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Previously on TheJudge13:
Tosh and more tosh
Formula 1 has many problems, and for UK based F1 fans the media is one of them. For some reason the general consensus in TV ‘lovey land’ – whether it be pay per view SKY or the Beeb – is that ex-Formual 1 drivers should be recruited en masse and rammed down our throats relentlessly as the voices of experience and wisdom.
Many of these blokes wander around the paddock – week after week, contributing little other than the ability to state the obvious. They have little or no journalistic training and when granted the opportunity to do the ‘killer interview’ lack the skill to pin down their victims and offer them questions with given multiple-choice answers that completely miss the point.
Then of course there are ex-Formula 1 drivers who have vested interests, like David Coulthard. He is still on the Red Bull payroll as an ambassador for the brand. Today speaking at an Infiniti Red Bull brand experience day to AOL Cars, Coulthard claims there is widespread unhappiness amongst the drivers this year because “the driving experience is not as pure as it was”.
Really, David? TJ13 is not so sure this is exactly true. Let’s examine THE FACTS!
Nico and Lewis are clearly experiencing stratospheric levels of happiness with their new F1 cars as they week in and week out murder the rest of the competition – using 70% power. Lewis has been observed giggling like a kid with a secret at the drivers pre-race weekend briefings when Toto tells him and Nico they can turn their engines up another 3% to offset any development Red Bull may have managed.
If anyone thinks or suggests Daniel Ricciardo is unhappy, then the men in white coats really need to pay them a visit. With that deck of pearly whites, Danny was born happy.
So who thinks Nico Hulkenberg is unhappy? TJ13 reported yesterday Nico Hulkenberg saying he is delighted this year with his best run in F1, Plus Vijay told him when he joined for this year he would pay him double this time – for 2012 and for 2014. Psss, nobody tell Nico double nothing is nothing please. .
Sergio is probably quite happy because he isn’t at McLaren anymore and doesn’t have his weekly mentoring session with Grand-Pappy Jenson on how to respect your elders and betters.
Magnussen is fairly happy, as should any rookie plucked from Formula 3.5 and offered a seat in F1. Also, unlike Sergio, Magnussen has a secret defence to prevent the propaganda from Jenson infiltrating his soul. His dad bought him ear plugs for Christmas…. from the McLaren shop of course.
And behind the visage of pain and misery, Jenson is secretly happy because no one has realised after all these years that he isn’t very good and yet he still hasn’t been kicked out of F1.
The Ferrari pair may not be happy, but then Fred has not been happy for 5 years having realised the promises from Il Padrino were in fact from Satan incarnate. “Come to Ferrari Fernando”, called the siren voice. “We will make you an F1 Ferrari legend” – Fred still heard this in his dreams.
Fred’s therapist has given him a coping mechanism to rebut the negativity – when feeling down he is to count the millions Santander euro’s stashed under his bed… and remember they have all been stolen from his fellow countrymen who are property owners. Ba Fernando – who needs racing immortality with the tifosi.
Kimi is never happy – but Kimi is neither ever sad. Some say Kimi would be sad if the supply or ice cream in the world ran dry, but all we know is… that we’ll never know.
Felipe Massa is well happy because since he has left Ferrari, he can now sit comfortably in his car without his bottom hurting. Bottas is delighted, because he is beating Felipe and he thinks he has a chance with the foxy Claire… who has been caught a number of times peering out from behind her dark glasses in the direction of Bottas muscular Greek Adonis like torso.
Esteban Gutierrez is beside himself with joy, as the telecom dollars flood in to market a car and driver who are both lost causes – who says billionaires are smart?. Adrian Sutil isn’t very happy, because he keeps telling us he isn’t allowed to eat food anymore and his NASA supplied food pastes cost as much as a new Sauber front wing; but other than that he’s relatively content because he knows Lewis is praying for him.
