#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 11th February 2015

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Previously on TheJudge13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: You can prove anything with facts!!

#F1 Testing: Jerez Review – Sherry and Icecream

An open invitation to all members of the TJ13 community – “What do YOU want to know about our podcast crew?

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 – 1934: Il Grande John- a true sporting legend

Piranha club is alive and kicking

Symonds – Bottas has the champion’s mindset

Button says he has “unfinished business” with Honda

Ferrari still have huge amount of work to complete

Hippo Rant Light: Fernley blames Force India problems on Caterham and Marussia

The Usher’s Caption Competition

Williams backed Marussia bid

Hamilton’s new contract: part VIII


OTD Lite – 1934: Il Grande John- a true sporting legend

John-Surtees1It has always rankled me that the only time we hear of John Surtees is when the specialist media seeks out the frail old man and asks him the same tired old questions about someone repeating his accomplishments.

Surtees celebrates his eighty first birthday today and is still the only World Champion to have won on two and four wheels.

He won seven World titles with MV Augusta between 1956 and 1960 in both the 350cc and 500cc classes and was awarded the MBE in 1959. It was a chance meeting with Hawthorn at an awards ceremony in 1958 which sparked his interest in racing on four wheels.

His final year of motorbike races coincided with his first events in cars. His debut was in a Formula Junior finishing behind a certain Jim Clark. He would also finish second in his first F2 race and after a debut in Monaco, finished second at the British GP. His third Grand Prix should have resulted in victory after pole position and fastest lap but his Lotus retired due to mechanical reliability.

“Il Grande John” had been competing for Ferrari in sports-car races and was offered a seat with the F1 team for 1963. The team had been in disarray since a number of engineers and Phil Hill had left and Surtees set to work to turn the organisation around. The following season he made history by taking the crown with two victories in Germany and Italy and four other podium places.

His final victory came in the 1967 Italian Grand Prix with Honda when he slipstreamed past Jack Brabham to win by a mere 0.2 seconds.

It’s fashionable to not consider him in the Top 20 drivers in history. There is always a feeling that he was a biker and not a ‘proper’ racing driver, therefore somehow he was fortuitous in Formula One. And yet his contemporaries included Clark, Hill, Brabham, Moss, Stewart, Ginther, Gurney and Mclaren

theJudge13_Logo3_GrumpyJ
The Grumpy Jackal

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Piranha club is alive and kicking

Over two decades ago Ron Dennis famously welcomed Eddie Jordan to Formula One uttering the words, “welcome to the Piranha club”.

Today it appears the members of the club have been on various forms of extended diet and are ready to tear each other and the sport apart to satisfy their own needs.

BobFernleyClaireWilliamsThe latest example of this veracious behaviour was seen from many people’s ‘second’ team – Force India, when they vetoed a return to F1 in 2015 of the former Marussia team.

Force India were originally to attend the first test in Jerez, but run with their 2014 car and the updated 2015 Mercedes engine. They had allegedly found late improvements in the wind tunnel and so the 2015 car would not be ready in time for the first winter test.

Then the Silverstone team announced they would miss the first F1 winter test and COO Otmar Szafnauer claimed this was “saving us 500,000 pounds. The engine and transmission tests, Mercedes can do for us. So we wouldn’t be learning too much.”

Given that to run an F1 team for a year costs in the region of £60-70m, saving £500,000 on testing which is commonly accepted as the best form of learning in Formula One, appeared a strange decision.

The furore over the amount of knowledge Mercedes gained from testing Pirelli tyres for two days in 2013 would imply that the data Force India would have gleaned in Jerez – even running last years car to understand the performance of the 2015 Pirelli’s – was reason enough to justify the spend.

Yet whilst the Andalucian test was in progress last week, Bob Fernley revealed there were further delays in the production of the 2015 VJM08 chassis.

“Given the workload and timescales involved, it’s now looking more difficult to make the first Barcelona test. Everybody is pushing to try to make it happen, but it’s far more likely the VJM08 will run at the final Barcelona test at the end of February. That means we will use the 2014 car at the next test. The mileage on the VJM07 will still allow us to run with the 2015 Pirelli compounds.”

So now Force India now appreciate the value of testing the 2015 rubber in Barcelona, even though it will be with last year’s car.

However, TJ13 can exclusively reveal, the reason we have not seen anything other than a mock up of the VJM08 in Mexico – and the reason we are unlikely to see it anytime soon on track – is because the team do not have access to their own 2015 chassis.

