Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 13th May 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

#F1 Features: Newey to Ferrari? Or in fact….

On This Day in #F1: 13th May 1990


McLaren may test Honda power in 2014 (GMM)

Red Bull not giving up 2014 battle – Mateschitz (GMM)

Ferrari had no choice

Spanish GP contract extension 2026

Formula E driver announcements

Jenson on thin ice

Gentleman racers – no chance

Would you buy this car?

Gribkowsky turns up the heat on Ecclestone

Sochi on track

Testing Barcelona Day 1

And the trumpet will sound

Mercedes buy Red Bull spares


McLaren may test Honda power in 2014 (GMM)

McLaren could be ready to test a Honda engine before the end of 2014.

That is the claim of team boss Eric Boullier, even though the Frenchman’s immediate task after joining McLaren from Lotus is to win races with Mercedes power. After a promising start, McLaren’s season has slumped, and yet the newly-returned ‘supremo’ Ron Dennis is demanding race wins long before the switch to works Honda power.

“I know why he (Dennis) is saying it,” said Jenson Button. “We have to be quicker this year if we want to be quick next year. We have to keep on pushing and will not let up, unlike maybe Mercedes once they have a 300 point lead,” he smiled. London newspaper The Times claims Boullier has been given “carte blanche” by Dennis to depart from traditional McLaren methods and “start again”.

The highly-anticipated Honda era, meanwhile, may get an unexpectedly early start, with Boullier hinting the Japanese-made turbo V6 could get its first laps in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season. “We have thought about it,” said the Frenchman, referring to whether McLaren could immediately switch to Honda power for the post-race test after the Abu Dhabi finale in November. “We are currently running a Mercedes engine until Abu Dhabi so we will not run anything else, but we have thought to maybe try the (Honda) car afterwards,” added Boullier.

However, he dismissed the suggestion that – already without a title sponsor in 2014 – McLaren might as well write off this season in favour of the 2015 project.

“We definitely are not in a limbo year. We are working just flat-out at Woking and a title sponsor doesn’t change anything anyway as our budget is in place already. Obviously next year’s power unit is another programme but it is not affecting what we are doing at all,” Boullier said.

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Red Bull not giving up 2014 battle – Mateschitz (GMM)

Red Bull will not give up the battle for the 2014 title. That is the reigning world champions’ order straight from the top, despite some predicting that Mercedes’ can achieve the unprecedented feat of winning every single grand prix this season. Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz, however, wants the Milton Keynes team to keep fighting.

“Our first goal is that we become capable of winning this year,” he told APA news agency. “If we can be competitive then, as long as it is mathematically possible, we are still in the world championship fight — definitely,” the Austrian billionaire added.

Mateschitz acknowledged that a lot depends on Red Bull’s beleaguered engine supplier, Renault, and other factors as well. “A new fuel,” he explained, “can bring up to 20 or 30 horse power. We have never had the most powerful engine, but a good package overall. Perhaps the grand prix of Austria can be a turning point,” said Mateschitz, whose company is the promoter of his country’s return in June to the F1 calendar. “We have a good car,” he said. “We started two seconds behind but it is looking much better now.

At the very top of his game in 2014 has been Red Bull team newcomer Daniel Ricciardo, with Mateschitz admitting the extent of the Australian’s success was a “surprise”.

Sebastian Vettel has had a lot of bad luck this year,” he told Salzburger Nachrichten, “but Daniel has shown no weaknesses from day one. This also shows that Toro Rosso is an excellent school for producing future winning drivers, and the very next contender is Daniil Kvyat.”

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Ferrari had no choice

The wheels could well be coming off the Ferrari band wagon, and quicker than we all expected. Though, Fernando Alonso for a change is behaving himself. His sojourns in twitterland during this season have been restricted to banal ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye’ type comments – mostly in Spanish and Italian.

Yet as we observed yesterday, the handling of the Mattiacci affair becomes stranger by the day. Marco was forced to sit subservient and silent throughout a press conference given by Il Padrino last weekend in Barcelona – where the message from Luca was in effect, “I’m going to be rolling up my sleeves and doing the ‘day to day’ stuff for the next few months, because this guy hasn’t got a clue”.

Montezemolo is now giving us some background on the decision to appoint Marco Mattiacci. He claims it was his decision alone Il Padrino already told us he did not want a ‘mercenary’, which presumably was the reason why James Allison was overlooked.

