#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 19th January 2015


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Previously on TheJudge13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: “Holy shit! Let’s just make stuff up.”

OTD Lite 1950 – Villeneuve related to Grosjean and Maldonado

Caption Competition

Little chance of an American driver for Haas F1

No title partner for McLaren F1

Mercedes will now test their 2015 engine in Jerez

The US Grand Prix under immediate threat

Mercedes 2015 F1 car launch

Marussia F1 team saved?

Last driver from the 1950 F1 season dies

OTD Lite 1950 – Villeneuve related to Grosjean and Maldonado

Oh to court controversy!! Here goes…

Gilles Villeneuve was the Romain Grosjean/ Pastor Maldonado of his era.

Until Senna hit F1 with his intense, dark, ‘Byron’ style anti-hero – Villeneuve was my first hero. He was killed before I reached the age of 14 and in the mind’s eye was the type of race driver we all admire. Out of control, yet fully under control. Having accidents seemingly at every event yet escaping injury. Daredevil tactics with helicopters flying on fumes yet a family man and adored by many across the world.

Yet something bothers me about GV. His legend is without question – arguably superceded by Ayrton’s live death on TV. People discuss him with reverance including lunatic driving on public roads. He may have got away with it but no-one reports if the other road users crashed in shock.

Possibly most shocking of all is the articles written by Nigel Roebuck in support of his close friend and against Didier Pironi and the subsequent biography written by Canadian Gerald Donaldson…

So to finish where I started – Gilles Villeneuve – the Grosjean/ Maldonado of the late 70’s.


The Grumpy Jackal.


Caption Competition

“for an alternative view on F1, follow TJ13’s Usher”




Little chance of an American driver for Haas F1

When Gene Haas announced his entry into Formula One in June 2014, he stated,“It would be great if we could put [an American] in there – it would just be the home run: an American team with an American driver in a European series. That would be phenomenal”.

Currently the only citizen of the USA holding an F1 superlicense is Alexander Rossi. The last American driver in F1 was Scott Speed who drove 30 races for Toro Rosso between 2005 and 2007, though it ended in acrimony.

Speed and a number of other drivers ended the German GP in 2007 in the gravel trap at turn one due to the difficult conditions, though Franz Tost was reportedly incandescent, blaming the driver and Speed accused him of being “out of control”. Scott told Autosport, “He grabbed me right below the neck, on my fireproof t-shirt, and jerked me back and forth, let go, and then pushed me into the wall behind where the cars are. There were two team people there, and another person, who saw it”.

The big winner in all this was Sebastian Vettel, who got his chance to race in F1 following Speed’s immediate departure from the team.

Rossi’s plan was to race in Formula One in 2015, as he told F1web.it at the start of last season. “I want to be in Formula 1 after I have served two years working as a test pilot”

Yet Alexander’s focus for 2015 following the disappearance of Marussia and Caterham has turned to finding a seat in Indy Car.

However, Rossi and Haas have a problem in getting the American driver into a Haas car in 2016 since the change of the qualification criteria for the F1 superlicense.

A driver who has had a superlicense must have competed in either 5 F1 races in the previous season or 15 races over the past 3 years. Rossi will not qualify on that basis.

The other route to qualification is via the points system in the lower racing series. Rossi has competed in GP2 during 2013 and 2014, but for 2016 will have accrued just 1 point for this 9th place standing in the drivers table in 2013.

Rossi will need to win the Indy Car championship as a driver to accrue the required 40 points required for him to be granted a an F1 superlicense for 2016.

Conor Daly is probably the American best placed to qualify for a Formula One superlicense, as he would have to find a drive in a series for 2015 and score 20 points following his past two seasons in GP3 and GP2.

Though the most likely outcome is that Haas F1 will not be able to field an American driver in 2016 which will be a disappointment to Haas and US fans of Formula One.


No title partner for McLaren F1

Telefonica has been rumoured to be negotiating with McLaren as a potential sponsor for the team following the announcement of Fernando Alonso’s return.

The Spanish telecoms giant was a major sponsor of the Renault F1 Team during Fernando Alonso’s time with the team.

A spokesperson for Telecom yesterday stated, “Telefonica will not be sponsoring a Formula One team” and is happy with its current portfolio of sponsorship.