Force India outsourced their chassis production this year, however, the original supplier discovered their CNC machines were out of alignment following a factory move. The chassis was then sent to Formaplex to be re-engineered.

The VJM08 is now still there in Plymouth – in a warehouse gathering dust whilst the company awaits payment for the work they have performed. Further, the mandatory FIA crash tests have not been completed.

TJ13 sources reveal that unless this matter is resolved in the next few days, the VJM08 will also fail to make the second test in Barcelona.

Force-India1It may appear rather churlish of Force India to veto the return of the former Marussia team so they can benefit from an incremental share of the Marussia 2014 performance payments. Even more so when you consider the teams get their payments for the previous year’s finishing positions paid in equal installments between March and November inclusive.

Yet clearly just under £450,000 a month is important to the survival of the Silverstone team owned by the former billionaire, Vijay Mallya; important enough for them to ensure Marussia did not make it back to the grid – and ensuring the others did not all vote yes at last weeks strategy group meeting.

A hungry and desperate Piranha does – what a hungry and desperate Piranha gotta do.

However, should the Silverstone team fail to make it to the grid by race three of the 2015 season, other Piranha’s will be feeding from the spoils of Force India’s 2014 performance payments. It would be ironic were the Mallya owned F1 outfit be forced to request they be allowed to run with a 2014 chassis – because they can’t get their hands on their 2015 version.

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Symonds – Bottas has the champion’s mindset

Over the last few months TJ13 has published several interviews from the Williams technical chief Pat Symonds. A repeated theme has been that Symonds believes Valtteri Bottas to be an F1 champion of the future.

“What I’ve seen in the great drivers I have worked with I also see in Valtteri. He regards it almost as a right to be champion. There are other traits in the so-called ‘champion gene’ – like attention to detail and work ethic. These things don’t come easily. In Valtteri I see all these things that I saw in the others over the last 30 odd years. So I have all the hopes that he will be a champion.”

“Actually there are several factors: not just the desire to win – everyone here has that desire to win – but some of them have that burning passion, the absolute belief that they can do it. I think that right now there are drivers out there who are damned fast, but they doubt themselves at times – and the minute a sportsman doubts himself he is already defeated.

Yet Symonds does not stop there and explains how he has genuinely been surprised and more than satisfied by the recent form of Felipe Massa.

“With Felipe it is much more interesting assessing him. A lot of people know that Felipe was capable of winning a championship, because he very nearly did in 2008. After an accident in Hungary a lot of people thought ‘well, okay Felipe, what a shame’.”

“What we found at Williams is that we have awakened him – and it is not beyond possibility that if we build a good enough car, then Felipe can also win. In the latter part of the 2014 season he was a revelation. It was a Felipe that we haven’t seen in years.”

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Button says he has “unfinished business” with Honda

Every Mclaren fan is hoping that the resurrection of the Mclaren-Honda partnership will be a re-enactment of the late 80’s when the partnership dominated Formula One. Whereas the non Woking fans will be praying that the Honda that turns up will be the same corporate entity that was entered as manufacturer between 2006-2008.

Jenson Button took his maiden victory at Hungary in 2006 but the following two years were a disaster for Honda, “We didn’t get the results together in ’07 and ’08,” Button said. “So there’s a lot for us to achieve and to put right, if you like, of working together. There is a lot of unfinished business.”

Over four days at the recent Jerez F1 test, the team completed just 79 laps – this followed a similarly poor test in Abu Dhabi three months ago where the team of engineers struggled with many of the same problems.

The man from Frome though remained as positive as usual and explained where the Japanese were currently with their package: “They have their targets, and they understand what other people are getting out of their engines, and the strengths and weaknesses of those cars. It’s not like the engine had been driven for three years before the test, and as you know in Formula One, the cars are only just ready for the first run in winter testing.

“Everything arrives at the last moment because you are trying to get everything out of the car and engine before you arrive at that test. I’m sure it baffles a lot of people when you see a car turn up at the first test and drive out of the garage at 11am and not 9am. Why couldn’t you start two hours earlier? It’s because you are always trying to maximise the winter and arrive at the first test with the best possible package, and that’s why it sometimes starts a little late.”

Which of course would explain why the reigning World Champions – Mercedes – completed nearly 600 laps over the same period and rolled out of the garage at the earliest opportunity.

