JoeBlogsF1 The real stories from inside the F1 paddock Aug, 01 2017 00:00:30 EST Newey and Vergne form Extreme E teamhttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00555

Newey and Vergne form Extreme E team

Red Bull's Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey is to be part of a new team which has been formed to compete in Alejandro Agag's latest project, known as Extreme E.

Newey will join Formula E Champion Jean-Éric Vergne in the Veloce Racing operation, co-founded by the team behind its industry-leading sister organisation Veloce Esports, which includes Daniel Bailey, Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Jack Clarke. Newey's son Harrison is also involved as business development director. The team will be chaired by two menw ho have been involved in F1 in the past, notably with Virgin/Marussia, Darryl Eales (the former CEO of investment firm LDC) and Andy Webb (former CEO of Marussia F1). This is a bit of a family affair as Bailey is the son of former F1 driver Julian Bailey and his partner Deborah Tee and Clarke is his step-brother. Deborah comes from a celebrated family of F1 photographers (Michael and Steven Tee) and has run the MPA marketing agency for many years.

“We are delighted to be announcing the launch of Veloce Racing, as well as confirming our place as a fully-fledged licensee entrant into Extreme E," says Newey Snr. "The series is an exceptional platform for drawing attention to the earth’s environmental challenges and driving change. Veloce will play an active role in as many of Extreme E’s legacy projects as possible to help re-generate the local environments. We also believe that hydrogen is a fuel source to be seriously considered for the future and we will take great pride in playing our part in encouraging Extreme E to adopt hydrogen in its next generation Extreme E-SUVs. The media model is in line with modern consumption and the content will be an exciting blend of live racing and documentaries to converge audiences in an unprecedented manner. Everyone involved in Veloce Racing is extremely passionate about racing, competition and cutting-edge technology, as well as tackling environmental issues that face the world today, so we couldn’t be happier to be taking part in Extreme E."


Thu, 19 Sep 2019 08:58:59 +0000
A surprise from Haashttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00554

A surprise from Haas

It is inevitable that teams make announcements when journalists are busy doing other things, and we were just landed in Singapore on Thursday afternoon when it was announced that Haas will be retaining Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen for another season. That is a surprise as Grosjean's place seemed very uncertain, given that he has scored only eight points compared to Magnussen's 18. Neither is a stellar result but the team must take much of the blame for this as its performance in races has been pretty poor this year. One presumes that this is why the team has chosen this path because it feels that it has not been fair to the drivers.

The announcement is very bad new for Nico Hulkenberg as it means that there is not much left for him in 2020 and one would expect to see him join one of the teams as a test and reserve driver as a man of his experience is obviously worth having. One must presume from this that the problem is not one of whether or not he is qualfied for the job, but rather that the two parties did not agree on money or that The Hulk did not feel that it was the right place for him to be. If, as expected, there is no room at Sauber (Alfa Romeo), then the only possibility for him would be Williams, where he might replace Robert Kubica. However, this is unlikely to be a move that would be financially rewarding for the team as George Russell comes with backing from Mercedes and Kubica has a big wedge of wonga behind him. It is thought that Nicholas Latifi might be a good bet for 2020 as he has done pretty well in Formula 2 and has money behind him. Perhaps so. We will see. The Hulk is a Le Mans 24 Hours winners as well and so may find some work there, but there are no real top seats left open. It is a similar story in Formula E. We will see where he ends up. 

It will be the fourth year together for Grosjean and Magnussen, with Romain having been there from the start in 2016 and Kevin joining in 2017.

“Experience, and the need for it, has been one of the cornerstones of Haas F1 Team, and with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen racing for the team in 2020, we continue to have a driver line-up that offers us a solid platform to continue our growth," says Guenther Steiner. "Their understanding of how we work as a team, and our knowledge of what they can deliver behind the wheel, gives us a valued continuity and a strong foundation to keep building our team around. It’s been a tough year for us in 2019 with the fluctuation in performance of the VF-19, but our ability to tap into our combined experiences will help us learn, improve, and move forward as a unit in 2020."


Thu, 19 Sep 2019 08:41:01 +0000
On the subject of Mick Schumacherhttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00553

On the subject of Mick Schumacher

I see that Nico Hulkenberg is saying that he expects to see Mick Schumacher in Formula 1 in 2021 at the latest. I tend to agree with that. Nico probably knows because he will have been scouting the F1 field for oppportunities given that he is out of Renault at the end of the year and I am sure he has been told what is on offer in the available seats in the next two years.

