This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.
You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly
Previously on TheJudge13:
OTD Lite: 1996 – Schumacher pushes his luck to win again
The teams had arrived at the Autodromo di Monza for the 1996 Italian Grand Prix with double World Champion, Michael Schumacher, having just won his second Grand Prix of the season in Belgium.
Rumours throughout the paddock suggested that Williams had signed Heinz Harald Frentzen to replace Damon Hill but he blocked out all the whispers to claim pole position from his title rival, Jacques Villeneuve.
Tyre stacks had been erected on the various apexes around the track, as modifications to the kerbing hadn’t been completed and collisions with these accounted for several cars; including early leader Damon Hill.
Schumacher walked a fine line throughout but misjudged the entry into the first chicane later in the race and the Tifosi held their collective breath. After an epic Belgian Grand Prix where he had to overcome a loose steering wheel to collect the trophy, his luck held out once again and he continued – taking the chequered flag to rapturous applause.
It’s easy to look at his record breaking career and assume that his genius was flattered by dominant cars, but in 1996, on days such as this, he made F1 fans realise why he was the best of his era.
Poll: Was Rosberg’s Lock-ups part of a Mercedes Management Punishment?
Dr. Marko feels the need to apologize… again
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff was not the only one in permanent crisis handling mode in Monza. Uncharacteristically, Mercedes’ other loud-mouth Lauda kept his trap shut for a change, most likely because he would be getting his wish, or did someone really think Rosberg made the same ‘mistake’ twice?
The picture was strangely mirrored at Red Bull. While Christian Horner can’t ever shut up if a camera is in the vicinity, he was virtually non-existent this weekend, at least on German TV. Most likely he’s run out of excuses. Not so, however ‘the other Red Bull guy’, Dr. Helmut Marko, who had been in the defensive, when a translation of a Vettel post-race interview from Spa for the Spanish TV surfaced in which the team’s four time world champion was quoted as saying: “Thanks, you [Spanish TV] seem to believe more in me than parts of my team.”
Between the Spa and Monza Grand Prix it emerged that for the second time this year they had to change Vettel’s chassis after it was found that it was damaged. Lo and behold, suddenly he was consistently faster than his team mate for most of the race weekend. One starts to wonder how Mark would have done with an occasional chassis change?
Confronted with Vettel’s harsh statement from Spa by Sky’s Tanja Bauer before the race, Dr. Marko went full politician and prattled on for five minutes and said absolutely nothing. The only thing of informational value was that Vettel’s chassis will be changed again, as currently Red Bull is building a completely new one for him, which makes one wonder if Vettel’s previous cars were nailed together with bit’s from the parts bin of the other side of the garage, this would go a long way to explain its reliability record.
The race was a verbatim copy of Canada as far as Red Bull’s drivers were concerned. Vettel was ahead and easily as fast if not faster than his highly-praised team mate and when the German was running 5th, Danny RIC toiled about outside the points. Enter stage left – a ‘strategy error’.
Unlike Canada, RB’s questionable pit stop call didn’t cost him the race win, but would lead to ultimate humiliation later on. Called in way too early on tyres that still had a good 5 laps in them Vettel was forced to ride out the remaining 33 laps on a single set of hard tyres. His team mate, who ran seven laps longer was thus given the chance to easily dispatch Vettel later on, who had no way of fighting back on tyres that had already gone over the now infamous engineered-in cliff.
After the race, again being confronted with uncomfortable questions from Sky, Dr. Marko publicly apologized to Vettel for the poor strategy.
How long will it take for Red Bull to stop their bovine excrement? The team is made up of a bunch of mercenaries. Now that Vettel isn’t as regular a points deliverer and would actually need a bit of help from the team, they turn the back on him and go for the guy who makes it look easier. The slave has done his job, the slave may leave now. Why does Marko even bother to apologize? It’s the second time he apologizes for exactly the same thing – first time was after Canada. If you have to ask forgiveness for exactly the same thing twice… Well you do the math.
Vettel fans should begin to develop a whole new appreciation for Mark Webber, who has put up with this for years.
Marchionne: Montezemolo is “useful, not essential”
It was a strange day in Monza. The news TJ13 broke re: the imminent departure of Luca di Montezemolo was openly debated. The Ferrari president himself denied the reports, stating he had told the FIAT board in March he would leave in three years.
“I am working, and I am here not to have a vacation: I am here because we are working very hard,” said Luca.
“We have in front of us very important months. We will present a fantastic new car in the Paris motor show in the beginning of October.
