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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite – 1979 Clay Regazzoni takes first Williams victory
It’s astonishing to think that today marks thirty five years since Williams took their first ever Grand Prix victory. To crown the day for the fiercely patriotic Frank Williams – the victory came at the British Grand Prix.
The Williams FW07 had been improving throughout the season and after the early domination of the Ligier team and the subsequent firepower of the scarlet cars from Maranello, Patrick Head had improved its ground effects aerodynamics and were now the established leaders of the field.
Alan Jones qualified fastest around the fast sweeps of Silverstone from the turbo charged Renault power of Jabouille. The other Williams of Clay Regazzoni qualified fourth but Ferrari, the championship leaders, could only manage 11th and 13th with Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve respectively.
Jones led away with his team-mare getting into third. By lap 17 the Renault had destroyed its tyres and needed a pit-stop which elevated Clay to second. Jones suffered an over-heating engine and retired on lap 39 and the hugely popular Regazzoni took the victory and, untypically, a soft spot in Frank Williams’s affection.
Alonso focused on current state of Ferrari- not his future
In recent days, speculation from Italy had suggested that Fernando Alonso had returned to Maranello after the British Grand Prix to discuss his contract beyond 2016. It seemed a little unusual that the Spanish superstar had returned to Italy merely to conduct running on the team’s simulator whilst Pedro De La Rosa and Jules Bianchi tested the F14-T at the British circuit. With LdM and team principal Marco Mattiacci in attendance, Ferrari have been trying to renegotiate an extended contract with Alonso until 2019.
Fernando Alonso remains adamant that his focus is on improving the current recalcitrant car: “I’m not thinking too much on longer term because there are bigger priorities at the moment, I want to help the team and I want to score as many points as possible. We need maximum effort, and maximum concentration and team work to improve the car for next year. The future after 2016 is something that at the moment is not the main priority, but we will try to see what is the best solution.”
“There is nothing we can do more than work hard and trust our changes and our people,” Alonso continued. “There is always a programme to follow, a direction to follow – sometime it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong, but we need to stay together and trust the direction Mattiacci or the group of people think is the best.”
As TJ13 suggested on Wednesday last week, if Alonso’s desire was ultimately to run down his existing contract – then Ferrari would begin the search for the next incumbents for the fabled team. However at face value the decision to extend Fernando’s terms appears to be another short-sighted reaction by the Italian squad.
By the conclusion of the 2016 season an ‘aging’ Alonso will have passed his thirty-fifth birthday and despite exceptional health advice and nutrition being available to Formula One athletes, time waits for no-one. Michael Schumacher admitted himself that, despite his training, the older Schumi could not compete with a 20 something Schumi.
As a positive for the Italian squad, in 2016 a current 4 time champion would be merely 29 years old and a very promising Russian would be old enough to hire a car in all countries…
Possibility that Van der Garde to replace Sutil at Sauber
Social media has changed the world, from the way we communicate with one another to how we promote businesses and ourselves. The world of conventional journalism is changing as are the companies who recognise the benefits of social media and yet it still remains a mysterious annoyance to many in the management of Formula One who fail to appreciate the immediacy of connection.
Many drivers have Twitter accounts which they use to offer a different insight into their personality than what is represented by their respective team’s press office and the international media. And in much the same fashion that Tony Fernandes signed out from Caterham ownership with a short tweet which said nothing yet spoke volumes, it may be of some significance that Sutil recently de-activated his own account…
Over the weekend, rumours emerged on the Twitter medium that Adrian Sutil may well be replaced for his home Grand Prix – in Germany next weekend. With Sauber struggling financially to bring updates to a poorly performing car, Sutil’s sponsors seem to have lost patience with the Swiss manufacturer and will be withdrawing their funding. This termination of sponsorship will need replacement funds quickly and although Esteban Gutierrez brings substantial funds to the team from Mexico any replacement for Sutil would likely have to do the same.
The most likely replacement that is being suggested is Giedo Van der Garde who has recent experience in Formula One and, it’s believed, has a substantial treasure chest in support of his talents. He is also the current test and reserve driver for the Sauber squad; therefore would not need acclimatising to the workings of the team before debuting for them.
Raikkonen retirement talk ‘not smart’ – Hakkinen (GMM)
Mika Hakkinen has questioned countryman Kimi Raikkonen’s admission that he will “probably” retire after the 2015 season. Finn Raikkonen, who replaced Hakkinen at McLaren when the double world champion retired in 2001, said at Silverstone that he is unlikely to seek a new contract once his current Ferrari tenure ends.
“Everyone does what he thinks is right,” Hakkinen said in his latest interview for sponsor Hermes, “but in my opinion that was not tactically very smart. If the mechanics and everyone else knows that a driver intends to just hang up his helmet in a year and a half, then they will probably pay more attention to the other driver, in this case Fernando Alonso,” the 45-year-old added.
