Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 23rd August 2014

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OTD Lite: 1987 – Pironi loses life in powerboat accident

Smedley – Symonds is the best manager he’s worked with

Villeneuve – recruiting ‘boy’ makes F1 meaningless

Formula One is slower than LMP1 cars – Lotterer

F1 too easy and young drivers are ‘stupid’ – Newey

FP3 Report from 2014 Belgian Grand Prix


OTD Lite: 1987 – Pironi loses life in powerboat accident

It’s fascinating how selective information can be used to paint someone to be a villain. I was thirteen when I went to the British Grand Prix and supported both Ferrari’s in their quest for victory. By the time Villeneuve’s biography was published in 1989, I had absorbed every word that journalists offered – decrying Didier Pironi as the guilty party and devil incarnate because of Villeneuve’s fatal accident .

On this day I remember hearing the news that Pironi had been killed whilst competing in a powerboat race and felt that karma had paid him back for his cruel theft of the Imola race and the subsequent tragedy that unfolded.

And even to this day many websites will state how the Frenchman – “found himself at the centre of one of the biggest team disputes in Formula One history when he disobeyed team orders to steal a last-gasp victory from Gilles Villeneuve at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.”

Maybe it is time to review the mythology surrounding the race; as featured on TJ13 previously – here..

Harvey Postlewaite – the designer of the 126C2 and a close friend of the Canadian – believed that the “drama” following the Imola race was blown out of proportion by the press, “Villeneuve was really upset because he felt he should have been handed the race on a plate….”

The Jackal

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Smedley – Symonds is the best manager he’s worked with

Fernando Alonso wanted Ferrari to recruit Pat Symonds to the team last year having worked with him during his two World Championship winning campaigns. The level of trust developed between the pair was a significant cornerstone of his success but Ferrari refused his recruitment due to his involvement with Singapore-gate that resulted in his being banned from F1 employment for five years.

In a corporate driven world, anybody – bar Ecclestone – with questionable ethics is frowned upon as a potential employee and it probably speaks volumes about the Williams mindset that despite being a public company they are willing to hire individuals despite their past indiscretions.

Marco Mattiacci has recently stated that the Ferrari “blame culture” has to end and the whole team ethic has to be transparency – something that former employe, Rob Smedley completely agrees with.

“Pat is by far the best manager I have ever had and the trust between is is total. I am in constant contact with him and when I need to do something, he is the connection I have with the factory.”

Smedley states that it is right the team solve problems rather than blaming people for any mistakes which he has witnessed in the past. “Williams has been guilty of this in the past but whenever any teams culture spends 60-90% of the time trying to cover up mistakes rather than finding solutions, there’s a problem.”

We’re not looking for scapegoats but to resolve it quickly that way people can work in a more positive way.

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Villeneuve – recruiting ‘boy’ makes F1 meaningless

From the half-baked ramblings of a retired Formula One team owner, Giancarlo Minardi, to a confrontational shambles known as Jacques Villeneuve, Formula One is graced with some unusual viewpoints to say the least.

Normally most of what Jacques states is intended to provoke reaction and appears to suggest he is current, but as an abrasive figure his views are more often consigned to the bin marked shredder.

Whilst most in Formula One are kneeling at the altar that is christened Verstappen, a great many others remain incredulous at the turn of events and Villeneuve’s forthright views resonate with many around the world.

“Getting a Super License should be meaningful, not just doing three hundred kilometres and it being fine. There is something that is flawed there. He is still a boy so it is very risky. You don’t take a 16-year-old, who hasn’t even been to university, in the best hospital as a doctor even if he is very good and very intelligent. You need to pay dues; you need to deserve it because that is only how you will become a man. I remember when I was racing in Formula 3 at 17 and I wasn’t thinking the same way as I was later on because you haven’t paid your dues.”

“It is the worst thing ever for Formula 1 because it will have two effects, it will either destroy him or, even if he is successful right away, then F1 will be meaningless. What will F1 be? It will be nothing. It doesn’t do any good for anyone.”

With Hamilton and Alonso speaking of how easy Formula One has become in recent times it may be that the powers-that-be should heed the warnings of the ‘older’ generation. With the lack of foresight in regards television rights and its declining audience, a seeming disregard to the power of social media and an antiquated business model run by a corrupt octogenarian and a bunch of retirement aged men – Formula One may need to die before being reborn again.

