Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 11th July 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

The #F1 Bar Exam: 10 July 2014


OTD Lite – 1971 Mexican legend Rodriquez perishes

Smedley transfers his support from Massa to Bottas

Bianchi proving to Ferrari he is worthy of consideration

Sainz jr confirms Caterham talks (GMM)

New Williams Advanced Engineering Facility Opened

Ecclestone trial set to continue into October

Motorsport on British roads


OTD Lite – 1971 Mexican legend Rodriquez perishes

1970-rodriguez-gp-bel-1c2baOn this day in 1971, the original Mexican superstar Pedro Rodiguez was killed in an insignificant Interseries sportscar race at the Norisring in Germany. Whilst fighting for the lead his Ferrari was edged into a wall by a slow backmarker and it burst into flames.

His first international drives were in a Ferrari Testarossa in 1957 and he debuted at Le Mans in 1958 where he would compete every year until his death. Considered to be the greatest all round driver, he won every major endurance race of significance and in 1970 joined Porsche to take the drivers title.

His career in Formula One didn’t match his sports-car results but he won in a Cooper-Maserati in the 1967 South African Grand Prix and his second victory was at the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix at the fearsome Spa-Francorchamps.

Rodriguez had few equals when the skies turned grey and unleashed rivers on circuits. He was genuinely considered the best wet weather driver of his era and is possibly best remembered for what has become legend to those who witnessed it.

The 1970 Brands Hatch 1000kms, was run in appalling conditions and he went from twelfth to second within 15 laps and then driving for 5 and 1/2 hours of the 6 1/2 hour race took his Porsche 917 to a 5 lap victory over the other 917 cars.

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Smedley transfers his support from Massa to Bottas

Common opinion amongst many Formula One fans is that Kimi Raikkonen is possibly the best loved driver on the circuit. His lack of interest of the peripherals of Formula One has long been lauded by the common man and his acerbic utterances to the press and media has won him a legion of supporters.

One popular legend created by this undying support is that Kimi is Finnish and they are a people of few words and emotions – look at Mika Hakkinen for further evidence. The problem comes when you include into the list of Finnish drivers the likes of the rallying gods who are both stunningly gifted and forthcoming with the press.

Well that’s because they play in forests is the instant reply – far less pressure than in Formula One. In which case, Keke Rosberg, Heikki Kovalainen and Valtteri Bottas would also be monosyllabic ice-cream munching heathen too…

Infamous for taking a toilet break when Schumacher retired the first time and telling his race engineer to leave him alone because he knew what he was doing – Raikkonen has cultivated an image of an emotionless ‘Iceman’ who is indifferent to pressure. Except this year his driving is becoming more desperate as are his radio transmissions to the Ferrari team.

Rob Smedley was Massa’s engineer when Kimi first arrived at the Ferrari team and he and his “little brother” would know Raikkonen’s act perfectly after three season sharing the same espresso machine. Yet Smedley is full of praise for fellow countryman Bottas and believes he has the potential to become one of F1’s top drivers.

It is perhaps not coincidence that Smedley joined the Williams team after the long forgotten order came over the radio to Massa: “Valtteri is faster than you” and yet his praise for the young Finn is unbounded.

“I think that he’s a very, very good driver. He’s a great driver. His racecraft is phenomenal and he’s super-quick. The good thing about Valtteri is he’s a young lad with his feet absolutely on the ground. He’s not spoiled in any way shape or form, which is great – neither of our drivers are so they are very easy to work with.

He’s able to accept advice very readily, not only about the very basics but also about his racecraft and about how he communicates with us. I think the communication between him and the pit wall – the messages we sent him and the messages that came back – were exceptional.

And on Bottas drive at Silverstone, “I think what I would say is exciting – even for someone like me who tends not to get excited about stuff – was how quickly he caught all them cars and passed three of them round the outside. That was really good, there’s not many things in Formula One that excites me but that was great. I was massively impressed.”

