JAPANESE GP, Issue 112 7 October 2012 - Grandprixplus


JAPANESE GP, Issue 112 7 October 2012 - Grandprixplus

JAPANESE GP, Issue 112

7 October 2012




The award-winning Formula 1 e-magazine is brought to you by:

David Tremayne | Joe Saward | Peter Nygaard

with additional material from

Mike Doodson | Anders Rysgaard

Le a d e r 3

On Th e Gr i d b y Jo e Sa w a r d 4

Sn a p s h o t s 5

Ha m il t o n Jo i ns Me rce d e s 13

Ma r t i n Wh it m a r s h 21

Sc h u m a c h e r Re t i re s 25

Su z u k a 1963 30

Th e Wa c k y Ra c e r s 33

Th e Ha c k Lo o k s Ba c k 40

Su z u k a - Qualifying Re p o r t 43

Su z u k a - Ra c e Re p o r t 61

Th e La s t La p b y Da v i d Tr e m a y n e 79

Pa r t i ng Sh o t 82

© 2012 Morienval Press. All rights reserved. Neither this publication nor

any part of it may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any

means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise,

without the prior permission of Morienval Press.



DAVID TREMAYNE is a freelance motorsport writer whose clients include

The Independent and The Independent on Sunday newspapers. A former editor

and executive editor of Motoring News and Motor Sport, he is a veteran of 25 years

of Grands Prix reportage, and the author of more than 40 books on motorsport.

He is the only three-time winner of the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Timo Makinen

and Renault Awards for his books. His writing, on both current and historic issues,

is notable for its soul and passion, together with a deep understanding of the

sport and an encyclopaedic knowledge of its history. David is also acknowledged

as the world expert on the history of land and water speed record breaking and is

also passionate about Unlimited hydroplanes. He is the British representative on

the FIA Records Commission, and the driving force behind the STAY GOLD speed

record jetcar programme.

JOE SAWARD has been a motorsport writer for 29 years. He began his

career travelling around Europe, living in a tent. He became Grand Prix Editor of

Autosport, chronicling his adventures in the celebrated “Globetrotter” column.

His wide-ranging experience of the sport resulted in the commission to write the

best-selling “The World Atlas of Motor Racing” before he moved on to become

the pioneer of electronic media in motorsport, launching the award-winning

Business of Motorsport e-newsletter in 1994, followed by www.grandprix.com. He

has since moved on to GP+ and his F1 blog. Trained as an historian, Joe is also an

acknowledged expert on the Special Operations Executive (SOE). His 2007 book

“The Grand Prix Saboteurs”, the untold story of Grand Prix drivers who became

SOE agents, resulted in him winning the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Renault Author

of the Year Award. Joe continues to work on non-F1 book projects, his latest being

“The Man who Caught Crippen”.

PETER NYGAARD began taking photographs at Grands Prix while studying

law at Copenhagen University. After graduation in 1982 he established the Grand

Prix Photo company and has since attended more than 350 Grands Prix. Today

he not only takes photographs but also writes and commentates about F1.The

company covers every Grand Prix and many other events and with contacts all

over the world can supply photos from almost any motor race. In addition to

current photography the Grand Prix Photo archive is one of the biggest in the

world, Nygaard having acquired the archives of a number of F1 photographers,

notably Italian photo-journalist Giancarlo Cevenini and France’s Dominique

Leroy plus a portion of Australian Nigel Snowdon’s collection. Grand Prix Photo

has 25,000 photographs on its website and millions more in its offices, which are

decorated with a Tyrrell 021, which Peter acquired from Ken Tyrrell in the 1990s.


Joe and David are non-executive directors of Caterham Cars Group Ltd.

They are not involved in the operations or management of the F1 team.

something to treasure

Things have changed at Suzuka since the old days. And yet they haven’t changed at all.

Twenty five years ago the Motopia amusement park through which we walk

every morning used to be packed with race fans patiently queuing for the tickets that

were distributed via a national lottery, because so many people wanted them that

they were oversubscribed. Nobody jumped the queue; nobody tried to snaffle wallets

left protruding from back pockets. It was a salutary lesson to Westerners.

Today there are no queues. But when the muzak starts at 07.30 to signal the

opening of the gates there are still plenty of fans who flock into this great circuit. They

wear the clothing of their favourite teams - some even wear funny Heikki Kovalainenimage

hats - and they love the sport with the same passion that we do.

It’s a shame that you can’t bottle that and market it in China, Bahrain or Korea,

but there is no instant means of generating interest in F1. All the more reason why the

unique enthusiasm of the Japanese fans is to be treasured.

on the grid by Joe Saward

location, location, location

At the recent Singapore Grand Prix I felt that there

was only one question that really needed to be

answered: “Has Lewis Hamilton gone bonkers” The

rumours about Hamilton going to Mercedes were

everywhere, but throughout this I continued to

believe that Lewis was more sensible than to allow

himself to be led into a truly disastrous decision.

Asking such a question in a press conference

environment would never have worked, of course,

because people in F1 are trained to avoid anything

controversial. I knew that I would never get an

answer “on the record”. The people on the inside

all seemed to be thinking along the same lines.

I believe that it will not be long before Lewis

begins to regret the decision that has been made.

Let’s face it, he doesn’t need the money. He should

have about $40 million in the bank by now, which is

enough to keep anyone but a fool, living in a world

full of marshmallows for the rest of his days...

The really smart drivers do not allow

themselves to be dragged into thinking that your value

in F1 can only be measured in cash. They understand

that what is most important is the number of races

that you win, and the points that you score. If you win

enough, money will inevitably follow.

To be fair to Lewis I think that part of the

decision is probably due to the fact that he felt a

little stifled at McLaren. He joined the team as a

boy and perhaps he felt that it was time to spread

his wings and leave home. One can understand

that, but Lewis seems to think that he will be able

to mould his new team around him and build a

winning outfit. I doubt that will happen. I would

argue that if Lewis was good at moulding teams

around him, he would have done so at McLaren,

which clearly he has not.

I have no doubt that Lewis’s management

was looking at the transfer as being a chance to

make a lot of cash. Simon Fuller of XIX Entertainment

may have made the Spice Girls and David Beckham

much richer, but motorsport is a little different to

the entertainment industry. Your value collapses if

you are not a winner in F1, and who out there in

the real world wants to be associated with a bloke

who is not winning

I can feel also the hand of Bernie Ecclestone

in all of this. I saw Lewis nipping off for a meeting

with Bernie in Spa and I can see three very good

reasons why Mr E would want to see such a deal

done: firstly it is a blow to McLaren; secondly,

Bernie loves to mix things up and spread the best

drivers around. You get a better show that way.

Thirdly, I can see that Mr E winning Mercedes over

by delivering them a real star driver, thus helping

to convince them to stay in the sport; and, perhaps,

helping to put a skateboard under the current

team management as well.

I simply fail to understand why it is that

Lewis and the people around him think that the

team is going places. Yes, there was a race win

in China, but when you look at averages the

improvement has been, well, very average.

In 2011 the team scored 165 points in

19 races. The likely end of year total in 2012 will

be around 200 points, which is a pretty small

percentage improvement.

Numbers will tell us that since Lewis started

racing in Formula 1 in 2007 McLaren has won 32

races, Red Bull 31 and Ferrari 27. No-one else is

even close.

“Lewis going to Mercedes is like buying

an apartment in Stalingrad in the early 1940s,

because someone told you the investment would

come good in the end,” said one cynic.

Alas, I agree with that.

















Hamilton to mercedes by David Tremayne


So now that the dust has settled, why did Lewis Hamilton

choose Mercedes over McLaren

After all the endless speculation triggered by

Eddie Jordan’s pre-Monza pronouncement that

Lewis would be joining Mercedes for 2013, and

the final confirmation of that on Friday the 28th

of September, everyone has been trying to figure

it all out.

Was the switch because Mercedes was

offering a bigger annual salary

It was easy to believe that initially, with

talk of an annual $12m offer from Mercedes

compared to McLaren’s rumoured $7.5m (half of

what it was paying him this season), except that

the latter was increased to a sum said to be a lot

closer to Mercedes’ offer in recent weeks. Perhaps

the revised McLaren offer simply came too late to

make a difference…

But if it was just about money, it’s more

likely to have been XIX Entertainment seeking the

big score than Lewis, who is believed to have had

other agendas. Such as winning.

Mercedes’ team principal Ross Brawn

insisted that it had nothing to do with money – and

was instead about Lewis seeking a new challenge.

"There is a competitive market for drivers

and Lewis is as competitive as anyone else in that

respect,” Ross said. “But Lewis didn't come here

because we offered more money - because we



"I think, first and foremost, Lewis is a racing

driver. That has to be the key to everything. If he's

not successful as a racing driver, none of the other

stuff can happen.

"Everybody involved here and involved

with him recognised that, first of all, he has to be

a successful racing driver. Because if he's not a

successful racing driver, nothing else can happen.

That's the key thing."

Lewis echoed those sentiments in his first

official comments.

"It’s now time for me to take on a fresh

challenge and I’m very excited to begin a new

chapter racing for the Mercedes Formula 1 team,"

he said in the press statement. "Mercedes-Benz has

such an incredible heritage in motorsport, along

with a passion for winning which I share. Together,

we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I

believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to

the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning

the World Championships."

Hmm, okay. What about the story that

Mercedes will allow him more freedom to exploit

his commercial rights That could have been a

factor. He’s known to have wanted greater freedom

for some time to develop his own brand, and was

severely restricted in that aspiration by the terms

of his McLaren contract. Mercedes offers him that

opportunity on the commercial side, which will

enable him to build something for the future.

Was there anything else Perhaps the most

crucial thing was his feeling that he just had to get

out of an environment in which he believed he was

being stifled. Insiders at McLaren have hinted that

Ron Dennis may have push the paternal side of


things too much during negotiations, and there’s a

case for thinking that, after 14 years with the team,

‘the kid’ had to ‘leave home’ to show he has grown

up. It’s not that he was regarded as part of the

furniture – far from it – but that he felt the need, in

his head and in his heart, for a new environment in

which to express himself.

Lewis insisted there were no hard feelings,

and agreed with the simile that moving from

McLaren was like leaving home.

"Yeah, definitely, because it's my family," he

said. “McLaren will always have that place in my

heart because I signed when I was 13, met Ron

when I was 10. I'm so incredibly grateful to Ron.

"But we must not forget that, whilst it was

Ron who signed me up, at the time it was McLaren

and Mercedes, and Mercedes had to also say, 'Yes,

we'll take him' so it was a joint decision by them.

My last five years has been Mercedes and McLaren

so I've always been a part of the Mercedes family

but now I'm moving to be a full part of the family."

The sad thing is that for all his comments

about Ron, he admits he didn’t actually speak with

the man who believed in his dream in the first

place and facilitated his career thereafter and then

took him into F1. "We didn't speak about it," he

confessed. "He spoke to me in Singapore. That was

about it. We haven't spoken since."

How tragic is it that their relationship boiled

down to that How hurtful must that have been

for Ron

In Tokyo on the Wednesday prior to the

Japanese Grand Prix, Lewis opened up further on

his thinking.

"No doubt it was one of the most difficult

decisions I've faced in my life up to now," he

admitted. “But a lot of other racing drivers, a lot

of greats - Prost and Senna for instance - they've

been with several teams.

"I'd been thinking for quite some time...

what I wanted to do with my future, where I want

to go. It's easy staying in the same place, but going

somewhere else and taking on a new challenge is

sometimes maybe even more exciting."

Many paddock insiders regard it as a

mistake, career suicide even, but naturally Lewis

doesn’t see it that way.

"I don't think it's a gamble," he said. "Not

really. I've had such a great career with McLaren.

I signed for McLaren when I was 13 and have had

such an incredible journey with them. In the end

I had two offers on the table which were very

similar but one was a lot more exciting. It's just a


"I could stay in the great car that I have,

which I've worked really hard to help develop with

the team, or go to a car that's not so well developed

and help it."

That’s the bit season sceptics don’t get.

Lewis says he is all about winning – and boy does

his driving reflect that! – but if that’s all it’s about

you’d have to say that with McLaren it’s taken him


since 2009 to get back into the position he enjoyed

there in 2007 and ’08. In some ways it’s almost as

unfathomable as Emerson Fittipaldi’s famed and

fated switch from McLaren in 1975 to brother

Wilson’s eponymous team for 1976, which surely

killed the great Brazilian’s F1 career.

Mercedes’ failure to win more than one race

in the 50 it has contested since purchasing Brawn

GP is one of the factors that has surprised people,

given that drivers only have so long in which to be

successful, and willingly giving up a winning ride

for an also-ran is, at best, an unusual career move.

There’s been a suggestion that Lewis and

XIX Entertainment were sold on the notion that

Mercedes will have an advantage in 2014 when the

new turbo engines come into play, but that seems

particularly naïve, with nothing to substantiate

it. McLaren has been a Mercedes customer for

three years now, yet it has thrashed Mercedes

in the victory stakes and there is no reason to

suppose that Mercedes will suddenly gain a car

advantage in 2014 just because it manufactures

the turbo engine. Recent history suggests that’s a


Lewis’s manner suggests that he is prepared

to mark time in 2013 building towards that Utopian

development in 2014, however.

"I'm fully aware the car at the moment is not

a World Championship-winning car," he said. "The

car that I'm in right now is a car that I've developed.

