UPDATED 11:57 GMT A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
OTD Lite 2010 – Webber had never seen a phenomenal comeback
On this day, Mark Webber made a statement in regards the return of Michael Schumacher after just one race of the 2010 season. “I have never, ever seen a phenomenal comeback. i think it will be a bloody hard season for him.”
Little did anybody know how prophetic Mrs Judge’s favourite would be. Yet his grasp of history left a lot to be desired. It goes without saying that many of the drivers who ascend to the pinnacle of the sport believe that before them there was nobody of any significance.
To my mind, Niki Lauda became a legend not once but twice for his comebacks. The first the almost miraculous recovery from receiving the Last Rites after his horrendous Nurburgring accident in 1976.
The second when he returned from retirement in 1982 and would ultimately go on to win the 1984 title before retiring for good. In 1982 he won on his third race back – after a break of nearly three years – and then in July that year I witnessed Lauda win the British Grand Prix.
At 13 years of age, I didn’t realise I was witnessing a legend in action – I just knew the cars were loud but looking back what a gift..
Sepang weather and Pirelli predicitons
In hardly surprising news, the weather forecast for Sepang and the up coming Formula One weekend says there will be rain.
At present we are told to expect thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday with a morning shower on Sunday, followed by persistent rain in the afternoon.
Pirelli have chosen the same compounds for the race in Malaysia as last year: medium and hard compound and given dry conditions Paul Hembery is predicting this will be a two stop race.
“The Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago confirmed what we saw in testing, lap times that are two seconds faster this year compared to last year, in every session. This exponentially increases the workload on the tyres: something that will be particularly in evidence at Sepang, which has some of the most abrasive asphalt we race on all year and a number of fast corners that take a lot of energy out of the tyres, as well as high ambient temperatures”.
TJ13 suggested that Pirelli had been conservative in Australia by selecting the soft and the medium tyre. Particularly as the evidence from testing is that this year’s tyre construction will provide tyres that degrade more slowly.
Having contacted Pirelli, TJ13 was assured that the low degradation was “just the first race. Things should get more exciting in Malaysia.”
Paul Hembery states, “We should see a return to at least two stops per car in Malaysia – perhaps more if the weather gets in the way – after an early safety car meant that unusually most drivers stopped only once in Australia.
“Wear and degradation is traditionally very high in Sepang, so managing the tyres and the strategy carefully will be key to success.”
In 2014, the Mercedes duo dominated the race with a three stop strategy.
With Hembery predicting just a two stop race this year, TJ13’s observations on this years tyre’s may indeed be correct – The Pirelli Problem
Lotus has set its target on Williams
Lotus technical director, Nick Chester, approaches the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix with renewed vigour following the promising debut of the Mercedes powered Lotus E23.
After what can only be described as a disastrous 2014 campaign, getting both cars through to Q3 was a great confidence boost for a team that has been financially struggling for some time.
“The weekend in Melbourne gave us great optimism for the rest of the season. We got both cars into Q3 and the drivers are happy with the work we conducted over the winter.”
“The new chassis is a great platform to develop the E23 and now we can chase performance. We made a significant step forward by out-performing several of the cars that were ahead of us last year and we are now aiming for those ahead like Williams for example.”
“It was frustrating to come away with no points, especially after seeing Nasr finish fifth and the Sauber was behind us in both qualifying and the race simulations that we ran on Friday but we want to score points in Malaysia. It will be a good test for our car as it combines straights, a variety of corners and some heavy braking in parts.”
Ferrari ‘legend’ Tambay returns to Maranello
If you ever listen to television or radio when it is broadcasting a football match, the nearly men of its past are always offered as such and such legend and local team genius. What a ridiculous notion. It would be similar to calling Eric van de Poele a Belgian legend simply because he once failed to qualify for a race.
Patrick Tambay could never be described as a legend of the Prancing Horse. He raced for the Scuderia following the fatal accident of Gilles Villeneuve, won two races – in Germany 1982 and Imola 1983 – and was replaced by Michele Alboreto for the 1984 season. But he is part of the fabric that makes up the Italian legend.
Recently he was invited back to Maranello for the first time in nearly three decades and the former Ferrari driver was guided through the new facilities by Enzo Ferrari’s son – Piero. He was shown the simulator as used by the Gestione Sportiva as well taken on a guided tour of the various racing departments.
