#935 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2023-01-08 23:00

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#2015, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Giulia Montemurro,

#935 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

A triumphal ride, up to the conquest of his third world title. Lewis Hamilton can only be satisfied in drawing the balance of his 2015, in which he ma


A triumphal ride, up to the conquest of his third world title. Lewis Hamilton can only be satisfied in drawing the balance of his 2015, in which he managed to confirm himself as champion by winning ten races and conquering eleven pole positions. The British rider confirmed in the press conference preceding the last weekend of the World Championship:


"2015 was my best year in my career and I think the best race was in Austin when I achieved the mathematical certainty of the title. I have to say thanks to my team who did an extraordinary job throughout the season. Now I am happy to be in Abu Dhabi and I want to finish winning the 44th race of my career".


At the end of the season, only the race in the United Arab Emirates is missing, where the Englishman from Mercedes boasts a favorable tradition.


"I've won twice, done two pole positions and last year I even won the title at the last race. It's one of those tracks where I can go better, it's congenial to my characteristics as an aggressive driver, there are many corners and yes he brakes late. In addition, there is always a large crowd and the weather is perfect. Will it be a duel with teammate Rosberg? My opinions in this case don't matter so much, Nico and I will fight with the strategies that the team and who will decide will arrive in front will have chosen the best one".


The British driver then talks about his possible future presence at a Nascar race:


"I think it's a very different world from F1 but in certain things we have to learn from them, for example in terms of the show or the relationship with the fans who can get much closer to the pits and see their heroes. They are very fun races and I hope I can take part in a race once".


Finally Hamilton comments on the continuous entry of new circuits into the world championship circus of the four wheels.


“It's nice to go to different countries and spread the word of Formula 1 by gaining a following in other parts of the world. However, I think it's right to keep the balance between new and historic circuits and it's important to stay racing on tracks with a lot of history, classics like Imola, because our sport is linked to traditions and they are also spectacular and beautiful tracks to drive".


Kimi Raikkonen, on the other hand, isn't particularly satisfied with his season, but remains positive, convinced that Ferrari will continue to grow as it has already done in the championship which is about to end.


"It has been an average season, better than last year, but we are still far from the ideal World Championship. This is life and next year we will try to do better. It was a better year than 2014, now the goal is to finish in front of everyone, Mercedes has been very strong in recent years, but we have hope of beating them next season. We'll have to wait for the first tests and then the first races, but a lot of work has already been done in the factory, now we'll see if this work is positive, but we will certainly have a strong package, then we'll have to see if it's strong enough to win the title".


For Raikkonen, second place in Bahrain was his best result of the season.


"That's true, but that doesn't mean that a better job was done compared to the other weekends. These have not been easy years, but I have improved a lot compared to last year even if we are not where we would like to be. Unfortunately I didn't finish 5 races and therefore I lost a lot of points, now I hope to fight for better positions next year. I'm sure we'll improve and next year will be a big challenge".


The Finn is confident because he is convinced that the direction is the right one:


"We have to keep working hard and I hope for all the guys who work at Ferrari that we will be able to be stronger. It's useless to make promises, we'll do our best and then see what we can achieve next season".


Raikkonen also talks about new circuits and what's new in the upcoming calendars.


"The new circuits are all very similar to each other, I like the traditional ones, I prefer those".


Fernando Alonso also takes stock of his certainly disappointing year with McLaren, but for the Spaniard there is no second thoughts.


"It was a difficult year, we struggled a lot both in terms of pace and stability. After winning two championships and five seasons in which I finished second, I needed a new project, it was a difficult season but I learned a lot and it was nice to work with McLaren-Honda, there is a Japanese culture in the team which I enjoyed a lot, now I am looking forward to the next season which will definitely be better. I don't know where we can go next year, we have worked hard this season, we have been united in the difficult moments and we have continued to progress. Now I think the goal is to get back to where we belong, so going back to fighting for the top, I don't know if for the World Championship, to win a few races or for the podium, it's certainly a very demanding challenge, but all that the team I've done in the last few months, I've found it logical and positive, I'm happy with our progress".


