#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 19th March 2015


A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,

OTD Lite 2006 – Fisichella appy with Malaysian GP victory

Smedley applauds Mercedes work ethic

Prost offers direction for future of F1

Wolff compounds Alonso misery further

Zanardi to compete in motor-sport again

Italy’s Goodwood FoS set to run in historic Turin

Giedo van der Garde’s new drive

OTD Lite 2006 – Fisichella appy with Malaysian GP victory

When you’re a child, days seem to last forever. Especially stuck in classes that you don’t want to attend when you could be outside playing sports. As you get older time literally flies – possibly because you tend to make plans in the future and you count down the days to their fulfillment.

Anyway, as per usual I digress. Is it really nine years since Italy’s last great hope took his final race victory? On this day Giancarlo Fisichella took victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix from his Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso. Surprisingly there were no histrionics from the Spaniard or from team boss Flavio Briatore and, of course, Fisi was “very ‘appy”.


It seems scarcely believable that a career that promised so much – during his debut Jordan season in 1997 – petered out with a mere three victories to his name. To this day, he and compatriot Jarno Trulli remain the last victors adorned by the Tricolore and sadly a footnote in Italian motorsport history.

With the country blessed with the legend that is Valentino Rossi still winning in MotoGp and Ferrari dominating the Italian media – there appears little chance that we will see an Italian F1 driver anytime soon.

The Grumpy Jackal


Smedley applauds Mercedes work ethic

In recent days Felipe Massa and Pat Symonds have suggested that the Power Unit that they receive from Mercedes may not be of similar spec to the works team.

Ferrari have made significant gains over the winter but Williams realistic goal is to remain the second quickest constructor, behind Mercedes. At present the pace between the Ferrari and WIlliams cars looks similar, but once the inevitable season long development race kicks in, the team from Grove may well be out-spent by the Maranello squad.

Rob Smedley believes that Malaysia will prove more suitable for the Grove team. “We have achieved the goals we have set which were quite aggressive but Ferrari have also made a big breakthrough with a lot of that being mainly due to their engine.”

“In Melbourne we were very close to one another in performance but when both cars ran on the same tyre Ferrari were definitely faster than us. That is down to both the chassis and the engine. If you look at the characteristics of Malaysia it should prove a little better for us but will we be ahead of Ferrari? It’s impossible to say.”

Unlike his compatriots, Smedley doesn’t feel that the engine is lacking in comparison to the Brackley team. ” I worked for a team that has dominated (Ferrari) and now Mercedes are dominating but this comes about because of a great deal of hard work – they have dome everything well and you have to take your hat off to them”

“Look if we knew the answers we would have done the same thing but there is no trick or magic technical secret that allows them to be 1.4 seconds faster than everyone. Quite simply they have produced an excellent car and have raised their level.”


Prost offers direction for future of F1

Four time champion Alain Prost was interviewed by Motorsport.com last weekend in Miami, where he saw his son win the E-Prix.

Whilst it is in vogue to blame Mercedes for all Formula One’s ills – especially if you work in Milton Keynes – the Frenchman offered a different view opinions about the problems F1 is facing at present.

Prost was asked whether the proposed 1,000bhp engines would arrest the sport’s declining audience, and as someone who drove mechanical beasts of that power level it would be natural to assume the Frenchman would have an affinity with this idea.

Yet Prost had other priorities on his agenda.

“Look at drivers aids, for example. As far as I’m concerned, I would take off quite a lot of downforce, make cars maybe harder to drive. For sure, a bit of extra power wouldn’t be bad. But that’s not all. There are many things on the side, such as radio communications, etc. You have to give back an image, a credibility to F1, and to attract younger fans.”

Renault’s brand ambassador then offered an intriguing insight into why F1’s fan-base is decreasing: “Here, we are among a non-renewed public of F1 fans. That’s also why they tend to get bored: those are the same people! People enjoy noise? There is no more! They are nostalgic of the 80’s, etc. We have to attract people, so that they see the new things brought in.”

“This engine technology is fantastic and it’s not been talked about enough, or maybe not explained the right way. We have to put things straight and understand why we arrived at this point instead of going ‘here’s a thing that’s gonna make a difference’. I don’t really believe in that.”


Wolff compounds Alonso misery further

In the aftermath of the Maranello bloodbath which saw Fernando Alonso leave Ferrari after five years of failed expectations, a consensus emerged here on TJ13 that the Spaniard’s driving gift in fact had mis-directed the design engineers as to what exactly their problems were.

