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OTD Lite: 1972 – Tragic anniversary for Helmut Marko
On this day in 1972, Helmut Marko, the tough Austrian bull that speaks out in brusque fashion over anything that is not in Red Bull’s favour, ended his racing career after a stone was flicked up off of Emerson Fittipaldi’s tyre and pierced his visor during the French Grand Prix, leaving him permanently blinded.
He went to school with Jochen Rindt who would become the only posthumous World Champion in 1970 and competed in several international championships including 10 Grand Prix.
In 1971, he was part of the Martini-Porsche team that won the Le Mans 24 hours race and set a distance record that would remain unbeaten until 2010. In 1972 driving for Alfa Romeo, he set a lap record as he chased Arturo Merzario at the Targa Florio,covering the 72km lap in 33m 41 secs.
His initial grounding in modern F1 was as a manager for Gerhard Berger and Karl Wendlinger; before he set up RSM Marko, a team competing in F3 and F3000 under the title Red Bull Junior team. It was during this time that he took over responsibility of the Red Bull driver training programme which he continues to dominate to this day.
Also David Coulthard diced with Michael Schumacher and beat him to the chequered flag in the French GP in 2000.
Also on this day in 1961, another French GP was contested
Ferrari confirms the return of in-season testing for themselves
Considering the constant updates and layout changes of the Silverstone circuit over the last quarter of a century, this once abandoned airfield is considered by most drivers as one of the great circuits. It’s mixture of high speed corners test both the car and drivers to the limit and although the original circuit has been emasculated somewhat, the circuit remains a challenge that the current generation of drivers love.
On Ferrari’s website this week the team previewed the upcoming British Grand Prix with previous winner Kimi Raikkonen speaking warmly of a previous generation of circuit. “I like coming to this track, even if I preferred the old layout, I especially enjoy what used to be the first corner, Copse.”
Fernando Alonso also a previous winner here stated: “I think Silverstone is a very challenging circuit, very demanding with its high speed corners and the whole track is tough on the car and for the driver too,” says Alonso. “There’s a great sense of tradition here, so all the drivers want to do well at this event in front of the English fans. Not only are they very passionate about the sport, they also know their Formula 1.” Whilst the drivers give the circuit a big thumbs up, Ferrari is in the midst of a quandary. Do they give up the 2014 car and focus on next year’s car, or do they continue development of the F14-T?
Ferrari: “Clearly, the Scuderia has not given up on this year. For this reason, technical development of the F14 T continues apace. The truth is the team is working flat out to improve the performance level of the F14 T to be more competitive in the second half of the year. winning as many points as possible for the Constructors’ championship in which the current standings are quite close among those chasing the leaders.
Cars built to the current technical regulations are still very much in their infancy, which means the learning curve for all the teams is very steep. Therefore, while the eleven remaining races represent eleven more chances to get good results and points, they also represent 33 more days of learning valuable lessons on track from Friday through Sunday, that can be applied in the future. Backing off now on the development front would be counter-productive.”
They say every cloud has a silver-lining and it will prove to be a priceless moment when a reporter is brave enough to ask Alonso how it feels to be a test driver again. Enzo would have been so proud of how his team has fallen prey to internal politics again.
Red Bull knew about Renault’s problem in 2012
TJ13 was the first to announce that Renault were experiencing huge problems at the pre-season Jerez test. Information received in January suggested a twenty week turnaround of the manufacturers fortunes and by Renault’s own admission their current engine design reached it’s zenith in Canada with 100% of its potential realised. The victory by Ricciardo was somewhat fortunate with both Mercedes experiencing problems during the race but he was well-placed when it counted. Of more concern to Red Bull was the subsequent race in Austria which highlighted the gulf between the Renault power-plant and it’s rivals.