McLaren penultimate in the constructors' standings with 27 points, the closest is Sauber, but Alonso fears it is too late to overtake.


"I think it's unlikely to think of overtaking them, they have 9 points more and this year we've only scored three or four times, I think it's difficult but we'll do our best throughout the weekend even if our minds are already focused on the next year".


The Lotus is delayed in its arrival at the track. The personnel and the material show up at the circuit only on Thursday morning, so much so that the team skips the technical checks. However, the FIA grants an exemption and allows the team to present its single-seaters on Friday morning. The team regularly participates in the race weekend. After the disqualification suffered by Felipe Massa, at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix, due to the incorrect temperature detected on one of his tyres, the FIA decides to modify the regulation. From now on, an engineer from the team will be able to attend the checks carried out on the grid by the marshals to implement the necessary measures in order to avoid penalties. Mercedes asks the FIA for clarifications regarding the use of wind tunnels, fearing that other manufacturers could circumvent the limit set at 25 hours per week of work in these structures, through collaboration with other teams, not registered in the championship. The commissioners clarify that any new team that enters Formula 1 will have to submit to the same rules valid for the teams participating in the world championship. The FIA also clarified that no charges have been brought against Scuderia Ferrari in its relationship with the newborn Haas team. Friday, November 27, 2015, Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first free practice session, run in clear and sunny conditions, lapping in a time of 1'43"754, over one-tenth of a second faster than teammate Rosberg in second. Rosberg had set new fastest sector times on his last fast run, but a mistake in the last part of the track lost him a chance at the best time. 


Kimi Räikkönen was third fastest for Ferrari, ahead of Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat's Red Bull teammate Ricciardo changed back to his older specification Renault power unit, after being unsatisfied with the performance of his updated unit at the previous race in Brazil. He finished the session seventh fastest. At Lotus, Jolyon Palmer replaced Romain Grosjean, but had to sit out most of the session due to a water leak, managing just nine laps. In the second session of Friday afternoon, Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets, setting a time of 1'41"983, finishing more than a tenth of a second ahead of Hamilton. Third fastest was Sergio Pérez for Force India, although he was unable to run in the last twenty minutes of the session due to brake issues. The Red Bull drivers Kvyat and Ricciardo were fourth and sixth respectively, while Fernando Alonso came within one second of Rosberg's time in the ninth.


"After all, today is only Friday and I think we can still improve, indeed, that we have to improve. We're a little too far behind, I wish there was less gap with the cars in front and there was more with those behind us".


Says Sebastian Vettel, at the end of free practice in Abu Dhabi.


"Force India was surprisingly quick and Red Bull too. In the first session I made some notes in my notebook, but it's just the to-do list for today and tomorrow...".


Red Bull is safe and remains in F1. In Abu Dhabi, the last weekend of the season, where Mercedes does not seem to want to interrupt its dominance and Ferrari dreams of the fourth victory of a 2015 revival, a catchphrase that had sparked off a political war between Ecclestone, Mateschitz and Todt comes to an end. as president of the FIA he did not like the abandonment of an important team (with Vettel, now in Ferrari, he won four world titles) to the point of proposing particular low-cost engines, for use and consumption by all customer teams (proposal rejected by Mercedes and Ferrari). The case has concluded, Red Bull does not withdraw, it has found an agreement with a supplier for 2016. This was announced by Christian Horner, the team principal, even if he does not reveal the name of the benefactor:


"We have reached an agreement to have an engine next year, we hope that everything will be confirmed in the next few days. However, it will be a year of transition".


