#F1 Daily News and Comment: Sunday 14th September 2014

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Previously on TheJudge13:

On This Day in #F1: 14th September 2008

Top-20 #F1 Constructors who failed – 8th March


OTD Lite: 1980 – Gilles Villeneuve survives huge accident

Prost dynasty – Like father, like son

FIA to investigate superlicence qualifying criteria

Marchionne promises to work like “madman” for Ferrari resurrection

All we hear is, Radio Ga-Ga, Radio Goo-Goo…

Formula E boss Agag happy about Heidfeld crash

Meanwhile in Venezuela…


OTD Lite: 1980 – Gilles Villeneuve survives huge accident

indexIn 1994 Roland Ratzenberger succumbed to injuries he received during an accident at the Villeneuve corner. His front wing had failed, folded under the front wheels and he hit the concrete wall with sickening violence. The state-of-the-art carbonfibre tub came to rest with a hole in the monocoque and the driver unconscious.

Following this black weekend the authorities had to be seen to act and so the Imola circuit profile was changed with a chicane installed before the Villeneuve bend.

Yet 14 years previously a similar accident had proven that fate plays its hand everytime. On this day in 1980, on the 5th lap, Villeneuve suffered a tyre failure which launched his car into a horrific accident from which he leapt clear at the corner that would be renamed in his honour.

Before the introduction of carbon-fibre F1 cars were made of aluminum honey-comb; at the time recognised as the lightest and strongest material for these 200mph projectiles. Luck, and not the technology, meant that on this day the driver survived the accident.

The Jackal

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Prost dynasty – Like father, like son

Alain Prost was a passable F1 driver. Unfortunately, his son has never achieved the same heady heights.. Prost Jr. led throughout the inaugural Formula E race and was ahead entering the final lap of the Beijing event.

The option of someone being faster didn’t quite compute, and as they approached the final corner Heidfeld began his over-taking move. The Frenchman glanced quickly in his right hand mirror before he cynically ploughed into Heidfeld’s car. Even Maldonado would describe such a move as ‘fairly nasty’.

Heidfeld: “I had been saving power and got a really good run out of the second to last corner; I was better on braking for the last corner and he braked early anyway. I was next to him and he moved over on me. That is clear, but he is a friend of mine [and team-mate at the Rebellion Racing World Endurance Championship squad], so I know he didn’t do it on purpose.”

Prost, meanwhile, initially accused Heidfeld of “totally overcooking it. I didn’t see him and it is disappointing to lose the victory like this. I was in the middle of the track when I braked for the corner, just to be safe. But he was next to me and already hit my wheel. I didn’t think he would try something like this.”

Bxar3iBIMAAGF9L“There is no way to overtake there. The speed of the impact [with the wall] shows that he was going too fast,” he continued. “I was just starting to turn in at that point and he tried to dive-bomb me.”

Which belies the fact that the Frenchman was attempting to turn into the final corner some 100 metres earlier than he had the previous 24 laps of the race.. Perhaps most disturbing of all was the fact that young Prost didn’t go to check on his ‘friend’ to see if he was ok.

He did, however, later take to Twitter to accept responsibilty for the accident, saying: “I feel very bad about the incident and after looking at the videos I understand that I am responsible. I just did not see him, I feel very bad”

Needless to say, the 10 place grid penalty for the next race at Putrajaya, Malaysia takes a wee bit of wind out of the Prost attack. But it’s not the first time that a Prost has been involved in questionable driving in a World Championship – just that it normally plays out when a championship is at stake, eh Alain?

The four times F1 world champion claimed that he never thought that someone would “try such a suicidal move”. Unfortunately nobody but the Frenchman, who obviously suffers from a terminal detachment from reality, has yet identified an attempt to overtake someone named Prost as an offense punishable by death. Thankfully his son has a bit more common sense and later apologized to Heidfeld, if somewhat very belatedly.

