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Raikkonen move triggers reshuffle of top Formula 1 engineers
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Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Sep 2013   |  7:25 pm GMT  |  215 comments

In the wake of Kimi Raikkonen signing for Ferrari there is quite a shuffle of senior engineers taking place, with new Ferrari technical director James Allison raiding his former Lotus F1 team for head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer.

Lotus has engineering talent in depth and can promote from within, but to lose Allison, de Beer and Raikkonen will hurt them going into 2014. They have hired Nicholas Hennel from Ferrari and may well be on the look out now for some senior engineers with new ideas.

Ferrari is emulating Mercedes, which has a plethora of former technical directors; Ross Brawn, Paddy Lowe, Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis and Bob Bell.

Ferrari now has four former heads of aerodynamics, showing where it feels its priorities lay. Nick Tombazis has been there some time and was previously at McLaren; Ben Agathangelou was at Jaguar and Red Bull; Loic Bigois was at Brawn and Mercedes.

Like Mercedes, Ferrari has them all in specific roles, but it shows that the continuing dominance of Red Bull has led their main rivals to take up an engineer arms race. It is tough for teams like Lotus to compete. McLaren needs to be careful with its engineering structure, which arguably lacks firepower now in comparison.

Meanwhile Williams is very active at the moment, despite six monthly financial results which show a small downward trend in turnover. The team is set to announce several interesting appointments, according to Alex Wurz, whose influence at the team has grown since Toto Wolff moved across to Mercedes – and needed not to be seen to have direct influence at Williams any more.

Jakob Andreasson is one; he was most recently in a senior operations role at Force India, but before that was engineer to Jenson Button at McLaren. His new role is believed to be non-travelling.

But there are suggestions that another could be the charismatic Rob Smedley (main picture), the mentor as well as engineer of Felipe Massa. With Massa’s career at Ferrari set to end in November, Smedley is rumoured to be considering a return to the UK to take up a senior operational engineering role with the Grove based team.

Massa is on the list of potential drivers at Lotus, but sources suggest that Nico Hulkenberg has long been their fallback should Raikkonen leave.

Smedley previously worked at Williams’ touring car team as well as Jordan F1 team before moving to Ferrari. Although unconventional in some areas, he is very highly regarded in the pit lane.

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Kudos for not using the 'Kimi takes Beer to Ferrari' headline James!

Tom Haythornthwaite

Sorry James, can you remind us what Alex Wurz's role is now?


Toto Wolff's eyes and ears


Why on Earth would Williams want Wurz around if he's basically going to be a spy for Wolff?

Maybe I'm missing something?


Maybe I should have been a little bit clearer in what I stated, which is all out there in the public domain.

Toto Wolff fronts a consortium, who own two blocks of shares in Williams. The first block is 9.3% and the second block is 6.3%, which total 15.6% of the shares in Williams’. Frank Williams and his family control 66% of the company. That would leave around 34% of the shares in other people’s hands. The Wolff consortium speaks for 15.6% of that 34%.

You also may want to know that in 2007, they looked at – attempted to acquire the F1 Toro Rosso Team, but that never happen. They do have some very serious fire power within this consortium, with 2 very heavy weight financial players. One of them sold his business to Mercedes; you may know of it, it was AMG.

It would also explain how he is able to acquire the shares on offer in the current F1 Mercedes Team, along with Lauda. I believe they have offer 30% of the team to Wolff and his backers.


16% shareholding is huge if the rest of the shareholders don't hold more than 10% each.


I don't understand this either to be honest ??


Cheers for the input everyone 🙂 sum up:

Wolff is the front man of a major consortium with a minor shareholding in Williams who has Wurz keeping an eye on Susie.

So simple when you think about it 😉


Not a question of what Williams wants, I believe Toto is still a shareholder at Williams, I am sure he wants to protect his investment! Especially with the upward turn of Merc fortunes means he is unlikely to get offered to buy them as the board will not want to sell if Merc is winning.


DC :

Toto Wolff fronts a consortium who own two blocks of shares in Williams, which total up to 16%. His actual shareholding in the consortium is not that large. He is the front person for the group. But 16% share holding in my book isn’t a major shareholding in a company the size of Williams. If he took his groups holdings to more than 40%, then he would be fronting a major shareholder. He is a minor shareholder at the best.


Maybe a fact that Toto is still a major shareholder of Williams


Pretty sure Susie could fulfill a fair bit of that function anyway...


Ferrari is emulating Mercedes, which has a plethora of former technical directors


Oh yeah, come to think of it and yet once upon a time, everybody used to emulate Ferrari.

Interesting behind the scenes developments in the paddock, for sure, the big boys have decided to throw the kitchen sink at Red Bull for it has got to the point of embarrassment more so since Red Bull is a drinks company.

Now with this much engineering fire power concentrated in 3 teams, we may find ourselves with a 3 horse race which will be rather disappointing for the fans because the more the merrier.

Okay, am not sure if these new signings at Ferrari indicate Byrne has lost some of his magic touch because I was under the impression, all the previous super cars were solely down to him.

Anyway, seeing as Ferrari are in the hiring mode, they should also pick up a couple of strategists (preferably from Red Bull) because with two top aces in the team, strategy is going to be vital.

As for Smedley, if he's heading to Williams, surely that must be Massa's destination too. Brazil has some great sponsors that can help in this regard.


I don't think Byrne has lost the magic touch but he is semi retired and may not want to work the long hours required anymore.


Byrne working solely on next year's car


@ DC

Yes, Byrne was drafted in to work on the 2014 car.

