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Since the Grumpy Jackal is currently stranded in Nepal, where he visited an ‘Annoying Phone’ fair, today’s Edition of OTD Lite has been contributed by Jennie “The Doc” Mowbray.
OTD Lite: 1915 – Dario Resta wins the Vanderbilt Cup
“America has never quite forgiven Europe for having been discovered somewhat earlier in history than itself.”
100 years ago World War One was raging in Europe, the Germans rapidly invading France and the Allies having to dig down in the trenches to try to hold them at bay. Motor-racing in Europe had ground to a halt as the young men had bigger and more deadly battles to fight.
Dario Resta, Italian born but raised in Britain from the age of 2, had started racing in 1907, taking part in the Montagu Cup, the inaugural race at Brooklands. He took the lead two laps from the finish but due to a marshalling error with the lap count only came third.
In late 1914 he was in the United States on a business trip and was approached by Alphonse Kaufman to drive Peugeots in the American races. The 1914 French Grand Prix had been a battle of Peugeot against Mercedes, with Mercedes decimating the field. The battle between the two manufacturers would continue on in the United States with both stables headed by an Italian-British driver, Ralph de Palma piloting the Mercedes.
On February 27 Resta won the American Grand Prize and one week later on March 6 he won the Vanderbilt Cup and was rewarded with an upgrade to the 2014 Peugeot…which unfortunately for his competitors could go even faster.
Peugeot were keen for the publicity. What they got was copied. Everyone loved their small and speedy DOHC engine and shortly everyone else was making them too. But after all, isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
Schumacher’s Medical file possibly stolen
Motorsport Total reports that burglars have raided the office of Michael Schumacher’s doctor in Bad Nauheim, Germany. Besides cash, prescription forms and valuables, the thieves also took a computer. Dr. Peil declines to comment on whether or not the medical data of the seven-time World Champion was stored on the stolen device.
Schumacher isn’t the only racing driver on Peil’s patient list, which also contains Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock and the entire staff of Volkswagen Motorsport.
Should the data of Schumacher be on the stolen computer, it would already be the second attempt to cash in on the German’s horrific accident in December 2013. Last summer medical files of Schumacher were stolen and offered to several media, who all declined to engage in that sort of business. After being apprehended, the suspect took his own life.
Engineering Porn: Topless McLaren
While the browser history of a hormone-ravaged teenager might feature snippets like “big natural jugs”, “topless cutie” or similar such jargon, the embarrassing trail of past digital misdeeds of an engineer will probably contain notions such as “open bonnet”, “polished pipes” or “without engine cover”.
What a day it must have been for those of an engineering disposition when Formula1.com released this picture of a nekkid McLaren:
Those who are aroused by the technological beauty will insist their interest is based on artistic value alone and in no uncertain terms are they focusing on the naughty bits, such as MGU-K, or (gasp) the compressor, For those whose first thought is the TJ13 podcast when terms such as ‘tools’ and ‘spanners’ are mentioned – no such inhibitions occur.
It had been expected that Honda would copy Mercedes’ approach of putting the compressor (blue) and the turbo (red) at either ends of the internal combustion unit, with the MGU-H (upper green bit) in the middle. The advantage of banishing the compressor and turbo to opposite ends of the PU is that less cooling is required than in the rather clumsy pose above struck by the Ferrari and Renault entrants in this engineering “Ms. Nude” contest.
Being from Japan, where people think buying ‘used’ panties from a vending machine is normal, the new kid on the block uses yet a different approach, naughtily sticking its MGU-H between the compressor and the turbo at the back, lasciviously flashing its MGU-K at the front.
Whether this configuration turns out to be a winner remains to be seen, as the metallic beauty thus far has been shy and retiring when requested to appear on track.
Manor: The Biggest Comeback Since Lazarus
There will be long faces in the Sauber and Force India garages when the boxes arrive in down-under-land labelled ‘Manor F1’ on the cargo manifest. As F1’s sole survivor from the class of 2010 makes a grand entrance to 2015’s competition, Force India’s hope of pilfering Manor’s ‘Bernie money’ will vanish. Monisha Kaltenborn too would have been delighted with a cash infusion of an additional £5m, given the current legal expenses Sauber are incurring following their TP’s ham-fisted management of contracts – supposedly where lies her expertise.
After passing the mandatory FIA crash test the Manor team’s kit will be shipped to Melbourne today though whilst the major obstacles are out of the way, we have yet to see whether Manor will actually race a week on Sunday.
Qualifying for the Melbourne race is not a requirement for the team to receive its 2014 prize money. In theory they could pass scrutineering and then merely head on out and deliver a handful of installation laps in FP1 and FP2. This is all that is required to fulfil their legal obligation to ‘take part’ in the event. This approach would not please Bernie however, it would buy Manor Racing some time to polish the rush-job that is their current car – which like the VJM08 is essentially a 2014 car that’s been given a nose-job.