The answer is not much. I would expect Nico to move into Haas next year, partnering Kevin Magnussen, although the two men do not get on very well. Kevin, you may recall, told Nico to "suck my balls" some time agao when the German driver was complaining about Kevin's uncompromising style of driving. To be fair, he is not the only one to have to have done that because Kevin is a Viking by nature and pushes things to the absolute edge, right out there in Max Verstappen Land in this respect. Nico did not appreciate this suggestion but if he wants a place in F1 next year, it would be wise for him to find a way of living happily with Magnussen, which inevitably he will. Kevin has a contract for 2020 and so for Haas it is really a choice between Nico and Romain Grosjean and one can imagine that Nico's reliable and quick driving will ultimately trump Grosjean's amazing pace which only pops up from time to time.

I am sure that Nico has had a quiet word with the folk down at Sauber, where he drove in 2013. His natural home would seem to be Racing Point, where he drove in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 but Sergio Perez has been very smart is signing a new deal until the end of 2022 and there will be no space there until then, or until Lance Stroll either moves on to a bigger team or quits F1. Sauber, officially known as Alfa Romeo at the moment, is very close to Ferrari (very) and so one can imagine that Mick will be drafted in there in 2021, when Kimi Raikkonen retires. The Finn will be 40 next month and while he is still driving strongly and outclassing Antonio Giovinazzi, it is hard to imagine that he will be offered a new deal for 2021. It is also hard to imagine that Giovinazzi will be dropped next year. He's the only Italian driver in F1 and Ferrari is not going to be keen to see him being dropped at a time when Ferrari is still having a pretty poor year, despite the two recent wins from Charles Leclerc.

There is the additional problem of Mick's superlicence because although he currently has 50 superlicence points, with only 40 required, at the end of this year he is going to lose the 20 points he gained in Formula 4 in 2016, because superlicence points and valid only three years. He scored nothing in 2017 in his first year in Formula 3 but then won the title last year and collected 30, so that means that on January 1 2020 he will have only 30 points and will no longer be qualified for the superlicence. If he is going to qualify for a licence he must finish sixth in the Formula 2 Championship and he is currently 11th. He is currently 66 points away from sixth and there are only two events (four races) remaining. He's been rather unlucky with mechanical failures and with the Spa races being cancelled, but that is the way things are. It is possible to do this (on paper) but it relies on his rivals not scoring much while he must have two scintillating weekends. That could happen, but it doesn't seem very likely.  If he has to wait in Formula 2 for another season, he needs to finish sixth or better next year to give him the 10 he needs to add to his 30 points from F3 in 2018.


Wed, 18 Sep 2019 17:12:02 +0000
Green notebook from La France Profondehttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00552

Green notebook from La France Profonde

Well folks, what can I say? It was flat out after Spa and then straight to Monza, and then flat out ever since. The reason I haven't managed a green notebook from either race is that I have either been travelling to earn money, or doing paying work.

You may recall that this is when a writer produces articles for someone who actually pays money, rather than delivering endless words for free, in the hope that these will attract readers to pay for subscriptions or mesmirise advertisers and get them to open their wallets. This may sound like a pretty poor excuse, but I should perhaps add that the job has been made a great deal more difficult because of a complete internet service provider failure where I live in France, or rather specifically at my house. I won't bang on about it, but suffice to say I am not recommending the Orange company to anyone other than professional assassins. One can understand that technical things can and do go wrong. It happens, but good customer service and efficient maintenance is always a good idea for such a communications company and the aforementioned firm has thus far provided neither. As 3G is not a concept that has yet reached the upper end of the valley (forget 4G!), this has meant that the only means of communication with the world has been to go to the end of the garden and hope for 3G, or get in the car and drive to a 4G zone and then link the computer to the phone etc etc etc. I've heard of mobile offices, but it is not easy when the steering wheel gets in the way.

The biggest problem was that I had a big commission that involved much research and I have learned that in this day and age, we are all completely dependent on the internet. I thought I had a good archive in my computer. It is not bad, but it seems to have petered out about 10 years ago as information was always there on the Internet and instantly accessible and so one stopped storing things. Books filled with data stopped being produced at around the same time and while I have a vast paper archive, stored in a barn, it all needs to be properly organised and it too stops when people stopped putting information on paper. There are no longer such things as press packs, unless you download them... and, of course, we don't do that because we have the blessed internet.

Anyway, this meant that my every waking hour was spent trying to get this job done in time, except when I was zipping to England and back on other necessary business.

