Boullier: “Both drivers have the same status”

F1 Fanatic round-up

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Barcelona, 2012In the round-up: Lotus team principal Eric Boullier says his team’s days of having a number one driver are “a thing of the past”.

Links

Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Eric Boullier Q&A: Lotus are on the up (F1)

“Historically, this team has always pushed for one driver – a definite leader. But that has definitely changed. It?s a thing of the past. I want two fast drivers because that is the way you get ahead in the constructors? championship. So both drivers have the same status.”

Williams: Maldonado always real deal (Autosport)

“When asked if Maldonado was only at Williams in the first place because of money, [Frank] Williams said: ‘Yeah, he was to some extent. I’m not denying that. But if we thought he’d been a wanker, he wouldn’t have got in the team no matter how much money he had.’”

Mercedes and the Concorde Agreement (Joe Saward)

“A deal with Mercedes needs really to be done after all the other horse trading is over. The problem is that the Formula One group is in a wild hurry to go to the markets in July and there is not much time to quibble for weeks on end. This may explain the presence of Mercedes boss Dr Dieter Zetsche in Barcelona.”

Williams is a born winner (The Telegraph)

David Coulthard: “Frank is one of the few people in the paddock who will acknowledge he may have misled you and he will tell you to your face that the reason he did it was for the good of the team; for the hundreds of employees back at Grove. It?s hard to argue with that.”

McLaren reach out to Williams (Daily Express)

“The ‘camaraderie and spirit of co-operation’ described by team principal Sir Frank Williams that came to the fore as the fire took hold when personnel from a number of teams battled to extinguish it, will again be prevalent over the coming days. In particular, McLaren are to loan equipment to Williams to ensure they can compete strongly.”

Spanish GP Review (Williams)

Chief operations engineer Mark Gillan on Maldonado: “Simply stunning – a master class from start to finish. He was strong all weekend, winning the race from pole despite a strong challenge from Alonso. One can’t ask anymore from a driver.”

Fresh questions over struggling Schumacher (BBC)

“Schumacher may continue to embarrass himself in wheel-to-wheel racing occasionally, but he’s close to Rosberg’s pace these days – and Mercedes’ top management rate their younger driver very highly indeed.”

Confusion reigns in Spain (Sky)

“If there is the hint of a pattern to the apparently random outcomes this year, it is that when the weather was cooler than expected – i.e. China and Barcelona – the Ferrari, Williams and Sauber have been competitive (recall Bruno Senna’s sparkling race in China). On hot days, the Lotus has tended to look very good. In the 40C+ heat of Friday in Barcelona the Lotuses looked by far the fastest cars over a race stint, even though they apparently struggled to get the last couple of tenths of single lap pace.”

Jenson Button heads to Brands to salute British racing fans

“The 2009 world champ will make a guest appearance at the Kent circuit?s DTM meeting for hi-tech fire-spitting touring cars.”

Comment of the day

Guy reckons Pirelli got it “spot on” in the Spanish Grand Prix:

Having seen the Spanish GP, Pirelli hit that spot on ?ǣ a Prime that allows for a range of race strategies, being stretched to half the race with careful management (Hamilton), or more aggressive use (most), and an option that is perfect for qualifying or a short and sweet fast stint if/when the race strategy calls for it.

I do agree that they should scrap one of the rules; either having to start on the qualifying tyre, or having to use both compounds in the race. Not sure you need to do both. And I do wish they would bring in something to stop the farce of cars not running in Q3 though.
Guy

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On this day in F1

It’s been a while since we last saw Williams lock out of the front row of the grid. But in the eighties and nineties it was a common sight.

In fact, Williams qualified on the front row of the grid on this day 20 and 25 years ago, in the 1987 Belgian Grand Prix and 1992 San Marino Grand Prix.

Both races saw Nigel Mansell start from pole position, alongside team mates Nelson Piquet and Riccardo Patrese respectively.

Image ?? Lotus F1 Team/LAT

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76 comments on Boullier: “Both drivers have the same status”

  1. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 16th May 2012, 0:08

    The BBC saying Schumacher has lost it is just insane…

    That error in Spain was the first he had made all season, him having 2 points is nothing to show for the performances he had put in, especially to outqualify Rosberg twice in a row.

