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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite: 1983 – Brabham’s last world championship success
If I had to select a way to win a title, I would want to pass the leader on the final lap of the final race and claim it in the most exciting manner possible. Not for me the cynical ploy of barely doing sufficient to take the glory. Of course a title is won over the course of a season but any racer wants to seal it with a victory. Or is that just a romantic notion?
On this day thirty one years ago, Nelson Piquet took the final place on the podium in South Africa to secure his second world title. With challenges from Ferrari’s Rene Arnoux and Renault’s Alain Prost failing during the race – Piquet gave up his certain victory and finished third behind team-mate Ricardo Patrese and Alfa Romeo’s Andrea De Cesaris to take championship honours.
Nelson would go on to take his third title in 1987 before leaving Williams and would experience sporadic success until his retirement. Yet despite having driven some of the most iconic cars of the 80’s he seemingly leaves many people cold as to his placing in the top drivers of all time. Surely as a three time champion he would be more highly lauded..
Vettel not allowed to drive for Ferrari till 2015
Ferrari has not announced the marriage. Sebastian Vettel has issued no comment via the media but the ADHD leadership of the jilted Red Bull team has told the world that their former champion will not be released from his contract until five days after the final Grand Prix of the season. In other words – the Finger – will not drive a Prancing Horse at the end of season Abu Dhabi test. So the first Seb will climb into the post-Ferrari leadership coup will be at the Winter test in Jerez on the 1st February 2015.
Sources in Italy suggest that Vettel put pen to paper in Japan and that Red Bull then broke an agreement with Seb and Ferrari in regards jointly issuing a statement of the driver movement.
The Milton Keynes team decided they would not be true to their word and blabbed (sing-song) “Seb-ast-ian’s goi-ng to Fer-rar-” reminiscent of rhyming chants used by kindergarten children.
Of course this has created difficulties for Fernando Alonso’s negotiations – which probably never entered the head of the scorned Christian Horner, who appeared hell bent on one last desperate attempt to show Sebastian who is the boss. FAIL.
TJ13 has commented on a number of occasions, that the Red Bull culture represents the behaviour of a very rich spoiled kid, who has all the best kit and – by default wins everything for a period of time. At times Red Bull’s churlishness and lack of class has been glaringly obvious.
Take the team’s decision to defy the FIA over fuel flow metres in Australia. This challenge and the belief that Milton Keynes would defeat Paris was surely fuelled by a notion of invincibility with the Red Bull management.
It may well be, that the era of the fizzy drinks company is finished. If the team fail to win a title in 2015, then it could be open season in terms of ‘payback’ from the more historic F1 teams. Will we see Red Bull’s smug and supercilious attitudes rammed back down their throats…. or will Newey’s last robo child, stem the tide of revolution against “
Matesc…. Ming the Mercilous” and his co-horts.
In Ferrari-land, Alonso’s imminent departure appears to have filled the quiet and usually mild mannered Kimi with confidence. He has spoken out – without cussin – and told his rookie F1 boss, that the specific chassis he has been using is “rubbish”.
Kimi is now to get a new chassis for Austin.
So Sebastian, Kimi and we now wait with baited breath to see whether James Allison’s first creation of a prancing horse will first be beautiful and second be able to beat a Red Bull.
Someone suggested this may be Sebastian Vettel’s car
Mercedes spend third of a billion to win 2014 titles
When Niki Lauda was assigned to the Mercedes F1 team his brief from Stuttgart was simple. Report back with what was needed for success. Niki made a regular nuisance of himself in Brackley, kicking around looking for car parts hardly utilised which may be recyclable. Having demonstrated he was interested in cost saving,
Niki then demanded Stuttgart put their money where their mouth’s were as the budget for Brackley at the time was around $100-130m per annum.
Just like Tony Fernandes, Richard Branson and Jose Ramon Carabante, in 2010 the Daimler Benz board had been led to believe they could compete in F1 for no more than $50m per annum.
