#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 2nd September 2014

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Previously on TheJudge13:

#F1 Victims of Circumstance: Spa 2014 – #BelgianGP


OTD Lite: 2012 – Why Romain Grosjean will never be a Ferrari driver

Honda to scupper Mclaren plans

Ross Brawn’s legacy safe in Aldo Costa’s memoirs

Domenicali’s Omerta pledge to Il Padrino

Mattiacci says Ferrari wants Brawn back

Renault declares Red Bull new ‘works team’

Alonso weighs in his verdict on Hamilton

Ron Dennis – Ice bucket challenge


OTD Lite: 2012 – Why Romain Grosjean will never be a Ferrari driver

At what point does a driver shiver at how close he came to death? The accident happens too quickly to fully take in at the time and no doubt the adrenaline coursing through the body neutralizes the fears? On this day, Fernando Alonso came within inches of having his head come into contact with a flying Lotus piloted by Romain Grosjean and almost certainly lost the title..

Even today, it remains a heated debate if the fault of the accident lay with Lewis Hamilton – who many suggest should have taken responsibility and made allowance for Grosjean – seeing that it was his front tyre that made contact with Grosjean’s rear tyre – whilst others contend that Grosjean deserved his one race ban due to his complete lack of spacial awareness; and due to similar recklessness at other races which was punished retrospectively.

Whatever the rights and wrongs, Alonso, the championship leader, saw his lead reduced from 40 to 24 points with a poor undeveloped Ferrari fighting a resurgent Red Bull. The final points tally after Brazil showed the difference to be a mere three points or in plain English – if Alonso had finished eighth in Belgium, both he and Vettel would be triple World Champions now. History, as in life and death, is defined by the smallest margins.

The Jackal

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Honda to scupper Mclaren plans

With the feared/ anticipated return of the Mclaren-Honda partnership, rumours have been constant from before the 2014 seasons started. The most recent of which was that Mclaren were developing an MP4/29 to test the Japanese powerplant in the test after the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

This however has been denied by the head of Honda’s motorsport division, Yasuhisa Arai: “In the coming weeks we will make some important simulations and then early next yeat we will begin to run on the track, most likely in Jerez. this will most likely be the firt opportunity to see the complete car – the Mclaren chassis and the Honda engine. Currently we have no plans to collect data during the rest of 2014. Jerez will be our first time.”

Beyond the initial tests, he confirmed what has long been suspected and even forecast by TJ13 a few weeks back. “In 2015, we have no plans to supply engines to other teams as well as Mclaren. In 2016 and beyond, if some team asks us to provide them with the power unit, we will look at the situation. But, even in 2016, Mclaren will remain our primary partner and even if we supply other teams, our goal remains to win and not necessarily to have a return on our investment. That will come automatically with wins.”

Rumours from the Far East speak of the Japanese Power Unit lagging some way behind the competition and their focus has changed to taking the longer term view and to develop their engine up to class leading standards. This may well be of concern to Mclaren and their legions of fans and could well scupper Woking’s desire to land one of the three star drivers they are currently chasing.

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Ross Brawn’s legacy safe in Aldo Costa’s memoirs

With the Marx brothers attempting to officiate over the Mercedes team, it may just be that the real head of the Mercedes design crew has had about enough of their ‘white noise’. With Toto looking for the land of Oz, the ‘Rat’ promising his young protege a second world title and the leprechaun (Paddy the Enforcer) rewriting Ross Brawn out of the history books.hat Ross was an incompetent, leaving as many holes in the Mercedes organisation as in his fishing nets – Aldo Costa has stepped in and offered measured words in the same manner as when he was speaking recently of his time at Ferrari.

With Daniel Ricciardo winning the Bandini award in Brisghella, Costa was himself honoured with Medal of Emilia Romagna for the ability he has demonstrated as Head of Mercedes Design. When asked about the Mercedes W05 he stated: “Three years ago we began the project for this year’s design – in conjunction with the W03 and W04. After 36 months we were able to make it happen and see the fruits of our work. now we hope to achieve both world titles. because we have a fantastic package.”

“As to the secret behind the car’s domination, there are a number. The engine obviously but that is already known. The chassis and aerodynamics work well but the suspension together with the weight distribution has a fundamental role in the performance.”

“Perhaps most important was eliminating the chronic and excessive tyre wear. Last year we were destroying tyres in a matter of laps, it has basically taken us the three years to succeed. Now we are working almost 100% on next years car because we expect a strong fight back from Ferrari and Red Bull. Also we have to remember Honda will be returning with Mclaren and we want to keep our domination.”

