This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.
You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly.
Previously on TJ13:
Kimi Raikkonen angered with Ferrari strategy
Since his debut in 2001, Kimi Raikkonen has portrayed a nonchalant image to the fans and the press. His notorious dislike of journalists and marketing that dominate Formula One has found him arguably the biggest support of any driver on the grid. To this day he is known as “The Iceman” – a superhero of the track. But this weekend we may have discovered his Kryptonite.
“Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing…” a famous quote used by his fans in defence of how cool Kimi really is – was actually the first time we had heard any emotion from the Finnish driver. It was very far removed from what Ferrari fans had witnessed in 2008 and 2009, when, the little respected, Felipe Massa usually had the beating of this World Champion.
But following this weekend, Finnish broadcaster MTV3 claims that Kimi Raikkonen was having ‘long talks’ with Ferrari hours after the finish of the Spanish Grand Prix. Despite having qualified ahead of Fernando Alonso, and contained his attacks, he was kept on a two stop strategy whilst Alonso changed to a three stopper. This left the Finn powerless to defend towards the end of the race and he was furious. As he drove back to the pits he asked the team who exactly had made the pitstop decision..
During post race interviews he was asked if he felt like number two. “No” and then during a subsequent interview with Sky he was asked who made the strategy to pit Fernando first. Raikkonen mumbled something then walked away. Some time later Raikkonen said, “I just wanted to clear up some things.”
“For me today it was a hard race. It was difficult to get a good balance on the car and the lack of grip overall was the main problem. A two stop strategy was not the correct choice as it became impossible to push till the end. Overall it was better here than last time out, possibly because the circuit characteristics are different to where we have run so far, but we cannot be happy with sixth and seventh positions – we still finished far away from the others. It will take time but we will do everything to improve.”
Alonso has played the intra-team politics to his advantage this season. With the departure of Domenicali he has further isolated Raikkonen within the Maranello concern and the constant murmurs of his own impending departure has re-enforced his position of strength within the squad..
Yesterday may have been the tipping point.
When people think of Finnish drivers, they will call up Mika Hakkinen or Heikki Kovalainen – both quiet, self contained, no pressure type guys – at least to the outside world. But most people forget about Keke Rosberg, the 1982 F1 World Champion who was never afraid of making his point with anyone.
Rosberg grasping at straws – again
For a sport that is ground-breaking, and always looking to the future for solutions, it proves frustrating just how much time is spent looking backwards at it’s history. Almost as if to give merit to todays cars, designers, tracks and technicians – we are forever measuring them up to legends.
After the fifth race of the season we have countless ‘professional’ opinions being voiced that Mercedes may well provide a clean sweep of all races this year. Of course that means that the 2014 season should be likened to the 1988 season, when Mclaren almost swept everything before them. A turbo-charged car running with fuel limited rules piloted by the two best drivers in the world…
This is where the comparison fails. Whilst Lewis Hamilton is arguably in the top two or three drivers of his generation, Rosberg is not. Since Melbourne, Rosberg has had no answer to Hamilton, not just his inherent speed but also his race-craft. The fairest comparison to make with historical teams would surely be Mclaren in 1998 with David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen or Ferrari in 2002 and 2004 with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello; possibly even include the Vettel/ Webber Red Bull years.
Yesterday the deluded Rosberg declared, “I think one [lap] more to be honest. I could have given him a go. I wasn’t close enough but one more I could have been . Unfortunately that was it and I am a bit gutted. Still second place, second in the Championship and many more races to go. I will go to Monaco to go one better and try and repeat the win from last year.”
The problem with this aspiration is that Lewis, the 2008 Monaco GP winner, is comfortable in the Mercedes this year, whereas last year he was struggling with brake issues, Rosberg won at a notoriously slow speed where back markers were lapping faster than the leaders at times and only the year before Schumacher took pole position in Monaco with Nico in third position.
The only black cloud on Hamilton’s horizon is his own state of mind. Radio transmissions during the race showed the levels of tension he was feeling and an interesting observation on Twitter came from Dr Gary Harstein, “Lewis’s sarcasm means he feels like a victim, like his interests aren’t being looked after. Highly unstable mindset for a race winner.”
