Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 22nd July 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

Castrol #F1 GP Predictor Summary – Hockenheim 2014


OTD Lite: Winklehock leads on Grand Prix debut

Lauda Watch: “McLaren car… shit, Ferrari… shit”

Should F1 go to Russia?

Italy “clutches at straws” again regards Ferrari

Clutching at straws pt 2 – Renault’s Remi Taffin

Hamilton contract negotiations

Vettel turns off German fans

Will double points decide the 2014 WDC?

Renault engine design for 2015

Mexico is go, go go

Hamilton to get therapy


OTD Lite: Winklehock leads on Grand Prix debut

The son of the late Manfred WInklehock only contested one Grand Prix – the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. As a Friday test driver and the reserve driver for  the Spyker team, he started last on the grid but with rain threatening, his team called him to change to intermediates on the parade lap.

As the rain began to fall he passed all the other drivers as they slithered round and finally came into the pits to take on appropriate tyres. By the end of the second lap he had a lead of 19 seconds and by the end of the fourth was thirty-three seconds ahead….

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Sadly it was too wet to continue and so the safety car was called out – unlike Sunday’s recent German Grand Prix. At the restart Alonso committed to some quite brilliant driving and won the race from a smarting little Felipe Massa who felt the Spaniard had been a little too aggressive.

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Lauda Watch: “McLaren car… shit, Ferrari… shit”

Mild mannered triple world champion, Niki Lauda, is clearly irked by a number of matters. It may be that the FRIC system Mercedes have been developing for years is de facto outlawed due to other teams bending Charlie Whiting’s ear.

It could be there was a threat of protest from Red Bull and Ferrari when Mercedes decided on safety grounds alone – allegedly – to change the brake systems used by Lewis Hamilton during the German GP.

When asked whether it was fair that the FIA regulations restrict the ability of other engine suppliers to play ‘catch up’ during this season, Lauda was somewhat uncompromising.

“McLaren has the same engine as us and their car is sh*t,” reports El Pais. “Where are they? No where.”

In a clear attempt to make friends and influence people, Lauda continues, “Ferrari are the same…. another sh*tty car”. (Translator’s note: It is difficult to know whether Lauda is referring to Ferrari as ‘another’ example of a sh^t 2014 car in addition to the McLaren MP4-29…. Or whether he means this is the latest in a list of sh^t Ferrari F1 car designs).

“The rules are written clearly,” Lauda adds, “You can’t penalise Brixworth because the others have been stupid.”

Yet Niki has been in the sport a long time and remembers similar years in by-gone eras where a team dominated for a season or two. The McLaren MP4-4 springs to mind along with a couple of Williams F1 designs.

Niki is asked to sympathise with Fernando Alonso’s predicament – stranded in the wrong car.

Wrong question!

“I’m sure he’s most frustrated,” said Lauda, “but the money he makes should help him.get over it. Remember Ronnie Peterson? He was the best but always in the wrong place.”

Marco Mattiacci refused to be drawn on Lauda’s description of Maranello’s latest lovingly created prototype racing machine. “For me, Niki Lauda is an icon of the sport, one of the most intelligent drivers of all time…. and I have huge respect for him”.

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Should F1 go to Russia?

Most sports fans would prefer to disassociate their preferred sport from politics, yet at times this divide is called into question.

The questions are raised not when sport attempts to bring influence upon a political sphere, but when politics attempts to use sport to justify its position.

The 1936 Olympics were an example of this which is hard to refute. Hitler seized on an opportunity to use the Games to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy. Such that, the official Nazi party publication called for the banning of the participation of Jews and Black people from the event.

Unlike other F1 writers who are well known, TJ13 was against F1’s return to Bahrain in 2012 –  primarily because the ruling family, the Al Khalifa’s, had hijacked the event, publicising it both nationally and internationally under the slogans “UniF1ed” and “Back on Track”.

These were clearly political slogans designed by Bahrain’s political rulers to present the message that the ‘troubles’ which had caused the 2011 race cancellation were now over. Whether this was in fact the case or not is irrelevant, as the use of F1 for any political means is forbidden by the FIA.

Of course, Jean Todt relatively new to his role, felt the course of least resistance was best – and did nothing. Ecclestone admitted the race organisers were in breach of their contract and that he had “asked them to take them down” – the banners that is.

Unusually, Ecclestone was ignored, and the banners and baseball caps were aplenty on race day.

So we turn to Russia and the question whether F1 should race in Sochi this year.

Ecclestone is clear in his views. “I don’t see any problems with that. Were they [Russia] in the World Cup or not? You would have thought people would have tried to stop it, wouldn’t you? Like I’ve said, we don’t get involved in politics. We have a contract with them, which we know they will respect. And we will do the same.”

Of course, this event has been promoted personally by Vladimir Putin, and the question of F1’s involvement with Russia will be raised by many. The charge will be Putin and Russia have aggravated if not created the current bout of killings in Ukraine following the annexing of Crimea.

It appears from the sanctions extended thus far, that it is beyond the doubt of the majority of Western led governments that the pro-Russian ‘freedom forces’ fighting the Ukraine government troops in the east of the country have been armed and assisted by Russia.

Further, evidence is emerging that Russia supplied the weapon which shot down Malaysian Airline flight MH17.

Is all this really a matter for Formula 1 to consider? After all, it isn’t about the discrimination of Jews and Black people.

The question for many is whether Vladimir Putin will attempt to use his association with global sports stars of Formula 1 to present an image of ‘business as usual’?

This image will have little effect on those in the west, yet the Russian people will see their president accepted by ‘reasonable minded’ educated westerner’s who are happy to shake his hand in friendship and bring their sport to his domain.

These westerner’s will represent to ordinary Russians the fact that the USA and European sanctions against their country are not universally accepted by those who are ruled by Obama and his EU counterparts… which in the final analysis, is indeed true.

However, it may be a more sensitive topic depending on where people live in the world. F1 fans in Holland may feel more strongly than others in Europe where there has been a general air of indifference to the American led sanctions imposed on Russia thus far.

