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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite 2001 – Toyota launches their new F1 challenger
“Oh Lord, Toyta will dominate F1. Their budget is beyond the rest of the teams put together. They have Mike Gascoyne and they have built a super factory in Cologne”
That was the reaction of a number of fearful F1 fans back in 2001 on this day -when Toyota finally unveiled their super team to take World Championship glory – except it didn’t work out like that.
Despite triumphs in World Rallying and sport-scar racing the arrogance of a few of the Toyota personnel created mirth in the F1 paddocks around the world and the world’s biggest car manufacturer would eventually call it a day as they failed to achieve one victory in 140 Grand Prix starts.
With middle men drivers brought in to a team that had no real ambition to push the limits – citing reliability as the most important ingredient due to their corporate image – it was always going to prove futile to expect a challenger.
Possibly the most amusing chapter in the whole saga was when they employed Ralf Schumacher. The press were merciless – obviously the Japanese didn’t realise that the talented one was called Michael…
The Grumpy Jackal
Ecclestone lives to fight another day
Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed his latest challenger, Paul Walsh, the man CVC had lined up to succeed Ecclestone and run Formula One.
CVC had lined up Walsh as the Chairman of the group of Formula One companies and hoped he could work along side Ecclestone with a view to superseding him in the future.
Walsh is a sharp corporate operator, with experience of expanding the global marketing of local brands such as Haagen Dazs and selling the InterContinental hotel group in what was described as ‘the deal of the decade’ – for the sellers Grand Metro – for whom Walsh was employed.
The Times reports Walsh has walked away because he demanded his role in Formula one had “complete accountability and authority.” Apparently there was neither and he did not wish to be a “puppet or figurehead”.
CVC now look weak, they have failed to appoint their man to the board, and their response will be interesting, as clearly Ecclestone has undermined their wishes.
One insider in the paddock expresses the widespread disappointment held among senior Formula One team members. “Paul would have been great for F1; he loves the sport and he had a lot of ideas. We are all back where we started and it looks as though nothing has changed.”
The F1 strategy group meets this week with a wide range of issues to discuss. However, the unexpected outcome of this regulatory forum has been often that no agreement can be reached – and Ecclestone needs to pull some white rabbits out of hats – to prevent the image of F1 continuing to be dragged through the mud.
This latest failure of CVC to assert their authority over Ecclestone, will surely see them return with an even more steely resolve. This may be a war of attrition, but as Bernie continues to talk down Formula One – CVC are losing value on their investment, month by month.
As suggested by TJ13 commentators – CVC should consider letting it be known they are now in discussions with Adam Parr. BOOM!
Ferrari encourage resignation of two Fry and Tombazis
It would be impolite to suggest that Italy is in some form of celebratory mood this evening – or that somewhere a bearded Spanish matador is nodding his head and wondering why Fru and Tombazis hadn’t been canned during his watch.
Ferrari have confirmed changes of their hierarchy reported earlier by TJ13 – and with immediate effect, Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis have both left Maranello for pastures new.
Both men had been part of the Ferrari organisation for some years. Empty promises of upcoming changes appears to have made their positions untenable. In what is a pressure cooker environment – failure year on year means it becomes inevitable that the new broom sweeping through the Gestione Sportiva’s corridors, would collect these two -‘not much loved by the tifosi’ characters too.
So in a little over a year, Ferrari has lost two team principals, arguably the greatest driver on the grid, their main engine and chassis designers, their charismatic President and countless others in this ruthless cull.
Yet this should have come as no surprise. Senior management within the Fiat organisation could testify to the fact that when Sergio Marchionne’s attention is focused on an failing enterprise – he leaves few or no survivors. This decisive and ruthless trait as part of Marchionne’s leadership of Fiat, has proven to be his genius which is recognised the world over.
The Scuderia organisation is being made more streamline. James Allison will assume for the interim period the role Fry was undertaking whilst contract talks continue with Bob Bell.
TJ13 reported last week that Simon Resta would be promoted from deputy to Chief chase designer and his compatriot in the engine department is Luca Marmorini’s replacement Mattia Binotto.
A number of other changes have been effected over the course of the season with heavy recruitment of engineers from both Mercedes and Red Bull. Interestingly, Alberto Antonini, a journalist for various Italian publications and TV commentator for Rai and SKY Italia – has been tasked with establishing a team focused on social media.
It would be unjust to blame the departing men for all of the Scuderia’s woes but the Italian giant has needed to make a visible purge for some time. With the Italian nation sceptical of plans to float Ferrari – only a winning return for the Reds will placate the Tifosi.
Who’s afraid of the big bad competition – Wolff is!