With Frank Williams stated after Austrian Grand Prix qualifying that he had not realised that his Brazilian driver was quite that good, Felipe’s ‘big brother’ is now singing the praises of Massa’s young team-mate and now the world is seeing his former team-mate being annihilated by the Spanish Samurai – why aren’t all casual observers suggesting he is being mentally destroyed by those around him? After all, at Ferrari it was this constant hymn-sheet that was offered to support opinions of under-hand tactics yet at Williams those same voices have become strangely mute..

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Bianchi proving to Ferrari he is worthy of consideration

Formula One is not for the faint hearted. Be it team leadership, business and commerce or playing in the muddy waters of the Piranha Club – these individuals are quick thinking and with little time to show sensitivities to others.

Many drivers have benefitted from an accident to one of the fraternity and despite suggesting to the global media that they feel bad for the individual concerned, they are fully aware of the opportunity that’s been handed to them and they will not squander it. In 1994, David Coulthard spoke of the tragedy of Ayrton Senna’s death and it is only in retirement that he can put into context what it meant for his career – irrespective of the emotions at the time.

25905.2In similar fashion, Jules Bianchi has been drafted into the Ferrari squad this week to stand in for the recovering Raikkonen and said he has to take opportunities like the Silverstone test to prove he is good enough to one day drive for Ferrari.

Bianchi is part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and said he wanted to show the Italian team that he is ready to make the step up. “Well obviously considering that I am part of the academy I think that is the target one day,” he said. “I have to show them that I am ready in any case and then we will see.

“At the moment I know it’s not the plan for the next few years, I think, because they have a plan for the drivers. So I will just wait and focus on what I have to do which is with Marussia at the moment, trying to get good results.”

Bianchi eventually set the fastest time of the day, but said consistency was the most important thing. “I think I was consistent and doing good lap times. Obviously the track is always different so it’s quite difficult to always compare everything but it’s always good to do some good lap times and be consistent so I’m pretty happy with today, yes.”

So there we have it folks, as the Frenchman himself stated it will not be happening anytime soon, he has an apprenticeship to serve before Ferrari would consider him, in much the same way that Perez was introduced into a poorly performing front-line team too soon. For every Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel – there is a Sergio Perez or Jean Eric Vergne. Only time will tell which side Bianchi’s talent falls.

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Sainz jr confirms Caterham talks (GMM)

Carlos Sainz jr has admitted talks about making his grand prix debut for Caterham this year have taken place in recent days. The 19-year-old Spaniard spoke to the sports newspaper AS just before heading to the Nurburgring, where he will continue his dominant season in the Renault world series this weekend.

Sainz, who shares a name with his world rallying legend father, is the current cream of Red Bull’s junior driver programme, and hotly tipped to replace Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso in 2015. But in the wake of F1 backmarker Caterham’s takeover, new team advisor Colin Kolles had talks at Silverstone with Sainz jr and snr and Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko.

It is believed a deal whereby Sainz jr makes his F1 debut in a green car this year, replacing Kamui Kobayashi, was discussed, possibly with the forgiving of Caterham’s gearbox bills to Red Bull as payment. According to some Spanish reports, the parties failed to agree. “Yes, it is true that there have been talks with them (Caterham),” Sainz jr told the Spanish daily AS, “but there is nothing confirmed. It doesn’t change anything for me because my goal remains the same: to be at Toro Rosso in the future,” he added. “If for that to happen I pass through Caterham then I do so happily. It has been possible to race this year, but Red Bull is the one who decides. They and Caterham must also benefit and reach an agreement.”

If Marko and Kolles ultimately shake hands, Sainz’s F1 debut would be similar to the impressive Daniel Ricciardo’s in 2011, when the Australian drove for the Kolles-run HRT team before switching to Toro Rosso. “Getting F1 kilometres under your belt always helps,” Sainz said, “no matter how good the team is. If they have considered it for me, it’s a good sign that I’m doing things right.

