#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 11th September 2014

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OTD Lite: 1988 – Jean-Louis Schlesser rescues Formula One

Montezemolo – Who needs enemies with friends like this

The Ferrari Family Car

Rosberg pressure ‘too big’ at Monza – Wolff (GMM)

Now Montezemolo exit rocks crisis-struck Ferrari (GMM)


OTD Lite: 1988 – Jean-Louis Schlesser rescues Formula One

Frank Williams remains one the most respected men in Formula One. A quiet introspective man who has never complained whenever Ron Dennis stole sponsors or engine suppliers from him – yet the 1988 Italian Grand Prix must have raised a wry smile.

Regular Williams driver Nigel Mansell had been sidelined with ill health so Williams test driver Jean-Louis Schlesser was called in to race for the weekend. His only appearance in Formula One had been in 1983 when he failed to qualify for the French GP but had raced in the unofficial Race of Champions – qualifying 13th out of 13 and finishing 6th. Hardly stellar, yet as a Grp C Mercedes driver won races and titles.

On this day he started his F1 debut from 22nd on the grid. Two laps from the end of the race his name would go into legend. Entering the Retifilio chicane, JLS attempted to make room for race leader Senna but got his braking wrong as the Brazilian went to pass him. He spun the Mclaren out of the lead, bringing about the team’s only non win of the year and Ferrari scored an unimagined 1-2 at what was the first Italian GP after the death of Enzo Ferrari.

Of course, the tifosi went into raptures, Murray Walker reached octaves that hurt the hearing and Dennis moaned about “the man who ruined his life and the perfect record of 1988″

The Jackal

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Montezemolo – Who needs enemies with friends like this

“I’d like to thank Montezemolo for everything he has achieved over the last twenty three years – a period of great success and satisfaction.. We have always been friends and the recent situation has been exaggerated by the press but we have always got along.” So began yesterdays extraction of the axe buried firmly between Il Padrino’s shoulders.

Over the weekend LdM had once again made the point of staying with the Prancing Horse for the remainder of his three year term – having denied his leaving several weeks ago. Yet within hours he was describing the behind-the-scenes movements as “Ferrari becoming American.” An acidic reference to the bosses of Fiat being John Elkann and Sergio Marchionne.

His final point possibly demonstrated best of all why both his F1 and business rivals felt he had been losing focus over the last few years in what he considered his personal fiefdom.

“Sergio is right. We need to make investments in F1 and not diminish our commitments. We have to bridge the gap and increase investment in the coming years as Mercedes has invested a lot more and we can’t afford not to match it. We should have invested more already this year.” he remarked – his rhetoric suggesting that FIAT had withdrawn the necessary funds that Ferrari always took for granted.

ferrari-la-conferenza-d-addio-di-luca-cordero-di-montezemolo-43834

Marchionne does not suffer fools – period. His sense of casual dress in regards business smothers a ruthless but brilliant visionary who has transformed an ailing, practically bankrupt company into one of the big five players in the motoring sector. Ferrari too will be transformed with an expansion of their manufacturing limits and a push to return the team to F1 glory as success sells the brand.

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The Ferrari Family Car

Coming soon to a dealership near you…

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Rosberg pressure ‘too big’ at Monza – Wolff (GMM)

As the conspiracy theorists circle over Nico Rosberg, a more credible theory has been put forward by the German newsmagazine Focus — pressure. After Monza – still amid the heat of the championship leader’s clash with Lewis Hamilton at Spa – many fans, pundits and rivals suspected Rosberg made deliberate ‘mistakes’ last Sunday to gift his teammate the Italian grand prix win. “Two mistakes in the same place?” wondered safety car driver Bernd Maylander this week. “It’s not normal.”

But former team owner and boss turned British TV pundit Eddie Jordan says he thinks Mercedes’ mismanagement of the Spa crash put undue pressure on Rosberg. “They accused Nico publicly and left the public to devour him,” he is quoted by Focus. “No wonder he was not at his best in Monza.

Indeed, on the podium after Monza, and for the second race running, Rosberg was loudly booed by the fans standing below him. “I hope that with time they forgive and forget. I have apologised, I can’t really do anything more than that,” Rosberg said. He admitted to Germany’s Sport Bild that what transpired at Spa, and in the intervening days as Mercedes bosses internally punished him, had been on his mind as he entered the Monza weekend.

Of course, the responsibility was fresh in my mind,” said Rosberg, recalling his now controversial ‘mistakes’ that allowed Hamilton to win on Sunday. “So I was probably more aware than usual,” he added, referring then to his preparation for the impending duel with Hamilton during the race. Even Mercedes’ team chief Toto Wolff now acknowledges: “Perhaps the pressure on Nico was too big, but I am sure that he will fight back, just as he has always done.”

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Now Montezemolo exit rocks crisis-struck Ferrari (GMM)

Despite securing $35 million as he walks away, Luca di Montezemolo had a tear in his eye on Wednesday as he said farewell to Ferrari. Although he was president, and although his presence at Maranello dates back decades, the 67-year-old is just the latest head to roll amid Ferrari’s spiralling crisis. “Our common desire to see Ferrari express its true potential on the track led us to some misunderstandings,” admitted Fiat chairman Sergio Marchionne, Montezemolo’s successor.