Contrary to the beliefs of many, Toto Wolff is convinced that changes at the organisations of Ferrari and Williams will bear fruit far sooner than most can conceivably expect.
Having been in Stuttgart for talks with Mercedes about the 2015 budget Wolff expanded on his fears of increased competition next year. “It will not be easy to continue the winning streak next year. I think Williams and Ferrari will be more competitive and could possibly give us some problems, Add to this, Honda are partnered with Mclaren and it is impossible to ignore their progress.”
With the new season mere weeks away, Wolff took time out to reflect on certain situations that arose though 2014. “Earlier this season, we had a meeting with Rosberg and Hamilton and told them we would not give team orders but that we would not tolerate inner conflicts or any collision between our drivers.
“Generally we had no problems but the situation became impossible after Spa. We spoke to them again reminding them of the strict rules and the situation improved and settled down. Ultimately, to use adjectives to describe them, Lewis is impulsive whilst Nico is ambitious”
Renault find 5% improvement over the season
Renault has told the press that their Power Unit improved by 5% over the course of the 2014 season..
Cyril Abiteboul spoke about changes to the designs of “the components has made the unit more robust” and the team who worked on the chassis integration have learnt a lot for cooling requirements which has led to advancements in energy management and improved drive-ability and efficiency.
“With the help of our partners, Total, we also neutralised the feeling of knocking which was produced in the cylinder and these have improved the results.”
Numerical data has been gathered which confirms the 5% increase in performance despite rules being ‘frozen’ by legislation.
“It’s true that second place in the constructors was not our goal but the result shows that we never stopped pushing and constantly improving. “
5%…. no word from Ferrari on their progress this year but many believe the Mercedes advantage is so great that the others would need a double digit figure improvement to close the gap significantly.
But then there’s Honda……
Police find RBR trophies in lake
Thames Valley Police reported to Red Bull that they had found a number of the trophies that had been stolen during a night raid on the 6th December.
After a farewell party held for Sebastien Vettel, the thieves broke the gates of Red Bull’s HQ and driving a dark Mercedes shattered the glass entrance before grabbing around sixty trophies before fleeing from the site. The British police found roughly a third in a lake in Berkshire.
A spokesman for the police service said: “Some of the trophies that were stolen have been recovered from Horseshoe Lake near Sandhurst. We have around twenty but are checking with Red Bull to determine the exact number because some of them are damaged.”
2015 Parc Ferme rule and others
The recent meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Doha, kicked out regulations it had sanctioned in its meeting held the week before the Austrian GP.
Last week the media headlines were about the scrapping of standing starts and double points, though some 2015 regulations agreed back in the summer remain.
One of those is that the F1 cars will be placed into ‘parc ferme’ at the start of FP3 and not following their participation in Saturday qualifying. This will of course mean that the team’s will have to settle on their weekend set-up at least 3 hours and 1 track session earlier than previously.
This rule penalises the bigger teams ability to react swiftly and make substantive changes from session to session during an F1 weekend.
Another rule for 2015 is a ban on non-European pre-season testing. In 2014, two tests were carried out in Bahrain with the promise it would cost the teams no more than to test at the traditional venue of the Circuit de Catalunya.
Further, there will be two in-season tests of two days each in Europe (instead of the current four). Two of these four days must be reserved for young drivers.
The FIA appear to have had a sudden burst of common sense with the next regulation change. The last date at which the sporting and technical regulations can be changed without unanimous agreement has been moved from 30 June to 1 March each year, starting from 2015.
Many of these regulations impacts on R&D done by the teams prior to June for the following seasons cars, this avoids wasting time and resource.
There was a proposed tyre blanket ban for 2015, but that has been rescinded
The Friday curfew has been extended from 6 to 7 hours on race weekends. It increases to 8 hours in 2016.
Wind tunnel and CFD hours have been reduced and teams can use just one wind tunnel per calendar year.
A number of new regulations concerning skid blocks were introduced to ensure that they are made from a lighter material (titanium – which should create pretty sparks too) and are better contained.
Other rules will be formed to ensure that the brake discs rotate at the same speed as the wheels.
Finally, there has been much talk of the listing of the Korean GP being a ruse by Ecclestone to ensure that each car may still use 5 engines in 2015 – an agreement based on 20 or more races.
However, the wording and the spirit of the regulation is currently in dispute as merely listing F1 events should not define the the number of engines available to each driver per season.
It was intended that in 2015, given 19 races, only 4 engines per driver will be permitted. Given the fate of Marussia and Caterham, it is unlikely a number of teams are going to opt for the extra 25% cost of using a fifth engine unnecessary based on a phantom race schedule.