This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.
You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly
Previously on The Judge 13:
Editors Note on Caterham For anybody who may have missed the news yesterday in regards to the perilous situation the Caterham F1 finds itself in, TJ13 carried a report which was updated late last night which may shed some light on all the goings-on in Leafield – including ‘sheriffs’ with badges – here’s the link
OTD Lite: 1977 – Lauda secures his second World Title
On this day, Niki Lauda’s last race for Ferrari also secured him the 1977 World Title too. After the extraordinary recovery from the previous year, Lauda had started the season with the goal of taking the title and putting all his doubters in their place – including Enzo Ferrari who had questioned this tough Austrian and signed Carlos Reutemann for the final 1976 races and the following season.
The relationship between the Argentinian and Austrian in 1977 proved awkward and Lauda signed to drive for the Brabham team in 1978 as did his mechanic. A serious snub to Ferrari as Brabham was powered by the Alfa-Romeo engine. When he chose to leave the team before seasons’s end, the Old Man’s humiliation was complete and a popular legend which Lauda wrote in his biography demonstrated the power of the red cars in Italy.
As he prepared to fly his jet out of an Italian airport, the control tower told him he had a few hours to wait. He was astonished as he had always had clearance when ready. The voice over the headphones told him: “Well that was when you were a Ferrari driver. You have left them you Ba****d!!”
Kimi gives up ice-cream to go racing
Kimi Raikkonen seems to have finally turned the corner with the mobile wreck that is called a Ferrari. In Singapore as shown during qualifying he is finally getting the car to respond to his style of driving and the positives from that weekend have given him renewed hope for the remaining races.
Of course with problems on his final laps he never got the opportunity to qualify well and spent his race amongst the slower traffic but it would seem that his confidence in the car is returning.
“In Singapore, we finally had the speed to put together a quick single flying lap in qualifying, as the car behaved the way I’d been hoping for, it was just a shame we could not maximise the performance of the car because of a minor issue before the last flying lap.”
“It meant we could not do much in the race, as I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t exploit my pace. But for me, the positive thing that weekend was I finally had a good feeling from the car, something I had been waiting for a long time this year.”
It would be easy to suggest that the circuit played a part as its demands are more mechanical grip than aerodynamic but over the last handfuls of races the Iceman has been nudging closer to the Samurai. Irrespective of the Spaniard’s final decision – with a James Allison designed car – next year could prove a turning point for the Finn
Eddie Jordan gives the Samurai his advice too
Eddie Jordan, as ever, brings colour, life and a somewhat method of expression that baffles most observers, but anybody who has accumulated a fortune which allows him to build himself a yacht for 32 million is hardly a fool – no matter the public perception.
As one of the leading voices predicting that Hamilton had signed for Mercedes despite their performance being poor whilst competing for wins at Mclaren – it is always with trepidation you listen to his ramblings.
“They have a driver that passed Schumacher around the outside of 130R in Japan in 2005. I will remember that for the rest of my life because it symbolised the passing of the baton netween the King and the young pretender Alonso. After five years how can Ferrari have not delivered him a title. They threw away the 2010 title and the cars have been getting worse ever since. ”
“Would his joining another team be better for him now? I say no. Hamilton accomplished this when he joined Mercedes and betwen them they have raised the bar. Realistically the Asturian can only go to Mclaren who are after a top driver becaue they don’t feel Button is that man. With Vettel and ALonso being chased, they could both end up with Mclaren and of the possible combinations leading to a team change for several drivers towards the end of the month.”
“Mclaren and Honda have a great heritage but whilst I believe Honda will be competitive; they have only won one race in the last decade. A single victory in Hungary 2006. Jordan won three races with Honda (aka Mugen). ”
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
Honda set for McLaren driver talks at Suzuka
McLaren will not be making a driver announcement this weekend at Suzuka. With speculation about his future rife, Spain’s Diario AS has claimed Fernando Alonso’s situation at Ferrari is now “almost unbearable”, and an announcement of a split could be the next item on the agenda.
The Spaniard is strongly linked with a return to his 2007 employer, McLaren, to spearhead the British team’s new works partnership with Honda from 2015. Honda-owned Suzuka, the scene of this weekend’s Japanese grand prix, would seem the ideal place for confirmation.
