Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 5th June 2014

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Previously on TheJudge13:

#F1 History: Canadian GP – 11 June 1995

#F1 Circuit Profile: 2014 Canadian Grand Prix 


A summer of woe awaits Mclaren whispers Boullier

F1 rules have slowed aero development – Newey (GMM)

What’s in a contract?

Lewis Hamilton’s new set of wheels – remembering his roots

Alonso, the virtue of patience

The cost of a life

Tarmac takeover rumbles on


A summer of woe awaits Mclaren whispers Boullier

Martin Whitmarsh was too nice to run Mclaren – that’s the underlying feeling since Ron Dennis returned to the beleaguered squad and set about making changes.

Despite the coup of enticing Honda back as their engine partner and the supposed benefits it will bring, Whitmarsh was effectively back-stabbed by the re-emerging threat of RD.

One of the first lieutenants recruited was the affable Eric Boullier to present the Mclaren team moving forwards. He was/ is the Racing Director although a recent slip of the tongue revealed he thinks he is the Team Principal.

Irrespective of the correct job description, in a team owned and run by Dennis, job titles are meaningless. Which probably explains the reluctance of Ross Brawn hurrying to end his retirement in cloudy Woking.

Boullier has built a reputation in the finest Inspector Clouseau tradition. In the final stages of the 2013 season his insistence of the legitimacy of Mansoor Ijaz made seasoned observers smirk behind his back.

In 2014 he has carried out his duties with typical aplomb, suggesting Mclaren’s title sponsor was ready at the following race, yet always replaced at the last minute by a stop gap. Developments for the car are continuously promised for the subsequent Grand Prix and yet when tested none of the wind tunnel results are effective on their running.

After a dismal run of races where the Woking manufacturer scored no points, celebrations for a handful from Magnussen are seen as a turning point. This despite the fact that Marussia also scored points in this unusual race.

“We remember the Canadian race of 2011 and Jenson securing his incredible victory. Even though we are not fighting for the top positions he continues to do everything for the team, always provides accurate feedback, never loses his temper and knows where to direct the team to develop strongly.”

Or in non Boullier English, Jenson’s luck that day was unbelievable, he took Hamilton and Alonso out of the race and didn’t get penalised and when Vettel spun he won the race. We know we aren’t fighting for top positions but with Jenson guiding us since the end of 2012 it’s only fair that he doesn’t get angry. Especially after setting a fantastic lap in pre-season testing in Jerez last year, only for the team to realise afterwards that a part had been fitted upside down! So much for a sensitive driver….

Boullier continued on a pessimistic note. After the recent promises of performance enhancing parts being added to the MP4/29, it seems that Macca fans will have to wait another Grand Prix.

“In general it is not easy to tell where we are right now. Both Monaco and Canada are special tracks which do not offer clues and precise information on the actual level of performance of the teams and drivers. It would be nice to finish in the points again but I think we will not be able to show our full potential until we return to Europe.”

Well done Inspector but which European race are you referring to….

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F1 rules have slowed aero development – Newey (GMM)

Restrictive rules have slowed the pace of aerodynamic development in formula one.

Frustrated aerodynamics ‘genius’ Adrian Newey told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that the era of making giant mid-season strides with innovative ideas appears to be over.

“Look at the upgrades of the first six races,” the Briton is quoted as saying. “Much less than last year, and most of it was just cosmetic. We are looking at details like the ‘monkey seat’ because the regulations give us less and less room to move,” added Newey.

The FIA’s technical delegate Joe Bauer confirmed: “We have never seen so little crash testing.

Nonetheless, Ferrari is debuting a substantially upgraded 2014 car this weekend in Canada. Italy’s Autosprint magazine said so much has changed that the car could aptly be named the F14-T’s ‘B’ version. “We can’t make predictions,” said Fernando Alonso, “because our improvement has to be seen in relation to what our competitors come up with. We need to match them and then find a plus,” he added ahead of the Canadian grand prix.

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What’s in a contract?

The timing of the announcement of Nico Rosberg’s new 2 year extension to his current contract with Mercedes was a topic for discussion amongst one or two people I was sharing the Monaco GP with. Rosberg is now contracted with Brackly until the end of the 2016 season. Lewis is half way through his 3 year contract he signed when leaving McLaren.

