#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 17th March 2015


UPDATED 18:03 GMT A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,

OTD Lite 2002 – Ferrari’s F2001 completes its final race on the podium

Renault have taken a step back against their rivals

Bob Bell returns to his spiritual home

Alonso training in Woking simulator for return

The FIA’s magic bullet to stop Mercedes

Tweet of the day

Have Sauber settled?

Button casts aspersions on Red Bull legitimacy

Christian has that Alonso feeling

Hockenheim refuse to host 2015 German GP

OTD Lite 2002 – Ferrari’s F2001 completes its final race on the podium

Back in the day, Formula One teams had the freedom to introduce their new car when the circumstances allowed. If you were part of the chasing pack you would naturally bring the new design to competition as soon as possible but if you had been the dominant force, you could be more selective.

It is perfectly conceivable that the 2014 Mercedes WO5 would have dominated the 2015 Australian Grand Prix but such are the fluid regulations that teams hurry through their latest weapon.

In 2002, on this day the Ferrari F2001 ran its last ever race finishing third behind the two Williams of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya in Malaysia. The dominant winner of the previous years championship was deemed good enough by the Scuderia to compete in the opening two races – winning in Australia and claiming third here.

Following the race Ferrari felt that the Williams challenge was too strong so they introduced the new F2002 for the Brazilian GP and decimated the field that season. But what a swansong for one of the great designs.


The Grumpy Jackal


Renault have taken a step back against their rivals

Pre season testing revealed that the Renault power unit was struggling against the might of the Mercedes and the much improved Italian stallions from Maranello. Rumours of discontent amongst the Renault staff at having Mario Illien imposed upon their design team filtered out and seemingly egos were put out of joint.

With the French manufacturer then stating that their use of tokens would be in view of the longer term goals to be achieved – many felt that this would cause ruckus within the Red Bull teams. With two engine failures over the Australian Grand Prix weekend on Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen’s cars, Renault has come under fire.

Cyril Abiteboul has admitted that his outfit needs to get back to some “basic common sense” to solve its issues which include driveability problems and performance which Renault themselves calculated as costing around a second a lap.

The weekend has been very frustrating,” Abiteboul said. “We know that we made genuine progress over the winter but we could not show it here and in fact we would even seem to have moved backwards. Given the pace at which we conducted our development programme towards the last few weeks of the winter, there may not be lots to change to be able to access these improvements.”

“Now, we need to react, but not overreact, and get back to some basic common sense that has always driven our approach in all these years of F1 engine development. The season will be long, we have the time and the capacity to react and get this very bad start of the 2015 season behind us.”

Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner did not keep his feelings hidden: “They need to have a clear vision and they need it quickly,” Horner said. “You can see that Ferrari has made a step forward. Sauber – all respect to them – I doubt they have found that much from their chassis between last year and this year because most of it is the same – same front wing and rear wing. You can see that Ferrari has made a good step and Renault at this stage appear to have made a retrograde step.”

Head of track operations Remi Taffin expanded on some of the ssues that the Regie are currently experiencing, “Reliability has been below par, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen suffering [internal combustion engine problems. The two are not related and we are already investigating a recovery programme to make sure we do not see a repeat. The biggest issue has been the driveability, which has made it hard for all the drivers to feel comfortable in the cars.

“It affects pedal application and confidence in the corners so has cost lap time and points this weekend. It’s related to the maps, or the way the Power Unit is configured, so while it’s definitely not an easy fix, it does not require a complete redesign. We have got a lot of work to do before Malaysia but equally a lot of motivation to not repeat the same issues we had this weekend.”


Bob Bell returns to his spiritual home

Speculation last autumn was that Bob Bell who had resigned his post at the Mercedes team the previous winter was being courted by Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo. Despite Il Padrino’s undoubted charisma, Bell was not impressed by terms offered and declined further negotiations.

When Luca was replaced in October by Sergio Marchionne, once again Bob Bell was mentioned to be negotiating with Ferrari once more about a possible role at Maranello. He was technical director at Renault during their last World Champion winning campaigns and then team principal of the Enstone outfit following Flavio Briatore’s punishment for Singapore-gate. It was always unlikely he would have signed for a role supporting Maranello’s technical director, James Allison.

