#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 1st April 2015


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

OTD Lite 2001 – Montoya arrives in crash-bang-wallop style

Button misses irony of suggesting Vettel lucky

Legend returns to guide Mclaren-Honda back

Allison claims blood-letting necessary for Ferrari future

OTD Lite 2001 – Montoya arrives in crash-bang-wallop style

Is it really fourteen years ago that Juan Pablo Montoya put the wind up Michael Schumacher on only his third Grand Prix start?


The 2001 Brazilian GP will go down in history as the emergence of a true great. Someone who at last had the nerve to take on and beat the dominant Schumi. Except it all went wrong. To this day, fans of the Colombian still do not fully understand what the hell happened for him to leave within 5 years.

Personally I think JPM was not designed to fit into the bland corporate world that F1 is built around. Look at Hamilton, for example; he wears his heart on his sleeve and the public relate to that whereas someone as regulated as Nico Rosberg measures every word that is uttered to the press and therefore is seen as insipid and uninteresting.

Wasn’t it always thus? Anyway, JPM took the lead and pulled away from the German until he came up to lap Jos Verstappen on lap 39… and Jos made a mistake his son would be scolded for and forgot to brake as they approached turn 4 taking both himself and a very grumpy Colombian out of the race.


The Grumpy Jackal


Button misses irony of suggesting Vettel lucky

Last week TJ13 reported that Jenson Button had come out defending his Mclaren team after Fernando Alonso claimed he had had problems with the steering which contributed to his Barcelona crash. Jenson has seen the data and as per the team’s view there was nothing that indicated a problem with the Woking challenger.

At the time it appeared that factions within the team were already in a war of words with the Spaniard before he had even stepped into his MP4/30. Yet yesterday it seems that Button was back-pedalling in his support of his new team-mate with his views on Sebastian Vettel’s latest triumph.

“He has definitely lucked into a situation. I would say, I am sure he had the same information as Fernando when Fernando left the team. It is one of those situations which sometimes works out for you, for example (Daniel) Ricciardo was overtaken by his new team-mate, Daniil Kvyat, and lapped by his ex-team-mate Vettel on the same lap. Who would have thought that at the end of last year, so sometimes you do luck into a situation.”

This of course suggests that Alonso had an option to stay at Ferrari. In recent weeks, much of the main stream British press has suggested that the Spaniard left Ferrari and only then was Vettel recruited. Which ignores the fact that the Seb to Ferrari rumours have been around F1 since 2011, but Alonso always vetoed his recruitment.

Back in April last year when Stefano Domenicali resigned his team principal role at Ferrari he was called by three drivers which included the reigning four time champion. As the season progressed and Marco Mattiacci made his presence felt within the Scuderia – the Samurai began supporting the team and he would “do what was best for the Ferrari team“; yet still attempted to stay at Ferrari because he had a valid contract till 2016.

In Japan Vettel announced he was leaving Red Bull and the Milton Keynes hierarchy, as classless as ever, announced he was joining Ferrari. Of course Alonso went on the offensive but Italian sources claimed he was told categorically there was no longer a place at Maranello for him.

As to Button’s conjecture that the information available to Vettel would have been known to Alonso – this is extremely unlikely. F1 teams are notoriously secretive with plans when a driver is leaving or is about to be replaced for the following season but patterns emerge.

Ferrari had replaced so much of their technical staff throughout 2014 that a change was bound to happen. With the highly rated James Allison taking full control of the 2015 design much was expected of this years challenger and with a number of Brackley staff hired by Maranello last season the engine was bound to be progressing in the right direction.

As to luck – surely the greatest piece of good fortune befell our beloved Button just before the 2009 season started. With Honda pulling the plug on the F1 project it looked for a time that the Briton’s career was over yet with the Mercedes engine in the back of his Brawn GP car he went on to secure his only title..


Legend returns to guide Mclaren-Honda back

Osamu Goto is considered a legend in Japan and within Formula One. He was the brains behind Honda when they entered F1 for the second time in the 80’s – they had been a F1 entrant back in the mid 60’s.

As is the Japanese way, 1983 was a tentative start to a journey that would see the Japanese manufacturer re-write what was possible with engine technology. They literally tore the Europeans apart with successive Constructor crowns from 1986 to 1991.

When Honda withdrew from F1 at the end of 1992 Ferrari approached Goto to join their engine department where he was their head of R&D – before moving on to work with Sauber’s fuel sponsor, Petronas, in conjunction with their Ferrari sourced engines.

With Honda experiencing severe problems with their technology – the call was made to Osamu to return and work alongside Yasuhisa Arai for the company that was his life for so many years. Giles Simon – Honda’s advisor – worked with Goto at Ferrari back in the late 90’s and knew that he would honour his past if given the chance.

With Osamu having worked with Mclaren previously and his extensive knowledge of F1 turbo technology – this move can only be considered beneficial to the Woking team and to the recovery of a once great manufacturer.


Allison claims blood-letting necessary for Ferrari future

At times over the winter – publications mocked the purge that was being carried out in the hallowed corridors of Maranello. Many of the senior engineers at the Gestione Sportiva were replaced throughout the year with all the Sergio Marchionne inspired culling culminating shortly before Christmas.

