UPDATED 17:29 GMT A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
OTD Lite 1993 – Senna seethes with rage at cheating rival
“The way he is behaving is like a coward. He has everything laid out for him in 1993. It’s like running a 100 metre race with him in running shoes and everybody in lead boots.”
For anybody who experienced the war that was fought over twenty years ago – the kindergarten tete-a-tete that constitutes Formula One these days is little more than an annoyance.
For anybody that doesn’t remember the glorious heyday of F1- Alain Prost had engineered himself a drive in a Williams-Renault and had secured himself a contract that forbade the signing of Senna as his team-mate. With Mansell having been removed the previous season, Prost was practically guaranteed a fourth title.
Prost has set the best time of the opening sessions of the 1993 South African GP and Senna continued his attack. In the event that people think the Brazilian was being unfair – it would serve to remember that Senna joined Prost at Mclaren and forced the Frenchman away from his comfort zone.
When Senna joined Williams for 1994 Prost retired and true to form at the recent inaugural Formula E race, Prost Snr blamed Nick Heidfeld for the collision with his son which resulted in the German’s spectacular launch into the barriers – after Prost Jnr took what would best be described as a farcical line into the last corner.
Anyway, those were the good old days, when men were men…
Raikkonen looking forward with the new Scuderia
For any red-blooded member of the tifosi, 2014 was a year best forgotten. Even Luca di Montezemolo joked recently that if Alonso had suffered momentary loss of memory after his accident in Barcelona maybe it would have been of help to have erased the 2014 season completely.
With Kimi Raikkonen being joined by four time champion Sebastian Vettel he is the only driver of the Scuderia who has experience of the car that Maranello built for last season but more importantly he is the last Ferrari World Champion from eight years ago and has seen significant changes within the Gestione Sportiva in recent months.
“I think that compared with last year, we have done a great job as a team, we are pleased with what we achieved over the winter and with the level of competitiveness that we expect to have reached, even if we will have to wait until we’re on track to get the real verdict. Anyhow, we will continue to push to improve all the time. I am confident that we will manage to achieve the results we deserve and want.”
It’s significant that whilst the arrival of Vettel has buoyed the team during this honeymoon period – perhaps the no nonsense approach of Raikkonen underlines the new culture that is being fostered at Maranello with the clean sweep conducted under the watchful eye of Ferrari’s president Sergio Marchionne last winter.
“I’ve known the team for a few years now, but I have to say, this year the atmosphere is very good, the people are happy and are working together in a very close-knit way. I think that’s a good sign and on top of that, it seems that a good car has been produced over the winter period. Now the time’s come to go racing, which is when we will really understand where we are.”
Red Bull RB11 nose fails latest crash test
Some years ago, a Formula One team decided to launch their car with the previous year’s aero aboard in order to not gift the competition any clue as to their design for the forthcoming campaign. By the time the cars were driven in anger during testing, build methods meant long lead times for copycat designs.
With increased reliability over the last decade – this practice was refined until teams began to leave their launches until the last possible moments so as to spend as much time in the windtunnel refining their designs. The thinking remaining the same in regards stealing a march on the competition.
Adrian Newey – Red Bull’s technical wizard has continued to push the absolute boundaries as – it appears that the design and production and whilst the original Red Bull chassis failed its first crash test on the eve of the first Jerez test – the team continue to encounter problems with the design of their new nose for the RB11 with news arriving from Cranfield that the latest tests for the structure have failed.
Of course many will surmise that this is the effect of the handing over of the team from Newey to the RB11 chassis designer Rob Marshall but insiders state that Ade is as dedicated – in what is rumoured to be his last full design – as he has ever been.
What may be of more concern to the Milton Keynes squad is reports stating that Renault will be targetting reliability and not performance in Melbourne with the French power unit being around a second off of its maximum potential. Which could prove to be a concern for the Red Bull senior and junior squads.
Ecclestone indifferent about F1 teams plight
Bernie Ecclestone is a divisive figure within Formula One and a man who is little loved beyond the goldfish bowl of the circus. But as a multi billionaire it is doubtful he loses much in the way of sleep over this – beyond the simple fact he is an octogenarian.
Like many he hopes for a return to the recent seasons where more teams were fighting for the wins “..but it would be fine even if the two Mercedes drivers were fighting each other.” before adding mischievously, “Hopefully in a more open competition than what we experienced last season..”
Of more pressing concern to many is the perilous state of several of the smaller F1 teams which teeter on the edge of disaster and yet unsurprisingly Mr E feels no sympathy at all for the struggling midfield teams.
“Who takes part in the championship knows exactly what the requirement are. If they choose to participate they obviously think they have everything they need so it is their problem. We adhere to the terms of agreement and we pay more than $900 million to the competing teams – that is what we do.”
Yet at no point did Bernie ever refer to the split of the collective proceeds that are paid out, or the fact he suggested recently the teams tear up their agreements and redistribute the pot more equitably.
Van der Garde and the superlicense
Should Monisha Kaltenborn remain team principal of Sauber for any length of time, the team will suffer greatly. She has shown contempt for legally binding contracts which will cause future partners and drivers’ sponsors concern.
Yet her biggest crime is the cynical manner in which she has conducted dealings with Giedo van der Garde.
Whilst Giedo was informed by text that he would now not be driving for Sauber during the 2014 Austin GP, his contract was not officially terminated until February.
This was following the decision by the Swiss Courts that Sauber must give him a race seat in 2015. The timing of the contract termination was around the time van der Garde’s F1 super license application needed to be filed. The FIA were also informed of the contract termination by Sauber.
