#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 24th December 2014

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Previously on The Judge 13:

The TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast – Light Up My Christmas


OTD Lite 2000 – Father of mid-engine design dies

Ferrari bosses blame previous incumbent for 2015 results

Haas buys Marussia factory for European base

Smedley – Williams a third of the way to the title

Boullier – Peter is Mclaren’s icing on the cake


OTD Lite 2000 – Father of mid-engine design dies

On this day, John Cooper passed away. Many credit Colin Chapman as possibly the greatest genius to ever pen a racing car but John Cooper revolutionised an industry that has never gone back. In his typical humble recollections, he almost chanced upon the mid-engined design.

The early cars was powered by a motorcycle engine and because the engine was driving a chain they put the engine in the back. “We certainly had no feeling that we were creating some scientific breakthrough!…We put the engine at the rear…because it was the practical thing to do” Cooper said.

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Stirling Moss would win Cooper’s first Grand Prix and in 1959 and 1960 Jack Brabham secured two world titles. Famously at the time Enzo Ferrari dismissed the little British cars by claiming that “the horse should pull the cart not push it” but by 1961 even the Italian marque could see the writing on the wall.

To this day, all serious motor-sport is dominated by mid-engined cars and the dynamics still apply to the highest level of sportscars. Whilst Ferrari have reverted back with certain GT cars to front engined – the hyper cars remain true to the Cooper legend.

The Grumpy Jackal

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Ferrari bosses blame previous incumbent for 2015 results

After the recent blood-letting in Maranello, Sergio Marchionne has begun to set in motion the long term plans of the Scuderia to return to the front of the grid. Speaking at the annual Christmas media day, he had already set out his stall in regards the politics of the sport and the changes that were needed to bring about success.

Despite not wishing to talk about the season past, he did offer an insight into Ferrari’s current position: “We started late with the 2015 car, certain choices and strategies that were made by others and that, in retrospect, I don’t necessarily share ,” Marchionne said. “So 2015 will be a difficult year that will put the team to a real test.”

“I think 2015 is going to be a reconstitution year. It will be Maurizio’s first full year with the team. I think hopefully within the next 12 months we will remove all the baggage of uncertainty that is going to plague at least the initial phase of 2015.”

“Not to underestimate the significance or the magnitude of the task, I think Ferrari can probably get to the same place as Mercedes by the end of 2015. Some of the work has already started. We need to be able to emulate their success.”

Of course, Marchionne and the new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene know each other from their respective roles at Philip Morris – who are Ferrari’s main sponsor. With Sergio willing to grant Ferrari whatever is needed to achieve success as quickly as possible – Mo is wary of committing himself.

“No man is an island, I am not a magician, there are no miracles to be made. We have to work as a team, this is the most important thing. I don’t believe in individual success. I believe in team success. Drivers become the stars of the show but they must be treated like employees. They must work as a team and help rebuild the team.”

Marchione had made no secret of his mistrust of factions of the F1 Group or the FIA earlier in the conference. In support, it appears that Arrivabene – with a long personal history of being involved with the sport as a main sponsor – held similarly forthright views.

Contrary to Mr E’s recent assertions that the sport was not interested in attracting young supporters – “There is a problem over the appeal of the races. We must keep working to give people spectacle and emotions. We must work to bring Formula One closer to the fans, otherwise we risk ending up racing on our own in empty circuits.” 
“We must know how to get the most out of the tools used by the new generation, which is how to attract young people and create the chances for fans to interact more with the stars of our sport. The Thursday of a Grand Prix weekend could, for example, be better exploited.” 

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Haas buys Marussia factory for European base

Haas F1 will have a European base after all. Many observers believed that to have a facility in the U.S would prove practically impossible to compete at the highest level – irrespective of the quality of personal that would be willing to relocate across the ‘pond’. Despite building a state of the art facility in North Carolina, the logistics would prove almost impossible.

With the Marussia teams assets being put up for auction, the initial belief was that Haas was merely looking to acquire some of the assets. But the factory was not amongst the lots for biding and had already been acquired by Haas.

The team is preparing its entry for the 2016 season and has signed contracts to use the 2016 Ferrari power unit and it is believed that the team has also acquired the data and designs for the 2015 Marussia.

Further sources in Italy are suggesting that Ferrari may well offer the services of Esteban Gutierrez as a driver for the fledgling outfit next season and keep alive a connection that Marco Mattiacci recognised whilst CEO of Ferrari America – that Mexico was the new China in terms of cars sold.

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Smedley – Williams a third of the way to the title

No-one would have believed at the end of 2013 that Williams would have been at times the second fastest car on the grid. Yet barely 12 months later, Willaims has finished third in the championship and proven to be the only car that could challenge Mercedes on a Saturday afternoon – if not the Sunday.

