Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 4th July 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

#F1 Features: The King is Dead, Long Live The King – Part 1

The #F1 Bar Exam: 3rd July 2014


OTD Lite: 1954 – Mercedes wins its first ever F1 Grand Prix

Whether guilty or innocent – Bernie has to go

John Watson attacks the Mclaren organisation and drivers

FP2 Report from the British GP


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.508 14
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:34.736 0.228 35
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:35.244 0.736 32
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:35.511 1.003 11
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:35.627 1.119 27
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:36.016 1.508 33
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:36.228 1.720 34
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:36.299 1.791 35
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.554 2.046 29
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:36.583 2.075 26
11 Felipe Massa Williams 1:36.671 2.163 29
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:36.778 2.270 31
13 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:36.951 2.443 35
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:37.064 2.556 35
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:37.097 2.589 33
16 Sergio Perez Force India 1:37.236 2.728 37
17 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:37.449 2.941 27
18 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:37.520 3.012 25
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:38.658 4.150 11
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:39.068 4.560 31
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:39.224 4.716 28
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:39.762 5.254 21
 Finished, FP1 Result
# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.424 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.155 0.731 22
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:36.263 0.839 23
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:36.623 1.199 21
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.703 1.279 23
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:36.921 1.497 20
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:36.963 1.539 25
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:37.175 1.751 29
9 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:37.227 1.803 25
10 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:37.231 1.807 30
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:37.720 2.296 22
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:37.910 2.486 21
13 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:38.056 2.632 18
14 Daniel Juncadella Force India 1:38.083 2.659 23
15 Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1:38.328 2.904 19
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:38.917 3.493 12
17 Felipe Massa Williams 1:39.461 4.037 7
18 Max Chilton Marussia 1:39.814 4.390 24
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:40.597 5.173 19
20 Robin Frijns Caterham 1:42.261 6.837 11
21 Susie Wolff Williams 1:44.212 8.788 4
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 2

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37 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 4th July 2014

  1. “JB: I think Ron’s practicing to be a motivational speaker maybe. I think when we’re in the position that we have been in for 18 months, it’s not easy. For anyone within the team. It’s very, very difficult. So, no, I think we all need to work harder as a team. I don’t think we should be pointing a finger at any individual within the team. I think we’ve got ourselves into this situation and we’ve got to fight our way out. I don’t do things in half-measures. I have the experience in Formula One to know that you need to give 100 per cent and I always do every time I’m in the paddock, at the factory, on the phone to my engineers. Everything is 100 per cent.”…….

    This war of words between JB and Ron could go on until the end of the season. I wonder if Ron’s reply will be….

    “The last time I checked, we’re the ones who pay their wages”…

    This could get nasty.

    • I think Ron will turf Jenson out at the end of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of Vettel, Alonso or Lewis in at McLaren, they’ve all had praise from Ron in the last few months. The logical choice out of those would be Lewis. Ron is a McLaren man, and drivers that have a long history with the team are generally given exceptionally good treatment. Looking back you’ll see that those drivers Ron liked (Aryton, Mika and Lewis) all benefited from him backing them.

      Ron likes what he likes, and Jenson isn’t it. JB was hired purely to keep Lewis on his toes, not as an out and out number 1 driver IMO.

      Kevin isn’t secure either, he’s a rookie yes, but consider what Kyvatt has done in a far lesser car – with that shoddy Renault PU. Maybe a wholesale change is on the cards for McLaren. F1 needs them to be back up at the front, and whilst I’m not a McLaren fan by any means (I respect them but I’m not a fan!), F1 with McLaren struggling to make Q3 isn’t great.

      I’m hoping 2015 can close the pack up a bit back towards what we saw in 2013, where you’d get 8 or so drivers within 1s in quali, rather than a couple of team mates driving in what is essentially a different league of car. Or even better a 2012 re-run when the fastest car wasn’t the most reliable and we saw Ferrari, McLaren, RBR & Lotus all win races.

      • I know he hasn’t been performing at his best so far this season, but what about Kimi going back to Mclaren?

        I do agree with you in respect to 2012. I was thinking the same thing, that F1 desperately needs a season like that in 2015, so I too hope that all the other big boys get their act together and come prepared to go racing flat out.