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Ferrari still have huge amount of work to complete

Ferrari President – Sergio Marchione – gave an interview in New York recently which suggested the team should be cautious rather than be intoxicated by the headline times from Jerez.

Apparently, no one at Ferrari is under any illusions over the team’s performance at the first winter test and whilst SF15-T is demonstrating progress over the 2014 it will be some time before the Scuderia can quantify whether they have closed the gap to the competition.

Team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, was clear when the car was unveiled that he believed it will take Ferrari two to three years to be consistent contenders for victory and titles. Marchionne continued this cautious rhetoric that has flowed from Maranello since he replaced former President Luca di Montezemolo,

“I am encouraged by the results of the new Ferrari but there is still some way to go. It’s one thing to do a quick lap but another entirely to do an entire race. I have great confidence in the squad but I am not expecting miracles. The Barcelona test will be the ultimate proof of what we have done so far.”

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Hippo Rant Light: Fernley blames Force India problems on Caterham and Marussia

As if their unethical behaviour of late wasn’t enough to make them the biggest pariah in F1 for the present, Bob Fernly appears to want to dig their lack of popularity hole even deeper. In an interview with the Press Association, Force India’s deputy team principal now takes a swipe at Caterham and Marussia for creating problems for his team.

“As you know we’ve recently started working with Toyota’s wind tunnel at their facility in Cologne. However, the Toyota people had agreements with Caterham, and quite rightly until they could resolve their Caterham issues we could not move in with our contract. We didn’t get the go-ahead until early December, so we were behind schedule before we had even started.”

So had Caterham’s got on with the job a failing more quickly, then Force India could have delivered their programme more efficiently. Hardly the best planning from the Silverstone team.

Further, the 50 million currency unit Mallya promised over three years ago would have solved the problem – had it ever materialised.

Fernly adds: “On top of that we’ve had a few issues with suppliers because they’ve obviously been hurt very badly by the Marussia and Caterham demises. They wanted payments up front, which hurt us cash-flow wise, and for one minute I don’t blame the suppliers at all. I would do exactly the same if my financial position had been hurt very badly. But it hasn’t helped us and has meant we’ve had a few slow downs in different areas.”

Oh my word! The suppliers expected payment? What has the world come to? In what world is Fernley living?

Unlike Marussia and Caterham Force India has been pocketing gobs of Money from Bernie for the last few years, but obviously still find themselves strapped for cash. Well that’s what having crooks for shareholders does to you. One has been in jail for almost a year, the other is in acute danger of finding himself there soon and yet Fernly is surprised at the creditors attitude towards the team?

Implying his team’s current problems are primarily the fault of Marussia and Caterham is a simply preposterous notion from Fernly.

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The King of Good Times

 

“Would you lend this man a penny?”……

…..is the sign hanging behind the desks of 17 Indian Banks CEO’s – as a reminder of the error of their ways.

Further, anyone considering advancing Vijay or his enterprises any credit – is most likely applying the inverse of the following maxim.

“A bank will lend you money if you can demonstrate you don’t need it”

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The Usher’s Caption Competition

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

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http://f1-theusher13.tumblr.com/

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Williams backed Marussia bid

Bob Fernly would have us believe that Force India were not the only ones who would have voted against the return of the former Marussia team to the F1 grid in 2015. It was just that a single no vote would scupper Manor Racing’s application and Force India had the misfortune of going first in declaring their position.

Today, Claire Williams has revealed to SKY that Williams would not have voted against Manor Racing competing with a 2014 car, whilst they completed work on their 2015 entry.

“We made it very clear in the Strategy Group that we would vote for them to be able to use the 2014 chassis this season. Unfortunately it hasn’t happened, but Williams want a competitive line-up on the grid and we want to help the smaller teams.

Williams understands the pressures of not being one of the privileged few who have a war chest to burn on Formula One spending wars. Claire adds, “And I think we’ve demonstrated that and are always pushing cost control in Formula One”.

The Grove Deputy Team principal is candid and admits there is some self interest in Williams pursuing cost control “that’s to save the smaller teams that are really struggling, the likes of Marussia and Caterham, but also the middle teams as well at the moment that are facing some serious issues.”

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Hamilton’s new contract: part VIII

TJ13 Jerez members were told in Jerez, that discussions with Lewis Hamilton over his new contract had begun and were progressing.

Toto Wolff updates the Press Association on the matter explaining, “It is always beneficial to have a clear situation, for the driver and ourselves. Therefore we should aim to finish the discussions before the start of the season.”

