#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 31st March 2015

DNandC

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


OTD Lite 1996 – Was Schumacher really the rain master?

Lauda – Vettel image changed when he joined Ferrari

Hamilton contract negotiations almost complete

Wolff – Alarm bells ringing at Mercedes

Marko wins with Sebastian again!

Sky viewership rises in Italy following weekend

Bernie wants a female F1 championship


OTD Lite 1996 – Was Schumacher really the rain master?

Ask anybody about Michael Schumacher’s prowess in the rain and they will say he was the modern day ‘reinmeister’. Question them about his greatest drive in the rain and many will claim his 1996 Spanish GP victory when he was lapping up to 5 seconds a lap faster than his competition as arguably his greatest.

It followed that over the years – whenever it rained he would dominate the races but people forget that he would have two cars prepared for races – one with a full dry set-up and the other full wet. He’d jump between the two and off he went to another victory.

But I struggle with this. Of his contemporaries he was the most gifted by a mile. With Ferrari/ Bridgestone and co. practically working for the glory of Michael, it was inevitable that he would dominate races. Don’t misunderstand, I loved that he was driving for the Scuderia but the best in the wet?

On this day in 1996, Schumi finished third – a lap behind the Williams of Damon Hill and Benetton of Jean Alesi in a wet Brazilian GP. Four races later he crashed out on the first lap of a wet Monaco GP but this is all forgotten because of the following wet race in Barcelona.

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A cliched F1 truism – you are only as good as your last race!

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The Grumpy Jackal

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Lauda – Vettel image changed when he joined Ferrari

Michael Schumacher won his first two titles with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 but left to join the Maranello adventure that Jean Todt was building at the time. Of course he was well rewarded for his gamble to join the ailing Italian giants but there were two more important reasons for the change.

The first was simply the challenge to bring this historic giant back to the winners circle after so long but the second was his time at Benetton had left his image slightly tarnished. With unproven claims of traction control, his collision with Hill in Adelaide 1994 and various incidents in 1995 Schumacher was guilty by association with the Flavio Briatore / Tom Walkinshaw run Benetton team. By joining Ferrari his image changed overnight.

Three-time world champion Niki Lauda concurs and says Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Malaysia was good for Formula One and the German driver’s own image.

“I went to Ferrari boss, Maurizio Arrivabene straight away and I congratulated him from my heart,” Lauda said. “He is competition and the more competition the better, and if Ferrari wins Bernie can’t complain about boring Vettel because Vettel is not boring anymore. It’s very good this result for the total image of F1, because some people are always complaining.”

“It’s normal in sport when these things happen and you don’t win every race that the bell rings. The bell will ring loud and we all will hear it and we will react to it, which is normal. But nevertheless we were second and third and we won the last race, so the world is not finished yet after one Vettel victory. But nevertheless they were better today.”

“It’s very simple, they were unbeatable today I would say. They did a perfect strategy and Vettel did an incredible job, the car performed and the tyres lasted. For us it was a three-stop strategy. Why? Because the tyres at their peak it was important for us to make three stops and for Ferrari they were less hard on tyres altogether, therefore they could do a two-stop and win the race.”

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Hamilton contract negotiations almost complete

It would appear that Lewis Hamilton’s protracted contract negotiations are finally coming to a close. Having taken the decision to terminate his contract with XIX Entertainment and handle his own negotiations himself it has been a long drawn out process for both sides.

With Wolff joking recently about Lewis having signed a contract with Maranello – before revealing it was to pick up the hypercar ‘LaFerrari’ – questions were asked about the Briton signing for the Italian team: “No don’t be silly. My contract at Mercedes should be done this week. There’s no reason why not. Honestly, it’s 99.6 per cent done. There’s no negotiating left, it’ just legal stuff.”

The contract is said to be worth in the region of $31 million dollars but win bonuses could well take his earnings over $40 million which puts the double World Champion in the same bracket as Alonso and Vettel.

When Hamilton signed for Mercedes at the end of 2012, many questioned his reasoning to leave a successful team for a team that was struggling in the midfield. Yet history shows that champions make their own luck by being in the right place at the right time – as proven by Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Sepang. Something that Hamilton considered whilst sitting beside Vettel.

