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Previously on TheJudge13:
OTD Lite 1959 – Hawthorn – Like a moth to the flame
Winter in the UK does not compare well to countries with warmer climes. It can be both hauntingly beautiful with low levels of light or it can be suppressed with heavy grey clouds supplying anything from fine misty rain to heavy oppressive downpours.
The facts are simple; the reigning F1 World Champion – Mike Hawthorn – was over-taking a Mercedes 300SL driven by Rob Walker on the Guildford by-pass when he lost control of his car at high speed and spun hitting a tree which caused fatal injuries. A tragic accident of course but possibly avoidable?
Hawthorn was driving a heavily modified Jaguar Mk 1 which he christened the ‘Merc-eater’ as he hated anything German. It was fitted with Dunlop Duraband radial tyres which had been designed to counter the commercial threat of the Michelin X and Pirelli Cintura.
Rob Walker, who played a part in the accident commented: “Duraband were OK in the dry but, because of the hard compound, they could break away in wet conditions. When they did, it was without warning.”
Walker explained the accident in 1998 to Eoin Young and Eric Dymock,
“That day it was pouring with rain and when I saw it was Mike we both accelerated down the hill flat out, using all the gears. We went through the first left hand bend, followed by the right, at his stage we were going very fast. I had just changed into top which I seldom did under 100mph in the 300SL and Mike was a bonnet length ahead.”
“At this point I thought… This is OK for a World Champion but for me it was a bit too much so I backed off a cars length. Going into the right hander the Jaguar slid the rear out about five degrees, this I thought was just Mike playing around, then the car clipped the kerb and spun round 180degrees. The Jaguar spun round to face me then started going backwards.”
“By now things were getting worse, he clipped the bollards in the centre of the road, the MK 1 traveled backwards across the road clipping the very rear corner of a lorry traveling the other way. I saw the MK1 disappear in a cloud of mud and spray as it left the road.”
The accident was so severe that only the petrol pipe joined the two pieces of car together! Hawthorn’s body was found on the rear seat of the car – beyond any medical help.
The Grumpy Jackal.
Hamilton talks down urgency for a contract extension
Recently Toto Wolff revealed that should Mercedes not be able to agree a new contract and terms with Lewis Hamilton to continue to race for the Brackley based team beyond 2015 – Alonso and Bottas were possible alternatives. Some would interpret this as hardly someone who is 100% confident that a deal with Lewis will be finalised.
Hamilton spoke out on the matter yesterday to SKY Sports. “I’m comfortable and confident and trust that they’re not speaking to anyone else and they know that’s the case with me,” stated the current F1 world champion.
“As soon as I left the last race, I was at the factory for a couple of days, but I haven’t sat down with the team,” he added, “but, again, we said last year we’re not in a rush. We’re relaxed. The team have acknowledged they want to continue with me and vice versa, so there is no stress”.
TJ13 has repeatedly contrasted this approach from Mercedes to the one’s adopted previously by the teams who employed the services of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. The German and the Spaniard – on a number of occasions – were offered retention agreements long before the commencement of the final year of their employment.
In early October, Toto Wolff was questioned over the timing of the proposed contract extension talks with Hamilton. He told the Guardian, “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”.
Wolff added, “My commitment to him as well is we’re not going to talk to anybody about any terms or contracts until then.”
The week before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Toto told Austrian broadcaster ORF, “We have agreed that we want to continue [with Lewis as a driver beyond 2015] and Lewis has said the same but at some point we decided that it was not the right time to do it. The duel was so intense so we thought it was a good idea to talk after Abu Dhabi.
“Now we have agreed that we get together on Monday in Abu Dhabi to talk about it,” added Wolff.
So who is telling the truth. Toto or Lewis? Or was the post Abu Dhabi Monday meeting cancelled – and if so why?
