Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 22nd August 2014

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Previously on TJ13:

#F1 History: Part 1: Alberto Ascari and the Lancia D50

The #F1 Bar Exam: 21st August 2014


OTD Lite: 1954 – Fangio wins Swiss Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas wants to remain with Williams…for now

Hamilton, Rosberg disagree over need for talks

‘Too old’ Vergne on quest for new F1 team

BelgianGP FP1 report

Super Max is back

BelgianGP FP2 Report


OTD Lite: 1954 – Fangio wins Swiss Grand Prix

On this day, 60 years ago, Juan Manual Fangio took his Mercedes W196 to his fifth victory of the season. After having started the season with victory in two races with Maserati, whilst awaiting the arrival of the Mercedes project, he would add another two victories before the championship arrived in Switzerland for the 1954 Grand Prix.

The following year, after the Le Mans disaster, the Swiss authorities banned motor-racing from their country, something that to this day means drivers can live in Switzerland without paying taxes as offcially motor-sport is not recognised as a profession, I digress.

A further two victories in 1954 meant that the Argentinian won his second championship to equal the great Alberto Ascari. Renowned journalist Denis Jenkinson always insisted he had a top 5 drivers of all time – Ascari, Stirling Moss, Jim C;ark, Gilles Villeneuve and Ayrton Senna.

As the earlier historic feature today explains, Ascari in the Lancia had the measure of Fangio and with better relaibility would have challenged him to titles. The fact he was killed in 1955 would appear to confirm that as Fangio’s contemporary there was no finer challenger.

The Jackal

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Valtteri Bottas wants to remain with Williams…for now

Toto Wolff wants his protege with him at Mercedes. Mclaren want to sign him as they struggle to source one of the top three drivers to Woking and yet Valtteri Bottas is not looking to move anywhere – confident that Williams will improve once again next season.

With Max Verstappen’s astonishing rise to Formula One, it is somehow refreshing that Bottas is looking at the longer game, “I don’t see a reason to look around at this moment, but it’s too early to say and it’s better to wait for confirmation.”

After some truly dreadful seasons where the once great champions brushed the lowest positions of points scorers, Williams seemed to be moving in the right direction with the Maldonado victory in Barcelona in 2012, yet in a year dominated by difficult to understand tyres, Williams lost direction once again.

Last year, with Bottas and Maldonado, the young Finn’s abilities were displayed when he qualified third in a wet Canadian qualifying; yet fell back quickly in the dry race conditions.

Pat Symonds has proven to be an inspired choice as he has brought focus to the engineering side of the team. After chasing the Holy Grail of exhaust blowing and the Coanda effect, Symonds just removed it from the car and the gains were instant. Bottas moved forwards with his performance in America last year qualifying legitimately in the top ten.

With the departure of the poisoned Maldonado, Williams have invested the money from his get-out clause wisely and attracted sponsors to buffer up the team’s balances. Their historic relationship with Renault would have proved disastrous this year and it’s with good fortune that Wolff arranged a supply of Mercedes engines.

“I really think this team is not at its peak yet. The direction is right and I’m confident this team can be better than what we’ve seen this year. I’m really confident here and wouldn’t mind continuing.”

“It’s a big step. We aimed to be better but it has been a positive surprise how competitive we have been at times. I’m really happy for how much we have improved this season also. From the first race in Melbourne to this race we are a much stronger team and a much better team. There is only one way that can go and that’s to get better.”

With eleven races completed Williams lie fourth in the championship with 135 points and Bottas has stood on the podium three times already. With Paddy the Enforcer applying his engineering skills to the Mercedes, WIlliams are looking more likely to win a race than at any point so far this season…

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(source GMM with TJ13 comment)

Hamilton, Rosberg disagree over need for talks

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg emerged from F1’s summer slumber disagreeing about how to tackle their rivalry over the remaining eight races of 2014. Before the holidays began, the title-battling teammates’ tenuous relationship was stretched even thinner when Hamilton refused to obey a team order in Hungary.

Championship leader Rosberg, probably referring not only to Hamilton’s refusal but also Mercedes’ reaction, admitted on Thursday that the Budapest situation had been a “mess”. The German was saying little more than that. Filling in the blanks, Hamilton told reporters: “He (Rosberg) has asked the team to sit down. He wants to discuss it. I on the other hand think it’s in the past — it’s done and dusted.”