Then again, there are corporate backers of F1 like Malaysian company Petronas. They may indeed feel they would suffer a backlash from their own countrymen should their name appear in Sochi. Ecclestone refused to allow McLaren or Vodafone to remove their company logo from the car in Bahrain 2012 – will the same apply to Petronas?

Bernie Ecclestone believes there will be no issues, and all will be fine. “We shouldn’t speculate as to what could happen. We will honour our contract. Mr Putin personally has been very supportive and very helpful, and we will do the same.”

TJ13 has contacted the UK Prime Minister’s office on three separate occasions since the annexing of Crimea to establish the government’s position on the Formula 1 circus pitching it’s big top in Russia. No answer has been the stern reply.

Well the questions will soon be louder and more frequent. The terrible events surrounding flight MH17 – none less than the disdainful vision of the victims bodies piled up on trucks – has hit many in the west between the eyes.

This war is no longer quite so remote and distant.

Despite what Ecclestone says or believes, there will be questions asked and some turmoil within the F1 teams over the continued decision to ‘take the show to Russia’.

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Italy “clutches at straws” again regards Ferrari

“The idiom originated with Thomas More’s Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (1534). It indicates desperation. A drowning man will clutch/grab at anything, even at straws (this is the (older?) usage that means ‘dry grass’ not drinking straws) in an attempt to save himself.”

In Italy, Ferrari is a religion. The populace display as much anger as the publications that routinely report on the state of affairs in Maranello and 2014 has been fodder for the journalists. There is the very real prospect that Ferrari will – for the first time in twenty one years – go through the season without a single victory.

The Silver Arrows continue to dominate the championship battle, practically winning from wherever they start the race and certain Italians have begun the aforementioned ‘clutching at straws‘ by comparing Ferrari to their last winless season in 1993. In actual fact 1993 was the third season that Ferrari had endured a winless year but that is a moot point.

In 1993 Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo appointed Frenchman Jean Todt to begin reconstructing the antiquated Ferrari team into what became a behemoth of modern Formula One, dominating in a style that had not been seen before – six consecutive constructors and five consecutive driver titles are testimony to that. Once again, in 2014, Montezemolo is re-living the horrors of a malfunctioning squad that looks likely to finish at best fifth in the table despite the unquestioned driving ability of Fernando Alonso.

So what does Italy do? They make comparisons between 1993 and this year, and similarities vainly offered between Jean Todt and Marco Mattiacci – conveniently forgetting that Todt was a hugely successful motor-sport manager with Peugeot in both rallying and Group C; whereas MM comes from a background where his only obligation was to promote and grow the Ferrari brand in different markets worldwide.

One commendable trait of the new Ferrari team principal is his uncharacteristic honesty in a world of intrigue, politics and deliberate subterfuge and this has been followed by a culling of team personnel who have been identified as too reluctant to take design risks.

Luca Marmorini has already departed the team and has been replaced by Matt Mariz and Lorenzo Sassi who will take over the 059/4 project with the design remit that the aero department will not take precedence over the power unit design, a problem that Pat Fry and Nicholas Tombazis cultivated by chasing maximum efficiency.

The biggest error that Marmorini made was deliberating over the direction of the new 2015 power unit despite the FIA allowing modifications for next season. With James Allison ignoring the 2014 campaign and focusing his attention on next season’s challenger, it appears that Fry and Tombazis may also prove scapegoats within the Italian concern.

And all the while Pavarotti sings “Nessun’ Dorma” (None shall sleep) in the echoing halls of the Gestione Sportiva…

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Clutching at straws pt 2 – Renault’s Remi Taffin

Renault’s operations manager – Remi Taffin – has been a busy interviewee this season. Before the season began he spoke of how Renault would be fixing their problems over the coming weeks. By Barcelona the word was that with the upcoming tracks being less power demanding they would be nearer the front and by Canada they were operating at 100% of the engines potential – which made Austria all the more disappointing as Red Bull struggled for pace all weekend.

In a season that Ferrari is hugely disappointed with their car, they have still run close battles to the Red Bulls at the last couple of races – well Fernando Alonso. If as some suggest, the RB10 is the class of the field in terms of chassis design, then the handicap of their engine is truly staggering.

Young Remi studied at the same institute as Mclaren’s technical director – Racing Director – Eric Boullier and offered the French companies point of view from Germany.
“It is good to the Red Bulls have the flexibility and mobility they need to compete and win positions on the track. The new software introduced in Germany has proved valuable in this area and we intend to exploit it even more in Hungary where the interaction with the new Total fuel will be fully optimised.”

Taffin continued, “We also need to work on reliability before Hungary. We had a perfect weekend in Germany and problems were relatively minor but some of them had serious consequence….

As yet, TJ13 hasn’t received word from Daniil Kyvat in regards to his Renault engined Toro Rosso going up spectacularly in flames, but Vettel remarked, “I think it’s not the last word on this. There are reasons why it did not work out. Whether we find out in a week it’s hard to say – for sure it was a disappointment as we had hoped for more. The big step didn’t work out.”

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Hamilton contract negotiations

TJ13 commented during the Monaco GP weekend, that it appeared strange Mercedes were not making noises about extending Lewis Hamilton’s contract. Both Vettel and Alonso have had contract extensions offered to them more than 2 years before the expiry of their current deal.

Whether they like it or not, by failing to open negotiations with Lewis, Mercedes at that time raised questions over their commitment to retaining his services beyond the end of 2015.

Toto Wolff now reveals, the Brackley based team are “sitting together and negotiating with Lewis about a multi-year contract.”

It would now be normative in F1 land, for an announcement to follow fairly quickly that in fact an extension to Lewis contract has been agreed. Hopefully Toto Wolff understands the subtext of contractual negotiations with F1 drivers and isn’t just hoping this matter will disappear into the long grass over the summer break.