Niki Lauda has now added his two penneth on the matter. Speaking to Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung. He claims that the article published by La Gazzetta last week suggesting Hamilton had been offered a deal worth 20m euro plus add ons for performance was “nonesense”.
“We had agreed with him [Hamilton] that we will only talk when he comes back from Colorado, around the first test in early February in Jerez. To date, neither Toto Wolff nor myself, or anyone else from Mercedes, has talked with Lewis about money and length [of a new contract].”
Tying up a valuable sporting asset whether it be a football player or a Formula One driver is not something left into the final year of a contract – unless the club/team are prepared to let the player/driver go, which can be for a variety of reasons.
The fact that Wolf felt it pertinent to mention publicly the names of Bottas and Alonso as possible replacements for Hamilton compounds the impression that the team are fairly relaxed over whether Hamilton stays or leaves. This is hardly the message of love Lewis may be wanting to hear.
Force India launches new car in Mexico
Force India unveiled its VJM08 yesterday with a new colour scheme for the upcoming season.
The car was officially unveiled by Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg in Mexico City as the team released promotional pictures to the media.
New features include a revised rear suspension lay-out and modified sculpting of the sidepods. In contrast to the Williams which was shown in F1 Racing, the VJM08 has a wider nose.
Force India will not run this car until the second winter test in Barcelona and will use their 2014 car at the first test in Jerez which begins on 1st February.
Mallya said at the launch: “The 2015 car is a refinement of what we learned in 2014. Another major step forward is the technology change, in that we are now using a 60% wind tunnel in Cologne which is a far bigger step than we have ever taken before. Traditionally we have been in Brackley where we used to develop our car with a 50% model and an outdated wind tunnel.”
“With this new and important tool available to use we hope the 2015 challenger will really prove its worth in competing with the big boys of F1 when we start the European season. We are lucky to have two exceptional drivers who will hopefully steer the Sahara Force India challenger to the front of the grid, and hopefully a few podiums during the current year.”
As noted previously here on TJ13. Teams who do not test their new season’s car at the first test, invariably do badly when it comes to the actual racing.
Pat Symonds confirms huge aero loss with new noses
As ever, the FIA reacted to criticism of the ‘ugly’ noses that proliferated Formula One as F1 designers sought out the best aero solution for the given design.
For the 2015 season, the design of the noses has had to change to meet the required measurements as set down by the governing body.
In Austin last year, Lotus ran with a modified nose in FP1 and found a substantial loss of downforce which required a complete rethink of the aerodynamics flowing off of the front wing.
Pat Symonds also suggested that the Williams team had had to change their design ethos to lessen the impact of the new nose detailing.
“The change in regulations offered us a slight headache, the new front bulkhead and nose geometry had much more of an impact than we had initially anticipated and the effect on the aero was profound. The team have worked hard on pulling back the deficit these regulations have made for us.”
Despite WIlliams developing their car well into the last few rounds they are confident that all the work will not impact on this season and has in actual fact been beneficial to the team.
“The desire to beat Ferrari to third place in the constructors’ in 2014 meant we pushed our development through to late autumn, but the size of the team is now at a point where it was able to sustain this development whilst still working on the FW37.”
“We felt we came up against design barriers in the FW36 and so took the opportunity to remove those barriers for the benefit of the performance. The FW36 carried a reasonable amount of ballast, so we were able to make alterations to the design for added performance without the fear of adding excessive mass.”
“The notion for the FW37 was to look closely at the FW36 and its performances. We then went about recognising what had worked well and identifying and resolving the areas that we felt needed to be improved.”
“Although the aerodynamics of the car were impressive there is always room for improvement particularly as we handle the new 2015 nose regulations.”
Whilst the technical side of the team was never his focus, Frank Williams clearly still relishes the heat of competition: “The team had a fantastic season last year and we aim to replicate this with development during the winter and to start 2015 in a strong position.”
“We have a group of very talented people here at Williams, who want nothing more that the team does well. We added some high profile names to the important list of partners we work with.”