I guess the rule changes were really complex


I'll take a three horse race over a one horse race any day 🙂

I think Williams would be a mistake for Massa. He might not win races at Lotus, but that's arguably his best shot at prolonging his career.


Unfortunately Massa has no money, he might not been seen as useful without it! In F1 these money talks!


There are suggestions from some here that he has sponsors back home. Personally I have no idea, but it would be nice to see him find a half decent seat.


Besides which, who do Williams move on? Surely it would have to be Maldonado, Bottas has too much potential to make way for Massa.


Well yes, but in this case doesn't Massa come with sponsorship money? So you use that to replace the Maldonado money.


Errr.. Remember Hulkenberg?

Williams booted his talent to chase money.

Williams F1 are in survival mode. $$$ trumping talent. JF


@ Random 79

But don't you reckon a 5 horse race is better than a 3 horse one >>> including Mclaren, Lotus, Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.


Absolutely, and with any luck next year will shake things up a bit 🙂


Meanwhile, Ferrari aren't looking too good for the WCC in 2014 because the team has never won back to back titles as shown below:












This is a joke right? what possible bearing could the year ending in a 4 have on anything other than the dates engraved on the trophy?


You have to accept that in goferet's world, the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum 🙂


...and he has the statistics to prove it 😉


Don't ask - just go with the flow 🙂


On second thoughts, by extrapolating that data set you can clearly see that Ferrari won't win another WCC until 2044.


hahaha!! thats based on 1 data point!!


That's stretching it goferet, even for you...


Pretty sure Lotus will also lose Mark Slade to Ferrari aswell, to take the role of Kimi's race engineer once again.


That would be very sensible. With all the people they've taken from Enstone, Kimi is going to drive a red Lotus with a prancing horse!

P.S. I wonder if they intend to hire the rabbits as well... 😉


Haha! No. The rabbits symbolize the fact that Lotus screwed Ferrari's hopes of the 2012 title in the form of a certain French driver ramming Alonso's car at Spa. So they feel this is payback.


No, Ferrari can't hire the rabbits as they form part of Lotus' new power-train for 2014 (which they have patented).


Why? So that Kimi can tell Mark to leave him alone? 😀


Au contraire, haha. Slade knows Kimi well enough to not bother him too much. Plus Raikkonen sees in Mark someone who can fully understand what he needs from the car and is totally capable of 'translate' the feedbacks to the rest of the staff and vice versa.

Its not a coincidence that the englishman was a personal resquest from Kimi when he was talking to Lotus about a comeback.


There's a rumor Kimi will take Stella from Alonso, agreed with LdiM.


That would not surprise me in the slightest. I think that Stella really admire's Kimi's ability and enjoyed working with him, and vice-versa. I think Stella may also have grown tired of dealing with some of Alonso's behavior over the years.


Will Kimi take his engineer Mark Slade with him to Ferrari?


All interesting...still....we have one man mainly in red bull and armies against him in other teams. Mercedes took half of available top is slowly waking up.

James, an honest question to you. Massa just said that most probably Alonso is the strongest of his team partners to date and he has been racing with both Schumi and Kimi. He said that Alonso is close to perfect and the strongest of all. Woul you believe it is objective and honest?


Or... If he can beat him during the remainder of year, his stock rises for other teams?


It's difficult to disagree with it from where I sit, and Felipe sits a hell of a lot closer than me.


Because it was after hungry when he is teammate of alonso. Everybody agrees that massa is not the same man after hungry and therefore he finds alonso more difficult to deal with.


He has allready said that several times during the last two years.


If we were cynical about this, we could say that Massa is trying to make himself look better by praising Alonso, who has been much stronger than Massa in recent years.


Exactly right, it's the same when FA says how great LH is (or vice versa)- what else can they say given how close they were at McLaren.


You two nailed it on the head. Absolutely right.


Surprising to hear actually, given Schumacher's role as his mentor for a few seasons.



Do you think Smedley and Massa at Williams is a realistic prospect?


I think Bottas is a fixture there - he's Toto Wolff' protege and Wolff still has influence there via Alex Wurz

Smedley will be senior to race engineers if he goes there, I imagine


Could they afford to punt Maldonado for Massa? Not sure on the sponsorship situation.


"Although unconventional in some areas, he is very highly regarded in the pit lane." What is uncoventional abour RS? Thank you. Anyway, I just hope Williams take off after these difficult years. God bless them.


Yes James, I didn't know what was unconventional about Smedley.



Since Mercedes must have had some appreciation for how mclaren had got the best outta their engine do you have any ideas of how many of their staff they've poached? I seem to recall it was even a wheel man somewhere in addition to Lewis, Lowe etc. can't help but feel whitmarsh and his help to get a merc engine into the brawn has somehow backfired as a long time McLaren fan.


Is anyone offering any bucket loads of cash or a decent role to any current RBR engineers? There must be a few engineers there other than Newey who know what makes their car quicker than the rest?


As part of the RBR teamwork I've heard that all the contract engineers will get together and decide as a team how many years to sign for and all get contracts of the same duration including Newey.


Why does one of the other teams just build an exact copy of this years red bull? It would not be that difficult to get the exact dimensions from photos.

Ok it would be a year old but would it be worse than this years McLaren? It would be a known good starting point for development?

Have any teams done this in the past James?


Interesting enough, I've wondered the same thing a few times over the years, especially after 2009 and the new teams. Surely if a team like Marussia or Caterham did this it would at least put them into the thick of the midfield battle?

I imagine its not that straightforward and there are many things which all need to work together to make an F1 car fast, but these are bright guys that could use it as a step up, not?


There's dramatic changes next year. Wouldn't work.