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Vettel turns off German fans

Katja Heim, circuit adviser involved in the 2014 German GP race promotion, has defended the small crowd in Hockenheim in 2014. It was better than the 45,000 at the Nurburgring in 2013, but then Hockenheim is always more popular.

In a fairly explosive comment which could have legal implications, Katja apportions some of the blame to Sebastian Vettel for the drop of interest in F1 in Germany.

“It certainly didn’t really help that Sebastian in his frustration about the new Formula 1 and his car gave loads of interviews about how bad Formula One is now and that it’s not worth going to watch,” said Heim.

Vettel described the new F1 hybrid Formula as “shit” in pre-season testing.

“As a four times world champion from Germany, people believe him more than they would the sales people. So if he says there’s nothing any more for the fans, it’s not Formula One like it used to be, that was 100 percent quite damaging.”

For those who believe that Vettel is the ‘virtual love child of Bernie Ecclestone, his attitude and consistent complaints against the new Formula 1 regulations were hardly surprising.

Ecclestone has been consistently critical of the new regulations, and the FIA have added credence to his claims by asking the engine suppliers to create amplified exhaust sounds.

Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff agrees with Heim’s assessment. “We’ve talked the sport down at the beginning of the year and we are all to blame, or many of us [are]. The last couple of races were really good to watch; lots of overtaking everywhere, so the sport is in good shape. We have to analyse properly why there are not more spectators in Hockenheim”, adding rather lamely, “It’s a shame.”

The race promoters may feel it is rather more than ‘a shame’, since they have recently been threatened by Ecclestone that their F1 contract may be terminated – unless they increase the hosting fee to FOM.

Seeing as Germany currently doesn’t host a round of the FIA WEC series, maybe Hockenheim will consider it a better option to promote in the future than Formula 1.

Then again, this could all be part of the Ecclestone master plan to buy back F1 from CVC at a knock down price.

That said, this week Ecclestone has done another of his many U-Turns (flip flops) which add to the general sense that he can’t remember what he said previously. 3 weeks ago, on the matter of him buying back F1, Ecclestone told the Daily Express, “It is possible, although one or two other companies are interested and I would not enter an auction,”

Yesterday, Mr. E was quoted by the Telegraph as amusingly stating, “I wouldn’t want to pay what it is worth. Not that it is not worth it but it would be a lot of money. It’s a big thing to hang around your neck at my age.”

Toto Wolff concludes by questioning the commercial rights holder’s handling of F1’s marketing and broadcasting. “Is there a general trend that people just have many more options in what they do in the digital world? I don’t have an answer because from the sporting side all of us are doing it right.”

Clearly the 83 year old who runs the sport does not understand the new digital age and has dismissed it as a fad, previously asserting, “people will go back to watching television”.

What is certain is that if the decline in F1 viewers and race attendances is not reversed and new fans attracted to the sport, all the F1 purses from the commercial rights owner to the FIA and the teams will become ever smaller.

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Will double points decide the 2014 WDC?

The much disliked double points for the final race in Abu Dhabi is beginning to loom on the horizon, increasingly likely to decide the F1 drivers’ championship.

The problem for Lewis Hamilton is that he is in the best car – by far – but so is his team mate.

If we assume race reliability is equally distributed at 100% across the two Mercedes drivers, between now and the end of the season, Lewis could win every race – but Nico will be second.

This gives us a points tally going into the season finale of….

Hamilton           376

Rosberg           334

Difference       42

Assuming equal race reliability being 100% for each driver, this is the absolute best scenario Hamilton faces.

Roll this forward to the end of the European season, but now say Rosberg wins 1 of the three remaining races (Hamilton 2nd). This gives a pre-Abu Dhabi tally of..

Hamilton           369

Rosberg           341

Difference       28

For the remaining 6 flyaway races (assuming the Russian GP goes ahead), now say Rosberg wins another 1 from those 6 races with Hamilton 2nd….

Hamilton           362

Rosberg           348

Difference       14

A win for Rosberg then ties the points in the driver standings, with him having won 3 out of the remaining 9 races from hereon….

It could well be squeaky bum time in the Arabian Desert in November and the majority of F1 fans may be outraged by a rule change..

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Renault engine design for 2015

Renault examining the option of adopting the Mercedes F1 engine concept for 2015.

The French manufacturer has previously played down the impact of the split turbo German design, which has the air compressor and turbine at opposite ends of the engine.

There are thought to be aerodynamic packaging advantages to this solution along with reduced turbo lag.

Renault’s head of track operations Remi Taffin says, “For sure we are looking at a different solution, we will explore all the solutions”.

Taffin appears to have lunched – long – at the Place de Concorde as his following statements are confusing to say the least.

“If I knew [which design we would operate] it would be wrong, because I should not know now what we are doing. It’s being developed”.

That said, even though 48% of the components can be redesigned, Taffin believes the engine will not be a radical departure from the represent philosophy. “It’s not very different. The basis is quite similar but we can change a lot of things”.

When we discussed the V8s in the past, we used to say the last engine was very similar to the one from six or seven years ago. But 90 per cent of the parts were different – although if you looked at them they were quite similar.

It will be the same for us going into next year. You will see some difference for sure, but there are no dramatic changes for 2015.”

This press release is not yet believed to have passed scrutineering in Milton Keynes and received the Red Bull waxen seal of approval.

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Mexico is go, go go

Mexican promotions company OCESA is reported by ‘the Reforma’ to have signed a 5 year deal to bring Formula 1 back to Mexico from 2015.

There is still a huge amount of work required to bring the old Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez up to the standard required by the FIA, though a certain Mr. Tilke is currently working on the project.

The Mexican GP was on the calendar from 1963-1970 and from 1986-1992.

Gustav Hellmund, a friend of Ecclestone, was responsible for the reintroduction of the race in 1986 and it is his son Tavo who has been much of the driving force behind the efforts to restore Mexico once again to the F1 calendar.

Hellmund Junior masterminded the early phases of the Circuit of the Americas, though a subsequent dispute saw him cut out of the eventual deal done between Texan billionaire, Red McCombs and Bernie Ecclestone.