Charismatic and controversial, Montezemolo has secured a EUR 27 million parting fee, including a pledge he will not work for a Fiat rival until 2017. He admitted on Wednesday that it is possible he will go on to run the Italian airline Alitalia. In his wake, he leaves the Ferrari team run by a F1 newcomer, Marco Mattiacci, and a lead driver in Fernando Alonso who in the space of a single day lost not only Montezemolo but also another crucial ally, the late Emilio Botin.

But Montezemolo and Marchionne on Wednesday singled out Ferrari’s turbo V6 engine as the biggest problem to solve. “It is absolutely clear that we have an engine problem,” said Marchionne. Montezemolo concurred: “We underestimated the importance of the new engine system.” But with McLaren calling loudly, might this week’s alarming news be the final straw for an increasingly frustrated Alonso?

“He has been very loyal to Ferrari, staying through the difficult times,” rival Daniel Ricciardo told Austrian Servus TV this week.”This is obviously a decision that Fernando has to make himself, but he has been very patient with them,” he added.

Toni Vilander, however, a close friend of Alonso’s current teammate Kimi Raikkonen, thinks Wednesday’s news would not have been a shock to the red-clad pair. “I believe they were aware of the issue for some time,” he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3. “I don’t think it’s going to affect their situation an awful lot.” But others see Ferrari’s spiralling situation as endemic of the current regime at Maranello. “I believe that the structure that they had in the past with Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, Nigel Stepney and the rest of them is very, very different to what we see now,” said Caterham team advisor Colin Kolles.

Montezemolo’s exit is another big blow, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone admitted. “His leaving is for me the same as Mr Enzo (Ferrari) dying,” he said. “He has become Ferrari. You see him, you see Ferrari.” Former FIA president Max Mosley, however, never quite saw eye-to-eye with Montezemolo, and he thinks Wednesday might now be a turning point for the fabled team. “In truth, Ferrari have never been quite the same since Jean left,” he told Reuters. “If they want to win races again they need to find another outstanding manager.”

One thing, however, was left undoubtedly clear on Wednesday — Ferrari itself is going nowhere. “Montezemolo explained to me that we are bound by contracts with Ecclestone to stay in F1 at least until 2020,” Marchionne told Italian reporters, “but for me it should be much longer. If it was up to me it would be 120 years.

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42 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 11th September 2014

  1. I can see Bernie’s eyes rolling round like a fruit machine reels till the £ signs lock in with that comment that Ferrari should be signed up not till 2020 but for 120 years. He may be 84, but I grantee he is one of the most savvy and together 84 year olds your ever gonna meet. Lol

    In 12 months we’ve lost Brawn and LdM if the grim reaper sees Bernie off too in the not to distant future them we really will have had a changing of the guard.
    Gone will be those who hold enough gravitas that people sit up and listen, and in with the spineless media lovers (Horner, Wolff, Boullier) who can’t even get their drivers to respect them………

  2. Re: Crisis-struck ferrari

    Dear Mr. Jean Todt,

    Request you to relinquish your FIA Presidency and come back to Ferrari for a second spell as Team Principal. We have a good engineer in James Allison. If you are not willing, then please recommend your dear friend big bear to come back and save us and bring back the glory days.

  3. Am I right in thinking that alonso is going to have to be quite careful now? The first blow to him was his admirer and team boss domencali leaving, and now LDM has left.

    Mattiachi, I get the sense, does not see alonso in the same light as LDM and domenicali did – he wont stand for the politics alonso may try to play and consequently he seems to come across as an admirer of kimi who does not play political games and probabaly comes across as more of a team player.

    Even though alonso has been performing well, you get the sense that mattiachi see’s him as useful but not essential kind of like the statement made by Marchionne. Could this now pave the way for lewis hamilton in the future when his contract ends due to alonso’s penchant for mind games and growing impatience of winning a WDC?

      • It could be a great move actually – with bob bell having been announced and james allison there, and with the right restructuring, possibly even the hiring of brawn, it would only be a matter of time before ferrari are back up there. Hamilton could afford to maybe move there in 2016 in anticipation of a title winning car in 2017 much like his decision to move to mercedes.

        But who knows maybe that’s a pipe dream, but the possibility is there if alonso gets fed up and moves to a different team.

        What do you think judge? Are ferrari finally on the right path?

      • Hamilton may come across as “high maintenance” but the marketing potential would be absolutely massive – it could be the dream line up. Plus Hamilton has the talent to back up his ‘high maintenance’…

      • Saward posted on his blog a couple of days ago that Vettel is the target because of his record and youth. Ferrari team rebuild will take a few years. He thinks Red Bull prefers to team a youngster like Kvyat with Danny R. for marketing reasons. Red Bull has a lot of talent in the pipeline. Yes, I know, Saward.

        • @curmud
          Shhhhh
          JS was also my source. ;-/

          @formul
          I know most drivers are high maintenance but Ferrari always wanted it to be ‘about the car’, so marketing potential would be no added value. Maybe Life after Luca will change that.
          Oh and nothing about Hamiltons skills.

