Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 21st August 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

#F1 History: 1998 Belgian Grand Prix – Hill’s last victory

#F1 History: The original Spa-Francorchamps

#F1 Circuit Profile – 2014: Belgium, Francorchamps, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – Round 12


OTD Lite: 1988 Britain’s great hope suffers appalling crash

The Russian bear bites

Mattiacci fan club beginning to emerge

Massa – ‘I know how to win at Spa’ – ask the stewards

Alonso the ‘only genius’ in F1 today – Stewart

New Nurburgring owner misses payment due date (GMM)

Mark Webber turns TV pundit for Ten

Super Max out as Rossi steps in


OTD Lite: 1988 Britain’s great hope suffers appalling crash

It’s relatively easy to mock Johnny Herbert as he mumbles along in his broadcasting role with SKY TV. A happy go lucky figure that won three races in Formula One, yet on this day, twenty six years ago his racing future looked seriously in doubt as he broke both his legs in what most thought a career ending accident.

Before this, his name was being mentioned in the same stratosphere as Jim Clark – such was his potential – and after wins in Formula Ford, F3 and F3000 was set for a glittering career in motor-sport. But on the first lap of the restarted Brand Hatch F3000 race a tangle with Gregor Foitek brought about a life defining moment.

…the car was turning and aiming straight for where the bridge was. I ploughed straight into the bridge and my head was rolling around a lot. I was spinning around and then hit something else.”

“When I opened my eyes, I could see there was a big hole in the front of the car. My first impression was I’d lost my legs from the knee down, because all I could see from the way I was sitting were my knees but nothing else below that. Of course, they were there hanging down below. I remember saying: ‘knock me out, knock me out, knock me out!’ because I didn’t really want to know at that stage. But I do remember everything – I was conscious through the whole thing.”

With shattered feet and ankles, the doctors didn’t  think he would walk again, let alone race.

The Jackal

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The Russian bear bites

Russian_bearFor some teams the Russian sanctions imposed by the West are having little impact and as Christian Horner stated, if FOM says they are to go race in Russia, F1 will go racing. However, some teams are feeling the force of Western prohibitions more than others.

It was expected that Sergey Sirotkin would become the youngest F1 driver ever with Sauber (read he was bringing in lots of Rubles). Yet as the sanctions started to bite, Sauber admitted their negotiations were put on ice.

Marussia were hurriedly re-registered following the annexing of Crimea to a holding company registered in a backstreet of Dublin. However, the team claimed the Russian sanctions were not affecting their inward cash flow.

Following the downing of MH17, a level three set of trade restrictions were imposed on Russian individuals and businesses by both the USA and a reluctant EU.

During the past 24 hours, TJ13 has exclusively been informed that Marussia has fallen behind with their payments to staff and are experiencing significant cashflow problems as a result of the incremental isolation by the West on capital flows from Russia.

RBC is a leading multimedia holding company and a key player in the Russian mass media. They provide extensive business news coverage through key media platforms, and also offer mobile and online communication tools and additional services. The company’s aggregate audience exceeds 90m people.

InstaForex is a Russian Foreign exchange broker providing online trading services using an electronic communication network to execute forex trades. It provides access to trading in currencies as well as contracts for difference (CFD)s based on shares and commodity futures. The company has its headquarters in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Both these companies sponsor Marussia. Whilst the sums involved are not 10’s of millions, it means F1’s shoestring budget team now have a significant hole in their planned annual spend for 2014.

The FIA may have approved Sochi yesterday but, if a solution to Marussia’s difficulties cannot be found, there may be no ‘Russian’ team to represent the Motherland at the inaugural Russian F1 GP.

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Mattiacci fan club beginning to emerge

Recently Bernie Ecclestone gave his opinion, in an interview, in regards his initial thoughts on Ferrari’s new team principal Marco Mattiacci and generally spoke of him with high praise. Irrespective of his background not having included any motor-sport, he likened his position to the one that Jean Todt found himself in back in 1993.

