#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 3rd October 2014

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Previously on The Judge 13:

TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast – Episode 7

2014 Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka Free Practice 1 – Report

On This Day in #F1: 3rd October 1971 – Cevert victory

The Art of #F1: Heroes

The #F1 Bar Exam: 2nd October 2014


OTD Lite: 1965 – Graham Hill wins US GP when men were men

Mainstay of Red Bull garage leaves at short notice

Typhoon Phanfone (UPDATE)

Mr E – How to lose friends and influence people

Alfa Romeo F1 return being considered

Alonso takes a leaf out of Bryan Adam’s song book – Everything I do

Nurburgring circuit received illegal aid – European Union

Is Vettel about to join his former Italian engineer

Luca’s last stand

Honda favour a relaxation of the in-season engine development rules

New GPDA Chairman


OTD Lite: 1965 – Graham Hill wins US GP when men were men

It’s easy to bemoan the youngsters that have filtered into the sport when they have barely learnt how to use a razor – training that Ron Dennis put all his drivers through back in the day incidentally. But there was a time that completing a Grand Prix distance actually meant a race that took two or three days to recover from as muscle and the mind came down from the heightened senses of man’s primitive survival instincts.

On this day in 1965, Hill won his third successive US Grand Prix around the scenic 3.7km Watkins Glen track in Upstate New York; completing the 110 laps in just over 2hr 20mins. Unlike the cars and circuits they have today – which test very little of a driver’s arsenal – the 36 year old moustachioed veteran had the stamina to drive these cars at a time when a mistake could cost a life.

Hill finished 12 seconds ahead of Dan Gurney and 57s ahead of Jack Brabham. Fourth place onwards were lapped. We should rejoice that DRS, tailor made disintegrating rubber and other contrived variables hadn’t been thought of then – just real racing for real racing drivers.

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The Jackal

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Mainstay of Red Bull garage leaves at short notice

Chief Red Bull mechanic is not present in Japan. The Red Bull garage will have a different feel this weekend as Kenny Handkammer will not be in command of operations.

The man who has overseen the weekend car preparation for Sebastian Vettel’s 4 world titles, along with a couple of loose wheels for Webber, has reportedly left the team at short notice.

Helmut Marko confirms this, “Kenny Handkammer has left the team with immediate effect. He will not be in Suzuka. The decision was mutual”

Handkammer was seen in Singapore sporting a black eye and stitched facial wound, though whether the events surrounding this injury are related is at present just speculation.

This will be a blow to the Red Bull race crew as Kenny was much respected and operated the garage with military efficiency.

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Typhoon Phanfone

There has been somewhat of a hysterical reaction in the F1 paddock to the approaching of Typhoon Phanfone presently lurking off the south coast of Japan. Current weather forecasts suggest the storm is travelling north and may hit land at the southern tip of the western islands of Japan, but it could turn east, towards the mainland over the coming 48 hours.

Discussions have been held between Charlie Whiting and the team bosses suggesting an early start on Sunday may be prudent. The race is due to start 3pm local time.

However, worse case scenarios have Phanfone making land in the southern part of Japan on Monday at the earliest, though winds were high at the Suzuka circuit on Thursday.

Adam Cooper has repeatedly suggested on Twitter that the race organisers should consider running the GP on Saturday to avoid a potential cancellation of the race. This appears, at present, to be an over reaction. The predictions of extreme disruption during FP1 and FP2 have been unfounded.

Of greater importance may be, should Phanfone hit the mainland of Japan near Suzuka on Monday, flights out of the country could be disrupted for up to 48 hours and with Sochi as a back to back race, the pressure would really be on to get to Russia and be good to go for the inaugural Russian GP.

Could it be the F1 gods are giving Ecclestone and the circus a sign, that going to Russia is not such a great idea after all? Further, is the spectre of an early race on either Saturday or Sunday morning, Mr. E’s idea to ensure the road to Sochi and his pal Putin, is kept clear?

UPDATE: GMT 11:49: Any rescheduling of the GP from Sunday to Saturday has been ruled out by the FIA.

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Mr E – How to lose friends and influence people

The wind whistling through Suzuka is upsetting more than the delicate aero of the cars today. With reports emerging on Thursday that a certain Bernard Charles Ecclestone will not be regaining his spot on the board of Delta Topco – the unsettled weather reflects all too accurately the state of the sport.

Supposedly, Mr E.’s inability to meet the boards unspecified “conditions” caused their refusal to reinstate him, at least for the moment. He resigned his spot last January to fight bribery charges leveled against him in Germany, though it is reported that some board members found the High Court’s description of him as an unreliable witness in an unrelated court case embarrassing enough to put the kibosh on his return.

