#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 22nd December 2014

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Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Well that solved entirely nothing…

#F1 Features: Forza Rossa Meets the Caterham Circus

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 1st: Wolf


OTD Lite 1905 – Le Mans disaster victim born this day

Jacques Villeneuve muses on current F1

Montezemolo thwarted by Fiat boss again

Alonso seemingly too good believes Massa


OTD Lite 1905 – Le Mans disaster victim born this day

Today celebrates the birth date of Pierre Levegh. A name that hardly springs out as a famous F1 driver. In fact he competed in just six F1 races between 1950-51. The Parisien was considered a world class ice hockey and tennis player but his infamy in motor-sport dates to the 1955 Le Mans race that is acknowledged as the worst race disaster in history.

The story really begins in 1952 when Mercedes boss Alfred Neubauer recognised that the true victor of the race should have been the Frenchman. He had almost completed the 24 hour marathon on his own but missed a gear change in the last hour – destroying the engine – whilst leading by four laps. He was subsequently told that when Mercedes returned to the event, one of the places would be his.

The 1955 race was held on the 11th June and Levegh took the start in one of the Mercedes. As the cars came towards the pits on the 35th lap, Mike Hawthorn’s Jaguar dove into the pits and his action forced Lance Mackilns car to take avoiding action. As he moved left, the much faster Mercedes of Levegh and Fangio took avoiding action but Levegh’s car was launched into the crowd opposite the pits.

The Grumpy Jackal

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Jacques Villeneuve muses on current F1

Jacques Villeneuve was competing recently in Italy at the Bettaga Memorial end of season event. Following the event, the SKY F1 presenter gave an interview which ranged across several motorsport topics, including Formula One.

When asked about the respective moves of Vettel and Alonso to Ferrari and Mclaren, the French-Canadian believes both drivers will benefit from their moves. “Vettel was no longer wanted by Red Bull as he was no longer the ‘Golden Boy’ as if he had won it wouldn’t be seen as a Red Bull victory but as another for Sebastien. Contrary to the image portrayed, Red Bull is not a family they are interested in only one thing – to sell lots of cans”

“As to Alonso, I’m not sure of the choice he made. He needed a change but he came to Ferrari and won races. He is not a Ferrari man because when it went wrong he wanted to leave – similar to what happened in Mclaren in 2007. In my opinion when he lowers his visor – he is the best driver in F1. But outside the car he thinks only of himself. He uses twitter and the internet to his advantage but the top teams don’t like that. Ferrari is a family, and they protect their drivers, look at how they treated Kimi.”

“But Mclaren have their own problems. They had the best engine but at times struggled against Force India who have half their budget. We also don’t know about Honda. They have their tradition but so did Renault and Ferrari who built great engines in the 80’s but look who’s winning now. So Honda remains an unknown.”

“The problem with F1 is that its not exciting, the cars seem slow. You can’t fault the championship, it was beautiful and compelling and even the lack of noise wasn’t so bad but the cars aren’t aggressive to drive. Verstappen arrives, runs ten laps and is immediately quick! It seems that anyone can drive an F1 car. The current F1 makes driving too much like the Playstation, too easy.”

“In regards to Verstappen, the minimum age should be 21. You should get to F1 having won something with a wealth of experience behind you. Shall I tell you the truth? Max is being abused. I have no doubt he is naturally fast but he has no experience. It’s not F1’s role to teach a driver. Before you fight with the lives of others you should have learnt. As to Red Bull, they have put a child in Formula One and the subsequent impact is not what they expected. I think this time the media will not be as positive as they expect.”

In similar fashion to his legendary father, Jacques replied almost verbatim when asked how he would change the technical regulations for the cars: “The only limit I would put in place would be 100kg fuel for the race. Then leave it free to the manufacturers to design their ideal engine. I’d remove the hybrid parts as well leaving the use of turbos and the engine displacement to the designers. Then, fat wheels and remove all electronics. Lets see how these drivers handle all that power. Formula One has to go back to being physical and not virtual. People go to see the driver…”

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Montezemolo thwarted by Fiat boss again

With Bernie Ecclestone returning to his role as CEO at CVC there had been speculation that Luca di Montezemolo was close to being appointed as the president of Formula One Group of Companies. Apparently, last Thursday. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne stepped in and brought proceedings to a halt.

