411: Is there a doctor in the house?

Maybe this post should be categorised under 911, instead of 411. We haven’t even finished the winter testing schedule yet, but already this year seems to be under considerable strain, will this rocky start be indicative of the season to come? Endless waiting is not helped by endless obstacles. I know we like a good gossip about new cars, driver changes and questionable livery choices, but I also know that regardless of the team/driver you support injuries are not what you want to talk about in the off season.

Still fighting the good fight: Robert Kubica

We all know that the biggest story of the off season has been Robert Kubica’s rallying accident (though this might be overtaken by the disappointment over McLaren’s testing pace), and although things seemed to have gone a bit quiet, a video recently released on the F1.com website proves that he will be missed by all. Drivers and team principals alike recorded messages during the hectic testing days for Kubica, who remains in hospital. Currently beginning his long rehabilitation programme, his manager Daniele Morelli has warned the media that restraint is required when discussing his return to F1. “We must distinguish between our optimism and the indulging of fanciful assumptions. At the moment it’s impossible to talk about timeframes.”

Photo credit: JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images

His replacement, Nick Heidfeld has a clause in his contract that he can be replaced at any time during the season, a strong indication that Renault is expecting their star driver to return this year. Morelli is guarding his client well, and it’s looking more likely his next drive will be in 2012, he reports that all the signs are positive and he is recovering quicker than expected.

Doing anything to lose weight: Timo Glock

However the Polish driver is not the only one having health issues before Australia, Virgin’s Timo Glock has had to undergo emergency surgery to remove his appendix. Taken ill, he was rushed to hospital to have it taken out, forcing the driver to sit on the sidelines during the final test in Barcelona next week.

Recovery soup! (Photo credit: Timo Glock)

Obviously disappointed with the outcome, he looked at the silver lining and commented on the few grams he could now save in weight. Keeping up-to-date with his condition on twitter, he revealed his cure as…carrot soup. Rookie Jerome d’Ambrosio will surely take advantage of the increased running time at his disposal.

Proving that Champions are made of sterner stuff: Sir Jackie Stewart

Photo credit: Deadline

Not content with pushing fans into a frenzy, Formula One’s off season now includes past triple world champions. Sir Jackie Stewart has been taken to hospital after passing out on a flight to London from Geneva following a visit to the motor show. Claims include that he suffered chest pains, but his private secretary Oliver Anderson has told the press that had precautionary checks and is at home resting. Former Stewart driver Rubens Barrichello kept his followers up-to-date after speaking with the man himself, “To my friends that got worried with Sir Jackie Stewart, I can say that he is fine, he had a full check-up and he feels good now.”

Dial M for Mystery: McLaren and Mercedes

It’s not only drivers and world champions that can get sick you know. The vitals recently taken for patients MP4-26 and MGP-W02 are not looking good, if reports are to be believed. The biggest cause for concern seems to be that McLaren are struggling for pace early on, but this is testing season and to expect full race pace at this time is somewhat naive. But, as there always is in Formula 1…there is a but.

Is the Bamilton/Hutton bromance heading for trouble? (photo credit: Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)

This particular but comes from the mouths of those who have the most intimate relationship with the MP4-26, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. They’ve got to sit within her bowels for the next 9 months, and be comfortable throwing that beauty around the numerous tracks come rain or shine. Massive eyebrows were raised (not just Alonso’s) when McLaren launched their car at the second test in Jerez, questions were asked about the team readiness to compete and those haven’t gone away. Yet. This hasn’t been helped by the aforementioned mouths, While Hamilton says that the car needs more downforce, Button is aware that the lack of uninterrupted testing sessions and parts has hampered them.

Who's going to come out on top? (photo credit: HOCH ZWEI / Juergen Tap)

According to Ross Brawn, the upgrade package intended to be implemented in Barcelona has to buy them a second, if they want to be competitive. Speaking to Radio 5 Live last night, he said, “In the last test at Barcelona we had a go at running low fuel and the super-soft tyres and we were the second-quickest car, but I don’t think that’s where we are overall.” Reiterating the need for that extra second, he’s sticking close to the team’s upgrade schedule, hoping that their quiet confidence is proved right in Australia.

Either way this is still testing, with fuel loads and set-ups unknown it hard to deduced anything of solid merit just yet. It’s only when the lights go out in Australia that we’ll really know who’s up to race pace, and who’s got some catching up to do. Grab a lemsip for the cars guys, only as a precautionary measure of course, just to keep them warm before the season starts.

2 Responses to “411: Is there a doctor in the house?”
  1. Mike Bourke says:

    Good luck with the blog!

    I’ve commented elsewhere that with the reduced running likely to be possible during practice given the sharp dropoff in performance of the new tyres, setup simulation back at the factory will be even more important in 2011 than it has been in the past. Reports are that McLaren have been focussing a lot of their efforts on gathering performance data for use in their simulators, so they might actually be further ahead than people think. Even if not, they have proved in the past that they can recover quickly.

    Merc, on the other hand, appear to be in real trouble – with rumours that their rear end and new exhaust structure failed FIA Crash tests last week…

    • rookief1 says:

      Oh I have no doubt that McLaren will pull it out of the bag come race-time, and if they do, this was an excellent example of sports psychology at play. Although it seems to be bothering fans more than anyone else at the moment. The rumours about Mercedes are even more worrying, if they’re right, I bet Brawn and Fry are glad they sold their share…

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