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FIA to investigate superlicence qualifying criteria

The FIA will be reviewing the issuing of the super licence system after several noted individuals have raised concerns about the way drivers qualify for them. Following the graduation of Max Vertsappen to F1 without completing a season in single seater racing, many inside the paddock and several noted ex drivers including Jacques Villeeuve have been vociferous of the state of play.

Following discussions at the recent Italian Grnad Prix, the FIA put out a statement: “A mandate has been given to the FIA Administration to review the qualification and conditions for the issuing of a super licence, in consultation with all parties concerned. A proposal will be put forward for WMSC approval in December for implementation in 2016.”

Eric Boullier also told Autosport: “there is not a clear path to F1. If you go to football, you have your academy and then you go to League 3, League 2 and League 1. Here we have different series and it is a bit confusing for drivers.”

“So the superlicence needs to be a little bit updated in the way it is given. Some series have disappeared, some series are still on, and the level of each series varies a lot.”

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Marchionne promises to work like “madman” for Ferrari resurrection

During a recent launch of a new Jeep model, Sergio Marchionne spoke to the press about his ascendancy to the role of Ferrari president. “I was incredibly close to Ferrari and I started working with Luca (Montezemolo) about ten years ago during a difficult time. We shared in the development of the model line so effectively there is no-one else who can continue to take Ferrari forward.”

In 2004 Marchionne was assigned by Fiat heir John Elkann to take over the reins in Turin. In the past ten years he has overseen a complete turnaround of their fortunes from near-bankruptcy to claiming a place amongst the top 5 manufacturers in the world with their recent takeover of the Chyrsler group that Daimler-Mercedes failed with. At the same time, LdM was appointed the Chairman of Fiat so in effect the two worked closely.

With Marco Mattiacci installed at the Gestione Sportiva since April, changes in the Scuderia’s infrastructure is already in progress so the axe bearer won’t have as much work to put in place when he takes over on the 13th October. “How long am I willing to wait to return to the top? The minimum possible. I have committed myself to the team to work like hell to get Ferrari back winning. This is essential. Throughout, Luca and myself received messages from disappointed fans and this has bothered me for a long time.”

Which is an admirable sentiment from a man over-seeing a multi-billion dollar empire but unlikely to be the full truth. Ferrari is seen as the jewel in the crown of the Fiat-Chrysler corporation and with an imminent flotation scheduled in New York the intrinsic value of the company will rise with a healthy Ferrari.

And whilst Formula One teams believe the world revolves around them, the truth is that this sport is irrelevant to the conglomerate’s profit sheet. The likelihood is that Marchionne is the only man with the authority to oust Monte without too much of a power struggle before passing the control to one of his choosing – power that comes not only from the Fiat board but also from the fact he is on the board of directors of Phillip Morris, better known as Ferrari’s main sponsor Marlboro.

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All we hear is, Radio Ga-Ga, Radio Goo-Goo…

Drivers being told what to do and when has long been a pet-peeve of fans. The battle of wills between Seb Vettel and his race engineer throughout the 2013 season have been a prime example of that. While ‘Rocky’ wanted to ‘save the car’, he was often brushed off by the German, who fancied himself a fastest lap or some doughnuts.

If it is for FIA, in a rare moment of ‘making sense’, these times are over as they plan to enforce §20.1 of the sporting regulation, that demands that ‘the driver operates the car unaided’. Gone could be the times of drivers being told at which angle and uttering which prayer they should attempt corner three.

Interestingly, Red Bull chief Christian Horner, the man who forgot how to operate a razor, likes the idea. “The drivers should be alone in the cockpit. You have to inform them about pitstops and anything pertaining security, but you need not tell them where their opponent shaves off a tenth of a second or which gear to use in which corner.”

Mercedes, meanwhile, fresh off a useless attempt at stage-managing a faux finale at Monza are not readily happy with the changed circumstances and Toto Wolff demands “clarification”. Maybe the Austrian is not convinced that Nico will miss the appropriate breaking points if the team is no longer allowed to tell him that his brakes need ‘saving’.

Ferrari, meanwhile, deploys the hand bags, citing that some drivers still can receive silent messages via LC display, while three teams (Sauber, Marussia, Caterham?) can’t. As this would hit two Ferrari teams the Italians are ‘molto pisse offed’.

