#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 17th September 2014

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Previously on TheJudge 13:

#F1 Circuit Profile: 2014 – Singapore, Marina Bay Street Circuit – Round 14


OTD Lite: 1960 – Birth of a true champion

Alonso talks in private with Marchionne

Ericsson ‘selfie’ explains lack of pace

DTM champion Wittmann not dreaming of F1

Highs and lows in 2014 for new Merc reserve Wehrlein

Wolff ‘the naïve’

Comms Cut: Winners and loses


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.

hill_hungria_1997

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.

The Jackal

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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.

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Ericsson ‘selfie’ explains lack of pace

Ericsson shows some talent behind the wheel, sadly not moving in a forward direction too quickly..

BxatGX7IEAA-UXi

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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.

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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”.

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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]

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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”

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61 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 17th September 2014

  1. Why woukd Ferrari swap drivers, twice Alonso has nearly beaten Vettel in a lot slower car. For Ferrari itd be a bit like finding a fiver, but losing a tenner.

    • Ferrari want it to be about the car, so that’s why I would make sense. And Fernando will be old when they get back on track in 3 – 5 years.

    • Damon is very underated, think he deserves a lot more respect that he gets. I remember at the time, reading somewhere that Ferrari tried to hire him to go alongside MS. We all know which way that would of gone, but it would of been closer than people think.

    • Even though he was the first driver I plugged for, Hill, do remember that BJF’s ratings are based mainly on results.. so having the best car would help you greatly there. I find Patrick O’Brien’s GPratings very interesting to read for an analysis of driver speed irrespective of car.

  2. “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”.”

    Bring on Maximilian!

    • “A willingness not to hit Rosberg under pressure”.. sounds to me like they are getting a Lewis-replacement ready? I didn’t know Pascal was half-Mauritian until now. But I did know he had talent, and feared he would get lost in the DTM series, being promoted early; I forgot he was with Mercedes.

      I previously said they should get someone like Robin Frijns in as reserve…. well, they had Wehrlein in the sim getting ready the whole time! He could be Lewis and Nicole combined into one package.. ideal to stick next to Rosberg.

  3. Not to start a fuzz but i believe hamilton will be affected by the no radio policy. I can only speak for the things that the fia let’s us hear but i believe it is he who asks the most for info concerning others on track… but then again the fia rarely let’s us her comments of a pyre technical basis.

    • It will come down to Lewis’s racing instincts and raw speed vs Nico’s intellect and patience. It just adds a bit more sparkle to the title fight.

      • the same “intellect” that led him to such a well thought out move in Spa, yes?

        This entire thing about Rosberg being brainy and Hamilton lacking intellectual refinement is just a media-created dichotomy to make the story more interesting. And frankly, it’s insulting to Hamilton to portray him as mentally inferior to Rosberg, though it undoubtedly plays to some peoples’ racial stereotypes and prejudices, frankly.

        One could just as easily argue that if Rosberg allegedly spends more time debriefing or otherwise “working” w/ his engineers than Hamilton does w/ his, it actually suggests that Nico is less efficient and slower on the uptake because it takes him longer to complete the same work and achieve the same debriefing-results than it does Hamilton.

        These aren’t convincing arguments and it’s very disappointing that people buy into them so eagerly. Even the media who suggest these intellectual differences b/w Rosberg and Hamilton do so w/o meeting any objective criteria, except to point out that Rosberg speaks more languages than Hamilton. And that’s only evidence of someone who’s polylingual, and not necessarily intellectually superior.

  4. Nice take, Judge. 🙂

    “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.”

    Personally I feel that Fred and Kimi are likely to benefit from this, as they’re the ones best at multitasking or going there alone. It is also more likely to help those with experience, like all those WDC currently on the grid. It would also help those cool-headed, the likes of Bottas, Britney, Finger Boy..