“It’s nice to see Ferrari back up, I sat next to Sebastian and thought to myself, ‘What is Fernando thinking?’”

“I remember when I left McLaren and came here, we were better the next year. I had a good feeling then, but he’s almost done the opposite of what I did. It could have been him today. It’s just strange how things turn out.”

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Wolff – Alarm bells ringing at Mercedes

In an echo of Niki Lauda’s sentiment – Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Vettel’s win for Ferrari in Malaysia has set alarm bells ringing for the reigning world champions. For the first time since the inception of the V6 turbo era Mercedes were beaten on outright pace and Mercedes were left surprised by the gains the Italian manufacturer has found over the winter.

“We didn’t expect them to catch us this quickly, we were pretty dominant in Melbourne, we are always a little bit sceptical about our own advantage. That we’ve been caught up by a Ferrari in two weeks, that they beat us fair and square on the track, is a bit of a surprise, but equally a bit of a wake-up call, which is good for us.”

“We just need to analyse where in the next couple of days where we want wrong, what we need to improve, whether we need to bring any developments forward, put them on the car quicker, what we are doing about engine number two. And assess that properly. But definitely, we need to increase the pace of our development.”

Despite Ferrari technical director James Allison suggesting that this was a isolated victory due to specific circumstances and that Ferrari has developments in the pipeline for future races – Wolff expressed concern about the future competition between the two Grandees.

“Yes, that is worrying. In these circumstances here with the high temperatures, they were able to go at a faster pace over long runs than us. We need to analyse why that was the case and it clearly shows it’s not going to be an easy one. We’ve had completely different conditions here. One of the explanations today is the extremely high ambient and tarmac temperatures. We’ve probably gone a bit too aggressive on set-ups which pushed us into a direction of a three stop, which was pretty clear with all the algorithms.”

“There is no panic, but we were in a new situation. We were not in control of things. We had new information which was different to what we had assessed over the weekend. Today, things didn’t pan out in the way we expected it to pan out. It was clear the winning streak was not going to go on forever.”

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Marko wins with Sebastian again!

Helmut Marko is recognised as a straight talking but divisive figure. There is no love lost between the Austrian and Mark Webber – who was seemingly attacked throughout his Red Bull career. Pirelli have suffered the wrath of Marko and currently Renault have gone on the offensive to counter his claims in recent months. Even the once golden boy – four time RBR champion Vettel – was given little leeway after his annus horribilis last year.

Yet Marko gave a surprising interview to Germany’s Sport Bild which would appear that the pair have reconciled their differences. Marko placed a bet on Seb winning the Malaysian Grand Prix after watching his Friday practice: “I knew that Sebastian could do it,” he said. “You could see it as early as Friday practice.”

After collecting his winnings of Euro 400, Dr Helmut explained how he had never lost faith in Seb’s abilities despite failing to take victory in 2014: “He did not forget how to drive in one year. He just could not drive our car as he needed to. Maybe people will realise at last that it was not our car alone that gave him those four titles.”

Which after 39 victories in Adrian Newey designed cars could ultimately prove the defining moment in the young German’s career.

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Sky viewership rises in Italy following weekend

Race attendances and viewing figures have been in free-fall for some time and it is often cited that Mr E’s moving of TV behind pay-per-view services has affected the numbers. Even in Germany, where Vettel and Schumacher have claimed 9 of the 14 championships of the 21st century and Mercedes dominated the constructors last year, the figures are tumbling.

A similar situation has occurred in Italy where F1 and MotoGP have been moved off of free-to-air to Sky Sports, as in other territories, and, not surprisingly, the viewership has also fallen.

Yet in just one afternoon, with Ferrari winning in Malaysia and Valentino Rossi winning in Qatar Sky Sports F1 HD and Sky Sports HD MotoGP have collected 2,494,986 unique viewers, making them the most viewed channels of the network.

MotoGP in particular set an absolute record when 1,060,908 viewers tuned into exclusive live race from Qatar. This translates to an increase of 18% compared to the MotoGP debut in 2014.

The Malaysian Grand Prix, which was shown live exclusively on Sky Sports F1 HD and Sky Sports HD 1, had an audience of 762,072 viewers overall which is an increase of 21% compared to the 2014 event.