Mercedes announced the extended Rosberg deal on the Friday before the Monaco GP and the obvious reaction was that during the previous week, complimentary comments about Alonso from the Daimler Benz chairmen were clearly not intended as overtures of employment.

One individual in our group interestingly suggested the day before qualifying that the chosen moment for this Mercedes revelation contained Machiavellian motives, designed to destabilise Lewis Hamilton’s weekend.

Surely not – and In the end that would have been unnecessary because Lewis did an excellent job of messing up his own head by publically making such a big deal over the Rosberg yellow flag incident during the dying moments of qualifying.

So Nico’s contract was up at the end of this year and just 5 races in Mercedes feel it is important to make a statement, giving Rosberg another 2 years with the team.

This is nothing new, both Vettel and Alonso have previously signed contract extensions well in advance of the expiry date of their current deal. In fact, such was the value of their services to their respective teams that these contract extensions were granted more than 2 years ahead of both drivers’ current contract expiry dates.

Nico, however, is not a world champion and so maybe does not have the marquee superstar value that Ferrari and Red Bull attach to Alonso and Vettel and his contract for just another 2 years suggests exactly that.

Of course the team may have preferred to make this announcement much earlier in the year, but Rosberg’s results in 2013 when compared to Hamilton were somewhat questionable. But on the flip side, Nico’s new deal is better than those continually offered by Red Bull to long suffering Mark Webber.

Whilst Red Bull sought to tie Sebastian Vettel up forever and a day, they didn’t afford the same contractual privileges to Mark Webber. In 2010 Mark was offered a one year extension for 2011 during the week following the infamous coming together between himself and Vettel. In 2011 it was another 1 year deal for 2012, though it appeared to take most of the summer break for these negotiations to be completed.

Again in 2012 Webber was offered another 1 year deal just days after trouncing his team mate again at the British GP.

Of course were Rosberg to do the unthinkable and beat Hamilton to the WDC this year, Mercedes may then act in a manner similar to Ferrari and Red Bull by offering Nico a deal which ties him in to the German F1 team for another 3-4 years.

But what of Hamilton? Isn’t he in the same league as Fernando and Vettel… who at times have had 4 plus years of contract ahead of them? Mercedes have a car and engine package which is set to be at the front of the field for quite some time, so why are they not offering one of the best 3 drivers in the world today a contract extension beyond the end of next year?

Even the fact that Rosberg was offered a contract extension which sees him guaranteed a year longer with Brackley than Hamilton could appear a slap in the face for Lewis. However, it is more likely Mercedes intentions were to make their drivers realise; they would be together for at least another season beyond 2014 where one of them will become WDC.

The effect of this means that neither the drivers nor the team can allow the relationship between Lewis and Nico to irretrievably break down this year because the ramifications for all parties would be to awful to imagine for 2015.

Nico’s contract was indeed a vote of confidence in his abilities and something of a green light to him that he shouldn’t be subservient to Lewis. An out of contract Rosberg may have felt he couldn’t push Hamilton as hard as he would like in wheel to wheel combat.

Further, this contract is a reward for Rosberg, who is very close to Hamilton, both in qualifying and race performances. The question Mercedes will have answered is whether Vettel or Alonso would be doing a significantly better job than Nico this year?

What of Lewis’ future then? Well this is simple. Should Lewis win the WDC this year, Mercedes will surely offer him a new multi-year contract for at least 2 years beyond 2015. However, should Brackley not be forthcoming with a new Lewis deal, obvious questions will be raised as to why he isn’t afforded the same kind of treatment as Alonso and Vettel.

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Lewis Hamilton’s new set of wheels – remembering his roots

An eagle-eyed TJ13 reader photographed Hamilton’s newest addition to his car pool. Mercedes, by all accounts, refused his request for a Sprinter van to visit Stevenage.

HAM CAR

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Alonso, the virtue of patience

TJ13 readers may be forgiven for not having heard of Formula 1 driver Lewis Chiron, of Monegasque. Yet his significant contributions to the sport of Formula 1 is today at risk.