As Typhoon Phanfone swirls about the circuit the wildest rumours are putting Ecclestone’s time at the head of F1 at an end. Still, it is likely that he will return, but he may no longer enjoy the freedom he once had to wheel and deal if his enemies on the board succeed in putting a leash on him.

With the unfolding disaster of Caterham, the imminent announcement from Fernando, 8 teams 3 cars and the unknown of Sochi looming immediately ahead, it could be that the sport he has run for so long has finally reached the end of it’s use for him. Particularly as FOM stands to lose the commercial rights if Bernie can’t put enough cars on the grid.

But Ecclestone is unlikely to go quietly into that good night and his response to events this weekend should speak volumes about his chances at regaining full control of the sport he regards as his personal playground and piggy bank.

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Alfa Romeo F1 return being considered

If you have ever had the pleasure of watching the BBC’s TopGear programme, you will have heard the presenters state that “you cannot consider yourself a petrol head unless you have owned an Alfa Romeo.

 

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A history which, in the early years of Grand Prix racing, was equal to that which Ferrari have achieved since their inception in 1947. Alfa moved into mass production in the 50’s and graced the tarmac of the world with timeless classics.

Unfortunately since the mid 70’s they have struggled to marry their flair with reliability or outstanding build quality and the army of Alfisti have grown defensive of the company’s merits.

Throughout they have continued to compete in motor-sport in one form or another but several failed attempts at Formula One have meant they disappeared from the grid back in the mid-80’s.

Cheever,_Alfa_Romeo_02.08.1985The Volkwagen Group has made continued overtures to buy this iconic brand but Fiat remains steadfast in their support. In the recent Paris motorshow, Sergio Marchionne was asked about Alfa returning to Formula One as an engine supplier by renaming the Ferrari engine to Alfa in the customer cars.

He delivered a quite damning verdict on Sauber, Marussia, Haas and quite possibly on the Montezemolo years.

I think this is the right thing to do, but first we have to start choosing the strongest teams in F1. We cannot afford to supply teams that languish towards the back of the grid when our rivals supply the better teams.

It would be a brave man that would suggest that maybe the Scuderia need to get their house in order first but whilst an iconic brand like Ferrari can use their legacy to sell cars, Alfa Romeo have to prove successful.

Re-invigorating the Alfa Romeo brand as the engine supplier for Formula One, may be a smart move on many levels. As a brand Ferrari have only dominated the global space since the relentless success of the Schumacher, Brawn, Todt and Byrne era. Were Ferrari be unable to achieve this again, attributing the PU to Alfa Romeo may deflect some possible brand decline.

Further, Sergio’s relentless march to rebuild the FIAT group is never ending. Alfa Romeo in the mid 2000’s was losing between 300 and 500 million euros a year, around 15-20% of revenue. For the year of 2010, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne set a global sales target of 300,000, but a mere 112,000 units were sold.

Alfa then set it’s ambition to achieve 170,000 global sales in 2011, including 100,000 Giulietta and 60,000 MiTo, but it actually sold 130,000 units that year. Its medium-term target remains 500,000 units by 2014 including 85,000 from N. American market.

Should Maranello cease to build Formula 1 engines and this production be moved to a revitalised section of the historic Arese Alpha production unit, this would see a Ferrari business – run as an empire by Montezemolo – put firmly in its place.

This would also bolster the Alfa Romeo brand, which is primarily about producing cars for ‘the people’ and not play toys for the rich.

Then again, following Mrchionne’s dismissive attitude toward Marussia and Sauber, a Red Bull/Toro Rosso kind of relationship may be on the cars with Ferrari and Alfa Romeo.

Would we also see the rise of the long dormant Alfisti, who could compete with the Hamfosi and the Tifosi for ‘internet keyboard warrior legion’ award each year.

Sergio Marchionne has not only saved FIAT from similar demise to that which the British car industry suffered, but he is slowly making great again evocative brands such as Masserati, Alfa Romeo and the FIAT 500.

Italian automotive history may one day recognise that this man – Sergio Marchionne – as greater than Enzo, the Agnelli’s and all the rest. He is breathing life once again and putting back the heartbeat into Iconic Italian Automotive production, and doing it with some passion.

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Alonso takes a leaf out of Bryan Adam’s song book – Everything I do

..everything I do is for the good of Ferrari and love of Ferrari.” so replied Fernando Alonso to one of the countless stories whipping up a storm in Japan.

