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OTD Lite: 1979 – The Epic Villeneuve vs Arnoux fight
On this day in history, Jean-Pierre Jabouille won the 1979 French Grand Prix. It was Renault’s first victory and the first for a turbo-charged engine. Whilst this is all very impressive for the statisticians out there this was not the reason this race is so loved.
What was witnessed over the last few laps of the race has become folk-lore and arguably the greatest ever fight witnessed in Formula One history. The protagonists, one Rene Arnoux and one Gilles Villeneuve.
By lap 46, Villeneuve had all but destroyed his tyres defending the lead when Jabouille overtook him. Some laps later Arnoux pulled a move on the Ferrari to claim second position but the Renault fuel-metering was not functioning properly allowing the tyre handicapped Ferrari to re-challenge.
With equal cars but hearts of lions, they pulled manoeuvres against each other that had the crowds and TV audience speechless. Wheel to wheel combat, contact and pitching each other off the circuit – it doesn’t bear thinking about what the stewards would decide today.
For this who have never seen it…
Let’s make the drivers Gladiators again – Lauda
Many Formula One fans take umbrage at any suggestion that Flavio Briatore makes, yet he has perhaps a unique view of what Formula One is truly about. It’s not about how incredible the technology is. Whilst some people would enjoy understanding the nuances between aero updates, these same people would appreciate the technology that puts man into space. But whilst the Saturn V is viewed in awe – the real story is Neil Armstrong stepping on to the moon.
Niki Lauda is, by all accounts, not an easy man to like. Be it historically when he was a Formula One driver, an airline owner and latterly a F1 team boss, he has a particular talent for ‘grating’ people’s nerves. Yet as a triple World Champion this offers him some leeway as can be witnessed in the drama that is the Mercedes motorhome. Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolff desire the use of team-orders already – whereas Niki prefers that the drivers secure the titles then they can “drive over each other.”
In a recent interview with Autosport he spoke about how the FIA needs to stop interfering with collisions between drivers completely.
“What I do not like is when I watch the race like Montreal, Nico and Lewis are close in the first corner and then it says on the television that they are under investigation. I went to Charlie and Bernie and said we need to bring the old days back, like when [Nelson] Piquet hit the other guy [Eliseo Salazar] at Hockenheim. You should leave it to the drivers. Don’t interfere in all this. Honestly, it is a joke, the public leaves us because we are not racers any more.”
“Even the incident of Perez and Massa, if now they are getting the idea of cutting back all the influence from the stewards of the meeting and all these kinds of things, then I would not even talk about that. It was a normal race accident, and thank god nothing happened, and I would leave it at this.”
Of course the pressure of running the Mercedes team is getting to the great Austrian, after all Perez WAS given a grid penalty for the Austrian Grand Prix.
“In Austria when I saw again another investigation for the Vettel/ Gutierrez incident I thought it was all wrong. It has to be stopped. If after the race somebody wants to protest because of it being unfair, fine he should do it. It costs a lot of money, a lot of lawyers and a lot of bullshit. So this will not happen. I would let these drivers be free to race. There is too much control of everything. It takes the interest away. Charlie agrees with it, I have to say, and they are going to do something – to do less and less and less on this.”
Stirling Moss has repeatedly stated that part of the attraction of motor-sport was the very fact it was dangerous, that he was pitting his skills against his fate. Of course a return to those safety standards is completely unacceptable but has Formula One moved too far in the opposite direction?
Mattiacci will solve the problems – Raikkonen
According to ex World Champion Mika Hakkinen – “In my opinion Ferrari is more and more into the situation of eventually replacing one of the two drivers.” Common sense would suggest it would be his compatriot Kimi Raikkonen that will bite the bullet and whispered voices in recent weeks have done nothing to scotch the rumours.
Yet Raikkonen is fully supportive of the Ferrari team principal’s approach to the Scuderia problems. “Everybody has their own way of doing things – it’s very early days for Marco, and when he started he didn’t have as much knowledge as Stefano of F1, but he’s a very nice guy and he wants to really make a difference and know the sport.”
“He’s doing a lot of work that people don’t see and I think he’s doing a very good job. He’s a good guy to work with. I had a pretty close relationship with Stefano but it’s just a change for all of us, and I think sometimes that’s a good thing. People come from outside of F1 with a different view of things and it can help. It’s been good so far and I’m expecting he can do a very good job.”
