#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday, 15th April 2015

DNandC

UPDATED GMT:11:00 A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,

Renault – First leads on troublesome engine parts

Italian Moderator sacked for insulting Fernando Alonso

Causa Sauber

Has W06 update cured Mercedes Achilles heel?

FIA Press Conferences Bahrain 2015

Renault – First leads on troublesome engine parts

Daniil Kvyat’s RB11 has had three Renault engines for lunch in as many races. That means the young Russian will start collecting grid penalties as soon as his next and last allocated unit detonates – and given the current average half-life of a Renault V6 Turbo hybrid… will be 10 minutes into the second free practice at Bahrain.

Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul announced that Renault has identified a flawed piston design as one of the main culprits. Unfortunately Renault reckons it will take six weeks to fix, which means the Red Bull teams are in for yet more pain and shredded components.

It will be interesting to see if the recently established truce between the Austrian owned company and Renault will survive that long. Red Bull has already fallen well behind in the constructor’s championship.

The once all mighty Infiniti Red Bull Racing have 13 points from three races; are a point ahead of Sauber and 106 points behind Mercedes who top the table.

All this means they are set to lose a lot of Bernie money this year in addition to paying millions for clearly defective engines.

Just one year ago, Forbes magazine reported. “In just the past five years Red Bull has gained an estimated $1.6 billion in AVE from F1 which alone offsets the $1.2 billion it has spent on Red Bull Racing.” This did not include the cash spent on Toro Rosso, “believed to be around $484 million”

“With this level of return it may seem hard to imagine Red Bull quitting,” commented Christian Sylt.

How time flies even when you are not enjoying yourself.

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Italian Moderator sacked for insulting Fernando Alonso

To say Fernando Alonso’s year started badly, is a monumental understatement. At times he must have felt like a Honda executive watching the 2009 Australian Grand Prix – as the newly badged Brawn car romped to victory.

In Sepang this year, we could have expected a 2012 style – thousand yard stare from Alonso as he was forced watch the top step celebrations by the man who not only relegated him twice to runner up ‘honours’, but is now driving his old red car which served him so badly for the past five years.

This all happens following an attempt on Alonso’s life by his new and not so trusty steed in Barcelona testing, which forced the Spaniard to sit out the 2015 Australian Grand Prix. The resulting lack of track time under Alonso’s belt was evident in Malaysia and China where he struggled to beat his team mate, fellow former world champion Jenson Button.

As if that wasn’t enough to cope with, Fernando faces a huge withdrawal from his bank account of affection. Mercedes’ Niki Lauda was the first to criticise, stating Alonso’s overbearing ego and negativity was a factor in Ferrari’s worsening luck in recent years. Switzerland’s Mark Surer, long-time F1 pundit for Sky Germany agreed with Lauda, saying that “when Alonso won, it was always entirely his doing and when things went wrong it was always the team and the car’s failure”.

Similar sentiments have since been voiced by Emmanuele Pirro, Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi. The latter, now an ambassador for Pirelli, taunted the Spaniard with the acerbic comment that he must have fainted again (a reference to Alonso’s test crash) when he was lapped by his former Ferrari race car on its way to a third consecutive podium position.

One of Fernando’s critics, Sky Italia’s moderator Paola Saluzzi, issued a critical tweet which unsurprisingly now has consequences.

Alonso @ScuderiaFerrari his memory came back and he remembered how big of an #arrogant and #jealous man he is #youimbecile

Not exactly something found in a journalism text book – even an Italian journalism text book. Despite later deleting her tweet and apologising, Saluzzi has been has been suspended indefinitely by Sky Italia and Alonso refused to speak to any of the broadcaster’s journalists in China.

It appears that he has left a lot of disappointed people behind in Italy.

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Causa Sauber

Monisha Kaltenborn is a fortunate woman. Not only was she spared the indignity of being imprisoned in Australia, but her ill considered conduct that jeopardised the Sauber team’s survival appears to have no lasting consequences.

Peter Sauber’s only comment on the matter was: “I don’t want to talk about this shit.” He does not seem to be planning any changes in the team’s management structure.

In what can only be described as a ‘pot…kettle…black’ moment, the once apparent saviour of Caterham and Forza Rossa fame, Collin Kolles, criticises the Sauber management reminding the world that the consequences of Monisha’s penchant for signing drivers is not yet over.

In a lengthy interview Kolles observes that Sauber had not signed four, but six drivers – Sutil, van der Garde, Gutierrez, Bianchi, Nasr and Ericsson.

Gutierrez was dealt with by giving him to Ferrari in a bizarre exchange for partial debt relief. Bianchi was signed on the day of the Japanese Grand Prix, but just hours after signing, the Frenchman crashed tragically and both Sutil and Van der Garde were cynically sacked by SMS in breach of their existing contracts.

The initial storm might have died down, but Peter Sauber needs to take a good hard look if he really can afford to leave the running of his team to someone with such questionable business competency and ethics. Kaltenborn would have struggled to retain her job in most companies around the world, and the issue is dormant, but will surely raise its head to embarrass Sauber again in the future.

