#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 23rd September 2014

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Previously on TheJudge 13:

Castrol #F1 GP Predictor Summary – Marina Bay 2014


OTD Lite: 1990 – Mansell – Il Leone wins for Ferrari

The Enforcer blames Brawn for Mercedes failures

Lewis Hamilton has his “Dad” back

Ferrari’s 2015 Power Unit has been tested already

F1 ‘not what it used to be’ – Lotterer (GMM)

Pirelli threatens to withhold tyres from Caterham (GMM)

Wolff offers to sacrifice his body in Mercedes cause

Alonso and, Maranello’s shifting sands

Give the kids a chance

Martin Brundle grid talk


OTD Lite: 1990 – Mansell – Il Leone wins for Ferrari

On this day, twenty four years ago, Nigel Mansell took his final victory for Ferrari at the Portugese Grand Prix. A similar driver in temperament to Lewis Hamilton he wore his heart on his sleeve and the arrival of the scheming Alain Prost had unsettled the one man Ayrton Senna held in high regard.

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Having announced his retirement at the British Grand Prix, Il Leone delivered a sublime drive and subsequently signed a deal to rejoin Williams for the following year. In the meantime Prost attacked both his team-mate and the the team by saying: “We don’t deserve to win the world championship because there is nobody in the team with the authority to give direction and make the strategy to compete with McLaren

A man who was once described by a British journalist as “a balanced individual. He has a chip on both shoulders!” fought against the system and won. Unbelievable bravery and a consummate overtaker; he brought the crowds flooding in to the circuits with his heroics. “Sir, we salute you”

The Jackal

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The Enforcer blames Brawn for Mercedes failures

Ross Brawn has been responsible for winning sixteen world titles. Three with Benetton in 1994 & 95 – eleven whilst at Ferrari and then two with his own Brawn team in 2009. So it would be safe to assume that the man knows how to run a Formula One team that knows how to build fast, dominant and reliable cars.

By the end of 2014, any right thinking motor-sport fan will acknowledge that this year’s two titles should be added to his extraordinary CV and yet Paddy Lowe continues to spout junk to diminish his predecessor’s accomplishments with the Mercedes AMG F1 design. Following the problem that affected Nico Rosberg in Singapore, Lowe has said that this will not be a short term fix.

images“I’ve said internally from the beginning of the year, when it was clear we had the dominant car, that my biggest concern is that we will decide the championship on the basis of car breakdowns.”

“I’m not going to pretend it’s good enough because it isn’t. It’s one of the weaknesses that we have. We’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes to turn it around but it’s a long-term project. It’s not something you can hit in five minutes. It takes a lot work. We are making progress but we’ve got further to go.”

“It’s one of the features of motor racing that cars break down. It always has been. The racing car is incredibly complicated these days. The number of things that don’t go wrong in a race is immense. The trouble at the moment is that Nico has seen his championship lead wiped out in one afternoon. That’s really tough.”

It is possibly worth pointing out that since the current campaign started back in March – the Mercedes is recognised as the dominant car. In the first six events – Australia to Monaco – other than Hamilton’s unfortunate reliability in the first event, they finished 1-2 every time.

In the eight races since, they have secured first and second twice, suffered retirements of a mechanical nature on three occasions in races and Red Bull have taken three victories with what is commonly accepted as the least impressive power unit.

With the idiocy permeating the Generals who run the Silver Arrows team, it seems even the ‘Enforcer’ has given in to blithering rhetoric as he guides his troops to further glory. Lest we forget, this was the technical director who oversaw the development of the most woeful McLaren MP4-28 for 2013

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Lewis Hamilton has his “Dad” back

During the 2011 season Lewis Hamilton spoke about the bubble that Jenson Button had built around himself which helped his focus during race weekends. With Lewis suffering both on track and with the disintegration of his relationship with Nicole Sherzinger he felt isolated at times. Having taken the decision to move away from his father’s guidance he cut a lonely and troubled figure and would come to define the year as a horrible experience.

Fast forward three years and Lewis appears to be in a far stronger enviroment. “I just feel relaxed, all my family are a real positive beam of light for me at the weekend.”

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“I spoke years ago, when my Dad was my manager, and said I couldn’t wait for the day when he was here just as my Dad. And that’s what you’re seeing. And that’s one of the greatest feelings, having him here. Since the first day I ever got in a kart – I remember the day of my first race – I created a handshake with him. I was eight years old and he was there. That’s one of the most special things. He said today it felt like I was eight years old again attending kart race, when he was watching me.”

“I don’t know what Dad thought when we started. I was good but I don’t know if he thought that in 20 years time we’d be winning the Singapore GP. I try to imagine his mentality, getting four jobs to get the money to get a crap kart together, to respray it or try to bend it back to shape because it was the oldest kart in world, trying to get some fuel because we had spent all the money on tyres. Going through all that to now be at the pinnacle of the sport, I’m hugely proud of my family, so it’s really cool for dad to be here. I’ve gotta stop there – I’m getting emotional!”

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Ferrari’s 2015 Power Unit has been tested already

Following what can only be described as a catastrophic year in terms of results, Ferrari have recently run the 2015 power unit codenamed 059/4. The design team have found another 40 bhp over this year’s design but have the ambitious goal of finding another 60 bhp before the homologation freeze in February.

The inherent errors in the basic architecture have been recognised and addressed with the new version – which is being overseen by Mattia Binotto’s engine department with chief designer Lorenzo Sassi working hard to bring Ferrari back to the head of the field.

James Allison has requested a configuration that is less extreme than the current design; including moving the oil tank from inside the gearbox to the classic configuration between the chassis and the engine – thus improving the weight distribution and traction qualities of the new Maranello challenger.

