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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite 1979 – Legendary Arnoux-Villeneuve battle
There are times when The Grump takes over and despite an intimate love of the history of the sport – there just is nothing to offer for today’s OTD. No races, no birthdays, no deaths… so I have taken writers license and will write about something that brings back the memories of why we all love this damn sport!
The French Grand Prix in 1979 has gone down in history as the first ever Renault victory in Formula One. Jean Pierre Jabouille guided his turbo-charged sled to victory and a place in the record books. Sadly, or maybe happily for the afficionados, the race has passed into legend because of a fierce battle between Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux.
The why’s and wherefores are not that important – all that matters, for me at least, is Ferrari were competitive and Murray Walker’s voice adds to the drama immeasurably…enjoy!
The Grumpy Jackal
Sergio Marchionne’ Ferrari revolution continues
The challenge of dragging back from the brink of bankruptcy an ailing Italian automotive business and in a mere 10 years transforming it into one of the most profitable auto organisations in the world was truly monumental. Yet Sergio Marchionne is not content to sit on his laurels, now his sights are set on resurrecting Ferrari from its current malaise in the midfield, to Formula One winners again.
The old adage that, ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results’ must be picture framed daily reminder to the much lauded industrialist, as he continues to blood let and recruit within the Scuderia..
Luca de Montezemolo proved a successful leader of the Emilia-Romagna racing team, but his latter years at Ferrari and his vision of a Latin led racing team – ultimately failed. His demise was both swift and brutal as the bespectacled man in the woolly jumper unceremoniously evicted LdM from his position of power in a manner that even the ancient senate in Rome would have considered efficient.
Marchionne’s able lieutenant, Marco Mattiacci, also became surplus to requirements and after initiated the cull of comfortabel but under performing managers in Maranello, he too played the wrong poker hand with ALonso and was presented with his exit card.
So, in less than a year, in the style of a football club – desperate to avoid relegation – Ferrari have recruited the long standing Philip Morris executive, Maurizio Arrivabene, as their third team principal in just over 8 months.
Often in the corperate world, to rid itself of the ‘old guard’, a hatchet man is appointed to clear out the dead wood – then when they have completed the task, thy are replaced a another leader who is skilled in the art of healing wounds and building consensus.
Yet the advent of Arrivabene’s reign has begun to bind up the wounds. Nikkolas Tombazis has finally been publicaly ousted and now TJ13 has been informed that Pat Fry, Head of Engineering, is now on a “vacation”. This is a strange time to be taking a holiday from the neighbourhood, as Niki Lauda recognised when he ascended to the throne in Brackley – and cancelled all Christmas leave.
Arrivabene is hardly optimistic for the near future. “When people ask me when things will change on the track, I reply that I do not have a magic wand. In 2015 it would be enough to win a couple of races – one with Vettel, one with Raikkonen,” he told Leo Turini.
Teams at this time of year are flat out as they begin their final preparations for the upcoming tests which begin in Jerez in just over 7 weeks.
Further changes in Ferrari-land include two new race engineers for both Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, which brings the turnover of staff in Marenello to around sixty people during the course of 2014.
Andrea Stella has followed Fernando Alonso to McLaren and his position will be taken by Riccardo Adami who will work with Vettel; whereas the Iceman has David Greenwood taking the place of Tony Spain (or rather Antonio Spagnolo).
It remains to be seen if Sergio’s legacy will include a successful rebuild of Ferrari – but perception in Italy at present, is not one of overwhelming reassurance.
Boullier – A customer engine cannot win races
In 2013 Lewis Hamilton made the point that it was easy winning titles when you have a dominant car – which of course makes complete sense. A year ago, Fernando Alonso suggested it negated some of the success of a champion, such as Vettel, were their dominance over a number of years be due to the fact they were driving the best Formula One package.
Considering Vettel’s situation, it is easy to assume that Mark Webber was just a middling team-mate and that Seb’s domination had the full support of the the team. And excluding Multi 21, it was reactions by the management over incidents – like the collision in Turkey 2010 – that cemented most observers views that the Bull Ring Arena was not in fact a level playing field – particularly for the Aussie Bull.
Yet the naysayers often fail to mention, that many of Sebastian’s victories were not followed up by a dominant second placed finish for Mrs Judge’s favourite 5 o’clock shadow.
