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Previously on TJ13:
More Details about the Ecclestone Trial Updated 12:13), Updated (14:10 GMT)
OTD lite: Lewis Hamilton wins 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix – The end?
Well not quite. This was the race weekend that Ron Dennis came to regret the signing of Alonso to the team. In qualifying the intensely bitter relationship between the team-mates came to a head when Hamilton refused to give way to Alonso.
At the time, a car qualified with race fuel aboard and burnt off as much as possibly in the session. They would come in at the end of the session put fresh tyres on and set their ultimate lap. The fuel would be replenished for the race. Which was fine unless you happened to be running more fuel and your team-mate knew it gave you the advantage. So Lewis held Fernando back.
For the final run, Alonso sat waiting after his tyre change so that Lewis lost his qualifying opportunity. His actions caused the FIA to step in and penalised him 5 grid places for an intra-team conflict! Lewis was left to romp home to victory on this day and Alonso could only finish fourth.
Alonso had been to Max Mosley after having his bluff called by Dennis over Ferrari information Mclaren had obtained and Hamilton exchanged profanities after his failed qualifying attempt – with the last statement to his boss being – “Go swivel”
More Details about the Ecclestone Trial
The Court in Munich, headed by Judge Noll, is expected to announce on Tuesday at 1pm local time that Bernard Ecclestone will leave the court as a free man. To everyone but the terminally gullible that looks like a case of bribery to end a trial for bribery.
Former Federal Minister Of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger calls the deal “not only dubious, it’s outrageous.”
That’s where the wiliness of Ecclestone’s lawyers come in. Media were talking about a deal, which is shorthand for “Verständigung nach Paragraf 257c”. It’s basically an agreement brokered between the court, the defendant and the prosecution. BUT! Such a deal only negotiates the maximum sentence – the accused will be found guilty of the crimes he was charged with.
Yet Ecclestone’s lawyers appear to have even avoided this stain on his record.
Mr. E’s legal team have abused a law designed to deal with petty crimes, like car accidents with no injuries. The dropping of a case according to §153 of the code of criminal proceedings allows a case to be dropped for a fine and the defendant will be acquitted. That law was introduced to avoid multi-week trials with the prosecution having problems to prove that Granny Hilda bumped her car into another one on the parking lot and then fled the scene.
The two prerequisites for such a procedure are:
1. The prosecution has too much evidence for an acquittal but not enough for a clear conviction
2. The crime is ‘small’ enough that the ‘significant guilt’ clause doesn’t apply.
To get into such a situation, Ecclestones lawyers have systematically wrecked the credibility of the main witness of the prosecution with suggestive and ambiguous questioning, helped by the fact that Gribkowsky changed key statements of his testimony. With most of their main evidence shredded by Ecclestone’s shysters the prosecution finds itself in situation 1)
But situation 2) is where Judge Noll shall be advised to make whatever explanation he is about to present on Tuesday a spectacularly good one, because it will be one hell of a task to explain that a charge that carries a 10 years prison sentence and that the court finds $100.000.000 dollar a fitting fine for, does not constitute a ‘significant guilt’.
On Judge Noll’s shoulders stands the credibility of the German legal system in the eyes of the world, it would take a huge pair of cahooners to disallow the ‘deal’..
Comment: Fat Hippo, from an original article in ‘Der Spiegel’.
Picture from @unlap
Update: 12:13 GMT. Judge Noll has accepted the settlement reached between the prosecution service and Bernie Ecclestone.
Trial over….. how bizarre…. and my mind wanders to this from ‘The Producers’ (2005).
Marmorini taking ‘gardening leave’ before joining Renault
Formula One teams regularly insist that their employees when leaving and joining another team, serve a period of ‘garden leave’. During this period, the exiting employee is paid in full and has can work full time tending their garden should they please.
This is not particular to Formula 1, but in any industry where an employee may have knowledge of information sensitive to a competitor, or have skills which may put a competitor at an advantage.
For whizz kid top designers, engineers or electronic experts, this appears to have some rhyme and reason in F1 as the top secret knowledge they have. Yet when an individual is sacked or “falls on their sword”. this practice appears somewhat prejudicial.
Luca Marmorini appears to have been the sacrificial lamb offered up by Marco Mattiacci as atonement for the relative ineptitude of the new Ferrari V6 engine.
Yes the engine may well be down in power, as have been most of Marmorini’s designs stretching back to his days at Toyota, yet Marmorini delivers uber reliable engines.
It may be fair to question what kind of brief was given to Marmorini? It could have been that Ferrari’s view of what would happen in 2014, was that reliability would be king. We heard scare stories from various F1 folk during the winter, that the races would see 50% plus of the cars dropping out due to failure, mostly engine related.
An uber reliable Ferrari given this scenario, could easily be leading either or both world title races.