But Yasuhisa Arai, Honda’s F1 chief, played down the chances of an imminent announcement. “I don’t think we will be discussing the topic of drivers given that nothing is decided,” he told Britain’s Sky. Arai did, however, admit that talks with McLaren about the composition of next year’s driver lineup are likely to take place behind the scenes this weekend.
“We are constantly talking about which drivers we would like to see and whilst McLaren is here in Japan it is only natural that we organise some meetings with McLaren,” he revealed. It is believed the two most likely scenarios for 2015 are that McLaren will either field an unchanged lineup next year, or drop Kevin Magnussen and pair Alonso with fellow champion Jenson Button.
Briton Button, who previously drove for Honda’s works team and is engaged to the Japanese model Jessica Michibata, said this week that McLaren needs experience at the wheel for the new era. “There are so many ways in which having a driver with experience can help you to find the right direction,” he is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint, adding that “understanding Japanese culture” will also be important for McLaren from 2015.
TJ13 comment: In a world of evolving technology that allows real-time data to be picked up in Woking when their car is on-track on the other side of the world it seems a little disingenous to suggest that Mclaren can ‘pop in’ now they are local to the head office for a chat.
Considering Honda and Mclaren have made no secret of their desire to have Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton in their car – it would be baffling if they were not talking drivers this weekend. Unless of course they have signed contracts and won’t be making the announcement.
One thing is for certain, if Alonso has been signed to the Woking team then this decision is a Japanese led one because Ron Dennis would revel in his “poaching’ of a top driver. Back in 2005 he declared Alonso would be a Mclaren driver – a full year ahead of the actual arrangement for 2007, which was designed as a dig at Briatore, and he rejoices in beating Ferrari.
With that logic, could it be that Alonso had signed for 2016 rather than next year which is why talks on drivers are continuing. He had asked Ferrari to include a get out clause that if performance targets were not met after five races next season he could leave the team without penalty. It is believed that at that point Ferrari told Fernando exactly what they thought..
As to Button’s assertion about Honda needing a driver with experience to ‘find the right direction’ – maybe someone should tell him that having a Japanese fiancee does not make him more attractive to the corporate world of the rising sun.
In fact, other than their desire for a samurai a-la Senna, Honda have employed Button before. His direction of the team was hardly worthy of champagne and as to his recent seasons at Mclaren…
Mercedes admits ‘no peace’ between warring drivers
Toto Wolff has admitted tension between Mercedes’ title-warring teammates is inevitable over the decisive final five races of 2014. In the last hours, despite their obviously fractious relationship recently, Nico Rosberg declared that the atmosphere inside the silver camp is now “very good“. And Lewis Hamilton, who now holds a 3-point championship lead after Rosberg’s problems in Singapore, declared that things are “back to normal” following the recent turmoil.
But Dr Helmut Marko, a boss at Red Bull whose Daniel Ricciardo is still a long-shot hope for the drivers’ crown, declared this week that “This peace (at Mercedes) is not real. Eventually, Hamilton and Rosberg will be side by side again, and when they see it is the title in front of them, there are no more rules,” he told Bild.
Mercedes boss Wolff has now hit back by admitting it is obvious tension still remains between Rosberg and Hamilton as the title battle intensifies.
“There is no need for a peace pact to show to the public,” he said ahead of the Japanese grand prix at Suzuka, one of five remaining races this season including the double points finale in Abu Dhabi. “If you’ve been programmed for 25 years to fight for and win the drivers’ championship, no one can ask you to suddenly make your greatest enemy also your best buddy,” Wolff admitted.
Former F1 driver turned German television pundit Marc Surer agrees: “Of course there is no peace. Either of them can be world champion,” he told Speed Week. “Why should they make peace — so the other one can win?”
TJ13 comment: Good Lord and still it continues – when will Toto step out of the land of Oz and stop trying to tell a public that can see through every manufactured and coiffured announcement the Silver Arrows make. Without guidance from the three stoges, neither Nico or Lewis would have felt the need to tell the world they are bestest friends forever…
There are days that Marko comes across as a complete and utter ‘*@^*’ but on occasion his forthright views express what every onlooker sees within the Brackley team. As fans all we can hope is that Mercedes wins the Constructors as soon as possible and let the fighting begin. This could well be were RBR believe they have a chance at the title.
