#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 26th November 2014


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Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Romanians in the cupboard

OTD Lite: 1958 – The FIA made a decision for the benefit of the sport

Mclaren-Honda’s stuttering start (UPDATE 10:24 GMT AND &15:51 GMT)

Alonso mocks Ferrari’s ‘Marlboro Man’ shakeup

Bottas’ managers play down Ferrari ‘rumours’

OTD Lite: 1958 – The FIA made a decision for the benefit of the sport

In the early 21st century, we have grown accustomed to the FIA being a toothless monolith that fails to make change for the advancement of the sport. Jean Todt repeatedly displays an antipathy to making decisions and it is left to the leech commonly known as Bernie to run the port into the ground.

Yet several generations ago, the FIA approved the use of fire-retardant overalls for the drivers – who counted many amongst them being killed in the infernos that could consume a car after a crash. In fact just weeks before, Stuart Lewis-Evans died from his burns after a crash in Morocco. Ironically a man that was managed by the Suffolk Toad.

The Avon tyre company had pioneered the research into this new technology and despite the fire retardation only functioning when they were dry – the design has developed into the multi branded apparel that the drivers wear today. Of course the danger of fire was and remains extremely dangerous but the progress over the decades has reduced the risk considerably. Witness Gerhard Berger’s dramatic accident..

The Grumpy Jackal


Mclaren-Honda’s stuttering start

Mclaren fans have been holding their breath ever since the announcement that the Woking team and Honda were to go into partnership again. Would the 2014 Honda resemble the all-conquering Japanese outfit from a quarter of a century ago or would they emulate the lacklustre performances of the BAR-Honda era.

Rumours have been floating around for some considerable time that the Japanese are months behind schedule, and that they are approaching the project following the ‘Honda’ philosophy, which is to build towards peak performance.

After the first test run in Abu Dhabi yesterday, it is clearly too early to predict the true level of capability and whilst observers have reported that the Honda PU sounds better than the rest of the field – this in itself may not necessarily a good thing. There was substantial discussion in Formula One earlier this year about ‘noise’ and performance, and the F1 engineers maintained that incremental sound is a result of inefficient deployment of the energy available

McLaren Honda’s morning run was curtailed due to an ERS problem, whilst in the afternoon Belgian driver – Stoffel Vandoorne – completed just three laps. “I think we had some problems with data-logging, but we are still not 100% sure, the team is still analyzing everything. And ‘the same problem we encountered on the second lap, so we hope to find a solution for tomorrow

The fault was finally traced to difficulties with the fuel/data exchange. Vandoorne added “First of all, solve the issues we had today and then see if we can get more laps in. Every lap is very valuable because after these two days we will have two months’ time to come up with new ideas for next year. Hopefully we will get in more laps for tomorrow.”

Day One in winter testing in Jerez this year looked like this

1 Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m27.104s (31 laps)
2 Hamilton (Mercedes), 1m27.820s (18 laps)
3 Bottas (Williams), 1m30.082s (7 laps)
4 Perez (Force India), 1m33.161s (11 laps)
5 Vergne (Toro Rosso), 1m36.530s (15 laps)
6 Gutierrez (Sauber), 1m42.257s (7 laps)
7 Vettel (Red Bull), no time (3 laps)
8 Ericsson (Caterham), no time (1 lap)

McLaren Honda completed just 3 laps yesterday, which is on a par with Red Bull’s performance back in January, so the comparison to yesterday’s running by the other teams is not really appropriate.

