UPDATED 17:34 GMT – A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
OTD Lite 1990 – Jean Alesi announces himself to Senna
Undoubtedly one of the most memorable re-passes in history and you know from Osamu Goto’s reaction and that of Ken Tyrrell that they were all smiling at the fight.
“For me it was a dream come true to race with Ayrton. Two years ago he was my hero when I was in Formula Three, so for it was incredible to fight with him.”
Briatore wants Mclaren to tell the truth
On Monday evening, Italy’s ‘Porta a Porta’ television show concentrated on the nuances of neurological injuries. Amongst the guests present was a top professor and via video link was the former Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo – in addition to Flavio Briatore also offering his ‘considered’ verdict.
As ever in the goldfish bowl of Italian TV, the talk centered around the accident that befell former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso and his manager’s call to Mclaren to clarify the exact cause of the accident.
Flavio has seen the footage of the incident which supposedly didn’t exist: “It wasn’t a big blow. I saw a movie which moreover was sent to me by Ecclestone, where you can see that the blow is not so strong.”
“Just behind was Vettel who passes it, you see that Fernando goes to slam into the wall for no reason. And then you have to see if it is a problem of steering. We have not had any information about it from Mclaren. What happened is a very strange thing, and Ron Dennis in his press conference has not clarified anything. I expect that eventually it will become clearer. “
“Even the communication of the team was not brilliant. There is an investigation by the Federation. I don’t think there was an electrical problem but if it was then it must be said, because it can happen to other drivers. We know that when F1 put Kers on the cars, some mechanics took an electric shock which caused them to pass out.”
“You know that there is a switch, the switch was closed for Fernando. So let’s see, there is an investigation and we should know for the peace of all what has happened. Obviously the team and driver have given out different versions of what happened.”
“So there was a lot of confusion because the accident, if you see it, is not something that you would say “my God that blow!” It is an accident such as one sees a lot. It’s a little the angle in which the machine took the wall that could have bothered to Fernando.”
Wolff – Mercedes to welcome driver battle
At times last season, it appeared to the outside world that Mercedes was stage-managing its drivers to the World Title. Having delivered Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg the most dominant car of a generation – all F1 fans prayed for the fights that typified the final stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Yet as Paddy Lowe was heard over the team radio, the drivers were cautioned to not risk victory for the team. With the collision between the warring duo culminating at the Belgian Grand Prix, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda read the pair the riot act back at the team’s Brackley base.
With what seems another dominant package Toto explained in an interview with AFP that Mercedes were prepared to let the drivers fight this year.
“This year we will not change our approach in regards the drivers battle. It would be difficult to be honest. For us, the company and for F1 it is important that Lewis and Nico battle each other.”
“We intervened after Spa to prevent a repeat of that happening again which was viewed negatively. But in this sport if you do not live the races that are emotional and you make rational decisions all the time – in the end you lose so much and you lose what sport is about. We run sports with our emotions.”
Of course, it remains to be seen if the Brackley squad has changed its ethos in regards the drivers title but with a dominant Silver Arrow once more it could be the paymasters have decided to entertain the masses.
Ominously Wolff suggested that Mercedes have not shown their hand at any stage this year, “We focused on systems tests and reliability. The performance will be shown when it count and that is the Sunday of Melbourne.”
Ricciardo aiming for ‘home’ podium
Daniel Ricciardo is targeting a podium finish for the season opening Australian GP. After having claimed his first podium at his home race last year, Red Bull’s battle with the FIA over fuel-flow meter rates eventually led to his disqualification.
The three time winner knows it will be tough to compete with Mercedes, “Look, Mercedes proved during testing they are ahead but there will be a good fight between us, Ferrari and Williams. The podium is my goal.”
“Mercedes have done a great job to build the advantage they have but all sports need more teams fighting for victory. The fans would like it but Hamilton and Rosberg would get more satisfaction too. Ultimately it’s down to us to bridge the gap.”
Monisha is not yet done destroying Sauber
It has barely been 12 hours since the verdict in the “causa VdG” was delivered in the Supreme Court of Victoria (available here as a video for the time being), and Monisha Kaltenborn is playing fast and loose with Sauber’s cash and more importantly – their reputation – and seemingly without concern.
Shortly after Justice Croft delivered Sauber short shrift the team filed an appeal citing the same and already defeated protests over safety concerns. This line of reasoning was rubbished by VdG’s lawyer who reminded the court of events from the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. For those who don’t remember, Sauber’s driver – Sergio Perez – was unable to pilot the car and so still wearing his McLaren overalls and without a specialised seat fitting – Pedro de la Rosa jumped into and drove the Sauber car to help out the Swiss team.
Sauber’s lawyer looks ill-prepared and ‘some might say’ his law degree was something he found in a Kinder Surprise egg.
During the first short appeal hearing, the team’s lawyer had to be reminded that the racing starts on Friday, not Thursday, when he wheeled out the ‘we can’t make a seat in time’ excuse over and over again. This line of defence to anyone who understand F1 was embarrassing for Sauber’s legal team.
During the hearing, Sauber had insisted that Giedo van der Garde does not have a valid Superlicense, but they were proven wrong when VdG’s team produced the appropriate papers that proved the opposite.
