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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite – 2002 – Schumacher secures World Title in record time
Thank you Mr Lauda. Regardless that Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolff would like to implement team-orders – the non-executive Chairman insists that Mercedes will allow their drivers to race on. Having just completed the tenth round of the 2014 championship, Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton by a mere fourteen points in the title battle.
Which is somewhat more reassuring for dwindling TV audiences than the year that Michael Schumacher equaled Juan Manuel Fangio’s total of five titles – a tally that had seemed unapproachable for close to half a century. And he secured it by the eleventh round of the championship…
With five laps left, Schumacher lay in second place, Barrichello his only challenger had retired at the start, and Kimi Raikkonen led up to the Adelaide hairpin. Alan Mcnish’s Toyota had blown up on the racing line and Kimi slid wide, allowing Schumacher through for a victory which sealed the championship as well.
Ferrari would finish the season with 15 victories, 9 1-2 finishes, their points tally for the Constructors title equaled all the other teams scores combined and Schumacher’s lowest finish that year was 3rd in the Malaysian Grand Prix. His eleven wins would also surpass his own previous record, of nine wins, that he shared with Nigel Mansell from 1992.
James Garner/ Pete Aron R.I.P. 1928 – 2014
American actor and star of 1966 film Grand Prix – James Garner – passed away over the weekend at the age of 86. A TV and movie actor, his best known roles were in TV series ‘Maverick’ and ‘The Rockford Files’. But to a generation of Formula One fans he is best remembered for the part he played in the John Frankenheimer’s 1966 epic ‘Grand Prix’.
Garner played the role of American Pete Aron who is sacked by BRM and finds a seat at Yamura and succeeds in winning the championship. But for most fans of Formula One history, it’s the filming of the circuts from Grand Prix’s most dangerous era and the racing personalities captured on celluloid that made the film a cult favourite.
The film includes real-life racing footage and cameo appearances by drivers including Formula One World Champions Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Jack Brabham – as well as appearances by Jochen Rindt, Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Jo Bonnier and Bruce Mclaren. as well as footage from Monaco, Clermont-Ferrand, Spa in it’s original configuration and the classic slip-streamer Monza’s banked circuit.
Garner did all his own driving for the film and afterwards set up the American International Racers team, which raced at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring in the late 1960s. It was reported that Graham Hill and Jack Brabham told him that if he hadn’t pursued a career in acting he was good enough to compete in Formula One.
1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones was a close friend of Garner’s said: “I’ll miss Jim for sure and my family and I offer our condolences to his entire family and all his friends,” Jones said. “Jim was a hell of a driver, a competitor, most people don’t remember that and that he raced in a lot of different types of cars over the years. He truly was a “man’s man.”
“Jim was a friend and when he came to Indianapolis as a spectator and pace car driver we obviously welcomed him with open arms. People will remember him for his performances in “Grand Prix,” “The Rockford Files” and also for his excellent acting in so many other movies and TV shows, he was so smooth and such a natural, he made it look easy. He excelled in both movies and television a rarity back then.”
Hamilton’s Safety Car Conspiracy (GMM)
Euphoric at Silverstone two weeks ago when he pulled the gap back to just 4 points, Lewis Hamilton’s mood dimmed once again on Sunday as he deficit blew back out to 14. But after the Briton limited the damage of his back-of-the-grid start at Hockenheim by racing through the field to the podium, boss Toto Wolff advised him to not be too glum.
“I would be very surprised if it (the title battle) didn’t come down to Abu Dhabi and to the famous double points,” said the Mercedes chief.
“Even if you are behind 30 points, you can turn it around in Abu Dhabi. But the driver who loses on double points will need some psychological treatment,” he smiled.
Still, Hamilton thinks a result better than third might have been possible in Germany, after seeing Adrian Sutil’s stricken car. A safety car would have ended championship leader Nico Rosberg’s huge race lead.
“I definitely got a bit worried,” the German driver admitted, “because I was sure there was going to be a safety car and that would have obviously made it a lot more difficult.”
Rosberg wasn’t the only one surprised, particularly in a sport that, in the name of safety, is prepared to delay a race for an hour to fix a damaged barrier.
