An Australian court has found in favour of Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde in his bid to force the Sauber Formula One team to let him drive for them this season.


 "The application is successful and...will be enforced," Justice Clyde Croft told the Supreme Court of Victoria in handing down his judgement on Wednesday, four days before the first race of the season in Melbourne.


 The court upheld a Swiss arbitration tribunal's decision ordering Sauber to refrain from taking action to deprive van der Garde from racing for them.


 Van der Garde had charged Sauber with reneging on a deal to give him a race seat after they signed Sweden's Marcus Ericsson and Brazilian Felipe Nasr.




Nico bolted on some softs and then..........  Plus ca change, plus cést la meme chose. For them wot didn’t excel in their Franglaise lessons at school it is roughly translated to, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Fortunately my School Certificate report stated that I passed advanced French fairly easily which turned out to be a complete waste of time and effort. Even when I went to France. Especially in France. If you tried to speak their language and weren’t note perfect they refused to understand you. This is why most tourists think the French are an arrogant bunch. The reality is that I really only needed to know three words in French to get along with them famously. So here’s a tip. You only need to be able to pronounce “Parlez vous Australien?” If you make the error of asking Parlez vous Anglais they will think you are either English or American. And they hate both. English because they have been at war with them for 95% of the last 2000 years and the last 100 years have been just an alliance of convenience. The Americans because they came and saved their bacon twice in that same 100 years but wouldn’t let the French forget it. Australians on the other hand also helped save their bacon but did it quietly and with a certain amount of respect. And quietly got slaughtered at places like Amiens and Fromelles. Turns out they love us. I discovered this about two weeks into my travels their in 2000. I arrived at the nice little town of Faverge down near Mt Blanc and wandered into the local tourist info joint, and sick of being ignored simply asked Parlez vous Australien? When one of the girls behind the counter questioned me I responded – “Well like English but not.” This received a tentative oui in reply. To which I said “That’s good because my French sucks.” Great peels of laughter followed from all those “arrogant” Frenchies and we then got on very nicely. Have done ever since. Lovely bunch when they don’t think you are English or American. They like Australians almost as much as the Belgians. If you are ever in the regions (and you are Australian – or Canadian even) make sure you pop in to Ypres at about 8PM. The nightly memorial service at the Menin Gate can bring you to tears even if your ancestors name isn’t inscribed in the sandstone. Fortunately my Grandfather survived Passchendaele so his name wasn’t. But I digress….rather dramatically.

   Plus ca change, plus cést la meme chose. After Jerez had some folk thinking that things might not be quite as one-sided this coming season, the two tests at Catalunya gave them a reality smack between the eyes like a rotting Halibut. Mercedes, who had been, just like last year, concentrating on their long runs on harder tyres, finally bolted on some softs and showed the rest just how far they still are ahead. On the second day of the final test Nico bunged on said softs and was a whacking 1.2 seconds faster that Bottas in the Williams which had been looking good up to that point. Ferrari, who looked so good at Jerez (remember what I said about Jerez) have improved but are third quickest at best. The final result of the test pretty much gave a good idea of the pecking order at the pointy end for when the first practice session of the years begins at Albert Park on Friday. Mercedes 1-2. Williams 3-4. Then things could get a bit muddled. Ferrari finished 5-6 but Red Bull were still running detuned Renault engines and just like last year, they could still end up being best of the rest.

   Meanwhile King Fernando gave his noggin a fair whack when he stuffed the McLaren into the turn three wall, in quite a similar fashion to a certain Lotus driver last year, and was carted off to hospital with concussion. The quacks have ruled in their wisdom that another such whack may not be great for Fernando’s health and have insisted that he sit out the Australian race so Kevin Magnussen will get at least one race start this year. That King Fernando thought he was a thirteen year old karting prodigy when he woke up may have had something to do with this decision. And for all those conspiracy theorists out there he wasn’t zapped by the CIA or aliens. He just fucked up. Happens to us all occasionally.