Sauber’s response was almost from the realms of pre-pubescent 12 year old logic. “Well he shouldn’t have one”.
The ruling on Saubers appeal will be delivered at 2230 Zulu (0930 local).
FIA Press conference schedule
Thursday, March 12, 1500 hours local time (0400 GMT)
Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Kevin Magnussen (McLaren), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
Friday, March 13, 1830 hours local time (0730 GMT)
Maurizio Arrivabene (Ferrari), Eric Boullier (McLaren), Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber), Graeme Lowdon (Marussia), Claire Williams (Williams), Toto Wolff (Mercedes)
Clearly by Friday we’ll know what Sauber’s plan is. Yet whatever course of action they choose, Monisha Kaltneborn is going to get a disproportionate share of the limelight – and in a way some of her team sponsors may wish was not happening.
Vettel does the unthinkable
There were those who thought the ‘nonsense’ of naming an F1 car would stop when Sebastian Vettel entered the hallowed portals of Maranello. Surely, this most establishment of Formula One car creators would not allow one of their drivers to denigrate the pinnacle of Italian race car design and engineering by giving the product of their endeavours a name – and a female one at that.
However, the newly cropped – though still unshaven – quadruple world champion has appeared in the paddock in Melbourne and announced his car will be called Eve.
Vettel has been clearly spending too much time with Lewis, because the spiritual connection is clear.
This is Vettel’s virginal Ferrari experience – and according to Genesis, Eve was the first woman on earth.
Whether Eve ‘begets’ or ‘begats’ any children for her partner in the form of trophies this season – is yet to be seen.
But it could be by the end of the year, she has turned to the dark side and ‘Evil Eve’ is the natural successor to ‘666’.
Buoyed by the new spirit of levity (and lack of blood smeared around the walls) in his place of work, Kimi Raikkonen has joined in the fun. His version of the FS15-T will be called “WALLY”. Fernando when he looks at his MP4-30, just sees “WALL E”.
Eva – as she will be known in Italian is an interesting marriage of first and second (family) names. Google ‘Eva Ferrari’ – but be careful which play button you press 😉
Horner suggests banning wind tunnels
Christian Horner has suggested if Formula One wants to get serious about controlling costs, wind tunnel bans should be considered.
Speaking in Melbourne, the Red Bull Team Principal explains: “If you wanted to go really extreme and be really controversial, get rid of the wind tunnel. It’s an expensive thing to run and to feed with components and parts. Get back to engineering ingenuity.
“Give everybody the same microchip for the CFD cluster and make it down to the brainpower within the team as opposed to computer or wind tunnel power.
“Why not be radical? Why not make everybody have the same processes?
“If I was Bernie or Jean, that’s the direction I would be looking at.”
“You can’t dictate how much money a team has and where they choose to spend that money, but what you can do with the regulations is to make diminishing returns.
Horner agrees some teams will still spend a fortune, “but if the regulations were in such a way, then it’s not necessarily going to buy you an advantage.”
Renault against ‘significant’ engine changes
The matter of cost to customer teams and Mercedes dominance since the introduction of the new engine formula has led to discussions over whether engines should be revised or changed completely for the 2017 season and onwards.
Remi Taffin today explains Renault’s position on the matter. “Renault would first prefer to keep the same spirit of the regulations because we’ve spent years now to work on that engine.”
“For us it would be a shame and not efficient to go to a completely different technology.
“That’s where we are. Obviously we will take any changes into account but if we had to choose we would prefer to keep some stability.”
Having been caught on the back foot with their new F1 V6 Turbo power unit, Taffin reveals that Renault are a long way down the road to recovery and have a 2-3 year plan in place.
“We’ve gone into a way that we could develop for the next three or four years, that’s why we’ve got these tokens… It’s fair to say that we’ve spent a lot of energy on this.”
Renault’s F1 boss now believes radical change of the new PU’s is unlikely.
“I know they’ve been talking about potential regulation changes but from what I know it’s sort of on standby at the minute. From what I know, we’re looking at keeping the same sort of regulations.”
Dennis admits he was dishonest over Alonso’s health
TJ13 has been reporting and commenting on the debacle that has followed Fernando’s crash in winter testing. McLaren were slow to comment on the matter and when they did, their version of events appeared to differ from the facts open for all to see.
Ron Dennis gave a press conference at the final winter test and assured the assembled media that Fernando Alonso had not suffered from concussion and was in every way “physically perfect”. Yet within hours it became evident Fernando Alonso had been advised not to race in Melbourne.
Today in the paddock, Dennis reveals to reporters he “failed” to be open and honest and misrepresented the state of Alonso’s health.
“I understand why the press beat me up for being inaccurate. I wanted to be open honest. I failed. But it is my objective to try to be as honest as possible in future.
“There are a lot of complexities about concussion. It is difficult to quantify, and it goes beyond my area of expertise,” he admitted. “It is not my decision. But as far as I know Fernando will be in Malaysia. I have every reason to believe he will be there.
“I spoke to him on the way over here. He wants to race there. I hope he does, but it is his decision, not mine. We have a mountain to climb and we are in the process of climbing that mountain. We will get to where we want to be.”
Cynics will suggest this is more Ron speak and is again heading off a further revelation out of his control which is soon to come to pass.