Abu Dhabi test day 1

1. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1m 43.396s, 80 laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m 43.888s, 81 laps
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1m 44.512s, 114 laps
4. Jolyon Palmer, Force India, 1m 45.516s, 37 laps
5. Carlos Sainz, Red Bull, 1m 45.339s, 100 laps
6. Will Stevens, Caterham, 1m 45.436s, 102 laps
7. Charles Pic, Lotus, 1m 46.167s, 89 laps
8. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1m 46.253s, 95 laps
9. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1m 47.194s, 55 laps
10. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, no time, 3 laps

Ron Dennis despite this start is confident that McLaren will be “strong” in 2015. “As a team and with Honda, we understand the challenges of these new power units and I am in a position to say that we will be strong,”

Whether Honda are at the races or not, Dennis argues the MP4-30 will be a far better car anyway. “You have to realise something: the group that designed the 2015 car is completely different to the one that did the last two.”

It is believed as many as 50 changes have been made in McLaren personnel to the design and engineering staff who work on the prototype vehicles for the following year.


Once again McLaren Honda hit problems on the morning of the second Abu Dhabi test.

Eric Boullier was honest in his assessment. “Overnight it went very well – a couple of issues, but things we could unplug and run without. We fired up at six o’clock and everything was fine; the car was on the ground ready to run at eight-thirty, driver in”.

As the session began 30 minutes later, the Frenchman revealed, “then something went wrong, which obliged us to take off all the battery pack again.” Today’s problem is apparently different to the one McLaren suffered yesterday”. 

Amusingly, Boullier explained, “Electricity is complicated – you plug in and something goes wrong, you fix it, re-plug and something goes wrong somewhere else,” 

“We are just chasing, but I understand we are closing in on the problems”.


Well McLaren have been chasing another set of problems today, which again resulted in no running worth talking about.

After finally completing an installation lap this afternoon, the MP4-20H returned to the pits on the back of a recovery truck

Pascal Wehrlein, Mercedes test driver, set the pace and Marcus Ericsson pumped in the most laps by any driver for his new team for 2015 – Sauber.

Having committed the cardinal sin of putting your new team’s cr into the wall yesterday, Max Verstappen had a solid outing for Toro Rosso and was third quickest overall.

However, he was eclipsed by GP2 race winner this year, Raffaele Marciello, who gaev hope to the Tifosi that 2015 may just turn out better than 2014.

Despite being comprehensively outperformed by Kamui Kobayashi during the Abu Dhabi race weekend, Will Stevens delivered a hopeful 76 laps for Caterham and was 5th quickest overall. Though despite the prmises of a showcase to potential buyers, there is still no news from Acting Team Principal and Administrator, Finbar O’Connell.

Another débutante Richard ‘Spike’ Goaddard was on show today, as he appeared to struggle in getting to terms with the Force India car. However the team tested a “Fan Info Wing” this morning, which may be used in 2015 in an attempt to provide fans with an idea who is driving the car since the advent of what appears to be almost weekly helmet design changes.


Presumably the Info Wing is for the less intuitive F1 observer, as it also displays the typre of tyre compound being run on the car. The wing has been designed by Lewis Hamilton’s father, Anthony.


Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 1m42.624s 96
2 Raffaele Marciello Ferrari 1m43.208s 0.584s 91
3 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m43.763s 1.139s 78
4 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m44.551s 1.927s 112
5 Will Stevens Caterham/Renault 1m44.888s 2.264s 76
6 Richard Goddard Force India/Mercedes 1m44.944s 2.320s 89
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m45.151s 2.527s 88
8 Luiz Felipe Nasr Williams/Mercedes 1m45.937s 3.313s 83
9 Alex Lynn Lotus/Renault 1m46.168s 3.544s 52
10 Esteban Ocon Lotus/Renault 1m47.013s 4.389s 34
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 2


Clearly the past two days have been unhelpful for McLaren Honda, but it is also not a disaster. However, the team must hit the ground running day one in Jerez 2015 and be running comparable mileage to the rest of the field, otherwise the catchup process will mean another long and tortuous year for the Woking team and their Japanese partners.



Alonso mocks Ferrari’s ‘Marlboro Man’ shakeup

Fernando Alonso has wasted no time in strongly distancing himself from Ferrari, where he spent the past five seasons as the fabled team’s ‘number 1’ driver. On Tuesday, the Spaniard appeared to be openly laughing at the Maranello team’s latest managerial shakeup, after Ferrari split with team boss Marco Mattiacci.