        • Kimi can’t be arsed with that he’s retiring at the end of 2015 after all…..

        • It should be.. Renault and Ferrari PUs will incorporate the changes for 2015 they were not allowed to implement mid-2014. Honda similar.. so PUs should be a bit closer together, along with the non-Merc teams to chasing them down.

          RB should legitimately be fastest at some tracks in 2015 and probably sections of 2016, a real slugfest between RB/Merc. That’s when we’ll get the titanic battle, IMO.. like how RB hauled in Brawn and then battled with McLaren in 2010/2012. Ferrari may similarly be competitive with Alonso at times where reliability comes into play.

          • So if things continue as they are.. we could see Hamilton WDC in 2014, 2015, then Ricciardo in 2016!

          • So if things continue as they are.. we could see Rosberg WDC in 2014, 2015, then Rosberg again in 2016!

          • There’s no denying that Rosberg could take this one, and even the next one… Lewis would really be angry then, perhaps on the scale of Alonso..

  2. What’s missing in most of the dramas about the F1 scene is quality leadership. Where there’s issues you can see it, where there’s success you see it.
    I’d pick Ross Brawn as the stand out guy in this generation. Newey technically, not so much man management.
    McLaren have been led poorly recently, but I’m not sure Big Ron’s old school schtick is the go any more. Horner has done OK, but with some very public failures including not doing enough about Renault’s PU effort. LdM is a dinosaur and very nearly extinct with it. With Brawn gone the two princesses at MB will be standing at ten paces with handbags drawn before the season is out. Bernie? Nuff said already.
    “Everything is a management problem” is an adage that I never believe when I was younger, but the perspective that comes with age and experience says it is absolutely true.
    Management / leadership / culture define the success of any organisation, F1 is no different.

  3. I didn’t really see that as much of a critisism of JB, more give him the car and he’ll do the business.

  4. I disagree with Watson. I believe that McLaren pretty much knew prior to the season starting this year would be a write-off. They are getting minimal support from Mercedes, and chassis development is likely a dead-end as it will have to be significantly changed for the Honda engine.

    And there will be changes at McLaren – Honda will see to that. What is more intriguing is that with no title sponsor on the horizon whether McLaren essentially becomes a pseudo Honda factory team, with Honda at some point taking an ownership stake in the company.

    Maybe the McLaren 650S will be re-badged as an Acura 🙂

    • Very likely, possible share share swop for funding / R&D. Worked, pretty well, with Merc until Ron wanted his road division although think that the Merc BigMc caused a lot of tension initially and was the catalyst to the macca road division and Merc heading off to pastures new.

      That and the fact they felt they weren’t getting value for money for their investment.

    • No denying that Mercedes are much better off as a winning GP team. Renault too most likely..

      Is it just me.. or has McLaren been in trouble since their car was faster at Jerez 2013 with the parts put in upside down? That should make anyone re-assess their situation…

      They’ve struggled since going to pull-rods.. was it not obvious that they would have to re-engineer the whole car’s aerodynamics around it? That’s a huge task.. and it certainly seems they are still getting on top of it…

      Whereas, with Hamilton on-board, they always looked strong, with stiff springs and conventional push-rod optimised aerodynamics.

      Did they not realise that Ferrari were simply catering to Alonso by moving to pull-rod? He was mighty with it in the 2001 Minardi… and hence Massa and now Raikkonen struggle in the 2nd Ferrari.

          • Many keep trashing McLaren for having a dog of a car for a 2nd year in a row, but while last year it was clearly the decision to switch to pull-rod suspension, this year it may be messier than that. We can all see how much of a difference it makes for Mercedes that it develops the engine and the chassis jointly in-house; and how much of a difference it makes for Williams to get “insider” tips from Wolff on how to properly package the engine in their own car. Now consider that McLaren get a fig and a finger this year from Mercedes—instead of proper operational specs and usage details—, not to mention that Mercedes physically deprives them of the engine outside a racing weekend.

            When you consider how important packaging is this year, it may be not much of a wonder that McLaren are struggling..