Let’s hope he doesn’t believe all the reports of Mercedes prepared files for Rosberg, preferring the German driver to win or possibly the fact he could be sitting there without Ross Brawn on his side but trying to understand the language used by Wolff, Lauda and Rosberg.
Internal struggles in Maranello
We have become used to observing annual fun and games from the major Maranello players who have been attempting to resuscitate a decrepit Italian horse – cavallo morire – rather than tame the Cavallino Rampante. In fact the notion of a decapitated horses head may be a more apt metaphor describing Ferrari’s leadership in recent times.
Stefano Domenicali became the sacrificial lamb to appease the internal pressure rising within the home of the Scuderia; a pressure which recognised the failure of the Ferrari F1 team was indeed due to leadership.
There is no doubt that Il Padrino has recently taken his eye off ‘the family’ as he pursued matters of greater significance than cars racing around the track. So now we hear from Montezemolo, “I am back,”,which may indeed beg the question, where has he been? A question his FIAT masters are entitled to ask.
The Ferrari PR machine was set to work overtime this weekend, as the noises coming from key individuals during the weekend was interesting to say the least.
On Friday, Montezemolo gave a bizarre media conference for the written press, where Marco Mattiacci was seated alongside Il Padrino, yet remained silent throughout the entire event. The message was clear. As with any convert to the more charismatic wing of the Christian church, “a full immersion”, a baptism is being co-ordinated for Mattiaco.
“Mattiacci knows how to run the company, how to handle the group – this is very important. Now he has to do a full immersion in Formula 1”, insisted Luca.
When asked in the drivers’ press conference whether there had been any change at Ferrari since Domenicali’s departure, Alonso’s Oscar winning performance was remarkable. “Not really. At the moment, everything is more or less the same”, the Spaniard replied with a dead pan expression.
Mmm. This weekend, Montezemolo was in the garage more than anyone can remember, making sure the TV cameras caught him in shot during practice and qualifying sessions. On one occasion as Kimi was about to leave in his F14T, we saw Il Padrino clock where the camera was and give his Finnish driver a fisted salute of encouragement as he pulled out into the sunshine.
Alonso too was on message big time on Thursday as he too identified Mattiacci as a new convert in need of a bath. “We had some meetings, obviously, to try to help him in all the areas”
This notion of a new head of the team, who at present must remain muted in front of the world’s media, while Il Padrino waxes lyrical is a nonsense and does nothing for Mattiacci’s authority in the near future.
If Mattiacci was parachuted in from above Il Padrino’s head, the current presentation to the media of his impotence is understandable. Yet the reality will again soon be, a frustrated Spanish driver, criticising the team’s woeful performance.
Il Padrino is already sabre rattling when he says, “I did not expect a team less competitive than my expectations at the beginning of the season.” Too right. One car lapped in Barcelona by the Mercedes pair and the other behind a neutered Newey designed Red Bull pair and a Williams.
Mattiacci will eventually find his own voice and regardless of the complexities within a Formula 1 manufacturer, he will identify the incompetence’s and inefficiencies in the Ferrari processes. Then heads will roll. The only question will be who is lined up for the firing squad.
TJ13 has observed twice already that McLaren appear to have recruited our dear French friend Eric, more for his love of PR than abilities as a Sporting Director – whatever that means.
Eric didn’t care last year that he had to repeatedly stand before global F1 TV audience and state his unswerving faith in someone, of whom a small amount of Google research would demonstrate was a conman.
This year Eric stepped up brightly to announce a ‘new’ revolutionary partnership between Macca and Gillette, when in fact it was an extension of one already in place. Yet he delivered his statement without flinching and with aplomb,
Before the Barcelona weekend, Eric was at it again. He claimed that the first of the European races would “mark the start of a fresh push and spirit within the whole organisation.”
Mmm. McLaren admitted 2013 was their ‘annus horribilis’, yet even during those miserable 19 races, they never went 3 races without a point. Barcelona 2014 saw that run complete.
Having topped the constructors’ table after the race in Melbourne, McLaren have now slumped to 6th – and are clearly the worst on current form of the Mercedes powered cars. Even Red Bull with their put-put Renault engine are setting world champion driver new challenges. To relieve his boredom, they engineered him starting in P15 so that he could prove his worth by driving to P4, with merely 40 minutes experience in his car all weekend prior to qualification.