Of what should be particular interest to the marketing arms of the F1 teams and FOM themselves was the results of social media over the weekend. Over 3.6 million tweets and retweets were generated from these two races which were the most commented subjects of the weekend.

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Bernie wants a female F1 championship

From time to time Bernie Ecclestone volunteers off the wall suggestions that will supposedly increase the viewership of F1 to the general population.

In recent years his infamous sense of humour has offered: ‘You know, I’ve got one of these wonderful ideas that women should all be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances.

In this context his latest idea seems surreal to say the least.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr E believes “I thought it would be a good idea to give them [women} a showcase. For some reason, women are not coming through- and not because we don’t want them. Of course we do, because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors.”

After Pat Symonds recently made it clear that Susie Wolff was never under consideration to debutise for Valtteri Bottas in Melbourne she was pointed in her response.

“It’s most definitely not the right way forward. First of all, I don’t know where you’d find a full grid of female drivers who are good enough. Secondly, I have raced my whole career in motorsport as a normal competitor. Why would I ever look for a race where I was only competing against women?”

“I can hand on heart say it would not interest me at all to win such a race. I would rather not be in the race because what am I winning? A race where they’ve just looked for any girl to make a grid up.”

Which is a salient point when one considers her most recent competition would include Lotus “development” driver Carmen Jorda and Simona De Silvestro who tested for Sauber last season.

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83 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 31st March 2015

  1. Don’t forget in MotoGP the Ducati team are back at the pointy end of the field again.
    Big year for the two Italian teams.
    #ForzaFerrari
    #ForzaDucati

    • monaco 84, estoril 85, interlagos 91, donington 93 to name the most renown ones. does it ring any bells ?

      • Villeneuve was a master of driving in the rain, perhaps a throwback to his snowmobile racing days where only the lead sled driver enjoys the luxury of good visibility. At the 1979 U.S. Grand Prix East, in Watkins Glen, New York, conditions in practice were abysmal. After Jody Scheckter came in from a particularly terrifying lap that he felt was surely the fastest of the session, he was disheartened to learn that his teammate, Villeneuve, had beaten his time by 10 seconds in the same conditions. At Monaco in 1980, a late shower slowed the field significantly, prompting many drivers to pit for rain tires. Villeneuve pressed on with his mounted dry tires, lapping five seconds per lap faster than anyone else in the field.

    • I know a certain dutch driver who ‘Was flying’ (according to that German regenmeister) at a wet Sepang and drove faster then the LMP1’s in the rain at night at LeMans – in his LMP2 Porsche…
      Guy has a son too.

      • mind you, that Porsche RS Spyder Evo was by far till now the best lmp2 car produced, as it was supported and developed by the factory (or penske as a factory team in the usa). during the days of alms there were times were it even overcame the mighty audi diesels, and effectively killed lmp2 for the other competitors for the time being. yet, still a valid point you have there mr. verstappen.

      • Yes indeed. But jacky did it at the old Nürnberg ring, le mans (at night) and did it for the win. That’s the difference with jos.

  2. I’ve just been back to have a look at the weekend’s driver poll – Max at 85%? Is that right? Or has the count been hacked?

    • Roger.

      Eddie Jordan was comparing him to Senna pre race. Then he smashes past an underperforming Red Bull. The BBC commentator screams, ” and he has arrived in F1″.
      There is a media swirl around him. They might be right but it’s far far too early to tell surely.

      • I think people only voted for him because of the hype that surrounds him at present. So far Sainz has been doing a better job than he has, but is being overlooked.

        Poot strategy from TR allowed him to finish ahead of Sainz Lin Sunday.

        • Verstappen would have finished ahead of Sainz in Oz had his engine not blown up and finished ahead of him at Sepang? They are both performing very well so far but Max would be ahead in the championship had his car not let him down.

          • No he wouldn’t have, are you forgetting what happened to Sainz at his pitstop? That’s how he passed by Max.

          • Max was on the better strategy though, he went long on the prime tyres and was then able to bolt on a set of the option tyres for the run to the line. At the point of his retirement he was gaining hand over fist of those guys ahead of him on track, even without Sainz pitstop problem, I would have bet he would have finished ahead of him.

