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OTD Lite: 1925 – Antonio Ascari killed in French GP
On this day, nearly 90 years ago, Antonio Ascari lost his life whilst leading the French Grand Prix in an Alfa Romeo P2 at the Autodrome de Montlhery near Paris.
A contemporary of Tazio Nuvolari both in age and birthplace he had recently won the inaugural Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium with a pit-stop that allowed him to replenish fluids and also eat in a comfortable manner.
His only son, a boy named Alberto was just seven years old but would take to the race tracks himself and achieve greatness in his career. Some may believe that being Italy’s only World Champion he has been placed on a rose tinted pedestal, but one of motor-sport greatest journalists – Denis Jenkinson placed Ascari above Fangio in ability.
The haunting statistic from both father and son was that both men died at the same age of 36 years old and on the 26th of the month.
Teammate Wars – Comparison thus far
One of TJ13’s readers brought our attention to a teammate comparison chart that was published on Reddit F1 by a reader called Ayedfy.
What do you make of this readers, accurate reflection of the current state of play? (Is it just me or is Raikkonen the only one showing the true colours of Ferrari? :P)
Alonso – super human effort or Ferrari politicking?
Il Padrino has attacked the new breed of Formula One cars for some time. Considering he once welcomed the new formula because it was more relevant to engine and road car technology as opposed to aero dominated – it appears a complete about face.
His latest issue has been about Formula One being essentially about ‘taxi-driving’ but it is emerging from Italy that Old Man Luca may have a point with his statements. Whilst many who have bias against Ferrari or it’s venerable leader will assume it’s derogatory, anyone with a little open-mindedness will appreciate what is being said.
For some races we have heard of drivers coasting into corners, lifting off some way before the braking zones. In fact Hamilton’s ability to race like this seems more efficient than Rosberg’s if the fuel consumption figures are accurate. But in Germany, Alonso was forced to enter fuel saving mode whilst fighting with Daniel Ricciardo.
But, the cynical would ask why it has not been confirmed if Ferrari had to save fuel because of the consumption of their unit, or if they had under-fuelled with suspected rain on the horizon. Telemetry showed that Alonso was lifting at around 300 metres before the braking points.
Which begs the question, when a Formula One car can brake from over 200mph to practically a stop in less than 100 metres, why was the Red Bull fighting with the ailing Ferrari. Either the Red Bull drives in a similar fashion or there may be some hood-winking gong on.
It may be worth bearing in mind that this sort of information would only be available from the team and there is no correlation to previous races and where the Ferrari drivers were lifting off before corners. But it would suit Ferrari and Renault to have fuel flow limits removed. It’s interesting that this release of information comes a few days after Todt agreed to meet up with the F1 teams…
Silly season’ strikes F1 throughout 2014 grid
The unofficial ‘silly season’ has officially hit F1, as talk of a move to Mercedes for world champion Sebastian Vettel buzzes the paddock.vThe rumour went full circle in the space of a couple of days, with Mercedes’ Niki Lauda trying his best on Friday to bring it to a swift halt.
But Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko suggested to Sport Bild that he doesn’t necessarily believe Lauda did not make a move for the German driver.
“Unfortunately, Niki has three opinions: one in the morning, one at noon and one in the evening,” he said.
Silly season is, however, not limited to the front of the grid, even though Force India’s Vijay Mallya said he wants to keep Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. “We have options on both,” the Indian said on Friday. “I’m very happy with both of them and I see no reason why we should be looking at any change.”
There is also movement right at the back of the grid, although Briton Max Chilton expects to keep his well-funded seat at Marussia. “I’m confident I’ll be here next year,” he said.
But his teammate Jules Bianchi is in a slightly different situation, as he is backed by the might of Ferrari and looking to finally make a step up the grid for 2015. “I can stay at Marussia,” the Frenchman told RMC Sport, “but there could also be other good opportunities.
“The goal for me is to fight more regularly for points,” said Bianchi. “I’m just trying to do a good job on the track.
“(Manager) Nicolas (Todt) is working on it, Ferrari as well, and I trust them.”
One of the keys to the midfield silly-season could be Romain Grosjean, who may join partners Renault and Total in leaving Lotus should the Enstone team switch to Mercedes power. The new engine deal has not yet been announced, but Frenchman Grosjean told reporters his future is not necessarily tied to the eventual outcome.
“I am 98, 99 per cent sure that next season Lotus will be better than it is now, and I’m not just talking about the power unit,” he said.
Grosjean grinned throughout as reporters reeled off the names of potential 2015 employers. What about Formula E? “Not an option!” he exclaimed. “Sorry, but I need gasoline!”
Most likely, perhaps, is a move to McLaren, now run by his former manager Eric Boullier. Asked what their relationship is like today, Grosjean explained: “Friendship. We not only see each other in the paddock, but sometimes we spend time together.
“But this doesn’t mean that I am one step closer to McLaren. Friendship is one thing, business is quite another.”
