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OTD Lite: 1979 – Scheckter wins Italian GP and title
On this day, thirty five years ago, South African Jody Scheckter fulfilled a lifetimes ambition and took the world championship with his team-mate Gilles Villeneuve trailing behind him – in front of the tifosi at Monza! What a drive by the Canadian, supporting his team-mate selflessly – all he had to do was overtake and he would have won the title… or so the popular press would have you believe.
In 1979, the points system was such that a driver could take his four best results from each half of the season, four from the second. The reliability of the era was somewhat different than today’s and this was deemed a fairer system to allow drivers the chance of having a failure without punishing the title challenge. Could you imagine a similar system in current F1 with Hamilton knowing that from 19 races, only the best 10 or 12 count to the title. So he could walk away from a retirement without fear of ruining his challenge.
Anyway back to the seventies, Scheckter started from third on the grid – in front of his team-mate – and raced ahead of the celebrated Gilles throughout. It is almost criminal that over thirty years later his part of the story has been changed to suit both the legend of team and driver and yet if Villeneuve is one of the best of all time, surely Scheckter must rank even higher..
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
Montezemolo accepts Ferrari at ‘end of an era’
All signs continue to point towards a major change of direction at crisis-struck Ferrari. Although long-time president Luca di Montezemolo played down the waves of speculation at Monza, his likely successor Sergio Marchionne issued a series of highly critical statements about the 67-year-old on Sunday.
Italy’s specialist Autosprint then published a photo of Marchionne, being driven in a Maserati road car, leaving the area of Montezemolo’s office within the factory grounds at Maranello on Monday. Even the formerly combative Montezemolo now seems resigned to departing, as Marchionne – chairman of Ferrari’s 90 per cent owner – looks to pull back the current separation between the fabled Italian marque and the Fiat-Chrysler empire.
“Ferrari is now American,” Montezemolo reportedly told close associates, according to Corriere della Sera newspaper. He added that it is “the end of an era”.
Also undergoing a major change of direction, albeit amid less headline-grabbing controversy, is the reigning world champion team Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo has requested number 1 status for the rest of his 2014 title campaign against the dominant but warring Mercedes pairing, which at the moment boss Christian Horner is unwilling to cede.
But it is tough times for the team’s reigning quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is said to now be seriously considering a big-money offer to spearhead the new McLaren-Honda campaign.
In an interview with the German at Monza, F1’s official website asked Vettel about the “impression” he gave at Spa-Francorchamps “that the team is no longer fully behind you“. Vettel denied that, but the very same impression returned with force at Monza. In a friendly interview with Spanish television immediately after the Italian grand prix, Vettel reportedly said: “It seems that Spanish television sometimes has more faith in me than my own team does.”
Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko played down Vettel’s remarks. “That was just the first emotion that came out of him. He was naturally disappointed that his teammate beat him, although in qualifying he was better than Ricciardo. I think it was a very normal reaction,” the Austrian insisted to German television Sky.
TJ13 comment: Il Padrino has always appeared a gentleman, charismatic and measured in his approach to Ferrari but his comment in regards to the company being American is a direct assault at Marchionne and Angnelli’s grandson John Elkaan.
For some months we have been writing about the political machinations in the corridors of Maranello. From the staggering appointment of Mattiacci with an early morning telephone call to his not being invited to the meeting that established the FCA group, it was always on the cards.
Initially MM was seen as a sacrificial lamb to the Montezemolo master plan to remain in power, whereas it slowly became obvious that as a personal friend of the two FIAT bosses his remit went far deeper.
As to Vettel, oh the irony of finger boy having to play number two to an antipodean. It is of no surprise that Desparate Dan lookalike, Mark Webber, seems to have issues holding back his delight at his former team-mates trials and tribulations.
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
Williams rivals ‘had an eye’ on Bottas – boss
After a run of four podiums in five races, Valtteri Bottas had a less enjoyable Italian grand prix. The Finn had to settle for fourth, while his teammate Felipe Massa scored his first podium of 2014. The solid team result meant Williams passed Ferrari on the fabled marque’s home soil for third place in the constructors’ world championship.
But Bottas admitted: “Probably the new contract is what I will remember most from this weekend. It is not bad — 12 points and a contract!” he grinned to the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. Indeed, at Monza, Williams announced that Bottas and Brazilian Massa will remain paired together in 2015. “Of course it’s nicer when you know what you’re doing in the future,” the 25-year-old said, “even though I have known about it for a while.”