Yet, Fernando also loved Renault enough to sign a contract over a year before his departure to McLaren. Whilst at McLaren his love and support of the team resulted in a $100 million fine and expulsion from the 2007 Constructor’s championship.

In the history of bromances, Briatore, Symonds and Piquet Jr took the wrap for his loved up2008 victory in Singapore and then he dutifully left the Renault team and continued being in love with Ferrari, a team that he once claimed held no affection for him at all. His dream had been to emulate Ayrton Senna by winning a title with McLaren.

Of course a five year courtship with Ferrari has returned sporadic silverware and this Spanish matador has been enticed by the bright lights elsewhere. Whether his next chapter starts next year or soon after, it appears his love has only ever been for himself.

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Nurburgring circuit received illegal aid – European Union

The Nurburgring circuit has been found to have violated European Union laws in relation to funds which were used to develop and maintain the circuit. Between 2002 and 2012, aid was granted from the Rhineland-Palatinate region in support of the legendary German track in the amount of € 456 million.

This huge amount of money did not prevent the circuit incurring huge losses and was finally put up for sale and bought by the Capricorn Group earlier this year for more than € 100million.

Despite Capricorn’s problems they are suffering with repayments to the banks, they have been cleared of any obligations to this colossal amount that has to be paid back; as their purchase was made with full transparency and therefore are not responsible for the money which was used to redevelop the facilities belonging to the Nurburgring.

Circuit of Wales – be warned.

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Is Vettel about to join his former Italian engineer

adami-e-vettelSources in Italy have heard that Riccardo Adami has left Toro Rosso and is heading in the direction of Maranello. Though his name means nothing to the majority of F1 fans, his pedigree over the last six years could be significant.

He worked for Toro Rosso as a race engineer on the pitwall in 2008 and oversaw Sebastien Vettel’s first ever Grand Prix victory. More recently he has been working on the Red Bull Technology simulator – which is used by all the Red Bull team drivers…

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Luca’s last stand

Away from the wild winds, driver drama’s and torrential rain forecast in Suzuka, a rather nostalgic moment – though a touch embarrassing – was being made at the Paris motor show.

Luca de Montezemolo was giving a relaxed press conference, most likely his last as Ferrari president. Sections of the Italian media are angry at Il Padrino’s ‘eviction’, though this is tempered by a resigned sense of destiny which recognises the weaknesses within an otherwise highly successful reign by Luca Cordera at the top of the world’s biggest brand.

Whilst showing little emotion, there appeared to be some pent up frustration or anger on display from de Motezemolo, as he recounted tales of times where he had ridden into town as the saviour of the Ferrari name.

Fiat were on their knees in 2002, such that they were forced to sell 35% ownership in Ferrari to a Mediobanca.led consortium for 775.2 million euros. At the same time, Ferrari sold another 5% to Mubadala (the investment fund of Abu Dhabi), and Luca explained at length that this deal was due his network of good relationships.

“In that year, the Ferrari was essential to Fiat …”, said Montezemolo. This was clearly a dig at Marchionne and the Agnelli family who had allowed the business to be forced to its knees. Il Padrino couches himself as the knight on the shining white horse.

Suddenly, Sergio Marchionne wandered onto the set where de Montezemolo was holding court, and the atmosphere changed in an instant.

Marchionne politely requested that he could sit next to Luca with a winning smile.

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The outgoing president of Ferrari’s demeanour changed according to AutoSprint, from passionate and frank to measured and formal. Clearly the heavyweight of power was present, chin rested on his upturned palm, as he listened to Il Padrino’s tales from yore.

Unbowed, Luca questioned to the listeners whether this was the right time for a “relay race to the presidency” on the eve of “a historic moment as important as that of the quotation of Ferrari-Chrysler … “.

Oops. Slip of the tongue Luca? Marchionne corrects Il Padrino, “No, not Ferrari-Chrysler, but Fiat Chrysler”. Il Padrino attempted to cover his tracks quickly adding, “It’s a slip because I always am ready to speak Ferrari …” .

Maybe it wasn’t a slip, because Montezemolo moves on to discuss the newly introduced Ferrari 458 open special , the spider displayed at the show, “Do not call the last of Montezemolo’s Ferrari’s”, he said. “But rather the last Ferrari Ferrari “.

Of course for Il Padrino, the prancing horse will never again be the same without him.

When asked about Alonso, Marchionne was quick to deflect attention and hiding behind the fact he only takes office on October 13th. His sharp retort was “ask Luca, it’s a matter for him”.