We will be in Los Angeles with 600 Ferraris coming from all over USA, to celebrate 60 years of Ferrari [in America]. We are preparing a unique and unbelievable car to celebrate this event, with only 10 cars for our best American collectors.
We are also working with [Ferrari team boss] Marco Mattiacci to improve the organisation, to improve the Formula 1 team.”
However, the man who has revitalised FIAT as a business decided to pay an unnanounced visit to the paddock on Sunday. CEO of FIAT and Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne told the gathered media, “Luca di Montezemolo and I are great friends, but when I read his statements, I thought they were things I would never have said about myself”.
Contradicting Il Padrino, Marchionne is clear. “The important thing for Ferrari is not just the financial results, but also it is winning and we have been struggling for six years”.
The killer blow is then delivered by FIAT’s CEO. “Everybody is useful but nobody essential, adding, “I consider myself essential, of course, but I also know very well that I am at the service of this company. So to create positions, illusions that one can operate outside the rules, is talking rubbish.
It’s the same for him [LdM] as it is for me, we serve the company. When the company has a change of plan, or if there is no longer a convergence of ideas, things change.”
Behind the scenes, Montezemolo is clearly fighting for his life at Ferrari, and it would appear despite his frequent ‘locking of horns’ with Ecclestone over the years, this is one fight he is destined to soon lose.
Adam Parr stirs up a storm
Adam Parr caused a stir in the paddock following the race in Monza yesterday. Following an interview with Lewis Hamilton, the SKY presentation team were seen reading out a tweet from the former CEO of the Williams race team.
Parr stated, “This is the last year of F1 as we know it. In 2015 eight teams will contest the championship, with several teams entering three cars”.
There has been information this season emerging from the Strategy Group gatherings, that F1 will move to allow more standardised parts which teams can buy in.
Further, the topic of customer teams has been aired extensively, and Christian Horner known to be close to Ecclestone said in May, “To encourage new teams to come into Formula 1 then a year-old car would surely be the most cheapest, more cost-effective way of introducing a team into Formula 1 that hasn’t got to have the investment in a design and R&D department, manufacturing, go through all the crash-test process, [they] can just be focused on being a race team while they build their infrastructure up.”
One would think that might be a logical way to help the small team and perhaps a new team coming into Formula 1,” added Horner.
Marco Mattiaci agreed that customer cars would provide new teams with “the possibility to have two, three years’ experience and to gain the knowledge and then to become competitive. So, this is a practical way, realpolitik, to move ahead.”
Parr’s assertion though suggests not all teams will be entering 3 cars, which would indeed be the end of F1 as we know it. 3 Mercedes cars this year would have delivered a whole different set of results, and clearly it would only be the big teams who can afford to do this.
With the announcement that Lawrence Stoller is close to doing a deal to acquire Sauber, this billionaire would ensure the Swiss team are one of the 8.
As discussed on the TJ13 podcast last week, Caterham are on the brink of failure and yesterday their much liked team principal, Christijan Albers, resigned from his role.
Albers issued this statement, “Over the past months I have dedicated all my energy to ensure the takeover of the team would go as smoothly as possible and to achieve the best possible result for our investors, sponsors and all the people involved with Caterham.
As such I worked tirelessly to reconstruct the team, while at the same time, making technical updates on the car.
In doing this we created both a better foundation for the team’s future and achieved significant improvements on the speed of the car.
I wish the team all the best for the future.”
TJ13 has been informed the Caterham team is desperate for finance, and asset stripping by disgruntled employees has occurred. Mannequins are naked in Leafield having been stripped of their Caterham uniforms.
Albers became frustrated with the failure of the mysterious Swiss based Arab investors, who have have not delivered on their promises. In the face of this Christijan has battled to pay creditors and staff, whilst keeping the team ‘at the races’.
So if there is to be only 8 teams in F1 in 2015, then Lotus, Caterham and Marussia appear to be doomed.
Lawrence Stroll to buy Sauber
There has been a flurry of hastily organised meetings between Ecclestone and F1 team bosses over the past few race weekends, and despite the ‘on message’ comments that the subject has been ‘improving the show’, more serious matters are afoot.
Ecclestone performs an annual ‘health check’ around the more fragile teams, to ensure they have sufficient funds to see the winter through, arrive with a car for testing and go racing for the following season.
Sauber announced a deal last year with Russian investor’s which should have ensured the long term stability of the Swiss outfit. Yet it wasn’t just Lotus ‘doing an Ijaz’, as the funds never transpired and Sauber have been bereft of cash all year long.