In the case of imperfect knowledge or a full explanation for an event, it is better to believe the simplest explanation possible.

This of course would be that Mercedes and Lewis just haven’t got round to finalising matters on a contract extension to see him race for the team beyond 2015.

Yet Toto Wolff claimed the week before the Abu Dhabi GP that a meeting was scheduled for the Monday following the race. TJ13’s Andrew Huntley-Jacobs had it confirmed in Jerez by a senior manager within the Mercedes AMG F1 team – that this meeting never took place.

Another individual closely connected with Lewis also revealed to AHJ that the British driver had been out of the UK mostly since between the final race of 2014 and the first winter test.

So lack of opportunity is presently the simple explanation for the outstanding nature of this vitally important matter.

Yet we have heard Toto speak on the issue of Hamilton’s contract more than once previously this year and the names of Alonso and Bottas were then suggested by the Austrian as possibilities to replace Hamilton in 2015.

We now have another soft deadline by which Lewis’ contract extension is expected to be resolved, that said, Wolff does carefully offer the caveat that Melbourne is not a firm deadline because, “we don’t want to put him or us under pressure”.

Surely if this new self-imposed soft deadline passes, we must start to assume, the Occam’s Razor principle no longer applies.

70 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 11th February 2015

  1. “Surely i say unto you, thou shalt deny me three times”. So, race three it is then. Why do feel like i’ve seen this before?

  2. I hope Force India fold sooner rather than later. That stunt against Marussia was even more despicable than Monisha Kaltenborn’s idea of dealing with unwanted drivers. Words fail to describe my disgust.

    • That was my first thought Hips, when the news originally burst. Since I’ve seen some mitigation but that’s all evaporating rapidly when items such as TJ13 reports above come to light.
      That little piece in the green highlighter seems a bit difficult to toss.

      • The damning bit for Force India is that Marussia had the green light to run a modified 2014 car since late December. They were required to fulfil all 2015 rules except three or four non-safety related articles from which they were excempted until the 2015 challenger would be ready.

        Marussia wasn’t even supposed on the agenda of that Strategy meeting. Everybody had agreed to let Marussia back in in December. Seeing a chance to rob some money, Force India went back on their word and vetoed it on an own agenda. They are so high up my shitlist right now…

        Instead of seeking similar help from fellow teams, they kill off an even smaller one to loot the corpse. Pfui Deibel!!

        • And there’s little hope of the EU regulator taking all this in I guess? It’s getting harder by the day to keep interested after 60 odd years.

          • There is little the EU could do. There is no EU regulation against being douchebags. From the rules point of view Force India did nothing wrong. From an ethical point of view however they are begging to have the shit booed out of them.

          • Granted, I’m getting a little wayward with my wishful thinking….I do seem to recall though from reading this site that the ‘being’ of the ‘strategy group’ has been drawn to their attention. That was all I was alluding to, your douchebag says it all really. 🙁

        • Well it would serve the bosses of Force India right if they fail to pay Mercedes for the power units and Mercedes come along during a race weekend and remove the power units “Pay up or no electrical and turbo vroom vroom playtime for you”.

          I’m surprised Force India have lasted this long, and I hope Manor/Marussia make it back onto the grid regardless of what FI attempt.

        • The EU can’t do anything about the conflict of interest? Where, in any type of competition, does one competitor get to determine the participation of another,especially when the result of voting one way holds the benefit of millions of dollars versus getting no money for voting the other? I can’t believe that this affair does not breach EU competition laws.

        • Who put marussia on the agenda of the meeting is an interesting question, and why? Manor didn’t request it, they already had permission to race… FI were set up to be the fall guys, the vote was used to divide the teams and the public, to leave only the big teams standing

          • Force India put Manor on the agenda to get their thieving hands on Manor’s money when nthey realized that Manor returning might actually start to look more likely than themselves showing up in Melbourne.

    • Whilst what they did to Marussia was underhand and shameful, wishing that they collapse is a tad OTT hippo.

    • it might be despicable, but the move is pretty logical. i don’t think blocking the move was about the prize money. rather, force india needs somebody to led them some money very quickly in order to get access to their car. bernie on the other hand needs a halfway decent grid. with catherham and marussia gone, he can’t afford force india to fold too, so he is likely to somehow arrange for them to get the money they need to get access to their car.

