Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 21st May 2014

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Previously on TheJudge13:

#F1 History: Monaco Grand Prix – 15th May 1983

#F1 Circuit Profile: 2014 – Monte Carlo, Circuit de Monaco – Round 6


FIA press conference schedules 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

Zetsche says Alonso ‘best driver’ in F1 (GMM)

Lotus rivals want to sign Grosjean – Lopez(GMM)

That old chestnut

Domenicali – Schumacher would have won another title with Ferrari

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

Red Bull ‘bullish’

On this day in F1 – lite


FIA press conference schedules 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

These are the schedules for drivers and team over the next two day. The Monaco meeting usually has a days break from running on the Friday and the conferences have been moved accordingly. Whilst the quality of these events depends hugely on the questions being asked, the presence of the new Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci is likely to be the focus.

Wednesday 21st May 15.00hrs local time

Jules Bianchi (Marussia), Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)

Thursday 22nd May 16.00hrs local time

Eric Boullier (McLaren), Federico Gastaldi (Lotus), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Marco Mattiacci (Ferrari), Claire Williams (Williams), Toto Wolff (Mercedes)

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Zetsche says Alonso ‘best driver’ in F1 (GMM)

Fernando Alonso is “perhaps the best driver” in formula one. That is the claim this week not of an F1 fan or an insider, but of Dieter Zetsche. Zetsche is the chairman of Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes, whose Brackley based F1 team is utterly dominating in 2014.

It has been rumoured recently that Mercedes could be interested in reviving McLaren’s fiery 2007 duo, by ousting Nico Rosberg and pairing current championship leader Lewis Hamilton with Spaniard Alonso next year. Alonso is reportedly frustrated with Ferrari’s continuing lack of championship-winning potential, and eyeing a 2015 move to Mercedes or perhaps McLaren. Mercedes figures including Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff have denied the speculation.

But Zetsche said on Tuesday: “Alonso is perhaps the best driver on the grid, demonstrating it even in a slightly less competitive car.” And he is quoted by Spain’s EFE news agency as saying driver skill is more important than ever, after the move to the new breed of turbo-powered cars.

“Drivers with the new hybrid power must be very good,” said Zetsche, “because the cars are no longer the ‘trams’ that we have seen before. Today’s cars are exciting; it doesn’t bore me that the same team has won every race so far,” he smiled. “It is the job of the other teams to equal the performance of Mercedes, even if we also have a lot that we can improve.”

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Lotus rivals want to sign Grosjean – Lopez

Rival teams are interested in signing Romain Grosjean, Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez claims. The Luxembourger revealed the news while responding to criticism of the Enstone team’s other driver, Pastor Maldonado, who is enduring an horror 2014 season.

Having switched his lucrative PDVSA backing from Williams to Lotus, Venezuelan Maldonado initially found an unreliable and uncompetitive E22 car, but he has also struggled to keep up with Grosjean while being involved in multiple on-track incidents. But Lopez backed Maldonado to eventually get it right.

“We’ve lived the same thing with Romain, and people wrote him off, but now we’ve got people knocking on our door to see if he can be in their team,” said Lopez. He is referring to Frenchman Grosjean’s struggles in 2012, when he was written off as a “nutcase” by Mark Webber and even banned for a race by the FIA.

But Lopez says Grosjean, 28, is now a sought-after driver in the F1 paddock. “His drives last year meant there were a couple of teams knocking on the door to find out what he was doing, and now we’ve the same this year,” he said.

Lopez admitted Lotus, who lost Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari over the winter, might similarly struggle to hang onto the on-form Grosjean. “We don’t have the budget of some of the other teams, so there is a point up until which we will fight,” he said. “But Romain is really happy here, he is part of the family, and I don’t think he is planning on going anywhere.”

