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OTD Lite: 1978 – Brabham fan-car wins Swedish Grand Prix
When Niki Lauda first tested the fan-car at Brands Hatch, he reportedly beamed when he emerged from his first run. It had taken him a little while to actually re-adapt his classic style to benefit the car. When he lifted as normal, the car would slide and feel unstable but when he applied the throttle in mid-corner the car gripped harder than anything he had ever driven.
They headed to Sweden’s Anderstop circuit with the intention of sand-bagging throughout practice and only unveil their true speed during the race. Another incredible design from maverick Gordon Murray, the car simply re-wrote the rule book for it’s one race which it dominated. The harder the throttle was applied, the harder the car was sucked into the ground – the limits truly mind-blowing. After protests the Brabham team decided to retire it from Formula One for good.
Mattiacci delivers a two months report to the Ferrari team
Marco Mattiacci arrived in Formula One as existing CEO of Ferrari America. His success preceded him on a global scale and unconfirmed rumours suggested he was in-line to eventually take over from Luca Montezemolo himself. Il Padrino continues to this day working towards a political future which means a successor is needed at Maranello.
Given the choice, Ferrari fans would respect a Todt type character in charge than some of the tragically comedic figures Ferrari have had over the decades. It may just be Ferrari have unearthed him.
When he first arrived, Alonso was publicly cool to his appointment stating it would take months to turn around the team and that his third place in China was credited to the out-going Stefano Domenicali’s work.
In recent weeks his demeanour towards the team has changed, he appears less scathing in his remarks which may result from one or two things. He recognises that Mclaren – with the Mercedes power unit – are currently in worse shape than Ferrari therefore his options for movement are limited or MM has made real progress within the Ferrari infrastructure which Alonso would have been aware of.
Two months on – Mattiacci brought together all the staff and associates in the Nuova Logistica building to explain the key points of the plan to revamp the team. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo was on hand to give his support to this ambitious plan, as Mattiacci spoke of the changes needed to make the team operate more efficiently and quickly stressing that Ferrari’s one goal was to get back on top.
Mattiacci also spoke of his medium and long term plans which included creating a team of people who can put the team on a consistent winning cycle with innovative engineering solutions. Or in English terminology, push the spirit of the rules to the limits once more as they did in the period of Schumacher’s domination.
Lotus joins the corporate anti-gay paymasters
Lotus upset some Russian backers back in February with a Tweet at the start of the Sochi Olympic games which clearly was in support against the violation of civil right in Russia. It was removed as an authorised message but Stephane Samson, Lotus’ Brand Director revealed via Twitter he had learnt he had been sacked because of this.
Samson had been responsible with his Facebook entries and use of social media to raise the Enstone team’s profile from 50k to over a a million fans. We complain about the lack of social media being utilised by Formula One and yet the teams themselves have lost their sense of irreverence. Maybe Bernie Ecclestone is right in a way, social media is becoming another method of getting a corporate message to the consumers and if it offends…
Doctors urge caution after Schumacher ‘good news’ (GMM)
Doctors have urged caution following Monday’s official news that Michael Schumacher is no longer in a coma.
Lewis Hamilton summed up the mood of almost the entire world when he hailed the statement issued by Schumacher’s management as “amazing news. I’ve been trying to keep an ear out for what’s going on but not really hearing much improvement,” said the Mercedes driver. “To hear this is really encouraging.” As well as saying the seven time world champion’s almost six-month coma is now over, Monday’s statement revealed Schumacher left the hospital in Grenoble for a “long phase of rehabilitation”.
It said little else, but warned of legal consequences should the media report further, including the location of Schumacher’s next destination. But publications promptly claimed Schumacher, 45, was moved to Lausanne university hospital, a 30 minute drive from the family’s home in Switzerland. The hospital confirmed the news. The media also began to quote the opinions of medical experts, like Oxford university neurosurgery professor Dr Tipu Aziz, who told AP news agency it is clear the former Ferrari driver will suffer “long-term side effects. With rehabilitation, they will try to train him to cope with the disabilities that he’s got to achieve as much life function as possible,” he said. “If he’s had a brain injury, he may have weakness in his limbs secondary to loss of brain function. He may have problems with speech and swallowing.”