   There are still plenty of questions to be answered in Melbourne. Will Red Bull get back on the pace? Is Sauber as quick as they have been appearing or have they been running a tad light? Have Lotus made the progress that their times suggest and will McLaren get enough track time and possibly make it to the end of the race? Will Toro Rosso and Force India inject themselves into the mid-field battle or will they be propping up the grid? Will Manor-Marussia make it and if so will they qualify. I for one hope so. Who will get that second drive at Manor? With their connections to Ferrari and McLaren as major suppliers, it could be one of their reserve drivers. Perhaps the reason that they have delayed the decision so long is that the before mentioned Magnussen will be driving a McLaren this weekend. Or not. Possibly one of Ferrari’s brood? After all Jules Bianchi had been placed there. So perhaps Esteban Gutierrez or Raffaele Marciello? Or was there some link to the fact that Jean-Eric Vergne was displaying a Ferrari through the Adelaide 500 touring car race? Or will Ferrari help out engine purchaser Sauber and arrange for Van der Garde to get the drive so he ditches his court case demanding a Sauber drive this year. That case is due to be heard in the Victorian Supreme Court tomorrow and depending on the outcome may decide who will line up in the Saubers on the weekend. Or at Manor-Marussia. Or not. May just be someone else with a brief-case full of cash. It may be a race or two before we know their definitive line-up. We have to have something to ponder over after all….

 For full testing results go to;

 Sam Snape






Raikkonen was fastest at Jerez - or was he?  All sound and fury, signifying nothing. That is about all that can be said about the four days at Jerez. For the record Ferrari was fastest, McLaren was slowest, and Force India didn’t even bother showing up. Despite some websites and publications using plenty of ink (or bytes) telling you what we’ve learnt or making grand predictions based on the relative performances last week let me give you the one tip you really can rely on. They’re talking bollocks.

  Much like last year, and many years prior to that, the times generated at the first test mean bugger all when it comes to how the grid forms up in Melbourne. Much like last year, Ferrari was fast. Much like last year Renault was unreliable. Much like last year Mercedes was not (particularly fast nor unreliable). Last year, come Melbourne, Ferrari was slow, Renault was reliable (at least in Ricciardo’s Red Bull) and Mercedes vanished rapidly into the distance. Such was the performance differential some suggested that Mercedes completed half the Malaysian Grand Prix before the rest of the field finished at Albert Park.


  Does anyone really think that Ferrari have found so much speed that they are now the team to beat? Or that Sauber have the second best car for the coming year? Or that Mercedes have produced a slower car than last year? Or that McLaren Honda are really that far off the pace? In reality all that the Jerez test is about is making sure that your car has all its bits connected to all the other bits they need to be connected to ensure you don’t have the embarrassing sight of injectors firing fuel out of the air-box or the big wheels at the front. 

  And let’s be honest about it,  embarrassing blunders do occur. How many laps did Renault powered teams do last year? Remember McLaren producing a car that Nigel Mansell couldn’t squeeze his fat arse into? History is littered with great ideas that come a cropper as soon as the wheels turn. Or don’t as the case may be. The wingless wonders of the ground effect era (the Lotus 80 and Brabham BT47) that rapidly sprouted wings (and in Brabham’s case became the bog standard BT48), March’s 721 with its polar moment of inertia. The BRM P15. The McLaren MP4/18. The Arrows (Footwork) FA12 Porsche... Eek. But this is what testing is for. Some dung heaps stay dung heaps but some come out the other side as roses. OK it’s not F1 but how about the Porsche 917 as an example? Terrifyingly unstable upon release in 1969. Dominated sports car racing in 1970 and 71 to the extent that the sport’s governing body changed the rules to outlaw them. Or the Lotus 77 that struggled to qualify at the beginning of 1976 but won the final round at Fuji.

  There were though, some things we did learn. Not many and few will have any relevance once the season starts. Renault need to redesign a shaft in the ERS water pump. Badly. Again the Mercedes engines are putting in an ominous amount of laps without any serious problems. And discounting the fastest overall lap times, which can be run with sod all fuel and ballast mysteriously disappearing, it was perhaps significant to note that the fastest three cars through the speed trap on the back straight (Williams, Mercedes and Lotus) were all Mercedes powered. The best Renault and Ferrari powered cars (Toro Rosso and Sauber) were over 4 kph down on the Williams. That could, however, be accounted for by the amount of rear wing/downforce/drag that the slower cars were running which may have also contributed to their better overall lap times as Jerez is about as fast and flowing as the Hungaroring.

   Which is why Force India didn’t even bother showing up. With a desire to give themselves more time to develop and build the car they never intended to have their 2015 challenger ready for Jerez and simply trolling around a circuit that has few similarities with the bulk of the tracks in race usage in last year’s car was seen to be of little, if any, value. When the first of two tests at Barcelona begins late next week we should be able to begin to have the first glimmers of an inkling about understanding the possible potential performance of this year’s contenders. Do I have any real knowledge  yet? To quote Douglas Adams “the thought hadn’t even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind.”