Everything suggests that the enemy Renault is helping Red Bull, with whom accusations have often been made this year, due to the low power of the French engine. There was a break in the middle of the season, then Red Bull had to back off, without the help of Mercedes or Ferrari. In the meantime, Renault has decided to return to F1 itself, buying Lotus, so it's easy to reach a compromise: there could be a Renault power unit on Red Bull, but without a brand. Saturday, November 28, 2015, Rosberg was again fastest in the third session with a time of 1'41"856. Hamilton was second quickest, almost three-tenths of a second slower, unable to get a clean lap to match his teammate. On the slower soft tyres, one lap was impeded by traffic, another was disturbed by Hamilton spinning after hitting the kerb at turn five. He again failed in his attempt on a very fast lap on the super-soft tires later in the session, being forced wide after repeating his mistake at turn five. Hamilton was just marginally ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who finished third ahead of Pérez. Daniil Kvyat was unable to set a timed lap as his team worked to solve an electrical problem. A few hours later, at the beginning of the first part of qualifying (Q1), Mercedes sent both their drivers out on the faster super-soft compound, while Ferrari stayed on the slower soft tyres. Even though Ferrari eventually decided to give both their drivers out on the faster tires towards the end of the session, Sebastian Vettel aborted his last flying lap, believing his time to be sufficient for proceeding into the next round, only for Jenson Button to set a time to relegate Vettel into 16th place on the grid, eliminating him from qualifying. 


Vettel would later describe his di lui and the team's judgment of lui as a small mistake with a big consequence. Fernando Alonso in the other McLaren did not make the cut, after a puncture on his last lap left him without a chance at a faster time, while Marcus Ericsson was held up by a technical issue, qualifying 18th. Both Manor Marussia drivers were eliminated at the bottom of the standings, with Will Stevens 1.137 seconds ahead of his teammate Roberto Merhi. Lewis Hamilton was fastest in Q2, two-tenths of a second ahead of his teammate Rosberg. In his last qualifying session with Lotus, Romain Grosjean experienced technical difficulties that forced him to come back into the pits. Even though he was sent out again, he was unable to set a time, stopping his car at turn seven. His teammate Pastor Maldonado also did not proceed into Q3, as did Jenson Button who missed out by two-tenths of a second. The two other drivers eliminated were Felipe Nasr for Sauber and Max Verstappen, who was unable to match the time of his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. The top ten drivers competed for pole position in Q3 and it was a battle between the two Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton set his fastest time first with Rosberg right behind him. A much better time in the third sector of the track allowed Rosberg to take his sixth consecutive pole position almost four-tenths ahead of his teammate. Sergio Pérez held third spot for much of the session but was beaten to it by Kimi Räikkönen during the second round of runs. The two were followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas on the third row of the grid. Following a gearbox change after qualifying, Romain Grosjean was demoted five places on the grid. Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens also received five place penalties: Stevens for a change of the Control Electronics unit, Merhi for changes made to his suspension. Both would start the race from the back row of the grid. Sebastian Vettel takes the blame:


"There weren't any glitches, everything was going according to plan, we went out on the supersofts but thought the ride on the softs was enough and decided to block the second attempt".


Even if the responsibility lies with the team, with someone in the pits (the boss Arrivabene exonerates the driver as he does the same with Adami, the track engineer) who saw fit to stop him, to tell him that it was enough and he could save the tyres. Never was a more nefarious suggestion, because Vettel got out of the battle immediately and will therefore start from the eighth row, on a circuit where he can hardly overtake and where he dreamed of winning. Arrivabene makes no excuses:


"A huge mistake".


Thinking about how good Ferrari was (Raikkonen finished third and can aspire to the podium) and what could have been with Sebastian Vettel.


"I think there's always the opportunity to do well, we have a fast car, even better in the race than the single lap. It will be more difficult starting from the back but it could be a fun race. Today didn't go the best but we'll see how it goes the race, what will the others do".


In the second attempt, the German found Merhi's Marussia in his way and this slowed him down considerably, but he could have widened, overtaken and started pushing again, avoiding being fooled by Maldonado for just 0.012 seconds. It matters little that Raikkonen, with the same strategy as his companion (use the harder tires and keep the soft ones), avoided the ordeal: Vettel will have to try what he failed in 2010 at Alonso (here, staying behind the Russian Petrov, he lost a world title), transforming a flat race into a whirlwind of overtaking.


