A quick catch up on the news

The Italian GP was an interesting race although it was dominated by Sebastian Vettel. There was a great deal of talk afterwards about the first lap accident and the behaviour of Michael Schumacher when he was under pressure from the two McLarens. To my mind the first lap accident was a racing one. Tonio Liuzzi made a good start and was trying to make up places. Heikki Kovalainen was defending his position. In the end Liuzzi put a wheel on the grass and after that was a passenger. Some people blamed Liuzzi. He blamed Kovalainen. I blame none of them. This is what racing drivers do. And I do not think it is right to punish a driver for trying to make up places. It is arguable that they should be punished if they do that incompetently but I do not think there was an question of competence in this case. The stewarding has got a great deal better in recent years with the driver steward joining the panel, and I am not a believer in having just one set of stewards at every race. I think the best idea is to have four “chief” stewards are they currently do, so that there is some consistency. I think it is vital, however, for these four to discuss and explain all decisions to one another and also to the public. I would like to know the rationale behind the penalties in Spa: why Pastor Maldonado was let off lightly and Lewis Hamilton reprimanded, and to hear why Liuzzi was given a five place penalty, but Michael Schumacher not questioned about some rather dubious moves at Monza. On the whole, however, I think things are better than they have been in the past, so things are moving in the right direction.

The other stories of Monza which merit a mention include the re-signing of Jarno Trulli at Team Lotus. Jarno had a contract, but I am not sure that we will see him there for much longer unless he puts in more good performances. He is a very up and down performer and the team might benefit from a more consistent driver.

There have been reports since then that Team Lotus is going to move from Norfolk. That would not be a surprise as the team is in the wrong place when it comes to trying to hire important people. It may sound odd, but any F1 team which is based outside Motorsport Valley has a much harder job getting people because of the need to relocate families, buy houses and so on. When success is built on the quality of the people, thing becomes important. Hence the development of clusters in many industries. I think we will see Team Lotus (or Team Caterham Air Asia as I am sure it will become) on the move soon and the logical place to go would be Leafield, where the old Arrows/Super Aguri base is sitting unused.

In the longer term that facility is probably not big enough and I would foresee a move to a new purpose-built place at Silverstone. It has not been publicised but Marussia Virgin Racing is doing exactly the same thing at the moment, with everyone being put in the same place in the old Ascari Cars factory in Banbury. The marketing team has already arrived from London and the race team will move to Banbury at the end of the season, as Yorkshire is simply too far away. I think that will still stay open, for other things, such as the GP3 team, just as I think Lotus will keep a base in Norfolk, probably for manufacturing. I hear that Virgin will stay in Banbury for three or four years and will then build a flash factory on the new Silverstone development (probably just down the road from Force India’s HQ).

The HRT remains rather mysterious at the moment and there are lots of rumours flying about. There is no sign of any activity in the UK so the plan to have design centre there does not look like happening. It is interesting that German-based designer Jorg Zander was spotted with the HRT team in Monza. He has worked in a string of different F1 teams, notably Toyota, BAR, Williams, BMW Sauber and Honda/Brawn. In recent times he has been with Audi in Ingolstadt, which is conveniently close to Greding, where HRT is based. There is lots of talk around HRT at the moment as the Thesan Capital company tries to figure out what it is doing with the investment it has made. The problem that it has is that while it owns the entry, it does not own much of the equipment or have contracts with the people so that in order to build a car for next year it needs to keep sweet with Colin Kolles. The aim of Thesan is to make money so it will not care too much about performance if a buyer comes along with the right profit margin for the bankers. Thus their decision-making is likely to be logical in business terms of highly illogical in relation to racing. The latest rumours suggest that the well-connected Alejandro Agag, who runs the Addax GP2 team may be offering to buy some of the shares from Thesan, in league with some of his GP2 sponsors. Agag has F1 ambitions and he is smart. His team current runs Charles Pic and Guido Van der Garde in GP2 and a trio of youngsters in GP3. In the past it has won the team championship twice but has yet to win the Drivers’ title outright, however it has helped the likes of Vitaly Petrov, Lucas di Grassi, Romain Grosjean, Giorgio Pantano and Sergio Perez on their way up. At the moment it employs Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, both competitive and both well-funded. And both with ambitions to be in F1. The team is funded by Barwa, the largest listed real estate company in Qatar. It has further support from Pepe Jeans, which was originally an English company but has been owned in recent years by Spanish investor Juan Abelló,the boss of the Torreal company, which has investments in various sectors, notbaly banking, construction, car components, new technology and vineyards. It also owns the clothing firm Hackett and has shares in Imagina, which through a company called Mediapro, owns the TV rights to major Spanish soccer teams such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona and a share of La Sexta, which broadcasts F1 in Spain. Pic comes from a very wealthy fanily which transports most of Total’s fuels in France with its 6,000 trucks, while Van der Garde is married to the daughter of Marcel Boerkhorn, a billionaire Dutch investor, who owns McGregor, which is a Williams sponsor.

The latest rumours suggest that Agag, Abelló and Thesan would all become shareholders in the team, Thesan thus reducing its risk and that the plan would be to relocate the team to Agag’s headquarters in Valencia. The team might like to get a Renault engine but the French engine company has more than its share of deals at the moment with Red Bull Racing, Lotus Renault GP, Williams and Team Lotus. Whether this is true and what actually happens remains to be seen.