Hamilton slams Pirelli tyres in Hungary
Lewis Hamilton was heavily critical of Pirelli’s tyres after practice for the Hungarian grand prix. “The tyres are not going very well here,” the Mercedes driver, fastest of all at the Hungaroring, where he has won four times, is quoted by the Spanish sports daily Marca.
“It’s pretty bad — I don’t know if it’s just the tyres or the track, but it’s bad.
“I don’t remember it ever being this bad,” Briton Hamilton added. “Neither compound is good,” the 2008 world champion continued. “You have to take care of them a lot so it’s not very fast and that can make it boring.”
Glorious weather greeted the teams as they prepared the cars for the final practice session before heading into qualifying. Candy floss clouds floated serenely above the sizeable crowd and the commentators queried what would the Mercedes drivers disclose to each other in this final session.
Yesterday Hamilton complained bitterly about the tyres whereas Rosberg disclosed that he had found a great balance – more mind games? Rosberg’s questioning about advice for driving was still causing mirth amongst the professionals although a telling statistic was that Hamilton hasn’t been on pole position since the Spanish Grand Prix.
Unsurprisingly for a Brazilian male – Bruno Senna offered that he preferred women’s tennis and beach volleyball to mens and his co-commentator laughed at the non politically correct views as Kimi’s scarlet Ferrari circulated with Marco Mattiacci watching on whilst leaning on what looked like an MRI scanning machine. The extremes Ferrari goes to…
Rosberg made further comments about the magic button malfunctioning – which to Casanova would have had an entirely different meaning – but it’s safe to assume it’s an electronic system because he is newly betrothed and leading the championship. Hamilton radioed in that he was struggling with his brakes and locked up into the first corner a couple of times – with his car sounding like a Mercedes tractor unit, it seemed a little unfair to suggest they were trying heavy industrial units for the Briton.
Both Ann Summers appendaged Caterhams oversteered into the run off areas that had been painted to look like a gravel trap. With constant criticisms of tarmac run off areas not penalising the drivers anymore, Bernie’s decorators had rocked up in Hungary and made the Hungaroring look classic and retro.
Massa crossed the line with third fastest time and seemingly dragging his chirping car down the main straight. Either Williams had forgotten to repair his car after his 9.4 scoring barrel roll in Germany or we were listening to his in-car stereo with Shakira on fast forward!
TK rocked up with some breaking braking news – yes deliberate choice of words! Mercedes were running Carbone Industrie brakes all round on both cars. Why? Because they had lost faith in the Brembos? Because they had discovered a fault? Because the Carbone brakes were better around Hungary? Is it a bird, is it a plane, no it…. Whoops, back to Mercedes, the official line is that these work better around Hungary, the circuit has few heavy braking sectors but due to the nature of the track the brakes don’t get a chance to cool down… the conspiracy theorists will no doubt believe it’s because it takes Hamilton’s advantage away.
An interview with Christian Horner started with an electronic voice effect that didn’t end, obviously the programme has fallen into limp home mode, and he spoke of having “a joys of a summers morning”. Maybe his rant yesterday where he passed all authority for decisions back to Bernie and the FIA has removed a significant amount of angst from his karma – and this is a man that was being suggested as the replacing Mr E?
Kimi Raikkonen gave a little clue as to his current woes, essentially he has forgotten how to drive around a circuit. Whatever problem the fabled Maranello machine is capable of, he was putting the car control of Sebastien Loeb to shame. Bruno Senna, speaking to Ted and David hypothesised about the benefits of a chocolate rear wing on these cars and this little gentlemans club went all Monty Python with their respective views. Hmmmm as much use as the fabled chocolate tea-pot no doubt; not the rear wing but the commentary.
A Red Bull slid off the track and replays showed Vettel catching it on the sand coloured tarmac area. In years past Mansell driven cars actually spelt out his actions behind the wheel, and with young Seb the feeling is still that he doesn’t understand why the car doesn’t grip when he puts the throttle down. Considering how proud Horner was of his young charge and how he could adapt his driving over a race weekend over the last four years, it seems astonishing that in the seventh month of the year he is still struggling…
Alonso appeared to have been caught out with his twittering once again and the team enticed him back into the car. One warm up lap followed by a flyer and he was top of the leaderboard. “In your face Kimi” he reportedly offered.
Mclaren were busy with changing the camber settings on Jenson Button’s car, it looked initially like a brake issue but team reports stated that Button hasn’t been going quick enough to make use of his brakes since Lewis left. The insider rolled his eyes and offered that Button has always had balance issues but there is no truth that he is to see an ear specialist even though Ron offered to pay.
Ferrari sent their boys out to play together, by the end of their lap the Matador swept across the line 4/100ths of a second faster than the melting Iceman both on the options tyres but of maybe more relevance for the upcoming qualifying session, on similar harder tyres, Rosberg had set the fastest three sectors but not together – something for Lewis to chew over.
