#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 13th November 2014

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Previously on TheJudge13…

#F1 Victims of Circumstance: Interlagos 2014 – #BrazilianGP


Grosjean jumps the gun on new Lotus deal

Vettel admits contemplating F1 exit

Alonso in Dubai, not Woking as wait continues


Grosjean jumps the gun on new Lotus deal (GMM)

Romain Grosjean has followed Sebastian Vettel’s lead in jumping the gun on his 2015 plans. This week, it has already emerged that although Vettel’s switch from Red Bull to Ferrari is not yet official, the German told Italian broadcaster Sky in a television feature in Brazil that he is “a driver for Scuderia Ferrari“.

The Italian team, however, is not yet ready to announce either Vettel’s arrival, or even the departure of the apparently McLaren-bound Fernando Alonso.

Neither I or anyone else (at Ferrari) have talked about it,” new Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne was quoted this week by Italy’s Corriere dello Sport. “I haven’t said that Alonso is going,” he insisted.

Another open secret in F1 circles is that, despite his earlier candidature to join McLaren-Honda next year, Frenchman Grosjean is now set to stay at Lotus. In fact, he announced via Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday that he is “proud to announce that I’ll be racing with Lotus in 2015“.

The announcement accompanied a graphic captioned with ‘Together in 2015′, but the social media postings were quickly deleted and a Lotus spokesperson said a “miscommunication” had occurred.

Interestingly, Grosjean’s new deal could even be related to fellow Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne’s chances of staying with the second Red Bull team Toro Rosso in 2015. Grosjean is strongly backed by the French oil company Total, but with Lotus’ new engine deal Mercedes comes Petronas-supplied lubricants and oils.

According to Speed Week, Total could be heading to Toro Rosso, whose own oil backer Cepsa looks set to leave F1 altogether in order to sponsor the top Spanish football team Real Madrid.

Speed Week reports that Cepsa, a Spanish company, decided to leave Toro Rosso due to disappointing results and the decision to sign the unprecedentedly-young and inexperienced rookie Max Verstappen over the better-prepared Spaniard Carlos Sainz jr.

In other F1 sponsor news, a European Union-backed public health group has written to Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone demanding that alcohol sponsorship be banned.

A ban is only a step away,” wrote Times correspondent Kevin Eason, claiming lucrative deals enjoyed by Force India, Williams and McLaren are now at risk. Eurocare secretary-general Mariann Skar confirmed: “Allowing alcohol sponsorship in formula one seems to contradict many official guidelines for the marketing of alcohol and runs against the EU directive, which states that marketing for the consumption of alcohol should not be linked to driving.”

TJ13: Comment: It is hardly surprising that the FIA will have to be dragged kicking and screaming toward a ban on alcohol sponsorship. 

Whether we agree or not, the European Union countries have decided certain forms of advertising are not acceptable – and that is just they way it is.

Then of course we have Bernie and his mug shot plastered around the F1 venues for the Grand Prix weekends reminding us all to “Think before you drive” – whilst ironically as TJ13 reported back in March 2013, one of the Vice Presidents of the FIA and F1 race steward has now been banned three times for drink driving. DN&C 9/3/13

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Vettel admits contemplating F1 exit (GMM)

Sebastian Vettel has admitted he weighed up switching to another team versus quitting formula one altogether ahead of the 2015 season. It is an open secret that the quadruple world champion, having already confirmed his departure from Red Bull, is switching to Ferrari next year.

But while the man he is replacing – Fernando Alonso – continues his contractual impasse with Maranello, German Vettel is still unable to say anything.

I am hoping to announce what is happening soon,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, “but right now we have to be patient.

Still, Vettel is now giving hints away that his next overalls will definitely be red.

I am aware that a big task is lying before me,” said 27-year-old Vettel, “especially at a time when Mercedes has a huge competitive advantage.” He said staying at Red Bull would have been the “easiest decision” to make.

Doing something else is a step into the unknown,” said Vettel, “and therefore a risk. But I thought about it a lot.

If I was not convinced that I am able to be successful there, I would not be doing it. So this is not a decision against Red Bull, but to do something new.

It does sound as though Vettel, beaten this year by Red Bull’s new signing Daniel Ricciardo, needed a new challenge. He admits he even thought about quitting the sport altogether following the controversial move from V8 to turbo V6 power.

Naturally you think about everything,” said Vettel. “Suddenly you have two (engine) cylinders less and the team doesn’t restart your car but reboots it like a computer.