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Formula One is slower than LMP1 cars – Lotterer

Andre Lotterer made his Formula One debut this weekend at Spa and after the completion of the first day’s practice sessions had recorded a time that was within a tenth of a second of regular team driver Marcus Ericsson.

Whilst not the most gifted of Sweden’s sons, Ericsson has been driving the Green beast for the best part of a year so Lotterer’s debut was impressive.

“We followed the program as planned and I was improving and slowly trying to push the car. The long runs aided my learning and I’m starting to feel better about everything.”

“Compared to an LMP1 car, there is a lot of power which would be great in my car, but on the corners it is the opposite. I think our tyres are a bit better and we can push harder and still do 700kms with a set, but there is more downforce so we can actually push an LMP1 through the corners more. That was amazing.

As to Caterham, “Having Andre in the car is helping us, he did an amazing job on the first day with us, Our focus was on long runs today but it was successful and we look forward to tomorrow.”

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F1 too easy and young drivers are ‘stupid’ – Newey

Adrian Newey is still working flat out on his RB11 design for next year, laying out it’s design for his group of engineers and Renault’s, to turn into carbon fibre gold. But his thoughts in yesterday’s press conference offered damning comment for Formula One in the 21st century both in terms of cars and the recent addition of a 16 year old boy to the circus.

In a response to a question about the speed and spectacle of the current F1 car he replied, “I think lap time per se is not necessarily the be-all and end-all, the critical thing is the cars should look fast and, if you’re sitting there watching television that it should be “wow, those guys are superheroes, I couldn’t do that.” If I’m honest I don’t think the current cars really do that. I think If you watch MotoGP then you certainly have that feeling, that those guys are superheroes, whereas the current crop of cars, their power-to-weight is not fantastic.”

“Going back to the (the 80’s) 1300hp in qualifying Formula One cars that were quite a bit lighter than they are now. Then those things, you had to bolt on some fairly special appendages to drive them in qualifying.”

“I think the fact that young drivers – no disrespect to them at all – that they can jump in and instantly be at the front, or competitive certainly, is an interesting one. I don’t think there’s an easy answer but I think it would be good to make the cars a bit more difficult to drive in truth.”

After a reply which brought in the current vogue of a boy taking on a man’s world it was almost inevitable that the question would be asked – “Adrian, we’ve been talking about 16-year-olds; what are your thoughts about having a 16-year-old in the Red Bull stable?”

Newey approached it from an angle that no-one has thought of before. and may explain some peoples observations of certain drivers famously lacking intelligence..

“I don’t think age per se is particularly important. Over the years we’ve seen a huge spread in driver ages: Fernando is still one of the very top drivers but has been in it for many seasons. I think Nigel Mansell was 40 years old when he won.”

“I think what is a much more concerning question personally is the effect on education that happens for these drivers to get there at that age.”

“A lot of the drivers in karting and in junior formulas frankly just aren’t going to school. They don’t go to school at all. The parents then hide behind that by saying that they have private tutors but I think in many cases – not all, I’m sure, but in many cases – that’s actually a complete sham and I think if you asked a lot of those kids to sit their baccalaureat or GCSEs or whatever it might be that the results would tell a fairly depressing story which means that the few kids that do get through, fantastic.”

“Being at a motor race and so forth, the kids do learn in a different way – not an academic way but they learn in other ways – but I think for many of those children that don’t quite make the grade, they have spent all that time not going to school, not having a proper tuition and then what happens to them afterwards is altogether another question. It’s something which motor racing as an industry urgently needs to look at, because personally I think we’re being irresponsible allowing that.”

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FP3 Report from 2014 Belgian Grand Prix

As ever at Spa, the changeable weather can play havoc with the scheduled TV times which Mr E is so particular about. Whilst he seems to be able to bribe court officials with impunity and by all accounts the black robed figure with the scythe is currently on an all expenses paid vacation – it would appear the hotline to God isn’t working. As the track slowly dried out, all runners avoided learning anything about the wet weather tyres despite qualifying predictions having a high chance of rain.

After 20 minutes of the session had passed, the birds tweeted, as did the men, and the field was led by the talented Bianchi, his beautiful ‘will he-won’t he be driving‘ team mate Chilton and in this current era of F1 the elderly Lotterer.