Teams definitely copy designs from other cars such as the double diffuser for example, but a lot of the technical innovation is under the bodywork as well, teams would love to take an x-ray of sorts of the Bull.


Hiring a new Technical Director and Aerodynamics chief is all well and good but if the engine is inferior to those of their rivals Ferrari will be nowhere.


Next years cars more reliant on KERS if they stop

working you are out of the race.I think next year

electric drive only in the pit lane


Paul, if thats true then lucky that Webber is retiring otherwise he wouldn't be in any of the races.


I thought they'd done away with the pit-lane electric drive for now, but you're right that energy-recovery is more important than ever. RB might have to be a bit more conservative in their packaging than they've been these last few years.


Driving solely with electric power in the pit lane was postponed until 2017.



I thought the electric drive in pit lane idea got dropped? It's dangerous if people don't hear the cars, especially since those working in the pits would all be wearing hearing protection.


Correct - for the first year at least, until they are allowed to equalise the engines a bit


Why not the same engine for all then? Maybe we could have an article James? Very interesting discussion to be had there 😉


James can you give more info on how the engine manufacturers will go about equalizing the power and to what extent, also why the ppower that be allow this to happen, surely if someone has done a better job with their power unit the deserve to keep it to themselves, it's not like Red Bull have to share their aero technologies with the other teams so why the engines.



It's shocking that an expert with a "clear view" on other technical matters had no idea that they allowed the manufacturers to even up there engine power. LOL


They did it with V8s if you remember

Renaultnwas a bit behind so they were allowed to make some changes in second year

It's done with FIA overseeing it and transparency with other manufacturers


Ferrari must be given credit. This risk will pay-off. Alonso knows what he is going into with Kimi and is more mature vis-a-vis 2007 with unknown Hamilton.

2014-2015 atleast will be a slug fight between Ferrari-Merc-RBR with Mclaren, Lotus being the new-mid-field runners. Sad to see the excellence of Mclaren reduced to mid-field which is evident by the lack of aggressive hirings be it driver or tech gurus.


Just because Mclaren have not hired anyone new does not suggest they will be midfield runners form 2014... They have retained many of the engineers that designed and built their 2011 and 2012 cars. Arguably best after the RBR's. Not only that, but this year they have certainly improved the awful 2013 car, especially relative to the competition.

Mclaren are a top team and one bad season does not make them a midfield team.

Next year they will have Mercedes engines, and despite moving to Honda in 2015, Mercedes will want as much success with Mclaren as possible. Remember, it's their name on the car too.

I have every belief Mclaren will be back to winning ways next season and nothing suggests otherwise.


As I have said before no one can start making predictions for 2014 until we know which engines are better and which one is lagging behind.

Javier Marcelo Correa

I don't know wy but I have the perception that renault engine will be so powerfull that ferrari is trying to stop lotus to get clouser with renault as partner. that would make sense of last ferrari move against lotus in all areas. I hope not, as alonso fan.


Why in the world would Ferrari do that? Even if your engine prediction becomes reality, Lotus closer to Renault presumably means RBR not as much, which would be good to pretty much everybody except RBR and their fans.


Don't forget aero 😀


I didn't know much about him but the recent Sky feature on Ferrari showed how much they all look up to Smedley. They seemed somewhat overawed by him which is hilarious and great.


'highly regarded in the pit lane'....for what exactly? apart from featuring in some 'entertaining banter' on the team radio he certainly hasn't engineered his driver to any real success on the track. why all the nonsense written about him?


He's considered a very bright engineer. The notoriety from TV coverage of radio messages isn't a factor


james, my ref to 'banter' was tongue in cheek. as for being a very bright engineer where is the proof of that? just who considers him to be very bright? if he does finish up at williams doesn't that imply that he isn't very bright?


Sounds like similar stuff coming out when Sam Micheal went to Williams. Regarded as one of the best men in the pitlane yet people doubted him because of the Williams form without really knowing.

Why would finishing at Williams imply he is not very bright? Williams won a race in 2012 don't forget. They are known for quality engineering and are involved in engineering not only F1 cars but lower formulae series, and helping supply GT teams with hybrid units.

Williams remain of Britain's finest engineering firms.


Great to see the engineers getting their fair share of the news!

James, is Adrian Newey mentoring anyone in particular at the moment? Surely Newey isn't a one man show; has anyone consistently worked with or followed him from team to team over the years? Thanks!


Back when Red Bull started recruiting any and every engineer possible, they eventually managed to get a hold of Newey. Than, Newey specifically asked for Peter Prodromou, who was chief aerodynamicist at McLaren. Basically, McLaren and Enstone (Benetton + Renault) have matured majority of F1 talent over the last 20 years.

You can see half of McLaren now in Mercedes, some in Ferrari, all the senior engineers from Benetton along with Schumacher went to Ferrari back in 96, than some more of Renault staff went to Mercedes, some to Ferrari, now Lotus staff is going to Ferrari and so on.

Newey was one of the rare ones who came to prominence with Williams, after starting with March and Leyton House.

From the movements in the last 20 years, you can see that most of the today's big star engineers made their names in Benetton(Renault) and McLaren.


I asked him that question recently in a long interview you can hear on BBC Radio5Live next week.

The answer is not really. He likes working with new people so,didn't take people with him to RBR

That said all the key engineers are on linked contracts


Sounds fascinating. Will that interview also be on a podcast on this site?


James, back in 2006, when Newey joined Red Bull, he asked specifically for Peter Prodromou, who was chief aerodynamicist at McLaren at the time. They are still pretty much a tandem.


Yes he mentions him in the interview


So how does this employing of new staff work in F1?