In the meantime there are plans being discussed for a new pitlane at Interlagos, which would be on the downhill straight after the Curva del Sol. This would mean some reprofiling of the track at the bottom of the hill, but would bring Interlagos up to suitable standards. The only question is who, if anyone, will pay for this to happen.

76 thoughts on “A quick catch up on the news

  1. Dear Joe,

    I usually read your articles with genuine interest as I can find some revelations on your blog only. But I can’t dismiss the fact that you always, ALWAYS have a go against Michael Schumacher whenever there is just a slight reason or no reason) for that.

    I’ve been to Monza and I’ve seen his driving totally the opposite way. I think Schumacher was defending his position fairly all the way through. Hamilton was looking for every chance to pass the Mercedes, and the fact he didn’t succeed was down to Schuey’s masterful driving, his knowledge of every inch of a race track on which he’s won 5 times. In my view Lewis’ off-track moment at Curva Grande was a pure racing accident; not Liuzzi stupidly putting two wheels on the grass after the start, exploding his HRT to the cars sneaking in the first corner.

    You might say that Schumacher had his fair share of questionable racing manoeuvres during past years and he caused avoidable accidents. That is right, no question. I’ve never been a Schumacher fan, in fact, quite the opposite. But it’s getting to be offensive for us, neutral readers that you always seem to find a way to punch the German whatever he’s doing. In Monza, there was no reason to do that – it was pure racing, one driver attacking and the other defending brilliantly. Michael’s and Lewis’s battle was the Highlight of the race which, in my view, should be applauded, not condemned.

    As for the Hamilton / Maldonado clash in Spa, again, I see it exactly the opposite way. Niki Lauda, a 3-time world champion is a quite good source for me, and when he’s saying that it was Hamilton who first steered towards the Williams after Q2 (and seeing all those replays on TV) I can’t help but agree. Niki said it was both drivers fault with Hamilton taking at least 50% in causing a collision. And what happened?

    The stewards (including Nigel Mansell) penalised only Maldonado by sending him back 5 places on the starting grid (“Pastor Maldonado was let off lightly” – in your words), whereas Hamilton, who had previously been to the stewards more than all the other drivers in total, gets only a reprimand. This, in the light of what he did in Monaco and Canada (with his own team-mate) is unacceptable for me. This is no penalty for a recidivist.

    Yours sincerely,

    István Simon
    Budapest, Hungary

    1. Istvan,

      I was not having a go at Schumacher. I was merely pointing out that his moves were questionable. FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting advised Mercedes that Schumacher was moving around too much in his defence of third place. I suppose that reporting that makes me biased… I guess you think Martin Brundle is biased as well (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/formula_one/14883755.stm). I see incidents the way I see them and that’s fine if you do not agree. You can believe whatever you like. As to whether Liuzzi was stupid at the start, I would call that bias on your part. Heikki Kovalainen was clearly involved in the process as well, but you have chosen to ignore that.

  2. It is the seeming gross inconsistency in the stewards decisions that need explaining. Every time that our Noige is the driver steward Lewis gets a penalty or a warning. (I may be wrong there but it certainly seems that way)

    I agree that the stewards should publish their reasons for penalties and/or warnings issued. Then perhaps we could understand some of their reasoning; at the moment it is as clear as the concorde agreement, ie very much hidden and subject to speculation.

    I find it odd that the driver stewards are now enforcing the current nanny rules re defending a position, when they themselves were obliged to defend in the most aggressive manner, indeed many of the best ever GPs involved titanic wheel to wheel action with the defender moving continually to block.

    If only Lewis’s car had not been short geared, things may have been very different. (as soon as DRS opened he hit the limiter) Next year the ratios are fixed for the season, once the teams have chosen them, that’s gonna make them think hard!

  3. Joe,

    I was thinking about it for a while, and I must say yes, most british F1 journalists are a little bit biased towards Britihs drivers. As yourself, Martin Brundle, DC, Eddie Jordan, etc. are making a living by covering F1 races and – preferably – British drivers success, I can understand it to a degree. That’s one of the reasons I read as many German and Swiss and Italian views and reports as I can, to put the bias right.

    But the fact that we don’t agree on particular things won’t change my habit, so I’ll come back to your blog from time to time. And if my thoughts made you think just a little bit, it was already worth it.

    István Simon

    1. Istvan,

      You are wrong about the bias. I am not writing for a British audience. I don’t care. My audience is international and I am not interested in nationalistic issues. I live in France and am accredited by the Japanese. So you will have to come up with another conspiracy theory. If you read the German and Swiss press you will no doubt have a view skewed the wrong way because Michael Schumacher is their meal ticket…

  4. I found the Hamilton/Schumi battle exciting as i’m sure both drivers did. I guess the frustration for Hamilton is simply that he’s been punished for exactly the same thing in the past and the rulings are inconsistent.

    More than 1 move for Hamilton defending against Alonso was instant punishment no polite warnings from race director.

    As for the pushing off the track, in the end it wasn’t that huge an issue but it was still pushing a car off the track at 200mph, Schumi got a big telling off for doing similar to Barichello last year granted the wall was a bit closer on that occasion but still very inconsistent.

