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Previously on TheJudge13:
OTD Lite: 2002 – Belgium GP masterclass by Schumi
Throughout the seasons I have watched Formula One, I longed for a time that Ferrari would enjoy being the dominant force as Mclaren and Williams had experienced in the preceding years. When Schumacher took the title in 2000 the tifosi could barely conceal their delight and their hopes for the coming years. So it proved as the best driver and a perfect collection of individuals would lead to a domination that had never been experienced in the sport.
Yet between the German driver and his team boss, Jean Todt, they almost crippled F1 fatally and practically destroyed a 50 year old legacy. With the cynical abuse of power – and forcing Rubens Barrichello to gift MS the Austrian GP in 2002 – the fans and the FIA had turned on the most famous team in the sport. When Barrichello was allowed to win races it felt like gifts handed out to assuage the criticism aimed at the Maranello squad.
What all motor-sport fans wanted was an honest display and if it meant Michael winning every race, so be it, “demonstrate your superiority.” On this day, at Spa-Francorchamps, Schumacher displayed possibly the most brutal display of perfection witnessed in the modern era.
Starting from pole, he was leading by two seconds at the end of the first lap. By the fifteenth lap his advantage over RB had grown to fifteen seconds with Montoya in third a full half a minute behind. Many reports called this victory drive a ‘massacre’ but that didn’t merely apply to the opposition. It should have underlined the disparity between the Ferrari team-mates..
Parabolica changes welcomed by ‘happy’ Grosjean
When TJ13 first posted pictures of the tarmac having been laid across the iconic Parabolica corner at Monza, fans were vociferous in their condemnation of the continued dumbing down of the sport. Of course safety was cited as the drive behind the decision but many felt that it would merely allow mistakes to go unpunished.
The first podcast produced for TJ13 covered the news with outlandish suggestions to bring back some element of punishment for transgressing the confines of the circuit but it appears that the so-called professionals welcome this unfavourable change.
Romain Grosjean recently spoke about the upcoming Italian Grand Prix and offered what many will regard as a spokesman for the drivers: “Monza is a great track, with a long history of racing. There is a unique atmosphere in the surroundings of the park which makes the environment definitely special. Of course the Ferrari fans are part of this and it’s nice to be able to run in a place so legendary.”
“The Parabolica curve is very fast and demanding and so from the point of view of safety this is a good thing for the drivers who have a little more margin. I remember that in the past, if you braked a little later, it was very easy to go straight into the gravel and then hit the guard rail at high speed. Now I think you will see the drivers find the limit a little faster than before, because we know that there won’t be gravel and the possibility of having an accident is greatly reduced.”
Irony is obviously not a pre-requisite of a Formula One driver’s armoury. Maybe Verstappen’s age is not an issue any longer – it seems that you need cotton wool wrapping everything.
Charlie says, “About 35 per cent of the gravel has been replaced,” according to Autosport, adding “This has been requested for safety reasons by the FIA and the drivers, just as it has been at virtually every other circuit that F1 races on.
Of course we know that it is not as punishing to a driver who leaves the track but that is the price that we pay for much improved safety: a price both the drivers and I believe is worth paying.”
Let’s hope a driver doesn’t suffer a brake failure entering Parabolica and sails straight into the barrier at speeds far higher than those were a gravel trap to be in place.
Further, this a rather a different tale from the original FIA leak which suggested the work at Parabolica had been carried out with a view to the return of motor bike racing to Monza – as reported by TJ13 early last month.
Boy Wonder Verstappen crashes in Rotterdam
It was almost inevitable. Max Verstappen’s first public outing in an F1 car and he mirrors an accident that Kamui Kobayashi suffered in Moscow last year. Of course, the Japanese driver is a veteran, in comparison, but any doubters will rejoice this turn of events – with a lad claiming recently that he drives in a similar manner to Fernando Alonso…
Greeks would rather an F1 race than to eat
In 2004, Formula One ran a demonstration in London’s Regent Street with drivers including Jenson Button and Nigel Mansell. It attracted thousands of spectators and initiated talks from within Bernie Ecclestone’s inner sanctum of taking F1 to the cities of the world.
At various times, London, Rome, Paris and New York have been put forward as possible venues but the logistics of holding a race – and the fees demanded by FOM – have put off regional and national governments.
With the debut of the FIA Formula E championship just days away, its green credentials and free hosting fees have seen a plethora of cities sign up with Beijing, Buenos Aires, Miami, Monte Carlo and London being amongst the venues for it’s inaugural series – with many others expressing an interest in the new FIA backed initiative.
