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Previously on TheJudge 13:
OTD Lite: 1996 – Villeneuve’s greatest over-take
Jacques Villeneuve has become a figure of derision in the last few years. His often out-spoken views almost always attributed to his need to feel relevant to the current comedy that is internationally known as Formula One. Yet it wasn’t always thus…
His debut season in 1996 saw this maverick challenge his teammate, Damon Hill, for the world title and thrust him into battle with the best driver of his generation – Michael Schumacher. The fact that they held a grudging respect for one another had not boiled over into animosity at this stage but still his sight had been set on upsetting the Germans equilibrium.
On this day Villeneuve has instructed his engineers to set his car up for a pass around the fast final corner at Estoril, using his Indy experience to set up an unusual pass. Ever the eccentric, he was told that they “would come and pick me out of the guardrail if I tried.” Boy did he try...
As JV and MSC came up to lap the Minardi of Lavaggi, the Ferrari held back to get the run out on to the straight. The Williams darted to the left and went around the outside in a move that Alan Henry described as “one of the most breathtaking overtaking manoeuvres seen all season”.
Reason for Mattiacci appointment at Ferrari finally revealed
TJ13 began questioning the appointment of Marco Mattiacci as soon as the announcement came from Maranello that he was replacing Stefano Domenicali. Like a great thriller written by an esteemed author the convoluted corridors of power in Italy attempted to hide the truth from everyone.
When Il Padrino claimed he had called MM in the early hours to ‘tell’ him he had been appointed as Team Principal for the F1 team, brows became furrowed and observers around the world questioned how Ferrari was being run when the new ‘Old Man’ was so haphazard with his recruitment.
After a little research, TJ13 came to understand that Mattiacci, a celebrated manager who in 2012 had received the ‘Automotive Executive of the Year Award’ as CEO of Ferrari North America, was in fact placed at Ferrari under instruction from the Fiat top bosses – something that was consistently denied.
Over the past few months, we have witnessed Montezemolo taking over press conferences and in effect subjecting his ‘protege’ to an uncomfortable co-existence and still there remained the overwhelming feeling that LdM was trying to scupper his future.
On August 5th this year, TJ13 predicted a changing of the guard with this article and subsequently following Monza the fatal blow was struck. Sergio Marchionne has effectively lowered himself into the hotbed of the Ferrari Presidency and dismissed the autocratic chosen son of Agnelli,
But his presidency will not be a full time role for the man who has turned around a near bankrupt organisation into one of the top 5 manufacturers in the world in just ten years. He insists that Mattiacci will have far-reaching powers of change with cost being no object.
Until recently, the contract negotiations with Alonso have been handled by the out-going President directly but Marchione displayed a considerable vote of confidence in MM by explaining that it has become his decision alone. Sergio wants to be kept abreast of developments but ultimately has given Marco full control at Maranello.
Until now, Mattiacci has kept his own counsel as he went about re-organising the Gestione Sportiva but it has emerged he was chosen directly by the boss of Fiat-Chrysler Automotive with the explicit instruction to not counter Montezemolo in any way – ie leave his ‘non-indispensibility’ to the bespectacled one.
With his role involving the running of Fiat, Alfa-Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep – Marchionne is unlikely to devote time to the running of an F1 team. But it would have required his authority to step into the shoes of a legacy. This typical Italian opera is far from over…
Rosberg baffled by cause of
As the season builds to a climax, spectators and other non sycophantic observers are questioning what is happening at Mercedes. Of course, with the state of the world in the 21st century, everything has to be accountable otherwise it becomes a conspiracy and so, lo and behold, today’s conspiracy is that Mercedes had deliberately sabotaged Nico Rosberg’s race.
“The whole steering wheel wasn’t working so I had no hybrid power and was shifting two gears at a time and had no DRS, so the car just wasn’t working at all. And then there was just no point in continuing. So a tough day really.”
“I was going as fast as possible but the car… definitely I was fighting, full speed and full attack, but there was no way to attack; no DRS, no hybrid power, no fourth gear, no sixth gear. I only had third, fifth and seventh.”
Rosberg was baffled by the issues because the car had been fine until the moment he stepped into it prior to the race.
“It started as I got in the car in the garage. They’d sat in the car five times just before I got in, doing all sort of checks, everything was OK, then I get in the car and it didn’t work anymore – which is crazy.”