But the Briton confessed that, when he heard the call to let Rosberg past on a different strategy in Hungary, he wondered if Mercedes had decided to put its eggs in the Rosberg basket. “Ultimately the team wants to win,” Hamilton told F1’s official website. “Sometimes you are in a situation where you have to make a decision — let’s put all our eggs in one basket, because that gets us the best result. In that moment it wasn’t easy and for sure I left there (Hungary) thinking,” he admitted. “I was uneasy about it.”

Hamilton said the situation is clearer now and if boss Paddy Lowe issued a clear team order this weekend at Spa, it would be “down a gear and let him go!” On the other hand, his intentions for Sunday and beyond are clear. “I want to win the championship through my ability and fair opportunity,” said Hamilton. “I sure don’t want to finish second and be known as a nice guy.”

TJ13 comment: So there we have it ladies and gentlemen. the Enforcer has left Nico and Lewis quaking in their silk lined unicorn-leather driving booties. Of course if the leprechaun says so, I’ll let him go… when behind the scenes Niki Lauda will be telling Hamilton he has his back, we will fight them on the beaches.

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(source GMM with TJ13 comment)

‘Too old’ Vergne on quest for new F1 team

Jean-Eric Vergne says he understands why Toro Rosso has dropped him for 2015 in favour of Dutch teenager Max Verstappen. The Frenchman said at Spa-Francorchamps that he learned of Red Bull’s decision only hours before the rest of the world did.

“I have only one thing to say,” he is quoted by RMC Sport at Spa-Francorchamps. “I will always be grateful for what Red Bull did for me. We can’t forget that they gave me the same chance three years ago that they are giving Verstappen now. So I totally understand the decision. Toro Rosso is a team for young drivers, and I am apparently too old,” laughed the 24-year-old. “Maybe I should shave more often to look younger!”

Vergne said he is determined to stay in formula one, and will use the remaining eight races of 2014 to prove he deserves to. “It will not change the way I drive,” he promised. “I think there will be more eyes on me now because this Toro Rosso label will be gone from my head and I’ll be of interest to others that maybe didn’t look at me before. “It is in difficult times that you can show your best. I have a positive mindset.

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost said on Thursday that he will “pray to Jesus Christ” that Vergne’s car is reliable for the rest of 2014 so that he can prove what he can do.

Asked if Red Bull will actively help him find a new seat, Vergne said: “This is a discussion I am having now. Many people have called me to help me but I am convinced that the best help will be for me to get results,” he added, admitting he has already had “a little bit” of contact with other teams.

TJ13 comment: There has always been class about JEV and rather than attack the team like previous drivers who have been released, he thanks them and finds humour in his age and appearance. Fingers crossed that he retains a place on the grid but with so many teams struggling for funding in Ecclestone’s Xanadu it could well be we have seen Vergne gracing the F1 grid for the last time.

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BelgianGP FP1 report

After a 3 week break from Formula One racing FP1 could not come fast enough for most fans. Also, after yesterday’s comments in the Drivers’ Press Conference about how ‘easy’ F1 has become (less physical but still complicated) we waited with baited breath to see how Alexander Rossi and Andrew Lotterer got on in their first FP1 session as F1 racing drivers.

As the lights turned green it was the Caterham cars of Marcus Ericsson who was out first with Lotterer not far behind. The due were followed by Valtteri Bottas, Jules Bianchi and Rossi.

Thirteen minutes into the session, with not much happening on track, news came out that Super Max will indeed be racing for his beloved Marussia team this weekend. It appears “contractual issues” has been resolved and and there was indeed a stash of cash found under the couch in the motorhome.

Back to the track though and McLaren’s Magnussen set the first timed lap crossing the line in 1m53.405 followed by Button and Bianchi. Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Perez and Rosberg all set times, but were all slower than Magnussen’s 1m53.

Two minutes later Rosberg set the record straight and went fastest with a 1m52.143. Alonso is back on the track and going for his first flying lap. Rosberg then bettered his time to a 1m51.724. Alonso showed that there is some life in the Ferrari and slotted it into P2, only 0.213 behind the Mercedes. The effort seemed to have been too much for the Ferrari of Alonso was seen driving very slowly around the track as he nursed the car back to the pits. Maybe a bit more exercise for your pony Mr Alonso?

