I had planned to do a post about the crazy driver switcheroos that have been happening over a very short period of time. But I now sit here finding it extremely hard to find any words. Poor Jules Bianchi ran out of luck on Sunday. I instantly knew something was very wrong when I saw the images of smoke rising up from behind the tow vehicle. Marshalls gesturing frantically and no replays shown. I feared the worst and unfortunately I was right. Thankfully, he is still alive but on the other hand, brain damage is nasty nasty business. Once you have done what you can when it comes to surgery and so on, there is usually only time and a vague prognosis left. It’s not like a broken bone where you know exactly how long it will take to heal.
The official statement today is that Jules has suffered diffuse axonal injury. Pretty much the worst there is. Because the damage is, like the name says, very diffuse. I remember it from when Richard Hammond crashed and suffered the same type of injury and diagnosis. And that is one of the lights in the tunnel. Because Hammond got out of it on the other side, didn’t he. And as close to the same person he was as far as we can tell. Although his family are probably much more aware of the slight changes he is bound to have picked up from this.
But the hard statistics are that only 10% of people with this type of brain damage ever wake up again. But let us count our blessings even in dark times. He is still alive. He is in the best physical condition a person can be, which always helps. And he has the best treatment available. So hope lives and I will keep praying for him. If you want to read more about the condition, Gary Hartstein explains it well here:
If you have not seen the video of the crash yet, you can find it here:
There is no gore, but the force of the impact is sickening.
RIP ANDREA DE CESARIS
If that wasn’t enough, an old Formula 1 hero died this weekend. Andrea de Cesaris suffered a fatal crash on his motorbike, killing him instantly. RIP old warrior. I remember a couple of his races vaguely when I watched F1 sporadically in the early 90’s. He earned the nickname “de Crasheris” after his first couple of years in F1. He had some seriously spectacular crashes. And he seemed absolutely unfazed and fearless in spite of them. The nickname is a bit unfair as he was actually quite a capable and talented driver.
I remember reading one team boss saying that he was amazed that de Cesaris made it out of F1 alive. I forgot who it was. But my first thought when I heard of his accident was that it finally caught up with him. A stupid thought probably, but you just can’t remove the need for speed from a racer. No matter how retired he is. I recommend this rundown of his 15-year long career in F1: http://counter-x.net/f1/de_cesaris/index.html
THE VETTEL-FERRARI MOVE AND THE REPERCUSSIONS
The news of Vettel leaving Red Bull and with pretty much 100% certainty teaming up with best mate Kimi Raikkonen next year was sadly overshadowed by Bianchis accident. But it is still quite a bombshell. Not many people in the world saw that coming. It is a brave and bold move from the German. Going from the safety of the brilliant Red Bull team to a Ferrari team who – let’s be honest – has been quite messy for several years. He goes to a team where there is still waves from Luca being forced to step down. A team that has a power unit far inferior to the Mercedes engine. A team who has been nowhere near in producing the downforce that Red Bull are able to in their cars.
Vettel clearly hopes to do what Schumacher did, pull Ferrari back into a championship winning streak. However, Ferrari has no Newey by the design helm. What they do have is a new team principal in Marco Mattiacci with no previous experience from racing to speak of. But the man is ambitious and pulls no punches. He is the first proper team principal successor to Jean Todt as I see it. He still has a lot to prove though. But if he starts with restructuring the team, getting rid of Alonso and aquiring Vettel together with Kimi Raikkonen, he is off to a pretty good start.
Even Kimi have loosened up on his adamant comments that he will quit F1 after 2015. So there is a definite no-nonsense plan to get Ferrari back to the top in a couple of years. Before that, they pinned a lot of that plan on Alonso. But that approach have failed time and again. So time for a new and better one. Not to mention that the team-mate dynamic is bound to be unproblematic with this line-up. Exiting times.
What is equally as interesting is seeing how Fernando Alonso has once again burned his bridges. To the point where he may in fact not even have a drive next year. He said he has all the options. Well, I don’t think so. Red Bull have clearly said that they did not even consider him: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/116152
Toto Wolff have stated in not so many words, that they do not want to risk a “mess” by hiring Alonso as it is now. In other words, team bosses know that Alonso is an outstanding top class driver. But they also know that he comes with a price. And some luggage. Clearly, for some, it is simply not worth the hassle. If you haven’t already, you should read this brilliant article by Mark Hughes on the topic of Alonsos exit from Ferrari:
So where will he go? McLaren is the obvious answer. But last I heard was that Ron Dennis said that they have not hired him. Honda seems to want him. But does McLaren? He was a ticking bomb the last time he was there. It doesn’t matter if Lewis was favored or not. Nandos blackmailing and Ferrari-IP using antics is simply not cricket. And they have not been forgotten in Woking either, I’m sure. But at the same time, it would probably not be wise for McLaren to pass on an opportunity like Alonso. So it’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Will be interesting to see where the self-proclaimed samurai warrior ends up. The samurai should make a mental note: “A samurai must never bite the hand that feeds him. No matter how skilled he is.”