“After a great first year of collaboration with Mercedes, we look forward to developing our relationship and we will be fighting for even more podiums in 2015.”
“I feel that it will be another exciting season, so I’m looking forward to seeing the cars on the grid for the first race.” he concluded.
Austria, the new Germany
Bernie Ecclestone believes Lewis Hamilton will again be the drivers’ Formula One champion in 2015. Speaking to Sky Sports yesterday he said, “Whether he is (favourite) or not, I think he’s going to win it.”
F1’s supremo also believes that Hamilton provides great publicity for F1 and will attract a new breed of fan to the sport. “He’s a rapper. So we’re going to get to a completely different audience as well now,” he added. “He’s going to be good as a world champion.”
Ecclestone also confirmed the uncertainty over the German Grand Prix rages on. When asked about his failed bid to buy the Nurburgring, Ecclestone replied, “I agreed to buy it – they agreed to sell, and someone came along and offered a bit more money… so they sold it to that person… who couldn’t complete…lost an initial payment – and now somebody else has bought it.”
Craig Slater then asked F1’s Supremo whether Hockenheim was now firmly on the cards for the 2015 German GP, to which Ecclestone responded, “not really”.
The concluding asked was, “Is there a chance we might not have a German GP this year?” Mr. E replied, “Yep… well we’ve got one – it’s called Austria”.
Where is our friend the Germanic ranting Hippo when you need him? 😉
Caterham doomed Marussia close to salvation
Following the cancellation of the final auction of the defunct Marussia team’s assets, speculation was rife that Gene Haas would be buying the team and running the 2014 car in 2015.
Haas has almost certainly bought the Banbury factory and certain peripheral items during the first auction of assets by the administrator.
Sky are now quoting Haas as stating he has “no interest in purchasing Marussia or any other team”.
Bernie Ecclestone has also commented on the matter, stating yesterday, “I had a meeting with someone this morning that said they want to and think they can buy Marussia, so that would be good. Caterham, I don’t think there is much chance of saving them, but Marussia there is a chance,” claims the top dog in Formula One.
Finbarr O’Connell claims he is still hopeful he can sell the Caterham team, though he recognises the point in time is fast approaching where no one will be interested in buying an F1 team to run in 2015. “I’m not going to stifle any interest, but time is definitely running out,” commented the Irishman who famously became an F1 team principal for a weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Alonso to drive MP4-30 first
Over the next few days, the teams will begin to finalise their testing programmes for Jerez, and reveal which driver will be in the cockpit on which days.
Mercedes have already stated that they will run their drivers alternately over the 4 day test, beginning with Lewis Hamilton on day 1, following the unveil of their new car.
McLaren today have announced that Alonso will be the first of their drivers to feel the force of the new Honda engine behind him, then he will also alternate with Jenson for th remaining three days.
The first winter test is an important part of the life cycle of the team and the drivers fairly quickly understand the potential of their newly designed steeds.
That said, testing can throw the odd curve ball.
Jenson Button was delighted in 2013, with his McLaren MP4-28 and Felipe Massa was so impressed with the cars performance that he commented twice how ‘unbelievable’ the new Woking design was performing. Of course it was unbelievable as it was later discovered a suspension arm had been fitted inverted
When Big Ron is not about, there are those in the MTC who quietly joke, that this was the best that particular car performed all year.
Then again, it was obvious fairly quickly in 2014 that Renault had a huge problem. As TJ13 revealed the night before the first test, the Renault customer teams had been told the engine they had each been provided with was only good for 250km – FOR THE WHOLE TEST – a mere 56 laps.
In just under two weeks time, we will have a definite indication from the drivers as to how they believe their car will perform this year.
TJ13’s Adam MacDonald, John Myburgh and Andrew Huntley-Jacobs will be at the Jerez test and bringing you a telecast on our YouTube channel each day from track-side and the paddock.