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New Williams Advanced Engineering Facility Opened

Green_wae_282x209Williams Advanced Engineering is the technology and engineering services business of the Williams group of companies that includes the Formula One team. According to their website Williams Advanced Engineering “harnesses F1™ derived technology, development pace and knowledge to deliver innovative products and services to the motorsport, automotive, transport, and energy sectors.”

Today British Prime Minister David Cameron officially opened Williams’ new Advanced Engineering facility today in Grove, Oxfordshire, a new dedicated 3,800m sq. building located on the same site as the racing team. The new facility is the result of a £8m investment by Williams over the last two years.

The facility features a ground floor workshop with Formula One inspired build bays that can be used for one-off projects or low-volume production. It can accommodate up to 250 design engineers and also features a number of confidential rooms where projects can be worked on in complete secrecy which is “vital given the nature of Williams Advanced Engineering’s client base“.

Jaguar-C-X75One of the projects they have work on in the past was the Jaguar C-X75, a hybrid-electric, two-seat, concept car from Jaguar which debuted at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. The C-X75 concept produced 778 horsepower through four electric motors, each of which drives one of the four wheels.

The batteries driving these motors are recharged using two diesel-fed micro gas turbines instead of a conventional four-stroke engine. At the time of the concept it was described as an ideas model that will influence future design and technology. Unfortunately Jaguar did not proceed with it citing global economic crisis as the reason for this.

Earlier this year Williams also sold their Hybrid Power Unit to GKN a British engineering company for £8m with further payments based on future sales and licences. As part of the sale Williams will also receive a 3.5% share of the company’s sales over the next five years and 1.5% for the five years after that.

At the time Williams chief executive Mr O’Driscoll said the decision to sell the company was that Williams was not able to produce the technology for the mass market. According to O’Driscoll “Williams is a world class research and development organisation and we were able to develop and incubate the business over the last three to four year so it had commercial applications”.

Speaking at the opening of the new facility O’Driscoll said “Williams’ diversification programme has achieved much over the past few years and from here I expect Williams Advanced Engineering to make rapid progress“.

And rapid progress indeed as the company has a host of work to keep themselves busy. They are collaborating with Nissan on its high performance Nismo products, and is also the sole supplier of the batteries that will power the cars competing in Formula E. The company is expanding its operations into the energy sector and is currently working on a project to install Formula One derived flywheel energy storage technology on energy grids in the Scottish highlands in a project backed by the government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change.

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Ecclestone trial set to continue into October

Originally the case against Ecclestone was to last until mid September however Judge Peter Noll has now extended the trial into October. Depending on how you look at it Mr E will spend more time breathing fresh air.

Over the past week things have been looking good for Ecclestone with a number of witnesses providing more favourable testimonies and he also received backing from CVC’s Mackenzie. However, this changed yesterday.

A Swiss tax advisor testified that Ecclestone instructed him not to make the payment to Gerhard Gribkowsky on behalf of him. Rather, the payment was made from a Panamanian company, Lewington Invest, for for unspecified consultancy services.

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Motorsport on British roads

It appears visiting Williams in Oxfordshire has indeed inspired British Prime Minister David Cameron and his government. Earlier today Mr Cameron announced Formula One races, rallies and other motor sport events could take place on public roads within a year.

Under the proposed legislation councils will have the power to close highways in order to host motor-racing events.

Speaking at the opening of new Williams’ facility today Mr Cameron said it “will be really useful to British motor sport: more races, more events, more money coming into the country and more success for this extraordinary industry“.

The legislation is key to get Formula E racing in London next year but of course it also opens the door to host Formula One races in London, something current London mayor Boris Johnson is a big advocate of. Also, due to the new Power Units we can be sure not to wake up too many people during their Sunday siestas 😛

Where would you like to see a circuit in London?

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28 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 11th July 2014

  1. “For every Lewis Hamilton or Daniil Kyvat – there is a Sergio Perez or Kevin Magnussen.”

    Whoa, Judge! Are you implying that Magnussen is performing as inconsistently and unconvincingly as Perez during his first half of the season with McLaren? Seems a bit harsh..

