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Previously on TheJudge13:
OTD Lite: 2001 – Zanardi suffers career ending accident
The F1 teams had arrived in Monza in a state of shock after the destruction of the World Trade Centre the preceding Tuesday. On this Saturday, many drivers heard the shocking news that a former contemporary of theirs had suffered life threatening injuries in Germany.
Alex Zanardi had been competing in the Lausitzring Indycar race when after his final pit-stop he spun as he exited the pits. His car was collected by fellow racer Alex Tagliani – the impact shattering Zanardi’s car and amputating his legs in situ. The medical crew saved his life despite him losing 5 litres of blood and he began a slow recovery with his wife and son as support.
Since his return he has completed the last 13 laps of the Speedway, competed in WTCC with BMW and driven a hand controlled BMW-Sauber. With the exuberance he demonstrated when winning Indycar races – he celebrated his later victories with donuts.
But perhaps a greater legacy than all his motorsport achievements was his victory at the Paralympics in London 2012. An Olympian in mind, body and spirit – this man proves continuously what an inspiration he is to everyone. Irrespective of the body – it is the heart that defines the person.
Pit-to-car radio – the subterfuge begins
In the latest FIFA World Cup, two new introductions changed the way that the historic game of football (soccer to our American cousins) was played. Goal-line technology which has been requested for years and the use of a disappearing foam in the event of free kicks both moved the game on.
These changes were implemented to solve a problem which the more opportunistic professionals pushed beyond the so called ‘spirit of the rules’. No longer will a referee or linesman be the decider of a potential goal nor an unscrupulous player to negate the advantage of a free kick against their team.
The recent decision by the FIA to implement changes in regards to the use of pits to car radio has elicited a response from all the individual teams as to their future use. Toto Wolff is decidedly underwhelmed by the decision stating that: “It is a complex and controversial decision that will require a major effort by the team to understand how we can work best with this new direction. The directive is not entirely clear and there will inevitably be some controversy as to what clarification will be used in essential procedures like for example before the start of the race.”
Of course this brings about its own problems in a team that professes to allowing their drivers to race but in at least two of the last three races controversy has followed ignored orders from the pitwall. It would seem that no longer will we hear the dulcet tones of the Leprechaun ordering his two young charges to heel…
Christian Horner believes that “drivers should be alone when they step into the car. Of course all information that’s needed for pit-stops and safety will be used but they do not need constant information as to where their team-mate is a tenth faster and what gear they are using. It makes no sense, for the drivers it is time to drive.”
Of course information will still be sent to the cars and displayed on their LCD screens but although Mclaren furnished every team with a new, larger display which contained new features – notably Williams, Lotus and Red Bull have not adopted it. As Lotus declared, obviously with Raikkonen in mind, “not all drivers like the constant communication. Some respond well whereas others do not want to hear any of this”
“Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing” said the Iceman in a moment of heated debate back in Abu Dhabi in 2012.
While Charlie Whiting has reiterated that Article 8.5.2 of the Technical Regulations expressly prohibits telemetry between the pits and cars, he would be naive to believe that the assorted teams will not devise a way to circumvent the rules. Eric Boullier in fact admits as much when he offered: “We will see a revival of encrypted dialogues which would necessarily be a little less obvious than Rob Smedley’s infamous ‘Alonso is faster than you’. I’m sure that saying the sky is blue will be a message and even if we are asked what it means I’m pretty sure codes will be used.”
Of course this means that the FIA have their work cut out to monitor every possible transmission but in 2014 whining of the type heard repeatedly by Alonso and Vettel at Silverstone has brought the situation to a head. The debut of 17 year old Max Verstappen has also likely seen the governing body decide to implement a tougher challenge which, combined with a look at the current Superlicence requirements, has shocked the overseers into reinstating F1 as the pinnacle of the sport.
It’s easy to look back and admire the racers of the past who left the pitlane and then for the next two hours raced, preserved their tyres and their car until the chequered flag – all without outside influence. But when Esteban Guitterez at the recent Belgian Grand Prix was told by his engineer that his tyres were ready to attack a drying track in qualifying – maybe it’s time to rethink what the sport should represent. These are after all amongst the best drivers of this generation – with the possible exception of Ericsson and Chilton.
Mansell – Mercedes will decide World Champion
With the preceding article in mind, 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell offers an interesting take on the developments within the Mercedes camp. He is of the opinion that Mercedes will decide the outcome of the winner of the 2014 drivers title – except now, any instructions will most likely be given prior to the drivers getting into their respective cars.