Next year will be an evolution of the car that I've

helped develop and that will be a championship



"But we (Mercedes) will work very, very

hard to have a better year next year, but it takes

time. You don't just arrive and things change. I

think the focus is more long-term. If I can go there,

help them progress, if we get some wins, if we

eventually win the World Championship - that's

going to be an incredible feeling for all of us.

"Everyone would choose the easy option,

but I don't think in my whole life I have taken

the easy road. Next year, there's no expectations.

It's a year to learn, and communicate and build

relationships with new people. I'm realistic about

the position I'm in."

Mercedes’s Norbert Haug also made some

relevant points. "Lewis is not a new guy for us. We

learnt Lewis via our partner McLaren. We financed

him 50/50 with McLaren in his junior career. In

Formula 3 Lewis won 15 of his 20 races [in the 2005

Euro Series], all with Mercedes engines.

"All his Formula 1 victories were with

Mercedes engines. And we have been paying

for his retainer with McLaren. That's common

knowledge from the past. He's already a member

of the Mercedes family. He knows us, he trusts us.

We have signed him now and now we need to

present ourselves on the racetrack. That's what

we're not currently doing in a good enough

manner. You can trust us that we are working on

that very intensively."

But it still comes down to something more.

Lewis’s need to find another environment.

Damon Hill says that he thought he had to

leave. "Lewis has been like a caged bird at McLaren,"

he suggested. "He's been managed to within an

inch of his life. I can't blame him for looking to

move elsewhere. He needed to leave McLaren to


stretch his wings."

Damon also said that he couldn’t

understand the thing about McLaren keeping a

driver’s trophies.

“I could never get my head around the logic

of that. It's the principle, not the trophy, that is at

stake. After you have won a Championship, and

jumped through a lot of hoops, there is a point

when you think: 'This is my life'. You can have a

bellyful of becoming a performing seal. You don't

want to be on probation for your whole career.

"Of course, you still have to fight inside

the car; but there is a time when, surely, you have

proved you can motivate yourself. These are things

Lewis has tried to balance."

Last year there was evidence of a desire for

something new when Lewis talked with Red Bull,

but he found that there was no interest so long

as Sebastian Vettel had his feet under Dietrich

Mateschitz’s table. Likewise, Fernando Alonso isn’t

likely to welcome his old Nemesis to Ferrari any

time soon. Those guys aren’t stupid. Both will feel

they could beat him over the course of a season

because they wouldn’t be team leaders or racers

if they didn’t, but they both know that they don’t

need that sort of internal fight to complicate their


So, faced with only one other remotely

realistic option in his desire for something different,

Lewis had to plump for Mercedes. Time alone will

tell whether he’ll be able to do what Niki Lauda did

when he went to Ferrari for 1974, or whether he’ll

suffer the same fate as Emerson two years later. v


martin whitmarsh by David Tremayne




When the news finally broke that the man

many regarded as the team’s greatest asset

was indeed heading off to Mercedes AMG,

Martin Whitmarsh summoned all his dignity

to explain why

So how did it all unfold

“Over the last few months we’ve been

in negotiation with Lewis’s management team.

We could see there was always some chance

we wouldn’t reach a positive conclusion. And

ultimately we weren’t able to reach an agreed set

of terms.

“We have been monitoring over last few

years other young drivers, and it became clear

that we needed to develop an option, which we

did. Negotiations with Sergio’s management were

quite straightforward and we are delighted to

secure such an exciting young talent.”

How does it feel to know that on your watch

McLaren has let one of the top three drivers go

“Firstly, next year we’ve two great drivers,

one very proven World Champion in Jenson, and

in Sergio, everyone would accept, we have the

most exciting young talent in F1 so we have a very

good driver line-up.

“Looking at McLaren’s last four races, the

last four years or the last 40 years people can see we


are a great team, and with the line-up announced

next year no doubt we will continue to be a great


When did you find out, and how much of a

shock was it

“We found out finally two days ago

[Wednesday, September 26] and we were working

towards him staying with the team though

realistically knew there was always that chance he

wouldn’t. At that point we signed Sergio.”

Did Lewis tell you personally, face-to-face,

of his decision

"He told me personally, but not face-toface.

He was in Asia, and rang me personally, and

I believe I was the first person he told. On this

occasion I do believe people were telling me the

truth, and I believe this was a very difficult decision

for him and that it was only made two days ago."

Did he say exactly why he is leaving

"We had a conversation, which was a private

conversation. All I can do is say why McLaren has

made the decision it has made. It's a little unwise,

and probably unfair to Lewis - I've known him for

15 years, and I like him as a human being - for me

to speculate on his thinking or disclose private

conversations we had over the last couple of days."

How did Ron [Dennis] react Was it like

you’d dropped the best Wedgewood You are

losing a major brand in Lewis, and he’s put various

negative things out there; will you be resigning

Whitmarsh laughs. “Ron was aware of what

was happening, like I was… Lewis has had fantastic

career in McLaren, he’s had a great chapter of

his life with us. We know him well, he has great

chance to participate in the winning of a World

Championship this year. There are six races to go


and we intend to go there and try and win all of

them. We are racers. We are here to put together

the strongest team, and there is no-one person

who is bigger than this team. It’s a fantastic team. I

am very confident we will be very competitive over

the remaining six races, confident we have got a

really exciting talent in Sergio. We look forward to

next year.”

Was Ron relaxed or angry

“Ron is a racer. What is important is actually

what we are doing with the team and he knows, as

we have monitored Sergio over a number of years,

that he is a massively exciting talent and we now

have the opportunity to mould him and we like

doing that. We are looking forward to competing

this season successfully and also to next year.”

Do you regret saying that you had no Plan B

“Sadly, I couldn’t tell you a little bit more

but we monitor a number of drivers. Fortunately

there is a lot of talent out there. Plan B is if you

have a contract in place. I don’t regret saying that

because we hadn’t got a contract at that point.

When I judged it was the right time to do so, we

moved forward with an option in place.”

What was deciding factor in Lewis’s decision

and did you do all you could in your power to get

him to stay

“I know we made a very, very big financial

offer, bigger than I believe any Formula 1 driver is

enjoying today. I know what we did and I think it

is better for others to comment on these things

rather than for me to speculate. Ultimately, we

wish him well but actually in the short term we

have got two great drivers and want to win with

them in the team.”

Where does this leave McLaren and



“I spoke to Carlos Slim yesterday to tell

him about this. I have got to say he has been

very supportive. He understands that we have a

partnership with Vodafone and he is respectful of

that. We have selected Sergio because we think

he is one of the best talents. He is very young and

undeveloped and yet he has had some stunning

performances. There are a lot of people who

have supported him and they are excited by the

prospect of him joining a great team like McLaren

and they did not want to stand in his way. We are

grateful for their support. Going forward, then we

have got an exciting young Mexican who can add

a new dimension to this team and to the sport.”

He has youth and experience, yet he wasn’t

deemed ready by Ferrari

“I believe he is ready, otherwise we would

not be doing it. In 2006, I was sat in this office

getting a lot of criticism about putting a young

Lewis Hamilton into Formula 1. People said there

was no way he could possibly be ready. They were

similar ages at this stage. Sergio is young and

undeveloped but it has been proven you can sculpt

drivers and that will be a challenge for us.” Indeed

it was, in the days of Kimi Raikkonen, and trying

to mould Juan Pablo Montoya was like squeezing

a balloon and expecting it to stay the new shape

without bulging out somewhere else.

Is Jenson the No 1 until Sergio develops


“I have never said that it would take

Sergio a while to develop. I believe that he will

be competing to win in Australia next year and I

think he is capable of doing that. With regards to

No 1 status, that’s not how we work. We’ll be in

Australia with Sergio and Jenson both competing

for a win.”

Was Sergio always top of the shortlist or

were there others

“We have been watching him. There have

been other drivers [unclear] that we would have

been able to attract and recruit, most of the other

young drivers in Formula 1. But our view was that

Sergio is very intelligent, he is a very humble and

pleasant individual. But he has clearly got the

hunger. There was no fear as he has overtaken

people like Fernando Alonso this year. He has got

good racecraft. When you speak to him you realise

he is very young but that is exciting because I believe

he has shown great maturity in one sense but on

the other we undoubtedly believe we can develop

him into a World Champion in fairly short order.”

It seems that part of the sales patter to Lewis

was the idea that the engine regulation change in

2014 will somehow confer a chassis advantage on


“Lewis knows that we are strong team if you

measure us over the short, medium or long-term.

We have got a long-standing partnership with

Mercedes. If you look at our track record since we

have had this relationship, in terms of race wins,

podiums etc, we have been pretty successful. We

enjoy great relationships with the company, in

Stuttgart, Brackley and Brixworth. I don’t think

that suggestion is material in this particular issue.”

Are you team members professional

enough to deal with what they may see as an act

of betrayal over the next six races

“The characters in our team are incredibly

professional. I am immensely proud of this team

and the people in it. I know that we want to win.

We realise there are two World Championships to

win, six races to win. I have assured Lewis we will

be in Japan looking to win that race. He is still a

McLaren driver and we want to win all the races we

can with him before the end of this season. I know

how the team ticks and I understand the nature

of the people. They will be professional, they will

do their job and they will work well and hard with

Lewis to do everything they can to win six more


“There is a lot of respect for Lewis in the

team. He is still a McLaren driver and he will be

protected by McLaren all the time his is a McLaren

driver. I want to go and win six races with him in

the team.”

What has McLaren done to upset Lewis so

significantly that he would leave

“I don’t think anyone in this team has upset

Lewis. Rather than be speculative on that, which

I think would be most unwise, we had to accept

that we didn’t agree terms with his management


and therefore they and Lewis have decided to go

elsewhere. We have made a financial offer which

is better than anyone in Formula 1, other than

himself, receives today, and that is something that

I am comfortable with. But ultimately we move

forward now.”

Did anyone at McLaren, perhaps Ron, upset

him from the get go

"I do not believe, from the conversations I

had with Lewis over the last 48 hours, he is upset

with me or anyone else here. Personally we have

a very warm and great relationship. I'm sure

someone could ask Lewis himself that particular


Was your initial offer unattractive

"Our first offer was a very good first offer. It

was said by Lewis' management to be a very good

first offer, and therefore, at no stage did an offer

from us upset Lewis or his management."

How will you feel when you see Lewis in a

Mercedes for the first time

"On a personal level, I wish him well.

And I have no doubt it will be strange. It’ll be a

new experience for me, but I'm sure when I'm

in Australia I won't be thinking about that. I'll be

thinking about more exciting things."

How will the loss of Lewis and the signing

of Sergio affect the commercial arrangement with


"Lewis and Jenson are great ambassadors

and great assets. Those of you who have met Sergio

know he is great. For some of our partners to have a

European and a Latin in our team is very appealing.

You'll never please everyone, of course, but there

are some partners who were uncomfortable with

the Britishness of our line up, and clearly we have

a broader appeal now.”

Is that what counted against Paul di Resta

“I know Paul very well and the true answer

is that I rate him, but it would probably have been

a little bit too continuing with the British theme to

have gone that route.”

Has Lewis made a terrible mistake

Committed career suicide

“Well, Mercedes is a great partner of ours

and a great team. But for anyone leaving McLaren,

and Lewis says he wants to win, I think that’s a

mistake because I have faith and belief in this

team as I said to you, whether you measure it over

the last four races, the last four years or the last 40

years. We’re a fantastic team so I would say to any

driver who wanted to win in this sport come and

join McLaren or aspire to join McLaren. I wouldn’t

advise anyone to leave McLaren if they want to

win. But I’ve got to respect Lewis’s decision and I

really wish him well.”





Why it was more than the clumsy accident in Singapore that led Michael Schumacher to say good night to F1 for the second time

He was flanked by the faithful Ross Brawn

and Norbert Haug from AMG Mercedes, as

he faced reporters in Suzuka on Thursday in a

somewhat clunky and impromptu-seeming

press conference. And Schumacher seemed

slightly bemused and a little emotional as

he broke the not unexpected news that he

was calling time on Formula 1. Again.

“Today is about my future,” he

began. “Probably, not a complete surprise

to explain my thoughts about it. I have

decided to retire by the end of the year

2012, although I am still able and capable

to compete with the best drivers that are

around. But at some point, it is good to say

goodbye and that is what I am doing now

by the end of the season.”

And then he added, tongie-in-cheek:

“And it might this time be for ever,” before

going on to explain his feelings in the wake

of Lewis Hamilton’s move to the team.

“During the past weeks and months I

was not sure to still have the motivation and

energy which is necessary to go on. With

today’s decision I feel relieved, obviously,

and released from these doubts, and in

the end my ambition to fight for victories

and the pleasure of driving is nourished by

competitiveness. It is without doubt that

we did not achieve our goals to develop the

world championship-fighting car. But it is

clear that I can still be very happy about my

overall achievements in the whole time of

my career.

“In the past six years I have learned

a lot about myself. For example, that you

can open yourself without losing focus.

But losing can be more difficult and more

instructive than winning. Sometimes, I have

lost this out of sight in the earlier years.

“You have to appreciate to be able

to do what you love to do and lift your

convictions. I would like to thank Daimler,

Mercedes Benz, the team, all my engineers

and mechanics for the trust that they put

in me. I would like to thank all my friends,

partners, and companions who over many

years in motorsport supported myself.