As to the challenges facing Raikkonen this season – contrary to common opinion it is not the brake-by-wire and technical changes that are causing him problems but tyres that are too hard which then affect the turn-in.
“It’s really about how the car handles, what I prefer, and the way the tyres work. It’s a combination of that. We have a lot of work to do with the car now, and we are missing traction and we are missing a bit of grip on the mechanical side. We try somehow to balance it out and try to have a front end on the car, but it is very, very difficult. I hate it when there is no front end on the car.
“And right now, if we sort out the front end we lose the rear and it is trying to balance it out – and somehow get it working. We have a lot of work to do before we have good things, but for sure we will get there.”
With Fernando Alonso seemingly more welcoming in recent weeks towards the new team boss, it suggests that Mattiacci’s appointment may carry true power behind it. Whatever the differences between the two ex-World Champions ability, lack of intelligence is not one of them. Whether MM has Il Padrino’s vote of confidence behind him or the Fiat board, it would seem that as Cesare Fiorio stated after Mattiacci’s appointment, top level management decisions account for 80% of their ability – the remaining 20% is easily learnt or delegated.
Then again, maybe Kimi does recognise the power behind the throne and is trying to appease it to save his job
‘Emotional’ Hamilton on back foot for title – Walker (GMM)
Nico Rosberg has put himself on pole position to beat his high-profile teammate to the 2014 world championship. That is the view of Lewis Hamilton’s countryman Murray Walker, the famous former F1 commentator, ahead of the 29-year-old British driver’s home race at Silverstone.
Niki Lauda, a triple world champion and the team chairman at Mercedes, thinks Hamilton’s home grand prix comes at “the perfect time”, after his three-race losing streak to the on-form Rosberg. “He has his home race and fans and he needs to make up ground to Nico,” the great Austrian told the Mirror but Lauda admits that Hamilton’s task is a tough one, given his 29-point points deficit to German Rosberg. “Unfortunately it is,” he said. “No question.”
Worse still, after Hamilton suspected in Monaco that Rosberg made a deliberate ‘error’ to keep pole position, the latest conspiracy theory is that Mercedes’ pit crew gave Hamilton deliberately slow service in Austria. “In the race you cannot get paranoid,” Lauda insisted. “I don’t need to coach him. I’ve known him a long time and he’s absolutely perfect in his head. He’s highly motivated.”
But Walker, arguably the most famous voice in F1 history, thinks Hamilton and Rosberg’s respective personalities do set them apart as they battle in 2014. “I don’t think it is unfair to say that Hamilton is a lot more emotional about it and that can affect his driving,” the 90-year-old told the Daily Mail. “The more he is beaten by Rosberg, the more it could hypothetically hurt him emotionally, and that brings about more pressure. In a nutshell it is going to be very, very difficult for Hamilton to win the championship because Rosberg is a thinking driver. Hamilton is faster but I don’t think he is cleverer than Rosberg,” said Walker.
TJ13 comment: In Monaco Hamilton witnessed Rosberg’s ‘error’ and apparently found evidence that made him smile after the stewards had missed it – whereas in Austria he would have known that his pit-stops may have been slower than normal but he would have had no information if Rosberg had been similarly affected. Only on the podium after the race was he made aware of a possible difference when Mark Webber asked him directly about his ‘slow’ pit-stop. It would be ludicrous to suggest he was racing in a paranoid state.
It’s one thing when the press manipulate facts to dramatise the story but an ex-F1 driver? Although having said that Mark was never slow to use the press against Vettel – his own team-mate. Webber was a team-mate of Rosberg’s at Williams in 2006 and his actions could be seen in a number of ways – amongst which, he is trying to de-rail the German for some falling out they had years ago, or he is trying to de-stabilise Hamilton to help his young friend…
In addition, it is becoming tiresome to hear so called professionals reaching for Hamilton’s white flag because they feel he is too far behind. Vettel was over 40 points behind when he was chasing down Alonso’s championship lead in 2012. Alonso, similarly, left Silverstone in 2010 with a 47 point deficit and started the final race of the season with a points advantage. If you go back further, Raikkonen was 17 points behind Hamilton with two races remaining in 2007, yet won the title when a win only paid out 10 points.