Had Kaltenborn been employed by Mercedes, the company’s compliance rules would have mandated an immediate dismissal, optionally followed by a lawsuit for damages caused by business misconduct.

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Has W06 update cured Mercedes Achilles heel?

On paper the Bahrain race could be another where Ferrari is able to challenge the Mercedes. As in Malaysia the temperatures will be high, the track surface is rough and degradation will punish the rear tyres of the cars.

But in a post-race interview with German broadcaster RTL Lauda dismisses that Mercedes will suffer the same fate as in China. The Austrian claims that the aerodynamic update of the W06 – mainly front and rear wing – have cured the rear wheel degradation problem. Grinning, Niki observed that the Bahrain race is run in the evening, when temperatures are falling rapidly.

Not one to mince words, Maurizio Arrivabene responded: Don’t worry, will make you swallow your mirth.”

Game on – maybe this will be just like the old days when team bosses didn’t like each other very much.

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FIA Press Conferences Bahrain 2015

Thursday

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Pastor Maldonado (Lotus), Sergio Perez (Force India), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Will Stevens (Manor), Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso).

Friday

Maurizio Arrivabene (Ferrari), John Booth (Manor), Eric Boullier (McLaren), Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber), Rob White (Renault).

Expect a fairly dejected Sergio Perez as he now realises Force India’s new VJM08 is on the never-never, and McLaren will be fighting to relegate them to battle with Manor F1.

First time back for Monisha Kaltenborn since the debacle in Australia, hopefully she will face questions on where the team found the money to pay off Van der Garde – since their excuse for tearing up Giedo’s contract was because they were short of cash.

34 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday, 15th April 2015

  1. Regarding Renault, I see their trouble now. I type French piston into Google and I’m looking at a horn of some description. So hopefully by Canada they can get it sorted.

  2. “Arrogant” and “jealous” are adjectives and opinions -the second one not very intelligent, she can guess, not to know-. “Youimbecile”? Her fault. I hope she enjoys unemployment.

  3. “All this means they are set to lose a lot of Bernie money this year in addition to paying millions for clearly defective engines.”

    That THEY, the Styrian Spice Boys, have requested in the first place! That’s the beauty of using alpha products and software: you get to discover bugs and report them to the manufacturer… Surely Renault informed them of this… 🙂

  4. Renault has made a mistake with the Piston design? Who designed that stuff then? The guys from their Dacia sister company? How the fuck can a manufacturer with so much experience fuck up the pistons!?

    • ” .. can a manufacturer with so much experience fuck up the pistons!? ”

      Perhaps the piston is a new design imposed by Red Bull’s consultants that have been embedded in Renault.

    • experience of the past doesn’t mean you’ll be good in the future. And sometimes a little mistake can have big consequences. Especially under a magnefing glass that is F1.

    • Likely that they went aggressive with the design, the pistons probably ended up as a weak link or brittle in an attempt to save weight.

  5. ” … Peter Sauber needs to take a good hard look if he really can afford to leave the running of his team to someone with such questionable business competency and ethics. Kaltenborn would have struggled to retain her job in most companies around the world, and the issue is dormant, but will surely raise its head to embarrass Sauber again in the future.

    Had Kaltenborn been employed by Mercedes, the company’s compliance rules would have mandated an immediate dismissal, optionally followed by a lawsuit for damages caused by business misconduct.”

    Kaltenborn does not need to worry. Those skills are exactly the ones required by some of the world’s top companies that are not domiciled in Germany and tied down by the Germanic “works council” socialist ethics.

    Indeed, in the USA where “at will” employee contracts are common place, Kaltenborn would have no difficulty getting another Executive role. Even in FOM/CVC, the outcome of her dealings with Van der Garde would be seen as a great success. Who knows, CVC and Bernie might think she will make an excellent candidate to replace bernie.

    😉

    p.s. I do have a little bit of “insider knowledge” too; I am two degrees separated from the Board of CVC.

    • So F1 goes out of the frying pan, into the fire with Monisha at the realm. Why is CVC so incredibly good at making choices that are not beneficial to the worth of their product? (TV figures, driving away the core fan base (you know the people that actually spend money on F1))

  6. “It appears that he has left a lot of disappointed people behind in Italy.”

    So if we do the count… Even if Fred is universally acclaimed as the bestest out there on track, top-3 easily:
    – He left McLaren in acrimonious circumstances.
    – He left Renault whereas the team imploded after his Singapore 2008 cheat win.
    – He left Ferrari with people unable to refrain themselves from a “good riddance” euphoria and chants to the tune of “the king is dead, long live the (fingery) king!”.

    My count still leads me to Fred being the common denominator:
    http://thejudge13.com/2014/12/02/voice-of-the-f1-fans-alonso-the-home-wrecker/

    Wonder what Honda is in for… Or perhaps Fernando is now mellower?

    • “Mercedes’ Niki Lauda was the first to criticise, stating Alonso’s overbearing ego and negativity was a factor in Ferrari’s worsening luck in recent years. Switzerland’s Mark Surer, long-time F1 pundit for Sky Germany agreed with Lauda, saying that “when Alonso won, it was always entirely his doing and when things went wrong it was always the team and the car’s failure”.”