    • Driver of the day probably was Max – though I’d argue the Torro Rosso is actually a better car than the factory Red Bull right now. Driver of the weekend was Vettel without question.

      Race day, yes you could argue that Mercedes had tyre issues and that negated their cars inherent pace advantage (no doubt they’ll be at least 0.5 clear in China again). What you can’t ignore though is Vettel getting within less than 0.1s of the Mercedes on a wet track. That’s nothing to do with tyre wear and everything to do with the guy behind the wheel.

      I did say pre-season that if Ferrari can make a car which is within 0.5s of the Mercedes they’ll win some races, because the drivers can make the difference. Rosberg is no better than the likes of Webber for me. Hamilton? He has peaks and troughs. Vettel and Raikkonen are a very strong partnership, and now Ferrari are really going to be going all out this season to turn the pressure up on Mercedes. It was interesting to see how Merc reacted to having someone racing them on Sunday, that’s something we’ve not seen since this new V6 era began.

      On a personal note I’m a little gutted, I backed the wrong Ferrari this weekend after FP2 on Friday, sticking a fiver on Kimi to win @ 21/1. Damn!

      • So doesn’t Seb and kimi have peaks and troughs as well? I think you’ll find that Lewis has been pretty consistent on race day from the lights went green in 2014.

        Seb was also within a tenth (give or take) of the Merc last season in the Redbull, so it’s not that impressive, especially if you take into account when both drivers set their fastest times. Maybe if Nico wasn’t up to his old tricks, he would’ve been a lot further away than a tenth.

        • But Hamilton is the only one with a nervous breakdown on the radio when things don’t go smooth… kimi’s leave me alone I know what I’m doing is of an whole other level than what we hear when it’s hey man don’t talk to me in the corners I nearly went off… I think Paul is right here. Hamilton is a lot more emotional and that affects his racing. But you don’t have to agree with me. I know you only think the best of Lewis 😉

          • Hey Bruznic let me put this scenario to you….

            You’re a bomb disposal expert, very dangerous and high pressure job which requires absolute focus. Just as you’re about to difuse a thermo nuclear device, someone screams into your ear over the radio, that almost cost you to make a critical error, would you not be annoyed and say something about it?

            See that’s the problem I’ve got with you guys. If Hamilton does something, he’s labelled negatively for it, like you just did by saying he has a “nervous breakdown “. But lo and behold, Kimi comes on the radio and tells his engineer to F-off and berates them for giving him info and you guys just view it as kimi being kimi. You see the double standards in your argument? You make excuses for the things other drivers do and say, but don’t offer the same treatment to Lewis.

            So Paul is only right depending on which POV you’re looking at it and by your response, it’s clear which it is.

            I know you only think the worse of Lewis 🙂

          • Sunday’s comments wasn’t about emotions, but rather common sense. Talk to the drivers on one of the long straights, not when you’re hurtling into a corner at 100+ mph.

          • Until fairly recently the teams had no way to know if the cars were going through a corner or not, they just talked when they needed to. Ok, so you could guess based on time since they last crossed the start finish line but I’d guess if something needs to be said it will be said regardless.

            Looking at some of the other races you can see drivers talking through all manner or corners as well as fiddling with settings. I remember Senna even pushing things once in Mexico I think to see if he could change up through the fast final corner. A driver can multi-task and shouldn’t need to moan over the radio about a minor distraction – and that goes for Kimi as much as Lewis, but at least Kimi managed to do it with class rather than sounding like a 5 year old kid.

          • @Stephen Hughes…

            So you equate Kimi swearing and berating his team as classy? Hmmm ok, Thanks for the enlightenment and thanks again for proving my point on double standards.

            And what do you mean about “until recently the teams didn’t know whether the drivers were going through a corner or not”… Would tha be back in the late 90’s?

            Because I’m fairly sure that GPS tracking has been around for sometime now and they’d know exactly where on the track the cars are at all times.

          • The difference is the tone in wich they say it. Hamilton almost cried like a little girl. Kimi doesn’t do that. But as for double standards, it’s just pot vs kettle. You’ve got them as Well. That’s being fan of something. But I’m not negative about everything Hamilton does. this was just an observation. Hamilton always reacts a bit more nervous than some others. And that’s just the truth. But you just happen to remember the negatives I say about Lewis somehow…

          • @bruznic – exactly, Kimi didn’t moan that he nearly crashed, he just made it clear he wanted to be left alone to get on with it. Lewis has form on the radio – he’s often heard moaning about something. I don’t think Fred vs Seb at Silverstone last would have been half as fun had it been Lewis involved in the radio exchanges.

