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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite – 1968 French Grand Prix
Today marks the 46th anniversary of the death of Jo Schlesser at the 1968 French Grand Prix held at Rouen. It was to e the fourth fatality of the season, following Jim Clark, Mike Spence and Lodovico Scarfiotti and would bring about changes in safety throughout the Grand Prix championship.
Honda had developed an innovative car with an air-cooled 120deg V8. To keep the weight of the car down they produced a magnesium skinned monocoque but regular driver John Surtees found it unstable and refused to drive it. With Soichiro Honda present for the French GP the drive was offered to a local driver Jo Schlesser.
On the second lap through Rouen’s downhill sweepers, Schlesser lost control and crashed. The car overturned and caught fire, and the full fuel tanks and magnesium chassis made the flames too intense for conventional fire extinguishers. Schlesser perished in the flames.
Honda withdrew from Grand Prix racing at the end of the season and Schlesser would be forever remembered in the Formula One cars his friend – Guy Ligier – built. Each Ligier car was designated JS – –
Mattiacci begins shaping Ferrari’s future
Back during pre-season testing, TJ13 reported on rumours that Mercedes power-train engineers were being approached by Ferrari with offers of lucrative remuneration packages, and relocation costs covered, to move them to the sunnier climes of Italy. Around the same time, more offers were coming from the Cosworth factory a mere 14 miles from Brackley.
With Niki Lauda, in subsequent months, suggesting that the Mercedes team were over-manned there was always going to be an exodus of staff moving to different employers and yet over the weekend Lauda felt the need to counter suggestions that the dominant Silver Arrows were losing staff to the competition. “We have all the important engineers firmly under long term contract.”
This would normally be of little significance except the Italian media is reporting that in the last few days ten new engineers have started working at Maranello – which include three engine experts from Mercedes and four people from Red Bull, three to be utilised in the aerodynamics department and the fourth a simulation expert.
Marco Mattiacci has ordered a ‘strong discontinuity‘ on the technical side and continued “The mentality is going to change and we will take more risks whilst reintegrating the different departments. We can no longer take small steps and be careful in our decisions but I want a structure like Mercedes – where they have Wolff, Lowe and Cowell.”
One of the first heads expected to roll is Ferrari’s current engine chief, Luca Marmorini, although MM states: “I won’t name names. We are redesigning our organisation throughout” Guido de Paola who was the head of the 059/3 design project has also been moved into the road car division where designing the engines is far less time constrained and the management of the engines is now headed by Matthias Mariz, a skilled organizer who is restructuring the engine department according to the Mattiacci’s plans.
Marmorini began his F1 career with Ferrari in 1990 before leaving to join the Toyota F1 team in 1999 and becoming it’s head of engine development. In 2009 he replaced Gilles Simon who had been head of the Ferrari engine department after replacing Paolo Martinelli.
Simon and Martinelli produced engines that dominated different era’s from the mid 90’s and were at the cutting edge of Formula One design – at best the dominant configuration, at worst equal to any other power-plant. Yet Marmorini’s design brief at Toyota was to chase reliability over performance due to corporate pressures.
It would seem that this has become too imbedded in his psyche and is likely to have cost him his position in Maranello. After all, Ferrari engines of the past five seasons have been wonderfully reliable but never benchmarks in consumption, power or creative solutions as used by both Mercedes and Renault.
After several races where LdM displayed his authority, and MM sat like the ventriloquist dummy absorbing all the detail, it seems his initial assessment is complete and now his sleeves are being metaphorically raised. Even the Samurai himself seems convinced: “He has good vision and a very clever approach and we are going to be stronger and stronger.”
Inspector Boullier assures Mclaren they are in safe hands
Here at TJ13 towers, Eric Boullier has become a figure of ridicule over the last few months. With his insistence that Mansour Ijaz was a reliable character in his negotiations with Lotus – despite a simple Google search proving otherwise – and his continued promises of technical improvements and forthcoming title sponsors at Mclaren slipping by on a weekly basis – his latest mutterings should be taken with a considerable amount of salt.
Despite a strong race at Silverstone the team’s haul of points is somewhat fortuitous. The unpredictable weather in qualifying, two of their biggest rivals not escaping Q1, Bottas claiming second after starting 14th and Rosberg retiring doesn’t prove much in the way of development.
In addition – over the weekend – came news that Hugo Boss, a team sponsor that has been part of the Mclaren portfolio for decades had switched its sponsorship to the Mercedes team.
