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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite: 2000 – Barrichello’s tears of joy at breakthrough victory
‘Mercedes Benz, who knew about my health problems, offered me a job I could not do and then sacked me for physical ineptitude after 20 years service’ so said the banner of the man who won Barrichello his first ever Grand Prix.
On this day, at the glorious flat out Hockenheim circuit Barrichello worked his way up form 18th on the grid to the lead of the race after the Mercedes employee was seen walking down the side of the main straight. With the safety car out, drivers came in and changed tyres but storm clouds were looming.
Towards the end of the race, the drops started falling and both Mclarens enter the pits to change to wet weather tyres. The circuit being long enough that different parts were saturated. Barrichello kept going on his slicks and found that where it was dry he could open up enough of a lead that when he tip-toed around the wet parts Hakkinen could just close partially. In the end, what either driver lost or gained in their respective wet or dry sections, balanced out over the lap.
Barrichello crossed the line after a quite remarkable drive and he was overcome with tears when the Brazilian national anthem began to play for him – it had been seven years since it had been played before. It would be prove a remarkable coincidence but he drove another sublime race to take victory at Silverstone in 2003. Why coincidence? Well once again a man took to the circuit with a message and it seemed to lift Barrichello to extraordinary heights.
Ecclestone ditches ally Briatore
There’s a strange feeling in F1 at present. The usual Teflon coated Christian Horner was described by a number of regular F1 circus journalists, as “losing the plot” or “ranting”, when being asked about a certain Russian GP, when a simple – “ask Bernie”, would have sufficed.
There are at times signs of trepidation or nervousness in the paddock this year, and maybe the F1 school of bright ideas has been producing a phenomenal level of output to counter this. The flood of concepts designed to “spice up the show” is spewing forth at a previously unknown rate of productivity.
The auspice of the sports leading character for decades is definitely waning, as Ecclestone, now 83 is facing a fight for his freedom.
At least it was business as usual today in Munich. Whilst beyond irony, but in true Ecclestone style, Bernie’s lawyers pleaded with the judge to accept a cash settlement to make all the charges go away. (See TJ13 News yesterday)
Apparently they said, that for the F1 supremo, his trial had become an “extremely stressful process” and that the evidence against him was scant.
Bernie, even by his own standards, appears to be behaving in a strange manner. The F1 supremo’s usual laconic style appears to have become escalated to almost frenetic levels. To be fair, his weekly appointments before Judge Noll in Germany haven’t helped, as he schedules multiple meetings in his private World War II airfield, Biggin Hill, along with visits to the Place de Concorde and emergency gatherings at he GP weekends.
The most recent of these was held at short notice during the Hungarian GP. Team principal’s were called away in the narrow window in their usual busy schedules between FP3 and qualifying.
The topic for emergency discussion? The F1 show and the current negativity Ecclestone believes to be enveloping Formula 1.
At that meeting, Bernie suggested his old ally, Flavio Briatore ex-communicated from F1 for race fixing, be welcomed back by all with open arms to form part of a popularity think tank, including Toto Wolff, Luca di Montezemolo, Christian Horner and Vijay Mallya. Ron Dennis is presumably relieved from having to participate in the talking shop.
Yet Ecclestone has either lost his grip on the ultimate power he has wielded for decades over the most senior members of the teams; or Bernie has been struck by the sudden realisation that Flavio’s return, is a PR disaster, which will imminently be laid firmly at his impressive Lebanese Ceder clad door.
The impressively short term U-Turn from the F1 supremo, sees him explain to Auto Motor und Sport, the fixes required to turn around F1’s apparent plummeting popularity is in hand. And this merely hours following the hurriedly organised high level Hungarian summit, “We don’t need Flavio”, Ecclestone reveals. “We can do it ourselves,
Now Ecclestone believes F1 just requires a tweak, or some “fine tuning” rather than radical and incisive surgery. This road to Damascus conversion for Bernie occurred during the “incredible race” that was the Hungarian GP.
This is excellent news for Formula 1 fans. Formula 1 is not in fact broken. It is quite incredible what a timely divine intervention which delivers a ‘mini me’ biblical type storm can do.
A confident Mr. E continues with his diagnosis of the health of the sport. “There just shouldn’t be the stupid and unnecessary rules that we’ve put in over the years. I want a world championship of drivers, not engineers”.
Yet the strangest pronouncement from Ecclestone was that a rule change championed by Charlie Whiting, discussed among team managers, moved up to F1 strategy group level, then escalated to the F1 strategy group; and finally receiving approval for 2015 by the FIA World Council last month, is now to be ditched.
“There will be no standing starts after safety cars,” says Ecclestone. “What we saw in Budapest was good enough.”
Bernie is known for leaving the GP weekends by private helicopter, around 10 laps prior to the race chequered flag, so at present it is unclear which particular aspect of last weekend’s race has caused this seismic shift in his considered opinion.