      BTW, this doesn’t sound like Merc is readying themselves to welcome Fernando with open arms. Which is interesting. So Fred can’t go to Ferrari (persona non gratta) nor Red Bull (test-tube harvests overflowing), and doesn’t make enthusiastic at least 1/3 of the 3 Stooges at Merc (who have Bottas and Werlhein in the wings, which are no doubt less maintenance than the Asturian).

      I wonder where Fred could possibly go should McHonda not raise its game, or should his relationship with McLaren go tits up quicker than penned in the contract… Is it possible we will see Fernando valiantly follow the other recent veterans—Barrichello and Massa—to Williams? Since Pat Symonds, one of the Singapore cheat win conspirators, is in Williams nowadays, a possible reunion?

      • Lauda is not Merc and don’t forget he’s the only one within Merc that supports Hamilton.

        If it was Wolff or Lowe saying this about Alonso, then it would have been different.

    • He is already sporting a fairly bushy beard and everyone knows Big Ron hates beards, they are ‘untidy’ apparently. So Fernando is already basically sticking 2 fingers up at Ron. I expect Honda were the ones who told Ron to swallow some pride over Alonso and now Fernando knows this I would have thought, but knows that its Honda who are his pay-masters now, so he can niggle Ron with petty things (re- the beard) knowing that Ron alone can probably not terminate Fernando’s contract on his own. Giving Fernando the power to upset Ron, but still keep Honda happy and that is what ultimately matters. I would imagine Ron Dennis hates it, every time he sees Alonso with his beard, he must be spitting feathers inside and Fernando knows it 👿💣🙈

  7. “her ill considered conduct that jeopardised the Sauber team’s survival ”

    For all we know, without Sauber’s gruesome dealings there would be no Sauber to talk of today, with the company merrily folding. I may be wrong, but it is my belief that in these perilous times for Sauber—and since two-three years back—Peter has always been closely involved in ALL the decision-making process in the team, including the 6-driver contracts… So heaping it ALL on Monisha feels… a wee bit too strong.

    And this before we even get into the “glass cliff” arguments!

    • I have come to the conclusion that TJ13 nowadays is filled mostly with articles of “negativity” against everything F1, with the exception possibly of just two characters – Button and Vettel.

      • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way”

        • How do you know the driver decisions weren’t Peter Saubers? What difference does it make where the money to pay Guido came from? General Motors let people drive cars they new were causing fatalities for more than 10 years, because of the financial mess they were in, so although Mercedes are the perfect corporation during good times it would be interesting to see how flexible the rules might become if they were going broke.
          Pay drivers, by their own approach, are there to be used. Sauber gathered all the cheque book drivers together and took, in Sauber’s opinion, the biggest payoff. From my couch Sauber appear to have done what they needed to to get their house in order.

    • What I find worrying about her conduct is that in order to ‘save the team’ everything seems to be allowed, including throwing out your own dignity and making the image the outside world has of F1 even worse. And what I find sickening is that fans of the Sauber team seem to applaud the team manager for braking the law, in what kind of f*ed world do we live when we applaud braking contract law. Like a US commenter posted above it might be desirable behavior for an US company but that doesn’t make it right, not for Sauber and not for F1.

      I would like to see the FIA issue a new rule that would force team mangers to be removed if they fail to adhere to the contracts they sign (driver contracts and supplier contracts). If it were NASCAR Kaltenborn would have already been forced to resign by the NASCAR management for bringing the sport in the newspaper for the wrong reasons.

      • “I would like to see the FIA issue a new rule that would force team mangers to be removed if they fail to adhere to the contracts they sign (driver contracts and supplier contracts).”

        Would this FIA-penned rule also concern the potential breaking of EU laws by the FIA (the sport’s regulator relinquishing regulatory powers) and FOM/CVC (the commercial rights holder gaining regulatory powers in a clear-cut breach, it seems, of EU law and past EU commission rulings)?

        Should this rule allow for the immediate removal of the FIA president for breach of EU laws? Or perhaps immediate canceling and revoking of CVC’s commercial rights on the sport? Hmm….

        Before we start holding the small fish (read: Monisha, Tony, Vijay…) to such pristine standards, mayhaps we should consider how lawful the big fish are…

        • That’s phase 2 landroni 😀

          The problem with the big fish is that F1 cannot get rid of them with their own rules and they need the help of for instance an EU anti competition law. It’s a bit like with football and FIFA, the UEFA has upped the standards for FFP and rules on how football clubs should be managed and behavior that would have been alright 10 years ago, like bribing national football associations, nowadays is no longer acceptable and looking at the candidates that have applied to replace Platini there are more and more guys that are running for FIFA president just because the bribing behavior is no longer acceptable and they want to change it.

  8. “Maurizio Arrivabene responded: Don’t worry, will make you swallow your mirth.””

    Marlboro Man — ever the clown…

    • Unless he’s doing his Comical Ali act yet again, he’s probably still stuck in McLaren this year… 🙂

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