Piquet Jr camp clarifies Senna comments

Nelson Piquet Jr has denied reports he doubts the great Ayrton Senna would have succeeded in F1 today.

The former Renault driver’s spokesman Luis Ferrari said there is “absolutely no way” the Brazilian said his countryman Senna would not have won races in today’s cars. And 27-year-old Piquet Jr, who has raced in the world of Nascar since leaving F1 in 2009, blamed the controversy on some careless “members of the Brazilian media”.

In his column for Brazil’s Yahoo Esportes, the son of triple world champion Nelson Piquet said journalists also took his comments about Brazilian legend Emerson Fittipaldi out of context.

“(I) explained that after the end of his racing career, he (Piquet’s father) chose the entrepreneurial path rather than others who continue to explore their public persona,” said Piquet Jr. “I gave Emerson Fittipaldi as an example. Nowhere did I say that one is better or worse than the other,” he insisted.

“Along the same lines, they (journalists) made another attempt to create controversy where there is not with my statement about Ayrton Senna. I said that if Ayrton had raced ten years earlier he would not have had the success that my father had. They were different times and realities. At the turn of the 70s to the 80s, reliability was much lower and drivers had to have much more of a mechanical side.

“It was no accident that my father developed the tyre heaters, active suspension, improved the turbo engines and worked on several other solutions that everyone knows about.

“Senna came a little later, when it was possible to drive almost all of the time at 100 per cent performance without needing to be a development driver as before. Like me, Ayrton arrived in Europe concerned only about driving. He was a super fast driver and the best one in terms of pure speed.

“But he didn’t have the same repertoire for the mechanical side as did the previous generation, and so didn’t have to worry so much about preserving the gearbox, the engine.It’s obvious: each had its own reflection as the product of his time. Each did what was needed to dominate his era, and each time required different things.

“It’s as simple as that. And not controversial,” Piquet concluded.

Source:GMM

Williams finally drops Senna-logo car tribute

Eighteen years after Ayrton Senna’s death, Sir Frank Williams has finally removed the ‘S’-logo tribute from the nose of his Grove-built single seaters.

Ever since that fateful day at Imola in 1994, Williams’ small and silent tribute to the great Brazilian has been visible to eagle-eyed spectators.

“We’ve dropped that (now),” Williams, now 70 but still the team principal, told the Guardian. “It’s time. And, also, we’ve now got Bruno.”

He is referring to Bruno Senna, the great Senna’s nephew who now races a Renault-powered Williams. Senna, 28, is commonly written off as a pale comparison to his famous uncle, riding on the back of sponsors and his surname. But Williams insists they are not the reasons Senna got the drive.

“Bruno was just a good candidate and a very intelligent person. There were no negatives — just some good, positive reasons to say ‘Yes, let’s give him a go’.”

But it is Senna’s fabled uncle that Williams names as his favourite Williams driver.

“I was very emotional about it (his death) because it was one of our cars and he was such a special person. He was immensely charming, but also tough, ruthless and brilliantly gifted,” he said.

Sir Frank has stepped down as chairman and even as an active board member of his team, but he is still the ‘team principal’ and has taken back some of the tasks completed previously by the recently-departed Adam Parr.

“I’m at work every day of the week because there is a lot to do and I love F1,” he said. “I’m just not ready to make a dramatic change in my life — like staying at home.”

Source:GMM

Circuit De Catalunya – The most boring F1 track ever?

In October 1991, Nigel Mansell was on the brink of losing the World Championship having had a comfortable lead and certain victory thrown away by another pit lane drama in the Portugese Grand Prix at Estoril. He lost one of his wheels after what appeared to be a smooth and tidy pitstop and was later given the black flag. The next stop after Portugal was Spain, but this time the venue was not Jerez. The F1 circus was about to visit a brand new purpose built circuit near Barcelona, the Circuit de Catalunya.