Toto Wolff has also had time to assess the arrival of the new man to Formula One and offered his thoughts too. “Over the past few months I have had the chance to get to know and judge Mattiacci. It’s not ideal not having been around motor-sport but the guy is intelligent with a clear idea in his head of the direction he wants to go in. Only then will you be able to make judgements. But, I think it won’t be long before Ferrari is our most dangerous rival”

Which makes recent driver speculation in Italy illuminating. It is no secret that Alonso has been the target man of Honda’s Formula One return with Mclaren. In spite of whatever Ron Dennis publicly or privately thinks of the Spaniard – the Japanese wanted the highly rated driver aboard.

They had originally wanted a decision to be made by the 15th August but in the Catholic culture – the 15th August is an important date, as it celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. In Italy the date is also celebrated as Ferragosto with its traditions that date back to the Romans. Therefore Fernando requested the date be moved to the 20th which has now passed.

When Mattiacci originally arrived, replacing Domenicali, it was clear to everyone that Alonso was not impressed. Yet some months down the line his stance had changed and it seems that according to the media in Italy – Honda have ‘regrettably‘ given up the chase of the Asturian who looks to have decided to finish his career in red.

Which moves the focus for Button’s replacement in other directions..

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Massa – ‘I know how to win at Spa’ – ask the stewards

After the mixed fortunes of the first half of the season, with some poor results and unsatisfactory races in comparison to his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa returns from his summer break with a view to improving his results.

With the next two races at unquestioningly the power circuits of Formula One, the chances fo some great results from the Williams teams appear to be very high with the Mercedes Power Unit and their ever improving chassis proving to be a great combination.

Like the majority of the drivers, Massa himself loves the track, “I love Spa, it’s one of my favourite circuits because of the long straights and high speed corners and it’s a track we all look forward to racing at. The long straights should suit our car and we can kick the second half of the season off with some success.”

“I won here in 2008 and so I know what it takes to win…

Cue the startled double take into the movie camera, the screeching of the spinning record as it grinds to a halt and the collective laughing of all Formula One fans. For anyone who may have missed his victory, lets have a recap.

_46271113_belgium2008shorthighlights5

Three laps from the conclusion of the race, heavy rain began falling at the track. Although Raikkonen led, Hamilton closed the gap until he attempted to pass around the outside at the bus-stop chicane. Due to there being no gravel trap beyond the track limits just an ocean of grippy tarmac, Hamilton ducked out of his attempt to pass Kimi and drove across the tarmac run off area before rejoining the track after the chicane.

With the rules about gaining an advantage quite obvious, Hamilton backed off to allow Raikkonen the lead but kept up his momentum to retake the position into La Source. By the time they got to the Fagnes corner, Hamilton took avoiding action when Rosberg rejoined the circuit which allowed the struggling Ferrari through once more. Before the end of the lap Raikkonen had spun in Blanchimont and crashed into the barrier.

d08bel1406Hamilton drove cautiously on the last lap with Massa six seconds behind. But some two hours after the events, the stewards informed the paddock that Hamilton had incurred a twenty-five second penalty for not giving the place back to Raikkonen in proper fashion.

As seen at Ferrari previously and Williams this year, Massa has a remarkable ability to collide with drivers and blame every one of them. At some point it should be pointed out that he is the common factor. In the same fashion it is a little awkward listening to a man who has a startling passion for re-writing his own history.

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(Sourced from GMM – with TJ13 comments)

Alonso the ‘only genius’ in F1 today – Stewart

Fernando Alonso is the best driver in formula one today. That is the claim of F1 legend and triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who said the Ferrari-driving Spaniard is in fact the only “genius” on the 2014 grid.Asked by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca to name the best driver in F1 today, the 75-year-old Scot said: “Mentally, probably Alonso. The fastest is perhaps Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg is definitely one of the best, more consistent, and on the same level I think is Vettel. Those are the best.”

“In the world there are hundreds of millions of drivers, several thousand make their living from it, a few hundred live very well. There are 22 grand prix drivers, maybe six of them are really good, three exceptional, but there is only one genius. So if I had to choose the most complete driver I would say Alonso,” he explained.