With Wolff and Lauda seemingly waging war in public along with their proteges – Costa’s reasoned words reveal that the Enforcer is not a particularly respected member of the Silver Arrows technical team.

Of course it is worth remembering that Costa first worked with Brawn at Ferrari when the Englishman was Technical Director there but as soon as he was dismissed by the Maranello concern in 2011, he was immediately recruited to Mercedes and the results are clear to see. Except all those predictions of Mercedes domination for years to come don’t seem so secure any longer..

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Domenicali’s Omerta pledge to Il Padrino

It is perhaps a sign of the times that in the 21st century, gentlemen like Martin Whitmarsh and Stefano Domenicali have ‘resigned’ from their respective posts with the two Grandees of Formula One. As yet, no word has been uttered as to the reasons behind Whitmarsh departure, although Ron Dennis would have us believe they are still friends.. In regards Domenicali, he had a conversation with respected Italian journalist, Leo Turrini, who for many years has been the ‘voice’ of the Ferrari squad.

There’s a moment in ‘The Godfather 2′ when Frank Pentangeli – about to testify against Michael Corleone – sees his brother in the court room having been flown in from Sicily. The silent communication is unmistakeable. Omerta’. Later – when the family’s consiglieri, Tom Hagen, visits him in prison – the offer of looking after his family leads Pentangeli to take his own life. In many ways, Domenicali behaves in a similar manner and utters no criticism of the Scuderia – focusing instead on the drivers he has known.

“I have taken the blame for the failure, things did not go as expected but it makes no sense to pontificate. Of Ferrari I say only this, for the love of the team and also from self criticism, it needs to rediscover the serenity inside the team because we have seen smart people ( Costa? ) elsewhere who had the opportunity to showcase their talent.”

“With the drivers, the best relationship I had was with Michael Schumacher. His talent was formidable but his contribution wasn’t solely behind the wheel. When things were not working on track, in private he was very severe, even ruthless but to the outside world he was the first to defend the team.”

“As to Alonso, it’s not true we had a difficult relationship. He is a nice person and compared to Schumi he is more open in his communication; there are times his words are mistranslated but he has never been negative towards the team. Fernando and the team were unlucky yet if we had won a couple of titles no-one would have called it lucky.”

“I don’t think Ricciardo will be in contention for the title this year. It will be either Rosberg or Hamilton, but Lewis has to be careful with his ‘Donald Duck’ syndrome. If you yield to the temptation to be considered the poor relation of the family you get into trouble. Although after what has happened recently, Nico will have to endure massive pressure at Monza.”

“As to how would I manage them? I learnt from Todt and Montezemolo – the interest of the team always prevails, always. There are many ways to deal with what happens on track and I always tried to clarify things in advance. People wrote horrible things about the 2010 German race and the order given to Felipe Massa but there was a hierarchy on Saturday night, it wasn’t a last minute decision.”

“That’s why I liked Eddie Irvine. He was a number two who understood the game and how to behave. In 1999 he had the opportunity to become champion and it’s ridiculous to suggest Ferrari chose to avoid the victory. The truth is at Suzuka, if he had been on top form, and he had ability, he would have won the title. But for the first time in his life he was swamped by the pressure, didn’t sleep on the Saturday and there was no women in his room either!”

“I live a few miles from Monza. For nearly twenty-five years it was my home race, literally. They have invited me but this time I think I’ll stay at home. Do I miss Formula One? Yes, a little and with some regrets but I gave it everything I had.”

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Mattiacci says Ferrari wants Brawn back

Ferrari wants Ross Brawn back, the team’s new boss Marco Mattiacci has made clear. Briton Brawn stepped down as Mercedes’ team boss last year, but before that he had been Maranello’s authoritative technical director during the ultra-successful Michael Schumacher era.

Mattiacci, who replaced Stefano Domenicali early this year, told CNN that he has had talks “several times” with Brawn recently. “Everyone would like to have Ross or would like to see Ross back at Ferrari,” he said. “He’s one of the most respected personalities in F1 with the highest knowledge and pedigree. Everybody would be happy with someone like Ross.”

Earlier, Brawn and Ferrari played down a visit the 59-year-old made recently to Maranello. But Mattiacci has now admitted it was “very nice to spend a few minutes” with Brawn at the time. Asked to rate out of ten his chances of securing Brawn for 2015, he insisted: “I don’t like to do that kind of game. I think I have to work with what I have, not what eventually I will have. James (Allison) is the technical director and I want to start from this point. To tango you have to have two,” Mattiacci added. “Maybe Ross is happy with what he is doing.”