“I was really concerned for the marshals — really concerned,” said Hamilton, referring to Sunday at Hockenheim.
“It felt like the closest thing I have seen for a long, long time.”
He said whizzing past marshals who ran across the racing line to recover Sutil’s Sauber reminded him of footage of the 1977 South African grand prix, when a marshal and Tom Pryce were killed in a gruesome collision.
“That was the first thing I thought about,” said Hamilton. “I couldn’t believe it. How on earth a car can be sitting in the middle of the road for a couple of laps and not come out? I think you know why.”
The Briton would not expand on what he meant by his final remark, but there was probably no conspiracy to protect Rosberg’s race lead for a sure home win. Mercedes’ Wolff said not putting the safety car out was surely the result of a new effort by F1’s authorities to reduce interference in the racing.
“Under the old spirit of the FIA,” he told Auto Motor und Sport, “the safety car would have come out. But I think Charlie’s decision was deliberately taken not to turn a race on its head with 15 laps to go.”
But the lack of a safety car was not the only argument Hamilton found himself in after the German grand prix.
He also infuriated former McLaren teammate Jenson Button for their collision, for which Hamilton immediately apologised. “The problem with Lewis is he expected me to let him past,” said Button. “I don’t think I’m the only person he drove into today.
“With his car being so much quicker you’d think he wouldn’t get into so many fights, but there you go.” Later, after watching the replay, Button admitted he might have “overreacted“.
TJ13 comment: Mercedes had run thousands of simulations on Saturday night,, most predicting Hamilton could expect to finish in 4th place. Cheer up Lewis, you went went one better!
crowd gathering – but why?
Elsewhere in Germany on Sunday, the Nurburgring hosted an event called the ‘Truck Grand Prix’. Watching the unwieldy trucks from the grandstands were about 100,000 excited spectators — about twice the size of the crowd that gathered at Hockenheim for the 2014 German grand prix.
Bild am Sonntag asked Bernie Ecclestone where all the fans are.
“Obviously not here,” the F1 supremo answered.
As far as some are concerned, notwithstanding the big crowds recently in Austria and Silverstone, the unpopularity of the Hockenheim race should be ringing alarm-bells for F1.
Opposite pit lane just prior to the start
“The Austrian grand prix took at least 5,000 spectators from us,” track boss Georg Seiler insisted to Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“And the olympic games and the world cup have just taken place. The world cup was the number 1 issue, with newspapers saying hardly anything about formula one,” he argued.
Ecclestone agrees: “Germany won the world cup, and all the sports-mad people bought a ticket to Brazil.
“They’re just worn out after so many major sports events,” he added.
Both Seiler and Ecclestone also rejected the theory that ticket prices are too high, insisting the prices all over the F1 calendar are similar.
Yet 100,000 people managed to afford a ticket to go watch truck racing – even after the World Cup bonanza – Go Figure, Mr. E!
McLaren title sponsor imminent
TJ13 reported in December 2013, that McLaren would run for 2014 without a title sponsor. We have learned this weekend, McLaren will announce in the very near future the identity of their title sponsor for 2014, which will be reflected in their racing name submitted to the FIA.
Keep guessing folks…..
Safety car controversy Hockenheim
For those who watch other motor sports besides F1, there are often a multiplicity of questions which spring to mind as to why F1 doesn’t adopt some of the better practices utilised out there.
TJ13 has banged the drum persistently over the lapped cars in the snake behind the safety car. When the trouble is cleared these cars are invited to overtake the safety car and then at a much reduced speed trundle around until they rejoin the back of the queue.
This can take another lap or two after the danger on track has been cleared. To save wasted racing time, why not force these cars drive through the pit lane and rejoin the rear of the snake? I have heard no sensible rationale for not adopting this practise.
However, it was another type of incident which has caused some safety car controversy following the 2014 German GP.
Lewis Hamilton has questioned the decision from Charlie Whiting, not to deploy the safety car some 15 laps from the end of the race. Adrian Sutil – due to mechanical failure – had spun his Sauber exiting the final corner onto the pit straight.