Despite Ferrari, Renault and Honda seeking to open up the engine freeze rules next year, the teams are aware that this is not a given so everything is being scheduled for completion by the time the homologation freeze comes in at the end of February.

What is undoubtedly helping the Ferrari design team are the specialists who have arrived from both Mercedes and Audi – technicians who have been responsible for their previous companies respective hybrid systems.

Allied to this is the work that continues at Shell who have not been able to use a new fuel they have developed because of reliability issues with the current power train. This new chemical technology has been formulated from the lead of Petronas, Mercedes’ fuel supplier, which makes the fuel denser and brings about benefits in efficiency, power and volume.

With Ferrari having been promised no restriction on budget, it remains to be seen if these improvements allow for more than an occasional visit to the podium…

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F1 ‘not what it used to be’ – Lotterer

Le Mans stars Andre Lotterer and Mark Webber have made less than flattering comparisons between their sports car machines and the modern F1 racer. In their musings, today’s formula one does not fare well. For instance, reigning Le Mans winner Lotterer made a one-off appearance for Caterham at Spa this year, but then reportedly turned down the chance to reprise his effort at Monza.

As a young Jaguar tester, Lotterer came close to building a full career in F1 but he admitted to NBC that although he “didn’t make it, I have a very happy and beautiful career“. Lotterer, 32, said working at Le Mans with Audi is “amazing”, but he also races in Japan’s premier open wheeler series, Super Formula.

“Then on the other side, I have the purest and fastest race cars around the corners in the world, in Super Formula,” he said. “They’re so precise, and you don’t want the race to end. The cars do exactly what you want. The combination of both things, sporting wise, are really good.”

He acknowledged that Super Formula cannot compete with F1 in terms of its media profile. “For people who don’t know that much about racing, many think it (F1) is the only thing. But in terms of racing, F1 isn’t what it used to be anymore. I got to feel that when I did my race. There’s not much grip from the tyres and not much downforce in the corners. You can’t go flat out. But it was still a good experience,” Lotterer added.

He hinted that he did not look into extending his 2014 flirt with formula one due to the modern shape of the pinnacle of motor sport. “F1 could be another challenge but at 33 years old, you want to go into a good challenge,” said the Belgian-raised German. “What I mean by that is that you’re in a team for 2-3 years, well funded and with everything healthy. But apart from the top 3-4 teams, nobody can offer you that in F1. So 7-8 years ago there were more manufacturers, but now is not the right time,” he explained.

Also contemplating the difference between sports cars and F1 in the past days has been Mark Webber, the 13-time grand prix winner who left the grid to join Porsche at the end of last season. “One of the biggest differences between F1 and a prototype is the downforce,” he is quoted by Spain’s El Confidencial. “The other is the tyres. The Michelin (at Le Mans) is a real racing tyre, a tyre that everyone can enjoy, while the Pirelli in formula one is for show business,” said Webber, 38.

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Pirelli threatens to withhold tyres from Caterham

Caterham could be left stranded without tyres ahead of the forthcoming Japanese grand prix, according to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. The report said a source close to F1’s official tyre supplier has “unofficially confirmed” that Pirelli is warning Caterham it must urgently make a payment ahead of the Suzuka race early next month.

Backmarker Caterham almost collapsed mid-season following the withdrawal of support of founder Tony Fernandes, who sold the team suddenly to a mysterious group of Swiss-based Middle Easterners. “I believe our team was not set up to race in Silverstone,” one of the new bosses, Manfredi Ravetto, confirmed in Singapore. “This is the truth. Since new ownership came on board, I think we managed not only to race in Silverstone but also to arrive to Singapore. I must say it’s not a very easy task,” he admitted. “The financial situation is not one of the easiest,” said Ravetto. “We inherited a situation which was more than critical.

It is rumoured the situation was so critical that Christijan Albers, who became Caterham’s team boss after the takeover, quit once he realised that debts could not be paid. De Telegraaf claims Pirelli “is one of the main creditors” of ailing Caterham. “The paddock is buzzing with rumours that Caterham will not be in the paddock at the end of the season,” it added.

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Wolff offers to sacrifice his body in Mercedes cause

The melodrama which has become the Mecedes narrative is both surprising and unsurprising at the same time.

It is surprising because as Wolff declared last week, the image of the team has indeed morphed from one of steady efficiency into a Lewis-ism – ‘heart on the sleeve’.

Post race rants minutes after the chequered flag in Spa would have been an anathema in the Brawn era, and since Hungary the rhetoric from Wolff is creating the impression of a team in permanent crisis.

As argued previously, Mercedes have created the conspiracy narratives by the way they have behaved in public, which is great for copy, but hardly the image a Formula 1 team would wish to cultivate – and one surely Stuttgart is most unhappy about.

This is unsurprising given the history of Lauda’s previous foray into team management and Wolff’s complete lack of experience at the sharp end of a global sport.

Once again, Wolff gets his hands on the karaoke microphone and begins to wail out an unprepared tune.

Commenting on the issue of reliability, Wolff states, ‘We have a great team dedicated to quality, and I’m really proud of that department. Despite that, it’s even more astonishing we continue to have these issues”.

I guess it takes time for the whole group to come together and time until we stop suffering from these DNFs which are unacceptable for us as we have had four of them now.

If we could do anything more to stop the DNFs then we would do it. I would break my arm again!

It’s just unimaginable that Dennis, Brawn or Domenicali would consistently stir up such melodrama. Stuttgart need to take note before the honeymoon of change in pecking order is a long and distant memory, and Mercedes AMG F1 are a permanent laughing stock.