            @Fortis – you may be right re. GPS – I know it has only fairly recently become commonly available to Joe Public but the teams may have had it before then. Seems more of a TV gimmick so possibly not, but I don’t know for sure. Either way, if the team needs to talk they will talk and they’ll keep talking through corners if they have to. The drivers should be able to cope.

          • @Bruznic

            “The difference is in the tone”…..

            You have got to be kidding me? Kimi sounded like he was about to rip the head off of his engineer and you talk about tone. Was his tone not worse than Lewis’ on Sunday?.. Wait don’t andwer that, I think I already know your answer.

            I’m not concerned about what positives you have used in the past, I’m talking about today’s comment.

            This is not about pot v kettle but rather hard facts. And you using ‘tone’ as some differentiator, proves my point. Every driver at times gets stroppy on the radio, but doesn’t get the same criticsm…

            Alonso and his engineer in Abu Dhabi last year talking about Will Stevens not letting him past, didn’t hear anyone say Alonso was being an a$$. Seb in Austin, Jenson in Austin as well etc… All drivers will gripe, but don’t try and justify others and then label someone else a cry baby.

          • @Stephen Hughes….

            “Kimi didn’t moan that he nearly crashed”….

            Do you realise how ridiculous that sounds? You’ve got one driver who’s rolling around behind the safety car, doing about 50 mph telling his team to naff off and leave him alone and that his viewed as ok. On the other hand you’ve got the other driver asking not to be talked to whilst he’s hurtling into a corner at 3 times the speed as Kimi, because they almost caused him to go off and that requires them to be labelled as moaning and having a nervous breakdown.

            You see the flaws in your argument?

          • @ Fortis…. Bruznic and Stephen Hughes have got it right. I clearly remember listening to Lewis during the race and commenting out loud to myself that he sounded like he was losing it. We all have filters and you have a very strong one…

          • This must surely be getting close to a ‘Earth to Hamilton. Permission to speak……?’

          • @Fortis – you can’t have it both ways. We’ve all heard Lewis on the radio moaning that they are not telling him anything.

            Fair enough if he wants to point out it’s distracting, it’s the way he did it that is the issue, making a melodrama out of it. If he seriously can’t concentrate on driving well enough that an unexpected radio message can cause him to nearly put it off the road then he’s not as good a driver as we all think. That should come with the territory.

            @Peter – can’t have that, asking permission is an interruption! We’ve got to wait for him to give permission. Oh, and then put up with being moaned at for not telling him anything. Or interrupting his day-dreams about Nicole.

            It’s amazing how much this has whipped up – heck, it was even on BBC News – and just goes to show how Lewis has no ability to manage perceptions of him.

      • “What you can’t ignore though is Vettel getting within less than 0.1s of the Mercedes on a wet track. That’s nothing to do with tyre wear and everything to do with the guy behind the wheel.”

        Definitely not true! Yes, on a wet track, the driver sometimes makes more of a difference compared to a dry track, but Merc were running a lot more downforce than the Ferrari and that hurts more in the rain/wet given also the high track temps.

        • @Mclaren78…

          Seb set his time when the track was in a much better condition and fresher inters. On his first run, he was almost 3 seconds behind Lewis when the track was at its worse.

          • Seb’s time in Q3 cannot be compared to the best that both the Mercs could have done – the Mercs chances were scuppered when Rosberg aborted his attempt on new inters, and in so doing also hindered Hamilton; they were then left to attempt their final flying lap on shot inters.

          • 1.) More downforce is better when it’s wet almost universally. Mercedes should have romped to an easy 1-2 in qualifying. More downforce = more grip in corners and better acceleration out of them.

            2.) Vettel did set his best time after the track had improved granted, but the inters of Hamilton only had a third of a flying lap (having completely backed out of it when he came across Rosberg on the racing line) at the point he started his final run. Nico likewise aborted his first run on his second set of new Inters. Shot inters? I think not. Nico improved his time by 8 tenths on his final run.