“The dash was working, gearshift paddles were working, and that’s it. No clutch, nothing else – just gearshift, dash and lights. It’s strange, some things were working, some things weren’t.”
Mercedes later confirmed the problem was related to a broken loom in the steering wheel. Which considering they tried changing the wheel at his pit stop would suggest that Paddy’s drawing abilities and explanations leave a lot to be desired.
It appears as though Nico is hinting that he believes there may have been ‘interference’ from Mercedes. Telling a driver to give up the lead to his team mate is one thing, but this kind of behaviour would be a heinous crime which if ever proven would see a wide spread revulsion of Mercedes Benz, probably not seen before in F1.
For those who believe the Mercedes management is playing God and influencing the outcome of races and the eventual drivers’ title, it was revealing that immediately post race both Toto and Lauda were giving interviews in different languages, both suggesting that that reliability between the team mate’s was now equalised.
Wolff told the BBC, “We don’t want to have the spin that the championship was decided because one car let the driver down,” Paddy Lowe agreed, “That’s been my worry all year. I have a feeling that it’s reasonably even in terms of how we’ve let them down. Let’s hope this is the last time.”
Do these people know anything about Formula 1? Titles have forever been decided between team mates often because of reliability or bad luck.
For Toto to blame the media or those asking the questions is hypocritical as it was he who fertilise the soil of suspicion when he announced to the world that Mercedes were ‘disciplining’ Nico. This was unprecedented in a number of ways. Team’s have not disciplined their drivers for crashing into each other and particularly of note, this even was deemed a racing incident by the stewards in Spa.
To then refuse to reveal the nature of Nico’s punishment was moronic. It smacks of something being too unpalatable for public consumption. Further, this ‘discretion’ can not be proffered as protecting Rosberg from embarrassment, because Wolff clearly had no concern for this when both he and Lauda publicly heaped on Nico criticism and humiliation as soon as the chequered flag fell in Spa – before they’d even had the opportunity to speak with him.
The implication given and inference drawn is that Rosberg was punished for his on track misdemeanour’s.
In reality is most likely, that Nico has been ‘punished’ for something he said in the now infamous team debrief in Belgium – and NOT for colliding with Lewis. Maybe Rosberg threatened Roscoe would suffer a long slow death or informed Lewis’ he’d slept with Nicole…maybe he even claimed he had attacked Hamilton’s rear wheel deliberately.
Whatever… The simple fact is that Wolff should never have made public a secret punishment had been administered and leave the ensuing black hole to be filled with speculation.
Further, the reason this is not a mainstream media debate is because the paddock poodles want more pearls of wisdom from Wolff at the next race meeting.
What should be of grave concern for Stuttgart is that following the era of Red Bull dominance, many F1 fans took Mercedes to heart early this season, simply because they were something fresh and different. Yet now the abhorrent behaviour of the 3 headed serpent which is running the AMG F1 team, is creating a very unpleasant smell for many who love and understand the sport.
The backlash will be that Daimler-Benz fail to capitalise on the wave of popularity their ‘changing of the guard’ afforded them. And worse, they become reviled and despised as cheats and liars who secretly fix races and manipulate world championships.
TJ13 wrote in 2012 when Lauda was appointed to Mercedes AMG F1, the spirit of Lauda’s previous incursion into F1 team management would create carnage and chaos in Brackley and with the addition of Wolff, this has grown exponentially.
Felipe Massa drives like a Grandma
There are many who don’t think much to Felipe Massa – an over-rated little driver that lucked into a Ferrari team which danced to the tune of team-orders during the Todt-Schumacher partnership. His subsequent partnership with a clearly disinterested Kimi Raikkonen led many to believe that he would have been a worthy champion in 2008.
These same delusional individuals felt that after returning from his 2009 accident it was only right that Ferrari should have allowed him to win the 2010 German Grand Prix because there was a mistaken belief that Formula One was a sport but those nasty Italians robbed him for the glory of Alonso and got his sidekick Rob ‘Felipe baby’ Smedley to inform him.The fact that Alonso was chasing a championship was dismissed by all biased Ferrari haters.
Of course another three seasons against Fernando proved what many had suspected all along – he actually wasn’t as good as the Spaniard and thus he made way for the Ice-cream man. With Valtteri Bottas proving why Clare Williams likes him so much with his performance, little Felipe has had to raise his game to senility..