Ron Smedley is adamant that WIlliams will return to title glory but are currently “about 30% of the way to their goal. The technical group is consolidating extremely well and we are all motivated to learn because we are never satisfied. We can move forward and we must continue to advance.”

“We are a good working group and the foundations we have lain this year are solid. Like building a house, you don’t see the work involved at the beginning but then it starts to take shape. Now we can speed up the process because of our work this year. A the end of 2015 we must be at least 75-80% of the way to a world title”

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Boullier – Peter is Mclaren’s icing on the cake

Eric Boullier has claimed that Peter Prodromou’s return to Mclaren is the ‘icing on the cake’ key signature that Mclaren needed to prove they were still a relevant force within F1.

“All the aerodynamic department has been restructured to take into account his arrival. He is well known in the pit-lane and his arrival bring about a greater burden on the leadership and new vitality to our technical offices. Now we can sit down and wait to see what happens with Peter at the helm of this strong group.”

Of course it would be easy to be cynical. After all Prodromou has been Adrian Newey’s second in command for some years and after Mclaren’s terrible performance of the last two years anything would prove to be an improvement.

With a new engine partner arriving and a fired up Fernando Alonso wanting to prove his ability – a repeat of 2103-14 would be unlikely. But there were times that the current group’s design was the slowest of the four Mercedes powered teams – and Peter is but one man.

But Boullier is, as ever, confident as he revealed the process of strengthening the squad will continue over the winter. “What i want is an incisive team that blends together as one. Only then will Mclaren have a team that is prepared for the next ten years.”

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10 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 24th December 2014

    • That was an interesting piece, thanks Jennie.
      Looked at the name and wondered. Answered immediately.

      FWIW as I’m pretty sure you’ve realised, there were ample precedents on European tracks in the era and prior.

      • Glad you enjoyed it:) My knowledge of historical cars is actually very limited…just what I’ve managed to pick up over the last 12 months…so I’m constantly amazed…I have learned very quickly not to trust “first ever example of…” very often though, because it constantly catches me out:)

        When I wrote about the Lancia D50 and it’s angled engine and crankshaft going to the left of the driver I thought it was something innovative….and then I saw the same thing on the 1926 Talbot!

          • Which makes Audi’s continuing love affair with front wheel drive cars rather ironic! Porsche took over the rear-wheel drive mantle.. Although wasn’t it F. Porsche who always pursued it from the beginning? Time to re-read the history books once more!

  1. Err, Ron?

    Are we going to see video of the Hass building coming down again?
    Not as if they have to make a fresh one; just run the other one in reverse – voila, clean sheet…

  2. So Ferrari, Williams and McLaren are all discounting next year as a ‘laying foundations’ season but are all on track to challenge MB in 2016. Surely Mr Horner *must* have said the same thing about RBR some time in the last 24hrs – then we’d have a full house. Torger must be shaking in his Uggs ®

    As always, they all talk a great game. Marchionne, in particular, is making the right noises and laying down some very ambitious markers. He’s not the first to do so and then have to come up with reasons / excuses for the likely shortfalls.

    I love the huge egos in F1. They can’t help but make crazy claims every year about their immediate or future championship chances. There are only two gongs handed out each each year, which makes for a lot of egg on faces. If only the F1 press gallery held them to account for their incessant BS. Fred & Ron’s recent complete rewriting of history regarding their b*tch fight in 2007 was priceless.

  3. Here’s wishing the entire TJ13 community a very happy and blessed Christmas holidays, even if you’re not a fan or believer, seasons greeting to you all the same.

  4. Re: Smedley comment

    Let’s be honest here. At least 50% of the success of the Williams team in the 2014 season was due to the lucky decision to use the Mercedes engine. The other 50% was due to the brilliant drivers, engineers, and random luck. Williams beat McLaren this year, but I am still not convinced that Williams’s success wasn’t just another fluke year. Williams is one of the most inconsistent teams of the field. Just take a look at their recent history:

    2010: Solid mid-field team.

    2011: The team’s worst season in 25 years or so. 9th in WDC, above only the three newbie teams.

    2012: The team designs a surprisingly good car, but it’s dragged down by its mediocre drivers.

    2013: Just when you thought that nothing could be worse than 2011 season Williams proves you wrong by placing 9th in WDC, again.

    2014: One of the best seasons in the recent history.

    Personally, I see no pattern of improvement. The team experiences crazy ups and downs every year. It remains to be confirmed in 2015 if Williams continues its flip-flop cycle or whether it will remain on a decisive improvement trajectory.

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