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Alonso and, Maranello’s shifting sands

Fernando Alonso has had a quite year by his own standards. No requests for a Newey designed car for his birthday, no public tweaks of the year from the dearly departed Il Padrino and no sniping Samurai wisdom mind games on twitter.

Yet Alonso’s behaviour at times is most revealing if you read between the lines. He was dismissive of Marco Mattiacci when he was appointed; repeatedly stating he had no F1 knowledge and would have no effect on the Scuderia for a long time.

Well, in terms of the latter, Fred couldn’t have been more wrong. Alonso never perceived it would be remotely possible that Luca de Montezemolo would be gone by the Autumn after serving 23 years in Maranello. Fred and Luca had a relationship which was most Latin in its nature. Passionate, but spat filled, yet there was indeed a love and deep respect between the two.

Following the assassination of his former boss and friend, Alonso appeared uneasy throughout the Singapore GP weekend.

Even the most hardened sceptic of superstition, would be hard pressed not to feel a chill wind following Il Padrino’s exit from Ferrari and the death of his friend and backer – Santander president, Emilio Botin – all within a week.

The stars have most definitely been realigned, and for Fernando that is not a good thing.

The normally media savvy Spaniard has been rattled of late by the Italian media who have consistently been suggesting he is demanding exorbitant sums of money to extend his contract with the Scuderia.

“So when all these things come from Italy, it’s not really clear what the purpose is. It’s sad when it comes from Italy, or they create these rumours for some strange purpose, which is not helping Ferrari.”

Tin the time of Montezemolo, Alonso would have laughed at this media speculation, recognising that it would strengthen his hand in terms of negotiating power with Il Padrino.

Yet Alonso is now concerned, almost trying too hard.

“I respect Ferrari a lot and I try to create a good atmosphere in the team with the guys – from going out to dinner to playing basketball, playing poker, whatever – to ensure we are united,” Fernando revealed. ‘It’s what we need, and it’s what people expect from us driving for Ferrari”.

Believe who you will, some say Alonso is free to leave should he pay a fee of 30m euro’s, others believe there are performance related release clauses.

Only the lawyers truly know, but the latter makes more sense when considering Alonso’s repeated assertions over how far behind him Kimi finishes in races.

The latest of these oblique observations was following the Singapore GP, where Kimi finished in 8th place anhd Fernando made clear in more than one interview, “the other Ferrari is 45 seconds behind”.

TJ13 tweeted on Saturday that Honda were making a massive effort to persuade Alonso to join McLaren for 2015, and so even if there was no release clause, they would pay the 30m in the blink of an eye.

The Alonso to McLaren story is gaining traction with James Allen writing today, “according to Italian colleagues, Ferrari doesn’t want to give Alonso some of the guarantees he is seeking”.

Throw into the mix that Marco Mattiacci has persistently asserted that the Ferrari line up for 2015 will remain the same, yet when asked again in Singapore his response was, “”Fernando will continue. For the moment — yes.”

This echoes the kind of rhetoric we were hearing from Alonso in Belgium when he told Sky it was not his intention “at the moment to move”. That said, he was againing straining to impress on those listening, how much of a team player he is.

“There has been a lot of talk since last summer but from my mouth there never came any interest to leave Ferrari or any words saying l would join another team. There was a lot of speculation, which is not disturbing but it created a little bit of tension and stress. Yet you also feel happy and proud that the best teams have an interest in you and say so in public.”

The sands have shifted monumentally in Maranello in recent times, and Fernando is nervous.

It just may be when you get what you’ve thought you’ve wanted for such a long time, it’s not quite as rewarding as you previously believed.

BREAKING: Lawrence Stroll seeking to invest in Lotus and asks Briatore to bring Alonso to the team. Mercedes engine deal is secured for Enstone and merely requires the appropriate funds transfer.

Cash rich Billionaire Stroll was linked with Sauber, but it appears he now believes a team in ‘Motorsport’s Valley’ is a safer bet.

Alonso returns to Enstone – now that would be a story. Though unlikely, seeing as Lotus problems are not easily solvable with sheer cash. Many good people have left over the past 12 months and may take years to re-recruit proper replacements.

This writer believes the no brainier is a straight swap between Mercedes and Ferrari – Fernando for Lewis.

This solves Mercedes management headache which at present sees Lewis refusing to play their politics game.

Lewis can claim he was part of the rebuilding in Maranello, and would add to his legacy as the first black driver to ever drive for the Scuderia.

#WinWin

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Give the kids a chance

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Get peddaling son. Get 300km under your belt and you can get an FIA superlicense.

Oh and just because we can…. coming soon at Paris show…

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Martin Brundle grid talk

There was an amusing moment before the race when Martin Brundle wanders up to Ecclestone and Horner who were chatting together on the grid.

Some Singapore bigging up ensues. Christian decides to get amusing and says to Brundle,

Shame your too old to drive here – you would have loved it”.

Brundle responds.

Shame you weren’t quick enough to get into F1…. (awkward pause – adds quickly) but you did it a different way (more split second awkwardness) …Well done (patronising voice and pat on the shoulder).

112 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 23rd September 2014

  1. “Lest we forget, this was the technical director who oversaw the development of the 2013 Mclaren entry…”

    Not only this, but the Leprechaun’s current reliability plight starts to resemble the reliability issues that McLaren were often hit with in years past, not just once robbing them of championship hopes.

    • As an element of fairness, PL led the team responsible for the design of the 2011 MP4-26 – 6 wins.