In the real word a company would show they are interested in employing new staff by putting an advert some where and potential applicants would apply. Are teams like ferrari and mercedes putting out interest and the engineers are simply jumping ship or are the teams poaching them from behind the scenes?


Really? you must live in a different "real world" to me. These are key positions, significantly affecting the company performance.

Do you think BP recruits their board by putting a notice in the local newsagent's?


There often are job postings in Autosport magazine and other publications, sometimes for F1 aero roles, although I don't think these are often very senior. Very senior roles are usually through headhunter agencies, even outside of F1, and of course they have the benefit of always travelling together etc, its like attending a major networking conference every 2 weeks!


Fortunately the F1 teams are not constrained by the same stupid rules that apply in most of the real world as you put it.

When it comes to key people all big businesses use headhunters and with all the senior positions we read about in F1 this applies.

Our public sector is really harmed by the desperation of HR departments to tick boxes rather than hire the best people. F1 teams work at such a fast pace this would never work. In the real world big business employees are never gathered together in quite the same way as in F1. It is a real "heart on the sleeve" show where excellence or displeasure are picked up instantly. A happy working environment is essential in getting the most out of staff. All of this makes poaching skilled but unhappy F1 engineers easy.


That said you can still pick up a copy of Autosport and find some F1 teams advertising for positions in the classifieds. This week has Red Bull Technology, Force India (for a chief race engineer no less) and Renault Sport all advertising.


Is Rob Smedley's potential move away from Ferrari linked to Massa's departure? I wondered whether he has waited for Massa to leave before taking up another post or whether he is leaving because Massa is being replaced or indeed if it is all a coincidence.


If he can move in to a senior role with a team I would suspect he is done with looking after Felipe. Would seem a backwards move to me.


Yes please, HULK to Lotus... but where will be Lotus in 2014 James, just a midfield team?


With McLaren's deal with Force India ending aren't there going to be a number of staff coming back home to Woking?


So how many technical directors equals one Newey?

The Spanish Inquisitor

If you have access to the last intelligent supermaterials technology you don’t need such a legion of engineers. I don’t think that aerodynamics is the key of RBR’s success. RBR and Oracle Team have much in common… supermaterials….


Sick him in the wind tunnel, see what the computers say.


"Ew" comes to mind...


Depends if you're using imperial or metric.


Given the deep shine he gets sometimes, I'd be measuring a quantity of Neweys in "domes".


On current evidence - quite a few!


I'm thinking the collective noun for Technical Directors must be a "committee". Comitato?

I've experienced plenty of committees but never one that produced anything usefull.....


That, as a friend of mine says, is because a committee is the only life form with 20 stomachs and no brain...


I think in Ferrari's case we might call it a "bonfire" of technical directors. A desperately over-stocked inferno that is going to burn out rapidly.


I've found Sir Barnett Cocks' words very wise when it comes to committees. And I expect, completely antithetical to F1 success.

"A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled."


no, the collective for technical directors is an 'indulgence'.


I would have though it was an 'expense' of technical directors


Correction needed in para 2, James. Hennel isn't joining Lotus "from Lotus" as stated, he's coming across from Ferrari, I believe.


Thanks, corrected typo!


James maybe you could try and do some profiles of and interviews with these guys. Their contracts probably don't allow them to talk much, but you might have some luck with Smedley who might be between jobs soon.

I'm suggesting this because the high profile engineering directors always get coverage, but the guys working directly under them are quite impressive too.


Great article. Thanks James. Nice to have this comprehensively laid out. It's interesting to see this "engineer arms race" occurring so ostensibly. Is this common in F1 history?Historically, technical directors have been hotly sought-after, poached etc, but how often has such an organised drive to clean up a wider array of technical minds occurred? Mercedes have been methodical in trying to sign every available technical director they can, whilst Ferrari appear to have done something similar with aero guys.

Is this history repeating itself, or is it a new "arms race" for a new era of F1?


Ferrari is putting all his efford in aero guys when the new rules will limit this tecnical resourses somethin like 65%. It does not sound very clever to me. What do you think James?


Aero is still fundamentally important in 2014


I think this is something that's only happened in the last 10 to 15 years, before that the teams weren't really big enough for it to be worth doing as design teams were considerably smaller.


More to the point, the benefit of poaching in this instance is that as well as gaining additional resource, skill and knowledge, you're removing it from rival teams.

It's notable there haven't been many high profile signings from Red Bull in the most recent seasons. A factor in their success for sure it seems.


Those rumoured 10K+ bonuses for Red Bull employees when the team achieves a WCC, might be a factor in retaining their staff too!


Yes, by all means Rob, return to the UK and take Felipe with you to Williams F1 and dump the hot head PM. I'm sure FM could teach VB a thing or two and at the same time return Williams to some of its former glory.


One under performer for another, only this one without any money. Just what Williams need.


If I had the coin, I'd hire Rob Smedley to talk to me on the drive to work every morning


Heinzman baby, stay cool!


Heinzman, the number 6 bus is faster than you... Do you understand?

Heinzman (Fan of: ALO)

Haha! Gold


hey james.

i've always liked what i've seen of rob smedley on tv, and the rapport he enjoys with massa seems pretty unique for driver-engineer relations in the pitlane.

he always seems a really straightforward yorkshire guy. so i'm curious to know, what unconventional qualities are you referring to?


it would seem being straightforward is rare!

In some ways it is such a shame he is leaving ferarri. I would love to hear the radio conversations between Kimi and Rob. It would either be hell or very entertaining. "OK Kimi the hydraulic pressure is failing - but the ice cream won't be ready for a couple of laps"


James, any idea will Mark Slade move to Ferrari as well?