“Most of all, I would like to thank my

wife, Corinna, and my family for standing

always by my side. They always gave me the

freedom to live my conviction and share my

joy. That is very special.

“I would like to concentrate till the

end of the rest of the season to win some

more. Thank you.”

When he was asked when his

decision was made, he admitted: “Since quite

a while. We had a three-year agreement.

Already it was hard work for me to keep the

motivation and keep the energy to always

go forward. With all what I have achieved in


a way, it is natural and normal that you think about

these things more than when being young. I have

always known how things have developed and

I am very pleased. I was informed by the team. I

am now free to get the freedom back that I had


It was obviously not an easy decision for

a highly competitive athlete, but he added: “We

have to focus the reality and I have had my doubts

for quite a while whether I have the energy. I told

you in 2006 my battery was empty. I have achieved

so much. Naturally I am on the red zone. I was not

sure I could recharge with the time available. It is

time for freedom again.”

And the difference between 2006 and

2012 Back then he was eased out of Ferrari to

make way for incoming Kimi Raikkonen, but not

unexpectedly he phrased it a different way: “I

decided at the time I should have a sabbatical. I

wanted to retire and find a different life. Nature

and circumstances may be coming back. I have

no hard feelings. In a different way, we had a great

three years. We did not achieve what we wanted

to achieve. That is clear. But as a human we had a

lot of possibilities to look at positives that I have

achieved for myself and for the team together and

we have learned a few lessons.

“In my first career, I had lot of focus. There

was constant demand and pressure that it was

difficult to cope with over the years. This is why

my battery was empty. Then the circumstances to

come back were there. I was able to enjoy and not

lose the focus. I was not doing it in the first part of

my career.”

His old friend Brawn paid him a glowing


Chez Schumacher, Switzerland


“Michael is the greatest driver of the century

and I was very privileged to work with him from

the very beginning. He brought a lot to the team.

There is a lot of contribution from him behind the


“The team is in strong shape for the

future and Michael has been involved deeply in

building that and the team has been progressing

a lot. We discussed our options with him and he

was considering the situation. If there was an

agreement reached it was not for one year only. It

is a mutual decision. It suited everybody to make

the decision we did. Of course Lewis needed time

too. It progressed like that. There were no conflicts

of decision and it evolved very swiftly. Michael kept

me aware of his feelings and his thoughts and we

discussed how everything was going. Someone

of the calibre of Lewis does not become available

every day. That was an important factor that came

into our discussions.”

Speaking of his chances for the weekend,

Schumacher said: “Suzuka is one of the season's

highlights for me. I enjoy the circuit - it has sections

that challenge you as a driver like almost nowhere

else. Then there are the fans: they love motor

racing and it is fun to feel their passion. I'm also a

big fan of Japanese food, so I'm always happy to

travel to this race.”

But everyone knew that his chances were

damned by the 10 grid place penalty the stewards

handed him for that clumsy collision with Jean-

Eric Vergne in Singapore, and his shunt at Spoon

Curve on Friday didn’t help.

“Logically, it would also be nice to achieve

a sporting highlight this weekend,” he said,

“although my chances are of course very limited


ecause of my penalty. But I've always approached

these things as a challenge.”

What the medium-term future holds for

the man some regard as the ‘greatest ever’ remains


“Six races to go and what comes next is

not urgent,” he stressed. “I do as I did it. There is a

second time. I want to focus 200 percent on what

I do next and I have options obviously. But for

whatever the options will be, we decide when the

time will be there.”

Interestingly he said that he had an option

to stay with Mercedes. If that was as a driver then

it would have been early in the game before Lewis

approached the team and it became clear he was

interested in a switch from McLaren. After that,

it became clear that if Schumacher stays it won’t

be in a driving role but some sort of managerial

job at races. This may yet happen, though the

appointment in the Singapore week of Niki Lauda

as a non-executive member reporting back directly

to the main Mercedes Board chiefs may not leave

him a lot of room.

The top three qualifiers were asked their

views on his retirement.

“I think it's a loss for Formula 1,” polesitter

Vettel said. “It's a shame, obviously. I think it was

good fun to have him around, race against him

and joke with him, so I think I will miss that but

obviously you can understand his decision and,

as I said, we will miss him. I wish him all the best

for his future, and hope we still have him around

somehow in some function.”

“I think the last three years, we've all been

wondering and watching to see what happened

to his second career and it wasn't like the first one,”


Button said, “but I think it just shows and proves

how amazing the first one was because he hasn't

done badly. It is a loss for the sport, having a

seven-time World Champion and someone that's

achieved more than anyone else and will for a very

long time, leaving the sport. He feels that it's the

right time to leave, and good luck to him.”

“I think it's pretty obvious that there were

two different careers,” straight-talking Webber

offered. “One phenomenal one and then in the

next one the car, everything together didn't get

close to what he did in the past, and that's how

sensitive Formula 1 can be. He knows that, he took

a new challenge on - which you have to take your

hat off to him - because he didn't want to be back

at home just doing the groceries, and he was also

very hungry to challenge himself again. We saw

some flash points of what he's capable of, but he

also knows himself, he's seen some flash points

which is the right time for him to stop. So move




Suzuka 50 years on by Joe Saward


Suzuka opened its doors 50 years ago... and the first Japanese GP took place a year later.

John Hugenholz, the track manager of the

Zandvoort circuit in Holland, received a telegram

from Japan in 1961. It did not mince words.

"Please come to Tokyo," it said.

It was signed by Soichiro Honda.

Honda (right) wanted some advice about

designing racing circuits. Mr Honda had decided

that he wanted to create a circuit on land in the

foothills of the Suzuka Mountains, in the Mie

Prefecture. It would be close to his brand new

factory in Suzuka City. This had opened in 1960

and was the most advanced motorcycle factory in

the world at the time. It was a huge risk for Honda,

but he believed that demand would increase to

create customers for his motorcycles.

Honda was a visionary and he was already

planning to expand his empire from motorcycles to

cars and light trucks. His first car project was going

to be a roadster, aimed at the United States.

Hugenholz had been managing Zandvoort

since 1949 and was THE expert in track safety at

the time, but although he was often credited with

having designed the Dutch track, the truth was

that the circuit had been laid out on existing roads

through the dunes. These had been built by the

Germans in 1942, as part of the the Atlantic Wall

fortifications, designed to defend the European

coastline against invasion from Britain.

Honda and Hugenholz met in Japan

and discussed the design of Suzuka and by

the start of 1962 had finalised the design of the

track. Construction followed and the new track

opened at the end of 1962 with a motorcycle race.

Although it was still too early for Honda to have

any automobiles ready, there was enthusiasm for


In February 1963 the recently created

Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) swallowed

up the Japan Automobile Association (JAA) and

at the same time was accepted by the FIA as the

Japanese ASN. The new body began operating at

the beginning of April 1963 and four weeks later

the club organised the first automobile races at

the new Suzuka.

They called the main event, the Japanese

Grand Prix. There were in fact a number of races on

the programme with no shortage of competitors

in the touring cars and GT classes, but the main

events were for sports cars, although the available

machinery in Japan was rather limited.

There were a trio of Lotus 23s, driven by the

company's sales manager Peter Warr, Mike Knight,

and Arthur Owen. There were a number of French

competitors as well, organised by Lotus stalwart

Gérard "Jabby" Crombac. He put together a group

including his protégé José Rosinski, who was

driving an Aston Martin DB4 GT, Pierre Dumay in a

Ferrari 250GT SWB and the mysterious P Sevigny

in a Porsche 356 Super 90.

The field was padded out with Briton

Robert Baxter in a Jaguar E-type, a second Porsche

entered for a driver called Lee and a 17-year-old


called Tetzu Ikuzawa, making his racing debut in

a Prince Skyline Sport GT after a successful career

in motorcycle racing. He would later go to Britain

and race competitively in Formula 3 and Formula

2 and at Le Mans before setting up his own team

and becoming the mentor of a youngster called

Satoru Nakajima, who would become Japan's first

fulltime F1 driver in the 1980s. There would be a

second race which would add Germany's Huschke

von Hanstein, Britain's Francis Francis in a Jaguar

D-type, a Lotus 11 and a Triumph.

It was not an overly impressive field, but for

the 200,000 fans who turned up for the race, this

was not important. It was their first international

motor race, and they were keen to enjoy it.


Peter Warr saw Japan as a place were Lotus

might be able to sell a lot of cars - and although he

was no race ace, he was sufficiently skilled to be

able to outpace Knight and Owen in both of the

races. It was the high point of his career as a driver.

In the 1970s he would become team manager of

Team Lotus in F1 and later ran the Wolf F1 team

and Fittipaldi before returning to Lotus at the end

of 1981. He would become the team principal after

Colin Chapman's death and ran the team until


If the sports car races were not overly

exciting, the supporting GT and touring car events

were filled with drama.

In the touring car event there were exciting

displays of enthusaistic driving by the local heroes,

and victory for a Toyota, while the GT event was

won by a Datsun Fairlady, driven by Genichiro

Tawara. He was a keen amateur without any factory

support but the car was sufficiently good to allow

him to beat the fastest Triumph by six seconds.

Suzuka was a great challenge and

dangerous too.

Masao Asano - crashed his Austin Healey

approaching 130R and was thrown from the car.

He suffered a serious head injury, from which he

died three months later.


wacky racers by Joe Saward


Grand Prix racing has a curious effect on people. Some are desperate to be team owners, they want to be in the spotlight. Some are

just mad about racing. Long before the Formula 1 World Championship began in 1950 there were weird and wonderful owner/drivers.

These included Amédee Ozanphant, a Cubist painter, "Helle Nice", a stripper at the Casino de Paris and Louis Chiron who, so they say,

started his career dancing with older ladies at the Hotel de Paris...

There were band leaders, diplomats, bankers,

aristocrats, gigolos and heirs to vast fortunes.

Even as late as the 1960s and 1970s there was

still potential for the eccentric rich to start their

own teams and build kit cars. The team bosses

in this era included successful wheeler-dealers

like Walter Wolf, Roger Penske, Gunther Schmid

and Guy Ligier. There was the colourful Argentine

Alejandro de Tomaso, who was rumoured to

have fled his country after being involved in a

plot to assassinate President Juan Peron. Others

bought cars from established teams and ran them

independently. The last privateer of that ilk was

Mexican Hector Rebaque in 1979. Since then the

customer cars have disappeared and drivers have

resorted to buying drives with existing teams.

Teams now pass from the hands of one

owner to the next - and some of them have been

eccentric, some have been odd, and some have

been downright criminals. Their stories are so

bizarre that at times one doubts that they can be

true. Mexican businessman Fernando Gonzalez

Luna was just such an individual. In 1989 he

announced that he intended to create a Mexican

racing team. He established a company called

GLAS - Gonzalez Luna Associates - and began

raising sponsorship from Mexican companies and

investors. The project looked to be going well

and it was announced in early 1990 that he had

persuaded Lamborghini Engineering in Italy not

only to supply him with the new Lamborghini V12

engines, but also to expand its operations and

build a chassis for the team as well. The Italians

hired a team of designers and work on a chassis

began. GLAS raised $20 million to pay for the

exciting project.

And then a weird thing happened. In June

1990 Gonzalez Luna disappeared without trace.

The money disappeared with him. Gonzalez Luna

had pulled off a successful confidence trick...


Lamborghini Engineering decided that

rather than throw away the money that it had

invested in the chassis department it would

find someone else to run a team using the same

package and eventually came up with Italian

financier Carlo Patrucco, who agreed to start

an organisation called Modena Team. The team

signed drivers Nicola Larini and Eric Van de Poele

and got off to a good start when Larini finished

seventh in Phoenix in 1991. At the San Marino Van

de Poele was running fourth when his car broke

down in the final laps of the race. Soon afterwards

the team ran out of money. No-one knows what

became of Gonzalez Luna.

There is a saying in F1 that if one wants to

make a million in Grand Prix racing, the best thing

to do is to start with $10 million. Gonzalez Luna is

one of the few who made a pile... Some folk have

so much money that they think they can afford

the sport. This was certainly true of America's

Lance Reventlow, who arrived in F1 at the end of

the 1950s. His full name was Lawrence Graf von

Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow, but the key

point was that his mother was Barbara Hutton,

who inherited the Woolworth store chain. She

married a number of times and Lance was her child

with Danish Count Kurt Haugwitz-Reventlow. The

relationship was shortlived but the two parents

then spent many years fighting for custody of the

poor child. Hutton went on to marry film star Cary

Grant and although they quickly divorced Lance

regarded Grant as a father figure and spent a lot of

time in the unreal world of Hollywood.

His interest in racing came after his mother

married Prince Igor Troubetzkoy, a Russian emigré

who raced quite successfully. When he was 19 Lance

began competing in club events in California. He

was a pal of James Dean and was driving with the

Hollywood star hours before he was killed.

Reventlow eventually decided to go to

Europe to race and spent a season racing Cooper

Formula 2 cars. He then returned to the United

States and set up his own team called Reventlow

Automobile Inc., the plan being to build sportscars

which he called Scarabs. These were quite successful

and he immediately decided to build Formula 1

cars. The Scarab (above) was a front-engineered

car but arrived just as the rear-engined revolution

was hitting F1. Reventlow drove the Scarab in

the first half of the 1960 season but the car was

not competitive and he eventually borrowed a

factory Cooper which he qualified for one single

Grand Prix. It was all too much. He went back the

US, lost interest in motor racing and spent the rest

of his confused life in and out of gossip columns.

