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Previously on TheJudge 13:
OTD Lite: 1960 – Birth of a true champion
Today marks the birthday of two of Britain’s most famous sons – at least from the motor-racing sphere. Stirling Moss celebrates his 85th birthday and Damon Hill celebrates his 54th. Of course, rarely are the two mentioned in the same paragraph, after all Moss is recognised as one of the greatest drivers in history with only fate preventing him being listed as a World Champion.
Damon Hill on the other hand is seen as a fortunate champion having piloted a dominant Williams for most of his career. Something frankly I find absurd! Nigel Mansell has always praised Hill for his ability when testing the Williams FW14 which was developed into a dominant car. Hill joined Williams in 1993 and won races over the years until he took the title in 1996.
In 1997 he took the crazy decision of driving for the perennial mid-field team – Arrows – and turned a truly awful car into a front running machine. In fact, if it hadn’t been for a 25p item failing on the last lap in Hungary, he would have won the race. In 1998, once again saddled with an awful car, he worked and guided the team until circumstances led to a Jordan 1-2.
Of course, half the field had been eliminated but the fact remains that after Williams he performed miracles for two lower order teams. Something that celebrated champions like Mika Hakkinen and Jacques Villeneuve never came close to emulating.
Alonso talks in private with Marchionne
As ever in the convoluted world that is F1 – rumours and speculation emerge that sent tweets flying around the world. Yesterday the soundbite suggested a straight swap between Maranello and Milton Keynes of, respectively, Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Vettel being on the cards. Something that has been vehemently denied by all parties.
In Italy, the media is still struggling to get a clue about what Alonso’s plans are going to be – with Mclaren being the only realistic option. But is it? With constant reports emerging from Japan that the manufacturer is behind on their development of this new power unit, it is looking more likely that 2015 will be another barren year for Mclaren.
This, of course, will allow returning Peter Podromou to establish his design team and produce his first proper car for the 2016 season. By then, Honda will have gathered a years worth of data and will be looking to establish a contract with a second team.
But in recent years, as the testing regulations have become more restrictive, data collection is crucial to developing an engine and Honda have just one team supplying data. If Mclaren run into design problems again, there is no comparable power unit to compare to; unlike the Mercedes powered teams this year.
The Monday following the Italian Grand Prix, Sergio Marchionne visited Maranello and took passenger rides around Fiorano with the teams drivers. What was discussed is not known but after the ‘resignation’ of Il Padrino and the death of his friend – Santander chairman Botin – having the new head of the FCA group, board member of Philip Morris and newly installed Ferrari President aboard likely explaining what is due to happen in the near future may well have decided Alonso’s fate.
Ericsson ‘selfie’ explains lack of pace
Ericsson shows some talent behind the wheel, sadly not moving in a forward direction too quickly..
DTM champion Wittmann not dreaming of F1
Marco Wittmann may be the newly-crowned DTM champion, but he is not dreaming about a future in formula one. Although Paul di Resta set a precedent for launching a F1 career off the back of dominance in the premier German touring car series, 24-year-old Wittmann is happy for now in DTM.
Last weekend at the Lausitzring, driving for BMW, the German sealed the 2014 drivers’ title with two rounds to spare. But as for success breeding thoughts of moving into motor racing’s premier category F1, Wittmann insists that “At the moment it is absolutely not a topic for me. I feel extremely comfortable with BMW in the DTM,” he told Speed Week.
Wittmann explained that the major turn-off about formula one at present is the increasingly dominant ‘pay driver’ situation. “When you see young drivers placing suitcases of money at the door, that is not the point of the sport from a driver’s perspective,” he admitted.
Another DTM driver with the same attitude is Timo Glock, who lost his Marussia seat at the end of 2012 and – like Wittmann – now drives a BMW in the DTM. He said: “You can only really think about F1 if you have a suitcase full of money. So you can only get chosen by one of the top teams, or find someone who pays for you for a year.”
“But then you have no guarantee that you are going to go beyond that,” said Glock, 32, who also drove in F1 for the now-departed Toyota. “The bad thing is that it costs you 5 to 10 million (euros), but that only gets you one year. Then someone with a thicker wallet could come along.”
