#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 5th January 2015

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Previously on TJ13:

On This Day in #F1: 5th January 1993 – Mansell stuns America

#F1 Features: Spot the Elephant – Engine Loopholes


OTD Lite 1978 – Impartial info about drugs? Talk to Franck

Horner – Mercedes have done an incredible job

Alonso being lined up to replace Hamilton (updated 11:23 GMT)

Villeneuve waxes lyrical about Williams

McLaren 2015 colours still a closely guarded secret 

Williams strengthens team further

ORF not renewing F1 broadcasting contract


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.

17b2fc9656As 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

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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.

Ferrari 222

Ford 176

Renault 168

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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McLaren 2015 colours still a closely guarded secret

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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.

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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.”

(Press release)

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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.

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26 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 5th January 2015

  1. So if Toto hires Alonso or Bottas and KMag gets a regular McLaren drive, we could see Lewis, a good chance to be a 3 time WDC this time next year out of F1? Or taking a pay cut? Replacing Bottas or driving a Lotus?

    That will really be a silly season.

    • If this isn’t a crude attempt at trying to get Lewis to take a paycut, then it may shake out like this –
      1. Lewis to McLaren, Alonso to Mercedes.
      2. Lewis to Williams, Bottas to Mercedes. (not very likely).

      Or the really silly season option

      3. Ferrari decide to not extend Kimi’s contract and they hire Lewis as a replacement.

      Alonso won’t be any cheaper than Lewis, considering where he is with his F1 career – not many years left.
      Of course being a mischievous so and so I’d find it quite Ironic if Mercedes goes pearshaped just as Honda hits it’s stride, yet again denying Alonso a 3rd drivers title if he were to move to Mercedes. While I expect the Mercedes power unit to be the best for quite some time, all Mercedes have to do is go wrong on the chassis design and see Williams leap frog them. The core of Mercedes achievements in 2014 are down to the planning and hard work put in by Ross Brawn and the team he assembled. I really don’t see Paddy Lowe as being anywhere near the same level as Ross Brawn in that regard. In fact you can probably place a bit of the blame for McLaren’s recent woes on Paddy Lowe, prior to him jumping ship.

      • He’s not known as the Leprechaun for nothing…

        “A leprechaun (Irish: leipreachán) is a type of fairy in Irish folklore, usually taking the form of an old man, clad in a red or green coat, who enjoys partaking in mischief”.

        • I’m sure you’ll have some suitably bad puns ready for when the wheels fall off the Mercedes train.

  2. Wasn’t that Toto story part of last years news?

    In other news, more engineer departures at McLaren, Dave Robson has joined Williams as Massa’s new race engineer. Sauber’ new driver trio reportedly worth $50m to the team and Force India has revealed Jan 21st to unvail the teams new livery. 🙂 🙂

      • I know, was just being a little mischievous….. 🙂 🙂

        So Alonso finds his future in the hands of Lewis? I wonder how he feels about that?

    • sounds like they are trying to force hamilton into accepting a pay cut. i wonder if the management style at mercedes will result in a collapse of the team rather sooner than later. not only because of hamilton, but because there seems to be internal friction at several levels, and because i think getting rid of brawn was already a mistake. part of the success of other teams that dominated over several seasons was that they maintained the key players in place. once the key structure changes, the downfall begins. in my opinion, the main driver is part of that key structure. williams 92 – 98 might indicate otherwise, but then again, they had a two year slump after kicking out prost, and driver changes were part of what drove newey away.

  3. That picture of the speculative McLaren livery has the low profile tyres on it as per the Lotus test last year. Did I miss any news about a decision made about the their future use? Any one know what the story is?

    I’m not a fan of the big wheel thing myself, tbh. They look a bit like they were stolen from a covered wagon or something. Each to their own though, I guess.

  4. Toto was speaking of a “possible future” without Lewis. That story is way too over sensationalised.

    • You may be right about the story, but I also think that Wollf was gently putting it out there that MB reckon Lewis wants their seat more than MB needs Lewis *at the moment*. Any one of maybe ten drivers could have taken the WDC in their car last year given the dominance MB achieved.

      But, if it comes to pass (and I can’t see it myself), Toto may well regret losing Lewis if their advantage thins and there’s more of battle on track.

