Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2020

Ferrari favoured Leclerc over Vettel in 2019 – Ecclestone

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In the round-up: Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says Ferrari “fell in love” with new driver Charles Leclerc last year, to the detriment of Sebastian Vettel.

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Comment of the day

@Robbie takes a sympathetic view of F1’s 11th-hour cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix.

The Australian Government had to also consider the tone they would be setting for the country. The cancelling of the F1 race no doubt either triggered or was in conjunction with stopping many many events, just as countries are doing big time globally. But of course countries have resisted doing this until the evidence was irrefutable, i.e. only a few days ago, because the economic fallout and the risk of causing needless panic stands to be far far more devastating for far longer than the virus itself. Especially for Australia that just went through the devastating fires, the last thing they needed was this virus shutting the economy down.

I have no criticism at all for F1 or Liberty or FIA in conjunction with the Australian government wrestling with this tough tough issue and ultimately doing what millions of entities have had to wrap their heads around and still are in only the last two days. I envision that Carey couldn’t have just cancelled the race hours earlier without full agreement and go ahead to do so with the government, as they would have to be on board and ready to answer for the fallout to the entire country as to what cancelling the F1 race would signify to the whole population, not just F1 fans.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 30 comments on “Ferrari favoured Leclerc over Vettel in 2019 – Ecclestone”

    1. @robbie, sometimes sounds like FIA/FOM #1 fan, but never ridiculously so, in this case I feel his COTD is well deserved and I totally agree with the sentiments expressed, with Covid-19 there are no winners, only losers. Congratulations.

    2. Miss Charlie. Also miss Bernie and Herbie, what a legendary team, rockstars.

      1. I like how Bernie summed up Ferrari in a few words. They do fall in love with one guy and kick the other always. SeB had his time as the favoured guy so he can’t really complain. He had every chance and he went and blew it.
        And when Max arrives on the scene, it will be curtains for Leclerc. Of that we can be sure.

    3. Poor, sad Bernie. Just like the old days, do a bit of stirring and sit back to see what happens. But, it’s all changed, because no one cares what he says, he’s history, he doesn’t hold the purse keys, F1 has moved on. Another couple of years and it will be, Bernie Who, unless he’s got the courage to write a book and tell us where the bodies are buried.

      1. Remember the “Bernie says …” signs at the tracks a few years ago? What an ego

    4. Ferrari favoured Leclerc? Did they favour him in Australia, Bahrain, China, Canada, Singapore?

      1. @mashiat This is Bernie we discuss. He’s not known for rigourously thinking through his ideas, unless he stands to make a profit from them.

        1. He also suggested flavio brigatorie should be ferrari boss over the weekend. Maybe right, with question marks over the ferrari/fia engine agreement, having a known cheat would be even better given his past issues in 1994 (option 13 on the benetton) & 1998 (crashgate)

    5. The whole Pirelli throwing away tyres thing? Surely if unused they can still be recycled; if not reused for non-competitive (promotional events) where there is no requirement for tyre performance?
      Surely there would be a few saddos like me who might even want to purchase one if they’re otherwise going to waste? Surely a charity auction or such like would be more beneficial.

      1. I would definitely buy a rear tyre… probably three, one of each colour.

      2. I think the issue is they don’t want other tire manufacturers getting their hands on the tires (and maybe other entities as well). It’s good to know this is only an issue in Australia since the issue was tires that were already fitted to rims.

      3. @eurobrun basically, the action of removing the tyre from the rims to return the rims to the teams means the tyre itself can be damaged, hence the issue of being unable to use it again. Bridgestone and Michelin had similar policies in place of destroying any tyres which were not used during the course of a race weekend and which had already been mounted onto a wheel rim.

        You’re right that it would be far better if they could find a way to re-use the tyres, and they did hint in the article that they were looking at whether it might be possible to bring the tyres to another race later in the year. That said, this article does perhaps underline how wasteful the tyre manufacturing process is – and this might is probably less than it used to be, considering the number of tyres that used to be produced during the tyre wars.

        1. Disgusting waste, maybe its time F1 agreed to have one tyre model for all the races!
          This would also give teams the advantage of predicting how a tyre would perform from race to race.