So it proved as Bell has taken up a consultancy role with the Renault concern who are conducting studies into both the Enstone facility and that of Toro Rosso’s expanding factory. Bell and Cyril Abiteboul were both in Faenza recently as Renault Sport began discussion with Red Bull about purchasing the Toro Rosso concern for the return of the French giant.


Alonso training in Woking simulator for return

For a man who didn’t receive any concussion Fernando Alonso is taking some time in his recuperation. Eric Boullier was speaking over the weekend about the return of the Spaniard and seemed somewhat exasperated by the constant question – will Fernando be in Malaysia?

Eric Bouillier’s response was quite telling “I have answered that question over a 100 times over the weekend and every time I have replied it’s decision to be made by the doctors. I don’t know if the tests will be in Paris or in Switzerland but it needs their all-clear for Fernando to participate.”

What is possibly harder to answer is that having seen the current Mclaren-Honda package – is the Spaniard in any hurry to climb back into his car to compete against the Manor team..

Either way, Alonso has been booked in to Woking’s simulator from Tuesday until Friday to prepare for the race in Sepang and was in close contact with the team during the recent shambles of a race weekend – offering then ‘support and encouragement’.

Given the fact that Jenson Button had to run at vastly reduced levels to just to complete the race distance in Melbourne, the Anglo-Japanese package is clearly struggling for speed. With the Malaysian GP being run in tropical heat and humidity – it may serve the Spanish Samurai to recover fully before making his 2015 race debut – although missing another race, irrespective of its significance could well promote darker conspiracies about the injuries the double world champion has received.


They may have to turn down the top speed a touch for realism 😉

The FIA’s magic bullet to stop Mercedes

Yesterday, Bernie Ecclestone backed calls from Red Bull’s Christian Horner for the FIA to use the appropriate powers at their disposal to allow Ferrari, Renault and possibly Honda to catch up on Mercedes engine development.

Toto Wolff’s response was to the point. “If you try to beat each other and perform at the highest level and then you need equalisation after the first race – you cry after the first race – that’s not how we’ve done things in the past. I think, ‘Just get your f***ing head down, work hard and try to sort it out’.”

Wolff quickly added, “I didn’t mean the F-word in relation to him [Horner].”

Bernie claimed there was a regulation ‘inserted by Max [Mosely] and “put in when he was there [FIA President] that in the event that a particular team or engine supplier did something magic”, the others would be allowed to catch up.

Today Adam Cooper suggests that the rule to which Ecclestone refers maybe Article 2.5 of the Technical Regulations, which states.

“New systems or technologies: Any new system, procedure or technology not specifically covered by these regulations, but which is deemed permissible by the FIA Formula One Technical Department, will only be admitted until the end of the Championship during which it is introduced. Following this the Formula One Commission will be asked to review the technology concerned and, if they feel it adds no value to Formula One in general, it will be specifically prohibited. Any team whose technology is prohibited in this way will then be required to publish full technical details of the relevant system or procedure.”

This appears rather a stretch, since nobody can pinpoint the actual technology which Mercedes is deploying that specifically creates their advantage.

Mercedes AMG performance advantage is most likely derived from a combination of their engine, software management systems and the chassis combined. This hardly fits the ‘magic component’ idea which the regulation was intended to catch.

Further, the remedy provided in the article above is to prohibit at the end of the season the offending technology which will be thereon prohibited.

“Dear Toto, Niki and Paddy. Under article 2.5 we have taken the decision to ban your Power Unit for 2016

Kind regards

Charlie and Jean”.


Tweet of the day

Have Sauber settled?

Reports are circulating that Sauber have come to an agreement with Giedo van der Garde.

Having sued the Swiss team for breaching his contract to drive for them, van der Garde has a number of legal rulings behind him to support his cause.

In what appeared to be a gracious move, the Dutchman dropped his application for a contempt of court order to be awarded against Sauber, which allowed the team to race and their cars finished 5th and 8th.

Rumours are circulating that the settlement agreed between the two parties will be around $16m. This is an eye watering amount of cash for Sauber to have to pay. Yet behind this deal will sit guarantees. One such undertaking may include equity transfer to Marcel Boekhoorn, who funds Gideo van der Garde’s racing.

