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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite: 1935 – Nuvolari cements his legend in Germany
In what has become known as “The Impossible Victory” – on this day 79 years ago – the 1935 German Grand Prix passed into legend when the dimunitive man from Mantua embarrassed the German teams with his under-powered Alfa-Romeo and left the 300,000 strong crown momentarily silent.
by lap 10 of 22, Tazio Nuvolari led the German teams in the sole surviving Alfa but a disastrous pit-stop dropped him to sixth place and he returned to the rain soaked track to chase down his adversaries. By the start of his final lap he remained 35 seconds behind Von Brauchitsch, but he had destroyed his tyres and Nuvolari passed him to win. Hitler and high-ranking members of the Third Reich were enraged – so confident had they been of German engineering succeeding.
Following the inspirational Nuvolari were 8 German cars that had been considered unbeatable – driven by the likes of Carraciola, Varzi and Rosemeyer; even the runner-up, Hans Stuck, finished over two minutes behind. Popular legends from this race include Nuvolari giving the German authorities a record with the Italian anthem because they hadn’t been expecting a foreign victory and an Italian flag because the one to be displayed was in poor condition.
Il Padrino is not fooling anybody
Il Padrino stated he was happy for all Ferrari’s fans after witnessing a Ferrari driver take second place on the podium but when you consider that this was Fernando Alonso’s 22nd time of starting fifth on the grid since he joined Ferrari in 2010, the new “Old Man’ of Maranello is clearly deluding himself. Any level-headed Ferrari fan is merely happy that they can count on Alonso’s brilliance to overcome a stuttering car on so many occasions.
Ferrari’s team principal, Marco Mattiacci, was beaming in his initial interviews following the conclusion of the Hungarian Grand Prix but reality settled in soon after as he was observed by his squad with a surgeons scalpel in hand. The man who has won industry acclaimed awards for his management achievements running Ferrari America, is proving that his brief is to turn around the ailing company through dedicated work and ignore the much overrated passion.
“Fernando’s second place is an injection of confidence in the great effort that we are all making to try to return Ferrari to the top, but it must be tempered with great realism. Here the weather conditions and the characteristics of the track leveled performance and for this reason we must not delude ourselves, but only to return home with the desire to do better and better. Today we had two great drivers, Fernando was fabulous and Kimi was extremely important. Tomorrow’s meeting will begin with what happened in qualifying not from the second place that circumstances delivered today.” A subtle but definite warning that someone is culpable for the fate that befell Raikkonen.
With the procedures used in qualifying under scrutiny, MM was adamant, “We must be careful in how we make changes because it could result in making the situation worse but I am aware that we have a deficit to the front of between 1 and 1.2 seconds and we need to bridge the gap. I am confident in our team spirit and the people working on the project. Ferrari is a company with a history and values and Fernando is an important element of our project.”
Director of engineering, Pat Fry, was also reflective in his views of the weekend and offered little in the way of hope for the diehard tifosi, “After the summer break, we come to two races that will be difficult for us, on two tracks where it will be important to make the most of any opportunity, just as we did today.”
Ferrari’s talisman Alonso was as honest in his summation as always. “This podium means a lot to me and the whole team, because after so many difficult races, we managed to get the most out of everything, also taking a few risks and second place seems like a win. This race shows that anything is possible when there are unusual conditions like today, with a wet start and the appearance of the Safety Car. We managed to make the most of all opportunities that presented themselves, taking the best decisions even at the most difficult moments. Sure, the characteristics of the circuit, with its limited overtaking opportunities, helped us and that’s why we have to be realistic and continue to work on the car, to improve in all aspects.”
With viewing figures and race-goers seemingly dropping around the world, the sport’s headline act is certainly not helping Monza’s cause when the message emanating from the Scuderia is of struggles. Traditionally the qualifying performance on the Saturday of the Italian fixture mirrors the crowd on the following day. Irrespective of the passion, Italian race goers vote with their feet.
Pat Symonds compares Bottas to the legends
It’s remarkable the animosity that Flavio Briatore generates whenever his name is mentioned in connection with Formula One. With the ever-increasingly absurd Bernard Ecclestone providing the comedy, all Formula One sites have been left aghast at the mere thought of this cheat returning to ‘our’ beloved sport.
