Ex-F1 manager Weber blames ‘decline’ on leaders, current drivers

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Michael Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber has said that the self-interest of the leaders within Formula 1 and the current generation of drivers are the reasons behind the sport’s apparent decline.

In 2014, there has been a great deal of focus on ‘improving the show’ in Formula 1 after the global television audience fell by 50m. Figures such as Luca di Montezemolo and Bernie Ecclestone have been critical of the sport’s new formula, but Weber feels that the sport is not moving with the times.

“There are many reasons for the decline of the Formula 1,” he explained to Bild. “First, the fish rots at the head. Bernie Ecclestone is much too old to embrace the age of new media. FIA president Jean Todt lacks the power to enforce.

“These men think only of their own interests.”

Weber also feels that the characters within F1 are not what they used to be, calling them “wimps” with reference to Sebastian Vettel’s moaning during the British Grand Prix during his tussle with Fernando Alonso out on track.

“Who wants to see the wimps of today crying on the radio?” Weber asked. “There are no more characters like Ayrton Senna, Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher were.

“They would not complain on the radio but give their answer on the track.”

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has called for a summit to discuss the ‘wrong turn’ that has been taken, after labelling the sport as taxi cab racing over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Rather aptly, the drivers did give their answer on track by producing a sensational race under the lights.

And that is the way it has been all season long. 2014 is shaping up to be a classic year despite the off-track sagas concerning the sport’s direction – what better way to prove that F1 is in good health?

Simon Pagenaud has words with Gabby Chaves after Honda Indy GP of Alabama

Photos: IndyCar
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The rain didn’t stop following the conclusion of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, and neither did the jousting between drivers.

An angry Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud confronted Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves after the race, complaining that Chaves would not let Pagenaud get past him in the closing laps.

Instead of ending up with a hoped-for Top 5, Pagenaud wound up with a ninth-place finish. Chaves, meanwhile, finished 17th, two laps down.

The confrontation turned into a battle of words and profanity between the two drivers, as captured on Twitter by AutoWeek’s Matt Weaver.

Afterward – and after their tempers cooled down somewhat – both Pagenaud and Chaves gave their sides of the confrontation to NBCSN.

Gabby Chaves

First, here’s Pagenaud’s take on things:

“We had a really good race going,” Pagenaud said. “I think we potentially could have been top 5. I was really frustrated with Gabby. He was two laps down and I was stuck behind him, which gave an opportunity to (Scott) Dixon as I was trying to do everything I could to make it happen.

“It’s a real shame because when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. You’ll have better days later, but you want to have everybody on your side when you have a good day. At the moment, he doesn’t have me on his side, let me tell you. It’s a real shame.”

When asked what exactly he said to Chaves, Pagenaud demurred.

“Driver’s stuff,” he said with a slight smile. “We’ve all been there. I’ve been in his position. My side, I played it smart. It is what it is.

“I can’t comment for him. You can ask him the question. I’m not going to make a deal about it, it’s just a shame it ruined my race. We’ll come back stronger. It’s Indy soon, so that’ll put a smile on my face.”

NBCSN then caught up with Chaves for his side of the story.

 

“It’s a tough situation, we had to restart (the rain-delayed race) a lap down,” Chaves said. “Our whole strategy depends on trying to get a yellow and holding our position. Some guys think that the track belongs only to them, they’re the only guys on-track.

“Everyone else who was faster at that point – we were only one lap down to the leader, so we’re still on our strategy and don’t know what’s going to happen – as soon as they got right up next to me on the lead lap, I let them go.

“Simon was the only one who couldn’t drive up to me. I understand his frustration, but he’s the one who has to save fuel to make his strategy work, that’s not our fault, right?”

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