With radio transmissions banned, no longer will the international audience hear the drivers being told to drive to a delta, leave the attack for later on or simply ‘hold position’. Both Rosberg and Hamilton now know that the gloves are off.
After Monza, two independent sources from within Mercedes offered to TJ13 that instructions had been given to Rosberg in regards to his having to ‘gift’ a victory to Hamilton as payback for what was judged to have been his fault – or what the rest of the world calls a racing accident.
Of the remaining 7 races this season, it was inevitable that finding himself in front in Monza with a fast catching Lewis behind him, Rosberg decided to pay back as per the teams instructions and deliberately out-braked himself not once but twice, both times with barely a puff of smoke and straight-lining the chicane. The first time navigating and accelerating through as quickly as possible, the second a more conservative approach and a more leisurely application of the loud pedal – the difference? The second time it was his team-mate behind him.
Of course observers will claim that he made similar mistakes in Canada but each time he would use the painted tarmac beyond the white lines to maintain an advantage. In Monza, he took to an escape road rather than attempt to make the chicane. Whereas most other drivers avoided the the slalom through the cones preferring to clatter over the speed bumps of the chicane.
Mansell himself said: “Many people are wondering if Nico threw the race, but the only ones who would really know that is Mercedes and Nico. I do not know what the real answer is, but I know I would have tried to make the chicane.”
“Mercedes is one of the best teams but I have to think that they have allowed the situation to over-run them. It was intriguing to see their reaction after Spa. It’s an easy situation to deal with team-mates because no-one complained. The stewards, and I have been one, maintained it was a racing incident and as drivers you never ‘wash your dirty laundry in public’. But the teams reaction afterwards was surprising!”
“Lewis did a great job in Monza but it’s all in Mercedes’ hands. Ultimately the one who wins the title is the one they want to promote. It’s a simple thing to say but these two great drivers should operate as the team instructs them. I hope they let them race but if there are further repercussions then the team will take action…”
Allan Mcnish offers the tifosi a glimmer of hell vs hope
One of the trio of Celts that lend their opinions to the part-time production called the BBC F1 coverage, Allan Mcnish is also a three time Le Mans winner and effectively a poor mans replacement for the brogue of Gary Anderson.
In his column for the BBC he touched on a subject that TJ13 recently “put out there” about how damaging Fernando Alonso’s brilliance has actually proven to Ferrari.
“Marco Mattiacci has to find a way to convince Alonso to stay because it has become abundantly apparent just how bad Ferrari would have looked in the last few years without him. Now they are way beyond the point at which even Alonso can hide Ferrari’s shortcomings. If Ferrari lost the drive and determination of Alonso, that could only destabilise the team further.”
“In some ways, Alonso has probably lengthened the time it took Ferrari to realise how bad they were, by dragging them to fight for world titles and giving them results they did not deserve. But there is no doubt anymore.”
Of course, individuals with a little knowledge are a dangerous breed, or so the cliche goes and Mcnish proffers no argument against this view other than with further talk of how Ferrari’s sacking of Prost at the end of 1991 was “an incredibly bad decision” and how the current situation reminds him of “Ferrari in the early 90’s when run by Fiat management.”
Except that Fiat management had the foresight to also appoint Luca Cordero di Montezemolo to Ferrari in November 1991 and so began a turnaround.
“LdM’s departure gives them a chance to start again because there has been something fundamentally wrong with the team with Montezemolo in overall charge. In Alonso they have the Schumacher. Allison is a highly regarded design leader but the question remains as to whether Mattiacci can hold it all together.”
“He is highly regarded with parent company Fiat and has already made clear he knows it’s a rebuilding job for the future. I am interested to see if he can use his experience to turn the fortunes of the scarlet cars around in a similar fashion to Flavio Briatore in the early 90’s.”
Which would be a relevant point except Flavio made no secret he didn’t know anything about F1 or most importantly the global car industry. He worked for a knitwear manufacturer. Possibly the biggest clue about his ultimate potential came from none other than the Suffolk Toad who likened MM to when Jean Todt first joined Ferrari.
Shock! Ecclestone duped the Circuit of the Americas officials
Billionaires are generally accepted as supremely driven individuals. The likelihood of one making that sort of money does not suit an image of a peaceful, law-abiding citizen who helps old ladies across the road. It is also highly unlikely that any have achieved this level of extreme wealth without being ruthless when the need has arisen.