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That old chestnut

The Judge in the Ecclestone trial has so far been extremely co-operative with the demands/requirements presented from the defence. Having broken the story that Ecclestone would be allowed to visit court just 2 days a week, I was castigated by a German colleague of mine who was adamant the German legal system would not be humiliated and allow such a thing.

It appears Judge Noll was boxing clever, by being overly lenient on the court process, it is difficult for the defence to take issue from a procedural point of view – something which at certain trials can consume an inordinate amount of time.

Bernie Ecclestone’s corruption trial in Munich has been postponed for a week because the 83 Formula One magnate suffering from illness. Ecclestone’s lawyers presented the Munich court with a doctor’s certificate to confirm the Briton was ill and Judge Peter Noll has allowed the court hearings to be postponed.

In another case of International interest, we’ve seen the defence in the Oscar Pistorius trial call a witness who claimed the defendant was suffering from a stress related illness called GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). This would presumably explain the apparent paranoiac state Pistorius entered when he snatched his gun and through a closed door, blasted away at what he perceived to be an intruder.

Pistorius has now been sent for 4 weeks psychological evaluation.

Ecclestone may wish this option was open to him, and Il Padrino could afford him some support given boss of Maranello’s disparaging comments about Mr. E’s ageing faculties within the past 15 months.

The timing of Bernie’s bout of double pleuritic pneumonia – or whatever it may be – is also interesting considering this week is the run up to the Monaco GP – where behind the scenes it is a time when a lot of F1 in-house business is done.

Surely Bernie won’t pop up on the grid this weekend? That would be tantamount a slap in the Judge Noll and the Munich court’s face, with overtones of a boy who writes his own sick note for school PE and then is seen playing ball with his friends that evening in a local park….

Yes – that old chestnut.

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Domenicali – Schumacher would have won another title with Ferrari

Luca Turrini met up recently with Stefano Domenicali. An old friend who he hadn’t seeing in person since he resigned from Ferrari. It would seem that a break from the pressure cooker environment that is cultivated in Maranello has been beneficial as he has looked less gaunt.

Any talk about the current situation at Ferrari was being left off the record but he admitted that his replacement, Marco Mattiacci did not seek any adivce from him.

He didn’t need any advice from me and being a Ferrarista at heart it’s a good thing. As to my future, it’s true what the press have said about job offers, a number of proposals in different arenas, but honestly I’m in no hurry and am privileged in view of the situation in Italy and Europe these days.

As to remaining in the motoring world, why not? I could never work for another team, be it Caterham or Mclaren because I would still be supporting Ferrari and obviously it would not work.

On the day of his resignation he received calls from three drivers. In alphabetical order they were: Alonso, Raikkonen and Vettel.

“Fernando and Kimi are true friends to me but I regret the results they are getting, I didn’t put them together to fight for sixth place, but that’s the way it has gone unfortunately.” More intriguing is the communication with Vettel? “Why did Seb call me? The answers are there but I cannot tell you.”

He continued that he hadn’t watched the Spanish Grand Prix and therefore could not offer a view on what transpired with Ferrari’s pit-stop strategy and he doubted he would watch the Monaco race due to bitter-sweet memories.

“I was at Monaco for twenty years and the first thing that comes to mind is the 2001 victory, Schumacher’s fifth victory at Monaco. That night we were all confident that soon Michael would equal Senna’s record of six victories. Unfortunately it never happened.

As to his health, I know only what everyone else knows, I wait for good news but sadly it never comes. Sometimes I imagine that if Schumacher had been with us between 2008 and 2013 he would have won at least one title. Do not misunderstand, I think Alonso deserved to be crowned champion in 2010 and 2012.”

As ever in the convoluted musings from Turrini there is a certain amount of artistic licence and whilst much seemingly sets the record straight, there is sufficient left unsaid that may support whichever viewpoint you wish to take.

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing

So Stefano Domenicali is ruminating with his old friend Leo Turini on what might have been during the Ferrari team principal’s reign from 2008-2013. Sometimes I imagine that if Schumacher had been with us between 2008 and 2013 he would have won at least one title posits Stefano.