Pastor Maldonado is very angry, mostly because that is just the way he was made. Yet his tortured soul is devastated even further because his once adoring Williams team, kicked him out when they realised their love was unrequited and he was slagging them off behind their back. To make matters worse, Williams now looks hot in new sexy kit they never bothered to wear when Pastor was at home and Maldonado’s current chick called Lotus is being rather dreary.
Romain is “happy… happy… happy…. Like a room without a roof”, yes he’s “happy…. Happy … happy … cos happiness is the truth”, and that’s just how Romain is now. Seriously, after causing utter carnage in Spa.. Romain’s world view has changed…now… every new day really is a massive bonus…
Tony Fernandes is not happy, but Caterham are – the lads at Caterham are on a massive high, similar to a permanent ecstasy trip. They cannot believe the surreal nature of their existence; that they are entrusted with designing and building an F1 car… but they know they haven’t got a frickin clue what they’re doing.
It has been whispered, some of Caterham’s engineers actually have college degrees in Bob Marley studies. They merely pretended at interview to be engineers for a laugh – yet it appears Tony hasn’t spotted this yet… and keeps pumping in the millions. Bloody Uni pranksters huh?
Ericsson is happy for the same reasons as Magnussen, and Kamui hasn’t realised yet he’s not driving a racing green liveried Lotus – so he’s happy.
Marussia and Jules Bianchi are utterly ecstatic having managed to build a point scoring Formula one car from $10.50 and a rummage around the local scrap yard and Max is always happy because daddy keeps paying for the hairspray and the girls keep smiling at him.
Mmm…. Missed someone??? Mercedes…. Ferrari…. Williams… Red Bull ….. Ricciardo…
Oh yes. Sebastian Vettel.
He is very unhappy. Seb is unhappy with the FIA for changing the rules which meant Uncle Ade can no longer build ‘bosting’ cars. He’s unhappy with Uncle Bernie for failing to stop these new engines which have made his car develop a slidey bottom. Seb is unhappy with Christian for not pumping too much fuel into Daniel’s car again and again to ensure he never gets a podium this year…
…And off the record, Sebastian has told David the cars are no fun to drive anymore. Apparently you can no longer just press the pedal on the right and then steer round and round and round and round…..
Mr. Coulthard – now the voice of the fans – also suggests, “I heard Monaco was 20 per cent down this year [on attendance]. We have a responsibility to the fans. The fans will speak out and they know what they want.”
Mmm. Nice to see the voice of F1 for the BBC is in touch with reality. Fan numbers have been falling at circuits for years as ticket prices escalate at percentage rates higher than a third world country suffering hyper inflation.
Further, not only is Monaco is a rip off, but unless you get a privileged seat these days, you haven’t got a Scooby doo what’s going on… cos Uncle Bernie cancelled FanVision.
So actually – Yes – crowds around the world are indeed falling Dave – but NO – the drivers are not widely unhappy – AT ALL.
Alonso shares the love with his Maranello ‘family’
Following a few days working on the simulator in Maranello – Fernando Alonso is preparing for the Canadian GP with renewed vigour. Kimi Raikkonen was on promotional duties racing journalists with go-karts whilst the Spaniard returned to the Maranello facility.
“After Monaco, I noticed a nice atmosphere at Maranello, everyone is very motivated and hungry for good results. However we are realists, we know where we are at the moment, but from now on we want to be able to get good results and enjoy a little more the race weekend.”
“It is important to spend time with the engineers, the mechanics and the rest of the staff even away from the race weekend, because there are always new ideas to be tested or they can jump out of the helpful insights for the job “- says Fernando -“Maybe as long as you are eating all together we can think of something to try at the next Grand Prix or on the simulator. This is why I like to spend time here in this unique family environment.
For Canada we have aerodynamic improvements for the F14-T’s floor which we have tested on the simulator. We have done a lot of work as our goal is to have a better car. It’s difficult to make predictions in retain to the others but our ambition is to close the gap as much as possible.