    Just remember: Car failure at Oz, Grosjean tagging him at Sepang, mechanic error at Shanghai and a DRS failure at Bahrain…

    • snowman (@snowman) said on 16th May 2012, 0:12

      I’d say that is the worst F1 article I have ever read. Benson has a massive chip on his shoulder concerning Schumacher and attacks him at every half chance he gets but that was just ridiculous.

    • Henry Mann said on 16th May 2012, 0:27

      Terrible BBC article, I just read this which offers up a far better and more balanced view on Schumacher’s performances so far this season – Why post-Spain criticism of Schumacher is wrong

    • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 16th May 2012, 0:41

      Have you let BBC know what you think?

    • John H (@john-h) said on 16th May 2012, 9:01

      Benson has always been terrible. This article just cements his legacy.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 16th May 2012, 14:19

        I don’t see anything wrong with the BBC article. It may be a bit anti-MS but I don’t think anything being said is unreasonable. The other article may be more pro-MS, explaining away how much of his poor start to the season has been down to bad luck, which is true, but to imply NR isn’t doing much better is a bit unfair to NR…NR is not a 7 time WDC with an alleged history of wrestling poor cars to higher places than they belong. NR doesn’t have the experience MS does.

        Yet look where they are. NR hasn’t had the bad luck MS has, but to sweep NR’s achievements under the carpet is as folly as some are claiming the BBC’s article does to MS. If MS is to be put on a pedestal still, for his achievements of the past, and if the excuses/reasons are to be rolled out to defend how his season has gone so far, and if both articles can imply that with a good car on the right day MS can still win a race this season, then that is all the more reason to commend NR for the job he is doing for having such an icon as a teammate.

        MS has also made mistakes last year and the year before, and if we are going to compare how MS had it, the fact that he achieved the numbers he did prior to his return to F1, then let’s not ignore how incredibly well NR has done vs. RB and EI as teammates to MS. Neither of them beat MS in one given season, let alone for 2 seasons and looking to be a third in a row. Unprecedented for MS in his career, therefore reason enough for articles such as the one from BBC that follows an embarassing and amateur mistake by MS that will cost him for two races, Spain and Monaco.

        • snowman (@snowman) said on 16th May 2012, 16:47

          My problem with the article is Benson makes up more rubbish of “senior insiders” telling him stuff which every time in the past I have read them they have later proven to be completely untrue. Either A) Benson makes up the quotes or B) people in the know see Benson as a bit of a clown so tell him stuff for a laugh that is completely untrue.

          For all his faults and failings in his comeback and all the praise that should be going to Rosberg as @Robbie alludes to I find it bizzare to single out Schumacher among the drivers and say he is struggling this season.

          1st race OUT-Qualifies Rosberg and AHEAD of him when gearbox forces retirement.

          2nd race OUT-Qualifies Rosberg again but gets spun in the 1st corner and demoted to last by rookie Grosjean but still finishes AHEAD of Rosberg

          3rd race qualifies 2nd behind Rosberg on his boogie track, Pitstop blunder retires him.

          4th race DRS failure in qualifying and gearbox change so starts 22nd but still finishes 10th, 5 places behind Rosberg who started 5th.

          5th race Doesn’t do lap in Q3 to save tyres and lines up 2 places behind Rosberg.
          Makes the first mistake(debatable it was his fault if look at overhead) all season behind Bruno who goes to inside then outside and wrong foots the much faster Schumacher behind him. (Both Coulthard and Vettel said it was a racing incident)

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 16th May 2012, 18:25

            Well I can’t speak to any patterns by Benson as I have not followed his articles to form an opinion, but I think he is not ‘singling out’ MS. I’m sure he can speak to what other ‘struggling’ drivers are up to this season, but this article was put together upon MS whacking Senna from behind. He does point out MS’s bad luck, and he does point out MS may yet win a race this year.

            I think you are right to point out there are good reasons why MS is ‘struggling’ and much has to do with incidents beyond his control, but that said he has also been recently grumbling about tires moreso than other drivers, he did whack Senna, and he does sit many points behind NR, and Merc sits in a worse spot right now than they did a year ago after this many races. (so much for F-ducts and genius car developers)

            Basically, given that MS returned to F1 as a former 7 time WDC, and here we are where we are today, I think comments like Benson’s are fair game. MS did have some bad moments in the last two years that were not unlike his hit on Senna this weekend. So there is some recent history as well that points to questions as to how MS is doing now vs. when he had more resources behind him than any driver in the history of F1.

