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Previously on TJ13:
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.
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.
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.”
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?
Would you buy this car?
Slightly off topic, but at £200,000 ($340,000) – despite the brand – would you buy this car?
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.
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.
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.
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.
And the trumpet will sound
Yes here it is folks. The new component to be added to the $20m F1 Mercedes AMG Hybrid tomorrow.
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 😉