Canada is a unique track, it really has only six or seven corners but they all have something special and carry certain problems but if you have the set-up correct you can gain a lot of time. In Montreal, there is no margin for error as the walls are very close but it’s a great weekend as the passion spills over from the city and infects everybodyI have won here before and have great memories of the track but a few years back . we had a long wait due to a big storm. Results have been erratic here, sometimes good, sometimes bad – hopefully this is a good year.”
Marussia looking forward to Montreal
Following the fantastic performance in Monaco, the Marussia team head to Canada with a definite spring in their step. It goes without saying that they are unlikely to be troubling the points finishing positions as they did in Monaco but those two points gained are a huge step forward from where the team has languished in recent seasons.
John Booth – Team Principal
“As you might imagine, we head to Canada with a definite spring in our step after achieving our first points finish in Monaco. It was an important milestone for everyone in the team and provides an important affirmation, internally and externally, of the positive trajectory we are taking in pursuit of our longer term ambitions.”
Mattia Binotto – Scuderia Ferrari Engine & Electronics Deputy Director
“After the splendid results of Monaco there is a great desire to get to Montreal to see further confirmation of the progress shown in the last races, in terms of competitiveness and, finally, the results. The Canadian Grand Prix is traditionally quite challenging with regard to the use of the engine and it will be even more so this year, given the complexity of the power unit. Another delicate point is the fuel consumption, given that this track is one of the most demanding from this point of view.”
“I’m very excited for this weekend. The car seems so good at the moment that it feels we can go to every race feeling optimistic for a positive outcome. It has been such a fantastic week or so since Monaco and it has been nice to celebrate with the Team after all the hard work it has taken to get this far.”
“I’m really excited about the Canadian Grand Prix – I can’t wait to get back down to the racing.”
Despite his unusual rookie record of having finished every Grand Prix, racing is most certainly not in the blood of this young whipper-snapper. It will be fascinating to see if now that Marussia have almost confirmed a top 10 finish in the championship, whether the access to the TV income changes their inclusion of the coiffured Goldilocks in their “race” team.
Witness supports Ecclestone’s blackmail defence (GMM)
Bernie Ecclestone’s claim that he was blackmailed by Gerhard Gribkowsky got a boost in court this week. Gribkowsky has already been jailed in Germany for accepting the F1 supremo’s alleged $44 million bribe, but 83-year-old Ecclestone claims he was being ‘shaken down’ by the former banker. Ecclestone, who could also be jailed if found guilty of bribing a public official, got a boost this week when a witness – who like Gribkowsky worked on the F1 account for public bank BayernLB – testified in Munich.
Initially, Briton Ecclestone was seen shaking his head when the witness agreed with suggestions the F1 chief executive wanted to “get rid of” BayernLB as a shareholder of the sport.
“From my point of view, our departure was in his interest,” the former bank employee said, according to Austria’s Kleine Zeitung newspaper. “Banks as shareholders were not wanted, in his view,” the witness explained. “I’m quite sure he wanted us to sell.”
The witness revealed they became less and less involved in the F1 account as Gribkowsky and Ecclestone worked more closely together. “It (the witness’ involvement) became less and less and eventually it stopped altogether,” the witness said.
The prosecutors claim that others were excluded from Ecclestone and Gribkowsky’s talks due to the negotiations about the controversial $44m payment. But Ecclestone claims he only paid up after Gribkowsky threatened to divulge false information about his family’s tax affairs to the British authorities.
The witness on Tuesday supported Ecclestone’s version. The former BayernLB employee recalled a letter, containing claims that Ecclestone was still in charge of the Bambino family trust, that Gribkowsky once placed on Ecclestone’s desk. The witness said that when Gribkowsky was rebuked for leaving the letter for Ecclestone, “He (Gribkowsky) just laughed“.
However, it is reported that the very same witness also testified in Gribkowsky’s trial, and the very same judge ultimately issued a guilty verdict. Kleine Zeitung said three more BayernLB-connected witnesses will testify on Wednesday.
