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RAIKKONEN QUITS LOTUS AMID SILLY SEASON SHAKEUP

Raikkonen out, Valsecchi in. Valsecchi out Kovalainen in. Perez out, Magnussen in. Maldonado out, Massa in. These are the changes that have occoured in just the last three days as the silly season manouvering for F1 rides in 2014 ramps up. This will leave an embarressment of riches for some of the medium to small teams to choose from over the next month or so.

 The sun sets on Kimi's Lotus career

  The most immediate is that Kimi Raikkonen has driven his last race for Lotus. The official line is that he is undergoing minor back surgery in Salzburg, Austria this week instead of flying to Austin for the US Grand Prix. The long term back injury, which almost saw him pull out of the Singapore Grand Prix has reportedly reared it's ugly head again and the recovery period is approximately four weeks, which rules him out of the season finale in Brazil as well. Just how much this has to do with his sciatic nerve as apposed to his hip pocket nerve is up to your imagination but as he was still in dispute with Lotus regarding the fact that he has not been paid this year leaves us thinking "hmmmmm" regarding the timing of it all. However as one who has had the dubious pleasure of dodgy discs I do know just how much it can hurt I can only which Kimi a speedy recovery & look forward to his radio chatter with his big red bosses next year. Initially it was expected that current reserve driver and 2012 GP2 series champion Davide Valsecchi would make his F1 debut this weekend. With his pedigree Davide is seemingly a vastly more deserving debutant than some of the recent announcements although it would have been difficult for his to impress with bugger-all testing mileage and running on circuits he has never before visited. Last minute reports are however that Caterham reserve driver and former Renault, McLaren and Lotus (the other one) driver Heikki Kovalainen will be in the seat. Still waiting for the email from Lotus to confirm that but the word is they wanted someone with experience who should be able to bring home some points as they are still hoping to be able to beat Ferrari and Mercedes in the Constructors Championship. A long shot perhaps but an understandable desire. With all the talent in the world it would have been tough for Davide. Mind you, not knowing the car it may also be tough for Heikki, but it’s nice to see him get a second chance and possibly resurrect his stalling career. It has also been rumoured that Nico Hulkenberg and (God Forbid) Michael Schumacher had been sounded out about the drive.

 

  In the latest batch of signings for 2014 Felipe Massa has been confirmed on a "multi-year" deal to join Williams alongside Valtteri Bottas bringing a raft of Brazilian sponsers to replace the slightly eratic, but occassionally very rapid Pastor Maldonado and his Venezuelan petro-dollars. Needless to say PDVSA will not be Williams title sponser next year but you can be sure that they will show up some-where. Both team and driver have spouted the usual complimentary remarks that come at the beginning of any relationship but whether either of them can return to their former glories remains to be seen. In both cases I hope so. In Felipe's case it should be remembered that before he got sconed by Barrichello's errant damper spring he was, in 2008, World Champion for about 20 seconds. And who knows, if Team Willi can get some sort of stability going it has everything it needs to return to the ways of it's glorious past. Hopefully Pat Symonds can engineer this as he takes control of the technical department. He may even be joined by old pal Ross Brawn who will be departing from Williams new engine supplier Mercedes fairly shortly. It may be that he gets Toto Wolfe's Williams shares as part of his pay-out from Merc, Wolfe having been Williams CEO for a short time before moving to the Silver Slings. Just a thought. It would be just a little weird, Williams being run by the same guys that were once their main enemy at Benetton. So long as they don't bring Flav back………….

 

  Not officially confirmed (although not officially denied) is that Sergio Perez will not be at McLaren next year. Team Brittania has decided to take a punt on Kevin Magnussen, the Formula Renault 3.5 champion this year. Magnussen has been part of the McLaren young driver scheme and was very impressive in winning that title this year. McLaren were looking to place both him and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne at smaller teams for 2014 with a view of promoting them to the team once they had gotten some experience. Despite their obvious talent it was proving a bit tricky getting both of them a drive so poor old Sergio has been given the heave-ho. Mind you, it has been said that you should never believe anything until it HAS been officially denied so…… watch this space. McLaren however have let be known that their title sponsership announcement, previously set down for December 2 has now been put off until the launch of the new car, which may or may not have anything to do with not getting lots of Mexican Pesos now that Sergio is searching for a new home.