At mid-season this year, Hamilton seemed to be in a personal battle once again and Nico Rosberg had gained the upper hand. TJ’s Project manager – John Myburgh – made a salient point during one of the early podcasts. If it is so easy to dominate in the bet car, why wasn’t Lewis dominating his team-mate.
In similar fashion we now have Eric – the stand-up McLaren guy – offering his unique point of view on similar matters. “I do not think that you can win with a customer engine. Todays engines are enormously complex and their installation into the chassis has to be designed into both the power unit and the chassis design. You can only do this with a strong synergy between the two sides.”
“The difference between our relationship with Mercedes and Honda is like night and day. When you are a customer team, you get what you are given whereas with a factory unit we are partners and we work closely together with fresh ideas and information”
Indeed, given the results of 2014, Eric is right on the mark – but there is still a clandestine fear amongst the Woking fans that the future is not bright. They know that this year, Mclaren were not even competing as the second best Mercedes engined team – and at one point looked as though they would be beaten by Force India too.
Eric was reflective on the welcome he received when joining McLaren this year.“I was very pleased to find such a warm and welcoming team, actually,” he told ESPN on Monday.
“Without bullshit, it’s a team composed of a lot of brilliant people,” then Eric gently inserts the switch-blade into MW’s rib cage adding. “But maybe lacking leadership in the last few years. Now that is hopefully cured, and what pleased me the most is to stop this down spiral which is now clearly coming back up. We went through some painful times but I think the team is back in good shape. The fact Honda is now with us – we will also see some driver line-up change – it is very promising.”
Driver change huh?
The four days of testing in Jerez are critical for McLaren, and Formula One fans will known by the fourth evening in February, whether the revived relationship between Woking and Honda has any hope of starting in a profitable manner.
Last Hurrah for a Le Mans Legend
Time and tide waits for nobody – so they say – and after over twenty years in competitive motorsports, Le Mans serial winner Tom Kristensen of Denmark announced that he’ll hang up the helmet for good.
Fans of the nine-times Le Mans winner with Porsche, Audi and Bentley will have one last chance to see the indefatigable Dane in action at this weekends Race Of Champion on Barbados.
The two-day event started out as a competition among rallye drivers and has morphed into a show event attracting drivers from all kinds of motorsport activities.
The Saturday will feature the “Nations Cup”, druing which drivers are paired up by nationality, wider region or in some cases common theme. The team event has been won a record six times in a row by team Germany represented by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, but for obvious reasons, they cannot defend their title. With Schumacher still fighting to recover from his horrible head injuries and most likely never to drive anything again, Vettel decided not to return as he felt he could not attend the event in the right spirit with his long-time friend unable to join him.
Another fixture that is missing is Team Britain, who’s usual party piece was to lose to Germany in the final. Her Majesty’s Island sends two people in skirts instead, as newly minted Williams F1 test driver Susie Wolff teams up with “Crazy D” Coulthard to form Team Scotland.
The final lineups are:
– Esteban Ocon (FRA, Formula 3)
– Romain Grosjean (FRA, Formula 1)
– Tom Kristensen (DEN, WEC)
– Petter Solberg (NOR, WRC)
– Robby Gordon (USA, Dakar Rally)
– José Maria Lopez (ARG, WTCC)
Team Young Stars
– Jolyon Palmer (GBR, GP2)
– Pascal Wehrlein (GER, DTM, F1)
– Mick Doohan (AUS, Pensioner)
– Jamie Whincup (AUS, V8 Supercars)
– Susie Wolff (SCO, F1)
– David Coulthard (SCO, Pensioner)
– Dane Skeete (BBD, Rallye)
– Rhett Watson (BBD, Rallye)
– Ryan Hunter-Reay (USA, Indycars)
– Kurt Busch (USA, NASCAR)
The same drivers will contest the individual competition on Sunday. Romain Grosjean is the defending champion, with Kristensen and Coulthard being former finalists. Kristensen has a team title to his name that he won in the 2005 edition partnered with 3-time individual winner Mattias Ekström as Team Scandinavia.
The event will be broadcast in Europe on MotorsTV and Eurosport. And a live stream will be available on the event’s homepage.