      • Trouble is, Force India could become one of the hopeless back marker teams which is not conducive to attracting sponsorship deals.

        I’d rather see the team sold and new management bought in. But unless VJ pulls an ace out of his pocket, Force India is going to fold sooner rather than later. More than likely Bernie would smooth the way for somebody to buy Force India. He’s not in the habit of funding F1 teams unless he has no choice i.e. threatens his control of the commercial rights. You can bet your bottom dollar that if push comes to shove Bernie would push for the top teams to run 3 cars, rather than propping up a team. He doesn’t like chucking money down a drain.

      • @anjis – that’s why FOM has served breach of contract on the Korean organisers – Bernie’s altruism light is shining

    • I think this is more a sign of the dire situation Bernie has put all small independent teams in. Sure it’s not nice of Force India but can you blame them? They need cash and they need it fast or else they won’t have a 2015 car. If Bernie properly paid the teams for competing in his championship this problem wouldn’t be here and Marusia/Manor would be on the grid without anyone questioning their, both FI and Manor, budget and how they will survive or even start the season.

      We are now collectively blaming Force India for being naive and all sorts of arguments why their actions are not nice but in the end it is all caused by the way F1 is run. If we really don’t want to bark up the right tree and keep blaming Force India then all arguments given in this thread are valid but we all know that the problem is really caused by Bernie and the bilateral concorde agreements. As a fan of the sport I don’t want any of the midfield or back of the grid teams to leave the sport but if the piraha feel themselves forced to start eating before the season even starts then let the whole thing crash and burn. Force Bernie to accept that he has ruined the sport and that the FIA can finally remove F1 from the greedy tentacles of the poisonous dwarf from Suffolk. Unfortunately the realist in me knows it is very unlikely this is ever going to happen as long as Bernie is alive.

      • You are perfectly correct, and you won’t find too many people who would disagree, but even in the light of such problems, FI should not have taken leave of their dignity. BECAUSE everyone knows what the problem is (Ecclestone, CVC), the smaller teams should work together to make the problems public instead of canibalizing each other. Due to FI’s actions many of the Caterham personal, who have been picked up by Manor, may now lose their job a second time in rapind succession.

        Why did FI not seek the same excemption that had been granted to Marussia? They could have waited for access to their 2015 car while running a modified 2014 one. Instead they chose to deny Manor their chance for the hope of picking up money that others have worked hard for. That rubs a lot of people the wrong way and for good reason.

        • If dignity really was that important to F1 fans then no team would have any fans, after all every team is in the piranha club and acts accordingly. I mean how else would you explain the many Ferrari fans, acting without dignity and using underhanded tactics are the norm at Ferrari (e.g. leaving FOTA for a bigger cut of the cake, not giving teammates the same opportunities to win, etc.). Until recently I believed that Sauber was one of the few that at least treated the people working for them (drivers, mechanics and engineers) with respect but after the disrespectful manner in which the complete driver line up of last year was let go I was rudely awakened from that myth (some of their drivers had to find out through the Sauber press release that their contract was terminated).

          Look I understand your ‘anger’ towards Force India because especially after the press conference FI/Sauber/Lotus had given in the USA it is rather strange that they act like this. I believe the message from Bernie and the other piranha’s at the time was a bit like “If you can’t stand the heat than don’t play”. They were essentially saying if you don’t like this behaviour from ours there are only 2 remedies, join the club and act like us or leave the sport, they have apparently chosen the first. This also answers your question about why they did not ask for the same exemption as ManorF1, they had already made the decision to join the piranha’s because being nice and thoughtful did not bring them anything but the pity of some fans and that doesn’t pay the bills 😉

          But even if FI had voted for allowing Marusia to join the grid with a 2014 car I strongly believe that one of the other teams would have voted against. Maybe not for the same (financial) reasons but there would have been other teams that would have voted against (I believe to have read somewhere that Helmut Marko had instructed Red Bull to vote against, don’t know how if it was just a rumor or if it was really said though)

          • > (I believe to have read somewhere that Helmut Marko had instructed Red Bull to vote against, don’t know how if it was just a rumor or if it was really said though).

            Nope, none other was preparing to vote against it, as the vote had already taken place in December with all voting ‘yes’ and imposing certain requirements (2015 rules to be met with some minor exceptions). FI reneged on their own. Bernie later came out and sold the press the bullshit story of several teams voting ‘no’ to avoid the shitstorm that FI’s behaviour would predictably cause. How can teams have voted no if there wasn’t a vote to begin with? Everybody says it was a solo stunt from FI, only Bernard claims otherwise and he has all the credibility of an NBC warzone reporter.
            BTW, Marko can’t order anything at RB. He is not even part of the management. All he could do is ask Mateschitz to order something.