No wonder F1 folk are feeling nervous at present. Ecclestone’s next big F1 announcement may be as far removed from reality as is yesterday’s news…. that Russia launched a missile in breach of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Oh. And F1 is off to the land of Putin in just over 10 weeks time.
From twitter comic @WTF
Ferrari keen to drive the F1 agenda
Niki Lauda recently referred to both Mclaren and Ferrari as having produced “shit” cars this year in their pursuit of Formula One glory. Whether it was an over enthusiastic reporter that passed on his sage words or whether Lauda was caught in a moment of weakness hasn’t been established. No matter, Niki made a full public apology to Ferrari, it’s President and the fans who supported him back in the 70’s.
There is a meeting scheduled in London this week between team principals, Charlie Whiting and possibly the irreverent figure of Flavio Briatore to discuss the possible future direction of Formula One. However, it emerged over night that Lauda and Montezemolo are meeting themselves in private on the island of Capri next Saturday to discuss in secret changes they believe will benefit the future of the sport.
Marco Mattiacci has been instructed to push on three fronts in the London pow wow. Firstly, Ferrari are demanding a less stringent set of F1 design regulations, which will allow them to justify spending huge amounts more cash on R&D in areas relevant to road cars.
Secondly, Il Padrino believes the unprecedented restrictive rules on engine homologation should be scrapped; thus allowing Ferrari (and by default Renault) a greater chance of recovery in the development of the power units.
Finally, Mattiacci will represent his patron’s personal passion for a return to in-season testing.
Ferrari invested heavily in the two test facilities in Fiorano and Mugello, whereas the British based teams invested in state of the art CFD and wind tunnel technologies. There is some ambiguity as to whether the advanced simulation investments are less expensive than old fashioned car testing on track.
What is certain, the fans had access to the former, whilst the latter are top secret and locked away.
The lack of testing has led to the absurd situation where young drivers cannot be evaluated on track by the F1 teams. This also denies the smaller teams an opportunity to use testing as a source of income and neither can rookie F1 drivers hone their craft.
State of the art simulation facilities developed by Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull teams are unlikely to agree to allow a return to track testing. Further, if leaked numbers are to be believed, Mercedes having invested enormous amounts in creating their V6 powertrain would be reticent to see a change in the engine development regulations.
So are these meetings the first sign that the Formula One teams may be recognising that the sport is in crisis? Or will the result be another gridlock, which the FIA president refuses to contemplate intervening upon.
More important, if Ferrari fail to push through at least some of their agenda, the rest of the teams may see this as the moment the Red Team team lost some of their political F1 ‘super powers’.
The state of F1 according to Minardi
From the time Minardi entered Formula One in 1985, the Italian team from Faenza, by battling the odds and being creative, found a way into the hearts of many fans hearts. The perennial under-achievers would often shake the establishment with giant killing performance which were realistically beyond anybody’s expectations and even their rivals held them in a certain regard.
In recent months, Giancarlo Minardi has become a minor celebrity, making revelations and disclosures regarding the movements behind the scenes of the F1 play.
After the recent Hungarian Grand Prix, Giancarlo offered a few comments about the events that shaped one of the best races in recent seasons.
“Fernando was great, he is a phenomenon and continued to fight whilst completing 30 laps on the soft tyres in the final stint. That is an outstanding result for the team and he continues to prove he is the number one out there.
There were a few nervous teams and drivers during the race too. Look at Vettel, only good luck allowed him to complete the race, he touched the pit wall on the straight. Mercedes too made strategic mistakes and delayed Rosberg’s last pit-stop. As for Williams, they inexplicably used the medium tyre on both cars and compromised their driver’s performances despite everyone knowing there was over a second difference between the compounds.
What’s most important is that this is a thrilling show. Amazing overtaking, races until the final lap with brilliant performances and it all allows us to forget the criticism of the championship at the start of the year.
Now with everyone on vacation for three weeks, we are left with just eight Grand Prix and I can only hope that this amazing championship keeps up this amazing spectacle”.
(From GMM news source – includes closing TJ13 comment)
F1 looking ahead to summer ‘shutdown’
Tired faces left the Hungaroring paddock last Sunday looking forward to a break. Not only is there now a rare month-long gap between the races in Hungary and Belgium, the teams have agreed to close their factories and even turn off email servers for a two-week period. It means almost everyone involved in the hectic world of formula one will be forced to take a holiday.
With heavy ‘Fric’ suspension no longer aboard the dominant Mercedes package, Lewis Hamilton said he will use the break to put some weight on. “It will be good to get fit, so I’ll put a bit of weight on – muscle not fat – and come back stronger physically and mentally,” said the championship chaser.
Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg told Kleine Zeitung newspaper: “I’m going to spend the time with friends and family and go to Ibiza.” But before that, according to Bild newspaper, the 29-year-old will stop over in southern France to add a traditional church ceremony to his recent civil wedding vows.
“The break will do us all good,” said world champion Sebastian Vettel, who has had a difficult first half to his latest title defence. “You just try to relax and get a little bit away from thoughts of the race track,” the German, who lives quietly in Switzerland with his partner Hanna and 7-month-old daughter Emily, smiled.
According to Bild, a mischievous Vettel has a cheeky idea about how he would like his Red Bull engineers to spend their break. “I’d like them to drop by the Mercedes factory,” he joked, referring to Renault-powered Red Bull’s struggles against its more powerful rivals in 2014.
As for Ferrari, boss Marco Mattiacci – new to F1 and the sport’s traditional ‘summer break’ – doesn’t like the idea of shutting down just when the struggling Maranello team has delivered a strong result.
“We are not stopping thinking about how to make progress, there is no shutdown,” he said. “We are about 1.2 seconds behind the leaders, which means months or even years of work, so we cannot allow ourselves to shut down mentally,” Mattiacci added.
TJ13 comment: As some of the most pampered human beings on the planet, it is almost nauseating to listen to these overgrown kids talking about how good a break will be – what? The summer break wasn’t instigated to allow top level athletes to have a rest from all the training and driving. It was designed for the minions that work long hours in the factories or traveling between races and effectively don’t see their families for weeks at a time.
At least Sebastian brings humour to the table. The truth is they will be spending their time travelling around the world to sponsor functions and events and training as hard as ever. Mattiacci admitted to what everyone knows that the brain doesn’t switch off and whilst the factories may be closed down, you cannot prevent work continuing at home.
Or at suppliers as TJ13 suggested last year…. in recent seasons Red Bull has returned from the summer break with an unbeatable car and when the suggestion was put forward to investigate team’s suppliers- it was Red Bull Racing that was the most vociferous. After all Red Bull Racing is the team, but Mr Newey works for Red Bull Technologies…
Christian Horner’s new buddy
The F1 show has definately been improved, by smarter regulations and not by silly gimmicks.
Yet the polish of the performers over the years has improved too.
Gone are the tetchy team principal interviews, prior to them storming off to the stewards to make their latest protest (read attempt to have another team disqualified), and gone is the simple approach of the natural broadcaster.
In the UK, Sky’s David Croft is highly irritating as he seizes the moment of the broadcast which will be televised in news clips around the world. Scripted to perfection as the winning car crosses the line, the self proclaimed “Crofty” raises the pitch of his voice and the emotional levels of rhetoric climb to to echelons of obvious falsity, which even the enlightened Jack and the beanstalk’s mother, would not believe.
That said, the one which irritates more than the rest, probably due to the BBC playing the clip gazillions of times a month across all stations, is the James Allen outburst following the 2012 Belgium GP. This was the weekend where Lewis Hamilton was whipped out of sight by his team mate Jenson Button, F1 Twittergate was the result.
Allen picks up the theme of Jenson’s complete dominance as the chequered flag falls he proclaims in his playground voice, “UNTOUCHABLE in qualifying…..UNTOUCHABLE in the race, the UNTOUCHABLE Jenson Button at his very….very… best”.
Yet it is not just the broadcasters who have a view to the historical record of the celluloid archive. Christian Horner has repeatedly grabbed the metaphorical pit wall microphone around 5-6 seconds post the chequered flag, Horner’s incessant hi-jacking of the F1 world feed broadcast was presumably a reflection of Christian’s self image, fairly predictable and the gushing of fake emotion would tediously begin, “Well done Seb….you are….”.
Yet in 20114, Christian has been less flavour of the month with the broadcasters, who chase the winners, like the proverbial ‘gold in dem hills’ rumours.
This has left Christian time to contemplate his life, his values and even more, his navel.
As if caught out by surprise in Canada, like a rusty old actor, down on his luck – he missed his big cue, Horner just in time managed, “You’ve won the Canadian Grand Prix! Well done, your first win”.
Tut, tut, Christian. What have you been taught about ‘signposting’? How the hell in 20 years when the Red Bull crosses the line will anyone remember which driver it was?
Disappointed with missing this moment of history and following much self flagellation, Horner is done with all this falsity, and has determined to be himself from now on.
Following the most dramatic race in recent memory at the 2014 Hungarian GP, Daniel Ricciardo was there at the end, having driven peerlessly and with a perfectly executed strategy.
Here’s what Horner had to say, “Absolutely amazing! Sensational. You deserve that buddy.”
Buddy huh? Well something has changed, because Sebastian was rarely if ever afforded such affection….
Sighted on Sunday
The F1 school of bright idea
Meetings taking place this week, still press to understand what will provide the ultimate thrill for F1 fans. Flavio proffers for consideration….