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A VERY SERIOUS SILLY SEASON

Once upon a time the F1 silly season was just that – silly. Lots of absurd rumours of driver a going to team b who would be using engine c and tyres d. Whose dramatic testing time was down to running 200 kg under-weight or what bizarre plan Bernie had to spice up the show. Remember scrapping points and awarding Olympic style medals any-one?

 

  Of course every now and then one of these proved to be true. A six wheel Tyrrell, or March, or Williams? Keke Who? will drive the six wheel Williams??? Emerson Fittipaldi is quitting McLaren to drive the Copersucar? Ferrari are singing up that pay driver Lauda?? Brabham are switching to Pirelli? Alesi’s Prost broke the Catalunya record by how much? Oh that’s right – about 50kg.

 

  This year how-ever most of the driver moves were known before last season ended as were the chassis/engine combinations and just a few drivers were chasing a rapidly diminishing number of seats. So there was no fun to be had there. Most of the rumours were based on which team needed the most cash from the remaining list of available talent. Kimi after all, still hadn’t been paid by Lotus for 2013 when they signed Pastor for 2014. And his PDVSA millions. Lotus’ talks with potential backers, Quantum Motorsports drag on and on seemingly without the horizon in sight leaving the ultra talented Nico Huklenberg one of those fighting for the scraps instead of a possible championship. But this has all unfolded now so a list of who is where later.

 

  As for Bernie’s bizarre ideas? Well allocating double points to the season finale in Abu Dhabi seemed like just another head-line grabber during the quiet winter months. But then it got officially accepted by the powers that be and so a dull race on a dull circuit that no-one goes to watch is now more important than the likes of Monaco, Monza, Spa or Suzuka. God give us strength (or a bullet) in a tight championship someones conservative run to third place in Abu Dhabi will count for more than winning at Silverstone, or Austin, or anywhere else for that matter. All to solve a problem that no-one else thinks exists. To quote Pink Floyd, it “fills me with the urge to defecate”.

 

  As for Bernie, we may not have to put up with this nonsense much longer as the courts in Munich have decided that he has a case to answer regarding bribery claims relating to his sale of the sport to CVC in 2006. One would think that as the chap who accepted the alleged bribe, Gerard Gribkowsky, has already confessed and been sentenced to jail that Bernie might be struggling to convince the judges that it was not a bribe, but a blackmail payment as he has claimed. He may have a lot of clout in the paddock but I wouldn’t expect there to be much carry-over to the less fawning Munich judiciary. In the interim, Bernie will continue to run the day-to-day aspects of the sport but has had to stand down as a member of the CVC board. There is more speculation as to who will ultimately replace Bernie than any of the drivers….

 

 

  As most of you are aware former champion Michael Schumacher had a skiing accident on December 29, striking his head on a large rock. He was still conscious when medical help arrived, although not very coherent, but by the time he was being airlifted to the local hospital he lost consciousness and was flown straight to the neurological unit at Grenoble where he underwent an emergency operation to relieve the swelling on his brain. He was placed in an induced coma and underwent further surgery a week or so later and remains in a stable but critical condition. Much has been written about this by well meaning press and other medical specialists but not by anyone who has any direct connection with his medical team so it is mostly just speculation. My only thought on the medical side is that as it has now been four weeks with no announcement of any improvement then his recovery, if it occurs, will be a long and difficult one. You will probable all know my feelings about his driving standards, but this is not something that we would wish on anyone and our thoughts are with Michael and especially his family as they face an uncertain future.

 

  Condolences also go to the family of Jenson Button, whose father John, passed away aged 70 from a suspected heart attack at his home in Southern France on January 12. Not only was he a widely popular figure in the F1 paddock as he supported the efforts of Jenson but had a fairly successful career as a rally-cross driver in the mid seventies.

He will be missed by many.

 

  As previously mentioned all the driver positions have been filled and barring another Luiz Razia type situation the full list of championship entries that will take to the grid in Melbourne is as follows;

 

INFINITI RED BULL RACING

1 Sebastian Vettel                                 Red Bull RB10 Revault V6 Turbo

3 Daniel Ricciardo                                Red Bull RB10 Revault V6 Turbo

Test & Reserve Driver

Sebastien Buemi                                   Red Bull RB10 Revault V6 Turbo

 

PETRONAS AMG MERCEDES GRAND PRIX

  6 Nico Rosberg                                  Mercedes W05            Mercedes V6 Turbo

44 Lewis Hamilton                                Mercedes W05            Mercedes V6 Turbo

Test & Reserve Driver

Paul di Resta                                        Mercedes W05            Mercedes V6 Turbo

 

SANTANDER SCUDERIA FERRARI SpA

  7 Kimi Raikkonen                               Ferrari F14T                Ferrari V6 Turbo

14 Fernando Alonso                             Ferrari F14T                Ferrari V6 Turbo

Test & Reserve Driver

Pedro de la Rosa                                  Ferrari F14T                Ferrari V6 Turbo

 

PDVSA GENII LOTUS F1 TEAM

  8 Romain Grosjean                             Lotus E22                    Renault V6 Turbo

13 Pastor Maldonado                           Lotus E22                    Renault V6 Turbo

 

McLAREN RACING

20 Kevin Magnussen                            McLaren MP4/29        Mercedes V6 Turbo

22 Jenson Button                                  McLaren MP4/29        Mercedes V6 Turbo

Test & Reserve Driver

Stoffel Vandoorne                                 McLaren MP4/29        Mercedes V6 Turbo

Gary Paffett                                          McLaren MP4/29        Mercedes V6 Turbo

Oliver Turvey                                       McLaren MP4/29        Mercedes V6 Turbo

 

SAHARA FORCE INDIA

11 Sergio Perez                                    Force India VJM07      Mercedes V6 Turbo

27 Nico Hulkenberg                             Force India VJM07      Mercedes V6 Turbo

Test & Reserve Driver

Daniel Juncadella                                  Force India VJM07      Mercedes V6 Turbo

 

TELMEX NEC SAUBER A.G.

21 Esteban Gutierrez                            Sauber C33                  Ferrari V6 Turbo

99 Adrian Sutil                         Sauber C33                  Ferrari V6 Turbo

Test & Reserve Driver

Guido van der Garde                            Sauber C33                  Ferrari V6 Turbo

 

CESPA SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO

25 Jean-Eric Vergne                             Toro Rosso STR9        Renault V6 Turbo

26 Daniil Kvyat                                    Toro Rosso STR9        Renault V6 Turbo

 

WILLIAMS GRAND PRIX ENGINEERING

19 Felipe Massa                                   Williams FW36            Mercedes V6 Turbo

77 Valtteri Bottas                                 Williams FW36            Mercedes V6 Turbo

 

MARUSSIA F1 TEAM

  4 Max Chilton                                    Marussia MR03           Ferrari V6 Turbo

17 Jules Bianchi                                    Marussia MR03           Ferrari V6 Turbo

 

GE AIRBUS TEAM CATERHAM

  9 Marcus Ericsson                            Caterham CT05           Renault V6 Turbo

10 Kamui Kobayashi                          Caterham CT05           Renault V6 Turbo

Test & Reserve Driver 

Robin Frijns                                     Caterham CT05           Renault V6 Turbo

Alexander Rossi                               Caterham CT05           Renault V6 Turbo

 

Welcome back Kamui.

Testing starts in Jerez tomorrow.

Does anyone else think the McLaren looks a bit like the Batmobile from front on? Bruce Wayne on the Melbourne grid?

 

 

Sam Snape

 

25/01/2014