          • Like I said I wasn’t sure about the validity of the statement but having said that it seems that Dieter Rencken from Autosport magazine agrees with the statement that if FI didn’t vote against others would have. This Autosport Plus article written by Dieter Rencken describes the situation http://plus.autosport.com/premium/feature/6381/marussia-saga-has-become-a-timebomb/

            from the article:

            “Although the strategy group operates on a simple majority basis – FIA/FOM have six votes each and each of six teams has one apiece, with 10 votes sufficient to carry any motion – it was decided that, due to the gravity of the matter, unanimity would be required before escalating the proposal to the F1 commission.

            Why (and by whom) this unusual decision was taken remains unclear, but regardless it is doubtful whether it ultimately affected the outcome given the vested interested at play. Sources advise that the FIA was pro the exemption, as were Ferrari and Mercedes – the latter perhaps to negate the possibility of having to run third cars should grid numbers drop – with all others anti.”

          • >Sources advise that the FIA was pro the exemption, as were Ferrari and Mercedes – the latter perhaps to negate the possibility of having to run third cars should grid numbers drop – with all others anti.”

            That claim does not fit with what Williams are saying. Except Force India no other team in the strategy group had any reason to get rid of Manor.

          • I understand what you’re trying to say but maybe Williams had their own reason to say that 😉

            Personally I don’t trust anything what teams are publicly saying when it concerns the distribution of money or who voted for what when it is impossible to check what is the truth. Especially when reporters, who are usually right in what they report, are claiming completely different things.

            But even further in the article it is even said that the FOM was also against because it would be against Bernie’s idea of introducing customer cars….

            “FOM, too, is said to have been anti, being desperate to introduce customer cars (or three-car teams) by any means in order to reduce disbursements to teams, and each team fewer is one step closer to that objective. So, the numbers are clear: FOM plus four teams against (10 votes); Ferrari plus two teams (eight) – and simple majority wins the day.”

        • He’s (RobDin) correct, but imperfectly.

          Don’t lose sight of the fact that the tangled, morally bankrupt, financial web Vege has wrought is his root cause.

          FOM issue is a sidebar

      • All very valid points – though the allocation of funds and the costs to go racing are linked.

        The smaller teams manage to build a car – pay to go racing – and develop a handful of new parts throughout the year.

        To put this in perspective, Red Bull in 1 month produced more development parts than Marussia in the whole year.

        Cost control and/or better distribution of funds are fundamental to the future of the sport.

        Its interesting that funds distribution and costs are of lesser importance for Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and probably Toro Rosso/Williams

        Who has gone and who is left and who will be next?

  3. “Which of course would explain why the reigning World Champions – Mercedes – completed nearly 600 laps over the same period and rolled out of the garage at the earliest opportunity.”

    This is out of context and misleading. The reigning WCC team has had 1 full year to run/test their engine, and a rather calm period of stratospheric dominance during 2014 which allowed them to continue development of the 2015 unit unencumbered. Moreover, as per Lowe’s own admission, Merc brought a mostly 2014-spec car at the test:
    “We went through the process of designing the W06 determined to retain the advantage we had with the W05.”

    Surely they’d be trundling around racking up lap after lap after lap…

    A comparison to Honda is at the very least unfair. A comparison to Merc, Renault and Ferrari works teams of last year’s, or to Renault/Ferrari works this year would be more insightful… How did that work out for Red Bull in Jerez, 2014 or 2015?

    • Ok, well apply the statement to last season then. Because bang on 9 am, the Merc rolled out the garage and then proceeded to pummel everyone. And that’s with an engine that hadn’t run in anger.

      • Well, I’d suggest “pummeling” the other teams at a test session is a bad choice of words. Tests ain’t competitive or even all that interesting given the unknowable agendas and intentional obfuscation involved. The novelty of speculation runs out pretty quick for me.

        What will be interesting in the coming years with a bit of staff turnover at MB will be the stories about how much they have *really* invested in the current F1 program. I’m sure it will give our future selves a much better perspective on their current level of dominance.

        Pure engineering talent / skill / effort can’t explain the gap we’re seeing.

