A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
Verstappen: No respecter of persons
As Formula One drivers draw towards the close of their careers, they tend to see themselves in the role of elder statesman and frequently comment on the antics of the new kids on the block. Usually in a manner offering advice, or criticism.
Mark Webber in the aftermath of the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, found himself taken out of the race by rookie Sebastian Vettel who was only in his sixth F1 race.
Both cars were out of the race and Webber wasn’t happy. He said, “Well, it’s kids, isn’t it? Kids with not enough experience, doing a good job, then they fuck it all up”.
With the hindsight of history, Webber’s comments are tinged with irony when one considers how quickly kids grow up.
Felipe Massa now takes on the Webber mantle. He was highly critical of Verstappen following his rear ending of Romain Grosjean during the 2015 Monaco GP. During the driver interviews following the race, Massa had said he expected the FIA to punish the young Dutch driver, and this was brought up in the FIA Driver Press Conference in Canada.
Massa explained, “When I had the interview after the race he was not penalised, and they asked me what I think? I think he needs to be penalised, because what he did was wrong. So that’s what I said.”
“I think especially when you are in your first year, 17 years old, if you do something like that and you’re not penalised, it’s completely wrong. I think the FIA needs to be strong in a proper way, which is what they did, actually. That’s the only thing I said, I don’t change my mind. That’s what I believe, we need to follow the rules. I thought what he did was wrong.”
Without waiting to be asked, Verstappen was ready with his response. “Well, everybody can have their opinion, that’s the first thing but I looked at my data, I didn’t brake any later. I have braked later in the race before that but on the lap I crashed, it was exactly the same lap as the lap before and I got my penalty”.
But the young Dutchman was not done. More irony was to follow as he recalled this race weekend last year, when Massa rear ended Sergio Perez in the closing stages of the race. “I’m focusing on Canada right now,” said Verstappen. Adding “and maybe you should review the race from last year and see what happened there”.
This kid is gold dust for Formula One. Yes he may have joined the sport a year earlier than was ideal as his ex-boss Franz Tost admitted.
However, he has all the hallmarks of a world champion. His air of self belief and now his readiness to fight his own corner, whilst amusingly issuing a put down to one of the most senior drivers on the grid.
Who do the FIA have in mind having issued an offer for a new team to join F1?
It just won’t go away. Audi/Porsche to join F1 is the never ending story that has been written by the mainstream F1 media since about 2007.
It is true, the FIA do not issue annual invitations for teams to join Formula One. The last was in December 2013 and from the outside, the process for applications looked to be a take it or leave it offer – with just about five weeks for potential competitors to complete their applications.
The application process requires a detailed business plan, including comprehensive funding information. This in no way is a vague offer to tender from parties who may just be interested in joining Formula One.
Last week, another offer to tender was issued, so presumably the FIA has been in detailed discussions with an interested party who is good to go with their application.
The timescales again are tight. The FIA requires an expression of interest to be declared by 30 June, with full applications to be submitted by 1 September.
Given the customer car frenzy at the Strategy Group, the favourite candidate to be grilled by the officials in the Place de Concorde has been ART. They are currently running with McLaren livery in GP2, have a Japanese driver in Nobuharu Matsushita and the McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandroone.
ART applied to join Formula One for the 2011 season, and Autosport reported they set to become the thirteenth team following the mass exit of the manufacturers.
Though eventually the team issued this statement. “ART Grand Prix had forged strong bonds with several technical and financial partners but with unfavourable economic conditions they could not gather the necessary guarantees to ensure the stability of the project in the long term.”
Michelin was a significant partner, and they failed to win the bid to supply F1 with tyres, which was no coincidence.
More significantly in the here and now, is that Nicholas Todt is a co-owner in ART. So if anyone can open the door at the FIA, there’s no one like Daddy.
However, Giles Richards writing in the Guardian believes it is Audi/Porsche who have ticked the FIA’s fancy, and are the reason this new offer to compete in F1 has been made.
Mercedes current commercial success is touted as the carrot Audi crave. Giles explains, “The Audi marque has been most associated with an entry, one it has always strongly and understandably denied. Their endurance racing program has been hugely successful with the team winning the Le Mans 24 Hours 13 times since 2000.
They were, however, joined in the World Endurance Championship by Porsche last year who have come on leaps and bounds in a short period of time and are genuine contenders for this year’s 24 Hours”.
This is hardly ground breaking news so far. But Giles persists. “The car they have developed, the Porsche 919, is petrol-driven, as opposed to Audi’s diesel, and utilises hybrid and turbo technologies similar to those in F1.
Equally, despite being built to different regulations and designed to run for hours, it is no slouch. The team took pole at the Silverstone round of the WEC this year with a time of 1min 39.721sec, which would have put the car seventh in qualifying at the British Grand Prix in 2014.
Perhaps, as F1’s background wrangling continues, it is their intention to be on the grid for real in 2017 that lies behind the FIA’s new team prospectus”.
Manor sign a team sponsor
The phoenix from the ashes of the Russian owned Marussia team, who were ditched by their ‘owner’ immediately following the inaugural Russian GP, continues to rise.
Having been fined by Bernie for not participating in the 2015 Australian GP, John Booth and Graham Lowden’s band of hardy racers continue the fight to remain in Formula One.
In the past week they have recruited the talents of the highly experienced technical director and co architect of the might Mercedes AMG F1 team – Bob Bell. Fabio Leimer has also been recruited and his funding will probably see him succeed current Manor driver Roberto Mehri.
This weekend Jules Bianchi’s old team will take another step to establishing their claim to a place on the Formula One grid as they reveal their new sponsor, AirBnB.
AirBnB are a web based international holiday property rental business and will have their logo displayed on the car and the team clothing for the remainder of this year.
Team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick identifies that Manor and AirBnB have an affinity. “The success story of AirBnB is phenomenal, the company has invented an entire industry from scratch We are two like-minded brands that have innovation and the discovery prescribed. We both want to influence our respective industries positively.”
Manor are expecting their 2015 car to arrive around the summer break and will also be hoping to ditch the 2014 Ferrari engine they currently use, for the 2015 version, which should immediately and significantly improve their pace.