      Leaving aside whether the top guys are worth the dollar amount of their pay packets, surely the teams employ the best talent in the expectation of a fight. For MB to be quibbling over salaries while they are so dominant smacks of extreme hubris.

      • Well I think MB and Toto might be getting a bit too cocky if that’s their approach. And you’re right that they could regret letting him go if the other teams gets close, because as we saw last season, on Sunday’s Nico seems to forget that’s when the points are won.

        I watched the end of season program on Sky and when discussing Lewis, he stated along the lines, that Lewis joining the team gave them an edge that never had and the team needed, so it would be really strange that now they’re winning, they may no longer need him.

      • @rodgerD

        Looking at it another way. Mercedes are currently way ahead of the opposition, and every top driver would like to be in their team. It’s not as if they have to do a selling job, like 2012. If Lewis wants to be a bandit, then they have other viable choices. A number of other drivers could easily have won the championship in that car. Mercedes have the upper hand in this negotiation. As Eddie Jordan said, ‘ There’s always another talented driver around the corner’.

  5. They say more things change the more they stay the same,and we this recurring attempt by F1 men to rebuke Lewis hamilton financially.Lewis came into the team and negotiated his market price,then Rosberge has a few comparable performances and suddenly the teams want financial parity between drivers.F1 has a great tradition of great disparity in drivers pay.
    we saw the same situation at Mclaren where the idea of Lewis earning more than button was offensive to allot of people at Mclaren.In the end they nobbled Lewis to get Button close to him to justify it,now how did that work out once Lewis left?
    The idea that Merc is not going to pay Lewis his market price but buy Alonso more expensive contract is kind of ludacris…This is the kind of story that give a hard on to people who like to see Lewis put in his PLACE so to speak.

    As usual most people either dont get Lewis or refuse to..The Bigger master plan for Lewis is to win a 3rd championship with a 3rd team and that 3rd team being Ferrari..In doing so he would do what Alonso couldnt do,and put himself in a class of his own above Vettell and shumacher.

    So yea Lewis hold all the cards,Merc will pay what he wants within reason or he go to Ferrari in 2116 to replace Kimmi punto basta.

    Lewis has taken on Ron dennis and won,so this rather infantile threat from wolf wont phase him.

    • I agree – if Merc are trying to save money, that it is ludicrous to think that they can get Alonso on the cheap. Bottas, maybe yes, but Alonso definitely not.

      No doubt This Lewis/Toto story will get repeated many more times on various F1 web sites – it is guaranteed to generate a lot of traffic.

      I am a Hamfosi and don’t really care who he drives for or how much they pay him. As long as he is competing, it adds interest to F1 races. The only other driver who I care to watch is Alonso. The rest are there just to make up the numbers.

    • i think this is not so much about alonso and more about bottas. wolff manages bottas, and of course would like to see him race and win for mercedes. if he wants to make him the number one driver, he needs to get rid of lewis. i think that is what a lot of the friction last year and the contract extension for nico were really about. they can’t resign nico, who won 8 races in 8 seasons, and raise his salary, and then ask lewis, who just won the a wdc, and is a two times champion with 33 race wins on his belt, to accept a pay cut.

  6. I’ve heard Ferdy’s harder to work with than Hammy, but what do I know. I do suspect someone is drawing a bead on his own foot, talking like that.

    Nige and Indycar: No matter what you’ve driven before, you’re considered a rookie first time out in a new series. That said, I lost interest in Indycars years ago–couldn’t identify drivers, teams had different liveries on their cars so couldn’t identify teams, round&round didn’t appeal to me, and the announcer team just didn’t appeal to me. Unlike the SPEED and now NBCSN team (though I do miss Bob Varsha); these guys I enjoy listening to, especially now that I can hear them better with the engine noise lowered.

  7. Here’s a question; should Mercedes decide, at some point in the near future, that the services of one Toto Wolff are no longer conducive to their corporate interest, which F1 team would most likely be interested in his services? Sure it’s easy to say it would be Williams but, Haas F1 would allow for Mr. Wolff to show the entire F1 community his unmatched skill at Developing and Maintaining a successful winning operation.

    PS
    Happy New Year All!

    • First Merc would have to buy out his 30% stake in the team then they can give him the boot.

        • He chose to leave Williams; they didn’t give him the ares.

          Might help explain tho’ why Merc want to squeeze Hammy’s money; sort of setting up a fund prior…..

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