Stefano Domenicali had left in April but some sources suggest this was at the request of the man who would take over the Presidency. Rumours that could be believed when the two men were seen together at the Italian Grand Prix.

In his place came Marco Mattiacci – a close friend of John Elkaan and Marchione – and he initiated changes within the organisation. Once Luca di Montezemolo had been ruthlessly replaced, the major restructuring began.

Il Padrino claimed that the Ferrari victory was due to work that had begun back in February 2014 – although this would question why was it not applied to last year’s car! Despite this James Allison is confident Ferrari is now a much leaner outfit. With 1,300 employees designing and building just two Formula One cars this term is purely subjective though.

Allison: “Any changes like that are not done lightly and are not easy to do, but are done looking to the long-term to try to make sure we have got a team of people in place that we know can build to the future and just make us stronger month by month. We will increasingly benefit from those changes in the months and years ahead rather than making a difference overnight.”

“It feels great to win in any colour, but there is something absolutely fantastic about this team. Every team works hard, but at Ferrari they work especially hard. At Ferrari we also have the history of the team bearing down on us and everywhere you go in the factory there is ample evidence of massive success in the past, and anyone who works there in a period when it’s not successful is cowed by that fact.”

“And then they have the weight of an entire nation on them as well, and those are pressures that they soak up and when the pressure is released by a day like this, boy does it feel good. Everybody here won’t be able to find proper words to tell you how wonderful it is.”


41 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 1st April 2015

  1. Might it not be more a matter of JPM not being designed to fit into the tight confines of an F1 cockpit ?

  2. One other thought, will Lotus 2013 results be some sort of guide to where Ferrari might be most competitive, as the latest Allison car appears to share some of the driveability characteristics ?

  3. “Jos made a mistake his son would be scolded for and forgot to brake as they approached turn 4”

    You’ve taken the words from my mouth, Jackal!

    I was watching at Maximilian’s driving very curiously this weekend, and there’s one thing that I noticed:
    Verstappen is quick and overtakes people… because he forgets to brake when approaching the corner!

    At one point he realizes that brake he must, so he slams on the brakes and then outbrakes everyone (in front of him, next to him, behind him), *and* himself. Goes deep into the corner, then desperately tries to correct and get back onto a trajectory that won’t see him go into the gravel, and something that approximately approaches the racing line. By the time he did it, he is already in front of all those around him… At times it felt that all the other experienced blokes were… baby-sitting the kid, indulging into his kiddy antics.

    It actually reminded me of how I’m driving an F1 car on the Xbox: always brake way too late, slam on the brakes, completely miss the racing line, but still keep in front of everybody else. But you can’t blame the guy, can you: That’s the only real-life experience that he’s got!

    And like father like son they say? We all know that Prost will take you out 100m before a chicane (the “malevolent intent of the Prosts”). Rosberg will have a shot at winning the WDC only with the minimum number of possible wins (the “curse of the Rosbergs”). And hey ho: Verstappen will forget to brake into the corner!

  4. Can anyone explain to me why Marco Mattiaci was fired? Sent in to clean out obstructions, did the job and was sacked. Okay maybe he wasn’t the right guy to run the team but why didn’t they find him another position within that conglomerate?

    • From the news that I’ve read about Mattiacci after he was fired I got the feeling he had pissed off Bernie too many times or he had done something that was completely against the wishes off Marchionne in his first few months… the main indication for that are the words from Sergio Marchionne after he fired Mattiacci “We decided to appoint Maurizio Arrivabene because, at this historic moment in time for the Scuderia and for Formula 1, we need a person with a thorough understanding not just of Ferrari but also of the governance mechanisms and requirements of the sport,” said Marchionne.”

      Here are 2 articles that might give you some more info so that you can form you’re own opinion on what happened.

      • Thank you Matt and RonDin. I still can’t fathom dumping a loyal, successful-in-all-other-past-endeavors 15 year employee for some mistakes. And he does not appear to have landed anywhere else. Might he have been given a 6 month exile – to calm Bernie down – and quietly get assigned another less public yet still important position?
        Deep in their hearts they must know that Alonso had to go and if MM cost them a few million more than need be, then bad for him. But with his track record in business at Ferrari, he has to have made them more than the Alonso mistake.
        And why I care, I have no idea. Just seemed to me, he cleaned house, did the dirty work and then was sacked for a nit by comparison. Plus he seemed to be a cool dude.

        • “Just seemed to me, he cleaned house, did the dirty work and then was sacked for a nit by comparison. ”

          You know how things are being done in the Mafia. Once the dirty job is done, take care of the cleaner… 😉

    • So what happens if they finish 30 seconds behind in China, is he going to say they’ve fallen back?

      As Matt said to me the other night.. “the Mercs were the faster car on the day, they only ran slower so as to try and do a 2 stopper”

      On the option tyres, if my memory serves me correctly, Seb only did 3 laps more than the Mercs and his times weren’t faster. Actually Nico’s fastest lap was more than a second faster than Seb managed at anytime and both Nico and Lewis’s stints on the hard, were faster than Seb’s.