Of course, Eric, had an appropriate answer. “No, we have thirty two sponsors, even though you don’t see them all on the team shirts.” Although he should have added you don’t see many on the car either…
Back in April, Santander chief, Emilio Botin, offered an explanation for the current state of the bank balance at Woking when they stated they wanted to remain the sponsors at Ferrari due to its position as the biggest brand in sport. “There is only one Ferrari team, period. We were interested in being with Mclaren still because we have a bank in England, but it was a small sponsorship. When Hamilton was there it was justified, Button is a great driver, but it’s another matter. The partnership we have with Ferrari is the best we have had throughout our history. It is the key for Santander being known around the world.”
Boullier continued: “I can promise you the support from Honda will be considerable. If you want to conquer this world you need to be a high level team, and we are. You also need a good engine and the support of a manufacturer. We will have all of that next year.”
Monsieur Boullier carried on with his light-hearted routine when speaking of the MP4/29’s short-comings, “We lack aerodynamic downforce but I knew this would happen, I noticed it immediately when I arrived, when they showed me the features of the car in the various departments.”
So there we have it folks – Boullier, clown extra-ordinaire, the perpetrator of legends and myths and design guru to the teams.
Grosjean on move as Lotus shifts gear (GMM)
Romain Grosjean could be left out in the cold as Lotus looks to change gear for 2015. It is now an open secret that the Enstone based team intends to switch from Renault to Mercedes customer power at the end of the season. “I can’t confirm it yet,” Mercedes’ Toto Wolff smiled to British television Sky on Saturday.
Less clear is the reason for the move. Certainly, Lotus – fourth overall in both 2012 and 2013 – has struggled notably for reliability with Renault’s underpowered turbo V6. But the team’s links to the French marque are historically solid, as Lotus was once called Renault — the works squad. Since then, the Enstone team has retained the solid backing of Total, the French multinational that is now working hand-in-hand with Renault to improve the fuel that powers Red Bull’s world championship hopes. Also strongly linked to Total is Frenchman Grosjean.
But the 28-year-old’s career was also tied closely to another Frenchman, Eric Boullier, who doubled as his manager. Today, Boullier is the team boss at a rival team, McLaren. So the final straw for Grosjean could be Lotus’ Renault split. The arrival of Mercedes power would no doubt mean the end of the team’s association with key Grosjean backer Total. “Things are open,” Grosjean agreed at Silverstone, “but it’s not because Eric is there (McLaren) that things are that simple.”
What is clear is that if the Lotus-Mercedes deal is formalised as expected in the next few days, Renault is unlikely to find a replacement customer. “There will be less revenue, this is true,” Renault’s Remi Taffin admitted, “but not at the level that would put us in difficulty. Indeed, perhaps concentrating on fewer teams will help Red Bull to achieve their goals,” he is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint.
Therein lies the probable truth, as it seems that the recently highly-critical premier team Red Bull has applied pressure on Renault to narrow its focus. Dr Helmut Marko revealed to F1’s official website that Renault will only supply “one version” of its 2015 specification power unit to users Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham. “Not like this season,” he said, “where Lotus had a different version to us, which tied up too many resources at Renault and distracted from the development.”
According to paddock rumours, another change at Lotus could be the loss of multinational backer Unilever – and the sponsors Clear and Rexona – to McLaren. It could help the Woking based team to woo the increasingly frustrated Fernando Alonso from Ferrari. The Spaniard is famed for his ‘never give up’ attitude, but after qualifying at the back of the grid at Silverstone, Alonso admitted the time has now come.
“Yes. Anyone apart from Rosberg and Hamilton saying they can be world champion this year is lying,” he is quoted by Speed Week. “And I don’t like to lie.” And he is also quoted by Spain’s AS: “I’m not saying that we can’t do anything this season, but to be eighth, ninth, twelfth or nineteenth is not going to change our lives.”
TJ13 comment: In what appears to be one of the least well kept secrets of recent weeks, it seems just a matter of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for Mercedes to supply the Enstone team with their power unit next year. If Red Bull are, as rumoured, going to fund the complete Renault engine programme, then the loss of Lotus will be insignificant, yet Marko is being disingenuous claiming different engine programmes between the Renault runners. It is well known that Red Bull software engineers were working in Viry for weeks; but only on Red Bull engines which would benefit Toro Rosso as well.
