Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Brabham Tributes, Scudamore and More

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Brabham Tributes, Scudamore and More

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Sir Jack Brabham, the only man to win the Formula One World Championship in his own car, died at the age of 88 on Monday.

    The news of the triple world champion's passing has led to a flurry of moving tributes, none more so than that of Mark Webber, the former Red Bull driver, who has explained Brabham's large influence on his career.

    Meanwhile, the subject of Bernie Ecclestone's successor has cropped up once again, with a man who made his name in another sport reported to be in the frame to become F1's ringmaster—as long as he wants the job.

    Ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, Felipe Massa, who has never enjoyed the circuit despite claiming an unexpected pole position at the venue in 2008, has explained why the race will be the most difficult of the 2014 season.

    The Monte Carlo event will give new championship leader Lewis Hamilton a chance to extend his advantage over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, with the glamorous location aligning well with the 2008 world champion's new status as the most marketable athlete on the planet.

    As for Rosberg, his stock has fallen sharply since his victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix win, with a former world champion explaining how the German must stop the rot imminently if he is to avoid in the two-horse title battle.

    Here's this week's roundup. 

Mark Webber, Daniel Ricciardo Pay Tribute to Sir Jack Brabham

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Tributes have been made to Sir Jack Brabham, the triple Formula One World Champion, who died on Monday.

    Among those to submit their condolences is compatriot Mark Webber, the former Red Bull driver who came within touching distance of emulating Brabham by becoming an Australian F1 title winner in 2010.

    On his official website, Webber wrote:

    I was saddened to hear the news of Jack’s passing today—he is the epitome of a champion racing driver and a true blue Aussie. He was a trailblazer; he took the hardest road and made it easier for the rest of us to follow. When I think of Jack, I think of a tenacious individual; an absolute grafter; he did it his own way and made it stick. There were no real rules or a manual for Jack; he figured it for himself. What he achieved taking on the best in the world and winning one of his three world titles in his own machinery is the stuff of pure legends.

    On a personal note, Jack was simply the biggest name in the Webber household. He was inspirational. My dad followed his career from when he raced in Australia and then did his best to keep track of Jack’s progress when he moved overseas to take on the best in the world.

    I was very fortunate that I was introduced to Jack before I left Australia and to be in his presence as a 17 or 18-year old as I must have been at the time, just blew me away. He provided me with endless support and advice over the years and became a close confidante—even right up until the last couple of years when, after hearing the rumours that I might move to Ferrari, he told me he would be very disappointed if I went there because for him, it was the absolute betrayal because they were his motivation—the ones he wanted to beat in his day!

    Jack and Margaret were always generous with their time and I’m proud that, although I was unable to repay that support by joining him and Alan Jones as world champions, I gave him some very happy moments by winning some of the more prestigious special Grands Prix.

    To Margaret, Geoff, Gary and David and their respective families, you are very much in our thoughts at this sad time. Jack was a legend in the truest sense of the word, an inspirational Aussie battler and someone who will never be forgotten.

    Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo, the only Australian representative on the current grid, took to Twitter to air his sadness:

    Sorry to hear about Sir Jack Brabham. A great Australian who inspired many Aussies to pursue our dreams.

    — Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) May 19, 2014

Richard Scudamore to Succeed Bernie Ecclestone as F1 Chief?

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    Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

    Under-fire Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has emerged as a potential successor to Bernie Ecclestone as the ringmaster of Formula One.

    Scudamore's position with the Premier League hangs by a thread after Matthew Drake of the Mirror published a series of email messages, allegedly written by the 54-year-old to his colleagues, which included apparently sexist remarks.

    Scudamore is expected to learn his fate this week, with Ben Smith of BBC Sport reporting that the Premier League's audit and remuneration committee set to "consider the matter" in London on Monday.

    If he loses his job or decides to quit, Scudamore may soon find alternative employment in Formula One, according to Kevin Eason of The Times (payment required), who wrote, "Scudamore is seen as the one man who, like Ecclestone, combines all of the skills, reputation and drive that could keep F1 finding new markets and developing television details."

    However, Eason notes that F1 shareholders have so far been hesitant to contact Scudamore due to his envelopment in football.

    Ecclestone had told Tom Cary of The Telegraph in November 2013 that Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, would be his preferred choice of replacement.

    However, the potential availability of Scudamore, who has built the England's top flight into a global brand in his 15 years as chief executive, would arguably see a more like-for-like changeover take place. 