Never one to shy from the spotlight, Montezemolo was quick to answer the question – or not. “Alonso.. for me… he is the best driver in the world, especially in the race. He has never pulled back.

His future? He’s talking to Mattiacci,

I think we should find a compromise between Alonso’s requests and those offered by Ferrari.

The important thing is to have a good atmosphere in the team, there is a contract, they ( Alonso and Mattiacci) are talking about it and trying to find the best solution. But a quick solution is not important, the matter for concern should be to have a good race in Japan.”

Whatever is said of de Montezemolo, has has been loyal to friends and those close to him, and in his last public appointment, he covers Alonso’s back from a backlash of criticism and bile when he leaves Maranello.

Further, when Alonso leaves, it is Marchionne’s doing – as Luca makes clear – not that of the out going president.

Interestingly, Marchionne was quizzed on how often he speaks with Marco Mattiaci. Sergio revealed, “We talk often but mostly communicate by text because we are always at the other end of the world from each other.

But it is not that he (Mattiacci) is always there to just monitor what they do. It’s a bit more like the restaurant ordering the chefs to make a sauce; they do not continually go into the kitchen to check the ingredients or how the sauce is cooking”.

So Marchionne calls the shots on the Alonso strategy, and Marco Mattiacci ‘makes it so’, we can deduce.

(Source: Alberto Sabbatini)

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Honda favour a relaxation of the in-season engine development rules

During the Friday press conference, Honda’s head of research and development – Yasuhisa Arai – states, “Our target is very clear. This season, the Mercedes is top of top, so next season we shall achieve that same competition or power. Everyone understands that and wants to exceed that power. Lots of work.”

There have been questions raised over th amount of data Honda will be able to collect from supplying just 2 engines to one team. Arai is not concerned about this. “Our partner is very strong and I think one of the best teams. Of course that means just one team’s data, but maybe that’s enough, I think.”

Honda and Mclaren are confident the standard they have agreed, is set at the right level. “So we already discussed with our partner and set a target and already we have agreed whether the target is good or not. Then finally, maybe in March 2015 we will be in a good position.”

Arai admits that so far, there have been no serious expressions of interest from other teams wishing to run a Honda engine from 2016 onwards, though he dismisses this as a normal wait and see approach to how 2015 develops.

Interestingly, the Japanese F1 engine manufacturer is open to a relaxation in the in-season engine development regulations. “From the engineers and many fans, they and we want to keep the competition,” says Arai. “So in a season, to develop the many parts and to keep the competition is very important, just from engineering and fans’ side”.

Some may see this as a lack of confidence from Honda, however, McLaren have had an entire season to analysis the strengths and weaknesses of the Mercedes power train and this will in no doubt have fed its way back to Japan.

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New GPDA Chairman

Ex-Formula One racer Alex Wurz has today been appointed chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA), replacing Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa.

McLaren’s Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel will remain as directors of the body that represents the majority of F1 drivers. Lewis Hamilton is one driver of ote, not part of the GPDA.

Sebastian Vettel gives his two penneth stating, “Alex will be a great GPDA Chairman. He is one of the most experienced drivers I know, full of positive new ideas, and he has seen so many different aspects of the sport throughout his career.”

Wurz first statement as GPDA chairperson has a grand rhetorical feel about it. “We know our history, we know what heroes like Stirling (Moss), Niki (Lauda) and Jackie (Stewart), Michael (Schumacher)and Ayrton (Senna) have all helped create.

With the support of Jean (Todt) and Bernie (Ecclestone, the teams, the media and most importantly with the backing of our fans, the GPDA will now aim to become a more dynamic and positive influence for the future of our sport.”

Alex is involved in a number of projects regarding road safety and driver education and training. Together with his father he founded his own company “Test and Training International”, a leader in the field of road safety and driver training, working closely with the FIA since 2011 as an operating partner of the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Acadamy.

Wurz’s Formula 1 career spanned 13 years and 70 races, though 7 of those were as a reserve driver. Alex never won a race or secured a pole position and his best ranking in the WDC was 8th in 1998 when he drove for Benetton.

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91 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Friday 3rd October 2014

  1. Re: Alfa..

    a struggling half-dead brand. I can’t imagine any serious Alfa participation in F1 besides pure branding name changes. Ferrari or Ferrari fans probably wouldn’t care much what Ferrari’s customer engines are called, as long as Ferrari gets paid.

    • It’ll be good to have Alfa back.. Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes.. these constructors should have some WCC titles between them, but the FIA only started the constructors title in 1958.

