[Finished] Case #9: Alex Zanardi v Williams
Posted 25 January 2001 - 07:27
Zanardi drove for the Williams team during the 1999 season with Ralf Schumacher as teammate. This case will determine whether the lack of performance, ultimately causing Zanardi's dismissal from the team before the start of the following season, was entirely to blame on Zanardi or that Williams was responsible too by not giving Zanardi enough support and supplying him with an unreliable car.
This case has been accepted for hearing by the court, and arguments will be heard by all interested parties for a period of seven days, from April 30th 2001 to May 6th 2001 inclusive.
The residing judge is Marcel Schot. Arguments and evidence on the subject can be posted in this thread as of the opening date and for as long as the hearing is open. A decision on the case will be posted up to 7 days (ie not later than May 13th) after the hearing is closed.
Judge's Preamble :
It is the Prosecution's job to show beyond reasonable doubt that Zanardi's performance was affected by the treatment he received from the Williams team and the quality of the car the team supplied to him. It is the Defence's obligation to show beyond reasonable doubt that Zanardi's peformance, given his previous experience in Formula One and the high level of his performance in the CART series, was indeed below the level to be expected from him.
Posted 03 May 2001 - 19:27
The case is now open, good luck to both sides
Posted 05 May 2001 - 09:13
A summary of the 1999 F1 season
When I stepped off the cockpit, and the engine had been silenced by the nth debacle of an electronic system that during one whole year proved to be anything but reliable, I felt I had to say a final farewell to that car and, while walking towards the Suzuka box, I entertained a mental conversation with my Williams no. 5.
Maybe you'll think I'm nuts, but I always talked to the cars I drove throughout my career: before, during and after a race.
That's why I bade that wonderful single-seater farewell - but I tried to convey my sorrow for never having been able to get on well with her and love her, as I actually did so many times during my competitive past. My feeling was right: I'll never get into a Williams again and, as strange as it may sound, I am quite happy about it.
The whole story had been wrong since the beginning and was badly managed. The cause was not the poor expertise of some people, as it was printed on some magazines. Instead, it was due to the fact that we did not get along as far as finding the right approach was concerned, so that we could do our best, on both sides.
No doubt, there was not enough pressure on somebody's part for things to improve and some others even adopted an averse attitude. Basically, I believe that my adventure with the Williams failed exactly because of the above-mentioned reasons.
I certainly am responsible for it, as I should have imposed my ideas since the very beginning, when I had a way to do so, that is when the people who had chosen me still respected and trusted me. I did make a mistake - I challenged my feelings instead of other people's choices, I did not succeed in bringing up a competent working group that may help me achieve the results I hoped for.
On one occasion only, at Monza, did I get close to my limit and this was due to two basic reasons: 1) in Monza, we had six days of trials; 2) in Monza, thanks to a special feature of the asphalt, tires stay in working order for over 40 laps. With 'rationed out' tires and only three sets per day during trials, it is sometimes impossible, if one is not clear-headed, to develop the single-seater on the basis of the results achieved during the few "good" laps. In fact, once tires are deteriorated, the car becomes totally 'untouched' by any modification.
This explains the trick of my performance at Monza. Quite simply, the gap hindering my performance throughout the season was suddenly wiped out by the chance to have several trial laps, to get where my rivals arrived in a much shorter time.
I don't want to insist much longer - a word to the wise is enough. I know there will always be people who have a good opinion about me - and I must thank you, 'cause you really are a crowd - and I owed you some explanation. Other people think that Zanardi is just "motionless" - well, maybe the words I just wrote will only sound as excuses to them.
I will conclude by saying that I did not declare my withdrawal, since I love my job, which was very rewarding and I hope it will still be. I believe that any experience might turn to be a positive event, even if no new trophy goes into the collection.
I simply want to take my time to reflect and avoid repeating the same mistakes. I hope that, when you see me again on the track, you will still have a good time, not with cracks and jokes, but with my victories and my overtakings during the last lap. Bye!
P.S. My dear friends, during the past three months I received over 1000 e-mail messages, to which I could not reply. I cannot do it now person by person, but I plan to send a message to all of you - at least to thank you for your warm friendship.