He would die in a plane crash while flying in an

electrical storm in the Rocky Mountains in 1972.

Britain had a similar story with Lord

Alexander Hesketh, who inherited his family's

fortune at the age of four, after the early death of

his father Baron Hesketh. He was not allowed to

get his money until his 21st birthday. As soon as he

did, egged on by pal Anthony " Bubbles" Horsley,

he started his own racing team, buying a couple


of Surtees chassis for James Hunt, a youngster

who had earned the nickname "Hunt the Shunt"

because of a series of crashes in Formula 3. Hesketh

refused to accept sponsorship and dressed his

team in gaudy red, white and blue uniforms. His

own uniform carried the title "Le Patron" and his

crazy spending reached absurd levels at Monaco

where he sent his helicopter to nearby Nice each

morning to bring back the morning newspapers

and croissants for the guests on his yacht.

After running a March in F1 in 1973 Hesketh

decided to build his own cars for the 1974 season

and gave Dr Harvey Postlethwaite the chance to

prove himself as a designer. The cars were built

in converted stables behind the Hesketh family

stately home at Easton Neston, near Silverstone.

The Hesketh 308 proved to be quite competitive

and Hunt won the 1974 International Trophy F1

race at Silverstone. The car was developed for

1975 and Hunt won the Dutch GP that summer

and finished fourth in the World Championship.

Hesketh was running short of money by

then and, after failing to find sponsorship, he

announced that he was closing down the team.

He sold the cars to oil man Walter Wolf.

While Hunt went on to win the World

Championship with McLaren in 1976, Hesketh

disappeared from the spotlight until 1990 when

he popped up again in a rather more sobre role, as

a junior minister at the Department of Trade and

Industry and later as the Conservative Government's

Chief Whip in the House of Lords. In 2003 this

legendary waster of money was made Treasurer

of the Conservative Party, although he resigned in

2006 when he ran into further financial troubles.

Some team owners simply want to win


and become famous, but Switzerland's Peter

Monteverdi (right) wanted to be his country's

version of Enzo Ferrari. In the early 1960s he

built his own Formula Junior cars - called MBMs

- and later built his own MBM Formula 1 car. This

suffered a suspension failure at Hockenheim and

Monteverdi was fortunate to survive when the car

slewed off the road into the forest beside the track.

He suffered multiple injuries but soon recovered

and decided to concentrate on a road car business.

He buried the remains of the MBM F1 car in the

foundations of a showroom in his home town of

Binningen and began manufacturing sports cars.

These were not very successful and eventually the

business was converted into a car museum.

By then Peter Monteverdi had

become famous as Switzerland's best known


In 1990 he found money to buy the Onyx F1

team and quickly renamed it Monteverdi. At first

F1 was amused by his bizarre behaviour, and by

the old London double decker bus which served

as his motorhome.

In 1991 he began to talk about doing the

design work HIMSELF , a decision which caused a lot

of people to leave the team. He shut down his UK

operation and opened a workshop in Switzerland,

hiring a crew of Swiss mechanics. The standards of

preparation fell dramatically and the drivers reported

that Monteverdi soon began replacing old parts on

the F1 cars from the machines in his museum.

The team was obviously living on borrowed

time and it disappeared at the Belgian Grand Prix

that year, after Goodyear refused to supply tyres

until bills had been paid.

Monteverdi died in 1998, at the ge of 64.

Andrea Sassetti has the distinction of being

a team owner who was actaully thrown out of F1,

for bringing the sport into disrepute. The Italian

ran a fashion company called Andrea Moda and

he reckoned that a racing team would help him

sell shoes, so in 1991 he bought Enzo Coloni's

unsuccessful Formula 1 team and called it Andrea

Moda Formula. He did not have the equipment

necessary to build cars but instead cut a deal with

a company called Simtek Research, which had

designed an F1 car but did not have the money to

run it. Things began badly when Sassetti refused

to pay the deposit needed for a new team, arguing

that the team was still, in effect, Coloni. Things got

worse when he failed to pay his engine bills. By the

midsummer the FIA was warning that the team

would be thrown out of the World Championship

if it did not improve. Things were not helped when

Sassetti was reported to have survived an attempt

by persons unknown to shoot him as he left his

factory in Italy.

When he arrived at Spa that autumn he

was arrested by Belgian police in the paddock, for

allegedly forging invoices. The following week the

FIA decided that the team should be thrown out

of the World Championship for bringing the sport

into disrepute.

This may sound serious, but being thrown

out of F1 would have been a better choice for the

owner of the Larrousse team Rainer Walldorf, who

bought the team in 1992 with a company called

Comstock, which claimed to have a system that

would produce sufficient money to run a team -

and make a profit for investors...

It did not take very long for F1 to discover

that Walldorf's real name was Klaus Walz, a man

who was wanted by police in several countries

in connection with four different murders. This

became public knowledge when French police

raided his home at Valbonne, in the hills behind

Nice. He was placed under arrest but requested

to be allowed to collect some documents from


his desk. He pulled out a hand grenade and and

threatened to blow everyone up unless the

policemen did as they were told. They agreed to

be handcuffed to the furniture and then taking

a police inspector hostage he drove away for a

hastily arranged rendez-vous with an accomplice.

The police inspector was left handcuffed to the car

and the grenade was thrown away and exploded

harmlessly. Walldorf disappeared. A month later

he was found by German police in a hotel.

After a nine hour seige the police stormed

Walldorf's room and he was killed during the gun

battle, bringing to a messy end the shortest - and

possibly the most colourful - career of all F1 team


The darker side of humankind has been

seen on several occasions in F1. Don Nichols (right)

was an American who spent most of the 1950s and

1960s living and working in Japan - apparently

earning money as a tyre dealer and mixing with the

small motor racing community in Japan. Eventually

he went back to the United States and established

a company called Advanced Vehicle Systems Inc.

in California. This began working to build a racing

car called a Shadow. It was a brilliant name, but

also a joke for the team owner. The team's logo

was a cloaked man with broad hat hiding his face.

The first Shadows were raced in CanAm

sportscar events in the US but Nichols soon landed

a big sponsorship deal from the UOP oil company

and entered Formula 1 with cars designed by

Tony Southgate, drivers Jackie Oliver and George

Follmer and team manager Alan Rees. The team

did well and in 1977 Alan Jones won the team's

first - and only - victory at the Austrian GP. But by

then UOP had withdrawn and at the end of 1977


Oliver (who had become the team's sponsorhunter),

Rees, Southgate, driver Riccardo Patrese

and sponsor Franco Ambrosio decided to leave

Shadow and form a new team. It was called Arrows.

They built the first Arrows FA/1 car in just 53 days.

Nichols immediately sued them claiming that the

design was the same as the Shadow DN9 and that

he was the victim of industrial espionage.

The High Court in London ruled that

Nichols was right and Arrows was banned from

using the FA/1. The following day a new Arrows

A1 appeared for the first time, the team having

expected to lose the legal battle. Nichols rebuilt

the Shadow team but money was short and not

very competitive. In 1981 he sold the operation to

Chinese businessman Teddy Yip.

It emerged only later that Nichols had

chosen the spy logo for a good reason. He had

been a spy with America's Central Intelligence

Agency during his years in Japan - using Tokyo as

a base for activities in Korea and Vietnam - yet he

had been knocked-out of F1 by espionage...

Most F1 team owners tend to be fairly

conventional in their appearance, but Belgian

millionaire Jean-Pierre Van Rossem (left) did not

worry about such things. He did not care what

people thought of the way he looked. He had long

grey hair and a beard down to his waist and always

looked a little like a rather sweaty Father Christmas.

The eccentric Ferrari fan had made around

$150m with his Moneytron investment scheme

and began to spend it all on motor racing. He

started out as a sponsor of the Onyx F1 team in

1989 - insisting that the cars be painted pink and

blue. By the midseason he had bought a majority

shareholding in the team.


He came close to securing the factory

Porsche engine deal at the end of the year and

when Porsche decided to join Arrows instead, Van

Rossem sold the team to Peter Monteverdi.

After his F1 adventures, Van Rossem's

financial empire collapsed. He was charged with

fraud and sentenced to five years in prison. He

managed to stay out of jail by appealing the

sentence on a variety of different counts and then

managed to get himself elected to parliament to

gain immunity from prosecution.

He shocked the Belgians by writing a guide

to the country's brothels and by making loud

republican statements while parliamentarians

were taking their oaths of allegiance to Belgium's

King Albert II. Eventually his immunity was lifted

and he was sent to jail. He has since returned to


Perhaps such days are gone, but there is

always potential for team bosses to get it wrong

and go off the rails...



the hack looks back by Mike Doodson

what’s it like out there, on tv

I'm beginning to feel a bit gloomy about the TV

coverage of GP racing here in the United Kingdom

and about the damage that was done when

the BBC and Sky conspired together to divide

up the broadcasting rights between them last

year. Regardless of the suspiciously encouraging

viewing figures being bandied about by both

channels, I suspect that neither of them really has

its heart in the sport. It's case of too many cooks in

the kitchen, etc.

It was the Beeb which set the pace in

popularising F1 racing on TV and ensuring that all

the races were covered. There's still probably an

element of hard core pro-F1 middle management

there who think the GP coverage is worth retaining,

not just because it's a good show but also because

they're well aware that commercial coverage

of motor racing always lets down the devoted

fans by intruding at inappropriate moments.

Unfortunately, these people are becoming fewer

after more than 30 years in the business. Even

during the period of the ITV Terror (1997-2008) it

was still mostly BBC personnel, working as subcontractors,

who looked after the cameras and

pointed them.

As for Sky, it's difficult to know what the

future holds. At present, in its first year, the quality

of the coverage seems reasonable to me (with

reservations set out below), but the cynic in me

can't help wondering for how long the hardnosed

Mr Murdoch will be prepared to extend his

current saintly policy of prohibiting commercial

interruption. If Murdoch does follow his nose for

a profit and go for in-race advertising [said to be

coming in 2013 – Ed] , that will further alienate

millions of viewers. Meanwhile, with half the races

behind a Sky pay-wall which excludes a high

proportion of the UK fans who previously took an

interest, the sport is, in effect, deliberately spurning

the market, most of it among young people, that it

needs to sustain the interest of sponsors.

Talking with neighbours and friends, I can

detect a palpable reduction in the level of interest

in F1 racing. They're simply not watching anymore.

Being realistic, I suppose we have to admit that

this was inevitable. There was a time when whole

British households had got into the habit of sitting

down together after Sunday lunch to watch the

latest GP, with Muddly Talker and James Hunt

doing their Punch-and-Judy knockabout stuff

in the background. Kids grew up with it and the

nation got the F1 habit. But that was more than

20 years ago, and now there's far more sport on

TV to attract the eye and divert attention away

from motor racing. Making things worse is the

lack of encouragement for our kids to watch F1.

Coupled with cripplingly high prices for tickets to

the British GP, the incentive for young people to

get interested in the sport is melting away.

Understandably, considering how much

they'd paid for the Olympics, the Beeb's poobahs

banged the drum so hard for the Games that a high

proportion of the nation's viewers were duped into

developing a mysterious taste for weird events

(dressage diving kayaking) which they probably

won't even get a chance to watch again on TV until

the wanton money-spraying starts all over again

in Rio in 2016. Yes, it was great for us Brits that our

athletes had so much success in London, but on the

Sunday of the second weekend of the Games, not

one of the BBC news reports that I heard, either on

the radio or TV, felt it worth mentioning alongside

Mo Farah's successes that the British driver

Jenson Button had won a masterly victory at Spa-

Francorchamps. In this case, perhaps we should be


grateful for small mercies. I can remember a time

when a race which produced the sort of shunts we

saw at Spa would have had the TV news gloating

over all that wreckage on an endless video loop.

Speaking personally, I consider Mr

Murdoch's price for bringing F1 into my home to

be too expensive, so I rely on my Sky-contracted

friends if I want to see any of the Sky-exclusive GPs.

So far this season I have only watched one race

- the Italian GP - all the way through on the pay

channel. Martin Brundle was of course excellent,

though there was not enough of him, and David

Croft was better (and less shouty) than I had

expected. Pit wizard Ted Kravitz didn't get as much

exposure as I remember him getting on the Beeb,

which seemed a waste of resources, although

there was compensation in Anthony Davidson's

briskly-delivered and thoroughly convincing postmortem

analysis. I don't regard myself as sexist, and

I'm told that Georgie Thompson is an experienced

motorsporting presenter. Unfortunately, not

only did she fail to stamp much authority on the

broadcast which I saw, but she was also spilling out

of her frock, which is surely unhelpful when you

don't want to be regarded as the token female.

Then there was the utterly useless bloke

who supervised the post-race paddock discussions

for Sky. Who is he My sources say he came from the

world of rugby and has the good fortune to be a

friend of the producer, which hardly seems a good

recommendation. At Monza he was so anonymous

that he only attracted half the number of paddock

noddies (you know, the irritating gurners who

deliberately sidle around behind the presenters

to get their mugs on the telly) that Jake Humphry

& Co attract on the Beeb. How do these worthless

chumps get passes (The noddies, not Jake and EJ.)

