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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite: 1994 – Berger breaks longest winless drought
3 and 10/12ths. Or to put is another way, 58. Still no? On this day in 1994, Gerhard Berger finally brought to an end the longest winning drought in Ferrari’s history at the Hockenheim circuit. The last victory had been Alain Prost’s at the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix on the 30th September. For any signed up member of the tifosi, the following three years and ten months was an interminably long wait for glory once again. What made it worse was BBC’s Top Gear ran a special about Ferrari cars and questioned the F1 efforts with a song by Four Non Blondes titled – “Whats going wrong”.
Jean Todt, seemingly a descendant of Josephine’s fella, had taken over the resurrecting of the team just the year before and with the Ferrari 412T, it seemed a brighter road than before. The sonorous V12 delighted fans around the world as Berger and Jean Alesi pushed the car to its fragile limts but here in Germany he had withstood the pressure from local hero Schumacher and took the laurels of victory.
Who would have guessed that just over a year later, the V12 would sing it’s last tune in anger as fuel efficiency and packaging became more important than outright power. The Scuderia hasn’t quite plumbed the same depths as in the early nineties, but it’s over a year now and counting…
Red Bull-Honda negotiate a contract for 2015-16
When Honda announced their return to Formula One, they made it in conjunction with their previous partner Mclaren. Their record of success in the late 80’s/ early 90’s made icons of the cars and drivers. As ever all cycles come to an end and the baton of domination passed to Wiliams-Renault. Honda pulled out and their efforts since have been half-hearted at best.
Many fans of the Woking team have been rejoicing and counting down the days to when they will dominate the sport once more and in their search for success, Honda have been aggressive on their ideal choice of drivers.
Ayrton Senna, arguably the greatest driver in the history of the sport, was a fundamental part of their success, and his mindset mirrored the Japanese Samurai perfectly. Therefore it is only certain drivers that would be acceptable to the Japanese manufacturer – hence the approaches to Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel. Obviously Jenson Button doesn’t figure highly in their plans.
Another aspect of their return which has caused many rumours to take hold of on-lookers is the fact that Honda is building it’s engine facility in Milton Keynes. A mere stone’s throw from the Red Bull headquarters.
A reasonable question, which has received no answer but just fanned the flames of speculation is, why not Woking? Honda have decided to complete the design work in Japan, to avoid other manufacturers from head-hunting their engineers as they did in the eighties, but the engines will be worked on at this new facility which is scheduled to go live in January 2015.
With the ongoing trevails suffered by the formerly dominant Red Bull squad – and their disappointing Renault power unit – the quite blatant attacks by both Helmut Marko and Christian Horner clumsily putting pressure on a manufacturer have added further fuel to the fire with Honda’s location.
With the current performance of the once great Mclaren proving so disappointing – in a field of four Mercedes powered cars – and Ron Deniis returning to steady the helm despite Honda having signed the contract with his predecessor – Martin Whitmarsh – it has been suggested that Honda is looking to become a partner to Red Bull after their exclusive one year deal with Mclaren expires.
Of some interest to all this scenario is that the Honda MotoGP team have signed a deal with Red Bull for 2015 and 2016. It’s fair to point out that Red Bull have been sponsoring riders individually since Nicky Hayden rode for Honda in 2006, in much the same way that Red Bull first appeared in Formula One as a driver sponsor of Gerhard Berger.
It then took a larger slice by sponsoring Sauber for a number of years before establishing it’s own team and the sister team – Toro Rosso. But of far greater significance is that although Red Bull have been sponsoring Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez on personal deals, Red Bull’s partnership has moved on to the bike itself now.
Shuei Nakamoto – vice Executive Chairman of the HRC said of the arrangement: “Red Bull has been our partner for 9 years now. The next step is represented by this agreement which will further increase our visibility globally. I think this is an important agreement for our sport.”
Barrichello’s Ferrari for sale at $3.4mil
After the recent video that TJ13 posted of two oval track drivers driving into each other and entertaining the crowd it would appear fair to say that the U.S. has it’s fair share of in-bred, tobacco chomping, beer swilling, fast food gourmets dining heathen like the rest of the world. In the UK we have the honour of watching them on the Jeremy Kyle show – a far less entertaining Jerry Springer style social experiment..