        MB jumped everyone in the run up to this latest set of regulations – no mean feat given the depths of the pockets and the size of the egos at Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.

        Good on ’em, though. They got everyone else a good one – fair and square.

        A lttle broader perspective on their situation is required though. “They did a better job” doesn’t cover it. Bragging about dominance borne of a large cheque book is pretty shallow.

        • “Pure engineering talent / skill / effort can’t explain the gap we’re seeing.”

          Hmm, maybe it could. Well, that, and the in-season development freeze of engines.

          Brawn is already known for pulling the same trick, showing up with a massively dominant car after a massive rules shakeup (cf Brawn 2009). He wasn’t the only one with a double-diffuser then (I think there was Williams and one other team), but he was racking win after win after win until the advantage evaporate for lack of in-season development funds.

          The difference is that in 2009 teams were free to develop as they wished, so when McLaren introduced their double-diffuser in Hungary, Hamilton won.

          Now however the main differentiator is the power unit. Development may be (may have been, thanks Ferrari) restricted from one season to the other, but it is frozen in-season (thanks Renault and Todt). So if you screw up royally and realize that you’ve set the wrong targets (wink wink Ferrari) or sacrificed reliability in search of those targets (wink wink Renault), then there is precious little that you can do. You cannot redesign components, change philosophy, etc., etc. With the (now aborted) homologation, there was no way to change the layout of the engine in-season, etc., etc.

          So if one team showed up in Melbourne 2014 with a massive PU-related competitive advantage over the others, that advantage was almost guaranteed to be locked-in for the entire season. Whether Merc will carry it on in 2015, we shall see. But the in-season freeze & the yearly restrictions can explain a big part of the continuing gap that we’re seeing.

        • “Bragging about dominance borne of a large cheque book is pretty shallow.”

          Is that not what Redbull and Ferrari did before Mercedes decided to flex their spending power?

          Yea i do think ‘pummel’ is the right choice. Sure testing is a meaningless indicator based on unknown variables, but when you see a team running around lap after lap (with a brand new untried technology) without so much as a blip, whilst their competitors can’t even do 2 continuous laps without catching on fire, i’d say they did pummel them all.

          • >Is that not what Redbull and Ferrari did before Mercedes decided to flex their spending power?

            No, it is not. It’s a myth perpetuated by people, who don’t know much about F1 history. There are only two teams, who tried to gain success by starting a spending war – Mercedes and Toyota. Except for the Toyota years Ferrari had ‘traditionally’ the biggest budget, but usually that meant 20-40 Million more than the next competitor (McLaren and recently Red Bull). Mercedes have outspent Renault and Ferrari in the 200-250 million region. That’s a whole different ball game.

            Mercedes were the first to send spending skyrocketing in the late 90s when they introduced space age alloys that even the Romulans found baffling and unaffordable. Toyota tried to solve every problem by senselessly throwing money at it. And now Merc have done it again. Ferrari, Red Bull, BMW or any other manufacturer isn’t even in the same league in terms of spending power.

          • Sorry hippo, i’m not buying that. Prior to last season, Mercedes spending was substantially less than their competitors from 2010/13, it was only last season that they truly opened up their cheque book when Redbull continued to play unfair. So lets not complain when someone else joins in the fun….

            https://www.flagworld.com/news/2014/03/15/mercedes-upped-budget-to-succeed-in-f1-lauda/

            Redbulls budget last year was £196m…

            http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/motor-racing/red-bulls-196m-budget-highlights-formula-one-inequality-9852378.html

          • “Mercedes have outspent Renault and Ferrari in the 200-250 million region. That’s a whole different ball game.”

            Yeah, hmm, no. That’s not the figures I’ve been looking at.

            http://plus.autosport.com/premium/feature/6257/the-true-cost-of-formula-1/

            Budgets (over 2013)
            Merc MGP (racing team, no engines): £195m
            Merc HPP (engines): £140m
            Merc (total): £335m

            RBR: £240m

            Ferrari (including engines): £275m

            Notice that RBR’s figure excludes engines. And that both RBR (£47m bonus) and Ferrari (£60m bonus) get supremely fat subsidies from small teams, via FOM ridiculous income redistribution, compared to the paltry one for Merc (£7.5m bonus). So going from there to a 250m spending differential seems like a big leap to me…

            Also keep in mind that at the birth of the RRA, Merc under Brawn complied and downsized, only to realize that RB were arrogantly flouting the agreements and significantly outspending them (among others). And it was at that point that Merc decided to go on a shopping spree, upscaling the operation, as they wanted to win. Chastising them about this now, while implying that RB didn’t start a spending war, doesn’t seem sensible to me.