“After the safety car I was pushing, and then three laps after the restart I was told that I had to finish the race on this set of tyres, there was still 25 laps to go. It’s really a lot. I had to change my driving style. For me, that was a joke, it was impossible to finish the race on those tyres. Then, I drove like a grandma from there to the end, and then somehow managed to finish the race in fifth place, so I’m happy!”
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
No team orders as Ricciardo title unlikely – Horner
Christian Horner has all but written off Daniel Ricciardo’s chances of beating the Mercedes drivers to the 2014 title. Amid his impressive first campaign for Red Bull, Australian Ricciardo is undoubtedly the only real non-silver challenger for the drivers’ world championship.
In third place, he is 48 points clear of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and 57 points ahead of his own teammate, the reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel. But Vettel finished just ahead of Ricciardo under the Singapore lights, despite the Australian having called for team orders heading into the street race weekend.
“I would love to be quicker on merit and not need team orders, but the next couple of tracks are perfect for us so if we need to make any decisions if we can challenge Mercedes for the title then I am sure they will be made,” he had said.
But boss Horner said the performance and points advantage held by Mercedes with five races to go is now so big that Red Bull will not be asking Vettel to move aside. “It would be wrong to interfere,” he said, “given the situation we are in. We let them race as you saw. Daniel knew before the race – some time ago in fact – that that would be the case,” added Horner. “If there was a realistic chance of Daniel winning and Sebastian was mathematically out of the championship then of course we would do the best we can for the team. But the situation we are in at the moment — it’s a long shot.”
Horner is also quoted by Auto Motor und Sport as saying after Sunday’s grand prix: “The gap Mercedes has is enormous. Yes, Daniel caught up a bit on Rosberg but at the same time lost 3 points to Sebastian. Will it make any difference? It’s hard to say. But for the moment it makes no sense for us to intervene.”
It might be surmised that with Vettel now regaining his form amid reports of tough contract negotiations to retain him, Red Bull’s decision might be a political one.
Horner added: “They (Ricciardo and Vettel) still both have a chance mathematically, even though it’s a long shot as I said. So it’s down to them racing each other on the track. Both of them are still just in it, and both have taken a chunk of points out of Nico (Rosberg).”
Ricciardo says he is comfortable with Red Bull’s decision, despite admitting the matter had been discussed “briefly” behind closed doors. “It’s refreshing to be able to race your teammate,” he said. “We’ve had some great battles so if it continues like this for the next few races then that’s fine and that’s fair.”
Clearly, however, Ricciardo would prefer to be on the helpful end of some team orders, giving a coy “yes and no” answer as to whether he wants them deployed. “If anything, it (Red Bull’s decision) makes me more hungry to be in front without needing any help,” he said. “It’s nothing against him (Vettel) or the team. We race properly. It’s fair. And it’s not like if he helps me out, I’m definitely going to win. We’re long shots,” Ricciardo conceded. “We need a bit of luck more than we need small team orders. Whoever’s in front should be allowed to stay in front.”
TJ13 comment: It is surely saying something that the Formula One fans are beginning to notice the cynical marketing of Mercedes in regards the championship this year. Racing incidents punished by the team following an agenda. Team bosses that contradict each other in their biased support of one faction or another. The fans are beginning to ask questions beyond the mere incompetence of the three generals.
Whatever the general consensus of Red Bull circa 2010 – 2013, and team orders, one thing remains glaringly obvious. In 2010, there were no team orders. Even in the penultimate round Vettel could have supported Webber and secured the title but they were allowed to race with the high possibility that it would cost them the title. Of course the cynic will suggest that if Vettel had been in the lead they would have asked Mark to assist…
So we head towards the tail end of 2014 with the public preferring to watch the Red Bull juggernaut with all its various faults as opposed to a Silver winning machine that is pushing the limits of acceptability with its sporting behaviour. So much for letting the drivers race freely…
Of course of some worry is that the easy going Colgate kid has developed the same mindset as all who get close to touching the prize and is ‘demanding’ team orders be introduced; the message infused with a little charm.
Instructions supplied by FIA & FOM
Symonds questions radio ban
The main problem with F1 is cultural. Lying and deceiving are both a fundamental part of the Ecclestone way, and it becomes difficult to resist for those operating within the sport.
Monica Kaltenborn stated in the team press conference, “complaints that were raised by the fans”.
This is an astonishing claim, since when were F1 fans consulted on anything?
FanVision was binned because Ecclestone couldn’t extract enough coin out of the providers and ticket prices are astronomic because of exorbitant race hosting fees demanded by Mr. E to name but two massive fan complaints.