Sutil initially managed to spin the car around in an attempt to continue racing, which in fact moved the car into a position further away from the racing line the cars would take exiting the final bend at Hockenheim. Had the German failed to do this a safety car would inevitably have been deployed.
“There should have been a safety car,” Hamilton said. “How on earth a car can be sitting in the middle of the road for a couple of laps and [the safety car] not come out… “. Then reminiscent of his comments in Monaco, Lewis sparked a conspiracy controversy by adding, “But I think you know why.”
The inference being that it was preferable to the organisers of the Hockenheim event to have a German driver winning the German GP in a German car.
However, the matter was handled under doubled waved yellow flags which as stated in the regulations, “Indicate danger, such as a stranded car, ahead. A single waved yellow flag warns drivers to slow down, while two waved yellow flags at the same post means that drivers must slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary. Overtaking is prohibited”.
Hamilton claims, the lack of safety car deployment was dangerous. “I was really concerned for the marshals, really concerned,” he said. “You know, we come around that corner at serious speed, and then there’s marshals standing not far from where you’re driving past. For me, that’s the closest it’s been for a long, long time.”
Yet the matter is simple. Double waved yellows inform the drivers there may be a stranded car on track with marshals attempting to remove it. “Slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary.
For time and memorial, there is an unwritten code which is supposed to be understood by all drivers who race at venues where marshals are required to assist drivers following on track incidents. These people are there to help the drivers, ‘do nothing to put them at risk’. F1 drivers at times in their obsession to beat the competition, appear to forget this code of conduct.
Many F1 drivers over the years have complained the safety car has ruined their race, then again many have jumped for joy at an opportunity provided by the safety car to get them back into the heat of battle. In the latter category, Mark Webber springs to mind at Silverstone.
Yet the purpose of the safety car is for safety reasons – not to spice up a boring race and bring a contrived exciting finish.
There is an argument that in dry race conditions, the safety car is now predominantly redundant. Since the F1 cars were fitted with technology which gives the drivers a delta time not to be exceeded when the safety car is first deployed, why is a safety car required at all?
In fact, the cars could be allowed to run at speeds the safety car is incapable of reaching for the 2 sectors unaffected by an incident and given a much slower maximum speed through the sector where marshals are working on the circuit. This would be safer from the perspective that tyre temperatures and pressures would be better maintained during the time it takes to clear an incident.
Lewis appears to believe he would have benefited from a safety car being deployed yesterday, though analysis coming later will demonstrate a win was still beyond his reach.
Had Mercedes fitted Lewis with the prime tyre for the last stint, he may have fared better in his end of race battle with Bottas.
Lewis chewed up his final set up super soft boots in 10 laps, leaving him struggling for the last 5 to get enough traction to overtake Valtteri’s Williams. Yet, with a car light on fuel, Hamilton would have suffered less tyre degradation had he not damaged his front wing earlier in the race as he misjudged Jenson Button’s intentions. This collision was something after consideration Lewis felt he should apologise, as he did on the podium, describing it is “my bad”.
However, some will see it as disingenuous for Hamilton to criticise the lack of a safety car due to his apparent concern for the marshals, when in the next breath he rather unguardedly reveals his other thoughts – which are that this decision was in fact designed to ensure Nico won the race.
Which is it?
So long as Hamilton and the other drivers obey the double waved yellows Lewis, “slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary”, the marshals were not at risk. There was a single object which required removing. This was not a case where there was a plethora of debris scattered across the width of the circuit, merely a car which each lap the drivers came around was in the same place and which required pushing away.
We all love the fact that Lewis is a ‘heart on the sleeve’ kind of character because it gives us plenty to debate. Yet, as TJ13 has suggested previously, Hamilton should be careful he doesn’t marginalise himself with his team. Continuing to trumpet the popular tabloid nonsense that Mercedes and others want a German driver to win the WDC in a German car – will gain Lewis no friends, and surely influence those within the Mercedes garage against him.
Raikkonen must up his game
Almost 52 weeks ago, TJ13 revealed exclusively that F1 fans’ favourite, Kimi ‘Iceman’ Raikkonen was set for a shock return to drive for Ferrari.