Glock said that situation in F1 means that many talented youngsters like Wittmann are now asking themselves the question: “If I have a contract, am I going to sacrifice everything for a year in which I need to pay a sackful of money? If I was his (Wittmann’s) manager, I would advise him to stay with BMW,” added Glock.
Highs and lows in 2014 for new Merc reserve Wehrlein
Pascal Wehrlein’s 2014 has had both its dizzying highs and its appalling lows.
The high has been the last few weeks — the teenaged German became the youngest ever DTM winner at the Lausitzring last weekend, mere days after making his F1 test debut with his employer Mercedes. Wehrlein has also been working hard all year in the Brackley based team’s simulator, with Toto Wolff saying: “Aside from Nico (Rosberg) and Lewis (Hamilton), he is the driver most familiar with all the procedures of our (2014) W05 and therefore the right choice for the role of reserve driver.”
He will begin travelling with the F1 team this weekend in Singapore, and is therefore first in line to race the dominant silver car if the title-warring teammates are unable. But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Wehrlein in 2014. At the end of May, he and Rosberg were taking part in a promotional event for Mercedes as part of the German world cup team’s preparations in Italy.
The road car driven in the demonstration by Wehrlein struck and injured two bystanders. “Wehrlein swerved to the left off the course and then he hit them,” an eyewitness said at the time. Germany’s Sport1 reports that one of the bystanders was so badly injured he only woke from his coma at the end of July.
But according to Wehrlein’s manager Dietmar Kohli, there is no longer any risk of legal consequences for the young driver. “Pascal is in close contact with the victim and his wife,” Kohli said. “Both of us have visited him in the hospital.” He added that Wehrlein has dealt with the incident and its aftermath “very professionally“.
Germany’s Focus reports that, under Italian law, Wehrlein could only have been prosecuted if the victim had filed a formal complaint. So local prosecutor Guido Rispoli agreed that it is “likely” the matter into the incident will be closed. Earlier, Rispoli had clearly pointed the finger at Wehrlein, insisting the distance between Rosberg’s car and the one driven by the teenager at 100kph was “clearly too low”.
Wolff ‘the naïve’
So Lewis and Nico are bestist friends announces Toto at the start of the F1 season.
“I know you guys want a spicy, controversial story, but it’s all bulls***,” Wolff countered following qualifying in Monaco. The imperious Mercedes brand must be advanced, as Toto adds, “I don’t think that anybody does that [deliberately crash] in modern day Formula 1.
Following Hamilton’s failure to obey an instruction from the team to allow Rosberg though in Hungary, Wolff gives extensive press conferences in Belgium to the effect, ‘We have had long conversations and matters are resolved.’
Clearly this was not the case as Britney then exploded with pent up rage inside a post Begium GP race debrief with the team and Bozo blabbed to the world, “he did it on purpose. He said he did it on purpose…. Go and ask Toto and Paddy..”
Once again prior to Monza, the Mercedes brand is held aloft and Toto assures us all is calm and well within the Mercedes camp.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth. AS TJ13’s editor in chief commented during last weeks podcast, Toto Wolff’s lack of experience in F1 is being laid bare to the world and his constant verbal downloads are both contradictory and unbelievable.
Here at TJ13, we discussed the potential for this battle between Hollywood Hamilton and the Blonde Bombshell becoming is adversarial and bitter as was the enmity between Senna and Prost. Yet Mercedes and Wolff have fought to dispel this image week in and week out.
So it was more than strange when Toto Wolff did a U-Turn in his regular spin via the BBC and described Hollywood and Britney as “enemies”. Maybe the Mercedes F1 PR manager finally managed to get Wolff to listen rather than speak and reminded him people still discuss the Senna/Prost meltdown in relationship over 20 years later.
Yet old habits die hard, in a flash the Wolff mantra returns.
“The decisions we are taking are the ones we believe are right for the team, and the most neutral and fair decisions for both drivers.
“You can do it like it’s been done in the past, in a very corporate way, politician’s talk, try to sort it out behind closed doors.
“Or you can do it the way we do it, and this is the way each of us has managed his companies or his investments in the past.