    If we get into the Britney/Bozo mess, from memory this season it was Britney always/often asking driving advice: What brake bias does Lewis run, etc.? And it was Nico with the unforgettable (from memory): “Give me advice.” “On what, Nico, traffic?” “No, on driving.”

    As for the losers, I’m afraid for the likes of Guttierez, Ericsson and Chilton. For those it may be even more downhill than it currently is. Also, those who can’t control their emotions and/or driving like Bozo, Perez, Massa are probably more likely to get something spectacularly wrong. (I still recall the engineer: “Checo, you need to start conserving now. This is your last warning.” And I’m looking forward to the next Hamilton flambé.) And of course rookies: they’re likely to feel the sting.

    • With Start procedure advice banned, Caterham is in serious dutch. They can only sell their seat to someone who can run the car without that much help. And as much as I’d like to joke about it, even in a Caterham, formation lap is formidable. They are really screwed by this.

  5. Related to the radio comms ban: The list of topics banned by Big Charlie included (and I quote from F1.com):
    “Learning of gears of the gearbox”
    WTF? Even allowing for what seems like really bad grammar, I’m lost on that one. Does anyone know what it might be referring to?

    • @RogerD
      ‘Now Lewis, let’s go over it again: we start with … One … yes … And what’s up next … Starts with a T … No not ten!!! How you come up with that!!’

      From now on forbidden.

    • My best guess ? Probably referring to teams telling drivers over the radio on how best to use the gears in different parts of the circuit to gain lap time or to help them when a gearbox develops a problem i.e. work it out for themselves unless there is a safety issue.

      • ‘Now Lewis, let’s go over it again: we start with … One … yes … And what’s up next … Starts with a T … No not ten!!! How you come up with that!!’
        From now on forbidden.

        This is exactly the insulting and baseless commentary that I refer to above.

        Why don’t you just come out w/ it and say directly that you think Hamilton is a stupid, [mod} Then pair it w/ “observation” that Rosberg is well-spoken [mod]

        ??

    • @RogerD – “learning of gears”

      According to

      http://f1weekends.com/teams-will-not-be-able-to-use-pitboards-to-display-technicalperformance-related-info-to-drivers/

      it is “… an interesting technical tidbit amongst them is messages being banned regarding the learning of gears. This refers to the learning process that the gearbox goes under, in order to sync up the paddle shifts with the actual gear changes themselves which can sometimes be a fraction out. .. “

    • Taken from Autosport: “Learning of gears of the gearbox, allowing the ECU to record the position of the gears releative to each other for the seamless shift system (will only be enforced from the Japanese GP onwards).”

  6. Given the possibility of rain,, I doubt we’d have a fuel limited race this weekend. Perhaps in Suzuka. But it certainly is beyond ridiculous that cw thinks teams shouldn’t use radio for performance related talk during the free or practise sessions. Why the heck are they eh called practice then.

  7. I think it’s widely agreed that the 3 headed management at Mercedes doesn’t quite work and many would like to see Brawn back. But If he was still in charge, would we be witnessing such a brilliant season, both on and off the track or would we be watching another snooze fest like we had in the past?

    What’s happening between both drivers, is good for the sport (well this season anyways), because the rivalry has been the talking and people are tuning in to see what transpires.

    Heck, when was the last time we heard anyone complain about the sound of the cars?

    • So what you are saying is that in the lack of organisation we are observing chaos …. but we love the chaos we are seeing?

      Perhaps Brawn saw it coming and that is why he demanded something he knew he would not get hence him getting his P45? Perhaps you are right, maybe Brawn would have told the kids to sit up and shut up, as per the wishes of his masters. Wolf and Lauda have shares in the company so they don’t answer to Merc board completely do they? Hippo?

      • In someways yes. Drivers should be allowed to race each other and win, even in the same team, that’s why I don’t like this whole idea of having a number 1 & 2 driver. Any driver who’s willing to play backup to another driver, for me should not be in the sport, because they’re like doormats, just there to be walked over and have people trample all over them.