For some, however, the Oxfordshire team’s announcement was a slight surprise, after Bottas marked himself out as a star of the future in 2014 and was linked with a potential move to McLaren.
“Of course,” team deputy boss Claire Williams acknowledged, “when you have someone of Valtteri’s ability on board, the competitors keep an eye on him. But Valtteri began his career with us and he wanted to continue with us. Over the years we have changed the drivers but now we wanted continuity,” she added.
It is rumoured, however, that one of the conditions of Bottas remaining loyal to Williams is that the terms of his contract may have been improved. For example, when reserve Felipe Nasr or Susie Wolff have stepped in to practice on Friday mornings this year, it has always been Bottas who vacates his cockpit rather than Massa. As for whether that will change now for 2015, Claire Williams answered: “It remains to be seen. I can’t comment on that.”
TJ13 comment: Come now Claire, don’t be so shy, of course you can comment. With rumours emerging over the weekend that Massa was looking to use part of his personal $80 million dollar fortune to help the team – in effect a pay driver – and with Mercedes motor-sport boss Toto Wolff still being a share holder at Williams, providing what is essentially the Mercedes B team with engines and his patronage of Valtteri Bottas as his manager – there is plenty to comment on.
Still at least Mercedes are bringing Bottas on slowly as at 25 he is currently nine years older than Max Verstappen. Max was offered a proper progression plan by Mercedes yet was advised by the “great” Jos in moving to the bright lights of the Red Bull mothership – like father…
Bob Bell to Ferrari
Monza, Monza Monza…. The end of the road for many, and the beginning for a few. After what can only be described as a savage attack on Luca di Montezemolo by his boss the CEO of FIAT/Chrysler, the wheels of change are moving quickly in Maranello.
Adam Cooper has just reported that Bob Bell will be joining Ferrari. Bell resigned from Mercedes along with Brawn, but has been working on ‘non-F1 projects since.
Clearly with Il Padrino having been delivered a fatal blow, Mattiacci has proven to the recruits he has lined up, that things will be very different from now on in Maranello. The fear of potential candidates for the Scuderia that they will be working with their hands behind their back, due to Montezemolo’s dictatorship, has been clearly allayed.
Bob Bell is probably best known for his time at Renault and his input in delivering championship cars for Fernando Alonso in 2005-06.
Having worked with James Allison in the past, this appears a good fit and Cooper believes that this will “allow Allison to focus more on the car rather than organisational aspects. He would also bring with him substantial knowledge of how Mercedes developed its successful 2014 package”.
Following Mattiacci’s comments last week which suggested he may recruit someone above Allison as team principal, Bell would be an excellent candidate for this role, which would mean the return of Brawn to Ferrari is now a dying dream.
Bob Bell has previously expressed his desire to become team Principal, and his qualifications for the role are impeccable, which is good news for Ferrari.
Ricciardo on Vettel
Before the far reaching hand of ‘The Empire’ removes this YouTube clip, For Colgate fans… here it is once more
Judges Chamber: Ban pit to car radio
Jonathan Noble has penned an article advocating the banning or a significant reduction the pit to car radio transmissions.
The premise for this is Noble taking the baton from Christian Horner who believes the drivers need to once again become ‘heroes’ as were Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Ayrton Senna.
Noble argues that the tremendous battle at this years British GP between Alonso and Vettel was diminished by their persistent appeals across the radio attempting to get the other penalised.
Lauda is cited as supporting this ban on radio transmission for a different reason. “Even going to the starting grid”, says Niki, “they need to be briefed about what to do, as it is so complicated,” The viewer hearing drivers’ being instructed by engineers on how to operate the car is apparently a turn off”.
Ta Da! Noble concludes by banning pit to car radio, “the change would make the drivers the stars again. No longer able to rely on the stacks of information coming in their ears every second, they would have to manage tactics, fuel use, tyre wear and strategy alone – and cope alone with their great battles, just as Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve did at Dijon in 1979”.
As Byron Young notes, car radio has brought back the emotion of Formula 1 which used to be evident as the drivers wrestled the steering wheels of cars which were trying to kill them.
You can bet your bottom dollar this Autosport apologetic for banning pit to car radio is one which has been suggested to Noble from on high. Yet the intellectual gap in ‘thinking in the round’ is remarkable.