Beautiful Max had problems with his VVB down into Turn 12, “that would explain the lock-up” suggested his engineer and there followed radio silence from Goldilocks. His father was seen leaving the FOM camera truck with a lighter wallet as no replay was seen of Max waving to his fans he met yesterday at Turn 12.
As the session drew to a close Hamilton was demanding information from his engineer. He wanted sector times as he went round and wanted to know Nico’s speed through Sector 3. He set the fastest lap and returned to the pits as Rosberg closed the gap down to mere hundredths of a second and yet the question is by how much is Rosberg sand-bagging.
Interesting qualifying coming up shortly with Red Bull trailing Mercedes closely.
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:24.455||0.407||16|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:24.678||0.630||15|
|9||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:25.162||1.114||17|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:25.170||1.122||19|
|17||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:26.035||1.987||19|
|18||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:26.142||2.094||17|
Christian Horner slams media
Team principal of the Red bull racing team, and according to some, heir apparent to the Ecclestone throne, Christian Horner ‘lost it’ in the team principal FIA press conference whilst fielding questions about up coming races in Russia and Azerbaijan
Let’s hear in full what Horner had to say.
“Look, there’s a calendar that comes out in October or November,” he said. “We all have a choice whether we enter the world championship or not.”
All the people sitting here are racers and they’re here because they’re passionate about the sport and they want to compete. When we sign up for that championship, we put our faith and trust in the promoter and the FIA and we will attend those races unless they deem it unnecessary for us to be there. All of you will be at those races, or the vast majority of you will be at those races and why, because you’re either passionate about the sport or because you earn a living out of covering the sport and I think it’s wrong to make Formula One a political statement or subject when we are a sport.
We should be talking about the drivers in these conferences, we should be talking about the spectacular racing that happened between our drivers and [Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci’s] driver at the last grand prix. We should be talking about what a great race it was for Lewis Hamilton to come through the grid, yet all we do is focus on the negatives and it has to be said, it gets pretty boring for us to sit up here and field these questions.
So how about asking some questions about what’s going to happen in the race on Sunday, what’s going to happen in qualifying tomorrow, because if you’ve got these questions, please point them at Mr Todt or Mr Ecclestone rather than the teams.”
Claire Williams had earlier commented, “Obviously what’s going on in Russia and that part of the world at the moment is of huge concern to everybody. But we’ve always said as a support we try to disengage from taking a political angle on these things. Here the FIA is the governing body of our sport, they issue a calendar and we have to take our direction from them and at the moment, the race is still on the calendar.”
Vijay Mallya had already fudged the issue when asked would the team’s “follow Bernie to North Korea”
“You know, it’s a not question of following Bernie”, Mallya replied. “I think we’re racing people, more popularly known as petrolheads. We come here to race and to win and to enjoy it. The governance is an international organisation called the FIA. It is up to the FIA to decide where the sport is conducted.
I don’t think that the teams, individual participants in the sport, should be holding their individual positions to determine social political issues that you have raised. The FIA is perfectly competent to determine where Formula One should be staged and not be staged.”
Marco Mattiacci had little to say on the matter, other than to agree with Mallya.
Over to the TJ13 readers.
Should Horner be allowed to define the scope of questions asked?
Christian criticizing those who are speaking negatively about F1?
Are the team principals just ‘racers’?
How do the sponsors and employees feel about this matter?
What is in fact the point of the strategy group, if teams have no impact on say for example, crazy logistical scheduling?
Do we really believe all the team principals are happy about going to Russia?
Watch it quickly before FOM get it taken down
Extracting value out of F1 – a Masterclass
Despite the focus during yesterday’s team principal presser falling mainly on Russia and the newly confirmed Azerbaijan races, it has come to light that CVC have set into place plans to leverage an additional $1 billion on the back of the commercial rights. According to Forbes, credit rating agency Moody’s has put Formula One’s debt facilities under review for downgrade following its plans to raise the $1 billion loan to fund a payout to shareholders.
The loan would bring the total F1 debt to $3.5 billion and according to Moody’s assistant vice president, Tobias Wagner, the ratings are being put under ‘negative pressure by F1’s leverage levels exceeding seven times debt divided by earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA)’.
It would appear that CVC have decided that they will not get the price they want for F1, and will go through the back door instead to maximize their profits before dropping the mess into someone else’s lap. Despite their remarkably blasé attitude in public, it must be somewhat concerning to the team owners, if not the principals, given the fact that dropping audiences will make the sport less attractive to sponsors (never mind regular races in politically controversial countries) whilst the pool of money available for prizes will be shrinking due to the increased debt service.
Further, there will be little doubt that this will have a negative impact on the price that CVC get for the commercial rights as well as potentially driving suitors away. Could this be the plan to drive the price of shares back down so Bernie can repurchase them? For those who think that Mr. E doth protest too much it fits the bill. CVC get their gold, Mr E gets his shares at the price he wants and no more fuss about whether or not he’s in the dock.