 

 So who's going where?

 

Here's the current list

 

Red Bull (Renault)

Sebastian Vettel & Daniel Ricciardo

 

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg & Lewis Hamilton

 

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso & Kimi Raikkonen

 

Lotus (Renault)

Romain Grosjean & (almost certainly) Nico Hulkenberg

 

McLaren (Mercedes)

Jenson Button & Kevin Magnussen

 

Force India (Mercedes)

?????????????????

 

Sauber (Ferrari)

????????????????? (although Sergey Sirotkin has been named - pending gaining a super-licence)

 

Toro Rosso (Renault)

Jean Eric Vergne & Daniil Kvyat

 

Williams (Mercedes)

Valtteri Bottas & Felipe Massa

 

Marussia (Ferrari)

Jules Bianchi & ???????????

 

Caterham (Renault)

????????????????????

 

Which all leaves Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado, Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, Charles Pic, Giedo van der Garde, Davide Valsecchi, Heikki Kovalainen, Stoffel Vandoorne and GP2 champion Fabio Leimer as the prime candidates for the remaining six or possibly seven drives. Twelve into six means that the remaining teams now take their time and select the best pairing for their own needs and that (unfortunately) may not have much to do with the available talent as much as the available cash.

 

The late press is from Sergio’s twitter account and that he has confirmed that he is leaving McLaren so you can forget that bit about it not being officially denied. More on that later perhaps, it will be very difficult for Sergio to find a decent drive for 2014 but he does still have all those Telmex Pesos behind him. His shit load of pace won’t hurt either, but………

 

 

Sam Snape

 

13/11/2013

 

FIRST THERE WERE THREE

  When the word got out early in the season that Mark Webber was departing F1 for The Porsche sports-car squad there were three drivers being discussed as potential replacements.  Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and the Toro Rosso pair, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.

  Then there were two, as just a few weeks ago Vergne got the news that he would be staying with Toro Rosso as Red Bull didn’t think he was quite ready for the step up to the senior team. Then, at the Hungaroring there were three again as King Fernando’s minions were seen in deep discussions with Christian Horner and everyone put two and two together to get the mythical Forty-Two.

  Within a day or so it was back to two but the talk was that Kimi wanted to stay at Lotus if they could give him a potentially title winning car next year. No surprise here as Kimi has never particularly enjoyed the media and sponsorship work part of all F1 contracts and Lotus has been giving him very light duties in this regard. He would not have gotten off so lightly at Red Bull who’s entire existence is as an advertising platform for their drinkie.

  Now, a little birdie tells me, there is only one, and at Spa this weekend Daniel Ricciardo will be announced as Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate for 2014.  This has also just been reported in the German magazine Sport Bild so I can’t claim that you read it here first, but I think I may have beaten Autosport so I’m happy.  When Sport Bild queried Helmut Marko he didn’t deny the story but said "We won't say anything before Spa, that's all I can say,"

  Daniel would be only the second Red Bull junior driver to ascend to the premier squad after Vettel in 2009 and has impressed the team with his pace at Toro Rosso and his feedback during the few testing opportunities with Red Bull. Has he got the pace and ability to win? Everyone thinks so but don’t expect Vettel to allow that to happen too often. After Malaysia and Mark’s departure it is even more the German’s team than ever and he will use every trick in the book to keep the quick young Aussie in his place as the team’s number two. Let’s hope he’s “not bad for a number two.”

 

Sam Snape

 

18/08/2013

AUSTRALIA LOSES A TRUE HERO

 The word hero is much over-used these days. It is used to describe people who are just survivors, kids that can call emergency services or sports stars. None of which actually do anything even slightly heroic so the word loses its true meaning.

Tony Gaze War hero Fighter ace DFC and 2 bars

  Tony Gaze, however, was a hero in the literal sense of the word. Not because he reached the premier series in motorsport, Grand Prix racing or raced at Le Mans. Not even because he was instrumental in the birth of the utterly wonderful Goodwood Motor Circuit, although millions are indebted to him for that alone. But because as a young man studying at Cambridge, he volunteered for the RAF as war erupted in Europe and rose through the ranks to the level of Squadron Leader and with fourteen confirmed enemy aircraft to his credit and was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) on three occasions. One of just 48 Allied airmen who achieved that honour.