He said the process of harvesting energy from the brakes has been a particular struggle as it “just does not feel like a normal car to me“.

You do find yourself wondering ‘What has this got to do with racing?’

But what is the alternative?” Vettel continued. “Yes the cars have become slower, but they are still the fastest you can race.

TJ13: Comment: We have debated at length the situation Sebastian Vettel has found himself in this year, however, there was a moment in the Friday Press Conference in Brazil which clearly revealed the team’s attitude toward Vettel. 

Paul Monoghan, Red Bull Chief Engineer, was asked. “[Its been a] great year, obviously for Daniel Ricciardo: three wins, third in the drivers’ championship. Less so for Sebastian Vettel who admitted yesterday that ‘Ricciardo has simply done a better job than me.’ What’s the technical explanation for these two very different seasons?”

Monoghan replied, “We present two equal cars to the drivers and I think you have to ask Sebastian for a little bit more explanation of his side of what he meant. We service both drivers with the best equipment we can, treat them equally, allow them their requests where we can and field them onto the track in the best state we possibly can. I would have said Sebastian’s coming off five very intense years, isn’t he, and he’s been phenomenally successful and I suppose it concludes with – we wish him well”.

Clearly, Paul is not as adept as Christian Horner in the art of ‘speak words – and convey no meaning’. His body language and assertions reveal the attitude Red bull have formed over the this season.

‘It’s not our problem Gov…. we just prepare 2 equal cars… it has to be Seb’s problem’ – is the first message.

Interestingly, Monoaghna takes it upon himself to then interpret what is causing Vettel’s problems.

‘Well… its been an intense 5 years for Sebastian…. it must have taken it out of him – and THAT’s why he’s getting beaten by Danny boy – but we wish him well in his convalescence’.

The fact the Vettel admits he considered retiring from the sport, unfortunately gives some credence to this line of thinking.

What is clear is Sebastian must have had some doubts he could regain his previous level of performance  – for whatever reason. Therefore the move to Maranello buys Vettel some time, as the expect ions that the Red Team’s project ‘666’ for 2015, is unlikely to be a world beater.

Further, presuming Alonso leaves Ferrari, based upon this years performance, Raikkonen may well be perceived as a less difficult adversary than either the Spaniard or the Australian for Vettel to conquer.

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Alonso in Dubai, not Woking as wait continues (GMM)

Yet another week is threatening to pass with Fernando Alonso’s future still unclear. Most insiders are utterly convinced that the Spaniard is heading to McLaren-Honda, amid reports the 33-year-old is even scheduled to visit Woking this week to sign what is expected to be the most lucrative deal in F1 history.

But Alonso has posted photos to his Facebook and Twitter accounts of what is obviously a post-Brazil break in Dubai, some 7,000 kilometres from the UK.

Sunny in Woking today!” one of his Facebook followers commented cheekily.

At the same time, Ferrari is also continuing the apparent contractual impasse with its number 1 driver. New president Sergio Marchionne, pressed by the media about Alonso this week, is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport: “I do not talk about the drivers, that is the task of the team management.”

The uncertainty is also prolonging the wait for Jenson Button, who could be the existing McLaren driver who is pushed aside for Alonso and out of F1 altogether. “Hopefully soon I’ll be able to give you more info about my future,” the Briton said this week on Twitter, adding the hashtag ‘ExcitingTimes’.

If his 15-year F1 career does end, it is believed 34-year-old Button will either become a full-time triathlete or switch to Le Mans prototype sports cars. Speed Week linked him with the 2015 Le Mans competitors Porsche, Toyota, Audi or Nissan.

Mark Webber, who made the switch from F1 to Porsche this year, ‘tweeted’ to Button: “Matey, just sign that sports car contract and get on with it.

Be mega to have you with/against us next year,” the Australian added.

TJ13 comment: The minutia of who gets which CD and the dog – in the Ferrari/Alonso divorce is unlikely to end any time soon.

If this were a simple matter of finding a reasonable settlement, then surely both parties would be better served by doing a deal and getting on with the future. Both are looking ridiculous at present.

Further, McLaren’s impotence to move matters forward is telling, in that, it is beyond their control or the funds they are prepared to commit.

TJ13 learned over the weekend – that if push comes to shove, Ferrari are claiming they will honour their contractual arrangements with the Spaniard for 2015, though how they square the circle with three drivers to whom they are contractually bound to provide a racing seat.