Spa and Monza are now so long ago that I honestly cannot remember what the gossip was in the paddock at the time. I've been completely out of F1 since I left the Autodromo Nazionale late on Sunday night, it seems like an age ago but it seems it is only 10 days. If there has been any big news in F1 circles, it has probably passed me by. I did note the new Williams-Mercedes deal, and I saw that Chase Carey was painting a very green story about the sport at the Frankfurt Motor Show. I have seen some less than rosy financial results from Williams and Renault F1 (while down near the pond) and noted that Fernando Alonso had a difficult time on his first rally raid, and that Nyck de Vries has been signed by Mercedes for Formula E. Elsewhere, there was a very poor attempt by the Daily Telegraph to link F1 with Syria, because the FIA (commendably) has awarded a grant to the Syrian Automobile Club to help fund a karting circuit which, it is hoped, will help to provide distraction and perhaps create ambitions in that poor war-torn country. Trying to suggest from this that F1 is supporting the regime was a disgraceful piece of media tosh.

I was also interested to see that Ferrari dominated the new esports F1 championship, with the previously dominant Mercedes barely rating a mention, although in the circumstances I did not dig very deeply to find out where the virtual Mercs finished.

In the meantime, I am in the departure lounge in Paris, bound for Singapore, where I intend to get back up to F1 speed. I hope that in my absence the people at Orange will solve the problem, or at the very least, address it. In the interim, does anyone know the phone numbers of any professional assassins? (I know, one cannot joke on the internet...)


Wed, 18 Sep 2019 08:24:30 +0000
Five hours and 20 minutes after the racehttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00551

Five hours and 20 minutes after the race

We have had a great few months in Formula 1 with race after race being filled with action and excitement, despite the jonahs of the sport trying to convince us that the racing is dull. Far from it! The Italian GP was another gripper as Charles Leclerc battled with the two Mercedes to win Ferrari's home race. It was great stuff with Charles being rather more muscly than we have seen him in the past. Clearly this did not impress Lewis Hamilton much but the FIA has a new policy of "let them race" and so they can get away with more than previously. Leclerc was given a black and white flag, warning him not to behave in an unsportsmanlike manner more than once. Charles was left on his won in the fight because Sebastian Vettel made another unforced error, spinning off on his own at the Ascari chicane and, clearly angry at himself, rejoined in a dangerous fashion, nearly having a major accident with Lance Stroll. This earned Sebastian a penalty and meant that not only did he not score points, but he has now lost his position in the World Championship to his young team-mate. Sebastian is going to have to dig deep in the races ahead to re-establish himself as the team leader down Mraanello way.

The race marked an upturn in fortunes for Renault with Daniel Ricciardo and and Nico Hulkenberg finishing fourth and fifth to give the team a major haul of much-needed points, to pull them clear of the battle for fifth place in the championship and they are now closing fast on McLaren and another race like this and they will be going ahead. Red Bull expected to have a bad weekend at Monza and that did indeed come to pass with Max Verstappen starting at the back and picking up damage in the first corner. He fought back through to eighth, a good effort. Alex Albon was looking strong for the first couple of laps but was then elbowed off in the Lesmos by Carlos Sainz, although the Spanish got away with this because it was deemed to be racing and Alex could have backed out of an overtake on the outside through the fast corners... Later he would run overa chicane and pick up a five second penalty, which the team felt was not worthy of a penalty and so declined to tell Alex to give the place back. Alex charged again and fought his way back to sixth, trying to find a way to pass Nico Hulkenberg for fifth in the closing laps. Sergio Perez raced up from the back of the field to finish seventh, with Verstappen all over him in the final laps. The rest of the field were a lap behind with Antonio Giovinazzi getting a couple of points in front of his home crowd in his Alfa Romeo. The final point went to Lando Norris.


Sun, 08 Sep 2019 19:48:46 +0000
Thoughts at Spahttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00549

Thoughts at Spa

Sadly, there is no time to put together a green notebook from Belgium, there are simply too many things happening and I am leaving today for Monza. Instead, I thought I would publish the column that I wrote in GP+ magazine about the weekend in Spa.

In the days before political-correctness was truly out of control, I managed to get myself into trouble by describing visits to Spa as being like having a schizophrenic mistress: incredibly seductive one day and leaping out of the cupboard with a knife the next. It’s a long time ago, perhaps even before the phrase “bunny-boiler” had entered the language, which I believe was when the movie Fatal Attraction first came out in 1987. Perhaps I was with an unstable lady at the time and it seemed a good analogy, I honestly don’t remember the details.