      • Good point. The bloke is obviously an extremely talented engineer. But put him in a lead role, and cars (and teams!) start to disintegrate soon enough.

        In part thanks to the Leprechaun (for insisting on his reinventing the wheel for 2013), Whitmarsh got kicked out of McLaren by Big Ron. And just around the 2014 mid-season the Mercs started showing significant reliability issues, coupled with very awkward team managing off-track. The common element, you ask: Paddy Lowe. Now Merc seems to be heading full-throttle down-hill, and I’m curiously waiting when Merc’s board is going to take Marchionne-like action..

  2. “The Enforcer blames Brawn for Mercedes failures”

    Where does lowe actually say this? In any case, people are having a selective memory. Schumachers car broke down way to often in 2012, near the end of the previous generation of cars.

    • I was about to ask the same question. Read the article 3 times just to make sure I didn’t miss something.

      Please don’t tell me it was the Hippo who wrote that?

    • Well, I see the same thing as the Judge does.

      His entire discourse is insinuating that when he came into the team lead the wheels were coming off the cars (“what did you do, Ross?!”), and it is his hard work and long-term initiatives that will solve all pending issues (“wait and see how good I am!!”). And as the Judge rightly points out, the cars were nearly bullet-proof first half season, as attested by the one-twos, and started to disintegrate (up to the level of the Singapore hilarious slow-mo fiasco) once the Leprechaun’s work started to feed into the car. (I understand that in F1, the lag between someone starts to work and the results start to show is around minimum 6-12 months.)

      • But Lowe is already 18 months in (start of 2013)?

        My simple point was: In my opinion the headline doesnt reflect its content, neither direct or indirect (between the lines).

        • Lowe was on gardening leave until mid 13. Brawn was in charge until the end of last year, it was also brawn who advised the engineers to think outside the box around September last year as the design was too conservative.
          He gave Lauda and Wolff an ultimatum around the Japanese go that he wanted to be the head of the team knowing that Wolff wouldn’t allow it as Lowe was his siging – don’t forget Lowe was originally destined to join Williams before Wolff joined Mercedes in jan 13… So Lowe didn’t take over till December 2013

        • Correct, he was in earlier, but he surely wasn’t leading anything until the moment that Ross grabbed his fishing kit and bowed out.

          So the Leprechaun and Woof took the helms in circa February 2014. And the Leprechaun realized that he actually should be leading something some 3-4 months later, just about the time when he started giving all those interviews on how bad a work Ross has done, to the point where he couldn’t remember what he did for the team.

  3. Stuff breaks.
    Given that this year is effectively a whole new formula, it’s not astonishing that cars have problems.

    More interesting to me is how much mileage Rosberg and Hamilton have on their remaining engines.
    Anyone have any idea ?

    • Both still have 1 of each component that they haven’t used as yet, so I’d assume that mileage is not that big of a concern to them.

      I think it was you who answered my question about Lewis’s rebuilt engine from the Hungary barbecue and when he’lol be able to use it again, so that might still have a lot less mileage on it.

      • They’ve used 4 engines/powertrains over 14 races
        H missed one entire race (Aus), and Rosberg the best part of one (Sing), plus doing only 28 laps of Silverstone, so that’s effectively 4 engines of 13 races.
        (H has probably put a bit more stress on his engines with recovery drives from the back, and the Hungary fire…)

        5 races remain (assuming Russia goes ahead), so depending on how much life is left in those engines, I’d say they are pretty marginal.

  4. Warning: Long post!
    Getting back to yesterday’s discussions about conspiracy theories.

    I think that we have gotten a bit overboard and gone from one extreme to the other. In the first half of the season we were branding the Hamfosi delusional for their conspiracy theories and suddenly we’re ready to re-assess the whole season and find a conspiracy in almost every single race.

    The way I see it though is this:

    Until Spa, Merc (with the exception of Lauda) were favouring Rosberg. This was done by double- and triple-checking his car. Making sure his pit stops were spot on. His ‘clean’, ‘nice boy’, ‘consistent’, ‘reliable’ persona were fitting Merc’s mantra perfectly. The ‘loose gun’ that was Lewis, not so much. The car (and the company) had to be in the news, not the driver.
    This resulted in Lewis’ slower pit-stops at time, DNFs and reliability problems. To top it all, Rosberg parked his car at Monaco.

    …and then comes Spa. In a moment of madness and to prove a point, Rosberg hits Hamilton. Lauda and Wolff blame Rosberg in the heat of the moment and due to their inexperience leading a dominant car with two hungry drivers. Fans get on the bandwagon and the booing begins. At that moment Merc realises that i may not help them anymore favouring ‘bad boy’ Rosberg winning the title. Lewis suddenly transforms from a ‘loose gun’ to the ‘heroic hammer’. Another Il Leone In Mansell fashion).

    So what probably happens now is that Lewis’ car starts to get double- and triple-checked. Trying to make sure that he doesn’t face any more reliability problems every other race.

    The only thing I cannot accept, is that Rosberg donated Lewis the Monza win. World champions are ruthless beings. They’ll conspire to win and get their way. But not donate wins. Has Rosberg become Rubens all of a sudden? I can’t believe that. And if they told him “give the win to Lewis and we’ll give you the title”, do you think Lewis would accept this? Unless of course he knows nothing about this.

    • I read your post twice…

      Just a quick observation. There are more conspiratorial twists and turns in what you “think” has happened season long at Mercedes than the so called conspiracies here. And yet, the only thing you don’t believe is “Monza”, which is the only thing here that has any real evidence underpinning it.

      That’s just my take on your comment. I am not trying to be provocative… It’s easy to call conspiracy, then immediately post your own conspiracy, then denounce the only available evidence.