And not only that, Stewart thinks Alonso, at 33, is in the prime of his racing life. “I think it’s the perfect age,” he said. “He has lived the good, the bad and the ugly.” Arguably, however, the present is one of those ‘ugly’ phases for Alonso; highly paid but missing a third career title ever since he switched to Ferrari in 2010. “I don’t know if he should change teams,” Stewart said, “but what I do know is that he will have to make that decision in the next six to eight weeks.”

TJ13 Comment: Jackie Stewart has always been a respected member of the F1 circus that understands the media have a job. As a driver he made time for journalists and as he moved into the corporate world following his retirement he also moved into the role of commentator.

Never afraid to confront officials, circuit owners, renegade journalists who mocked his stance on safety – he also spelt out to Senna about his reckless driving as a World Champion and watching Senna’s  demeanour change from smiling to defensive before uttering the immortal line “if you don’t go for a gap – you are no longer a racing driver.” was brilliant confrontational interviewing at its best.

In similar fashion he has not been slow to tell drivers what he thinks of them in recent years, with particular views on Hamilton’s self-destruct button at times bringing forth responses from Fittipaldi and Lauda as well. Having coached Romain Grosjean between 2012-2013 the transformation with better mind management has been startling.

Stewart’s revelation about Alonso is hardly new news. He is generally accepted as the greatest all rounder on track by everyone but what is more significant is Rosbergs inclusion in to a top four now, on a level with Vettel, yet no mention of the Colgate Kid who has been spanking Seb’s rear all year for having the temerity of humiliating Aussie legend Mark Webber for five years..

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New Nurburgring owner misses payment due date (GMM)

The Nurburgring’s sale has hit a fork in the road.

Nurburgring © F1 OnlineIn March, the financially embattled German grand prix host was bought for a reported EUR 77 million by a Dusseldorf based automotive group called Capricorn.

Capricorn has since been successfully negotiating with Bernie Ecclestone about a new long-term race contract.

But Rhein Zeitung newspaper has now claimed that Capricorn has not paid the second due instalment to the Rhineland-Palatinate state.

Citing sources, the report said the amount of 5 million euros became due on July 31. To date, Capricorn has only paid one instalment in the same amount.

It is assumed that Capricorn’s financing from banks has come to a standstill because the European Commission has postponed several times the decision on the legality of the sale,” Rhein Zeitung reported.

A spokesman for the financial recovery experts in charge of the Nurburgring insolvency said: “We have a timescale shift for the second purchase instalment.

“We still expect the sale to go ahead,” he is quoted by Speed Week.

And Capricorn chief Robertino Wild told Auto Bild it is “untrue” the payment delay is in fact due to the company’s own financial problems.

This is a completely normal process. The operation of the business is going very well,” he added.

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Mark Webber turns TV pundit for Ten

tenplaylogoFor those who has missed the drawl of Aussie Mark Webber since retiring from Formula 1 fear not, Mark is back… if you live in Australia that is.

Today Australian broadcaster Network Ten announced Webber will join Matt White as co-host of Ten’s 2015 motorsport coverage. This will include V8 Supercars Championship races and highlights, live Formula One races and live MotoGP races.

Commenting Webber said, “I am delighted to be extending my relationship with Network Ten for the next couple of years, especially after enjoying my punditry role with them at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Ten have been tremendous supporters of motorsport and F1 in particular for some time and certainly provide the best coverage in Australia of international and domestic categories.

Of course for those in Europe who miss Mark there is no alternative yet except to move down south…

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Super Max out as Rossi steps in

ChiltonNight of the long knives.. or be that 3 weeks? When F1 took its mandated summer break who would have thought Max Verstappen would be favoured above Sainz Jnr for the Toro Rosso seat and Kamui Kobayasi would not race at Spa in facour of Lotterer?

It has not stopped there though. As TJ13 reported this morning, all is not well at Marussia and it appears it has cost Super Max his seat for the Belgian Grand Prix.

In a statement, on behalf of Super Max, Marussia stated he has ‘volunteerd to sit out for this weekend’s race to allow the team to attract much needed funds by selling his seat’.

