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Previously on TJ13:
OTD Lite: 1999 Schumacher’s broken leg OK for football
On the 11th July 1999, Michael Schumacher broke his leg in an accident on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix. His return would be on 17th October 1999 – over three months later.
With an ever improving Ferrari team, many felt that 1999 would prove to be Schumacher’s year and early season victories shared between Ferrari and Mclaren bore this out. However by the time of the British event, Irvine was pushing for a new contract and made no secret that he was going to fight Schumacher equally – which many felt led to the shunt that curtailed Schumi’s title challenge.
With the full support of his friend Jean Todt, Schumacher remained at home recuperating and only ventured into Mugello, on this day, to test his leg for a return to support Irvine’s title challenge. After completing five laps he limped away in ‘pain’.
It was only a chance phone call from Luca di Montezemolo which unearthed the truth about the stricken patient. When asking his daughter if he could speak to her dad, she replied he was out in the garden playing football.
If Alonso’s ear got tweaked last year because he said he wanted a faster car for his birthday, one can only imagine what Michael listened to, but miracle of miracles he was in Malaysia for the following Grand Prix, assisting the team in its challenge.
McLaren feeling confident
After a second season of under performance and woe McLaren will arrive in the Ardennes forest with a renewed sense of optimism that they can finally deliver the necessary results. Barring the extraordinary double podium finish in Australia, the team have not scored at all well – especially given they have the best powertrain sitting within their chassis.
Jenson Button said, “I go into the second half of the season feeling incredibly refreshed and positive. There’s no better place to resume the season than at Spa-Francorchamps. It’s one of the best circuits in the world, and it’s a place where driving a Formula 1 car always feels incredible.” Having fallen out of love with Formula One in the first part of the season, the summer break will have been welcomed, giving Jenson the chance to recharge away from the media circus. The death of such a big influence on his career, his father John, clearly affected the Frome driver as he has appeared closer than ever to girlfriend Jessica Michibata.
Button will be hoping to relive the success he enjoyed in 2012, as will Kevin Magnussen who also won there in 2012 while driving in the Formula Renault 3.5 series. Furthermore, he enjoyed victories in 2013 with the same series and a win with Formula 3 in 2011 at Spa. The Dane said, “Hooking up a quick lap there during qualifying is just fantastic, because the track just flows from one corner to the next, and the car is so fast and assured that it almost feels effortless. It’s fantastic. I think the second half of this season will be incredibly important for us.”
Indeed, incredibly important as the team look to climb the Constructors’ table where they currently lay in 6th place, 1 point behind Force India, but 38 behind Williams. Finally, not to be outdone by his drivers and wanting a piece of the limelight for himself there was the Racing Director, Eric Boullier.
He said in a blinding statement of the obvious, “We had a disappointing race in Hungary to send us into the summer break, but we’ve analysed the issues we encountered, and we believe we now understand what went wrong.”
…analysed the issues….understand what went wrong??? It hardly takes a rocket scientist to work out that putting the wrong choice tyre on a car makes it go slower.
The Frenchman continued, “Spa and Monza are tracks where every team runs a unique downforce package, so it won’t be until Singapore – where we resume with a more conventional set-up – that we’ll get a clearer read on our progress, but I think we have reasons to be optimistic.” To read between the lines is another easy one here. The low downforce of our current package will suit us, but we will need to do our homework for Singapore, a street circuit as tricky as they come.
The optimism is to be expected, but at what point are the staff at Woking going to realise that not everything that glitters is gold? When will the media stop asking Eric ‘The Believable’ questions?
How to spice up an interview
Just to be different, Puma set English comedian James Corden the task of interviewing Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes, going around a track. Lewis praised the interview as it “was something different” from the norm.
Willy Wonka looking forward to the challenge of Spa
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a book written by British author Roald Dahl about an eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka, and a young boy who wins a golden ticket which culminates in the prize of the chocolate factory itself.
No this isn’t a metaphor for the adventures of Mad Max Verstappen but for the eccentric mutterings of one of Formula One’s most out-spoken ex-team owners – Giancarlo Minardi.
Ever since returning to prominence with his observations of a ‘traction control’ blessed Red Bull in Singapore, Minardi is gaining a respect amongst the serious followers of Formula One and with the return to action with the forth-coming Belgian Grand Prix it seems that his finger is on the more intriguing pulses of the traveling circus.
Having mentioned a return by Cosworth, it was only a few days later that TJ13 received word from Brixworth that engineers had been offered offers from the rival concern. In more recent weeks, the suggestions that Bottas could be Mercedes bound due to his manager being none other than Toto Wolff seemed far fetched initially. Until Mercedes revealed that they had extended Rosberg’s contract but were merely talking with Hamilton.
“As we enter the end of the season, traditionally Belgium and Italy are two intense weekends when plans for the future are revealed. We will see what negotiations the various teams conclude over this period. Belgium also holds special memories for me as it was in Spa 2005 that my team passed into the hands of Dietrich Mateschitz.”
“Honda is on the hunt for a super top driver to work alongside Kevin Magnussen as they want to return in a big way after the large investment s they have made with Mclaren. Consequently, Button should not be part of Mclaren’s plans any longer. Also, at Mercedes, only Nico Rosberg has signed a contract extension with Mercedes because the situation between Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull is not clear currently..”
“As to Ferrari, there will be no big changes as Fernando Alonso is waiting for more guarantees on the technical side, but in life and especially F1 you can never tell. Marmorini’s outburst is synonymous with great nervousness, therefore Mattiacci has to bring peace within the organisation.”
“Red Bull has shaken up the market with signing Max Verstappen, the son of Jos Verstappen who raced with me in 2003. He is doing well in F3 but next year will be a new driver with Toro Rosso alongside Daniil Kyvat… the games have begun.”