      • I just refuse to believe it because I will then lose all respect I have for Rosberg. Unless he’s suddenly become Rubens, Felipe or Nelson? That’s different.
        Monaco and Spa showed that he can be ruthless and push the boundaries…and then he donates the Monza win? Maybe he’s way less mentally strong than everyone thought and Lewis is a tougher nut than everyone suspected.

        • “I just refuse to believe it…”

          And that’s totally cool mate, no problem with that.

          My only point was that, like “us”, your not anti-conspiratorial really. You have your take, all of which is pretty extreme, or as extreme as anything else here, and yet denounce a sourced factoid provided by Judge13 which doesn’t suit your paradigm.

          Nothing wrong with that… It’s the internet. But you began your op by pointing out this sites conspiratorial swings and then, maybe unwittingly, added to it. Believe what you like, but don’t think they are any less conspiratorial than other I think.

          Peace,

          SiS

          • Each to their own of course. I would rather focus on enjoying the next 5 races than tear myself up with conspiracies.

            Then we can indulge in end of season reviews (WWIII) here.

          • Fine, Rosberg donated Lewis the Monza win. Now explain to me, why did he do that? Was he threatened by Merc that he’ll be fired? Was he promised the title or something else? Or did he simply succumbed the same way Rubens did? I have admitted before that I’m prone to conspiracy theories. They can be fun. But I there needs to be some story to follow as well.

          • @McLaren78

            I’m not trying to upset you mate. I just picked up on your original post about conspiracy theories.

            As to why Nico might, I suppose that’s a question for Judge and his two sources. But my guess is that the only reason a bloke would give it away is that Mercedes had something critical and maybe dirty on Nico. Maybe he did a few things, that they had proof for, and decided to use it to balance the ledger as they saw it. One guess might be that maybe after Monaco quali they had something and they protected Nico.

            Who knows… But the point of my reply was to pick up on the irony of calling out conspiratorial swings and then plunking one down. At the end if the day, it’s all just fun and games.

            Peace,

            SiS

          • I’ll not get embroiled in the ‘facts and evidence’ issues, but putting that aside, we now have a pretty enticing prospect. I feel, regardless of how/why/who’s fault etc, things are pretty much reset, and we are in to a pretty straight fight for the end of the season, which contains a few corking circuits, one unknown, and a bit of a noddy one, which should be exciting. Lets pray, or hope, whatever s your poison, reliability doesn’t interfere with the rest.

            ….buuuut my main point is, Mercedes, and the drivers really cannot be seen to do anything slightly dodgy from now on, no crashing, causing flags, no manipulating results. Surely, from now on this really has to be seen as a straight fight between Nico and Lewis, squeaky clean, for them to come out of it individually and as a whole with any credibility?

          • Actually Adam, I agree.

            +1

            They’re in the metaphorical 12th round. Let’s pound it out, see who’s gets it, shake hands and walk off.

            Problem is I can’t see the three f$&k wit musketeers *not* being enticed to keep doing what I think they’ve been doing, ie. manipulating the show.

            But I like your post, and the suggested spirit of competition, nonetheless.

          • The biggest problem with the way it has been managed, is, regardless of whether or not there has been manipulation, they have left room for it to be perceived as such. There has to be absolute clarity, otherwise rumors will gain traction, so they need to be cards on the table, as you and the judge suggest, its probably not going to go that way.

            Lets hope not eh? I mean, I DO think Nico was being a bit cheeky at Monaco, and did it to break Lewis’s mental traction, which worked amazingly. But he didn’t seem to be able to break him on the track. Lewis has floundered a bit, but now got his sh1t together, and I think Lewis seems to have that traction again, so what I want to see is, can Rosberg cleanly take that fight to Lewis, and come back and flat out beat him from here on in, on the track, like Lewis did, without any mechanical shenanigans? I just don’t feel like I have seen Nico beat Lewis on the track, straight up yet, without something getting in the way? Really all we had was Malaysia, China, Spain, and Bahrain, which were about fighting on track, then it all went to hell.

            Lets hope to a season end, like those 4 races… indeed, results wise it would do me too!

          • “what I want to see is, can Rosberg cleanly take that fight to Lewis, and come back and flat out beat him from here on in, on the track, like Lewis did, without any mechanical shenanigans?”

            I want to see more Bahrain-style wheel to wheel racing too. But it’s important to note that there’s more than one way to win championships – there’s also the mental political pressure game as well as the pure speed game. I find the different tactics and approaches Lewis and Nico have (or had, at least), and how they mix with each other to be fascinating, and I hope Mercedes management can just stay out of it for the remaining races. But it may be too late.

          • I fully appreciate that @MarkJones, and did, and do, consider it as part of this process, though it is difficult to add everything you want and make a succinct comment folks want to read. I also want to know the winner has got the racing chops too, not just mental wiles, Lauda and Prost were political, but man, they could bring it too, never forget that!

        • “because I will then lose all respect I have for Rosberg”

          me too. 🙁

          Mansell, Senna, Prost? All would have told Wolff to go toto himself.

      • Has anyone considered this site may have been manipulated by being fed the evidence regarding Britney’s Monza giveaway?
        I fully respect tj protecting his sources but if we’re going to discuss conspiracies then the motivation of those unnamed sources also has to be taken into account.
        Just asking the question, again 🙂

    • In the name of science, I demand that we test this theory. Perhaps we can auction the opportunity to break Toto’s arm for charity.
      Also, in order to properly verify the actual hypothesis one way or the other, we should use the remaining five races to collect additional data points. Doing it just once would leave us open to the charge that it is just a publicity stunt.
      To investigate possible alternate theories, the 2016 season should be used to fracture a selection of other bones immediately prior to FP1 each race weekend.
      Whilst it’s tempting to include Paddy and Nicki in the experiment, I believe that using Toto as the control test pig is essential if we’re going to get any useful data.
      I lerv science 🙂

  5. I have to admit that a Hamilton-Ferrari marriage would be PR’s and Marketing department’s dream combination. Red cars would be flying off the shelf. (Of course I wouldn’t be happy if that happened!)