Maranello clearly feels that Il Padrino may well be harbouring a grudge or two and this appointment may have come to haunt Marchionne.

The combination of alliances that may be formed on the FOM board between Ecclestone and others is almost endless and likely to shift depending on the matter in hand and leverage which can be brought to bear.

So for now, Marchionne may have done Bernie a favour – which of course will need to be repaid at some time in the future.

Yet, as Mr. E said following Montezemolo’s departure from Maranello: “His leaving is for me the same as Mr Enzo dying. He has become Ferrari. You see him, you see Ferrari. You don’t see anything else. You don’t see Luca.”

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Alonso seemingly too good believes Massa

Felipe Massa had the ‘good fortune’ of being Fernando Alonso’s team-mate for four seasons. With the Spaniard moving to pastures new next year, little Felipe offered his opinion to Autosport on the move that surprised no-one.

“Everybody knew he was going to leave Ferrari. Maybe we saw that Ferrari didn’t give him the best car but maybe he didn’t help Ferrari to grow. If it’s going to be worse or better for Ferrari, I don’t know. Fernando is perhaps the best driver on the grid so we don’t know if it will be enough for Ferrari to make the step forward, but I hope for the best for Ferrari, anyway.”

This rhetoric mirrors an opinion that TJ13 scripted some months ago – essentially the Spanish Samurai is potentially so good that his talent will overcome a poorly performing car. Whilst this talent brings about its own virtues it would seemingly nullify any development that the team puts in place which in turn disguises a teams shortcomings in the short to medium term.

It will forever remain purely a hypotheses, yet had Alonso had left the Scuderia a season or two earlier – the Red team may well have realised the issues that required attention.

Pat Symonds worked with the Asturian from 2002 through to his second title victory in 2006 also offers a similar viewpoint to Massa: “He obviously wasn’t happy at Ferrari and if you’re not happy then it’s best to move on. He does seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time since he left Renault which is a shame as the guy is incredibly quick.

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35 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 22nd December 2014

  1. A couple of thoughts from me…

    Firstly, I rarely agree with Jacques, but his opinions on the technical regulations and how he would change them I actually like.

    A 100kg fuel limit with an unlimited scope for engine and drivetrain designs would be hugely interesting. I know the answer to that point would be that costs would not be sustainable and therefore the idea is ludicrous, however that is exactly what we have in the WEC. A fuel and efficiency limit and then the teams are left to design the best possible solution to that, and the result was 3 different engine and drivetrain solutions from Porsche, Audi and Toyota.

    So IF and I say a big IF, costs could be controlled, could you imagine how diverse the grid would be with Jacques technical regulations in place. We would have hybrid N/A big displacement engines, turbo units, lighter V8’s etc.

    On the subject of cost, does anyone know if the FIA have cost controls in place on the WEC? or is it that budgets are just a lot smaller than compared with F1. I think it could be an interesting article comparing how both sports are run, and why in the WEC we get such a diverse grid when it comes to powertrains but in F1 it has to be a lot stricter.

    Secondly, on Alonso, you do wonder if he had stayed at Renault for 2010 and beyond, he might of had a better chance at winning the WDC. By 2011 the Renault R31 was quite competitive, and that momentum improved throughout 2012 and 2013 into a race winning car and title prospect for some time.

    Had Kubica not had his accident (although it was rumoured he had signed for Ferrari for 2014) and Alonso had stayed with Renault, we could have been faced with one hell of a team, with a car that was only improving up to their peak in the 2013 season.

    • Alonso didn’t have to stay at Renault. 2007 Turned around the rest of his career. Without all the shenanigans Alonso could (should even) have won the 07 and 08 titles at Mclaren.