This kind of deal will send shock waves around the F1 teams because in recent years driver contracts have not always been given the consideration they deserve.

Sauber now find themselves in the ridiculous situation where they’ve ditched a driver for one who brings more cash – but the cost of getting rid of van der Garde is surely higher than the incremental cash brought in by his replacement.


Button casts aspersions on Red Bull legitimacy

It feels like Groundhog day. Having completed the first race of the season, Red Bull are again suggesting the current regulations will be the ruination of Formula One.

In 2014 it was the fuel flow regulations being called into question, now it is Mercedes engine dominance which will apparently be the death knell of the sport. An unhappy Helmut Marko remarked following the chequered flag in Melbourne, “These rules will kill the sport.”

Yet there is little sympathy for Red Bull’s plight. Ferrari have raised their and their team principal believes, “Our job is to attack Mercedes on the track, not to change the rules.”

Jenson Button has joined the fray: “There’s nothing really to ban because it doesn’t look like Mercedes are doing anything other teams aren’t doing, they’re just doing a much better job of it”.

The British World Champion then rounds on Red Bull for what many believe to be dubious prior activities. “In those days with the bendy floors and the bendy wings it looked like Red Bull were pushing the limits in the grey area. But when you look at Mercedes, it doesn’t look like that. It’s a very rounded car. And amazingly strong. But as soon as people do a better job than anyone else they’re slated for it”.

Red Bull were thrown out of qualifying at the last race of the 2014 season, for blatant cheating as their front wing was found to have a design feature which caused the wing to flex illegally.

Button concludes, “Would Red Bull be upset about it if they were the team out front by one second? No.”

Lewis Hamilton picked up on this theme speaking to the Guardian. When he was told of Red Bull’s demands that the FIA level the playing field, Lewis smiled and revealed: “I was sitting next to Sebastian after the race and I said: ‘Sebastian, you did this for four years. You were 30 seconds ahead for four years.’ So I know what it feels like.

“Back then he had no one behind pushing him. At least I’ve got my team-mate, who I was really racing. I don’t remember that ever being the case [with Red Bull].”

Hamilton makes a coded reference to the view that Webber was not allowed to challenge Vettel, something which came to a head when the team failed to discipline their world champion driver for disobeying an instruction. Vettel was told to hold station in Malaysia 2013. He attacked and overtook Webber, who had been instructed to turn down his engine to the end of the race.


Christian has that Alonso feeling


Hockenheim refuse to host 2015 German GP

Bernie Ecclestone claimed at the weekend, “at the moment” the German GP for 2015 was dead.

Today it died a little more as Hockenheim circuit boss Georg Seiler confirmed they would not be hosting the race.
“Ecclestone has had talks with both Nurburgring and Hockenheim about hosting this years F1 event in Germany, but Seiler reveals, We no longer have a chance to host a Formula 1 race here [this year].”

During the horse trading, Ecclestone had asserted that Hockenheim would in fact stage this years race, presumably in an attempt to get Nurburgring promoters to sharpen their negotiating pencils.

The high water mark of 20 F1 races held in the 2013 season looks as though it will go unchallenged once again this year, as it is highly unlikely that Nurburgring will agree a deal either.


57 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 17th March 2015

  1. I wonder where the promotion of some of those “darker conspiracies about the injuries” might originate.

  2. What is possibly harder to answer is that having seen the current Mclaren-Honda package – is the Spaniard in any hurry to climb back into his car to compete against the Manor team..


    It’s the occasional gem like that that keeps me coming back. Well done.

    • Ha! indeed….
      They were over-the-moon with Jenson actually completing with his turned down P/U whilst seemingly overlooking that Kevin’s still managed to pop its clogs…….
      Take your time Fred. Get well soon.

    • That is interesting. The unattributed source would logically be Ericsson’s personal team, (unless it’s sensationalist fiction).

      All the stories on the settlement that I’ve seen so far are unattributed as well.

      Looking forward to seeing more info; particularly anything official from either Sauber, or Jan-Paul ten Hoopen / Giedo van der Garde.