Canada GP future still in doubt (GMM)
As the F1 world gathers in Montreal, the future of the popular Canadian grand prix remains in doubt. Two months ago, race promoter Francois Dumontier said it was “urgent” that a new deal beyond 2014 be agreed before this year’s grand prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He said negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone for a new ten-year contract are taking place, but there are “still no signatures”.
According to the French-language newspaper La Presse, all parties need to agree, including Dumontier, Ecclestone and the various levels of government who help the fund the race. “Negotiations are going very well,” said a spokesperson for Dominique Vien, the new tourism minister of Quebec. “The change of government has not had a negative impact. We will announce it when everyone is ready.”
Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, also commented: “I am keen to resolve the issue for the next ten years. Things are going well. In time, we’ll make announcements,” he said. “But everyone is talking and things are progressing very well. We must let time take its course.”
It is reported that F1 chief executive Ecclestone is demanding improvements to the ageing circuit and facilities, and a mandatory 4 per cent annual indexation of the new 10-year race fee. Promoter Dumontier said on Tuesday: “All parties are continuing the discussions and I would like to think that an announcement will be made soon.”
Give a dog a bad name
Red Bull Racing clearly had a torrid time during Winter testing this year. They managed a mere 182 laps in 12 days on track, just 55 more than bottom team Lotus who missed the entire first test in Jerez.
Of course Red Bull have made a lot of noise about Renault being the culprit for their woes in 2014, yet the 3 other Renault customers all managed more laps per day they were on track than the world champions. The RB10 indeed had some serious problems of its own.
The Red Bull design was not one of Newey’s best – indeed he admitted himself to the Red Bull in house magazine, Red Bulletin, “Looking back it would have been smarter to concentrate full power on the new car earlier on.”
Seriously, given the testing data, no one was certain whether we would even see a Red Bull car make it to Q3 at the first event in Melbourne.
However, the transformation in those few short days from the end of the second Bahrain test and the performance of the RB10’s in Melbourne did indeed shock many. Daniel Ricciardo managed to split the 2 Mercedes in Q3, beating Nico Rosberg by 5/100ths of a second to claim a front row start in the race.
Of course the RB10 romped to 3rd place – and even had Ricciardo’s masters played it straight and complied with the legal fuel flow regulations – Danny boy was good for a 4th, and at worst 5th, place finish.
A quite remarkable turnaround.
Yet It now appears that there may be an explanation for this. A leak from AVL suggests that an RB10 fitted with its Renault power train spent 6 days at AVL’s facility in Graz – between Bahrain and Melbourne.
Further, that that car was flown on to Melbourne, and was the car used by Ricciardo at the Australian GP weekend.
According to their website, “AVL is the world’s largest independent company for the development of powertrain systems with internal combustion engines as well as instrumentation and test systems. AVL is acting in the following scopes of business:
Development of Powertrain Systems: AVL develops and improves all kinds of powertrain systems and is a competent partner to the engine and automotive industry.
Simulation: In addition AVL develops and markets the simulation methods which are necessary for the development work.
Engine Instrumentation and Test Systems: The products of this business area comprise all the instruments and systems required for engine and vehicle testing”.
AVL have a high speed rolling road facility, which can also be utilised to replicate a 1:1 wind tunnel – which of course banned by F1.
During the week commencing 5th March, Antonio Felix de Costa – test river for Red Bull Racing – confirmed he was Austria bound for something more than a promo event. “Off we go again, this time 5 day trip to Austria! # redbull”, he tweeted.
At this time there is no hard evidence to substantiate this rumour from an AVL insider, however, the full gambit of interpretations of the idiom, “give a dog a bad name” feels more than appropriate at this juncture.