Luca now says of Mattiacci’s appointment, “There were no other alternatives because, first of all, I made the decision and also I did not have time to think of somebody else and I didn’t want to leave an open position. In 99% of the time I am happy to let people grow up in the company.”

Say what??? The selection of the next head of the Ferrari racing team was settled upon because Il Padrino didn’t have time to properly consider all the options???

Domenicali leaves suddenly and unexpectedly… Il Padrino makes a snap appointment… all none Italian Ferrari workers are mercenaries?

This is PR mayhem… and during this mayhem, Il Padrino agrees to allow Ross Brawn and his mates to rock up in Maranello… to test some Ferrari’s???

I THINK NOT!!!

If Mattiacci was appointed by Il Padrino, then the writing is on the wall for him. He is being humiliated by both Montezemolo and Alonso who have talked him into a corner this weekend. Mattiacci will not be able to make any decisions for months due to his “inexperience” repeatedly cited by ‘the head of the family’.

Why would Il Padrino do this to his own appointment? Maybe because he has always been waiting for a certain someone to complete his gardening leave, and Mattiacci is a temporary puppet.

However, if Mattiacci is in actuality a FIAT appointment – parachuted in over Il Padrino’s head, then expect seismic activity – greater than a count of 9 – soon in Maranello. In this scenario Il Padrino and Alonso’s behaviour is clearly an attempt to drive Mattiacci to quit.

Yet, if Mattiacci is as good as his CV suggests, and he has the support of FIAT, then more changing of the guard can be expected in Maranello – and Il Padrino’s opportunity to go a politicking will arrive sooner than he hoped.

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Spanish GP contract extension 2026

Barcelona is the home of the Spanish GP, though for many F1 fans, the stats of pole position conversions to wins at the circuit de Catalunya – hardly suggests the racing prospects will be exciting.

However, with the advent of F1 chocolate tyres, nitro buttons together with retractable landing flaps, the chances of a quicker car being stuck behind a slower car… for ever…. Has mostly been eliminated.

Ok, Lewis Hamilton increased the pole to win %, but the race was far from dull, and F1 fans appear to embrace Barcelona more than in days of yore.

El Mundo is reporting preliminary talks took place to see a new 10 year contract for F1 agreed. The premature nature of these talks is a little surprising as the current deal has 2 more years to run, and includes the race in 2016.

The Spanish publication claims that this bullish attitude towards the future of F1 in Barcelona is rooted in the popularity of the sport there – citing an attendance of 91,000 on Sunday. If true, this would be second only to Silverstone for the European races.

Yet TJ13 has learned there has been heavy discounting this year on tickets for the Barcelona GP weekend. Clearly there was no “Alonso for the win” factor drawing in the crowds and our own estimates from 2013 suggest a mere 60,000 were in attendance on race day.

It could be that certain circuits are finally discounting tickets after years of price hikes. TJ13 discovered last week, official tickets were on sale in Abu Dhabi from official outlets at half the price the same seats commanded the previous year. A 30% pre 31st May discount is being cited, though this does not account for the whole story.

Abu Dhabi is a strange animal for attendance. James Allen reported in 2013 that all 5,000 places for the Paddock Club had been sold out for some time prior to the race weekend. These tickets are over $5,000 each and in 2014, the race promoters are offering paddock club hospitality for 9,000 ticket holders.

At the same time there will be thousands of unsold, well priced grandstand tickets. Abu Dhabi has established itself as the F1 weekend where the wealthy en masse can mingle with the F1 crowd, even though this jeytset don’t care whether they see the race or not.

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Formula E driver announcements

Foirmula E’s inaugural race is a mere 4 months away to the date. On September 13th, Beijing, China will host the opening event of the 2013/14 season. Each weekend will proceed under the following format.

Practice

All events will open with a one-hour practice session giving drivers their first experience of the circuit. They will have up to two cars available to them giving them the option to change cars should they wish. Full power (200kw / 270bhp) will be available throughout.

Qualifying

The qualifying session is a straight fight for the fastest laptime and determines the order for the day’s race. The session will last 90 minutes and see drivers divided into four groups of five cars. Full power (200kw / 270bhp) will be available throughout with drivers only able to use one car. The driver setting the fastest time will be awarded three points.

