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Look out Lewis!!!!
Rarely has a sportsperson had fans so dedicated to the cause. Yet the marmite (vegimaite) – reaction to Lewis Hamilton… love him or hate him – was more than evident following yesterdays Austrian GP.
Outraged fans were tweeting SKY en masse, demanding information on the conspiracy theory which see’s a “German” team favouring a “German” driver over their hero. This was all based upon the fact the Lewis pit stops were significantly slower than Nico Rosberg’s.
The adding fuel to the flames, Anthony Davidson pulled up a graphic which demonstrated had Lewis had a similar time in stop 1 to Rosberg, he would have appeared from the pits in second place not third behind the Williams of Bottas.
Hamilton was stationary for more than 2 seconds longer than his team mate during his two visits to the Mercedes pit box to change tyres, yet he finished just 1.9 seconds behind Rosberg at the finish. Figure the deductions made.
Yet a quick look at the statistics reveals, in the 8 races this year, Lewis has had the quickest pit stop on four occasions – Malaysia, Bahrain, China & Canada. Hamilton retired in Australia before any pit stops and he was stacked behind Rosberg (as happened in 2013) in Monaco.
Mark Webber appeared to be revelling in his opportunity to stir the pot of angst between the Mercedes’ drivers as he performed the podium interviews. He revealed to Hamilton he had lost 2 seconds in the pits and asked him what was going on? Specifically, Webber suggested it may be Lewis inability to correctly position the car for the stop which was the reason for his slow tyre change times.
Lewis conceded, that the delays “could be my positioning, I don’t know… I’ll obviously investigate.”
The implication is that Hamilton is more reckless arriving at the box and not hitting the mark where the crew are waiting. This means they have to shuffle along to remove and refit the wheels – causing a loss of time.
In fact, Mercedes did reveal later that “Hamilton was long” on his first stop. He overshot the mark thus causing a delay as the pit crew adjust to where the car was from where they expected it to be.
Still the debate raged, was it this which had caused Hamilton to lose the race? Lewis was asked by SKY’s Pinkerton whether if he’d had a few more laps he could have won the race, but the Brit admitted that wouldn’t have been the case.
“Nico’s done a great job,” said Hamilton. “He’s finished every race and fortunately hasn’t had any car problems so it’s inevitable [the gap].”
So Lewis’ fans can rest easy, there is no conspiracy theory – or at least any concrete evidence of one yet which suggests Mercedes are favouring Rosberg. These things happen in F1 – remember the most unlucky driver the sport has ever seen… Mark Webber???
Stupid decisions have been part of F1 since its inception, and the observation that some of the planets finest minds are involved in the sport has never prevented them at times acting foolishly.
Yet the plethora of ‘mad’ ideas in 2014 appears to many F1 fans to have accelerated, starting with the double points for Abu Dhabi decision made back in January. Fake sparks and trumpet exhausts are just a couple put forward in an attempt to “improve the show”.
In conjunction with this is FOM TV’s obsession with virtual advertising, which has caused the producer of the world TV feed to miss crucial on track advertising – such as Ricciardo’s pass for the lead in Canada.
The latest silly TV graphics notion was seen yesterday with a lap or so of the race left…… Bernie thanking Mateschitz…..
The same TV director missed the 2 Williams crossing the finish line scoring 27 points – a remarkable achievement after last season’s cumulative total of 5.
One wag on twitter suggested we may see the following at Silverstone
Ecclestone: I’m innocent.. honest
The message is getting through to a number of senior F1 figures that their sport is being greatly damaged in the eyes of potential international investors and sponsors, by its consistent association with headlines including the words, “Bribery”, “Corruption”, “Ecclestone”.
Further, many are now questioning the longevity of the Ecclestone business model and its ability to drive further revenues into the sport. Bernie’s lack of ‘digital’ Savoir-faire is increasingly being perceived as a road block to a transition F1 must make to market itself better to a global audience.
It appears Ecclestone’s legal team are fighting back in a desperate attempt to persuade those who need to know that Ecclestone is in fact innocent of the wrong doing he is currently charged with in Munich.
An article in Forbes states the following:
“New evidence from German prosecutors has called into question whether Bernie Ecclestone paid a bribe to steer the sale of Formula One in 2006 to the private equity firm CVC.
Mr Ecclestone is currently on trial in Germany for paying the alleged bribe but close inspection of the 256-page indictment against him reveals a key hurdle to the prosecution’s case.
