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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite: 1953 – The Flying Mantuan
Ferdinand Porsche called him “the greatest driver of the past, the present and the future” but he was never a World Champion. He won the European Grand Prix championship once and only won four official Grand Prix events as opposed to Carraciola’s three titles and ten race wins. Yet Nuvolari is regarded as the greatest exponent of race car driving the world has ever seen – essentially because he plied his trade in Italian machinery when the Silver cars from Germany were dominant.
The one man that Enzo Ferrari would spend a lifetime looking for his replacement, mastered the four wheel drift and whose ability was such that an ill-handling rear engined Auto Union was brought under his spell – was a living legend before his departure from this mortal coil fell upon this day in 1953.
His greatest victory was undoubtedly the 1935 German Grand Prix but legends have grown from his escapades of racing. In 1932’s Mille Miglia he followed his main rival, Achille Varzi, for tens of kilometres in the dark without headlights on, at speeds up to 150km/h, only turning them on as they approached the finish at Brescia. Or in 1934, after breaking a leg in a race, he got bored in hospital and so entered the Avus-Rennen race in a Maserati. His leg in plaster and too badly injured to use the clutch, the mechanics modified the car to be operated with the right foot. He finished fifth with cramp in his left leg..
In 1952 he suffered a paralysing stroke and less than twelve months later a second stroke would claim his life. He was buried wearing his famous yellow jersey and up to 55,000 people attended the funeral. His coffin, placed on a car chassis was rolled to the cemetery by Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and Juan Manuel Fangio.
For a more detailed account of the man, BJF’s article from last year is simply superb – #F1 Features: Tazio Nuvolari… Legendario
More legal woes and shame for Formula 1
Following the deal done between the Munich courts and Ecclestone which sees the bribery charges brought against him dismissed, many fans and F1 folk within the sport were hugely disappointed.
Whether it has been the criticism over the sound of the new engines, the FIA fuel flow regulations or even double points for the final race, Ecclestone and his cronies have been creating the impression to onlookers that Formula 1 is in turmoil.
The consistent chatter about improving “the show” and some of the bizarre notions emanating from the ‘F1 school of bright ideas” give the impression F1 is a headless chicken, lacking in leadership and direction.
The disrepute, Ecclestone’s legal battles are bringing upon Formula 1, are set to continue. Last week, the directors of Constantin Media announced at their annual meeting, they are reserving the right to appeal Judge Newey’s decision given in favour of Ecclestone in January.
Swiss authorities are currently investigating Ecclestone’s financial dealings with a view to bring criminal charges and Bluewater Communications who claim they would have paid more for the sale of F1 than CVC are also close to lodging a suit against Mr. E.
BayernLB, the bank, who owned the majority shareholding in Formula 1 when Ecclestone paid their influential employee director, Gribkowsky, some $44m, as an “insurance policy” are also set to launch a $400m claim against Ecclestone.
Ecclestone offered BayernLB $33m to settle the matter last week, however a spokesperson for the bank tells Reuters, “BayernLB has rejected Mr Ecclestone’s settlement offer.”
The bank have the option to bring a civil suit against Ecclestone, where he could finally be on the wrong end of a judges decision.
Though following the debacle in the German legal system last week, it wouldn’t take a brazen cynic to believe that BaynernLB’s rejection of Ecclestone’s offer is to merely leverage their position with Ecclestone and gain an improved out of court settlement to relieve him of a few hundred million more of his dollars.
A verdict against Ecclestone would almost inevitably see CVC remove Ecclestone from his position of power in F1. Though this no nearer now – than it has ever been.
Gene Haas: The hardships of building an American F1 team
News has surfaced that Marussia (and former Caterham and Force India) test driver Alexander Rossi is in talks with Gene Haas to become part of the All-American (insert patriotic Muzak here) F1 team the latter is building for 2016. This time however it would be as one of the regular drivers.
The driver question is only one of the troubles Haas has at the time. F1 hasn’t been kind to its ‘nosy friends’ from across the pond. There hasn’t been an American team since Carl Haas’ (unrelated to Gene) Haas Lola team in 1986 and in the last twenty-one years there have only been two US drivers in F1 – Michael Andretti and Scott Speed.
Indycar Champion Michael Andretti had plenty of talent, but he ran himself ragged going back and forth between the US and Europe and just as he came to grips with the car and scored his first podium Big Ron ‘de-employerized’ the American and replaced him with a young gun called Mika Häkkinen. Scott Speed meanwhile didn’t quite live up to his name at Toro Rosso in 2006 and 2007 and never managed to score a point in a car that was later that year driven to a 4th place finish by his 2007 mid-season replacement – someone called Sebastian Vettel.