Tavo is a bullish character and when talking about the Mexican project in 2012 he enthused, “The sky is the limit. It could potentially break every Grand Prix attendance record.” That said, in 2011 some 150,000 people turned up to watch their man Sergio Perez drive an F1 demonstration in Guadalajara

Ecclestone initially ruled out the idea of returning to the old Grand Prix circuit due to costs, though later conceded, “It just needs sorting out a bit.”

The upgrade was estimated two years ago at around $60-75 million, though $100m has been mentioned more recently as a realistic capital spend.

Tavo believes, “The track needs a facelift, but so many of the right components are in place. I think it’s totally the right time. No one wants to waste the opportunity of having these (Mexican F1) drivers.”

The former parkland circuit is a shadow of its former glory and the city since 1990 has enveloped what was once a more remote location. Residents will have to be relocated and the infrastructure to and from the circuit upgraded if Tavo’s claims of record breaking crowds are to be accommodated.

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Hamilton to get therapy

Following his smash in Q1 at Hockenheim where his car recorded some 30g of impact, Lewis is of to get some attention.

“My knees are no problem,” he said, “but my back and my neck have been the issue really.

I do need some physiotherapy as my back is in more pain than normal. But I’ll be ok, I’ll get some work done this week.”

Lewis believes he also need another kind of therapy to change his fortune as he joked, “maybe I need to go and visit some Indians, or rub the Buddha belly. I’ll try all the different religions to see if I can get some luck,”

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120 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 22nd July 2014

  1. Judge, since a couple of weeks the site is doing crazy on my mobile. Don’t know if I’m the only one with the problem but the replies are unreadable since the site choses to assembly words with no more than 3 characters. So replies that are 6 words like take for ever to puzzle together and read…

    • I know, said it before, repeat it now:
      @tj13 please change the number of nested comments to 3. Would help a lot in keeping discussions alive. I stop bothering after seeing all those singledigit wide comments.

    • comments show up fine for me, I’m on a Samsung using chrome. What phone and browser are you using bruznic?

  2. I’m not sure I buy into Red Bull having the best chassis, of course if you wack a load of downforce your going to be quicker round the corners and slower down the straights. It’d be interesting to see if they trimmed a bit of down force to see how quick they’d be in a straight line then.

    • I think even with an engine that is down on power we’ve seen enough to suggest that Merc not only have the best power unit this season but also the best chassis. I fully expect them to dominate at Hungary, which is a track where chassis and mechanical grip is more important than power unit.

    • Indeed, they have a good chassis.. if they had a Mercedes power level then I imagine they could pressure Merc.. who have the pace, but may suffer from more reliability issues if pushed..

    • I think he’s a two-faced tw*t. The thing with Lauda is, he tells two different stories on the same weekend. Take the armco desaster at Silverstone. He was patronizing on German TV, how it is very important to repair it and take as much time as is needed, while in the English speaking media he lambasted the repairs.

      Especially in his German interviews he has become incredibly smug and arrogant. There is not much to like about Dr. Marko, but he never held is phizog into the camera smart-arsing that all the other teams have no chance anyway. And mind you – that’s after Canada.

      • …as Mattiacci says, he cuts someone like Lauda more slack – due to his history….

        …Marko is merely a hired mouthpiece….

      • “I think he’s a two-faced tw*t. The thing with Lauda is, he tells two different stories on the same weekend. Take the armco desaster at Silverstone. He was patronizing on German TV, how it is very important to repair it and take as much time as is needed, while in the English speaking media he lambasted the repairs.”

        Wow, that’s pretty despicable. I don’t speak German, so I’ll take your word. I wonder why no one calls him out on the “double-dealing”, especially if it’s so close together over the same weekend. Surely the German and English journalists communicate?

        • That’s pretty easy. F1 in germany is shown by two broadcasters – Sky and RTL. Lauda works as RTL’s ‘expert’, so the free RTL broadcast is one long Merc commercial, but the english speaking people will more likely converse with the Sky people than the ones from RTL. He’s been called out for his double-faced comments my Motorsport Total at least twice, but he just doesn’t give a damn.

      • Could it just be that he is ‘aiming his message’ at both markets and knows how they both sit? Anyway, it would be interesting if he interviewed himself between both Skys, ha.

      • But Lauda being “a two-faced tw*t” would seem to make him the perfect replacement for Bernie when he goes. 😀

  3. The Judge,

    I have enjoyed reading the news so far today and your take on it. I agree with your views on each matter. The one peice that struck me was the Russian GP news. In particular…

    “Well the questions will soon be louder and more frequent. The terrible events surrounding flight MH17 – none less than the disdainful vision of the victims bodies piled up on trucks – has hit many in the west between the eyes.”

    …it’s true. I didn’t care so much about the issues in Bahrain in 2012. I am now ashamed to say my failure to connect with the middle eastern people and therefore the events in Bahrain meant I fell into that ever so human trap of apathy. Now I don’t think the events are similar, that doesn’t really matter. They are both human atrocities.

    So as you say, now this MH17 catastrophe has indeed hit me, and my country, square in the eyes. I identify with the people and the flight route.

    I reiterate that I won’t be watching the Russian GP. And that won’t be easy, as I have not missed a race in eons. But paradoxically it will be very easy based in the sadness I feel for the people of MH17. It doesn’t sound like much, to not watch it, I know, but that’s all the accountability I can throw Russia’s way. Take my 1 viewership rating point away.

    • Well said.
      I hope nobody has the chance to watch it, because it gets cancelled. But I fear, with Bernie and money involved that he will let us all down. Maybe for once the teams will surprise us and join together and refuse to go, but I think its unlikely.

      • …Its a big day today. David Cameron and the Dutch Prime minister – who cannot be ignored – will be pressing for much tougher sanctions from the EU against Russia.

        Problem is, France are about to deliver a $1.2 bn pair of warships to Russia and Germany are energy dependent on them.