Mr Ecclestone admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, the former chief risk officer for German bank BayernLB which owned a 47.2% stake in F1′s parent company SLEC. However, Mr Ecclestone denies that the payment was a bribe and claims that Mr Gribkowsky threatened to make unfounded allegations about his tax affairs if the money was not paid.
According to the indictment, Mr Gribkowsky did not have the power to give the green light to the sale to CVC which raises the question of what would have been the point in Mr Ecclestone bribing him. The decision to sell was made by a majority of BayernLB board members and Mr Ecclestone has not been charged with bribing them.
BayernLB was paid $814 million for its stake which valued F1 at $2 billion and was double CVC’s initial offer. The indictment reveals that Mr Ecclestone knew Mr Gribkowsky could not get the BayernLB board to accept the lower offer. “The Accused knew that BayernLB was not ready to sell its shares for offers of between $400m and $500m, so the resulting sale price from an enterprise value of $1bn (as CVC brought into play) would not meet the expectations of the bank. The Accused knew that a sale at this price would fall through since he reckoned that even Dr Gribkowsky could not negotiate this price with BayernLB.”
The indictment adds that Mr Ecclestone was aware of this because “BayernLB did not agree to offers in the order of between $400m and $500m which were made between April and July 2005.”
According to the indictment, Mr Ecclestone encouraged CVC to pay more as he “reckoned from the start that BayernLB would not turn down an offer based on an enterprise value of $2bn for 100% of SLEC and the proportionate sale price derived from it for BayernLB’s shares.” He was proved to be right”.
This is all jolly well and good, but reveals nothing new and omits certain important information.
Gerhard Gribkowsky was a board member of Bayern LB and a special advisor to them on their F1 investment. Such was his designated remit, for around a year he spent almost all of his time working on the F1 project as a liaison between Ecclestone and the bank.
Simply, Gribkowsky was BayernLB’s F1 expert. His recommendations would have carried substantial weight and Ecclestone knew this.
It’s rather moronic to suggest bribing such an individual is inconceivable because they are not the ultimate arbitrator who can make the favourable decision required.
For those from more superstitious backgrounds it would not be unfair that they believe Sebastian Vettel has committed heinous sexual crimes with a holy man. The evidence for this would be that It is the number one car in the Red Bull team which appears to suffer all the mechanical failures and ‘bad luck’ going in 2014.
Yet Mr. Vettel was a lucky boy yesterday. Whllst racing for position – last position – he clumsily ran into the rear of Esteban Gutierrez. Given previous precedents, this would surely attract a penalty from the stewards would have been the opinion of most F1 fans and pundits.
Yet Vettel escaped sanction – and then retired his car.
The reason Sebastian was not punished was revealed much later by the race stewards, who stated, “In light of the new guidelines from the Formula One Commission, there is no further action warranted.”
Ironically, Gutierrez received a ten-second stop-go penalty during the race for an unsafe release from the pits and will take a ten-place grid penalty for the next event at Silverstone. Clearly the stewards are not feeling any incremental leniency if you’re not a quadruple world champion.
Fire and a puddle of luke warm water
So, we are almost half way through the 2014 season and the natural order of things is becoming apparent in the battle of the team mates.
Last September TJ13 broke the Richtar scale 9 story, revealing we would be seeing a return to Ferrari for Kimi Raikkonen. Much of the surprise at this move was because the Finn had previously been so ignominiously jettisoned by the red team in favour of Fernando Alonso in 2009.
This set up delectable, tantalising and intriguing possibilities together with months of speculation on whether the self appointed Spanish Samuari and ‘best F1` driver’ designate by many would be challenged to the extreme.
FIRE and ICE was the billing – and the F1 world waited with baited breath.
Mmm. Well the ice man hasn’t shown up yet this year. James Allison rather unwittingly damned the Finn following the Spanish GP when asked whether Kimi was struggling more with the car than Fernando. His reply was to the effect, “he’s just slower”.
So far, Alonso has finished 8-0 ahead in the races with an average finish position of 5.125 to Kimi’s 9.5. Fernando has led his team mate by 417 laps to 89 and out qualified Kimi by 6-2.
Yet the most damning statistic is the average gap between the red team mates when looking at their qualification times. Fernando is 0.723s quicker on average than Kimi across their best qualifying runs in the 8 GP events of the season so far.
The only other team mate pairing where one driver is being so consistently whipped by the other is in Caterham. Kobayashi’s average qualifying time is 0.869s quicker than rookie Marcus Ericsson.
