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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 – 2000: Ron Dennis jealous of Ferrari
Ron Dennis is not someone I have ever had gracious feelings towards. He has, over the years, made little secret of his jealousy of the Ferrari marque and had built an empire which is designed to humble Ferrari.
There is no doubt that he would have been frothing at the mouth when the MP4/12C was first released to praise but ultimately came second to the Ferrari 458. I would imagine that he is not particularly happy about the current P1 falling against the LaFerrari in comparisons either.
And so – on this day in 2000 – he told the media that he had almost signed Michael Schumacher to the Mclaren team but they didn’t have space for him.
“The problem is that when you say to someone, ‘we want you to drive for us’, the team has to be in a position to deliver on that commitment. The team was not in the position to do that at the time. We both went away and thought about it and we decided collectively not to make Michael an offer. So it wasn’t a money thing.”
So a choice between replacing Hakkinen or Coulthard and he didn’t have space to sign one of the greats of the sport powered by a Mercedes engine…
Campos – Alonso’s decision should be respected
Adrian Campos, ex F1 driver and team owner has had little in the way of success at the highest level – yet like everybody else has an opinion of the Fernando Alonso situation.
Towards the end of last season, the Italian media reported that Marco Mattiacci and Fernando Alonso spent considerable time arguing over the Spaniard’s existing contract and how the future would be settled for both parties. It appeared that even though for a while the Spanish Samurai wanted to remain at Maranello – the team principal made it clear he was welcome no more.
Negotiations proved fraught and by the Japanese Grand Prix, Alonso had resorted to the use of the most colourful language to get his point across to a hardened award-winning manager who was in the process of rebuilding Ferrari.
Spaniard Campos suggests: “We should all respect the decision taken by Fernando, only he has all the answers. The only thing I can say is that Fernando has gone through a bad time in a team completely without guidance. With Montezemolo eventually leaving after serious problems during his presidency and with leaders who have little racing experience and showed a great inability to form a cohesive group of people capable of working together”
“Unfortunately Fernando did not have a natural leader like Todt, or a technical figure who was as respected as Ross Brawn who were both present when Schumacher was at Ferrari. I understand why Alonso left the Scuderia as the Ferrari partnership had run its course. Yet whilst Honda have won many titles – their last project from 2006-2008 was disastrous.”
“Fernando has all the information to hand and therefore he made the right decision for him and I think we should all respect his decision and see what happens”
Yet there will be many that ask whether Fernando had all the information to hand when he joined Mclaren in 2007 and when he joined the Italian team in 2010.
Red Bull and Lego brands rank higher than Ferrari
If any confirmation was required as to why Sergio Marchionne ruthlessly removed Luca di Montezemolo last autumn – comes news that Ferrari, who were the world’s leading brand – has dropped out the top 5 following another disastrous 2014 F1 campaign for the Scuderia.
Brand Finance are expert in measurements of brands across the globe and now reveal that Lego has risen to the top of the listing with toys, games and movie tie-ins which appeal to young children and nostalgic parents equally.
The lack of success is cited by Brand Finance as having a partial impact on Ferrari’s brand ranking as has recent suggestions that production numbers of the road cars is set to rise raising concern as to whether the ‘exclusiveness’ of owning a Ferrari will be lost.
“Ferrari’s been slipping since the end of the Schumacher era but it’s really fallen as the F1 team has done badly this year,” said Robert Haigh, branding expert at Brand Finance. “They’ve also ended their cap on the amount of cars they produce so people don’t see it as being so exclusive anymore.”
With Red Bull having entered the top three whilst Ferrari dropped – for Marchionne to have any chance of selling Ferrari for maximum profit – he needs a winning Formula One team hence why the FIAT boss claims the Scuderia will get whatever they needed for success.
The Usher’s Caption Competition
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Implications behind the F1 regulations for 2016
This year has seen a change in the deadline for majority voting on rule changes for the following F1 season from June to March 1st. Following yesterdays strategy group meeting which failed to agree any significant changes to the regulations already set out for 2016, this will mean the technical regulations of the sport will remain mostly unchanged for three years.
Ideas of having big wheels, 1000BHP F1 engines and fanciful Ferrari futuristic bodywork designs, have been kicked into the long grass until at least 2017.
This means the rules for the technical aspect of the sport will remain broadly the same for a three-year period, which some believe is good for cost control.