Will find out more in Singapore


James, is there any truth in reports that as part of his contract Kimi insisted on taking Andrea Stella from Alonso and seems Luca readily agreed (or suggested it) ??


At the end of the day, Kimi's engineer will not make any difference.


Very unlikely. No way Alonso will allow that!

Kimi is already coming in on equal terms, don't think he is going to poach Alonso's RE.

That's quite unlike Kimi. Also Luca won't accede to it.


+1 this would be very interesting to know. Im sure we'll hear stuff over the next race or two. Andrea always had tremendous respect for both drivers-I think he considers FA more complete-- but has said Kimi does things in a car that no other driver can do.


Good article. Nice that you can come up with something to keep things ticking over here.


Any news about Mark Slade going with Kimi to Ferrari?


Could Massa go to Williams then? Or is that door closed if Maldonado stays? I doubt they will drop Bottas.


I read a rumor that Massa could get Maldonado´s seat. Maldonado is not happy at Williams because the car is not perfoming as he expected. Massa could bring Brazilian oil company Petrobras as a sponsor.


Anything is possible, but I think Maldonado will stay put


Not unless the PDVA contract gets torn up, the economic situation since Chavez death in Venezuela has been dire, and could be torn up if it gets any worse!


maybe it's too little to late. for what it's worth most experts predict that aero won't be as significant an issue in car performance with the new regs.

the new regs re drivetrain management look mind boggingly complex.


If Smedley's move to Williams is confirmed, and if (and I realize this is a big IF) Massa could find some south-American cash, would Williams consider him as a safe pair of hands?


Rob Smedley is one of my most inspirational people. A hero if you were. Will a shame to not hear his voice on my television anymore, but I give him my best in climbing the Formula 1 ladder. Good luck Rob!


Please let rob stay at Ferrari as kimis engineer, his radio calls trying to tell klmi how to drive will without doubt be one of the highlights of 2014


These would be the true fireworks from within the team. :^)


Lotus' CAD head is moving to maranello as well. can you confirm? His name is Jarrod Murphy.

No wonder Kimi 's leaving.


Yes. True.

But I read article of Leo Turrini, that ferrari ofered seat to Kimi allready summer of 2012.


Why has no one been raiding red bulls engineering department? I appreciate that Newey is the main man and is being paid handsomely but is not a one man team and there must be other talented people that could really strengthen anyone else's engineering department.

I am still waiting for a job offer as well from any of the top teams. I'm good at making tea and coffee, top-notch at photocopying and even know how to turn on a computer. I'm ok a CFD but need a little more practice.


I think the answer is -- do you want to work with Adrian Newey it someone else in F1??- pretty simple answer if your an aspiring engineer/ aerodynamicist


I'm sure they've tried.

RBR must be a nice place to be right now 🙂


Perhaps they are locked up with multi year contracts. And, why leave if you are member of a winning team while being payed accordingly.


Cue the musical chairs music...


Hi james,

This is a bit off topic but I recently saw mark webbers old physio/trainer (the one when he broke his leg), it was interesting to hear some of his thoughts on how to beat jet lag and a brief overview of some training he got mark to do. I wondered if u would be able to do an article with an in depth look at the training drivers do pre season and during the season, how they prepare for hot humid weekends like singapore (im currently in malaysia and the humidity makes exercise in normal gym kit hard work)



Yes. We did that some time back and it's in Podcast #2 from 2012, with Nick Harris


James why are the podcasts only 30 minutes, they are too good to be so short.

Great website James.


Thanks. Tell your friends!


"Massa is on the list of potential drivers at Lotus, but sources suggest that Nico Hulkenberg has long been their fallback should Raikkonen leave." Cash is king Sir! What would have Kimi preferred? Staying in a laid back team that pays his salary on time with car upgrades? Nico has been burnt in Sauber as well. Sauber had promised Nico glory but he hasn't seen a salary payment for ages. F1 scored an own goal with the new turbo engines. Only the top four teams can afford them. The rest are surviving on the smell of an oily rag. Lotus is also on the ropes. They can't afford the new power trains. Massa would have too bring in millions in sponsorship when he will most likely never get paid a salary. The other three teams have too do a Red Bull and buy a smaller, even a mid sized team. The only mid sized team to keep it's head above water is Force India due too a billionaire, but he is also complaining. CVC and Bernie have screwed F1 in a royal way. Only eight drivers are getting paid at the moment the rest are pretending too or putting their hands in their pockets throwing Bernie their notes.


Sorry, but how do you know this! If you look at FI it certainly isn't down to Mallaya. His Kingfisher airlines went bust. He had to sell a significant portion of United Breweries so not indicative of limitless wealth. Also he brought the Sahara Group into FI. I do though agree that it is becoming more difficult even for mid ranking teams to compete.


James, personally would you prefer to see Hulkenberg or Massa to Lotus next year?


Hulk definitely

He deserves a chance at the big time

Massa has had plenty of chances


why does hulkenberg deserve a top drive? no one seems able to put a convincing argument together, at least, not here. all i hear are positive platitudes without any substance.

yes, lotus maybe looking at him, so what? i'm sure that they look at a whole lot of drivers. as a byline, my analysis is simply what i have read and seen, just like, i presume, everyone else here apart from james.

one fluke pole does not an 'F1meister' make. IMO of course. convince me otherwise.


Is the fact that the experts at Lotus rate him highly not enough to convince you that you may be wrong? What about the opinion of every F1 journalist and commentator who's opinion I have seen or read, who all believe that Nico is a shoo in for the Lotus drive, and thoroughly deserves to get it, I guess to someone like you these people are just amateurs who lack your in depth knowledge of the sport.