If this had been 20 years ago or longer, Jules would be dead. But this is the situation today: Safety has come so far that it saves lives and thank God for that. But in some cases (specifically head injuries), it sends drivers into a coma or vegetative state instead of killing them instantly. Some might argue that there is not much difference between the two. However, as long as there is breath there is hope. And anyone would cling to that when it comes to loved ones. I don’t know what my point is or if I have one at all. Maybe that safety equipment needs another quantum leap like it took after May 1st, 1994.
When we see the awful footage of Bianchi slamming into that tractor, lifting it clear off the ground, it is hard to imagine how anything could possibly prevent a human from getting hurt in such a shunt. But that is what progress is for. In 1920, a car crash at 40 kph could kill you instantly. Today, we get out of our cars without a scratch and start yelling at the other guy instead. Unthinkable back in the day. I am certain that some bright minds can take us even further in this area.
Get well soon, Jules. We are rooting and praying for you!
Here is a photo we took of you while you were nice enough to say hi, give a smile and sign an autograph for my wife at Spa in 2012.
Excellent post Soren, not an easy one to write. FYI someone on the Sky commentary said that has on good authority Alonso has signed with Honda, so will race with McLaren but deal is with Honda. Apparently deal is done
Also, in Bianchi footage, you can clearly see a *green* flag waving before the site of the incident. Have not heard mention of this, but obviously important factor in investigation.
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Why are you so full of hate for Alonso, what bridges has he burned in Ferrari? Ferrari needed long term commitments from him, he was unwilling to provide it due to their failure to provide a car that could challenge for the title, why not just wish him well in his endeavours and leave it at that. I know you support Kimi but some of you write on Alonso is highly unjustified.
When you call your boss a son of a bitch and storm out, you burn a lot of bridges. Luca is not there anymore and Botin is dead. Alonsos 2 biggest friends are gone. The circumstances have changed. And Mattiacci doesn’t want to play Alonsos games. So he looks to be pretty much out. And I am sorry, but I simply cannot wish a proven crook well in his endeavours.
MICHAEL Molded The Team Around Him In 5 Years.
He Would Take 4, If He Was Not Injured In SILVERSTONE 1999.
“14” Just Failed.
Time For New Blood To Give It A Try.
I Would Love The REDS To Win On The 3 Car Per Team Endeavor.
Can Not Wait For LEWIS To Go There.
GO, 44 !
You just hate the guy, everything we have heard is through third parties, so he allegedly calls Mattiaci an SOB and that means he has burnt all the bridges, we have also heard the mechanics and engineers don’t want him to leave, also, you call him a crook, for co-operating with the FIA when intellectual property was stolen by Mclaren? I am not particularly a fan of Kimi but I will always wish him well in the Ferrari.
Al chattering of Huges finally ends in NOTHING. Matiacci went out for a window, with the rest of clowns. It looks like a payed article. Every REAL champion is warm blooded, that´s why they makes a difference in track.
Do we like Senna? Prost? (remember his time with Ferrari, they said his car was a s**t) Might be Lauda? Fernando blocks Hamilton in Hungary pitstop because Lew does not respect team deal (two classification laps for a driver, one for the other, rotating each GP) like every real man will do.
Yeah Alonso is responsible for designing the engine, chassis and every other thing that comes with it, Schumacher was lucky he had the right people (sacked before Alonso got there) and unlimited testing, I will not wish the mess of Ferrari on Lewis, rather he stays where he is and gets more titles, and this is from a non Lewis fan.
Someone Has To Do It.
Preferably Before Another 21 Years Have Passed.
If Not LEWIS, Someone Else.
A True Racer That Performs In RED Earns A Lifetime Of Respect From The Real Tifosi – The Most Loyal Fans Any Driver Can Have.
GILLES And NIGE Come To Mind.
AGGRESSIVE CHARGERS, FOREVER !