And the winner of his seat is 22 year old American and Caterham Reserve driver Alexander Rossi. Speaking about the appointment Team Principal John Booth said,

Although it was not our intention to offer Alexander the possibility to race this season, in light of the circumstances we are pleased to be providing him with the opportunity to make his Grand Prix debut at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Franchorchamps. Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible, but for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action.

As can be expected Rossi is delighted about getting the opportunity to test his mettle against fellow compe… at the back of the field stating, “It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula 1 for the first time and I cannot thank the Marussia F1 Team for the faith they are demonstrating in me.

It’s a very big moment for me and there’s a lot to prepare in a short space of time, but on the other hand I have felt ready for this for quite a while now. It is also exciting to be given this opportunity at such a fantastic and historical circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. I can’t wait to drive the MR03 from tomorrow and I hope to reward the team with a solid race weekend.

Max will be present this weekend to ‘support the team in any way possible’ while Marussia is in talks with several new investors and it is expected everything will be back to normal at Monza with Super Max back in the driving seat.

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40 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 21st August 2014

  1. Re: Spa 2008
    Looking at this one more time, several years later, this whole affair is still as clear as mud to me. Many are berating Hamilton for keeping an advantage after cutting the bus stop chicane.. But is it me, or did Raikkonen actually push Hamilton off track in the first place?

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K9P9z_Lwa0&w=420&h=315%5D

    Being pushed off the track doesn’t quite sound like “gaining an advantage”. If Raikkonen didn’t push him off track at the Bus Stop, Hamilton would have been in an even better position to make the move stick in Turn 1..

    Opinions?

    • Put a wall there… would he have had to back out? If yes then he gained an advantage. If he could have got his car through there then no.. simples.

      • “Put a wall there… ”

        But that’s my point, really. Put a wall there, or gravel, or explosives, or whatever race-ending element.. Now they’re both in the braking zone practically side-by-side. Which means that each should leave the other at least one car’s width. Hamilton clearly leaves Raikkonen a car width, but the same cannot be said of Raikkonen: the more they advance into the Bus Stop, the more Raikkonen squeezes Hamilton until the latter has no option but to go off-track and cut the corner, or else they touch. Last I checked this was considered an offense.

        Now let’s go back to our imaginary wall. If a wall were there, and Hamilton crashed ending his race, I would suspect that there would have been calls for Raikkonen to get a 25sec penalty for that Bus Stop move.

        I don’t think Hamilton necessarily had to back down there, as he was essentially side-by-side with Raikkonen. Why would he? And Raikkonen certainly could have given Hamilton that one car width, given the low speeds in the chicane, but if he couldn’t then that certainly would count for driver error, wouldn’t it? From what I see, Raikkonen’s move was at worst “intentional” (most likely), at best “accidental”. An offense either way.. Maybe that’s the reason Hamilton didn’t feel the need to give too much away on the start-finish straight. For which Spanky, of course, spanked him..

      • And just to drive it home, Raikkonen clearly takes a line in the chicane that one would take if one were alone in the corner, from apex to apex, and each time onto the kerbs. But of course Raikkonen was nowhere near alone there..

        • Going into the corner, Hamilton was behind Raikkonen, before pulling alongside the Ferrari on the outside into the braking zone. From my point of view, the driver in front going into the corner has the right to go into the corner how he wishes as long as it is not dangerous and defend his position.

          From what I see of the footage, Raikkonen could see Hamilton on the outside and just delayed his braking just a bit to squeeze him going into the bus stop. I would say any other driver would do the same in defending their position.

          Hamilton by hanging it all out on the outside of the bus stop was always going into a narrowing wedge between the edge of the corner and Raikkonen’s car. You see it all the time in F1, where an ambitious move is tried by a driver behind a following car, and is then squeezed out and forced to try again.

          Obviously, if Hamilton was on the inside of Kimi, going alongside the Ferrari into the braking zone, the roles would be reversed and Hamilton would have the upper hand as it is his apex to make, not Kimi’s.

          From there, if Kimi would have been brave and tried to hang it all out round the outside of Ham, no doubt, Lewis would have tried to squeeze him to the point where he would have had to give way. Hard but fair racing.

