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Previously on TheJudge13…
Quo vadis, Jenson?
If Jenson’s body language in recent races is anything to go by, his days at McLaren appear to be numbered. With teams dying and driving opportunities therefore reducing in numbers, this could well be the end of his F1 career. And not only in F1 are the chances getting fewer.
It has been rumoured several times this year that Jenson could be on his way to join Mark Webber as an F1 refugee in WEC. If he does so, it certainly won’t be as Mark’s team mate, as both Audi and Porsche, upon being asked by them, have told Motorsport Total that their driver line-ups are complete and that Jenson will not be part of it. The same applies to Toyota, who did not extend the contract of Nicola Lapierre and gave the seat to test driver Mike Conway.
The only realistic option would be newcomer Nissan, who have not yet announced any drivers. Following the likes of Frentzen, Alesi, Häkkinen, Ralf Schumacher and Coulthard in switching to DTM could be tricky as except for Paul Di Resta ex-F1 drivers have traditionally not done well in DTM – and Di Resta was in DTM before he came to F1.
Beside the obvious, which would be that McLaren and Honda see reason and keep him, then maybe ‘Murrica’ awaits and a trip out at the Indy 500.
Felipe Massa still sore over 2008 title loss
Should Rosberg hope that Massa will provide any help in the season finale, for instance by finishing second between him and Lewis, he should look at which flag was hoisted over his head after the Brazilian GP. In an interview with TV channel Sportv he makes it clear that he’ll only look at his own result and launches a rather bizarre verbal attack on Timo Glock. “I won’t help anyone. I didn’t get any help when I was fighting for the title. On the contrary, a certain German actually harmed my chances.”
This kind of attitude puts into question Massa’s claim that he wants to remain neutral and does frame the Brazilian driver in a particularly favourable light. What is his anger all about? Let’s look back.
Going into the season-ending 2008 Brazilian GP, Massa needed to win with Lewis Hamilton not finishing better than sixth to clinch the title. He started on pole and led throughout the race. Rain in the closing laps wreaked havoc on the racing order, but Massa, despite leading would not be crowned champion as Lewis was running 5th – exactly the minimum he had to achieve.
This changed two or three laps from home, when Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel (BTW he is German, Felipe) – overtook Lewis, relegating the Brit to sixth, which would have handed the title to Massa.
Vettel then overtook Glock, who had been told by his team to stay out on dry weather tyres and was helpless in the worsening conditions.
In the last corners of the last lap, Lewis too caught Timo Glock and swept by to reclaimed what for him was the vital fifth place.
Glock’s Toyota team had to leave the track under police escort.
So before Felipe becomes xenophobic about a particular nationality, he should remember that without another ‘certain German’, he would never have been in contention over those final few laps of the race.
A poignant observer may suggest that from a philosophical perspective Felipe should accept: “The German’s giveth and the German’s taketh away – blessed be the name of the German’s”.
Vettel passes Italian language test for Sky Italia
Due to the undignified will-they-won’t-they soap opera between Fernando Alonso and McLaren, Sebastian Vettel was so far not able to officially announce that he’ll be wearing red next year and evaded all attempts from the media to wrangle a hint out of him. Sky Italia chose a different route, by putting him through an Italian language test.
Having raced for Toro Rosso in 2007 and 2008, the German has a passable grasp of the language, no doubt also in preparation for winding up at Ferrari one day, something which he hinted at for years.
He had to fill in gaps in sentences and describe fellow drivers. He called Hamilton the ‘most spiritual’ and Rosberg the ‘most blond’. Especially the latter is open to interpretation as, while expressed in Italian, in Vettel’s native German ‘being blond’ is slang for being stupid or gullible. It should be noted however that ‘the most blond’ was one of three items in a multiple choice test, not something the German came up with by himself.
When they presented him the generic snippet “Sebastian Vettel e…” a cheeky Seb continued with “sono un pilota di Scuderia Ferrari.”
