Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 16th May 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

#F1 Victims of Circumstance: Barcelona 2014 – #SpanishGP

The #F1 Bar Exam: 15 May 2014


Mark Slade surprised by Raikkonen’s problems

Ecclestone’s legal team suffer set-backs in Munich courtroom

Suaber Technologies spread their wings

Renault ‘porkies’ about non-paying teams?

Ecclestone (again)

Rosberg gets the Edge for Monaco

Lauda snubbed


Mark Slade surprised by Raikkonen’s problems

Finland’s Turan Sanomat recently carried an interview with Kimi Raikkonen’s ex-engineer, Mark Slade. There has been many puzzled observers questioning why the Finnish driver is struggling so badly with his Ferrari this year and his old engineer offered some opinions as to where the problems may stem from.

Slade has been Raikkonen’s engineer for two stints in his Formula One career, the first between 2002-2006, whilst the Iceman drove for Mclaren, and subsequently his two seasons with Lotus in 2012/13.

What kind of front end does Kimi’s driving style require?
Kimi has a very smooth and precise driving style and he needs a car that reacts as he demands. Every car of his, that I have engineered, has been set-up the same way. When a team (Ferrari) has been used to a different driver’s way of working, it will need a little time for things to gel and that is all that Kimi needs.

Did Raikkonen have problems with Lotus when he joined?
He was happy with the car immediately but didn’t like the power-steering. He didn’t like how it had been developed and it took a little while for the team to react. Once that was solved he was much happier. One of the reasons he was fast immediately after his return to F1 was that the car had been designed with a sharp front end which suited him well. There was very little to be changed to make him faster. He was not satisfied with the steering but it didn’t impact on his competitiveness. When it was improved, Kimi went faster still.

Has Slade been surprised by the problems Kimi has had with the Ferrari?
It is a surprise because I know how fast Kimi is. Last year, we struggled to get the tyres up to their operating temperature. This years seem to be problematic too which may be part of the issues he is suffering. Once Ferrari have changed the car to Kimi’s liking, he’ll be fast and competitive again.

In 2007, Slade engineered Fernando Alonso at Mclaren. Was there a huge difference between the drivers styles?
Alonso always wanted a more aggressive car than Kimi. It is difficult to be sure but it may be that Alonso has been driving a Ferrari for five years now, whereas Kimi has joined this season. It’s possible that Felipe Massa’s style was similar to Alonso’s but without doubt the Ferrari has been designed around Alonso’s style while Raikkonen would need a different direction. Even so, I’m sure Kimi’s problems will be solved.

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Ecclestone’s legal team suffer set-backs in Munich courtroom

Bernie Ecclestone currently appears in a Munich courtroom once or twice a week defending a bribery trial brought against him in connection with a US $44 million payment made to the jailed former banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky. Ecclestone has admitted the multi-million dollar payment to the German banker but declared it was paid against a blackmail threat to disclose information about his tax status that could have jeopardised his fortune.

Gribkowsky had been jailed by the Munich court in 2012, for eight and a half years due to corruption over the payment from Ecclestone. He had helped facilitate the sale of BayernLB’s 50% stake in Formula One following the collapse of the Kirch media group.

At the time of his trial, the court found that Gribkowsky ensured that Ecclestone received a $41 million ‘unjustified‘ commission from BayernLB as part of the deal. Ecclestone had previously told the court he deserved a commission because “I did a very, very good job.”

Gribkowsky, the prosecution’s key witness, had been giving evidence over the previous two and half days and told the court that Mr E bribed him when they worked together – to ensure the sale of the F1 shares went to CVC Capital Partners – as they had committed to keeping Bernie on as chief executive of the business.

Judge Peter Noll said light-heartedly, “Now the defence team is in the happy position of having sixteen minutes to put questions before we break for lunch.” Therefore the opportunity for the defence lawyers to cross examine Mr Gribkowsky’s version of events has been rescheduled for 30th July because the Judge was unwilling to reschedule the other witness appearances.

This is the first time the cosy arrangement of 2 days a week in court for Ecclestone has backfired. It would have been advantageous had the defence been able to cross examine Gribkowsky, immediately following his testimony.

Whilst the defence has a number of weeks to prepare for the key witness, Ecclestone’s defence team were left surprised when evidence was presented to Judge Noll. An email from the U.S investment company Bluewater contradicts the fact that CVC was the highest bidder.

In 2005 the value of the Formula One package was estimated at between two to four billion dollars. In the email, Bluewater offered to pay 1 billion Euro for the F1 shares package but in the event of a better offer from other interested parties they would match the counter offer and increase it another ten percent.