Alonso ‘retweeted’ a photo showing him grinning broadly as his friend Flavio Briatore posed with an unlit cigarette in his mouth and an open Marlboro packet as they dined in a restaurant. It was obviously a reference to the ‘Marlboro Man’, as Mattiacci’s successor is Mauruzio Arrivabene, until now a branding executive for Philip Morris. Not only that, it seems that at some point after the chequered flag waved in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, Alonso symbolically ‘unfollowed’ the Ferrari team on Twitter.

Meanwhile, although he was photographed in plain clothes in the Ferrari garage on Tuesday, Alonso’s successor Sebastian Vettel was reportedly unhappy with the Italian team on his first day of work at the Abu Dhabi test. That is because when asked by Germany’s Sport Bild what he thought of Mattiacci’s departure, Vettel appeared to have not been told the news first-hand.

“Is it true?” he asked the correspondent.

The report said Vettel reacted by telling Ferrari he was disappointed to have not been informed about the major shakeup. Finally, when asked by Brazil’s Globo if he will be accompanying Alonso from Ferrari to McLaren next year, the Spanish driver’s race engineer Andrea Stella answered clearly: “Yes.

Former F1 driver David Coulthard admits he has some concerns about Ferrari’s 2015 driver lineup, despite Vettel and Raikkonen’s combined five career titles.

Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari was the worst season for one of their drivers since 1982,” he told the Telegraph, adding that Vettel also “looked a shadow of himself” in 2014. “The German did not like the new formula, he did not like the engines,” Coulthard explained. “That is fair enough, but his mantra seemed to affect his ability to perform.” (GMM)


Bottas’ managers play down Ferrari ‘rumours’ (GMM)

Valtteri Bottas’ managers have played down rumours linking the on-form Finn with a move to Ferrari. Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport reported this week that, perhaps in view of replacing its current Finn Kimi Raikkonen in 2016, Ferrari has made exploratory advances towards 25-year-old Bottas in recent days.

With his sixth podium of the season in Abu Dhabi, Bottas actually leapfrogged 2015 Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel to take fourth place in this year’s points standings. In light of the Ferrari rumours, however, Bottas’ current boss, Claire Williams, said the British team is determined to keep its driver beyond next year.

And Toto Wolff, who not only doubles as the Mercedes team boss, a Williams shareholder but also Bottas’ overall manager, is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper as describing the Ferrari link as just “rumours”.

Also on Bottas’ management team is the two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen, who told Ilta-Sanomat newspaper this week: “Valtteri will continue with Williams next year. It is still far too early to talk about 2016, but he is definitely heading in the right direction.”

Valtteri has had a fantastic season,” Finn Hakkinen added. “He has had two second places and four other podiums, which has been ideal to show just what a great job he is doing for Williams.(GMM)


65 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 26th November 2014

  1. Re. Alonso mocking Ferrari

    It was more like Flavio mocking them and Fred smiling. But i would like to know the thoughts of the judge as well as Hippo on the state of kimi and vettel. Mattiacci kept praising Kimi and was instrumental in signing vettel. But now that he is gone, would kimi and vettel be whipped up for better performances by new bosses (both the new TP and the prez.).

    • Apparently he is still following @ferrari (i suppose a newer twitter account by ferrari which has only 125 tweets) as opposed to @scuderiaferrari that exisiting since 2010

    • As for Vettel showing up in the Ferrari garage yesterday, this was Helmut Marko’s reaction:
      “… Dr Helmut Marko pointed out that it is technically a breach of contract. “Legally, it’s not ok,” the Red Bull official told Germany’s Auto Bild, “but I couldn’t care less.” … “

      • “… Dr Helmut Marko pointed out that it is technically a breach of contract. “Legally, it’s not ok,” the Red Bull official told Germany’s Auto Bild, “but I couldn’t care less.” … “

        Why mention it, then – unless to score a petty point ?
        And in any event, technically he’s quite probably wrong.