Caterham staff fail to be re-assured
Caterham staff returned to work this morning. They were assured the items removed by the Bailiff’s would be returned ‘shortly’ and even though certain machinery critical to the normative operations of the factory was not present.
The office of the High Court Enforcement Officers has been contacted today regarding the acquisition of certain items they have listed. They state, “The goods are to be sold at auction to the highest bidder, unless the the sums under the writs are paid within the seven day notice of the sale period, in which case the goods will be released from seizure for collection by Caterham Sports Ltd.”
Management were at least buoyed this morning by the fact they had managed to secrete certain parts machined for the Caterham cars to run in Japan from behind the Bailiff’s backs and onto a courier.
The problem is staff are now highly sceptical of anything the management say following numerous stories shared previously which have clearly been untrue.
The staff are indeed aware that the 2 CT03 cars were indeed removed on Monday, yet the press office deflected the matter by informing a ‘friendly’ F1 journalists that in fact the show car had been despatched to Jerusalem.
Of course the cars are now in Croydon and up for auction by The Sheriff’s Office.
The cars would not be able to run properly in Japan were the servers to be inoperative. At present they have not been removed and are running today. A stay of execution has been offered by the Bailiff’s due to the fact that the next instalment of ‘pay-per-drive’ monies will be only due following the race in Suzuka on Sunday.
TJ13 believes, this is not merely the case of a team running out of money – Caterham have been developing their 2015 car for some while and the tub is now built. Further, important R&D and design work for 2015 has been undertaken by sub-contractors in recent weeks – paid for up front – from the cash received from pay drivers.
It is questionable why significant monies are being spent on a 2015 car, when the factory is being stripped of its assets to build parts for the current car.
Is this really the death throes of a team running out of funds or some underhanded wrangling in an attempt to asset strip and run the company into the ground? And in the mean time valuable intellectual property for a future car is being funded for a future day?
It may well be few – possibly just 1 person – fully know the reality of this situation and that the management on the whole are doing their best with little information.
TJ13 would like to express its sympathy to all the Leafield staff who are suffering this outrageous treatment, when behind the scenes there are no ‘Swiss based Arab investors’, just a little man – who is the great wizard of Oz.
TJ13 would also like to thank the staff at Leafield who have kept us informed of the real story behind the scenes, and enable us to reveal to the world first, that which others refuse to print.
UPDATE: Manfredi Ravetto has revealed on Thursday evening, he is not certain whether there is a ‘master plan’ to close Caterham F1 down.
2014 Japanese GP Drivers Press Conference
Drivers present :- Sebastian Vettel, Kamui Kobiashi, Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenburg, Jules Bianchi and Romain Grosjean.
Following the utter lack of interest from most of the media at the Singapore GP, TJ13 decided to dedicate a reporter to give his views on the Japanese FIA Drivers’ Press Conference.
Kamui Kobiashi had been sat pride of place front row centre for the press conference, I suspect it was because the powers that be thought he was going to have to field a magnitude of questions on the state of Caterham. He took the 1st question regarding his last appearance at his home grand prix in 2012 and how it felt to take the podium in front of his home fans, to which he replied, “ I think in 2012, my first podium ever, in Suzuka, it’s a great memory.” It’s obvious he realises the Caterham’s shortcomings, “ After 2012 I break for a year and then come back in 2014. It’s a very difficult situation right now but still I’m back at Suzuka”. He goes on by adding, “ Of course, I think we have a lot of rumour before coming here but at least we can announce that we are here and we will race this week. I’m very happy about that.”
After his opening comments, it is clear that a year at Leafield has not done Kamui’s English many favours in regard to his pronunciation, maybe this is why Caterham chose to field him in the presser so no one can get too much information out of him about the state of the team. Not surprising then that only one Journalist broached the subject of the state of Caterham to which KK replied, “ Well, first of all, I won’t get the same information to the boss because I think that our boss is flying over here, so we are waiting what happens really.” He goes on by saying, “ I think it’s very difficult to say. At the moment, I think we can still communicate with the UK so I think it looks as if the company is OK but I don’t know the rest really.” So it seems that in Japan at least, if you can get a reply when you telephone your place of work, the company is ok! I think that’s what he said…….