TJ13 comment: When you are as successful as Ross Brawn, you will invite offers from every team. When it’s a team like Ferrari where he spent a great many years then you will always be welcome back. Some weeks Brawn is on vacation in Italy and talking vineyards, on others he is tending to some very expensive Koi carp and others he is merely enjoying life with his family.

Whatever the truth with Ferrari, be it a special consultant or he has been offered something of more prestige the actual message is irrelevant – it’s the words used by the team principal. With Allison being technical director and Brawn having declared in the past he wanted to be the ultimate boss at Mercedes, he is unlikely to accept equal billing despite having worked with Allison during the Schumacher years. For Mattiacci to conceivably bring Brawn back on board could only mean one thing – either he is preparing to step down or..

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(sourced from GMM with TJ3 comment)

Renault declares Red Bull new ‘works team’

For the first time, Renault has declared Red Bull as its official ‘works team’. Recently, amid a Red Bull-pressured restructuring of the struggling French supplier, Cyril Abiteboul returned from Caterham to head Renault’s preparations for a stronger 2015. He admitted to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that not making Red Bull its clear focus for the new turbo V6 era was a mistake by Renault.

“Renault has tried in recent years to treat all four of its customers equally,” Abiteboul said. “From the perspective of Caterham, where I worked a year ago, it was nice. But for Red Bull it was counterproductive,” he explained.

So Abiteboul declared that, now, Renault’s “works team is called Red Bull“. He therefore dismissed claims that Red Bull has or intends to take over so much responsibility on the engine side that it is planning for a future with its very own ‘power unit’.

“Red Bull is a chassis manufacturer and that’s what they want to focus on,” said Abiteboul. “Development of an engine is a far too complex task to be established quickly. But it is true that there will be a much closer integration between Red Bull and Renault.” It has been rumoured, for instance, that Red Bull will exclusively take over the entire electronic side of the project, with Renault remaining in charge of the engine.

Renault, Total and Red Bull’s title sponsor Infiniti are expected to contribute the funding. Abiteboul replied: “We are in the process of distributing the tasks as efficiently as possible. The question is where Red Bull can help us in the best way. The plan should be decided at the latest by October.”

TJ13 comment: Of course Renault will integrate with the Red Bull squad more – they can’t affored to lose another team. After the pressure applied by the Austrian team, based in sunny Milton Keynes, and the software experts dispatched to France in an attempt to recover some pride after the initial runs – it was inevitable that the collaboration would improve.

Rumours have persisted that Red Bull would either build their own engine with Cosworth or were looking to team up with their Japanese friends in a neighbouring post-code which may well yet be possible but they cannot afford another season like this one. With Renault having to appease accountants who run the company’s finances they would never have been able to out-spend a billionaire with his marketing tool.

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Alonso weighs in his verdict on Hamilton

For those who believe Formula 1 is some sporting version of a Disney movie – “what you see is what you get”, think again.

Back in 2012, the Spanish samurai faced 7 remaining races and a 37 point deficit to Vettel he had to chase down. As part of the myriad of mind games, Alonso stated, “Hamilton is the only one who is capable of winning without having the best car, which is evident as the others only win when they have a good car”.

…. Alonso gives us – ‘Lewis the invincible’….

Speaking to SKY sports since the Belgium GP, Alonso may have reason to vary or add a caveat to this message. Having experienced a tough year at McLaren where he and Lewis were fighting for the drivers’ title, Alonso is well qualified to explain the current dynamics within the Mercedes garage.

“When, in the same team, there are two possibilities of winning, it is not easy. Definitely, [the Mercedes race team will be divided] because it is not only the drivers, it is the mechanics and engineers, and the driver’s mind will change when you are against your team-mate because, even if you don’t want to, your mind will always be looking for something weird which is going in favour of the other driver.”

Mmm. So which of the Mercedes driver’s this year has demonstrated Alonso’s description of a nigh on paranoiac view of the world?

Also worthy of note is that unlike Jenson’s love in with Lewis where the boy from Frome described Rosberg’s move in Spa as “unbelievable”, Alonso has a different take on it all.

“It was a racing incident,” says Fernando. “It’s impossible that Nico from the cockpit could have been so precise with his front-wing to have cut a tyre off another car, you need to be in surgery at the hospital with that sort of precision. Definitely, we are not so precise.

