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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite: 1978 – Gunnar Nilsson – An inspirational hero
Gunnar Nilsson is not a name many of the current generation of Formula One fans would know but in the mid 70’s he established himself as one of the rising stars in F1. Having watched fellow Swede Ronnie Peterson, he decided he wanted to be a racing driver and after an initial few seasons in lower formulae learning the trade, he won the 1975 British F3 title.
In 1976 he became a Formula One driver for Team Lotus and scored a podium in only his third event. He and his team-mate Mario Andretti developed the Lotus 77 during the season and by 1977 they embarked on the season with the early ground effect Lotus 78.
At Zolder that year, he took his only F1 victory, passing Niki Lauda’s Ferrari en route. Following a podium finish in the British Grand Prix, he mysteriously began struggling in qualifying and retiring from every race. In December following tests for headaches and back pains, he was diagnosed with lymph node cancer and began intensive radiotherapy. He passed away on this day in 1978.
In his last months he rejected medication to set up the Gunnar Nilsson Foundation that to this day raises funds for scientists; and the mortality rate of the testicular cancer that claimed Nilson has dropped from 90% to 5%. In 1981, Princess Anne opened the Gunnar Nilsson Suite at Charing Cross Hospital where he had received his treatment.
Caterham cars swift visit to Leafield
The Caterham F1 cars which were shipped directly from Russia to Colin Kolles’ base in Germany, returned Friday night to Leafield for a lick of paint and a swift service before they depart again – probably before the weekend is out.
Interestingly, it appears the staff have been informed their employment contracts will remain with/return to Caterham Sports Ltd, following the insistence by management that on the 10th October they would be transferred from Caterham Sports Ltd to 1MRT – a foreign listed company.
TJ13 commented should this initial transfer of employment to a foreign listed company take place, should 1MRT go into administration or be wound up, the UK protective measures for employees of bankrupt companies may not apply to the staff. There is a winding up petition to be heard for Caterham Sports Ltd on 11th November 2014.
We are aware the management of Caterham have been following TJ13’s coverage of the behind the scene manoeuvres the Caterham owners have been enacting. due to comments made in the paddock in Russia by a senior manager within the team.
It is probable that if this latest story is true, the Caterham owners may have just realised that the staff’s best interests are best served under the protection of the UK laws on the Administration of companies (Chapter 11 similar). Hence why they would seek to reverse their original decision to force the employees to transfer to 1MRT.
Caterham assured their staff the removal of equipments and assets from the Leafield base just prior to the Japanese GP by The Sheriff’s Office high Court Enforcement Officers would be resolved shortly. This has proven to be untrue.
TJ13 has repeatedly asserted the new owner(s) appear to be disinterested in the long term survival of the Caterham team and unless a big seven figure sum is placed in funds with the team within the next 2 weeks, the company will be taken from the owners and administered by Insolvency Practitioners.
Dell Computers are thought to be considering enforcing the recovery of the multi-million dollar computer systems, via action in the USA. So when the Caterham F1 team arrives for the grand prix in Austin, they may be in for a surprise.
Mercedes aiming to move further ahead in 2015
Sources from Italy are reporting rumours on the 2015 power unit from Mercedes. One of the significant updates which is being considered is a new direct injection system that Andy Cowell’s team at Brixworth is working on in conjunction with Bosch. The new system will be able to inject fuel into the combustion chamber at 500 bar pressure – which is the maximum amount allowed by the regulations.
This year Mercedes have been running their system at just over 250 bar. Not only will this increase the horsepower by around 40bhp, but other benefits include reduced consumption. Williams, Force India and Lotus, as well as the works team will all benefit from being able to start races with significantly less fuel onboard. At least that is the assumption.
Of course this all sounds doom and gloom for the other teams but there are some ponderables which for the eternal optimists is worth hanging on to. The FIA allows a system whereby a manufacturer has 48 tokens for development for the following season – this fundamental change for the German manufacturer accounts for 60% – leaving 16 tokens to use on their design elsewhere.
The other consideration is that Ferrari has been running 500 bar pressure all year with a system developed with Magnetti Marelli and although reliable hasn’t reduced their consumption significantly. Renault have decided to stick at 250 bar as they feel that a 15,000rpm limit is unachievable with current regulatory constraints. Most engines, in fact, run at 10,500rpm as any more would release horsepower quicker but would prove detrimental to consumption.
Of course, with everybody hoping for closer competition, we have to hope the Italian and French engineers have solutions that will close the gap between them – otherwise ‘The Three Amigos’ will take credit once more.