Renault finally out of ‘recovery mode’
TJ13 reported during the Jerez test that the Renault F1 engine problems were ‘most serious’ and would take 15-20 weeks to resolve. Many were sceptical of this claim
However, almost 18 weeks to the day, Remi Taffin has this to say. “In the last four races we’ve introduced several new upgrades and we will complete the process in Montreal, effectively giving us the first full opportunity to see where we are versus the competition”.
To be fair to Renault, they have almost delivered a miracle. A large number of components which were ‘faulty’ have had to be redesigned and replaced – which is allowed under the homologation rules.
Taffin confirms this has been on ongoing battle, “We have several new parts to debut here, primarily designed to give us greater reliability”. In addition Renault have again been hard at work on the software which manages the engine. “As in previous races we have more upgrades to software to further enhance driveability and energy management. Additionally we have investigated the reasons for the failures in Monaco and have taken measures to ensure they do not reoccur”
However, even if the fire fighting is now done, Canada may well highlight the gulf between the design of the Renault V6 and that of the Mercedes in terms of top speed. Taffin abserves, “With very few corners energy recovery via the MGU-K will however be pretty difficult as the cars do not slow frequently over the lap. As a result the emphasis will be on the MGU-H to recover energy through the exhaust gasses – we’ll need as much energy as we can as we’ll be right on the limit with the fuel consumption here. Having said that, we will also monitor the right balance between traditional and electrical energy to decide the most effective way to use the fuel in the race”.
However, even during the V8 era, the Red Bull cars were frequently lower than 15th fastest through the speed gun in Montreal, making up for this via the driveability of the chassis and engine through the corners.
In 2013, Sebastian Vettel finally broke his duck in Canada claiming pole from Hamilton and going on to win the race by a comfortable margin.
FP1 on Friday will be fascinating, and even though this track will evolve rapidly throughout the weekend, Vettel will not be expecting a repeat of last year as the gaps between Mercedes and Red Bull are expected to remain fairly substantial.
Vettel claims he’s suffering from ‘the Schumacher syndrome”
Sebastian Vettel should be licking his wounds and working out how he can get his s$%t together, to beat his team mate.
However, in a very friendly interview with RTL – who didn’t mention Ricciardo once – it appears Sebastian has not fully come to terms with the nature of his plight.
Vettel claims the problem is that he has not had enough time driving the RB10 to get to grips with it – citing that he has had just one race in 6 without a problem.
Sebastian feels he is suffering a little of the Michael Schumacher ‘come back’ syndrome. He argues the Mercedes car was not “up to par” for Schumacher and not designed to his liking – as had been the cars at Ferrari.
Vettel is comforted by the fact that there were those who believed Schumacher could only win in a Ferrari, and believes some of the criticism levelled at himself is similarly motivated. He describes Sebastian is clearly irritated by the critical pieces which have been written about him and describes the authors of these articles as from “the kindergarten”.
The problem Sebastian is overlooking is that Michael won 2 world championships for Benetton before he went to Ferrari. It was then 4 long years before his next in 2000, even though he’d been with Ferrari since 1996.
It must be difficult at present for Sebastian, who interestingly has been seen less this year at Milton Keynes than usual. However, the reality is that Mercedes are better than Red Bull this year, and may well be again next year.
Even though one of his company directors is spitting out dummies and threatening to ditch their engine supplier, Vettel needs to learn that even at 26, achieving another 3 F1 world titles is a tough ask, and may take him 10 more years.
Sebastian is a very talented driver, but he has also had it very good. It may be pertinent if Vettel prepares himself for the fact that from hereon it will be a lot tougher for him to win and be as dominant as he’s been for the past 4 years.
The world has turned….
The Punch and Judy show
There’s a distinct impression being formed that Mercedes is becoming a team with two talking heads. Ross Brawn was clearly aware of this danger when he spoke publically at the 2013 Japanese GP.
“We have quite a heavy senior management team and we have to understand what we will all be doing. Any successful F1 team has to have a senior reference and that’s the big question. We need to make sure if I’m to remain here that I’m the reference.”