          • Interesting.. Force India also go to Mercedes now for technology I think rather than McLaren. Nothing from the 2013 McLaren that they would want to use anyway.. and Perez can pay for the upgrade to Mercedes tech as well as getting rid of the debts for using McLaren tech (which he knows went nowhere in 2013).

            This engine malarkey.. I wonder how far it goes.. McLaren say they lack downforce.. but there are other suspect things on this year’s car. Namely, their gears are set for the older engines, which is a rookie error – unless their specific engine is different from the other 3… hence McLaren’s slow starts, and Williams’ lightning starts and greater fuel efficiency. Their gear set is perfectly suited for 2014.

      • They tried a repeat of the upside down parts but couldn’t repeat the performance gain, so this was abandoned.

      • I’ll go you one better, they’ve struggled since they dropped the low chassis and went high rake ala RB and everyone else. Though with Prodromou on they might finally be able to make it work for them since he has a lot of experience with that design.

        • clearly the old adage –

          IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT ….

          got lost somewhere at Woking

          • LOL and a half! I never understood why they gave up on what was arguably the fastest car of 2012. They should’ve focused a bit on reliability instead, might’ve made for a more entertaining 2013 campaign.

          • It’s there silly policy of having someone new design the car each year. Look what redbull did, they found a concept that worked for them in 09 and every car after that, was an evolution of that concept.

          • Indeed, they over-reached.. they should have just evolved 2012 into 2013 spec and put the 2nd team on the 2014 car since 2011. Having 3 teams (or the 2012 team onto the 2014 car) was a mistake, admitted as much, but at the time it seemed that Button led them down the garden path after Malaysia, to getting lapped at Canada.

            That really was a shame, as Button looked like a WDC contender, until under pressure from Lewis nerfing Karthikeyan, who also hindered Vettel as well later on.

  5. “Sure the [social media] model does not work yet as you cannot monetise it, but it is just a matter of time.”

    My award for the worst idea for future income streams goes to Toto Wolff.

    Social Media has never been about gaining income directly and I don’t remember a single company (except for those providing the infrastructure like Facebook or Twitter) to make decent enough money with it.

    In my view it is a rather handy tool for fans to invest themselves (emotionally) in a topic. This can be part of a strategy which brings new people into the sport, with the ultimate goal of them becoming fans some months or years down the line. Social Media however can also keep the existing fan-base loyal by providing up-to-date information directly from the people in the sport like teams, engineers or drivers. Leaving out the traditional media has been shown to work very well in some instances, but it must be done properly to have a chance to succeed.

    This can be impressive enough without having touched on the complicated web of communication between the fans themselves. In today’s world of media, the viewer isn’t merely sitting in front of his TV anymore, it’s all about additional information now; be it social media, second screen apps or whatever. Not everybody will be interested in that of course, especially the aging Formula 1 fans might not be the most receptive to this change, but if the sport wants to remain relevant in the future, it will need to attract a different and younger fan-base.

    • Dinosaurs. Social media is free advertising but for some reason there are people who just can’t understand that.

      What if someone was giving away free magazine ads? “the [magazine ad] model does not work yet as you cannot monetise it”

    • perfect assessment of the proper use and place for social media in the world of promotion, IMHO! social media is the daily multi-vitamin supplement. not the life sustaining meal…

  6. Volumes low (at the mo) but quality high. Some very good posts today.

    I even agreed with Cav!

    Happy 4th to our American lurkers / contributors!!

    • Agreed Colin!

      Looks like Hamilton has a two-tenth advantage over Nico so far, in the middle sector. A few teams have one driver faster in the last sector, and others faster in the first two.. looks like which exact downforce level is best is a matter of preference.. which bodes well for the race.

      • Indeed.

        I love the unpredictability of Silverstone, the wide open spaces and associated wind changes make it really difficult to get good balance.

        I’ve read many stories of cars being ‘dialled in’ at the start of races going to pants due to weather conditions, and vice versa.

        Its not just the usual stuff here, fuel, tyres….the weather really plays a very large role in the outcome.

  7. Does anyone know where you can find the lap times for the FP2 long runs ?

    If so, could you post a link here, if possible, please.

    Thanks.

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