They touched, and the bad part of the incident was for Hamilton, but it could have been the other way around – maybe Hamilton’s tyre resisted and Nico had to change the front-wing and his race was over.”

Aah… so for Alonso, Lewis is ‘Hamilton’, yet he refers to Rosberg as ‘Nico’.

And…. Our Spanish warlord surely cannot be suggesting Lewis’ big reveal to the world that ‘Nico did it on purpose’…. Honest.. he said so ‘Ask Toto and Paddy’… is a sign of a driver ‘looking for something weird’?

Alonso now gives us ‘Lewis the paranoid’.

Then again… it may be not a bad time to remind Ron Dennis and McLaren of the disruption Lewis caused in the team during the latter part of 2012 – whilst hoping they forget the FIA observer he requested in Brazil 2007.

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Ron Dennis – Ice bucket challenge

In his inimitable manner….

 

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40 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 2nd September 2014

  1. Renault is seriously scared of losing Red Bull. Without Red Bull, and with Lotus and Williams also gone, there is no longer any backup plan for a successful Renault-powered team.

  2. RE: OTD Lite: 2012 – Why Romain Grosjean will never be a Ferrari driver

    It wasnt spacial awareness why Grosjean ran into Hamilton. Grosjean said he didnt even know Hamilton was there, a thing he shouldnt have assumed.

    If Alonso wants to know where he lost the title, the answer is simple: Japan.

    • I don’t think it remains a heated debate either, as to who was at fault that day. More of a “flat-earthers vs. the rest of us” type of debate. It would be one thing if Lewis’ front tire tagged Grosjean’s right-rear from behind, but as it was, it was Grosjean that scythed over on Lewis to the point of wheel-interlock, with Lewis at the grass. A potentially lethal combination in open wheel racing. Lewis then has to keep the same speed as Grosjean, or there would be contact. He couldn’t, and there was contact.

      Alonso’s lead was back up to 37 pts after the next race as well. Japan didn’t help obviously, but one could even go back to Canada, and say that Alonso should’ve bailed after getting passed by Grosjean, so as to make sure of beating Vettel on the day. That would’ve been a 4 pt swing on the day.

  3. Oh my word, all those rumours circulating about the Honda powerplant the past few months are really worrying, I can see us waiting at least 3 years before Macca have a title challenger again.
    And if 2015 is quite poor I can’t see any of the top 3 coming to Macca for 2016 and definitely not Alonso. Hamilton and Vettel will only come if Vesuvius and Etna erupt in Brackley and MK and they have not other option of a (sort of) top team.

    • I think the only possibility of a top driver going to McLaren for next season, is if Lewis looses the title race this year as I it seems the relationship with Nico and some of the team is hanging on by a thread already and he may feel his position is untenable. Given the fact Nico has a contract if he wins the title or not and Lewis’s negotiations have been ‘put on hold’ he could become free sooner rather than later. Why would the Merc board approved an extension on his massive salary if they have a champion in Rosberg and at a more reasonable pay level? If Lewis doesn’t take the title he will be gone from Merc maybe for next season but Defo for 2016 when his current contract ends.

    • Is it possible to sandbag with your rumours?
      Maybe they have a PU with some tricks they don’t want to show to the competition, so they wait until Jerez?

      • @ Verstappen
        I’m more concerned that the power unit rumours that were about last winter were spot on, with Merc out ahead and Renault behind, so if they were correct, it says to me that the Honda rumours are correct too.

        • @&clearview
          Last year was different. Mercedes asked fir wider tyres and the other teams deducted they had 100 BHP more.

          Still think Mercedes was either stupid or testing the water and I think the latter.

      • @verstappen: it just doesn’t seem very Japanese… Unless McLaren are the ones doing the leaking… But I still don’t see the Japanese going along with it.

      • Well spotted that man!
        Of course it’s entirely possible. Just leaves the punters short on comment….

    • rumours circulating about the Honda powerplant the past few months are really worrying

      I don’t see why that should necessarily be the case.
      Look at how much ground Renault have made up this season – and they have been under much greater constraints (frozen spec, etc.), and started from a position of greater ignorance (what layout works best etc) than did Honda.

      Until we see the new McLaren testing, it’s premature to be making judgments, IMO. Top drivers will worry about 2016 in 2015.

    • Well, if it fits in with the ‘long-term driver plan’, then in 3-5 years we will have Magnussen, Vandoorne finally with a fast McLaren-Honda, with de Vries waiting in the wings to come in and ‘do a Hamilton’.