  During the war Tony mainly flew the iconic Spitfire but eventually became the first Australian pilot to fly a jet powered fighter, the Gloster Meteor. This was just one of many “firsts” he achieved. Amongst them being the first Australian pilot to destroy an enemy jet fighter (Messerschmitt 262) and jet powered bomber (Arado Ar234). He was also the first Allied pilot to land in a liberated part of Europe after the D-Day landings, putting down at St Croix-Sur-Mer, France on June 10, 1944.

  Despite his racing success after the war his most lasting achievement was probably to convince Freddie March, at the time the Duke of Richmond and head of the Royal Automobile Club (R.A.C.) that the perimeter track of his old wartime airfield (RAF-Westhampnett, which was on some of Freddie’s land) would make a good replacement for the destroyed Brooklands circuit. He and his fellow pilots had spent many hours blasting around it while not defending Britain from the Luftwaffe. Although Goodwood never hosted a World Championship Grand Prix it became one of the fastest and most beloved circuits in the UK, if not the world. All the greats raced there from Fangio and Farina in the early days via Moss to Hill and Clark before it closed for racing in 1965. Now that the circuit has been reopened and holds the stunning annual Goodwood Revival historic race meeting, Tony’s involvement in it’s creation has been honoured by the press centre being named the “Tony gaze Building:.

 

  Although his top line racing career was brief, he entered just four World Championship Grand Prixs in his privately run HWM-Alta during 1952, he was yet again the first Australian to start a World Championship race. His four Grand Prixs yielded a solitary finish, 15th in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, two retirements at Silverstone and the Nurburgring and a non-qualification at Monza.

Tony Gaze in his Ferrari 500

  In late 1953 Tony returned to Australia and would compete in local open wheel races here and in New Zealand taking third place in the 1954 New Zealand Grand Prix in his HWM and repeating the result the following year in his ex-Ascari Ferrari 500. His final New Zealand campaign before retirement saw him finish second to Stirling Moss in the New Zealand Grand Prix before rounding out the series with second at Wigram, a win at Dunedin and another second at Ryal Bush. He would then turn his attention back to the skies and went on to represent Australia at the World Gliding Championship in 1960.

  I had met Tony on several occasions over the last decade and although I wouldn’t claim to know him well (apart from close family and friends who really “knows” anyone?), I always found him to be a modest and dignified man, generous with his time and able to tell some marvelous tales of post war racing and other adventures with remarkable clarity and wit. I had plans at one point to talk to him about writing his storey but was beaten to the punch by Stewart Wilson with his excellent biography “Almost Unknown”, which is well worth a read.

Tony at the launch of the Lex Davison biography  Squadron Leader Frederick Anthony Owen “Tony Gaze” OAM DFC and 2 Bars, was a true gentleman who was very easy, not just to like, but admire and respect and although he was relatively unknown in his home country, that nation, Australia, is a poorer place with his passing. A hero in every sense of the word.

 

  For a more detailed look at his remarkable life, either pick up his biography – Almost Unknown - or check out http://www.tonygaze.com/

 Sam Snape

THE KILTED LOON RETURNS

The kilted loon returns

  I’m baaaacccckkkk…….Yes folks, the kilted loon returns after a very annoyingly enforced absence.

Gee thanks to the prick who thought it was clever to hack the website of a very small business for no better reason than to show just how smart he is. Wow, we are all so impressed. Twat!

 

  Real thanks to those who were patient enough to hang on until I was back up and running and I see that some of you are already hitting the database to download the results and records in there. Welcome back.

I will be resuming work on 1997 shortly but as you can imagine there is still a bit of fixing up to do.

 

  Absolute mega thanks to Steve Lloyd at Showpage – god alone knows how many hours he has laboured to rebuild the site on a new platform and salvage as much as he has from the wreckage of the old site.