          1. Pirelli have noted that it is more of an issue for long haul events where air freight is used more heavily, because you have the strange situation that the teams are responsible for transporting the rims, which happens separately to the process of transporting the tyre carcass.

            For shorter haul events, where road transport can be used, the tyres can be left mounted on the rims and transported to the next venue where those tyres are needed. Similarly, if those tyres can be transported via container ships instead of by air freight, it seems that they could then keep the tyres mounted on the rims.

            It is wasteful, but there are signs that perhaps there is a recognition that things could be done better with some strategic planning and that there are at least some mitigations in some circumstances.

          2. It might seem like a disgusting waste, but is it really any worse than if they were used? If the event was run then the discarded rubber around the track would probably not be used as efficiently, just swept up and dumped. They still need to transport and discard the tyre used or unused.

    6. I have to agree with @robbie. I’ve notice that a lot of the cancellations have come after local or national governments put restrictions in place. The US restricted travel from Europe, then both Sebring races were cancelled as a fair bit of participants come from Europe. Many cities had already started banning gatherings of 250 or more people, which left a lot of sports league having to play behind closed doors. This is why NASCAR and IndyCar initially went that route.

      The domino that started the mass cancellations and postponements in the US in the past week was an NBA player testing positive for coronavirus. The NBA immediately suspended their season. The next day the NHL followed suit and many NCAA conferences then cancelled their Championship basketball tournaments. They couldn’t justify playing if the NBA wasn’t. After the NCAA cancelled their March Madness Basketball tournament, it left IndyCar and NASCAR in a predicament of being the only US Sports organizations still running. Both ended just cancelling or postponing their races.

    7. I’d also say Nelson, who did well in a car that was OK. Stirling you’d have to say yes to the top four. And Fangio — he got the job done.

      Nice to see Bernie giving due respect to the only one of the Big Four of the 80s that didn’t left F1 on a high. Real shame Tamburello and 100T got Piquet on a roll. Also Top 5 in my books. Inexcusably overlooked.

    8. That is a good CotD, @robbie, one that is well-argued, although, as is par for the course, I will disagree with some of the points made there :)

      I have reserved my harshest criticism at the parties involved for the poor communications before the fact, and for the local promoters allowing fans to gather at the gates on Friday morning.

      That said, there is also criticism that can be levelled at the Australian government (as can be at the governments of several other countries). Granted, they have to walk that tight line between shutting down events to safeguard people and inadvertently sending a harsh shock through an economy by being too aggressive. Nevertheless, one got the distinct impression that they did not want to be seen cancelling high-value public events like the cricket match, or F1. Of the lot, I’d probably give them the largest benefit of doubt.

      I’d also say that as a party who were financially directly invested in the conduct and success of the GP, the Victoria govt. might not have been able to make an impartial decision. It’s one thing for a commercial and profit-making entity like FOM to have a goal of “try and keep the race on”, it’s another one when a government tasked with the wellbeing of its citizenry has such a conflict of interest. This isn’t criticism per se, but a cautionary tale for future race venues as well (a cautionary tale for whom? I honestly don’t know! Maybe an ombudsman/regulator/equivalent in countries that have it?)

      It also appeared that the health authorities being consulted had been seemingly co-opted unknowningly into toeing an economic line instead of just issuing impartial medical guidance. The WHO declared a pandemic on Wednesday (not sure of the time, but it was likely Thursday morning in Australia), but the rumblings and pressure on the WHO have been there earlier for the local health authorities to see. And the rather special nature of F1 that brought participants from various countries (including Italy), and viewers from others should have had them treating it with a higher level of caution. It’s not a local event where geographic insularity offers some protection.

      Finally, decision making needn’t be top down. There isn’t a need for the WHO to declare a pandemic for local health authorities to issue revised guidance, for it to then be taken up by the race organizers/stakeholders. The decision chain can be short-circuited. FOM and AGPC have been using “unprecedented situation” as a justification, but I’d equally argue that they did not show any “unprecedented thinking” when it came to making decisions. A simple case in point – while Liberty’s desire to build consensus is admirable, there was no need to put this decision to a vote to the teams. Liberty could have just stated to the teams their intent, with the caveat “unprecedented situation, hence unprecedented actions”.