      So not to take anything away from what they did, but like the article says, the extremely high track temp, abrasive nature along with poor strategy played its part.

      • I think what he’s saying is that the real advantage of Merc is somewhere in between, not 1s per lap, but more like 0.3-0.5 sec per lap. And if you do see big differences, sometimes it’s the driver. With the gusty winds and tricky conditions in Melbourne, Lewis ‘flattered’ his car more than the others. Besides isn’t that what they say, that only Hamilton and Alonso can deliver big lap times in tricky conditions and not well balanced cars?

          • I don’t think so, I’m talking about pundits and so-called ‘experts’, plus some F1 fans (not just fanboys)

          • In the article, it was a Paddy Lowe quote, “That lap was more Lewis than car,” said Paddy Lowe of Hamilton’s advantage of 1.4s over the best non-Merc in Melbourne qualifying. “The wind was gusting and the track temperatures were dropping, making it very tricky. Whenever you have to improvise like that, Lewis delivers you lap time over the others.”

          • Guess you didn’t see the pole lap in Malaysia, which pretty much backs up Paddy’s comment.

  5. In regards to Button getting lucky, he was already with that team, and had been their through both the rubbish and the good years. Unlike Vettle who rocked up at Ferrari from a different team and found they built a good car.

    • There’s far more luck involved in the world than most people think.

      Button was lucky to be around when the blown diffuser was “invented” by his team.

      Seb’s definitely lucky to jump to Fez this year just like Lewis going to MB for 2014.

      BTW, it’s a rule of thumb that the winners always say their success is down to hard work, rigourous planning and perfect execution whereas everyone else says they were unlucky.

        • Soz, shoulda proof read after an edit. There was a bit about MB being nowhere in 2013 then über in 2014 during Lewis’ tenure.

          • I wouldn’t say they were nowhere in 2013. 3 wins and numerous poles and front row starts along with finishing 2nd or was it 3rd that year, says they were in fact on the up.

      • I think it’s a bit different in Lewis’ case. He was sold a dream by Ross, he believed it, and off he went. Everyone else questioned his decision if you remember. So I don’t think we can say that Lewis lucked into that car.
        Schumacher didn’t either when he went to Ferrari. He risked.

        Vettel and Button did to a certain degree lucked in with RBR and Brawn.
        Right now, Vettel was sold a dream by Ferrari but he definitely didn’t expect to be as competitive so early on. Just like Lewis didn’t expect to be as dominant last year.

        • No, it was no different for Lewis unless he had a functioning crystal ball. If he had genuinely high expectations of the MB cars being so dominant after what was the most sweeping change in F1 regulations ever then he was deluded. It was a risky move that paid off hansomely. For risky moves to come off you need luck.

          Ross selling Lewis a dream is irrelevant. People questioning his judgement is irrelevant. Those are minor details already woven into the ever-growing Hamilton mythology. I’m sure Fred was sold a very similar dream by LdM when he went to Fez all those years ago.

          • The difference is, the man who’s selling them that dream, in this case it was Ross Brawn, given his track record of success, it wouldn’t be so hard to buying into it. I think most would be more incline to believe in Ross rather than LdM.

            But don’t they also say, “you make your own luck?”

          • After putting his name to the Bianchi report, it’s evident Ross tells a great story regardless of the facts available.

          • Unfortunately this is about building a successful racing team, what you’re talking about now, is a completely different issue.

            And wasn’t just Ross who was involved in that report.

          • I think you’re forgetting that they have more information available to them than we do. E.g. in 2012: “Lewis, we’re spending 500 million on our engine program, it’ll be a second clear”. Along with “McLaren, we’re getting rid. No more subsidy from us”. Also, “Sure, we’ll pay you more, how much do you want?” Sounds like a triple win to me.

            Vettel would have known that Ferrari was undertaking a similar rebuilding. Allison made a car that could challenge Red Bull in 2012/13, so he would have known that the 2015 package would do well with an Allison “Lotus” and a fixed 2015 Ferrari engine.

            Remember Vettel in 2013? He basically announced that the 2014 Red Bull package was gonna suck when he said “Remember these days”… it was basically a “we’ve cashed in on 9 in a row, we might not win again for a while”.

  6. Isn’t it ironic, what 2 years ago we wanted vettel’s head for multi 2. now he is the messiah for saving us from 3 years of Mercedes uber dominance.

    • Much as I might appreciate Vettel, I think the messiah in this case would be James Allison.

      • It’s a mix of Sergio Marchionne taking an axe to the management of Ferrari that gave James Allison the space to really crack on with what he wanted to do on the design side of the cars.

        As for Vettel ? I think half of his image problem if you want to call it that was down to Horner and Marko’s politics and the other half being in a good run of Newey designed cars, so easy for people to say he only won due to Newey. If he wins a title with Ferrari that they will go some way to cementing his legacy as one of the F1 greats. I just hope McLaren Honda get their act together so Alonso can join the fray at the front. I think we’d all enjoy seeing Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel battling it out for race wins.

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