To be fair to Kaltenborn, maybe a focus group study of 3 men and a dog has taken place and the results remain secret. It could even be she was fed the lie at the F1 strategy group meeting that “complaints that were raised by the fans,”.though as an individual with the capacity for critical thought, she should still know better.
When pressed as to where he felt the idea had arisen to ban pit/car radio, Whiting was evasive stating, “it’s not for me to say what goes on in those meetings,” referring to the F1 strategy group.
Thankfully, there are those who at times refuse to be on message and when asked by Sky, Pat Symonds revealed, “Unfortunately Formula One doesn’t ask the public what it does enjoy and that’s a great shame.”
Nice one from old school Pat. Just don’t be planning anymore crashes please 😉
The farce of the radio ban commences
If Bernie wants to drive more interest in F1, then we need to encourage the bears to once again enter the pit. The team bosses visible hatred of each other/other teams was a sport enjoyed by many in days of yore.
Today we have handbags at
Predictably the slap stick over coded messages has already begun. Eric the believable has been sent out by Bog Ron to
kick off protest with medium to light strength. McLaren are questioning the legality of Red Bull Racing’s instructions to a struggling Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the Singapore race third.
The use of team radio to aid drivers performance was finally outlawed 10:00am Saturday morning at the Singapore GP. Advice on technical matters or for reliability reasons was allowed.
Specifically outlawed was comment or information pertaining to contact with the kerbs and Eric is on the
war mild scuffle path.
Simon Rennie, Ricciardo’s engineer advised him, “Avoiding exit kerbs may help the problem with the car” in the closing stages of the race.
Eric the brave is
apoplectic rather ticked off about this. “I think it was coded, yes. It is up to the FIA to investigate, so it is not for me to say anything. But it was a strange message. Once would have been OK, but twice or three times is a bit strange.”
Aha, a repeated message is then not to be taken at face value – thanks Eric, we’ll learn the lingo soon enough.
However, Christian Horner enters the
fray mild mannered debate, revealing with relish, “Obviously we spoke to Charlie and told him Daniel had some reliability issues. That was why he was told to stay off the kerbs, because that was causing damage to the battery”.
Mmm. So no talk about the kerbs is allowed, except when Charlie agrees it is reasonable. Christian concludes by explaining the
crafty most reasonable nature of Red Bull’s behaviour, “I think that was sensible and it’s about trying to find a balance with this radio ban.”
This could get complicated folks, but fear not….. the TJ13 operatives are making secret recordings, to assist us as we seek to crack the hidden codes…. Errr… that of course are not coded in any way at all – because Charlie says so … allowing specific banned information… for other reasons… which may be right or wrong… depending on the situation or circumstance….and could be responsible for global warming… or a cold cup of tea..
Ecclestone gets social media’d up
For F%^ks Sake (FFS) Bernie – make up your mind!!!
“I think the change that is currently taking place is very short lived, as these social media people are starting to think it is not as good as they thought,” said Ecclestone earlier this year. The when questioned if there was a pressing need for F1 to ramp up its social media efforts, the small one replied, “No. We’re commercial… If they find people to pay us [to do that] then I will be happy.”
Ecclestone’s incisive perception cut straight to the point when speaking to the Independent. “What would that person sitting there use Twitter for? I could put anything on Twitter.”
This said, the teams and Bernie are doing their bit. Primarily though their websites (Bernie owns Formula1.com) and facebook pages, trailing links to what they want the fans to consume on twitter.
Though this is primarily a one to many form of communication, not many to many and as such is therefore not social media as was discussed at length on the TJ13 podcast “300,000 f%^&king trucks”.
This week saw Bernie’s minions enact unprecedented levels of activity in the twittersphere. @F1 the twitter handle for the Formula1.com website was ablaze with activity – filling up timelines with gloriously banal and irrelevant garbage.
This was clearly a pre-planned even – F1’s ‘Operation takeover twitter’ – was enjoined by all the teams dutifully re-tweeting everything posted by @F1.
What’s amusing about all this is that F1 is a relatively closed loop in terms of social media participants. #F1 trending is not going to attract much incremental attention from those who don’t watch or read about the sport.
A smarter use of social media would see the team’s providing hangouts after the race, where the many from the team can interact with the many fans.
Even better, Bernie, Charlie and the stewards could host a hangout, though one suspects digital rotten tomatoes may be in mucho abundance.