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Previously on TheJudge13:
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Please use the comments section to ask an opening question for our podcast regulars to answer. Remember, the best answers are often given if the opening question is not F1 related. (Ed’s Note: What have we started!)
OTD Lite – 2011: First ever Polish winner cuts career short
It’s with considerable sadness that the Jackal applies digit to keyboard today in memory of a talent that could have proven spell-binding if circumstances had turned out differently.
Four years ago, Polish driver Robert Kubica crashed out of a rally in Italy suffering initially life-threatening injuries which thankfully proved wide of the mark. The accident almost caused the loss of his right arm and despite the very best medical attention the injuries proved too grave for a return to the top flight of motorsport.
Despite using the Ferrari simulator it appears that his fine hand control has not returned to what would be required for a competitive drive and this hugely popular man is resigned to competing in world rallying – albeit with some success.
At one time, he was recognised as the greatest threat to the Hamilton and Alonso duo – with both having the hugest respect for his ability and so it remains that the Pole will only have his 2008 Canadian Grand Prix as his lasting legacy in Formula One.
Legendary Forghieri blames Alonso for Ferrari’s recent struggles
Legendary Ferrari engineer, Mauro Forghieri, offered some insight to the Ferrari team and its rebirth from a dying force. “In my humble opinion, at this very moment, the SF15-T seems “more healthy” if we wanted to compare it with the F14-T. By this I mean the car seems to respond positively or negatively to the different solutions the engineers trying this is important as they develop the car.”
“Another important aspect of the team in 2015 is the enthusiasm which has been missing for a number of years. You only have to look at the applause given to Sebastien Vettel when he pitted in Jerez to understand how well the team has gelled together and this is all under the direction of Maurizio Arrivabene who is a great motivator.”
“Last year, Kimi complained continuously about the car and he had little confidence in it and felt it had been designed around someone that wanted direct reactions. Yet in Jerez he seemed genuinely pleased with the direction the car has taken. Lets not get carried away yet though, Barcelona will be a bigger test of the teams pace. But with young team that is designing this car, the enthusiasm can be felt. They have constant ideas about how to improve the car whereas the older generation do not respond with the same speed and energy.”
“Most young people are not ashamed to learn from their senior colleagues – something the British are very good at. Here in Italy we all believe we are children of Leonardo Da Vinci and therefore important whereas in fact the greatness of a man is measured by his humility.”
“I was tired of seeing Ferrari mired in recent years and this great crime was perpetrated by Alonso, Tombazis and Fry. They created a team within a team and generated negative conditions in regards alternate policies. Instead of uniting people they actually worked on deepening internal divisions which brought about a blame culture that was too scared to aim for results in their work.”
“Fernando is a great driver – there is no doubt but he was in a car that wasn’t right for him. Remember how he addressed his criticism of the technical department in the public arena? Wherever he went, he never created a good atmosphere or helped with the cohesion within the team. These factors are essential to progress. With Alonso we had Ferrari people fighting against each other and this is something that every driver should avoid.”
“Fortunately there is no bad blood between Seb and Kimi and they drive and work in similar ways so everything has changed and I’m very happy and confident.”
Alonso can see a marked difference at Mclaren because of Eric
Currently, caught in the middle of the honeymoon stage, Fernando Alonso cannot say a bad word about his new team. The Mclaren he left in such acrimonious circumstances eight years ago was a very different team to what he is experiencing now and he believes it is all to do with the racing director.
“I think it’s different – it’s more open, I’m different as well, I was 25 years old when I joined McLaren the first time so I’m definitely different. I think it’s the perfect time to re-join because we share some goals. With the arrival of Eric [Boullier] the team is much more open and let’s say international, there are people from many teams joining McLaren this year.”
It’s worth noting that Alonso is a very savvy individual when it comes to playing the political game and as was demonstrated during his time at Ferrari much of the message he conveys is not in the words he gifts the media but in the messages that are left unsaid.
After all, when discussing his options of joining the Woking team last year, he asserted that he never had a problem at Mclaren except with one individual – Ron Dennis.
On a different note, the Spanish Samurai is excited by the prospect of working with the Honda concern. Yet in what seems an age old problem for most F1 drivers, their selective choice of history seems to tie in with when they entered the sport: “Honda after 22 years is coming back, too, so the whole team is believing in the project and excited to do well.”
Of course, it would be simple to suggest that the Spaniard’s reference to Honda’s return with Mclaren is because the intervening years have shown a poor return for the Japanese giant.
Still, as ever, Fernando will mould himself to whatever suits his purposes best – “I’m delighted to work with the Honda guys and saw from the first day how passionate they were about motor racing in general. It’s not just the Formula One project, it’s the way they live and they think. It’s the culture, I’m a big fan of Japanese culture and they carry that experience over to their work. I know sooner or later we will deliver what we want to do because I really think with Honda if they want to do something they will achieve it.”
The Usher’s Caption Competition
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Force India block Marussia/Manor racing return
Manor Racing F1 – the ex-Marussia team – had almost made it over the line and out of insolvency. They had requested prior to the season’s finale in Abu Dhabi, the other teams consider allowing them to run a 2014 car for the first few races of 2015 – due to the fact they had lost a significant amount of time in car development.
When asked at an end of season FIA press conference whether they would agree to allow Marussia to run a 2014 car in 2015, all the big teams’ Principals gave their assent.
Manor Racing made a formal request to the strategy group this week to allow them time to develop a 2015 F1 car – but in the meantime, run their 2014 challenger.
The 2014 monocoques require fundamental re-design due to the new safety regulations on the height of 2015 noses. It is impossible to just fit a modified nose to the chassis.
Bob Fernly speaking to Adam Cooper admits to the fact that Force India vetoed this application. He cited compliance as an issue and that the application was from Graham Lowden but should have been sent by the administrator.
“No details were supplied of who the new owners would be or the operational structures that would be put in place. Given the lack of information, uncertain guarantees, and the speculative nature of the application, the decision was taken that it is better to focus on ensuring the continued participation of the remaining independent teams.”
Clearly Force India will benefit from a share of the re-distributed $65m prize money Marussia had earned, as will the other teams.
Further, Force India clearly have issues themselves. They were to attend the first winter test in Jerez and run the 2014 car with the new Mercedes engine. They failed to show up claiming that the funds would be better spent on readying their new car for Barcelona.
TJ13 has been reporting during the winter that the Silverstone based team are having financial difficulties. Now reports are emerging from Silverstone that the VJM08 will not be ready for the second test, and that ‘suppliers’ have been partially to blame.
As TJ13 podcast commentator suggested, the solution could be – “Try paying ‘em Bob”.
Formula One is dog eat dog at times, and to a certain extent Force India’s actions against Manor Racing are only to be expected.
However, unless Mallya gets the investment the Silverstone team requires, we may be observing a season opening with just 16 cars on the grid.
The Strategy Group members are Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams all on a permanent basis. Added to them is the next best placed constructor, which this year is Force India. Each team has a vote, while the FIA has six votes and Formula One Management has six votes.