        • I’d have much more respect for the people outraged at what happened with MH17 (which was disgusting I hasten to add) if they were as critical of the US funded hardware which has almost certainly killed more people in Gaza than perished in MH17.

          I think what we’ll see today is that Germany is the boss in Europe, they’ll allow France to deliver those ships and the UK? Well we can sit with Obama on the fence of selective outrage.

          Back on topic: should F1 go to Russia? Absolutely not. Will it go? Absolutely, money conquers all. Also See “Bahrain”, “South Africa”.

          • Edit: “I’d have much more respect for the people outraged at”

            I mean politicians/leaders here, not members of the public BTW.

          • Talking of them, we just lost Hague who could at least look tough on this issue, to following Angelina Jolie about, instead now having Hammond, who won’t know what’s going on, or be able to look tough at all.

          • I agree.. and as the biggest economy in the EU it’s only natural that Germany will have the biggest say. I worry that in the UK we withdraw from the EU and thus have little influence, when really we should be at the table with France, Germany, and whoever has an economy as big.

          • Stupid idea, 28 countries trying to respond together to a plethora of situations, each with differing vested interests…

            Makes F1 look simples 😉

          • Indeed, but looking at the EU wiki page, the EU needs to combine with the US to balance out against the rising China and India economies on the world stage..

            How are things voted on in the EU? Having a vote of the top 11 economies gives those countries with more than E250bn GDP: Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark. That’s about 90% of the EU GDP. But I imagine it’s a sort of ‘strategy group’ arrangement, right?

          • Well, we can’t even elect an ‘EU leader’… no chance of one actually being effective 😛

          • Hmm, I guess it’s somewhat like 27 independent F1 driver/team/car packages 😛 some will be ‘bloc voted’ along with the big teams; I guess the UK is the one that constantly threatens a breakaway series.. same as in F1 😀 while Ferrari, ‘the original team’, sounds to me like France in this issue.

            Germany could be Williams, faithful to the organisation despite at one point totally dominating it, until the rules were changed to balance things back out to Ferrari and McLaren. But now it rises again, Mercedes finally allowed to compete with Williams at its side…

            Now that it’s calling all the shots, Ferrari don’t like it.. and Italy are Minardi/Toro Rosso.. now totally irrelevant, and in the pocket of the big teams.. or is that Spain?! HRT did go bust… Would RB be Switzerland in this instance? i.e. where all the money lies…..

        • yet, the western governments get all angry about Russians while stay quietly supportive of the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx state of Israel

          bunch of scummy cynical xxxxxxx

          as if the arab lives were less worth than European’s lives

          this angers me, by no means I am arab or russian related, I am from French and Belgian origins, but, I am tired and fed up of the US driven media trying to stick down our xxxx their jewish backed policies

          bring what I am saying to BR, where I live, and we have 3 economists [a couple of them, jews who are working now for the biggest BR private bank] they where from the previous government [right wing supported by US, who broke our economy 3x from 1999 to 2002] all of the are US guided and they say the minimum wage is too high and there are too many labour rights, all of this arranged by US, and yet they have lots of space in our media, much like the spin they do around the global media regarding Russia and Palestine, they spin until it fits the US agenda

          I am really tired

          NOTE

          THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN HEAVILY MODERATED – IT FAILED THE FOUL LANGUAGE FILTER AND WAS EDITED BY THE TJ13 EDITORIAL TEAM

          WE MAY NOT BOTHER TO EDIT COMMENTS WHICH FAIL THE FILTERS IN FUTURE – SO BETTER TO DESIST

          • fair enough

            I needed to express the anger, been avoiding to watch brazilian channels [all US biased] and the French TF 1, they showing way too graphic things from Gaza and that is heavy

        • I cannot comprehend France’s position:
          You deliver state-of-the-art warships, that not even the Russian war-machine can build, to Russia, a country who is now (almost) openly threatening the territorial integrity of the European Union?

          The thing is, Georgia and annexing its breakaway regions were a prelude. Syria was a workout in international isolationism and non-apologism. Ukraine and annexing Crimea, as well as orchestrating the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine, an otherwise peaceful land, is only a beginning. After Donetsk and Harkov, next in line are Odessa, Transnistria, Moldavia, the Baltic republics, and when hell breaks lose: Poland. If/once that happens, we’re in for another major rewriting of the history books, with uncertain chapters and story-lines.

          • it’s a historic and geopolitical thing. france always placed great importance on good relations and military cooperation with russia, because they believed to need them to keep the germans in check. of course things have changed, but if you look at european foreign policy, it is astonishing how well ingrained these historic ties are into the respective behavior of governments.

          • The government doesn’t have any say in this. The big companies want to sell two very pricy ship. They don’t care if the signature on the contract says Idi Ammin, Kim Jong Un or Vladimir Putin. If the government obstructs it won’t get the big checques to fund the next election rallys. Cynical, but that’s how democracy works.

          • FH

            back in 2009, Russia tried to sell SU 30 and SU 32 to BR Armed Forces, the deal involved tech transferring and radar equipment, enter France, Sarkozy, and they knitted an agreement to supply ships, Scorpene submarines, Helicopters and the outdated Rafale

            the deal was partly dismissed last year, but still, that’s the way France plays geopolitics

          • “The government doesn’t have any say in this. ”

            Nah, not in France. In France everything is regulated and planned, in the best spirit of the Soviet Union. I caricature, of course, but you may as well be damn sure that every brand of soap, yogurt or umbrella has been approved by the central committee, personally headed by the Le Président. More seriously, in France big business and politics are seriously intermixed (to the point of incest), and CEOs are politically accountable to politicians. So France is a country that deems yogurts a strategic industry; what do you think their feeling are for state of the art warships?

            If a French private company is selling Mistral warships to Russia, it is because this deal was personally approved by France’s Le Président.

          • Well, now they know that we’ll always rescue them whenever they mess up and get invaded.. as long as we have aircraft to put on our carriers, mind!