Gribkowsky stated he couldn’t remember the email that was presented to the court, but according to memory Bluewater offered between 600-650 million dollars ( 430-470 million Euro) whereas CVC offered $850 million (620 Euro).

Even if this were true, Bluewater would have then paid $935 million to secure the rights for 50% of a business valued between $2-4billion…

Mr E – possibly the greatest second-hand car salesman ever…

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Suaber Technologies spread their wings

When you’ve built the perfect F1 car and you’ve got time on your hands, try a bit of this….

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The International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (FIBT) has launched a new racing series for junior athletes featuring “mono bobs”. The company responsible for building the mono bob, SwissBob, has placed its trust in the expertise of Sauber Motorsport AG for the development of the single-design sled. The Swiss design beat off competition from six internationally renowned companies to get the green light from the FIBT.

Mono bobs are racing sleds that can be pushed off and driven by a single athlete. The FIBT envisages great potential for mono bobs in junior competition in particular. One of the early highlights for the mono bob will come in 2016, when the SwissBob sled slides into action at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer.

SwissBob AG commissioned Sauber Motorsport AG to oversee the development of the concept and the production of the monocoque. “We’re delighted that Swiss Bob AG has entrusted us with this ambitious project, and we’re proud to be able to contribute to its success,” says Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO of Sauber Motorsport AG. “Formula One and bobsleigh racing have a great deal in common, such as the aerodynamics of the bob, the physical principles underpinning the development of the chassis and the process engineering involved in the construction of the monocoque, which is new to bobsleigh,” Kaltenborn explains.

In contrast to the tubular steel chassis which has held sway in bob construction to date, the new mono bob has been designed – like a Formula One chassis – as a monocoque with a sandwich construction. Plus, the flexibility of the regulations has allowed the engineers to explore new directions with the aerodynamics, as reflected in both the dynamic styling of the mono bob and its performance. The new mono bob was victorious in its debut outing at the Swiss championships.

As in Formula One, safety is a top priority. The monocoque is a significant upgrade on a conventional construction and its aerodynamics have been honed to make this a forgiving sled if the driver makes a mistake. Added to which, the manufacturing process employed allows the engineers to ensure that each sled has an identical construction – an important factor in a race series using single-design sleds.

For four years now, Sauber Motorsport AG has also used the expertise acquired in Formula One and its technically advanced infrastructure to handle commercial projects for third parties in various arenas. (Sauber).

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Renault ‘porkies’ about non-paying teams?

Last week, Renault Sport F1 president and managing director Jean-Michel Jalinier revealed that a team or teams had not yet paid up for their engine contract for 2014. Of course the finger of suspicion was pointed at Caterham – who Fernandes is looking to sell – and Lotus who have seemingly forever been having financial problems.

Jalinier claimed the non-payments were serious and imminently would affect Renault’s ability to continue the development of their powertrain. Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul was questioned over this at the Friday team principals’ FIA press conference and though initially evasive then stated “to my knowledge” all bills with Renault were up to date.

It was no great leap of the imagination to then assume Jalinier was speaking about Lotus, who have been known to ‘stretch the truth’ over finances (doing an ‘Ijaz’) in recent times.

Lotus owner Gerard Lopez has urged Renault to name names in future the next time they attempt to drop teams in trouble.

Renault Sport F1 president and managing director Jean-Michel Jalinier revealed last week at least one team had not paid their bill with regard to their supply of this season’s power units.

Jalinier admitted the late payments were ‘a serious concern’ and that the critical point was ‘just weeks away’.

Gerard Lopez of Genii was then last Sunday evening in Spain in deep discussions with Renault bosses at the team’s motor home. As Lopez reveals, “we had a meeting, because I wanted them to clarify their price”.

Clearly Lotus have made certain payments to Renault, though it appeared rather strange they were uncertain as to whether they were on schedule. So it transpires Lotus are indeed up to date with their payments to the French engine manufacturer, but Lopez is not happy about how Jalinier went about casting aspertions.

“I said to them if they are going to say things, then name the team that is an issue. Don’t just say ‘teams’ and then expect people to make their own judgements. We respect the arrangements we have with them. ‘We’ve paid up. We’re absolutely in line with them.’

Lopez discussions have led him to believe if both he and Caterham are not the bad creditors, maybe Renault are just politicking for some reason. “If there is (somebody who has not paid), it must be somebody else, but I’m not even sure there is, to be honest with you, so we’ll see.”

Of course there is one other explanation we’ve not heard yet. Monsieur Jalinier’s rather vague inferences as to whether it was one or more teams, could well be because Red Bull and Toro Rosso come as a tightly knit pair.