    It just sends the wrong message out to the drivers and leaves F1 fans very confused.

    The one thing I do wonder is if MS had not kept the battle up with Hamilton for so long (he said he knew there was no way he was going to finish ahead of the McLarens anyway), therefore not burning up his tyres and allowing him to run more optimal laps, would he have had a chance of catching and passing Alonso to take 4th? Its theoretical and don’t have the lap time data to back it up but just a thought.

    I’m starting to see what you mean about the Schumi fans now Joe.

  5. Personally, i blame Liuzzi for his crash but I wouldn’t have punished him. It was overambitious then he came across the grass, which put him past his braking point and then he ran out of space as well. It was a good try that didn’t work out.

    Schumacher deserved a reprimand as it appeared he didn’t do what he was informed to stop. The need for a second message from Brawn shows that he didn’t act on the information.

  6. Rpaco, you can’t get a reprimand if you don’t hit other cars 😉

    I’m no fan of Lulu (his first season , all the PR bs about ‘the journey’ etc), but have grown to respect him as a racer in the last couple of seasons, I was quite impressed at how he kept cool.

    Interesting to see Button had no problem passing Schumi though…set up related? Or was Lewis taking care after his last few races?

    It was damn exciting to watch though!

  7. Maybe I dreamed it but wasn’t there last season some announcement/decision by the FIA to tell us that the steward’s decisions WOULD be properly explained this season? Doesn’t seem to have happened, anyway.

  8. Same as for Istvan, on a rare occurence I think you and others are being unduly harsh on M.Schumacher.

    Season after season we’re being told there must be more overtaking and racing in F1, and then when there finally is a brilliant drive and hard but fair defending, the latter is classified as being dangerous.

    Whilst you like to use the backup of M.Brundle in your argument, I don’t think his view on Schumacher is very objective as he admits himself in his column.
    I quote “I also know the feeling of being on the receiving end of Schumacher’s late moves, especially when I was his team-mate. He barged me on to the grass big time in Hungary in 1992.
    But this is my view of Sunday. ”

    But then again, opinions can be discussed until the end of time, it won’t matter anyway, so let’s just agree on not agreeing.


  9. “I think it is vital, however, for these four to discuss and explain all decisions to one another and also to the public. I would like to know the rationale behind the penalties”

    Wasn’t it a while a go when the FIA said it will publish the explanation of each penalty given including video evidence to the public through it’s website? did this ever happen?

    Regarding Schumacher, “harsh” as McLaren boss said. Maybe a bit old-school driving, which explains why Button managed to get by straight away and Lewis took some time.

  10. Joe – for as long as I’ve been reading you there have been posts accusing you of being anti-Schumacher. As far as I can tell there are more posts suggesting a bias against Schuey than any other driver you’ve commented on. I’m curious as to your take on why that may be. Is it simply the sheer number of blindly loyal fans coming to his defense at every turn? While I haven’t the slightest idea of how you feel about him, I’ve never gotten the impression he’s one of your favorite drivers. Is the notion of a personal bias (if there is one) sneaking its way into your commentary something you’ve dismissed entirely? Not trying to be leading with my questions, just wondering how you look at all the anti-Schuey criticism.

    1. Steve,

      Michael Schumacher has been in F1 over a 20 year period. I was in F1 for several years before he arrived but I have watched every one of his races. Michael achieved a great deal and for that he must be saluted, but sometimes his achievements were undermined by the way in which he achieved them. I still feel that Damon Hill deserved to be World Champion in 1994 but was deliberately taken out in Adelaide. I know that Schumi fans will argue that bad things were done to Michael that year by the FIA, but they never ask themselves why those things were done. I hoped that Michael would learn from his mistakes but was very disappointed when he reverted to type in Jerez in 1997. But for fate Villeneuve would have lost that championship. He finished with a battery swinging inside his sidepod, held on by just the wires. If the battery had fallen off Michael would have been champion. There was the Monaco parking story, too, which showed that nothing had much changed and all the contractual arrangements he had to make sure he won titles were not very impressive either. He was a man who played with a loaded deck, and was willing to cross the line of what is right and wrong when it suited him to do so. When you boil it all down, these days I look at Schumacher with my eyes wide open and cynical. I see good sides and bad sides in the man, although he never really gives anything away. There is a lot of water under the bridge. As to his return, I truly believe that he is there for the wrong reasons and that he cannot compete as once he did. Rosberg does not provide an easy yardstick.

  11. Regarding post 1, I agree with most of Joe’s views, especially the Ham/Mal indecent in Belgium. The racing line was on the driver’s right hand side of the track, so why was Pastor so far left? Your right, Lewis does turn his car marginally to the right, but in my view he (quite rightly) expected Pastor to take up the racing line. Yes, I am a Lewis fan, but I think he has been at fault for a lot of incidents this year, and in fact the following day in the race, I 100% blame Lewis for the crash with Kobiashi, although I saw it as a mistake, a racing incident that did not need penalising.