It will be many, many months before the photo galleries are back in total. There are a few that survived and they are now back correctly. Some of the eagle eyed of you will have noticed that on then first attempt they went in sort of back to front with the high res images being where the thumbnails should have been. Was a unique web experience having the photos get smaller every time you clicked on one…….

 

  Just imagine how pissed off I was when the site crashed just before the Australian GP. And how even more pissed I was when I had the tip that Mark Webber was off to Porsche with Red Bull backing back before the Chinese GP and couldn’t let you know. I know, I know, you all think I’m full of it but just once every now and then I do get ahead of the news. Anyhow the year rolls on, as does the Red Rag juggernaut, as does the whinging about tyres – IT IS NOT PIRELLI’S FAULT.

 

  Pirelli wanted to alter the compounds and construction before the Canadian GP but several teams, including the usual red one, wouldn’t OK it, nor would the FIA let them unless it was a safety issue. Well it bloody well was, wasn’t it Jean? But more about that in the weeks ahead as well as any other weird twaddle or hot tips I may get.

 

  For the years results so far go to; http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php/database/cat_view/1-formula-1-races/13-2010-2019/90-2013-formula-1

 

 Sam Snape

 13/07/2013

 

APROPOS OF NOTHING

Except a line in the last article about torrents of crap being unleashed upon one’s head. This is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald. Read on with horror and mirth..

 

   A water-bombing helicopter has mistakenly sprayed partially treated sewage onto firefighters battling a blaze on the NSW mid-north coast.The Rural Fire Service has launched an investigation into last Tuesday's incident but says all firefighters involved have undergone medical checks and none have shown any ill effects.

  The mistaken drop took place in the Kew area, near Port Macquarie, where firefighters and four aircraft were battling a blaze.The Australian Workers Union urged an investigation after RFS volunteers and state forest crews were affected.

  An RFS spokesman said on Monday that a helicopter mistakenly drew up secondary treatment water from a sewage treatment plant.It was then dropped near 12 firefighters, while another seven firefighters were in the general area."Following this, all 29 firefighters on the fireground and their equipment were immediately withdrawn and decontaminated by Fire and Rescue NSW," the spokesman said.

  They were also checked by paramedics at the scene and as a precaution each firefighter was given a further medical check the following day, he said."At this time, no firefighters have complained of any ill-effects."The spokesman said the firefighters would continue to be monitored by the RFS.

  The fire was brought under control after burning more than thirty hectares

F1-MOMENTUM AND MISSING THE FULCRUM

  In formula one, as in all competitive sports and much of life, momentum is everything. When you have it, you catch all the breaks and everything seems to going for you. But if you slip or stumble just once, even when it’s not your fault, that can be the tipping point, the fulcrum, which unleashes torrents of crap upon your head. From the rose garden to the dung heap in a split second. Sometimes it might even seem that initially you may have gotten away with your slip, even to others, but as time draws on, it becomes evident what was the precise moment the excrement began to pour and your momentum waned. Sometimes it’s blindingly obvious, say Niki Lauda, the Nurburgring 1976. Sometimes it’s more subtle. Brabham and Williams switching from Michelin to Goodyear rubber between the Spanish and French Grand Prixs in 1981 or Alonso passing Schumacher on the outside of 130R at Suzuka in 2005. Sometimes it should have been obvious, but it just took a while to become so.

 {mosimage}

 

  Lets have a quick study of these first three scenarios. In 1976 Niki Lauda, the reigning champion had all the early momentum. Nine races, five wins, two seconds and a third. Then came that fiery crash at the Nurburgring and despite his miraculous recovery, the momentum was gone. Gone to James Hunt who ended the season with four wins from the final seven races while the gruesomely injured Lauda could only manage a meagre seven points. Don’t get me wrong here, they were seven extraordinarily bravely earned points, especially the fourth on return at Monza, but just seven points never the less. Arguments will probably rage as long as the sport exists whether it was braver to race on in the appalling conditions in Japan that year or it was braver to risk being branded cowardly for pulling out of the race. Me, I think it took more guts to pull out, especially so in Lauda’s case as he was still the championship leader at the time he made the decision. Hunt continued on and finished third, enough to take the title by a single point. Momentum.

