#F1 Daily News and Comment: Saturday 21st February 2015

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Previously on TheJudge13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: “A sad and pathetic attempt to impose order”

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 – 2008: Ralf Schumacher unhappy again

The reasons behind the one-helmet rule

Lotus’ new temerity

McLaren too slow, again

Fat Hippo’s Rant Lite: Get rid of the real problem


OTD Lite – 2008: Ralf Schumacher unhappy again

By all accounts Ralf revealed on this day in 2008 that he had lied. Not to the level that politicians lie to their respective countrymen but to the media about not staying in F1 for 2008. He had wanted a quiet end to his career and therefore lied to the reporters about his future.

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It seems that Michael’s younger brother was the only one living with the illusion that he would be pestered by the media. Infamously abrasive during interviews, many members of the press – and the various F1 teams he drove for – had few words to say as he kicked the metaphorical pebble along the dust track into retirement.

It’s not as though the F1 specialist press has maintained any correspondence with Schumi’s kid brother – although he must be grateful for Willy Weber being his manager during his career. Even to the point that according to legend, the Toyota company failed to realise they hadn’t signed Michael until they reconvened after the winter break..

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The Grumpy Jackal

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The reasons behind the one-helmet rule

Since the sport enjoys a time of unprecedented absence of any pressing matters, FIA president Jean Todt and his organization have made it a priority to improve the marketability of the sports pawns drivers by making them easily recognizable.

The first step was to assign numbers that would stick to the driver for their entire career. That gave some fan groups the chance to mystify the world by incessantly lacing their tweets and comments with mnemonics of a mysterious Lufthansa flight 44 (FRA-BRE, Frankfurt-Bremen), while antagonizing others, because Nigel Mansell’s iconic “Red 5” does now belong to someone, whom his old fan base does not necessarily like much. (With the notable exception of the TJ13’s Hippo, who’s been Mansell fanboy since forever)

The next step was to increase the size of said number and have it displayed on the side of the car, so that it could actually be seen from the track side. Motor Sport Total reports, in the least surprising news ever, that this was immediately nixed by the teams for fear of losing precious advertising space on which to display the logos of the sponsors they failed to find in the first place.

Even a compromise of adding a WEC or 2010 F1 style dorsal fin to make space for the larger numbers did not find enough supporters. As a least common denominator compromise the helmet design change ban was introduced to make the driver more recognizable by the design of the lid. This revolutionary rule does fail, however, to address cases like the 2013 Mercedes lineup, when both Rosberg and Hamilton ran predominantly yellow designs.

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Lotus’ new temerity

Federico-GastaldiAfter Gerard Lopez dared to call bovine excrement on the Emperor for his lack of attire and was by miracle not blackmailed out of the sport, another critical voice is sounding from the trenches in France with deputy team manager Frederico Gastaldi stating the obvious in an interview with Brazil Globo by saying that F1’s business model is unsustainable.

“We have lost count of how often we met with Bernie Ecclestone and the other teams,” Gastaldi explains. “Over the course of the last year we didn’t even manage to step forward an inch in regards to changes, which we think are not only important for us, but the sport as a whole. It’s a world of giant egos. They [the big teams] have their own interests in mind, but fail to see that we are are also important for them.”

Gastaldi identifies the inequitable distribution of money as the main problem.

“Those that already have the most, nab the lion share of what the show earns. Those who have not so much get less and less. That’s really annoying. It’s a model that doesn’t work.”

Good luck changing that through the Strategy Group…

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McLaren too slow, again

It appears that McLaren lacks speed not only on the track, at least if the wide-spread speculation about Honda acquiring Manor GP as a customer had any substance. While, as TJ13 recently reported, the resurgent Manor team could still lend Woking a helping hand in getting additional wind tunnel time, they won’t be any help in data acquisition for Honda’s troubled power unit.

As Ferrari’s Mauricio Arrivabene announced today, the Italian manufacturer has come to an understanding with Manor about the supply of power units. The Italians will clean out their parts bin and supply 2014 spec power units to the British team. This agreement has not been put in writing yet, though.

The lack of power units was cited as one of the main obstacles in Manor’s attempt to stage the biggest comeback since Lazarus. With that problem solved and the mandatory crash test for a 2015 spec car already registered with FIA, a Manor GP car on the grid in Albert Park starts to look like a growingly realistic event.

This would allow Manor to start reaping the rewards of Jules Bianchi’s ninth place in last year’s Monaco GP, much to the chagrin of the pickpockets in the Force India bunker.

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Fat Hippo’s Rant Lite: Get rid of the real problem

Fat Hippo’s Rant Lite articles are opinion pieces and do not represent the opinion of the TJ13 staff as a whole.

For many a year the mantra, that Bernard Ecclestone would be the death of Formula One before he met his own end, was repeated ad nauseam. But since last year at the latest, the octogenarian has been fighting with blunt weapons. Thrashing what little credibility he had left, when he blatantly bribed his way out of a bribery trial, his luck has turned for the worse since then and the defeats pile up.

His much maligned double points idea, introduced to keep up ‘suspense’ until the very end, was made a mockery of due to the nigh-on unprecedented dominance by the Mercedes cars that made the 2013 season look like a nail-biting thriller. In the end the rule that nobody loved but Bernard was rescinded after the season.

Failure to get rid of the new engines, introduce a Qatar race or to stop the massive exodus of TV viewers are just some recently acquired chinks in his armpit armour.

With Mr. Ecclestone’s power starting to wane, all should be great in #F1 land, should it not? But it isn’t, because, to employ Fernando Alonso’s Samurai vernacular, there is a very sharp katana threatening to be rammed into the sport’s bowels in the form of the Strategy group. The real downfall of F1 will be that someone decided it was a good idea to let the turkeys vote for Christmas.

Instead of tackling the sport’s problems they waste their time on inconsequential matters like regulating how often a driver may redecorate his helmet or if he should have a number that he’s stuck with until he retires or is retired from the sport.

The Strategy group is #F1’s European Union. Voting on minimum curvature of imported bananas, but when things like the bankruptcy of Mediterranean Tzatziki republics or Russia invading neighbouring countries are put on the table, nothing happens, because in the end, each state only has its own interests in mind and doesn’t give a flying expletive about the grand scale of things.

Like the EU the Strategy Group is a good idea, but in the end it is a monumental failure, because of its own members.

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5 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Saturday 21st February 2015

  1. Well stated Sir Hippo. The Strategy Group is the ultimate expression of all that’s currently wrong with the sport. The FIA have sold their birthright and only the vultures are left to feed.

  2. “… according to legend, the Toyota company failed to realise they hadn’t signed Michael until they reconvened after the winter break..”

    Yeah, right…

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