    Fred is understandably rattled. He’s been used to being the yardstick by which drivers of this era are measured, he’s used to being called the best all-rounder, he’s used to being the one being chased by teams and not the other way round. Ferrari seem to want a younger superstar (Vettel/Hamilton) which means Alonso’s time at Ferrari is nearly over.
    The Renault engine is weaker than Merc and Ferrari and Honda’s is unproven. Where would he go? He needs to be in a works team.

    A Fred/Lewis swap would work for Merc, Ferrari and Alonso. Would it work for Lewis? I think it depends on whether he wins the title this year or not. But even if he doesn’t, he may still want to stay for 2015 so as to win it then.
    I start to think that an Alonso/Button combo is not anymore such a crazy idea

    • The last thing that Ferrari needs right now is to lose Alonso. I think by now it is clear by now that employing Alonso has seriously concealed just how bad the rest of the red team has been the last five seasons.

  6. There’s this guy on twitter, who I have known of (not personally), claiming to have inside knowledge in F1 – particularly driver contracts. His twitter is @Monsieur_F1. He has said on there that Alonso has signed a contract with Merc and lewis will be elsewhere.

    Personally I don’t believe this guy and apparently he has got a lot of things wrong in the past, but thought i’d mention it since it is mentioned on the article here that there could be straight swap between lewis and nando.

    Has anyone come across this guy? What about you judge?

    • Not heard of them

      What we can say about Alonso is that its looking fairly likely he’ll be gone from Ferrari by 2015.

      Red Bull doesn’t appear likely. Marko likes to promote from within and regardless of what Mrs. Judge thinks or says, they’ve never signed a top driver. (She’s at the WI at present so I can speak relatively freely).

      Lotus just can’t happen. Look how long it took Brawn to get Mercedes up to scratch.

      Williams is also very unlikely. There’s always the suspicion if they get to close to Mercedes next year, then they’ll ‘not being allowed to use the overtake button’

      So It’s McLaren or Mercedes.

      It’s complicated for Mercedes, but if they lose Alonso to McLaren, they may never get him.

      Clearly Fred would choose Mercedes over McLaren

      • I have a feeling Lewis may get out of merc after 2015. As i think that others will have improved a lot, mainly ferrari as i see positive changes there at the moment, and lewis is known for taking risks and the opportunity of going to Ferarri and winning a championship AND being a driver to win titles with 3 different teams, assuming he wins with merc, will be too good to miss surely.

        Coupled with the fact that Wolff and Lowe may make a complete hash of it at some point, it may not be too crazy and will open up the opportunity for alonso to go there if he wishes in straight swap?

      • “It’s complicated for Mercedes, but if they lose Alonso to McLaren, they may never get him.”

        That implies that they want Alonso at some point in the future. The only way they would want him would be to build a team around him and have a compliant no 2, which of course, would contradict and dismantle the image they try to build now, i.e. ‘let them race freely’. So I struggle a bit with this. Vettel would make more sense for Merc.

        • It’s highly unlikely we will ever see lewis and nando in the same team again. Alonso simply wouldn’t have it – he knows lewis is probably the fastest on the grid and therefore would not want to damage his rep in any way by losing to him on track. Plus there would probably be a team division much like mclaren in 07. Alonso would have to deploy every trick in the book off track to try and unsettle lewis and beat him and he ain’t up for that challenge! 😉

      • Well if it shakes out as the Judge and co predict, the loser in all of this is Rosberg, given Alonso would be utterly brutal in his quest for a 3rd title. Lewis helping Ferrari to rebuild itself and win the titles might be very tempting for him.

        I guess this just leaves Vettel with a choice of staying at Red Bull or moving to McLaren taking a punt on the Honda Power Train coming good around 2016/17.

  7. Alonso looks nervous? Alonso always seems confident and in control. I guess he starts to crack when he is out of his comfort zone? Doesnt he know he can switch to Mclaren in the blink of an eye? Mclaren and Ferrari are in the same boat anyway.
    But why o why would Mercedes trade in Hamilton for Alonso? They’re two of a kind: The best of the best but really hard to handle.

    Would be good for the sport if Stroll jumps to Lotus’ rescue. Especially for Grosjean if he doesnt move to Mclaren. I’d prefer Lotus over Sauber and Marussia.

    “add to his legacy as the first black driver to ever drive for the Scuderia”

    A legacy just for being black? Race should not be an issue, performance would. How about a legacy if he manages to make Ferrari champions again.

    • …slightly churlish response. The comment implied directly Lewis would be credited with making Ferarri successful and it did not define his legacy as being black as this was predicated by “add to”.

      ….sit on the naughty step for trying to start unpleasant debates!!!

  8. That wouldn’t be good for Rosberg, Alonso would dismantle him mentally, he’s no hamilton in this respect, and doesn’t make the same mistakes, if any.