          • “france always placed great importance on good relations and military cooperation with russia, because they believed to need them to keep the germans in check. ”

            Curious that you point that out. I like this take on the causes of WWI: http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/11/crisis-management , whereas the French were partly triggers to the whole party.

            “The French were desperate to hang on to the Russian alliance as a counterpoint to Germany, especially as they were unsure about the strength of the British commitment. ” [..] “If France need to confront Germany, it needed a battle in which the Russians were willing partners, so the French agenda was in a sense subservient to Russian aims; if Germany need to confront Russia, it was better to do it sooner rather than later.”

            Which makes me wonder:
            Are they so desperate to get Russia’s approval because they’re.. afraid of Russia? Has Napoleon’s naked cruise through the Russian snow storms and mud gotten so deeply into the French psyche, that even two hundred years later they would still be affected by that defeat?

          • …Had it been Grosjean, Kvyat attempted to pass on the outside on Germany, you may have had your answer….

    • I understand and sympathise with your feelings.

      However, to make Russia notice, any actions F1 or fans take will have insignificant impact on Putin.

      As long as Europe (and Germany in particular) relies on Russian gas and oil, the Russians can act with impunity in anything they do.

      If anyone really feels strongly about Russia, they should boycott all goods made in countries that use Russian gas and oil.

      Sadly, I fear that by the time Sochi comes around the tragedy of MH17 will be a distant memory for most people (and politicians).

      p.s.:
      1. re. Petronas – I bet they will be there in Sochi with no qualms over their logo appearing everywhere at the event.
      2. re. Bahrain – is TJ13’s concern about the rich vs poor or Sunni vs Shia? What you have in Bahrain society is repeated to greater or lesser degree in most countries. Some socialists would argue that the same goes on here in the UK where a ruling elite ensure that their ilk get all the wealth and privileges, and that the plebs are kept in the place where they belong.

      ” … the biggest human rights abuse in developed countries…. ”
      http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/a-25-year-gap-between-the-life-expectancy-of-rich-and-poor-londoners-is-a-further-indictment-of-our-unequal-society-9061888.html

      • Not forgetting the Aboriginals in Australia:
        “… In a wealthy and prosperous nation, aboriginal people live in third world conditions.
        Australia has had a very racist past in which apartheid has been practiced and where indigenous Aboriginal people have lost almost all their land and suffered many prejudices. Aborigines are the poorest group in Australia and suffer from very much preventable diseases. … ”

        Anyone want to ban F1 in Australia ?

        • …. the article does not suggest F1 should not compete wherever there are questionable human rights…it is about F1 being used for political purposes – which is against FIA statutes.

          • Regardless of FIA statutes, F1 is used by most venues for political purposes – although I don’t know whether it is with or without active FIA endorsement.

            Why do FIA allow Royals, dictators, elected/unelected government officials and/or politicians to take part in the grid walks and prize giving ceremonies?

        • Do you really feel Australia’s past (and present) treatment of Aboriginals is analogous to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent shooting down of MH17? Do you feel Australia has treated its Aboriginals in a similar fashion to what goes on in the Middle East?

          Are you aware of the huge amount of policies, money and efforts (and nationwide acceptance and desire of said fundings and policies) that are in place presently, and in the past, that are focused purely on rectifying the educative, health and socio-economic discrepancies that Aboriginal Australians face. Our Australian of the Year is Adam Goodes. A sporting icon to us all. Many countries, who have fallen into that racist pit in their early years of formation, can learn a thing or two from Australia now. I wonder what the excuse is in Russia and the Middle East, areas that have been function as they are now for eons longer than Australia’s 200yr modern history.

          I am not asking these questions rhetorically. I am genuinely interested if that is what you are suggesting. If you think it’s the same.

          • 1. I said “to a greater or lesser extent”. In any case, the aboriginals are the real Australians, whose land has been stolen from them by colonials.
            2. You say “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”, Russia says Crimea was it’s territoty.
            3. You say “shooting down of MH17”, Russia says it was not involved and that it was Ukrainian fighter jets that did it. Even if and when it is proved that it was pro-Russian Ukrainians who shot it down, it seems that they mistook it for a transporter belonging to the illegal government of Ukraine which ousted the legitimate government.

          • Ok. Thanks for clearing that up. I appreciate you answering my questions.

  4. Maybe, just maybe there where so little spectators because of the prices of everything. Hundreds of euros for an entry ticket. 6 euro for a hamburger. 3 euro for a (water donwned) beer. Hundred Euro for camping with little to no comfort. And so on

    • That’s no excuse, Silverstone was the same and even more. And we’re talking about Germany, the last country in Europe to suffer from the economic crisis. This is not Italy or Spain. Vettel’s comments have certainly contributed to this but it can’t be the only reason. Maybe Merc’s domination? Overestimated Rosberg’s and Vettel’s popularity? No idea

      • That’s a huge honking excuse. Do you know why Germany didn’t suffer as much? Because wages over the last 20 years have been slowly but steadily been lowered. We have people dependent on state welfare, despite working a full-time job.

        1.000 € overall for an F1 weekend isn’t something that most people can afford and may of those who could don’t throw their money away like that. For 300€ you can visit a DTM weekend on the best seats with paddock access. You’d have to howling mad to pay F1’s prices and as was said. The catering is as shit as the sound. You give a German that p*ss they dare to call beer for a hundred and eleventy Euros and he aint comin’ back. I’m still laughing about the “Fosters” they sold in Spa-Francorchamps. It was the first successful attempt to dillute water *shivers*

        • I was under the impression Germany had VERY strict beer laws. Is this not true? Is another illusion of mine shattered?

          • ? I always understood you can only sell beer to Germans which fits the reinheitsgebot – but then again, adding water should fit the gebot…

          • exactly. water is one of the few allowed ingredients. And you can sell everything here, you are just not allowed to maket it as ‘Beer’ if it doesn’t adhere to the Reinheitsgebot.