The column inches stacked up, the anticipation was immense as finally Ferrari were set to revise their policy of a number one and number two driver. Alonso could now be tested as he was in 2008, when driving against a rookie Hamilton as the ‘ice’ sought to quench the Spanish matador’s latin fire.
David Coulthard wrote in March, “the decision of Italian car giants Ferrari to field two former world champions in the same team at least gives fans of Formula 1 the chance to see how two of the stand-out drivers of the last decade measure up against each other in what will be near-identical cars”.
10 races into the season, Kimi is the only driver in this year’s F1 field not to finish a race ahead of his team mate. Massa managed this feat about once every seven races.
Fernando supporters in Maranello now mutter with hindsight how the Spaniard had expressed privately his belief that Massa should be retained by the red team.
Publically the Spaniard backed Maranello’s choice to re-hire Kimi, though his rhetoric was less than convincing the week following Monza 2013. “I was always informed about the team movements,” protested Alonso. “And it’s true that I think until the last moment, the team didn’t make a decision, and then when they decided that it was better to change Felipe, they told me what was my opinion. My opinion was he was the best out there in the market, and especially for a championship with many changes for next year, in terms of developing the car in January/February, a teammate that is many years in F1 was important. The team chose Kimi, so I’m happy.”
Well it appears Fred may have been better sticking to his guns and saying what he really believed, because following another average performance from Raikkonen in Hockenheim, Alonso has hinted that Kimi needs to improve.
“In the constructors’ championship we have lost a bit of ground to Williams,” adding with a hint of acidity, “We have only been able to count on one car again and we have to improve on that.”
In stark contrast, just minutes later, Alonso commented on Ricciardo, “Daniel is a surprise from Australia. I think he’s doing unbelievable,”
Mattiacci was curt to the point of being rude when asked by Sky Sports about Kimi’s performance in Hockenheim, stating merely, “it will improve”. Some observers commented there was more than a hint of the, “or else” in the Italian’s demeanour.
At present the hot Italian summer appears to have reduced the ‘iceman’ into a small puddle of warm water.
Ferrari have fallen behind Williams into 4th place in the constructors championship, and given recent performances in qualifying and the race, there is little to suggest they will regain their 3rd spot any time soon.
….meanwhile on other news outlets
Pragmatism prevents a pointless protest
There were moves afoot to protest Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car, following the decision by the team to switch from Brembo to Carbone Industrie brakes.
Hamilton disliked the Carbone Industrie brakes fitted to the W04 when he joined the team and so he was switched to Brembo with which he was familiar from his time at McLaren.
During qualifying one for the 2014 German GP, the British driver suffered a disk failure which caused him to crash at high speed into a tyre barrier. He managed to post a time good enough to escape Q1, though was unable to run in Q2. Following the application penalties to other drivers and a change of gearbox for Hamilton, he began the race P20.
However, Red Bull and Ferrari were unhappy that the team switched Hamilton’s brake mechanism from one type to another believing this was in breach of parc ferme rules. They argue this should require Hamilton start the race from the pit lane.
Mercedes defended their position stating the switch from Brembo to CI was on safety grounds and that there should be no penalty because the components were “similar in mass, inertia and function”.
Christian Horner, “absolutely” disagreed, citing the fact that both of the Red Bull cars were fitted with Brembo brakes. Tongues were held, though the temptation to quip that the Red Bull’s don’t go fast enough to require breaks…. crossed a number of minds of those present.
“If you change it like-for-like that is one thing,” he said, “but if you change it for something made by a different manufacturer that has a different characteristic, and as described by the driver himself as something different, it is an interesting precedent.”
Red Bull decided eventually not to protest, though this surely had nothing to do with the fact that eyebrows were raised at why Mercedes hadn’t opted to start Hamilton from the pit lane anyway. This would eliminate the chance of Lewis being involved in any mid-field carnage often associated with the start of the race and the first corner.
Horner is now demanding the FIA clear up what is allowable change of parts and what isn’t. “We obviously now need clarification, because if you can do that, then what else can you change?”
Ferrari’s boss, Marco Mattiacci, admitted “we decided not to move forward on this because I don’t think we wanted to get into it.”