However, the competitive spirit that burns within the likes of John Booth and Graham Lowden will see Manor do their damnedest to compete properly, although the 2015 cars have proven to be 2 to 3 seconds faster than last years offering. some of this performance can be attributed to the 2015 Pirelli tyres, which of course Manor would use as well.
Graham Lowden said yesterday that 107% rule in qualifying exists for a reason and that the team is prepared to accept a possible failure to make that mark.
In fact, the 107% rule will define Manor’s approach to their 2015 challenger. Due to the engine rules, which only allow 4 PU’s per driver, the new car would have time to be polished until somewhere halfway into the season, but should the current solution fail to make the cut in qualifying, they will surely pour everything they have into the new car – in an effort to have it ready by the time the first PU is about to expire.
German manufacturers urge FIA to rethink superlicense point system
Daimler-Benz, Audi and BMW, the three manufacturers in Germany’s DTM series, have sent a letter to FIA, complaining about the fact that the DTM has been completely overlooked and success in it does not yield any points toward an FIA superlicense.
Markus and Jochen Winkelhock, Bernd Schneider, Dario Franchitti, Giancarlo Fisichella, Christijan Albers, Gary Paffet, Pascal Wehrlein, Paul di Resta, Susie Wolff – quite a number of drivers have run in DTM before coming to F1 as test drivers or regular drivers. In some cases (Albers, diResta, Wehrlein, Wolff) the switch was made directly.
Most of them ran for Mercedes, who traditionally use DTM to give young talents some experience, especially since DTM has a history of attracting also drivers after their F1 career – Nicola Larini, Alessandro Nannini, Jacques Laffitte, Hans Joachim Stuck, Bernd Schneider, Mika Häkkinen, Jean Alesi, Ralf Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Keke Rosberg, Timo Glock, David Coulthard are just some of them. So the youngsters could always mix it with F1 drivers, sometimes GP winners or even world champions.
Mercedes, Audi and BMW fear that they will no longer be able to attract young talents because DTM does not bring them any nearer a Formula One career, even though DTM uses many elements that help in preparation for a job in F1. Elements like option and prime tyres as well as DRS are used in the series.
Hippo’s Top 10 Racing Unicorns
For the next 10 weeks I will present a car every Friday that was built, tested, but never raced in the capacity it was built for.
#10 – Zakspeed Volvo C70 DTM
When the DTM rose from the ashes of the old DTM/ITC which had been killed off by the FIA after just two seasons, there were four interested parties: Mercedes and Opel as works teams, Abt had built an Audi TT DTM and Zakspeed had built a prototype car based on a Volvo C70.
While Audi gave Abt their blessing to run the TT in DTM and even returned to the series as a works outfit four years later, Volvo vetoed Zakspeed’s entry at the last minute. Subsequently, the team adapted the car to ONS and VLN rules and two outings in the 24h of Nürburgring were the only competitive races for the car.
Volvo missed a huge chance, as Abt proved that a private team can be successful. Laurent Aiello won the 2002 DTM title on an Abt Audi TT-R, which then prompted the Ingolstadt based manufacturer to return as works team.
Aussie police on the Melbourne grid
Sauber’s bungled handling of GIedo van der Garde’s contract to drive for the Swiss team this year is quickly developing into a monumental farce, which may even create huge adverse publicity for Formula One too.
Monisha Kaltenborn in some way clearly believes F1 contracts are tenuous affairs and now finds herself and her team on the wrong end of the arm of the law. A Swiss court has already ruled that Van der Garde must be given one of the two race seats as per his contract and the Dutchman will be asking the Supreme Court in Victoria to enforce this judgement at an exceptional hearing listed for Labour Day next Monday.
Given the jurisdiction in which the original ruling was made and international agreements that secure the original judgement as binding, TJ13 believes Van der Garde’s application in the Australian court should be a formality and a local injunction will be issued against Sauber.
Sauber’s team principal Monisha Kaltenborn commented today. “As this matter is currently before the courts it would be inappropriate for me to comment on specific details, However, we will take all necessary steps to protect our company, this team and its interests.
“Last year was a challenging time for us but going into the 2015 season we have been focused on putting steps in place to ensure that we are delivering the best outcomes for F1’s fans.”
Sauber admit in their submissions to the court in Victoria that there has been a ruling against them in Switzerland, however they claim it is a first partial award and is not yet final.
Should Sauber fail to act upon any ratified directive by the Victoria court, the team could have assets seized and personnel arrested. Fat Hippo has a soft spot for Monisha Kaltenborn, and seeing her in handcuffs may just be too much for him to bear.
