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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite 2004 – Enigmatic Carlos rides the Prancing Horse again
On this day – ten years ago my namesake, Carlos Reutemann, took the the track in the championship winning Ferrari at Fiorano. Since his departure from the Italian squad after the 1978 season this was the second time he would drive an official Ferrari with the works team.
His first demonstration run came during the Argentinian Grand Prix weekend in 1995, driving a glorious V12 412 TB which proved the old enigmatic masters skills were still evident.
Fast forward nine years and he attended an invitation to test one of the current cars: “It was an unforgettable experience. The car is impressive, especially in terms of the power from the engine. It is completely different to the car that I drove in my day. Watching on television Formula One today can look easy, but having tried it myself I can guarantee you that is not the case.”
A legendary driver who on his day was simply unbeatable and yet the demons would counter his ability and would ultimately cost him the 1981 title.
The Grumpy Jackal
McLaren power struggle intensifies
McLaren have spent much of this season prevaricating, since Martin Whitmarsh announced during the autumn of 2013, that the Woking team would be announcing a title sponsor on December third. This never happened.
The team were never going to sign a one-year title sponsor, given in their history they have only ever had 4 title sponsors – and that Honda would become both title sponsor and engine partner.
The apparent indecision over their driver line up for 2015, is not a reflection on which drivers have been analysed as best for their cash infusion vs on track capabilities, but more an indication of an intense political struggle taking place within the team.
On the Sky F1 show, Eric Boullier was categorical. “There is no problem, it is just taking the time to consider what is good for McLaren. Unfortunately I cannot give you any tips as I do not know. No decision has been taken yet”.
It is beyond dispute, that the choice between Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen is obvious, should the criteria be who will score the most points for the team over a season.
Magnussen flattered to deceive with a second place in Australia – 18 points – yet finished the season with a mere 55 points to Jenson’s 126. During the last 10 races of the season from Germany to Abu Dhabi, Button scored 65 points to the Dane’s questionable 18.
“I know there are a lot of fans, Jenson’s fans, Kevin’s fans, other drivers’ fans and hopefully some McLaren fans,” says Eric, “but it is just about taking the right decision for the future, not only for next year but also for the next years.”
Boullier continues, “Our responsibility is to make McLaren win again and I would be happy because both drivers are terrific drivers,” the racing director added. “Jenson is obviously a world champion and we would love to carry on with both of them, but we have to decide what is the best position for the team.”
The F1 world expects Fernando Alonso to be announced as McLaren driver, yet is there a hint in Boullier’s rhetoric which suggests that he – and by default – Ron Dennis have other preferences?
Certain media outlets would have us believe that the decision is all about sponsors, and Ron Dennis has been bending Lego’s arm to join McLaren as a major sponsor.
Really? Lego McLaren Honda? – well that could explain a thing or two.
Remember, it was Alonso who made his position clear back in September 2013, when rumours were rife he may be considering a return to the Woking team. “There were so many rumours that we had a lot of problems that year  but I always said that there are no problems with anyone, it was just the philosophy of the team, especially one man in the team that is not there [anymore]”.
Yes, and at that time Martin Whitmarsh was in charge of the McLaren race team and also the CEO of McLaren Group, whilst Ron Dennis was apparently out in the cold.
Of course Big Ron did attempt to put to bed the idea that he had any personal grudge against Alonso for his part in exposing the ‘spygate’ affair which cost McLaren a $50m fine and a loss of around $70m in prize money when the team was disqualified from the championship in 2007 following Alonso’s revelations.
“Fernando would be welcome back at McLaren,” the McLaren supremo stated back in May this year. “You’re surprised that I’m talking about Fernando? I don’t have any problem – the most important thing is for us to win again. In 2015 we have the Honda engine and we need a great driver.”
However, at that time, TJ13 learned that the final detail on the Honda contribution to the joint effort going forward was being finalised, and it could just be Ron Dennis did not wish to appear obstinate over a driver.
So the F1 media have speculated merrily away as to who will partner Alonso at McLaren next year The list of candidates produced has been pretty much restricted to Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen or even Stoffel Vandoorme.
However, TJ13 sources have revealed, it is Alonso & Dennis who have been the sticking point – and there may yet be a rather big surprise in store.
The idea of a power struggle between a driver and the team boss who made McLaren great, is more than surprising. But for now – it is uncertain whether both will be part of the Woking F1 race team in 2015 – unless huge helpings of humble pie are shared.
Hamilton doesn’t want ‘easy’ victories
An F1 driver is by definition a competitive animal. From childhood in karts, they strive to attain perfection in every discipline, they train at the same level as Olympic athletes and they fight for every victory in similar cars to their opposition.
When they finally arrive in the upper echelon of motor sport, these competitive animals goal is to continue winning and ultimately take the top honour of World Title glory. Part of achieving requires a driver to align themselves with a team that has both the required funding and technical infrastructure to deliver those aims.
If the team delivers for a period a dominant car, then driver can secure the ultimate glory they crave. That said, unless the fight for the title is a close fought affair – as when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost shared the spoils in their personal battles over 1988 & 1989 – then the satisfaction derived from the ultimate prize may be somewhat diminished.
Whilst there is little doubt Michael Schumacher deserved his tally of seven entries on the FIA record books, it is not known if he enjoyed his harder fought battles more than the dominant years, where only his team-mate offered a semblance of competition.
however, Lewis Hamilton was in reflective mood after his recent success and picking up the trophy at the FIA awards on Friday.
“I don’t think you ever want to have it easy, you always want to have a fight. Easy championships, I don’t know, they’re just not as… you want that climax.”