      • That argument is invalid. You can’t complain because someone out there has it worse than you? They might be the last to feel the crisis but the common men always feel it… and fills those seats? Let me say this for the first time in a decade or so I’m not going to spa. Just because I don’t think it’s worth the money…

  5. Interesting discussions about F1 audiences. I’m not too surprised at the low turn our for the German GP. As FH mentioned yesterday, Merc isn’t supported in the same way as a BMW, Audi or even Opel.

    Whilst it’s easy to suggest that’s all Vettels fault, I think his comments some 5 months back are long forgotten and fans have had the chance to see exactly what 2014 F1 is about prior to purchasing a ticket. I think the attendance showed that Rosberg isn’t a well supported driver, not like Alonso, Kimi or Lewis.

    The cold hard facts state that the number of people watching F1 are decreasing year on year. Even in 2012, where we saw 7 different winners in the first 7 races and a McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and RBR all within ~0.5s of each other the viewing figures for F1 still dropped.

    With Germany having such a rich vein of sporting talent, be that Football, Cycling or F1, you can see they’re spoilt for choice! Meanwhile in the UK, we’ve dire football teams, a Tennis player who bombed out of Wimbeldon, the Brits in Le Tour fell off… and Lewis. If, like many fans, you support people based on their nationality then Lewis is the only shining light in British sport at present (he might have a fight with Rory for SPOTY though!). That goes a long way to explaining Silverstones attendances, which correlate with how dominant British drivers are, it was high in 2009, 2012 & 2014.

    So local anomalies aside I think F1 does need to have a rethink, because at present the current regs have left us with:
    – Lack of noise. Having attended many F1 races this was one thing that always blew you away, it set F1 apart from nearly all other forms of circuit based motorsport.
    – A team with a bigger performance advantage than even Ferrari in 2002, which is even less healthy than 2011 or the latter half of 2013 (n.b that’s not Mercs fault, but it certainly impacts upon race excitement)
    – Excess use of DRS, creating a false sense of overtaking.
    – Restrictive regulations meaning drivers are forced to save fuel and tyres on a very regular basis and often end up driving to delta times.
    – An obsession with road relevance, but rules that restrict innovation.
    – Ticket prices that rise far faster than inflation or wages.
    – A preferred broadcast model that costs consumers to watch.
    – Idiotic rules around the final race of the season

    F1 is not healthy right now, and Laudas idea that it’s down to social media is just rubbish. The show isn’t good enough, the rules don’t help and it costs a fortune to attend and a considerable amount to watch in many countries.

    • DRS has worked wonders on tracks such as Hockenheim and Bahrain I feel. I used to fall asleep during these races they were so tedious, but DRS has spiced up the racing and made these former processions actual races.

      • I’m in favour of DRS, but for me it’s used too much (that’s why I said excess use of). Take Germany for example, we saw cars passing one another without having to out brake them. There were some slam dunk overtakes, hit the overtake button, push the DRS button, job done. Same applies in Canada etc. Granted some of the issue is because of the difference in power the cars have, but equally so, DRS should only be to get you close enough to have a stab. Perhaps something that cuts the DRS when you get within a couple of tenths would be good. That way it allows a driver to get up alongside the car in front, but then has to rely on talent to finish the move.

        • …if the regulators carry on the war on aero – and dirty air – we may return to the days where DRS is not required…. #VainHope….

        • Maybe, but it’s a hell of a lot better than all the cars following each other for 67 laps.
          It means the better drivers all spend more time fighting each other, alonso and vettel/ricciardo for example, instead of the red bulls spending a lot of time after pit stops struggling to get past a sauber for instance.

  6. Why is the Tour De France free and general admission to a motor race a couple of hundred pounds? It’s a con and the reason for all the cost problems in F1 at the moment.

  7. So could we see common sense prevail and this ridiculous idea of “double points” being scrapped? Or is common sense still a term that’s unknown to the rule makers?

    • Why should they change it? Imagine Lewis leads by 40 points, bins it and Rosberg derps past clinching the championship. The Internet will explode all winter as people flame the raw stuffing out of each other that we have the wrong champion.
      F1 will be talked about for all the wrong reasons, but it will be talked about. Job done.

      • ….exactly….

        Many sports which used to rely on a league table where all events were of equal value throughout the season – no longer do so….

        It’s whether one race should be double points – rather than say 3 or 4 which can even out “luck” (I await the tirade of abuse) 😉

        #JustBeingPragmatic because the media have the power and trying to keep audiences to the end of the season, for them, is here to stay….

        A better debate may be how to satisfy the media demands whilst retaining some air of sensibility…..

        • Yes well, best hope they don’t follow golf and NASCAR into having a separate event to determine the Championship, in vain hopes of keeping viewers interested.

          IMO, part of the problem is the constantly changing regulations designed to “spice up the show”. The patent artificiality is not the least appealing.

          The other issue is that for the most part regulations designed to make the racing closer have had precisely the opposite effect at the shar end, at least.

          • ….but there are many fans who are loving the heated on track battles and breath taking manoeuvres between Vettel and Alonso….

            …. as they squabble over 6th place….

      • Because it was a stupid idea from the get go….

        ….how about if they both bin it and young Ricciardo derps pass them and win the whole lot….😉

    • I’m thinking of it in terms of a cost-cut.. two races piled into 1, double the points, half all the costs of running another race….. Maybe Abu Dhabi are paying double to get last race and double points? 😀

  8. Is it really safe to be in the Sochi region? Are the Russian Grand Prix affected by the Ukrainian crisis?

      • My mum is thinking she might wait until after Xmas, to fly to Malaysia by way of Ukraine now.. sounds like she should go via Dubai instead :S

        • …. well its a lot safer to fly that route than anywhere near Putin’s domain.

          Despite the fact from the UK you will fly for around 45 minutes across Iraqi airspace, not even Syria has been stupid enough to arm ISIS with a ballistic missile and the expert training of how to launch it….

          There are 7 flights an hour fly across Iraq. 8-10 across Syria…..