Whilst Bernie and Max were sniggering behind their poker masked faces, Ross Brawn was borrowing and stealing to ensure the rebirth of the Silver Arrows would be no humiliation.
The words from a number of ‘experts’ is that Mercedes AMG F1 & Brixton combined have spent sums of money approaching $1.5bn on the project to win the F1 Constructors’ title. That said, this needs to be seen in context over a 5 year period.
The team were acquired for around $100m from Ross Brawn following the incredible year of success for the “Brawn team” as a ‘privateer entry’ which went on to win the WDC and the WCC.
Budget’s for 2010-2012 accumulated across the Mercedes F1 brand racked up to almost $1/2 billion, with the 2013 spend, whilst undisclosed, believed to be enormous – as the climax of the V6 engine design was reached.
What is surprising given Stuttgart’s historic penchant to penny pinch, is that Mercedes AMG F1 & Brixton have spent in the region of £325 million this season. Of that figure, £134 million has been focused on the continued development of the power unit. The remaining £190 M being the cost of running the Formula One team.
This is the largest spend ever by the Daimler group on their F1 project and given the internal strife over Daimler’s involvement in F1, this is indeed a staggering achievement from Dieter Zetsche
To put this into context, this kind of spending power has equalled that of the Red Bull F1 ‘machine’, who have dominated F1 the past four years.
So we had Ferrari, then Red Bull and now Mercedes blowing eye watering sums of money to win the ultimate prizes in Formula One. Is this really what the fans want?
Who says money doesn’t buy you happiness or success?
Alonso caught out by ruthless operators
Over the summer, Fernando Alonso was speaking directly to Mercedes. At the time the relationship between a clearly unhappy Lewis Hamilton and the Brackley team was at a low ebb. The behaviour of the team with the exception of Lauda at the time portrayed the impression that Mercedes were favouring their German driver, Nico Rosberg
However, we now know from Alonso’s entourage, that Ferrari stepped in and blocked any possibility of the move, despite many believing that the Asturian held all the cards.
It appears this is why Fernando relented from his agitations and entered into negotiators to extend his contract.
TJ13 has asserted a number of times this year, that there appears to be a shift in the attitudes of teams to pay drivers big money. Ron Dennis went public in 2012, stating if Lewis Hamilton wished to stay at McLaren, he would have to take a pay cut.
Quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel had been paid no more than $11m pa prior to 2014, despite reports that Alonso was receiving 32m euros ($40m) a year from Ferrari. Following his historic achievements, Vettel secured a more appropriate deal for 2014, though relative to Alonso, this was still an inferior sum.
Daniel Ricciardo was recruited to the Big Bulls for around £250,000 ($400,000).
Fernando appears to have been content to extend his contract for a similar level of remuneration to his present deal – though some reported a 20% increase was being demanded). However, it appears Ferrari were not playing ball.
The notion purported that Ferrari have offered Sebastian Vettel £50m ($80m) a year, looks absurd. This British tabloid publication is known for printing copy first and checking the facts later.
Yet the rumour persists that Fernando Alonso may have been promised something by Mercedes for 2016, so he is attempting to secure a 1 year deal with McLaren and Honda – who in turn are not playing ball. The new Japanese partner of Woking is believed to be insisting on no less than a 2+1 year type arrangement with the Spaniard
Whether the contract is with McLaren or Honda – is a moot point. A deal with either means driving for McLaren Honda for the duration of the term.
Until recently, Alonso believed he had negotiated ‘an option’ to leave Ferrari, though in Sochi a member of the Fernando entourage revealed they thought – too many bridges had now been burned with Mattiacci.
Ferrari fans hoping upon hope that Ross Brawn is about to return from the wilderness to Marenello, are set to be disappointed. Brawn would wish to have complete control of the racing team and most likely want Alonso to remain. Fernando given a whiff of a Brawn return, would most likely never have pushed as hard as he did to leave the prancing horse.
