Bien avant de s’illustrer chez McLaren, Ferrari ou Renault en F1, Patrick Tambay...
Tambay: “This F1 is too artificial. Rosberg is the favourite, Kimi the no.2 in Ferrari”
FormulaPassion.it has met, in his home in Le Cannet, the former Ferrari driver Patrick Tambay, for a chat about the current Formula 1.
It’s not frequent to have the chance to interview a F1 driver or former driver at his home, with the trophies and recalls of a long career. The environment tranquility and familiarity allow to chat in a free and more informal way, as it happens when one is going to meet a friend. And it happened with Patrick Tambay, a former McLaren, Ferrari and Renault driver in the late 70s and 80s, when turbo engines, now back in the limelight, made their first appearance in Formula 1. We met him at his home in Le Cannet, little French town very close to the more famous Cannes, where Patrick lives from many years ago, also involved in political activity.
Patrick, what is your opinion of the 2014 Formula 1, revolutionised by the new technical and sports regulations?
I have two stances on this matter: that of the official commentator and journalist who has to save the child and the personal one. I try to mix them to make sense of the F1 system. I was expecting the first race to be much worse, but at the same time I am totally against the new situation that has arisen, it’s a bit like last year with the tyres: for me, Formula 1 means to give 100% from start to finish, go as fast as possible by making a sequence of qualifying laps, as they used to do back in the days of Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher. Last year the key was to control the tyres, this year is to manage the fuel consumption. Pure racing is pure driving, and in my opinion this is no longer a championship for drivers, it is a championship for engineers, engine builders, a management championship. Drivers must save fuel, tyres, gearboxes, they must manage acceleration and braking, brake balance, they do not run at full speed anymore but rather manage the race. Those who can better understand technology have the advantage: Mercedes is ahead, while Ferrari and Renault are late.We will see what happens in the next races but it all looks a bit artificial.
The crowd of skeptics is so huge that after just one race regulation changes are already under discussion…
I would be surprised if that happened. It might be sly but it’s a bit late to change. A crucial aspect is the noise: the audience doesn’t understand, the GP2 are likely to be noisier, faster, more interesting … The technologies related to fuel economy and hybrid engines included in Formula 1 are those we already see on road vehicles, this means the technologies which will be transferred to the market are no longer being developed by the single-seaters. I think the best change they made was to add an extra set of tyres for Friday practice and Q3. And then… double points at the final race? You win in Monaco and get 25 points, you win in Abu Dhabi and get 50?!? That’s not normal…
Let’s talk about Ferrari: were you disappointed by their performance in Australia? The fans are very disappointed and angry, and Stefano Domenicali is being blamed.
Domenicali is not the designer, nor engine constructor; he’s like Jean Todt 10 years ago, the orchestra leader of the team. His responsibility is to hire the best engineers, the best engine builder, the best drivers. Todt did so, wherever he went: in rally, in endurance racing… he has always tried to get the best staff and to motivate it, and he always managed efficiently. Stefano doesn’t have the same attitude. I think he has the same power that Todt had to manage the team, but I believe that today in Ferrari they don’t take enough risks. You have to aim for performance guaranteeing reliability: if you decrease the power to make sure you finish the race, you end up fourth or fifth. I think in the first race they have been too conservative with the performance, but the second will be different. The problem is also related to the regulations. Raikkonen seems to be in a tight spot, as I imagined…
Is this due to Kimi’s characteristics as a driver or to his attitude?
They say he has changed, he has grown wiser. It is likely, but not in the best way. I think that when he was younger, during his first time in Ferrari, he was a better and already mature Raikkonen, while now, I think, they chose him because of the new regulations and because of how he has proven to be reliable during the two years in Lotus: he finished many races and this is good for the policy of Ferrari, that is to get points. Alonso is the fast one, Kimi the reliable one. Personally, I already had the feeling that Raikkonen was to be the number 2 this year.
Will Renault be able to catch Mercedes during the season, in the next races?
Yes, you’ve seen how Red Bull recovered from the tests to Australia. I think they made Vettel race complying with the regulations, because they could not afford to make the four-time world champion break the rules, whereas with Ricciardo they wanted to show the FIA that there is a problem with the flow meter affecting everyone. They used theirs, that of Renault, to show the difference between the Australian’s car compared with the German’s one, on which the faulty FIA sensor was installed, to make clear that there is still a lot of work to do in the best interest of everyone. FIA has the wrong approach, it should not stage a wrestling match, but be able to handle the situation differently: there is a problem with this component? Just for this race, you can use your meter as long as it complies with the limits, then we’ll allow more tests.
According to Patrick Tambay, who is the favourite for the 2014 championship?
Nico Rosberg, as I’ve already said last year. I’ve known him since he was 12 years old, he was driving karts for Dino Chiesa, a great drivers coach. Lewis Hamilton is a bit too glamorous, while Nico is very focused, and he is getting married… he seems to know how to have fun, and I think he does have fun, but in a controlled manner. He has a good attitude, he is smart… I think this championship will be for smart drivers who think a lot and have self-control. The proof of this is that it is easier for rookies to drive thanks to these new rules and also to understand them, compared to experienced drivers. They have different qualities, a new approach and can adapt quickly by understanding the concepts. As for the “old” ones, for example Kimi, it is more difficult to adapt to new rules… I could never use my left foot to brake!
Interview by Luca Manacorda