There is no such thing as a "fluke" pole position in F1, no matter what the team had done with the tyres, Nico had to go out on a wet track and nail every braking zone apex and exit absoloutely perfectly. He did it, and did 2 laps in a Williams that were good enough for pole. This performance impressed everyone in the F1 paddock, as they understand just how difficult it is to do that. They were further impressed last year when he lead the Brazillian GP in a Force India, again in the wet. This year in a slow Sauber, all he can do is destroy his team mate, again the teams notice these things, they also look at all the quali laps and race laps set by all the drivers and use their years of experience to deduce who is doing a good job and who isn't. This is why Hulkenberg is highly regarded in the pit lane, by people who really know what they are talking about, but like I said in my previous post, maybe they are all wrong and you are right.

The thing that irritated me the most about your ill informed previous post was the use of the word "certainly", it really gets on my nerves when people on here present their own personal opinions as undisputed fact. If you had said "in my opinion Nico is nothing special" I wouldn't have bothered replying to it, as in truth nobody knows yet if he is or he isn't. What we can say is that he has shown flashes of brilliance in midfield cars that might translate into race or championship winning form in a front running car, or it might not. Either way nobody knows for certain.


james, why hulkenberg? why is it that so many people are bigging him up?

he certainly doesn't seem to be anything out of the box, IMO. apart from his one 'fluke' pole in brazil what else is there for him to hang his hat on?

yes, he is a good driver...but certainly not anything special.


Certainly not anything special?! Why are you so certain of that? Is your opinion based on in depth analysis of Nico's performances in F1? Or just what you have seen on the telly? The teams, of course, go down the 'in depth analysis' route, and Lotus would appear to think he is something special. Maybe you know better though, who would you go for instead?


You can't be serious surely?

Tornillo Amarillo

Well said!


I don't think Massa has really been given much chance against Alonso to be honest. He has been forced into carrying out the role of a number 2 driver ever since Germany 2010.


I think that his lack of pace (usually 0.5s behind ALO) made him number 2. Don't you think???


A role he earned by being consistently slower than his teammate.


Disapointed, would have loved to hear kimi and smedley on the radio "Kimi baby stay cool" "leave me alone I know what i'm doing"


James what´s happening with mclaren?? They lost Newey to RBR, Kimi to Ferrari, couldn´t manage Alonso vs Hamilton, lost Alonso, Fry, Hamilton, Neale. Are they a top team anymore? They are taking a big nap at Mclaren and when they wake up they will be struggling at the end of the pack.If the switch to Honda engines goes bad i really fear for them.


You forgot to mention Paddy Lowe.


Like all big teams ( incl Ferrari), Mclaren have lost their way and need to re- invent themselves. Because F1 moves so fast that creativity and cutting edge design can only only be capitalised on if you have the right people working for you at the right time. So many things have to come together for things to work.. When Mclaren had Newey their cars were brilliant - but the Mercedes engines often failed. When they had Alonso they played him off against Lewis and that failed.. because he was the wrong guy- evidenced by his willingness to blackmail them in the spygate scandal!.

Mclaren like Ferrari right now are lacking true leadership. The minute they hired Jenson Button- the team went backwards- they seemed to listen more to his "pleasant and mature words" more than they did- their last world champion who knew what it takes to get 100% out of a car. It's very clear the politics at play in Mclaren since 2011 led Lewis to leave to Mercedes.. I predicted this move to Mercedes well before anybody. Jenson often struggles to get the car working properly- that was evidenced even the first half of 2012 .when they had a very good car.The only difference now at Ferrari is that they are returning their former WC and half his current crew for Lotus because despite Alonso great driving he has failed to move the team forward- which is perhaps what they expected of him- but not really his function- Team presidents and principals move the team forwards with the right drivers and technical people-- drivers get the most out of the people around them.Right now Mclaren don't have the right combination of drivers and technical greats to be dominating- but more importantly they lack leadership from Whitmarsh who's leadership must surely be under question. He seemed genuinely shocked when he low Lewis when it was no shock to alot of people around Lewis..Whitmarsh casually referred to Raikkonen as .." Likely to fail" to get a seat away from lotus .. Rather than making a genuine play himself.. If he thought they needed a top flight driver.. ( and they do!).Mclaren are still playing with their strong "Brand" as their saving grace.. But the reality is .. Strong leadership and doing whatever it takes to win will be their saving grace..They need to be perhaps more aggressive in their decisions rather than resting on the laurels and name to succeed.


I don't remember the 2000-2004 Mclarens as brilliant


Hey HWS--no they weren't were they- but Mclaren were still able to attract and keep good drivers. Which only adds to the question doesn't it.. Now they are 4th ( and dropping to5 th) on top drivers shopping list aren't they ?..It's definitely taken them a while to "implode" but since 2011 & the team rather publically becoming Lovy dovy with Button--that was the benchmark or stupidity for me.


you may be right about strong leadership but i think whitmarsh demonstrated to ron dennis how capable and trustworthy he is over many years of them working closely together. whitmarsh is like a brother to dennis and he will not replace him. there isn't anyone incapable of making mistakes. if only they let all the politics out of the window and let nature takes its course where the best people are allowed to occupy their rightful positions and compete to keep those positions instead of allowing people like phil prew to block others from progressing by trying to run both garages. this is just one example as i don't know what else goes on in the rest of the company. what i know is that competition naturally brings out the best in people.


About leadership.

In the website are very nice article (Anthony Redina- The Dark Knight Return) about Kimis return to Ferrari and was heart-warming read that Kimi comes to leader in the silent way.

P.S. I think this article is obligatory to Kimis fans.