"He is accustomed to miracles, we need another one".


This is Arrivabene's sentence. Prodigies that Rosberg must not do, at the sixth pole in a row. Hamilton takes the qualifying result badly:


"The 2016 novelties are making it easier, I'm in free fall and I need to get it right".


In order not to give up a throne that he has held tight for two years and risk depression like Alonso, also the victim of a puncture. Dennis, team principal of McLaren, pushes for him to take a sabbatical:


"It's a hypothesis".


That would save 32.000.000 euros. The Spaniard replies:


"In 2016? Of course I will be there. Ready to fight with the best".


Sunday, November 29, 2015, at the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton got away slowly but was able to keep both Pérez and Räikkönen behind him while Rosberg retained the lead. Further back, Fernando Alonso made contact with Felipe Nasr and then crashed into Pastor Maldonado, who was forced to retire. Alonso needed to pit for a new front wing and was later given a drive-through penalty, dropping him to the end of the field. Meanwhile, Nico Hülkenberg and Sebastian Vettel made up places, sitting in fifth and twelfth respectively after the first lap. Valtteri Bottas on the other hand lost positions, finding himself in tenth. Rosberg soon built a lead of over one second, giving Hamilton no chance to deploy DRS for an overtake manoeuvre. By lap 5, both Kvyat and Nasr had come into the pits for the harder compound tyre, followed by Ricciardo, Massa and Pérez one lap later. On lap seven, both Hülkenberg and Sainz Jr. made pit stops. While Hülkenberg was able to stay ahead of Massa, Sainz's stop was unfortunate and he lost time due to a problem with the tyre change. Another two laps later, Valtteri Bottas pitted and was sent out into the path of Button, damaging his front wing, which he needed to replace the following lap. He also received a five-second penalty to be served at his next scheduled stop. The leaders pitted for new tyres around laps ten and eleven, with the order now being Rosberg ahead of Vettel, who was yet to stop, Hamilton, and Räikkönen. Romain Grosjean, who started on the harder tyres just as Vettel, was up to sixth. On lap 13, Felipe Massa passed Marcus Ericsson for ninth place and one lap later, Hamilton capitalised on a mistake by Vettel and overtook him to retake second position. Vettel lost another position when he let Räikkönen pass him on lap 16, the two being on different strategies. 


Meanwhile, Rosberg had built up a lead of around six seconds to Hamilton. On lap 19, Carlos Sainz Jr. allowed teammate Max Verstappen to pass him, while Alonso came in for what was his third pit stop of the race, leaving him in last position. Two laps later, Verstappen created flatspots on his tyres when he locked up his brakes, forcing him to pit. He emerged in 15th position. Vettel came in for his first pit stop on lap 24, coming out in sixth place ahead of compatriot Nico Hülkenberg. At the same time, Hamilton started to reduce the gap to Rosberg in front, cutting it down to less than two seconds by lap 29. With his teammate closing in, Rosberg made pit stops on lap 32, with Räikkönen following suit, whose pit stop was delayed, losing him around four seconds. Sergio Pérez was starting to close the gap to both Ferrari drivers in front of him after pitting early. Vettel reacted on lap 41 and changed to the super-soft tyres, coming out behind both Pérez and Ricciardo in sixth. One lap later, Hamilton came in for his second and final stop, having asked his team before if it would be possible to finish the race without stopping again. He emerged twelve seconds behind Rosberg and started to cut into his advantage immediately. Further back in the field, Max Verstappen overtook Nasr and Button to move into twelfth place on laps 44 and 46 respectively. However, he was deemed to have forced Button wide and was handed a five-second penalty to be added to his finishing time. Lap 53 saw Romain Grosjean move into the final point scoring position of tenth by passing Carlos Sainz Jr. into turn eight. Just one lap later, he took ninth place from Daniil Kvyat. At the front, Hamilton proved unable to reach his teammate, who took the checkered flag for his sixth win of the season.