Thirty minutes into the session had Lotterer is in 20th, ahead of his teammate with a 1m59.640 while Rossi, who was yet to find out that he will not be driving on Sunday, was in 21st with a 2m00.383. Ericsson showed us having more experience in your car than your new teammate does not stop you from having off-track excursions as he left the track at La Source.

Back at the front the Mercedes teammates traded places at the top as Rosberg posts a 1m51.577s to take over from Hamilton who had edged him a couple of laps before. Hamilton then answered that with a 1m51.674s. It is only FP1 gentlemen but we are in for a cracker of a second half this season!

With 30mins to go of FP1 the top ten were Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Massa, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Bottas, Vettel and Perez.

Hamliton was having not of being second and was pushing but seemed unable to find the speed he needed and ended up running off the track, but no harm done. Meanwhile Lotterer was still running faster than his ‘more experienced’ teammate Ericsson, but Rossi improved to P20 with a 1m57.458 pushing the Caterham pair down to the bottom of the timesheets.

Raikkonen then managed to find speed in his steed and jumped up to P5 with a 1m52.818 although shortly after, while trying to find the limits of adhesion at La Source, he spun. While Perez moved up to P6 for Force India with a 1m52.903, leading his teammate Hulkenberg who was down in eighth, Raikkonen reported problems with his Ferrari… temperature-related apparently. With this he galloped back to the pits.

With six minuted to go Hamilton had ‘a moment’ going through Eau Rouge but managed to keep it together. Questions were asked before the session how the cars would handle Eau Rouge with less downforce than last year… well Hamilton keeps his foot nailed to the floor, and so does Maldonado. Maybe slightly smaller wings required for next year?

With the session coming to an end it is Rosberg leading Hamilton by a scant 0.097s. Alonso is third and Raikkonen in fifth. (Is Ferrari catching their breath or to early to call?) Button was doing what world champions should and was faster than his rookie teammate in fourth with ex team mate Perez in sixth, leading Magnussen who was in 7th. Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Bottas rounded out the top 10.

Time for a breather and then we are back for FP2.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:51.577 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:51.674 0.097 24
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:51.805 0.228 16
4 Jenson Button McLaren 1:52.404 0.827 21
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:52.818 1.241 17
6 Sergio Perez Force India 1:52.903 1.326 24
7 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:52.922 1.345 23
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:52.937 1.360 22
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:52.972 1.395 19
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:53.172 1.595 20
11 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:53.369 1.792 11
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:53.594 2.017 21
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:53.597 2.020 20
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:53.703 2.126 14
15 Felipe Massa Williams 1:53.968 2.391 20
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:54.189 2.612 20
17 Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1:54.335 2.758 16
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:55.336 3.759 21
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:55.782 4.205 19
20 Alexander Rossi Marussia 1:57.232 5.655 19
21 Andre Lotterer Caterham 1:57.886 6.309 24
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:57.977 6.400 24

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Super Max is back

Yesterday TJ13 reported Max Chilton (or Super Max) has volunteered to sit out this weekend to allow the team to sell his seat to obtain much needed funds and to sort out “contractual issues“. It appears Chilton is rather astute in sorting out these contractual issues when it means he is not racing.

This morning Marussia sent a request to the FIA to change their nomination for racing driver this weekend from Rossi to Chilton. This request has been approved by the stewards so for those of you who were taken aback by not being able to watch your favourite British racing driver… Super Max is back!

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BelgianGP FP2 Report

So after a morning dominated by Mercedes everything remained normal during FP2 with Mercedes yet again dominating the standings except that Hamilton swopped places with Rosberg to take the honours. The due was yet again followed by Alonso in his Ferrari with Massa in fourth, Button in fifth and Bottas in sixth. Kvyat, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.

The session started with Super Max heading out first, keen to get some milage in after having to sit out the morning’s session. Unfortunately the joy was short-lived as he had to return to the pits with turbo problems.

At least he got out for a few laps which is more than can be said for Vettel who yet again had the honour of getting all the bad luck. An electrical problem meant the German needed a new engine and that was FP2 over.

Only 10min into the session though and Maldonado was yet again testing the structural integrity of his Lotus by putting his E22 into the wall at Pouhan. As the session got red flagged he tells his team “I’m OK”. It is probably a good thing we don’t hear the mechanics in times like these.

