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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite 2002 – Prost attacks modern drivers
Okay, it’s not every day that a porcine mammal crests the horizon. Nor is it every day that the man in the moon turns a shade of blue but as we near the end of 2014, let’s hold our disbelief in check as The Grumpy one sings the praises of a certain Frenchman – Alain Prost!
On this day Monsieur Prost declared that drivers had become little better than “trained monkeys.”
“The drivers simply follow the instructions of the engineers and let the computers do all the work. To me it’s not a real racing competition any more. And what’s worse, these drivers are so much a part of the whole system that they have to keep quiet so as not to harm the image of the team or the sponsors. I don’t want to sound old-fashioned, but in the past 10 years drivers have become increasingly like robots.”
What’s perhaps most astonishing is this wasn’t declared last year or even in the last five but was actually voiced a full twelve years ago. Of course, The Professor seemingly forgot that nine years previously he had a contract with the Williams team which placed his derriere in one of these aforementioned technological marvels – but I digress…
The Grumpy Jackal
Ferrari look to Red Bull partner for PU answers
Reports from Italy are suggesting that Ferrari has signed an agreement with Austrian company AVL which is based in Graz.
AVL is the largest independent company in the world in regards the development of the internal combustion engine and a team of their specialists will be stationed in Maranello to contribute to the development of the six-cylinder turbo engine designed by Lorenzo Sassi.
AVL’s main contribution will be the study of the combustion chamber and its interaction with the piston – which are particularly sensitive areas for a Formula One engine. The benefits to the Austrian company are considerable – primarily its collaboration with a company as prestigious as Ferrari.
What many will find surprising is that Ferrari have turned to a company that has ties with Red Bull Racing but in particular, Helmut Marko. Back in the summer when RBR threatened to leave Renault and construct their own engines – the plan was to have the power unit designed by AVL.
Many will see this as the Austrian company gaining cutting edge technology from their collaboration with the Italian concern before applying the learning to a design funded by Red Bull’s owner – Dietrich Mateschitz,
Is Lotus about to follow the Caterham/ Marussia business plan?
Concerns are being voiced that it may not just be Caterham and Marussia that have been eliminated from the F1 circus. In the list provided by the FIA, there is an asterisk placed beside the Lotus entry for the 2015 championship.
After a difficult 2014 season, the Enstone team have been trying to recover to a position of strength and securing a supply of Mercedes Power Units would have appeared a step in the right direction.
Yet having lost a considerable amount of staff to other teams and investment having being reduced throughout the season, Gerald Lopez is seen as wanting to offload the team. The E23 design which has been headed by Nick Chester’s team has failed it’s first crash test but the engineers are not concerned as a skin of carbon fibre should reach the required safety standards.
Force India’s deputy team principal, Bob Fearnley, has once again voiced grave concerns over the coming season. A year ago he shared similar worries about teams like Marussia and Caterham running on too tight a budget, but now however, “we are talking about teams with budgets of $155m employing over 350 people. We’re about to start a new season with the same problems but no one seems to understand what is happening and how certain decisions that need to be taken have become urgent.”
This of course presents a problem to both Bernie and the FIA as it would mean just 16 cars and 8 teams on the grid..
Verstappen claims F3 to F1 relatively easy
Following on from today’s OTD Lite and the recent changes applied by the FIA to the Superlicence qualification criteria – comes perhaps the first admission by a driver that Formula One has become too easy.
Jacques Villeneuve spoke recently about Max Verstappen being too immature to be racing at the highest level and suggested that the media would give the Red Bull junior programme a far harder time than the team could possibly have imagined.
Yet Verstappen appears to be confident of the levels of learning required as he begins life as an F1 driver. The young Dutchman believing the jump from karting to a single seater was a bigger step than from F3 to an F1 car.
“Basically the driving style from a go-kart to a formula car is completely different. In the end, the jump from a Formula 3 car to a Formula 1 car the main thing is the same, it’s just happening much quicker.
“From go-kart to formula car it took a while to get used to, so I think that was a bigger jump than from F3 to F1. An F3 car is quite similar to an F1 car, just that you don’t have so much horsepower, but the downforce is quite a lot for such a car.
“In general the driving style is not that much of a difference.”
Of course fans who have come into the sport in recent years would not appreciate the quantum leap that was required a generation ago between F3 and F1.
The true greats transcend any era of sport and rise immediately to prominence but before electronics made several of the drivers abilities redundant, a gifted individual could move into F1 and it would be assumed that he would require two seasons before being fully on the pace
Unlike today’s throwaway society – careers were not defined by a single season. The driver’s apprenticeship allowed for mistakes and accidents as they learnt their craft in the pinnacle of motor-sport.
This was normally in a smaller team which would have the driver poached soon after. The step from 200 bhp F3 machines to the elite F1 cars with at least four times as much power and rudimentary handling separated the men from the boys
Since the early 90’s with the ever-increasing encroachment of electronic systems – drivers have been able to ascend to F1 and prove competitive.
Of course, as has always been the case, the greats will make the final difference but the merely good can hide behind the systems at their disposal and fool some of the public all of the time.
Statement from Bianchi’s Family
The parents of Jules Bianchi, Philippe and Christine, would like to provide the following update regarding Jules’ medical situation:
“As we reach the conclusion of a difficult year for our family, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide a further update regarding Jules’ medical situation, per our pledge to communicate continued information, when appropriate, to his many fans.
“It was a significant and very comforting step for us to be able to bring Jules home to France last month, to continue his rehabilitation surrounded by his family and friends. This is very important for Jules and also for us.
“Since that time, Jules has received the very best treatment in the Intensive Care Unit of Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU) and now at the CHU’s rehabilitation centre for this kind of trauma.
“Jules’ neurological status remains unchanged; he is unconscious but able to breathe unaided. Whilst there is no significant information to report, we take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Jules continues to fight, as we knew he would, and this has enabled the medical professionals caring for him to commence the planned, but very painstaking, programme of rehabilitation therapy.
“As we reflect on the events of the past few months, we would like to acknowledge once again the overwhelming warmth and affection shown towards our son. These continue to be challenging times for our family, but the knowledge that he has touched the lives of so many people all around the world has helped us through.
“We would also like to acknowledge the respect and support shown by the media towards our family during this time, for which we are extremely grateful.
“We will continue to provide information when it is possible to do so and our sincere appreciation to everyone who continues to pray for Jules.”