          • snowman (@snowman) said on 16th May 2012, 19:47

            Webber has also “grumbled” about the tyres but is having an opinion and not being a PR clone like most of the rest of the drivers really a fault?? He sits many points behind Rosberg because what pointed out above, he hasn’t had one single weekend where his team or car didn’t let him down through no fault of his own apart from last weekend.

            As for his previous career, how many times did he win in not the best car before Ferrari became the best or before he joined them? How did he do in his very first test for Jordan or that first GP weekend? Probably the most knowledgeable F1 pundit off all time(Murray Walker) ranks Schumacher the greatest of all time but I guess even though he is British, he doesn’t let his emotions get involved when making them judgements.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th May 2012, 12:49

            Bottom line is Benson has his opinion, and I agree with it and don’t think it is unfair. I think the relevant years for the discussion relating to his article are the ones at Merc and this is not the first time MS has run into the back of someone since his return. I’m sure if this was a rarity for MS since his return, there would be less to write about. I can’t speak for why Benson didn’t write about Webber’s issue with the tires, or maybe he has, but I’m sure talking about MS upon his whack on Senna is more compelling.

            If you want to talk about his previous career I see it as one where he won with illegal Benettons and by whacking DH, then the whole crew that had been hiding traction control that F1 could not police for moved to Ferrari where they started making cars strictly for MS without a concern for his contracted non-competing teammate’s needs, such was the motivation by the FIA to see the Ferrari WDC drought ended, with unlimited resources being thrown at the project.

            I like Murray Walker and he does not stand alone in his opinion about MS, but then most people who made a living off F1 were not able to speak as freely as the likes of myself, an armchair fan, because if he had explained at every race how heavily favoured MS was he probably would have been seen to be running down the very entity of F1 that allowed him a nice living. Walker is a great racing fan so I always found it ironic when he and others would applaud Ferrari for taking the racing out of F1 by giving MS a non-competing teammate and thus robbing the viewing audience of racing within Ferrari.

            MS may have suffered from some bad luck lately, and I’m sure that will average out over the season and NR and others will suffer from some too, but it reminds me of how bulletproof MS’s Ferrari’s were when unlimited resources were thrown at the project. MS is no longer enjoying the unlimited resources, so he is now suffering some unreliability that is relatively new to him, he has made some big mistakes in the Merc years out of frustration and overdriving due to not being in the best car and running away from the field like he had become accustomed to, and he now has a competing teammate that is making MS’s life difficult. As it should be in F1.

  2. snowman (@snowman) said on 16th May 2012, 0:10

    Read the Schumacher article earlier and was astonished how bad it actually was. By far Benson’s worst and that is really saying something.

    One would think that with the really high quality talent of the BBC F1 team they would get a decent writer for their website.

    The Lotus drivers are a really good team. Don’t think have ever seen such opposite personalities. I think at the minute they are giving both drivers a fair shout and just hope that continues.

  3. ivz (@ivz) said on 16th May 2012, 0:12

    In regards to Senna’s car, what is going to happen with engine allocation? I would imagine that the engine is now gone, however its not due to racing it.

    • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 16th May 2012, 5:41

      @ivz considering it was a whack up the backside, he should get away with just a trashed gearbox. If the engine is damaged then that’s just unlucky.

      • ivz (@ivz) said on 16th May 2012, 5:50

        @PieLighter sorry I meant in regards to the fire? I am guessing the engine was still sitting in the car at the time? If so, it would now be trashed. And in regards to the KERS blowing up on Senna’s car, maybe it was the hit from Schumacher in the race that helped cause it to go off like that.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th May 2012, 8:26

          I guess they will be allowed to have a look at it and replace most parts that were fire-damaged. But from how that car looked, it might well be that the engine has survived largely undamaged.

        • Kimi Lotusonen said on 16th May 2012, 13:22

          Great Point!

          Ditto, the gearbox too. So, does that mean it’s a double-whammy of penalties for Bruno? The rules, at least, do not specify any relaxation of penalties, with the argument being that what happens inside your boxers is of no relevance to the pants, no matter how closely the two are connected!

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 17th May 2012, 10:47

          If the KERS blew up, then basically it was a problem on the car that caused it. If the car caught fire during the race (Heidfeld last year) then there wouldn’t be any allowance for the engine being damaged I imagine. Surely this should be treated the same (although in this regard it is a bit different as being trapped in the garage ensured the car would be damaged more).