    • I think Vettel will be in better shape at Ferrari, even if the car has deficiencies. It certainly was reliable. The constant breaking-down of his car frustrated him this year and also cost about 1.500km of track mileage. A lot will also depend on the updated bbw system, which was Vettel’s big achilles heel as he didn’t get any reliable feedback from the breaking system.

  2. Berger Crash: it took 14 sec from standing car to the first fire extinguisher shot. This is crazy good compared to some crashes in the last seasons.

    • @CraigG

      Hi there and welcome

      No worries, it is not against our mod policy – we are huge believers in the freedom and power of social media. Plus we are constrained by the breadth of news coverage we can bring.

      In our new website – we hope to have a section where fans can post short introductions to a news story and the link to that article. Then we can all debate a wider number of topics here.

      By the way – how did you find TJ13?

  3. RE McLaren-Honda

    Another electrical fault this morning. Still not out. This resembles more and more the troubles Renault encountered earlier this year.

    • Best to get these issues ironed out now so when it comes time for the winter testing, they should hopefully be able to get some good running in.

    • Eric the believable doesn’t see it as a problem, as he said, “the samething happened to Renault during testing last year and look where they finished”

    • Better to have these kinds of issues now, so they have time to diagnose the problems and come up with solutions so they can hit the ground running at the winter tests. I’d view the filming day and the Abu Dhabi test as a shakedown rather than McLaren really pushing the Honda Power train to it’s limits. Sure the team might have wanted to see how fast the car went through the speed traps, but it’s an interim car and a power train that’s not the final product.

      As for the sound ? They might not be running the wastegate on the turbo fully etc We will probably get a better idea of where McLaren and Honda are after the tests and the first 2 or 3 races. I suspect it might well be a year of development pain for McLaren and Honda.

      • Honda’s last F1 engine entry was pretty lame no matter the parameters it was based upon. likewise for the last 2 days with McLaren electronics issues.
        I get that the Indycar engine is from a different Corp branch and that “Chevy” really ain’t a Chevy, but Honda has failed to impress even there for the last few years in performance results AND mileage reliability…
        even without the rumors of being “behind”, I have previously (and still) suggest Honda will be duly embarrassed in 2015 and going forward.
        IMHO, team results follow it’s “leader’s” capabilities – therefore, I see NO significant McLaren/Honda results in the foreseeable future, regardless of the driver line-up.
        and “their” handling of that has been bullcrap to say the least…

  4. One more thing. I have read in GP247 that the strategy group yesterday has scrapped standing restarts after safety car for 2015. Is it true?

  5. Apart from McLaren Honda, what are the other teams actually testing? I’m sure it won’t be next year’s chassis or PU, so what? Just some aero?

    • @Craig, as pointed out by one Christian Horner last year with regards the ‘Illegal’ Merc/Pirelli test, “every time you run an F1 car on track, you are always learning something.” So I guess with ‘real world’ testing (as opposed to CFD & Wind tunnel) so limited, any chance to say, improve on the how well the wind tunnel, CFD and on track performances correlate or try out new parts (internal as well as external) is going to be jumped at by the teams, look how much testing they did pre-2009, drivers and teams would test 3 days a week on track, hence why Ferrari are against the testing restrictions as they have 2 test tracks of their own, with 1 right next to their factory, on which Shumi would pound round at every opportunity, testing tyres and car set up as well as new parts . Nothing can 100% make up for track time, especially when only a 60% size model can be use in wind tunnel testing, so their is always a degree of inaccuracy when trying to work out on paper how a part will operate when scaled up to full-size and in race conditions. CFD will improve with the more data you can give it to do the calculations, but the only way of getting that data is to run on track, not to mention the work you can do with tyres during testing, for example the effect the tyre deformation under load and during change of direction on the aerodynamics as well as pressures, cambers, warm up etc. There is also nothing to say that the Engine Manufacturers are not testing out a version of their own new power unit, or altering the ancillary systems internally. The also don’t need to conform to regulations, because it is testing, they can run any configuration or parts they want.
      These are just the 1st few things that spring to mind when talking about what is done and achieved when testing on track, even at the end of the season, so I guess the engineers will have a list s long as your arm of things they want testing.