      Of course, branding as Alfa also allows a new blueprint to be established..

        • In my eyes, Audi = Auto Union, even if that is not strictly true.. but Audi are still using the 4 circles of AU..

          I guess Ferrari is the lone survivor of Fiat, Alfa, Maserati, Lancia…

      • Ferrari know the shortcomings of their present power plant. Their best response would be to have redeveloped that to counter those deficiencies under the Alfa brand. Hey presto…..what homologation?

        • Exactly my thoughts on this. Just smart thinking, combined with the plans of ressurecting Alfa Romeo as a manufacturer producing real drivers cars with rear wheel drive. Just as I still wouldn’t be surprised if Renault pulls the same trick and comes back with an Infinity branded F1 engine.

      • Alfa is basically the Oldsmobile or Pontiac of this century. It can’t afford and doesn’t deserve to be in F1. FIAT had decades to turn the brand around and failed.

    • True, but was Fiat not in a similar position over ten years ago? It’s now been turned around.. the same could maybe happen for Alfa.

      • FIAT turned around? Please. It’s still a very much struggling company, and it still has a huge headache regarding what to do with Lancia and Alfa. Decades ago Lancia and Alfa were amazing car brands producing unique and interesting products. Today, both are basically rebadge jobs. FIAT the the General Motors of the 21st century. The reason GM went down before its bankruptcy last decade is because of the stupid collection of brands it tried to manage: Chevy, Olds, Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac, GMC, etc. FIAT is in a similar position. The way I see it, if FIAT wants to retain a premium car brand, at least one of Alfa or Lancia needs to be terminated, and the remaining brand is in need of a huge investment.

  2. “Handkammer was seen in Singapore sporting a black eye and stitched facial wound, though whether the events surrounding this injury are related is at present just speculation.”

    Is this a joke?

  3. Typhoon Phanfone:
    Did you bother to even look at the storm track? What made me curious was “…lurking off the west coast of Japan. …but may turn west…”

    If it was off the West coast and turned West that would be a good thing and it would be moving away from japan and toward China.
    In actuality, it is South East of Japan, traveling North West and predicted to turn back East; this is what might cause the problem for the GP and Monday flights.

  4. “Sources in Italy have heard that Riccardo Adami has left Toro Rosso and is heading in the direction of Maranello.”

    Add to that that Seb’s own race engineer switched positions earlier this year. And that Seb has been openly courting Ferrari during the past couple of years. With the change of emperor at Maranello, Seb would be a more enticing prospect for Ferrari, compared to the well-endowed in heavy Asturian baggages that is Fred.

  5. You say that there has been a hysterical reaction to typhoon Phanfone.
    Take a look at this animation of current position and winds,
    http://earth.nullschool.net/#2014/10/05/0600Z/wind/isobaric/850hPa/orthographic=-223.45,36.51,2048
    and then say that the reaction is hysterical.
    I think it is eminently sensible to bring forward the race either to avoid the worst of the storm during a race and/or to allow the circus to move on to Sochi in time for the race there.
    You may not wish to see the race take place in Sochi for your own political reasons, but for me it is a race that has been contractually agreed by all the F1 participants (racing teams, FOM, FIA, and Sochi circuit) and it should go ahead as per contract.

  6. “Of course for Il Padrino, the prancing horse will never again be the same without him.”

    I remember similar hysterics when Schumacher announced his return from retirement, to drive for Brawn’s Merc. Then too were loud noises of “Schumacher’s not the same”, etc., etc.

  7. Petrolhead over here!
    1973 Spider 2000, originally iniezione, for the Californian market, but retrofitted with Dellortos.

    Maybe that Handkammer Guy called Sutil gay?

    Exciting times with moves and schemes from Bernard and Fred.

    • I had 1988 Alfa 33 Clover leaf, 1700 boxer, OMG what a freaking car, it was my second car and it was already 8years old when I got it, but it had some amazing 5 spoke 16″ alloys and went like a rocket. Add to that the electrics were dodgy at best, heater was rubbish, it took 10miles to defrost the windscreen completely. But it was mine!

  8. Alonso to McLaren in 2015 now just needs to be announced publicly and is rumoured to be announced after the race on sunday…..

    And SportBild have reported that Vettel is on his way to Ferrari to replace Alonso in 2015.

    Any news from your sources on this judge?

    • …Not confident on the Vettel to Ferrari story…. it has been driven by the Italian media possibly as a desperate response to Alonso leaving…

      No murmuring in MK yet anyway…

      The problem is the ‘noise’ from everywhere on this issue has reached epic proportions… unlike the Kimi tale which crept up on the world almost by stealth….