Posted 07 May 2001 - 15:00
Williams gave him full support and Zanardi himself never questioned it during (or after) 99. Only after he´s return to CART was confirmed he started finding explanations for his failure in F1. He was well payed and his teammates (Ralf Schumacher) contract stated out (to stay in Williams) he had to get certain percentage of the points Zanardi would get during 99 season. There was no reason to give better treatment for Ralf, and if someone was getting better treatment, it clearly was Zanardi himself. First he admitted his defeat and I was impressed of his honesty and good attitude. However, it seems when time passes by, admitting one´s defeat seems to become more difficult, and therefore he seems to have a need to find unspesified "reasons" for his failure. The only spesified reason he gives can´t be considered as a good one because his tyre situation was not different from other. This includes rookie drivers which Zanardi was not. He drove Lotus back in 93 and his performances weren´t convincing.
In F1 Zanardi showed he is a professional driver and managed to avoid brainless crashing and beginner-like mistakes. His driving was consistent overall. However F1 car seemed to be too difficult for him to handle, and that´s why he ended up being too slow. Any driver can blame not having a perfect car or a perfect setup for his lack of speed, and while I admit it is important, he´s gap to Ralf was simply too big. Also he wasn´t able to drive "on the limit" at races. In CART it is not necessary to drive on the limit in every lap (because of different pointing system/a big possibility of pace car etc - this is confirmed by drivers like J Villeneuve and JP Montoya) like in F1. Perhaps this is one reason why he succeeded in CART but not in F1. If he wants to explain his poor performance during 99, I hope he will give only spesified reasons giving people better possibility to judge does his explanation make sense or not.
I hope he will improve his performances in CART (doesn´t look good so far) and I also hope he will be as honest as he was in 99.
Posted 07 May 2001 - 18:47
Zanardi had no less than 9 retirements, vs. one driver error.
That compares to Ralf's 1 retirement and 3 driver errors.
although he was never really close to RS in qual. trim, Zanardi was never too far off in races, when he was running. From Barcelona on, the pressure became unbearable, and the misterious #2. Williams which suffered 90% of the team's retirements just made this worse. Head and Williams are notoriously short tempered, and by mid season, the game was over. That's a very difficult situation to be in.
Also, when you compare his peformances vs. RS, to other teams, he did O.K. Herbert was always behind Barrichello, and even Zonta was given two seasons to prove his worth. Even Zonta only had 6 retirements in 12 races for the '99 BAR. I'm convinced Zanardi never got a fair shot at F1, but I don't find fault with Williams for dumping him. They had to get somebody who would do the job. F1 is so comkpetitive that even bad luck is enough for you to lose your seat...
Posted 07 May 2001 - 19:43
Zanardi had 8 retirements. One of those (9) was when he ran out of fuel. His radio had stopped working and Williams crew was showing him an order for pitstop via board but Zanardi was concentrated on fighting with Diniz and he missed it three times (during three laps). Therefore it was mainly his own fault. One important thing was when he had retirements he never was even nearly in as good positions as his teammate was. He would have gained points but not even nearly as many as Ralf. It´s true Ralf did more mistakes but we should remember he was pushing Williams into it´s limits in each race while Zanardi was playing it safe (and ending outside of points). Zanardi wasn´t close enough to Ralf in races. It should be remembered Ralf lost a clear win in European grand prix when his rear tyre exploded. Why was Zanardi fired? He was well payed and experienced driver in a (almost) top team. Considering these facts his performance (even taking his many retirements into account) wasn´t good enough. Why to pay big sums of money to Zanardi if a lot of cheaper rookie can do better (like Jenson Button clearly did by offering much tougher challenge to Ralf). Why he had so many retirements is beyond me. Did he use more agressive (and risky) car setups to get closer to Ralf? I´m afraid we will never know. I agree Zanardi had many difficulties which were not his fault and IMO he deserves respect of his patience and professional attitude which helped him to improve his performances. He never cracked under pressure like many drivers could have done in his situation (Michael Andretti comes to my mind). No one at Williams knew would he have done better in next year and considering his big salary only logical thing to do was replacing him. I´m sorry for Zanardi but F1 driver politics is cruel sometimes.
Posted 09 May 2001 - 11:50
, about the source of this knowledge. Has this been mentioned by Williamd and/or Alex Zanardi in any publications and if so, in which one(s)?
He was well payed and his teammates (Ralf Schumacher) contract stated out (to stay in Williams) he had to get certain percentage of the points Zanardi would get during 99 season.