  6. Re-Bottas to Ferrari
    I really hope that Williams continues to push Mercedes and be best of the rest so that Bottas feels his best hope of challenging for podiums and wins is with them. It would be such a shame if just as he blooms into a top flight driver he is lured away from Williams after all the effort, support and faith they have put I to helping him develop. It would be amazing if Bottas could become a WDC with Williams, they are going the right way that’s that’s clear to see, maybe if Merc get a another WCC next season and everyone

    • Unless Ferrari pull something amazing out of the hat, and Williams slump again (I can’t see that now as Williams have a fantastic group fo people now, and of course a lot more prize fund to play with) then I can’t see Ferrari being a desirable destination. I don’t believe that Williams will not be ‘allowed’ to fight Mercedes, even if there was some agreement early season. There have been, and are, far too many conspiracy theories floating around about F1. I think Williams will be the best place to be anyway 2015-2016+

      • @Adam Parsons THIS IS NOT A CONSPIRACY
        Rob Smedley said with his own mouth when questioned by Ted Kravitz live on sky in Abu Dhabi, that Williams cannot use higher engine modes than the Works team is using to beat them, as engines would become over stressed and then there is a risk of a breakdown for the Works team, denying them the constructors points and even if it was the Williams engine that blew, it still doesn’t look so good as it is a Merc engine anyway
        . Smedley also quipped, “we have to beat them in other areas” , which to me means things such as tyre use and aero efficiency and strategy.

    • I get that Bottas is doing really well, BUT I see Massa as having really come alive in the last 1/3 of this season. don’t misread me here. am not a Massa fan and nobody was more vocal in calling for his seat and ass a few years ago with Ferrari. I DO think it very clearly points to just how fragile and difficult the entire team concept is regarding hero or zero… with no disrespect intended, I just cannot jump on the Bottas is a future WDC bandwagon. very good for sure, but not ready to make that leap just yet.

  7. Re-Bottas to Ferrari
    I really hope that Williams continues to push Mercedes and be best of the rest so that Bottas feels his best hope of challenging for podiums and wins is with them. It would be such a shame if just as he blooms into a top flight driver he is lured away from Williams after all the effort, support and faith they have put I to helping him develop. It would be amazing if Bottas could become a WDC with Williams, they are going the right way that’s that’s clear to see, maybe if Merc get a another WCC next season and everyone learners more about the PU’s to the point where Williams are allowed to run their engines in the way they want and not controlled by the Merc engineers, it was alluded to at the weekend just gone that Williams are not allowed to run a higher engine mode that the Works team, which is a real shame. Would love to see Williams back on top before sir Frank is too old to really appreciate it.

  8. More breaking news…….

    JeV has confirmed his departure from Torro Rosso…..

    “good season & 22 pts, I’ll not drive anymore for Toro Rosso in 2015,” Vergne said via Twitter. “Thanks for those years. Let’s go for another big challenge.”

    Following Sunday’s race, TK alluded that he could be joining Williams has their reserve driver and maybe a possible replacement for Massa when his contract is up.

    • F1 Metrics: “My models now show that Hulkenberg and Vergne are the best drivers never to have stood on the podium” – Arguably, Hulk has shown race winning potential in a Force India, and Vergne would have definitely got podiums if moving up to a Red Bull.