          I see no problem here, Hamilton was ambitious but didn’t force Kimi to slow his apex speed down enough. If he had actually got a nose ahead of Kimi properly when they both hit the corner, he could then squeeze Kimi on the inside and make him give way.

          In the end it was slightly too ambitious and it was always going to end in tears from there.

        • It’s called balls measurement 🙂 I know, was that not the way Senna used to do it? My car is going into that gap and if you don’t move out of the way then we crash.. your choice…

          Senna would have been blasted even more in the current F1 for his driving antics! … I shall now vacate myself before Carlo reads this and comes after me 😛

          • But there is some truth in it. Some of the old skool drivers wouldn’t excel as much as they used too. Because of these rules and punishments. Maybe because in the old days hamilton would have gone of but landed in the gravel and their would be no need to punish.

          • He was God…. He was allowed 😉
            Seriously though, think of any driver in the 80’s n 90’s and they would have been punished so often.. F1’s become infested with babies, literally

          • “It’s called balls measurement”

            Yeah, but you know, if Raikkonen’s offense in the Bus Stop shouldn’t be punished, as you see it’s “balls out racing”, then why on earth should Hamilton’s offense on the start-finish straight be punished?

            If drivers are being judged by squeaky-clean racing norms, and Hamilton arguably got spanked because his move wasn’t squeaky-clean, then all drivers should be judged by those norms. And from what I see Raikkonen’s transgression in the Bus Stop is worse than Hamilton’s indiscretion on the straight.. So why did Spanky spank Hamilton then?

          • It’s tricky. I was thinking about this yesterday. Where do you draw the line between balls out racing and not being overly dangerous?

            Saying that, Hamilton pretty much ran Nico off the track in Hungary on the last lap and nothing was said so maybe with the stewards being more lenient we’ll see more instances of this kind of racing?

            Still, kitty litter and a wall please! 🙂

          • @Don_Quixote

            Tricky indeed.

            “Hamilton pretty much ran Nico off the track in Hungary on the last lap”

            True. But I suspect no one said anything simply because this is becoming the norm between the two for this year, given how Lewis repeatedly ran Nico off the track in Bahrain, and how Nico returned the favor by running Lewis off the track on the first lap in Canada.

            Now grab your popcorn and wait for the crash! 🙂

            “Still, kitty litter and a wall please!”

            Absolutely!!

    • I thought at the time it was a pretty unfair decision.
      On the other hand, when did they clarify the ‘one car width’ guidance ?

      • Wan’t it after 2012 Bahrain GP, when Rosberg pushed Hamilton and Alonso off the track?
        I think that’s why Vettel was penalised at Monza that year for pushing Fernando off the track whereas Alonso had left Vettel just enough room… but by then the rules had been clarified

  2. Whenever Alonso is mentioned, i just cant help but think of Khan from Star Trek, when talking to Kirk.

    Khan (Alonso): Because I am better.
    Kirk (Rest of the F1 Field): At what?
    Khan (Alonso): Everything

  3. You have always gotta leava tha space…a cars width….
    Kimi did not do this..
    IMO Kimi would not have complained…..

  4. Re Stewart

    So he gives an interview to a Spanish paper and calls Alonso the ‘genius’. Not a surprise there.
    And that’s the same man who was singing the praises of Vettel when he was winning, that he was the best, that the English drivers (i.e. Lewis/Jenson) are just not good enough. The same man right?
    And when he talks about 3 of them being exceptional, who’s the third if the other two are Alonso and Lewis. Rosberg or Vettel?

    I respect all those ex-champions but I have come to realise that they are no different to real F1 fans who have their favourite drivers or change their opinion as the years roll on. At least some F1 fans don’t change their minds. I’ve always been saying Alonso and Hamitlon are the top 2, then the rest. This still applies.

    • From those two, Vettel. Vettel was at the ultimate pace, probably from 2011-13. Hamilton from 2008, when Massa also had his peak, while Alonso got there in 2005 and Kimi from mid-2004 onwards. Rosberg, I would say, is only one tenth off the top pace right now – and with consistency, that is more than enough to win the title.