Yet Marmorini has to go. This could well be more about Mattiacci making his mark, and sending a message to all concerned in Maranello.
Ironically, there is an argument that were Marmorini such a liability, Ferrari should insist he start immediate work at Viry for Renault. not become an expert on the ‘Stylized Lily’.
In a Monty-Python world, it would be surreal how the whole F1 eco-system breathes and survives – whoever coined the phrase ‘living in a bubble’ must have been grounded in the ways of F1.
Lotus having to pay Mercedes in advance
Earlier this year, Renault revealed that one of their contracted engine customer teams had not paid their bills. With Red Bull teams effectively the works engined teams it left conjecture aimed at Caterham and Lotus. Both claimed that all bills and invoices were up to date with Lotus attacking Renault for not stating clearly who was the guilty party.
Several months have passed and Tony Fernandes has escaped the F1 money pit, deserting his Caterham F1 team for the questionable delights of Premiership football at QPR, In that time, Lotus has been struggling which has meant Gerard Lopez’s aspirations to sell the team have imploded.
There has been some restructuring within the Enstone business to improve efficiency and cut costs, but with such a poor car there is little or no interest from potential F1 ‘investors’.
All could change for 2015, as Lotus will replace McLaren as a Mercedes customer. However, wise to the wiles of the likes of Mansoor Ijaz, Mercedes have insisted on a payment up front of $10m before the end of the 2014 season.
There will also be a strict payment schedule during 2015, otherwise engines will not be released and vital support withdrawn.
(From GMM news source – includes closing TJ13 comment)
Bianchi not ruling out ‘2015’ Ferrari race seat
Jules Bianchi is no longer ruling out a move to Ferrari for 2015. Recently, after an impressive Ferrari test at Silverstone in injured Kimi Raikkonen’s place, the Frenchman admitted that a race seat with the Italian team “is not the plan for next year“. That is because Finn Raikkonen, although struggling for form this year, is firmly under contract for 2015 alongside on-form teammate Fernando Alonso. Team boss Marco Mattiacci also publicly backed the 2007 world champion and his secure place at Ferrari next year.
But in Hungary, 25-year-old Bianchi, racing for the backmarker Marussia, again attracted attention and stirred speculation by out-qualifying Raikkonen following a Ferrari strategy bungle. Bianchi, managed by Nicolas Todt, is the cream of Ferrari’s driver development ‘academy’ and almost assured a race seat in red at some point in the future.
2015 will be his third season in F1, and this year he has notably impressed, scoring Marussia’s lucrative first-ever points. “Our goal is to stay ahead of Caterham and finish tenth, which would be a huge boost for the team,” he told the French sports daily L’Equipe. “Ferrari?” he is also quoted as saying. “If they call me one day, I’ll be ready to take the plunge. 2015? 2016? We’ll see,” Bianchi added.
TJ13 comment: Whatever people’s perception of Ferrari, they are undoubtedly the headline act of the show and for some years have not taken on young driving talent simply because they are fashionable or the press has become excited by a potential talent.
In 2012, the press were slamming Felipe Massa’s performances and praising the young Sergio Perez because his driving style allowed him to run different strategies that converted into podiums. LdM said at the time he wasn’t ready for the top tier and almost laughed himself hoarse when Mclaren signed him up. Despite a poor car, his season with Button wasn’t stellar and he was sacked.
Bianchi has beaten, comprehensively, a certain beautiful lad from the UK, someone the the British press have given more time to than he actually warrants and it’s staggering that his performance advantage hasn’t been compared to Senna over his team-mates. After all, any driver of talent must be the ‘next’ Senna!
What’s perhaps most worrying is the fact he has the same manager as Felipe Massa, Nicolas Todt, who due to nepotism saddled Ferrari with a driving hindrance for a number of years – although in the Machiavellian corridors of Maranello – Bianchi may be seen as the link into the FIA’s inner sanctum.
Perez says Hulkenberg ‘strongest F1 teammate’
Sergio Perez has singled out Nico Hulkenberg as “the strongest teammate I’ve had in formula one”. Having moved from McLaren after a disappointing single season with the struggling British giant, Mexican Perez switched to Force India and was paired for 2014 with Sauber refugee Hulkenberg.
“Nico is the strongest teammate I’ve had in formula one,” Perez is quoted by Speed Week. “He is an almost totally complete driver.” Perez, 24, was paired at Sauber with Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi, and at McLaren by 2009 world champion Jenson Button. This year at Force India, he has 29 points so far versus German Hulkenberg’s 69. The pair looks set to be retained by the Silverstone based team for 2015.
“I hope things will be clearer in the next couple of months,” Perez was quoted by the Indian news agency PTI at the recent Hungarian grand prix. Team supremo Vijay Mallya said in Budapest that he has contract “options” on both Hulkenberg and Perez for 2015 “and I see no reason why we should be looking at any change”.