    • Alonso simply knows how to play the political game. Only Button can compete with him in that respect. Nothing to do with making more or less mistakes cf Lewis

      • Plus XIX will make gillions…. the whispers will already have begun in Lewis’ ear… ‘Fangio, Schumacher, Hamilton’

        Return of the sage father last two races…. guiding hand

        • Well XIX would be stupid not to try and get Lewis to move to Ferrari from a marketing and headline generating perspective. Though where does it leave Kimi ? Sees out his contract and then retires ? Or do they tempt him to stay on for a bit longer while Bianchi gains more experience elsewhere before he moves up to a Ferrari seat ?

          As for Lewis’s dad ? He’s the calming influence Lewis needs, I’ve noticed since he’s dad been at the races Lewis has gotten back to where he was earlier in the season – Calm about what he has to do and not launching into rants about the team.

  9. This writer believes the no brainier is a straight swap between Mercedes and Ferrari – Fernando for Lewis.
    This solves Mercedes management headache which at present sees Lewis refusing to play their politics game.

    Unless Mercedes are planning to make Rosberg a clear number 2 driver into the bargain, then I fail to see how swapping Hamilton for Alonso will make an iota of difference to their ‘management headache’, Fernando being so straightforward, unpolitical, utterly tractable, etc….
    🙂

    • …Fernando plays the game, Lewis thankfully sticks 2 fingers up to the F1 establishment – that said Ferrari will have to save face, and recruiting Vettel who has been beaten all year by his team mate – yes I understand Hippo’s view – but the mainstream fans will see this as Ferrari not getting someone at the top of their game.

      • Alonso plays the game as long as he likes the game. He didnt back in 2007 which turned out into a meltdown within a year.

      • It may be unlikely, but I would quite like to see Alonso and Vettel swap. Alonso can see out his career in the fast Red Bull, taking on one of the emerging best in Ricciardo (repeat of 07?).

        Vettel can then rebuild himself and the team at Ferrari with Raikkonen, who he matches well with. Once Kimi retires, they can then pick up Hulk (German superteam?) or Bianchi (loyal number 2?).

    • ..”race freely”…. ho ho ho.

      Here comes Father Christmas, and the Easter Bunny. Oh look, the Tooth Fairy is getting it on with the Sandman whilst the Boogeyman and Jack Frost are conspiring to cause trouble in the corner.

      Just pulling your leg 😉

  10. “This solves Mercedes management headache which at present sees Lewis refusing to play their politics game.”

    And then they would swap the headache for a migraine, for now they will have to bow to Fred’s political games. 🙂 And if not, here cometh the meltdown a la McLaren 2007, as Fred would come back chasing with his Asturian handbags..

    “Lewis can claim he was part of the rebuilding in Maranello, and would add to his legacy as the first black driver to ever drive for the Scuderia.”

    Wasn’t Lewis the first black driver in an F1 race.. ever? (Well, half-black to be precise; well, sort of.) Basically, for whichever team he races he’s the first black driver to ever drive.. 🙂

  11. “This writer believes the no brainier is a straight swap between Mercedes and Ferrari – Fernando for Lewis.

    This solves Mercedes management headache which at present sees Lewis refusing to play their politics game.

    Lewis can claim he was part of the rebuilding in Maranello, and would add to his legacy as the first black driver to ever drive for the Scuderia.”

    How on earth would swapping Lewis for Fernando solve Mercedes management headaches? As great a driver as he might be, Alonso has caused management headaches in every single team he raced for, maybe with the exception of Minardi. He complained about Renault while they were delivering championships for him, tried to blackmail his employer and had a large part in the McLaren meltdown in 2007, was more than likely involved in crashgate after he went back to Renault, and had to get his ear tweaked at Ferrari.

    Unless Nico is willing to play second fiddle and Mercedes are willing to make Alonso their undisputed number one catering to his every whim, swapping Lewis for Fernando makes no sense at all. If we are to believe, the team is already split in political factions, why would you want to hire a mind games playing, plot hatching, paranoid egomaniac like Alonso in a situation such as this?

    • …because he’s very very good and a natural order will develop between him and Nico, so the management team won’t have to adjudicate between them all the time.

      He plays politics in the same style which they like to, thinking about it is probably is more adept at it then they are…

      ‘egomania’ as you say, is very much what Wolff, Lauda and Lepr are all about.

      It’s a match made in heaven 🙂

      • arguably, a natural order would have developed between hamilton and rosberg, had the formers engine not expired in the first lap of the first race. lewis is very very good as well, and so far the only driver who managed to consistently match alonso.

          • “…that maybe… but it didn’t.. and now won’t… so the headache remains”
            and might very well continue given one or two alonso dnf’s. if you look at mercedes current reliability, it’s not too far fetched to assume they will happen. or to put it differently, it’s as safe a bet to expect a natural order between hamilton and rosberg as it is to expect one between alonso and rosberg.

            plus, alonso has never been happy with a natural order, much like schumacher, he demands a complacent no. 2. if mercedes would want to solve their headache by turning nico into another felipe or rubens, they might as well keep the (potential) no. 1 driver they have.

            the only argument i could see is that mercedes think hamiltons salary demands are outrageous, and alonso would be available for less. but if they would have to buy out alonsos contract at ferrari, i doubt that would be the case.

            i rate fernando highly as a driver, but i think he is slowly getting past his prime and has a habbit of causing trouble at his teams. a team that already has more than enough trouble would be wise to sign somebody else. and given mercedes current domination, they might as well hire a safe no. 2 if they really wanted to get rid of hamilton and/or their managerial headache.

      • …because he’s very very good and a natural order will develop between him and Nico, so the management team won’t have to adjudicate between them all the time.

        Unlike the mediocre Hamilton, huh ?