It would hardly be surprising if Red Bull and Mateschitz have withheld their payments to Renault with the proviso they ‘get their act together’ and produce a competitive power train for the Bulls to begin their charge.

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Ecclestone

All the headlines have been written that are possible about Bernie Ecclestone, and “Time to go”, “Ecclestone talks drivel” or  simply anything else no longer carries any impact.

The plethora of utter nonsense which emanates eventually from this man;s mouth – originating God knows where – is too lengthy to record here.

The latest garbage is some kind of explanation of why the F1 strategy Group includes 6 teams and excludes the other 5. The independent reports Ecclestone as stating, “There are four teams that are not in the Strategy Group and why not? Because the people that are have committed to racing in Formula One to 2020 and have put up sensible guarantees if they don’t.”

There are in fact 5 teams not involved in the strategy group, and the one Mr. E omits is of course Toro Rosso – who are represented by their big brother Red Bull Racing. Yet are we to believe that Lotus are more capable of giving a 6 year commitment of any surety to be in F1 which has greater value than the Toro Rosso team backed by the fizzy drinks billionaire?

Maybe Ecclestone has taken a personal guarantee from Mansoor Ijaz for $100m

However, the Toro Rosso/Red Bull co-representation begs the question, why are Toro Rosso and Red Bull only given half a vote each in the F1 strategy group?

The there’s the fact that Williams have been on the cusp financially for many years, so how does their guarantee stack up? “Well Bernie, we can’t give you a $50m bond, but we can promise we will continue to do our best to turn up each year”, rasps the ever charming an gentlemanly Sir Frank.

If Formula 1 wishes to have a certainty that there will always be a given number of teams within the sport, then TJ13 has long argued for a franchise system for the competitors. These franchises should be the only route by which any team can compete in the sport.

Were there just 11 or 12 franchises, this would rarefy the opportunity to compete in F1. At present, as and when someone wishes to join the sport and they are believed to have some credibility, the FIA will initiate a truncated process (a matter of weeks) with the result being a rubber stamp for them to join the party – pretty much as and when they see fit.

The recent FIA process may have resulted with an additional 1,2 or even 3 teams joining the current 11 – which is absurd when at least 2 team owners wish to sell out.

When the franchises are all taken, then anyone wishing to enter F1 would have to be ready and take their chance when it becomes available – not when it suits them…. as Haas is pondering at present.

The franchise sale regulations would also provide additional security for the workforce and for creditors of team’s like HRT who went to the wall with tens of millions owing.

Ecclestone has always argued he doesn’t want uncompetitive teams in F1, trailing the leaders by several laps, which by the way is also his rationale for rationing the payments to the smaller outfits. Yet this is utter rubbish too as the 107% qualification rule takes care of that.

If all we have according to Ecclestone is 6 teams absolutely committed for the next 6 years, then the future of F1 is bleak. The franchise system may have the added benefit of preventing Ferrari threatening to withdraw from the sport when it sees fit, knowing full well there would be another team ready to take their place.

Formula 1 is ready for new thinking and a CEO who will work with the FIA to build a more robust and secure F1 from a competitor angle – and one which is also accessible to all who want to watch and most of all …. interesting to watch.

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Rosberg gets the Edge for Monaco

Lewis fans may well be concerned that his run opf race wins is about to come to an end. He was bettered by Rosberg in Monaco in 2013 and Nico now believes the testing this week has given him the edge he needs to win in Monte Carlo.

“The championship battle is very close and to re-gain the advantage at my home race would be fantastic, so I’ll be pushing harder than ever to make that happen,” says Rosberg. “I had a productive day of testing in Barcelona where we made some good progress with braking and starts: two areas that I feel are costing me time at the moment. Hopefully that will give me the extra edge next weekend. It should be an exciting weekend and I can’t wait to get started.”

Rosberg has been handicapped this year by his starts, and even when he beat Hamilton to pole in Bahrain, he was slow off the line and beaten to the first corner by his team mate.

The stereotypical view of the Mercedes drivers is that Lewis is the aggressive racer, ringing the neck out of his stallion, whilst Nico is a more a Prost like considered driver, who may benefit from more technical circuits.

The war of words between the fans of each of the Mercedes drivers will be settled for sure in just over a weeks time.

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Lauda snubbed

There’s no love lost between Mercedes and Red Bull, since the Milton Keynes team protested the Mercedes car in 2013 for allegedly ‘secret’ and ‘illegal’ tyre tests with Pirelli. Christian Horner was demanding the highest sanctions for the Silver Arrows, but the sanction from the International Tribunal was that Mercedes had to sit out the young driver test at Silverstone last summer.