With the recent announcement of a Ferrari F2001 being put up for sale on the duPont registry – autorevolution in America have put up some details. Its sale price is for $3.4 million and that is for a car that Rubens Barrichello used in Monaco. It has never been graced with the rear of Michael Schumacher planted in the car, and unlike the report which states that Ferrari won 10 races that season, it was in fact just Schumacher’s nine in a sister car.
By all accounts “this is one of the last proper F1 cars from an era when DRS and MGU-K were not around.” which may give a clue as to why the American public haven’t taken to the new F1, it had a seven speed semi-automatic sequential tranny – a certain slang word that in the UK has completely different connotations, powered by 835 ponies from a 3litre V10 and the engine has a mere 870 miles on the clock. By all accounts the drive train is in pristine condition for amateur track duties – which at the best part of three and a hall mill’ I would expect it to be feeding me grapes and goblets of wine.
In all seriousness though, last year, a Fangio Mercedes sold for $19.6 million. An astonishing amount considering that it is the GT cars that were always worth more. With this Ferrari, there is no race victory behind it, there is no association to the most successful driver in F1 history and it can only used for track events after servicing by Ferrari and yet will likely find a wealthy buyer soon. With fine art seemingly out of reach except for the super-rich, it may not be much longer that these historic cars get locked away in private collections too.
(From GMM news source – includes closing TJ13 comment)
Former manager says Alonso ‘best thing about Ferrari’ (GMM)
The new era of social media and F1’s traditional ‘silly season’ may not mix well together. Fernando Alonso turned 33 on Tuesday, and as far as official congratulations go, many spotted McLaren’s first. The Spaniard, undoubtedly frustrated with title-lacking life at Ferrari after five years, might be on the move and Honda is clearly on the hunt for a top driver to spearhead its new works McLaren foray.
“Happy birthday to @alo_oficial,” McLaren said on Twitter, adding a photo of Alonso “driving flat-out in his McLaren MP4-22 at Magny-Cours in 2007.”
Miguel Sanz, the Spanish correspondent for Marca, commented: “You can’t say McLaren and Honda aren’t trying or persistent. It is the second public nod to Alonso this year and, in this F1 world of millimetres, the gestures are no accident,” he added, referring to a McLaren ‘tweet’ earlier this year showing Alonso smiling with team supremo Ron Dennis. After the Dennis tweet, a team source played down the significance of the gesture but it is obvious that if Alonso is on the market, he will be bitterly fought over.
For the record, Ferrari marked Alonso’s birthday with a celebratory video made in conjunction with Sky Italia, highlighting “all the best moments of his time to date with the longest-running team in formula one . In the past four and a half years there has been happiness and disappointment and a lot of time spent with special people, special like Fernando, a truly great talent and a real team player,” Ferrari said.
Marca quoted Alonso’s former manager Adrian Campos as saying: “Fernando is the best thing about Ferrari — and I would say almost the only thing. He is the most complete driver of recent years, almost comparable to Senna.”
But with dominant Mercedes all locked up for now and Red Bull struggling with an underpowered engine, Alonso’s best option for now is probably to stay with Ferrari. “For me, Alonso has justly lost confidence in Ferrari,” Marc Surer, a former driver turned commentator, told Speed Week as he mused the 2014 silly-season. “But he could only move to McLaren-Honda if they can guarantee him a winning car for 2015. I guess a lot less will happen than we think,” he surmised.
TJ13 Comment: Here at TJ13 towers, the courtroom reporter hasn’t seen the evidence of the Sky Italia birthday celebrations but if it follows the normal TV policy in the land of olives, pizza and gorgeous police women, (source: Top Gear) then it will be “blessed” with practically semi-naked models sitting with rotting decrepit men in suits analysing the data of why Alonso is so good.
Of course this production would run over a weekend in two parts, with plenty of slow-mo and Puccini playing in the background; and if Sky Italia has the same quality of presenters as the British team, it’s no surprise that Italian viewing figures are crumbling.
As to the part about ‘special like Fernando’ and ‘a real team player’ – are Ferrari serious? From having his ear tweaked on his birthday last year because no driver is bigger than the team, we have now got to the psychophantic delusion of a team in transition and as to the team player – the saying ‘there is no I in team‘ was likely written about Alonso.
