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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite: 2006 – Hamilton joins Mclaren F1 team
As the world awakens celebrating the birth of a new double champion, it is somehow fitting that the entrance of Lewis Hamilton to F1 celebrates its official anniversary also. It was eight years ago today that young Lewis was unveiled as the latest driver to join the hallowed turf of F1.
The story of how a eleven year old Lewis told a startled Ron Dennis that he wanted to drive for Mclaren in the future is well known and his apprenticeship led to the Stevenage karter becoming a protege of the Woking outfit. He was unveiled to the public as team-mate to double World Champion Fernando Alonso and the rest as they say is history. Race winner and title challenger in his first season, champion in his second and the winningest British driver in history.
A mercurial talent who wears his heart on his sleeve, as capable of stunning drives as he is of self-sabotage and now a double champion it was with prophetic words that Dennis unveiled his latest charge –
“We reviewed the grid and, apart from the top three, we reckoned most of them had plateaued. I am distinctly unimpressed with the majority of drivers currently involved in F1. I feel Lewis is well equipped to deal with these drivers who fall into that category.”
The Grumpy Jackal
New deal with champ Hamilton may take time – Wolff (GMM)
With Lewis Hamilton now a double world champion, Mercedes has vowed to waste no time in signing him up for the future. Officials for the German team on Sunday insisted that, with the British driver and Nico Rosberg finishing first and second in 2014, their rivalry will be back on track in silver cars next season. Beyond 2015, however, is less clear, even though German Rosberg is already signed up.
Hamilton only has a deal until the end of 2015, meaning the former McLaren driver may be looking for yet another challenge in 2016 and beyond.
“I definitely don’t feel that I’m looking for a new challenge,” he insisted after winning his second drivers’ title in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. “I feel like this is just the beginning.”
Before the final race weekend of the season, team boss Toto Wolff has been saying he and chairman Niki Lauda will sit down with Hamilton to discuss the terms of a 2016 contract as soon as Monday or Tuesday this week. Indeed, Wolff joked late on Sunday that those talks may kick off while Hamilton is still suffering from Sunday’s “hangover”.
Hamilton himself, however, appears in less of a hurry. “We still have another year to go,” he said, “so there’s no particular rush but this is my home. I feel very happy here.”
It appears obvious that Hamilton and Mercedes want to stick together beyond 2015. “We will clarify this in the next few weeks,” team chairman Niki Lauda told German television on Sunday. “He is happy, we are happy — I don’t see any problems.”
Agreement on the actual terms of the contract, however, may be more difficult, particularly as the new two-time world champion is now being hailed as one of F1’s all-time greats.
“Lewis feels at home with the team,” said Wolff, “and we have the fastest car on the grid. So we have some pretty important arguments on our side! “But of course there is no guarantee that we will come quickly to an agreement. We would definitely love to keep Lewis, as he is an important part of this story.”
Mallya slams Red Bull as F1 ‘cheats’ (GMM)
Rival F1 team Force India has blasted outgoing world champions Red Bull as the “cheats” of the sport.
“Red Bull gives you flexible wings,” team supremo and co-owner Vijay Mallya said on Twitter on Sunday. The former Indian billionaire’s attack on the energy drink-owned team follows not just the latest flexible wing saga, but also team boss Christian Horner supposedly enraging his counterparts in a recent meeting.
Not only Mallya, but also Lotus owner Gerard Lopez have intimated to members of the F1 media that it was Horner who openly laughed at the demise of backmarkers Caterham and Marussia. The next most endangered teams – Lotus, Force India and Sauber – have been arguing ferociously in recent weeks that the sport should more fairly distribute its almost $1 billion in annual income among the teams.
But Horner is quoted by the Times as “categorically” denying that he scoffed at their plight. “I would never decry other teams,” he said. “They have my respect. For example, we have helped Caterham get into the paddock. They got gearboxes from us (in Abu Dhabi) even though we are owed money.”
But something has obviously enraged Mallya, who launched a tirade of anti-Red Bull sentiment on his official Twitter page ahead of Sunday’s 2014 finale in Abu Dhabi. “Arrogance and a superiority complex on the part of those who are paid to be in F1 should not dilute or colour those who pay to be in F1,” he said. “A big F1 team that says we small outfits should not come with bananas to a gun fight, grabs maximum money and cheats on the regulations,” Mallya added.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were disqualified from qualifying on Saturday after the FIA deemed their front wings were illegal.
A BBC report that revealed a concealed spring was specifically designed to allow the wing to illegally bend was also ‘retweeted’ by Mallya. Former Caterham technical boss Mike Gascoyne also attacked the Red Bull chief on Sunday, tweeting before the race: “Wonder if Christian Halliwell will visit the back of the grid? Will remind him of his first few years in Red Bull.”
He signed off with the hashtag: “Whatgoesaroundcomesaround”.
Mattiacci focused on Ferrari top job ‘at the moment’ (GMM)
Marco Mattiacci has done little to reject rumours he is set to depart as Ferrari’s team boss. Reports throughout the Abu Dhabi weekend suggested the Roman and former Ferrari North America chief, who arrived at Maranello in April to replace the suddenly-ousted Stefano Domenicali, is on the verge of himself being replaced.
The rumours say Marlboro executive and F1 Commission member Maurizio Arrivabene, or perhaps even Ross Brawn, are set to succeed Mattiacci. When asked if Abu Dhabi was his last race, Mattiacci said on Sunday: “At the moment I am very focused on my job just as I was when I started in April.”
It is obvious, however, that more changes may be afoot at Maranello.
Piero Ferrari, the great Enzo Ferrari’s only living son, was trackside in Abu Dhabi and he answered “I don’t know” as to whether Brawn is set to return. But when asked if the team’s former technical director parted on good terms a decade ago, however, Ferrari insisted: “Yes.”