We have enjoyed just eight races this year, with another eleven to go – anything can happen
Zanardi looks forward to Schumacher recovery (GMM)
Alex Zanardi, horrifically and near-fatally injured in 2001, has wished his old rival Michael Schumacher well. Three times during their respective racing careers, the Italian and German faced off on the circuits. The first was as teenagers, at the wheel of European kart competitions. Then a few years later, in the early 90s, when Zanardi raced in F1 for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus. And after Zanardi’s ultra-successful American open wheeler career, the pair met yet again in F1, this time with Zanardi struggling in a Williams and Schumacher well on the road to the Ferrari-coloured glory years.
Today, Zanardi has rebuilt his sporting life after losing his legs and nearly his life in a 2001 Champ Car crash. Like Schumacher, who has just emerged from a six-month coma and is reportedly conscious in a Lausanne hospital, Zanardi spent time in a coma 13 years ago. “I know Michael from childhood, in karts,” he told Speed Week. “He has always been a person who does not give up. So I was always sure that his condition would improve and he would beat the coma.”
Zanardi says he remembers little from his own coma, except extreme tiredness when he woke up, and then briefly struggling to recall how to do simple things on his own — like breathe and urinate. Schumacher’s coma, of course, has been much longer, and involving brain injury. But Zanardi has hope.
“I remember when I stood up on my new feet for the first time after the accident, it was during an event in which Schumi took part as well,” he said. “I remember how touched he was. So I want to tell him that I cannot wait to see him standing up, to see that it is me that is moved this time,” Zanardi, 47, added.
Meanwhile, in the case of Schumacher’s stolen medical records, suspicion has returned yet again to the hospital in Grenoble, where for six months the great German was in a coma. Earlier, it was reported that Swiss ambulance staff may have photographed the doctor’s letter during Schumacher’s transfer from Grenoble to Lausanne.
But, citing police sources, the French newspaper Le Dauphine Libere claims the stolen letter – on the market for a reported EUR 50,000 – contained “spelling mistakes”. It seems the letter was in fact a draft, thrown in the hospital bin in Grenoble. “So far, no one has been identified as the person responsible for the act (of theft),” Grenoble prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat told the French news agency AFP. “The investigation is ongoing and far from over.”
TJ13 comment: It is great to see the press, for once, actually ‘assisting’ the recovery of stolen medical documents. These medical records have been downgraded on a daily basis until they have become insignificant scribblings on a thrown away piece of paper. Although when the newspapers offer prizes of many 1,000’s of pounds and they can pay six figure sums to tell-all questionable human characters about their sordid lives, surely one of these institutions would stump up the EUR50,000 being asked and give it back to the family; whilst at the same time liaising with the police to apprehend the idiot who thought stealing these documents would be a quick money earner.
Formula E Fanboost is now open
The FIA Formula E Championship has today officially launched the interactive Fan Boost initiative allowing fans to vote for their favourite driver giving them an extra ‘speed burst’ during the race, helping to aid overtaking.
In a change to the first proposed format, the top three drivers with the most votes will each receive one boost, temporarily increasing their car’s power from 133kw (180bhp) to 200kw (270bhp). Votes can be cast online and via the official Formula E app (which launches September 1) with voting opening from the start of the previous race and closing shortly before the start of the race.
Those voting online will be able to select just one driver, whilst those using the app will get five. The online voting system (iframe) will also be hosted on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Sina Weibo. Votes can be changed any number of times up until the closing date. Every time a vote is placed it can be shared forwards as a hashtag and appear in a timeline on Facebook or Weibo generating further social interaction.
For more information on voting click here
Palmer discussing an F1 seat
There may be another rookie driver in F1 for 2015. Jolyon Palmer who leads the GP2 championship series says he is discussing an F1 drive.
Palmer drives for the DAMS team and has won 2 races and five podium finishes this season. He leads Felipe Nasr by 33 points though a difficult weekend in Austria saw his lead in the championship cut.
“Things are progressing,” Palmer told Sky Sports News. “So far this season things have been almost perfect for me minus the little blip in Austria, but really everything is coming together well. There are some Formula 1 talks progressing, but not much I can say at the moment.
“But definitely I am aiming to be on the grid next year in 2015 and at the moment win GP2. We are moving closer, but the one big focus at the moment is to win GP2.”
With 8 races gone and 14 to come, there is a lot yet to do if Palmer is to take the GP2 drivers title in 2014.
Research required for standing restarts
The standing restart of the race following a safety car period now regulated for in 2015, appears to be causing confusion across F1.