After Lewis Hamilton's Monza win, someone

at Sky had the unhappy notion of wheeling out Ron

Dennis to face Mr Anonymous and his anodyne

questions. Ron was understandably stoked and

he would have been the correct choice if the

interview had been kept short and sharp. Instead,

we got a torrent of embarrassingly unpunctuated

Ronspeak. I couldn't help feeling that Sky should

reintroduce that hook thing that was once used

in the music halls to haul off the drunk and/or

unfunny comics. It really was that bad.

The BBC may not do everything perfectly,

although it's good enough to satisfy me. Even

when Eddie Jordan's self-congratulatory blarney

makes you want to go and look for a gun, he

somehow manages to vindicate himself. As he'll be

reminding us for months on air, he alone had the

confidence to forecast that Lewis Hamilton would

leave McLaren for Mercedes, more than a month

before it happened. And as he smugly pointed

out from Singapore, in all the time since he'd

unveiled his scoop nobody had actually denied it,

so he must have been right. Still, I rather hugged

myself a few minutes later when Kamui Kobayashi

unexpectedly joined the BBC post-race paddock

parade. EJ instantly stepped forward with one of

his intricate questions, only to dry up for a second

when he realised that he'd forgotten KK's name ...

In spite of the mass defections from the

Beeb to Sky, I think that David Coulthard's presence

provides the BBC with the authority required for

a lead commentator, although I miss Brundle's

sharp-as-a-tack questions on the grid walk. The


Singapore race was live (not time-delayed) on the

Beeb, so I was expecting some tough questions to

Red Bull people about fragile alternators, but was

disappointed. Then, when DC hijacked Ross Brawn

and asked him if he had any concerns in advance

of a race in which his drivers were starting ninth

and 10th, Ross rather astonishingly managed

to respond, "Nothing we can deal with." I think

he meant the contrary ... Ross tends towards

inarticulacy when faced with a microphone, so

I rather hope it was his voice which crackled

over the intercom to Michael Schumacher after

he'd gone to sleep at a restart and clattered into

Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso. Most indignantly,

it demanded to know, "What happened there"

Good question!

Someone who was seldom short of a word

at the microphone was Chris Economaki, the

American journalist and TV frontman who passed

away last week at the age of 91. Chris saw his first

race at the age of nine (that would be in 1930)

and it's barely five years since he gave up on an

exhausting travel schedule which took him to races

virtually every weekend. His first paid job in racing

was selling copies of National Speed Sport News,

America's only racing weekly, which he eventually

owned and operated for half a century.

After such a busy life, Chris had an

incomparable stock of yarns. He always

commanded an appreciative audience for his

seemingly tall tales, and since, like some of us, he'd

got a bit deaf over the years, he delivered them at

a stentorian volume. Some of the best involved

memories of his service in the US Army during

the closing stages of World War Two in Europe.

He claimed to have made $65,000 selling watches

to Russian soldiers, most of it subsequently lost

when the Occupation currency was discontinued

overnight. He was briefly busted from Sergeant

to plain Rifleman following an incident involving

the girlfriend of a superior officer, and he once

managed to mump a plane ride to Paris for the

weekend courtesy of Supreme Allied Commander

Ike Eisenhower. His fellow-commentator David

Hobbs used to sing a ditty about Chris's claim that

(after the Russians), "I was the first man... In the

second Jeep... Into Berlin."

Chris had a phenomenal memory, which

came in useful when working as a commentator

for various TV channels, most famously at ABC's

Wide World of Sports, which took him not only

to numerous Indianapolis 500s, Formula 1 Grand

Prix races and major sportscar events, but even to

the East African Safari Rally and the Bathurst 1000

in Australia. Unlike some of our US counterparts,

Chris was genuinely interested in F1 racing, even if

some of the European ways left him puzzled. There

was a time when it was my telephone number that

Chris would call when he needed to follow up an

F1 lead, some of which were excellent scoops.

Although he would never share his sources with

me, I'm pretty sure that most of those stories were

lobbed his way by Mr E.

In press conferences, Chris could be

counted on to ask interesting questions, even if

they weren't always fully up to date. He himself

would get annoyed to be greeted with the

question, "What's it like out there", with which he

was falsely believed to have regaled Mario Andretti

when stuck for an opening on live TV. "You know,"

he would drawl, "I never actually said that ..."

Somehow Chris managed to be both tightpocketed

and immensely generous. I remember

that most of the lunches that we enjoyed together

when he was in London were taken in the

restaurants of hotels where he was being hosted

by sponsors, which is certainly a cost-effective

way of looking after your friends. It was at one of

those lunches that I suggested he might like to try

a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, a

wine which became his instant favourite. He would

always slip a little work my way at those meetings,

and my reward would always be a little cheque.

Farewell, Chris. You were a one-off and an

unmissable friend.



qualifying report by Joe Saward


As if by magic, Red Bull Racing suddenly found a whole lot of new speed at the Japanese Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber

had a new front wing to play with - and the car was transformed.

Sebastian Vettel headed to the Japanese Grand

Prix, 29 points behind World Championship leader

Fernando Alonso. He was 16 ahead of the nearest

challenger - Kimi Raikkonen in his winless Lotus-

Renault - while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was

seven points in arrears of the chuntering Finn.

"I think we were struggling this year at the

beginning of the year in places, in corners where

usually, traditionally, we were competitive, so

we didn't really know what to expect here this

weekend," Vettel said. "Sector one seemed very

competitive for both of us all weekend so I think

that's an indication whether the car is happy

around here or not. I'm happy we are back to our

shape that we had over the last couple of years

around here."

Mark Webber agreed with him.

"In years gone by, I think we've had cars that

have really enjoyed this type of venue," Webber

said. "In general Silverstone, Suzuka, these type of

circuits, you just have to look at Adrian's Newey's

record. You go back to the Williamses with Mansell,

Hakkinen, McLarens blah blah blah. He's always

been strong on these type of tracks, so that's good

for us. We've had to work like hell to get the car in

the window where we would like it and now, this

weekend, it seems pretty good. We would be very

very disappointed if we weren't competitive here

because it should be a track where we can charge

for very good results. I think, basically, it's in the

DNA of our car.

"The car felt fantastic from the start. We

seemed to get it better every time we go out, so

we' re very pleased with the result, very happy, the

car feels fantastic around here and I was able to

pick up a little bit overnight."


Vettel admitted that he had been a bit lucky

to have avoided all trouble in the busy Q sessions.

“It was good we got the time on the first

run, with the yellow flags coming out later,” he

said. “We had a phenomenal balance in the car and

I had the feeling we could go with the track today.

We only needed one run in every session, which

doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s very enjoyable

around here when the car works how you wish,

especially on low fuel and fresh tyres. It’s very

special. Yesterday evening I wasn’t too happy as I

was losing time in the first sector, but I found my

mistake and in today’s practice session it worked

straight away.”

Webber was less happy with his first run.

“Sebastian had that couple of tenths and

I thought ‘fair play’, it was a competitive lap from

him,” he expained. “Overall both of us were very

competitive in qualifying and that puts in good

stead for tomorrow. All the hard work from the

factory is paying off.”


The second runs in Q3 were almost all

ruined when Kimi Raikkonen went off at Spoon

Curve, pushing too hard.

Their nearest challenger was Jenson Button

in his McLaren, but the Englishman knew from the

start that he was at a disadvantage as the team

knew that he would have to take a five-place grid

penalty for changing a gearbox.

“We’re just not quick enough," he admitted.

"I wouldn’t know what to put my finger on, where

that four-tenths is. It’s going to be very difficult for

me tomorrow, but never say never. There’s always

possibilities and I think we’ll have a good race car.

I think we expected them to be quick. Their race

pace especially has been quick over the last few

races. I felt I got everything out of it on both laps

but still quite a long way off these two, but a long

way in front of everyone else.

“Overtaking has never been easy around


here - even with the introduction of DRS,” Button

said, “but I love racing around here. And because

everyone’s strategy could be up in the air

tomorrow - because there’s been quite a lot of tyre

graining and blistering - things could still be a bit

unpredictable. “

Some suffered more than others from

Raikkonen’s off, with Lewis Hamilton finding

himself ninth, when he really ought to have been

further forward.

“Today’s qualifying session was one of the

most disappointing of my year,” he admitted. “To

be honest, I went the wrong way with the set-up

and ended up with too much understeer. Until

qualifying, the car had felt great all weekend, but I

just couldn’t make it turn this afternoon, and as a

result I just couldn’t extract the best from it. Jenson

showed that the car itself is quite good - he did a

great job today - and our long-run pace wasn’t bad

yesterday, either. So you never know what’s going

to happen in tomorrow’s race. It’s going to be a


struggle, but I’ll be pushing my hardest with the

set-up I’ve got, and I hope that, through good tyre

management, I’ll be able to overtake some of the

cars in front of me.”

Hamilton was on his fastest lap when

Raikkonen went off and so he had to back off

going through the Spoon Curve and that cost him

a lot of time.

All of this meant that local hero Kamui

Kobayashi ended up fourth on the timesheets and

third on the grid, much to the delight of the fans.

“I think I achieved the maximum possible

today,” Kamui said. “On my last lap I lost a bit of

time because of the yellow flag when I backed

off and switched off the DRS. I want to thank the

team for the big step forward they have managed

with the car since Friday. In the beginning we

were struggling with the new parts, but now we

have got it right. After quite a few changes to

the settings the car is fast again. From where I

am starting I should have a chance to fight for a

podium finish, and it would be a dream come true

if I could achieve my first podium in F1 in front of

my home crowd!”

Sergio Perez set the sixth fastest time of the

Q3 session, underlining the potential of the Swiss


“My last lap in Q3 wasn’t perfect, but still

good,” he said. “We have achieved such a strong

qualifying result today. They have done a great

job because initially on Friday here we were really

lacking pace. It was a strong and speedy recovery

and I’m confident tomorrow in the race we will be

able to fight for another podium.”

Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn called it “a

sensational result” for the team.


“We brought a new aero package to Suzuka, did a

lot of work evaluating it yesterday and finally got

the reward,” she said. “Now our goal is to convert

this qualifying result into a great race.”

Between the two Saubers was the Lotus of

Romain Grosjean, but the Frenchman was none

too happy as he made mistakes which cost his

around four-tenths of a second, which meantthat

he ought have been fourth behind Button in terms

of time, which would have been third on the grid

with Jenson’s penalty.

“Yesterday we had two tricky sessions,”

Grosjean said. “so to have both cars in Q3 is a

good recovery. We knew it would be very tight in

qualifying and I think we could maybe have been

one place higher with a cleaner run through the

first sector, but the leaders were too quick today.

We’re lacking a little bit of downforce at the


Raikkonen was eighth on the timesheets.

“I was on a good lap and I was pushing


- maybe a little too hard - and lost the rear. It’s a

shame as the car feels the best it has all weekend.”

The team reckoned that there was a chance

that the Lotus would be less demanding on its

tyres than some of its rivals and thus the challenge

in the race might be stronger - as we have seen on

several occasions this year.

Ferrari was none too happy to have

Fernando Alonso down in seventh on the

timesheets and the team did complain to the

stewards that Fernando has been held up by Vettel

at one point. The stewards reprimanded Sebastian

but that had no effect on the line-up.

"What can I say, other than get angry about

being unlucky” said Fernando. “The yellow flags

came at the worst possible moment, when I was

coming into Turn 14. Up until then, my lap was great

and there was every chance of setting the fourth

fastest time of the day, which would have then seen

me start from third on the grid. From there, the race

could have taken on a completely different picture,


ut we have to accept what happened. We were

unlucky today, so maybe we’ll be lucky tomorrow!

The main aim will be to finish - reliability is crucial -

and bring home a good points haul.

For much of the practice days Felipe Massa

seemed to be on the pace, but come the Q sessions

he faded a little and ended up 11th overall, missing

out on Q3.

“I am very disappointed with the way this

qualifying went,” he said. “Up until the second

run in Q2, everything was going well: the car felt

very quick and I was happy with its balance. But

suddenly, once we fitted a new set of Softs, I lost

grip at the front, right from the first corner and

it never returned. To miss out on Q3 by just 21

thousandths is a blow.

“It’s very frustrating not being able to get

the right results when you know you can count on

a good car. It definitely won’t be easy making up

places on a track like this, but we will give it our all

and try and bring home plenty of points.”



1 J Button McLaren 1:34.507

2 L Hamilton McLaren 1:34.740

3 M Webber Red Bull 1:34.856

4 N Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.059

5 M Schumacher Mercedes 1:35.122

6 K Kobayashi Sauber 1:35.199

7 F Massa Ferrari 1:35.283

8 P Di Resta Force India 1:35.299

9 N Hulkenberg Force India 1:35.474

10 P Maldonado Williams 1:35.478

11 F Alonso Ferrari 1:35.484

12 S Perez Sauber 1:35.584

13 K Raikkonen Lotus 1:35.691

14 R Grosjean Lotus 1:35.724

15 D Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:36.123

16 J Vergne Toro Rosso 1:36.222

17 S Vettel Red Bull 1:36.366

18 V Bottas Williams 1:36.389

19 T Glock Marussia 1:37.716

20 V Petrov Caterham 1:38.295

21 C Pic Marussia 1:38.616

22 N Karthikeyan HRT 1:39.043

23 G Van der Garde Caterham 1:39.374

24 P de la Rosa HRT 1:39.688

Team boss Stefano Domenicali called the

result “regrettable” because the two grid positions

did not reflect the potential of the cars.