Towards the end of last year, Sebastian Vettel seemed to be more reflective in each of his victories thanking the guys on the pit-wall and stating to them to make the most of it and enjoy it because it could all change so quickly. After a drubbing of the opposition over the previous four years, it raised eyebrows as to what was the true meaning behind the words. Also of some confusion was that the Red Bull team was working flat out to win every race after the summer break, almost like an addict chasing their next fix – knowing that it was all going to end in rehab shortly.
It would seem Christian Horner knew sometime before this season that they would be struggling – “We sat down with Renault to express our concerns about the direction it was going in Autumn 2012.
We’ve had some discussion with Renault and they fully accept the situation they’re in is not where we should be. Their doing whatever they can and applying the resources they have to try and improve that situation. Obviously, the difficulty we have within the regulations as they currently are is that it’s very difficult to make significant changes.
“Renault is very aware of our position. All we can do is try to help and support them with the resources we have to try and improve things. I think fuel is going to be a key area of development – Total is working very hard on that as well. They’ve got some stuff in the pipeline that looks encouraging, but we’re behind where the Mercedes teams are because of all the running they’ve done on-track and on the dyno; Renault is only just starting to catch up to where Mercedes were six months ago.”
With former Caterham boss Cyril Abiteboul believed to be returning to Renault and Lotus moving to take over Mclaren’s Mercedes engine deal for 2015, it is of no surprise that the focus of the French giant will move to its ‘works’ team and designing the engine package around one car specifically – like the other engine manufacturers have done.
“When you look at the engine Ferrari have made and the customers have had to adapt their car accordingly, Mercedes likewise, whereas Renault have tried to keep all of their customers happy, which is an admirable thing to do. But it’s not the best way to be competitive.”
“The thing about a team like Red Bull is we always have options, and I’m not going to disclose what they are here,” Horner said. “We want to run at the front, we want to be competitive, and in order to be competitive we have to have a sensible power unit.”
Obviously humility is not an over-abundant sentiment down Milton Keynes way, as a quick look at the tables shows Red Bull in second behind Mercedes in the Constructors and Ricciardo lying third in the title hunt with a race victory to his name. If Ferrari have a sense of entitlement to victory due to historically being the most successful, then Horner and his band of merry men have learnt this character trait remarkable quickly.
McLaren ‘needs a change’ with Honda – Button (GMM)
Jenson Button insists he is “looking forward to” McLaren’s new Honda era. That is despite team supremo Ron Dennis’ warning that the most experienced driver in the paddock actually might not get a new contract beyond 2014.
“Do I want him to try harder?” Dennis told British television Sky. “Of course I do.” But 34-year-old Briton Button, who will wear a pink helmet this weekend in memory of his late father John’s ever-present pink shirt, thinks the arrival of Honda for 2015 is what McLaren needs as it emerges from a two-season slump.
“Everyone is looking forward to it,” he told Germany’s DPA news agency. “A lot is already going on. Ron is again in charge, Eric (Boullier) is on board now. In the past, a lot of things were working well, but sometimes you need a change. I feel we are on the right track,” added Button.
Dennis said the arrival this year of rookie Kevin Magnussen had given Button a “wake-up call“, and even the British driver admits the young Dane has been impressive. “Kevin is learning very quickly, he did not have much experience when he arrived, but within six months he has made up for a lot of that. We are not best friends,” Button reveals. “I have never been great friends with a teammate — I have my own friends. But he’s a good guy and I like working with him.”
However, Button insists Magnussen is not the biggest challenge of his career, instead nominating Lewis Hamilton as his fastest-ever F1 teammate. “On pace, yes. He (Hamilton) is very fast, but I expected that when I came to the team. If you have beaten Lewis, you know you’ve had a good day,” he said.
TJ13 comment: Hmmm, sayonara Jenson.
Vettel could chase ‘fast car’ to Ferrari – Ecclestone (GMM)
Switching to Ferrari could be a way for Sebastian Vettel to kick-start his F1 career, according to Bernie Ecclestone. After winning four consecutive world championships, the German has stumbled in 2014. And it’s not just Red Bull’s fault, as Vettel has struggled even to keep up with his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who has stunned the entire world of F1 with his form. But F1 chief executive Ecclestone, famously close to Vettel, thinks that while the 26-year-old has lost none of his talent, he must be casting his eyes around for a better car.