          • Kimi Lotusonen said on 17th May 2012, 11:59

            “…Surely this should be treated the same”
            YES, I AGREE. However, enforcing a penalty in Monaco itself would sound the death knell for Williams there. If only, given the circumstances, and in the spirit of the sport, the penalty could be forwarded to the next GP( Canadian? ).

            @estesark –> Ha ha. No, I’m not from UK, but so is not the FIA( officially at least )!!. Now, wouldn’t the French love to pull( pun intended ) a fast one on the Brits? But i guess the only problem is, while in the UK thy boxers are thy pants…for the French, in what can be called an understatement, votre pants est vos underwear! Apologies if i did offend anyone!

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th May 2012, 12:35

            Well, they wouldn’t get an engine penalty quite yet (if for now we forget about the disadvantage of having 1 engine now unsusable), as those are handed out only if you use your 9th engine of the season. And GB penalties are not handed out if you crash out of the race and use a new one for the next race.

            So then the only question remains, how much running was on Senna’s engine, and will it be a major setback if it can’t be raced any more.

  4. nefor (@nefor) said on 16th May 2012, 0:18

    Nice article from DC on Williams, the into paragraph about his 10 year shoes made me laugh!

    As always really great to see the togetherness of F1 post fire. Now and again they do show they’re human and not just fierce competitors.

  5. Cornflakes (@cornflakes) said on 16th May 2012, 0:22

    When asked if Maldonado was only at Williams in the first place because of money, Williams said: “Yeah, he was to some extent. I’m not denying that. But if we thought he’d been a wanker, he wouldn’t have got in the team no matter how much money he had.

    “He did a very sensible job in GP2 and he fully deserves to be in the team with or without the dosh. The truth is that if you haven’t got the dosh, you can’t go Formula 1 racing.

    Did Frank Williams seriously say all that?! I just can’t picture it coming from him…

  6. Alehud42 (@alehud42) said on 16th May 2012, 0:27

    Eric’s comments don’t surprise me at all. I don’t believe either Kimi or Romain particularly wants or cares about preferential treatment.

  7. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 16th May 2012, 0:43

    What’s Boullier getting at when he says “We at Enstone – and I say Enstone on purpose – have racing spirit”? Is he just distancing the race team from the Lotus group and brand?

    They’ve just added some History pages on their website (worth a look) and it starts with Toleman, then Benetton… certainly no claims to anything Colin Chapman, Jim Clark or Mario Andretti achieved.

    I can think of a much better headline for Autosport using Frank’s quote. Shame they’re not brave enough to use it…

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th May 2012, 0:53

      I think you’re exactly right that they’re trying to distance themselves from Group Lotus in as opaque a manner as possible, while publicly towing the Dany Bahar line that all is well on the Titanic. Once the ship has sunk they’ll need to have their lifeboat in place, and calling the team Enstone seems to be their best bet.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2012, 1:10

        Also, Gerard Lopez and Genii are said to be looking at buying Group Lotus, but they’re not the only potential buyers – China Youngman are interested, too. Given Genii’s close association with Lotus F1, it would be a little presumptuous for the team to refer to themselves as “Lotus” to the point where it might actually damage Genii’s bid.

      • Solo (@solo) said on 16th May 2012, 15:03

        You know simply calling the team “Enstone” isn’t bad. Actually is quite a fit name for an F1 team. It sounds nice. I wonder why they are keeping the Lotus name and keep advertising someone else for free.
        Besides a name like that will make the personnel that lives and works in Enstone feel more motivated and connected with the team.
        Is it because G.Lotus made them do it by giving them some financial benefits on taking that loan as they said in their press release, or do their sponsors stick around for the Lotus thing and they may lose them if they changed it to Enstone?
        Of course there is also the matter of maybe losing money if they changed names but since the concord agreement is at an end they can do it at the end of the year can they.

    • Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 16th May 2012, 1:26

      @bullfrog

      I can think of a much better headline for Autosport using Frank’s quote. Shame they’re not brave enough to use it…

      Would that by any chance be something along the lines of “Williams – Maldonado not a w _ _ _ _ _” :P That would be funny!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th May 2012, 15:53

      @bullfrog They really have made a completely and utter shambles of defining their identity. It’s hard to imagine how they could have done it worse.