That said KK did make a fond mention of the home fans and also a little nod to Honda and their return next season, possibly touting for some work, given the state Caterham are in currently, “Yeah, I really appreciate all the support. I’m here because of only fan donation and these donations are very important for me and we show how the Japanese supporter is always supporting Formula One, also myself as well. Next year, Honda will be back and I think this will be helpful for all the Japanese fans and also maybe other Japanese companies as well. This could help one day. At least I’m here for this year and I think it will be really exciting and still it’s only Thursday so many fans try to get [things] signed and it’s still very nice to see for me.”
Jenson on the other hand seemed as if he would rather be elsewhere, but did raise a smile when reminded of his fantastic finishing record at the Suzuka circuit (14 from 14 with 1 win in 2011), “Yeah, I think the one win stands out for me as a result, rather than just finishing 14 races. Winning here in 2011 was a very special victory for me and also being chased down by Fernando and Sebastian at the end of the race was a proper climax. Really stands out in my Formula One career.” He was a little less inclined to comment on his future with the team when asked by saying, “ I… I don’t know! As you know I can’t discuss anything to do with the contract.” But did confirm that as far as he know it is the same for his team-mate. A later question to him was more direct, asking if it was McLaren or nothing for the future? To which Jenson replied “it’s the best option”.
When quizzed on hope for the shorter term, namely this weekend, he responded in what i would call a semi-positive way “ I hope that we can race on Sunday, that’s the first thing, I think. With a typhoon coming this way it’s always very tricky. Hopefully it will miss us. It’s going to be a mixed weekend in terms of weather; tomorrow there’s a good chance of rain as well. I think it’s really just thinking on your feet and staying on top of all the different weather forecasts. But this is a circuit I think we all love. It’s fast, it’s flowing, there’s a lot of support here from the fans, not just for Japanese drivers but for every driver in Formula One as a whole, so it’s always great coming here and I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.”
The next driver to give some answers was one of the fans favourites, Nico Hulkenburg, who lamented his recent run of poor form and gave a few simple reasons for his lack of standout results, “ I think obviously race weekends didn’t go as flawlessly as before and for one or other reasons we didn’t always achieve our maximum on my side of the garage but nothing too concerning I think.” He continues by adding, “ Obviously Hungary was a mistake, technical issues in Monza, unlucky in Singapore, so there is always a story behind it. But overall, if we put it together we are still a candidate for points and still looking competitive.” When pressed as to contract talks for next year all he would divulge was, “ We’ll see. I think there’s not much to report at the moment but everything is looking quite positive.” That old chestnut, if I had a pound……..
Jules Bianchi was his usual quiet reserved self and when asked to sum up his year this is what he had to say,” After the break it was a bit more difficult for us. In Spa I had an issue and in Monza we were not so competitive and then Singapore was a difficult race again. I think overall it was a good season and I’m quite happy. Now I hope we can do some good results again.” He continued by adding,” Well, you can always do better for sure but it was a good season for me. I’m still trying to do my best in the next races we’re going to have and we will see. But for sure I have no regrets.”
Bianchi was then asked about the possibilities of moving up to the main Ferrari team and taking the seat we all know has his name on, even if it’s just in pencil for the time being, “Well, yes of course I feel ready. I have been working for that since I’m in the Academy, end of 2009. So, now I did nearly two seasons in Formula One. I think I have good experience and I feel ready for that, for sure. It looks like the logical step for me if something happens like this.” He is however quick to point out, “ Obviously at the moment both drivers have a contract so it’s not the question but if there is the opportunity I feel it would be good for me and I feel good.” Never say never Jules….
Next up we have Romain Grosjean who has been pretty anonymous for most of the year, was asked to sum up his season so far, “ Kind of missed the podium. It’s a tough season for all of us. We started a little bit on the back foot and it takes time to recover but things are going slightly better since Singapore.” Although that’s only one race ago he still has a positive outlook, “ I think we have seen that the car was a little bit more competitive and hopefully it will be the case until the end of the season. There are a few updates coming. Even though they are small pieces it makes a good difference in how you prepare for the future. I think the key now for Lotus is to get on top of issues to prepare as good as we can for next year.”