“This one definitely feels sweeter than the first,” Lewis claims. “But that’s probably just because I’m older and because of what I’ve gone through to get to this one and the decisions that I’ve taken and all those kinds of things. For the next one – if there is another one – at least in the championships I’m going into I want to fight as high as possible and try to work on and improve on the things that are not strong enough and could be better but overall it’s been an incredible year and I’ve been very blessed to have a great team around me.”
“Going into next season, you’re hoping that you’ll be competitive again, you hope you’ll have a chance to fight for the championship again. The good thing about this period of time in Formula One is that when I won the championship in 2008, the following year we had a year like this with some new rules and regulations and as a team we didn’t do a good job to adapt to that, so I didn’t have a chance to fight to keep my championship. Next year will be an evolution of this year’s car so I’m hoping that we’ll be at least able to fight.”
Alonso saddened at Leaving Ferrari
Although the paymasters at Woking haven’t officially confirmed his arrival, Fernando Alonso has spoken of his sadness at leaving the Italian giants after five years together.
“It is very difficult to close the door on Ferrari knowing that I will not work in this red colour next year. That’s a very, very difficult decision to make, but I guess that was the same for Felipe last year – after a long relationship saying bye-bye to the team.”
“But I miss being on the podium, I miss celebrating with champagne, I miss to celebrate winning races, winning titles, and I think a new project for me will bring that possibility closer. Maybe not in one year’s time, but in the future I have no doubts I will fight again.”
The F1 media, as one, believe that the Spaniard is an extremely difficult man to work with and the UK publication Autosport reported last fall that an ex-Renault engineer said Fernando was “the most difficult driver he’s ever worked with..”. Even this season, the Italian media has at times reported that disgruntled Ferrrari engineers claimed the Asturian was ‘persona non grata…’
Yet Alonso states that everything written may not necessarily be the case. “It seems the people who work with me give me one door open when it is normally the opposite of what I read – that I am very difficult to work with. I went from Renault to McLaren, and then I went back to Renault; I come to Ferrari, maybe I come back to the team. At the end of the day, the teams I work with I can come back to, so that is a good sign.”\
Truli says smaller teams’ add nothing to F1’
Formula E team boss and driver, Jarno Truli, has attacked the smaller F1 teams, “Unfortunately, Bernie Ecclestone was right when he says that some teams are just disorganised. They add nothing to Formula One.”
Truli recognises the history of small teams, but believes their role has changed. He told blogF1.it, “It is true that small teams have always been there, but in the past they were good teams”.
“Minardi – for example – they had young drivers but not just because they pay but because they had talent; most of them then stepped up in F1, but I doubt a Caterham or Marussia driver will make the same leap”.
Having praised Ecclestone for his shrewd analysis of the state of the modern back of the grid teams, Jarno adds, “The big mistake F1 made was letting the manufacturers go elsewhere. This marked the end of the golden age, during which I had the honour to be able to live.
“Today the situation is totally different, with a few real teams and many other small teams trying to stay alive.”
Sometimes it’s important to know who commissioned the opinion poll and why someone may be claiming what they do.
Jarno Truli conveniently forgets that the failure to control escalating costs in Formula One – which Ecclestone did little to assist with – was the reason manufacturers left the sport.
Then again, Truli has no love for Caterham or Tony Fernandes – who hauled him from the green goddess on the final day of Jerez testing – because his lap times were not impressing the sponsors.
Heikki Kovalainen was quickly recalled from the golf course and drove the Caterham car for the final afternoon of the test.
Truli was formally replaced by Vitaly Petrov for the remainder of the season at the next winter test in Barcelona.
Ecclestone critical of both Vettel and Alonso
Having spent most of 2014, stating the new V6 Turbo engines were a disaster for Formula One, suggesting race promoters had been short changed on their contracts and finally deriding the midfield teas of Sauber, Force India and Lotus as “idiots” and “beggars”, Bernie Ecclestone has his say on the F1.com season review.
“I’m a super supporter of Sebastian, but I’m a little bit disappointed with his attitude, which I think has changed; he’s acting like a defeated guy, and he isn’t – that’s not his mentality”.
Alonso too receives short shrift form the soon to be ex-F1 supremo. “Fernando got a little bit like Sebastian halfway through [the season], so I’m a little disappointed in him, too.”
Let’s see what the obituaries say when the dust has settled regarding Ecclestone’s attitude and behaviour during 2014, though the majority of the F1 accredited media may not feel it ‘appropriate’ to write anything at all – and if they do it could be rose tinted with line after line – sugared with sweet, sweet candy.
Message from Lewis
Hats on together at dinner… Ahhh.
Yet once again Lewis tweet is the source of amusement on twitter, as the like of @SniffPetrol question why he is celebrating eating roast ‘God’.
@almightrex responded, “I hope he doesn’t mean dog”
Other commentators questioned whether it was very British or mannerly to be wearing one’s hat at the dinner table.
Whilst another commentator wondered whether Lewis’ phone may have auto corrected ‘goose’ to ‘god’.
Another picture tweeted from Lewis is discovered and the pot is stirred a little more
“Think hats are acceptable here. But seriously, JUST GET A TROLLEY”, is one suggestion.
Another wag observes, “Note, in that Waitrose pic they’re standing in the front of the fish section.
Lewis clearly believes it is important for him to repeatedly tell the world he believes in God and is therefore blessed – or maybe he realised he was blessed and so then believed in God.
It matters not. But in true martyr-like fashion, Lewis persists with his evangelistic theocratic message – despite all the mocking – Hamilton stands firm and will not be moved.
Shout out to Estonia
In the past 13 weeks, TJ13 is the 1,003rd most read internet site by all Estonian IP addresses. Say hello in the comments section you good people from the east of Europe.
Further, each visitor has been spending on average 3:31mins on the site – up over 100% on the start of the year.
Around half our visitors on average read more than one page per day.