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Previously on The Judge 13:
Interesting Interlagos (Updated 13:45 GMT)
OTD Lite: 1989 – Prost’s bravery marks out a sodden race
Following the 2014 Japanese GP, many drivers claimed the conditions were too poor to remain racing when Jules Bianchi had his accident. Afterwards many observers spoke about ow the leading drivers should have stopped to make a point.
Looking back in history, most people remember the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix when Niki Lauda took one of the bravest decisions ever by withdrawing after a lap. It was the 70’s, drivers were superheroes and they never quit!
On this day in 1989, Alain Prost too showed remarkable bravery when he withdrew from the Australian GP after just one lap because of how poor the conditions were. All the drivers had voiced concerns and spoke about pitting but he was the only one who followed his convictions.
Of course, Prost never enjoyed driving in the wet but what most people forget is that he witnessed Didier Pironi’s career ending accident first hand when Pironi hit the back of his Renault in the 1982 German GP wet qualifying session. It would come to define his career afterwards.
The Samurai Jackal
Mattiacci starts flexing Ferrari’s power
The Italian media is celebrating what could be a significant break-through with the engine freeze rules. Marco Mattiacci, Ferrari’s team principal has received affirmations from the other engine manufacturers to move the development freeze from February to July to allow the non Mercedes manufacturers a chance to catch the dominant Stuttgart marque.
Following recent meetings, Toto Walff and Niki Lauda – surprisingly without the consent of The Enforcer ‘Paddy Lowe’ – have confirmed to Mr. E this merely requires ratification from the Mercedes board..
Well there’s a U-Turn. It could be that Mercedes become concerned about their image since F1 front man Toto Wolff declared in the press conference, “You know in our case we are representing a multi-national car company. This [our participation in F1] is a branding exercise, we are showcasing our technology.”
So those of you who have been passionate about racing for decades – wise up. Formula 1 is merely a branding exercise now – according to Mercedes. Its rather ironic Il Padrino described the modern F1 car pilot as a ‘taxi driver’, maybe Mercedes are to spend billions in F1 burying the notion they build taxis.
This sudden burst of agreement, could also have come about because after a bitter civil war and coup d’état – Ferrari is once again showing signs of exerting some political clout within F1.
Interestingly, the Italian press are attributing the rise of Ferrari ‘ to Marco Mattiacci and NOT the Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne.
My, my. The footprints in the sand of one Luca Cordero have already, all but disappeared.
Mclaren and Alonso about to tie the knot?
Fernando Alonso is seemingly about to take over the seat of F1’s Grand-pappy driver – Jenson Button.The racing director of Mclaren, Frenchman Eric Boullier has confirms their line up for 2015 includes,, “one of the drivers we talked to, so it may be. And ‘one of the options. I hope there will be a decision before Abu Dhabi, but for the moment there is still nothing of course.
One of the reasons that made this such a long wait is that we want to be sure of making the right choice, focusing on someone to accept the team’s strategy for the coming years. ”
The latest rumours coming from Woking suggest that foundational agreement has been reached which sees the Spaniard move to Mclaren for two years. Alonso has been holding out for a contract with a break clause for 2016, should the team’s performance be below a certain level, whereas Honda wants two years with a third as an option.
Where the die has been cast – we just don’t know.
However, the pace of negotiations has been increasing as Santander marketing executives had several meetings with McLaren in Austin last Sunday.
Either way, an announcement of the Samurai’s destination is expected soon – after his prolonged stale-mate has forced Ferrari to delay the announcement of the incoming Sebastien Vettel.
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
Only ‘positive pressure’ on Raikkonen – boss
The pressure on Kimi Raikkonen to up his game is of the “positive” variety, Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci insists. It is a near-certainty that disgruntled Fernando Alonso is leaving the Maranello team, but also with a solid 2015 contract is his Finnish teammate. Any speculation Raikkonen might also depart Ferrari, however, has been mild at best, even though Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport is questioning whether the 2007 world champion should be kept in red.
That is because he has had a horror return to Ferrari this year, scoring fewer than 1 point in every 4 towards the team’s total tally as Alonso utterly dominated. Raikkonen has openly admitted he has struggled with the F14-T car, and in Austin went as far as to say he “hates” the situation. Felipe Massa, who until last year was Alonso’s Ferrari teammate, suggested recently that Raikkonen is obviously struggling mentally alongside the Spaniard.
“Maybe I am going mad,” Raikkonen sarcastically hit back in Austin. “Losing my mind. He can say what he wants, but I know the true story.” But that doesn’t mean he knows the solution. So with the quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel coming on board for 2015, intense pressure might now be building on Raikkonen’s shoulders to quickly improve.
“Positive pressure,” insisted boss Mattiacci, according to the Spanish daily Marca. “It is important when you have pressure to always approach it positively. We know we have a problem and we have to keep working on it,” he added.
TJ13 comment: Stop the press – Stop the press. ‘The Iceman’ states he hates something. Pressure building as he admits to going mad….
No doubt this year has proven challenging for Kimi – and Alonso has lost no opportunity to humiliate him. Even Massa would have enjoyed the fact that an apparently failing Kimi Raikkonen was the one signed to replace him this season. Remember, Felipe knows the Finn’s ability from the perspective as a team mate – following their time together in 2007-08
Yet Ferrari have kept the faith. As a World Champion, the question regarding Kimi’s future should be – is he a fortunate winner who lucked into his title or has he got the inherent speed that marked him out as one of the best of the era?
The much publicised and highly anticipated F1 team mate battle for 2015 between “fire and ice” for F1 2015 – has been as big a damp squib. Probably a bigger let down than the 1991 Scuderia F1 entrant – the 643 – which Alain Prost described – only once – as a ‘truck’.