Grosjean was also thrown a slightly awkward question about his recent outburst over the radio to the team, “ Well, the season is difficult. Of course part of the frustration… part of that radio message was frustration from the beginning of the year.” He goes on by adding, When you’re racing in Singapore it’s certainly one of the toughest tracks to race, qualifying lap, you give 120 percent of everything you can, you take every single risk to get close to the walls without kissing them too much and the straight line your engine cuts – so I wasn’t very happy with that. I think it was clear. But we’ve found the issue with Renault, they solve it for the race and things were going better. I think it was just the fact that it was hot, humid and trying to get 100 per cent of everything and suddenly you get issues on the straight line where it’s easy not lose time.”
On the subject of motivation, Romain had this to say, “ Well, because you wake up in the morning and you’re still a Formula One driver. It took me quite a long time to get to Formula One. I lost it once, at the end of 2009 and when I came back in 2012, I realised… you know, when you lose something, you realise how much you like it. So even though it’s a tough season, I still have mechanics that give 100 percent of themselves and I still love what I’m doing. Of course, it’s much more fun to fight at the front and for victories but it’s still a very good job.” I honestly think that would be all the motivation i would need too.
Lastly we move onto Sebastian Vettel, who seemed to be in good spirits and happy to talk. First up was his difficult year and how he feels there is still potential in Red Bull, “ I think it’s all the small bits coming together. Obviously we hardly ran the first half of the season, we had lots of issues in winter to overcome and then a lot of issues on my side in the first half – which is never great to get the right feeling and get things lined up the way things should be lined up. I think now we had a little bit more consistent weekends, a bit more time to look at all the stuff and I think it’s coming our way – but there’s still huge potential which I feel we are getting closer but there’s a lot of work ahead of us to make sure we extract it in the next couple of races as well.”
So all is not lost in the Red Bull camp and those don’t sound like the words of a guy who is about to jump ship for pastures unknown. When asked of the chances of a good result this weekend he replied, “ I think there always is. Yeah, there’s some discussions on the weather. Kamui just gave me a brief update on the Typhoon. I think chances are a bit 50:50 but there’s always a chance to do well, race well.” He added with a wry smile, “ This circuit suits me, suits our car so I think we should be a little bit closer this weekend again. Whether we are as strong as Singapore is difficult to say. It’s a different nature of track – but a track I definitely enjoy and an atmosphere that I really enjoy, so I’d love to be on the podium, yes.”
The next subject to be bought to Seb’s attention was the issue of unavoidable grid penalties and how the team will choose to go ahead and try to minimise the losses, “Well, I’m one of them! Yeah. The rules are as they are but surely at some stage we have to take some penalties, which penalties those will be is not entirely clear yet. We’re waiting for some parts, we’re hoping that we get as far as we can but it’s inevitable to go for an extra engine on my side – which is already ten positions after qualifying. Potentially there is more waiting for us – which is only a consequence of the poor season we had, first half of the season, in terms of reliability. But that’s something we knew back then. Now we have to figure out what is the smartest plan, let’s say, and the smartest track to come up with a penalty.” This must be some hard choices for Sebastian and the team as do they take a 10 place penalty at a track they are good on and try for a recovery drive, or do they go for a track they feel they will struggle on and take the hit, hoping for just damage limitation, so interesting decisions to be made in Milton
Vettel was then quizzed over Max Verstappen and the fact that the young Seb holds many of ‘the youngest’ records himself. Further, Vettel was the new hot young thing in Toro Rosso not so long ago, but was happy not to tow the party line, “ I think one of the biggest differences is that I was able to drive myself from the hotel to the track – which I think he isn’t. He doesn’t have a driver’s licence. I think Formula One has changed a lot, especially this year so it’s not a secret cars got slower. Different to drive to previous years, probably a little bit more technical but less demanding in terms of the corner speeds we are taking. Especially on a track like this. But, y’know, I’m as excited as you to see him running. Obviously he was only done half a year, three-quarters of a year in Formula 3. I think he has a remarkable record in go-karting. So, yeah, I think he has the potential. On the other hand, you need to give him time, as much as he needs. When I was 19, joining Formula One, the first time. Of course, you always feel ready and you don’t say no if somebody gives you the opportunity to race or drive a Formula One car – but you have to take your time to get used to all the things. Not just the car but also working with the team, which is completely different in Formula One to all the other categories.”