Kimi Räikkönen completed the podium, followed by Vettel, Pérez and Ricciardo. With yet another showdown Nico Rosberg relegates Lewis Hamilton to second place: the German who took the lead from pole position did nothing wrong and with fast laps he always kept Lewis at a safe distance, fresh World Champion but mortified right at the end season. An important moral slap because dominance in the team is at stake here. It's true that Mercedes doesn't want to be the first driver in the team, but if one driver wins the world championship early, the other is likely to be relegated to the role of follower. But no: Rosberg in this end of the championship has pulled out his claws, proving to have a rare speed. Hamilton therefore had to settle for second place (a minimal result with a Mercedes under his butt) while applause for Raikkonen who brought Ferrari to the podium. In short, Rosberg triumphs in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes scores another double and closes a record year in style. The last race of the World Championship gives another joy to the German, who hits the third success in a row and the sixth of the season thus taking a small revenge on his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Englishman, who has already graduated as world champion, has to settle for a second place this time too which is still worth gold for his team. Mercedes, absolute ruler of the season, can in fact celebrate other records: 16 victories like in 2014, 12 doubles (one more than a year ago) and 32 seasonal podiums (there were 31 in 2014).


"It was a very tough weekend, Austin was the lowest point of the year but I reacted with great strength and I'm thrilled with how it went. We are at the end of the season but if it were up to me I would start again tomorrow, I don't even need to go on vacation".


Nico Rosberg says he is ecstatic after his victory in Abu Dhabi, his third in a row and sixth of the season.


"It's always tough to race against Hamilton, who does a fantastic job, he's among the best drivers out there but it's also a better feeling to win against such a strong opponent. I compete for these battles and look forward to more".


With his mind already on 2016, Rosberg knows that Ferrari will be a threat:


"But we'll try not to get her too close and keep this form to start next year in the best possible way".


Second in Abu Dhabi but with his third world title on his bulletin board, Lewis Hamilton pays tribute to his team.


"It has been a fantastic season, I am happy and have to take my hat off to this team who have done a fantastic job with the car, they have gone above and beyond expectations. We have shown that Mercedes is the best team in the world and I am proud to be a part of it".


Ferrari consoled itself by finishing with another podium, thanks to the third place of an excellent Kimi Raikkonen, and enjoying the good comeback by Sebastian Vettel from fifteenth position on the grid to fourth place overall.


"I'm very happy, it was a wonderful year for all the Ferrari guys, the road was uphill and step by step they got back on their feet".


Words from the Ferrari team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, who thanks his team for the results achieved in this season that has just ended:


"Thanks to everyone, next year will be an even more difficult year but in the meantime let's enjoy this. Our goal is to recover the Mercedes and be able to stay ahead of them. Thank you all".


Sebastian Vettel is quite satisfied with his fourth place in the Abu Dhabi race, considering that he started fifteenth due to a strategy error in Q1 qualifying.


"It's clear that starting from the back I had some difficulty overtaking, but in the end the speed was there and being third and fourth was the best that could be done. Kimi and I had pretty similar behavior and got the most out of it. When I was in front of him, I let him pass to push harder but the Mercedes were faster".


Adds Vettel.


"We know we have to work for next year but for now we're thinking about making a good toast and having fun here and in Maranello, where I'll be attending my first Christmas lunch. It will be my first time. It's been a good season. I'm glad I joined in this team and to be here. I hope that winter will be short. For now, I repeat, we have to celebrate the work everyone has done both on the track and in Maranello. We are proud of ourselves, of this season which has given us great momentum and has brought back a lot of smiles within the team. People are happy and we are fired up for next year. I think it's pretty simple to know that for next year we have to overtake Mercedes. There are a lot of lessons we have learned from this 'year. We were good at getting closer. Now the break gives us the chance to improve further. We have to focus on ourselves, we hope to be stronger next year".


Third in Abu Dhabi, Kimi Raikkonen tries to look on the bright side, while admitting the inferiority of Ferrari in the face of Mercedes.