The drama scenario is Aussie police on the grid enforces Van der Garde’s right to climb into the car and drive.
That said, in the incestuous world that is Formula One, there are always wheels of influence whirring within the wheels of organisation. So it is not beyond the realms of possibility, that at the last minute, Giedo van der Garde may ‘see the light’ and retract his application.
Should Sauber be forced to allow him to drive at the Melbourne GP, then obviously either Ericsson or Nasr will be forced to withdraw – jeopardising some of the $40m the pair bring to the team.
The chaotic world of Formula One is never dull – mostly unpredictable – but highly entertaining. Who needs more than 19 races a year?
More F1 teams on the way
HRT’s rotting carcass is worm fodder, Caterham is demonstrating early stages of rigamortis and only by a miracle, equally surprising as the Immaculate Conception – Manor Marussia Racing have been saved from the bottomless pit of bankrupt F1 teams.
News of these events has clearly reached the hallowed portals of the Place de Concorde and officials of the FIA have been woken from their slumber.
The invisible man – Jean Todt – has decreed he is ‘considering’ putting out tenders for new Formula One teams.
Of course, next year we see the slightly pompous Mr Haas and his brand new team enter Formula One – presuming he’s not just using the 18 months since announcing himself to the world – for publicity purposes and isn’t really bothering to build a car.
Teams come, teams go. This is F1.
Yet the most spectacular failure recently was the brain child of an ex-apprentice of Richard Branson – Tony Fernandes. The Asian businessman has the dubious F1 record of spending more than anyone else ever in the sport – to never score a single point.
Whilst tenuously linked to the matter of a new F1 tender process for new teams, ‘Le Presidente’ added that he was proud of F1’s new engine Formula, he is credited with pushing through.
“I feel it is one of the few sensible decisions which has been taken over the last period,” said the Frenchman. “Formula One is the pinnacle of motor sport, so we must be an example to society. It is not all happening in a kind of closed golden-gated community where nothing is happening on the other side of the world.”
Maybe those who in fact exist within closed golden gate communities don’t really see the wood for the trees.
Ecclestone rubs salt into McLaren’s wounds
The party should now be in full swing in Woking. Their prodigal son driver has returned along with their favourite mistress from way back – Honda.
Yet no one could have imagined the depth of Woking’s woe come the dawn of spring. They have a car/engine that has failed to prove it complete a GP distance whilst other teams have been racking up thousands of kilometres, their star driver is sitting out the season opener in Australia and the PR disaster surrounding Alonso’s crash refuses to go away
Sebastian Vettel and Martin Brundle, to name but two, have described the circumstances surrounding Alonso’s accident as strange – though Vettel was lamely wheeled out days later in an attempt to revise his original observation.
Gary Hartstein has in some way calmed the troubled waters over the extent of Alonso’s injury, suggesting it is normal for the Spaniard to miss the Australian GP. However, his opinion is laced with a time bomb set for a few days later. Should Alonso fail to drive in Malaysia, then Hartstein will join those who hold the opinion something ‘strange’ has gone on.
Then, just as news cycle moves on to the deadline for agreement with the German GP organisers, Sauber and Kaltenborn finding themselves in court on an Aussie public holiday and we have a rare appearance of the invisible man – up pops Bernie.
“What has surprised me is what happened (at Barcelona)”, says the F1 supremo. When asked about Alonso he replied, “It is completely inexplicable. Fernando is a little surprised by what has happened to him.”
Oh dear. The rhetoric is rising; we now move from ‘strange’ to ‘inexplicable’.
“McLaren doesn’t want to discuss it, so there’s not much we can do,” Ecclestone continues. “It is really a sporting issue. So maybe it is one of those things that is necessary for the FIA to investigate.”
There are times when there is a tangible sense of mischief which subsumes the normative buffoonery which Ecclestone exudes, and this feels like one of those moments.
After all, Big Ron and little Bernie have had their run in’s in by gone times. Despite sources to the contrary, Max Mosely recently confirmed it was Ecclestone who snipped at Ron Dennis following the FIA’s unprecedented fine following ‘spygate’. He observed of the fine, “It is $5 million for the offence and $95 million for Ron being a twat”
There is a crumb of comfort for big Ron as he weeps into his office shag pile carpet. Pat Symonds reckons McLaren will be fighting for second spot behind Mercedes. “Once they get past their problems, McLaren will be there. I try to carry on looking forward but you always have someone snapping behind you.”
Then again, it costs nothing to utter the odd kind word to those in distress.
Big Ron Dennis must be longing for the red lights to go out in Australia, but then again, given the year he’s having – who knows what disaster will follow – for the team who just can’t seem to buy a break a present.