    Schumi also did a Stirling job on Sunday. As for the incident at Curva Grande on lap 16 on Sunday, in my view if Lewis wanted to overtake there he should have gone the other way, but that’s just my opinion. Just because Joe or Martin Brundle think differently to me does not mean I think their views are biased, however. This is the beauty of F1 and sport in general, it sparks debate amongst the fans!

    I discovered this blog less that 12 months ago and have been keeping up with it ever since! I enjoy your views Joe and please keep up the good work!

  12. You call it “harsh” or “dubious” driving by Schumacher, I call it easily the most interesting story of the race.

    At least we’re all richer for having it.

  13. Being a hardcore fan of Kovalainen, I completely agree with you Joe on the first lap accident. In my opinion, drivers should never be punished for ambitious moves that go wrong. Moreover, Liuzzi had already punished himself as he had to retire from the race as well. So there was no need to give him a five place grid penalty. And I would also like to hear those arguments, which made stewarts make that decision. As you say, the situation has been improving but I believe there are still too many penalties and too little explanation.

  14. Joe,

    I don’t have any conspiracy theory. Just telling what I think is right, or the way I see things. What do you mean “M Schumacher is their meal ticket”? Do you think they always take Schumacher under their safe wings? Well, some of them do, but there are some objective F1 reporters out there in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc.

    Glad to read that you, Martin Brundle et al are not biased towards British drivers at all. I can see that whatever happens to Lewis Hamilton, he’s always right in your (sorry, their) eyes. Should he have won at Monza? If so, he should first learn a lesson or two from Button on how to overtake cleanly and swiftly. That’s a point I haven’t seen in any British report after the Italian Grand prix.

    But, in the end, I may just manufacture conspiracy theories here…

    1. Istvan,

      I mean that if there was no Michael Schumacher, half the German press corps in F1 would disappear, as happened when he was away. Vettel is still building a following. Schumacher is still the big banana.
      As to Hamilton overtaking, you are overlooking various factors mentioned in other posts. read them and you will see a few possible explanations about why that happened. Usually Hamilton is the great overtaker and Button gets stuck.

  15. I agree about Liuzzi. The first corner accident was unfortunate, but it seemed to me like just one of those things. Race starts are always chaotic, and when a car gets pushed onto the grass, sometimes the driver will lose control.

    With respect to the stewards reaction to Schumi’s tactics, the Martin Brundle column linked above has this tidbit:


    Surprisingly, [the stewards] were not asked to comment on the robust defence by Michael Schumacher from Lewis Hamilton.

    A steward told me after the race that he was very frustrated not to have been consulted during the race, particularly as he takes a very dim view of what he perceived as blocking.

    I asked race director Charlie Whiting if the stewards can call up issues for themselves if they are not happy with something they see, and he said: “Absolutely”.


    Sounds like there was some confusion there.

  16. hi Joe,

    interesting news regarding Lotus/Caterham Air Asia. Do you have any info on what the team’s budget is and how that compares to established teams like Williams and Toro Rosso who they hope to beat next yr?

  17. Joe

    First of all Liuzzi.

    Did he really cause an “avoidable accident”? That is what the penalty is for isn’t it? Well, he lost it while going for overtakes, this is what racing drivers are supposed to do, you say. So do I.

    Of course they should go for overtakes, consider Alonso’s brilliant start, partly on the grass. Sometimes it goes wrong, not in Alonso’s case this time. Petrov and Rosberg were desperately unlucky, wrong place at the wrong time.

    Should the stewards penalise a driver for making a mistake? That appears to be what Liuzzi did, make a mistake, possible helped by Kovalainnen. It’s not the same thing at all as a hopelessly over-optimistic overtaking move or shoving another driver towards the pit wall.


    Tough defense of his position, what else would anyone expect? Hamilton went for a gap at Curva Grande that was always going to disappear when Schumacher claimed the line.


    Certainly but this is a big boys sport, I’m quoting Martin Brundle from many years ago. The difference when Button made it stick on Alonso later in the race at Curva Grande was that he would have known about Ferrari’s problems with warming hard tyres.

    Who has got the racing brain then?

    Irstvan brings up the Spa thing again between Hamilton and Maldonado. If you ask, “Was there an avoidable collision as a result of Hamilton’s move?” The answer is “No”.

    Ask the same question about Maldonado’s move, the answer is, “Yes”.

    When will someone listen to Rpaco? We were promised explanations of stewards’ decisions years ago, the end of 2008 if I remember correctly.

    When is it going to happen? What are they afraid of?

    Can I add that I am far too old to be a Fanboy of Schumacher, Alonso Hamilton or A.N.Other. Just in case anyone was wondering.


    1. Martin,

      I agree with pretty much all of that. However Charlie Whiting is no fool and he thought Michael’s moves were getting a little “out there”. That is what I felt.

  18. MS pitted three corners after letting JB past, having already radioed his team to announce his rears were shot.

  19. thanks for the insider stories again Joe. Always enjoy reading these pieces not covered anywhere else.

    I don’t think Schumacher deserved a penalty looking at the questionable moments as isolated events. Looking at the stewarding standards this season though, he did deserve one. His moves were much more blatantly left to right blocking than for instance what Hamilton did in Malaysia and got penalized for. Did Hamilton get a warning on the radio not to do that again before he got penalized? I don’t think he did. Why did Brawn get warnings from Charlie when Lewis didn’t, or Jenson for that matter in Melbourne when cutting the corner to pass Massa..even when Mclaren were explicitly requesting an answer from Charlie yet there he remained silent?