   In 1981, despite a brief period of dominance for the Brabhams at Argentina and Imola while everyone else was catching up on their wheeze of having a hydraulically adjustable ride-height system which gave them full ground effects while everyone else was racing at the required height (more on this, and other dubious Brabham methods, some other day), the early season momentum was all with Carlos Reutemann in the Williams. He easily won the season opening South African Grand Prix, although that was later ruled not to count for the championship (again, more on this and other FISA/FOCA brawling on another day), finished second at Long Beach, won in Brazil, came second and third behind the dubious Brabhams in Argentina and Imola and won again in Belgium. When Williams switched back onto the returning Goodyear tyres prior to the French Grand Prix Carlos had 37 points. Piquet in the Brabham in contrast had just 22 points and 18 of them came in those two wins in Argentina and San Marino. From the French Grand Prix onwards Nelson would score 28 points to Carlos’s 12. It wasn’t that the Williams was suddenly a lot slower, Carlos took a superb pole for the final race at Las Vegas after all, he just didn’t enjoy the feel of the Goodyears as much as he had the Michelins and the momentum was gone. So was his championship, again by just one point. Unless South Africa had counted that is.

   OK 2005 was the year that Michelin whipped the floor with Bridgestone and Ferrari one just one race, the farce at Indianapolis. But previously no-one would have even considered passing Herr Schumacher on the outside of a corner, even in a superior car. You just didn’t do it. It was a one way path to instant retirement. Even on a fairly safe corner you didn’t do it. But around the outside of the fearsome 130R at Suzuka? What sort of lunatic would have that much of a death wish? King Fernando, that’s who. After being delayed early in the race due to an unfortunate, and incorrect, stewards decision that forced King Fernando to give a place back to Christian Klien twice the reigning champion and his heir apparent got embroiled in a fierce battle for fifth place. For lap after lap the German used every trick in his armoury to keep the Spaniard behind but on lap twenty the Renault pulled out of the Ferrari’s slipstream on the entrance to 130R. To the right. The outside. And he stayed there, sweeping by to the astonishment of all those that watched. Had they touched the consequences would have been horrific, but they didn’t. In hindsight, that is the moment that Michael Schumacher’s career lost it’s momentum.

   Ironically enough, the momentum swing this year also involves King Fernando. At the time it just seemed like a blip as all his rivals were still struggling with consistency and taking vital points away from each other, but now, Stuka Grosjean’s aerial assault at Spa was where Fernando lost his mojo. Until then, even in the third best car, King Fernando could do no wrong. He maximised every weekend, and in a topsy-turvy season had been the first guy to score two wins, and then three. But since then he has scored just three third places and retired in Japan as well. Things are just not going his way as they were a couple of months ago. Meanwhile over at Red Rags, the momentum is all with the young master Vettel who in those same five races has won three times and finished second once. The first guy this year to score two wins in a row. And then three. And the championship lead…….

   While this was going on on the track, a similar pattern was playing out off it. Early in the season Michael Schumacher had all the momentum needed to continue with Mercedes. His great qualifying lap at Monaco and his podium finish at Valencia had him on the verge of resigning for at least another year. But by Belgium his dithering was beginning to wear on the Mercedes management and their discussions with The Hoon became ever more serious. It quickly became a situation from which Schumacher would not recover and shortly after the Singapore Grand Prix, where Hamilton’s McLaren had broken down while in the lead, and Schumacher contrived to have an amateurish crash with Jean-Eric Vergne, it was announced that the Hoon would become a Mercedes driver at Michael’s expense from 2013. Another fulcrum had arrived and in just a few days it was announced that Sergio Perez was joining McLaren, Felipe Massa was staying at Ferrari and Raikkonen and Grosjean would be staying at Lotus. After months of speculation all the top seats were sorted within a week. And Schumacher was left standing when the music stopped. So he will retire at the end of the season. Again. His comeback dreams unfulfilled as they were probably always destined to be. After all, his momentum departed at 130R in 2005.

   So with four races the momentum has swung away from King Fernando to Sebastian Vettel. Will it swing again? One more fulcrum? In this season, who knows, there just may be a sting in the tail.

Sam Snape 

21/10/2012