Clearly, for Ferrari, running a third car would solve the problem, and unlike each of the other F1 teams, Ferrari have not suggested the cost or logistics of this would be problematic.

Further, it may be that the obscurity of the regulation which states, third cars will not be points scoring, may well have evaded one of the three drivers’ lawyers and could it be there is no exclusion clause to prevent Ferrari from insisting either Vettel, Raikkonen or Alonso runs the third car.

Yet the reason both Alonso and Ferrari are making no ground, is clearly because the gulf between the parties demands at present impossible to bridge.

When asked in Brazil what is the latest he could announce his plans for 2015, Alonso grinned and replied “January” – presumably right up to the Jerez test, which begins February 1st. Yet Fernando and Mattiacci, continue to make oblique references to the effect that – the relationship may continue into and throughout the 2015 Formula One season.

Ferrari’s position, which is in effect, ‘we’re not forcing Fernando to leave’ – means just one thing. They are calling Alonso’s hand and demanding he suffer the contractual penalties for breaching his employment of services contract.

What is also crystal clear, is that Ferrari are being most careful not to breach any clauses which would allow Fernando the opportunity to claim damages from them under a breach of contract dispute.

Lines in the sand have been drawn by both the Scuderia and Alonso – and the avowed words uttered, ‘this far and no further’ – and this is holding the deadlock firm.

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39 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 13th November 2014

  1. “just does not feel like a normal car to me”

    Unlike those utterly normal cars with exhaust blown aero ?

    If he wants a ‘normal’ car, what’s he doing in F1 ?
    🙂

    • Mind you, the exhaust blown diffusor “only” improved rear down-force. What Vettel alludes to is the fact that this years computerized brakes down’t give any feedback as they used to do, and for people setting up their car upon corner entry, like Vettel, Kimi and Hamilton, the brakes have been a struggle for all of them and for some still is.
      Too bad the GMM article is missing some of the more technical details, as Vettel did actually give quite a good insight into the intricacies of his driving style and how the new cars basically made that impossible now.

      • All greats at one point or another had to face new regs and changes. What set them apart was the fact that they adapted and managed to stay at the top irrespective of all that. Hopefully Vettel can prove us wrong and do just that. The sport does need a strong Ferrari/Vettel, a strong McLaren/Alonso, a strong Merc/Hamilton.

        • ” The sport does need a strong Ferrari/Vettel, a strong McLaren/Alonso, a strong Merc/Hamilton. ”

          No it doesn’t ….

          • It looks like the future will be a strong Red Bull/Ricciardo and Williams/Bottas.. lets see if Bottas and Hulk can get into the top Mercedes and Ferrari…

      • for people setting up their car upon corner entry, like Vettel, Kimi and Hamilton, the brakes have been a struggle for all of them and for some still is

        I don’t disagree – but regenerative braking is here to stay, and will be ubiquitous in all forms of motoring before long, so they will have to adapt.
        Hamilton seems to have (more or less) got on top of it, and Vettel seems to be showing flashes of his old genius. Was last weekend a sign that Kimi is getting there too ?

      • WEC has regenerative braking too so if he really has that much problems with the concept of regenerative braking going to the US is his only option.

        Vettel to Indycar after his F1 career is finished? 😉

      • Button: “The surface is new, it’s got a lot of grip. Traction here is the best traction we’ve felt for a long time, since we had [exhaust] blowing. It’s good.”

        No wonder Vettel did a perfect lap in qualifying then, to beat a McLaren. But for playing it safe on lap 1 (Magnussen might have hit him like Kimi in Malaysia), he would probably have beaten Jenson too, if he could pass him in the pits.

        Also, Ricciardo might have only had the upper hand on Seb once, when he was closing in just before the suspension failure – he would probably have finished ahead of Alonso, whose Ferrari held up both Red Bulls early on. But that could be just using the tyres more to catch back up.

    • And, as of about Austin, it seems this year’s car is not “slower” than last year’s version any more either. He sounds like my dad when he’s telling me how good things were in the 60’s & 70’s…

      *yawn*

      What was that? I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening…

      • You have to put these things in the correct context. He’s talking about the start of the season, when the cars were 2-4 seconds slower than last year. Also, the times of last year getting beaten is dependent on track layout. Austin and Brazil have long straights, where the sometimes ridiculous topspeeds come into play. You have to keep in mind that the topspeeds we saw in Interlagos were in previous years only possible in Monza.