      • Yet again there’s a difference between a Hamilton/Alonso/Vettel move and…a Kimi move, irrespective of how much I like the guy

          • when asked at suzuka, vettel denied the rumors., however, “sport bild” claims to know that vettel intends to leave red bull for ferrari at the end of the season. nothing is signed yet but negotiations are in progress.

            one needs to know that “bild” is the biggest tabloid in germany and even though their trustworthyness in general is questionable, traditionally they have very good contacts in soccer and formula 1, so if they say that vettel is in negotiations, it’s probably true.

          • btw, they also say that alonso will definetely leave ferrari at the end of the season, however according to an article from last week, briatore is trying to get him a seat at lotus, since mclarens future is not only uncertain as far as the engine goes, but also in terms of teamleadership http://sportbild.bild.de/formel-1/2014/formel-1/faehrt-alonso-bei-ferrari-aufs-abstellgleis-37778628.sport.html

            according to them, briatore approached mercedes and suggested a swap (alonso/hamilton) but mercedes wasn’t interested.

          • Briatore or anyone would go to XIX first…. They’re always up for a ‘placement fee’… and a slice of Ferrari branding rights direct too (as well as part of percentage they get of Lewis’ earnings)

          • Can’t see Alonso at Lotus, that’s the weakest of all driver move rumours. Alonso was another title in the next 2 years. Since Lotus will become a Merc client, they will never be allowed to win the title ahead of Merc.

          • more than likely, nobody but mercedes will have a car capable of winning the title in the next one or two seasons. unlike ferrari and mclaren, lotus might be able to win races though, since they will have a mercedes engine from next season onwards. so if mercedes, and as the article also claimed, red bull are not willing to sign him, what options are there for alonso?

            ferrari is rebuilding and pretty much told him he was free to leave, mclaren is also rebuilding and is not very likely to have a race winning car in the next couple of seasons. so if he has to sit out a couple of seasons, lotus is probably the best option. he might at least be able to win races with them, while he waits and sees how other teams are developing.

          • @thejudge13: “Lotus?????????? Is that the team with 8 points so far this year – 6 ahead of Marussia ????????”

            williams scored five points in 2013, now they have a mercedes engine and are currently third in the championship.

          • @anijs
            “williams scored five points in 2013, now they have a mercedes engine and are currently third in the championship.”

            I’m with the Judge on this one: The comparison is at best tenuous.

            In 2013 Williams was a biggish organization in recruiting mode.

            In 2014 Lotus is a smaller organization (than in years past) getting ever smaller and losing ever more brains. They don’t even have a proper team principal. Their headline assets (Boullier, Allison, Raikkonen) fled the sinking sheep even before anyone noticed the fire. They lost most of their brains, and it’s unclear if they have any balls left. This year they regressed from barely beating Sauber and hitting some points when the car doesn’t disintegrate (or when Crashtor doesn’t crash test it), to dicing it out with the Caterham and Marrussia boys. Not even Williams got that privilege in 2013.

            Anyone with some brains left (sorry Pastor) would stray away from Lotus as if it were infested with plague.. Enstone is down and looks like sinking even more..

        • to be clear, i’m not saying that going to lotus is a brilliant move. what i’m saying is that alonso burned too many bridges and is now caught between a rock and a hard place. from what it seems, ferrari are kicking him out, so what other option is there? unless williams are willing to sign him, there is no seat open to him that might at least give him a chance at race wins.

          • Or Alonso will take the money McLaren and Honda are offering (retirement funds) and at some point they produce a winning car.

            Lotus may have Mercedes engines next year, but that is no guarantee they’ll produce a decent chassis to make the most of it. They’ve lost a lot of talented people in recent times, it takes time and money to fix that. McLaren have already started their rebuilding process. McLaren might surprise us all in 2016/17.

          • I’d back neither to do anything of note in 2015. It looks as though Alonso has little choice about where he’s going. Vettel is leaving Red Bull at the end of the season, it’s just exploded onto twitter. Daniil Kvyat takes his place. Though you probably already know this.

          • Alonso-Bottas would be an epic lineup. I’d back Ferrari, unless Honda have a good engine (despite being 3 months behind). If Alonso signs for Honda, he must know it’ll be a good package, like Lewis for Mercedes’ 2014 car.

      • So, Alonso to McLaren is virtually a done-deal and the only part left is the timing of the announcement. This is not a situation Ferrari want and Vettel and Hamilton can afford to stay put for 2015 and just sit back and watch basically.