            3.) The last run from both Mercs where they failed to improve was on a track that was even better than the conditions during the time Vettel set. Vettel crossed the line for his final run with about 1:30 remaining, Lewis and Nico crossed the line about a minute later.

          • “Mercedes should’ve romped to a 1-2″…

            Maybe you should tell that to the guy who just like last year, qualified 3rd.

            like I said before, Seb qualified within a tenth of the Merc last year in a Redbull, so doing it again Sunday, was nothing special, given that this years Ferrari is a lot better than last years Redbull.

          • @Paul – Rubbish. Nico improved his time by 8 tenths because he did not attempt a flying lap the first time around on new tyres. Hamilton was going faster until he came across Nico. By then, the tyres were not shot granted, but the best of the tyres were used up – hence no improvement in his second flying lap. The fact that Hamilton got pole with his first flying lap on a track that was wetter than when Vettel set his best time, is a testament to Lewis’ feel in the wet and how he was able to find grip where others couldn’t in the same conditions. Proof – 1.2 seconds quicker than anyone else

            Had Lewis’ first flying lap on his second set of inters counted, he would have had pole comfortably.

          • Degrading seb’s quali performance based purely on the fact that he did it last year for Red Bull and that this years Ferrari is a better car is a bit naive isn’t it? Considering that the new Mercedes is supposed to another big leap forward in terms of speed. The goal posts haven’t stayed still remember, what is key is that Vettel has always gone well here and 4 wins is testament to that. It was a great effort to split the mercs in qualifying and he did it on car speed and skill.

        • More downforce helps you in wet conditions???? Otherwise you’d see everyone running monza wings when it started raining on track?? More downforce equals more grip and better traction.

    • F1 Fanatic has the order 1. Sebastian, 2. Kimi, then 3. Max in single digits. TJ13 readers are more sophisticated?

      • We’re less superficial and appreciate when a 17-year old rubs a bit of track dust at his critics’ face.

        • At F1 Fanatic Max is up to 10 percent now. Vettel is 66 percent. Max’s critics were not the fans nor his peers, more the self-anointed and very wealthy “F1 Experts.”

    • She does want to race women, but only women who were selected for their talent, rather than their gender.

      • Well, i think she’s actually saying there aren’t enough sufficiently talented female drivers to make it worth her while.

        It’s a dumb idea anyway. Identifying female talent early and nurturing it over the long term is a better idea – that is, throw money at it until they find one.

        It seems Ms Wollf is not good enough to get a seat in merit alone. She may well be good enough to go around as a pay driver though – get within 107% of the best. Maybe if she was married someone with money and connections she’d have a shot… oh….

  3. RE:OTD Lite 1996 – Was Schumacher really the rain master?

    I remember 2012, where MSC was P2-P3 multiple times (whenever it rained in qually) on the starting grid. ROS on the other hand was nowhere to be found in those qualifyings. Ofcourse MSC never managed to convert those in podiums, sadly. Canada 2011 was good aswell.

    • Looking back oh how Hamilton had his hands full with Rosberg, especially in Qually, it makes Schumachers comeback seem a lot more respectable. Had he come back in a Lotus and had Romain as a team mate, he’d of looked like the old MS.

  4. Grumpy Jackall, glad you mentioned this Race, Hill was always good in the wet, that race at points he was 3-4 seconds a lap quicker than anyone else.

    Spa 98 is worth a mention too, regardless of the start or what people say about team orders, Damon and Schumacher both pulled away from the field at 4 seconds a lap, when Schumacher got past he was another 3 seconds a lap quicker on top of that, though the Ferrari was a better car, and setup just for the wet.

    Damon was very underated, I still argue now that was no else of that generation other that Mika would of done any better in the same car.

  5. RE Vettel’s reputation

    I agree with Lauda, as Alonso had said, if you drive for the red team, you’re a legend. Having said that, we have seen in the last 30 years or so at least, that Ferrari tend to favour one driver, the other…is just there. This very often means that we cannot judge the true pace of the prancing horse. Is it the leading driver’s skills or the car? Or the no2 driver is really that bad? That’s what happens when the team is tailored around the leading driver.