Today, this track is renowned for producing extremely dull races, especially after the 1999 event after there was only one reported overtaking manoeuvre the entire race! But it looks almost certain to stay on the calendar long-term after the impact which Fernando Alonso has had in his home country. In fact today the second Spanish race of the season was held in the new Valencia street circuit and that too was boring! Do the Spanish specialise in boring races or can we blame the modern aerodynamics or Hermann Tilke’s incompetent track design skills?

It’s all very well keeping a Spanish race on the calendar as a result of Alonso’s impact but why not move back to Jerez? There has been some great stuff there over the years such as Mansell and Senna’s battle to the flag in 1986 and the World Championship decider in 1997, but it was that year when the local mayor tried to force his way onto the podium celebrations after the race, which led to Jerez never being allowed to host a Grand Prix again.

So we are stuck with the dull Circuit de Catalunya – and also the Valencia street circuit as of today. This track is used so much by all the F1 teams for testing that there is not much work to be done on the cars come the race weekend and the drivers know the track inside out. There are a lot of turns on the track as well, but whilst it is no Monaco or Hungaroring, the frequency and the medium-speed, aero-dependent nature of the corners means that overtaking opportunities are limited to the fairly long start-finish straight and a large “field spread” is produced.

The organisers tried to improve overtaking down the start-finish straight by installing a new chicane for 2007, but sadly it doesn’t appear to have worked and its very obvious why because right after the chicane, there’s a fast corner where the aerodynamics of the car infront will force the car behind further back again. I mean who’s stupid idea was it? Probably Hermann Tilke!

When the most memorable things that have happened at this circuit are, for example, Johnny Herbert driving off with the rear jack still in the back of his Benetton, or one of Nick Heidfeld’s wheel nuts falling off and being picked up by a Toyota mechanic, you can see why I never look forward to the Spanish Grand Prix. Even this year’s race with Kovalainen’s crash, the safety car being brought out and the novelty in that race being Super Aguri’s last ever F1 race failed to disguise the tedious borefest that this race never fails to produce unless it rains.

In fact it’s almost like watching English Premier League side Middlesbrough who are also dull. Eddie Irvine said after the 1999 race, “I was so bored I wish I had brought my radio with me!”, but, just like today, most of the debate after that race was over the design of the cars and the use of grooved versus slick tyres. But even in the days of slicks there were still tedious races at the Circuit de Catalunya. Except in 1991 …

Going back to 1991, the first race at the Circuit de Catalunya was a classic. It had been raining, the track was damp and Mansell had all the odds against him. Ayrton Senna could have clinched the World Championship that day, but Mansell was not giving up without a fight. He got second on the grid ahead of Senna, but behind Gerhard Berger, but Mansell made a bad start and Senna passed him, then a few corners later Michael Schumacher even went by, but Mansell dispatched the soon-to-be 7 time World Champion and set off after Senna. One of the most memorable moments in Grand Prix racing happened on the start-finish straight when Mansell went side-by-side with Senna all the way down the straight to take 2nd place with Murray Walker’s BBC co-commentator James Hunt exclaiming, “Wheel-to-wheel stuff, look at this! They’re almost touching!”

Meanwhile, this was also the race where Murray Walker uttered one of his immortal lines, “The boot is on the other Schumacher!”. In only his fourth race Michael Schumacher was showing the world what he was capable of, harassing Mansell and Senna, and flinging his Benetton Ford around the track in a way which Nelson Piquet or Roberto Moreno – the man who the Benetton controversially replaced with Schumacher – had not managed throughout 1991. Schumacher looked as though he was on course for his first ever podium finish until he had a spin, but recovered to finish a fine sixth, while Mansell went on to win and ensure the Championship wasn’t going to be decided yet.

The only other time races here have been any good were the following year 1992 and 1996 when it rained. Every other year it has been boring. With next year’s regulations coming into play to allow more overtaking, if there’s one track the regulations will not work on, it’s Catalunya. I don’t think even a race held here in the Turbo era would have been exciting either, nor the 70’s or any races going back to the days of Jackie Stewart or even Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio! The bottom line is that Catalunya is the most boring race track ever.