Race

Races will begin by standing start and last for approximately one hour with drivers making a mandatory pit stop in order to change cars. Engines will be restricted to power saving mode (133kw / 180bhp) but can be temporarily increased to maximum power (200kw / 270bhp) by using the Boost Button. Points will be awarded using the standard FIA system (see Rules & Regulations) with the driver setting the fastest lap also receiving two additional points.

Pit stops/Car changes

During races, drivers must make one mandatory pit stop in order to change cars. This must take place in their box and be observed by an FIA steward to ensure all safety equipment is correctly applied. Tyre changes, unless a puncture, are not permitted during this pit stop.

Boost Button

During races only, drivers will be able to use a pre-determined number of power boosts to aid overtaking. This will increase the car’s power output from 133kw (180bhp) to 200Kw (270bhp) for a limited period of time.

Formula E this week opens its new purpose built global HQ at Donington Park and has announced there will be 5 pre-season test sessions, the dates were revealed yesterday.

 TEST  LOCATION  DATE
 1  Donington Park, UK  July 3 2014
 2  Donington Park, UK  July 4 2014
 3  Donington Park, UK  July 9 2014
 4  Donington Park, UK  July 10 2014
 5  Donington Park, UK August 19 2014

Spectators are invited to attend for free, but must register here http://www.donington-park.co.uk/event-form/

Last week,Audi Sport ABT announced their two drivers for the season would be Lucas de Grassi and Daniel Abt.

Lucas de Grassi is fairly well known, but Daniel Abt has been progressing his career from German F3, through GP3 and in 2013 competed for ART in GP2.

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Today Virgin have announced their drivers who are, Jaimie Alguersuari and Sam Bird. Again Alguersuari is well known to F1 fans, many of whom believe was prematurely axed from Toro Rosso along with Sebastian Buemi, by the good doctor Marko.

Having had a somewhat frustrating career in various junior categories, Sam Bird was given an opportunity in GP2 in 2013 by the Russian Time team, and came second in the driver standings after a disappointing finale in Abu Dhabi.

Formula E will be mostly on free to air across the globe and in the UK will be aired by ITV 4.

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Jenson on thin ice

It doesn’t require a mind guru to recognise Jenson Button is deflated at the way the season is going for McLaren. The team from Woking may have thought 2013 was bad enough, yet they sunk to a new low of 3 consecutive races without a single point following the Spanish GP, something they managed to avoid last year.

However, Jenson is a master at inter-team politics, and when he joined McLaren in 2010, many believed he was badly advised to join a team identified so closely with Lewis Hamilton. Yet over their 3 years together, he managed to marginalise Lewis, to the point where Hamilton became paranoid enough to tweet Jenson’s telemetry read-out to the world during the Belgium GP in 2012.

Jenson eventually came out just ahead of Hamilton on cumulative points during their 3 years together as Woking team mates.

However, this weekend, Jenson appeared to be acting fairly defensively when speaking to a select group of people in the paddock. The conversation was around how McLaren could get the MP4-29 back on track and quickly developed to at least beat Force India and Williams.

Jenson’s response was as follows. “The best thing for a team is to have two experienced drivers who know what they’re doing… two guys that understand the car and what things do, or what he has in his little toolbox, makes a big difference”.

Clearly McLaren chose not to progress down this route and recruited rookie driver Kevin Magnussen who is just 3 points behind his world champion team mate at present. Jenson is also marginally ahead on qualifying at 3:2

Almost damning him with faint praise and condesnesion, Jenson discusses Magnussen’s contribution to developing the car. “Kevin is learning all the time and he has fed a lot of good information that I hope he is able to take in. I think he is getting much better at being confident in his feelings with the car and trying new directions because we need that as a team. We are supposed to be trying new things otherwise you don’t gain by having two cars out there, but I think he is picking up a lot though, which is good to see and his feedback is good.” 

Whilst McLaren are indeed woeful, it may not be the smartest thing for Button to do to criticise the team’s driver recruitment strategy at this stage of the season. There are questions over whether Button himself will be in F1 next year, because were he to lose his seat at McLaren, it is not obvious where else would be open for him.

“I definitely want to be in F1. This sort of season does not make you want to retire,” says Button. “If you do retire, you want to retire on a high”.

Jenson’s only hope for a final good year in F1 is if McLaren get their act together for 2015 – and at the same time retain his services. It’s unlikely Button would get a drive at Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes, and as such, McLaren is always likely to find a way to be, at least, the best of the rest.