Driver super licenses are applied for – by the team – via the driver’s national motorsport governing body. Clearly, Sauber’s actions have been designed to stymie van der Garde’s attempt to have a valid license to drive a Formula One car, then use this as part of their delaying tactics in subsequent legal action.
Giedo has taken the unusual step of completing an application with the assistance of his national motorsport governing authority, and as has happened in the past, FIA can grant this application in time for qualifying under Force Majeure clauses.
Following the appeal court hearing which upheld his right to drive for the Swiss team, van der Garde had this to say.
“It’s just a bit of paperwork now and Sauber has to help in filing it. So we’ll see in the next few hours what comes out. The good thing is it’s now early day in Europe, so they’ll start working, and still have a whole day. That’s positive. I don’t see any issues with the paperwork on my side. Sauber just has to push it.”
Given Sauber and Kaltenborn’s actions to date, the fact that Sauber are still required as part of this process is indeed a problem.
The clock is ticking – and the FIA should add the super license application process to a long list of ‘to do’ matters to review and amend
Sauber appeal rejected, what now?
Sauber were humiliated in the Australian Supreme Court today, as they appealed against a second ruling that they must provide Giedo van der Garde with a race seat this weekend for the 2015 Australian GP.
The Swiss F1 team’s reasons for failing to comply with a contract they had signed with the Dutch driver were at times childlike and even appeared petulant. The 3 Judges sitting clearly were not impressed.
In an extra-ordinary turn of events, before Van der Garde’s lawyer had even been offered the opportunity to respond to Sauber’s explanations as to why the previous rulings should not stand, one of the Judges told the team’s representatives to begin making preparations to ensure the Dutchman would be in the car this weekend. “Do nothing to prevent it happening”, was the command from the bench.
Giedo van der Garde has repeatedly contacted the team requesting meetings and arrangements be made for his overalls and seat to be organised, all of which have met a stony silence as Sauber’s delaying tactics were deployed.
To prevent any further’ mischief’ in an attempt to frustrate the order of the court, Van der Garde’s legal team have requested a contempt of court hearing be listed, which as TJ13 previously asserted could lead to an injunction against the team, assets seized and Monisha Kaltenborn even arrested.
Clearly the judges believed it is likely that Sauber will again not comply and granted this request.
The court have listed this for two hours prior to FP1, however, Sauber have been ordered to submit a full list of the team’s Australian based assets and their exact whereabouts to be lodged with the court today.
Van der Garde’s legal representative even suggested failure to comply with this could see Kaltenborn behind bars.
Ironic that when asked in Brazil about the possible problems of having more than two drivers signed for her team, Monisha Kaltenborn curtly replied: “We know – as I said – what we are doing, and we are sure about that, if others have to go and say something, fine. But we shall discuss all these things internally.”
It’s all rather very much NOT internal now – Monisha.
FIA methodology – speak first, think later
In a surprising U-Turn, Charlie Whiting has confirmed the continued clampdown on team to driver communications during the races will now not be pursued by the FIA.
During the 2014 season, the FIA had regulated radio transmissions to prevent driver coaching from the engineers and planned this year to introduce a complete ban on pit to car radio.
Whiting told reporters in Melbourne: “What we said we would do is to do it [ban radio transmissions] in two stages, we would not allow driver coaching for the remainder of 2014 and then we would clamp down a lot in 2015 – but we decided against that.”
This kind of admission continues to create the impression that Whiting and the FIA are headless chickens. Whiting appears to be influenced by whimsical and fashionable idea, but is repeatedly failing to give them proper consideration before making an announcement.
See how many of these you can list. Here’s one to start. Standing restarts following a safety car were announced last May – then abandoned. Add to that we now have the radio communications ban rescinded….
Manor F1 prevented from racing
John Booth and Graham Lowden have moved heaven and earth to get their team back on track following being placed in Administration just days after the 2014 Russian GP.
Despite Force India’s best efforts to stop Manor from making it back to the grid, the team have in record time – built two 2015 compliant cars, sent them and the associated equipment to Australia, assembled the cars in Melbourne and today passed scrutineering.
However, it may be plucky Manor will be thwarted from running their cars in Melbourne after all.
Rumours are circulating the paddock which suggest, the engine software is not working. As part of the proposed auction, computers were apparently wiped clean which contained the relevant software.
Manor have been working hard to rewrite the programs and enter the relevant data, but are reported to be still some way short of the mark.
What is not clear at present is Ferrari’s response. Maranello has agreed to supply Manor with 2014 engines, but possibly not with the appropriate management system programmes.
Whether Ferrari can get these easily to Manor or even whether the red team require further payment in return for replacing the missing code – at present, is unknown.
TJ13 previously suggested that Manor may not actually be able to run in the Australian GP this weekend, but that turning up for the event was a crucial part in them being eligible for the 2014 prize money they earned.
Tyre and Hotel bills unpaid
With all the excitement in the air over Fernando’s ‘normal’ testing crash and Sauber’s C34B which is rumoured to be a 2 seater design, we could be forgiven for believing all is well with the rest of Formula One.
But this is not the case. Lotus, Sauber and Force India have gone cap in hand to Bernie for a $10m advance on their prize money to tide them over until… well another day.
Yet despite this, Pirelli have not been paid for the tyres they supply. The annual Pirelli bill to the teams is some £1.5m a year.
AMuS claims that, “3 teams are still waiting on delivery of their tyres”.
Further, some teams have had to change hotels in Melbourne, because they could not afford the advance payments to secure the rooms they required.
FOM Travel has kindly stepped into the breach and secured accommodation for the race crews. FOM will then deduct the necessary amounts from the teams’ future payments.
Anyone else not had his or her pocket money this week?