As Fernando’s allies were systematically removed from the Italian organisation, Alonso attempted to ingratiate himself with the new team principal – Marco Mattiacci. This proved to be, too little, too late and the Italian media report at the Japanese GP the pair had a seismic dispute which saw Fred storm out using all blasphemies known to mankind.

As the weeks dragged on toward the winter break, Fernando was rumoured to be taking a sabbatical, signing to drive at Le Mans with Porsche together with being courted by Honda for their F1 return.

The result was Alonso remained in F1 by kissing and making up with his old employer – Ron Dennis, as together they faced a new dawn and the rebirth of a historic partnership. During the winter tests, Fernando had but limited running with the dysfunctional Honda Power Unit before his mysterious accident in Barcelona hospitalised him.

Possibly even more annoying for the Asturian, is that the team he reluctantly left after five long years appears to have turned their fortunes around. This is evidenced by the fact that at the Asutralian F1 opening weekend, Toto Wolff singled out Ferrari as the Mercedes’ team biggest rival.

“The road to the title is a long one but we have to consider where Ferrari was last year. Their improvement is very impressive and we can see from GPS data that their engine is very powerful. The Cavallino has all it takes to catch us and I’m certain that it will only be a matter of time before they are fighting us.”


Zanardi to compete in motorsport again

For anybody who is impressed by the indomitable spirit of the human mind – one person springs to mind for his sheer will to refuse defeat – Alex Zanardi.

It has been announced that he will be competing in at least two rounds of the Blancpain Endurance Series with BMW. He will compete at the 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps and the Paul Ricard 1000km with the Z4 GT3.

As yet his team-mates haven’t been named but Zanardi is overjoyed to be competing once again: “I dreamed of running a classic endurance for a long time and it’s great that the BMW Motorsport and Jens Marquardt managed to make that dream a reality.”

“It seems impossible that a guy with no legs like me can compete with ‘normal’ drivers in an event that is so competitive, difficult and prestigious, but I know that my friends from BMW Motorsport have all the technical skills and innovative ideas to get the better of this challenge.”


Italy’s Goodwood FoS set to run in historic Turin

Before Enzo Ferrari created his eponymous company in 1947 – he had been the team manager for Alfa Romeo in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.

Prior to this, Enzo had survived WWI and then sought employment with the Fiat car company in Turin. He was rejected and found himself sat on a bench whilst the snow fell in Turin’s Valentino Park. He cried tears of anguish that day.

In 1947 with his fledgling company he entered a car for a race around the same Valentino Park and it won. Again Enzo cried, but this time with tears of joy.

Inspired by the enormous success that the Goodwood Festival of Speed has become, Turin announced that they would be hosting an open-air motorshow at the ‘Parco Valentino’ from 11th to 14th June this year.

Coach builders, car manufacturers and historic race teams will attend the event with cars from Ferrari, Tyrrell, Toleman, Tecno and Osella amongst the stars – as well as a Lotus-Renault once driven by Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna. Further motor sport support comes from the rallying world, WTCC, DTM, WEC and the World Series by Renault cars.

On the Sunday the racing cars will travel the 3km from the park to the Piazza San Carlo, where they will be on public display. Yet such is the expected attendance, the organisers have decided the cars will follow an 18km route from the Valentino Park to the Gardens of the Reggia di Venaria in Turin, to accommodate over 300,000 spectators.


Giedo van der Garde’s new drive

28 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 19th March 2015

  1. I’m still curious where the latest FIA mandate on measuring fuel flow has come from; what bought it about?
    Curious as to whether they’re looking at one team in particular. If maybe a quiet word has been dropped by a disadvantaged team?

  2. Whilst I’m always happy to have a giggle at Fred’s expense, I can only imagine that Woollff’s comments on Ferrari are pure politics on three fronts – an attempt to deflect attention from the ennui-inducing advantage his team runs with at present, dismissing RBR’s threat & sidelining the Williams parity whinge. I really hope I’m wrong, but there’s no way that Ferrari will catch MB this year.

    MB aren’t dumb though. They would already know exactly how many units of “exposure” the race generated for their brand last weekend. The telecast producer was desperate for something (anything!) worthy of transmitting to the world – the early scrap for last place was a massively more interesting story than MB’s one-two. The silver bullets out front got scant coverage as a result.