“With the right car Vettel won everything in the past four years,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “And when he has the right car again, he will win more world titles. He is faster than everyone else,” added 83-year-old Ecclestone. Asked if a change of scene could be what Vettel needs, Ecclestone admitted: “If Ferrari can make a fast car again, Maranello would be the place to go. He needs to go where the best car is,” he added.
Undoubtedly in 2014, the best car is the Mercedes, where Lewis Hamilton must close a 29-point gap to Nico Rosberg for the title. Ecclestone said Rosberg is indeed the 2014 championship favourite at the wheel of the Silver Arrow, “Because he speaks German”. But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is not so sure. “That (29-point) gap is one race win,” he told reporters at Milton Keynes on Tuesday. “One DNF for Nico puts him (Hamilton) right back in it so the gap is almost irrelevant at this stage of the season.”
TJ13 comment: As TJ13 commented yesterday, the 29 points deficit that Hamilton has to Rosberg is merely a race win and as Horner knows so well from personal experience in the 2010 and 2012 championship campaigns, it is far too early to be throwing in the towel. As to the contribution of Mr E, the sooner his grubby claws are removed from the Formula One circus the sooner it will move forward again. Rosberg may well speak German, but most of the team are English – even so it would be impossible not to believe there isn’t an agenda behind the words, including carrying favour in Germany.
As to the suggestion that Vettel should go to a fast Ferrari – OK, lets suspend belief for a moment and accept that the Maranello concern could in fact re-learn how to be winners once more – why on earth would they choose a driver that has been humbled by his new team-mate who has ‘stunned’ the F1 world. A driver that as Bernie ironically has pointed out “With the right car Vettel won everything in the past four years. He needs to go where the best car is”. Enough said…
Viry not for sale
The very first time I heard the whisper that Renault F1 sport’s engine production facility at Viry in France was up for sale, my instinctive response was to smile. I penned as much here the day following the Austrian GP.
Nothing is new under the sun, and beside some fancy hybrid systems and whiz bang technology, not a lot is new in the world of F1 politics.
As previously explained here, the V8 engine designs were frozen for 2007, yet due to crafty ‘replacements’ for ‘improved reliability’ – Ferrari and Mercedes stole a quiet march on their French counterparts.
Renault lobbied the FIA and gained permission to initiate a programme of ‘equalisation’ where they could modify their V8 design to catch up the horse power deficit they had to the competition.
Leaking the fact that Renault may be pulling out of F1 and selling its engine facility at Viry will most definitely have woken a certain Frenchman from his daily slumbers in the Place de Concorde.
Discussions on some kind of equalisation programme will most likely already be under way for the final engine designs for 2015.
Unsurprisingly many, many days – in fact nearly a couple of weeks – after the rumour surfaced, Rob White of Renault F1 Sport denies Viry-Chattilon is for sale. Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, White asserts, “At this time there is no intention to sell the engine department at Viry. It’s still very much a subsidiary of Renault.
As TJ13 has repeatedly observed, White confirms that Red Bull cannot simply buy the Renault engine production facility and start from scratch with a new engine design.
“It’s not possible to stick a different name on the cylinder head and/or start from scratch. Even Honda can’t do exactly as they want”.
Red Bull has in recent months upped its presence in Viry, sending people to support and assist Renault. There has been some irritation from the UK based Red Bull staff at the restricted hours Renault staff are working.
Red Bull are insisting on a restructure of the facility and part this is part of the reason Caterham’s ex-boss, Cyril Abiteboul is returning to Viry.
Much to Lotus disappointment and their ambitions to become the Renault ‘works team’, this appears to be the beginning of a programme which will see the Renault engine design and configurations focus on being tailor made for one particular chassis – the Red Bull car.
