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Previously on TheJudge13:
OTD Lite 2004 – Whatever happened to the French GP
No this isn’t anything to do with the 1966 film of the same title, nor is it to describe any historic Grand Prix from history. This little snippet of history is a look back at the demise of the French Grand Prix.
On this day in 2004, it was announced that the French Grand Prix had secured its future after financial matters had been sorted. IE, Bernie received what he asked! But it lasted merely four more years and F1 is now entering its eighth season without a race on French soil. For the pedantics amongst you, Monaco is not French soil, and nor is it a race!
The word Grand Prix means Great Prize and the first race was the 1906 French GP. Its place in the history of the sport is beyond doubt and with the FIA being a French organisation led by a French President it seems astonishing that there is no race there. Especially when you consider some of the classic circuits that have held a race – Reims, Rouen, Clermont-Ferrand and Paul Ricard.
The Grumpy Jackal.
Vettel charms everyone during visit to Maranello
Sebastian Vettel was in Maranello yesterday – practising his rapidly improving Italian and meeting the team who will be toiling in their efforts to bring the Scuderia back to the winners circle.
The invitation had been extended by the team principal Maurizio Arrivabene and young Seb inspected the progress and updates of the new 2015 car – currently codenamed 666.
By all accounts the German has settled in well with this most Latin of teams who appreciate his humble nature and warmth. After the years spent with the demanding Fernando Alonso, Seb has already become a firm favourite amongst the men and women of the Gestione Sportiva.
As the self continues to expand across the world, Seb released his own – taken in the composite department of the Reparto Corse were all employees are dressed similarly to surgeons in an operating theatre so as not to contaminate the composite materials and glues with impurities.
As the picture proves it wan’t deemed necessary for the four-time champion to wear a hair cover – it seems that he truly is the Golden Child.
Wolff admits Mercedes coasting currently
As ever in the smoke and mirrors world of F1 – subterfuge isn’t just contained with spy photography or in certain cases transfer of intellectual property. On many occasions, teams are known to sand bag their opposition into believing their car is not competitive.
On others, the teams decided to show their pace so as to demoralise their opposition, as happened when Mclaren arrived at Imola in 1988 with the newly finished MP4/4.
Within the first laps of testing – the new Honda powered machine had beaten the best winter testing time of Ferrari by 2.5 seconds. The cumulative effect on the others proved insurmountable.
It would be impossible to predict how Mercedes is approaching the new season. With an advantage in 2014 that at times could be measured with a sun dial, they are likely to carry a great portion of that into the new season – obviously dependant on the work being done by the car’s designers.
Toto Wolff was clearly in a confident mood when he stated that the Silver Arrows will start the season with the Power Unit that took the season by storm last year. The new six cylinder turbo engine will not be debuted until the circus returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix.
“We are planning ahead and focusing on 2016 already. Around September we will begin testing components for the following season so we are as prepared as possible.”
As far as the development between the manufacturers is concerned Wolff is adamant: “Thinking about what has been decided, it will be us who will gain the most from the ‘unfreezing’ of the regulations and not our competition.”
Without doubt, the Stuttgart power-plant achieved levels closer to perfection than any of their rivals. Yet it would be foolhardy to believe that the returns for Mercedes would prove as significant as for two seasoned manufacturers that are both aware of the various shortcomings in their own designs.
In addition, with the Brackley base having lost a number of significant engineers to other teams, any technical advantage would have been disseminated already.
Pirelli wants bigger tyres for F1 spectacle
Any fans of the movie ‘Spinal Tap’ would appreciate the volume control that goes beyond the maximum of 10 – to 11 – just because.
Of course it would be simple to mock this ingrained human belief that bigger numbers means the product is essentially better.
Yet Pirelli motorsport boss, Paul Hembrey, was speaking to Autosport recently about improving the F1 show and his belief is that wider tyres would bring part of the missing ‘wow’ factor back to the sport.
With talk of 1,000bhp being achievable in the near future, Hembrey also echoes this: “It is like if we have 1000bhp – that would be great. I think there is an element of our sport that needs to get some big numbers back in there.”
Talks are at an early stage but the Pirelli boss has spoken with Charlier Whiting: “We’ve had the discussion with Charlie about that and we’ve always said that we are open to do what the sport needs. I think when you see the images of the 1970’s cars you think wow, look at that.”
“At the moment the tyres are quite small from my point of view. But we are open to discussion. For 2016 it would be very, very difficult to achieve so therefore would have to be 2017. Also our contract finished in 2016, so if we’re renewing it should combine with that.”
The F1 tyres currently measure 245mm wide at the front and 325mm wide at the rear but Hembrey believes the rears should be significantly larger. “I would love mentally to get above 400mm – because it sounds better.”
So as F1 heads back to the future, we have bigger horsepower and bigger tyres – yet smaller noise and smaller jockeys pressed behind the wheel.
With the FIA having seemingly knee-jerked a reaction to the Superlicense application process and failed to include dates for something as important as multi-million dollar engine development budgets – maybe it is time Le President came out from behind his desk and actually provided guidance to the patients of the world’s richest asylum.
Monaco undergoing expansion plans
In an ever-changing world, the more things stay the same. Except in Monaco it seems. Reports have been heard that Monte Carlo, the playground of the rich and famous, is to have significant upgrades to the Principality which in turn will alter the layout of the track as we have come to know it.
Over the next four years, changes are expected around the famous town that will impact the Tabac corner, Lowes Hairpin, Ste. Devote and even the penultimate corner of Rascasse.
Initially the modifications will be small but a shopping centre is scheduled to be built near to the finish line which will have a 300 car Automobile museum adjacent to the summing pool.
At the same time, construction will move the waterfront further out into the Mediterranean and finally to improve access to the pitlane and paddock many of the old buildings will be demolished to give better viewing to the moneyed customers.
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