This is typical of the chaos of communication in the sport and even the usually well informed Paul Hembery says Pirelli are some way from understanding how the standing restarts will work.
“We need to understand a little bit more detail,” Hembery said. “There will be a standing start but after how much time? You see the cars when they come in, there are all sort of blowers that are used, so there are lots of issues involved.
It’s not just about the tyres losing temperature, it’s about the cars maybe overheating, so it’s something they’ll need to perfect. From our point of view we’ve obviously run behind safety cars, so temperatures and pressures have dropped. We would have to do some simulations to work out how long will they be sat on the grid, and that’s something we will want to look at.”
This information is out there Paul. TJ13 understands the cars will only return to the grid 1 lap following the safety car leaving the circuit. Only 2 team personnel may remain on the pit wall, the rest must be inside the team garage. There will be no team personnel allowed to touch the car, no tyre changes and the pit lane will be closed.
Further, should Charlie Whiting deem conditions to be ‘unsuitable’ for a standing start, then the current procedure will ensue.
Lapped car’s out of position will already have been instructed to un-lap themselves – though TJ13 is asking the FIA at present to use a system where these cars just drive through the pits, wait at the end of the pit lane under a red light if necessary, and then rejoin the back of the snake.
Daniel Ricciardo revealed the drivers had the opportunity to express their views on the standing start issue. “We did, we all pretty much disagreed [with the idea] as far as I am aware”.
Paul Hembery is not critical of the FIA for bringing about the radical rule changes including the titanium plates for artificial sparks.
“We have to be careful what [we say] ‘fans’ are. There’s fans who watch the racing and then people who are maybe more involved in those details. There’s probably the whole of China that doesn’t give a damn, quite frankly, about all these aspects and just want to see good racing and a good event!
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with creating sparks and creating some visuals. We’ve got to have a sport which creates some emotions and I think those moves shouldn’t be criticised, it’s very positive.”
Oh dear… another one bites the dust – as the cloned Hembery look alike, spiels the party line from Bernie.
It appears F1 is hell bent on hacking off its extensive global fan base – such that they bugger off and are replaced by those with a passing interest…. in sparks….. and in cars crashing into each other because they are forced to restart a race on a carpet of rubber marbles..
Frijns back at the wheel
Caterham have confirmed within the past hour that Robin Frijns (cue myriad of TJ13 Dutch readers…) will be taking the wheel of Kobayashi’s car for FP1 on Friday in Silverstone.
Frijns last drove the CT-05 in Bahrain and is keen to see how the car has developed.
I’m back in the 2014 car for the first time since Bahrain and excited about getting back in the cockpit and helping us make some progress again – as well as seeing how the car has developed since early April.
I was in our 2010 car a couple of weeks ago at the City Racing event in Russia, and that was cool, but the real work is in the current season car in an official session and that’s what Friday morning is all about.”
Mystery still enshrouds the future of the Leafield F1 team following a highly irresponsible tweet issued by their owner, Tony Fernandes. “F1 hasn’t worked” he posted and promptly closed his twitter account from which he also regularly tweeted about Air Asia and Queens Park Rangers.
Here we go again….
It’s nothing new folks – same old story and even the quotes look as though they’ve been re-cycled.
The Monza circuit is operated by SIAS on behalf of the Automobile Club d’Italia. The SIAS President Paolo Guaitamacchi instigated legal proceedings against individuals involved in managing the circuit’s operations back in 2012.
According to Corriere della Sera the police raided he circuit managers’ homes in May 2012 and the prosecutors warrant cited “poor transparency” and “criminal profiles,” in allegations estimated to be worth at least €100,000. It is alleged the group falsified invoices, handed out free tickets and gave preferential treatment to friends when awarding the circuit’s catering contract.
Monza has traditionally has had a mega deal on the hosting fee – say $7m pa – and Bernie’s mate ran the circuit. However, he was booted out for alleged ‘corruption’ and Bernie was miffed and threatened the Autodromo they would lose their race.
Monza’s deal was negotiated in 2010 and runs to the end of 2016 and for many represents one of the great cathedral’s of motor racing’s past. The first Italian GP was held there in 1929 and since the F1 championship was established in 1950 – there has been a race there every year but one.
However, Ecclestone believes the likes of Silverstone, Spa and Monza represent the past whilst Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi are more representative of F1’s future.