It may be Vettel knows that the driver he is referring to is going to be in his seat one day. He was also asked about whether he was concerned the records he holds are about to be obliterated. Seb was most philosophical, “ Well, I think records are there to be broken. Obviously he starts quite a bit younger than all the rest of us but it’s hard to say, but one day I think there will be somebody to break these numbers and one day there will be somebody again to break the numbers again, so I think that’s normal.” There, there, Seb it was good while it lasted! Finally he was questioned on the subject we have all been hypothesising over, will he go, where to and when? ” Well, I think there has always been rumours over the last couple of years, especially around this time of the season. I think probably more for Jenson; he already has 17 teammates for next year.” He quipped, adding, “ I have been one of them, a couple of weeks ago, maybe next week I will be again. It’s not really in my head. As I said, coming from back… coming from the back at Singapore we made some progress and I hope that we can carry that momentum into this race and that’s really where the focus lies. So that is clear as mud……
To finish up with we stay on the subject of itsy witsy Max Verstappen and look how the drivers answered the question of what was the most powerful car you had driven at 17 years old? Vettel trumped them all with a 700+HP Champ car test in the US, Kobiashi and Bianchi both answered Formula Renault at 180HP (I guess that’s 2.0 not 3.5), Nico Hulkenburg and Jenson answered go carts and finally Romain Grosjean said “Technically, in horsepower, I think it was my mother’s Subaru. On a race track, for the record what was the most powerful car they had driven at the age of 17?”
Not a total bore-fest as some of these affairs can be, but still no answers on the 2015 McLaren line up, what Seb is doing in the future, or what the heck is going on with Caterham, I may telephone them and if they answer……..then all is ok!
Williams on Suzuka
The drivers love the high speed challenge of Suzuka Circuit. It’s fast and narrow, and it punishes mistakes because there is very little run-off. There are few better places to watch a grand prix car on the limit than through the Esses at the beginning of the lap. The high-speed changes of direction are stunning to watch, but that’s not all. The undulating rollercoaster of a lap includes Degner 1&2, Spoon and 130R – all memorable and challenging corners.
The Japanese fans leave an indelible impression too. Rain or shine, they fill the grandstands and cheer politely, often giving the drivers and teams gifts. All this adds together to make the Japanese Grand Prix one of the most memorable of the season.
According to Rob Smedley “Japan is one of the last remaining old school tracks. It is incredibly important to get the cars set-up right and very difficult for the drivers to get the perfect lap. The track is one which tests all aspects of the car and so is very tough to get right.” He continues with some key points for the weekend, “Tyre management is key, so we hope we have done all of our homework and getting on top of track conditions throughout the weekend will directly affect qualifying and the race. I personally enjoy Japan, the fans are immensely enthusiastic about the sport and incredibly welcoming of the teams.”
Felipe Massa also has kind words for this iconic circuit “Japan is one of the best circuits on the calendar.” He goes on to explain why drivers enjoy this track so much “The first sector is amazing and the elevation changes really add to the excitement of the track.” As for his feelings about the team he says “We have good momentum at the moment and our car will hopefully be better than in Singapore. The Japanese fans are some of the most passionate fans. On a Thursday in the rain the stands are still full. I also love Japan and look forward to seeing more of the country.
Valtteri Bottas says that “Suzuka is my favourite circuit on the calendar. The high speed corners make it a very special track to drive and a lot of fun.” He to makes mention of the enjoyment the drivers get from this great track by adding “For a driver it’s quite a challenge with no room for a mistake, but it’s fast which just makes it even better to drive. You need good downforce and stability which could bring the field closer together. One thing all drivers say about Japan is just how amazing the fans are, and I am looking forward to seeing them again and hope they enjoy the race.”
Last remaining old school track indeed, until Whiting et al get to find where the local asphalt company resides and find an interpretor who can communicate the question, “Can you F%^k up Degner 1&2 please?”.