But Jenson’s mind seems to be missing the obvious when he says. “It is a difficult decision for a driver in my position, with so much experience and so much to give. I’m at the point in my career where I’ve only a few years left where I will be in F1, and I want to be in a position where I can win races or be close to winning races”.

Then it’s as though the light is switched on, and the penny drops with Jenson realising he may have few choices ahead of him. “I would like to think I’ll be here and the team will be competitive towards the end of this season, which will then give me good reason to want to be here [next year].”

If this is intended as an Alonso-esque kick up the arse for the team, then it lacks the authority and whallop-bang the Spaniard appears to be able to deliver. Button was more outspoken under Martin Whitmarsh, but maybe he perceives Big Ron to be a different proposition.

From comments Dennis made last month, Jenson’s position is certainly not guaranteed in 2015. When asked about Jenson’s contractual situation, which expires at the end of 2014, Dennis replied. “Anything is possible, but Jenson is doing a great job. He is quick and he is dedicated so there is no reason not to stay with Jenson from any perspective”.

Then he adds a caveat, “But we still have a whole season to go.”

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Gentleman racers – no chance

For anyone who believes the classic F1 races are merely a bunch of Gentleman races trundling around in priceless historic cars – check these videos out from this weeks Monaco Historic GP.

And no Crashtor was not driving in this event….

Oh can you name the cars?

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Would you buy this car?

Slightly off topic, but at £200,000 ($340,000) – despite the brand – would you buy this car?

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Gribkowsky turns up the heat on Ecclestone

Today is day 4 in the court room 101 in Munich. And the star witness Gerhard Gribkowsky returned for a second day to give evidence. Ecclestone joked with his lawyers and translators, but within an hour the smile had disappeared completely from his face.

The BayernLB bank official who has been convicted of receiving a bribe from Ecclestone and is serving 8 ½ years in prison began to reveal what it had been like dealing with the F1 supremo.

He claimed the Bank was treated by Mr. E as a troublesome and unwanted partner following their inheriting a significant shareholding in F1. Kirch, a German media company had put the F1 shares up as collateral for a $1bn loan – and then gone bust.

The ex-Bank director claimed it was “difficult, tedious and painful” having to deal with these events following his conviction and sentencing, explaining, “Now I’m trying to get my life back on track.” This was some kind of explanation as to why his testimony had been vague on day 3 of the hearing.

Ecclestone’s negotiating style was described by Gribkowsky as akin to “having a carrot in front of your nose and being dragged around in a circle.” Further, during the sale discussions, Bernie Ecclestone had placed “the torture instruments on the table”, threatening to make F1 worthless prior to the sale.

From the bank’s perspective, this was a realistic threat because if “you control a company without assets, then you don’t control anything,” explained the ex-banker.

When questioned as to whether he had threatened Ecclestone that he would reveal his tax affairs to the British authorities, Gribkowsky admitted he had spread limited rumours about Ecclestone’s tax status. This was following heated clashes between Bernie and the bank over the running of the business. He added, “We didn’t have anything concrete. It was mainly nuisance value,”

The court heard that Ecclestone had made Gribkowsky an offer of $80m to ensure the deal with CVC went through, and that he had arranged for him to become a resident in Singapore where the German authorities would struggle to extradite him. Gerhard didn’t want to be exiled forever and was also suspicious of the offer.

Then came the fateful day when at Ecclestone’s offices in London a frustrated Ecclestone repeatedly told the German civil servant, “I’ll take care of you, I’ll take care of you” in an attempt to get him to push the CVC deal through with his employers.

Gribkowsky claims the nature of the offer, “remained vague,”

However, “I grabbed the carrot” said Gribkowsky. Ecclestone apparently persuaded him he would provide him with a better future, though the irony is… that the money is gone and the German has another 6 plus years of prison life to endure.

When asked how things were going in Munich 2 days ago, Ecclestone responded on the grid, “we’ve got some negotiating to do”.

Today, “we are surprised at this turn of events,” remarked Mr. E’s lawyer, following a not so few hours the 83 year old in court room 101.

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Sochi on track

All the F1 main players are ignoring the global events engulfing Russia and stating with confidence that the Russian GP is on track for October. “I have no doubts the race will go ahead,” TJ13 reported race promoter Sergey Vorobyev stating last week.