    I believe Schumi didn’t deserve a penalty for this, but neither did about 80% of the other penalties handed out this year. Stewarding is still too inconsistent, and most of all lacking all transparency about their decision making process.

  20. RE Button getting past straight away. He just had opportunity at the right time, Schumacher came in 3 corners later for new tyres so a: his old ones were shot and b: no point defending a position for sake of 3 corners.

    I’m amazed how many people have missed/forgotten that point.

  21. In my opinion Button was able to pass Schumacher when he caught him because of the state of their tyres. I suspect Michael had wrecked his rear tyres which is why Lewis had such a good run on him in Curva Grande and when Jenson was able to be alongside where he had been moving to block Lewis into Ascari. The fact that Michael came straight into the pits tends to back this up and I suspect Lewis would have found his way past on the next lap if he hadn’t.
    Still another great move by Jenson and giving his teammate a run for his money for the title of best over taker on the grid. He has pulled off some classics this year.

  22. To enter the Schumacher debate(anyone would think you haven’t made any other comments in this article) – it’s a bit sad that his new-found competitiveness coincides with what looked like at times dangerous driving – although I am no racing driver in terms of what is or isn’t proper according to their (written or unwritten) code of conduct.

    However what I will say is that Lewis appears to be ‘cowed’ at the moment.from all the criticism he has had about his driving – and the Lewis of a few months ago would probably have had quite a big crash with Michael on Sunday – as to whose fault that would have been would also be the cause of considerable debate!

    I don’t think you’re biased Joe (although you do seem to have a soft spot for Liuzzi but maybe that’s an underdog thing) – but I am intrigued as to what you think about Michael’s attitude to racing since his return

    1. Michael C,

      It is not an underdog thing. Liuzzi is a great talent that has been wasted by F1. As for Michael, I think he is racing because he does not know what else to do in life and thus his motivation is not really right. In the circumstances he has made Rosberg look better than his career suggested he would be. I think that he’s done a great job given the flawed foundation, but he drives like a desperate man sometimes and that frightens me (and others).

  23. Joe, Schumacher’s driving was on the edge and possibly over but can you deny that
    A: It made for a thrilling spectacle, friends of mine who never usually watch f1 were glued to the tv
    B: I don’t think anyone could have bettered his results in the last two race in that car, that is my honest opinion.

    1. fender,

      The conversation was not about spectacle. It was about safety and sportsmanship. Secondly, It is impossible to say that someone else might have done a better job, or a worse job. That is purely speculative. You have your opinion. I reckon that a Hamilton or an Alonso would have made that car go faster all year, but I have no proof of that either.

    1. Michael C,

      It was not quick, but it was scenic. I went by way of Turin and the Frejus tunnel, which was deserted and beautiful. I also had a most interesting conversation with a music therapist, who was hitchhiking! I never realised there was such a thing!

  24. Josh
    Hamilton gets a penalty or warning if anyone so much as sneezes within five miles of the track! 🙂

    The rules are now far too protective, only one move allowed, you are not even allowed to return to the racing line any more, that is just plain ridiculous.

    Yes Jensen was able to pass both because:
    A) Shumacher was busy fending off Lewis
    B) Shumi missed a gear (most unusual nowadays) and
    C) Jenson had a better setup possibly without the upside down gurney flap that Lewis had and with slightly longer gearing. (Upside down gurney reduces downforce but I cannot see how it reduces drag. It may be an effort to get the flow re-attached after closing the flap)
    D) His tyres were in better shape than both Lewis’s and Schumi’s.

    Ok basically he was asleep on the restart and that determined the rest of his race. He has to stop doing crossword puzzles during the race!

    We need to keep an eye on that Senna chap for the future, he is tons better than I had imagined.

  25. For a country with a booming economy, I find it dissapointing that funding to revamp the facilities at interlagos is unavailable or hard to come by. It’s a popular track in the middle of a booming city that always seems to be near sold out. Plus I’d hope they’d be able to revamp the circuit without mucking up the layout.

    1. Jacques,

      In F1 journalism a reader must always consider the source. Why don’t you ask the website in question who they are and whether they have anyone who attends races or is known to anyone in F1 circles. I have always found that the people who get the best stories are the ones who talk directly to the people involved.

  26. I don’t have a problem with what Schumi was doing as such but I think the way the rules are applied to Hamilton and no one else and the hysteria about his driving is getting unpleasant and bad for F1, starting to leave a nasty taste. Great site Joe thank you

  27. Joe,
    You’re perfectly right, that is why I used the word “rumors”!
    As to the individual in question, I know very well who is he; making a business with several blogs related to F1, which I don’t have a problem with, but never leaving his couch!

  28. Joe,

    The way you describe Schumacher is the very similar to how most would describe Aryton Senna. Yet, Senna is praised for his style of racing, while Schumacher is criticized.

    Schumacher’s biggest mistake seems to be not having died while racing.