      Vettel lacks a tenth or two this year – so is Ricciardo now also only one tenth off the ultimate pace? What about Bottas? 0.2? Massa took a while to recover, but by the end of 2012 was only a few tenths off Alonso. And Bottas is tenths clear now of Massa.

      What makes Alonso such a genius is also his time at the top – only Fangio, Clark, Senna, Schumacher, Prost etc. can be the best for approaching a decade. Like Vettel is experiencing now, there will inevitably be dips in form at some point, and arguably Hamilton had his in late 2011, when Button had his final peak, say a tenth or two off the ultimate pace.

    • Sheckter: “Are you as hungry to win it again as you are when you have the chance to win it a first time? I am not so sure.”

      Well maybe that’s why he didn’t win a second world championship, but he can’t use that as a reason as to why Hamilton may not win it. The fact that he even questioned Lewis’ hunger to win it a second time is laughable.
      Of all the things to question about Lewis, his hunger for another title is not in doubt…

      • To be fair to Scheckter, he competed in Formula in one of its most dangerous eras.
        He was an eye witness at Cevert’s fatal accident which changed him for good.
        When joined Ferrari in 1979 it was for two years and 1980’s car was so poor he no longer had the commitment, but in 1979 he went toe to toe with Villeneuve and won, whatever the popular mythology of Villeneuve holding back would otherwise suggest.
        In this day and age of practically unbreakable cars, and long careers one title means little,
        As to hunger, is this the fabled hunger of living in Stevenage as a kid rather than Monaco, not withstanding full Mclaren support from the age of 13?
        Whatever he’s been through at school re: bullying etc, there’s no doubt he would have been targeted because he was connected to an F1 team, I think it’s called jealousy but he certainly wasn’t a pauper…

        • I mentioned nothing about him living in Stevenage as to where his hunger stems from…

          I am saying that his hunger is not in doubt, regardless of what anyone says

    • Even though it’s probably still the money talking, I’m delighted — that’s wonderful news. Let’s see how Rossi does.

      In a way it’s a sad state of affairs that replacing an F1 driver by someone like Rossi can be good news… but such is the situation. I hope he does well.

    • Red Bull trendsetters with Klien and Liuzzi.
      We are at the dawn of 5 paydrivers per season – which in a sense is logical: cheaper for the driver, but more for the team.

    • Trying to look positive here…..if Rossi turns out to be less then Max in the Marussia, does that mean finish of his F1 aspirations?
      Answers by postcard, please….

  5. Vettel says Ricciardo comparisons is unfair…

    “Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel says it is “unfair” to compare his 2014 performances with those of Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, because of greater unreliability Vettel has suffered.

    Ricciardo has out-qualified his quadruple world champion team-mate seven times in 11 races since joining Red Bull from Toro Rosso this season, and has won twice to lead Vettel by 43 points and three places in the world championship.

    Vettel is known to have disliked the effect of the major change in regulations last winter on the handling of the RB10, but also reckons the greater number of reliability problems he has suffered compared to Ricciardo has exaggerated the gap between them.

    “I won’t argue with the fact he [Ricciardo] did a great job so far, [but] on my side, we’ve had plenty of qualifying sessions where we have had some sort of trouble,” Vettel said, when asked to explain the difference between himself and Ricciardo over the first 11 races.

    “I do not remember all of them in terms of what the nature was, but we lost out many times because of that, and in the races too, which was getting quite frustrating.

    “Formula 1 can be nice but it is also brutal in that sometimes it will not let you have the opportunity to show what you can do.

    “That’s why I am not interested in comparing too much because, on my side, it’s not fair to compare.

    “Fortunately for Daniel, he had a smoother year in terms of reliability. I’m not saying a perfect year, but way less issues than I had, so I think it’s not entirely fair to compare.”

  6. So the chilton/Rossi situation…

    Max is known to pay for his drive, let’s say something like $5-10M/year, or $250-500k/race.

    So, if Alex comes along and offers say $750k/race, a la carte, then marussia gives max back his $250-500k per race, plus maybe a small percentage penalty on top of that?

    Is that how this works?

    Same question over at Caterham too?

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