By May 20 when the details of the ticketing arrangements are announced, a decision will be made on how many temporary stands are to be erected. The organisers have allocated 55,000 tickets and expect to sell around 11,000 of those to overseas visitors.

There have been problems with the construction schedule at Sochi and Richard Cregan, acting consultant to the promoter recognises “there’s no question it will be tight but it will be ready, it will be complete”.

When questioned over the running of the inaugural Russian GP, a thin lipped Jean Todt told reporters, “there is nothing that should change the running of the calendar”

During the team principal’s FIA conference, John Booth was candid, “If we go there it will be a second home race for us so it’s pretty important.” This was surprising since the team recently cut all ties with Marussia motors who claim they have closed their car factory. Marussia have a racing license issued in Russia

Pirelli are not unaffected by this, as the oil company ‘Rosneft’ is their largest single shareholder.

“Russia is for us a very important business market and will remain so. If we go to Russia we’ll be happy,” said Pirelli motorsport head Paul Hembery.

Bob Fernley cautioned, were they to be advised against going by the British government, Force India would comply with those instructions.

The British government was heavily criticised by the TV Panorama programme for allegedly negotiating with Ecclestone over his tax affairs, and accepting a mere £10m in payments from him. As the time approached, Mr. Cameron may not wish to be further embarrassed by the sight of Ecclestone, arm in arm with Vladimir Putin broadcast to 1bn global TV screens.

The British Prime Minister’s tough words to Putin and no nonesense demands will appear as straw, if this particular “Westerner” is allowed to busts the business sanctions imposed and trade freely before the eyes of the world.

So – at present from everyone in F1 – its “to Russia with love” we go. Or is it just that no one can blink just yet due to massive penalties for breach of contract.

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Testing Barcelona Day 1

As the first day of the two day Barcelona test comes to a close it is Super Max on top. It is unclear what Marussia have done to their car from Sunday to today but the top time Max ran today would have put him in 4th position just behind Ricciardo in Q3.

Similarly, Charles Pic managed to drag his Lotus around the track in a rather quick 1m26.661, good enough for 5th based on the qualifying times from this weekend, which is where Grosjean did qualify.

Rain in the morning hampered running somewhat and teams were forced to do wet weather work. However by 2pm it was dry (and warm) enough to strap on the slicks and get down to some proper testing and Super Max did not disappoint!

Thought must be added, the Marussia ‘glory run’ was on the super soft tyre.

Sebastien Buemi suffered a gearbox failure, which as we reported yesterday, will put the Red Bull factory into overdrive to produce essential spares in time for Monaco. The Swiss Red Bull reserve driver said, “[The car] is completely different to last year. You can see on the lap times it is slower, but inside the car it is a very big difference. When you are used to the grip of last year, you don’t really believe it in the first few laps. You get used to it quickly though and we could see that the Pirelli tyres were perhaps a bit conservative, but we had enough laps to get a good feel.” 

With Vettel due to drive the RB10 tomorrow, he will be hoping his luck changes and he is not for a third session in just under a week, unable to get some mileage under his belt.

Still, at least Renault can relax, as this is a Red Bull failure, which they – and they alone are responsible for.

 

Barcelona 2 day test

Tomorrow Suzie Wolf take to the wheel of the FW36 with McLaren youngster Stoffel Vandoorne jumping into the MP4-29. Force India youngster Daniel Juncadella will take over from Nico Hulkenberg.

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And the trumpet will sound

Yes here it is folks. The new component to be added to the $20m F1 Mercedes AMG Hybrid tomorrow.

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Mercedes buy Red Bull spares

With the departure of the perpetual unlucky Mark Webber, Red Bull had no more need for their B-spec clutches which had led to the Aussie ex-F1 driver having legendary slow starts – unlike his team mate Sebastian.

Mercedes appear to have bought these as spares, and have been fitting them to Nico Rosberg’s car. Toto Wolf comments, “On the starts we have a problem on Nico’s car. It seems to be a problem related to the clutch. That is a special project of ours”, at which point all Rosberg fans nod knowingly.

“We expected some improvement for Barcelona”, Wolff adds, “which didn’t kick in as expected. We just need to sort it out for Monaco because that’s crucial there and we discussed it in the debrief.”