McLaren have not announced a major title sponsor partner and as TJ13 reported in December 2013 – the Woking team is believed to be receiving sufficient backing from Honda, that the Japanese company will in effect be both engine supplier and the only commercial partner named on the McLaren Formula One formal entry for 2015.


Mercedes will now test their 2015 engine in Jerez

Formula One is like the drama queen of motorsport. There’s always a crisis either about to happen or the news resolves around the latest farcical goings on within the sport.

The news cycle is rarely full of good news stories and anyone who follows the sport in more than a passing fashion for self-preservation purposes is well advised to adopt the attitude of a healthy sceptic.

The FIA’s mishandling of the engine regulations and the impact this will have for the 2015 season has been a dominant theme for a number of weeks now and is still rumbling on. Obviously, all kinds of rumours have been circulating – many of which TJ13 doesn’t publish – due to the fact that our sources inform us they are patently untrue.

However, it has been recently suggested that Mercedes would be taking only their 2014 engine to Jerez due to the ruling from the FIA that the teams can develop their engines beyond the usual homologation period prior to the start of the first race.

Whilst the dominance of the Mercedes power unit even toward the end of 2014 would probably mean the Brackley team could begin the season in this manner and still maintain an advantage over Renault and Ferrari, this course of action would make no sense.

The purpose for testing – is exactly what it says on the tin – testing. Trying out new designs away from the design laboratories an in a ‘real life’ setting. Therefore, given the current F1 era where testing his drastically limited, it would make no sense for Mercedes to waste this opportunity to test the developments they plan to bring to their 2015 engine.

Further, customer teams will have contractual arrangements which ensure they get the new engine by a certain date to ensure they have the opportunity to harmonise the PU with their own chassis.

Mercedes have been working on the use of their 32 ‘development tokens’ for quite some time and are keen to see what the results of their theoretical endeavours really are.

Italy’s Omnicourse is reporting that Mercedes are now “assembling the car that will be taken to the Jerez test, and it will have the power unit configuration of 2015”.

More terrifying for those without an engine from Brixworth in 2015, the Italian publication claims Mercedes were running just 50% of the allowable 500 bar of fuel pressure in 2014. The 2015 engine will run at the full 500 bar due to the development of a new Bosh injection system.

This said, Mercedes may still begin the season in Melbourne using a 2014 engine – however, that decision will be made once the test data has been delivered and an assessment of the competition’s progress analysed.


The US Grand Prix under immediate threat

The Circuit of the America’s in Austin Texas is widely accepted as one of Herman Tilke’s best designs for a new F1 facility. This may in part have something to do with the passionate visionary who brought the project to life – Tavo Helmund – whose father was a close friend of Ecclestone and promoter of the Mexican GP in the 1990’s.

However, any house built on a foundation which is not solid, will sooner rather than later fall.

The budget for COTA when the project was conceived was around $300m yet a number of estimates have the cost at $4-450, which makes Austin the home of the most expensive Formula One venue ever built.

A recent article in The Austin Business Journal argues that this investment was a complete waste of time – given that since its completion, COTA makes a profit of just $1m. The venue has held just 11 events including three F1 weekends since it opened in 2012.

This profit is only possible due to a massive subsidy from the state of Texas which sees COTA receive just under $30m a year. The Texas Speedway which holds a round of the NASCAR championship amongst other motor sports events, cost the tax payers of Texas a mere $544,000 a year.

There has been a lot of unease in the political classes that COTA does not justify the spend awarded by the state and in fact has been declaring attendance figures artificially high, to ensure the subsidy remains the same.

The same Austin Journal claims that 13 temporary grandstands which were erected for the first race in 2012, were not present in 2014 and crowd numbers may actually have been as low as 50,000 on race day.

The more people attend the F1 race weekend, the more the state pays as these people are assumed to mostly be from out of state and are bringing economic benefit to Texas by spending their money on hotels, food and drink and entertainment.

Tomorrow sees Texas state Governor, Rick Perry, leave office and he will be replaced by Greg Abbot. Perry was instrumental in bringing Formula One to Texas, but it is uncertain that the man replacing him will view the spend of nigh on $30m to support a Formula One race in a similar manner to Perry.

Further, it is as yet unknown the impact the Mexican GP will have on the attendance at COTA’s F1 race weekend, but it is only around a two hour flight between the two locations and many domicile Mexicans who have been have been visiting COTA over the past three years, may choose to attend their own national event in 2015 instead of travelling to Texas.