  29. Schumacher must have something on the FIA to get away with so much and Schumacher fans need to open their eyes.

    He was changing his line in the braking zone. That is not allowed.
    He frequently made more than one move. That is not allowed.
    Ross Brawn was on the radio more than once telling him to sort out his driving. That tells you either the stewards had a word with Brawn or even Brawn thought his driving was over the top.

    Any other driver who has been guilty of any of that has not been given 20 laps to sort it out. They are penalised immediately.

    It is worth remembering that it is only because of the Schumacher chop that we have a one move rule. Before that no moves were allowed but Michael had to be allowed to chop people.

    Defensive driving is maintaining a line and not allowing an opposing driver to pass due to superior skill. Putting someone on the grass at 200 mph or moving around in a braking zone is blocking and that is not allowed.

    Niki Lauda can say what he likes about the Hamilton-Maldonado incident but it was clearly Maldonado’s fault. Watch the video. They have slowed after the line and are approaching a right hand bend. Maldonado is on the right hand half of the track and moved left so hard that after contacting Hamilton he still ended up with his left side wheels on the grass. The laws of physics say that he had to moving left an awful lot faster than Hamilton was moving right.

  30. Just regarding the Schumacher/Hamilton affair. I have just re-watched the race and I have to say that Schumacher was actually quite fair, even though watching it live I thought he was breaking every rule.

    But watching again, I was shocked at how poor Hamilton was driving. It really is no wonder that Button made short work of Schumacher compared to Lewis.

    Hamilton is in my opinion the fastest driver in F1. I rate him higher than Vettel. But this year he has been awful, and it is a shame to see it.

    My view is that he must get away from McLaren ASAP. Hamilton and McLaren are like chalk and cheese, especially under Whitmarsh. He is trapped there and until he moves to a new team his talent is being wasted.

    Unfortunately for Lewis, there are no teams to move to!!

  31. Istvan, on your point about the British press being biased towards Brits, are you talking about the same British press that intercepts phone messages from fellow citizens of our crazy little isle in order to discredit and exploit them? Believe me, there are plenty in the press corps who would gladly bring down British drivers if it sold a few more papers. Indeed, ever since his championship the populist UK press has been littered with ‘anti-Lewis’ stories. Joe’s views on drivers is incredibly well-balanced by comparison to less-informed journos and he gains nothing from being ‘anti-Schumacher’.

    Schumacher may have had a lot more successes, but he’s also been involved in far more contentious activities than most of his peers. It shouldn’t surprise anybody if they come back to haunt him. If Ross Brawn himself was on the radio – twice – then there was clearly something questionable happening on track. If the team themselves had issues with his driving then it is only natural for observers to ask questions about it too.

    Back to Joe’s article, I just love it when you collate all the juicy stuff you find out in the paddock over a race weekend. I picture a scene like when Lt Frank Drebbin goes to the shoeshiner in Police Squad! “What’s the word on the street Johnny?” “I hear a lot of things…”

    So Team Lotus are moving into the old TWR building? Perhaps they’ll buy the name Arrows!

    As for HRT’s potential new co-owners, at least they’ve shown form in supporting the sport outside of the glitz of Formula One. Hopefully Thesan can be levered out at a decent price or they can be convinced that a racing team is a long-term project. Although it sounds like Liuzzi and Ricciardo had better dust off their CVs before the end of the season to make way for paying drivers, albeit a pair of decent ones.

  32. About Luizzi, I have a question, why in all the tracks they have grass? It is the most slippery surface there is, once a tire is on it, the car becomes a bullet and it is the cause of a lots accidents. As Luizzi said he was just a spectator while the car drove at full speed against Petrov and Rosberg. Gravel is not a great solution either, as when a car goes a little sideways it tends to roll over so a solution is very simple, put a surface that has grip and is abrasive, tarmac comes to mind. I do not understand why with so much safety in mind the tracks or FIA do not do this simple change or drivers demand it.
    Regarding MS “un-racy behavior” somebody has to talk to him and explain that when he was in retirement, F1 has now become very polite, you can only defend your position in a civilized manner, if the other pilot wants to pass, let him, you will have your chance in the next lap as the other did. That is why we have DRS in designated safe areas so everybody can pass, even if the driver behind doesn’t deserve it. Also, in this new PC F1 we have tires that artificially degrade, KERS, no re-fuelling (the horror!!!) and coming soon, electric motors for pits only. WOW, can hardly wait.
    In other words, everything that one learns while karting and moving up thru the levels should be forgotten. I wonder if FIA is not thinking in installing turn signals to put on notice the intention of passing and on what side.

  33. Derek Daly who was the driver steward has just decided Schumacher should have been penalised. That is a lot of good to anyone. If he can see that now and not at the time he should be banned. Of course Charlie Whiting set the standard for having one opinion live and another after the event.

    I am unclear if this makes Daly biased against or in favour of Schumacher. Maybe someone who is more clued up on all the biases can inform me.


    Schumi should have had penalty for blocking in Monza – we blew it – Agh-

  34. at one point in my life and career as a hack, I thought MSC was one of the best, but after seeing him over the last two seasons, i have come to the conclusion that he is suffering from the ultimate mid life crisis…the game has moved on and he has been doing stupid things on the track. and as far as nico is concerned, it’s his sheer bad luck/karma that MSC is in the team at this precise point of time…

  35. Kudos to you Joe for calling it as you see it. Ditto Brundle, though I wonder how many who differed with you even read what he wrote.