The comparison did not go down well with earnest folk who wrote in to complain to my editor that schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder and it should never be mentioned in such a frivolous manner.

Each year when I go back to Spa, which I do with great pleasure, I think of this and conclude that it really is the best analogy there is for the circuit because on a good day Spa is glorious. It’s exciting, evocative and sexy. It’s fast, dangerous and thrilling. And utterly seductive... On a bad day it is horrible - and downright scary. There are times when you curse the place, but we keep coming back and I think perhaps that if there is ever a day when Spa, Monza and Suzuka are no longer on the F1 calendar, it will perhaps be time to seek the pleasures of bucolic backwaters and retire from the sport.

I arrived at Spa after a summer break that was completely different to all the others I have enjoyed over the years. It was what some folk would call “a staycation”. I remained at home and enjoyed the place I live, rather than rushing around the world, as I do most of the time. As things turned out, this was not as restful as I had imagined because a while ago an architect pal of mine came to visit and noted that a very little (and very old) house that sits in my garden was covered in concrete rendering and that this meant that the wooden beams inside would rot, and the structure would eventually fall down as the wood turned to dust. So I started chipping away to see what the situation was and found that things were dire. And so I spent my time off reverse engineering this medieval construction, replacing beams and putting the whole thing back together again. The structural work took much longer than I imagined but one day soon I will have a new half-timbered cottage and also the knowledge that it is something that I did myself.

In any case, it has been an interesting challenge and, in addition to gaining some more muscles and more than a few bruises and splinters, I arrived for the Belgian event feeling completely relaxed and unstressed. It reminded me of Winston Churchill’s habit of building brick walls when he wanted to relax, which led to him joining a building workers’ union in 1928 with a membership card that read: ‘Winston S Churchill, Westerham, Kent. Occupation: Bricklayer’.

Anyway, at Spa the weather on Friday was terrific and there were conversations about whether or not there is anything better in the world than a good day at Spa...

But then on Saturday afternoon, the dark side was there again. Anthoine Hubert, a rising French star, unknown to the general public but rated by those in the business, died following a very nasty crash at Raidillon at the top of the Eau Rouge hill. It was one of those accidents that happen from time to time in the sport when things just go wrong and it cannot be avoided. Safety precautions can only do so much. Yes, one can make cars stronger and push back barriers and while this helps, it will not stop accidents happening. On Saturday night we went back to our digs, feeling wretched. The F1 world is not used to such things these days and the pain of losing a bright young talent, aged only 22, was intense.

It is part of our job to deal with such things when they occur, but this was particularly cruel, because it was one of those accidents which could have befallen any one of the drivers. It was simply a matter of Fate (or whatever) pointing a finger at someone and saying: “It’s your turn!” for no reason other than the fact that the world is fickle and some people are lucky, and others are not. Hubert was just unlucky. It doesn’t make it better to know this. It doesn’t make it any easier to accept. It simply delivers the message that no matter how much work is done with safety, the sport can never be safe. The work that has been done – and continues to be done - cannot stop the fact that things go wrong and if a driver is pushing the limits, he or she must recognise the risks, rationalise them, accept them and know that one day their name might be on the bullet. The thing that drives them to do this is a passion for what they do. They don’t want to die young and they do not believe that they will. It will always be the other guy, but they accept the possibility and this is what makes them special and different. The sport is never going to be completely safe and they are truly living on the edge - and loving what they do. The sport is much more scientific than it used to be and things are learned from each and every accident. But there are still limits and there is still luck. These are not subjects that racing drivers enjoy discussing and it is rare that one expresses what it is they do - and why.

However, at the recent memorial event for F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting, Sebastian Vettel gave a fascinating insight into the motivations of racing drivers. “In motorsport, we depend on the stopwatch,” he said. “We depend on time. We chase time. We become experts in chasing time. Sometimes it appears we catch it. We’re able to hold on to it for a moment before the moment is gone again. We go in circles, chasing time. We forget the world around us. It feels like flying. For us, it is the greatest feeling we can experience. But it comes at a cost. The risk we take is one worth taking to get that feeling, again and again.”

That was what Anthoine Hubert was doing at Spa on Saturday afternoon. He will never grow old and we will never know what he might have achieved, but if nothing else - and it is not much comfort – we know that he died doing what he loved to do. So let us remember Anthoine Hubert in that way, celebrating his victory at Monaco earlier this year.