  3. Anyone know if all this talk about Renault wanting to buy their own team is actually supported by Carlos Ghosn and the Renault cars management? As far as I know it’s not going too well with Renault the car brand, suffering from a rather big reputation problem, and therefore I still have a lot of difficulty accepting that a car brand that is not in the best position has the financial means to support a factory F1 team. I mean part of Red Bulls current problems is because Renault did not invest enough in creating a competitive engine so why should a factory F1 team be any different? Where and how are they going to come up with an annual budget of 200 million dollar or more?

  4. Loving Nico’s response to Vettel on Twitter this morning.

    “Dear Seb, this is the official invitation to join our debrief Friday 16.00 at Sepang. See you there, don’t forget your notebook! :)”

        • Not so cocky than “balls in the pools” I guess. This also shows that he is hugely upset being trolled by Seb and Nico giving seb something back

          • But Seb didn’t troll him. He’s looking for help from another team in the title fight and Seb’s basically saying, with the advantage they’ve got, he seriously doubts how Nico expects them to join the fight.

        • The Chosen One had no choice but to follow through on his invitation. It was either that or look even more like a chump when the media noodleheads asked him about it at Sepang.

          It’ll be an entirely pointless, stage-managed affair with a few laughs for the cameras. I’m thinking Seb needs a sight gag – maybe wear a tuxedo or something.

    • Had Nico not attempted to have a dig back at Vettel in the press conference itself (with Vettel again getting one over him), then this might have seemed like a more “in jest” kind of comment. However, with the way that Rosberg seemed pretty miffed at the time this seems like a bit of a bitchy, late-in-the-day comeback.

      I’d *love* it if Vettel actually went though.

      • Should’nt we give more time to him. After all this is just the second year that has a car to win races and ch’ships. Whereas Hamilton, Seb, Fred and Schumi had it early in their careers. So i think we should not judge him with only last season as evidence. May be he can comeback this year. who knows?

        • Racecraft is something that a driver learns over their early years of racing – if their racecraft is not that great when they get into F1, then it’s unlikely they can greatly improve it to the point where they are one of the best at it.
          But, yes, let’s see what Rosberg has improved on this season from last – it’ll be interesting to see.

  5. Lewis’ quotes after the race. Please debate.

    “I was sitting next to Sebastian after the race and I said, ‘Sebastian, you did this for four years. You were 30 seconds ahead for four years.’ So I know how it must have felt back then,” he is quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

    “Back then he had no-one behind pushing him. At least I’ve got my team-mate, who I was really racing. I don’t remember that ever being the case [with Red Bull]. If I was 30 seconds ahead every race then maybe, but we are racing and ultimately I still have to get the better of another very, very good driver.

      • Why Mark now. Its a known fact that Mark had trouble in adapting his driving technique around the EBD whereas Seb mastered it. And we all knew who was Redbull’s golden boy then. Multi 21 proves it.

        • And that’s why Webber was crap! Are you forgetting he was on course to win the 2010 title before deciding to plant his car in wall at Korea? Seb lead that championship once and that was after he crossed the line in Abu Dhabi.

          What multi 21 proved was, Seb was ruthless because he wanted to win the title and the fact that he had no respect for Webber something that stretched back to his comments after the accident in Fuji 08.

          (I hope Mrs Judge doesn’t read the comments section)

          • For that matter every driver wants to win and be ruthless but seb not only disrespected mark, he disrespected his employers as well and went unpunished. Further Marko never backed Mark in the 2010 campaign. By the closing stages of the campaign, Mark resigned to that fact. Can we say seb is crap coz he lost against colgate boy last year due to his non adaptability.to new rules? We cant say so right?. And he ran away from fizzy drinks to avoid another year of drubbing?

          • Ah Fortis, don’t forget old Webber had a good stretch when cold blown EBD got deep sixed, till Ade sorted it out. And, but for breaking a shoulder mountain biking (if you accept that as the reason for his crash in Mokpo, and not folding like a cheap suit under pressure) he was an All But World Champion. So, can’t go with total crap, but deffo nowhere with the EBD Red Bull. No arguments there. 😉

            BTW they give out the All But WDC right after Button hits his participation trophy for Melbourne this year, LOL!

      • “Translation…..

        You had it easy because Mark Webber was crap!”