As the big hitters started slogging it out it was first the McLaren of Button (can they be called big hitters?) leading the timesheets but as the real big hitters came out first Rosberg went fastest. He was displaced by Hamilton and then Alonso got his pony to trot round fastest in 1m51.693.

Another red flag was caused by young Mexican Gutierrez who did a major slide before parking his car in the run-off area facing the opposite way. Quick to point out the problem the Mexican said something broke in his gearbox.

As the session was restarted McLaren yet again found themselves at the sharp end of the grid with Button going quickest of all with a 1m50.659 with Magnussen second, both McLaren drivers on the soft tyres.

As with Vettel things are just not going right for Raikkonen. Seven minutes after the restart and he had a misfiring engine which required “something” changed… hmmm.. like the engine maybe?

As the front runners bolted on their soft tyres for a ‘quick’ qualifying run it was Hamilton who set the fastest time of 1m49.189 displacing Rosberg’s previous fastest lap of 1m49.793, a whopping 0.604 faster than the German. (Bets for pole on Sunday closed right about now unless of course Rosberg is hiding data again.)

The top ten of the session was set as the soft runs completed with about 26min of the session remaining and the drivers settled in to do further long runs. With the two Mercedes drivers lapping in the 1:54s and tenths of each others times the race is setting up to be another thriller.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.189 26
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.793 0.604 28
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.930 0.741 19
4 Felipe Massa Williams 1:50.327 1.138 24
5 Jenson Button McLaren 1:50.659 1.470 31
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:50.677 1.488 26
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:50.725 1.536 25
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:50.977 1.788 16
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:51.074 1.885 31
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:51.077 1.888 26
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:51.383 2.194 26
12 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:51.450 2.261 29
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:51.573 2.384 28
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:52.196 3.007 25
15 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:52.234 3.045 18
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:52.776 3.587 23
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:53.955 4.766 7
18 Max Chilton Marussia 1:54.040 4.851 18
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:54.050 4.861 30
20 Andre Lotterer Caterham 1:54.093 4.904 24
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 2

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41 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 22nd August 2014

  1. Breaking news… SuperMax back on the var this afternoon and racing this weekend. Source: BBC commentary.

    • It’s a tricky situation Super Max is now in… his father got Aon to help out with the 10m last year, but only his investors I think are covering the 5m this year (hence Marussia’s games today as Russian sanctions bite.. look for a fire-sale post-Sochi, possibly to an American consortium).

      Added to the 5m+ to get up the junior ladder, and that’s 20m+ invested for 2 F1 seasons.. but what are his prospects of continuing, without bringing more investment?

      • I.e. No money and we’ll run Rossi for free, probably to try and cash in on the American fan dollar for Merchandising.

  2. “There has always been class about JEV and rather than attack the team like previous drivers who have been released”

    It’s easier to have class when you’re being told in advance about your being gutted, and you still have time to do something about it.

    Buemi and Alguersuari, on the other hand, have been offered to commit seppuku, i.e. they’ve been informed of their gutting so late that they were effectively finished in F1 with no chance of redemption, since all other teams have already settled on their driver line-ups. Now that must have been a gutting experience for both of them, and I wouldn’t blame either for lacking class under the circumstances.

    See also:
    http://thejudge13.com/2013/12/14/on-this-day-in-f1-the-toro-rosso-chainsaw-massacre/

    • Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost said on Thursday that he will “pray to Jesus Christ” that Vergne’s car is reliable for the rest of 2014…

      God forbid that Hamilton’s proselytising is beginning to take effect ?

      🙂

  3. Saward is suggestng that Marussia might be bought by an ‘American consortium’ that is not Haas. Thoughts on this Judge?

    • It would make sense for Haas to take it over – base in Europe, prize money for 2015, combine his entry bond with that and that’s 2015’s budget sorted out, while the US project develops for 2016… and Bianchi/Rossi would be a defacto Haas-Ferrari B-team..

          • True, if sold, then they have effectively prized the asset back from Russian ownership. But Marussia didn’t seem to be much of a going concern anyway.. more oligarch plaything to try and boost his country. That said – Cheglakov has also written off hundreds of millions of Marussia F1’s debts….. and that then sealed Caterham’s fate..

      • I agree it would make sense for Haas. So, Judge, my original comments was why would Saward suggest it’s not Haas? Any enlightenment?

    • Yea, cause kimi didn’t work out that well.