Gene Haas’ options are limited as far as drivers are concerned. There are only Alex Rossi and Connor Daly, who have gone through F1’s ladder system. There would also be Danica Patrick, currently driving for Haas in NASCAR, where she learns the hard way that people, who are good in open-wheel cars usually struggle in the V8 ox-carts. Patrick, a winner and podium finisher in IndyCar, however, has time against her. At the start of the 2016 season she would turn 34.
At a time when some believe Vettel to be a wash-out at twenty-six and Alonso to be growing long in the tooth, wouldn’t a thirty-four year old rookie be stretching it?
Yet women age differently and often keep competitive sports careers until the late thirties and early forties, even in demanding sports like speed skating, rowing or track & field.
The driver question is not the only trouble for Gene Haas at the moment. Tony Stewart, fellow big-boned Hippo, NASCAR and Indycar champion and co-owner/driver of the Stewart-Haas NASCAR team, was involved in a bizarre accident during a dirt track race at Canadaigua Motorsports Park in Ontario County.
Following contact between Stewart’s car and the chariot of Kevin Ward Jnr., the latter had to park his stricken car and ran back onto the live track to make his disappointment known, wildly gesticulating and running right into the path of Stewart’s car. Unable to brake in time Stewart hit him and ran him over. Despite track-side personnel attending to Ward jr. immediately, all help came too late and the young driver paid for his foolishness with his life.
Szafnauer: F1 is not an engine formula
“To win you have to get it all right. Look at Mercedes – I believe that their car would still be good enough to win even with Renault or Ferrari power. They have a good aero package, good mechanical package, they understand the tyres, have good drivers and strategy – they’re going to win. Remove the powertrain and stick another one in and they’ll still be competitive. Is it more of an engine formula this year? Maybe a bit more than in the past when the engines were all frozen. But is it a complete engine formula? No way. We have the same engine as Mercedes, so do Williams and McLaren – and they’re not winning.”
Presumably Otmar is stretching the point based upon the fact that there have been 2 race wins this year by ‘The Bulls’. Yet these were the result of mistakes and mishaps by Mercedes, and Williams in Canada.
Using McLaren as an example is rather a straw-man type argument due to the fact that they are hindered by the fact that Mercedes collects their engines after each race. So the ‘chrome arrows’ return to Woking as empty shells not to receive their aggregates back until the next event.
The FIA regulations which meant engine development has been frozen for the year, was well intended. It was designed to prevent one or all manufacturers entering a spending spree of cold war nuclear proportions.
Yet the result of freezing engine development in February, has meant Ferrari and Renault have been condemned to a year of public embarrassment, with no means to bridge the gap between themselves and Mercedes until 2015.
From a manufacturers’ title perspective, the season is a fore gone conclusion, yet more importantly, will this dominance prove a deterrent to any other engine manufacturer considering joining the sport.
Honda are set for a fall should they fail to get it right for 2015.
Montezemolo defiant in face of Alitalia rumours
Luca Cordero di Montezemolo (aka Il Padrino) has issued a war cry, he has no intention of leaving Ferrari and despite media speculation over the last few days suggesting his new role would be as President of the newly formed alliance between Etihad and Alitalia – LdM has spoken only of a non-executive position on the new board.
As a figurehead of Italian industry he has been instrumental in negotiations to bring about the merger of the two companies but he declared he would only accept a position that did not interfere with his responsibilities as President of the Maranello concern, “after my family, there is nothing more important than Ferrari.”
In any political sphere, the main players are not always aware of the unsheathing of the knives, and it appears that the play by John Elkaan and Sergio Marchionne as the bosses of the new FIAT-Chrysler Association (FCA) group will settle into the shadows for the moment.
Montezemolo was appointed as President of Ferrari back in 1991 by Elkann’s grandfather Gianni Agnelli and has run the company to greater success ever since but many felt his charismatic, autocratic style has held back the Gestione Sportiva’s development after he disbanded the holy grail of Schumacher, Todt, Brawn and Byrne.
The red team has progressively deteriorated from year to year, masked by the Herculean efforts of one Fernando Alonso. Were it not for Fernando making 2010 and 2012 a close affair, Ferrari would have been revealed as the rudderless organisation they have become.
With record profits expected once again this year, Il Padrino would appear safe in his exalted office and yet at a recent FIAT board meeting, Marchionne sneered that Ferrari’s road car division’s performance was worse than sister company Maserati.
With Marco Mattiacci working from within the racing organisation, reporting back to his close friends Elkann and Marchione, it can be only a matter of time before Il Padrino moves on to pastures new..
(From GMM news source – includes closing TJ13 comment)
Vettel buys father a Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel has bought his father a Ferrari.
Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, publishing a paparazzi photo of Red Bull’s reigning quadruple world champion during the transaction, said the German picked a Ferrari California and a personalised number plate.
At grands prix, 27-year-old Vettel commutes to and from the circuits in a road car supplied by Red Bull’s title sponsor Infiniti.
But for a gift to his father Norbert, Vettel chose the iconic colour red and the personalised number plate HP N1 — ‘HP’ representing his birthplace Heppenheim, and ‘N1’ for Norbert.
“A sign of a future at Maranello? Who knows!” read the Gazzetta report.
“In 1995, Michael Schumacher was seen roaming the streets of Monaco at the wheel of a F355. And we know how that turned out.”
TJ13 comment: It is not only pre-pubescent girls and boys who spend their time imagining a perfect life with their pop star idols. The Italian media has begun the dark art of predicting the future based upon certain indicators that history may be about to repeat itself.
A number of recent Italian articles have begun to draw together the threads of a tale which likens Marco Mattiacci’s tenure in Maranello to that of Jean Todt – twenty years ago.
Now – the fingertips of these ‘journalists’ may cling to a vision that another German superstar is about to emulate his own hero by joining Ferrari and winning everything in sight.
And all because young-‘ish’ Seb, bought his father a Ferrari.
20 plus Formula 1 races, ‘no problem’ says Hembery
There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the teams when the prospect of a race calendar exceeding 19 or 20 races per year is raised.
Those impacted the most would be the race crews who at present travel to most if not all events.
The team’s complain that this would increase their costs and require them to restructure and provide 2 race teams.
Marco Mattiacci was dismissive over the ‘problem’ recently, when he raised his hand, rubbed his thumb and first and second fingers together, smiled and stated, “this will solve the problem”.
More cash indeed will solve the problem.
An injection of incremental finance to develop a second race crew will in fact benefit the smaller teams more than their big brothers; because it will represents a relatively greater increase in their quantum mass.
Further, by forcing the teams to run 2 race crews, it would reduce the pressure for those travelling to 19 race venues a year because this would be reduced to 12 or 13 at most.
Paul Hembery believes that more than 20 races is possible, however, he adds that F1 needs to ensure that new races are viable.
“Personally I think if you have a doubt whether the fans will come then you have to go very close to the city centres or use street circuits because then they can’t avoid you; you have to watch it because it’s going to ruin your drive to work!”
This is all very well when considering Mokpo and the Korean GP, but F1 failed to succeed in one of the world’s most Iconic cities, the gateway between East and West – Istanbul.
Such is the disdain for F1 amongst the Turkish rulers, that even though they were offered a race in 2014 for around $5-8m, they refused to sanction public funds for this project.
Then there is the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in India, hardly a Mokpo mark II. Whilst 40 kilometres from Dehli may represent an hour’s drive, the reason for the failure of the Indian GP was not location.
On to the spectre of Sochi, and Hembery questions the long term future of this event. “It will be interesting to see what happens in Russia with Sochi. I think if you had asked anyone previously they would say they would love to have a backdrop of Red Square, The Kremlin and racing through there. That would have had a certain affect. Sochi – it has a name because of the Olympics of course – is going to be an interesting challenge to see whether that in itself can be successful”.
Austin and Styria are recognised by the Pirelli motorsport director as exceptions to the ‘city rule’, yet this admission appears to deflate Hembery’s theory even further.
TJ13 has argued for some time, it is risible to believe that by taking Formula 1 to a country with no motorsport tradition, this will somehow create a ground swell of interest in either Formula 1 or motorsport in general.
Further, the owners of F1 spend little or nothing – bar the “Bernie says…” campaigns – on promoting the sport either globally or in the new territories. The result is Istanbul, India and Korea.
The owners of COTA may have good reason for concern, because the return of F1 to Mexico City may see their race weekend audience slashed by over 50%. By flight, Austin to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez is a mere hop skip and a jump away.
During the global expansion of Formula 1 from what was primarily a European based racing series, Ecclestone et al have failed by cataclysmic proportions to deliver substantial interest in these new regions, whether measured by spectator numbers or ‘new territory’ TV viewers.
The sport is mostly watched by Europeans, who will suffer only so many races at stupid o’clock in the morning. A persistent shift away from European races will see the core audience develop the habit of watching the overtakes on the TV news or free to air highlights and – bang go the core TV revenues.
Formula 1 can expand beyond 20 races, though it requires a backbone of consistency and stability amongst the European and traditional venues.
Charge Russia, Baku and Outer Mongolia a gazzilion currency units for the privilege of hosting F1, which would be possible if there were only a handful of “exotic” race slots available.
Simultaneously the traditional venues must be kept viable with lesser and sensible hosting fees and their number be appropriate in the balance of the F1 calendar.