“Felipe could have secured a good result:

we have to understand what happened on his

second run in Q2, because it’s strange not to

improve on a lap time set with old tyres when new

ones of the same type have been fitted,” he said.

The top 10 was completed in Q3 by Nico

Hulkenberg, but he had a five-place grid penalty

for a changed gearbox after a crash on Saturday

morning. He dropped to 15th. This promoted Paul


di Resta to 11th.

“The build-up to qualifying was quite

intense because the guys were working hard to

repair my car after the accident this morning,” said

Nico. “It was not a big impact, but the angle was

unfortunate and there was quite a lot to fix - so all

credit to the boys who got me out with enough

time to set a time in Q1. The car felt good straight

away and we made it through to Q3, which was

always the target. We then took a strategic decision

to save tyres so I didn’t set a time. That opens up

the strategy for tomorrow, especially because

we knew I would get a five-place grid penalty for

changing the gearbox.”

Di Resta said that he had had “a tough

session with traffic” and then locked a wheel on his

vital run in Q2. He reckoned that his performance

was compromised by his accident on Friday, which


cost him a lot of preparation time.

“We have got ourselves up there, close to

the top 10 and in with a chance of points,” he said.

“For tomorrow it’s clear that tyre wear will be a big

issue for everyone, but hopefully we can use the

strategy to challenge the people in front.”

Williams was next with Pastor Maldonado in

12th on the grid (up two places from his qualifying

position because of the various penalties). Bruno

Senna was 16th.

“We’ve been working hard to make the car

more competitive but for one reason or another,

we just couldn’t pull it all together today,” said


1 M Webber Red Bull 1:32.493

2 L Hamilton McLaren 1:32.707

3 S Vettel Red Bull 1:32.836

4 N Hulkenberg Force India 1:32.987

5 F Alonso Ferrari 1:33.093

6 R Grosjean Lotus 1:33.107

7 J Button McLaren 1:33.349

8 B Senna Williams 1:33.499

9 F Massa Ferrari 1:33.614

10 M Schumacher Mercedes 1:33.750

11 N Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.866

12 S Perez Sauber 1:34.893

13 K Kobayashi Sauber 1:33.983

14 K Raikkonen Lotus 1:34.291

15 P Maldonado Williams 1:34.300

16 D Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:34.863

17 J Vergne Toro Rosso 1:35.080

18 H Kovalainen Caterham 1:35.711

19 V Petrov Caterham 1:35.870

20 T Glock Marussia 1:36.194

21 C Pic Marussia 1:36.636

22 N Karthikeyan HRT 1:37.342

23 P de la Rosa HRT 1:37.701

24 P Di Resta Force India No time


Maldonado. “We need to try to understand why.

The gaps are so close and our longer run pace

looks encouraging, so we aim to push for some

points tomorrow.”

Senna was frustrated as he had been ahead

of Maldonado in most of the sessions.

“It was a frustrating qualifying session as I

was held up on my final timed lap at the end of Q1

and couldn’t post the time that I wanted,” he said.

Jean-Eric Vergne was later given a three-place grid

penalty for getting in Senna’s way.

It was a very poor showing from Mercedes

with Michael Schumacher setting the 13th best time,

before his 10-place grid penalty from Singapore

was applied. This meant that he dropped back to

23rd while Nico Rosberg, who had qualified 15th,

gained two places because of penalties for others

so ended up in Michael’s grid slot.

“It’s been a difficult weekend for us.,” Nico

said. “Qualifying in 15th place is not where we want

to be although I will gain some places due to grid

penalties. The times were so close today and it’s

disappointing that we couldn’t make it through to

Q3. Our pace felt better on high fuel, so hopefully

this will work out well in the race.”

Schumacher said that things had not

looked too bad until qualifying.

“We simply didn’t get the performance

together,” he said. “Although we should also say

that, knowing the high-speed characteristics of

this circuit, we didn’t necessarily expect to look

in great shape here. Perhaps I could have made

it through to Q3, because the data showed that I

lost two-tenths in turn 11 because of traffic, but I

wasn’t quite sure what Hamilton was doing ahead

of me. I saved a lot of tyre sets and in that respect


got the maximum out of the situation.”

Daniel Ricciardo ended up 14th on the grid

in his Toro Rosso, while Vergne found himself 19th

“This afternoon’s session was great fun,” said

Ricciardo. “Driving this circuit on low fuel and with

the best tyre of the weekend- a new set of Options

- is very enjoyable. Today, it was really just a fight

between myself and Jean-Eric in Q2 because the

others were a little bit too far out in front.”

Vergne was less happy.

“We have struggled to find the right balance

on our car all weekend,” he said. “For qualifying,

maybe we went too far the other way in terms of

set-up and when the balance is not right, you lose

a lot of time in the high speed corner. As for the

incident with Senna, I was catching Glock on my

flying lap and I had to slow because of that. I saw

Bruno was coming very quickly and unfortunately

he caught me at the chicane where there is not

much room. But I knew I had to let him past and

moved as much to the outside as I could, even


though I knew I would not be in the best position

to come out of the corner.”

Caterham was not looking very good, with

Heikki Kovalainen 17th and Vitaly Petrov 22nd.

“On my second run I was following

Hulkenberg on the out lap and wasn’t quite able

to get my tyre temperatures up to the optimum

level,” Heikki said. “In the first sector on the quick

lap I had a little bit of understeer, but the other

two sectors were about as good as they could

have been.”

Petrov complained that the car was not

working well and got a nasty shock on Friday when

he had his rear wing fall off.

“The car wasn’t working as well as it had

yesterday in FP2,” he said. “When we went through

the data we found that the tyre temperatures

weren’t coming up as well as we’d have liked and



1 S Vettel Red Bull 1:32.136

2 M Webber Red Bull 1:32.371

3 F Massa Ferrari 1:32.824

4 M Schumacher Mercedes 1:32.918

5 S Perez Sauber 1:32.920

6 K Kobayashi Sauber 1:32.924

7 R Grosjean Lotus 1:33.008

8 J Button McLaren 1:33.025

9 P Di Resta Force India 1:33.094

10 P Maldonado Williams 1:33.160

11 F Alonso Ferrari 1:33.184

12 K Raikkonen Lotus 1:33.224

13 L Hamilton McLaren 1:33.569

14 J Vergne Toro Rosso 1:33.722

15 N Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.899

16 B Senna Williams 1:33.984

17 D Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:34.023

18 N Hulkenberg Force India 1:34.369

19 H Kovalainen Caterham 1:35.568

20 V Petrov Caterham 1:36.355

21 T Glock Marussia 1:36.389

22 C Pic Marussia 1:36.517

23 N Karthikeyan HRT 1:36.649

24 P de la Rosa HRT 1:36.875

we made a couple of changes for qualifying that

immediately improved the setup. On my first run

the car felt much better and on my second run I

was at least 7/10ths up on my previous quickest

lap, but I made a mistake in Turn 14 and that cost

me a lot of time. Despite that I’m not disappointed

with where I finished. “

Marussia ended up with Timo Glock 18th

and Charles Pic 21st. Glock had trouble on Saturday


“We had an oil pressure problem with the

engine and I couldn’t run very much, which was


a bit of a shame as we needed to do some finetuning

due to the track temperature change; our

car was quite sensitive to it. So I was a little bit

worried going into qualifying blind again and

as we seemed to have dropped a bit in pace. We

had a good think between me and my engineers

on what to do and I think the changes all worked

out well for us. I had only one flying lap on my

second run and there was a little mistake in sector

1, but the car was good. To be ahead of one of the

Caterhams despite the challenges we have had

makes me quite happy.”

Pic said that the cars were less competitive

than they had been in Singapore.

Down at the back was HRT, as usual, with

Pedro de la Rosa 20th on the grid and Narain

Karthikeyan 24th. The team had a new floor and

that made a difference.

“In qualifying I did two good laps,” de

la Rosa said. “The second one was even better,

almost perfect, and tomorrow we will start ahead

of a Caterham and a Marussia which is already a

success. More so at a circuit like this one. We’ve got

to be more than happy with what we’ve done.”

Karthikeyan was at the back, but was still

reckoned to be doing a good job by the team.

“In the morning the car was working very

well and my first laps were fantastic, but then I

spun off and damaged my new floor so we had to

go back to the old one. In qualifying I barely had

any grip and on my last lap I went long at 130R. It

wasn’t a good qualifying session for me, but the

car is performing much better.”

The qualifying suggested that the race

would be a Red Bull walkover... but with F1 in 2012

you could never be sure.




1 R Grosjean Lotus 1:32.029

2 K Kobayashi Sauber 1:32.042

3 S Perez Sauber 1:32.147

4 K Raikkonen Lotus 1:32.221

5 F Alonso Ferrari 1:32.459

6 S Vettel Red Bull 1:32.608

7 N Hulkenberg Force India 1:32.828

8 P Maldonado Williams 1:32.834

9 P Di Resta Force India 1:32.898

10 F Massa Ferrari 1:32.946

11 M Webber Red Bull 1:32.951

12 N Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.015

13 D Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:33.059

14 L Hamilton McLaren 1:33.061

15 J Button McLaren 1:33.077

16 M Schumacher Mercedes 1:33.349

17 J Vergne Toro Rosso 1:33.370

16 B Senna Williams 1:33.405

17 H Kovalainen Caterham 1:34.657

18 T Glock Marussia 1:35.213

20 P de la Rosa HRT 1:35.385

21 C Pic marussia 1:35.429

22 V Petrov Caterham 1:35.432

24 N Karthikeyan HRT 1:36.734

1 S Vettel Red Bull 1:31.501

2 J Button McLaren 1:31.772

3 K Raikkonen Lotus 1:31.826

4 F Alonso Ferrari 1:31.833

5 K Kobayashi Sauber 1:31.886

6 M Webber Red Bull 1:31.950

7 R Grosjean Lotus 1:31.988

8 L Hamilton McLaren 1:32.121

9 S Perez Sauber 1:32.169

10 N Hulkenberg Force India 1:32.272

10 F Massa Ferrari 1:32.293

11 P Di Resta Force India 1:33.372

23 M Schumacher *** Mercedes 1:32.469

12 P Maldonado Williams 1:32.512

13 N Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.625

14 D Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:32.954

19 J Vergne **** Toro Rosso 1:33.368


1 S Vettel Red Bull 1:30.839

2 M Webber Red Bull 1:31.090

8 J Button * McLaren 1:31.290

3 K Kobayashi Sauber 1:31.700

4 R Grosjean Lotus 1:31.898

5 S Perez Sauber 1:32.022

6 F Alonso Ferrari 1:32.114

7 K Raikkonen Lotus 1:32.208

9 L Hamilton McLaren 1:32.327

15 N Hulkenberg ** Force India No time

Grid positions appear in white

* Button 5-place grid penalty for a geartbox change

** Hulkenberg 5-place grid penalty for a geartbox change

*** Schumacher 10-place grid penalty for causing a collision in Singapore

**** Vergne 3-place grid penalty for impeding


ace report by David Tremayne


In a class of his own in Suzuka, Sebastian Vettel equalled

Fangio’s tally of 24 Grand Prix victories, then told us all just

how it really felt...


In a race in which most of the action was over

within the first half lap, Sebastian Vettel moved

within four points of Fernando Alonso in the fight

for the World Championship. As the Red Bull driver

dominated a dull Japanese Grand Prix on Suzuka’s

50th anniversary, Ferrari’s team leader found

himself a first-corner victim for the second time in

three races.

As Sebastian sped into a lead he never

relinquished, Fernando had a brush with Kimi

Raikkonen and spun out of the race with a

punctured rear tyre. At the same time, bad boy

Romain Grosjean hit Seb’s team-mate Mark

Webber, and Bruno Senna ran into and spun Nico


"I had no space on the right, I had Button

there I think, on the left I had Kimi and I don't

understand why Kimi didn't lift off as there was

no room and it was only the first corner," the

disgruntled Spaniard said.

Mark was coruscating about Romain, only

recently banned after causing the accident at

the first corner in Belgium in which Alonso was

also taken out. After the race there was an angry


confrontation as Mark stormed down to the Lotus

hospitality cabin. “Mark wasn’t happy. Let’s say that

the door slam test was carried out,” an eye witness


"It was the first-lap nutcase again, Grosjean,"

Mark said. "The rest of us are trying to fight for

decent results each weekend but he's trying to

get to the third corner as fast as he can at every

race. It makes it frustrating because a few big guys

obviously suffered from that today. Maybe he

needs another holiday.

"He needs to have a look at himself. It was

completely his fault. How many mistakes can you

make, how many times can you make the same error

with first-lap incidents It's quite embarrassing at

this level for him."

Both made pit stops at the end of the lap,

and Grosjean was subsequently given a 10 second

stop and go penalty which he served on the

seventh lap. Senna got a drive through for causing

a collision, and served that on the 20th lap.

The safety car was deployed for just two

laps, and thereafter Seb was untouchable as he

scored a victory that brought him level with the

Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio’s 24, and his

points tally to 190 compared to Fernando’s 194.

“Nothing could be better than this,” the

World Champion said. “You come across these

races and weekends very rarely. The start was the

key as Kamui came past Mark already and then

Mark got into trouble. I just focused on what I was

doing and it was crucial not to be in the pack. After

that I had a very good race car. You dream at night

that one day you’ll be able to race a car like that.