    Am no particular fan of Lewis but if that were him doing the MS move, I’d expect he’d get a steward’s inquiry. And I wonder if Whiting would have first called Whitmarsh as he did Brawn. Perhaps Whiting as well is a bit intimidated by MS.

  36. Blah blah blah, same old rubbish from the pro Schumacher brigade, Joe says quite rightly that MS made some dubious moves in his defence against Lewis and people try and tell him he is wrong and doesn’t know what he is talking about. Well Michael’s moves were dubious, there is one move allowed in defence of a position and Michael contravened that rule enough times to earn a warning from the race director, maybe you had your eyes shut when he did this, and maybe you also missed Michael blatantly put Lewis on the grass at 180 mph, to you of course this is fine, to you Michael doesn’t need to follow the rules as he is the greatest driver to ever walk the earth and his actions shouldn’t be questioned by anyone. I and many others however see a driver who is a shadow of his former self, blocking other drivers and pushing the rules in a sometimes dangerous way. As for the pro British driver bias of the British media, ask Martin Brundle what he thinks of Sebastian Vettel, Brundle’s praise of the German was as fullsome as his praise has been in the past for Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica and many other none UK drivers.

    I suggest that before you question Joe’s integrity again you read the rest of his post, and all the others, and then ask yourself where else you can get such well researched and in depth analysis for free? Seriously read everything that Joe has written today and ask yourself “does Joe know more about F1 than me?” If the answer is yes, then maybe try showing a bit more respect in future.

  37. Joe, Would Barwa Addax complete a full takeover and rename of HRT in your opinion? would give the team a sold base, along side Charles Pic and Romain Grosjean for free Renault engines/gearboxs?

  38. Off topic Joe but i seem to be hearing a lot lately that the “experts” in f1 acknowledge that Vettel is doing remarkable things this year and has undoubtedly stepped up a gear. The argument that he can’t race is fast being put to bed from what I can see. I would be interested to know who you would hire if Alonso, Hamilton, and Vettel all offered their services to join “Grand Prix Plus Joe Saward F1 Team” How would get those coveted seats?

  39. I think there’s a big problem here. The stewards say that they coundn’t take up the MS blocking issue because the race director did not refer it to them. And the race director says stewards can take up issues by themselves.

    In other words, the stewards were completely cluess on what their authority and responsibilities are. Which IMO can be blamed directly on Whiting. As the stewards change for every race (which I do not like, permanent stewards would be a lot better for consistency), the race director must ensure that the stewards know what their autority and responsibilities are.

    This level of amateurish confusion does not belong to F1

    1. Juks,

      Permanent stewards have been tried. They tend to have favourites etc. That does not work either. Charlie is not responsible for educating the stewards. There is quite a process before one gets the job. The folk who do not know all this stuff are the driver stewards, and being drivers they tend to talk so they give an impression that all the stewards are like this. I must say that I have been impressed by one or two of the stewards, they really know the rule books inside out. I think the problem, as I have said before, is that there is no need for these things to be secretive. Controversial decisions should come with a short explanation. That is not easy during a race but a Stewards’ report of decisions at the end of the race would not be a huge amount of work.

  40. Here in São Paulo we heard about the idea of moving pitlane to old Reta Oposta as being suggested by mr. Ecclestone. In a blog where I read the news two weeks ago, one could see that dozens of local fans (me included) had had same idea since demands over better instalations and modernization started to be voiced by F1 community.
    In the case it happens, good would be if the current pitlane and race control tower be demolished, so to allow a panoramic view of almost whole circuit from the long stands in the current ‘bent’ start/finish straight.
    Since there is the problem of finding money to revamp the circuit, seems likely the modifications would be restrained to moving pitlane and a brand new paddock on the inlet (where is the car parking today).
    My guess is that private funding will be found for the works, given that Prefeitura de São Paulo (who owns the site) is already involved in part of the super-expensive building of the new football stadium for the World Cup opening, due in 3 years time, and also the Indycar street race – though in this one, costs are much smaller, since they utilize existing structure for SP carnival festival (Sambódromo) and adjacent avenues.
    Worth remember that the changes made for the return of GPs there in 1990 were cleverly arranged by the then mayor, prefeita Luiza Erundina, and the then director of CBA (national motor sports federation), Piero Gancia.
    They sewed a deal with Shell, who most funded the works in exchange of concession, by Prefeitura, of many slots in the metropolitan area, for gas stations under that banner. And remember Shell sponsored McLaren (among other teams), and Ayrton Senna was directly involved in the planning of the new layout.
    One can think of many possibilities of companies to get involved now – Petrobras or its rival OGX, Braskem, Santander do Brasil, even TV Globo (has been involved with the GP since the first, non-official, in 1972, though I dont think they have the kind of money for it) maybe Shell again (they have acquired a huge ethanol producing company and encompassed Esso, which provides that kind of fuel to Stockcar BR). Since it doesnt get near to the high sums being destined to 2014 World Cup, of course.