“Spa and Monza are two very tough challenges and gives the Mercedes PU a proper opportunity to consolidate it’s advantages, despite a few issues recently with reliability. Williams however could well be the outsider to provide a challenge. It will be interesting to see what innovations are part of the upgraded packages because in spite of the holidays, brilliant minds will continue working on new solutions for the end of the season and the upcoming one.”
“Best of all is that we have had some great races, which show that all the complaining since the beginning of the season has been futile. Despite the momentous changes, this F1 has been great to watch.”
(Sourced from GMM – with TJ13 comments)
‘Kid’ Verstappen the big talking point at Spa
F1 has emerged from its summer slumber, but the big talking point at Spa-Francorchamps will be a 16-year-old ‘kid’ who doesn’t even have a license to drive a road car. “Because he lives in Belgium, he cannot start lessons until about six months before his 18th birthday,” manager Raymond Vermeulen told the German newspaper Bild.
He is referring, of course, to Max Verstappen, the 16-and-a-half year old who has been signed up by Toro Rosso to debut next year and make history as F1’s youngest ever driver. But Verstappen, the son of former F1 driver Jos and female karting sensation Sophie Kumpen, is unfazed, particularly as a top-three finish in the FIA’s top F3 category will ensure he receives the most important document — a F1 super license.
“I think the biggest step I had was karting to formula three,” he told the BBC this week. “I think F3 to formula one will be a smaller step. The cars are really safe. I think it’s more dangerous to bike through a big city than race in an F1 car.”
He told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “The biggest adjustment will be the life around it all — the attention, the full agenda, the travelling. But I’m pretty relaxed. I have never had nerves or stage fright, and I won’t now.”
Verstappen may not be worried, but his age and inexperience may make some of his 2015 rivals nervous. “What the senior drivers will think about it? Don’t ask them, because they won’t like it,” admitted F1 broadcaster Tony Jardine. Verstappen said: “These are guys I only know from television, and some of them my dad even raced against. I’m thinking about being in the driver’s briefing and saying to Fernando Alonso, ‘Can you move over, please?’ But once I’m in the car I’m not afraid of anyone.”
Toro Rosso gave another teenager his F1 debut this year, and Daniil Kvyat is now regarded as a new star of the sport. “Everybody has the right to an opinion about my age,” said Verstappen. “Of course its beneficial if you have more experience, but you only gain that from driving the car. At Red Bull and Toro Rosso there will be plenty of people to help me.”
John Watson, another broadcaster and a former driver, sides with Verstappen in the new era of cars that are easier to drive and unprecedented safety conditions. “The age aspect is no longer as compelling as it was in my generation,” he told the Mirror. “They can put the kids with talent in simulators and help make the technical side second nature.”
And as far as F1 legend Gerhard Berger is concerned, Verstappen is a cut above. “To switch from karting straight into formula 3 and go straight to the front is something I’ve never seen,” said the Austrian, who is now the FIA’s junior series chief. “Max stands out,” Berger told Auto Bild.
Sports physio and performance expert Camiel van Druten told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “Does it matter whether you’re 17 or 19? Max is strong and mature.” But all that doesn’t mean the speed of Max’s rise to the pinnacle of motor racing hasn’t given father Jos – whose first F1 teammate was the great Michael Schumacher – pause for thought.
“The past few weeks has sometimes felt unreal,” he admitted. “In the middle of negotiations, I was constantly asking myself — ‘Is it the right decision? Is it too early?’. Of course he is missing experience, but it was a well thought out decision. The bottom line is that I am the one who knows Max best. People need to understand that he is extremely adaptable and he learns extremely quickly. And formula one is different now to what it was twenty years ago, with all the advanced simulators for example.”
Just before Red Bull signed on the dotted line, Verstappen was put at the wheel of a much more powerful Formula Renault 3.5 car. “Straight away he went like hell,” said Jos. “He will also know how to drive a formula one car. Red Bull is also the benchmark when it comes to building young talent. This is especially true for motor sports.” Verstappen snr said he will travel to all or most of the grands prix next year, but only to be there for Max rather than play an overly active role.
“I will not interfere with the team or the car,” Jos promised. “I will just be there for when he needs me. I’ve done everything for my son and now it feels as though I have to let go. I think with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, he is in the right hands.”
As Max said, F1 is safer than cycling through a big city. With the simulators available to these kids F1 has become a real life Playstation game. When people like John Watson and Gerhard Berger speak people usually listen or mock but Watson is right, age is no longer a valid concern it seems.
As to Berger, it may serve him to watch a few season reviews – a certain Kimi Raikkonen went from karting to Formula Renault to Formula One within a year. Not F3 will say the pedantics. In which case, I’ll mention Jarno Trulli. World Karting champion, he entered and won a few F3 races at the end of 1995 due to his karting commitments. In 1996 won the German F3 title and was in F1 in 1997. By mid season had replaced an injured Olivier Panis and led the Austrian Grand Prix until his car failed.
Whichever way his career goes, be it like Vettel’s or like his father’s – his signing has ultimately revealed what many fans have long suspected – it’s far too easy now. Welcome to the dawning of a new era…
Some call this the silly season, others realise it is the time of year when the movement between the tectonic plates is accentuated. Last year it was Kimi and this year another big name is reputedly on the move.
TJ13 is hearing that by Monza… Jenson will be joining Martin Whitmarsh in the Ron Dennis Revolution… and is JEV is moving up … and not on…. after all?
…but yeah, I’m not bitter or anything
There’s nothing quite like forgiving and forgetting is there Fernando? Maybe time to let bygones be bygones…