        Or rather, you had it easy, because your teammate wasn’t allowed to race you.

        • No he was crap.

          He was in the best car on the grid for 4 years, how many 1-2’s did Redbull have? How many times was he there to cash in on any of Seb’s misfortune? How many times did he finish runner up in the championship?

          4 years and he couldn’t adapted to the EBD, so yea I’ll stick to my original statement.

          • Maybe the RB wasn’t the best car on the grid, more that Seb was able to adapt to a very specific driving style that allowed him to extract superb times from it.

            Sometimes things are so extreme that you either have the ability to use it or you don’t. The problem we have is that only two drivers drove WDC winning Red Bulls so we don’t know how easy or difficult they were to drive fast.

            Not being able to adapt may be a sign that he isn’t the best driver out there but it is interesting that when he got on top of the car he was often as fast if not faster than Seb. Unfortunately the knife-edge was so thin that he didn’t find his balance that often. It would have been much more interesting to see him in something like a McLaren and another driver alongside Seb to see just how fast Webber was.

            Personally I think he, like Hulkenberg and Rosberg, would have been a WDC had they been in the right car at the right time. Rosberg must be kicking himself as if Lewis hadn’t been signed to Mercedes he’d already have been a WDC by now and would probably add another couple.

            That, however, is just the way F1 works. There can’t be all that many seasons where the driver who drove best over the year actually won, as so much is down to the car itself. There are plenty of WDCs out there who are similar in terms of relevant skill to Nico but had a machinery advantage.

          • “No he was crap.”
            Webber wasn’t crap, maybe Vettel was faster, but to say Webber was a crap driver is just not true. He was unlucky, he might have had more difficulties to adapt to driving with an EBD and maybe when he finally got a competetive car, he was already past his prime. Still I think that Vettel being the favoured driver had an influence, even if it was only psychologically and not down to different equipment and a suspiciously stubborn clutch.
            “Rosberg must be kicking himself as if Lewis hadn’t been signed to Mercedes he’d already have been a WDC by now and would probably add another couple.”

            If Mercedes hadn’t signed Hamilton, they would have signed Alonso, or kept Schumi, who I think would have beaten him. Although I never was a fan, I think that Schumi would have found new motivation in a competetive car and his killer instincts would have set in once he had a realistic chance at another title. Plus I think he would have gotten number one status, because the marketing effect of Schumi winning another title in a Mercedes would have been too much to resist. I think that, when they signed Schumacher alongside Rosberg back in 2010, that was already a sign that the team didn’t think he was WDC material. Rosberg spend too much time at Williams and should have signed for McLaren when he had the chance. There he could have done what Button did, and thereby raised his profile. Instead, he stayed at Williams which a) gave the impression that he was afraid of Hamilton and b) made him look average.

      • The bit missing here is that Red Bull were never so far ahead that they could stop for a cup of tea have and debate which of their two drivers should be allowed to win on that day. The fact is Lewis could drop it several times a race and still finish second. That kind of advantage is something RBR never ever had. In 2012 they didn’t even have the fastest car.

        To be honest I’d rate Rosberg on about a par with Webber. Good on his day, and pull things together well but not great. Look at the gap between Nico and Lewis this weekend, that’s similar to the sort of thing that saw Webber in 6th and Vettel in P1 back in 2013.

        Maybe that heavy gold chain is cutting the blood flow to Hamsters brain.

        • The Redbull car was a different kettle of fish to the Merc, It had downforce by the bucketloads and sacreficed a bit of top speed to do it. If you stuck it on pole, it was super quick and easy on tyres, you only had to look how often Seb would pull out 3-4 sec in the opening laps and then hold station. The difference is Mark for whatever reason couldn’t get the car off the line, and ended up in the pack, this is where the Redbull was rubbish, great track car, rubbish race car. I’d say pace wise its advantage was everybit as big as the Merc at somepoints, think hungary 2012, 2 secs a lap quicker, but if you could get in front of a redbull you could hold it there.

          The biggest difference was last year, compared to the Redbull years, was Alonso didn’t have midly competative car to work miracles with, and keep the dominant team honest,even then he nearly stole a race last year.