    Joe, it is nice to see you using the name Curva do Sol, instead of number 3 corner, as nowadays foreign racers and engineers do.
    The name comes from the original layout, when the corner was run in opposite direction, and where the sun, on mid-afternoon time, would fall directly on the drivers’ sights, making a bit difficult to keep the line of the then longer radius corner – “curva do Sol na cara (on the face)”.
    As the GPs in the 70s were run from 1 till 3pm, in January, when sun is still high, I think F1 drivers then never had to deal with that situation.

  41. Of the many points you mention in yr excellent roundup piece – two stand out for me.

    1. The Linkage of Team Lotus F1 track engineering and Caterham roadgoing cars is a truly mouth watering prospect for the future.The engineering and values connections are so pure as to offer unique Brand and product development potentials in Caterham’s particular corner of the motoring market. Affordable, genuine performance for all – with visible pedigree. The mouth continues to water!

    2. Msc’s ‘Track Style’ continues to worry me greatly.
    For me its not about legality and so forth. Its about remembering the difference between safely pushing it to a ‘Legal Edge’ – and absolute disaster is tiny. This Lad’s not getting any younger. I truly hope, for everyone’s sake, he’s still got the skills and touch required to repeatedly make these manoeuvres the centimetre perfect they have to be each time. Lewis was lucky. I can also still remember Barrichello’s horrific brush along that wall. A small misjudgement is all it takes. Have a mind!

  42. Yeah, the only thing consistent about the permanent stewards in Indycar is permanent stupidity.

    Fernando from SP, top information there. The curve of the sun on the face is a touch better than turn 3!

  43. raceoftwoworlds, I hope one day have opportunity to tell story of the name Curva do Laranja (now Laranjinha), a nice one too.

  44. Joe,

    I thought Tony Scott-Andrews was very popular with everyone when he was a permanent steward.

    Well apart from Max who fired him to put his own lackey in place and Charlie Whiting who he testified had lied to the International Court of Appeal to get Lewis Hamilton penalised.

    In my book both those should make him popular with drivers and fans. I still don’t understand how Whiting is still in a job after that stunt but I guess it shows how corrupt the FIA/FOM is.

    1. Steven R,

      Tony was entirely respected, but there are not many Tony S-As in the world. In any case, a permanent steward creates the possibility of constant bias, four rotating TS-As would be best.

  45. Joe,

    Renault now supply three teams which will increase to four in 2012, and Mercedes and Ferrari could do the same too unless they aren’t interested in straining their resources to build another set of engines.

  46. Joe, just to remind you that Vettel already drove for Toro Rosso which, while not being the worst car, was very far from even a podium contender. Ok, at that time it was mostly a Red Bull, but he managed to win a Grand Prix and outscore both Red Bull drivers overall that year, this while driving for a B team. That is quite telling, even if that win came in very particular conditions.

  47. Joe,

    thanks for your response.

    Too bad if out of all people deeply involved in motorsports one could not find a bunch of guys who can be impartial. As soon as Schumacher finally retires, I am willing to volunteer..:).

    I think you are correct in terms of who stated that ‘they could not rule on the MS blocking issue”. My source is Speed right after the race, and Derek Daly has strong links with Speed. They did not say which steward they spoke to, but likely it was Derek. However, I don’t understand how he would be under the impression he stated about the stewards inability to rule on anything that was not passed onto them by Whiting. Per Speed the steward they talked to wanted to give a penalty to MS. Would he not have spoken up, and have been over ruled by the other stewards, if they felt MS did not deserve a penalty? Then why claim they were not allowed to rule? If so, then Mr Daly has lost a lot of respect from me.

    If Whiting is not responsible for training new stewards, then who is? Especially the driver stewards?

    As a fan, it appears to me that the quality of stewarding has gotten better since the driver memebrs were introduced. I do admit that this could be co-incidential and the other stewards have simply gotten better. I have been frustrated with the inconsistency and simply weak stewarding for decades. Luckily we have not have as bad incidents as in the past anymore. Like when they had that guy who the press said owned a movie theathre chain in India. Whenever he was there, havoc broke loose. Like when MS took a stop and go penalty in Silverstone on the last lap. I.e. AFTER he passed the finishing line. Thouigh, have to admit that was a brilliant move from Brawn.

  48. To suggest that “Maldonado was let off lightly” is a gross distortion of the facts. If you weren’t a biased spectator, you would realise that Hamilton was the sole person to blame when he drove into Maldonado and that Maldonado was completely blameless.

    The fact that Maldonado was punished but Hamilton was let off shows that the stewards are as biased as you are, and that having a former driver as steward just allows them to implement their biases (you will note that almost all of the former drivers who have been appointed as stewards are British and/or former McLaren drivers) instead of obtaining better decisions.

  49. Joe,
    a very good point that you keep suggesting for years now. The rule book and the way stewards are applying a penalty (or not applying it, in some cases) should be open to everyone, F1 fans and journalists in first place. Internet is a great invention of mankind to enable this process, and what’s more, a free tool. .

    You wrote: “I must say that I have been impressed by one or two of the stewards, they really know the rule books inside out.” Can you pls name some of them you think were doing an exceptional job as FIA stewards? My bet is on (ex)sportscar drivers who were in F1 for a short period only.

    1. Istvan,

      No, the particular steward who impressed me on that occasion was not an ex-driver, but rather an FIA club man.

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