"Everything worked well today, things went smoothly and the car was very driveable but we're still not strong enough to beat these two, even though we did our best. We had started the season better but it wasn't an ideal year and sometimes it goes like this. The speed has always been there but some mistakes and some problems have meant that the final result was often not positive".


He has no regrets Maurizio Arrivabene, who gives top marks to the team for 2015 and says:


"We climbed a mountain, we reached the top with the strength of the group, a pity that someone closed the climb before us. But our growth was impressive: we had a significant gap from Mercedes, we almost eliminated it".


Taking the first step. Arrivabene, however, does not want to stop now:


"You have to reach them and then overcome them. In 2016 we just have to win. It is the declared objective, it is what President Marchionne is asking for, who is always close to us, urges us to give our best, but whom we cannot betray. The difference between a good and an excellent season is simple: it will only be exceptional when Ferrari brings the World Championship back to Maranello".


Mission that Vettel hopes to achieve soon. The German showed no regrets for Saturday's huge mistake in qualifying:


"It is gone. Fourth place is the best that could be done, with overtaking and strategies, better to think about next year. I've never seen a team improve so much in just a few months, Ferrari was a miracle. Now, with a winning winter, we have to complete it: the last step is the most difficult, but I believe in it".


He is convinced, Raikkonen hopeful, Arrivabene determined, Mercedes cautious, which lost a political battle in Abu Dhabi, with the judges rejecting the request for clarification against unknown persons (but the recipient was Ferrari and the collaboration with the American Haas, competing since 2016), on technical aid to future teams that can circumvent the rules (limited hours in the wind tunnel) and create an advantage. The judges have ruled that Ferrari has not committed any infringements, but that from now on the teams that have applied to enter the World Championship will have to behave like future competitors, once registration has been obtained. Double blow for Maranello: it took advantage of the regulation hole and now no one else will be able to do it. Mercedes sketches, freezes the positions on the track with the strategy (Hamilton would have liked to differentiate himself from Rosberg to be able to overtake him, they didn't let him), and raise his guard for 2016:


"Ferrari is a threat, but we are always the strongest. It will be like this also in 2016".


After a triumphal 2015 and in view of the next World Championship, the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, sets the record straight, fed up with the climate that reigns in the Anglo-German team due to the too many conflicts that have emerged between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg:


"If the relationship between our drivers doesn't improve, we'll have to make a change. This aspect is the only weak link in our team. It's not easy to manage an always disgruntled rider within the team. It is a situation that must be stopped. Three years ago we made the decision to have two drivers of the same level, to speed up the growth of the team. But we have to reconsider the whole situation and think about whether this is the right set-up for Mercedes. If situations arise that are not in line with the team's spirit and philosophy, then we will have to change something for the future and make other decisions".


Above all, Nico Rosberg is at risk, not only for the more convincing results of Lewis Hamilton but also because the Briton is fresh from an extension until 2018, while the contract of the son of art will expire at the end of 2016:


"We have a lot of work to do ahead of next season. The team is stronger than ever but to win you need unity and the difficult relationship between the drivers is a weak point we need to work on, just as there was sometimes a lack of right communication between the drivers and the team. This is another aspect that we need to correct".


Bad, ruthless, unpleasant, and therefore feared. We are talking about Ferrari. Indeed, more precisely, of the new Ferrari of Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio Arrivabene. After twelve months of care, the transformation can be considered complete, the glossy, political, staid years of Luca Montezemolo are definitively behind us, we have moved on to the diktats and vetoes with which the new president is terrorizing not only Maranello, but the whole paddock. Whether the change is for the better or for the worse, the track will tell. For now, one can only observe how the image of Ferrari is completely different today. The case of the Spy story denounced by Mercedes, beyond the real (improbable) advantages on the track that it brought to the Maranello team, is very significant. Ferrari has denied having contracted the engineer who had stolen the data from Stuttgart, and it seems certain that not a single piece of information has reached Maranello. However, the nervousness with which Mercedes put Ferrari in the middle remains blatant:


"He could have potentially benefited".


