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Previously on The Judge 13:
Vettel Leaves Red Bull For Parts Unknown
The rumours had been about for a long time, but it still caused quite a stir, when Red Bull dropped the bomb that Sebastian Vettel was leaving the stable. Apparently the team had been caught on short notice, but not unprepared.
According to Christian Horner, he received an SMS from his driver last night that asked him and Red Bulls motorsport consultant Dr. Helmut Marko to meet him in his hotel room. The group of three met at 10pm and Vettel informed them that he would activate the exit clause of his contract that allowed him to legally terminate the contract at the end of the season, should he be placed worse than third in the championship by September 30th.
As after a year of appalling reliability, repeated team errors and problems to adapt his driving style to the new characteristics of the car, this goal had been spectacularly missed and the German decided to pull the Get out of jail free card. The fact that only a few hours later the team had already announced the promotion of Daniil Kvyat to the big team, means that the Red Bull management knew they did not have a great defence for Vettel to stay where he was.
Not only will the combination Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat be the most awkward combination for TV reporters since Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle, it will also be interesting to see if Horner & Co. will be summoned to the carpet dance in the Kremlin if young Daniil’s car should turn out as fickle as Vettel’s 2014 steed. Comrade Putin does not manage failure very well.
Where Vettel is off to was relegated to worst kept secret when Horner announced that Ferrari obviously made a lucrative offer. The fact that rumours persists that Alonso’s contract termination was agreed to on Thursday evening, would explain Vettel’s timing.
The German has never made a secret of the fact that he wanted to drive for Ferrari one day and there is no better time than now. Alonso is gone and his potential team mate is the nearest thing he has to a friend in the paddock. On top of that, several people defected from Red Bull to Ferrari and there ís still the possibility that Ross Brawn might fancy himself a second stint at Ferrari with a German driver as the main attraction. For all intents and purposes, the switch would have some very interesting parallels to Schumacher’s move in 1996.
Like his childhood idol Michael Schumacher, Vettel is said to have a talent for integrating with the team and pushing them to extra efforts and he takes some trusted people (like Handkammer) with him. He is also young enough to be able to afford two or three seasons in obscurity before reaping the rewards, a luxury that Fernando Alonso cannot afford due to his age.
There is of course the outside chance that Vettel might end up at McLaren or even Mercedes, should Lewis somehow manage not to win the title, but Horner’s and Marko’s statements make that improbable.
Both sides are keen to point out that the split happened without hard feelings, and one might even be inclined to believe that, but the fact remains that Red Bull have let Vettel down spectacularly all through the season. If a team has to change the chassis three times in a single season, there is clearly something wrong in the manufacturing department which accounts for his abysmal reliability in comparison to his team mate.
On top of that several key figures in Vettel’s success were removed or slated to be removed – Adrian Newey, Rocky and Chief bolt Handkammer, to name a few.
It was not too hard to see that Vettel was pushed out of his comfort zone and increasingly used as a guinea pig for risky tactical gambles, which only paid off at Singapore, but ended up humiliating him at Monza for instance. The exit was as foreseeable as the Amen in church with the only surprise being that he made hay immediately and didn’t repeat Mark’s mistake of taking such a season more than once.
The silly season has now started in earnest.
2014 JapaneseGP Qualifying – Results
As Typhoon Phanfone bears down on Japan Nico Rosberg took pole for the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. He was followed closely by team mate Lewis Hamilton and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas rounds out the top three. Look out for Mattpt55‘s qualifying report a bit later.
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|11||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India|
(source from (GMM) with TJ13 comment
Toro Rosso considering Sainz for 2015
Red Bull has not denied that Carlos Sainz jr is the obvious choice to replace Daniil Kvyat in 2015.
Suzuka and the sport was rocked on Saturday when it emerged Sebastian Vettel is leaving Red Bull’s senior team, with the 20-year-old Russian Kvyat to replace him.
“I was very honoured,” Kvyat told the BBC on Saturday, “and very surprised.” It leaves a gap at Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s junior team, who had already announced that Kvyat would be racing at Faenza alongside rookie teen Max Verstappen next year.
Until the Verstappen news, 20-year-old Spaniard Sainz, whose father and namesake is the well-known world rally legend, had been the favourite to step up at Toro Rosso in 2015. He is expected to wrap up the Formula Renault 3.5 championship later this month.
Christian Horner, the team boss at Red Bull’s senior team, was asked by the Spanish daily AS on Saturday if Sainz will now be stepping up at Toro Rosso.
“We’ll see what happens with Carlos,” he answered. “It’s something to talk about. We always look to talent and try to make the right decision,” Horner added.
TJ13 comment: It was suggested some weeks ago that if Vettel left for another team, Kyvat would step up to the mother ship with Sainz taking his place. Felix de Costa claimed his F1 career was over after the signing of Verstappen and as Henry Ford once said – “If you think you can , you think you can’t, you are absolutely right”.
You take your opportunities with both hands and shake themuntil you have exhausted every possibility, but it highlights Frank Tost’s views on the credibility of Jean Eric Vergne.
McLaren will ‘take time’ to decide drivers (GMM)
All eyes are on Ferrari and Fernando Alonso in the wake of Sebastian Vettel’s shock news on Saturday. Although some think Spaniard Alonso’s exit at Ferrari and move to McLaren-Honda is now obvious, others are not so convinced.
Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo thinks a sabbatical for the 33-year-old is even a possibility, as his plans to set up a professional cycling team take shape.
“It is an option that he takes a break for a year,” agreed former team owner and serial F1 prognosticator Eddie Jordan. “I don’t think Fernando is going to go to McLaren to struggle and build a team up. He will take a year off,” he told German broadcaster Sky.
Alonso is definitely not going to Red Bull to replace Red Bull, and Christian Horner said on Saturday that the energy drink-owned camp had never even considered Alonso.
“In all honesty, no,” Horner told Britain’s Sky at Suzuka.
Ferrari has confirmed in Japan that it is not currently planning to make a driver announcement this weekend.
But McLaren and Honda are obviously “considering” putting Alonso in a Woking-built car for 2015, reportedly after he and Ron Dennis recently sat down and put their horrendous 2007 collaboration in the past. It is even rumoured Alonso arrived in Tokyo on Monday, where the Honda Motor Co is headquartered.
Asked about that, Alonso laughed and denied he had visited Honda. But Honda is obviously keen on having F1’s best driver in a McLaren next year.
When asked if the carmaker and McLaren have already signed Alonso, Honda chief Yasuhisa Arai turned to his McLaren colleague Jonathan Neale on Friday and said: “Should I answer?
“Not only McLaren-Honda but also the other teams want to keep the good (best) driver,” he said.
Eric Boullier, McLaren boss, is now admitting Alonso is actively under consideration.
“We are still trying,” he told Spain’s AS daily, “and we will take our time not to make any mistakes. We have a good chance and we don’t want to lose it.”
“We will take our time but the decision will anyway be soon — in a couple of weeks.”