Further, Domenicali believes Alonso deserved to win the drivers’ title in 2010 and 2012, though this opinion will not re-write the history books.

Nostalgic revisionism appears to be a mindset prevalent at present amongst the senior personnel at Ferrari. Even Il Padrino has asked the question repeatedly, “what if” over the outcomes from 2010/12.

The fact is that Ferrari and Schumacher dominated Formula 1 for some 7 years. Alonso possibly missed out on the title in 2010 due to the team’s bad call on pit stop strategy. Again in 2012, Alonso fell agonisingly short of beating Vettel over the season by 3 points, yet again the team made a number of mistakes that year – including poor decisions on tyre strategy in Barcelona when Maldonado won the race.

However, to suggest that Domenicali’s legacy would be perceived differently had Alonso won those 2 titles, or had Schumacher returned to Maranello mere delusion.

With hindsight, David Moyes was handed a poisoned chalice being the manager to follow the 26 year career of Sir Alex Fergusson at Manchester United, and equally the challenge facing Domenicali who succeeded the likes of Todt and Brawn, was a thankless task.

Even had Ferrari won 2 titles in those 6 years, the tifossi would still have been unhappy, because that success when compared to the days of Schumacher, Brawn and Todt, would have been viewed as mediocrity.

Every sporting dynasty rises and falls. In European footballing terms, Real Madrid are the Ferrari amongst the competitors, making the final 12 times and winning a record 9 top flight European Cup competitions between 1955 and 2002. Yet since then has been 12 long years of failure for the Galácticos.

Ferrari will not win either F1 title this year and according to sources in Maranello, the engine development project may have up to another 2 years to run before the 059/3 reaches its full potential. Eddie Jordan comments to Bild, “I think this is one of the greatest crises in the history of Ferrari.”

Yet time spent in the sporting wilderness eventually brings about a reality check for both fans and competitors alike. Complacency, nostalgia and any sense of a ‘right to win’ is eventually eroded, and the consistent failure is seen as the cold hard reality. The quicker Ferrari get over their recent past the quicker their racing stock may improve.

Though whether it will be Manchester United or Ferrari who first glimpse their phoenix rising from the ashes of desolation – is anybody’s guess.

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Red Bull ‘bullish’

There’s been much talk about how Red Bull expects to be closer to Mercedes this weekend, but the team in Milton Keynes appear to lurch from one crisis to the next.

TJ13 has repeatedly reported that the late shift in focus from the development of the RB9 to the design and production of the RB10 is causing significant problems for the team from Milton Keynes.

Add to this, the necessary redesign of numerous aspects of Newey’s original 2014 concept, and the result is that Red Bull are sailing very close to the wind. A gear box failure this weekend prior to the race could even see one of the cars unable to compete on Sunday, or at best do so with the knowledge there will be an inevitable failure during the race.

It never rains, but it pours at present for Christian and his merry men (and women), because not only have they fallen foul of the FIA regulations this year, but they’ve been fighting another regulatory battle with FOM over the RB10’s nose design which is causing FOM TV problems.

Towards the end of last year, sophisticated cameras began transmitting footage of cars showing heat traces in the tyres and various bodywork sections. Of little significance at the time was a rear facing camera on Mark Webber’s car. It showed heat building up on the trailing edge of the splitter and further normal footage showed a splitter stay deflecting after a routine pit-stop – and so the sleuths went to work.

Master Newey was aghast. What is the point of surrounding his creation with team members at every opportunity if a simple camera can undo all the secret designs?

Testing of the Red Bull over the winter was close to catastrophic and so many observers paid scant attention to the fact that the car was running without a mandatory camera mounting.

But in the races that followed, it became obvious why. Newey and his team had discovered a loop-hole within the regulations which meant they could offer FOM a solution whereby the camera was placed within the non-structural ‘vanity panel’.