Clearly Bobby Epstein and Red McCoombes would suffer significant losses on a Formula One race weekend were the state contribution to be reduced or cancelled.


Mercedes 2015 F1 car launch

Mercedes have confirmed they will launch their W06 challenger for the 2015 Formula One season on the February 1st. Mercedes and Red Bull did this in 2014 and the first driver to try out the latest offering from Brackley will be Nico Rosberg. Lewis Hamilton will drive on days 2 and 4 of the first winter test in Jerez.

“The workload this winter has been as great as ever,” said Toto Wolff. “Where last year we were preparing for an all-new formula of racing, we are now faced with the big challenge of making the next step in our development.

“We know that we went into the winter with a target on our backs for the other teams – and we are certain that our rivals will be competitive from the opening race in Melbourne. So we have to focus on every detail if we want to build any advantage this year and that is what we have done.

“This is an exciting time of year as our collective efforts all come together in the new car. Everybody in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart has put a great amount of effort into creating the latest Silver Arrow and I thank them for their efforts so far. We are excited to see how the car performs when it begins running.”

A number of teams have yet to confirm their launch days for their new designs, but this is what we have so far.

January 21: Force India
January 29: McLaren
January 30: Ferrari
February 1: Mercedes


Marussia F1 team saved?

Marussia – or Manor Racing – have been on the brink of extinction since they failed to make the final three races of the 2014 Formula One season.

There has been an auction by the administrator a significant number of assets, though Graham Lowden always claimed these were non-essential for operations in 2015 to continue. “There have been some auctions already but none of the equipment that has been sold so far is essential for the team to go forward.”

There was a further auction planned for this Wednesday, which would see machinery sold off and Lowden admitted to SKY, “If that equipment went it would be difficult [to carry on].”

Team principal John Booth revealed today to the BBC that talks were “at a fairly advanced stage with a new investor – a credible investor”.  In light of this, the auction has been postponed by the team’s administrator.

Manor Racing would require special permission to run in 2015 certain components they used in 2014 – like the nose – as they have had no time to develop these to the 2015 specifications.

Last driver from the 1950 F1 season dies

Robert Manzon (April 12, 1917 – January 19, 2015) was a French racing driver born in Marseille. He participated in 29 Formula One GP’s and debuted at Monaco, the second race of the inaugural F1 season in 1950.

During his career Robert scored two third place podium finishes – in Belgium and France – in a career which saw him drive predominantly for Pétoulet’s Gordini. Whilst Manzon won non-championship GP’s, he was considered by some ‘too loyal’ to the French low budget team and could have won a number of championship races had he been a a more reliable car.

Manzon draws back the veil on what it was really like racing in the 1950’s. Following the opening race of the 1953 F1 season in Buenos Aires, a rather matter of fact Manzon told reporters: “This is the 3rd time I lost a wheel during a race. It is a pity because my strategy was good and I could have scored a good result. I let other drivers fight each other to take some places. Thanks to circumstances I was up in 2nd. Then my brakes were out. On top of that, it took me 6 minutes to change my tyres. I often had to drive very carefully to avoid a crash. Indeed, spectators were unconscious of the danger, they were crossing over the track. On lap 7 I nearly hit a policeman’s horse!”

Robert Manzon was the last living racing driver to take part and score points in the first year of the new Formula One championship in 1950.


29 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 19th January 2015

  1. Agreed Carlo. His sons a chip off the block if you ask me too. Just goes to show, best thing you can do for your reputation is die young and full of promise.

  2. The ‘future’ F2 championship that may one day return cannot come soon enough. What hope do stateside talents have of driving in lower level series like GP2/3, when there is little US coverage of then for their US sponsors? Another reason to extend GP2/3 to the USGP weekend…

  3. No US driver – but maybe the next best thing? Gutierrez won’t be jumping into a Ferrari in 2016, but he might jump into a customer one… and being Mexican he might be a ‘home driver’ for at least a few of the US populace..

    • Imagine an American company hiring a Mexican. Lol, news headlines we’ll be fun.

      /no, not a racist

  4. Telefonica may sponsor Mclaren, seriously, not has he been consistantly the best driver of the last decade, he brings a shed load of cash with him. Wish he’d gone to Williams, I think last year he’d of found a way to challenge for the title in that car, just look at where massa finished each race, and then stick the car 30 seconds up the road. Williams need an Alonso or Hamilton, not impressed by Bottas, he’s good, but once Massa had settled in, he had him covered, sorry i wondered off topic

    • Wandered off topic? Seriously?
      Lost it completely more like. Massa over Bottas? Not in a million.