      If they want to align themselves with the history of the factory team, that’s fine, but they shouldn’t be doing it under the name Lotus. It gives the impression of trying to over-write the history of the true Lotus team.

  8. schooner (@schooner) said on 16th May 2012, 0:46

    “…but if we thought he’d been a wanker…” Frank Williams is a master of F1 political-speak, but he occasionally lets a good one fly!

  9. Dane. (@dane-1) said on 16th May 2012, 0:49

    “But if we thought he’d been a wanker, he wouldn’t have got in the team no matter how much money he had.”
    Classic comment by Frank Williams. Telling it like it is. Great to see the team making it back up the front where they belong

  10. HoHum (@hohum) said on 16th May 2012, 1:38

    COTD, should be listed as editorial comment, since Bahrain the the most commented subject of the COTD has been the tyres and one hundred percent of them have been in praise of the tyres yet nearly 50% of readers are not entirely happy with these tyres and the majority of these are very unhappy with the tyres. This is Keiths blog and he can promote whatever view he likes but it would be nice to see the other argument given proportionate representation.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 16th May 2012, 8:39

      @hohum, I don’t know to what extent comments of the day reflect Keith’s personal points of view, but I think you’re jumping to conclusions here.

      I also have been critical of the Pirelli tyres, or at least argued the point that artificial degradation is new and not necessarily a good thing, but I also wholeheartedly agree with the comment of the day. I think the Pirelli tyres were spot on last Sunday.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 17th May 2012, 0:54

        My comment is purely based on statistical outcome.
        I also disagree with the suggestion that 3 stops using the hardest tyres suggests that the tyres are “spot on” although obviously the hards were the best of a bad lot and I applaud Pirelli for making this choice, maybe they are listening after all. Hopefully the FIA are also listening and will modify the rules along the lines suggested by Keith and supported by most of us.

  11. Nils Langley (@nilsyfromthenock) said on 16th May 2012, 2:00

    When asked to say a few words in his own language, he said: “Happy Mothers’ Day, mum”. That was it. Er… thanks for the insight, Kimi!

    It’s literally all about the racing with this guy!

  12. Lord Stig (@lord-stig) said on 16th May 2012, 2:42

    I wonder how much of the equipment teams use is bespoke. That of course would make things harder as unless they have spares the lead times would likely be too long and other teams can’t provide loaner equipment. IT equipment should not be too hard to replace and I am sure they have backups of all the necessary data and software.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th May 2012, 9:08

      I think most teams send a lot of the data to the factory almost online for further analyses (I think McLaren and Red Bull even have engineers acting on that right from the factory, not sure about other teams, but it could well be they all do this). I would say the team is likely to have spare sets of garage tools, as they need a minimum of two complete sets for the flyaway races. And as you write, IT equipment should be a matter of days.

      Good thing the trucks were not damaged, because I think those would have been harder to replace, especially as most spare parts for the cars are in there.

  13. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 16th May 2012, 2:44

    I always thought Frank Williams was a character, a kind of ever present force in the background like Ron Dennis used to be. I was a young boy when Williams were in their prime, and my country’s tv coverage was never that in-depth to show anything other than the race. I know most of who he is from my F1 history books.
    After watching his interviews and reading his comments after Sunday, seeing more of his character (ailbet as much as one can through media) I have some new huge respect for the guy. He talks and acts like no other team principle. It’s brilliant to see!

  14. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 16th May 2012, 3:20

    I always thought people saying Maldonado was a pay driver were very unfair to him. Yes, he has millions backing him from PDVSA via Venezuela’s goverment, but: is that a really bad thing afterall?

    I mean, the guy still won the GP2 Series in 2010. And he’s part of a national project, the same way Sergio Perez is part of the Scuderia Telmex project. Both are exactly the same, one has backing from the goverment and the other has backing from a private company.

    And I don’t see people arguing Sergio Perez is a pay driver. There’s a difference between people like Karthikeyan, bringing sponsors for his drive, and Perez and Maldonado, guys that are valuable because of their skill AND the sponsorship.

    Even Fangio got support from Perón’s goverment and the ACA (Automovil Club Argentino) back in the 40′s so he could race in Europe. And the Autodromo was built for him, afterall…

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2012, 4:18

      @er-no65

      And I don’t see people arguing Sergio Perez is a pay driver.