I don’t wish to upset you, Eruobodo, but although Alonso is a great driver, in my opinion he is also unsporting and less than honourable. I think it is no coincidence that there are persistent rumours about this behaviour, going back to when Nelson Piquet was supposedly asked to crash his ‘sister’ Benetton car deliberately in Singapore, resulting in a safety car which helped Alonso to win. Then when he was at McLaren, he deliberately blocked the pit-lane during qualifying in Hungary 2007, which prevented Lewis Hamilton changing tyres and getting out in time to do another qualy lap. This was compounded by his involvement (together with Pedro De La Rosa, with emails supporting this allegation) in the handling of Ferrari technical documents.- all less than honourable and unsporting. There is a saying – “What goes around, comes around”, which seems appropriate.
You don’t need to speculate about Alonso behaviour, you can read the final sentenced on 2007 spy saga (a paper from FIA) where he blackmailed and cheated, just simple as that.
Yes. Thank you. Only Alonso fans cling to Alonsos version of how he “cooperated and helped the FIA” regarding the Spygate scandal. Mm.. “cooperated”. It’s not cooperation if you are summoned because you are one of the perpetrators. Lol.
I hope Jules will recover soon, beating the odds.
Alonso: In the post recession era (Europe has no money anymore) because he is the only Latin WDC, and appeals to the Latino world, he thinks he is above the law as Bernie needs him for TV audience. Otherwise, he pretty much has all the characteristics of a …. – blackmail, extortion, laying and cheating is business as usual for him. You can sum up the whole season by simply looking at the Spanish GP. He had to finish ahead of Kimi no matter what, at all costs (two undercuts). His car qualified with illegal mgu-k power, he got caught by FIA stewards, they were told to dial kers power down but he still retained his grid position w/o getting any punishment or dsq (read FIA Spanish GP technical report 37), all accidently documented in their haste to please santander bosses. More interestingly FIA did additional mgu-k inspections on Sunday, but they never followed up on car 14 to see it was up to specs (read FIA Spanish GP technical report 43). So, his marketing appeal to latino tv audiences even forces FIA to look the other way.
Spygate (blackmail) favor to Max was returned on Crashgate. Max would not even investigate his involvement or release radio communications related to Alonso. Heck, all the so called evidence in crashgate was provided by Flav in any case. Departures of Ron, Flav, Max, LdM, Dom (all power players) are related to some Alonso scandal. He is still there only because Bernie needs his ass for the latino TV audiences, the only demographic that likes and spends money on F1. Otherwise he is a crook who drives well.
Kimi is a pro – his loyalty to employers keeps him silent, but if he were to talk about this years car and under the Alonso controlled conditions he has been driving up to the point Mattiachi told him my way or the highway there would be yet another scandal because his car has been heavier, his cars have been even driven by Alonso just to make sure they are not drivable, he has a rookie RE assigned by Alonso’s approval, strategy team has been in Alonso’s pocket and a lot more. The moment he has been told by Mattiachi that he will have to be equals with Kimi, he freaked out and jumped ship (possibly to his own detriment). It will take Mattiachi some time to clean-up this Alonso cancer from Ferrari because the whole team have been under his control for a long time.
And there we have it. Thanks Jim. That is valuable insight. Both interesting and sad to read at the same time. Mattiacci is nobodys fool. Especially not Alonsos. And thank goodness for that.
A bit hyperbolic Jim, but there are a few valid points in there.
Anyway, good to see he’s gone and we don’t have to put up with the usual samurai quotes explaining how he’s flattering the car. Kimi Vs Vettel would be awesome to watch provided the car resembles nothing like this year’s. Else we’d see them both struggling in p10 and 11 as they have been this year.
Interesting how both of them have had struggles this year. It seems to be different issues, with Vettel its a lack of downforce and with Kimi its his entire garage, but I wonder if there’s some common cause to it all.
“So it’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”… I think applies for McLaren-Alonso and Sabatical-Alonso, je…
I find very interesting interview with Marco Mattiacci in Brazil. Fantastic, nothing to add.
I can’t wait your next article because I put it here.
MM: “Yes, indeed (Kimi will stay). I don’t want to talk about individual, we need to talk about one team and definitely whole team did not perform at the best and driver like Kimi that we had first year driving here, we had a lot of problems, structural problems that didn’t allow him adapt to the car but Kimi brings great experience, extremely talented driver, well respected by his colleagues and people working with him. So he is an asset. It’s up to me and to us at Ferrari to make sure that we can capitalize in someone who last year had a phenomenal chamionship. I don’t think that 5 months can change a driver. We talk daily, discuss, he is very much motivated and bring value because he knows the ingredients to succeed. And by the way he brought the last championship to Ferrari.