Furthermore, the statement of mtl'78, namely
, brings forward the question of whether or not Alex Zanardi used the same chassis throughout the year or that he used various chassis, which may or may not have been used by Ralf Schumacher at some point during the season. Can someone supply the court with information about this?
...and the misterious #2. Williams which suffered 90% of the team's retirements...
Posted 10 May 2001 - 10:44
This information is based on inside sources and it was told on Finnish TV. Also this information was in F1 magazine (possibly F1 Racing but I´m not sure) and I will try to find the magazine as soon as possible. I do remember it was from the end of the 99 season. It´s possible the magazine I´m referring into is on another location and I can try finding it on monday and posting the information you asked for on tuesday.
Posted 10 May 2001 - 16:38
Aus AZ #1, RS #3, Spare #2
Bra AZ #2, RS #4, Spare #3
San AZ #5, RS #4, Spare #2
Mon AZ #5, RS #4, Spare #1 & #2
Esp AZ #5, RS #4, Spare #2
Can AZ #5, RS #4, Spare #2
Fra AZ #5, RS #3, Spare #2
Bri AZ #5, RS #3, Spare #2
Aut AZ #5, RS #6, Spare #2
Ger AZ #5, RS #6, Spare #2
Hun AZ #5, RS #6, Spare #2
Bel AZ #5, RS #6, Spare #2
Ita AZ #5, RS #6, Spare #2
Eur AZ #5, RS #6, Spare #2
Mal AZ #5, RS #6, Spare #2
Jap AZ #5, RS #6, Spare #2
For the majority of the season Zanardi used chassis #5.
Posted 10 May 2001 - 17:00
I've been unable to locate information about chassis' used in the 1999 season, but my search yielded some evidence that either:
A) Zanardi used many chassis that broke down at the worst moments
B) He used mostly the same chassis that broke down at the worst moments.
Why? because perusing the test results shows that he was able to both complete a fair number of laps, and be quite competitive. here is a rundown of the test times for '99 as reported by Atlas:
Etc, etc. You can see that as the season progressed, his times actually worsened, which suggests that the team was abandoning him. No driver ever gets worse over a season, especially not in F1 and not an experienced driver like Zanardi. Williams has had a long-standing policy of sacking its slowest driver, and Zanardi WAS slower. It's a hard thing to criticize the decisions of a team with 9 WDC's and about the same amount of WCC's in about 20 years. Add to this, the fact that they replaced AZ with the Brit phenom Button...
What was it about Herbert that made him retire so many times? who can say... I think that Zanardi could have been an average driver, capable of being a #2 on most teams. He was in the wrong team for that however, Williams don't want #2 drivers, and his astoundingly bad luck scared off any other drives IMO.
Posted 10 May 2001 - 18:15
Williams off the pace
The Williams team took part in their first test since Australia in Barcelona , the team saying explaining that they had decided to wait for new parts to test before running following the technical debrief after Australia. Zanardi ran 54 laps the first day and set the second best time of 1m 24,935 secs, but could only improve to 1m 24,535 secs on Thursday to set the sixth fastest time in 35 laps running. Ralf Schumacher ran 34 laps on day one with a best of 1m 25,027 secs and then went no quicker on Thursday with a best of 1m 25,090 secs in 43 laps.
Williams is a tough team to thrive in, and Patrick Head illustrates the difference between Villeneuve and Zanardi and why the latter was unsuccessful. Again, from Atlas:
Zanardi Lacked Dedication, Says Head
Friday December 8th, 2000
Williams technical director Patrick Head has claimed 1999 Williams driver Alex Zanardi did not put in enough work to be successful when he was with the team.
1997 and 1998 CART champion Zanardi was dropped by Williams following the 1999 season, after completing only one year of a two year contract. This was due to a season in which Zanardi failed to score a single point, while his teammate Ralf Schumacher scored 35. After staying out of racing this year, he recently announced he would be returning to the CART series in 2001 earlier this week.
Head said he got on well with Zanardi, but felt that Zanardi was too laid back, lacking the focus and determination that he needed to succeed.
"When Jacques came into F1 I think he thought 'oh this is going to be tough'. To his credit he went away and worked his arse off to get himself fitter and tougher and harder and everything else," Head told Autosport.
"To be honest that is basically the thing that Alex didn't do.