And the Indian millionaire told F1’s official website: “The fact that McLaren chose him (Perez) means that they saw something in him — and McLaren is a top team. So he obviously has a talent — and we should have him. And we are very happy with him,” Mallya added.
TJ13 comment: Oh how the mighty have fallen…
No not the ‘arrogant’ Perez, after all he brings Mexican denaro, but the rotund Indian millionaire now.
In the world of the billionaires, being called a mere millionaire must be almost as humiliating as his business partner enjoying the heat in a New Delhi jail.
The onward march to Sochi
The sanctions imposed on Russia by the USA and the EU are beginning to bite. From it’s 12 month high, the rouble has depreciated around 15% against the US$ and the British pound, whilst inflation is climbing towards 7%.
Though since the last round of sanctions implemented 2 weeks ago, specific tales are growing of how Russian interests are suffering.
A subsidiary of Aeroflot last night ceased it’s flights to Europe. Under threat of punitive sanctions from US banks, European companies annulled leasing, servicing/refuelling and insurance contracts with the Dobrolet.
Some 10,000 Russians are believed to be ‘stranded’ at present in European destinations.
Due to adverse trading conditions, two Russian travel operators have ground to a half. Neva and Labirint’s sudden failures last weekend have left around 27,000 Russian tourists in Europe without return tickets, reports the BBC
Yet onward to Sochi marches Formula 1
Russia has responded to the sanctions this year by banning “Kentucky Gentleman”, a brand of American whiskey, citing traces of phthalates – organic chemicals – in the drink.
Also, banned is the import of Moldovian wine and Polish fruit and veg. The people of Poland have taken to social media, mocking Putin on mass, with home-made marketing campaigns showing poles eating fruit and mocking Putin.
CVC may well be considering whether continuing to allow it’s CEO to promote the race in Russia is good for business. They have international assets in the billions funded and secured by US banks, who could impose a freeze on the private equity firms capital movements.
Then again, having procured an acquittal in Munich, Campbell’s excuse to remove Ecclestone from power is moot. Taking CVC to the brink of a worldwide capital freeze, maybe considered grounds for dismissal of their CEO Ecclestone.
Similarly the US administration may bring pressure on the billionaire Texas owner of COTA, to forgoe the F1 race in Austin, should Ecclestone take the sport to Sochi. Again, McCombs is dependant on US banking privileges.
Amusingly, it appears ‘the gods’ may have demonstrated their displeasure at F1’s current decision in quite dramatic fashion. Sebastian Vettel’s winning RB7 burst into flames during a demonstration run in Russia last weekend. It was on exhibition in Chelyabinsk ahead of the inaugural Russian Grand Prix and driven by Red Bull junior driver Alex Lynn,
But for now… F1 marches blindly on towards Sochi….
Hamilton ordered to obey race strategy calls – Zetsche
Deiter Zetsche has lent the full support of global car manufacturer, Daimler Benz, behind Toto Wolff.
Following 3 days of internal discussions which included speaking to the two Mercedes drivers via conference calls, Toto Wollf came out on the Wednesday following the Hungarian GP to explain how Mercedes would manage strategy from hereon in.
“Our agreement from the beginning of the season is that the other car should not be disturbed if it is on another strategy,” Wolff restated.
What did change is that the radio call to the drivers to respect team strategy will now be made by Paddy Lowe. “If Paddy says something on the radio, this is followed even if at that moment it appears irrational to the drivers”.
Today speaking to Bild, Dieter Zetsche confirms, “At Mercedes there are no team orders. I stand by that”.
“Last Sunday there was no critical situation. The two were not really bumper to bumper, which is why I can well understand Lewis not slowing down to let Nico past.”
However, Hamilton will not be able to plead innocence in similar circumstances in the future as Zetsche makes it clear. “However, it is true however Rosberg and Hamilton are not to interfere with each other’s strategies – as when there is two stops versus three stops.”
During the 2014 Hungarian GP, the team had placed Rosberg on a three stop strategy, whilst running Hamilton on a two stopper.
Nico was catching Lewis at over a second a lap following his second stop whilst in free air. His lap times immediately increased by a second a lap when he came up behind Hamilton.
Whether Lewis just carried on doing what he’d been doing before… would have let Rosberg through had he been closer….. pushed like hell to prevent Nico’s pass…. is now a moot point.
Zetsche makes it clear given the same situation going forward, Hamilton would be deemed impeding Rosberg’s strategy.
Whether a clarification or public rebuke to Mercedes’ world champion driver. The rules of the game are now clear.
Meantime, Lewis has been back on the twittersphere. He’s excited about Belgium. Appears there’s a new team in F1.