Of course in F1, it takes time for change to happen. Mercedes are now in year 5 of their return to F1 as a works team, and they finally have a championship winning car.
The sacking of Whitmarsh and the return of Big Ron will not bring about a revolution overnight, and for Woking F1 fans, this is likely to be another long difficult year.
Mr. Horner telling fibs? Surely not
Prior to the race in Barcelona, Sebastian Vettel must have felt he’d sleep walked into a nun’s chamber and unwittingly violated her chastity. The retribution from on high was monumental. 4 laps in FP1. No laps in FP2, Engine failure during qualification and then a gear box change to relegate him further down the field.
It made unusual viewing for the fans to see Horner et al wandering around the rear end of the grid as Vettel’s car was made ready for the race.
On his final lap to the start, Sebastian complained of a problem in his car – a locking front wheel. Christian Horner was asked about this live on SKY, and he informed the viewers it was simply a software issue and was now under control.
In actuality, the usual serene pit crew of Vettel had in their haste to replace Seb’s gearbox, had forgotten to fit an anti-roll bar. Vettel claimed, he realised this because in qualifying Turkey 2010, one broke on his car, and it created the same inexplicable locking wheel he was suffering yesterday.
Still, its good to see Christian Horner is still a firmly committed member of the “truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth” society. Admitting a cockup is clearly worse than telling porky pies.
Mateschitz speaks warmly of ‘sporting’ values in sport…
As probably the highest profile countryman in Austria, his thoughts are often quoted in the country’s daily news. Once again Dietrich Mateschitz has attacked the new era of F1 from the point of view of the fans; albeit a massively privileged one.
“What I like is it still comes down to the driving. What I do not like is this plethora of regulations, restrictions, rules, penalties – essentially over-regulation. It was used to be about winning as fast as you could. This is no longer possible due to the regulations which should be applied in the car industry’s research and development not in motor-sport. I am sympathetic to the fans, we should race again and not just save gasoline. Currently the driver can no longer go to the limit. It’s hopeless contesting the regulations that the FIA has introduced, they are the authority and it’s supposed to make the sport safer…”
F1 has always been heavily regulated to keep the speed of the cars under some form of control and historically very few races have ever been driven flat out. There has always been a balancing act which used to be managed by the drivers during the race, yet with the electronics available now, drivers are being told constantly to change settings on the car or applications which will reduce consumption, improve tyre life, harvest more electrical energy etc.
Back in the 80’s – one rule that was applied to curb the outlandish performance of cars was initially a 220 litre fuel limit then a 150 litre limit, and still the engineers unlocked more performance. During the period 2010 to 2013, most cars went to the grid under-fuelled and they would control their pace during the race accordingly, it just so happened that Mr Red Bull never complained because his cars were winning.
In regards Ricciardo’s exclusion from the Melbourne result, the narcissistic Dietrich offered his views: “The 18 points that Daniel had removed was not because the fuel sensor was not displayed correctly but because we did not follow the directive. There was a punishment but it should have to the team not the driver. These are sad times. This was not a sporting decision.”
There are undoubtedly many observers who feel that it was not particularly sporting to ignore the instructions and thus gain what has been acknowledged around 0.5 seconds per lap advantage.
There are also critics of Red Bull’s ‘sporting’ policy in German football too. In May 2009, RasenBallsport Lipezig was created by Red Bull. Due to German rules, the sponsor’s name is not permitted in the title, hence the naming and no one person or company can have a majority control with the law suggesting a minimum seven members. RB Lipezig has nine menders, all employees of — Red Bull.
With FIFA, football’s governing body, implementing changes that won’t allow clubs to spend more than their income, this has provided another front for Mateschitz to contest the rule makers over – always in the name of sporting competition of course.
A battle Royal
If anyone was in any doubt which team will lift the 2014 drivers’ and constructors’ F1 championships before Barcelona, then they should remove their head from the pit of sand in which it was buried.
Conversely, there are those predicting that 2014 for Mercedes will be as 1988 was for the McLaren MP4-4, which won 15 of the 16 races during the season. Christian Horner believes “It is possible but improbable.” The Red Bull Principal then makes a strange comparison, “but things can change. We won the last nine races of last year and [look at us now] – things can change very quickly”. Mmm.