          • Who knows.. last time she flew to Dubai, the flight was delayed a day, along with 5 other flights, possibly from the Syrian crisis. Probably best to fly via Moscow now…. surely they won’t hijack a grounded aircraft… like in Iraq.

            My dad got caught up in that one, 1990 courtesy of Saddam, although he was let go with the women and children, as he worked for the UN. The others got held for over a month I think.. can’t win wherever you go!

            That said, my sister’s best mate is half-Iraqi.. no grudges here.. but her mum won’t let her relatives ‘that wear those head scarves’ in her house :p! France would like the sound of that..

        • ….unless some crazed leader of a country makes a short range ballistic missile available to a bunch of disaffected agricultural workers…

          ….and more than likely provides the expertise to launch it too

  9. re:Russia GP.

    Whilst by no means a Russia or anybody else supporter. I note that a lot of you have fallen for the usual tabloid distortions, and the propaganda efforts of certain governments and neocons when referring to MH17. Many of these myths have been dispelled. The still picture of a separatist/terrorist holding a child’s toy doll, and supposedly looting, was a frame grab from a video. In it, he was shown to lift the doll, then remove his hat, and make an Orthodox sign of the cross, and replace the doll where he found it. A claim that ‘they’ stole the bodies, was another piece of tabloid lunacy. At 20ºC a body will rapidly decompose. The refrigerated train containing the bodies, was not hidden, and it was ‘handed over’ to OSCE, SMM and Dutch Government representatives today. http://www.osce.org/node/121521.

    The black box was handed over to Malaysian officials today and not hidden or destroyed as many news outlets reported. “I can see that the black box is intact even though a little bit damaged, but in a good condition,” said Col. Mohamad Sakri of the Malaysian National Security Council. This quote from when he received the black box(es). Data recovery will be done at Farnborough UK.

    Having been present very soon after, at the site of two air crashes. I can tell you that it is something that never leaves you. So I find it offensive that some countries are using MH17 to further their geopolitical agenda. There is a much larger global game in play, and F1 should not involve itself in such dangerous politics. Surely we should patiently gather the evidence, and let it lead to the perpetrators of such a terrible act. If you want to cancel a Grand Prix because the country is dictatorial, or a weapons supplier, then we would have a very short calendar.

    http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/can-putin-survive

    • Sorry, the shooting down of a commercial airline is clearly different. The missile which shot down this plane was not some hand held piece of kit which separatist armies, insurgents or even properly organised and established terrorist groups can get hold of.

      It almost definitely launched from a purpose built – huge mobile vehicle and is most sophisticated requiring a highly trained officer to launch it….

      It is not something a bunch of disenfranchised farmers or miners could launch.

      So where did it come from???

      And would it have been conceivable to have a Russian GP during the Cold War… Because Russia is fast becoming as isolated as they were then….

      • There was the report of a BUK moving back into Russia minus half it’s missiles.. and that Ukrainian intelligence intercept of the Russian rebels reporting back that they had shot down a civilian aircraft (the Russian army link person was a bit surprised).

        But, legitimacy of evidence aside (I haven’t heard of that tabloid stuff), Russia has the motive and the ‘criminal record’ that would lead to a prosecution. It’s been highlighted that they did similar with Korean Air 77, 30 years ago.

        In this instance, they are trying to seize the parts of Ukraine with Russians left in it from days past, to get their influence around Crimea and towards Moldova. If Ukraine ‘falls to Europe’, then they want to at least retain the parts with Russians in it, lest they ‘also be lost to Europe’!

        • …..and that is what this is all about… There was no military repression of Crimea or Eastern Ukraine by the Kiev government…. Just the likelihood Ukraine were about to sign up to an alliance with the EU as a pre-cursor of their entry into the Union….

          Now commercial airliners with holiday makers and 80 kids get blasted out of the sky….

          And we’ll all watch Putin, hosted by Ecclestone, wander the grid in Sochi…

          • Hopefully Marussia won’t also get a ‘dubious’ stroke of luck and score lots of points… a la Singapore 2008. 😉

            Interestingly, if history had turned out differently, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine could have made up a ‘Greater Russia’. That concept is probably behind a lot of what is going on now, i.e. the refusal to lose influence over ‘their people’..

            The same is almost happening here, with the dissolution of the UK, although this situation is much more complicated, by many ethnicities (Celtic, Norse, Anglo-Saxon) and languages (Gaelic to English), of which English (Germanic) is now dominant.

            Ireland was let go, in 1920 after much angst, but Northern Ireland has not been let go, due to a significant Protestant influx. Perhaps far in the future, from a lack of abortions, the Catholics may vote for secession.. right now it’s 50-50 in population.. is there any data for ethnicity (not religion)?

            PS. It’s amazing that airplanes can be blown up, and barely anything can change. The wheels of the EU seem to be moving slowly towards a more hard-line stance, but that’s about it.

            The TV pictures of the rebels, standing guard of the site with guns in their hands, makes them look pathetic. But nothing will happen – so how many more incidents will it take?

            Same applies in Gaza.. I have no clue why those Jewish kids were hitch-hiking in an illegal area either.. sure it’s OK in an ideal place, but that is technically a war-zone..

          • Also, interesting that now the UK govt. decides to launch a public inquiry for the Litvinenko assassination.. ever a ‘revenge hit’ if ever I saw one.. who else could kill someone by sprinkling radioactive poison on a meal eaten at a meeting with your foe? Sounds very James Bond..

          • “There was no military repression of Crimea or Eastern Ukraine by the Kiev government….”

            There was no repression of any kind, military or otherwise. Ethnic Russians have been apathetically living in South-Eastern Ukraine for decades. Sure, some ethnic tensions exist here and there, but certainly not to the point where they’d feel the need of getting hold of a Buk.. I’ve been to Odessa and nearby in the past couple of years, and it was as calm as it could be. Now the indigenous locals have stupidly transformed their peaceful land into a Syria2. Nice going!

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