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Previously on TheJudge13:
OTD Lite 1995 – The bells toll for Team Lotus
It was twenty years ago today that Team Lotus announced it’s withdrawal from Grand Prix racing. A constant participant from their debut in 1958, the Hethel squad had re-written the book on Formula One designs throughout.
Lotus 25, 33, 49, 72, 79 – each car became an icon of its era and their drivers legends. Tobacco sponsorship first ran on the Gold Leaf Lotus team cars. With the death of Colin Chapman in December 1982, Lotus soldiered on for a further thirteen years and had a last shout at glory in the mid 80’s with a man who would have found a kindred spirit in Chapman – Ayrton Senna.
By the early 90’s, their cars resembled a badly designed patchwork quilt and the writing was on the wall.
Inevitably the team slipped back until financial issues forced their withdrawal. Of all the teams that have been lost to the history books – perhaps Lotus is the saddest of all.
The Grumpy Jackal.
Honda turn defeat into victory over the FIA
Since Charlie Whiting revealed that the FIA had cocked up the engine regulations for 2015 – by ‘forgetting’ to put a date into the regulations by which the manufacturers both new and existing had to homologate their engines, TJ13 has maintained Honda would not be placed at a disadvantage from this oversight.
As was discussed on this week’s podcast recorded on Wednesday evening, Honda had leverage from the fact that the FIA regulations also state that only one homologated engine per year could be used by a Formula One team.
Hence, should any team run their 2014 power unit and then introduce an upgrade which used their 32 tokens of available development, Honda would immediately protest that a breach of the one homologated engine per season had been made.
Following a meeting on Monday in Paris where the top brass from Japan flew in to register their disdain at the FIA’s initial ruling that suggested they alone would not be able to develop their engine in 2015, the FIA have predictably relented.
The new ruling from the FIA will take into account, the number of development tokens the other teams have used by the first race in Australia. Honda will be allowed to develop their engine by the average number of tokens each of the other manufacturers has not used for the engine for this race.
This will be agreed by the other teams, simply because in good old spaghetti movie fashion, everyone has a gun to everyone else’s head should they not agree a way forward which allows Honda some development freedom like the other teams.
The regulations are now completely contradictory, so each party around the table can protest another is in breach of one rule at least, should a way forward not be found.
This means, should Ferrari only use up 16 of its development 32 tokens for the engine it races in Melbourne, Mercedes uses 20 and Renault 18 – Honda will be allowed to develop its new engine after Melbourne to the tune of 14 tokens.
Honda now have an advantage. They have been able to bring a completely new engine to the competition this year, whilst the other teams have 6 of 66 components which are completely out of bounds for development, and can still only change 48% of the 2014 engine outside those forbidden areas.
So by chance, the FIA have found a way out of ‘another fine mess’ they have found themselves in, and Ferrari’s clever discovery of a loophole isn’t looking quite so advantageous after all.
Hockenheim hold a gun to Ecclestone’s head
It’s slit your wrists time, Bernie is up to his usual tricks of screwing with the F1 calendar just weeks before the season begins.
In 2013, a deal was done with Nurburgring just 2 weeks prior to the race taking place, which saw the promoters pay no hosting fee.
As TJ13 reported in the week, Ecclestone is claiming, the Nurburgring will not host the German GP this year as planned and Hockenheim will have the event for the second year running.
Yet Hockenheim are not playing ball. The 2014 event saw a mere 52,000 fans in attendance, and on that level of ticket sales, the promoters are losing money hand over fist.
Ecclestone told Reuters on Wednesday, “It is going to be at Hockenheim (this year instead of Nurburgring), we’re in the middle of doing something with them.
“We’ve got a contract in place, we just have to amend the years of the contract. It was alternating with Nurburgring so we’ll just take that out,” Ecclestone added.
Yet as in 2013, Hockenheim are protesting they cannot afford to host the German GP in consecutive years.
Hockenheim boss Georg Sieler, told AMuS that there is no agreement in place with Ecclestone yet. “We can only announce this if a contract is signed. And we’re not there yet.”
“Naturally we want to record positive numbers,” Seiler said. “In exceptional circumstances, one can perhaps even accept a ‘black zero’ (break even).”
“At any rate, a timely decision now is desirable and necessary,” he added.
It looks as though Bernie will again have to drop his trousers, though this time it will not be with the Nurburgring – who Ecclestone attempted and failed to acquire.
Davidson discusses the rivals of F1 2015 season
Anthony Davidson had a chequered Formula One career but has over the years proven himself a main player in endurance racing culminating in winning the title last year with Toyota. He was speaking recently and offered some insight into the upcoming 2015 season.
“With the easing of the engine development regulations, there will be closer overall performance e but I am convinced that Mercedes will not be just observers – they will be seeking to increase their lead.”
“All the teams know they have to improve their performance from last year and they will be aware of their individual failures. Take Lotus for example, the car was fundamentally wrong in different areas and have spent last year working out the issues for the new car which will run in a few weeks.”