      The reason why people don’t like Maldonado is that he replaced Hulkenberg; moreover, it is the way he replaced the Hulk. Hulkenberg had been a Williams development driver for several years before he was promoted to the team in 2010, but he was dumped after a year. Maldonado, on the other hand, had under-performed in GP2 when he was Hulkenberg’s team-mate and had never been a part of the Williams development programme, but replaced Hulkenberg when he offered the team $40 million (not to mention $40 million from a state-owned company under Hugo Chavez, who is unpopular in the West) while Hulkenberg was relegated to a test driver role with Force India. So Maldonado was unpopular before he had even so much as sat in the car, and it went from there. To a lot of people, the collision at Spa – however it came about – was an affirmation that he didn’t belong in the sport, and I imagine that those same critics will be watching him very closely at Monaco. If he makes so much as one mistake at any point over the weekend, his critics will probably be all over it, claiming he got lucky in Barcelona.

      On the flip side, Maldonado is not without talent. The tiered structure of the feeder series and the demand for a superlicence means that even the richest of drivers needs a certain amount of talent before Formula 1 teams will consider them. Maldonado is also a GP2 champion (racing, as you rightly point out, the highly-rated Sergio Perez), which is not something he achieve through sheer dumb luck. In 2011, he was actually pretty close to Rubens Barrichello, both in qualifying and the race, though this was overshadowed by the woeful performance of the FW33. And while there have been mistakes, sometimes it only takes one good result to shore up a driver’s confidence. Take, for example, Vitaly Petrov: in 2010, he got a reputation as a bit of a crasher, finding the wall at least once a weekend. But then he was on the podium at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, and he became a much tighter, smarter driver. Since then, he’s only made two real mistakes – overestimating the speed at which he could come back onto the circuit in Malaysia 2011, and giving his team a roasting for their lack of performance at Abu Dhabi. So I think this win will come as a real boost to Maldonado’s confidence, and will be something he can channel into better results.

    • Kimi4WC said on 16th May 2012, 7:00

      Smart people, don’t pay attention to such scrubs, as they know there is literally no chance to get in F1 with out strong financial backing.

      Schumi, Senna, Prost, Alonso, Raikkonen it is part of the game.

      Every single person is valuable in F1, with out all those people you wouldn’t have that one world champion. That is why there were no blue flags before. Greed inevitably will take over.

      If you think F1 become artificial, wait until F1 goes public and teams get board chairs, you’ll see artificial – creating maximum wealth for it shareholders.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 17th May 2012, 1:20

        @kimi4WC, agree, drivers such as J Clark, G Hill, J Brabham, etc. didn’t bring money with them, they were chosen because their talent impressed, and there were no advertisements on the cars then.
        Viva Formula Premier.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 16th May 2012, 7:21

      @fer-no65 Agreed! I think that F1 teams today simply need money from drivers to a greater extent than they did, let’s say, in 2007 and that Maldonado just happens to have access to the money. He’s always been quick and let’s not forget that he was on par with the experienced Barrichello in qualifying in his debut F1 season. While I never thought that Pastor would win a race so soon, I have always believed that he’s a very good driver. I would compare Maldonado with the 2008 version of Massa – give him a good car and Spain will turn out to be the first of his many GP victories.

    • robk23 (@robk23) said on 16th May 2012, 9:01

      If people call Maldonado and Perez ‘pay drivers’ then Alonso is too (Santander sponsorship), Rosberg and Schumacher have their own clothes sponsors and even Hulkenberg has his own sponsors (that DEKRA company). All of these often get overlooked though.

  15. Girts (@girts) said on 16th May 2012, 6:59

    A very good article by Andrew Benson. Schumacher’s 2012 season so far has been just continuation of his struggles in 2010 and 2011, with only a few flashes in between. He outqualified Rosberg in the first two races but that’s about it. The reason Mercedes still keep him is obviously his marketing value. How can we accuse Williams or Caterham of hiring pay drivers when Mercedes is effectively doing the same thing?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2012, 7:40

      I have to say, I can only agree with Benson in the general sense. I think most people are right when they say Benson unfairly attacked him. I’ve noticed that in a lot of Benson’s opinion pieces, actually; he seems to take his position and then ramp it up to an extreme.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 16th May 2012, 8:27