Fans love pit to car radio and squeals and spats from and between the drivers. Further, the modern F1 fan is aware of how complicated the cars are to drive. This knowledge cannot be unknown and the teams will rail against this change on the grounds of safety.
Thus, as the thin end of the wedge, the decision will be not to ban pit to car radio, but to cease it’s transmission.
Mmm. That’ll do it. The fans will suddenly believe the car is now being operated completely by the driver with no engineering input whatsoever and return to adoration and worship of each of these modern racing heroes.
The real problem is like him or loathe him, Stewart was indeed a hero – as were other drivers before and just after his era. For 200 odd miles, they battled to tame unwieldy beasts whilst knowing one mistake from them or a reckless competitor could mean instant death.
This knowledge cannot be unknown and neither can the clock be turned back to that era.
Formula 1 cars are complex twenty first century machines, and the delusion of a recent era where many believed the drivers were the all important factor in a motor race has been banished. F1 is a team sport once again.
No one seriously challenges ‘ 80/20 rule of thumb, yesterday or today. To win races and titles, the car is 80% of the performance and the driver 20%.
The information age is upon us and F1 should be delivering more insight and more information not less.
Banning pit to car radio – or its transmission – is a retrograde step and smacks of ‘The Empire’ once again deciding what we the fans should know and what we should not. More nonsense from the ‘F1 school of bright ideas’.
It is highly concerning that anyone in F1 leadership or the sycophantic entourage who publish their views believes by not hearing Jenson squealing over Perez behaviour, or Alonso and Vettel’s squabbling, will result in the fans falling to their knees and proffering the kind of hero worship and adoration commanded by Clark, Stewart et al.
“What monkey doesn’t see – monkey doesn’t know” – who are these supercilous people???
Maybe if the drivers wish not to be perceived as petulant children, then they should be instructed to not behave so.
Further, in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience, the notion of a 16 year old kid being recruited to drive in the world’s premier class of motorsport is a nonsense to many over the age of puberty. Just another example of failure to do ‘joined up’ thinking and panic amongst the coup of headless chickens. This will not create hero’s.
Make the cars harder to drive and drivers may find a return of respect from those who watch. Now there’s an idea.
The fundamental problem within F1 which lurks behind all the issues facing the sport – is the business plan. Stop charging fans exorbitant prices to go to races, offer F1 on free to air TV and distribute the prize money amongst the teams more fairly – Hey Presto…. Job done.
Yet greed and sanctimonious self interest rules the sport, and the strong get stronger and the weak will be eliminated. How most Darwinian… except the apes have weapons of thermo nuclear power….
Horner backs Magnussen
Starved of the oxygen of publicity and with no need to bother looking presentable anymore, Christian Horner is clearly feeling the love of a good woman and wants to share it around.
He believes Magnussen was penalised unfairly in the race in Monza. “Personally, I thought it was a racing incident at Turn 1. He had the inside line [and] that’s his prerogative if he keeps going there. It’s not ‘after you sir’ – it’s racing, it’s wheel-to-wheel combat.
I thought the move he made into Turn 1 was a legitimate move, but the stewards thought otherwise.”
Indeed they did.
But there were many other voices of dissent including Jenson Button who all but admitted what happened between him and Perez was worse.
So why is Kevin Magnussen the focus of the stewards’ attention? One can only assume there is a policy inside Charlie’s World, which beats a promising rookie into submission so they’ll learn to respect their elders and betters – and grow up to be pillars of the F1 establishment.
Boullier is bullish about his young steed’s progress. “It’s clear that he’s stepping up. He’s maybe punching above his weight, because obviously he doesn’t have the car to be fast enough and chase better results, but he’s trying his best.
I think it’s good for him and good for the fans as well, good for the show I think, to see this young kid, and this young Viking, if I may say this, fighting with the big boys. And obviously it means his self confidence is massively growing, and it’s good for his race craft, which is going to be only better and better.”
K-Mag is becoming a favourite with the fans for his no nonesense style of driving, and in the words of our erstwhile podcast host – Spanners – watch out, because “he can eff you up”.
Let’s hope he K-Mag develops a personality as quickly as his driving skills, because the young crop of drivers will not be providing much entertainment when Alonso, Raikkonen, Button, Hamilton, Massa and Vettel are being cared for and enjoying their bed baths.