      • From an article by Benson at BBC, December 11, 2014, Alonso: Will McLaren partnership end in tears again?. I found this an interesting paragraph. “But Whitmarsh later discovered that when Dennis signed Alonso he had indeed promised him priority status, only to go back on his word”. It’s what I have been saying for years; Dennis screwed him.

        • Million dollar question is AT WHICH POINT die he go back in his word? Because if you remember, at Monaco, Lewis had to sit back and play second fiddle to Alonso. That was team orders and Hamilton inferred to as such at the post-race interview. So it was after that, but when exactly?

          In my opinion, possibly Indy. That was when Alonso was demanding team orders as he was stuck behind Hamilton. Dennis refused. And most probably for two reasons. 1. Hamilton had shown that he can compete against Alonso as an equal. In the first race of the season he overtook Alonso on the outside and only finished behind him due to pit stop strategy. 2. Dennis’ and Alonso’s personal relationship was already strained by that point. For the sake of the sport I’m glad Dennis didn’t cave in to Alonso’s demands. Yes, Alonso would probably have 4-5 titles by now, but we would have been deprived of the Hamilton we see today. Better to have 3 greats in an era (Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel) than 2.

          Afterwards came Hungary. Lewis ‘draws first blood’ but not letting Alonso past during the ‘burning fuel’ phase and then Alonso blocks Hamilton at the pits depriving him of a shot at pole. Then the whole spygate scandal erupts with Alonso’s threats and the rest is history as they say.

          • Hamilton has the pace to be an all-time great.. I’m sure he could fight back from not having a title in 2008 either.. maybe he would have stolen 2010 or 2012 from Vettel instead, before a domination from 2014 onwards.

            It’s true he’s had a long wait for a second title, given his skills, but that’s a testament to being in an era with Alonso, Raikkonen and Vettel.

        • It’s true.. Alonso was two tenths faster in qualifying, and only Lewis’ podium consistency kept him in the hunt. 2007 should have been Alo-Ham-Rai, 2008 gloves off, 2009 equal disappointment before a move to Ferrari for Alonso.

          Interestingly, Raikkonen/Massa and Heidfeld/Kubica were very closely matched, even moreso than Alonso/Hamilton. So it must go down as a management failure to lose the title.

    • WEC only has 3 LMP-1HY teams with only 9 cars competing, I’m sure it is far easier to get an agreement on the regs, also they are 3big manufacturer teams so you don’t have poorly funded privateers trying to compete against them. I believe Nissan are coming into WEC next year but still it’s only 4 LMP-1HY teams, still all manufacture based and only 12 cars running if you remove the other classes, in reality it’s a much smaller concern, also with it all being manufacturer teams, they use it as a marketing exercise so the money can be written off, a la RedBull, Ferrari and Mercedes (to an extent McLaren too) hence why you never really hear moaning about being short on funds from those 3/4 teams. If you had another 5 WEC LMP-1HY teams involved, some of whom were privately funded you would still end up with the have’s and have not’s. It’s like comparing apples and bananas, they are 2 different things entirely, the only thing they have in common is they are fruit and grow on trees, just like all cars have 4 wheels and a propulsion system, doesn’t mean they are the same.

      • For the 2015 season Nissan has been confirmed and is entering with 2 works Nismo cars and Porsche will have 3 for Le Mans and Spa along with Audi. Whilst there are no privateer teams in LMP1-HY there are privateers in LMP1 in Rebellion and the Romanian Lotus team, and for 2015, potentially Oak Racing if they can find a partner to build their car which has already been designed.

        Just because they are all works teams does not mean that manufacturers will not argue over the technical regulations. During the early 90’s most manufacturers left Le Mans because Peugeot with their 905 prototype was so dominant. It was the same with 1999 after the Toyota GT-One’s were so dominant which led to the regs being changed for 2000 when Audi were the only manufacturer left.

        What I am trying to say though regardless, is that both the WEC and Formula 1 are controlled by the same governing body.. the FIA. Why is it that technical freedom and powertrain diversity is blossoming so much in one series, when a series so similar in F1 has to be so restrictive.