 For full times & results ;

 Sam Snape 10/02/2015




Jolyon Palmer announced as Lotus F1 Team Third Driver

Palmer gets Friday practice gigFollowing from my last article some good news for Jolyon Palmer. The below is a press release from Lotus.



Reigning GP2 Series Champion Jolyon Palmer today joined Lotus F1 Team as Third Driver for the 2015

Jolyon will attend all Grands Prix and Formula 1 tests throughout 2015 for Lotus F1 Team, including driving in a significant number of Free Practice 1 sessions, as well as contributing to the car’s testing and development during the season. Jolyon will also fulfil the role of Reserve Driver.  

Jolyon is the first British driver to win the GP2 Series since two-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. He won the 2014 GP2 title in record-breaking fashion, with the greatest amount of points scored in a season (276) and the most consecutive points finishes (19). Lotus F1 Team’s two race drivers, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, are both also former GP2 Champions.
Gerard Lopez, Chairman and Team Principal, Lotus F1 Team:
“Jolyon is a fantastic talent and a very credible driver to fulfil the role of Third Driver at Lotus F1 Team. Romain and Pastor are both GP2 Series Champions, so we know what a fantastic proving ground GP2 provides. For Jolyon to have enjoyed such a successful season as he took his title last year shows his superb potential for the future. We are looking forward to seeing him in team colours and behind the wheel of our 2015 car, the E23 Hybrid, which represents an exciting new era for Lotus F1 Team.”
Jolyon Palmer:
“I'm delighted to be moving into F1 with Lotus F1 Team this year as Third Driver and I'm very grateful for the opportunity they have given me. My goal has been to become a race driver in a competitive F1 team for 2016 and Lotus F1 Team is a great opportunity for me, particularly with Mercedes engines now. To be able to learn with a major F1 team by working closely with them in every area and getting a lot of mileage in the car is the best way possible, as Valtteri Bottas proved. I am delighted to be joining Lotus F1 Team at such an exciting time and my objective is to earn a long term future with them.”


Courtesy of Lotus

When the music stops


  When the music stops and the fortunate few have taken their seats there are always those unfortunates who are left standing with no-where to go. Their dream of a career in the global lime-light has evaporated and most turn their sights to careers in other classes that they once saw as beneath their self deluded God-given right. Some are truly unfortunate and have had a promising career cut short or hopefully at best, just interupted while others have had their time to prove themselves and are either past their sell-by date or only proved that they were never really going to make it. For others, it must be said, that their very presence was over-optimistic at best. At least they all lived the dream for a while. There are those that, despite all the promise, talent and success never get to start a Grand Prix, mostly for reasons other than promise, talent and success. They all feel hard done by and aggrieved that those with obviously less talent have a seat and one or two are actually correct in that belief.

  One that falls into the latter category is Jolyon Palmer. The son of Jonathon Palmer, one of those who had a lengthy but unfullfilled career in Grand Prix racing, Jolyon has moved through the junior categories winning in every series and thoroughly dominated the GP2 series in 2014. He achieved it all just through shear bloody talent (and a lot of hard yakka obviously) without any huge financial backing or the support of manufacturer (I include Red Bull there) junior programmes. He arrives with all this success at just the time when the smaller teams that he would have probably gotten a break in have fallen by the way-side due to the stupidity, self interest and greed of those who "own" the sport. If he is REALLY lucky he might pick up a test role with one of the remaining smaller teams but short of dropping off the F1 bosses radar and racing in sportscars or the US, there is not much on the horizon for the poor bloke.

   Bernie may not feel that the "minnows" add much to the spectacle but they have always been the nursery, the finishing school, for some very good drivers and one or two of the greats. Would we have seen King Fernando without Minardi? Niki Lauda without March? Nelson Piquet without Ensign? Alan Jones without Hesketh, Hill, Surtees and Shadow? Rosberg (Keke) without ATS, Theodore and Fittipaldi? Senna without Toleman? And they are just the champions.