Dont forget paddy lowe!!!


My! My ! So many pawns being rearranged to take on one Adrian Newey, and yet no one has made any difference in nearly half a decade ! Goes to vindicate Chris Horner' words in the mid 2000s when he said "Given a choice between Schumacher and Adrian, i'd choose Adrian". Also shows what Schumi& Ferrari were up against in the 90s and 2000s when they were fighting Newey designed Williams and Mclarens .


Newey's cars did not win championships for about a decade until Vettel started driving them.

And Newey said on record: " Vettel flatters my cars".

The season Vettel goes somewhere else, Newey's car won't win a title. People are heavily underestimating Vettel and overestimating Newey's abilities. Where was he for a decade?


Newey's cars won 6 drivers championships and 6 constructors championships in the 1990s, how can you say it wasnt until Vettel came along that he started winning? Out of that decade he only designed 9 of the cars so a 6/9 hit rate is pretty damned good.

Even through his Mclaren tenure in the first part of the 00's despite not winning any championships his cars still won several races and he designed what I consider to be the fastest F1 car in history the 2005 McLaren MP4-20. He then spent 3 unsuccessful years at Red Bull when the team were still finding their feet and getting the right people in the right places, he being one of these people.

As far as I am aware this years RB9 is still based on the same blueprints or concept as the RB5 from 2009, he hit an absolute winner with that chassis and has merely been refining it since then. I also recall reading somewhere that a lot of features on the RB5 were originally designed by him for the McLaren MP4-18 (I think) that never actually raced due to reliability issues.

All throughout his career Newey has pushed the envelope for F1 car design, only Rory Byrne, whoes cars have admittedly won more titles (7 drivers and constructors) over the period where they competed together, is close to him.


I said 'winning championships', not just 'winning'.

From 2000 and 2009, no titles, zero, nada, zilch. That's a decade. If he is so superior and such a genius, where was he during that decade? People claiming the cars he makes cannot be beaten, even a monkey can win a title in them, and that kind of malarkey?

It is a fact that the titles started coming in after Vettel started driving his cars and Newey himself admitted Vettel flatters his cars. Newey knows he needs a world class driver for his cars to get the title.

I am not saying Newey is a bad designer, he is clearly good, but he isn't as good as people claim (see the decade of no titles). People underestimate Vettel though.


I'm sorry I disagree. Whilst at Williams, Newey worked under Patrick Head who was still the main man


Are Ferrari trying to get rid of Alonso?


I think Massa will end up at Sauber, as they will, hopefully, have Ferrari power next year and still be on the grid, and they are in desperate need of an experience driver. Ferrari would want to make sure that they do perform, and not let the Ferrari brand down. So in theory, given the service and the way that Ferrari allowed Massa to tell the world he was leaving, it is possible that they may help Sauber afford Massa, by paying some of his salary.

I am still surprised that Sauber don’t have a simulator, so moving Massa into the seat would be the only real smart option given his testing skill, which Alonso has hinted at, and prior to his leaving.

James : Would Pat Symonds have a say in bringing in Rob Smedley to the team. Who would have targeted him at Williams?

I feel a little sorry for Enstone, but looking back it happens all the time. The same things happen to Williams while they were on top, and their cars were the best of the field. Lots of key people left to join other teams, on much better pay, and bigger job title.

When Michael left Benetton, and a whole raft of talented people left with him, his race engineer at that time, a certain Pat Symonds stayed at Enstone.


I don't see what good it would do Massa to join Sauber, unless he goes to Lotus which IMO looks unlikely he should bow out gracefully, I'm sure Ferrari will have plenty of cushy sports car numbers for him.

I too feel a bit sorry for Lotus, as you say it happened to them in 1996 when Schumacher left and then again when Alonso left (the whole crashgate thing didn't exactly help). I was quite liking having them as another team in the mix for race wins, bit like the Jordan team in the late 90s. Hopefully they wont fall apart but I feel they need an experienced and fast senior driver to guide them, and hopefully they have a good chassis in the pipeline for next year. Shame what happened to Robert Kubica, had he still been around and in the team I think he would have been very strong for them.


He did start his career with Sauber, and stranger things have happened.


If you look at where Ferrari actually makes a shed load of money, is from their brand awareness and merchandise. They really need Sauber to perform to a certain level, thereby maintaining that brand image. Massa knows Ferrari and they know him.

There isn’t really anyone out there that has Ferrari engine knowledge, and is an experience driver. Jules Bianchi (24) was there test – third driver. He may fill the bill at Sauber, but needs to bring in some funds. But has he got the experience?

Given the way that Ferrari have looked after Massa, and allowed him to tell everyone he was leaving, where as they didn’t do the same to Michael or Kimi, does say a lot.

Massa is popular in Brazil, so yes he could bring in some money or a big sponsor to the team, but Brazil is not doing that well economically, so could be hard to justify such an investment


I'm not really seeing the advantage to the massive line up of former Tech directors etc. All the car will end up being is something designed by committee which is never a good thing, everyone gets what no body wants! Designing becomes a "who can piss the highest" contest as everyone with well established egos tries to get their tuppence in. Red Bull and Newey seems like a one man party, and it works!


You make a very good point.

I've been wondering about this too, and am looking forward to next year's Mercedes to see the proof of their raft of technical hires.

If egos are set aside perhaps teamwork could be created and it could work. But I've no idea of the personalities and their egos.


"Red Bull and Newey seems like a one man party"

There's over 600 people working at RBR. If it seems like a one man party that's a sign of poor news coverage.