      Oh….he did? Someone tell the Canadian ‘oracle’ quick 😉

      • Well, the point is not really about the Raikkonen’s.. It’s more about the Chilton’s, Ericsson’s, Rossi’s, etc. Only drivers with a modicum of decent top results in feeder series should be allowed.. And those who are really that good, the Raikkonen’s, the Vettel’s, etc. will get eventually in anyways, most likely, but only after they get sufficient tutelage and experience in feeder series.

        If you keep the doors open only for those with a minimum of good credentials, those really good will get in anyways.. And we will all be rid of all these ridiculous bidding wars:
        – Marussia seat for Spa 2014, one item: going once, going twice, sold!
        – Caterham seat for Spa 2014, one item: going once, going twice, sold!
        – Sauber seat for year 2015, one item: going once, going twice, sold!

        • It’s probably all 6 seats at those teams – Bianchi gives them Ferrari engines.

          If money was distributed more fairly, then teams could afford the luxury of making it more sporting, i.e. all running the fastest drivers to get that slight edge for points.

          Then, we would see poorer drivers like Evans promoted to a back-marker like Minardi, before trying to make their way forwards up the grid. Just like Trulli, Fisichella back in the day…

          GP2 grid: Vandoorne, Palmer, Evans, Marciello. All are soon to be F1 level IMO, although Palmer we would need to assess not in a DAMS (the best car in GP2 since Grosjean set it up). Even Cecotto Jr (5th) looks better than Maldonado right now…

          • What would this year’s grid look like without that interference for example? I imagine Kobayashi and di Resta would still be driving, even if for slower teams like Kamui managed at Caterham.

          • Trust me. Young drivers warning 1-300k a year will become more and more attractive when compared to older drivers costing 20m plus… The spend will then go on the car….

          • @thejudge13 Indeed… that’s why I think McLaren should run Magnussen & Vandoorne, and spend the extra cash on making sure their car works… arguably the same for Nasr once he is up to speed in F1.

            Seeing Ricciardo’s pace, I’m amazed that Webber stayed at RB in 2013, along with Ferrari signing Raikkonen.. both moves sound like they were done at mid-year, before both drivers went off the boil.

            But Marko seems to have cottoned on, putting Kvyat/Verstappen into the mix. They’ll be the next cheap Ricciardo-like successes, and then RB can use the extra cash on the Renault engine…

        • …while Nasr has the pace, but is inconsistent, a bit like his namesake that he wishes to replace at Williams.. maybe with fairer distribution, we would also see more ‘run-offs’ at the YDTs vs. the race drivers..

          • I think a safe bet would be Schumacher being the last driver in his 40’s… that he got a pole position time at 43 is something else!

  4. Anyone else pick up on Lotterer’s comment about much better the Michelin tyres are? And comparison between F1 cars lmp1?

    • Also, that in Super Formula he was 3 secs off F1 pole at Fuji, and probably 4 at Suzuka.. now, where are Caterham currently? :p

    • He said he could push his audi lmp1 much harder in the corners than he could push the Caterham. But that’s a bit unfair I guess. . He knows the audi as the back of his hand. And this was his first time out in the Caterham. And his audi is in every way different than the Caterham. Audis win. Audis go fast. And to be fair for real comparing he should drive a wining car.

      • Wonder if lmp1’s are a match for an f1 car?

        I do think the current F1 tyres are quite primitive compared to the Michelin and bridgestones of before, especially in the wet! Think the teams have said something similar.

        Shame.

        • But they are that way because F1 tells Pirelli how to create them….

          If Michelin were in the sport, they’d be given the same instructions…

        • Last year f1 was quicker in spa. But the main reason is that an lmp1 (has to) weigh (s) more than a f1 car. (All most double). But if seen em both there and and it’s safe to say that both are just the fastest things I’ve ever come across at spa. Unbelievable.

  5. It’s interesting (and hopeful) to look at fastest qualification lap times (all three sessions) for the past few years compared to today’s free practice:

    2014 FP2 – 1:49.189

    2013 – 1:49.067
    2012 – 1:47.573
    2011 – 1:48.298
    2010 – 1:45.778

    There may be hope yet!

      • I included more than last year’s time, in case you didn’t notice. I also looked at all free practice sessions for each year; very similar times. My point is the cars aren’t 5 seconds slower at Spa, which is good news.

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