        • Vettel might be younger than Alonso, but through the looking glass of f1, he is “middle aged”, at 26. Thanks to RB, youth in the sport are now pre-pubescents. When Fernando leaves, keeping Kimi on as their senior driver, they would do best to bring up someone like Bianchi. They can build a long term plan around him.

          I believe you are right about RB bringing up Kvyat. Up until last week, I figured Romain would get the RB seat if vettel leaves. Now I am pretty confident that if there is a big driver shakeup, it will be DR and DK at red bull.

      • They also seem to do well at the same time, so I imagine that Vettel will pick up on Kimi’s development of the car if he replaces him in 2016.

      • yup, why not, thought i’d get a bit of a debate going as the comments are a bit sparse without mentioning lewis and it’s working :). The publicity i drum up for you eh judge? 😉

  4. RE: LDM’s payout…

    That’s a little low isn’t it? There are bigger golden hand shakes for people who have spent a mere 5 years turning around our banks or fund managers or mining companies down here in OZ.

    I’d have thought for a 23yr tenure at a company like Ferrari, delivering the road car sales turnaround he has, delivering the sporting dynasty of 1998-2008, it’d have been closer to $70-100m.

    Despite the (relatively) poor 2008-2014, on aggregate and stripping out Red Bull, not many teams have done better in the WDC and WCC on avg.

    Not saying the Italian is poor, but that’s not a huge sum really for the corporate world at the billion dollar level who are saying bye bye and thanks for the memories to 23yr presidents.

    • @SiS it does seem rather low now you mention it that is less than 1 years pay for his star driver. Does LdM hold any Ferrari or FCA shares? They may give a pretty income, plus I would guess his salary won’t have been too shabby either.

  5. Marchionne told Italian reporters, “but for me it should be much longer. If it was up to me it would be 120 years.“
    I wonder what they’ll be flying round a ‘circuit’ in the 2134 season…

  6. It appears that the FIA have/are going to ban drivers being told how to drive over the pit to car radio. No more, “your loosing 2tenths to Lewis on entry to T7” thank God for that, I wander how they will police it as the team May tell a driver to say move his brake bias not to improve lap time but to protect brake temps, will that still be allowed? Or will they code messages about driving. Maybe they will send a text to the ‘smart steering wheel’ display lol

  7. Re: ‘OTD-lite’
    I don’t see what else Schlessor could have done, other than to park his car, and risk being hit from behind. Schlessor had more than half his car off the circuit and still Senna chopped in front of him…
    Where else could Schlessor have gone…? Did Senna even bother to think about it, and give him a bit of room. Surely a lapped car is still entitled to a bit of tarmac… or should all lapped cars pull over and immediately retire themselves, because a Master is coming through…? 😉

    • Since everything comes back to Lewis…
      Senna’s manoeuvre there reminds me of some of Chop-Chop Hamilton’s recent moves 😛

  8. “In order to ensure that the requirements of Article 20.1 of the F1 sporting regulations are respected at all times FIA intends to rigorously enforce this regulation with immediate effect.
    “Therefore, no radio conversation from pit to driver may include any information that is related to the performance of the car or driver.”
    “FIA should also remind you that data transmission from pit to car is specifically prohibited by Article 8.5.2 of the F1 technical regulations.”

    I guess they are serious about the radio thing.

    Presumably means more complex displays in car, showing brake & tyre temps, ERS status etc ?

    Won’t apply during free practice ?

  9. Let’s see if I got it wrong: before Monza 2014 Il Padrino was the one to put Alonso in his site (below the team), the one to tweaks his ear (a fuss was made about that for almost one year now).

    But, today, the news is that Alonso has lost his anchor to the team.

    Be serious, do you really think Ferrari has any alternative? With Kimi, aka Il Salvatore della Patria scoring 41 points up to Monza? Yeah, bring Massa back and you could score another 30 points during the season with that car and Ferrari would be the 7th team after Force India and before Toro Rosso.

    Come on…

    Do you think Vettel, Rosberg, Hamilton or Ricciardo or even Bottas are willing to trade their seats for Ferrari in 2015? The only thing that would mean is the certainty that they will not be WDC that season. Bottas has a largest chance to become WDC in Williams than in Ferrari, for God’s sake!

    The only problem with Ferrari is that the car is 2 seconds slower than the competition. I do not see any problem with drivers. Make the damn car faster and that’s about it. Trying to fix the problems by changing Alonso for another driver is like digging deeper to get out of the hole.

    • So let’s come up with code words for the teams

      For instance “Nico your losing time on entry to turn 15” will now be translated to
      “Nico don’t monza turn 15 anymore”

      “Your tires are overheating”
      translation
      “Your tires look great just like 2013”

      “Need fuel savings”
      Translation
      “Chilton mode 5”

      • I think Nico fuel saving is hoagys (no idea why), and obviously Hammer Time means push before a stop. But yes, code will probably just become more frequent. Does anyone from race control bother to decipher what Alonso/Ferrari are saying in Italian?

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