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Previously on TJ13:
Alonso being lined up to replace Hamilton (updated 11:23 GMT)
OTD Lite 1978 – Impartial info about drugs? Talk to Franck
In the UK every year, official figures suggest that 100,000 people lose their lives to smoking related diseases. Around 30,000 to alcohol symptoms and a further 3000 to some form of narcotics overuse. Of course, the media continues to pump stories out about the evil of ‘illegal’ drugs but seemingly missing the point that the others are all taxable for governments across the world.
The cynic within would suggest that any government official is reluctant to ban a product that he sits on the directors board of and so we continue to hear of the dangers of weed, heroine, cocaine and their ilk. What does any of this have to do with F1 I hear the jaded readership ask. Well…
Here in Blighty, there is a charity called www.talktofrank.com giving information about drug use and on this day, 37 years ago, Franck Montagny was born.
As most will know he failed a drug test recently for the use of cocaine and will likely be banned from motor-sport. “Racing may be over for me. After the race, I saw the guy making a signal. I understood immediately. I knew it was over for me. I took the plane. I went shopping for two days. I didn’t want to be alone at home. Then I called my parents to tell them. I was ashamed.”
The Grumpy Jackal
Horner – Mercedes have done an incredible job
Christian Horner was in reflective mood when he spoke to Autosport recently about the issues that Red Bull suffered with their engine supplier in 2014. Having taken four straight double championships during the preceding seasons, Horner believed that Mercedes should take massive credit for their domination last year.
“I think first we need to congratulate Mercedes, who have done a truly incredible job with their power unit. The difference was bigger than we expected it would be. We feared there would be a deficit but nowhere near the sale we saw.”
Back in Jerez last year, TJ13 received reports that all Renault engined cars had been limited to just 250kms of running and that the solution to their issues would take at least 20 weeks t be solved. The mainstream media took a few days to catch up to the problems the French manufacturer was experiencing and as suggested by Canada, some 20 weeks later, Renault felt they had achieved 100% of their configuration.
Christian continued, “I think we were in the worst of all situations with Renault in that we were uncompetitive with an unreliable engine. But credit to them for sorting the reliability out on the engine.”
There was no mention made of Red Bull’s threats to leave the Regie or fund their own engine design for the future as alluded to by both Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz through the early part of the season but Red Bull’s Spice Boy offered a more reflective view on the future.
“I think Mercedes invested more strategically than Renault. It was something we were aware of and something we pushed Renault on, but unfortunately their management changes came too late to make an impact into this year, but hopefully they will make a big influence in the next few seasons.I think the philosophy to embrace Red Bull as the works team and to work as a partner as opposed to a customer was what needed changing, because the power unit needs to be fully integrated.”
Renault are just 8 race wins from becoming the second most successful engine manufacturer in Formula One.
Renault first entered the sport in 1977, winning their first race at the French GP in 1979 and introduced the first turbo charged engine to the sport. Ferrari have been competing with their own branded engine since 1951
It’s worth remembering, Red Bull have been a constructor in Formula One for just ten years, meanwhile Renault have dominated the sport with their engines for the last 35 years.
So who is lucky to be partnering who?
Alonso or Bottas being lined up to replace Hamilton (updated 11:23 GMT)
Shortly after the 2014 Belgian GP, TJ13 sources revealed a meeting that had taken place at Mercedes which could spell the end of Lewis Hamilton’s tenure with the team. In the preceding weeks, Nico Rosberg had signed a multi-year deal to remain with the Stuttgart manufacturer until the end of 2017, but plans were then put on hold in regards extending Lewis’ contract beyond 2015.
Th Guardian reported on the 5th September that those in Stuttgart were not happy with the level of remuneration they were paying Hamilton and so any new deal would require Hamilton to take a pay cut.
When pressed on the matter in October, Toto Wolf revealed Mercedes were not reopening contract discussions with Lewis until after the season had ended. “We have agreed with Lewis we want to concentrate on the championship and leave him alone. We want to give him the same possibilities as Nico, and for him not to get involved in commercial, financial and legal discussions until after Abu Dhabi.
“My commitment to him as well is we’re not going to talk to anybody about any terms or contracts until then.”
The same weekend, one of the Ferrari M&Ms – Marco Mattiacci – was committing Harakiri by p[laying hard ball with Fernando Alonso by signing (behind the scenes) Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull swiftly closed the door of opportunity on the Spaniard by announcing they would replace their four times German champion with rookie driver Daniel Kvyat.
Spice Boy Horner now has Danny B and Danny C as drivers for 2015.
These manoeuvres led to rife speculation that the Spanish Samurai driver would take a sabbatical from F1 for a year and prepare for a return with the Silver Arrows in 2016. However, he eventually signed what McLaren state is a multi-year contract, though it is unquestionably with performance clauses attached.
Fresh from his second F1 drivers’ title, Lewis was eager to commit himself to a future with Mercedes. Asked by Sky Sports F1 whether he saw himself at Mercedes for the next two or three years, Hamilton replied: “Without a doubt, and I hope longer. I’ve been a part of Mercedes since I was 13, so it’s a natural progression.
“During the season is not the time to really talk about things, and you start assessing and discussing the future generally in the last year of your contract.
“But we’re happy with where we are and what we’ve achieved together. Toto (Wolff) was just saying in the coming weeks we’ll sit down and hopefully it will be a simple process to go through – a formality.”