A few weeks earlier, another sign of life had arrived from Ferrari. A trick in full Briatore style or, if you like, Ross Brawn. He still stuff that he hadn't seen in years. It turned out that Ferrari's technical director, James Allison, had caught everyone off guard by taking advantage of the partnership with the Haas team (which, having just entered F1, had no limits to the use of the wind tunnel) and making money, at least that's what the technical, up to half a second per lap thanks to the - borderline - use of the US wind tunnel. But Marchionne dealt the real blow at the end of October by deciding to use the notorious right of veto to block a proposal by Jean Todt on 2017 engines.


"It goes against the interests of Ferrari".


Marchionne explains. Who has shown that he understood very quickly the true nature of F1, a non-sport where whoever is in charge wins. Not that Montezemolo didn't know it (he won a lot) just that he was trying to lead by playing on the side. At a certain point, however, he no longer succeeded and power returned to the hands of Bernie Ecclestone and the British who never gave it back to him. Marchionne has decided to use a more direct method. He banged his fist on the table and has since become the main enemy of the power of F1. Whose structure, today, is a wall against the wall: on one side, as the English sites write, the Ferrari of the cardiganed assassin, with Marchionne in perfect solitude; on the other a cartel led by the highlander Bernie Ecclestone and composed by the FIA president, Jean Todt, by the black eminence, Max Mosley, and by the boss of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz.


"The right of veto is like a gun, you have to use it carefully".


Todt complains threateningly, that he has held that right for years and therefore knows how much it weighs. The problem, however, is that Marchionne is now holding that gun. And, in Ecclestone's words, you either disarm or lose someone like this. Breaking the Mercedes-Ferrari dualism in the name of the future of Formula 1. This is the mission Bernie Ecclestone is championing, according to him, who has launched a sword in a harsh attack on the two top teams who are allegedly undertaking actions aimed at avoiding that the FIA can establish rules that penalize them.


"We are trying to save Formula 1, while Ferrari and Mercedes are trying to save their interests".


Says the patron of the circus, criticizing without too many words the behavior of the two teams and the attempts to hinder the changes to the regulation that do not go in the direction they hoped. Among other things, the Boss refers to a legal letter written by Ferrari in which the Maranello team argues that the FIA did not have the right to grant Ecclestone a mandate to change the rules. The reference is to the decision taken last week by the FIA World Council, which met in Paris, to attribute to Jean Todt and Ecclestone the powers to formulate recommendations and decisions on a series of urgent issues in Formula 1 such as governance, power unit and cost reduction.


"The only thing we could do is ignore what Ferrari said and go ahead, replying: You have a choice: you can leave or go to arbitration and see what the referees think. I think if we had gone to arbitration, we would have won easily".


Ecclestone's remarks are the latest stage in an increasingly bitter struggle for power and control in the four-wheeled world championship circus. According to the British manager, the influence of the Anglo-German team and that of Maranello as engine suppliers to more than half of the grid means that these two teams alone have complete control of the F1 Commission, the body from which the legislative reforms of Formula 1 before the World Council. Bernie Ecclestone then argues that when Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff puts his hand and says that Christmas Day is about to become December 26, everyone agrees. And the same is with Ferrari.


"There are a whole range of things we could and should do to get F1 back on track. We are show business and are there to entertain the public, not to put on a show for Mercedes or Ferrari to show and sell. their cars".


From Ferrari's point of view, starting from the letter mentioned by Ecclestone and which refers to an email to clarify the positions already expressed at the World Council, the Maranello team simply wants to ensure that the governance principles established by Ecclestone and the FIA and agreed with the other parties continue to be acquitted. As for the power of the two teams in the F1 Commission, Ferrari defines Ecclestone's thesis questionable, and then ironizes:


"As far as Ferrari is concerned, Christmas will continue to be December 25 both this year and in the future".


Bernie Ecclestone also argues that Mercedes does not want to change the rules relating to the power unit due to its dominant position in the World Championship and that Ferrari is as if following it. Furthermore, again in Ecclestone's opinion, Mercedes would have provided tremendous assistance to Ferrari with their engine design. For the Maranello team, this is a bizarre thesis:


"For us, Mercedes is and has always been an opponent to beat and we believe that they think the same thing about Ferrari".