As to luck, it may apply that an individual becomes a millionaire with an invention but before reaching the heady heights of nine zeros beyond the initial digit they would have sold the company to a bigger corporation.
Bernie Ecclestone has achieved this position through consummate playing of governments and individuals throughout his career and has amassed as many admirers as he has detractors. With countries practically falling over themselves to taste the elixir of Formula One, many a white elephant has fallen by the roadside with dreams unfulfilled.
If the announcement of Mexico being on the 2015 calendar wasn’t disastrous enough for a circuit that relies on the huge numbers of Mexican visitors to show their support for the home drivers – news is emerging that Mr E may well have pulled off another hood-winking of naive government officials.
The circuit was intended to benefit from the Major Event Trust Fund (METF) which was established by Legislature to help Texas compete with other states to attract major sporting events. Critics have always been critical of the track’s eligibility both in Austin and outside the state capitol. No recipient of state support has been more controversial than the F1 project – especially given that Legislature has had to slash schools and social services to balance the budget.
The problem appears to be that the proper legal application may not have been in compliance with Texas regulations. Land Commisioner Jerry Patterson said, “The process was botched from the beginning … it was clear then and it’s even clearer now, the statute was not complied with.”
And an attorney for the state controller’s office said that even if a proper written application was not made, it is possible that “the application to Formula One Management Limited was oral, not written, so that a public information request would not elicit a copy.”
The headline figure of $250 million is what would be paid by the state over a 10 year period and to date COTA has received funds amounting to $60 million dollars. The 2013 race weekend brought more than 250,000 people to the track which in a property tax appraisal was valued at more than $296 million but the fear of the organisers is that with the newly announced return to Mexico many of these visitors will evaporate.
(sourced from (GMM) with TJ13 comment)
Red Bull’s da Costa admits F1 ‘dream’ over
Antonio Felix da Costa has admitted his F1 “dream” is probably over. Last year, the young Portuguese was the cream of Red Bull’s driver development programme and apparently destined for a Toro Rosso debut in 2014. But just as da Costa’s Formula Renault 3.5 campaign faltered, Red Bull decided instead to pluck teen Daniil Kvyat straight out of GP3.
Perhaps bolstered by the success of its daring choice, the energy drink company has now controversially decided to put 16-year-old Max Verstappen into F1 next year straight from F3 and karts. In the meantime, Antonio Felix da Costa is acknowledging that his F1 dream may be over.
“At the start of the season I had hoped still to go into formula one,” he told Speed Week. “But although I am only 23 and it’s a bit young to give up a dream, I had to decide what to focus on, and that is DTM,” da Costa said. Still with Red Bull backing, he has raced a BMW in the premier German touring car series this year, scoring only 4 points so far.
But he insists that seeing first Kvyat and now Verstappen race ahead of him into F1 is “not hard” to cope with. “I enjoy DTM very much and from the beginning it has gone well,” da Costa said, “so I have decided to concentrate on this. If I was to spend ten years here, I would be happy,” he insisted. “This is my goal.”
“Max is a very, very good racing driver, and I could not have achieved at 16 what he has achieved. He is clearly a special talent,” said da Costa. “At the same time I am very sorry for Carlos Sainz jr,” he added. “He was developed by Red Bull, they invested a lot in him, and he is now ready for promotion to the premier class. I hope he gets the chance and that we will see Max and Carlos on the grid next year.”
In the meantime, da Costa is focusing not only on DTM, but also the all-new Formula E series, even though a clash last weekend meant he had to sit out the season opener.
TJ13 comment: ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.’ Henry Ford
It’s such a shame that da Costa has failed to make an impact and his career is effectively over at just 23 year of age and… enough!
This is insane. A talented driver has been picked up and sponsored by the voracious appetite that is Red Bull but he is living a pampered life and he is racing in Formula E and DTM. How many potential stars has the sport missed out on because of funding issues or ‘lucky breaks’. Back in the 1970’s and 80’s, if you lucked into Marlboro sponsorship early on, you were practically guaranteed a run at F1 at some stage and it was what you made of your opportunity.
The biggest problem ultimately is that this guy is quite obviously not a strong mental character if he has ‘given up’ on his dream already. Formula One would have destroyed him and it is likely that for all his undoubted ability Helmut Marko could see that too. For every driver that makes it to F1 there are probably 100 who have failed.