Fernando Alonso was tainted by his victory in what has become christened Singapore-gate in 2008, where Briatore instructed Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash deliberately to allow Alonso the victory. Almost forgotten in this maelstrom is another man who was found guilty of collusion, a certain Pat Symonds; now Chief Technical Officer at Williams.
Talking over the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Williams’ Technical Director voiced his opinion on his young charge Valtteri Bottas. “In many case he reminds me of Alonso, you notice that he is very mature for his age and has what it takes to become a great driver. He is fast, hardly makes mistakes and incredibly intelligent. If he manages to win a race this season, it will create an interesting parallel with Fernando who scored his first victory in Hungary 2003, only his second season in Formula One.”
“I’ve worked with many great drivers and the ones people remember most are Ayrton, Michael and Fernando. The thing that they shared was this amazing self-esteem. I don’t think that’s something unique to racing drivers, I think it’s unique to world class sportsman, that they have to believe they’re the best; they have to go in to every event thinking “I’m the best driver here, so if I don’t win this race it cannot be my fault, it has to be something else”. Ayrton was the first one I saw that thought like that and all the greats seem to apply that logic to everything – and I realised that was a part that made him so special.”
“We did one season together, Ayrton and I, but while everyone talks about his second place in Monaco, the one that stood out for me was Dallas, where he crashed out, but we came out with such a special story from that race. The car was reasonably competitive there, so we expected to have a good race but Ayrton spun early in the race. He then found his way back through the field in a quite effective way and we were looking for a pretty good finish but then he hit the wall, damaged the rear wheel and the driveshaft and retired, which was a real shame.”
“The real significance of that was that when he came back to the pits he told me what happened and said ‘I’m sure that the wall moved!’ and even though I’ve heard every excuse every driver has ever made, I certainly hadn’t heard of that one!”
“But Ayrton being Ayrton, with his incredible belief in himself, the absolute conviction, he then talked me into going with him, after the race, to have a look at the place where he had crashed. And he was absolutely right, which was the amazing thing!”
“Dallas being a street circuit the track was surrounded by concrete blocks and what had happened – we could see it from the tyre marks – was that someone had hit at the far end of the concrete block and that made it swivel slightly, so that the leading edge of the block was standing out by a few millimetres. And he was driving with such precision that those few millimetres were the difference between hitting the wall and not hitting the wall. While I had been, at first, annoyed that we had retired from the race through a driver error, when I saw what had happened, when I saw how he had been driving, that increased my respect for the guy.”
Mercedes to rethink team orders after Hamilton defiance (GMM)
Mercedes has moved to put the intensifying battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg behind closed doors. “Corporate answer,” boss Toto Wolff smiled late on Sunday, when the extent of the potential controversy triggered by the Hungarian grand prix became clear. In the race, after technical failures blighted his last two qualifying outings as he chases down teammate and enemy Rosberg’s points lead, Briton Hamilton was asked repeatedly to let the sister silver car past.
Predictably, team chairman Niki Lauda dismissed as “bullsh*t” any conspiracy theory about Mercedes wanting its German driver to prevail in 2014 over a Briton. Indeed, the much more sensible reasoning for Sunday’s team order was that Mercedes had devised on the fly a new race-winning strategy for pole-sitter Rosberg, after the timing of the safety car period left him trailing Hamilton, who started the race from pitlane. Even Wolff had to admit that, had Hamilton obeyed the order, “Nico could have won the race. It is a difficult situation now,” he added.
The team finds itself on a delicate line between letting its drivers fight freely for the drivers’ title, and handling situations like Sunday, where two non-Mercedes cars eventually crossed the chequered flag first and second. Hamilton’s defiance probably cost Mercedes victory in Hungary, but it did help him narrow the points gap to Rosberg with eight races now to run. 2008 world champion Hamilton said immediately after getting out of his W05 on Sunday that he thinks his bosses issued the team order “for the right reasons”.