Apologies that is not what I meant, there are obviously many people that work under Newey and I dare say do a lot of his work. But I get the impression that there is no doubt there that he is the gaffer and what he says goes. He is the chief and the rest are Indians. I feel what Mercedes and now Ferrari have created is the classic too many chiefs and not enough Indians.


Hi James,

A bit off topic, I was just thinking, a lot of people downplay Schumachers titles because of his surrounding environment i.e. best car, tyres etc. Just curious about Vettel and his world titles in 'the best' car, wonder if he thinks anything of it, wonder if it will make him definitely leave Red Bull at some point to enhance his legacy.

Just curious, penny for your thoughts James.


Vic, one thing I love about Vettel is he has never joined a team that could boast a race win. He has raced for three teams (he had one race for BMW Sauber) and won for two of them (you could argue Red Bull and Torro Rosso are one and the same, but I see them as two separate teams). He has a 28% win ratio and could have easily won 4 championships in 5 full seasons. He will probably win 4 championships in 6 full seasons. Now re-read what I have typed, as its phenomenal in the extreme.


As much as it pains me to say it, anyone who thinks that Vettel can only win in a Red Bull when it's handed to him on a plate needs to be reminded every now and again that he won his first race in a Toro Rosso.

But yes, winning with a different team might quiet some of his critics.


A toro Rosso design which was the Newey designed Red Bull, except with a Ferrari engine.


True, the STR3 was probably even better than the RB4 at the time and it was a wet race which mixes things up, but it still showed a bit of talent on Vettel's part.


I don't think he'll care if people undervalue the titles, because he is a part of making the car/driver package dominant.

But I can imagine him wanting to drive somewhere else in his career, because he started so young there is scope for that


I wonder if this aero structure is a wise move. At Red Bull it seems Newey is the one guiding voice, but Merc and Ferrari seem to have too many cooks.

Normally I wouldn't be worried but both Merc and Ferrari seem very confused in this year's development race. Almost like too many different ideas have manifested into a rather confusing package of upgrades.


How's that?

Mercedes's performance over the last few years has always fluctuated. This season is slightly more consistent with more poles than any other team.

Likewise, Ferrari since 2010 has had performance variances track to track.


Ron became older and it all relaxed...


james ,of topic , but will the new engines be tested in an old (or any )chassis this year before the new cars are ready ?


Let's get Rob Smedley to do a SatNav voice over.


James, really great thread - nice to read sensible, well constructed posts as opposed to rather senseless driver slagging...


Hey James. I love this website and I really like the people who comment here and engaging with them. I am sure it is not easy to moderate but would it be possible to start a forum section for the website for discussion.

For example Massa just announced in a TV interview that for the rest of the season he will not support Alonso, that he will be fighting. It would be great to discuss these sorts of exciting developments.


I prefer to keep it as it is now, with discussions like this. We will increase the amount of content allowing more discussions


am not sure about smedly after watching this interview.


I don't doubt the strong relationship between Dennis and Whitmarsh and the fact that everyone makes mistakes. I think in fact Whitmarsh is a good guy and has done a terrific job in FOTA and other aspects of F1. But he is too wish/ washy and full of politics himself at times. I find the way he handled Hamilton and Buttons situations was not really the sign of a good leader. The Honda deal must be a great feather in his cap. But signing someone like Sam Michael - (biggest waste of breath in the paddock) and loosing Hamilton and Lowe reeks of something not quite right in that team. Let alone the manner in which he negotiated with Hamilton last year. Maybe there is something else behind the scenes- decisions by committee- including Ron himself, etc, Either way Martin has not done anything to inspire great confidence certainly not when it was needed most.


hi elie, i agree with you about martin seeming wishy washy at times. i think that's because he doesn't make the decisions of who goes and who stays. he makes some minor decisions but the big ones are out of his hands. he wouldn't have let hamilton go. even after hamilton left he said he would find it hard not to have a look through his visor as he sat on the grid the following year. he also had to be careful not to tell the world that he didn't make the decisions after all ron is no longer meant to be dealing with the mclaren f1 racing team remember? ron dennis has known a lot of his employees on a personal level for a long time and some of them tend not to respect the management structure as much as they should simply because they can have direct access to dennis.

i don't understand why sam michael was hired either but i have a feeling that the car button drives is not as bad as it has looked alll season. it is a lot better than the results show because i have seen it time and time again set fastest laps in the middle of races. it doesn't look so good on low fuel or full tank but comes alive somewhere in the middle so it might need a defferent way of setting up to get better results at the extreme ends.

only if they simply let nature run it's course.


Whoops !-intended for post 42- above replying Aveli


Massa should be in a strong position to get the Lotus seat, basically because he´s the only real experencied driver without a seat for 2014, comes from the Ferrari famili (including his years at Ferrari´s powered sauber), he was second in 2008 by a point and drove many many races, mastering turkey in example. Lostus is certainly going through difficult times and they are still negotiating with INFINITY to get the invenstment, so they got to have an experienced driver who can develop the car, HULK probably is one of the best newcomers, but the quesion is still out if he can develop a car, specially when we talk of a team not well funded. He has done a good job at sauber and given the right circunstances he will make a Brazil or Monza, but at the end of the day Lotus needs experience, technical knowledge, willing to work on simulator. Massa could also shine in Lotus feeling more free coming from playing 2nd driver in Ferrari, he will have to adapt to a new engineer and to a more radical team, but i think with the right management he will do the job for them and himself.


massa has had enough. he is married with a son and is no longer as hungry after 13 years of being paid millions.

let others have a go.

alonso hasn't won a championship ever since he got married, he might have a chance now that he's divorsed. massa is still married so he will not push the car to it's limits fearing leaving a wife and a kid behind to enjoy his millions without him.

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