In a Machiavellian twist of fate, Lewis Hamilton was asked to focus on solving the clutch issue team-mate Nico Rosberg has been struggling with at the start of recent races. Lewis noted, “The start at every race is important, but Nico’s been a little bit unhappy with some of the starts and as a team we have been okay but it could be better. We were really trying to focus on that to see if we could improve it.”

Just after Hamilton left the press room, a wild and crazed cackling laugh was heard disappearing down the corridor

Join the number 2 drivers club Nico – same old, same old 😉

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46 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 13th May 2014

  1. After Mateschitz’s words on Daniil Kvyat, if I were JEV I would begin gathering a decent budget for next season, or end like Alguersuari’s aspirations in F1

      • Or he can have a go at competing in triathlons professionally. I expect if McLaren can’t entice a top driver to the team in 2015 they may have no choice but to stick with Jenson for another season. Guess the key to all of this is what Honda want in terms of driver line up.

      • I think its a canny strategy too, its drivers we know which bring some profile to the series, and presumably fans, and also gives us an idea of the talent they may have, which often we might not have seen in a back marker car.

  2. Mateschnitz hinting at Vettel exit there?
    Doesn’t mention Vergne as well.

    • Quite possibly. That’s why he’s throwing all his toys out of the pram blaming the new F1 regs at each opportunity. He knows RBR might be facing Merc’s back for the next 2-3 years and at the same period losing Vettel and Newey, who knows.

      I’ve been saying it for a few years now despite RBR fans getting on my back for this. RBR are not for the long run in F1. As soon as success dries up, they will walk. And I was backing Lewis when he made that ‘drinks company’ comment, he was right.

      • Difficult to call M78, Red Bull originally entered as Berger’s sponsor iitc. Then they became sponsors to Sauber and only bought into a team in 2005.
        Their marketing is based around extreme sports so they could leave as a team but remain as sponsors. After all, Marlboro’s history is constant since 1974 and they never produced anything of note.

        It could be that Red Bull will disband and the money moves elsewhere.

    • Vettel will want to leave Red Bull at some point to prove he can win the title with another team. Ferrari is probably a big temptation for him given what his hero Schumacher achieved there. If Ferrari really want Vettel, hiring Ross Brawn will be a step in the right direction in getting him to sign on the dotted line. Still think Brawn has some unfinished business at Ferrari, it might be enough to tempt him back.

      Ferrari’s woes are purely down to how the team is run, F1 has changed. Ferrari either stands still or moves with the times.

  3. TJ,
    I have heard from someone in Italy that Brawn did not drive any cars whilst he was at Ferrari, just a swerved ball put out for the media, which most seemed to have bought into.

    As to James Allison, he was recruited as Technical Director last summer. Brawn at the time was undecided how he wanted to progress with Mercedes, but they have both worked together before, back in the Schumacher winning era.

    Could it be that Brawn was always going to take over as team principal? After all Domenicali was quite curt with journalists towards the end of last year and said he would step down if someone better became available…

    Tied into this is the fact Bob Bell resigned from Mercedes back in December, around the time Brawn left, and he obviously has worked with Brawn before but also James Allison at Enstone when Alonso won his titles.

    LdM would have been aware that Mattiacci was a FIAT golden boy, with close ties to Sergio Marchione and John Eklland and his success in the largest markets for Ferrari would have highlighted his abilities in management. LdM preempted his arrival by signing him, not so much to turn the team around this year, but to drive a nail into his future prospects.

    Mattiacci may be Italian but he is Roman, whereas LdM is from an aristocratic Piedmontese family, as were the Agnelli family – that difference is also vital.

    It may be that he wasn’t so much angry with SD, as he was concerned about his own position. After all under his stewardship in recent years, Ferrari have slowly headed backwards, and kept Felipe Massa on for longer than most observers thought reasonable.

    Could it be that as we enter 2015, Ferrari will have LdM as President, with Brawn as Team Principal over-seeing Allison and Bell’s 2015 challenger?

    • … All that is most plausible, and at various times TJ13 has alluded to a number of those connections.

      We have to assume Domenicali’s leaving was unfortunate timing for LdM – but the question is WHO promoted Mattiacci’s name. This is vital to the current games in play.

      As I suggest, he could be a stalking horse sent in to burrow away and report back to FIAT.

      As someone well versed in American and Japanese management models – with global business accolades to his name – it is indubitable Mattiacci will find the the Scuderia chaotic and archaic.