Money the big topic before 2014 season finale (GMM)
Even with F1 speeding towards its intriguing double-points title finale, money remains the big off-track topic of the moment. Although no longer trading and having laid off its workforce, Manor – formerly Marussia – is said to be in talks with investors about returning in Abu Dhabi.
It’s a similar story at Caterham, where administrators have already raised more than half of the $3.7 million they need to revive the green team for the season finale, thanks to the controversial crowdfunding scheme.
The team might also have another $55,000 in the kitty if it accepts an offer from the grandfather of British female driver Alice Powell, who wants to pay for a Friday practice drive in Abu Dhabi.
“I am really hoping the administrators come back with a positive response,” Jim Fraser, Powell’s grandfather, told the Daily Mail newspaper.
But if Marussia and Caterham do ultimately fail, talks about boosting the depleted grid with three-car teams will become louder. Currently, the F1 teams are awaiting a response from Bernie Ecclestone and F1 owner CVC’s Donald Mackenzie.
It is believed they are considering releasing more funds, but who will actually receive the money is not clear. F1 supremo Ecclestone said in Brazil last weekend that the struggling small teams, including Lotus, Sauber and Force India, will not get the touted ‘fighting fund’.
“We give these teams enough,” he said. “Not enough to survive in the way they are surviving, but enough to survive.
“The way forward is very easy — don’t spend as much,” said Ecclestone.
Another potential solution, although initially seemingly counterintuitive, is to give more money to the bigger and more stable teams. It is said Ferrari has already agreed to run a third car next year, but Red Bull is baulking at the apparent price-tag.
“It’s between 35 and 40 million euros (to run a third car),” team boss Christian Horner is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, claiming the Briton wants CVC to pick up the tab.
Horner is also quoted by Italy’s Tuttosport: “We could not deploy the third car within our current budget, so at the moment it’s not something we’re thinking about.”
Mercedes, meanwhile, is not at all keen on the third car idea, but team chairman Niki Lauda is quoted as saying: “The distribution of money is first and foremost a matter for CVC.
“We can do nothing but wait for suggestions. If CVC has a reasonable plan, we can talk about everything,” said the F1 legend. “Even free engines for the (customer) teams.”
TJ13 comment: Free engines for the customer teams Niki? Such boundless generosity knows no limits.
What Lauda really is suggesting, is that FOM/CVC subsidise fully the engines for the customer teams – otherwise there would be much choking on the sauerkraut speciality being munched for lunch in Stuttgart.
Briatore says Ecclestone’s double points ‘smart’ (GMM)
Flavio Briatore thinks his friend and regular business partner Bernie Ecclestone has pulled off a masterstroke with ‘double points’ in 2014. Actually, the innovation – where the title is kept artificially alive right until the dying moments by offering twice as many points in the season finale – is highly controversial and almost universally unpopular.
Even Nico Rosberg, who stands to gain the most from double points, is no fan.
“I find it artificial and I don’t like it in general,” said the German after winning the Brazilian grand prix. “Of course, now, with the way it is, it’s great for me now but that’s just because of the situation.”
Indeed, championship leader Lewis Hamilton says that – with his current 17-point advantage usually enough to nearly guarantee him the title over Rosberg – he thinks the new system ahead of the Abu Dhabi finale is not “fair“.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks Ecclestone has even changed his mind about double points now, having admitted in Brazil that he originally wanted the system to apply for the last three grands prix of the season.
“That would have been better and fairer,” Hamilton told Ecclestone in a double interview posted at F1’s official website. Wolff told reporters: “I don’t think Bernie likes it, so it is probably something we should be getting rid of for next season.”
But double points does have at least one fan — the outspoken and controversial former F1 team boss Flavio Briatore. The flamboyant Italian told Rai radio this week: “The double points is a smart tactic.
“For the next two weeks it is all anybody will take about. Bravo, Bernie!” said Briatore. “Abu Dhabi is going to be talked about an awful lot.”
TJ13 comment: As reported here on Monday, the probability that double points will play a part in the F1 drivers’ title decider is minimal.