Prost believes Mercedes dynamic changes since Spa
Four time World Champion Alain Prost is in a privileged position of having experienced intra-team battles twice in his career. In 1984-85 with Niki Lauda and 1988-89 with Ayrton Senna. The second proving arguably the most acrimonious fight in Formula One history.
But whatever the rights and wrongs of those particular stories it has offered Prost a unique insight. Thinking back to his rivals at Mclaren, Prost recollected, “Ron was very strong, but he has always shown a small preference, I had the advantage at one stage – but you do not realise exactly when you have it – when I was with Niki. But then when I was with Ayrton we had a thing and he Dennis always showed a little thing for Ayrton. Not the team but Dennis himself.”
As a Renault ambassador he travels with the Formula One circus and he remarked that the Mercedes team dynamic has changed significantly since Rosberg was forced to apologise for the collision in Belgium.
“I don’t know what is happening after Spa, but it looks a little strange. I don’t know if you can say preference, but something has change a little bit. You can feel it, you don’t see it. And if you don’t know if it’s true, but when you’re inside a team – when you start to feel something you have lost.”
It would be churlish to suggest that Prost and his old team-mate and friend, Lauda, have spoken about the intra-team battle between the Silver Arrows drivers but TJ13 has been reporting that all is not as it seems on the ‘Good Ship Mercedes’ for some time…
FIA culpable over Bianchi crash
TJ13 has been surprised at the lack of comment in the English speaking media, on what was in a effect a mini fiasco of an FIA briefing in Sochi following the tragic events the week before at the Japanese GP [Analysis coming on Podcast then article].
In the meantime, the Italian F1 journalists have been scathing of Charlie Whiting’s handling of the Bianchi incident and the aftermath. Accusations of nepotism abound and derisory suggestions that the FIA is a laughing stock as Whiting ‘the accused’, is also offered the roles of prosecutor, Judge and Jury.
Formula Passion does exactly what it says on the tin. There are passionate articles and the use of rhetoric such as “blood stirring the shark infested waters”. Oh to be Italian.
Yet when distilled, the critiques are well reasoned and fair comment.
Yet in English, we have little comment yet from our esteemed F1 journalists, James Allen yesterday made an oblique vicarious reference, questioning the manner in which Charlie Whiting had handled this, but it was the broadest of brush comments with no detail.
Thank the Lord for Four-time Formula One world champion Alain Prost, who has come out and said he is “furious” and “outraged” by the accident that seriously injured his compatriot.
Prost is adamant that the FIA and Charlie Whiting are culpable stating, “I was furious. I was really shocked by the accident. You have the procedure, but the weather conditions were getting worse and worse with more and more water, so visibility was very bad.
So you cannot have the same decision according to the procedure if the weather was good or bad. That is why I say I am not convinced. In this condition, especially with all the experience they have in terms of safety, they should have zero risk.”
Though a little tough to follow at times, the thrust of Prost’s position is that the worsening conditions meant either the race should have been red flagged and/or at least a Safety Car should have been sent out immediately there was an incident. These were the emergency measures which would have been used in Sochi had any car stopped on track.
Prost goes further and again does not pull his punches. “It is cars and tracks [that have been developed] and there was only one thing left: it was this f**king truck on the track.”
This writer is aware that Alain believes that the finance is available and that no circuit requires an ‘on circuit tractor in operation’ and that cranes external to the barriers should be installed at all F1 tracks. This view is not exactly beyond comprehension outrageous in a sport where the revenues are $1.5bn a year, and the teams collectively spend a similar amount to go racing.
The inconsistency of Race Control’s decisions during the Japanese GP 2014, is next up for Prost.
“It was safe in the beginning when it started with the safety car, because it was a difficult decision to stop the race after three or four laps and start again. That is why I was shocked, because you take the right decision at one stage.”
It is unconfirmed, but highly likely, Charlie Whiting was under pressure to get the race under way on time and complete the minimum of two laps.
We do known discussions took place between the promoter and the FIA with a view to bringing the race forward, however, the promoter Honda insisted the race start time should not be moved.
Former President of the FIA is crystal clear on who is responsible for all aspects of safety. Mosely told SKY, “The FIA. Everything to do with safety is the FIA – even right down to cancelling the race because of the weather and postponing it to the following day. You would be very reluctant to do that but if there was any safety question you would do everything that was necessary.”
The FIA chose to release information into the public domain in Sochi, and it is about time the English speaking F1 journalists, led some kind of public debate. At present they are abdicating this responsibility and social media social media along with the Italians are taking the lead.
Despite not one admission of there being improper management of the regulations or the race, the FIA are clearly in part culpable for the events we saw in Suzuka this year.