The driver market this year is becoming one of the most fascinating for some time, and whilst there are those who criticise Alonso for his conceited belief/self confidence of his standing within the sport, Fernando has been a touch unfortunate, and found himself standing upon shifting sands, which were not on the expedition road map.
Father admits Bianchi could die from crash injuries (GMM)
Jules Bianchi’s father has revealed the medical condition of his son remains “desperate”, more than a week after his Suzuka crash. Philippe’s comments to the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport preceded an official update from the family of the seriously injured Marussia driver.
In a statement distributed by the F1 team in conjunction with the Mie hospital, the family said “a number of medical challenges have needed to be overcome” since the 25-year-old slammed into a recovery vehicle during the Japanese grand prix.
Germany’s specialist Auto Motor und Sport claims the mandatory G-force sensor located in Bianchi’s earplugs recorded an incredible 92G impact. The report said the neck cowling around Bianchi’s head was later located near the destroyed car’s engine compartment, while the near-indestructible monocoque was cracked from the bulkhead to the cockpit.
Philippe said: “His doctors have told us this is already a miracle — no one has ever survived such a serious accident. Everyone keeps asking me how Jules is but I can’t reply, there is no answer,” he told the newspaper.
“One day he seems a bit better, other days a bit worse. The damage from the accident is very bad but we don’t know how it will evolve. Every time the phone rings we know it could be the hospital to say Jules is dead,” Bianchi’s father admitted.
“When Jules gets a bit better we can transfer him, maybe to Tokyo and things will be a bit easier,” he added. “But who knows when that will happen — if it will happen. We have no certainties, we just have to wait.”
Manfredi mystified at Kobayashi’s comments
Who says characters or more accurately caricatures are dying out from the F1 circus?
One of the much loved characters in the smash hit BBC comedy series of the Fawlty Towers from the 1970’s is a character by the name of Manuel. He is a well intentioned soul, amiable but a disorganised and confused Spaniard from whose poor grasp of the English language is used to comedic effect.
Manuel hasn’t got a clue what’s going on most of the time and is frequently characterised as such as he repeatedly enquires “¿Qué?” (“What?”), to the most simple of instructions.
Another of the phrases Manuel is frequently scripted to say is, “Hi know nothing” when he is quizzed by Sybil as to what exactly is going on.
Formula One has recently discovered its own version of Manuel in the form of Caterham Team Principal, Manfredi Ravetto.
Whenever Ravetto is questioned about the “new, much lauded Swiss based Arab investors” and their identity or intentions, Fawlty Towers devotees will be hearing him reply – “¿Qué….. Hi know nothing… Mr. Fawlty”.
Formula One drivers are contracted to speak with the media following each GP. However, when a driver retires from the race, he can fulfil this obligation before the chequered flag – and we frequently hear these mini interviews whilst the cameras stay with the track action.
For F1 fans who have followed the sport for some time, there was one of the strangest interviews given mid race from a retiring driver during the Russian GP.
When asked by Sky Sports Natalie Pinkham why he’d been forced to retire from the race and what the problem was with his car, Kamui appeared bemused. “Actually nothing. I don’t know what happened, just the team decided to stop.”
When pressed what he had been told to impress him to return the car to the garage immediately, Kobayashi revealed the message was, “Just box [pit], back to box and stop engine. That’s it. I really don’t know what reason. I’m a little bit surprised.”
During other press interviews, Kamui suggested that maybe the team had retired the car due to mileage concerns.
No matter. What is clear is that this is an experienced Formula One driver, who has retired cars from races not infrequently. He obviously new instantly, there was something extra-ordinary – or strange – about the request to retire the car and honestly revealed it when questioned minutes after removing his helmet.
The mystery later deepened, when during the SKY F1 feature, “Ted’s Notebook”, a rather sceptical Ted Kravitz revealed the team had informed him that Kobayashi’s retirement had been due to overheating.