      Should he choose to present to FIAT a status quo of an authoritarian structure ruled by LdM – Il Padrino must then take the rap……

      Maybe Bernie and LdM will be offski into retirement together.

      • So, Fiat seeing what Merc have achieved, they try to replicate all the steps Merc followed?
        i.e. step I – bring in Mattiaci to report back to Fiat as Lauda did with Merc
        step II – start recruiting big name engineers
        step III – get a big name driver (not needed, they have two!)

        • Only problem with your scenario is that Lauda was never brought in as Team Principal.

          Mattiaci’s position is entirely different from Lauda’s …..

          He’s supposed to be running the team.

          • BTW forgot to add he’s not and never will be a shareholder / part owner in Ferrari

          • …’running the team’ – funny. Not even allowed to speak at a press conference. VERY VERY wierd……..

          • What’s even more weird is how Mattiacci initially got the job:
            http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/113521

            “The Italian revealed at the Chinese Grand Prix that he was first offered the role last Friday, but believed it to be a joke.
            “I live in New York and I received a call at 5.58 on Friday morning,” said Mattiacci.
            “The chairman, [Luca] di Montezemolo, was on the phone and he told me, ‘this is my idea’.
            “I told him that April Fool’s [day] had been about 15 days earlier. But then, after the second or third minute of discussions, I understood that it was serious.
            “And I understood that as there was already a ticket ready to go from New York to Milan after three hours.
            “I arrived Saturday morning in Maranello at the Fiorano track.””

            So much for the vetting process… This story makes absolutely no sense if it was Marchione’s decision to promote Mattiacci to the post. So I can only infer that it was ultimately di Montezemelo’s idea and decision (with or without Marchione’s approval). And given recent developments, this would mean that di Montezemelo is playing political games and looks towards mortally wounding Ferrari’s “golden boy”.

            I’m only wondering why would the golden boy be so naive and accept the poisoned offer in the first place? Was he oblivious to how would a complete outsider to the racing world be welcomed by the F1 types?

      • It’s interesting to compare and contrast the management styles and related success of our friends at Ferrari and McLaren.
        The land of the red cars has been LdM’s town for quite some time. Management / organisation is said to be pretty random – no doubt a direct result of the “one-man’s vision” situation where everyone is scared to do anything wrong in case it’s not the right thing.
        At Macca’s, we’ve had what was presumably a Western, best-practise

        • …management system. No doubt rigid in it’s love of delegation, continuous improvement systems and team building. Such systems often find themselves in a gridlock of good intentions. It’s former champion at McLaren, Whitmarsh, was shown the door and an old-school, authoritarian has taken over.
          Both teams have doing rather badly in recent times despite their diametrically opposed management styles. Now they are crossing paths in the middle in an effort to reverse their woeful results. Funny.
          Meanwhile RBR and MB have focussed more on talent and it’s management. Lotus did a good job working with talent up until recently but ran out of money.

  4. Jensons comments were those of an old dog who’s afraid of a young wolf… I won’t be surprised if he’s out of f1 after this season. Hell I’m surprised he’s still in until now. 😆

  5. * Other F1 drivers buy Maldonado *

    A few months ago PDVSA promised Lotus $40m if they let Pastor Maldonado drive in Formula 1. In a shock move today, the other drivers in the 2014 championship have promised Lotus $42m if they don’t.

    ‘Enough is enough. The rest of the field had to take action before he took them all out,’ said source close to the drivers’ coalition. ‘So they had a whip round and they reckon they’ve got enough to outbid the Venezuelans, plus a bit left over to replace the useless lunatic with lovely dependable Nick Heidfeld who is really good at getting out of the way and basically drives for tips.’

    Our source claims the only drivers who haven’t pitched in to buy the freewheeling pay driver’s absence from F1 are Fernando Alonso, who is too busy huffing around saying he’s not going to win anything, and Jenson Button whose season has been so disappointing he thinks having an erratic Venezuelan buffoon on the track can’t make things any worse.

    ‘This isn’t cheap for the drivers but they think it’s worth it,’ our source admitted. ‘Also, they hope to get some of the cash back with donations from the crowds after reminding them that, without this buy out, they could have been hit in the eye by a flying piece of carbon fibre when Maldonado twatted into another car on lap 24 as usual.’

    To find out if the new offer had been accepted, Sniff Petrol attempted to speak to Pastor Maldonado via Skype but he had somehow managed to crash his computer.