“Inevitably all performance will level out as each team arrives at the point of the pyramid but although Mercedes could increase their lead, I’d be really surprised if we witnessed Nico and Lewis in a similarly dominant position.”
“Red Bull? Well, Viry will struggle with half the data from just Red Bull and Toro Rosso coming in; as opposed to last years four teams they were running but this is balanced by the fact they can focus their work in one direction. Red Bull’s chassis was undoubtedly very strong but they lacked downforce in comparison to Mercedes. If the engine is sorted out, then Ricciardo and Kyvat will challenge.”
Inevitably the interviewer left the Mclaren-Honda partnership as the last to be surmised. With Davidson having driven extensively for the BAR-Honda team and latterly the Super Aguri team – he has intimate knowledge of the Japanese work ethos.
“Honda know their stuff and their efforts are always focused on accomplishments. They work hard but after that pathetic test in Abu Dhabi they have to perform better but it would not have stopped their development. I know them well and they will continue to innovate and although the honeymoon period may not be as sweet as in the past, I’m sure they will have a bright future.”
Of course what Toyota man Davidson forgot to add was that when he drove Honda powered F1 cars, their technology was neither cutting edge, fast or reliable.
The romantics amongst the F1 fraternity would like to see the Mclaren-Honda package emulate the glorious years of the late 80’s whereas the realists hope that the Woking team will be able to achieve just a little of that success – in the future.
Hamilton – Dangers of ambitious parents in karting
Anthony Hamilton was at the recent Autosport show promoting Formula Karts Stars in collaboration with Terry Fullerton, better known as Ayrton Senna’s great rival from karting.
Of course in promoting karting his message was simple, any karter needs a healthy career path planned and not just to jump into F1 at the earliest opportunity.
“One of the reasons I’m rarely involved in a young drivers career is that they and their families don’t want to do what we did. They want instant gratification. A driver spends less than a year in a category and thinks I’ve had enough of this – I’ll skip two or three categories because they have the funding and next thing you know they are in a F1 car.”
“There’s a lot of talent out there but none wants to wait. With Lewis, we had two years in Formula Renault and he won, two in F3 and won, a season in GP2 which he won and then into F1. Therefore he had a lot of experience when he made his F1 debut.”
“It was disappointing, in 2008 we received letters and emails from people who wanted their son to be like Lewis. Many sold their houses to fund the racing and would not send them to school. Some even sold luxury homes to afford to race karts in Italy. “
“I have no idea where they are now but I remember I did not want to be responsible for these children and their parents who lost everything.”
“Lewis and I also wanted to get to the top quicker but Mclaren told us to wait, it would be more constructive. Part of the agreement between ourselves and Mclaren was that he had to go to school. Nothing in life is guaranteed.”
What was left unsaid was the Max Verstappen effect on the sport. Many seasoned observers are highly critical of Red Bull’s cynical marketing ploy and to the FIA being stung into action over the superlicence requirements.
Maybe the sport is finally waking up to the questionable morals observed by the majority of the motorsport food chain. Then again when the majority eat at the trough…
Fullerton – Senna’s greatest rival joins forces with Hamiltons
As mentioned, Anthony Hamilton, his son double World Champion Lewis and Terry Fullerton have established a Formula Kart Stars series that promotes karting talent without the need for exorbitant costs that are currently involved.
Terry Fullerton remained in relative obscurity until the Senna film was released in 2011. In a filmed press conference the Brazilian was asked who was his greatest rival in his career. He replied Fullerton – who was recognised as the world’s finest karter in the late 70’s.
Having discovered talents such as Anthony Davidson, Gary Paffett, Dan Wheldon and Allan Mcnish – Fullerton has an enviable record indeed but why did he not compete in the higher rungs of motor-sport.
“My dream when I was thirteen was to become a professional driver in karting whereas everybody else wanted to be in Formula One. By the time I was 18/19 years old I was living my dream – I loved it and I just wasn’t interested in all these other categories – I don’t watch F1, I just love karts.”
Honda vetos Alonso Le Mans bid
A few weeks ago, rumours were circulating that Porsche intended to enter a third LMP1 car at Le Mans this year with three F1 talents behind the wheel. At the time, Mclaren had not confirmed either driver for the 2015 season and the talk intensified that Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso would join Nico Hulkenburg at La Sarthe next June.
The supposed stumbling block was that if the Spaniard was signed by Mclaren, they would baulk at him driving for one their road cars competitors as Porsche occupy the same market place as the MP4/12C.
In actual fact, Honda has flexed their muscle and forbidden their respective drivers from driving the Porsche. With Alonso having recently tweeted a picture of the forthcoming Honda NSX – the picture becomes clearer as this Honda will be a Porsche rival. It seems that the new ‘golden age’ of endurance racing may have to wait a little longer.
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