Hakkinen also thinks Raikkonen’s admission reveals a lot about his current state of mind. “When you start to think about quitting,” he said, “it has a negative effect on your motivation. You find you can no longer focus on many things that you need to focus on in formula one.”
But, unlike some others, Hakkinen does not think Raikkonen’s huge crash at Silverstone was a case in point. Some have criticised the Ferrari driver for the way he rejoined the track after running wide at the start of the British grand prix but Hakkinen said: “Silverstone is a good track, but why is there such a big bump? When a formula one car loses contact with the ground at speed, no driver can control it anymore. The race has just started and the drivers are full of adrenalin, so of course he wants to come back as soon as possible. I wouldn’t blame Kimi.’
McLaren proposed grid restart idea – Whiting (GMM)
McLaren was the driving force behind F1’s controversial move to introduce grid restarts next year. Following criticisms of the change, namely that it is unfair or even unsafe, race director Charlie Whiting revealed recently: “First of all it has to be remembered that this was the suggestion from a team. “I put it to the rest of the teams and they all agreed that it was a good idea.”
The idea, with races to be restarted from the grid after safety car periods in 2015, was subsequently ratified by the World Motor Sport Council. Whiting has now revealed the name of the ‘team’ who made the original suggestion. “I was talking to someone at McLaren and we came up with this idea of how to make the show a bit better,” the FIA official told the website of the new Russian grand prix.
“When you watch a race, what is the most exciting part? The start. So, why not have a second one?” Whiting dismissed claims the FIA is compromising safety for excitement. “If it’s dangerous, you wouldn’t even have the start of the race, would you?” he argued. “I can’t see any downside to it. It’s been approved. Now we’ve got to work on making it work.”
Montezemolo threatens F1 again
When the obscure name, Marco Mattiacci, was seemingly plucked out of thin air by the Ferrari president to replace Stefano Domenicali, the speculation mill began to question whether he was a plant by FIAT to challenge Il Padrino.
Luca de Montezemoilo claimed Mattiacci he was his man, “Immediately I looked inside the company, because inside the company we had very good potential people, and Marco Mattiacci, for his characteristics and what he’s done in the past in Tokyo and China and America, he has the capability to manage people,” said Montezemolo. “There were no other alternatives because, first of all, I made the decision and also I did not have time to think of somebody else and I didn’t want to leave an open position. In 99% of the time I am happy to let people grow up in the company.”
The idea that Luca had spun the rotating Ferrari personnel card index, stopping it on Mattiacci’s name, gave credence to the view that maybe Marco was indeed the FIAT board’s man sent in to dig the dirt and eventually replace Montezemolo.
Yet a source close to the Ferrari management confirmed this weekend, Matiacci is indeed Il Padrino’s man and his incisive and decisive style of leadership is already being felt in Maranello.
Speedweek are reporting that head of the engine programme Luca Marmorini has been sacked,. Marmorini joined Ferrari in 1990, left for Toyota in 1999 and rejoined the Maranello crew in 2009 as head of the engine and electronics department, replacing Gilles Simone.
TJ13 has also been aware for some time, that Nikolas Tombazis and technical chief Pat Fry are also close to being exited.
Matiacci is indeed wielding the hatchet to great effect.
Yet 2014 should have been a year of success for Ferrari. As one of only 2 works manufacturers they had a significant advantage over engine customer teams – having the opportunity to create chassis and engine in a sympathetic design. However, their power train is impotent against the might of Mercedes, and at Silverstone we saw a Renault powered RB10 match and eventually out-drag Alonso down the old pit straight.
With Raikkonen out of love with the F14T, it’s not impossible the Red Team could finish embarrassingly behind Mercedes, Red Bull and 2 other of the Mercedes customer teams in the WCC this year.
Whilst Mattiacci is getting to grips with Ferrari impotence and inefficiency, it appears bizarre that Il Padrino has chosen once again to attack F1 in an apparent attempt to deflect attention from Ferrari’s woesful track performance.
In an interview with Focus magazine, Montezemolo repeats his mantra we became familier with early in the season.
“The rules are too complicated, the drivers have turned into taxi drivers,” says Il Padrino. “They must save fuel and tyres instead of being fast. The teams have to decide how much fuel they’re using and how many tyres are wearing out.
Luca seems to believe all this is down to the 2014 regulations. “Before, it was the best man winning in the best car. Now, the viewers – the ones in the stands and the ones in front of their TVs – no longer understand. As it is now, we must do something. Otherwise Formula One has no chance,” he said.
Montezemolo claims he has given Mr. Ecclestone an ultimatum to act and “If he doesn’t, I’ll do it myself, “ adding, “I see it as my duty. The need to do something to recover the lost charm of Formula One is urgent,”
This may play well with the FOAT shareholders and even the more deluded element of the tifosi, yet Luca is talking absolute rubbish. When he romantically declares, “before, it was the best man winning in the best car”. Really?
Il Padrino’s is clearly longing for those hazy, glorious years when Schumacher in a prancing horse won title after title – sweeping all before him.