The Italian media are reporting Ecclestone as saying Monza is finished. “I do not think we’ll do another contract, the old one was a disaster from a commercial viewpoint, After 2016, bye bye!,” says F1’s Lord and Master.
Ecclestone means that Monza have refused to pay stupid and exorbitant hosting fees.
Monza and Silverstone are the only two races on the calendar which receive no financial assistance. Silverstone were in a similar position to that which Monza finds itself in now back in 2009 and were forced into signing a crazy deal with Ecclestone which will see the hosting fee escalate to over $60m in its final year of 2025.
Politicians from the Lombardy Region are predictably calling on the Italian government to save the historic F1 race and in days of yore, we could expect Ferrari to join the chorus.
However, Ferrari are silent maybe because there have been recent whispers of Mugello being proposed for an F1 race.
Who owns the Mugello circuit? Ferrari.
Whatever is said of the Monza organisation, it is testimony to the fact that lower hosting fees lead to lower ticket prices. Last year, general admission was half the price of Silverstone at around £80 for all three days admission.
So F1 fans – what would you rather lose? Monaco who pay nothing to F1 becuase of the grace and favour they offer… or Monza who at least contribute something and deliver a cost effective race for fans to go to and watch their sport?
Who has been throwing things around in Milton Keynes?
Red Bull have been having a frustrating time this year. Yes, Renault have designed an engine which just can’t compete with the power of the Mercedes, but the team themselves have created their own problems.
Besides Lotus, Red Bull completed the least mileage in testing as design flaws with their car required rectifying. Adrian Newey also admitted the team had dropped the ball by trying to win all of the last 9 races in 2013, when others were busy with this year’s car.
This particular sin has cost Red Bull precious time manufacturing highly complex components like the gear box, which takes weeks of machining time to complete. Vettel arrived in Monaco with a patched up gear box from the previous test, knowing the team had no replacement ready and in the principality for the entire weekend.
Despite all this, team newbie, Daniel Ricciardo has been shining brightly. out qualifying and out racing his quadruple world champion team mate, yet he reckons it is still not his place to ‘throw stuff around the room’ when things are not right, because ‘there’s other people to do that’.
Ricciardo also admits the lack of power from Renault is hurting the team and their chances. “Don’t get me wrong, it is frustrating,” Ricciardo said. “It’s hard because a lot of it happens on a straight and there’s no skill required on a straight. It’s sort of like throwing away talent for nothing really. Don’t get me wrong, anyone could hop in the car and if you’re not scared of going 300 km/h then you can easily go flat out on a straight in a Formula One car”.
The darling of the paddock appears to forget that driving around corners as fast as you can is also not so difficult when you have a car that corners better. Formula 1 has always been about both.
“It’s just giving away time for nothing, I guess, which is the frustrating part. From our side as well they’ve spent time, hours, money on designing a fast car through the corners but it just gets washed away on the straights. That’s the frustrating part. But it is what it is basically.”
It appears the in the contexts of the above sentiments, the irony of his next comment is lost a little on Daniel. “I’m new to the team so I’m not going to come in and start throwing stuff around the room and say ‘this is how it should be’, there’s other people to do that. I’m just driving what I’m given. I have faith we can turn it around, this year now is getting away from us but for 2015 I have faith things will definitely improve.”
Who exactly has been throwing things around?
This does beg the question whether the TJ13 exclusive from Jerez on the final morning of testing has now finally been corroborated. Sebastian Vettel had climbed out of the car and refused to drive it again. At 11:30am we reported Red Bull would not run again that day. They didn’t.
The team subsequently packed up to go home and the BBC picked up on the ‘hissy fit’ story.
F1 ready for 8 teams and 3 cars per team
In his usual empathetic manner, Bernie Ecclestone has commented on the plight of Caterham F1.
“Let’s take Caterham. They have invested a load of money, they are going to need a load more and therefore paying drivers. But what for if they have never been competitive?
They should stop,” he said. “If they do not have the money, they should close. I am ready for a Formula One with eight teams and three cars each.
Is it better to see a third Ferrari or a Caterham? Ferrari might find new sponsors in America and an American driver. Great. The same for the others.
Time and tide wait for no man – and these words are hardly inspiring for the potential investors about to ‘buy’ – ‘the team in green’. It does demonstrate the lengths to which Ecclestone will go… to get his own way…
Meanwhile in IndyCar – small teams conquered the great… in Houston last weekend.