        It is not like the WEC is considered inferior right now with it boasting the same amount of manufacturers as F1 with 4 for 2015, and with more technical freedom allowed, you can’t see that momentum stopping any time soon, it is now the technological yardstick.

      • @ Clear View & James P

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        Teams are only allowed to enter a maximum of 2 cars each

        So – NOT 3 teams with 9 cars – nor 4 teams with 12 for next year …..

        *

        Audi Sport Team Joest are the 2 factory cars.

        Audi will as usual have a third LMP 1 car run by a ” PRIVATEER ” team

        – it’s usually Audi Sport America – but there have been others in the past.

        Porsche and Nissan ( who have said they will run 3 cars at Le Mans ) will obviously do the same – 2 factory entries each and one privateer entry each.

      • So how many engine manufacturers are there in F1? Renault, Mercedes, and Ferrari, and next year Honda. And your point is??? The F1 formula could be really interesting but……..

    • Re: Jacques
      I tend to agree, for me it’s about the more power than grip-concept. But ‘no electronics’ is a bit awkward. I guess he means traction control etc. But it would be hard to police when you have different types of (electronic?) engines.

  2. I know this was posted a while ago, but it’s a very interesting read. Very clever innovations by Merc on both the engine and aero front.

    http://www1.skysports.com/f1/report/22058/9580314/why-catching-mercedes-will-be-a-tall-order-in-2015-for-f1s-distant-chasing-pack

    Big question mark is what Honda will come up with next year. They won’t be able to beat Merc, but if they do finish 2nd ahead of Ferrari and Renault, then you can start believing that they’ll be able to fight Merc soon.

    I guess for next year, all we can look forward to would be the intra-team battles.

    Lewis v Nico, Fred v Jense, Kimi v Seb

    Hopefully they won’t be a turn-off like Seb v Mark in 2011 or Fred v Kimi this year.

    • Honda may surprise us. They have had the advantages of longer development time, knowing the architecture of Mercedes power unit and the performance goals that need to be reached with the ice and energy harvesting systems. You would think, if they have thrown enough money at it, they should be competitive with the Merc pu.

      • But you mustn’t forget the last time Honda built an F1 engine – it was a total DOG !

        Everyone seems to think Honda are geniuses – but they are not.

        They’ve had more failures than successes in designing racing engines !

        • Six constructors championships in a row. There engine was good with BAR/Honda it was the chassis that left something to be desired.

          • If Honda’s engine was SO good – why did Brawn ditch it for the Merc powerplant then ?

            *

            P.S. – check the record books – Honda NEVER won a single constructors championship – FACT

          • @mankster, not doubting your word…..much.
            (I always thought Brawn didn’t have a choice….Honda simply wanted out).

            As to the rest…….don’t other era’s, therefore other specs, count?
            What’s with the 86 to 91 constructors results?

            Honda haven’t won as a car builder; they have won as an engine supplier which is what McMaster said.

          • I read, somewhere (can’t find it now), that it was actually the Super Aguri team of designers/engineers that came up with the double diffuser configuration. According to the writer the Brawn/Honda was the most expensive F1 car design ever. Multiple teams of engineers using half a dozen, or so, wind tunnels trying to find the optimum configuration. One of the conclusions was that the car would have been quicker if Brawn could have run the Honda engine for which it was designed, rather then jury rigging it to get the Mercedes to fit.

  3. Comment relating to the podcast and Formula E:

    Michelin getting involved as a engine manufacturer in Formula E sounds amazing as the future will most likely be tire rim and electric motors as one unit. It Michelin wants to stay relevant they need to keep up with the times.

    • Another thing to add to the podcast is “what we will see next season” similar to ” what we learned this week”

      For instance
      Mercedes management letting Lewis go first in Q3 in Monaco.

      Maldonado getting in a crash.

      Ferrari struggling to score points.

      Title sponsor for McLaren date extended to Dec 2015.

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