Bild newspaper, claiming that Schumacher cannot yet talk, also reported that the rehabilitation “could take months if not years”. “But there are hopeful signs,” British rehabilitation consultant Dr Ganesh Bavikatte is quoted by the Telegraph.“He is physically fit, he is relatively young and I assume he did not have many pre-existing medical conditions.”
Others are less optimistic. Germany neurosurgeon Dr Andreas Pingel told the Focus publication that “Only between 10 and 30 per cent” of patients in Schumacher’s situation have “disabilities which are tolerable”. And Germany’s society for neurology president Dr Andreas Ferbert warned that Schumacher could now be in a “waking coma”, resulting in a “permanent vegetative state”.
However, Bild newspaper had claimed Schumacher was communicating with his family. “We do not know exactly what ‘communication’ means,” Finnish neurosurgeon Dr Mika Niemela told the MTV3 broadcaster. “Eyes open does not necessarily mean communication. I do not want to be a pessimist,” he added, “and I hope he does improve, but if the information that has been given is correct, then yes, the chance of recovery is fairly poor. If he has been five and a half months in ICU, the trauma was significant. Yes, he is probably in constant need of assistance.”
The medical consultant for French television BFMTV, however, said Monday’s news was a “real step”, because earlier updates indicated Schumacher remained at least partially in coma.“Now it is possible to do a complete neurological evaluation and know exactly what has happened,” said Alain Ducardonnet. “Based on this information, an appropriate rehabilitation will start.” Another expert, the chief of neurology at Tampere University, said that Monday’s news makes the “Forecast of recovery slightly better” than before. “But I am unable to comment on what his ability to function in the future will be,” Dr Heikki Numminen told Turun Sanomat newspaper.
Professor Heinzpeter Moecke, of Hamburg hospital, agrees that it is not publicly known what level of consciousness Schumacher is currently achieving. At any rate, he said the F1 legend will “probably have to relearn everything: swallowing, movement, walking, talking. It is a very long and tedious process with many small steps.” Asked if Schumacher can recover, he answered: “No one can say at this time. In principle, nothing is impossible. But that he will go back to before is at least unlikely.”
Former F1 driver Olivier Panis told RTL television on Monday that his friend “will not be paralysed, that’s for sure. He will not be disabled in a wheelchair. But as for the brain, we do not know. We have to be patient,” said the Frenchman.
Should room 101 in Munich not prove kindly to the elderly English gentleman known to many as “Mr. E”, it appears Mr. E will not let his paymasters down to the last.
The bilateral agreements signed with the teams (in pace of the most recent Concorde agreement) gained consent from all for Ecclestone to organise up to 25 races per annum as part of the F1 championship calendar.
TJ13 noted the recent “bargain basement” 10 year deal with Canada may have been signs that CVC and Mr. E have recognised the obvious – there are now few shiny new venues pitching to replace the heart of where Formula One has raced for decades.
Hence where better to hold F1 races? At the circuits where they have been held for decades!!! Yet those circuits do now have the tens of millions to pay up to CVC.
Whilst the Nurburgring now has new owners and financial resources, back in 2013 it was up for sale and due to insolvency, had no obligation to either host a race or pay a fee to F1. Ecclestone’s apparent desperation not to reduce the calendar to 18 races, led them to conclude an 11th hour deal which by all accounts saw FOM receive no hosting fee.
The newspaper Rhein Zeitung claims todat that the Nurburgring has agreed a new contract with Formula One to hold a race each and every year for 5 years. Further, that there may yet be a “long-term strategic partnership beyond the next five years.”
This has led to fevered speculation that Hockenheim is in danger. Yet by reviving the old European GP, we could see every other year both German events are on the F1 calendar. Neither of the German circuits is likely to pay much more than Canada.
Last week Magney Cours was in the news looking for an F1 deal and a Mexico return appears to be a ‘when’ rather than an ‘if’. Then we have Mr. E telling us Ajerbaijan will welcome Formula 1 in 2015.
It may be when Bernie is long gone and the teams could be trecking around 25 race weekends a year for some time to come.
A tale of two teams
Canada saw the Force India team again score points, though there are question marks over whether the one stop strategy employed by the drivers was ultimately the quickest for the team.
Perez was dying a death on his fading tyres and brakes, and as soon as Ricciardo managed to pass the Force India he romped away from the Mexican at a rate of knots.