    We did see it with Alonso. He’s a phenomenal driver, but never did I buy the argument that Ferrari were the best 3rd or 4th car. Massa was simply poor and he was not getting much help either. Same thing happened with Kimi (and with Webber to a certain degree).

    What I’m trying to say, is that by being tailored around the leading driver and being the ‘red team’, it helps your image and reputation as a driver a bit more compared to being at other teams. Especially when that ‘tailoring’ doesn’t help your no2 driver, he underachieves, and you start to be seen as the yard stick by which every other driver is being measured by (Alonso).

  6. RE Women’s F1 championship

    A better idea would be to have a ‘championship within a championship’. Allow 3 or 4 customer teams with female drivers or one female and one rookie (which could also be a female). Then you can award points to a ‘customer car championship’ and still give them the experience in racing with the big boys.

    • Trouble is, won’t you need to set up all the feeder series first to get women through? You don’t see that many beyond karting and look at what happened to Formula Woman.

      Putting women in to F1 cars who don’t have the racing experience would be risky and there just isn’t the depth there to draw on.

      • You’d also have to have some sort of special woman’s super license………….

        • I’m trying to think of any sport where women and men play each other and I can’t. Even things like snooker and darts which are purely skill don’t have mixed competition at Pro level.

          Why should motorsport be any different? No matter what people say in general women and men can’t compete equally for various physiological reasons. It would be nice to see a woman do well in a man’s sport – and it does happen now and then – but really there needs to be separate classes if women are ever going to get serious motorsport coverage.

          • Korfball is mixed, but there is not realy a pro level at all.
            In chess Judith Polgar got 8th place on the Fide ranking.
            In motorsports I do not see the need for a separate women championship, in rallying women are winning races (Michele Mouton and Jutta Kelinschmidt for example).

          • The ones with one horse power; equestrian, show jumping etc. They have mixed competitions and some women if I’m not mistaken. I don’t follow it as a sport though so not 100% sure.

          • @Fortis – Don’t know about Badminton as I’ve never watched it but I know for sure they don’t compete in Tennis. Yes they have mixed doubles but that’s a different kettle of fish and watching it you can tell how differently the game is played based on who is serving and who is receiving.

            The women don’t even play to 5 sets! (Yet)

            @Hedgehog – Chess is mental ability, no physical skill – at least Darts and Snooker you need that! (FWIW I don’t actually understand why women and men don’t compete equally at those)

            Rallying – I do agree there are some – you’ve also missed Louise Aitken-Walker who also did a bit in the BTCC. So, what is the difference between single-seater racing and closed-cockpit that means women can get closer to the men? And are a handful a real indicator that they can, or just examples of extreme talent and / or poor competition.

            @Henrik – you may be right, from the little I’ve seen of amateur equatrian events I think it was mixed. Thinking about it, I think there are also some female jockeys?

  7. I had never heard that Schumi had a wet car and a dry car. I figured the continual testing time he had at Maranello and the Bridgestones built for him/Ferrari gave him a big advantage.

    • Back then every driver had a spare car that they could set up for a dry race and a wet race if they experienced mixed conditions during the weekend.

      • Not every driver. Every team had one. Usually for the one who needed it. And if both where in need it went to the obvious Nr 1.

    • I don’t know about that..the Brawn was fantastic until Turkey and then fell off a cliff. A more mature Vettel or someone like Alonso/;Ham would have won the 2009 title in that Red Bull; it was the car to have for most of the year.

      If Seb didn’t make those mistakes in Melbourne,Monaco, Singapore and Brazil qualifying (as well as that weird weekend in Germany where the pressure got to him), he would have walked that title. In the end, Jenson won it because he kept picking up points, even when the car wasn’t at its best. Red Bull had a very competitive car for most of 2009 and for much of the year they had the best car.

      The weird thing about 2009 is that Webber, Vettel and Rubens just weren’t consistent enough to put Jenson under pressure. It was so weird..Mark won in Germany & Brazil but struggled elsewhere whereas Seb lost many podiums to small mistakes. Rubens started to close in on Jenson once they made changes to the brakes but even then he just didn’t take enough points.