There is little doubt that Alonso is arguably the best of his generation and deserves more than the two titles he currently has. It was his brilliance that carried that Ferrari to second in Hungary and he has performed similar miracles over recent seasons, but let’s suppose…
…so what if Alonso had left Ferrari. Would they fall backwards? Without doubt. The pressure on the team would be huge and changes would happen. Now, would it be a stretch to suggest that without Alonso, Ferrari may have recognised their problems with the squad at an earlier stage and would have implemented change earlier. Could the truth be that Ferrari have had their woes masked for so long with Alonso’s brilliance that just maybe he has exacerbated the problem…
Drivers will from now obey Mercedes team instructions
Following the expected and fairly bland statement yesterday from Mercedes following the fallout from the race in Hungary, the Austrian arm of the APA, sought some clarification from Toto Wolff.
There has been a big ‘pow wow’ between Lauda, Lowe and Wolff since the weekend which resulted in extended telephone conversations with Hamilton and Rosberg.
One may question with a matter of such vital importance at stake, the WDC and the rules of engagement between the Mercedes drivers at stake, wouldn’t it have been better for all parties to cancel previous arrangements and resolve the difficulties in the same room.
It appears little has changed at Mercedes. The drivers will not receive their own strategists as Lewis prefers, and the team strategy which seeks to score the maximum points will remain and be the ultimate arbitrator in any dispute.
Wolff adds, “If Paddy says something on the radio, it is followed. Even if at that moment it appears irrational to the drivers”.
Replay Hungary…Lewis will move over – or else.
The subtle but important change to protocol is that should the team intervene during a race, Paddy Lowe will now issue the instructions, which was not the case in Hungary.
This will not carry the same weight as the menace of headmaster Ross Brawn’s tone. Brawn famously took control of a previous Hamilton/Rosberg skirmish in Malaysia 2013 – issuing the command “Negative Nico,” adding for final effect one more “negative”. Rosberg was visibly quicker than Hamilton, but the team refused to allow him to attempt the pass.
Interestingly that day, Brawn explained to Rosberg, “Lewis’ pace is what we’re asking him to do. He could go a lot faster as well.”
Had Lowe or Wolf spoken to Hamilton and reminded him he had always been given the same priority during similarly set up split strategy races, Lewis may have ceded to the request.
The situation between Massa and Bottas earlier this year was a different scenario. Felipe was furious in Malaysia this year because he was ahead of a quicker team mate, but both drivers had made their final stop.
Wolff re-enforces where the line has and will be drawn. “Our agreement from the beginning of the season is that the other car should not be disadvantaged, if it is on another strategy,”.
So Lewis broke the rules?
Wolff is careful when asked whether the leading driver should lose time, to make way for the quicker driver behind. “No one should have to come off the gas,” he commented.
This careful comment does not deal with the historic scenario which Mercedes found themselves in with Rosberg 1 second a lap quicker than Hamilton, then catches him and can’t pass.
As TJ13 was informed and reported, Lewis was pushing his prime tyres beyond the pace other teams and Mercedes had calculated was appropriate for that part of his stint. Hence, “No one should have to come off the gas”.
Wolff wants closure on the matter, concluding, “What happened (in Hungary) has happened now, but whenever there are problems, then at least we must learn as much as possible from them.”
Summary: nothing has changed except Paddy Lowe will issue orders the drivers are expected to comply with.
Ecclestone popularity think tank meeting cancelled
Having called the team bosses together for a crisis meeting in Hungary about the F1 ‘shows’ diminishing popularity – Bernie Ecclestone has since suffered a couple of setbacks.
Firstly, one of the most gripping F1 races for years unfolded on the Sunday as Lewis Hamilton drove aggresively form the pt lane to the podium. Up and down the field there were battles galore, following torrential rain just prior to the start of the race.
F1 fans across the world have been voting the race the best they’ve seen for a very long time.
Such was the excitement provided on Sunday in Hungary, Ecclestone almost sheepishly admitted when questioned, that the new think tank may not require the services of Flavio Briatore as he had first proposed.
Today was set for the big pow wow; what would we be getting this time form the Formula 1 school of bright ideas? Odds on favourite was a resubmission of Ecclestone’s notion to fit sprinklers at F1 race venues, which could recreate the kind of conditions that were seen during Sunday’s thrilling race.
But at the last moment, the meeting was cancelled. Tot Wolff was unwell and unable to attend. Wolff’s inability to attend is not thought to be related to the in-fighting which has been taking place behind closed doors in Brackley, following Hamilton’s decision to ignore the team’s instructions.
Rather, Wolff merely had a clinic appointment for treatment on his damaged arm; an injury he collected whilst falling from his bicycle.