      We need this criticism to be out there, because that is the only way that when such a situation repeats itself, people will have internalized the lessons from this event, and apply it to the future. S. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore all learnt from their earlier brushes with SARS and set in place plans and systems to quickly swing into action. There’s no reason why our countries cannot follow a similar model.

      PS: Sorry for the wall of text, folks, I’ll get off my soapbox :)

    9. Disappointed to see a Daily Mail link in the roundup. That’s really scraping the barrel, regardless of topic.

      1. The Mail is a secondary tabloid, yes. Trouble is F1 doesn’t make the national dailies very often so Keith is not spoiled for choice….

    10. On another note, my calendar app is still showing the Aus GP as ongoing for the next twenty minutes, as if to mock me. Sigh.

    11. After reading the yesterday, i.e., the day it came out, I got a better idea and understanding of this matter I’ve questioned before. However, still, why couldn’t the rubber be kept on the wheel-rims equally through flight-transportation as well as sea freight or truck-transportation, what’s the difference?

      As for The Age-article: Until I got to the ”however anything fresh that can’t be reused would be donated” phrase, I just thought, they should give them away for others to use and eat, schools, other communities, whatever. Eatable food should never go to waste, most importantly, because it’s what we need for energy, but good that at least some of them will get to others for their benefit.

      I thoroughly agree with the COTD, although to be more precise, the relevant government, in this case, is the Victorian territorial or state government, not that of the entire country itself.

    12. Um… what’s with the tyres being discarded? Do they have a limited time during which they can be used? I’d have thought they’d just use them at the next available round. Seems extraordinary to be so wasteful.

      1. Apparently they do get recycled, but the transportation costs must be substantial.

        1. By recycled, I mean turned into fuel.

    13. Good post by @Robbie but I’ll correct one mistake. The Australian federal Government had no input into the cancellation of the GP. It was a state government decision to ban spectators that forced the hand of F1 management.
      The restrictions on crowd gatherings by the feds does not start till tomorrow and at this point in time is only a recommendation not a ban.
      Basically all entities were hedging their bets trying to look like they were on top of the problem all the while maintaining BAU. A flawed plan marred by indecisiveness and mixed messages from the start that allowed the problems to escalate to the level it did.

    14. GtisBetter (@)
      15th March 2020, 9:11

      The COTD has it wrong. Countries don’t consider economic fallout or panic. They have looked at what to do to contain the virus. The first steps are finding patient zero and try to locally contain. At some point infected people show up with no other known source of infection to tie then to. And then the second phase begins. I would like to point out many organizations also cancel their own event at this point, not the government. Though it usually follows government advice. the final phase is lockdown of all events and gatherings by government decree.

      If you look at the data in Australia just for the GP there wasn’t really anything worrying. It was still relatively small and contained.

      But Europe was already a huge hazard. So you fly in people from high risk countries to have an event with a high number op people, you should already be asking yourself what you are doing. Italy went on lockdown just after people flew to Australia. Then if it turns out a person actually does have the virus you should shut down right away.

      It is clear that the teams made the decision for the FOM and they should not receive sympathy, but harsh criticism for the irresponsible way they handled things. They just only listened to the people that were in favor of the race and choose to ignore every other advice. If there is a potential crisis and you don’t even have some worse-case scenarios worked out on an event of this scale it’s just bad management. It tells me they were never planning to cancel it. The location makes it a bit harder to cancel then a normal circuit, but the are free to do it. Embarrasing, selfish and not thinking about safety.

    15. In my opinion, the race should went on without public. It’s their work, everyone in the world is having the same problem. If everything stops because of the virus then we will went into a real apocalypse. What you have to do is making everyone understand how the virus is transmitted. It’s very hard to get sick if you’re following strict rules and instructions. What I saw was an histeric reaction to a thing that can be easily controlled in a closed non-public enviroment.

    16. Luckily for diehard race fans, diecast racing has not been effected this weekend by the pandemic. Enjoy!:

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