This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.
You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly
Previously on TheJudge13…
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
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.
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.