      • I’d say that beyond Turkey, Ferrari McLaren and Red Bull were the joint best cars on the grid, as by then both the red team and the guys from Woking had sorted out their own version of the double deck diffuser. Both Kimi and Lewis had extremely strong ends to the season in 09 which shows what kind of development gains they had in trying to catch up to the bulls. Red Bull even joined late to the party on the double diffuser trick, I think only Brawn, Toyota and Williams had it at the start of the season??

        But yes Jenson still had to be consistent in the later half of the season to overcome the development cliff Brawn suffered with a lack of budget.

        • From Hungary to the end of the season, the Ferrari had zero development. All attention went to the 2010 car, which was pretty good car, quick and reliable.

    • Button made the most of his chance to win the title. Same as Lewis did last year, same as Vettel did in the previous 4 seasons. Luck has always been part and parcel of F1, you see it in every race when the drivers dice with each other’s tyres.

      Lewis with hindsight made the right choice in going to Mercedes. Vettel’s probably made the right decision going to Ferrari and as for Alonso ? He needs to pray that Honda have an ace up their sleeve.

  8. Interesting valuation of Hamilton by Mercedes. Base salary of $31m.

    Compare to Vettel and Alonso:
    Vettel’s base salary only $30m. But his performance bonuses max out at over $50m. Compare that figure to Hamilton’s Mercedes contract with performance bonuses maxing out at over $40m.

    Meanwhile, Alonso’s base salary is $40m, (vs $31m HAM, and $30m VET).

    So, when F1 puts a dollar figure on the value of a driver, is it that Hamilton is now the 3rd highest rated driver (based on salary & bonuses combined)?

    • And to think that just recently it had been suggested Lewis was asking for 50 million a year and people on here were up in arms saying that it was a disgrace. It was always nigh on impossible that Lewis had been asking for that much, and these latest figures prove that.
      So yes Lewis will probably be the 3rd highest earner, and it’s probably about the right figure given the car they have now.

    • The $50m Seb will earn is only a one off for the first year, which consists of upfront payment of all possible bonuses. After which his base salary will $30m whilst Lewis’ base salary is $31m, so in effect, he’s the 2nd highest paid driver on the grid all be it by a small margin. I think Alonso’s salary is in part due to Honda’s need to be associated with a named driver on their return to the sport, had it not been for that, seriously doubt Ron would pay him that kind of money.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula-one/32124091

      • So HAM & VET 2nd & 3rd highest driver salaries now, ($31m & $30m respectively).

        Performance bonus packages:
        VET ~$20m
        HAM ~$10m (50% of VET’s)

        Hence, HAM is 3rd in value on driver market now.

        • If you look at from that basic POV, then yes. But both drivers bonus figures are subjective and not definitive. So whilst Seb may earn that this season, if in the next season Ferrari aren’t able to deliver him a competitive car, then that $20m could significantly less. And has the article said, “it was a form of golden handshake” or has they call it in American sports, it’s a signing bonus.

          So a better way to judge is on their respective base salary.

          • Ignore the signing bonus. It’s significant only in that we now know VET’s max possible performance bonus.

            Driver’s performance bonuses aren’t subjective. It is the opposite.

            The contract will explicitly state the monetary rewards for race wins, for championship points earned, and perhaps for WDC and WCC finishing positions, etc.

            So if VET wins races and championships next season and is able to max out his performance bonuses, he pockets $50m+. When HAM earns his maximum performance bonuses, he can only earn ~$10m less ($40m+) than what VET could’ve made.

    • @VM
      Honda are desperate to have a high-profile driver spearheading their return, and they pay a premium for that. Moreover, Button has been humbled and is being paid beans now, so what Button doesn’t earn goes to Fred.

      Ferrari are desperate to get a Schumacher-esque driver leading their development team (who said that no driver was greater than the team at Ferrari?), and Vettel seems like the right candidate (hence the squeals of joy “Ferrari is back” and the torrid declarations of love from the race engineer). In addition Vettel is 4 WDC, whatever his humbling by Smiley last year, so Ferrari will pay a premium for that.

      Merc are so dominant that they’re not desperate for a high-profile driver. It’s more like the other way around: high-profile drivers are desperate for a Merc. Hence the high-profile driver would pay for the privilege of getting into a Merc, in the form of lower than market-implied (but still, stratospherically astronomical!) wages.

      From where I’m sitting, all seems right with the world…

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