    • Mmm, could that be the final enticing call to Alonso before he visits Woking and sign, kind of proof in the pudding? Not that long ago Honda were saying they were not going to debut their engine until next year and now they’re having a filming day? I think this is linked to getting Alonso to sign up.

  2. can someone more knowledgeable than me, fill me in? we all know fernando is goin to woking, seb is going to maranello, BUT, both mclaren and ferrari have not released firm news about this? why the delay? i kinda pity jenson

      • Further, it may be that the obscurity of the regulation which states, third cars will not be points scoring, may well have evaded one of the three drivers’ lawyers and could it be there is no exclusion clause to prevent Ferrari from insisting either Vettel, Raikkonen or Alonso runs the third car…

        Possibly Alonso, as his is the oldest contract, and the issue might not have been in anyone’s mind back then.

        Amusing if Ferrari were to come out with a great car/engine next year, and Alonso in the third car was to finish ahead of any other driver, while scoring no points…
        The double points fiasco would pale in comparison.
        🙂

        • All this reminds of 2009 when the paid off Kimi. Thing is, Ferrari will not pay off Alonso or Kimi again. And I suspect Alonso won’t back down at all until the idea of 3 cars is dead in the water. Only then he may make the jump to Macca.
          Unless of course Honda show something really special tomorrow in McLaren’s filming outing.

  3. Admin Question / Request:
    The default internal WordPress search engine is shite, but it seems that there are plugins available that boost it’s capabilities.

    https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/search-everything

    Mostly I want to be able to search back through previous comments. At the moment only the headline text / stories of each page is searchable.

    There was word about the place earlier this year about the TJ13 site changing to run on a different system / application / software. Is that still on the cards?

  4. I saw on Twitter the McLaren will be shaking down a MP4/29H (H for Honda) at Silverstone today on a 100km “Filming Day” most likely ready for the Abu Dhabi test. At a guess I would say that Fernando is waiting for the results of today’s ‘shake down’ to see how the car goes, I know it’s only a shake down, but after Mercedes had a shake down day before Jerez they could already see that they had a platform from which to build.
    I reckon we will get an announcement before Abu Dhabi.
    I also saw Mark Webber tweeted Jenson telling to just sign the LMP 1 contact to drive with or against him.

  5. This quote by Hamilton made me chuckle a bit.

    “Immediately before the race I’ll do the same stuff I always do – go and take a pee, then stand for the national anthem and then get on with my driving.”

  6. Re-Alonso/Ferrari
    I watched Sky F1 coverage and when Alonso was asked in the pen about when was the latest he could announce his plans he said “before Melbourne”. But I still think he wants to see real data from McLaren on real car performance.

    • See TJ13’s comments above. It really appears to be about contracts and money. Vettel’s written joke in Italian with Sky Italy as reported yesterday may have been a bad thing (I am a driver for Ferrari). One of Vettel’s fan sites put up a big apology for having also reported it and they hoped it did no harm to their boy.

  7. Oh wouldn’t it be ironic and massively devastating for the sport if Fernando’s greed leads to him driving a pointless (how fitting!!) third car.

    Ferrari are a stubborn bunch. I see them do it.

  8. Maybe Vettel hopes Alonso stays at Ferrari, so he can show the world that he can beat the best? Which would Kimi driving 3rd car and helping development? Or Kimi being cheaper to buy off?

    Sorry, speculative day.

  9. “Speed Week linked him with the 2015 Le Mans competitors Porsche, Toyota, Audi or Nissan.”

    “He’s either going to drive for Team P – or Team T – or Team A – or Team N! We’ve ‘linked’ him!”

    Talk about accuracy in reporting…

  10. It seems Button may be leaving Formula1, as the musical chairs at the end of the season means his seat has been removed. He has been on a very good salary for a number of years. Why doesn’t he buy Caterham, at rock bottom price, and set up his own team? He has money and experience and I am sure he would attract some good sponsors too. He could continue racing, or turn his skills to managing a team. Just a thought. 🙂

    • …How to lose a fortune quickly,,,, $120m a year to build a car and turn up to the events – with either no contribution or a mere $10m from FOM – its a big ask

      • Do you think that the money will never be fairly distributed among the teams? Don’t CVC, or whoever buys it from them, see that for the sport to continue then something HAS to be done? Do they all have their heads in the sand, or perhaps they are just too busy checking their bank balances. 🙁

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