Such was the Red Bull folly of chasing utter dominance in 2013, they have left themselves short of key production time for the more complex of components. Vettel’s gearbox failure in Barcelona means another gearbox must be manufactured before Monaco to allow for a failure, and as TJ13 has revealed previously, the machine time for this is in the order of 265 consecutive hours, in itself a battle with no margin for error.
Yet the main war for the year will be between the 2 Mercedes drivers. Who top the table with 100 pts (Hamilton) and 97 points (Rosberg). Their nearest rival is Fernando Alonso who is already a distant 51 points behind the leader, and driving a car which is 3rd or 4th best on the grid.
The British press have been revelling in the psychological blows they claim Hamilton has been raining down on his German team mate. Someone not following the sport, would believe from a casual reading of these columns that Rosberg was akin to a punch drunk boxer stumbling into the 12th round a mile behind on points.
Yet the reality is that Lewis has won 4 races, but is a mere 3 points ahead of Rosberg.
You could argue there is a similarity between the two silver arrows drivers and the Senna v Prost battles. Clearly Lewis identifies himself with the emotional and temperamental Senna, whilst Nico has been posited as more of the professor.
Prost fared well in his battles with the enigmatic Brazilian, mostly due to his refusal to change his modus operandi – one which saw a philosophic and pragmatic racer return week after week and seek to maximise the resources at his disposal. Yet the media enjoyed scope to describe these confrontations as a war.
Niki Lauda has spoken out on the battle royal between his 2 drivers, and suggests “My strategy is very simple. So far, my drivers have not clashed in any way and I want that to go on until there is no third driver challenging for the title.
Then they can drive over each other if they want to – and whoever survives is the world champion. I want them to see everybody else off and then, when there is no other enemy, it is really going to be warfare,” says the former triple world champion, not known for mastering the art of the understatement.
However, the reality is that Lewis has struck the first blow. He did so in Bahrain. A review of his defence against the silver arrows of Nico, which at times swarmed him like a plague of locusts, reveals he was not just uncompromising but fair – he did in fact seek to dominate his team mate.
Simply put, had Rosberg on several occasions kept his foot in to own a slice of the track which was rightfully his, the two would have collided – with unknown consequences.
Regardless of Mercedes instructions to the drivers, it is clear the 2014 title will belong to one or other of them, and as such the niceties of race track protocol must stop from hereon – particularly if Nico is to have a shot at beating Hamilton.
Lewis has a history not so long ago of regularly having to trot along to the stewards and explain his rash behaviour on track, something which clearly rattled him and appeared to become some kind of self fulfilling prophecy affecting his driving accuracy.
Prost agrees, “Nico needs to be more aggressive,” he mused to a BBC reporter last night. He must ensure Lewis understands the consequences of his actions, and gives him no free passes from causing a collision.
Visions of Suzuka 1989 and 1990 come flooding back, and indeed if nothing else, an incident similar to either of those would give some false hope the an already forlorn and defeated opposition.
For Rosberg to win the drivers’ title this year, he will have to get under his team mates skin and expose the fragility of Lewis’ mind when he believes the world is against him. Despite his post race explanations, Hamilton is already feeling a fair amount of pressure as evidenced from the terse and touchy radio communications he relayed during yesterday’s GP.
An incident with his team mate and a trip to the stewards would remove the veneer of serenity Hamilton is attempting to portray to us all, and the war his team chairman describes would truly be on.
And where better to engineer this than the next F1 venue… Monaco? Flashbacks of 2011 would be inevitable in Lewis’ mind together with all the furore cause by his Ali G comments following his 5th visit to the stewards in the 6 races completed.
Phase 2 of the master plan
Jean Todt trumped a grand symposium proposed by Il Padrino in Maranello, by issuing a call to all 11 teams to meet in Geneva in January. It was unanimously agreed they would form a plan to implement some form of budget cap for 2015 and beyond.
Since then the Formula 1 Strategy Group has attempted to kick the budget cap into the long grass, with larger teams saying they don’t support the principle… “its impossible to police”, they say…. “its not fair”, they protest….