Red Bull will invest heavily into Viry – but will also extract their pound of flesh.
With Lotus expected to fill McLaren’s slot as a Mercedes customer for 2015 and Caterham’s future viability becoming more questionable by the day, Red Bull/Toro Rosso and Renault will in effect form an even closer alliance – akin to a ‘works team’ relationship – though they will still require some latitude from the FIA to revise some fundamental flaws in their engine design.
TJ13 F1 innovation team(s)
Tata Communications have announced the first F1® Connectivity Innovation Prize challenge is now LIVE!
Challenge 1 invites you to demonstrate new and insightful information that can be derived from the live data feeds supplied by Formula One Management, calling upon entrants to create a new visual package to add suspense and excitement to the audience experience.
TJ13 is considering entering a team(s) and attempting to connect people via Google hangout to debate the challenge and solutions.
Clearly challenge 1 will affect what we as TV viewers see during races – and it would be good to draw on experience from people across the global TJ13 community on how their national broadcasters deal with such information for their national racing series.
If you are interested please contact us via the contact section in the menu above….
Lotus F1 PR rediscover their mojo
After being savaged for posting a tweet critical of Russia’s stance on homosexuality during the winter Olympics, the grim reaper stalked the PR department in Enstone.
Gone were the riske and self deprecating offerings, and Lotus resorted to the banal “lovely day here in Enstone” type postings – which most people who don’t understand social media think is its purpose.
Well today we have this from Lotus… it may be a little more erudite than copulating hare’s, With Lotus marketing manager, Stephane Samson sacked for his pro-gay tweet, there has clearly been a change of human resource behind the keyboard…
On a similar theme, it appears XIX may be making some effort to earn the exhorbitant fees they charge Lewis Hamilton. His twiiter account just issued the following…
#ThingsTimHowardCouldSave – of course referring to the fact that Tim Howard for the USA made more saves in their match against Belgium than any other keeper in World Cup Tournament History…
Forza Rossa no more?
The FIA have approved 2 new teams to join F1. The self publicist Gene Haas is widely reported to be the owner of one and intending to build a base in the USA. The second was to be led by the ex-Force India/HRT boss Colin Kolles and believed to be named Forza Rossa
However, German and Dutch puclications are claiming today that Colin Kolles is set to become the new boss at Caterham, backed by a consortium of Swiss Arabs who will remain anonymous.
The deal will see Caterham’s 20m euro debt wiped out and presumably a few euros extra for Tony Fernandes troubles.
Further, Kolles is reportedly bringing in former Minardi driver and Dutchman Christian Albers as CEO for the team, with the focus on securing 10th place in the 2014 championship and “the associated monies from Ecclestone’s prize pot”
It is unclear as yet whether the team will remain as Caterham in the long term, though some kind of announcement is expected before the race in Silverstone.
Mild victory for Ecclestone’s defence
Why did Mr. E pay the F1 investment advisor of the BayernLB bank – Herr Gribkowsky – $44m dollars – is the $44m dollar question?
Ecclestone’s legal team crossed off one possibility yesterday when a former legal advisor to BayernLB gave evidence that there was no question the bank wished to depose Mr. E directly from his CEO role in the sport.
The unidentified witness told the Munich court, “I don’t think the question of deposing Ecclestone arose. Further, I’m not sure it would have been possible,”
There are still the claims to be considered from American based Bluewater Communications Holdings, that they wished to buy the F1 shares from BayernLB for more than CVC paid and that they would have indeed replaced Ecclestone.
McLaren wrong about Perez
Bob Fernley, straight talking leader of the Federation, who are at war with the empire, believes McLaren made a mistake letting Sergio Perez go after just one season.
Speaking to Autosport he says, “I think they did [make a mistake], perhaps they should have given him another year, based on his second half of last year, which is what we judged when we looked to sign him, I think he did a wonderful job.