We can move on and salivate over next years battle of the Maranello buddies. Will Sebatian Vettel prove next year, that Kimi is over hyped or that Fred was under-valued?
From a neutral perspective, should the German four time F1 drivers’ champion fail to beat a fading Kimster, this will add fuel to the naysayers who question Vettel’s legacy to date.
There have been some modifications of the circuit this year. The pit lane entry has been moved and the circuit widened. Also the pit lane exit will emerge into the Senna Esses in a safer manner.
Barichello return to F1
The end of the career for the driver with the most Formula One race starts ever, has for many never seemed quite right.
Rubens Barichello for many years was the sidekick of the uber dominant 7 times world champion Michael Schumacher. His farewell to F1 was a low key affair at his home race in Brazil toward the end of 2011.
He finished 14th and ironically ahead of Michael Schumacher.
It was only on the 17th January 2012, when Williams announced that Bruno Senna would be replacing Rubens for the up coming season.
Bariichello supporters were apparently set for a surprise return and maybe a proper farewell, as a Caterham source informed Adam Cooper at the weekend – “We would have run Barrichello in the last three races. We had sponsorship for this, and everything was going the right way. It would have been fantastic for F1.”
Rubens was set to replace Kamui Kobayashi and the Brazilian reflected in Austin, “It would have been great to race in front of my people once again and say goodbye properly.”
The racing statistics for one of Formula One’s most liked drivers of all time are as follows.Career: 1993-2011 Races: 326 (322 starts) Champ’ships: 0 Wins: 11 Podiums: 68 Career points: 658 Pole positions: 14 Fastest laps: 17 Teams: Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn, Williams First race: 1993 South African Grand Prix First win: 2000 German Grand Prix Last win: 2009 Italian Grand Prix Last race: 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix
With Formula One drivers getting younger, and if the teams can get the kids to perform for a fraction of the cost of an ‘experienced’ driver – Rubens record of longevity may stand forever and never be challenged.
Hülkenberg Happy in Brazil
Nico Hülkenberg is having yet another excellent season. He lies 9th in the F1 drivers’ championship, just 8 points behind Felipe Massa, who picked up 12 points in Austin – whilst the Hulk suffered a DNF.
The German driver has hauled the fourth best Mercedes powered car ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonene, the McLaren of K-Mag and has almost twice as many points as his erratic team mate Sergio Perez.
Interlagos has been a very happy hunting ground for Hülkenberg and the Force India driver has already put behind him the disappointment from the US Grand Prix and is looking forward to this weekend.
“Brazil is always a highlight of my season and it’s one of the events I enjoy the most. If you look at my record at Interlagos it’s a circuit where I have always performed well. I enjoy the country, the atmosphere, the Brazilian lifestyle and all that surrounds the event seems to have given me a special boost in the past and hopefully it will happen again”.
In the qualifying session at Interlagos 2010, the Hulk pulled off his finest 1 lap run of his career. He qualified the Williams car on pole position some 1.049 seconds ahead of soon to be world champion, Sebastian Vettel
This was the Williams team’s first pole position since the 2005 European Grand Prix. What was even more impressive was that having secured the number 1 grid position for the race, Hülkenberg delivered another lap and increased the gap to the rest of the field.
“Obviously this is a new year and we will need to prepare for this event well”, reflects the German as he considers the 2014 challenge. “Interlagos can always throw a surprise with the conditions and this could be a challenge for which we need to be ready”.
The Hulk’s finest hour in motor sport’s premier racing class, is considered by many to be at the 2012 Brazilian GP. He qualified 7th for Force India but by lap three he was in 4th position.
Lap 5 saw the Force India driver pass Fernando Alonso and he moved into second place on lap 11 when McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton pitted.
Hülkenberg then passed race leader Jenson Button at the start of lap 19 to take the lead. He and Jenson established a lead over the field of around 45 seconds, before the safety car was deployed due to debris on the circuit.
Button built up a 45 second lead before the safety car was deployed because of debris on the track.
Just 6 laps later, the Hulk was set to re-pass race leader Lewis Hamilton, however, the rear of his car slid into Lewis through turn 1 ending the British driver’s last race for McLaren. Hülkenberg was given a drive through penalty as a result of the incident, and he finished the race 5th – securing 11thy place in the drivers’ championship.
Nico explains why he particularly enjoys the Interlagos circuit. “The track itself is a proper old-school circuit. You don’t have the vast expanses of more modern tracks, everything is bunched up together – it feels almost like a karting track. It’s a very cool layout with some iconic corners, and it has a lot of Formula One history.”
Selected team Radio from US Grand Prix
“Adrian, can you continue?”
“No. Fucking Perez just kicked me off the circuit!”
The German doesn’t mince his words which is understandable after Sutil’s best qualifying result of the season.
“Are you sure I can come in? Anybody else you want me to let through?”
Jenson’s planned pit stop was put on hold so the team could service Kevin Magnussen’s car instead. Button was upset as 3 cars passed him while he stayed out – hence the rather acerbic comment.
“Nice one mate. Let’s get after those Willies.”
The Woking team following the night of Halloween, clearly weren’t giving the Colgate Kid weren’t spooking him at all – giving him the heebie jeebies – or the ‘willies’.
“What was that!?”
JEV Banzais past a snoozing Romain Grosjean up the inside of turn 1
“The first stint was an absolute joke, I don’t understand. Whole race very nervous.”
Sebastian Vettel is appealing to his mentor – Fat Hippo – to explain his difficulties to the world.
Colgate kid turns Cowboy on nailing his unexpected third place in the Austin race.