Fernando Alonso, age 32, is refusing to consider retiring until he wins at least one more drivers’ world championship. “This is the main goal and you don’t think of retiring until you get some satisfaction. It is something I am working for and hoping for,” 

It appears that age is forcing the self styled Spanish Samurai to consider his legacy in the sport of F1.

“It is not that I’m not happy with two [WDCs] but the third puts you in a list of very important names.” Indeed Fernando, and that list includes, Senna, Piquet, Lauda, Stewart and Brabham. Ahead of them is Vettel and Prost with 4 WDC’s, Fangio with 5 and Schumacher has 7 drivers’ titles.

Fernando sees no problem with driving indefinitely into the future, because the physical challenge is apparently not so great anymore.

“The new F1 cars are heavier, slower, difficult to understand what the car is doing, you cannot push all through the race,” he said. “You push two laps and then you save tyres until the next stop. Sometimes you don’t even push. This is not something racing drivers like to do.

It is not a problem of how long you can keep this level, it’s a problem of how much fun I will have driving those cars in the future.”

So the length of Fernando’s career will not be determined by his age, but how long he can be bothered turning up to each exotic race location, 19 or 20 odd times a year, whilst being paid 30m Euros for his trouble..

With the exception of the Schumacher years, Ferrari’s success in delivering world champions in Formula 1 has been patchy since the mid-60’s. By the end of this season, excluding Schumacher, Ferrari will have delivered WDC toin 50 years to just Lauda (twice), Scheckter and Raikkonen.

Fernando though is a man of great faith….

“I must, and I need to, believe,” he said. “There is the potential there. We have all the ingredients and we just need to put them all together. I am very proud to be part of this team and I know that winning with Ferrari will mean more than winning with another team.”

Well Fernando clearly believes he has the longevity to stick it out to the very end with Ferrari.

But, let’s return to Monsieur Chiron’s record contribution to F1. He was the oldest ever F1 driver to start a race, at 55 years and 292 days of age, when drove in the 1955 Monaco GP.

Considering Fernando believes the cars are apparently a doddle to drive these days, what’s to stop the Spaniard carrying on for at least another 23 years to pursue his dream of winning a WDC in a Ferrari?

Well unless Alonso is going to create history, he has less time than that. The oldest World Champion ever to start an F1 race was Giuseppe Farina, who was 48y 7m 6d old, and his final race was the 1953 Belgian Grand Prix.

16 years may seem plenty to Fred, but a glance at history suggests that Maranello could easily use most – if not all – of this time… and some…. to deliver their Spanish gladiator a winning chariot.

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The cost of a life

In memory of Mark Robinson, who died in a track accident at the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix, all marshals and workers from the Automobile Club de l’Île Notre-Dâme will be wearing black armbands during this weekend in Montreal.

Robinson was crushed under the wheels of a crane as he was escorting a car that hadn’t finished the race from the track back to the pits. The subsequent enquiry held by The Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST) blamed the fatal accident on the race organisers.

Mark was responsible for ensuring that a stricken Sauber remained stable whilst being removed from the circuit by a mobile crane. He was holding a rope attached to the car and running ahead of the crane to prevent the car from swinging.

Robinson appeared to trip and was then struck by the crane which ran over him with its two right hand wheels. He was rushed to the circuit medical centre, where attempts were made to revivie him. On arrival at Sacré-Coeur hospital he was pronounced dead on arrival.

This year, the organisers have been forced by the CSST recommendations to provide proper training for marshals and crane operators in the run up to the GP.

The CSST report from the investigation into Robinson’s death concluded that Groupe de course Octane Inc. and Automobile Club de l’Île Notre-Dâme had compromised the safety of workers, and a find an amount which was not disclosed. The tariff for this negligence was somewhere between $15,698 and $62,790 (Canadian).

It is appears the FIA shoulder none of the blame for this tragic event.

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Tarmac takeover rumbles on

This year there have been some modifications to the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. Asphalt has replaced gravel around the outside of Turns 10 and 13 and the barrier on the outside of Turn 13 (right of the pit entry), has been moved further back and a new debris fence has been installed. New guardrail posts have been added in order to ensure that no spacing is greater than two metres.

The speed bumps which were trialled in 2013 at the exit of Turn 9 and the final chicane will be in place again this year.

