#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 30th December 2014

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Previously on The Judge 13:

The #TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Happy as a Hippo

Voice of the #F1 Fans: Sauber – Was it the chassis or the engine? It’s the drivers, stupid!


OTD Lite 2002 – Prost attacks modern drivers

Ferrari look to Red Bull partner for PU answers

Is Lotus about to follow the Caterham/ Marussia business plan?

Verstappen claims F3 to F1 relatively easy

Statement from Bianchi’s Family


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…

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The Grumpy Jackal

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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,

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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..

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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.

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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.

#ForzaJules

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15 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 30th December 2014

  1. Isn’t the purpose of F3 to prepare drivers for Formula 1? Maybe it’s not so much that F1 has become easier, but that F3 has become better in preparing drivers.

    We have a much better grid currently than ten or even twenty years ago. Also, the author himself notes that today, you often only have one season to prove your worth. Two Bad seasons and you’re most definately out of F1, unless your name is Felipe Massa and you drive for Ferrari. So who are those drivers hiding their mediocrity behind technology these days? Isn’t it the other way around? That there are highly talented drivers who are not getting a fair shot (Vergne, Algersuari, Hulkenberg) to prove their worth? Hasn’t it become more difficult to enter F1 because of limited seats and testing? Wouldn’t drivers be even iller prepared if the Step between F1 and F3 was a quantum leap as it used to be in the past? I remember a couple of seasons ago, Fans were complaining that team weren’t hiding younger drivers, because they needed older, experience drivers like barrichelo due to the lack.of testing. Now all of a sudden there are too many kids in F1?

    • Well, if Chilton is sometimes one second off the pace in today’s cars, it’s likely he would be more than that off ten years ago or more..

      • Plus, over ten years ago the skills of someone like Frijns would have seen them definitely get a spot at a small team, as they could bring seconds to the team, not tenths. It’s how Fisichella, Trulli etc. all got a foot in the door at Minardi, even Alonso.

  2. So it seems the Statlers and Waldorfs of the F1 theatre have it rigged so that they get to b*tch and moan whichever way it goes for Verstappen. If he fails then “he’s too young” and if he does OK then “the cars are too tame”.

    Each generation thinks those that came before have or had it too easy, forgetting that the developments that make things “easy” are in fact the fruits of their own efforts. It’s like parents complaining that their own kids are spoilt.

    • We lost steel brakes and manual shifting. We got brake by wire and standard ecu’s. Cars are faster than in most of the glory years.
      So I can only echo your comments.

    • The only difference is two years… for Max at 17, read Alonso, Vettel at 19, Button, Massa at 20 and Kimi at 21. Max has just done what Kimi did in moving to F1 after one season in lower single seaters, after being right at the top in karting.

      Max is also ahead of everyone else ever.. so for Max at 17, read others like Kvyat, Ocon at 19. Kvyat is now primed to follow exactly in Vettel’s footsteps at RB, having first taken the youngest points scorer record from Seb at Toro Rosso.

      PS. Davidson and Lotterer would have done the same as Kimi/Massa too, but there were not enough non-pay driver seats in F1 around – Lotterer was priced out of Jaguar by Pizzonia, and may have beaten Webber in time to partner Vettel, like how Raikkonen beat out Heidfeld to McLaren, with Mark taking Andre’s path in Japan/WEC. Buemi could also have replaced Webber in 2012-13.

      • That’s true, though Zanardi has never really changed his tune no matter what sort of season Lewis was having. He’s always rated him highly. I believe his tweet after Hamilton’s Hungary 2013 pole was that he would kill for just one of Lewis’ legs/feet, nevermind both.

        Even though I agree with Zanardi’s latest musings, I think for even those who do not, that he’s not someone who anyone can say drones on about the same ol’ stuff, and doesn’t know when to shut their yapper, as I think JYS and JV are guilty of. He picks his moments.

        • To be honest, he is correct, in that in 2014, the best three drivers on the grid are Alonso, Hamilton and Ricciardo. Bottas, Rosberg, and Button are just off that, while Vettel and Raikkonen have fallen from the top rung that they were on before the rules changed, to be replaced by Ricciardo and Bottas.

          • To me, the one truth about todays grid of drivers is that, Hamilton and Alonso are the only two that actually bring time to the cars, no matter which car. You put either of them in any car on the grid, give them some laps to acclimatize, and that car will go faster then it ever has. As of yet, no one else has shown the versatility of driving styles that would put them in that league. It will be one hell of a battle if we are lucky enough to see a season of them in comparable cars…on different teams.

          • Agreed, Alonso is a master of driving however he can to get speed from the car, while Hamilton just seems to always find that last bit of time. It reminds me of Carlo’s anecdote of Senna testing Indycar.

            Once McLaren-Honda get anywhere near the Mercedes ballpark, I’m sure Alonso will try and make up the rest with surefire consistency. In comparable cars… the mouth waters!

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