Given firstly the lack of rain in the desert and secondly the 40 second gap from the Mercedes to the Williams in third place at the chequered flag in Brazil; the odds on favourite result for the Abu Dhabi finale is a Mercedes AMG 1-2 finish.
This gives Lewis the drivers’ title.
The other likely scenario is that one or other of the Mercedes drivers suffers a reliability issue and records a DNF.
Then the other Mercedes driver wins the race and also wins the drivers’ title.
It is difficult to conceive how one or other of the Mercedes could contrive to finish the race in third place or lower – which is where Lewis would need to be behind a winning Rosberg – for double points to hand the German the 2014 F1 drivers’ championship.
Having been linked with a move to McLaren and even Ferrari in the past few weeks, it appears Romain Grosjean will be driving for his fourth season for the Enstone based team in 2015.
Some time ago, Lotus confirmed Pastor Maldonado and his Petro $ millions would be continuing his association with the F1 team, however, there has been a continued question hanging in the air as to whether Gerrard Lopez et al would be able to attract another big bucks pay driver thus seeing Romain out of a job.
Today, Grosjean clearly believing his deal with Lotus for next year was done, tweeted the following…
…then quickly removed the tweet.
Here are the drivers confirmed thus far for 2015.
Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa
Nico Hulkenberg and TBC
Max Verstappen and TBC
Pastor Maldonado and TBC
Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr
MANOR F1 TEAM
Caterham, Pegasus and impending redundancies
Having never driven an F1 car and time limited for her to get an F1 super license, Alice Powell believes she could be the first woman to drive in a Formula One race in Abu Dhabi – the first woman since Lella Lombardi in 1976
Saddle up Pegasus – here we go.
Alice’s grandfather has written to the Caterham administrators offering £35,000 for the opportunity for his granddaughter to drive in FP1 at the Abu Dhabi GP.
It appears Alice was unaware of this development as she told SKY, “It is all news to me, I only found out this morning when I saw it in the Daily Mail”.
Yet Powell’s ambitions don’t stop merely at a practice session. “As long as I get to test in Practice One I have some other investors who are willing to invest in the team and it would be a fantastic opportunity. If the opportunity comes up to stay in the car and do qualifying and the race of course I’m not going to say no.”
Caterham’s previous years cars are either AWOL or in no fit state to be driven for a test day, so Alice opportunity to attain her F1 super license appears limited.
Yet none of this is preventing Alice preparation and planning. “I need to get on a simulator and learn Abu Dhabi. I’ve raced there in GP3 last year so I need to try and get back in. Last time I was out in a car was in Formula Renault Asia a few weeks ago which is about four divisions below F1 so the step will be massive.
I also need to prepare my body, get back into the gym and work as hard as I can if it does come off.”
This is all very well and a jolly distraction on a slow news Wednesday. However, as TJ13 reported yesterday, Caterham’s crowd funding project to raise £2.35m by Friday has stalled – with the team just over 50% of the way to its goal – and £35,000 is but a drop in the ocean.
TJ13 has learned from our Caterham sources that the crowd funding initiative isn’t some cynical ploy by the Administrator as reported by the mainstream media, but in fact was a project conceived by Caterham employees and the project team raising the funds is led by Graham Smith.
The team include marketing, sales and technical staff and should the team make it to Abu Dhabi and there be surplus funds, then the project team will be paid a consultancy fee.
However, the team running the crowd funding activities risk receiving nothing should the project fail – or there be insufficient funds after having funded the Abu Dhabi appearance of Caterham.
The Administrator has recognised that unless the team is sold by Friday 14th November, the chance of its survival beyond that point is almost nil. He has therefore advised that the staff of 1MRT are made redundant, so they can pursue their statutory claims for payment.
Whilst both Caterham and Marussia may yet rise like phoenix from the ashes… it is unlikely either team will appear in the F1 season’s race weekend finale…. Unless of course, a certain someone fancies putting his money where his mouth is and copping for a cool £1m to see a woman driver on the grid.