#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 12th September 2014

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Previously on TheJudge13:

The #F1 Bar Exam: 11 September 2014

TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: A Spike up your Arse


OTD Lite: 1976 – The extraordinary power of the human spirit

Mercedes drivers. Job Done

Verstappen has first proper run in F1 car

“Da Boss” Marchionne – makes sweeping changes advised by Mattiacci

Alonso source says Montezemolo exit ‘changes nothing’ (GMM)


OTD Lite: 1976 – The extraordinary power of the human spirit

“Rush’ gave the story a Hollywood sheen, a dramatic realisation of a story that truly defied the scriptwriters but ultimately a story of the staggering courage of one man who demonstrated just what humans are capable of when they choose to harness their ability properly.

rush-niki-laudaFrom an author who can move the readers to tears, to the artist who captures your soul and forever scars its memory upon you – humans move one another. The horrifying crash that Niki Lauda endured has gone into Formula One folklore and almost forty years later it’s just a footnote in history.

Yet on this day, in 1976, Lauda took his position on the starting grid at Monza; just six weeks after having received the last rites. In an era which is considered the most dangerous in F1 history this superhuman effort is almost impossible to quantify now and his legacy as a racing driver has been diminished with his poor performances at race management.

To enter a war zone as a trained soldier is fearsome, as I would imagine flying into space in the early pioneering days was – but to get into a car after being roasted alive when he could just have easily walked away takes a different form of courage. Mr Lauda, we thank you for demonstrating that a human being truly has no limits if they desire it sufficiently.

The Jackal

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Mercedes drivers. Job Done

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Verstappen has first proper run in F1 car

Max Verstappen recently completed his first test of a Formula One car driving a 2012 Toro Rosso at the Adria International Raceway in Italy. The young boy completed 148 laps of the 1.7-mile circuit to qualify for an F1 superlicence.

Xevi Pujolar, who will be Verstappen’s race engineer for his debut season in 2015, was highly impressed with the youngster’s performance.

“Max started his run on Intermediates and got up to speed, making no mistakes. We worked through various procedures that make up a race weekend. He was very focused and precise and learned quickly, without having to ask many questions.”

“Once we were able to fit slicks, he got used to the car in the dry and built up his speed, while we tried various fuel levels, replicating both qualifying and race trim, doing a mix of short and long runs. For a first day, it was very impressive.”

Which is all well and good except it highlights an important point. Namely that a still maturing, gaunt and skinny teenager had no problems running 300 miles in a Formula One car.

Why is this significant? Because years ago drivers who were unaccustomed to an F1 car would suffer neck problems within a handful of laps. Even the fittest of them all, Schumacher, had a training machine which built up weights so he could train his neck.

Yet no driver complains anymore and in fact this year many drivers have said how much easier the cars are to drive compared to recent seasons. This may be a 2012 heritage but it would still have significantly more downforce and the V8 engine as used that season. The ease with which a new driver can adapt to F1 could well be the reasoning behind the FIA banning pit-stop radio. Their rhetoric is to make the drivers heroes again, something that Formula One in their chase of aero performance has simply forgotten.

Verstappen added: “I was looking forward to my first drive in a Formula 1 car on a proper race track and I really enjoyed it. It was a good opportunity to work with Xevi, who will be my race engineer next year, as well as having a chance to get used to all the buttons on the steering wheel. I think it went well and I can’t wait to get back into a Formula 1 car as soon as possible.”

It’s reassuring that he said steering wheel rather than control pad..

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“Da Boss” Marchionne – makes sweeping changes advised by Mattiacci<?strong>

Sergio Marchionne doesn’t officially take over the Maranello presidency until October 14th when Il Padrino steps down, he is a FIAT company man that has turned round an ailing concern in FIAT/ Chrysler and placed it in a powerful position globally – yet within four days in Maranello has determined that the Power Unit is the biggest priority to sort out.

Of course as a business genius we have to assume this man has intelligence but to suggest that he understands the sport of F1 when his lieutenant has been universally derided for not being F1 is somewhat naive.

It goes without saying that Marco Mattiacci has briefed him throughout and the machinations happening behind the scenes will all make sense over the remainder of 2014 but for all the chest-beating it’s somewhat saddening that the previous tenant wasn’t fully aware of what was happening within his realm.

Marchionne: “We know the problem, we have a power unit problem. I have faith in Ferrari and its sporting arm, and that it will be able to resurrect as it did in the past. The sporting arm continues to be an essential element for Ferrari. We’ll work in order to try to win, because it’s part of this company’s DNA.”

