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Previously on TJ13:
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.
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…
(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.
(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.
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.
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:52.903||1.326||24|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:52.937||1.360||22|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:52.972||1.395||19|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:53.369||1.792||11|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:53.594||2.017||21|
|16||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:54.189||2.612||20|
|17||Giedo van der Garde||Sauber||1:54.335||2.758||16|
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!
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.
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:50.725||1.536||25|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:50.977||1.788||16|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:51.077||1.888||26|
|11||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:51.383||2.194||26|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:51.573||2.384||28|
|Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|