(For more see the most comprehensive circuit guide on the web, here at TJ13)

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48 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 5th June 2014

  1. “only for the team to realise afterwards that a part had been fitted upside down” … For god sake, put it back on upside down, it can’t make it any worse, and you might learn something. What the hell are McLaren on at the moment?

    • they couldn’t put it back on upside down – as it would make the car illegal

      • What exactly was the part? And why couldn’t they adapt it somehow? If it gave such extra speed surely it would be worth the effort. 🙂

        • I might be wrong – but I read it was the torsion bar for the rear suspension.

          This gave reduced ride height ( below minimum regulation ) – thereby increasing downforce.

          So you couldn’t adapt it – it was simply illegal.

        • I think it was a J-damper or something like that… hilarious that their car worked better when fitted incorrectly…

  2. Withmarsh didn’t know how to lead a team. He was an ineffective leader. Mclaren was crumbling right under his leadership, and then instead of taking bold steps to correct the issues, he was more afraid of Mclaren losing the consecutive points score.
    Mclaren is all about winning, it sometimes means having in your employ personnel you dont always get along with but who can get the job done.
    He polarised the team, created unecessary friction. Took no action when the operational competence of the team was called into question. Worse of all, tried to turn two drivers that got on well with each other into enemies.
    There is nothing nice about someone who says all the right things for the cameras but takes no action when it comes the time.
    Boullier had serious issues he had to deal with while at lotus that required coming in front of the media. Withmarsh on the otherhand created all of his problem. He would explain, then explain the explanation, and why that explanation is the right one.
    Withmarsh was a disaster for Mclaren, he has set the team back massively, they are now off track or completely lost.

    • I know everyone blames the whole McLaren mess on Whitmarsh, but I’m just going to ask the question based on what has happened since he left: Do you think any of this mess was due to Ron Dennis running around behind his back and sabotaging (on purpose or by accident) what Whitmarsh was trying to accomplish?

      In other words, was Whitmarsh ever really in charge, or just a front man like Bouillier, confused about his own status.

    • Well, Mansell won his world title at 39 and his final win at 41, so you never know. With the foothold Alonso has at Ferrari, if they ever have a dominant car in the next 5 years, the title is his. Only a young gun like Bianchi could destabilise him, but I can’t see Ferrari letting the kiddo race him.

    • That depends if a vacant seat appears at Merc or not. Alonso to Mercedes? Given what happened in Monaco I’d say that was a possibility. Straight swap with Hamilton to Ferrari?

      • That will never happen. Too much racism in Italy, the tifosi would never accept him and Montezemelo knows it, so would never seriously consider Hamilton.

      • I’m surprised I haven’t yet seen any rumours linking Vettel and Mercedes. From their perspective, well he’s German and a multiple WDC and from his, well, they’re winning… 🙂

  3. Didn’t Merc say at the press conference that they had long-term deals with both of their drivers? I know Hamilton initially signed for 3 years, but I’m not sure if you can consider 2015 as a “long-term” deal.

    The driver contracts in F1 will always have tons of exit clauses, options, etc., that it’s hard to pin down just how solid a contract is.

    The 1-year deals for Webber were I thought Webber’s idea, no? I’m sure he mentioned that a few times, that he liked 1-year deals, and that he always negotiated with Mateschitz himself.

    It would be great if we could know more details about drivers’ contracts, or at least salary and term, as with most N.American sports leagues.

    • …he may have negotiated them himself, but that doesn’t mean he only wanted 1 year deals…

      When Vettel was on a deal for 5 years – after extensions – it was still hardly a vote of confidence from Red Bull…

      Lewis Hamilton’s contract was for 3 years and has not been extended.

      • You need 2 signatures for an extension and maybe MB did offer an extension, but are they still discussing terms and salary. Knowing Lewis (and his management), he will wait for a second WC and then ask for a double salary.

        • He’d never get double, but maybe he is waiting for the time when MB is in closer combat with other teams. That’s when Lewis’ value will better shine through, vis-a-vis Rosberg.