    Thus we can expect more stage-management (via musical engine modes) than an Olympic Games opening ceremony for the remainder of 2015.

    Digressing just slightly: On the Melbourne start line, the course announcer welcomed Charlize Theron and Arnold Alphabet to the event – a cringeworthy moment, for sure.

    Anyways, it turns out Arnie’s podium interviews were the best thing about the day. He was entertaining (!!!) – go figure.

  3. In reference to Alonso driving abililty, It will be travesty if Alonso only wins 2 titles, some of his driving at Ferrari over the last few years has been sublime. People would argue it was his politicking that caused this, i’d argue it more redbulls politicking and cheating caused this. When Pirelli’s tyre kinda rendered everybody’s cars equal, as Brundle said “is it any surprise to see Alonso leading the championship?” i might be paraphrasing slightly. And or course we know who lobbied for the tyre change, it wasn’t like the adjustable ride height and flexible body work was enough.

    • I rate his ability to the point he was the best I’ve seen since Senna. But he is not a team player in the truest sense, at least from we have seen over the years inc feeling isolated at Renault whilst winning a world title!
      By all accounts he wanted Pat Fry at Ferrari, all his Spanish test drivers and other demands such as getting rid of the current designer of the Mercedes..
      Talent beyond belief but almost masochistic streak within a team.

    • He couldn’t even overtake some Russian guy ,who wasn’t considered one of the greats, in a car that wasn’t as good as his Ferrari. so it wasn’t all due to cheating red bull

      • There are good reasons why he couldn’t overtake Petrov in Abu Dhabi (I think).

        For one it was in a Tilkedrome, the Tilkerer being notorious for designs with lack of overtaking opportunities in mind. Most importantly though Renault that year had a well developed F-Duct à la McLaren. To put this in context, the FIA banned the F-Duct at the end of the year and introduced the DRS the subsequent year, to generate a very similar effect on the straights.

        So basically Fred should have overtaken a car in front with a very good DRS-like device, while he himself had a poor one. Good luck!

    • If and when Lewis renews his contract with Mercedes and if that McHonda package fails to deliver, it does look like he’ll be riding off into the sunset with only the WDC titles. In someways, he would only have himself to blame for that.

      • What’s the betting that Alonso manages to annoy everyone at McLaren and ends up doing a swap with Hamilton coming back ‘home’ in 2-3 years time, just as Mercedes go in to a nose-dive and Honda finally get their act together…

    • Utter nonsense about Red Bull politikin and cheating. Red Bull won the technology war against Ferrari, and against everyone else, fair and square. That’s why Alonso didn’t win another WDC. Well too bad. There have been drivers who were less lucky.

  4. Just a couple of things off topic for today;

    We know that both the Force India and the Sauber are pretty much last years car, just with this year’s engine in. If we look at the last GP, you have to wonder how bad last years Sauber and Ferrari really were, and how bad that engine was?

    Also Arnie on the podium, I thought he was brilliant, I saw him interviewed by Martin on the grid walk and he knew his stuff, understood the engines, and I thought he did a good job on the podium. Maybe they should get him to the drivers press conference too.

    • That drivers’ presser was absolutely awful and painful to watch; the only redeeming part was Riciardo trying to liven things up a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group of people who so desperately wanted to be elsewhere. Hamilton sat there with his hand bouncing up and down staring at the table, Verstappen is just a kid with nothing worth saying, no one was engaged or spontaneous except Daniel. Bad show all around.

  5. I have to applaud Prost’s comments. Technology moves on, forget the 80s, the 90s, they’re not coming back. Need to advertise this incredibly new technology and get new kids interested in F1. Which of course goes completely against Bernie’s reluctance to engage social media. So in other words Prostie, Bernie’s the problem, nothing new.

    • +1
      Everyone needs to build on the positives – it feels like F1 is in self-destruct mode.

    • +1 on Prost’s comments.

      In particular, I like that to improve F1 he would want to remove more aero downforce so the drivers have to work harder to control the cars.

      I’ve been saying that for years… pull the damned wings off these cars. We’d end up with 800+ hp Formula Fords that could run nose to tail through the corners lap after lap instead of backing off 1.5 secs due to dirty air taking away df from the wings.

    • I think that most teams need to break away and do a series of their own following the Premier League model. It won’t help us poor fans, we won’t be able to afford it still, but F1 will survive and will have healthy teams.

      • Alternatively, forming a new series come be a suicide for the series. This reminds me of the IndiCar/CART split.

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