        The whole idea is ridiculous. If Hamilton/Rosberg can’t work, then neither will Alonso/Rosberg.
        Either Rosberg wins this year – in which case he’d go to war with an imported Alonso – or he loses… In which case problem solved; natural order sorted.

          • Also a tenable argument, on many levels, which I won’t bother to enumerate, either.
            🙂

          • Your one sentence sweeping assertions without proper consideration to the subject matter, represent the ‘lite’ level of contribution you frequently bring.

            This is your second in quick succession (even bigger smiley face)

  12. For some reason, everyone in F1, mysterious twitter handles, pundits and fans are not discussing the possibilities of what the grid would look like if Mr. E has his way and there are 3 car teams. I suspect that there would be a huge discombobulation and big winners and losers in this scenario.

  13. Hamilton at Ferrari would force me to be a Ferrari fan for the first time in my life, which would akin to me rooting for the Montreal Canadiens because my cousin now played for them…a stranger in a strange land.

  14. Talking about Paddy Lowe being a decent engineer but a rubbish manager who has teams fall apart round him as he can’t hold things together, then has anyone noticed that since Ron has been back at McLaren, Sam Michaels had been pretty much off the media radar, he is another one where teams fall apart around them. Under Martin ‘the nice’ Whitmarsh, old Sam talked absolute bottom fudge most weeks to anyone who woukd listen, I guess Eric ‘the believable’ is the one shovelling the fudge now?

  15. If I may, I would like to impose upon the chamber.

    I have been tossing around a new theory, and in my writing, I have come across what I think is an interesting question.

    First a rhetorical one…

    After Spa, when Lewis went before the press and stated that Nico had
    “basically hit him on purpose to prove a point”, everyone assumed that if it were true, the point Nico was trying to make was directed at Lewis.
    What if the point was directed towards Mercedes as a team, and not at Lewis specifically?

    So the theoretical question I pose to you is this:

    What point could Nico have been trying to make to Mercedes?
    I am interested in hearing your ideas.

    Thanks all.

    • I highly doubt he was trying to prove a point to the team, but if we suppose he was, the only thing i can think of is that he was trying to show the team he can beat him on track and can overtake him. But even that’s far fetched as it didn’t pay off and before Spa, it looked like he had the team favouring his side anyway…

      His point it would seem, was trying to show lewis that he will not yield in wheel to wheel battles and be just as good as him. Effectively he has exposed his weakness to lewis which is that he’s toast in a wheel to wheel battle with lewis by even admitting to him that he was trying to prove a point.

    • I’m with formula on this one : Mercedes, up until Spa at least, were almost openly favouring Rosberg over Hamilton. There really was no need for Rosberg to make any point to the team as they were geared towards making him succeed anyway. He had pretty clear support from Wolff and probably even higher up than Wolff.

      But, he decided to collide with Hamilton. Maybe he wanted to make the point that he would cost the team points and run Hamilton off if push comes to shove (this is only speculation). Mercedes’ top-level management didn’t like that so they now seem to be more inclined to help Hamilton’s cause and Hamilton knows he now doesn’t need to ever tangle with Rosberg given that all eyes will be on Rosberg instead of Hamilton.

      The latest PR stunts by Wolff, pathetic as they may be, show that he doesn’t really know who to support, but at least it is not crystal-clear support of Rosberg (which can be interpreted as supporting Hamilton, I guess ?).

  16. Re- Brundles grid ‘talk’

    There was a time when Brundle would ambush as many drivers as possible in 5 minutes, pushing in front of other media and bringing us the goods, but now, it’s really just a filler now and a look at how many celebs can be spotted. We wanna hear from Lewis on pole and Nico in 2nd not talk to Gordon f-ing Ramsay and get a single sound bite from the toad himself.

    • Horner did get owned by Brundle though. It was like watching someone swat a dead persistent fly away. If I was more of a tw@t I’d be giving him a #LAD

  17. So, lets distill things for 2015 down a bit.

    For sure:

    Red Bull will have a better car and PU next year.

    So will Mercedes (at least a better PU for themselves)

    McLaren might have a better PU but still will have a dog chassis.

    Ferrari is in the same class as McLaren, except that they probably won’t break as often.

    Williams will be quick if Mercedes give them a decent PU

    The other teams (what is left of them ) will be nowhere.

    There are three great tested drivers out there, Alonzo, Hamilton, and Vettel.

    So which of these three can actually jump ship to a more sure thing?

    Only Alonzo, but where can he go for a more sure thing?

    Explain this to me rationally please.

    Frank V

    • I’m not sure McLaren will have a dog chassis next year. It’s obvious, and I think they realise, those mushroom wishbones was a wrong route to chase. They’ll be off the car next year. They’ll probably have a much less draggy car next as the bodywork to aid the wishbones won’t need to be so large.
      During the race the other day the commentators mentioned the rear brake ducts are the new blown diffusers now this year. An area McLaren surely can’t exploit as well due to the wish bones again.
      Don’t hold your breath but I think they might be up their next year.

      • I agree with you. Honda have had so much time now to develop their powertrain, and with unrestricted testing aswell. They have also had the benefit of seeing exactly what the opposition have brought to the races and how well they have worked, or not. I cannot imagine a company as big as Honda would allow themselves to re-enter the sport with a sub-standard unit and have all the bad publicity that Renault received. 🙂

  18. I’m starting to get seasick from all these “predictions”. Alonso to RBR and vet to Ferrari, Alonso to McLaren, or to Lotus, or maybe to Merc for Lewis, or maybe he stays at Ferrari… What else is possible? We all know he’s never going to Torro Roso or FI and Williams is a bit far fetched. All the other teams are bankrupt.

    Does it count as a prediction if you predict every possible option?

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