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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite: 1954 – Mercedes wins its first ever F1 Grand Prix
On this day in 1954, Juan Manual Fangio took his full bodied Mercedes W196 to the marques first ever Formula One victory. On the mighty Reims circuit, the French Grand Prix was dominated by the attending silver arrows and after Alberto Ascari’s gearbox failed on the first lap, Fangio and his team-mate Karl Kling finished over a lap ahead of the opposition.
The W196 that won this Grand Prix was changed for the open-wheeled design shortly after at Fangio’s request because he couldn’t place the car properly without sight of the front tyres.
To the newbie Formula One fans, this is the first Mercedes victory in the F1 championship. But before Formula One, there existed Grand Prix racing and during the years immediately before the war, Mercedes dominated the European championships and Grand Prix racing.
On Sunday, Mercedes head into the British Grand Prix with the very realistic prospect that without safety car intervention, they could possibly lap the entire field, such is their superiority.
Whether guilty or innocent – Bernie has to go
The Guardian carried a report late last night that CVC Capital Partners is about to sell a large part of their 35.5% stake in Formula One. Decision makers at the firm have decided that irrespective of the outcome of the Munich court hearing against bribery charges, Ecclestone must go.
They are convinced that Ecclestone continues to be an embarrassment and his departure from the sport will bring about wholesale changes to the way the sport is promoted. “Remarkably, for a business with a £1bn turnover, there is no marketing.”
As has been written on TJ13, TV audiences have been falling, the smaller teams are struggling for survival as has been evidenced by the sale of Caterham recently and the Strategy Group – which has 18 votes split equally between Bernie, the FIA and the ‘grandees’ of the sport – has effectively frozen out the minor teams from having either a say in the implementation of rules governing budget caps.
Recent outbursts about the irrelevance of social media has left F1 bosses reeling in shock – yet how many 84 year olds have any understanding of technology? Ecclestone does not understand the importance of Twitter and Facebook and seems stuck in the same time zone that many respected long-time Formula One journalists belong to.
Toto Wolff spoke out in favour of the new dawn, “I had quite a long row with Bernie in a meeting. We have lost 30% of TV audience in Italy and we have lost some of the audience in Germany – although interestingly the UK is growing. Sure the [social media] model does not work yet as you cannot monetise it, but it is just a matter of time.”
With Montezemolo calling for his retirement in recent years and with his attack against Monza this week, maybe we are witnessing the dying actions of a dictator that transformed a sport and then became corrupted by greed.
John Watson attacks the Mclaren organisation and drivers
Mclaren boss, Ron Dennis,fired the first salvo at Jenson Button about essentially picking his game up, after all he is a highly paid employee. In response Button stated the team needed to work harder too to provide the drivers with better equipment. Oh touche Claude!
Ex-Mclaren driver John watson has also spoken about the situation at Mclaren where even under the stewardship of Dennis, they have failed to add to their last constructors title, sixteen years ago. The outfit reminded him of an old Morecombe and Wise sketch where “Eric said he played all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. Mclaren have all the right ingredients but the mix is not right.”
Watson continued: “It’s an appalling situation for McLaren to be in. They are not at the same level as Mercedes and now they’re not at the same level as Williams or Force India, who have the same engine. They were always one of the big three teams and now they’re sixth. Even as recently as 2012 Lewis should have been world champion, but because of a lack of reliability it didn’t happen, which is one of the reasons he joined Mercedes. There is no short-term fix. It will be like turning round an ocean liner.
They have a very large number of employees, and many outstanding people. But they don’t have one person in charge of the technical department – as is the case with Adrian Newey at Red Bull, and as was the case with Ross Brawn at Mercedes. I prefer to see a single personality who is the focal point for the engineering team.”
Watson wasn’t shy about adding his views on the current Mclaren drivers either: “McLaren’s decline has been there for a number of years but has been disguised by some outstanding drivers who can drag performances out of racing cars where others can’t. Lewis Hamilton is one example and Fernando Alonso another. Drivers of that quality are inspirational and motivational.”
“If you’ve got a guy who is out-performing his equipment it really makes people push to give that driver a better car. Jenson Button is a world champion who has won lots of grands prix. But he’s not a driver to wring the neck of a car in the way that Lewis could. What Jenson needs is a car that gives him confidence. He doesn’t need his boss telling him to try harder. He just needs a better car. Jenson is also in his 15th year. It’s very wearing, 20 races a year, the travel, the hotel, the airports. It does grind you down. It’s great when you’re young and ambitious. And then you’ve got Kevin Magnussen, who is potentially an outstanding driver of the future, but one who is under pressure to perform.”
FP2 Report from the British GP
Valtteri Bottas was straight out on circuit to make up for lost time in the earlier session of the day, thanks to the oil problem the car suffered. This was followed by a flurry of activity as 12 cars made it out onto the circuit, with Jenson Button topping the times early on before improving on his own time. The McLarens looking improved this weekend and especially strong in the middle sector.
Nico Hulkenberg came over the radio to complain of the wind at the circuit affecting steering, although there was some good news for the drivers as the track showed signs of starting to rubber in. With 15 minutes gone, the crowds at the former airfield were treated to the first flying laps from the Silver Arrows, as Lewis Hamilton went 3rd fastest behind his teammate and Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button talked about how the car was “hurting” the rear tyres as the understeer/oversteer woes continued.
The Mercedes then went 1-2 with the Briton leading his teammate by 0.221 seconds with a 1:35.424. Next it was the Red Bulls who flexed their bovine muscles going 4th and 5th, even though Sebastian Vettel a sideways moment through the maggots and becketts complex. Daniil Kvyat enjoyed “a genuine tankslapper” as he managed what Massa was not able to and saved himself from a large crash.
Daniel Ricciardo came within 0.087 seconds of Hamilton, as the Red Bull have an improved aero package in this place for the weekend which is clearly working well. As the teams started to strap on the softer compound, the times started to tumble. Esteban Gutierrez put in an impressive lap, before the Mercedes cars regained 1-2 positions.
With a little over half an hour to go in the session Lewis Hamilton stopped at turn 4 after leaving the pits. With the car shutdown, car 44 was pushed to the side as the dejected man from Stevenage trundled away from the scene. Only a few minutes later, it was Marcus Ericsson who ran into troubles as his engine gave up on him as he rolled back into the pits.
As the teams continued their long runs everything seemed to be lulling to a quiet end to the session, until Jean-Eric Vergne’s left front tyre tried to make a break for freedom as he started a new lap on his race simulation. The strange car behaviour continued as Valtteri Bottas’ engine cover ripped away from the car down the Hangar straight.
As the session drew to a close there will be mixed emotions for all involved with Mercedes. They lead the way in the time charts, but have missed out on vital running time for the race setup; especially if the forecasted rain does arrive on Saturday.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:35.511||1.003||11|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:35.627||1.119||27|
|10||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:36.583||2.075||26|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:36.778||2.270||31|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:37.236||2.728||37|
|17||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:37.449||2.941||27|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:36.623||1.199||21|
|6||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:36.921||1.497||20|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:37.175||1.751||29|
|9||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:37.227||1.803||25|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:37.720||2.296||22|
|14||Daniel Juncadella||Force India||1:38.083||2.659||23|
|15||Giedo van der Garde||Sauber||1:38.328||2.904||19|