“The important thing is to get back to winning ways, this is essential. The problem is not about the problem we have here on the market. We need to give credibility to Ferrari on the track and fixed on that we need to return to the top. That will give us support to Ferrari. Winning on the track is something that is not negotiable. We must get there, and I don’t have the slightest doubt we’ll be able to do it.

Luca Montezemolo then continued, “This is a very important day for me. Ferrari means culture. Ferrari means passion. Ferrari means to look ahead. That’s precisely what we have tried to do throughout these years on all fronts.”

Which is disconcerting when a number of ex-employees all sing from the same hymn-sheet in regards his dictatorial leadership which needed everything to be authorised by himself personally. Whilst that attitude of passion and culture underlines the business of selling dreams to customers it buys you nothing in the racing world.

Then the final proof that his self-aggrandisement and political ambitions had meant his not focusing on the task in hand. “We must develop a competitive car, the rest is just talk. Any second thoughts on the past? But as far as technicians yes, because as I said earlier we had a lack of specific knowledge in the power unit project.”

Mattiacci had learnt very quickly where the problems were and has taken control of the Gestione Sportiva by dismissing the dead wood and re-enforcing his trust in the others. In effect delegating the work accordingly and trusting the people. Luca Marmorini was an early dismissal not because his work was poor but essentially because he placed responsibility on everybody else. Hardly the actions of a proactive leader.

As “Da Boss’ said, the problem is not the market, the problem is on track.

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(Sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Alonso source says Montezemolo exit ‘changes nothing’

Sources close to Fernando Alonso insist this week’s news from Maranello will not affect his future. Even before long-time Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’s demise, and the shock death of his friend and sponsor, Santander’s Emilio Botin, Alonso was already being linked with a move to McLaren.

Publications have suggested the week’s events at the increasingly crisis-struck Ferrari may be the final straw for an increasingly frustrated Alonso.

But a source close to the Ferrari driver, who remains under contract until 2016, told the Spanish sports daily Marca: “The press has overblown everything. For a driver, the arrival of a new president of the company does not change anything.”

Nonetheless, Montezemolo’s departure is big news not only for Ferrari but also for F1, as the 67-year-old was a powerful influence. Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda, whose relationship with Montezemolo dates all the way back to his driving days at Ferrari, said this week’s news was a surprise.

“In my opinion Montezemolo didn’t want to go to Alitalia, he has been the president of Ferrari for 23 years and he achieved so many things. But, as happens in all companies, when things start to go wrong it is logical that these changes occur,” F1 legend Lauda told Italian-language Metro.

“I understand (Sergio) Marchionne and I am not critical of his decision. I hope to meet him soon, now that he is president of Ferrari, to talk about formula one. It will not be easy to bring Ferrari back to the competitiveness of the past, but it is the right time to make decisions for the following season,” said Lauda.

“It was the time for a change. It will be hard for them to come back this year but they can plan for next season and get to work to improve the engine, which is Ferrari’s real problem,” he added.

TJ13 comment: It’s interesting that Lauda feels the need to appease the Ferrari team. A few months back he made the relevant point that Ferrari and Mclaren had built ‘shit’ cars and merely days later his connection with LdM and Ferrari made him apologise internationally for what he had said. The interesting omission being that he made no effort to apologise to Mclaren for whom he also drove.

As to this week’s news being a surprise, here at the towers we ask again, just how far have these guys got their heads – buried in the sand. The fraternity in the paddock has been running round the goldfish bowl believing that F1 is all that matters and they are lauded by the official press who will repeat ad nauseum everything that they are told.

As to Alonso, whether he stays or whether he goes, Marchionne won’t be interested his concern is for profits and brand which is why winning is so important. But one thing is for certain, the Asturian had no time for Luca despite the public niceties.

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40 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 12th September 2014

  1. That is why, no matter how much bullsh*t lauda talks, he’ll be one of the greatest. For ever.

    • consider Lewis leaving. consider lauda recruited him. consider lauda making nice nice to Marchione. plan b for lauda perhaps if things continue to go sideways at merc? just a thought.

      • Personally I dont see lewis as the great ferrari match. I think vettel is more ferrari profile (even though someone here mentioned yesterday that vettel is to old)… but that’s my opinion.

      • I thought the same, but without the Lewis connection. More like ‘If Toto can have shares in Williams and Mercedes and work for the latter, then I should be able to work for Ferrari – because I don’t want to work with these fools anymore. Hmmmm…Maybe Paddy wants my shares at 200% of what I paid, because we’re champions’

    • If you’ve never read his autobiography “To Hell and Back” – I urge you to check it out. As you’d expect he is a bit terse, but the story is amazing, with some really great insights.