Ecclestone says he wants to present a much simpler engine that could be sold to customer teams for up to €7.000.000, while now the cost of an existing engine for a customer team ranges from €18.000.000 to €23.000.000 .


"The Alfa Romeo brand is incredible how it remains in people's hearts. Precisely for this reason we are thinking of its return, as our competitor, to racing, to Formula 1".


Sergio Marchionne, on the sidelines of the exchange of greetings with F1 journalists, does not talk about Bernie Ecclestone and his statements, but rather dwells on future projects.


"It is important that Alfa Romeo returns. It will be one more competitor".


But Marchionne also launches a provocation:


"That Ferrari leaves Formula 1 is a possible but very unlikely hypothesis. If they don't want us, we'll leave".


The president of the Maranello factory says it during the conference regarding the new rules and the issue relating to the supply of engines to small teams.


"If they want to transform Formula 1 into Nascar, they can do without us".


Failure to agree with Red Bull?


"It would have been dangerous for Ferrari's competitiveness".


Then the president of Ferrari takes stock of the recently concluded World Championship:


"2015 was a great season. The team was there, the car was there, we could have done more. But we had a couple of mistakes, I think, in a couple of races, but basically I'm extremely satisfied. Considering from where we started at the start of the season, which is the real benchmark".


The opponent to beat, also in 2016, is Mercedes:


"Doing the math in December, saying how good we are now, doesn't make sense. You have to live in fear until the first race, in Australia, when you'll understand if we've caught up with or overtaken Mercedes".


The president Sergio Marchionne and the team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, confess that their positive terror, with all due respect to the others, are still the Mercedes. Marchionne does not spare a joke even to the former Ferrari driver, Fernando Alonso:


"After five years in Maranello, Fernando Alonso came out less of a Ferrari fan than Sebastian Vettel was from the start. Sebastian at last Saturday's dinner impressed me a lot in front of 1200 people with a speech in Italian. He was of incredible perfection. He has a great heart and a great attachment to the team. Every day he has become more and more a Ferrari fan".


Recharge your batteries to introduce yourself to the new year with the right energy to bring Ferrari back to the levels it deserves. This is the common goal of the two Ferrari drivers who, before leaving for the Christmas holidays, take stock of the year and share their expectations for next season.


"In 2016 we want to be competitive against Mercedes, for this reason I can't go into detail revealing our secrets…".


President Marchionne said that in 2016 Ferrari will have to return to being competitive and the German driver agrees:


"We certainly need to improve in many areas, such as aerodynamics and the power unit, but I think this season's results have shown that we are on the right track. Now we just have to focus on ourselves".


Vettel finished his first season with Ferrari with thirteen podium finishes (a new record for a Ferrari rookie), including three wins in Malaysia, Hungary and Singapore.


"I would say that what surprised me the most were the results. I honestly didn't expect a season like this, we went fast".


Now for some relaxation:


"The winter break is really short. After months spent in hotels I think I will spend a lot of time at home relaxing and I will mainly dedicate myself to family and friends".


Kimi Raikkonen will also enjoy these days off to recharge his batteries a bit, before starting to prepare for his 2016 season:


"A year ends, and people expect more and more from what is to come. More than the team has done this year, which has already been good. But every season is different, people change. The atmosphere in the team was very nice compared to the past. And then at Christmas everyone is happier because they can enjoy a few days off. There is a nice relaxed atmosphere. It's obvious that we want to win. It won't be easy, because many other teams have the same idea, but we have to give 100% to bring the title back to Maranello. We'll see what happens, for now we can only wait for the winter tests and the first race".


Raikkonen closes with his holiday schedule:


"In this period you want to be with your family. Unfortunately there aren't many days, in January we start again. I'm going to take some time for myself, to relax so I'm ready for 2016".


©​ 2024 Osservatore Sportivo


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