Being a big fish in a small pond looks to be a far better place to be than a minnow in Alonso’s Paraná infested swamp.
Still, at least Kimi can console himself he is being paid tens of millions this year even though his ice image is looking more like a puddle of warm water.
Oh how the mighty have fallen
Dieter Mateschitz, the self styled modern Archduke John of Styria, decided some years ago to magnanimously invest tens of millions in upgrading the old Austrian A1 Ring racing circuit, and ultimately to bring F1 back to his beloved fellow Austrians.
At the grand homecoming this weekend, no one could have dreamed of predicting the utter humiliation that would befall his Red Bull racing empire.
Only new kids on the block, Ricciardo and Kvyat made it into the final qualifying session as the quadruple world champion and JEV were not even in the top 50% of cars starting the race.
Astonishingly, in a race where there were just 3 retirements, all were bearing the Red Bull branding in one language or another.
The most malevolent of Red Bull Racing critics couldn’t have written this script if asked to pen a likely tragedy for the object of their derision.
Mateschitz sloped off, didn’t watch the race and was left to ponder whether it was really all worthwhile. Yet the Austrian spectators enjoyed the sun, drank lots of beer and seemed fairly happy with their lots
Corporal Horner was sent out to regale against the evil tyrant who had conspired to bring such humiliation on the house of ‘Taurine’ – offspring of Napoleon himself – Renault. Yet no one was really listening, and those who were, didn’t really care.
Empires rise – empires fall…….. Dynasty’s come – dynasty’s go.
Ask the Royalty that is Ferrari. Alonso trundled home 5th, some 18 seconds behind the Mercedes who were in ‘car management’ mode for much of the last 10 laps.
Even though the Spaniard had managed a podium third in China, such was his delight with his 5th place he declared this result as his finest this year. “I think that I can consider this to be my best race of the season, because finishing 18 seconds off the Mercedes in a race without a Safety Car or any particular incidents, is a good result.”
What Fred was really thinking was, “Yeeeessssssssssss…… 25 seconds ahead of the old enemy!!!!!!” in the guise of the embattled Bull Rider of Daniel Ricciardo.
McLaren too know how hard the bump is coming down to earth after ruling the F1 world. Even with the world beating Mercedes engine, their world champ JB was outside the points again.
McLaren were saved from being stone cold last in the Mercedes engine customer battle by young gun Magnussen who dragged his woeful MP4-29 into 7th place, behind a Force India and both Williams’ cars.
So where has the gazillions of the recent Titans of F1 been spent, one may ask?
Such was the German rout on Austrian soil, Kevin Eason of the Times wrote that Mercedes, “‘had smashed up Red Bull’s metaphorical china shop’. He continued, “The rampant Red Bulls of the past turned up on the lush home ground of the Styrian mountains like a bunch of clapped-out old cows destined for the knacker’s yard”,
In a more understated manner, Paul Weaver of The Guardian’s penned that “in their home race Red Bull also had an anticlimactic time”.
So off Mateschitz, Marko and Horner stomp, vowing to build their own engine which will surely be better than the one created by the 3rd most successful F1 engine designer of all time….
…. The audience snigger, unobserved by the players… behind the back of their hands. Though most are unsure whether they have just watched a comedic act, or a tragic farce.
The lesson according to St Bernie
If you spend enough time talking to F1 paddock folk, you’ll get the impression that Bernie Ecclestone has some mesmerising power which at times causes rational intelligent individuals to spout the equivalent of verbal diarrhoea.
At the team principal’s press conference in Austria, with the exception of old school Franz Tost, each of the team principal’s in quasi-religious fervour repeated platitudes including the words, “the show”.
“I’ll be back”, Toto Wolff, even inferred he couldn’t care less whether the smaller teams survived of not because there was a plan B for those left to deliver 3 cars each to make up the grid.
This nonsense is a regurgitation of Ecclestone’s theories on how Formula 1 should be run, and he repeated it again this weekend.
Ecclestone was passionate about the fact that tal;k of cost cutting is a complete waste of time, because he believes a ‘lack of finance’ will weed out the weaker teams on the grid.
“In fact, I would be happy [if the grid shrank],” Autosport reports, “It’s like a poker game. You don’t know the other players…. They should not be in the game…. You should not be in this business if you cannot afford it.”