Wed, 04 Sep 2019 07:34:25 +0000
Six hours after the racehttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00548

Six hours after the race

The Formula 1 circus returned to action in Spa after the summer break and Ferrari dominated qualifying. But then on Saturday afternoon Anthoine Hubert was killed in a Formula 2 crash in the high-speed Raidillon section of the circuit, at the top of the hill above Eau Rouge. It was a shock for everyone, particularly for the young F1 drivers who had grown up with the Frenchman in karting, including pole man Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. It was grim day. On Sunday Leclerc set off to score his first F1 victory, to dedicate it to his friend. The race developed into a fight between Charles and Lewis Hamilton but the Monegasque judged things perfectly, helped by Mercedes leaving the World Champion out on worn tyres. Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas were not really challengers and the tens of thousands of Dutch fans were disappointed on the first lap when Max Verstappen was taken out when he was squeezed at the first corner by Kimi Raikkonen. There was contact and the Red Bull was damaged and crashed at Eau Rouge, almost taking out Raikkonen as he too recovered from the incident. There was disappointment too for McLaren with Lando retiring on the last lap  which dropped him from fifth to 11th, while Alex Albon did a supr job to fight from the back of the grid to grab the place from Sergio Perez on the last lap. Behind then Toro Rosso picked up points with both cars, while Nico Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll also scored. It was an emotional day for Leclerc, a day which he will remember as bitter-sweet. But, he's off the mark as a Grand Prix winner and Ferrari is clearly going to be very strong at Monza next weekend. 

If you aren't Dutch it was a fascinating and action-packed race, with good on-track battles and strategic fights all the way down through the field.

- We talk to rising Chinese Formula 2 star Guanyu Zhou
- We remember Dick Seaman
- We look back at the career of Ferdinand Piech
- And pay tribute to Anthoine Hubert
- DT tells the story of Jessi Combs
- JS becomes a carpenter and ponders Fate
- The Hack recalls old friends
- Peter Nygaard capture the magnificant Spa in all of its glory

If you don't know GP+, we think you should check it out. It's an 80-100 page e-magazine with everything you want to known about a Grand Prix weekend - all delivered around six hours after the chequered flag. It is a magazine that is right at the centre of the sport. We attend every race and actually know and talk to the people involved. The magazine is published in electronic form in PDF format, or as a flip-book, so you can read it on whatever platform you desire: computer, tablet, cell phone or online. And you can download it and store it in your own devices. We offer more than 270 magazines, going back to 2007 for just £59.99, which is a fabulous deal. A single year subscription is a bargain too at £39.99. Subscribers can download the magazine by clicking here.

Or for more information, go to https://www.grandprixplus.com

And if you'd like to help us spread the word about the magazine, you can go to @grandprixplus and retweet and comment.


Sun, 01 Sep 2019 20:19:27 +0000
Gasly out, Albon inhttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00546

Gasly out, Albon in

Red Bull has decided to switch Pierre Gasly with Alexander Albon. One hopes that the move won’t come too early for the débutant Albon, as Red Bull has a habit of promoting drivers too early and wrecking their careers. Still, Helmut Marko believes that drivers must sink or swim, which is why he is so short of them...


Mon, 12 Aug 2019 10:53:18 +0000
Notebook from another snack bar in Budapesthttps://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00545

Notebook from another snack bar in Budapest

I’m just having breakfast, although it is about 11.30 on Monday morning. It has been a long hard night, without dinner, although I had a couple of chocolate bars at around midnight. I didn’t really have lunch yesterday either because the deep fried hamsters that they serve in the media centre, alongside vast gherkins, may be the height of culinary mountains in Hungary, but there not really that exciting. Anyway, at the airport one can get anything so I’m having gyoza, the wonderful Japanese pan-fried dumplings (which actually derive from a Chinese delicacy called jiaozi), and are otherwise known as pot stickers in the English-speaking world. These are being consumed with a glass of chardonnay. I admit it is a slightly weird breakfast, but that is what is required at this particular moment before embarking on the homeward flight to Paris, where I intend to go home, lock the gate, and spend the next two weeks sleeping, lying in a hammock, hitting bits of old masonry with big hammers, pulling up weeds and eating properly. The intention is for my computer to have cobwebs on it before it is opened again, although in the countryside that can happen quite quickly.

Living the F1 dream is a great thing, but it does get a little tiring from time to time, particularly at this time of year, and again at the very end of the season. One of the topics of conversation in the paddock in Budapest was the calendar for next year, which will now, almost certainly feature 22 events, with the revival of the Spanish GP, which will go back-to-back with the new Dutch GP in May. The official calendar is yet to be published but the only loss from this year’s 21 races will be Hockenheim and there will be new races in Vietnam (in April) and the Netherlands (in May). However, F1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey has already told team bosses that the intention is to push on upwards, aiming for 24 races in 2022. This is not popular amongst F1’s working classes, who get most of the pain and do not get any of the benefits. The long-term implications are that it will become harder to find people willing to do the work in F1 because the life-work balance is getting out of kilter with reality. The option, of course, is to have fewer races and charge more for them from race promoters but Carey & Co don’t seem to like that idea.