Yet a formality it has not been and for the first time, Toto Wolff is speaking publicly of a future without Hamilton beyond the 2015 season.
“There’s no hurry, we’ll discuss it during the year but I’m optimistic. The priority is to carry on with these drivers. Should it be impossible then Alonso represents the top alternative, followed by Valtteri Bottas.”
Of course with Wolff managing Bottas, many assume he would be the favoured driver for the German team – despite assertions from Claire Williams that the chiselled jawed Finn wouldn’t want to leave.
Yet Wolff openly declares his admiration for Fernando concluding, “He is a dangerous rival with any car If he is at the wheel of a car that can finish sixth, he will take it to third place.”
The big question is whether Jenson Button will once again make an F1 superstar appear not quite so super – and therefore spoil Alonso’s chances of driving for the Silver Arrows team in 2016.
Though as TJ13 reported post Monaco 2014, it may well be that Lewis has burned his bridges with Stuttgart as the British driver again re-iterated in the Sky Sports F1 2014 season review, he year he believed Nico Rosberg had cheated during qualifying in the principality.
It is a strange situation which sees the promising young Finnish driver now being openly discussed as his replacement at Brackley next year – just 3 weeks before the 2015 cars hit the track in Jerez.
Villeneuve waxes lyrical about Williams
It has been eighteen years aince Jacques Villeneuve claimed what remains the last World Championship won by the Williams team.. A notoriously difficult character, Jacques has admitted he was pleasantly surprised by the Sir Frank’s teams revival last season.
It was only two year ago in an interview that he expressed concern for the Grove concern: “When a team is forced to take pay drivers it’s a sign that they are finished as a force in F1.”
At the time the drivers were Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna. and with Senna replaced by Finnish newcomer Valtteri Bottas and Crashtor switching to the Lotus team, the prospects did not look good. This despite Bottas being managed by Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and seemingly a top candidate for one of the grandees in 2016; be it Mercedes or possibly even Ferrari.
The French-Canadian had a change of heart recently and admitted that “Bottas is a young driver and not a pay driver whereas Felipe Massa bought investment from Brazil. Ultimately the most significant step forward was the Mercedes Power Unit. It contributed greatly to the third place the team achieved.”
“Williams does not have a huge budget but still managed to reverse their downwards trend but the change is still not fully complete. This was the first season that the team went well in so we have to wait and see if they can continue in the same way.”
In a moment of heart-warming, gushing, platitude Jacques revealed his inner most feelings for his former employer – ” I knew they would make a step up but not as good as they did, they exceeded expectations.”
McLaren 2015 colours still a closely guarded secret
Team Woking are keeping their livery for 2015 a closely guarded secret, though TJ13 was informed during November that the traditional Marlboro McLaren Honda red and white had been ordered on a mock up.
Clearly the silver colours associated with Mercedes will go and Spanish publication Del Mundo Deportivo is speculating the team will return to and orange and white colour, traditionally associated with testing.
El Mundo Deportivo reported: “Honda does not want (McLaren) to continue with silver because it is a colour immediately associated with Mercedes and the ‘Silver Arrows’.
Of course, all this is dependent on whether McLaren have secured a deal with Honda which is sufficient to exclude Woking from engaging a title sponsor – whose colours would inevitably be represented.
Williams strengthens team further
Williams is pleased to announce an updated Race Operations structure to further bolster the engineering department ahead of the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship season.
Andrew Murdoch, previously Race Engineer to Felipe Massa, has been promoted to Senior Performance Engineer. Andrew will lead the Performance Group at the factory, developing new techniques and processes within the engineering team to ensure continual performance improvements are brought to both cars throughout the season. He will also remain part of the trackside team with a focus on Valtteri Bottas’s car on event.
The team is further strengthened by the appointment of Dave Robson, who has joined to take on the role of Race Engineer to Felipe and will work under Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley. Dave joins from McLaren, where he had been working with Jenson Button since 2010, most recently as his Race Engineer. Jonathan Eddolls continues as Race Engineer to Valtteri.
As part of this process, Carl Gaden has been promoted to Senior Car Systems Engineer. Carl joined Williams in 1988 and has spent the last 22 years as Chief Mechanic on the Race Team. With his vast hands-on experience working across the cars, he will now increase the capabilities of the team within this area focusing on ensuring systems continue to be reliable.
Mark Pattinson, previously Number 1 Mechanic to Felipe, will step up to take on the role of Chief Mechanic.
Pat Symonds, Williams Chief Technical Officer, said; “Off the back of a great 2014 campaign Williams is determined to continue this positive momentum into the new season, and these recent changes show our commitment to that goal. We are proud to be able to promote our existing talent to help strengthen every area within our engineering team and we will continue to invest in new talent where necessary to ensure we have the support and resources to achieve our on-track ambitions throughout 2015 and beyond. Our engineering team for the coming season is looking strong and I’m excited to get the new season underway.”
ORF not renewing F1 broadcasting contract
It’s early days yet as Austrian TV station ORF has a contract to broadcast Formula One until the end of 2016. However, the broadcaster’s Finance Director, Richard Grasl tells APA: “I think it makes more sense that we spend the Formula 1 fees on Austrian creativity in TV series and films”.
Of course it would be natural to expect Red Bull’s ‘ServusTV’ to take over – however, the collapse in the numbers of German speaking F1 viewers world may force them to think twice.