More damaging is the perception being formed, that the two Mercedes high profile shareholders, Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, may each favour one of the team’s drivers.
Prior to the Barcelona GP, Lauda described Hamilton as ‘unbeatable’. Following Lewis’ threat in Monaco to resolve matters between himself and Nico as did Prost and Senna, Toto Wolff quickly marked Hamilton’s card stating “that will never happen”.
First up in front of the microphones this week is Wolff and again he is laying down the law over any potential on track incidents between Mercedes’ two drivers. “If it really came to the ugly situation where it is clear that it is the fault of one of them, then this would mean our system has failed; our system of letting them manage themselves and letting them race has failed. This would mean we would have to intervene in a way to make the whole thing more boring, which would mean team orders.”
Canada is widely recognised to be one of Lewis favoured tracks, though his record here suggests he is either a hero or a zero. Winning or having an accident and scoring a DNF (except for his P2 to Vettel last year).
Wolff is maybe recalling the race of 2011, where a frustrated Hamilton found himself behind his team mate Jenson, and inexplicably drove into him during the infamous rain affected race.
“You have two possibilities”, Toto continues. “Either you do it the way we do, which one day could end up in tears and people saying ‘How stupid were they’. But we are lucky because we have quite a gap to everybody else, which is why we can keep that philosophy, but it would be impossible if we had a close championship [with other teams].”.
The other possibility is that you implement team orders and that would freeze the rankings halfway through the race, we would have said ‘Stop racing now’, but is that something we really want to do?”
There appears to be some concern in the mind of Wolff that at times the focus on his drivers on beating each other means they lose sight of the bigger picture. He refers to the team informing Hamilton during the Monaco race that his biggest rival at the time was Ricciardo.
“I think you need to do it. When you have someone who is really behind you, which we didn’t because at one stage we had 14 seconds to Ricciardo, but he [Hamilton] had something in his eye, he lost five or six seconds and the tyre dropped out of the window and here you go, you have him – we need to analyse this lesson for the future because we cannot be as arrogant as saying we want to see them racing, because you can be caught out by surprise.”
Whilst Toto’s grasp of English grammar doesn’t make this last sentiment particularly clear, it appears he is suggesting the team may have already decided to become more interventionist during the races following “the lesson” from the Hamilton/Ricciardo situation in Monaco. Then again, that paragraph is full of interesting possible interpretations – thank you Toto.
Next up… Mr. Punch (aka Niki). We all surely await with baited breath for his observations on the current state of play.
Following TJ13’s Richter scale 9 revelation, F1 fans were almost beside themselves with excitement as to how the battle between the iceman and the matador at Ferrari would pan out this year.
Well 6 races in, and Alonso has 61 points to Kimi’s 17. This time last year Felipe Massa had 45 points to Fernando’s 78. Mmm.
The pair of Ferrari’s – barring a few laps in Monaco, have hardly been in the same TV shot. Fernando has finished ahead of Kimi now 6 races out of 6.
Anyway, there is apparently a highly complex and technical reason as to why Kimi has been performing so in 2014 and James Allison reveals all. “He’s just going a little slower than Fernando at the moment, but that gap is closing as the year progresses.”
Aha… didn’t see that one coming. Quick question James…. Is it the case that Kimi is struggling with anything in particular when compared to Fernando?
“I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to say he is struggling more than Fernando. They both have similar feedback with the car, and there are aspects of this year’s rules that make the cars across the pitlane a far from easy aspect for the driver. There is a lot more torque from the engine, a lot less aerodynamic grip, and the tyres are deliberately less aggressive than last year.
All that means they are quite a handful to drive, not too breezy for anyone, be that at the front or back of the grid. The problems Kimi has with the car under braking, downshifting, are the same as Fernando, and pretty much the same as being experienced by other drivers at other teams”.
So there we have it. The answer to the $64m question…who is better?
Simples…. according to James Allison – it is Fernando.