Since then, Mercedes weighed in over the Red Bull team’s defiance of the FIA instructions to restrict their fuel flow rate in Australia. Representatives from Brackley demanded a two race ban, accusing their rivals of dishonesty and incompetence.

Well, the big boss of Red Bull bought the circuit which most recently hosted the defunct Austraian GP and renamed it the Red Bull ring. He has negotiated a contract to run F1 races for several years and the dilapidated facilities of the former A1 ring have been redeveloped..

Until this week, turn six at the former A1 Ring was named after the greatest of Austrian F1 drivers, triple world champion, Niki Lauda.

However, prior to the GP, promotional material published reveals Niki is no longer remembered by the Austrian circuit. The corner has been renamed in honour of the great F1 tyre manufacturer – Pirelli.

After being made aware of the change, Lauda was philosophical. “I’m very disappointed. I can only presume it is because I am now at Mercedes and we are beating Red Bull,” he told Kleine Zeitung.

In his usual mischievous manner, Lauda added, “As punishment, Mercedes will be happy to celebrate a one-two in Spielberg,”

The former Gerhard Berger Curve has also been renamed, ‘Wurth’, after the German tool company which has paid for the naming rights’.

41 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 16th May 2014

  1. Love renault’s audacity. Have a cauliflower instead of an engine but we still expect 20 million notes with the queen’s face on for it!
    If all the teams have paid though, I don’t understand what they gain from lying about an apparent lack of payment.

        • …. well he used to send Boullier out to prevaricate on behalf of the team…. I tend to believe this rhetoric… further Renault had demanded fairly stringent up front payments from Lotus before they were to see even a spark plug 😉

          • Oh don’t get me wrong. I’m not disagreeing with you.

      • It probably is Red Bull that has not paid up. Though it’s a very crude way of getting Renault to up it’s game by withholding payments that they could be using to fund further development of the power train (counter productive and something a certain somebody at Red Bull would do). Still I doubt it will come to Red Bull and Toro Rosso turning up at a Grand Prix only to find Renault have sent bailiffs round to collect monies owed and they’ve got no power trains. What a farce that would be…..

      • Nah, it’s Lotus and/or Caterham. I’m sure RB has complained but to withhold payments would escalate the conflict – unless there’s something in the contract that gives them the right not to pay if Renault does not deliver. And if there is such a clause Renault would not have talked publicly about teams not paying.

    • Red Bull did sent engineers, so they probably extracted something of their payments for that.

      Strange that we all believed it must be Lotus or Caterham.

  2. Judge, can I get your opinion on a Driver Weight solution? Also if you have heard it kicked around.

    All drivers should have ballast added onto the back of their seats, half way up; to bring all drivers on the grid up to the weight of the heaviest one.

    The ballast would be regulated and placed by the FIA, session by session.

    Thanks.

    • …… I agree with the equalisation of the driver weight principle.

      Further, in the past the teams with lighter drivers have extracted an advantage even when all cars plus drivers are around the minimum weight. The lighter drivers get moveable ballast to compensate – but this allows them car setup advantages.

      A solution similar to the one you suggest seems logical and fair – but then again – this is F1.

    • Your solution has one big drawback, if a team would learn an elephant to drive, the others have to match that weight.
      You could use the average weight of the drivers to get a better target weight. Or just accept that there is a weight/length advantage, just like any other sport.

  3. Thanks for the reply.

    I have thought about contact some different PR departments (whether FIA/Team), or even an online poll to get some attention.

    Have yet to convince myself it is worth the effort.

    • Unfortunately – I think you’d get no where 🙁

      Common sense is an anathema for F1 teams and the FIA ….

      However – a stupid idea like LEAD JOCKSTRAPS to be worn by the lightest drivers to equalise weights might well be considered

      😀

  4. Oh, things are not as they seem. The “emotional” Lewis testing parts for his “cerebral” team mate who can’t seem to engineer out his clutch issues, despite their growing “hatred” for each other. The richest team on the grid not paying their bills, while the poorest have yet to miss a payment.

    The sticky fingers of the script writers are beginning to show as journalists are figuring out the narratives that sell…..;-)

  5. * Lauda snubbed *

    I do hope Niki’s prediction comes true and they give Dietrich Mateschitz a

    great BIG shitburger to eat

    😀

    • In other news, Red Bull has purchased the Circuit de Spa Francorchamps, and in an exclusive deal has renamed Eau Rouge, the Tampax Curve, and the La Source, the Durex Hairpin.

      I guess Red Bull bought the place and can do what they like with it, but they shouldn’t be surprised if people get irritated with them, nor wonder why people think they have no respect for the history or traditions of F1.