It is nice to end the first half of the season in Hungary. It has always been a race that is a little different to other European events, simply because it takes place in the east, where they have always done things in their own style. It was always a race that felt like a flyaway but wasn’t. In the beginning it was because the country was pretty poor in comparison to the West and so when one left ahotel one was pursued around by what Hollywood would call a posse of pussy as the local girls tried to make money from the visitors, which was a sorry state of affairs. I remember back in the 1990s that Budapest decided on an unusual innovation for F1 and installed a brothel in a far corner of the circuit, where I presume they serviced Schumacher’s camper van army. I cannot say I know much about it, but I was told that it featured romantic plywood cubicles. I never did investigate to find out whether it was an official arrangement, and whether the Formula One group took a percentage (although in this respect I guess I should know the answer). Even in those days of new-found freedoms the country still had a tendency to have self-important security goons, with too many muscles, kicking about, giving orders. These days that has faded away but I did note at the airport that the first thing that one sees on arrival is some of these people in the welcoming area in Arrivals, moving everyone on, on the grounds of “safety”, which is a truly disastrous thing as first impressions go.

Still, despite these bonobos in black, tourism in Hungary is going great guns. I looked up the statistics and discovered that the city now has 12.5 million visitors each year, compared to 7.6 million in 2011. This appears to be largely due to a booming night time economy. The city used to promote itself as a heritage and cultural tourism destination but is now increasingly popular with youngsters thanks to its “party district” and its so-called “ruin bars”, which are shabby chic makeshift drinking establishments inside dilapidated buildings, furnished with quirky furniture, particularly in the old Jewish district where there were many ruins available a few years ago. It is a lively town, packed with young people having fun and fits in well with Formula 1’s stated desire to be involved in destination cities with a festival atmosphere. Sadly, the Formula 1 folk are generally not out and about as much as they used to be, but one does pick up the energy in such places.

The paddocks these days are busier than they used to be, as the pass policies have been relaxed (which is a very good thing), although one tends to see fewer star names wandering about, because they quickly become inundated with enthusiastic people wanting selfies, autographs and so on. In recent months Lewis Hamilton has acquired someone who one might term "a close protection specialist", in an effort to make his life a little easier, without causing upset. It is a job that can be done very badly. You don’t need a dark suit, mirror shades and an earpiece, and you certainly don’t need expertise in hand-to-hand combat. What is required is the ability to defuse situations before they develop and to use smooth movement and body language to send out a message of authority and control to those around you, in order to ensure that the client is treated with respect. A good bodyguard doesn’t need to shove people around. By all accounts, Lewis’s is pretty good at what he does.

When it comes to the gossip in Hungary, there was plenty of tittle-tattle about driver movements, but little seemed very sensible. And some of it was just plain silly. There was talk of a possible move by Max Verstappen to Mercedes, but it is hard to imagine that happening as long as Lewis is there. In any case, Max is locked into a 2020 contract with Red Bull as he is third in the World Championship at the start of the summer break and it is believed that this is enough to avoid a performance clause kicking in. It is possible that Mercedes already has some kind of an option with Max for 2021 but this will probably depend on whether Lewis Hamilton continues racing and it looks more and more likely that he will continue until at least the end of 2021, which is the first possible point at which he can beat Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 titles. The chances are that he will score a sixth title this year and could equal Michael in 2020 but to set a new record would require a title in 2021 as well. He is likely to beat Schumacher’s record 91 wins before that, as he currently has 81 and will no doubt win more races this year.

The choice of the second Mercedes driver for 2020 will be very interesting. Valtteri Bottas has done a decent job but he does not look like a driver who would step into Hamilton’s shoes. He seems to always lack the pace that Lewis has in races. Thus it would be wise for Mercedes to develop Esteban Ocon more, as he seems to have that little bit extra. If Ocon is not picked he’s not going to stick around with Mercedes any longer, as he cannot afford to sit out another year and one can imagine him moving off to Renault, to replace Nico Hulkenberg, or to join Haas where he would be in the Ferrari orbit for the future. It looks increasingly likely that Romain Grosjean is going to find himself without work, because although he is very quick, he still has too many incidents and scores fewer points than Kevin Magnussen.