In the F1 lesson according to Bernie, a new theme emerged as a target for his derision. “We have too many rules that are not necessary… When a driver crosses a white line he will be punished. That’s wrong. “Drivers are racers and they want to go racing, so let them do so. The stewards should be locked in their room and take a look into any infringements after the race, not during the competition.”
This incomprehensible psyco-babble still had me attempting to figure out the consequences hours after it was spoken.
Drivers can do what they want?…. Who needs white lines?… Stewards locked away?
Williams Heritage scheduled for Goodwood Festival of Speed
After several attempts at interpreting this mantra, the Damascus light hit me between the eyes. This is what F1 folk do… instead of responding to Ecclestone with a pre prepared scripted answer to anything which emerges from his mouth… “bo$%^ks mate, you talking s$%t”,…. they find a way of accommodating a Bernie sentiment into the real world…. When in fact it should remain in the senile, incontinent and delusionary realm from whence it came.
From its humble beginning as essentially an English garden party back in the early 90’s, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has expanded into one of the highlights of the motor-sport calendar.
Teams and drivers attend this unique event in the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex where the entrants drive up a 1.16 mile hill climb in demonstrations for the enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd. With access to the teams and drivers of the current Formula One being so restricted, the Festival represents the perfect opportunity to get close to legends of man and machine.
Williams Martini Racing will be present with a show car and mocked up garage and trucks for the spectators but maybe of more interest to the historic fans is the fact that the recently formed Williams Heritage will be present in what is one of their first display events.
The 1996 World Champion – Damon Hill – will attend on the Sunday and drive the FW18 in which he won his world championship. The car will also be used by current Williams driver, Brazilian Felipe Massa who will attend on the Saturday; the first time he has re-visited the glorious event since he drove a Ferrari F2002 in 2003: “It will be nice to go back as there is always a great atmosphere at Goodwood and it’s a great event with amazing fans that have a true love of all motor-sports”
Jonathan Williams of Williams Heritage added: “The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a highlight of the motorsport calendar and it’s always fun to showcase Williams’ historic assets to thousands of highly knowledgeable fans. The FW18 is one of the most successful Williams cars, so to see Damon reunited with it will be very special and something that I’m sure fans will appreciate. With the establishment of Williams Heritage as a distinct division of Williams, the plan is to conduct a growing number of these events in the future and to showcase and support our past racing cars and technology for a new generation of fans.”
It’s time to play…..
A little later than usual this season folks… but here it is. The game show we all love to play…… ‘Maranello Meltdown’.
The catalyst is usually the Spanish Grand Prix. With the equivalent of 9 Grand Prix worth of mileage run during winter testing, plus 6 races proper, teams have a realistic idea of where they’re going to end up by the end of the season. And Fernando knows whether Ferrari need to be kicked by him because they’re nowhere – or kicked to encourage them to greater efforts in order for him to retain a sliver of hope.
The puddle of melted water – that is Kimi – started to lose it during the race in Austria. His engineer put in a perfectly reasonable [some think] request for the Finn to up his pace by 0.2s a lap because he was in a fight with Jenson. The former superhero ‘man of ice’ retorted, “Well, give me more power!”
Following a fairly quiet 4-5 weeks following his announcement as team principal, it appears Marco Mattiacci is doing what he was sent to do – ruffling a few feathers.
Rumours of frayed tempers and highly charged exchanges between those wearing red uniforms are rife in the Italian and Spanish social media and newsprint.
Pat Fry is widely expected to be on his way out, though whilst James Allison is concentrating on the 2015 project, Fry is tasked with improving the sloth like F14T and Marca reports loud and heated exchanges between Fry and Mattiacci following the Canadian GP.
Initially Ferrari sources rubbished this, though Mattiacci himself gave credence to the revelation when asked about the instance by Spanish TV in Austria. “I like meetings where people talk openly and honestly and no one is silent,” grinned the Sicilian junior padrino. “After Canada, we held meetings to discuss our weaknesses and in what direction we should go for the future.”
Following a period of mourning for his friend Dominicali, Fernando damned the new team principal with faint praise of ineffectuality and inconsequence. More recently, Alonso appeared to admit that Marco would in fact get things done – and hopefully right.
Yet, the journey for Ferrari to ‘get with the programme’ can either be prolonged and with less pain – or a bloodbath. Signs are that Mattiacci realises that a programme of transformation may just take too long and it’s time to draw that hatchet…
Mr. Fry’s days look to be numbered… and in double rather than treble digits….
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