The balance was fantastic every lap, that’s why I

was still pushing hard at the end.”


Behind him, local hero Kamui Kobayashi

valiantly held second place ahead of Jenson

Button and Felipe Massa, but the Brazilian leapfrogged

both rivals during the first pit stops to

snatch a second place that he kept to the finish as

he salvaged something for the beleagured Ferrari.

It was his first podium since Korea 2010, and the

performance almost certainly confirms his place

within the team for 2013.

He felt that the start was the key to his best

race in ages. “It was very good and I was able to

overtake Lewis, then in Corner One I saw Fernando

and Kimi went a little wide and went inside both

and was able to overtake them, then after I saw

Mark spinning around after a car pushed him, he

spun in front of me but I saw a space and was able

to go on the throttle and even get two cars going

slower on the outside, using the KERS. So it was a

complicated Corner One for me, but it worked out

for me.

“The pace of the car was very good and I

was quicker than Jenson and Kamui. As soon as

they stopped I preferred to stay out and picked up

more than half a second straight away, and as they

got traffic I managed to pass both.”

Kamui and Jenson got caught up behind

Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso which was battling

for fourth at that stage with Pastor Maldonado’s

Williams, having stopped on the 14th and 13th

laps respectively, and were thus delayed. Felipe

didn’t stop until the 17th, and that proved crucial.

“My race was so much better than I

expected, and I’m very happy with it. It’s fantastic

to be on the podium, and I’ll keep pushing hard to

be on it at every race, not every two years! It’s nice,

a relief to be able to show that we are still here,


able to fight for victory or a podium position.”

The race’s major interest came at the end

as Kamui fought to hold off Jenson for the final

podium slot. The McLaren driver was only half a

second behind by the flag, but having lost one

place, Kobayashi was damned if he was going to

let his first F1 podium slip away, especially after

the brutal disappointment of Spa.

“My team-mate [incoming McLaren driver

Sergio Perez] had a couple of podiums already

but I wanted one for myself,” he said. “I was joking

before the race that I’d had a couple of chances

before but hadn’t had the luck, and that maybe

this time that would change. And it did! Finally

we did it and it’s just fantastic in front of my home

crowd. I’m very happy for the fans.”

He is only the third Japanese driver to stand

on an F1 podium, and the last time it happened

here was 22 years ago courtesy of Aguri Suzuki in

a Larrousse. That was a nice touch. And he earned

the success the hard way.

“It was difficult,” he revealed, of that late

fight with Jenson. “I think my tyre situation was

quite tough. We spent more than 20 laps on them,

especially in the last three laps my rear tyres were

really getting bad. Of course, I needed to push, I

could not slow down to save them. Whatever I had,

like oversteer, I had to really push. In the end, into

the last lap, I was pretty sure I could hold Jenson

because normally, I think, after the main straight,

there is no chance to overtake on this track. Apart

from that, I was thinking of getting on the podium

but I was focusing on every lap because if I missed

one corner, we could easily have lost my position.

So I think it was a good challenge for myself. And I

think Jenson was pretty fast in the last stint.



1 S Vettel Red Bull 1:35.774

2 J Button McLaren 1:36.606

3 K Kobayashi Sauber 1:36.679

4 B Senna Williams 1:36.819

5 F Massa Ferrari 1:38.123

6 M Schumacher Mercedes 1:38.128

7 M Webber Red Bull 1:37.437

8 D Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:37.903

9 J Vergne Toro Rosso 1:37.058

10 P Di Resta Force India 1:38.372

11 L Hamilton McLaren 1:37.733

12 P Maldonado Williams 1:39.876

13 K Raikkonen Lotus 1:37.116

14 N Hulkenberg Force India 1:38.312

15 H Kovalainen Caterham 1:38.441

16 R Grosjean Lotus 1:36.928

17 V Petrov Caterham 1:38.305

18 T Glock Marussia 1:40.323

19 S Perez Sauber 1:38.146

20 P de la Rosa HRT 1:40.237

21 C Pic Marussia 1:41.519

22 N Karthikeyan HRT 1:39.747

“Finally, we survived and let's say it was a

great job from the team, because they gave me

great advice while I was driving, and I was pretty

sure to hold him. I was very happy. Every fan was

shaking their hands at me, especially on the last

lap, so it was fantastic.”

And lovely to see after what happened in

Belgium. The prayers work, don’t they, Monisha

“Fourth definitely isn’t a bad result –

particularly considering I started from eighth,”

Jenson said philosophically. “I ran as high as

third during the first stint, but in hindsight it was

probably an error to make our first pit stop so


“Towards the end I was able to push and

start catching Kamui. But he controlled his final set

of tyres very well – I could get close to him, but the

only way I was going to get into the DRS zone was

by braking extra-late into the chicane. And, every

time I tried, I locked up and ran wide. We just didn’t

have the pace to go for the win today.”

Lewis Hamilton had an unhappy race to

fifth. Initially he was slowed by debris but said

his McLaren “came alive” once it had been cleared

in his first pit stop. Later, exiting the pits after his

second on the 32nd lap, he made a dramatic pass

on Raikkonen in the first corner to cement fifth

place ahead of the Finn, who retains his third place

in the championship with 157 points to Hamilton’s

152. That was a ballsy move all right, going into

the second part of the corner which Kimi seemed

to have won, Lewis at his absolute best.

“I pushed as hard as I could throughout the

whole race,” he said. “It was a bit of a struggle in the

first stint with a lot of understeer, but after a while

the car started turning again. From that moment

on, it felt really good, and I was able to push; but

it was too late to have much of an effect on the

result. This just wasn’t the weekend for me.”


"Sixth wasn’t the result we were hoping for

but unfortunately we didn’t have the speed to do

better today,” Kimi said. “The start was very tight; I

was alongside Fernando straight away and he kept

moving further across until there was nowhere left

go. We lost some time there and our second pit stop

wasn’t the best, so overall it was quite a difficult

race. The good thing is we still managed to score

points to stay in touch in the Championship."

Nico Hulkenberg had another strong race for Force

India and was only seven-tenths of a second adrift

of the Lotus by the finish, while Pastor Maldonado

kept it on the island for Williams to grab four points

for eighth place.

“If you had told me before the race that we

would finish seventh, I would have taken it straight

away,” the Hulk admitted, “so I’m very happy with

today’s result. I made a great start, moving ahead of

several cars and was able to keep out of the trouble

in Turn One. By the end of lap one I was already

in eighth and as it turned out we had good pace.

The car felt strong throughout the race: there was

a nice balance and I was able to chase Lewis and

Kimi hard and put pressure on them. They edged

away towards the end and for the closing laps I

just had to make sure I kept ahead of Maldonado.”

The Venezuelan had one of his better races,

and finally scored his first points since that brilliant

victory in Spain.

“The car had great pace and was very

consistent, but it proved difficult to overtake

here, especially towards the end. We felt we were

quicker than the cars in front, but the nature of the

track makes it difficult to close the gap. We’re back

in the points so I’m happy with that as it gives us

great confidence going into the next race.”


Webber recovered well from a first-lap pit

stop for a new nose to take ninth before heading

for his discussion about Grosjean, while a brutal

battle between Daniel Ricciardo and Michael

Schumacher for the final point went in the

Australian’s favour by eight-tenths.

“Immediately at the start I got bogged down

a little bit, but then going up through the gears I

found more drive but by then I’d lost a position to

Hulkenberg,” the Australian said. “Then, with the

incident that later brought out the Safety Car, I

managed to make up some places. I saw Alonso

spin off in front of me and it was a close call, as

quite a few of us were close to getting caught up

in the accident. I managed to get around it and got

past Grosjean going into Turn Three. From then on,

I had a pretty good race, staying with Maldonado

at first, but could not pass him. The last two stints


were good, at first having a battle with Webber who

was on a different strategy. Then right at the end, I

was holding off Michael and I was really pleased to

have won that battle. It’s always tougher when you

are the slower car in a duel, but with good advice

from the pit wall on how to use the KERS to defend

in the DRS zone, I managed it.

“Our work rate as a team has improved

and I’m very pleased with the way I drove under

pressure. It’s not every day you have a seven times

World Champion on your tail and given he only

has a few more races, it was nice to have a battle

with him to put in my scrapbook!” Not to mention

to win it…

Schumacher’s failure to score a point put

the seal on a bad weekend for Lewis Hamilton’s

new team, who had already lost Rosberg in that

first-lap shunt with Senna. “I have mixed feelings


after the race here in Japan, because it's obviously

unfortunate to come so close to scoring points

and not manage it, after a race which went better

than we expected. In the final laps, I had a nice and

interesting battle with Ricciardo, but in the end I

couldn't get past him because the Toro Rosso was

so quick on the straights. That's why we have to say

we couldn't have got much more out of it today.”

Paul di Resta’s Force India wasn’t quick

enough for better than 12th place, after he lost

out at the start, while Jean-Eric Vergne was fast

early on for Toro Rosso but was unable to improve

on 13th. Behind them, Senna survived that firstlap

collision with Rosberg and a resultant drivethrough

penalty, and set some fastest laps as he

closed in on the Frenchman. They crossed the finish

line side-by-side, officially separated by 0.0s.

“Things started to go wrong on the parade


lap when I had a clutch issue,” Paul revealed, “so it

was not a big surprise when I made a poor getaway

off the line. Going into Turn One I was almost at the

back of the field so I was able to stay out of trouble

and avoid the accidents ahead of me. But when

you lose so much ground at the start it’s difficult to

recover. I was always in traffic and without running

in clean air I couldn’t really show the potential of

the car. We were not too far away with the set-up,

but I never really found the sweet spot during the


Vergne lost out in the first corner melee,

and then lost more time trapped behind Heikki

Kovalainen’s Caterham.

“It could have been a better race for me,

as I lost a lot of time behind Kovalainen in the

first stint, as he was on the option tyre and had

better traction out of the corners than I did. Also,

at the second corner, I came across Rosberg going

backwards in front of me and had to brake, which

meant everyone went past me.

“After that, I just pushed as hard as I could,

showing what the car could do, running a strong

pace. Losing three places on the grid with a penalty

did not help, but yet again we showed we can be

strong on Sunday, as we were faster than the Force

Indias and Senna.”

Poor old Bruno! At one stage Suzuka

seemed to promise so much but it all went wrong

when Vergne held him up in qualifying, and it

never came back together even though at one

time he was the fastest man on track.

“We had a good start and managed to

overtake two cars but unfortunately I ran into an

incident with Rosberg on the second corner after

taking the inside line,” he said. “The race was slightly


compromised from then on but we still had good

pace. The car felt very competitive which allowed

us to overtake quite a few cars, and the tyres were

responding well.”

Heikki Kovalainen ran 11th for a while after

taking advantage of the first-corner melee and his

soft compound tyres, but his Caterham lacked the

pace to stay ahead of the likes of Vergne and di

Resta and he finished 15th, 8.5s clear of ‘new team’

rival Timo Glock’s Marussia. Vitaly Petrov was 17th

after a drive through for ignoring blue flags, and

Pedro de la Rosa was the final classified finisher for

HRT in 18th place.

Grosjean retired late in the race while

running well down, joining Charles Pic, Narain

Karthikeyan, Alonso and Rosberg on the retirement

list. The Frenchman’s tyres were finished, and since

he had no chance of points the team pulled him.

"Ever since I came back in Singapore my

priority has been to be very cautious at the start,

and I was watching Sergio on my left to make sure

there was no contact with him,” he said as he tried to

explain his latest starring role on global television.

“There was quite a big speed difference between

me and Mark as I came into the first corner, which

caught me by surprise and we collided. It was a

stupid mistake. Mark came to see me after the race

and was obviously not happy, but I apologised

and we have to move on. We’ll sit down and look

at things again before the next race to see what

we can do to improve these situations.

“In the last few laps of the race the tyres

were at the end of their life and we were out of the

points, so it made sense to retire. Not a good day,

but we have to look ahead to Korea and a chance

to make amends."

The final non-finisher was Sergio Perez,

who looked racey passing a troubled Lewis for

sixth on the sixth lap, but then he ran wide in Turn

One in a pissing contest with Kimi on the 14th and

finally spun off at the hairpin while trying to repass

Lewis on the 19th. In truth, it seemed like he got

caught out as Lewis braked earlier than expected,

obliging him to go deep on the outer line, which

led him on to the marbles.

“The race didn’t start too well for me when

Grosjean caused a mess and I lost positions,” he

said. “Things worked well when I got past Lewis for


the first time, but not when I tried it again. He went

quite late to the inside and I had only room on the

outside. But it certainly was my mistake.” Made you

wonder what McLaren thought…

Afterwards, Fernando played down the

massive damage to his title campaign, while

Seb in turn refused to talk up his burgeoning


"This time I retire, next time maybe it will be

Vettel who will retire,” Ferdy said. "You never know,

this is motorsport. With five races to go it will be

like a mini championship. "

“It’s an important step today, but there’s

still a long way to go,” Seb said.

But as the Spaniard’s job may just have

got a lot harder, the German’s may have got a lot


The day might have been a disaster for

Fernando, but there was an emotional ending

for Seb as he was reminded not just that he had

equalled Fangio’s 24 victories but that his success

gave him a strike rate of 25 percent.