  5. I always wonder why Alonso is so highly respected among readers of theJudge13 and the Judge himself. Why do you believe in Alonso’s marketing? There are so many acts of his deception.

    According to Argentine newspaper Clarin, Fernando Alonso had requested former Bridgestone engineer Hirohide Hamashima to destablize his teammates tyre performance, making sure a repeat of Hockenheim 2010 did not happen.

    Alonso took the fight off-track against his teammates with reportedly mixtures of helium and nitrogen used in their tyres.

    Gradually layoffs are carried out in the Scuderia. Hamashima, responsible for tyre performance analysis since 2012, was also removed from his post by Ferrari last December after the secret came to light to new team president Sergio Marchionne.

    • It was just a few months ago TJ13 was being lambasted by a number of commentators for being anti-Alonso

      Unlike the BBC and most F1 publications, TJ13 has no allegiances. When we see deception and manipulation – we are hardly shy and retiring violets.

      The result is that fans of particular teams/drivers get upset with us regularly when the spotlight is on their favourites.

      I think you will see plenty of Alonso criticism here this year. The potential is enormous.

      If Jenson manages to push him Fernando hard or even beat him, if Fernando returns to making cryptic comments from his Samurai wisdom – which he desisted from doing in 2014 – but has started again – we will be on it…

      the possibilities are bountiful…

      • If Button does beat Alonso, then his legacy will go through the roof.
        He did beat Hamilton in 1 of their 3 years together (irrespective of the fact Hamilton actually beat himself) and if he does the same to other yardstick of this era everyone will start saying how under-rated he really was.

        • I think Button is very underated, eveyone still rates Kimi (or maybe not), but it appears his operating windows is narrower than Buttons. His reputation was built with a car he loved, if Button has started with a car he loved, rather than an ok Williams and for his 2nd year what barely counted as an f1 car.

          If Button can keep Alonso honest, we can put him ahead of
          And possibly Vettel, if him and Kimi prove evenly matched)

          Not bad, for a driver that some seem to think lucked into a WDC.

    • I saw that yesterday… It’s almost too much for me though… Would Alonso really go that far? If he does then this year at McLaren will be great because he won’t get special treatment there and perhaps Button can beat him 😜

      • Given his history, I’m surprised you’d asked if he would go that far…….

        But if he’s Honda’s guy, he just might get that preferential treatment.

      • Do you really need to waste your time?

        Think the closing sentiment of the Judges 3rd para in the Mercedes piece above, covers it well.

    • I’m quite happy to go with TJ13 on just how good Alonso is, plust all the team bosses and F1 pundits. Everyone agrees he’s no saint, but by hell the guy can drive.

      Rather just some rumor about tyres, especially when it would of been in their interest to have Kimi the quicker of the two drivers.

  6. “500 bar of turbo pressure” needs to be changed to “500 bar of fuel pressure” in the article about the mercedes PU. Otherwise, good read!

  7. Honda have come out and said that they ‘more or less’ understand FIA’s clarification. Can someone help me understand it to? I’m not even in the ‘more’ part yet, I’m still in the ‘less’!

    My initial understanding was:
    – Team can start the season with their 2014 engine and at some point in the season introduce their final, with all 32 tokens used, 2015 engine. If that is still the case, then FIA’s ruling that Honda can use the average of unused tokens makes no sense.

    My new understanding is:
    – Teams will start with a ‘in development’ 2015 engine and when the 32 tokens are all used, then this engine will become the 2015 homologated engine. In such a case, FIA’s ruling about Honda makes sense. However, it makes a mockery of the regulations, until all 32 tokens are used you will have a series of non-homologated engines for each race. Not to withstand the fact that the rule about 1 engine per 5 races also becomes void!

    Can someone enlighten me por favor?!

    • @McLaren78
      That has been the explanation propounded by many – however, the TJ13 original article did suggest the teams will gradually introduce their tokens and then ‘finalise’ their engines with the FIA.

      The term homologation has confused the issue. This merely means ‘approve’ though in F1 because only one homologated engine is allowed per year then the term homologation has acquired the inference of ‘finalised’.