          • Bullshit. I couldn’t care less about Merc. Their tendency to incite spending wars is a fact of history. No other team bar Toyota have ever forced the issue financially as much as Mercedes have done. That’s a fact, not an opinion. If Lewis was driving for someone else, your opinion would be different.

          • Sorry, but how did this become an issue that relates to Lewis?

            Stick to the topic of discussion and not venture elsewhere.

          • Very simple. You are defending Merc no matter what because your favourite driver is with them. Your view on things is not awfully balanced.

          • And yours is?

            You’ve been banging on about how Mercedes have continually out spent everyone and its systematic of them to do so. You’ve conveniently ignored all the facts that prove you wrong and expose your bias. Has both Landroni and myself have pointed out, Redbull, Ferrari and McLaren have consistently outspent Mercedes since their return as a full time factory team. Mercedes willingness to abide by the RRA agreement, whilst Redbull basically brushed it aside and continue spending freely, thus keeping finger boy at the front, didn’t hear you complain about Mercedes’s spending then, but the moment that they decide to play the game like everyone else, you go off into your usual rants and label them as effectively being underhand. What makes your argument even more ridiculous, is that Mercedes has been absent from the grid for over 50 years (I’m talking F1, I’ve no interest in DTM). So please elaborate further as to your claim that this has always been their mantra.

            Redbull didn’t start winning because they spent less than everyone else, they won because they did the opposite.

          • Red Bull won, because they had the right people and the right environment. They never were the biggest spenders. They were on par with McLaren and closely behind Ferrari. And a big part of that money was used to pay for the engines. Your argument is invalid.The difference was – they had Newey, the others had not. It was not a matter of spending.
            In Merc’s case it was. In 2013 they poached every engineer that couldn’t run fast enough and outspent the lot by magnitudes. That’s a completely different approach.

          • “they won because they had the right people”…..

            And how did they get these people, by offering them peanuts? …….”Most of the money went towards engine” Really hippo that’s what you’re coming with?

            A lot of the people that joined Mercedes were fired from their respective teams, example Aldo Costa.

            So in essence your argument is still invalid, because you’ve pointed out that it was in 2013 that Mercedes really started to flex their spending power. So again, how can you continually say that they’ve got a history of significantly out spending everyone when you can only point to 2013?

            You have effectively confirmed what Landroni and I have said, Mercedes followed the RRA agreement whilst Redbull and the others ignored the agreement. So like I said before, stop being angry because Mercedes are starting to play the game like the other big boys.

          • Because I can also point at 1998 and the following years because FIA even changed the rules to stop them making engine development prohibitively expensive with their space age Beryllium alloys.

  4. “Hippo Rant Light”

    My English is a tad shaky, but I suspect the above should read:

    “Hippo Rant Lite”

  5. Nice piece on John Surtees, perfect timing as well, given that today is his 81st earthstrong

  6. What force India do sporting wise and off track is so different. They could’ve gone for real paydrivers, I know Sergio brings sponsoring, but the Hulk doesn’t. With a relatively low budget they show some fairly good results.
    But off track…
    I can understand their vote, given their circumstances – if 500k means a lot to you, you have to do everything you can to survive.
    Also, I can understand their defence in the media even making a connection between their own situation and Caterham / Marussia. They still need income, so they need to explain why there are problems and while ‘being financed by a spoilt millionaire and a money launderer’ might point more accurately to the root cause, it won’t help them getting income / sponsorship.

    Hmmm.., I guess the whole ‘off track’ issue I have with them points to the owner. Then again… Were there others interested when Spyker folded?

    • Well if it wins you over then it will be worth it. We were all set for a live broadcast but the call quality on google hangout was poor. I tried everything to improve it. I’m on a 70meg connection and I hard wired it. We had to abandon the plan and revert to skype. The call quality was much better over skype. We are working on a way to broadcast our skype call.

      • Great Spanners.
        Watched the hook up again this morning, even if it wasn’t smooth sailing find it easier to watch as against attention drift of regular podcast.

  7. As reported here yesterday.. “Prize money paid in equal installments between March and November inclusive.” So I wonder if the extra amount paid to FI in March might be to little too late. They need the money now to get access to the car.

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