        Ferrari could probably face the situation where they promote Bianchi earlier than planned and let Raikkonen be their main driver, it’s a scenario they might have to contemplate. But stranger things have happened in F1 so we shall see how things unfold.

  9. On McLaren/Honda and Alonso

    It seems Alonso will be moving there (not entirely happy about that, but anyhow) sooner rather than later. Let’s not forget he’s 33 and in the next 1-2 years he may start coming off the top of his game. He can see that Ferrari and RBR may not give him a title in the next 2 years and he wants to gamble with Honda the same way Hamilton did with Merc. Alonso may be holding all the cards in terms of driver moves, but I think that Hamilton and Vettel are in a better and less desperate position. They’re younger and will be able to move to another team whenever they want to and that team to build their car around them.

    Unless McLaren and Honda have a really strong car next year that can potentially finish at least 2nd, I can’t see that marriage with Alonso working very well in the next couple of years. And what worries me the most is that Alonso will want a no 2 driver and the team built around him. So what happens in 2 years’ time when he might be past his best. Will Macca have another ‘Prost’ when their ‘Lauda’ goes?

    • Will repaying some of that $100m fine be part of his contract?…..

      Reading the article about him, in someways gives the impression that he’s a poison chalice and a glory hunter. When he fails to achieve that glory, he then starts to play the subtle political games and act as he’s the victim.

      • Hence why I don’t want him back! I’ll take anyone, even Chilton or Gutierrez. He might be the best driver around along with Lewis, but he’s only good for maybe another 2 years. What happens after that? Lewis coming back? Seb if he hasn’t gone to Ferrari? And all that provided McLaren has a championship winning car of course.

        I still remember his 2007 “I brought half a second to McLaren” mantra. And I was terrified when he went to Ferrari. I was expecting another Schuey-like era. Ferrari did try to build a car around him and yes, he was fantastic, he almost won 2 titles with a car that didn’t deserve to be there.

        At the end of his tenure at Ferrari, in the tifosi’s mind, it will be that Alonso was excellent and Ferrari’s management and engineering department were crap. It’s all about the ‘greatness’ of Fred. Not Ferrari. I said it before, only Button comes any close to him when it comes to political, mind and manipulative games. If he was to partner Button at McLaren, it would be a lot of fun behind closed doors, only concern is that Button is well past it.

        • Wow. In your mind, I suppose, a driver that puts the car above where it belongs can only be a driver solely concerned by his own greatness. I guess that’s why Kimi, or Button are so loved: They manage to under-drive their car not caring a shit about it in the process.

          F1 Drivers are hired to find every single tenth still in the car. The less tenths they lose while driving around, the better considered they are and the better paid they are. That’s all.

          I have read this week about Ferrari wanting Alonso out so that they know where they really belong. Sounds bollocks to me. Something like Mercedes dismissing their engine for a Renault one to find where the chassis is. If Ferrari wants to know what’s the car potential, then they need to look no further than their other driver (Massa or Kimi) and they have the information already.

          Now, if Mattiaci or Marchionne do not engage with Alonso, that’s perfectly fine. That’s what contracts are for and I am sure 99% of the options are covered in the contract between both parties. For us, F1 lovers, it is all about passion, but for agents there it is nothing else than a business.

          • “In your mind, I suppose, a driver that puts the car above where it belongs can only be a driver solely concerned by his own greatness.”

            Completely wrong, although it is my mistake because I gave that impression. Alonso, just like Button, try to wrap the team around them always postulating, and making sure it gets out, that they’re never under-driving and it’s always the car.
            Irrespective of it all, he’s the best driver around, along with Lewis.

    • Let’s not forget he’s 33 and in the next 1-2 years he may start coming off the top of his game.

      That’s a huge assumption.
      Some drivers stay at or near the top of their game for much longer than that (Fangio, Schumacher, Mansell etc).
      A couple of years in a new team might be just what he needs.

    • You have some very good thoughts here. But let’s not forget that being an insider is even better, in terms of access to information regarding team’s future performance. In 2012, Lewis Hamilton knew a lot more than the outsiders, and right now Alonso, as expected, knows a lot more about Ferrari car’s expected performance than we do.

  10. “Whilst at McLaren his love and support of the team resulted in a $100 million fine and expulsion from the 2007 Constructor’s championship.”

    What utter BS. Mike Coughlan was responsible for Spygate at McLaren – not Alonso,

    • Not sure the article implied or stated he was responsible for spygate, so it’s not utter BS.