But the wheel-to-wheel title battle is something different. “I was in the same race as him,” he said, “so I was very, very shocked that the team would ask me to do that, to be able to better his position. So that was a bit strange.” Hamilton revealed on Sunday that, after his qualifying fire, he had lifted his spirits by sharing a pizza, some chocolate and “a prank” with Lauda.
Lauda said Hamilton was right to ignore the team order. “I would have done exactly the same,” said the great Austrian. “The team was under enormous stress because the race was a very difficult one, there is no question. The call was unnecessary but it was made.”
Even Wolff admits that Mercedes will need to use the three-weekend ‘summer break’, including a two week factory shutdown, to devise a better strategy for dealing with the intensifying championship battle between the two drivers. “What we had at the beginning of the season doesn’t function anymore,” he acknowledged. “Perhaps we need to have a new way. It’s getting intense and we need to sit down and discuss how to handle things.”
TJ13 Comment: We have been saying for some months that two rivals in the same team driving the most dominant car in a generation were never going to remain friends due to the pressure of winning motor-sport’s ultimate prize.
It’s indeed refreshing to hear Lauda speaking as a fan whereas corporate Wolff is looking at the things from a board-level members point of view – dark surroundings, muted sound, emotion unwelcome and the minions to be controlled.
Of more alarm is probably the fact that Hamilton has been downgraded from being a guest in Niki’s private jet to going out for a pizza and some chocolate with the Austrian legend… which will cause consternation amongst the heavier drivers of the paddock who can ill afford to gain weight.
Alonso, Hamilton say Ricciardo among F1’s best (GMM)
Daniel Ricciardo has joined the upper echelon of F1’s very best drivers. In the paddock, a big rumour is that for its new works Honda partnership beginning next year, McLaren is on the market for one of the sport’s ‘big three’ drivers. They are Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. But is a new kid on the block about to join their calibre? So far in 2014, Australian Ricciardo has stunned the paddock with his rise from Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso.
He has undoubtedly humbled reigning quadruple world champion Vettel over the first half of the season, recording two wins to the German’s none. 25-year-old Ricciardo, two years younger than Vettel, recorded his second career win on Sunday, audaciously overtaking none other than Hamilton and Alonso for good measure in Hungary. Asked if he has now established himself at the top of F1, Spaniard Alonso agreed afterwards: “Yeah, definitely. I think he’s leading the champion team. That says it all.” Hamilton agreed: “Not only one of the nicest guys in the paddock but also one of the best drivers here, for sure.”
Throughout 2014, although regularly beaten by Ricciardo, Vettel has kept up an amiable relationship with the Australian, including in Hungary where he appeared for the customary post-victory team photo. Still, the plaudits are not flowing quite as smoothly from his mouth.
Vettel looked to have the upper hand on Ricciardo around the twisty Hungaroring until the race, where the safety car and a spin halted his progress. “It was not a good race,” he is quoted by Germany’s DPA news agency. “It was simply a question of being at the right place at the right time.” Vettel said the safety car helped Ricciardo. “That was his good luck,” he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. “And then he did everything right.” Vettel is now looking forward to the summer break, which is “good for everyone. It was a tough first half of the season,” he admitted.
TJ13 Comment: There are many who would agree with Vettel about DR having been in the right place to benefit for both his two wins this season. There is evidence to suggest it could well have been Vettel as the beneficiary for both the wins, but as the German proved conclusively over the previous four seasons he has also had his fair share of luck.
Being in the right place in Abu Dhabi in 2010 meant that when Ferrari reacted to Webber’s pit-stop, Seb was left in a lead which claimed his first drivers title. The right place in 2011 was a Newey designed rocket ship and then in 2012, after turning in to the Williams of Bruno Senna, spinning amongst the pack and receiving minimal damage whilst rolling backwards his “good luck” allowed him to finish and take the triple crown.
Last season in Brazil, Alonso offered words of warning to Vettel about how his four titles would become a curse when he found himself pedaling a car that was not the best of the field. The implication being that it would either cement his legacy or destroy it and Alonso once again took the opportunity to twist the knife into a floundering Seb by suggesting that Daniel is the new team leader.