things became trickier because the pack was bunched up and I had to fight really hard in the final few laps.”
The fact that Force India are ahead Mercedes powered rivals, McLaren and Williams is due to the German’s consistent ability to maximise the chance with which he is presented. With McLaren struggling with high speed corners which Shanghai will present and Williams regularly failing to maximise their car advantage, Hulkenberg is right to be positive about the weekend ahead.
“We’ve performed well at all the tracks so far and they all had very different characteristics. So we can feel positive that the car will perform quite well in China. We are going there after the test in Bahrain and hopefully we can bring some more performance too. So I think we can aim for another competitive weekend and come away with some more points.”
Bob – builder of fast cars – Fernley, has provided his drivers with a good chariot so far, and another Force India podium is more than a reasonable possibility. Surely the consistency of Hulkenberg will see him rewarded soon.