FIA meanwhile, who seem to have found a can of ‘cojones’ in the back of the fridge, announce that they will run a ‘no-tolerance’ doctrine and will even go after messages that they think are coded instructions. Let the games commence…

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Formula E boss Agag happy about Heidfeld crash

Not to be out-done by the short stuff from Suffolk in the cynicism department, Formula E boss Agag claims that the shunt of former Sauber, Williams, Jordan, Prost, BMW and Renault F1 driver Nick Heidfeld was “the best that could happen to us in terms of TV coverage”

The German, who was punted into a violent flip by his WEC team mate Nicola Prost might think a bit different. “What kind of sh!t was that?” the 37 year old is quoted as yelling over the team radio before climbing out of his wrecked car that belongs to the Venturi team, co-owned by Hollywood actor Leonardo di Caprio.

Another one, who most likely doesn’t share Agag’s ‘enthusiasm’, is Heidfeld’s younger brother Sven, who had to witness the shunt as commentator for Sky Germany. The German arm of the British pay TV broadcaster show all FE races live and Nick’s brother, who was a modestly successful racer himself is the regular Co-commentator for FE, GP2 and the Porsche super cup support races.

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Meanwhile in Venezuela…

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38 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Sunday 14th September 2014

  1. That prost move was unbelievable. 10 place penalty isn’t nearly enough. Heidfeld is lucky he got out alive. Just as in the villeneuve article above, if luck wasn’t on his side he’d be dead now…

  2. FE v F1
    Similarities…
    Both have two drivers who are ‘friends’…
    Both drive for the same team…
    One driver ‘deliberately’ swerved into the other’s path…
    … and claimed total innocence…
    … and then took full responsibility…

    Differences…
    The ‘other’ driver suffered a life-threatening crash…
    The first driver heartlessly just walked away from it – some friend – some teammate…!
    What a little s%1t…!

    • I have to agree BJF.

      Three small mirror looks, gauged the closing pace, and hook.

      Plus that’s no where near a turn in point for that corner.

      Scumbag springs to mind. Ala Senna 1990 Suzuka.

      • Astonishing he failed to check the inside before moving. He looks outside then just goes. ???!!!

        BTW Dario Franchitti commenting here in US, probs brought back some bad memories for him.

        • @MattyfromMurica

          Yes Dario was very much like, and I paraphrase here, “Erm well, I don’t like to call it early, I try to be impartial… But erm, yeah… Prost just turned into him.”

          That stuttering, careful, stilted pc comment from Dario said it all. Like, “I better not say it for now, in case, but really it’s pretty clear folks.”

          I’m a big Dario fan by the way. Real gentleman I think. Great racer. Shame about his cousin.

          • Agree re Dario, very well liked on this side of the pond. Still, would have preferred he talked more and the shrill screamer a bit less, but I could barely hear it anyway because of the din of Minecraft videos being watched by the grrl.

            As for his cuz, shame indeed.

  3. Wow Prost was totally at fault here. From the brief video, it looked like either Heidfeld was already level with Prost or Heidfeld was slightly ahead. At this point it seems somewhat malevolent to turn onto the car that’s on the inside line of a turn.

  4. “FIA…announce that they will…even go after messages that they think are coded instructions.”
    It’s going to be amusing watching them trying to police that one.

  5. I read that Prost Sr said he “wasn’t expecting a suicide move at the end”… But was he referring to Junior or Heidfeld?

  6. Teams who can’t receive messages via LCD are most likely those who still operate a classic steering wheel/display setups: red bull, williams, force india.

  7. Re: Sausage kerbs

    And now it’s official: Sausage kerbs are safer than gravel!!

    So Charlie Brown and the FIA should remove the last remaining oases of gravel traps, replace them with tarmac run-offs, and when those idiots fail to discipline drivers to respect track limits — install sausage kerbs (like in Austria). Now grab some popcorn and wait for cars to lift into the air.