“So there you have”, quipped Ted. Adding not so cryptically, he didn’t know “who to believe in Formula One anymore….. but if that’s what the team are saying……. I guess we must believe it”. Ted supplemented this statement with a wry smile and an quizzical look for comedic effect.
Today, Ravetto has popped his head above the beleaguered parapet. The tone of his comments are most Manuelian.
Can you hear….”¿Qué?…… Hi know nothing” of why Kamui reported what he did in the following?
“Actually, I was very surprised to hear Kamui referring to some mileage-saving instruction coming from the team’s management,” Ravetto said in a staged Q&A, then issued by the team.
“We saw via telemetry that there was a potential issue with the brakes and we decided to avoid any risks; Kamui officially confirmed this as well and I’d like to add that he had also asked us to change the previous set before qualifying because he felt some vibration.
“To be clear: yes, we instructed Kamui to retire because the safety of our drivers is our first concern! Regarding Kamui’s comment, all I can say – and again, I’m answering with facts – is that the team has continuously made progress since the British Grand Prix, we’ve managed to qualify very well in the last two races, getting very close to Q2, and in Suzuka we repaired Kamui’s heavily damaged car in time for the next session without any problems, so I cannot understand his comment.”
Yes, some of us remember Pedro de la Rosa flying straight off the circuit during the early laps of a race as the death throes of the HRT team set in. There were questions asked then about whether HRT were compromising their drivers’ safety due to using brakes well past their mileage cycle.
It could be Manfredi is playing on this memory – who knows.
Yet if the true reason for Kamui’s retirement was problematic brakes, why was Kamui not informed of this – were he unable to feel it – the moment he climbed out of the cockpit?
Manfredi moves out of character and now begins an offensive and continues the polemic that – Fernandes left dirty great big invoices unpaid – which the alleged new owners knew nothing about – and now that they do these Swiss based Arab investors don’t have much cash, and clearly cannot afford to pay the team’s debts.
“Knowing that this team, under previous ownership, was due to stop racing before the British Grand Prix, we – the new management – are proud of having completed not only the European season but also the Asian season!”
[Only because you are avoiding the UK authorities Manuel]
This gives us confidence to approach the last three fly-away races in America and the Middle-East with an extra-boost. Our performance is steadily improving and recent results plus our great qualifying performance in Sochi are putting us on a level the team has hardly shown previously.
We are on a high and we keep fighting day after day, even if there are a few negative comments or skepticism from some people who would be happy to see us failing: we can live with this, we have no problem at all; what we do is answer with facts, starting with the technical improvement of the car and stabilizing of the team’s financial side – but we just want to remind everybody that we are those brave ones who try to firefight; we are not the ones who left the team in a critical status! I can tolerate misinterpretations on everything except this. And, by the way, we historically seem to be quite successful in contradicting the rumour mill…”
As far as contradicting the rumour mill is concerned, TJ13 reported bailiff’s in Leafield – several days prior to the matter becoming public knowledge.
Later on the first day we published this information, coincidentally, Adam Cooper published something of a rebuttal to what had been presented here which clearly came straight from the Leafield Press Office.
The Bailiff’s returned time and again, and the rumour was in fact vindicated, Manfredi.
TJ13 wrote on the 7th October, the Caterham cars would not be returning to the UK, despite the fact there were 3 weeks between Sochi and Austin, and the UK is kind of on the way.
Another alleged rumour vindicated this week, as the cars are presently at Kolles new Forza Rossa team base in Germany.
So what confidence can we have in Manuel Manfredi ? About the same as was placed in the ‘dumb’ waiter in the sitcom Fawly Towers.
Ravetto is the man who resigned his directorship from the very Caterham Company which is now subject to a winding up order hearing and has applied to be taken into Administration.
Manfredi may be, as he claims ‘on a high’. But the come down is coming – soon – and it will be brutal for many of the long suffering folk from Leafield.