The good news for the 5th longest standing F1 team is that Canadian billionaire, Lawrence Stroll is about to acquire the team.
Stroll owns the Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Canada, a Ferrari dealership in Québec along with a collection of cars which includes two of the most expensive in the world – a Ferrari P4 and a Ferrari 275 GTB/4.
Forbes list Stroll as the 815th richest person in the world with a mostly liquid fortune following recent sales of shares estimated at around $2.3 bn.
Lawrence Stroll is a huge Formula 1 fan, and will surely invest properly in Sauber, who have demonstrated over the years unlike others, they know how to operate well on a meagre budget.
Lance Stroll, Lawrence’s son, was nominated by the Fedération Sport Automobile du Quebec as Rookie of the Year in 2008 and Driver of the Year the following year. In 2010 he won no less than four titles in the Florida Winter Tour, in the Canadian ASN Championship and the Coupe de Quebec.
In 2011 Stroll ran with the Dino Chiesa Team in the Italian Kart Championship and finished eighteenth while in the WSK Euro Series with 44 points to take ninth place in the KF3 class championship. In 2012, the young Canadian continued his experience alongside the team and won the Las Vegas Trophy, finishing fourth in the WSK Master, fifth in the World Championship CIK-FIA, eighth in the Euro CIK-FIA and twelfth in the WSK Euro.
In 2013, Stroll competed in the KF category in the CIK and WSK Championships once again with Chiesa Corse team and was recognised as the best rookie.
Stroll was signed as part of the Ferrari Driver Academy aged 11 and is therefore the second youngest driver to be signed to a Formula One team programme.
All this has led certain commentators to assume Stroll Snr is buying Sauber for his boy. However, it would be cheaper by far to pay for him to drive in another team.
Williams and Mclaren announce drivers for 2015 – sort of..
At Monza, over the weekend, Williams officially announced that they would be retaining the services of both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas for the forthcoming season. With what has proven one of the surprise packages of the year, the team has moved back into race winning potential and has secured podiums and a pole position this year.
Massa: “I’m really enjoying my time at Williams and I feel settled here. Williams is such an iconic name in motor racing and I have a lot of pride when racing for this team. This season we have started to show our true potential and I’m driving a car that is looking strong and has improved a lot as the season has progressed which is very encouraging for the future.”
Valtteri Bottas added; “I’ve been a member of the Williams team for five years now and we have developed together throughout that time which is a great feeling. The team has also made some very impressive gains this season and I’m confident that I’m at a team that is moving in the right direction and can continue to be competitive. Sir Frank and Claire have put a lot of faith in me and I’m very grateful that they continue to do so.”
TJ13 did hear mutterings this weekend, that Felipe Massa may be prepared to invest some of his $80m into Williams. Much of this was earned from repeatedly ending the race weekend with a sore botty whilst driving for Ferrari.
Frank Williams noted, “Felipe is a very experienced driver. He has learnt how to stand up to Ferdy, my hero in Formula 1 and given him a hard time in the past and I have the highest regard for him”.
This was in sharp contrast to the message that Mcaren gave in interviews in regards their future plans. With the imminent return of Honda they have been aggressively pursuing Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton and it seems that they have finally accepted that these drivers won’t be available any time soon.
Racing director Eric Boullier “We are happy with the drivers we have, to be honest. You can rate them or not rate them, I don’t care. We are happy and lucky to have the good drivers we have. If we have them next year we will be happy with that.” He commented as he quickly uncrossed his fingers.
“But we are thinking about strategy. We have to think about 2016. We are seeking who, when, how, how much, because we need to know how we want to build for the future. It is usual in Formula One, especially with A-list drivers, to have discussions not for next year but for the year after.”
It would appear that his choice of words is damning to both the current incumbents – obviously the Woking team do not consider either Button or Magnussen “A-list drivers.”
Ron Dennis added his usual spin too, “We always have the best available drivers. Without being derogatory, detrimental or negative to your existing drivers, the first thing you have to establish, before you have any process of selection, is who is available.”
“No-one could have predicted the tension inside Mercedes-Benz, or imagine a range of scenarios that could see one of those drivers on the market by the end of the year.”
“That does not mean we would automatically reach for that driver, or any other driver, in preference to what we have. “What it means is you are trying to understand who is available, and then you make a decision. It could be that decision is not to change.”
So essentially, once the Ron-speak has been deciphered – the message is clear, ‘we are stuck with these two because no-one of note is willing to commit to our poorly performing Mercedes powered sledge.”