Sebastien Vettel was reporting back to the team in a typical monotone of the bored-out-of-his-skull variety as he tested the Renault replacement engine that he had used in Hungary. No matter what the lad tries that exhaust is just not working properly. It didn’t help the cause that Horner has been back tracking about a recent interview he gave in which he stated that Seb was suffering after four dominant easy peasy seasons with the best car at his disposal and an Aussie that was side-lined at every turn.

Except as Ted Kravitz pointed out how is it possible to misquote a recorded interview…

With mixed conditions we had to listen to David Croft and Anthony Davidson talking endlessly about the goings on in the paddock and he made the point that the step from a go-kart to a single seater was bigger than the step from a F3 car to a F1.

So there is the very real prospect that in a couple of seasons time Helmut Marko will be replacing one of either Kyvat or Verstappen with a pre-pubescent teenager from the World Karting championships. The other will be moving on to the Red Bull team because an ageing Colgate boy will be deemed too old to drink Red Bull products anymore.. which may explain why Christian Horner has decided to grow a beard and show the grown ups he is the same as them…

Thespian royalty John Hurt was sitting in the Mercedes VIP area looking like he’d eaten a chicken raw without removing the feathers; which considering one of his most famous film roles, Alien, saw his stomach torn apart was a little un-nerving as was the fact that Croft once thanked Niki Lauda by calling him ‘Dude’

About the midway point of the session, the Mclaren pitwall was deserted except for Eric, who looked disconsolate that the truth he uttered to the press last week about how these updates WOULD work was going to be ridiculed once again.

At last the Mexican Guitterz ventured out on slick tyres and initially held the steering wheel as if it was a particularly hot tortilla. Moments later whilst talking to his engineer he asked about the temperatures of the tyres, and the reply is the temperature is good and that it would be ok to push now. It would seem that Massa started a trend with being told how to drive by his engineer which of course is a problem because Smedley is far too important in the Williams team to be giving driving lesson anymore. Massa finished the session ninth whereas Bottas was at the front of the field…

After the pace shown yesterday by Ferrari, they continued with consistent front running pace – well, with Alonso. Raikkonen is just seemingly happy to being paid this year. Alonso set the purple sectors through sections 1 and 3 so either Ferrari have no downforce to speak of and have trimmed out the car so as to overtake… Ah, shoot who we kidding? Hamilton ran a purple middle sector on his in lap, and Bottas was quickest.

Smiler had asked where Seb was quickest, and had to wait whilst his engineer regained some composure and his breath to answer oh Danny-Boy. Apparently he was losing time in 1 and 3 – by the end, Vettel’s worst nightmare was second.

As the session drew to a close, the cameras picked up Ron Dennis mocking the former President of the FIA, Max Mosley by using his headset to impersonate a historic German dictator. His stance gave the game away, arms folded and leaning back instead of whip in hands and barking orders – although maybe that only happens in Woking behind closed doors.

As the red lights came on to signify the end of the session, it seemed Ferrari had got it wrong again with Kimi heading out to practice a start at pit exit.

The team refused to acknowledge twitter rumours that Alonso had impersonated Spagnolo to tell Kimi that Hamilton was on his way down the pitlane at speed. Eye witnesses noted the icy calmness gave way momentarily – as he remembered being rear-ended by Lewis in Canada six years ago.

Finished, FP3 Result
# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:49.465 12
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:49.733 0.268 9
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.739 0.274 13
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:49.817 0.352 9
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.817 0.352 13
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.890 0.425 9
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:49.893 0.428 11
8 Jenson Button McLaren 1:50.203 0.738 11
9 Felipe Massa Williams 1:50.423 0.958 11
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:50.535 1.070 10
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:50.592 1.127 12
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:50.748 1.283 11
13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:50.814 1.349 10
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:50.866 1.401 11
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:50.962 1.497 12
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:51.509 2.044 9
17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:51.610 2.145 10
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:51.898 2.433 15
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:52.457 2.992 14
20 Max Chilton Marussia 1:52.984 3.519 14
21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:54.294 4.829 11
22 Andre Lotterer Caterham 1:55.008 5.543 13

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24 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 23rd August 2014

  1. “Andre Lotterer made his Formula One debut this weekend at Spa and after the completion of the first day’s practice sessions had recorded a time that was *within a second* of regular team driver Marcus Ericsson.”

    More like a tenth, Judge?

    • Re: lotterer
      He had all the new parts, so if he’s actually 0,5 sec slower then Ericsson, they gained 0,5 with those parts.
      I’m sure Caterham Has a sophisticated system for knowing which gains to attribute to the driver and to the car.