It is hardly surprising that F1, or more specifically Mr E, have turned their attention to nipping this newcomer in the bud. Be it Group C sportscars, European truck racing or the Indycar championship extending beyond the American mainland, Bernie has run campaigns over the years to remove TV rights from these rivals and cement the position of F1 as the pinnacle.
With recent news that the financially crippled Greece was looking to host a Grand Prix – came disbelief from all quarters in regards to its funding when the Greek people were suffering hardships from badly run governments and continuous borrowing from the Eurozone.
As always, the gospel according to Bernie suggests that the Greeks are anxious to host a Grand Prix and stated he would meet the Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras to see if the project is viable.
The circuit would be built in the town of Keratsini-Drapetsona which lies 10kms from Athens and is the site of one of the oldest Mediterranean ports – similar, in fact, to the Spanish Valencia track which hosted a race between 2008 – 2012 before falling into disrepair.
The design of the Greek track has been released by the Dielpis Formula One Group, which was founded by local entrepreneurs and affiliated racing clubs. Whilst the Hellenic state is currently facing deep economic problems, the event would not be financed by public funds… but by private funds apparently.
To get the project ready for a race debut, it would cost in the region of 800 million euro whilst an annual agreement of between 30-40 million euro would be required in negotiations with Mr E.
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
Ferrari exit could open for Alonso on Monday – report
Monday could be the magic day in Fernando Alonso’s current Ferrari contract. Boss Marco Mattiacci has been happily – and unofficially – ‘confirming’ for 2015 the Italian team’s existing driver lineup of Alonso alongside Kimi Raikkonen. But actual confirmation of the news, for example in the form of a press release, is in fact not expected this weekend at Monza.
“There will be no announcement at Monza with regards to the drivers,” Mattiacci is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint, “because there’s nothing to announce.” He says that is because Alonso and Raikkonen are already under contract for 2015.
Technically, that’s true. But Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport claims that September 1 could change everything. Correspondent Michael Schmidt cited ‘internal sources’ as confirming that Alonso’s contract contains a clause that opens the potential exit to the Spaniard if he is not within 25 points of the championship leader on September 1.
Prior to Monza, Alonso is actually closer to 100 points behind Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg. It doesn’t mean Alonso will jump at the chance to leave, but Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reports that – despite their history – McLaren chief Ron Dennis has made an astonishing offer of $32 million per year to Alonso.
The report said Dennis, although having spectacularly fallen out with Alonso in 2007, “has spoken with Alonso” about the Spaniard’s return to Woking to head the new Honda-powered project. Alonso, however, might be alarmed by the latest rumours emerging from Japan.
The rumours suggest Honda, returning to F1 in 2015 after a six-year absence, is currently “far behind the performances” achieved by leading engine supplier Mercedes as it works on its all-new turbo V6 ‘power unit’ for McLaren.
TJ13 comment:”It’s not unusual,” warbled Tom Jones several decades ago and once again Formula One proves that the aptly titled ‘silly season’ is just that. In seasons gone by drivers have left teams because of performance clauses built into their contracts – hardly one way traffic though as teams will remove a driver they believe is under-performing too. The performance clause is historically acknowledged as around the time of August, and the team has to be in the top three otherwise the driver can initiate the escape.
What is unusual is the specific 25 points ( a race win ) behind the leader. In 2010, 2011 and 2013 Alonso has trailed the championship leader by 41,46 and 102 respectively. In 2012 he led the title race by the time the teams reached the end of August.
In the last few days Ron Dennis has stated “we’ll always look to employ the best drivers available – but they have to be available, don’t they?” Or in other words, if the driver is unhappy elsewhere his legal team will find a way including the contract fine print – although Honda have already stated that they had given the date of the 15th August as the cut-off point. It was extended for various reasons to the 20th but eventually Honda attention turned to Sebastien Vettel as a replacement. Even with an Alonso victory in Spa and the Mercedes duo failing to score, he would have remained over 60 points behind.
Most misleading of all the quotes perhaps is the “astonishing offer of $32 million'” which when compared to the earnings list published a few weeks ago sounds remarkable until the reader becomes aware that $32 M is actually the equivalent of £20M, or in effect £2M less than Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton are currently earning…
The Force India roller coaster
The wheels of the Indian judicial system may indeed move slowly, yet there is a relentless nature to the process and an inevitability that justice will be done – something Germany may view with green eyed envy.