Yet leader of the disenfranchised “Rebel Alliance” – Sir Robert the Gallant of Force India, has marshalled his small band into a formidable resistance. He, Monisha, John and Cyril are all adamant that the Formula 1 strategy group cannot overturn a unilateral decision made by the 11 teams. They are prepared to get into bed with the uber authority of the EU if necessary, and then their gang will be bigger than the others.
In the meantime, the big 6 teams of the F1 strategy group have been tasked by Todt to at least find ways of seriously cutting costs in F1 – as a compromise to the cost cap. Mr. T genuinely trusted these teams to make an honest and proper effort at this….
Well now, it appears Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Lotus have been playing games, using the oldest deferment trick in the book which is; agree to some kind of change, but make the timescales and steps of change so minimal in their increments, that any change at all is barely noticeable.
Mr. T is now very cross at this prevarication. He has seen the proposals made by the teams of the F1 strategy group and responded with something akin to an apoplectic fit of rage. “What was proposed? It was a joke,” said the Frenchman during the Spanish Grand Prix. “We know the budgets are between $100 million and $400 million and the proposals that they seem happy with are to reduce budgets by $2 million, which is ridiculous”.
Of course, if the teams can’t agree a budget cap or cost reduction measures, then there is only one thing left for Mr. T to do. Re-write the sporting and technical regulations before June 30th in a manner which will upset the big 6.
Our glorious leader of the FIA after years of inaction and ineptitude appears refreshed and good for combat. “When we speak about costs we must speak about reducing it by 30-40 per cent. Then we can feel comfortable,” he declared with fortitude.
Wow! And Mr. T has mandated this term of his presidency to be judged on cost reduction in F1.
Mr. T claims to have some ideas of his own and will now meet with the “Rebel Alliance” to discuss these along with their proposals. Well as to that…. TJ13 reported last week, Mr. T has appointed as part of phase 2 of his master plan…. a select group of individuals, ex-senior F1 figures, working behind the scenes with the FIA to deliver sporting and technical regulation changes which will significantly curb the teams’ abilities to spend money.
Anyway, you can bet your bottom dollar that Mr. T’s ideas, to which he refers, have come from the ‘Heads’ of that select group of individuals.
These shadowy characters know all the tricks in the book, yet now as ex-players they are the sage guardians of the future of the F1 dynasty – and they know it is time to put behind them partisan attitudes and deliver change which will shock those with huge treasure chests into the reality that is 2015 and beyond.
If one were waxing lyrical, one could infer Ms. Todt has played a blinder – by allowing the big 6 to delude themselves into believing they can fiddle whilst Rome burns, and when they realise what’s happening – it will be too late. They will have little to say or respond with when they must comply with what they perceive to be – draconian propositions drawn up by the guardians.
Time is indeed short, but the FIA can impose the 2015 regulations without unanimous agreement from the teams, and the odds at present are that they will do exactly that.
Renault 90% there
In the war of the politics of blame between Renault and Red Bull, Remi Taffin confidently asserts following the Barcelona GP. “Overall we made good progress this weekend with energy and fuel management and the driveability of the power unit has been improved.
I’d say we are about 90% of the way on our recovery now, with final refinements to come. We’ll test these next week and are confident we’ll introduce another step forward for Monaco.”
90% of what?
Are we to believe if we calculate another 10% efficiency into say Ricciardo’s qualifying lap, that is the pace Renault can achieve when all the bits of their engine talk properly to each other?
Of course the exact calculation is much more complex – so I’ll leave a smart TJ13 reader to demonstrate their algorithmic skills – but Ricciardo managed a Q3 time of 1:26:613. So 10% better is 77.952..
This would mean Hamilton would have been second to Red Bull’s Aussie driver in Q3 by over 7.5 seconds.
What is this psyhco-babble?
Ok so where is the baseline 0%? The moment the ghost from Christmas future arrived in Viry and implanted the vision of a V6 Turbo engine and all its bits and pieces in the chief designer’s mind?
Maybe we should knock of some 10% of Ricciardo’s race time, but this again gives us a Renault several laps ahead of the Mercedes… any Mercedes… more dominant than any F1 car in history.
Those who ask stupid questions should not be indulged by those who should know better giving even more stupid answers.