Felipe Massa Expects Monaco Grand Prix to Be Toughest of Season

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    The challenges of the 2014-spec Formula One cars, with their extra torque and brake-by-wire systems, have been clear to see in the five grands prix so far, with drivers making several errors.

    The next round of the season, in Monaco, is often regarded as a venue where just one single mistake can have disastrous consequences.

    It is little surprise, then, that Felipe Massa, the Williams driver, has predicted that this weekend's race in Monte Carlo will be the most difficult event of the season.

    The Brazilian, who crashed at the St. Devote corner on two separate occasions over the course of the 2013 Monaco GP weekend, has been quoted by Autosport's Ben Anderson as stating:

    I think Monaco will be a very, very difficult race.

    We drive with the car a lot more sideways.

    The torque we have from the engine is maybe double what we had last year, and the grip from the tyre is not very high, so Monaco will be a very easy race to crash.

    I think it will be the toughest race of the season.

    Massa's concerns, however, are not shared by his Williams colleague and long-term friend Rob Smedley, who insists teams will approach the 2014 race no differently to how they have in previous years.

    He added:

    Fundamentally Monte Carlo is always Monte Carlo—I don't think it's going to be really any different to when we've been there in the past.

    Monaco has always been rear, longitudinal wear limited; for as long as I've done Formula 1 we've always worn out the rear tyres during the race.

    You can allow yourself a bigger margin of degradation, because of how difficult it is to pass there, but the person who manages to keep his rear tyres alive and wear them out less than the other drivers will be the person who dominates.

    It is a different technical regime of the cars,but will it change the spectacle of Monaco? Will it change how we operate? No it won't.

Lewis Hamilton Named the Planet's Most Marketable Athlete

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    Having already this year been named the wealthiest British athlete by the Sunday Times Rich List (payment required), Lewis Hamilton has claimed the title of the planet's most marketable athlete by SportsPro magazine.

    The Mercedes driver, who currently leads the drivers' standings, beat Virat Kohli and Robert Griffin III to claim top spot in the list, which predicts the projection of an athlete's marketing qualities over the next three years.

    On their official website, SportsPro cited "the celebrity girlfriend, the seven-figure social media following and the expert management of XIX Entertainment," as well as Hamilton's growing maturity and position in the fastest car on the F1 grid, as reasons for his lofty position on the list.

    Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel (27th) and Daniil Kvyat (40th) were also included on the list, with Simona de Silvestro, the Sauber-affiliated driver, also making the top 50.

Damon Hill: Nico Rosberg Needs to Rise to Challenge in Lewis Hamilton Battle

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    Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, believes Nico Rosberg's failure to capitalise on opportunities could prove decisive in his championship battle with Lewis Hamilton.

    The German has put his Mercedes teammate under severe pressure in the latter stages of two of the opening five races of the 2014 season, in Bahrain and Spain, but failed to pull off a race-winning pass—crossing the line within a second of Hamilton on both occasions.

    And Hill fears the psychological effects of those near misses may ultimately cost Rosberg the world championship, with Hamilton currently operating with full confidence having won each of the last four races.

    Hill told ESPN F1:

    Nico is going to have to beat him on the track. You can get up to games and put pressure on people, but unless you deliver and get your car in front and keep it there until the end of the race, it's all meaningless.

    Nico had two opportunities to beat Lewis, in Bahrain and Spain, but he let them slip through his fingers. That might already be too much to recover from. You look at Lewis and you think he's good, but he's not unbeatable. But you look at Nico and you think he's going to have to find that last two per cent or three per cent to be able to put pressure on Lewis.

    I thought it was crucial in Spain to be honest. I thought if Nico had summoned up something he had never summoned up before in his life and beaten Lewis, then we would have had a championship battle. After a bit it just starts to grind you down if you're not careful and it starts to become a question of not believing it's possible to beat the guy. That would be the end of that if that happens.

    It must have taken a lot out of Nico in Spain to have led all the way through the sessions and just be pipped in qualifying and just be beat in the race. I'm sure he gave what he thought was everything he had, but you just have to give what you couldn't believe was possible to win.

    Up until this season, it always looked like Lewis' focus could go at any time. He now seems to have the demeanour of someone who is totally content. I do wonder if he is just cruising. I think he has another gear. He is so focused on the job, I think he will be almost impossible to beat.