Whilst all may appear rosy for another season for Smurf Jr, it would be wise for him to have a read through Mclaren’s history.
When the 1983 season closed, both Niki Lauda and John Watson were signed up members of the Woking team. Within weeks, Renault and Prost had had a falling out and Prost was snapped up by Dennis.
Meanwhile in Brackely
Wolff – “Stop booing”
Toto Wolff has intervened on behalf of his beleaguered driver, Nico Rosberg, who once again was bood at the podium ceremony of the Italian GP.
TJ13 wrote a series of articles on “The Boo Pandemic” last year when Vettel was being repeatedly heckled week in and week out.
“There should not be any booing on the podium,” says the big bad Wolff. “It is the top three guys who have had a mega race and whoever it is they shouldn’t be doing it. It is sport and sport should unite. But all those guys have fans; some of them are pretty emotional.”
Toto does though suggest, “maybe it is something you need to survive if you want to take it to the top. Lewis had many of them and he came back and we have seen Nico after Silverstone come back. You need extreme mental strength to make it to the end and win the championship. Both of them have it in them to bounce back after weekends. Before the incident at Spa it had been going back and forth”
Martin Brundle et al learned last year to their cost that trying to lecture in a paternal manner from the podium to a bunch of fans, just makes matters worse. Toto’s lack of experience is starting to tell in both his handling of the team and his communications with the fans of F1.
The Italian job: A Conspiracy Theory (GMM)
When Lewis Hamilton passed championship leader and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to take the win at Monza on Sunday, a myriad of conspiracy theories were launched as not everyone was convinced that the German made a genuine mistake.
Formula 1 legend and triple F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart is one such conspiracy theorist among many that have emerged in the aftermath of the Italian GP weekend.
“I thought: Hello, what’s going on here?” admitted the triple world champion, referring to the moment when Rosberg ran into the escape zone at the circuit’s first corner, letting Hamilton into a lead that would not be challenged. “He could have at least made an effort to get round the corner but he didn’t.”
Those connecting even more dots linked the move with the Mercedes drivers’ shenanigans in Belgium two weeks ago, whereafter Rosberg was internally sanctioned by the German team.
Was ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ gifting Hamilton the win part of Rosberg’s punishment, after the championship leader pulled out a further points lead on Hamilton in Belgium amid the highly controversial circumstances?
“It’s not like we now start shuffling and things like that. There is no reason why I would do something like that on purpose,” the German driver insisted.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff slammed the conspiracy, including the claim that the Rosberg ‘mistake’ coincided with television images of him in the pits grinning wryly at the TV monitor.
“Whoever picks that up and tries to interpret anything in such a picture must be out of his mind,” said the Austrian. “First of all, it’s not live. It wasn’t synchronised with the picture.”
As for accusing Mercedes and Rosberg of orchestrating the ‘mistake’ to at least give Hamilton seven of the lost points back, Wolff insisted: “Only a paranoid mind could come up with such an idea. I think there was lots of pressure on Nico because Lewis was so quick yesterday and you could see that as well.”
More sober minds, however, noted that Rosberg made more than one run through the chicane run-off on Sunday, and Hamilton also locked his brakes at the same point late in the race.
“They [the mistakes] might look a bit strange but I did it in practice [too],” said Rosberg. “What would be the reason for me to do something like that deliberately? The only thing in people’s minds could be Spa but Spa was a mistake which I’ve apologised for.”
He said the reason he went through the run-off rather than lock up the brakes and try to make the corner is because “it would have caused a flat-spot. I haven’t been 100 per cent with the brakes since the start of the season.”
“We wanted to solve the problem with new disc material, but after what happened with Lewis in Hockenheim that has been on hold,” said Rosberg.
And the newspaper Bild quoted him as saying: “Lewis was getting bigger and bigger in the mirror, so I was braking later and later. My first thought was: Shit.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, took heart from the appearance of Rosberg having cracked under his application of pressure, “I did it a couple of races ago and he doesn’t seem to like it. So I’ll try it a bit more.”
Finally, Hamilton denied suggestions he once again ignored a team order, after his engineer on Sunday told him to maintain a gap behind Rosberg until later in the race.
“They (engineers) want to win just as much as me so they’re just trying to guide me as to what they think,” said the 2008 world champion. But at the end of the day, I was the one out there and I had to decide: Ok, I can back off and keep the tyres but it might be better the other way.”
“I knew that if I applied the pressure, an opportunity would eventually come,” said Hamilton.
TJ13 Comment: Did any one notice Flavio Briatore was present in Monza (knowing wink)