    • Yeah I thought that the Court came down rather harshly on Agag. And the headline was ironically incendiary and hyperbolic.

      Formula E boss Agag happy about Heidfeld crash

      Geeze.

      It’s interesting to read what James Allen wrote:

      The crash was the main talking point and in purely pragmatic terms is probably one of the best things that could have happened – give that no-one was hurt – as it gave the new series widespread exposure on news channels with footage and stills of the spectacular crash.

      Series promoter Alejandro Agag said he was pleased with the first outing for the sport, “We had the big drama at the end on the last corner of the last lap with that horrendous crash,” he said.

      “The most important thing today is to say that the safety is always first, that we have proven today that electric cars are safe. I don’t think we can get a bigger crash to the one we got today.”

      Have to say, I think the Judge’s ruling (to bash Agag) was unfair and could be overturned on appeal.

  8. Yeah, on the fence re radio. You get such good info on radio I hate to give it up. Plus, I would imagine software engineers are busy writing algorithms to put the some info on the LCD display. OTOH lap boards very retro and it will be interesting to see if it advantages certain drivers more than others.

    BTW, nothing in 20.1 prohibits multi-21 Valterri is faster than you kind of orders, does it?

      • Very much. Weird timing, too. Suppose there is more to it behind the scenes. TBH, given the wording seems quite the reach, after all, engineers not changing setting for the drivers, ultimately the changes are their discretion.

        Plus, now we can see when software goes sideways instead of driving round and getting back a rebooted car once the engineers can cycle the car, either a terminally stricken car or a dangerously distracted driver trying to read instructions off the wheel at 300kph.

        • Charlie seems to be more reactive rather than proactive. So the ban on communication between the pit and the drivers, does that also include the pit board messages as well?

        • @matt
          To me, it Has knee jerk written all over.

          I’m all for leaving things up to the drivers, but I guess the Wolf is right: it will lead to controversy.

        • I saw an article where Charlie W points out it is illegal for any data information to be sent to the car by the pit wall only radio is alowwed to be broadcast to a car they can’t send text messages etc to the steering wheel as it contravenes the rules about nothing but radio can be transmitted to the car. The messages they talk about in the steering wheel would I expect to be warning info built into the system.

          • Yes, that was what I was suggesting. Lots of busy software engineers writing algorithms into the car. From the FIA interview:

            Q: Is a warning that the driver is tight on fuel consumption a breach of the regulations?
            FIA: Yes, we believe so. The driver should see that on the dashboard (like a fuel gauge on a road car). *

            Q: Are warnings about the condition of the brakes or tyres (slow puncture) still allowed?
            FIA: No, this should be displayed to the driver from data gathered onboard, again like a fuel gauge.

            Q: Are commands such as SOC 3, MIX 5, FUEL 2 still allowed?
            FIA: No, definitely not. This is exactly what we feel infringes Article 20.1.

            Q: What about all of the instructions the drivers receive on a formation lap in order to warm up the tyres and brakes, synchronise the gearbox, carry out burnouts and so on?
            FIA: None of this would be allowed as again, this is exactly what we feel infringes Article 20.1.

          • @mattpt55
            “Q: Are warnings about the condition of the brakes or tyres (slow puncture) still allowed?
            FIA: No”

            Wow. I guess we should all grab the popcorn and wait for cars to skid off..

          • I’m very skeptical about this. Ok ban the transmission when the lights go green on race day, but to ban it for the entire weekend, I’m not in agreement with, especially on the formation lap.

            Cold brakes and tyres at the start of the race can only lead to numerous collisions. I don’t think he has thought this properly. He seems to be reacting to some of the comments made by pundits and some fans. For years fans have been making suggestions and complaining about things they’d like to see either implemented or removed from the domain of the sport, to do it now when we are coming close to the end of one of the best seasons we’ve had for years, is just ridiculous.

  9. Alain Prost was a “passable driver”? Huh?
    Way to devalue “The Professor”.

    • You could say he was similar to Schumacher.. one of the best ever, but also prone to a questionable call on judgement when the title was on the line.

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