        I know it’s not feasible given the financial rewards for winning the WCC. But these men are suppose to be the best of the best, then give them equal treatment and let them go out their and compete fairly, without having one hand tied behind their backs, in the end, the best man wins. And before any ask or says anything, if Nico wins the championship, then yes, the best man won, because he did the best job and he deserves it, irrespective of how much it would p!ss me off!!!

        But that’s still a big IF, still see LH44 taking the crown.

        Sometimes chaos is good, it gives us mere mortals something to talk about and look forward to.

        Just an opinion

    • If Brawn was still at the helm, Lewis would have been very close to wrapping the title up, just my opinion.

      • I’d be happy he won, but not if the team stifles Nico’s chances of doing the same. I wasn’t happy with the team orders last year in Malaysia and we all saw that Lewis wasn’t either. He was faster on the day and in turn, he deserved to be on the podium, Lewis didn’t and I didn’t like that.

        • I didn’t imply that Ross would stifle Nico’s chances, rather that he wouldn’t allow Lewis’ chances to be stifled 😉

          • Ross Brawn would have done what was best for the team. I still think Mercedes were utterly bonkers to let him go, especially as he probably knows the fundamental secrets of the Mercedes Power Unit design. He would have kept more control over the drivers, Wolff simply does not have the level of authority or experience to handle this kind of driver war. But on the plus side it gives us all a lot to fight about regardless of which side of the driver fence we fall on.

          • Definitely he would’ve, but what would the on track action be? Would they be allowed to race each other or would we be looking at another Schummi/Ruebens situation?

            Apart from some bad PR isn’t the team still in a strong and commanding position? But yet again, are they actually receiving bad publicity? Isn’t the brains behind the PU still there, Andy Cowell?

            We like chaos, chaos is good. The board might not, but I’m sure the viewing public does.

  8. Re: Alonso, Ferrari, Mclaren.

    Alonso may not be in the position of power everyone thinks he is. There is no doubt that he is an exceptional driver, but he may have missed his window to make demands with regards to his salary and which team he would like to drive for.

    He probably thought that his position in Ferrari was safe no matter what happened externally, because he has been so confidently beating his team mate, and had the full support of Santander. But over the course of a single week, his two biggest supporters are gone, LDM and Botin. The question Fred has to answer is, now that Botin is gone, does Santanders financial support go with him, or does it stay with Ferrari? Santander as a corporation must do what is best for the company. Botin may have had the ability to spend cash on whatever he wanted because of his position, but now that he is gone, the board of directors of that company need to choose between the short term, a driver that will most definitely be out of the sport within the next few years, and the long term, which is Ferrari, a company that will outlive them all.

    “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.”

    I don’t buy this at all. If I were Honda, I would be downplaying my engine at this point too.
    Not only have Honda been developing this engine for well over a year, but they have had the luxury of being able to see the the other manufacturers engines all season. If I were them, I would have had versions of all 3 current engines on the dyno since the first practice session.
    Honda knows EXACTLY what they are up against. I have no doubt their PU will be competitive.
    Mclaren are aware of this too, and Ron is no idiot. Everyone says that the chassis design this year is sh*t, but has anyone really considered that Mclaren had no intention of being competitive this year? They knew everything was going to change with the Honda engine anyway, why wouldn’t they be using this years chassis as a test bed for next years parts?

    Will Fernando go to Mclaren? Two weeks ago I said “yes”, but now that Bovin has died, it will probably come down to whether or not he can take Santander with him when he goes, and the likelihood of that is diminishing.

  9. I left a comment here a few hours ago, which was declared to be being checked by the moderator – ??? – and it hasn’t appeared yet.
    Did I upset someone…?

  10. @thejudge…..

    Re: iTunes podcast

    The new IOS8 update now has a podcast app pre installed, it now makes it easier to find, store and listen. So for those who have an iPhone, hopefully this makes it easier for them to find each weeks listings and subscribe to it.

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