Luca also has apparently abandoned the rhetoric of 2013 where he repeatedly declared how Ferrari were agonisingly close to winning the WDC in both 2010 and 2012. For Montezemolo in those years, the best car then won, (RB6 and RB8) but not with the best driver (Alonso).
The Ferrari president is Formula 1 drivers have been driving with cars under fuelled practically since F1 came into existence. The revered Colin Chapman famous for his lightweight Lotus cars used to irritate his drivers by repeatedly covertly instructing a mechanic to under fuel the cars.
Alain Prost notably reminded the tyre naysayers in 2013, that tyre management has also been something the driver has been required to ‘manage’ since before the Frenchman arrived in the sport some 30 years ago.
It is rather tyresome tiresome listening to threats from the Ferrari president and it has to be questioned whether F1’s dependence on Ferrari is as great as it has been in days gone by.
What is for certain is that Ferrari have huge problems which will not be solved in just weeks or months. It took Ross Brawn 4 years to deliver a well structured and organised championship winning team (2010-2013) Today Ferrari are nowhere.
Further, if as TJ13 reported last week, Charlie Whiting is nearing the end of his contract, then Ecclestone’s power to effect rule changes in F1 will be reduced, as his man inside the FIA will be replaced by a Todt sympathiser.
Luca de Montezemolo has been a great leader for the Ferrari business as a whole, but he appears to be running out of ideas. Merely repeating his limited criticisms of the modern Formula 1 is marginalising both his and Ferrari’s voice.
It used to be the case when Luca spoke, F1 people once listened. Now too often the response is a blasé…. “here we go again, Ferrari threatening Formula 1.” Bla bla bla…..
Maybe along with Ecclestone – Il Padrino’s time to depart the world stage of Formula 1 has come too.
Here we continue our mini series on the thoughts of Formula 1 race director and regulator Charlie Whiting.
During free practice on Friday at the Austrian GP, both Mercedes and Ferrari tested a skid block with a titanium element at the behest of the FIA.
“To explain: the plank is the long bit of wood, the skids are bits of metal within the plank. The skids have formerly been made of a heavy metal, which has been very resistant to wear, and they put the skids around the points in the plank where thickness is measured. Planks have to start off at nominally 10mm thick and they can’t be less than 9mm thick. However, we only measure them around certain holes in the plank. So they position the skids around those holes.
This metal is extremely heavy and when pieces detach they can be extremely harmful. We saw two punctures in Spa previously because of bits of this metal that lay in a kerb and caused damage. In a worst case scenario they could fly off and hit someone.
The purpose of making them out of titanium is threefold: Firstly, it’s safer, because if they do come off they are about a third of the weight of the existing ones. Secondly, the titanium wears some 2-2.5 times more quickly than the metal currently used. Thus cars will have to be run a little bit higher to manage wear and teams won’t be able to drag them on the ground quite as much as they have in the past. The third effect is that you will see a lot more sparks, which some people think will look a little more spectacular”.
So it is all about safety then according to Charlie…. Mmmm.
In a strange twist, Charlie’s recent technical directive giving his opinion that FRIC suspension systems are illegal, will raise the height of the cars, making sparks far less likely on most circuits…
More joined up thinking from Bernie’s man Inside the FIA.
All is quiet on this issue since Charlie Whiting dropped the bombshell last Tuesday that FRIC systems may be illegal. The FIA man in effect has made it clear he would entertain protests from teams against each other on the matter.
The caveat from Whiting was, should all the teams agree, FRIC systems could be declared legal until the end of the year.
Otmar Szafnauer, Operations Director at Force India, confirmed over the weekend that they had managed a significant amount of development of their FRIC system during the Silverstone test, and stating it could be worth “half a second a lap”. He further confirmed the Force India car could run with or without the system, though questioned whether some teams with more advanced suspension developments would in fact be able to do this easily.
For a team like Mercedes who have been working on their FRIC suspension for a number of years, it is not clear how much lap time a FRIC ban would cost them. It may be more that we see the Mercedes F1 cars revert to chewing their tyres more than others, as happened in 2013.
Force India have indicated they will vote with the majority on the matter, though Szafnauer, beleives there is “zero chance” that all 11 teams will agree to defer the ‘ban’ until the end of the season.
Bruno Senna revealed from his ongoing contact with the team that Williams are running a fairly well developed FRIC system which is contributing to their recent success.
So the cars will be on track in less than 4 days time and as yet we have no definitive position as to whether the cars will be FRIC free or not.
Hockenheim is believed to be a circuit where FRIC may be less effective than at other slower speed tracks.
Since the mooted ban and the potential pain it may inflict on Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel has come out fighting stating he is not giving up the fight for 2014. “If you look at points and mathematics we can still fight for the world championship, so it would be stupid to say we’re out,”
A more reflective Fernando Alonso has a different point of view. “I think if anyone apart from Rosberg and Hamilton is telling you they believe they can be world champion this year they will [be] lying,”