“We wear our heart on our sleeves, as they often say about Lewis. Emotion is an integral part of the success of the team.
“Having our guys going the extra mile, working 24/7, spending weekends in the office, is only possible because they are emotionally engaged in the company. To get that motivation out of our great people, you need emotion. We spend a lot of time on that topic.”
Aha. Now we have, Mercedes Benz, the laissez faire company, flooded with Germanic emotion and an internal vital organ on display like some badge of honour. Whilst others are ‘dipping their balls in the pool’, for the utter love of Mercedes, each and every individual employed just loves to go the extra 100 miles – barefoot and naked – smiling with a genuine sweetness, whilst being lashed with a cat o’ nine tails.
[Strains of Das Deutschland begin to emerge from the public address system, as VW Beetle assembly workers goose step behind a parade of the original cars and split window camper vans]
Comms Cut: Winners and loses
The FIA changing the F1 regulations mid-season should not be condoned, if only because it gives the appearance of tinkering with the current natural order which is akin to ‘fixing’, and this is something no true sports fan should wish to see.
That said, the eminent Charlie W would argue, nothing has been changed, it’s just a decision has been made to re-draw the line of acceptability.
Unfortunately, 2014 has revealed to many who did not realise previously, that the loveable grey haired man who ‘pushes’ the button – at times demonstrates intellectual properties of pygmy proportions.
What was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Why now does the vagaries of article 20.1 need to be immediately addressed? Of course, from a sporting perspective, to that question there is no proper answer.
Of course the headless chicken coup – also known as the F1 strategy group – must share some responsibility in this. This F1 school of bright ideas has been remarkably active in 2014, presumably energised by vast quantities of free Taurine offered up by the benevolent Austrian, who considers himself to be the modern day F1 Archduke of Styria; a social engineer par excellence.
Though in reality, the anticipation of a shake up in the F1 on track class system which gripped F1 fans over the
banning of FRIC re-enforcing of the regulations regarding suspension was palpable, both here in the TJ13 community and around the globe.
Charlie’s latest foray into the limelight now raises similar questions. Who will be the winners and who will be the losers?
The answer to this will become evident over time, though not without some serious interrogation of sources within the teams…. because the anguish of a driver struggling with the controls of his car will no longer be available for us to hear.
In the battle Royal that is the handbags at dawn between the two Mercedes drivers, one has revealed his hand on the comms cut issue.
Nico Rosberg, fresh from his self flagellation…
‘I’m sorry, so sorry, really sorry everyone, my bad, please forgive me’
…and his unprecedented simultaneous public flogging administered by his own family
‘Nico has been very bad, Nico vill be punished, Nico has been punished, Nico vill never do zis again’
… has emerged from the Siberian Gulag (to mix analogy’s) and appears relatively positive about Charlie’s whimsical divine intervention.
He tweets, “Great day in simulator, practising Sochi & getting used to no radio comm. It’s good, the racing becomes more pure”.
Britney fans will argue that his Saturn sized brain will assimilate more information than Hamilton. This together with the Mercedes strategy computer will mean he can run the trillions of scenario’s possible and have a mode setting response in an instant. Therefore Charlie’s chunnerings will favour the German driver here on in.
Of course, not much can be derived from this single tweet as those studying in the Toto Wolff school of philosophy know well. Toto dictates, ”It’s always dangerous to read the news and build an opinion”. (TP Press Conference, Monza).
On the other hand, Darwin’s evolution principle – the survival of the fittest – is more necessary for those growing up in Stevenage – than for those reared in Monaco. Not only doe the lack of basic sustenance in the region create an insatiable hunger for it’s residents, but for Bozo this meant developing an unnatural turn of speed to avoid those with predator like propensities
This has stood Lewis in good stead as he now can debrief with his engineers in just 10 minutes, whilst Nico requires an entire solar day to dawdle through the detail.
So who will the winners from the cut in comms dictat? Who will find life in F1 much more taxing?.
Prior to the race in Japan, we cannot know this, but for now merely ask the members of the F1 courtroom of opinion to please deliver their circumstantial evidence.
“All rise………….. the court is now in session”