    😀

  6. Judge, the quoted text in the Bernie article text isn’t dark enough – I could still read it !!!!!

  7. If things do not get resolved regarding Russia fairly soon, I would be really surprised if the race goes thru as planned. If things continue to be as dicey as they are now I really think of would be in everyone’s best interest to stay away, and perhaps try again next year. Also as mentioned with the current sanctions, F1 surely does not want to step to hard on any government toes. In my eyes if the current situation continues there is just nothing to gain from going ahead with the race.

  8. Seems extremely hypocritical for the UK to claim no F1 race should take place in Russia, when the British Grand Prix was still allowed to happen during the illegal war in Iraq. Just saying…..

    • I agree with your sentiment on the war. In fact I spent over a year in Afghanistan when I was in the USAF. But, a race taking place on British soil has nothing to do with a war on Iraqi soil. (In my opinion of course)

      • True. But there’s no war in russia at the moment. It’s all kicking off in Ukraine. My point was that nobody was trying to say the British GP shouldn’t take place because of political going’s on. The hypocrisy of Western governments really annoys me but this website isn’t the place for that!
        Don’t want to be that guy (but guess I already am lol).

  9. What I really don’t understand is how Button can still secure a drive in a team like McLaren. Since Hamilton left, McLaren have been nowhere near the top of the grid, and that’s despite McLaren screwing their better race driver over and over again, either through botched pit-stops, under-fuelling or just plain incompetence in delivering in a reliable car. Button is the better politician, he knew he had Whitmarsh’s backing and gradually isolated Hamilton, who had had enough of the bullshit and just decided to leave.

    2013 and 2014, McLaren have been nowhere, if Button is as good as he is made out to be, then McLaren would have at least shown some form of progress in the last 18 months, which in fairness they haven’t. Dennis has come back and I’m sure he’ll sort things out with regards to the car, but until Button is there, there won’t be any progress. I would not be surprised at all if they went for Alonso next year, though Honda might have a say in Button staying, given his past time as a BAR-Honda driver.

    Regarding Red Bull’s future in F1, I think it is obvious that as long as Mateschitz finds it fun, i.e. as long as Red Bull keep walking to F1 titles easily, he will keep spending money on the team, but now that Mercedes have taken the lead, he probably is just getting gradually disinterested. The guy is a pure business man, he’s not in F1 for the fun of it, he’s in it to make money, which comes by being successful on the track. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mateschitz walk out of F1 at the end of the year or next year if he sees Mercedes maintaining their lead over them.

    • The longer Button’s been at McLaren the worse they have performed. They’ll be battling the backmarkers if he stays another year.

  10. Why was Chilton P1 in the test, and not just at the head of a load of testing types times, but with an actual decent laptime? Was there some odd combination of track conditions, or tyres, are Marusia testing new parts, or what? help… I won’t sleep tonight otherwise! lol

      • Or following my wish and cutting out the last chicane to use the old track instead! But boy do those supersofts have some grip! 3 seconds faster than mediums!

      • Your honor, if Lewis were to win (which he will, barring interference from the F1 God’s 😄), will his achievement overshadow Alonso’s 2 title?

        • Nope.

          Alonso won both his titles against strong opposition. Maybe not from his team–mate, Fisichella, but in 2005, the Mclaren MP4/20 was hugely faster but unreliable so he maxed his points every time he could.
          In 2006, the season swung between Ferrari and Renault, Bridgestone and Michelin and Renault had a mass-damper deemed illegal in Germany that year.
          Both years he was fighting by himself at the sharp end, with little support from the other Renault.

          Lewis nearly lost the 2008 title through his own errors, or those of the team, or stewards in Spa, but Massa also had bad luck with his engine blowing in Hungary, three laps from the end and the Singapore fuel stop that wrecked his race.

          If/ when Lewis wins this year, he will have beaten his team-mate in the same car. There is no one near them. I think he’s driving brilliantly at the moment, but as in Australia, if Lewis doesn’t finish, the other Mercedes takes the victory. I think that is a critical point.

      • Thank you Judge, I knew there had to be a sensible reason the other outlets hadn’t mentioned yet, I can now retire in peace! good night all!

  11. Off to Russia we go! We all love Putin’s money way too much not to! Who cares about Ukraine! Yay Sochi!!!!!!!!!!

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