      So the rule which states only one homologated engine can be used per annum has been set aside at least for 2015.

      Each derivative of the new engine used will have to be ‘approved’ by the FIA as legal – and then a final homologation and freeze will come into effect when all the 32 development tokens have been used up.

      Had the proposition been that teams could run a 2014 engine and only when ready introduce the fully developed 2015 engine, Honda would have been less concerned.

      What is still unclear is whether say Renault rock up in Melbourne with 10 of their 32 tokens worth of modifications changed – if they then use that engine design… are those 10 tokens now locked in?

      If not, there will be a season long engine war where nobody offers a final version to the FIA for homologation and freezing until Abu Dhabi

      • Aha, the term ‘homologation’ has really confused things, thanks for that!

        And my guess would be that whatever tokens you use, then they will be locked, otherwise FIA’s ruling on Honda wouldn’t make sense. If anyone starts ‘playing’ with the used tokens Honda will kick up a big fuss about wanting to use all 32 tokens, not just the average of ‘unused’ tokens.

        • @McLaren78 That would appear logical but then again… you never know with Charlie W et al…. we just don’t have the detail.

          And the team’s did not have the detail about a week ago when I last spoke to an engineer for a PU manufacturer on the matter…

          Newey’s comments today about ‘evaluating’ with Renault how best to proceed are interesting. Rather than ask for chapter and verse from the FIA, where there is ambiguity the teams will calculate the best interpretation for them and then press hard to have that view ‘homologated’ 😉

      • Question Judge….

        So what happens if all the teams use their full allotment of tokens, is there a base amount that the FIA has set aside for Honda to use?

        Also if they can only use the average of what’s left over, when exactly can they start their development if the other msnufactuers are still using their tokens?

        I’m confused…..

        • Again – we are lacking detail…

          Honda like the others should have homologated and frozen engine development on 28th Feb – we now won’t know until Melbourne what the other engine manufacturers have brought in terms of token development. So whether Honda are allowed to now develop their engine until Melbourne – it is not clear. But at some point – either 28th Feb OR Melbourne – Honda will have 5 tokens frozen like the rest

          If all the 2014 manufacturers bring engines to Melbourne using the full 32 tokens of development, the FIA should then ‘lock’ these engines in for the season, and Honda will similarly have no development.

          There is an argument – depending on how McLaren test – that Ferrari and Renault would be better served not allowing Honda too much latitude for Honda to develop their engine during the year.

          My personal view is we will see Renault and Ferrari bring fairly well developed engines to Melbourne, Mercedes could well run the 2014 engine. From a strategic point of view – Brixworth may feel that Honda having development opportunities dilutes the possibility of a challenge from Renault and Ferrari.

          So if both Renault and Ferrari brought fully developed 32 token engines and Mercedes ran their 2014 engine – Honda would still get 11 tokens of development for the year. Ferrari and Renault would be frozen.

          Now that would be funny….Horner and Marchionne would be furious.

  8. Newey made an interesting comment about this – “We’re still evaluating that,” Newey told Sky Sports News HQ. “It is quite a late change and we’re trying to sort out with Renault the best way to play that. It’s not exactly clear. Renault have still got some work to do on the dyno and once that work is done then we will make our decision.” http://www1.skysports.com/f1/news/12479/9652248/honda-more-or-less-understand-clarification-as-f1-analyses-engine-rule-changes

  9. The new “rules” about powertrains were implemented to try to keep costs down, as far as I understand it. However, it seems to have had the opposite effect.
    It would have been much simpler, and more interesting, to stipulate the engine capacity, tyre size, the fuel allowed and the weight of the car. Let the teams do what they like within those restrictions. Or is there some reason that would not work? Costs are spirally away to infinity anyway as it is. 🙂

  10. This saga on p/u development is getting more like a game of chess.

    If introduction of 2015 final iteration is held off until some point later in the season, surely customers like Sauber and Toro are going to be seriously unhappy – after all they were forced to endure crap during 2014 and could face further delay now. Mercedes could be seen to be less then transparent too as they continue their domination while leaving their customers in the lurch.

  11. The cynic in me thinks the FIA left the rules as ambiguous at best for this season incase one team did walk away with it last year. But my new years resolution was to not be such a cynical b@rstard this year. Hence the real reason is just dodgy translation from French to English!

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