Perez has scored the Silvertsone based team’s only podium of the season (15pts) yet has a mere 5 points from the other 6 races. By contrast, Nico Hulkneberg hasg scored points in all the rounds so far this year and is just 3 behind world champion Vettel in 6th place for the WDC.
Hulkenberg was pleased with the result in Montreal. “Yes, we have shown once more to be both competitive and consistent, and to come away with ten points after a very busy race was really positive. I was on a different strategy from everyone else, which meant I was under pressure for most of the afternoon, but I think we were on the fastest strategy for us, even if the early safety car didn’t really help. But everything worked as planned and we came away with a very strong result”.
Turning to the ‘new’ circuit in Austria, the German believes there is no reason but to expect more of the same from his team’s challenge to McLaren. “Together with Russia, this race is one of the big question marks for everyone this year. The track has some long straights and a few slow corners that should suit us, and we can count on making the most of softer compounds as we did in Canada. When you go to a new track it’s even more important to maximise the practice sessions because there is so much more to learn.
“The lap is quite short so the gaps between the cars will be minimal and even small mistakes can make a big difference. We have shown once more to be both competitive and consistent, but we will need to keep our guard up and keep working hard as we did from the start. There will be tracks where we will be stronger and where we can capitalise on the opportunities we have, and tracks that will be more of a challenge. I know what plans the team has for the rest of the season and I see no reason why we cannot keep battling at the level we are at now.”
McLaren played down their chances of a good result at the Canadian GP in the run up to the race weekend. Eric Boullier stated there would be a number of upgrades for the car coming to Austria, but little for Canada itself.
Some attrition and other factors saw Button score a fourth place which Boullier accepts philosophically. “Jenson’s fine fourth place in Canada was more the result of some great team strategy calls and a hungry and opportunistic drive from Jenson himself than an improvement in the overall pace of our car. Kevin drove very well in Montreal, too, although his race was thwarted by traffic and ill luck. Still, it’s a mark of the strength of the organisation that we can achieve results like these at a track where it’s often easy to falter”.
The McLaren looks short of downforce and the upgrades coming to Austria (medium downforce circuit) don’t appear to be filling the Woking team principal with confidence.
“For this weekend we’ll be evaluating a number of short- and long-term performance steps. It’s still too early to feel confident about calling them raceable options – it’s more about evaluating their applicability at the circuit than simply hoping they’ll improve lap-time. Nonetheless, we hope the steps will pave the way for an improvement”.
Force India are 11 points ahead of McLaren in the WCC at present, which could have been so much more had Perez maximised his chances. Yet with Woking focused on the return of Honda, this is a big opportunity for the Silvestone team to forge ahead of McLaren into what could become an irretrievable lead this season.
Red Bull Ring rookies in ‘the know’
Two drivers worth hearing from about the upcoming visit to Austria are Daniel Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen. Why? Because they both raced here more recently than anyone else.
Kvyat raced here in 2012 during 2 rounds of the Formula Renault Alps series, notching up 2 wins in the double header weekend. “I had a great weekend and really loved the track. Last year I went back to the Red Bull Ring with Formula 3 this time and again I had great memories taking three poles out of three, followed by three second places in the races. It’s my kind of track, with heavy braking points and it is quite a technical track. It has some fast and medium speed corners which I really enjoy”.
Kevin Magnussen was also racing there in 2013 in the World Series by Renault, “It’s a very cool place – it’s a circuit where you never really get to rest in the cockpit because the track is always going somewhere; there’s only really one ‘straight’ straight, along the start/finish line, but it’s book-ended by fast corners so the opportunity you get to relax is pretty minimal”.
The secret to a good lap the Russian driver believes is, “you need to find a good balance there as there are some reasonably long straights. But it’s mainly about high speed corners which is where you find most of the lap time.” – ooh errr… “find a good balance” – Jenson look out!
The circuit is has medium abrasion surface and most of the grip is expected to be mechanical as Pirelli choose the super soft and soft compounds for the weekend. Magnussen loves this place, “every lap is a real adrenaline rush because the corners never stop coming. You need to really be on top of the car around here, you want it to be doing exactly what you ask of it, simply because the lap is so physical, the driver is actually doing a lot of work, so he needs his car to take as much of that burden as possible”.
So for once, unusually it will be a couple of rookies who have the advantage of knowing the track well as just 3 drivers on the grid last raced here in F1 over 10 years ago.