  2. It does make me sad at how seemingly easy it is to drive an F1 car.

    I just hope that further engine development over the coming seasons makes gives the more horsepower and that the tyres are less hard next year. I’ll be disappointed if the engine and tyres alone don’t speed the cars up by 2-3 seconds next year.

    Hopefully we’ll also see an increase in tyre width some day soon too. Watching Formula e cars go sideways through a chicane is vastly more entertaining that F1 cars tackle corners like Copse with huge amounts of downforce.

    They need to sit down and do some major work on how to make the cars look alive again.

    • I think you’re right about downforce.

      However, the fact that you have train your neck less, is that important?

      They still need to be very, very fit and have the best reflexes. Still they have to do everything perfect to do a good lap – like not locking up for a corner – and without radio-aid they are on their own again.

      If only the money could be fixed with 40 cars in prequalifying… That would seperate the real deal boys from the others.

    • I was a fan of the massive down force cars… They don’t slide trough the corners, true. But i haven’t seen anything go quicker around a bend.

  3. Well we can’t have it both ways.
    We b*tch and moan about the effect extreme aero had on the racing (no one could get close enough to pass). So they killed that.
    Now we bitch and moan that the kiddies don’t get sore necks anymore.
    Arthur / Martha / pseudohermaphrodite/…
    P.S. All cars back in the day (road & track) were hard to drive – because they were crap! But that was because we didn’t know any better πŸ™‚

      • I think so, you could still allow a single plane wing would help to, no holes/elements/cascades. I think that would polarise downforce/top speed more too.

    • I’ll add something to the argument. Twenty odd years ago, Williams had developed technology which would guide a car round without a driver on board, Abs brakes and cvt transmission which were banned.
      When you look at other technologies progression over the last two decades it would blow historic tech into the weeds. Hence why smart phones have more computing power than the Saturn V which took man to the moon. It’s designed to make our lives easier, which includes F1.

      When Senna had his fatal accident, the first thing Williams did was disconnect the power steering on Damon Hills car. P/S was in its infancy then but like everything it’s an afterthought now.

      F1 has to decide if it’s a show or a tech excercise and promote the sport accordingly but whereas the various developments are great for road car development, safety and efficiency, these are meant to be the best drivers in the world.

      • Yep. What he said πŸ™‚
        F1 can’t be all things to all people / interest groups.
        As pox / new age as it seems, maybe F1 needs a mission statement that defines its intent / purpose.

      • F1 does have to decide. You are right Carlo. Logically speaking, the WDC has always been the championship the fans are interested in. The WCC is an additional luxury for F1 nutters and for teams (to divide money), but the WDC is essentially the be all and end all.

        EG: No one really cares that Ferrari won the 1999 World Constructors Championship, only that Mika Hakkinen in a McLaren Mercedes won the World Drivers Championship. Despite Ferrari, as a team, having actually been world champions, the year was considered a waste for the Scuderia. Am I wrong?

        If not, that leads me to believe that it’s the sporting element, the competition / show and the drivers that F1 is really supposed to be showcasing, wrapped up in “relatively” bleeding edge tech and cars that are faster (lap time wise) than anything else on the planet at that point in time. The most successful and emotive periods of F1 are consistent with this I think.

        The tech show however is supplementary and should only be promoted and prioritised to a point where it doesn’t undermine the drivers competition and showcase. It is important to feel the cars are the best, fastest, but they don’t have to be the most innovative / future road relevant all the time to hold the audience.

        WEC, for example, is the opposite. Which is why the mass road car manufacturers should go there. WEC is tech show case, with good drivers (few stars) working as a pure team to display the best tech around the world with an endurance sporting flavour.

        So for me Carlo, the answer to your comment of what F1 has to decide on, which direction it has to go, is clear… WDC is king, whatever undermines that showcase of drivers in the fastest cars, in sprint style GP racing, with balls out qualifying sessions, is out. Car tech priorities, whilst important, can not undermine that mission and competition. That’s what has happened this year IMHO, thanks to the FIA who think everything has to be road relevant. I don’t want to feel I could drive the cars, and when I look at a Mika or Schumi pole lap, in the early to mid 2000’s, I know it can’t. Evocative…

        Lastly, and it may be just me, but I think the core, stalwart, supporting F1 fans want the cars road IRrelevant… Let’s be honest. Don’t we all like gladiators, super heros and unattainable prototypes? If not, fine, that’s ok, there is WEC. But let’s not turn F1 GP into F1 mini WEC.

        • I think trackdesign – run off area’s anyone??? – also plays a big part. If every track had Monaco walls nobody would ever feel it’s easy. Now, that’s extreme but there Has to he a way between gravel and tarmac which punishes the drivers. And still, I dont care bout age. Not because of Max but because I think it should be irrelevant.