I wasn’t overly impressed about the first six months, but I thought the second part was wonderful and that’s what convinced us he was right.”
Of course this cost McLaren a several million from Perez’s Mexican telecoms sponsor, though the team is resourced well enough to run for a year with no title sponsor until Honda arrives in 2015.
Sahara gone missing
Force India will once again be relegating the Sahara name from its prominent place on the side pods for the British GP. Funds from the team’s title sponsor have been conspicuous by their absence this year as the boss of Sahara sweats it out in a New Dehli jail cell.
The extravagant Roy duped millions of Indians out of over $4bn in a property scam and has been accordingly detained by the Supreme Court of India since March 4th this year for failing to meet their repayment schedules.
Roy’s latest offer was to pay the $1.7bn bail required – in instalments – however, the court unsurprisingly rejected this proposal due to his previous absconding from a contempt hearing in February.
The Silverstone team have been in dispute with Roy for some time, as Mallya wants to sell on the Sahara boss’ shares in Force India to a new investor thought to be of Mexican origin.
Sahara’s breach of contract over funding may open the possibility for the Mallya to use Roy’s shares as collateral and sell them on to raise the missing funds.
Haas appears confused
Don’t get me wrong, any F1 fan would surely love to see a start up team come and show the mega spending prima donnas how its done – or at least not be too far behind the field.
Gene Haas is making some of the right noises, though his racing experience in NASCAR is world’s apart from Formula 1.
He is still insisting that he will have a manufacturing base in Charlotte, though now he admits it will be less of an assembly operation and more of a ‘design and build your own’ type facility.
Speaking to Motorsport.com Hass explains, “Ultimately the goal is to build and design our own chassis and rely on the back end from our engine supplier and use Dallara or others as sub-contractors. Still, the intellectual property would be ours and would be done in Charlotte (N.C.). That’s what we’re working on now.
If we had selected 2015, we would have been a lot more dependent on someone like Dallara to supply us a complete rolling chassis. A lot of teams have done that. There’s nothing really wrong with that but now we have a little more time.
Ok so now to the real important stuff Gene….
“The logistics are going to be ours – and that’s one thing we’ve been working on a lot just trying to get to all these races and we’re based out of Charlotte and how we’re going to do that,” said Haas..
“We’ve been a little bit confused because we’re new at it but we went to Montreal to ask people, ‘Who is the shipper? How do we get these things here? How do we do this?’ So we’re working on the basics so when it comes to race time we’ll be prepared.
We’ve been working on the logistics of where to put the building (overseas) for the last couple of weeks because wherever we put it, obviously it’s going to be there for a while and we want to make sure we do it right.”
Mmm. Planes trains and automobiles springs to mind…. Oh well its all part of the fabulous Formula 1.
not big surprise – Kolles is Caterham F1 Team boss
An announcement was expected to be made by Monday as to who the new owners were but this was postponed to today. Catherham has put out a statement saying they are “pleased to announce Fernandes and Co have sold the team to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors,” who are advised by Colin Kolles.
The team will remain based in Leafield and race as Caterham F1 “for the foreseeable future“.
The press release continues to say former Dutch F1 driver Christijan Albers will be assisted by Manfredi Ravetto (ex HRT business boss), will take over the day-to-day running of the team, “reporting directly to the board and replacing Cyril Abiteboul who will leave the team to pursue new challenges.”
Albers is aware of the challenges they face, especially as they which to secure tenth place in the 2014 Championship. “We are aware of the huge challenge ahead of us given the fight at the bottom end of the Championship and our target now is to aim for tenth place in the 2014 Championship. We are very committed to the future of the team and we will ensure that the team has the necessary resources to develop and grow and achieve everything it is capable of.”
Not much new in this that we have not already covered since Monday here at TJ13. They will remain Caterham F1 for the ‘foreseeable’ future…. until maybe the end of this year when the Swiss/Middle Eastern investors can come clean….