      But it was Alonso along with his fellow countryman PDR who leaked the info and tried to blackmail the team.

        • It was ALO and his emails with PDR that eventually blew it all up. Alonso’s confrontation with Dennis, etc. Immunity for driver testimony, $100m fine and loss of points followed. I think that was what Fortis was getting at.

          • it was Dennis who lied to the FIA that only Coughlan had knowledge of the Ferrari technical info when it was found out that several of the engineering staff, especially those who worked on the simulator, knew that as well. And if De La Rosa was complicit why did he stay as McLaren’s test driver until 2011? Dennis lied and paid the price.

    • Sorry cav, it wasn’t Coughlan who went to the FIA with the incriminating emails used in the courts that brought punishment and the fine.
      Ultimately if Alonso had persuaded Dennis to make him number 1, none of it would have come out.. Coughlan photocopying the files was not punished initially by the FIA.

      • Sorry, but Dennis lied to the FIA that no one other than Coughlan had the Ferrari technical info. Had he not, nothing Alonso could have done would have had any effect. The info that Coughlan got from Stepney, both the car drawings and other material, was used multiple times in McLaren’s simulator (which was how De La Rosa was aware of where it came from), and from some of the simulation engineers who later said they also knew where it came from. Ferrari’s IT security people would have found out anyway as they continued investigating McLaren’s involvement even after the FIA initially cleared McLaren. So I doubt very much if Dennis making Alonso the number one driver would have ultimately had any effect. Too many people knew what was going on.

  11. Rosberg making the same mistake at the chicane twice – I assume this means they’ve decided to employ team orders pretty early in the weekend? 😉

  12. Regarding the Maserati Brand, i’ve definitely seen more of these vehicles on the road here in the U.S. the past few years. Used to be i’d see one or two a year, now i see one a month. In fact, i was thinking of purchasing one for myself not three weeks ago. Unfortunately my bank account, and more importantly my WIFE, make the feasibility of a such notion absurd!

  13. Re: Alonso

    Alonso is a fool. Allison will undoubtedly design a race winning car next year. Kimi will return to the front. Any chance of Ferrari signing Bottas?

      • Alonso is smart. Allison will design a race winning car, he just needs the engine to accompany it (and that ain’t gonna be next year). Bottas is already locked up by Williams. And why would Bottas go to Ferrari? Williams has plenty of history and it finally has the performance to back it up.

        • From what I’ve heard Williams is Mercedes’ junior team. They only get the scraps.

  14. Seems as if the rumour of a swap between Red Bull and Ferrari is true. Alonso to Red Bull and Vettel to Ferrari.

  15. Yup, Vettel bails out of Red Bull, Kvyat to replace him, its all over the web including official F1 web site.

    Now the musical chairs music goes into fast forward!

    Frank

  16. Wow, that is… surprising. I thought Alonso would be the one triggering things but it’s Vettel who is pushing things.

    Think about Vergne for a second, Toro Rosso are getting rid of him when frankly Kvyat hasn’t done anything to suggest he even deserves a drive in a top-team. That part is ridiculous I feel. Ricciardo at least showed that he had immense pace at Toro Rosso but Kvyat has been ok at best. But, at least Ricciardo can be clear and easy #1 now, good for him. I’m sure he’ll be a WDC in the very near future.

      • Yes, let’s consider who Ron would like in the seat….Honda will be happy either way.
        If for example Ham finishes WDC second to Nico and the Macca ride is still open? Musical chairs anyone?

        • Or maybe even win Peter. I’d imagine Ron will love a #1 on his car again. Surely if they are willing to pay $30m for Alonso they would be willing to pay that for Hamilton as well.

        • Hamilton’s not crazy enough to walk away from a car that’s over a second faster than anything else.

    • I wouldn’t make so strong assumption about who moved first based on press release times. Probably Ferrari just wanted to announce new driver coming in as soon as possible as nice farewell gift to Alonso. Just take little bit away from Honda Alonso joint announcement later this weekend.

      But overall I’m quite happy about this pairing Vettel-Kimi. Interesting to see how well these so called friends manage the season together. If we use Hamilton-Rosberg as a benchmark from this season, it will be a tough call to beat their best friends to enemies performance.

  17. Oh Lewis, you f******* idiot… His saving grace might just be that he slowed the car down somewhat before hitting the barrier. So much for “mastering” Suzuka.

    • Not ideal obviously, but better in FP3 than in quali or the race. I’m guessing they put up the Vettel-to-Ferrari news on the big screen, heading into Turn 1. 😉

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