  4. That is weird to think the company in charge of running an event, the FIA, wasn’t at all responsible for ensuring the marshalls, at their event, know what they’re doing.
    The fact that five times as many stewards have been killed compared with f1 drivers over the last 20 years, yet no one really cares says it all about the arrogance of the sport.
    As long as it’s not our favourite driver then it’s ok.

    • …. indeed – they certify the circuits as fit for purpose – and should insist as part of the ongoing inspections with the race organisers on minimum levels of health and safety training for what are in effect temporary 4-5 day a year employees…

    • I mentioned it on another website a few weeks ago but man do I have alot of respect for marshalls. Especially street cicuits like Monaco. It kinda hit me in the face during the main GP2 race over there.

    • The FIA aren’t a company and they aren’t responsible for the running of the event. Apart from those small details your argument is flawless!

      • The FIA do sanction the event and certify the track and it’s safety measures. So the marshalling is under their control.

        • I sort of doubt that. The promoter is running the race; it’s their responsibility to provide security, marshals, sell tickets, maintain the grounds, etc. etc.

          I’m not saying the FIA shouldn’t be involved, but marshals are unpaid volunteers and I suspect (at least in the US of A) that all the marshals have to sign a release such that the promoter, etc. are not responsible for anything. I used to buy season ski passes for me and my daughter, and to purchase said pass I had to sign a document that absolved the ski area of ANY responsibility for anything whatsoever, including the failure and collapse of the chair lifts. Whether that was enforceable is, of course, another question. But still, in the US of A buyer beware. Pretty stupid.

  5. “Martin Whitmarsh was too nice to run Mclaren – that’s the underlying feeling since Ron Dennis returned to the beleaguered squad and set about making changes.”

    Don’t want to bitch to much but where did you get this from? People who actually work at Mclaren? Or is it your personal opinion? Even
    though Whitmarsh had a “softy” image, I think its a shame if the media are simply making assumptions (power of the media).

  6. starting to not like this page much anymore…it’s too biased,taking potshots at button for no apparent reason,putting one of the best wins in his career or even of the decade as just brilliant luck,,,hmm..i again go all day long but it’s just not worth it,just coz you have to write something doesn’t mean you write any darn thing, anyways,,,adios

    • I have to agree, the quality of TJ13 news does seem to have taken a tumble.

      • Sharl Peak is obviously an F1blog.com fan with that username. Have you been sent by them to destroy the Judge?

        • Don’t be silly. Nothing can distort The Judge. He’s a Factory Driver! He drives a car built by a factory.

        • Don’t be silly. Nothing can destroy The Judge. He’s a Factory Driver! He drives a car built by a factory.

        • What’s “obvious” to you Mr spanners isn’t necessarily true. I’ve never even visited the site you mentioned, but maybe I’ll go have a look now. So who is really promoting them here and trying to “destroy” TJ13? Not me!

    • Although, there was a massive dollop of luck in that win. Multiple contacts, the leader losing over a minute in time due to safety cars etc.

      I’m a JB fan, but I’m not so deluded to think that his Canada win in 2011 wasnt without blooming masses of luck!

      • ….watched that race again last week… what was fascinating was when they went onto the slick tyres, Button was just miles faster than the rest…. at times 2 secs a lap on Vettel whose tyres were the same age…

        It seemed as though he’d been through so many trauma’s he just didn’t care and pushed liked hell, whereas Vettel got stuck in a cautious – keep what I’ve got mentality.

    • 100% agree. It’s as if someone else is now running this site.

      This is becoming very hateful and very Planet F1.

      In fact…I would say that Planet F1 has been a better site than this for the last 3 weeks.

      • You mean the last three weeks since the gavel swung Hamilton’s way?

        It’s ok, I’m sure someone else will upset the good O’ll judge and get a tap of the gavel…

  7. Any idea what’s happened to the GP predictory summary for Monaco? I finally had a good weekend, was keen to see how others faired…

      • Well, if it helps, I think I scored more points at Monaco than I had done for the rest of the season! I’m just hoping for a mention – I didn’t get one when I scored the lowest of anyone in the league and it seems I’m missing out again.

        Just got to decide whether I carry on with my policy of backing Nico to spring a surprise or actually make a sensible choice and have Lewis taking the win… Also a bit annoyed that Marussia chose that race to score points when I had them down for that at Australia…

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