“I think they're very special,” he said of the

latest batch of statistics. “Obviously I'm not aware

of those kind of numbers but I think that's a special

thing about Formula 1. We had great drivers in the

past, great champions and great characters, and


I think for all of us...“ He choked up momentarily,

before continuing, “I said earlier that the last time I

was with Kamui on the podium it was probably in

Formula 3 and both of us had a dream for Formula

1… But at the same time you know you are a young

guy, you are racing in Formula 3, you know it's only

one or two steps away but then it's so far away still.

There's only a handful of us, 24 drivers in Formula

1… I think first of all you feel extremely fortunate

and proud to be one of them and to race a Formula

1 car, to stand on the grid, winning a race, driving

for championships. At the time we were racing in

Formula 3 this was so far away.

“Obviously I knew these kind of guys, when

you talk about records. When I was young I was

following Formula 1 and Michael most of the time.

But you never dreamed... imagined yourself being

one of those guys and breaking any kind of record,

even if it's just having the best start or something

silly which would already make you extremely

proud. I think it's an honour and as I said yesterday

already, a circuit like this, where you really get

to feel what the cars can do... unfortunately it's

impossible to explain to you how it feels, so it's

only something we share amongst ourselves and

I think it's something we should not forget at any

stage. It's something very, very special. I think it's

one of the best jobs you can have in the world in

my - in our - point of view, but then to be successful

it obviously starts to feed on itself and that makes

it very, very enjoyable.”

Wow, maybe the race wasn’t so dull, after

all. Isn’t it just great when you come across one of

these guys who can articulate some of the passion

they really feel beneath all their deadpan press

conference miens



Sebastian Vettel


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Mark Webber


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Jenson Button


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Lewis Hamilton


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Fernando Alonso


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Felipe Massa


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Michael Schumacher


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Nico Rosberg


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Kimi Raikkonen


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Romain Grosjean


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Paul di Resta


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Nico Hulkenberg


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Kamui Kobayashi


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Sergio Perez


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Daniel Ricciardo


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Jean-Eric Vergne


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Pastor Maldonado


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Bruno Senna


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Heikki Kovalainen


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Vitaly Petrov


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Pedro de la Rosa


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Narain Karthikeyan


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Timo Glock


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Charles Pic


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1 S Vettel Red Bull 1:28.56.242 - 207.429 kmh

2 F Massa ferrari 1:29.16.881 - 20.639

3 K Kobayashi Sauber 1:29.20.780 - 24.538

4 J Button mcLaren 1:29.21.340 - 25.098

5 L Hamilton mcLaren 1:29.42.732 - 46.490

6 K Raikkonen Lotus 1:29.46.666 - 50.424

7 N Hulkenberg force India 1:29.47.401 - 51.159

8 P Maldonado Williams 1:29.48.606 - 52.364

9 M Webber Red Bull 1:29.50.917 - 54.675

10 D Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:30.03.161 - 66.919

11 M Schumacher Mercedes 1:30.04.011 - 67.769

12 P Di Resta force India 1:30.19.702 - 83.460

13 J Vergne Toro Rosso 1:30.24.887 - 88.645

14 B Senna Williams 1:30.24.951 - 88.709

15 H Kovalainen caterham - 52 laps

16 T Glock marussia - 52 laps

17 V Petrov caterham - 52 laps

18 P de la Rosa HRT - 52 laps

R R Grosjean Lotus Gearbox - 51 laps

R C Pic marussia Pneumatic - 37 laps

R N Karthikeyan HRT Unsafe car - 32 laps

R S Perez Sauber Accident - 18 laps

R F Alonso ferrari Accident - 0 laps

R N Rosberg mercedes Accident - 0 laps

RACE DISTANCE: 53 laps - 307.471 km


1 F Alonso ferrari 194

2 S Vettel Red Bull 190

3 K Raikkonen Lotus 157

4 L Hamilton mcLaren 152

5 M Webber Red Bull 134

6 J Button mcLaren 131

7 N Rosberg mercedes 93

8 R Grosjean Lotus 82

9 F Massa ferrari 69

10 S Perez Sauber 66

11 K Kobayashi Sauber 50

12 P Di Resta force India 44

13 M Schumacher Mercedes 43

14 N Hulkenberg Force India 37

15 P Maldonado Williams 33

16 B Senna Williams 25

17 J Vergne Toro Rosso 8

18 D Ricciardo Toro Rosso 7


1 Red Bull Racing 324

2 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 283

3 Scuderia Ferrari 263

4 Lotus F1 Team 239

5 MercedesAMG Petronas 136

6 Sauber F1 Team 116

7 Sahara Force India F1 81

8 Williams F1 Team 58

9 Scuderia Toro Rosso 15



the last lap by David Tremayne


So Chris Economaki, the doyen of US motorsports

writers, is gone.

Whenever I think of this towering figure

of our sport, I do so with a smile and remember

a minibus ride from the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

on the Ile Notre Dame to downtown Montreal,

probably in 1990. It’s a journey I’ve never forgotten,

because of him.

Nigel Roebuck and I were in the very back of

the rather full bus, where the luggage is normally

stored, and as I recall it was no Cadillac. We were

crammed in, while our friend had somehow eased

himself into the front. It seemed no coincidence

that that was where the girls were. Chris always

had style.

On that short ride I peppered him from

the back with questions about departed racers. Of

one, who should best remain nameless, he said in

his inimitable accent: “He was a drunk. A bum…

My kind of guy…”

I always had a thing about Bobby Marshman

– a very quick and fearless Indianapolis racer (right).

He was on the front row at the Speedway in 1964,

second only to Jimmy Clark’s Lotus 34, in his Pure

Oil Firebird Lotus 29 entered by Lindsey Hopkins.

Marshman always fascinated me, because he

blazed like a meteor across IndyCar racing until the

injuries he sustained in a fiery crash during a tire

test at Phoenix in November that year ultimately

claimed his life early in December. Ironically he

had won his only top-level race there in 1962. At

Indy that year he passed Jimmy for the lead in the

early going and seemed a likely challenger for the

victory that eventually fell to A J Foyt until he was

forced to run low, off the track, avoiding Johnny

White and tore off an oil line after 39 of the 200

laps. One of the little anecdotes that Chris shared

was that Marshman had problems with mouth

abscesses thanks to bad teeth. “When he got them

fixed it was like his system wasn’t being poisoned

any more, and suddenly, in 1964, the guy really

began to put things together…” I’ve always been

a sucker for a there but for fortune story.

Then there was Eddie Sachs, the Clown

Prince of Racing, another guy who also fascinated

me. I would write a chapter on him in the book

Racers Apart.

“He was a character. Of all the race drivers

I’ve ever met, Eddie was the one who was the least

gifted to begin with. Everything he had at the end

of his career he had had to learn fact by fact, lap

by lap, the hard way. God gave him nothing. He

was not a natural born race driver. He was a natural

born showman. He was a very personable guy.

Extremely homely. Not a good looking person; he

had a big nose and was sort of an odd-looking guy.


But he was very determined, and a nice guy.”

You need to hear Chris’ accent to really get

it. We still joke about the extra bit he vouchsafed

about Sachs (right) and the manner in which he

told it. “He, er… impregnated (he broke up each

syllable, stressing the middle one - im-PREG-nated)

a young woman, from Dayton Ohio, who was not

his wife, Nancy, and when she delivered the child

he entered into some contract with her, too pay

her a sum of money every year until the child was,

I don’t know, 15 or 18 years old.

“When Eddie was around you always knew

it. He was the centre of attraction. Sort of a showoff,

but in a nice way, a positive way. He had a lot

of friends and he was a superb driver at the end of

his career, he really was.”

Snapshots, told with humour and affection

by a man who knew them both – and remembered

them – which for a few wonderful moments made

them live again on that journey.

Chris had started commentating on

motorsport in America back in the 1940s. He was

born in Brooklyn of a Greek immigrant father

and a mother was a relative of Confederate

General Robert E Lee, and was only nine when he

witnessed his first race, on the boards of Atlantic

City. Later, his own experiences behind a steering

wheel convinced him that he was better off writing

about the sport he loved, and after serving in the

US Army in Europe at the end of World War Two

he became the editor of the respected National

Speed Sport News newspaper in 1950. Later he

bought the publication, editing and publishing

it before handing the reins over to his daughter

Corinne. Sadly, NSSN ceased publication in March

2011, and with it died a vitally important bastion

of US racing history.

Chris was also a mean hand with a

microphone. He started trackside commentary

the late 1940s, whipping fans into a frenzy as

he continually over-egged a meeting to keep

them excited. By 1961 television beckoned in

the form of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, covering

the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s, Formula 1, Le

Mans, and even the East African Safari and Bathurst.

He stayed with ABC for more than two decades

before switching to CBS Sports, and covered F1

with ESPN in the late 1980s before being replaced

by Bob Varsha.

His screechy Brooklyn voice sold motor

racing to hundreds of thousands of fans for more

than half a century. Dan Gurney said that its

piercing quality could be heard above any blown

Offy engine.

Chris himself conceded: "I do have a

distinctive voice. And it's nice to know that it

registered somewhere along the line. I remember

I was getting a pair of shoes in Des Moines one

time. The salesman was lacing up my shoes, and

I'm looking at the bald spot on the back of his

head, and he asks: 'Aren't you on TV' This guy's

got his nose six inches from the floor and asks my

shoes if I'm on TV. He doesn't recognize me, but he

recognizes my voice."

It was said that reading him in National

Speed Sport News was like reading the Bible. You

had to read it to know what was going on in the

world of motorsports. He was a straight shooter,

funny and warm, with a phenomenal memory. “I

don’t remember the first time I met Chris,” David

Hobbs said, “but of course he does. He remembers

everything!” And he was a stickler in his pursuit

of truth, the sword of justice that only the best

motorsport writers wield.

“He always worked hard to tell the truth,”

Rick Mears observed, “without tearing the sport

itself down, and I really appreciated that.”

There was one thing we never agreed on,

and that was Chris’ poor opinion of Jim Clark.

Unfathomably he dismissed him as a driver who

could only run when he was in the lead, who

couldn’t race in the pack. He cites in his biography

‘Let ‘em all go!’ (written with Dave Argabright)

the time when Dan beat Jimmy at Riverside in an

Indycar race, overlooking the fact that Sexton was

in one of his highly competitive Eagles and that in


one of the few single seater races that he ever

did that wasn’t in a Lotus Jimmy had actually

put an unfamiliar and unfancied Vollstedt into

the lead, where it had no business to be…

Dan, like so many others, thought that Jimmy

was on another planet.

But that didn’t matter, and it never got

in the way. Crossing verbal swords with Chris

was fun, as many drivers relate. “I’ve always

enjoyed Chris because he doesn’t mind telling

you when you’re wrong,” Johnny Rutherford

said, “so I enjoy a good swordfight with him

every now and then.”

In 2006, the Trackside Conference

Room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Media Center was renamed the Economaki

Press Conference Room in honour of his

accomplishments, and that tells you a lot

about the massive regard in which he was


"Chris was the dean of motorsports

journalism," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis

Motor Speedway Corporation president and

chief executive officer. "His accurate, incisive

reporting helped increase the audience of

the sport and put the Indianapolis Motor

Speedway, its events and competitors into the

global spotlight. He set a standard for others

to follow for generations.”

“IndyCar and the world of motorsports

have lost a true friend with the passing of Chris

Economaki,” a statement from IndyCar said. “The

dean of American motorsports journalists, Chris

dedicated most of his life to reporting auto racing

and telling the stories of the heroes of our sport.

He was truly one of a kind.”

"The passing of Chris Economaki is a tough

loss for me on both a personal and professional

level, having known Chris throughout my life," said

Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. "Many

people consider Chris the greatest motorsports

journalist of all time. He was, indeed, The Dean.'

“Chris was a fixture for years at NASCAR

events and played a huge role in growing NASCAR's

popularity. I'll miss seeing him and, of course, I'll

miss hearing that voice.”

The thing about Chris, besides his memory

and breadth of knowledge and fund of amusing

anecdotes and jokes, was his passion. He was

the man who went everywhere, who saw so

many races in so many different categories,

because he loved the sport and understood the

characters within it. “Chris loves this sport as

much as we do,” Mears said, and in that respect

he was like our departed friends Jabby Crombac

and Renaud de Laborderie. He was a lifer.

In 1963 an emergent Mario Andretti

won three feature races on Labor Day in the

ARDC midgets, in Flemington, New Jersey

and Hatfield, Pennsylvania. “As I was coming

round on the cool-down lap, I could hear Chris

through my helmet,” he recalled. “He said,

with that voice of his, ‘Mario, it looks like you

just bought your ticket to the big time.’ I will

never forget that. I mean I’ll never forget those

words. More than anything, hearing those

words – how shall I say this – just put so much

energy into me. That was just what every

young driver needs; it was a sign of approval, if

you will, and coming from Chris it was huge. It

was such a boost to my morale, and it was the

culmination of a beautiful day. That moment

was so important to me, and I’ve loved him

ever since.”

And Mario added: “He’s one of those rare

birds; the mold was cast, and Chris came out of it,

and that was that. No-one will ever follow in those


There’s no disagreeing with that. He was,

indeed, a one-off who made a unique contribution

to recording motorsport’s rich history. v


parting shot


The next GP+

will be published

from korea

on october 14


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