Elsewhere there has been speculation about the futures of Robert Kubica, with Williams test driver Nicholas Latifi waiting in the wings and doing well in Formula 2, not to mention having access to vast amounts of money. Kubica joined Williams because of his sponsorship but he has consistently failed to match George Russell, although ironically he scored the first Williams point in Germany by being in the right place at the right time. There are also questions about Pierre Gasly, and that is a bit of a problem for Red Bull because it has dumped far too many of its youngsters (presumably on the basis that it chose the wrong drivers originally) and now has a bit of a gap in the programme. It seems, however, that in the eyes of Dietrich Mateschitz, Helmut Marko can do no wrong and so the team must figure out how to either get Gasly up to speed, or to find a suitable replacement. Alexander Albon has done a terrific job this year with Scuderia Toro Rosso but it is not wise to promote young drivers too quickly, as was proved with the case of Dany Kvyat and, one could argue, with Gasly as well. Carlos Sainz would be perfect for the Red Bull job, but he’s under contract to McLaren now and so is not available, despite having been a Red Bull driver for most of his career. The idea that Fernando Alonso could make a comeback with Red Bull seems more the pipedream of Spanish media, looking for a meal ticket, rather than a silly season rumour that should be considered. The key point, however, is that Red Bull is in no rush to make a decision and it is probably best for the team to see how Gasly does in the second part of the season before making a decision. You never know, he might yet come good…

There have been questions asked as well about the future of Antonio Giovinazzi, the Ferrari driver who is currently parked at Sauber (dressed up as Alfa Romeo Racing). He has done little of note thus far, particularly when he is up against soon-to-be-40 Kimi Raikkonen. This has led to the German media getting excited about Mick Schumacher, who is a Ferrari young driver.

While it would do F1 no harm at all to have another Schumacher in the field, it must be a Schumacher who is fast enough to do the job. There really is no point in second generation drivers who cannot cut the mustard, and there have been quite a lot of them over the years. Thus Mick’s victory in Formula 2 on Sunday in Hungary got the Germans tapping away on their keyboards. However, it should really be pointed out that his victory came after he finished eighth in the Feature event on Saturday and thus was given pole under F2’s reversed top 8 rules, which many consider to be a ridiculous gimmick. At a track such as Budapest, where overtaking is minimal, this tends to give an unfair advantage. The F1 world is not going to be taken in by this one. But it will pay more attention if Mick ever wins a Feature race. This year’s Formula 2 is not perhaps the greatest ever collection of young drivers. Latifi (who has done four and a half years at this level) has won three of the eight feature races. Nyck de Vries (in his third year) has won two and the other three have been shared between Renault’s Jack Aitken (in his second season) and Honda’s Nobuharu Matsushita, and Italian Luca Ghiotto (both in their fourth seasons). If there has been a star youngster, one would argue for Anthoine Hubert, who has won two Sprint races in his rookie year, which perhaps puts Mick Schumacher’s achievement into a better perspective. Time will tell…

On the subject of timing, the FIA has finally managed to get some new data feeds into the media centres, which mean that the journalists can finally know rather important things like the tyres being used and the running order of the cars. This is brilliant, if long overdue, although one or two of the older folks have apparently been complaining because they feel they are now overloaded and obviously do not belong in the information age. At the end of the race, the timing screens carried a short message: “Thanks again Mr Taylor”. No-one paid it much attention, but it could be quite significant as it was a farewell message for Steve Taylor, who has been responsible for all F1 timing activities since 2007. The timing may have been attributed to one sponsor or another, but in reality it has always been done in this period by the Formula One group, although the logic of the timing being a commercial matter is rather hard to comprehend. The word is that this may soon change with timing likely to become the responsibility of the FIA, which makes sense given that the federation is the regulator of the sport…

The calendar is another of those areas where one can argue about who should be responsible but in reality it is a commercial activity, although the dates are still officially rubber-stamped and announced by the FIA. The calendar has been a little troublesome this year with things still moving until the last few days as the 22 races are fitted together. There was talk of moving the French GP to avoid a clash with the Tour de France, but I now hear that the events will go ahead on the same weekend and indeed it may well be that they will be used to promote one another. There are multiple reports in the cycling press that the Circuit Paul Ricard will be used by the Tour for the third or fourth stage next year. The first two stages will be in Nice on Saturday and Sunday June 27-28. The F1 teams will be on the move on the Sunday night, rushing across to Austria for the next event, and they will all be gone by Monday night – by necessity. Thus, the circuit could use all the infrastructure erected for the Grand Prix to host the finish of the third or fourth stage on the Monday or Tuesday afternoon. That makes a lot of sense… as long as the F1 trucks get a clear run out into Italy on Sunday night and Monday morning. As the Tour does not use the autoroutes as stages this should be possible.