With Boullier ensconced in Woking, there would be little trouble bringing Grosjean on board to replace one of the drivers – despite Ron Dennis desiring a top level driver. Of more interest is the news that Unilever is looking to move it’s sponsorship to Surrey. One of Unilever’s most famous products is Vaseline and with Lotus having tweeted a picture of two rabbits last year, with the implication being Kimi shafted Lotus, this sponsorship would tie up well with the wishes of the management to bring back Fernando Alonso. After all, it’s a product the Spaniard would know well after its liberal application whenever he has turned on his team…
Raikkonen to miss Silverstone test after crash (GMM)
Kimi Raikkonen is expected to sit out this week’s post-British grand prix test at Silverstone. Circuit workers took an hour to repair the unprotected armco barrier that the Ferrari driver struck on Sunday before taking a further hit by Felipe Massa. The Finn limped away from the scene on the arm of a marshal and into the medical car, and it later emerged that Ferrari telemetry recorded an impact of 47G.
Reportedly, Raikkonen’s first words on the radio after the impact were: “Is Felipe ok?” But it was Raikkonen who “took a hard knock on the ankle and also has pain in a knee,” Ferrari confirmed. “He will now have to rest but he will be back in time for the next round in Germany,” the team added. Boss Marco Mattiacci confirmed that Raikkonen will be “resting” from now until Hockenheim, which implies that he will not be in action for the test this week.
Bild newspaper said Ferrari junior and Marussia racer Jules Bianchi is the likely substitute. Mattiacci is not confirming that yet. “We still have to take a decision,” he said. “I want to be 100 per cent sure that he’s super fine, but no major issue at the moment.”
34-year-old Raikkonen’s long-time trainer Mark Arnall told Turun Sanomat newspaper that the driver was “examined thoroughly” after the crash, and has definitely not damaged any bones. “He is sore,” said Arnall, “but thankfully he has escaped anything worse.” And the 2007 world champion’s manager Steve Robertson added: “His left ankle is severely bruised, but nothing is broken. We assume that Kimi will be fit again for Hockenheim.”
Button the unwanted
At this weekend’s British Grand Prix Jenson Button managed to secure 3rd in qualifying and finish the race in 4th while K-Mag qualified 5th and finished behind Alonso in 7th. Looking at the weekend it appeared Button took note of what Dennis said early last week and did what he could do with the car he had, qualifying and finishing in front of his team mate.
Yet, stories of his imminent departure from McLaren just do not want to go away and in the Silverstone paddock it was rumoured that Dennis had actually told Button there won’t be a contract for 2015. When asked by a reporter about the contract for next year he merely said he is not thinking of his contract now and he is will also not discuss contract negotiations.
McLaren has made no secret of it that they are looking for a lead driver but have denied that Button has been told to look elsewhere for 2015.
However, speaking to Speedweek, Boullier admitted that he is talking to other drivers saying he but they may stick with Button as they cannot expect to sign a top driver with an uncompetitive car; once they have sorted their car out they will decide about their driver lineup.
Meanwhile, Button waits to hear his fate… why?
Bianchi and De la Rosa to test for Ferrari in Silverstone
After Raikkonen’s massive shunt during yesterday’s British GP he will now be rested. In a statement released by Ferrari today they confirmed testing will be carried out by Ferrari Academy driver Jules Bianchi and test driver Pedro de la Rosa.
On Tuesday de la Rosa will be conducting testing duties with Bianchi will stand in for Raikkonen taking over testing duties on Wednesday.
According to Ferrari this is de la Rosa’s first opportunity to drive the F14 T for real after having done “many kilometres in its virtual cockpit on the simulator“. The session will be used to make a comparison between simulator and track which will give he engineers valuable feedback.
While the Spaniard is on track in Silverstone his compatriot, Alonso, will be will be conducting a comparative test back in Maranello in the simulator.
This is a rather interesting test and it appears for Bianchi, if there has ever been a need to shine it is now.
Silverstone Race in Numbers
- At this weekend’s race Lewis Hamilton got the fastest lap of the race on lap 26 – 1m37.176
- The fastest man on the circuit though was Valtteri Bottas who had the highest speed for all three intermediate sections – I1: 319.3kph ; I2: 252.3kph ; Finish Line: 240.6kph (Vettel was 2nd fastest in I1 and Finish Line while Hulkenberg was 2nd fastest in I2 – Race winner Hamilton manage 310.4kph in I1, 249.1kph in I2 and 238.3kph on the finish line)
- While Bottas may have had the highest speed in the sectors it was Hamilton who had the fastest sector times – S1: 30.670s; S2: 39.637s; S3: 26.812s
- Bottas was also the fastest of the day through the speed trap (no surprise here) – 329.5kph
- Nico Rosberg had the fastest pitstop of the race – a total time of 28.329s from entry to exit of the pitlane (Riciardo was second best with 28.483 while Hamilton was over 29s for both of his stops)