2017 is probably the right time to implement any kind of significant changes to the F1 cars and engines, as that will be the year Formula One begins its next contract with whoever the tyre supplier will be for the next 3-4 years.
Recently we’ve seen double points come and go in a season, Whiting’s interpretation of the double waved yellow flag regulations exposed as threadbare and standing restarts following the safety car being adopted by the WMC and then dropped a few months later.
After 18 months of crazy knee jerk reactions across the sport, where the school of bright ideas has been in sitting in perpetuity, there is now time for a more considered approach to be taken.
That said, there’s nothing like the intoxication and brinksmanship that a deadline can bring; and Formula One appears to thrive on the drama that operating in this vein brings.
“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in” – Michael Corleone
Adrian Newey can breathe a sigh of relief, following comments from Christian Horner last week that suggested a sea change in the regulations may entice their genius designer back to the sport full time. This would have seen Newey’s semi-retirement from F1 halted almost immediately, as the teams begin working on concepts for next years F1 cars over the next two months.
“So, move along folks, nothing to see here”…. Or is there?
Behind these headlines we await more details from the meeting of the WMC, which will ratify the 2016 regulations. Hidden away will be the items of some significance – such as the listed parts register – which defines what new components can be shared amongst the F1 teams rather than uniquely produced by/or for a team and therefore their intellectual property.
Matters of this nature are crucial to the philosophy of F1 car design and assembly for the new Haas F1 team, due to debut next year.
Pay drivers speak volumes
When questioned last week as to whether Pascal Wehrlein would be driving at the test in Barcelona, Bob Fernly was coy. However, Mercedes have confirmed their test driver will be at the wheel of the Force India car for two days during the up coming Barcelona test.
Given that Force India did not appear in Jerez and have denied their race drivers mileage this year already, this will raise eyebrows amongst F1 observers and reinforce the notion that the Silverstone team is struggling for cash. Force India will be running their 2014 car, as their 2015 model has been delayed in final production due to the team failing to meet suppliers demands for payment.
Wehrlein will also get a further two days in the 2015 Force India car during in season testing.
Joylon Palmer will also be behind the wheel in Barcelona this weekend. The GP2 champion will drive the E23 on day 2 of the test seeing Maldonado and Grosjean share the remaining three days.
Palmer is set to drive several FP1 sessions for the team during the course of the year.
Also in action will be Suzie Wolff, who will drive the Williams tomorrow. Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will also drive a full day each and share the remaining day.
Interestingly, the number of points under next years F1 super license each driver has – they required 40 – is as follows.
Full driver line up for Barcelona 2015 Test 1
THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY MERCEDES HAMILTON ROSBERG HAMILTON ROSBERG RED BULL RICCIARDO RICCIARDO KVYAT KVYAT WILLIAMS WOLFF BOTTAS MASSA MASSA/BOTTAS FERRARI RAIKKONEN RAIKKONEN VETTEL VETTEL MCLAREN BUTTON BUTTON ALONSO ALONSO FORCE INDIA WEHRLEIN PEREZ WEHRLEIN HULKENBERG TORO ROSSO VERSTAPPEN SAINZ VERSTAPPEN SAINZ LOTUS MALDONADO PALMER MALDONADO GROSJEAN SAUBER NASR ERICSSON ERICSSON NASR
Helmets to remain the same
In days of yore, F1 fans could identify the drivers much more easily as they hurtled around the circuit than is possible today, simply because more of the driver was visible in the cockpit. As safety regulations have gradually been implemented, the driver has slowly disappeared from view, leaving mostly just the helmet on display.
Last year, drivers were asked to select a number which is displayed on the car and this will be their unique identification code for the entirety of their F1 career.
In a continuation of this theme – making the drivers easier to identify – drivers will be allowed just one helmet design each year. The hope is that Formula One drivers may return to seeing their helmet as part of their branding.
Older fans of the sport remember the iconic helmets of Ayrton Senna and James Hunt – the latter was replicated and worn by Kimi Raikkonen in Monaco two years ago, in memory of the British world champion.
However, Bernie Ecclestone has been keen on this idea for some time, but for another reason; it prevents drivers from making public statements on their helmets, which can and have been embarrassing to Formula One.
This will affect the helmet designer industry and particularly Sebastian Vettel who has donned over 60 different helmet designs since he began his career in Formula One.