    • …you’re correct – when reading it back it was confusing – I do rate Magnussen and did so from the first day he drove in Jerez….

      • Thank you, Judge. Indeed, it seems to me that Magnussen is currently doing a Bottas: keep your head down, drive steadily, keep it clean (bar unfortunate incidents with Finnish Saint Alcoholics [tong in cheek]), and wait for experience to accrue and a better car to arise..

        • Wait till Vandoorne arrives! I rate him higher than Magnussen. Personally, K-Mag hasn’t convinced me. He’s not Hamilton or even Bottas. Dennis is looking for the next Hamilton, for the next great driver, not a good or very good driver, but for a great driver.

          I know that Vandoorne is not doing that well in GP2 currently but that might be because of ART’s shortfalls. And if you look at those above him they’re all GP2 journeymen (maybe with the exception of Evans). The kid is good and pushed K-Mag all the way to the 3.5 title last year with much less experience.

          • Whoa you need to hold your horses a bit there.
            Have you forgotten, last season bottas’ only points to note were a 3rd in qualifying and a points finish in Texas.
            It’s a bit harsh to be saying Magnussen has dissapointed. Largely he’s been in a hugely dissapointing car. In the races where it’s been better he’s delivered he’s a podium and a few decent points finishes. In Austria he showed jenson right up in the race.

            After all I don’t Ron would want to lose face over him getting the axe after one year.
            Don’t forget Perez was a Whitmarsh signing making it much an easier decision for Ron to decide to replace him after a dissapointing season.
            Same goes for Jenson, if old Martin was in charge there’d be no talk of replacing him.
            As a fellow McLaren fan myself I’m not really sure what I think of Button being replace.
            There are other drivers ready to take his place but at the same time he is a decent driver who with a good car could be up there for a title challenge.

          • Personally, I want to see Button’s back, enough is enough. He’s incapable of developing a car, past his best and not in the same league as the top 2-3 drivers. I’d like McLaren to give a go at Hulk or Grosjean, someone else.

            And I’m not saying that Macca should get rid of K-Mag. Of course he should be retained for at least one more year. And I know that it took time for Bottas to shine and the likes of Hamilton had done a lot of miles prior to F1. But if K-Mag is a real strong talent, I’d expect him to start getting the better of Button in the second half of this year a bit more consistently.

          • I thought engineers and designers develop a car, and the driver just pilots it?

            Don’t blame Button for Macca’s weakness in their aero dept.!

          • We’ll see.. at the moment it is pretty even. Of note is how Kevin does on tracks that he already knows – he won’t have that problem at the other tracks after this year. I would expect Kevin to beat Jenson in the points standings next year, if not this one after his scrapes with Kimi.

            Bottas was held back hugely by the car last year.. some thought he could have done better with the 2012 car than Senna or Maldonado. But he’s really coming to the fore this year, and will beat Massa every year they are team-mates.. Wolff has him on stand-by, as the ‘driver-to-sign’, if something unsettles the Mercedes ship.

            From GP2, I see the real talents as Evans, Vandoorne, Marciello (hopefully these 3 will fight for the title next year), while Nasr could ‘do a Gutierrez or Ericsson’ and flop without enough F1 testing beforehand, while Palmer may get a shot to be the next Chilton.

          • You’ve got to remember with limited testing that very few drivers will be able to be the next Hamilton. I seem to remember reading that Lewis for example had IRO 50,000km testing before ever racing an F1 car. I dare say that even some of the current drivers won’t have had that amount of running. I’d imagine there weren’t too many after Lewis who got that level of running pre-F1, as the testing bans came in during 2007, so anyone post that time got far less running, and it’s just got less and less.

            New drivers just don’t get enough time now, their learning is there for all to see on the track. I think it’s unrealistic to expect any driver to hop in a car and perform like Lewis did. Taking away even the testing you’ve got to remember that Lewis, along with Jacques are probably the only two drivers in F1 for 30 odd years who’s first F1 car was the cream of the field. That helps in terms of performance perception as well.

