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Previously on TJ13:
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 Russian bear bites
For 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.
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..
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.
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.
Hamilton 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.
(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..
New Nurburgring owner misses payment due date (GMM)
The Nurburgring’s sale has hit a fork in the road.
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.
Mark Webber turns TV pundit for Ten
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…
Super Max out as Rossi steps in
Night 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.