He took in the rest of the factory and was shown the latest cars to be produced – the 488GTB and LaFerrrari. “La Ferrari seems designed solely for the track and is something both incredible and performance that matches it’s aesthetic beauty. The 488GTB has the looks that grab you immediately. You can see it’s design will be challenged by other manufacturers on tracks around the world.”
As to the new era: “I think the Scuderia Ferrari has started in an important new direction. They have changed many things and are focusing on Sebastian Vettel who knows both how to guide a team and is extremely fast. The target the team have given for this year is victory in at least one race and I’m convinced that Seb will be able to achieve that goal.”
Manor wants ‘more traditional weekend’ in Malaysia
John Booth – Team Principal Of Manor reflected on the first race weekend of the season with typical British understatement: “After the disappointment of not having achieved our objectives in Australia, we head to Malaysia this week hoping for a more traditional weekend.”
“We returned to Britain to regroup and build on the work we completed in Melbourne and as a result are in a different position to the one we were in two weeks ago.”
“Again the rate at which we are proceeding – if we take into account what happened over the winter – is very impressive and the whole team should be commended for the continuous and incredible effort made.”
“Sepang always gives unique challenges due to the combination of scorching heat and downpours but we cannot wait to debut the car and our young drivers. Also to begin our work on the track.”
Of course with the winter that Manor have endured – just to get the cars on track and circulating will be a huge step forward. However after having witnessed the dire performance of the Mclaren-Honda team two weeks ago – what a great news story if the team that only a few months ago was in administration were to beat the might of Woking.
Marussia have confirmed that Roberto Merhi will make his grand prix debut in Malaysia. The Spaniard will line up alongside Will Stevens and is clearly up for the occasion.
“I’m very excited about the prospect of making my F1 debut in Malaysia,” Merhi said.
“Obviously Sepang is a challenging environment, so I have been doing all I can on my side to prepare for that to be able to manage the heat and humidity.
“The last race weekend was disappointing for everyone in the team, but I know how much work has gone into getting us fully operational again and it will be great for everyone to finally see wheels turning.”
Interestingly, Merhi brings no financial backing and so how long he will drive for Manor F1 is open to speculation.
Hamilton’s Ferrari Contract
Much has been written about Lewis Hamilton not signing a new contract to drive for Mercedes AMG F1 beyond this year, and Toto Wolff played on this theme during a press briefing in Australia.
When asked whether he thought Lewis was negotiating behind the scenes with another team, Wolff replied, “Sure. He has a contract with Ferrari”.
The assembled masses were silenced and someone managed to mumble a supplementary question, before Toto revealed Hamilton has just acquired a LaFerrari from Maranello.
The 1.8m euro red machine is the latest addition to Lewis’ collection which includes a Pagani Zonda, a McLaren MP4-12C, a Shelby Cobra and Shelby Mustang GT500.
Marceillo to drive for Sauber
No sooner had Felipe Nasr stopped looking over his shoulder to see whether Giedo van der Garde was about to replace him in his C34, than he is forced to sit out FP1 in Malaysia.
Sauber have announced their test and reserve driver (not development gopher) Raffaele Marciello will make his F1 race weekend debut this Friday. He replaces Nasr in the opening practice for the 2015 Malaysia Grand Prix.
Marciello was the F3 Euro champion in 2013 and collected a race win in GP2 last year.
“It will be exciting to drive the Sauber C34-Ferrari for the first time,” said Marciello. “That will also be the same for the Italians, as we have not had an Italian driver in Formula One for quite a few years. I will definitely enjoy the experience, and I am really looking forward to it. I am confident I can do a good job as well as supporting the team in order to find a set-up for the car which suits the track.
“I have never been to Malaysia before, but I know the track quite well from the Ferrari simulator in Maranello, and I am sure I can get to learn it fast once I drive there. As the circuit has some fast corners, I think the car’s downforce will be crucial. Another important aspect will be the weather, as the humidity, along with the temperatures, is quite high. From a driver’s perspective it will be a challenge, but this is the same for everyone. Together with my trainer, I am getting well prepared for this weekend.”
Following the monumental settlement Monisha Kaltenborn has agreed with Van der Garde, it may be Marciello appears more often in FP1 this year than originally planned.
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