After weeks trying to pin it all down, I think I now have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen when, and I offer the following schedule with the proviso that it might not be 100 percent correct. Thus, the calendar will kick off in Australia on March 15 and will be followed immediately by Bahrain (March 22). There will then be Vietnam (April 5), China (April 19), Holland (May 3), Spain (May 10), Monaco (May 24), Baku (June 7), Canada (June 14), France (June 28), Austria (July 5), Britain (July 19), Hungary (August 2), Belgium (August 30), Italy (September 6), Singapore (September 20), Russia (September 27), Japan (October 11), USA (October 25), Mexico (November 1), Brazil (November 15) and Abu Dhabi (November 29).

Would I bet my house on it?

No way… These things have a habit of shifting even when you think it is all done…

Thinking is something that can often be forgotten in the rush in F1 and while the teams are now all off on holiday, you can be quite certain that there will still be emails flying about between team members as they stop and think about how things can change when they go back to work, conclusions having been reached in quiet moment that one does not get at Grands Prix.

I’d like to finish (and sign off for the summer break) with a story about Budapest which indicates that even those involved in the races don’t always get what they are doing. We were in the first couple of laps of the race, with everyone serious in the Media Centre concentrating on the action on track, taking notes, doing lap-charts and trying to figure out who is doing what and why. Suddenly, a couple of cleaning ladies decided it would be a good moment to hoover the press conference area, separated from the media room by a wall of lockers where folks store their cameras, computers and so on, while also yapping away in Magyar. This is impenetrable but one might suppose they were talking about the latest action in the biggest Hungarian soap opera, whatever this may be. They were blithely unaware that this might be off-putting for those within ear-shot. One accepts many things as an F1 scribe because one must be able to adapt to circumstances but after several minutes of this the irritation turned to anger, if only because of their complete lack of understanding. I stopped my lap chart and rushed through the media centre and there bumped into an FIA man, who had come to sort them out. The hoovering stopped. I caught up the lap chart and calm returned… until the same two fishwives appeared in the press room itself, emptying all the bins. It felt like we were in a comedy show.

Perhaps we are...

Happy holidays. I'll be back in action again in the week before the Belgian GP.


Tue, 06 Aug 2019 14:19:42 +0000
Six hours after the race...https://www.motorsportweek.com/joeblogsf1/id/00544

Six hours after the race...

The last three Formula 1 races have all been great entertainment, but Hungary is traditionally a race where overtaking is really difficult and in the early laps of the Hungarian Grand Prix it looked like we were in for a less exciting race. Max Verstappen was ahead fo Lewis Hamilton by a little over two seconds, and the pair were pulling away from the third-placed Charles Leclerc at an impressive rate. Verstappen headed for the pits on lap 25 and Lewis moved ahead. Six laps later Hamilton pitted and re-emerged nearly five seconds behind. Lewis caught up and tried to grab the lead but Verstappen held him off. It was clear that Lewis was not going to win if they stuck to the strategy. On lap 48 Mercedes called Lewis in. He came out 19 seconds behind, with 22 laps to go. It looked like an impossible task. Verstappen couldnot change his tyres without losing the lead and so had to push as hard as he can and watch as Hamilton began to reel him in. At first it looked impossible but as the laps ticked away, Max's tyres faded and Lewis dug deep and charged. The gap came down: 9.3s, 7.8s, 5.5s, 3.2s and suddenly a win looked possible. The bold strategy had paid off and there was nothing that Max could do. Lewis went ahead on lap 66 of 70 and Max went straight to the pits, in an effort to get fastest lap. The others were so far behind that they were irrelevant, but there was another strategic fight going on between the two Ferraris, with Sebastian Vettel doing the same to Charles Leclerc as Hamilton had done to Verstappen. he grabbed third with two laps to go... It had been a fabulous race.

- We look the likely F1 calendar in 2020
- We remember Fangio's greatest victory
- We look at the revived Bloodhound land speed record project
- We remember Jean-Paul Driot
- DT remembers a Hungarian rising star
- JS mulls what F1 has done for Hungary
- The Hack goes to the cinema
- Peter Nygaard snaops away merrily at the Hungaroring

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Sun, 04 Aug 2019 21:03:54 +0000