   The list of winners that began their careers at Minardi for example, an almost perenial back-marker team, is impressive. Michele Alboreto (in F2), Alessandro Nannini, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber. When you add to that list others that have had a glittering career in and away from F1 such as Anthony Davidson and Marc Gene (who just won the World Endurance Championship for Toyota), Christian Fittipaldi, Ukyo Katayama, Pierluigi Martini, Gianni Morbidelli, Roberto Moreno, Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson you can begin to see just how important this little team from Faenza was. Then of course it morphed into Toro Rosso and has produced both Sebastien Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in recent times but they can no longer be described as a minnow.

   It may well turn out that Jolyon is no better than his dad and would not turn out to be the champion in the making that he currently appears, but without a small team to take a punt on him we may never see if he is another of the greats. Not only will that be a loss for Jolyon, it will be a loss for the fans and the sport as a whole. He certainly deserves to feel a little aggrieved as one of the drivers that he gave a drubbing to this year in GP2 has just been signed to drive with Sauber after placing third in the championship. But then Felipe Nasr comes with a lot of Brazilian cash. And talent, and perhaps Felipe will prove himself and that he deserves to be there. But on current proven form, Jolyon deserves to be there more.

   Another that deserves to be there somewhere is Kevin Magnussen who in better times could have been farmed out to one of the minnows by McLaren. After a fairly impressive rookie campaign he is entitled to feel a bit hard done by in having to take a step backwards to the test role as McLaren finally decided that King Fernando would be mated with the 2009 champion Jenson Button. To be honest it would have been pretty tough on either of McLaren's incumbents to be ditched as Button's performance in more than doubling Magnussen's score was far better than the car deserved in 2014 and which ever driver got the raw prawn was never going to get another drive in '15 due to the late announcement of the team's decision.  The only silver lining for Kevin is that he has been kept on the pay-roll and is presumably there to step back into the seat when Jenson's time is up. Or if the three car per team rule is activated as per my previous suggestion, I gotta say I was pleased that Ron confirmed my suspicions on that when they finally announced Jenson's deal. However asuming that King Fernando and Button see out at least two seasons as team mates and Kevin does hang arround hoping, where does that leave Stoffel Vandoorne who is also running out of series to progress through as a McLaren junior team driver?

   Whether you think they are deserved or not you can mostly see the logic in most of the team's line-up choises;

 Mercedes would have been insane to change.

 Red Bull could possibly have the most exciting pairing next year with Kvyat joining Ricciardo and promoting from within. That's what junior teams are for after all.

 Williams would not want any more change after many years of disruption and have gotten themselves back towards the front with a very effective pairing of one young champion in the making (Bottas) backed up by a very capable experienced almost world champion (Massa).

 McLaren have gotten the bargain of the year with Alonso and one of incoming engine partner's favorites in Button to ensure some stability in a year of transittion. Magnussen waits in the wings.

 Force India are very happy with their current pair with a potential great (Hulkenberg) more than abley backed up by Perez who has his occasional superb moments.

 Toro Rosso are also promoting from within with Verstappen and Sainz sharing rookie seasons in the hope of following in Vettel/Ricciardo/Kyvat's footsteps to Red Bull.

 After a shambles of a year Lotus could not have hoped to get better drivers than their existing pair with Grosjean being potentially from the top drawer & Maldonado bringing in a shit-load of petro-dollars while being pretty handy on his day (see Spain 2013) himself.

Saubers recent "ishoos" mean that they need cash as much as talent so their pairing of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson is probably the best compromise they could come up with.

 The one that I wonder about is Ferrari. In the midst of sacking an awful lot of their senior management and technical staff they have chosen the two drivers that seem to have struggled the most with the latest generation of Grand Prix cars. Vettel simply never got to terms with the lack of rear grip that these turbo cars have (and no blown difusers) and was blown away by Ricciardo while Kimi did no better against a King Fernando who himself was slowly losing his passion for anything red as the year progressed. Sure they are both world champions and given the right car can easilly be again. But neither of them showed any progress from seasons start to end and they are in a team where the design staff are in a huge rebuilding phase and will, in all probability, not supply that all conquering car. In terms of development they don't even like the same things in a car. Vettel likes the rear end to be planted and is less concerned by the front end due to his corner entry style while Kimi can't (and this year didn't) cope with a car with no front end feel. His butt and sensative right foot can sort out the rear end so long as the front is planted. They'll both be pulling in different directions with an unsure design team and so I forsee a very lean year for the fans of the prancing horse.

 Mind you I have also been known to be wrong. Really! It's true……….I remember once back in 1976 when…..


Sam Snape