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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite – Hamilton starts his ascent
Unlike the British press, I am not about to go falling over myself to write lyrically about our divine champion Lewis. Ultimately, I’m Italian and for my penance I have to suffer season after miserable season after miserable season – you get the picture – of Ferrari mediocrity. Oh to have a German driver join the team again… what’s that you say?
I like Hammy. Shock, horror, really I do. But in la la land, where I live, anybody driving for Mclaren is automatically the enemy so until he joined Mercedes he was quite simply despicable.
On this day eight years ago, Lewis parked his derriere in the moulded seat of the Mclaren MP4/21 and began his final ascent to the pinnacle of the sport.
The Grumpy Jackal
Ferrari and Red Bull veto change in the F1 Commission
Details are beginning to emerge of the machinations which took place in Geneva on Tuesday this week. There was a meeting of the F1 strategy group and one for the F1 commission.
The former includes 6 delegates from the FIA, 6 delegates from FOM and a delegate from each of the teams, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, Williams and Lotus.
Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren in effect between them created a filibuster, to the effect that a mere 6 of the 29 items up for discussion were addressed.
It was agreed that double points would go and that there would be no standing starts following a safety car period.
What is not clear is what has been agreed over the pit to car radio transmissions. TJ13 sources do not agree whether there will be a return to the rules as at the beginning of the 2014 season – or whether the current restrictions will remain.
Despite the agreement by all team principals which form part of the strategy group at the FIA press conference on Friday, that the smaller teams could run 2014 specification engines, an important change occurred.
Marco Mattiacci’s place at the table had been taken by Sergio Marchionne – and despite the former Ferrari man’s public assent to this cost reduction action, Marchionne said that Ferrari would veto this course of action, and so the matter stays out in the cold.
There were discussions over a more equitable distribution of income amongst all the F1 participants. Once again Ferrari vetoed this along with Red Bull, whilst Mercedes, Williams and McLaren were open to this course of action.
To the topic which is not a topic but a propaganda exercise – the ‘unfreeze’ of the engine regulations for 2015.
Let’s be clear, there is no freeze on changes in engine design, just a restriction that only 47% of the engine’s architecture can be altered.
All three engine manufacturers have been working on their new designs for 2015 for months, the issue is whether the engines for 2015 versions of the new V6 turbo PU’s should once again become a free for all in design – a spend as much as you like project again – and a back to the drawing board exercise. This is unsurprisingly the view of Red Bull and Ferrari.
Renault have been cautious in their comment on this matter, because funding for a massive engine change would be provided by Red Bull. To this end the very existence of Renault’s F1 engine manufacturing base, Viry-Châtillon may be under threat.
As the EU commission delves into the legalities of how Cartel’s in Formula One may be operating and whether the FIA and FOM are in contravention of a previous ruling the Commission made over the sport’s illegal governance, the “Fat Cats” of the world of Formula One, squabble and scratch at each other – not even capable of fiddling whilst the fires of destruction lick around their heels.
The F1 Strategy Group and the F1 Commission, to the outsider, appear to have thrown F1 governance into chaos. Even a return to the regulatory dominion of the FIA under Jean Todt appears at present to be a Nirvana; a veritable oasis of tranquility and order, when compared to the self-destructive anarchy portrayed to the world at large by the F1 players current performances.
Vettel ready to wait
Patience indeed is a virtue afforded to, seemingly, only the chosen ones in life. Gone are the days of waiting for something, as we have entered an age of technological advancement and capability whereby anything and everything is possible – and NOW.
Formula One is no different with many drivers expecting success in an instant. The answer to a problem is often to launch oodles of moula at a project and hope it works and works quickly.
So to hear from a driver that he is prepared to wait for success to come is, is at the very least, refreshing.
The soon to be Ferrari driver, Sebastian Vettel says. “We don’t have to pretend that we can match Mercedes next year. I am aware that we face a big task at Ferrari which requires some time, especially at a time in which Mercedes have a huge competitive edge.”
Whether merely to soften the blow of another poor year or to ease his way into Maranello, this is a truly different start to that of Fernando Alonso at the Italian team, who went in with all guns blazing.
“First of all I want to prove that it was the right step – for Ferrari and for myself. That will take a while. I don’t expect the people to be fired up from the outset. You have to work for it.” A poignant statement, as he withdraws himself from the marque slightly, almost as if to say to the people working for the team – you are lucky to have me, so get to work.
Of course, the cynic may believe that Sebastian does not wish for the Red Team to build a super car for 2015, as it would do little to enhance his reputation. However, going up against Kimi, who has a legacy with Ferrari and a years head start, be a challenge in itself.
It has been suggested that Vettel is hoping to emulate the feats of his countryman – seven time World Champion Michael Schumacher – who ‘built’ the team up from ashes.
Yet the Ferrari establishment of the late 1990’s is a far cry from the current Maranello entity. Ferrari has a new chairman and third team principal in 8 months and the company looks likely to be sold by FCA to ‘who knows whom’ at present.
Also, the hope of alluring Ross Brawn back for one final hurrah appears now to have completely failed.
Yet Sebastian has on numerous occasions talked about how to drive for Ferrari was a childhood dream, emphasizing that Ferrari, “lives and has a soul.”
