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OTD Lite 1998 – Arise Sir Frank
Sixteen years ago, Frank Williams was awarded a knighthood by Her Majesty the Queen of England for his service to motor-sport. His team’s tally of nine constructors titles and seven drivers titles – over the preceding 18 years – had proven that this single minded and at times ruthless individual had followed a path which earnt respect and admiration throughout the world.
To my mind, after the passing of Enzo Ferrari, there has only been one team owner who has shown the necessary ethics to stand shoulder to shoulder with Il Commendatore.
As much as Ron Dennis would like to think himself a fair man in competition, there are far too many instances of favourtism within the Mclaren team to include him in this exclusive list. Sir Frank has proven over the decades that he tolerates no driver above the call of his team and has unceremoniously removed any driver deemed unworthy of one of his cars. Often to the teams own detriment.
Williams has never been so dramatic as to utter Enzo’s favourite saying, but his actions speak volumes – Williams cars win races, the drivers lose them..
The Grumpy Jackal
Boullier optimistic for 2015 after giant strides by Mclaren
Eric Boullier will not be taking any time off over the festive season as he continues with his reorganisation of the Mclaren team. Despite finishing an excellent second and third in Australia, Mclaren were never to trouble the podium again during a year that forced the Woking engineers to reevaluate their performance against a rival with a substantially smaller budget – Force India.
Boullier admitted; “Being behind the Force India was a concern and it rang warning bells for the team. We were not at the same level of Mercedes but we still had the best power unit in the business.”
“It was difficult to understand the downforce problems with a wind tunnel that does not work. It is far more complex putting in place processes with the construction of the car and it took a lot of analysis to understand where the problems lay. We believe we understand where the problems were and we have become more efficient and this experience will be fundamental to avoid repeating the same mistakes.”
Boutlier continued with own spin on the struggles Mclaren suffered this season, “It’s easy to look at Australia and being on the podium but we knew from our numbers that we were the sixth best team on the grid. By year’s end we were the third so there has been major improvements!”
As usual the Frenchman has a habit of revising some truths and it is possibly of major concern to any of the team’s fans that whilst he alludes to being the third best team, he is effectively ignoring some of the facts.
Of course, Mercedes maintained the advantage all season long and WIlliams were clearly the second best overall package in Abu Dhabi – but to ignore the fact that the Red Bulls had been disqualified from the fifth and sixth grid positions, and that season long rivals Force India were working to a significantly smaller budget than Mclaren may not sit so easily with the more cynical.
Of course, as witnessed throughout 2014, care has to be taken with Eric’s quotes but he remains optimistic for nest season, “My goal was to complete 95% of the restructuring of the team by the end of the season. We reached that target in time for the switch to the Honda power unit and it will be a new challenge with a different design concept. I hope 2015 will be more positive as we know the direction we want to head towards…”
Zanardi carries strong opinions about drivers abilities
In an interview with Leo Turrini, Alex Zanardi offered his opinions on the upcoming season and his thoughts on the drivers that lead the field.
Unsurprisingly the Ironman believes that Lewis Hamilton will maintain his advantage this year but not purely because of the inherent qualities of the Mercedes, “In my opinion, Hamilton is the best amongst the current crop of drivers and perhaps the only who comes close to him, in absolute terms, is Alonso. But I still think Lewis is a step above.”
How did he feel about Ferrari’s new driver – Sebastian Vettel? “I think he is a great driver, maybe not at the level of Hamilton or Alonso, but we are talking about a very very competitive driver who has arrived at Maranello with the right spirit.”
Of more concern for the tifosi is the fact that Ferrari have two drivers who suffered in comparison to their respective team-mates this season. With the warning bells from Sergio Marchionne stating that next years 666 Ferrari was not designed in an effective manner it will be important for the drivers to recover from their underperforming from the 2014 season.
“Apart from the car which is obviously a significant part of the equation, it will be interesting to see how Vettel and Raikkonen recover from their lacklustre experiences. Seb was put under by Ricciardo and this cannot be disputed and in the same manner Kimi completely lost his battle with Fernando which again cannot be argued. It will be very interesting to watch the two Ferrari drivers as they come to terms with a Ferrari that has already been claimed is nowhere near good enough. It will be fascinating”