  2. Before I forget, can anyone tell me why Mercedes is not using their 8th gear? All other teams are using it as far as I know. The Merc’s don’t even use it at Spa so I assume they will not use it at Monza either.

  3. A bit slow off the mark, Judge, i covered Lotterer’s thoughts in your comments section yesterday. 😉

    I am teasing BTW, website is great as always.

  4. Interesting comment from Adrian Newey. I’mean sure there are youngsters that don’t go to school at all but I know that not all those youngsters do the same. For instance I have heard that Van Amersfoort Racing teammates Max Verstappen and Jul es Symposia go to the same high school. And it is an high school that educates at an high level (after graduation they can go to university immediately instead of having to go to college first). I have read similar things about Nyck de Vries. Maybe part of the reason why those kids seem so mature is because they are smart kids?

    • Okay that didn’t go well (entering comment from phone :-(). In my comment I was talking about Van Amersfoort Racing teammates Jules Symkowiak and Max Verstappen.

    • For my school, if not necessarily for myself, one things that worked in favor of boys maturing relatively young was it was common to be years ahead of academic norms. Not universally, but the attitude of the teaching staff was more focused on getting the kids to grow up some. Many had certainly been to “crammers” or subjected to intensive education. But some definitely were simply just capable. I am absolutely certain that, given the right conditions, a sixteen year old can be every bit as mature as a much older young man.

      Lacking emotional experience rather than range, maybe.. but exposure to high class sporting competition is a lot of experience to learn from, even in a very short while. I believe that signs of the effects of pressure are very easily seen , if you are observant. I assume Max is in good hands. What may surprise, may not surprise everyone.

      It is very possible, that kids blinkered and inured to nothing but a sporting “education” may be at risk when placed in top level competition too young, but my impression of many imaginary prodigies is they are simply trained to the exclusion of all else, and so at capacity to learn, and placed under nreasonable emotional strains also*. I don’t think that’s happened to Max. Also, F1 presents a sufficient technical difficulty I don’t think you can solely sit in Sims day long, and ignore a good education, and excel. I hope it is Max who can rewrite the rules as to ability. It feels a bit over wrought, to call out so many alarms, even AN’s worry, very genuine, that important education may suffer. But I take Newey’s comments as heartfelt concern for a obviously bright youngster, not as a dire warning.

      *withdrawal of parental affection or approval can have a direct chemical result on brain chemistry… combine with the endorphin rush of exercise in training, and you can create a instability, basically a junkie at a highly formative time for the brain, which then retards later learning.

      Somehow I think Max will do well. It is a good thing the paddock in general is acting concerned, leave aside some pathetic commentary that was I guess inevitable. I sense there will be a lot inclined to watch out for him, and whilst one might hope for no less, I think that will pan out, I hope right until the moment he becomes a freak threat on track.

      Awww, c’mon, he can spend there years and regardless go on to do what he likes in life, and unless he proves the opposite of every impression he is giving, I,e, is a total jerk on track, will be wished well. I hope he is never let to forget that freedom which can be a invaluable pressure relief in his mind.

  5. I saw the presser live when Newey made his comments about the fate of young drivers who don’t make it but who’s education has suffered. I think a lot of what he had to say was clearly from the heart and bourne from his own opinion rather than the RedBull PR machine. You could also see his respect for the drivers of the past, he was very fired up and animated when talking about 1300bhp monsters rather than the usual reserved engineer picking words carefully. It was also obvious he has become very sceptical about formula one, especially his comments about the change to lower profile tyres being for commercial reason not for performance gains.
    Rob Smedley said some interesting things too, it’s worth a read of the full transcript on F1 official site if you can’t get to watch it.

    • ” it’s worth a read of the full transcript on F1 official site if you can’t get to watch it.”

      I’m patiently waiting for Matt to provide us with the highlights.. 🙂

        • Oh, Happy Birthday!!

          And keep up with the absolutely spectacular wrap-ups of all sessions: because of you I stopped reading the bland drivel on Autosport, as they don’t convey even 5% of what is actually happening to the drivers and the teams.

          • Wedding Anniversary and Thanks!!! Nice to know it’s working the way I’d hoped.

            If it was my Birthday I’d just say give me a bottle of gin and leave me alone to write, but the wife has certain expectations that need to be met…. 😉

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