    • Totally unacceptable and disrespectful!
      Austria is not a big country and having a GPand people like Lauda and Berger should make people proud. It seems Mateschitz only cares about money. Money is his history, pride, nationality and only concern!

    • Dietrich Mateschitz, for all of his wealth, power, and influence, yet again shows himself to be a petty-minded individual.

    • I remember Richard branson complaining about Brawn: ‘it’s a shame they call a team after an engineer instead of a brand’

      — and I was like: ‘uhh Enzo Ferrari???’

      • uhh Frank Williams

        uhh Bruce McLaren

        uhh Jack Brahbam

        uhh John Surtees

        uhh Ken Tyrrell

        uhh Peter Sauber

        uhh John Cooper

        But maybe Miss Jellinek might be more tenuous ?

      • You misinterpret Bransons words. If Brawn would have used the name for years and be succesfull, it would have become a brand. But you have to invest time to get to that point. If you directly use another brand (rent a famous old F1 name, just like Genii) you have the benefits earlier.

        • @ Hedgehog

          So why did he call HIS company VIRGIN then ?

          And not use some old well known brand name when he started ?

          If that’s what Branson really meant – he’s talking total bollocks ……

  6. ……The stereotypical view of the Mercedes drivers is that Lewis
    is the aggressive racer, ringing the neck out of his stallion,
    whilst Nico is a more a Prost like considered driver, who
    may benefit from more technical circuits…..

    Obviously, Hamilton’s fuel usage should contradict that view that has no relationship with reality.
    looking at Hamilton’s mid corner correction of his “massive” oversteer at the Spanish GP, I came to the conclusion it was more Prost like, well anticipated and corrected without giving away the effort required.

    • It’s not just his fuel consumption, but also his tire usage as well.

    • If Hamilton’s skill is in maximising the driving, it’s fair to say he’s doing that well this year… racing with 3.5kg less fuel than Rosberg and getting better tyre life.. he’s being more efficient, and must have fully adapted his driving style quicker. Lewis can use the engineers on the radio for the technical adjustments.

      Williams are also doing this tactic, and it seems Bottas has adapted much better than Massa so far. You need to go flat out in Q, and then lift-and-coast, while still braking on the limit (and later than in Q), in the race.. to perfect both styles on consecutive days takes skills.

  7. The first time since Nico has had a decent car, he’s now being lauded and compared to Prost. He has been near invisible since he has been in F1 since 06, why weren’t these statements being made then? Didn’t hear anyone talking about how cerebral, smart and intelligent he is, when Wurz, Nakajima or Schummi was his teammates.

    He was just another ordinary mid field driver, heck, The Hulk even in lesser equipment, has a much better rep than he does. There’s a reason why none of the bigger teams went after his services.

    Let’s not make him look bigger or better than he is, because he has yet to do anything of significance to warrant all this hype he’s getting.

    • Agree.

      A very good driver, not a great driver.

      Lewis is really impressing me this year.

    • McLaren wanted him to partner Lewis in 2008, but he turned that chance down.. he knew it was a ‘number 2’ driver seat.. and well, we all saw what happened to Kovalainen.

      He’s beaten Schumi soundly with consistency, and all his team-mates except Webber in his debut year (2006).. I see Rosberg as a mix of Barrichello and Coulthard. He will probably get up to ten more wins over his career, but never a WDC (playing second fiddle to Hamilton), perhaps a few more top 5 finishes after this year and then retirement (or hanging around for as long as possible).

      • Nico was advised by his father, ex WDC and Hakkinen manager’s, Keke Rosberg not to go to Mclaren.

        He beat a returning and aged Schumacher consistently, but Schumacher was also making silly mistakes in races, rear-ending or collisions with others that he just didn’t do in his first career. Well not by accident anyway. Even MSC admitted that he couldn’t compare himself to his 25 year old self either but he still enjoyed F1.

        As to his other team-mates bar Webber, you of course mean the driving talent of Alex Wurz? And F1 rookie Kazuki Nakajima… stellar!

        • Question…..

          Do you think that having Lewis’s data available to him, is helping Nico greatly and as such, is it a false representation of what he can do?

          • Are you sure judge? Because from my understanding, it was Lewis’s data that they used to help jenson, because he was going nowhere with his setup?

            Did you just say, “stay in touch with jenson?”, that’s a joke right?

      • he did beat old man schummi over their time together. the old man though despite being old and making mistakes, made me need to look to see if nico was still in the race quite regularly during their final year together. that year nico beat schumacher by 44 points, 43 of them came in china and monaco where the car was at its peak, schumacher failed to finish both those races through no fault of his own

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