            As you can tell I have a decent amount of sympathy for young guys trying to make it in F1, so where a driver like Kevin, can match someone with vastly more time behind the wheel *cough JB* I’m generally impressed. Daniil Kvyat is the big star for me though, some of his performances vs JEV (who ran Ricciardo very closely) suggest he’s got enough talent to be a WDC.

  2. “backed by the government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change.”

    Bwahahahahahahaha. I guess the British government can afford to spend a few million out of the billions it shaken down the consumer with it’s “climate change” BS.

  3. Back the FRIC ban, as that seems to generate interest….

    Anyone have any feeling about which teams have the most extreme setups (i.e. who would suffer most)?

    Also, I guess the slightly obvious question is does anyone know if any of the offs or issues during the Silverstone test were caused by the sudden lack of FRIC? I’ve heard Max Chilton suggest it didn’t make a massive difference to him, but not heard any other driver comments.

    • I suspect it’s Merc, Merc and Merc. Brawn has been working on their FRIC for years..

      As for drivers, Lewis yesterday didn’t seem that very happy. (See yesterday’s Daily N&C.)

      • That team that just has to attend (and not race to get Bernies $) has FRIC too.

        • I would love to see at least one race with FRIC-less cars, just for us to see how much it is really worth: 3-4 tenths, or more in the case of the Merc. But I’m afraid that the teams will come up with a solution similar to the one for KERS in its first year of regulations, where all teams decided (and cajoled Williams) to not run it.

    • “Back the FRIC ban, as that seems to generate interest…”

      FRIC systems haven’t been banned yet – the FIA (Whiting) are stating the systems could be called into question. Which I suspect means that some of the more sophisticated systems may be banned while some of the basic systems may not.

      • A very good point, I’d not thought of it like that. I did wonder if the intention of the banning of some of the systems at this juncture was more to do with their intentions for FRIC going forward, rather than current systems and ergo an attempt to somewhat limit silly spending on technology which will be completely outlawed in 2015?

    • Apparently only Caterham, Marussia and Sauber yet to agree to continue with FRIC now. There’ll be some engine suppliers leaning on some teams over the next day or two

  4. I’ve always wanted to see an F1 race on the A roads by the South Downs. People being able to sit along the valleys and see those machines fly through at 170mph. If anyone knows that I mean by this – double roundabout by Hollingbury/Coldean lane/Devils Dyke Access (Brighton). Oh yes.

    Time to start lobbying my local Green MP (Caroline Lucas) to showcase hybrid/electric motorsport.

    We aren’t a million miles away from Goodwood either.

  5. My tv provider gives me a ‘channel of the month’ – I don’t know if I’m supposed to buy it, or lure it from the higher, more obscure corners – and this month it’s a Discovery channels thing.
    Don’t know the name but today I saw ‘mystery cars’ about a gas turbine engined car. And when I heard about all the problems and downsides, I said to my wife: they should use that fir a Hybrid!
    Nice to read that Williams got there before I did. Still sad about the unraced flywheel.

  6. “Smedley transfers his support from Massa to Bottas”

    ^^^^^^ I’m confused by the repeated mentions of Raikkonen…what’s the point the author is trying to make? That Massa has been demoted or that Kimi has been supplanted or…??

    • Have to admit, after a heap if Raikkonen preamble, I scrolled back up to see if I was actually reading the Massa / Smedley / Bottas article. Indeed I was, I pushed on. It was indeed a big Segway.

    • I think it’s about the whole Ferrari/Alonso team-mates/Kimi and Felipe pre-Alonso context. But Smedley should indeed follow Bottas.. he could end up at Mercedes in five years, while Massa will be replaced by Nasr in three tops.

  7. Newsflash: Verstappen doesn’t win 8th race in a row.. finishes 3rd instead. I noticed that Lewis Hamilton also won 6/7 F3 races in a row.. at the end of his dominant championship year. It would be amazing to see these two battle in 5 years’ time..

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