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Previously on TheJudge13:
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)
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.