          Most 16 year olds are in way better shape than mist people double their age.

          What Michael Jackson could at eleven, lots of musicians will never reach. For sport examples look at soccer or turning.

          • Agreed. I made the Michael Jackson reference when the news first got out. Some talent is just too precious to waste…

          • 1) even sections of Monaco aren’t the challenge they once were. Ste. Devote, the swimming pool entry and exit and rascasse. It’s not as though the changes have helped overtaking either. All it’s done is levelled the skill required because drivers can now enter those corners and slide through them as it’s only curving. That’s a lot of the reason behind my OTD for the 14th May

            As to MJ, I’m on my phone so can’t check the definition but isn’t a musician someone who picks up an instrument.
            MJ was a one trick pony with the moon dancing routine surrounded by brilliant producers and management like Frank Delaio(?)

          • @ Carlo
            He played different instruments and as they say: the voice is the best instrument – there’s this film with him preparing his last tour, check it out and you’ll appreciate his genius.

          • Ow Carlo you just say that because you’re a prince fan. There is no denying that mj had one of the best voices ever. (As does prince by the way, you know I’m a fan too πŸ˜‰ ) it’s true that there was a big team of masterminds surrounding him. But that was only to get the most out of his talent.

        • In addition, everybody even to this day States Ferrari didn’t win a championship for 21 years, ie Scheckter 79 to Schumi 2000, yet Ferrari won the WCC in 1982 & 1983 and then in 1999.
          Who remembers that Ferrari won the WCC in 2008? Yet it’s remembered as Lewis’s year

    • I think the idea is, or has been, that when you make a car as fast as it can be, then it’s difficult to control. Newey has shown us a different way – that you can lock the car down aerodynamically and it’s faster in every corner. Modern tracks have helped – full of compound corners that ultimately reward downforce over power. So ultimately everyone has followed the red Bull Path, and the cars are locked down.

      When was the last time we saw a car spin off the track? They understeer off on occaision, but why don’t they ever spin off? cars just have too much rear grip.

      • True.. I think the banning of FRIC might have been to get them less ‘bolted down’, too. Since the 2009 return of slicks, the cars have looked less racy, in that they look very stable at all times on the suspension. Nothing like this happens anymore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R89o2riUm-M Karthikeyan crashing this year in Japanese F3000.

  4. In the bar exam, you quote directly from wiki, and it reads like Gurney had only one win in NASCAR and Indy, when in fact it was 5 wins in 16 starts and 7 wins in 28 starts respectively. Not to mention that he also won in both Can-Am and Trans-AM series.

    • Gurney also outpaced Jack Brabham in their time together at Brabham (one of his three “first win” teams). So, if he stayed there for ’66 and ’67, instead of starting up Eagle, it’s not far-fetched to say that he could have been a WDC as well. Maybe only Moss, Clark and Surtees were definitely faster from his era. And Dan was very innovative, re: the car and also outside of it!

      • Terrific footage of the Eagle, one of the nicest and cleanest F1 cars ever. I always felt Gurney was better than his results really showed.

  5. I know this is not in your comments today, but banning radio transmissions between engineers/drivers during the race which relay information which is seen as ‘aiding’ the driver is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Has any consultation been carried out by the FIA on this, without these transmissions races will be boring as we the fans wont have any knowledge of what happening inside the cockpit of the car – finding it difficult to find the words to articulate the stupidity of this actio

  6. @Thejudge13, who wrote: “As to Alonso, whether he stays or whether he goes, Marchionne won’t be interested his concern is for profits and brand which is why winning is so important. But one thing is for certain, the Asturian had no time for Luca despite the public niceties.”

    This can be true, but for sure if Marchione is concerned for profits, then Luca Cordero di Montezemolo should be the CEO of Fiat/Chrysler:

    From JAonF1: (hope it is fair use)
    “Ferrari’s board yesterday reviewed the sales figures for the first half of 2014 showing sales of €1.34 billion and the strongest financial position Ferrari has ever had in its history. “

    • True, but Ferrari caters for the luxury market. Marchionne learned from Montezemolo and applied that to the whole FIAT group! From heading towards the doldrums 10 years ago, it’s making a revival as the 5th big car manufacturer..

      • My point was that perhaps what Ferrari needs is not winning, but just being on F1 as is proved by the fact that after 7 years without winning, they are on record revenues and profits.

        So maybe we can expect a lower profile (read: expense) on F1 from Marchione than it was the case from Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.

        • I do agree.. perhaps it could be said that Marchionne is looking at the bigger picture. So, Ferrari ‘takes it’s place’ in that but no more – whereas Luca wanted the best for Ferrari above all else.

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