          I honestly believe if we’d had Kimi and Vettel in the Merc and Alonso and Lewis the Williams last year, we wouldn’t of been talking about a merc domination.

    • Lewis was responding to allegations that he’s a flat track-bully and no different from when Vettel was dominant. The big difference of course was that Lewis proved himself in non-competitive cars whereby Seb will (hopefully) do that now.

      And to top it all, yes, Rosberg is at least pushing him, something that Mark only did in 2010.

      In some ways, I see more parallels between Lewis and Senna (not saying he’s like Senna, do not twist my words!) rather than Schuey or Vettel.
      Senna proved himself and then got into a super car with a supremely competitive team-mate (OK, Rosberg is obviously not Prost, but still…). Schuey proved himself, but then Rubens was a walk-over. Seb didn’t prove himself in non-competitive cars (and now Hippo will hit me with his Toro Rosso mantra!) and Mark challenged him only for a year.

      • “now Hippo will hit me with his Toro Rosso mantra”

        You should be hit…. and hard ! Vettel comprehensively proved himself at Torro Rosso in the latter part of 2007 & 2008. The 2008 car was no better than 5th/6th fastest.

        Lewis had the third best car in 2009 (it took P4 by race 3 FFS!). Only having Kovalinen as a team mate made it look all the worse, especially as McLaren never gave him the upgrades his team got and consistently forced him into high fuel loads for Q3.

        So I’m left how exactly Lewis has proven anything in a true uncompetitive car, given he’s never actually driven a properly uncompetitive one! It’s one thing we don’t really know about Lewis, how would be hope in a Sauber? We’ve seen Massa, Kimi, Vettel, Rosberg and Ricciardo in properly crap cars, but never Lewis.

        • Let me rephrase, instead of non-competitive, let’s just say 2nd/3rd/etc best. Then it makes the discussion a bit better.

          As for the TR of ’08, I’m not going to start the same argument all over again. It was a good car especially in certain tracks and in Monza, it was good! And that one win doesn’t tell me much. Maldonado won a GP too, has he really proven himself?! And what about last year? Ric got 3 wins, Seb nothing.

          All I’m saying, is that Seb needs time in 2nd/3rd best car to silence people like me, because the jury is still out.

          • 2012, second best? You’re having a laugh! Over the whole season, it still was the best car.

          • It was the fastest car for 3/4 of the season! If McLaren mastered pit stops, strategy and actually finished a bit more they would have taken the title.

            It was widely regarded as the quickest car of 2012.

          • **Paul**, how could the RB8 be the 2nd best car when it led the WCC standings from the 4th round on? You’re saying that was all down to Vettel and Webber’s brilliance as drivers?!?!

            Can you list all of the races where you think the McLaren was the fastest car that race weekend? Because there is NO WAY that it’s even close to three-quarters of the season. They started off as fastest, were told to revise their floor after China, and then had a bad spell (Button was basically lost and never heard from again until Valencia), and only were at the front end again from GER. After SIN, the RB8 was the fastest until BRA. You don’t lead 205 consecutive laps with the 2nd best car, EVER!!! Vettel should’ve won in USA, and likely would’ve won in ABU had he not been excluded from quali.

            Of course, what use is a fast car if it doesn’t finish? Do you think Piquet’s 1984 Brabham was the best car that year too?? It was faster than the McLaren’s that year, but hardly ever finished. I guess you’d take the 2005 McLaren over the 2005 Renault too? Pfft!

            The simple test is this: would Hamilton or Button or Alonso have traded their car for the RB8 in 2012?? IN A HEARTBEAT!

            As for not considering the 2009 McLaren as an uncompetitive car, that’s plain ridiculous. In the MIDDLE of the season, from MON-GER, Lewis’ results were a 12th, 13th, 16th, and 18th. The car was crap. It’s too easy for you to discount Heikki … do you consider Bourdais as some amazing driver?!! I’d take Heikki anyday over him! Bourdais at Monza ’08? Qualified 4th. That car was hooked up for that track, and for those conditions.

          • 2nd best car seasons: you forgot 2014, which was a miserable season all around for him. 2009 I’ve said before was a car that could’ve won the championship … Seb made a whole catalog of mistakes that year that cost him a chance at the title. An Alonso or Hamilton could’ve won with that car in 2009, as Brawn hung on by their fingernails the entire second half. The 2012 Lotus and Sauber were also machines that ALO & HAM could’ve done very good things with.