      @prisoner-monkeys I don’t always like Benson’s articles but I think that he actually offers a very balanced view this time. For instance, he admits that Schumacher once used to be one of the greatest drivers ever and that the statistics (2 points) don’t tell the whole story. Yes, bad luck has made MS look worse than he actually is but his performance is still not good enough to make him an appropriate driver for one of F1′s top teams and that’s what Benson is saying.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2012, 9:01

        @girts – The dilemma of Mercedes’ situation is that while he is underperforming, he is still currently the best driver for the team. If Mercedes were to replace him or if he were to retire mid-season, there are no immediately-obvious candidates for his seat. There are only three people who spring to mind as potential replacements:

        1) Paul di Resta was in the Mercedes development programme, and he was clearly placed at Force India to give him a bit of Formula 1 experience before considering him for an upgrade to Mercedes. But if Mercedes want him mid-season, it’s going to cost them because di Resta is the stronger driver at Force India right now. I think he’s a risky prospect, because he’s still a bit patchy. I think Mercedes would want to see him finish the season first.

        2) Adrian Sutil is pretty much a gun-for-hire at the moment. He’s very competent, if not overwhelming, and would probably be a step up from Schumacher’s current form. But he would need time to become acquainted with the car and the 2012 Pirellis (though personally, I think the difficulties they present are overstated and stem from Schumacher’s frustrations – which are now very visible in his body language when he’s usually pretty reserved) and doesn’t have any sponsorship.

        3) Robert Wickens is very talented, and is currently being wasted in DTM, though I get the sense that Mercedes placed him there to hold onto him for 2011. He’s had success in every open-wheel category he has raced in, and it is almost criminal that he is not in Formula 1 at the moment; he’s more-ready than anyone else. He is also being “mentored” by Schumacher, so I gather that Mercedes ultimately have big plans for him – but promoting him might be moving up their timetable a little bit.

        If Schumacher leaves mid-season, I think Mercedes will find themselves in a very difficult position. There are no solid options available, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s a likely outcome. As we saw last year, the teams eventually figure out what they need to know about the Pirellis and start getting a lot out of them. I expect 2012 to follow the same trend, and Schumacher will grow happier with them. I also think he’ll re-retire at the end of the year, which will make Mercedes’ position somewhat less perilous.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 16th May 2012, 14:34

          Well said, Girts and PM. I certainly don’t think MS will be leaving mid-season, and I also think he and many others will figure the tire thing out sooner than later. I’m sure MS’s marketing value is huge, but I don’t think it is big enough to cover for what so far is looking to be a finish in the WCC no better than the last two years, and maybe even worse. But there’s lots of racing to go. Very much yet to be decided.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 17th May 2012, 1:29

            Schui is only considered to be a poor driver when he is compared to 7 time WC Michael Schumacher, compared to the rest he is a pretty good driver.

    • Benson`s article was awful, he really should know better as I expect him to follow F1 closely. But he`s got it in for Schumacher and is unable to hide it.
      Schumancher has been very unlucky this year, the incident in Spain was arguably the first mistake that was due to Schumacher himself. Circumstances, mechanical failures and errors by the team has accounted for the rest.

      When that is said, this is not the same Schumacher we experienced in his first career, he`s lost the edge. In my opinion he`d allready lost some of his edge when he retired in 2006 at 37 years of age. I remember thinking to myself allready at the end of 2004 that Schumacher was not able to push his car as hard as he could in the past.

      That`s no surprise as his style has always been aggressive and based on his ability to react as the car stepped out. As we grow older our ability to react diminishes, not by much year on year, but in a competitive sport as F1 every fraction of a second counts. Suddenly you need a little more time to react and in order to get that time you have to drive a little bit slower. It doesn`s feel slower to you though, your’re still on the limit, but compared to your competitors you are slower than you used to be..

      This is Schumachers situation these days`, but he himself doesn`t notice it as he`s allways on the limit trying his best. The only problem is he`s on the limit for Schumacher of 2012, and that doesn`s compare to Schumacher of the late nineties/early 2000.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 16th May 2012, 18:32

        No of course not…in the late nineties/early 2000′s MS had more resources available to him, including designer tires and a contracted non-competing teammate, than any driver in the history of F1, and hence his record breaking numbers.

        I think all Benson has done is point out what you just pointed out and yet slam him for doing…MS now is not MS then. I think Benson’s article is quite factual and not insulting, so I don’t see how he ‘has it in’ for MS.

        I think Benson is calling it like it is.

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