  4. Michael Corleone was a tragic hero. I think we will remember Bernie E like that after he has gone 😃

    • Straight from our friends at wikipedia wrt Donald Duck:
      .. most famous for his semi-intelligible speech and his mischievous and irritable personality….
      … start(s) in a happy mood, without a care in the world until something comes along and spoils his day. His anger is a great cause of suffering in his life. On multiple occasions, it has caused him to get in over his head and lose competitions….
      … (his) agressive nature has its advantages, however. While it at times it is a hindrance, and even a handicap, it has also helped him in times of need…and, more often than not, when he fights, he comes out on top…
      … he is also a bit of a show-off. He likes to brag…another of his personality traits is tenacity…once he has committed to accomplishing something he goes for it 100 percent, sometimes resorting to extreme measures to reach his goal.

  5. So Alonso basically says what non-Hamilfosi said from day 1, it was a racing incident and there is no way Rosberg could have cut his tyre on purpose given how little of the front wing they can see and how fragile they are.

    • well, i think on this blog at least, it was more a case of declared non-hamilfosi arguing that the crash was completely lewis fault, while most others said it was a racing incident that was unfortunate for lewis, but where neither driver was clearly responsible.

      • not quite… I think the point was made that given the rules on defensive driving the stewards may have had a more difficult decision had Hamilton not been penalised so heavily…..

        …just saying 😉

        • Are you referring to the same rules on defence that mention nothing about whether the rules apply to defending in corners? Lewis did nothing wrong and could have been a real pain to Nico by pushing him off the track – but then you guys would have been screaming bloody murder about how unfair he is.

          Not to mention when Nico stated in Hungary that when lewis pushed him off on the last lap, it was completely fair – but let’s put that to one side hey?

          • “Lewis did nothing wrong and could have been a real pain to Nico by pushing him off the track ”

            Look if Lewis did nothing wrong then neither did Nico. Which I believe is the very definition of a Racing Incident.

        • So what was the defensive manoeuvre he used? Would it be the same one he used against Seb the lap before? No one heard on the radio saying…

          “Did you see that, he didn’t give me any room, he’s cheating”…

          Just saying 😉

    • I’ve been away for a couple of weeks with no access to TV; but did manage to keep abreast of the F1 ‘news’.

      Imagine my surprise when i eventually saw BBC iPlayer this weekend and well, there was nothing more than a racing incident… Judging by all the reactions (incl team personnel) I was expecting something much worse!

      Will say no more, but I suppose it’s a by-product of all the info at hand now.

      And Bernie still doesn’t see the power of the ‘net…

    • Says what this Hamilton fan thought, also. I thought MB did that PR stunt to save the faces of so many journos who went down the same path.. they were buying press brownie points, i reckon. After your management acts like such a shower, and you can’t quite back them up, next best thing is to support the chorus who have to cover themselves also.

      • And this Hamilton fan, and indeed most Hamilton fans. Everyone is conflating things to suit their own prejudices, best to keep out. There was far to much conflating of fault based indescriminately on what the FIA should/could do, vs what the team should do, vs drivers attitude/physchology and not all of those have the result of fault/blame in the same place.

    • I don’t recall many people claiming it was deliberate. The vast vast majority were simply claiming that Hamilton was in a no fault position. You are using a classic straw man argument. Instead of tackling your opponent’s actual argument you construct a much weaker version of his argument and attack that instead.
      It denies us having an actual debate

  6. That’s why I liked Eddie Irvine. He was a number two who understood the game and how to behave. In 1999 he had the opportunity to become champion and it’s ridiculous to suggest Ferrari chose to avoid the victory. The truth is at Suzuka, if he had been on top form, and he had ability, he would have won the title. But for the first time in his life he was swamped by the pressure, didn’t sleep on the Saturday and there was no women in his room either!”

    THis was most amazing bit, since it conflicted totally w/ what Eddie claimed in his Legends of F1 episode, that he never agreed to be #2 to Michael, iirc. (right?)

    • Yes, that part was very interesting. Irvine was a Suzuka specialist, e.g. 1997, 1993, so that he simply wasn’t in the fight I did find interesting, although I put that down to Hakkinen and Schumacher performing at their best (or possibly holding back for Schumi). Lol @ the women part.

      I do know however that sleep deprivation really hurt him at the Nurburgring. Mercedes fans kept him up all night…. end result, Irvine unable to pass Gene and stay in front of Hakkinen, which even more decisively would have won him the WDC that year, with 2nd at Suzuka then being enough (and Schumi forced to cede position to gift him the title..).

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