A mere side benefit of this was the fact that no camera could be placed there that was rearward facing.

However, FOM were not happy with it, so after much wrangling a new solution was demanded for Barcelona.

This apparently did not solve FOM TV’s problems, who again could not mount their rearward facing camera satisfactorily

So this weekend, the RB10 will be fitted with the standard external mountings bolted onto the outside of the nose structure, which of course will have aerodynamic implications for the car. That said, this solution is believed to be more irritating than fundamentally problematic from an aerodynamic perspective.

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On this day in F1 – lite

A freak wave hit the Monaco GP at the Tabac corner and caused the approaching Farina in 2nd place to skid off line and damage his car. He was followed closely by Fagioli and Gonzalez who both crashed into him, Fagioli hitting Farina’s petrol tank.

As Louis Rosier in the Talbot Lago was stopped by a race marshall his stationary car was hit by Robert Manzon in a Simca, rupturing Rosiers fuel tank (visible @ 0:18!) creating a large puddle of petrol..

Fangio managed to escape the chaos and went on to win. Harry Schell’s Cooper was the first rear-engined car to start in a championship race.

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36 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 21st May 2014

  1. Zetsche says Alonso ‘best driver’ in F1 (GMM)

    Fernando Alonso is “perhaps the best driver” in formula one.

    Controversial headline; uncontroversial quote.

    A not unusual pattern in F1 journalism.

    • It’s a bit like Dennis’ recent comments about Vettel. It’s another way of opening the door to Alonso and entice him out of Ferrari.
      Quite surprising if you ask me given that Rosberg and Vettel are Germans and could be the perfect fit for Merc. Then again, he was interviewed by some Spanish media I believe, so you wouldn’t expect me to eulogise about German drivers.

  2. I would want Hamilton to try to block Alonso moving in but I don’t think that’s his style. I think he would welcome it. What a season that would be. Hamilton winning most poles with Alonso all over the back of him every race. It would be great for F1

    • Lewis can try and block it, but if it’s coming from the Daimler board then there is not much he can do. Besides I think he’d relish the challenge of being Alonso’s team mate again. I think Alonso would put any enmity towards Lewis aside if it means getting his hands on a car that can challenge for the title. Alonso is a pragmatic racing driver, with a like for throwing his toys out of the pram when things don’t go his way.

      Miserable sod though, saw him in Oxford years ago with a gaggle of models around him looking utterly bored with it.

      Anyway if Alonso does become available, I can’t see Mercedes turning him away. Which means Nico needs to put the hammer down and try to beat Lewis for the title. I think this will likely be his best shot at winning it.

  3. Although the romain move to mclaren could be trough his boullier connection, I’d rather see vandoorne next year. Alongside Magnussen that is. Quite an exciting duo. And with a great future.

    • I think McLaren need some experience in the camp, I reckon that JB will go at the end of this year and they will replace him with someone who has good knowledge and experience on setting a car up to their liking, but who can also drag a car up to at least where it belongs on the track and possibly higher. Romain would be an ideal candidate, he has learned how to keep his head in tough situations and drive in a much more controlled manor. I just can’t see the ‘The Hulk’ at McLaren, not sure why I just have a gut feeling it’s not his cup of tea. I can however, see him in a red car should Alonso jump ship at season’s end.

  4. If the little toad would be seen on the Monaco grid, he’d be in for a nasty surprise upon his return to ‘health’ as falsification of documents would swiftly be added to his charges. German courts are not known to be blasé about such things, especially courts in Bavaria.

    • if you are accused of bribing somebody with 40 million euros, i doubt an additional charge for falsification of documents will worry you too much. to use a german expression: das macht den kohl auch nicht fett.

      • Unless, of course, the court decides to place you in custody until the trial is over.

        Schadenfreude ensues all round…

      • But it would prevent the judge from ruling that the accused has cooperated fully and in that case his chances at having mitigated circumstances considered in determining a potential sentence would be down the toilet.