So for Seb, perhaps waiting a few years for success is not so tough, when you’ve waited a lifetime to climb into the cockpit of the famous Maranello racing machines
Red Bull suggests it was a “silly mistake”
In the dictionary, ‘silly‘ is defined as: having or showing a lack of common sense or judgement; absurd and foolish; while a ‘mistake‘ is defined as: an act or judgement that is misguided or wrong.
Speaking to Adam Cooper, the Red Bull hands-on consultant/boss said, “It was a silly mistake from our side. I would say it was a naïve interpretation of the regulations. We thought it was within the regulations.”
It is not unreasonable to conclude, that when something is repeated for days, months and even years, it no longer classified as a mistake – but the accepted norm. Therefore, to hear Dr Helmut Marko describe the flex in the Red Bull front wing as a ‘silly mistake’ – when it could flex to a far greater degree than an international guru yoga instructor – is amusing to say the least.
To have designed something so sophisticated, that the FIA were unable to spot it for the majority of a season – is anything but silly.
Interestingly the word is that the FIA only became aware of this due to the sacking of a certain senior mechanic.
The irony of Morko#s use of the term ‘naïve’ is seemingly lost on the Austrian, who blasted Mercedes for illegally testing tyres in Barcelona, back in 2013.
It was naïve of Mercedes to not have clarified the situation beyond the word of Charlie Whiting, it was naïve to use unmarked helmets – which Ross Brawn freely admitted after the debacle. The confusion from Helmut Marko comes as perhaps he feels Red Bull will be forgiven for this poor decision, if it is merely passed off as naïve.
Horner is complicit too. He gave a rhetorical performance at the Monaco GP in 2013, hosing down Mercedes in absolute terms. “What annoys me is that it was so underhand, and it makes a mockery of the rules.”
Vijay Mallya observed the mockery of the situation in Abu Dhabi when he tweeted how it was ‘ridiculous’ that a team receiving one of the largest pots of cash from the sport – found it necessary to cheat to stay ahead of the midfield teams like Force India.
On the whole Red Bull seem to have been forgiven for their ‘mistake’ over their fuel flow irregularities in Melbourne, which saw second place finisher Daniel Ricciardo disqualified.
As common wisdom states in many different ways, ‘Once is a mistake. Twice is a choice. Three times develops the habit.”
Two strikes in from the FIA in one season, for breach of design regulations, is dangerous territory for a front running team’s reputation – and it is will be interesting to see whether the Red Bull ‘leaf spring’ arrangement will be reported by the race stewards to the FIA for consideration of further action.
Winning may be addictive, but when achieving this repeatedly becomes more difficult; then winning at all costs may be seen as expedient.
Williams poaches sponsor from struggling Lotus
A major backer of the Lotus team has switched allegiances within the F1 pitlane. Earlier this year, amid the Enstone team’s slump from fourth in 2012 and 2013 to just eighth in the 2014 constructors’ standings, rumours emerged that the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever could switch from Lotus to McLaren.
Unilever has advertised its brands Rexona and Clear on the most recent Lotus cars. It has emerged that Williams is the actual beneficiary of the Unilever switch. In total contrast to Lotus, the Grove team emerged from the depths of ninth place in the 2013 standings to become one of dominant Mercedes’ only competitors this season.
The team announced in a statement: “The Rexona logo will appear on the sidepod, front wing and front wishbones of the (2015) Williams-Mercedes FW37, as well as the team environment and apparel.” Deputy boss Claire Williams said earlier this week that, given their resources, the British team can be directly compared with the similarly-sized Lotus.
“It is obvious,” she is quoted by France’s L’Equipe, “because like them, we get results with a budget half the size of the big teams. Lotus does have a different financial and operational structure to us. We are an independent team and we are also the only publicly listed one. It gives us a lot of transparency and it is a great asset because it reassures our partners.”
She also said that for a team like Williams, sporting and commercial success are “inextricably” linked.
“It (the interest of sponsors) really is picking up,” Williams told Reuters. “People want to be a part of it. We’ve got lots of really positive conversations going on in the pipeline. Success breeds success, doesn’t it?”
Hulkenberg goes “old school’ by contesting LeMans 2015
Nico Hulkenberg will contest next year’s Le Mans 24 hour race. It was announced in a statement that the full-time Force India driver will spearhead a third prototype entrant for the German manufacturer Porsche in the fabled sports car endurance race. Le Mans next year takes place on the vacant weekend between June’s Canadian and Austrian grands prix.
Porsche said German Hulkenberg, 27, will also contest the six-hour Spa race in May. “I am very pleased the 2015 formula one calendar allows for it,” said Hulkenberg, “and I’m grateful to Force India’s generosity to let me go for it. Now it’s up to me to work hard to satisfy both commitments,” he added.
Meanwhile, Hulkenberg told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that he arrived at the tail end of the 2014 season in an unusual situation — knowing that his F1 career is secure. “I was confirmed early for the following season for the first time in my career,” he said, “which is a nice feeling.”
He said he is optimistic Force India can have a strong 2015. “We definitely have the right power unit (Mercedes) in the rear,” said Hulkenberg. “Now it’s up to us to build a decent race car around it.”