            It’s just one race in, but it looks as though Seb could be in another 2nd-best car. A pole or win might be asking too much (though over 19 races, in extraordinary circumstances, one brilliant drive shouldn’t be out of the question). Finishing with the 3rd most podiums would be a good achievement. It’s now 20 races without a victory for Seb; Lewis has never gone more than 10 races without a victory, even in 2011 or 2013 when the Red Bull was dominant. Can’t use the “well the Merc is so strong” line, b/c Ricciardo netted 3 wins last year.

        • The 2009 McLaren was properly crap, and Lewis struggled with it. And credit to him and McLaren – by the end of the year they had it sorted and were winning races (albeit breaking down while leading…)

      • > (and now Hippo will hit me with his Toro Rosso mantra!)

        I don’t think I need to. Others have already done that. The 2007 and 2008 Toro Rossos were definitely less competetive than anything Lewis has ever driven, so if you insist that VET never proved himself, the same by definition applies to Lewis.

        Drawing parallels between Lewis and Senna is laughable at best. Ask Carlo to give you a refresher what Senna did in the Toleman and the Lotii. Lewis has never seen such uncompetitive cars. When the McLarens were getting really bad (2013 onwards) he was already at Merc and the 2013 Merc was still better than any Torro Rosso design´, considering that Rosberg managed two wins in it.

        • “the 2013 Merc was still better than any Torro Rosso design´, considering that Rosberg managed two wins in it.”

          now now hippo, what’s with the sudden rosberg bashing? last year you argued he mercedes didn’t allow him to win, this year he is so crap that him winning proves the quality of a car? did he fall from grace after his spat with vettel this weekend? ;P

    • People forget he didn’t have that advantage for four years… For 2 years he had to battle to become champion. The other two he had a big advantage, but not nearly the size of mercedes’ and the accusation of it being down to the car owly applied to vettel, apparently.

      • @bruznic Agree with you and Paul. Even during Vettel’s bad 2014 which was mostly bad luck combined with inability to manage the tires, he still often showed racing skills superior to his fellow competitors. Chalk it up to folks not liking Germans. I spent two decades there and my father would never visit because of bad war memories. Sad though as it is now a very cultured place and exudes gentility.

  6. Is anyone else reminded of Kubica in the aggressive way in which Carlos Sainz turns in? I would say in how he applies the throttle as well; but appreciate that there are more electronics in that element. This is all with the caveat that I have only seen minimal footage on the BBC coverage.

    I am also curious to wonder if Alonso would have been able to drag the McLaren to a place above its station (as per his reputation)?

    And I like Button, by the way…

    • I’m under no illusion that Alonso isnt the best on the grid (see earlier comment) However i think in a perfectly balanced car Button may actully be one the Fastest (even brawn said this long after he and Button fell out) And this Mclaren seems to be very well balanced, Alonso might not only find himselt at the back of the grid next race, but also having his hands full with Button.Maybe even end up dead last, when was the last time that happened to Alonso on merit.

      • Alonso has a history of breaking teams, Jamie. McLaren, Renault, Ferrari. I don’t believe his selfishness has been good for F1. If he does poorly this year hopefully it will hasten his retirement. Go JB!

  7. As usual, the auto-proctologist assumes everyone is talking about him specifically, when his team’s insane advantage is the issue.

    I think it’s funny how there’s a whole raft of people who are more than happy to watch the sport slowly circling the plughole because they’re still giggling about RBR seriously struggling and obviously not winning any more.

    Yes, it’s funny watching steam come out of Horner’s and Marko’s ears but there are multiple bigger issues afoot.

    • It was always going to happen, while I have laughed a bit at Red Bull’s fall from grace, the bigger issues in F1 will be forced onto the table sooner rather than later.

      Though I do hold the view that if the price is right, Red Bull will snap up the commercial rights to F1 quicker than Bernie can scream at the top of his lungs “IT’S MY BLOODY SPORT/CASHCOW”. If anyone can reinvent F1 on the marketing side of things quickly, it would be Red Bull.

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