    • But yes, waiting at Williams for Massa to retire is a good strategy, that would be a move up the grid.. as long as they don’t get back Nasr to continue the Brazilian sponsorships, if he develops well. Bottas could also go to Mercedes too, should they look to cut costs.

          • I still think a French squad would be great, backed by Renault.. probably at Lotus – Grosjean, Vergne, Pic, with Ocon coming along nicely as well. RoGro and JEV the best of this generation, Ocon/Gasly the next.

  9. RE McLaren’s run today

    Eric the believable had this to say:

    “So to be honest with you, having the chance to try to run it yesterday or today for us is just a bonus on top of everything because behind the scenes the most important thing is building the cooperation between both companies, running operations, which obviously is one of the key topics.

    “Yes, firing up the engine and running it is one, but what people need to understand as well is behind the scenes there are maybe 200 people working together and you need to make these people work together properly. So everything we do today, even if we don’t run, is positive anyway for the future. It’s frustrating, we want to run, but it’s positive anyway.”

    So let me translate it for you:

    “Our priority is getting McLaren and Honda working as one unit. The engine is not a priority right now. This is a long-term project and it will take time”

    In other words:

    SH!T, WE’RE CR@P

    • Who in November last year had a new powertrain running in a car ?
      You are jumping to conclusions far too soon, IMO.

      If they don’t get full days of running at Jerez, then I’ll start to worry about them. Right now not so much.

      • My starting point are assertions by Honda that they’ll have a really powerful engine and by Dennis that they will be challenging for wins.
        Based on what I’ve seen, they’re a far cry from this. Don’t compare this year with last year. Everyone was starting with a blank canvas. Right now the others have one year under their belt and Honda start with a blank canvas.
        There’s no way they’ll be any close to Merc, doubt they’ll be able to beat Williams to 2nd spot, they might get 3rd spot in a battle with a Ferrari in turmoil and a Newey-less Red Bull.

        • I’m not sure that’s 100% true – last year, everyone started with a blank canvas. This year, Honda are starting with some tracing paper over Mercedes’ canvas 😉

        • To clarify, I’m obviously being a little flippant there, but with the amount of information available to even armchair engineers like us you’d be able to start off with a better idea of how to go about doing things than the teams were when they initially started planning for 2014. I imagine that Honda (or McLaren, on their behalf) will have tried to glean as much information as possible about the Mercedes power train throughout the 2014 season so it’s not like they’re having to go into designing and developing their own as blindly as Renault/Ferrari/Mercedes were previously.

        • @McLaren78 Ye of little faith…..
          Nope. I absolutely refuse to sink to your low outlook.
          There’s a lot of new componentry to be sorted to work together, plus to incorporate tricks learned and moved forward from the McLaren Mercedes 2014 experience.

    • Or…..

      “Sorry Alonso, I don’t think you’ll be starting in your usual 5th place, you’ll have to get use to being a bit further down on the grid”

      • How silly do all these comments by Alonso sound now? “I’m really excited” “My fans will be really excited”…mmm, think not!

        • Well, even this year’s McLaren was an improvement on the Ferrari, so he was probably looking to move up the grid, not backwards… awful predicament for the driver of the year. If Honda can get anywhere near Mercedes (and the car isn’t a dud), then Alonso will be in the title hunt.

  10. RE McLaren’s run today
    We all know about Eric the believable here and we all have a fair idea about how Rons mind operates (not how it works I might add). Let’s say there are a few of us here that would be delighted if Honda proves to be an unmitigated disaster, Ron gets turfed out of McLaren on his manicured hole, Jenson gets to say thank God I didn’t stay with them and Mansour Ojeh gets control of the company in which he is the biggest single investor.
    This Ron is what you will hopefully get for going behind the back of a man in hospital to get control of what you still consider to be your baby and treating both your current drivers with nothing short of contempt. The man is truly an arch prick. It’s a wonder he doesn’t have another facial scar by now to match the existing one….especially when one considers (I can’t possibly write this!) 🍻 Speaking of which…….

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