This is certainly true in the case of Shahara top honcho – Rubrata Roy – who has been banged up in a New Dahli jail for ripping off millions of small Indian investors in a property pyramid-esque scam.
TJ13 first wrote about the possible deck of cards collapse at Force India some two years ago, and now one of the two major shareholders is indefinitely incarcerated and the other feeling the pinch of the long arm of the law.
Within the past hour, The Times of India reports the United Bank of India have made the first move in what could well result in criminal proceedings against Vijay Mallya. “We have declared Vijay Mallya and three other directors of Kingfisher Airlines as wilful defaulters,” United Bank of India executive director Deepak Narang stated.
A ‘wilful defaulter’ cannot borrow money from the institution who has declared them to be as such, and the other 16 banks which financed the doomed Kingfishers Airlines will all follow suit.
Further, the $660 million, owed to the consortium of banks is likely to see criminal proceedings brought against Mallya in the future.
Finally, the banks will seek to recover as much of this debt as possible and have already agreed to sell on collateral Mallya put up against the loans. This includes shareholdings in United Spirits, a business bought by Diageo from Mallya,Mangalore Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd, Mallya’s family Goa villa and Kingfisher House in Mumbai.
There has been further suggestions that Mallya’s last company – United Breweries which was founded by his father is also at risk, as the banks and the Indian judicial system persue him relentlessly to repay the loans he took.
Force India were never offered as collateral to the banks, and indeed this year Mallya has been good to his word on the inward investment the team would enjoy.
However, gone is the promise of 50 million ‘whatevers’ and this has been replaced by an upgrade in the CFD capacity. Yet the funds for these upgrades was just recently forthcoming, and the new cabinets had acquired at the turn of the year had lain empty for some months.
The reason Force India has been slipping in the pecking order is due to the team’s inability to properly design and model new aero parts for the car. Now, with 7 races to go, they have the resources to resume the hunt and with McLaren just 2 points ahead, the team are bullish of their chances of finishing 5th.
Longer term as Mallya is squeezed incrementally; his ability to raise cash to fund the team will get tougher. So as with Caterham, it’s likely the Mexican’s who visited Silverstone during the factory shutdown will wait it out for the Force India team to hit rock bottom – before offering the proverbial One currency unit as consideration for a contract to buy.
F1 losing sponsorship money
There was once a day when trackside sponsorship and ticket sales were the prize for the race promoters, together with any title sponsors the national event could attract.
If fact in 1971 the organisation of the Belgium GP was in chaos and only became viable when Ecclestone persuaded Freddy de Dryver, boss of Bang & Olufsen Benelux, to put up the missing cash. In return he demanded the event be called – The Bang & Olufsen Belgium GP.
This is apparently Ecclestone’s declared position on the matter. Whereas Adam Cooper reveals in his latest piece for Autosport Premium, that Ecclestone sold 70,000 tickets and programmes that day together with some trackside banner advertising – made a killing – and the new commercial era of F1 was born.
Ecclestone created a huge demand for race title sponsors along with circuit perimeter advertising, such that in 2009 – with the exception of Monaco which never has a race sponsor – only the Chinese GP was without a major title partner for its race.
By 2014 the look of matters has changed significantly. Spain, Canada, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia and the USA events had no title sponsors. Having been offered a new 3 year tyre supplier deal for F1, Pirelli stepped into the breach and sponsored both Hungary and Spain. This still leaves 6 of the 18 events who can attract title sponsors without one.
Today, UBS have announced they are scaling back their F1 spending from 41m to 25m euros.
The current deal UBS has with F1 expires at the end of this year and was struck between Ecclestone and previous big boss of the Swiss Bank, Oswald Gruebel.
For their 41m euros, UBS got to entertain 1,000 clients at races during the year in the paddock club, be afforded the honour of title sponsoring the Chinese GP and have UBS banner advertising around the circuits of the world.
Global austerity arrived and a new leader of the Swiss financial institution, Sergio Ermotti, was appointed. He is believed to be no fan of F1 and for some time it was feared UBS would pull out of the sport completely.
According to Blick, USB’s new strategy will be to focus on the customer relations opportunities afforded by F1. The 1,000 guests a year will stay, however, circuit perimeter advertising will be restricted to Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Monaco. Further, UBS will no longer be title sponsor for the Chinese GP.
F1 clearly has a problem with its business plan – will it be Monte Carlo and bust before the people who should care, wake up and smell the roses?
Honda admit leaving F1 too early
Just as tyres were the relentless topic for debate in 2013, this has been somewhat replaced by the topic of power units in 2014; a natural progression.