      • That is fairly unprintable and it hasn’t to do with Vettel having been handed Mark’s car. It’s a bit disillusioning to see that the status quo has been cemented in February. We might be looking at a fairly boring version of 1988.

        • LOL at least I’ve seen more opposite lock in the last 5 races than I saw in the last 2 seasons. More power than DF=Entertainment for all. 😉

  5. Ehhh… Bernie has a cold. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the grid Saturday and I doubt Judge Noll would hold it against him.

    The real interesting news is that Mattiaci will finally speak. Can’t wait to see what he has to say without LdM holding his hand.

  6. RE redbull FOM – now just watch FOM not even use that camera in the race or quali. maybe I’ve seen it used two or three times for a total air time of 20-30 seconds in broadcasts thus far? Can’t say it’s my favorite camera either. I’d rather see helmet cams!!!

  7. * Renault expects engine penalties *

    Although the French car manufacturer has made good progress with its power unit since a troubled pre-season testing programme, the early woes are not without consequence.

    Renault’s engine chief Rob White says that the rapid rate of early developments means its drivers are all at different development stages with the components that make up the power unit.

    And the state of affairs means that, with just one quarter of the season gone, a number of its drivers could get grid penalties later this season for running through more than the maximum five power units allowed.

    Analysis of the engine situation shows that Renault looks most at risk of breaking the maximum five limit with its control electronics systems.

    Sebastian Vettel and Kamui Kobayashi have already used four so far this season, meaning they just have one new one left for the rest of the campaign.

    It is possible though that some of the older units may still be able to be brought back in to use, even if they are not of the latest specification

    (Autosport)

    More for Helmut Arsehole and Dietrich Mateshite to moan about ?

  8. O Judge boss, sorry to be picky but the RB splitter heat build up was a leading edge not trailing? By definition a splitter leads becoming the floor with the diffuser trailing? 😉

  9. Interesting comments about Schumi and Alonso. So if we take it as Schumi taking Massa’s 2008 title? Alonso coming in for 2010 and winning 2010, 2012? Or is it Schumi 2007, Massa 2008?

    • Just read on Twitter that the Domenicali report on Schumi etc was a fake. Originated in an Italian blog. The tweet was from a Sport Bild reporter who spoke to Domenicali directly.

      • There’s a newspaper in the UK called the Sun.There are others of similar note, Daily Mirror, Daily Star and Daily Sport. All wonderful tabloid fodder at it’s best. Much like Bild.

        Some years ago, the man who covered F1 for the tabloid was called Stan Piecha. He also wrote another column about fishing.
        As I have never had any interest in fishing, I couldn’t tell you if it was accurate, but for certain when I happened to chance across a copy of the tabloids, the writing was so poor. I’d imagine it still is.

        I would imagine that these ‘journalists’ have the same integrity of the Autosport path to journalism.

        Yesterday, Mclaren78 made this comment:
        “Title of that interview in planetF1: Lewis targets Monaco victory (fine)
        Title of that interview in Autosport: Lewis: I want to dominate Rosberg (Ahh!!!!)”

        Interesting also that the only part of the interview that was wrong was the part about Schumacher. It’s hardly shocking news though, many thought if Schumacher had been in the Ferrari in 2008, he would have won the title because he was far more consistent than Massa.

  10. For you betting types out there,

    Just got both saubers at 250/1 for a top 6 finish, which I think is pretty good, at 5 quid, you’ll get over £1200, considering how random Monaco can be and sutil has always been handy there. Also you can get 50/1 on either toro Rosso for a top 6 finish seems pretty good to me.

      • I still don’t get why bookies give such long odds on f1 without actually looking at what event is coming or a bit of form. That’s how I got jenson at 250/1 for his wdc and only a couple of races ago got Danny at 40/1 to qualify in the top 3.

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