At the height of Renault and Red Bull’s woes, speculation was rife that Red Bull were wooing Honda for 2015. Further, that Honda’s European F1 power train assembly facility would be based in Milton Keynes – as are Red Bull Racing – fuelled the speculation beyond the multiplication of 2×2.
Today speaking to Formula1.com, Yasuhisa Arai to discusses the Japanese manufacturer’s progress, their relationships and states he is confident of a successful return to F1.
With the apparently frailty of the Renault power train and the question over whether the French manufacturer would remain in F1, it appears Jean Todt has scored a success in his power train battle with Ecclestone.
Ecclestone poured scorn on the need for the engine changes, yet Todt championed the need for change in tandem with the argument more sustainable power trains would be attractive to new manufacturers entering the sport.
Arai makes it clear that the rule changes were what attracted Honda back into the sport. “Yes, it definitely was one reason for Honda to come back into Formula One, but there was also the fact that the lap times compared to the old engines are very similar, and that means that we are talking about a technology that is very advanced. You can match the speed of the old engines, but with much smarter – and resource-saving – technology”.
Partnering with anyone other than McLaren in F1 for 2015 is all but ruled out by Yasuhisa when he states, “In 2015 we don’t have the plan to supply any team other than McLaren. In 2016 or after, if some teams or partners ask us to supply them too, we will take a look at that situation. But even in 2016 McLaren will be our main partner in F1”.
Honda may have left the sport prematurely at the end of 2008, when they handed over a chassis to Ross Brawn who then bolted on a Mercedes engine and delivered both drivers’ and constructors’ titles to the newly formed Brawn GP; interestingly Arai admits this when he states. “When we left F1 in 2008 our engineers believed that our technology, our engineering methods, were correct – and we definitely believe that this is still valid”.
Honda reportedly spent $1bn on the never to be seen 2009 F1 programme and it may be they have done so again in anticipation of 2015. Cost appears of little consequence when Arai states, “Even if we supply other teams from 2016 onwards our main focus will always be to win – to make the engine better through more data – and not necessarily to look at a return on investment. If you win that comes automatically”.
With Allison and Mattiaci talking about “the long game, the Tiffosi could be excused for feeling 2015 is already another write off.
The recent tongue lashing the triumvirate of disjointed bosses at Mercedes AMG F1 received from Stuttgart, may indeed indicate their optimum opportunity has already been achieved.
Renault and Red Bull have had a relationship in 2014 which has been epitomised remarkably by playing a most public blame game and the latter are losing their guru and technical genius. Further, Renault have more than once cited that finance has had forced constraints upon the development of their programme.
Reasons to be cheerful Arai? And if the architect of Mercedes AMG F1’s 2014 success has taken an extended Tenkara fishing expedition this year, even with McLaren and Boullier as partners, the Japanese smile will be nothing less than from ear to ear.
From the twittersphere
As the BBC continue in vain to re-create the “3 amigos” feel they once had to their F1 presentation team, it appears we will be seeing some driving around the old Monza banking on Sunday
Why exactly you punish someone for doing what the ref describes as ‘within the rules’ is still puzzling F1 fans. However,
..and who will be smiling this week on Sunday afternoon?
F1 brakes glazing
It appears Lewis Hamilton was not the only one who suffered brake glazing during the qualifying session for the Belgium GP. Felipe Massa believes a significant reason for his poor 9th drid position in Spa was due to the fact that the Williams car is designed only to use a Carbon Industrie (CI) only braking system.
“It’s impossible to warm up the [CI] brakes [in the wet]”, says the Brazilian as he urges Williams to re-design the car to accept both Brembo and CI systems.
Rob Smedley explains the difficulty for the Grove based team. “You have to set out at the start of the year essentially with your mechanical fixing that fixes the brake disc to the car able to accept both. If you haven’t done that, then it’s a very big change to make to the car. It’s something you couldn’t just do between sessions”.
Massa was used to running Brembo at Ferrari and admits the glazing of the CI disks has been a problem for him. “Yes. It’s not the first time we had [glazing] this year”.
It appears the Brazilian will not get his wish this year as his former race engineer states, “With a certain amount of resource we have to consider where to put that resource the best. We can’t put all of the company on to changing to Brembo material”.
That said, Smedley reveals it is almost certain the FW37 for 2015 will be designed to accommodate both braking systems.
Seeing as the Mercedes W05 can run both CI and Brembo brake systems – even splitting their use between the front and the rear, why was Lewis Hamilton running CI brakes in qualifying at Spa this year?