"He thought 's***, this is a bit different from what I was expecting'. He still went into the motorhome and had the espresso and was full of jokes and laughs.
"A lovely character and I am sure that the talent was perfectly high enough, but what it required was total abstinence, total dedication, six hours a day in the gym, chop all the hair off, and I don't think in truth that he was quite prepared to do it."
Posted 10 May 2001 - 19:00
After his woeful qualifying at Barcelona, Alex posted this message on his website
It's obviously been a considerable disappointment to us and to him. There have been a few occasions during the year when he might have been able to get points but for various reasons it hasn't happened, so it's a disappointment to both of us. It's something we both have to work out.
I think a Formula One car is very edgy on these tyres. It has very little low-speed grip. It relies for its grip very much on the downforce and when you get down to low speed, it's very much on the edge and it's been a difficult adaptation for him.
He was reasonably on the pace at Spa and very much on the pace at Monza. But at Nurburgring he was looking to be in reasonable shape on the Saturday morning and then he just didn't get it together in the afternoon on the drying track. He was sent out at the right time on the right tyres but he didn't get a clear lap in at the right time.
This is an admission of failure as driver, saying he was unable to make progress on the setup of the car because it "reacted incomprehensibly to every setup modification".
Well, it has been quite a disastrous day: 17th in grid. We had problems with the car, which reacted incomprehensibly to every set up modification. I am disappointed, of course, but I know that getting angry is for sure not the right way to solve the problems. Anyway, there are definitely some problems to be solved and we have to work hard.
Stay with me!
On the website, he comments on his reliability problems
He is saying that during testing there were many reliability problems for both drivers, but during the races he was especially unlucky.
Many ask me why everything always happens to me while Ralf is able to finish the race, my answer is always the same- it’s only coincidence. I have no doubt about this because the preparation of the car is the same and during the test it’s fragile just like in the race- it just so happens that mine breaks down more often.
In 1999, Zanardi showed a weakness in qualifying, being outqualified by Ralf Schumacher 11-5. It may be relevant to consider his qualifying record before 1999.
In 1998, he won the CART Championship, but his teammate Jimmy Vasser outqualified him 12-7. Vasser won 2 poles that year, yet Zanardi won the championship without setting a single pole position.
As a rookie in F1 in 1991, Zanardi was pitted against Andrea de Cesaris. Alex was one of the drivers used by Jordan to fill the seat that Michael Schumacher had vacated. In the three races that he competed in, Zanardi was outqualified 3-0 by de Cesaris.
In 1992, Zanardi did three races for the Minardi team before being replaced by Christian Fittipaldi. His teammate was Gianni Morbidelli. Morbidelli outqualified him 2-1.
In 1993, he joined the Lotus team, as the driver to fill the seat vacated by Mika Hakkinen. In the 11 races before he had a serious accident at Spa, he was outqualified by his team mate Johnny Herbert 9-2.
In 1994, he started the year as test driver for Lotus, and was promoted to racedriver for 7 races with Johnny Herbert. Herbert again outqualified him 5-2. Once Johnny Herbert left the doomed Lotus team, first to drive for Ligier with Olivier Panis for one race, and then to partner Michael Schumacher at Benetton, Zanardi became team leader for the remaining races. In those three races, he outqualified Eric Bernard 1-0 and Mika Salo 2-0, before taking up touring car racing in 1995 and CART in 1996-1998.
In summary, for his first 27 Grand Prix (excluding Spa 1993), he was outqualified 19-8.
Against Johnny Herbert, he was outqualified 14-4. To see what kind of standard this is, we can examine Johnny Herbert's own qualifying record.
1989: JH - Alessandro Nannini: 1-5 (17% to JH)
1989: JH - Jonathan Palmer: 1-1 (50% to JH)
1990: JH - Derek Warwick: 0-2 (0% to JH)
1991-1992: JH - Mika Hakkinen: 14-10 (58% to JH)
1993-1994: JH - Alessandro Zanardi: 14-4 (78% to JH)
1993-1994: JH - Pedro Lamy: 8-0 (100% to JH)
1994: JH - Phillipe Adams: 2-0 (100% to JH)
1994: JH - Olivier Panis: 1-0 (100% to JH)
1994-1995: JH - Michael Schumacher: 1-17 (6% to JH)
1996: JH - Heinz Harald Frentzen: 3-13 (19% to JH)
1997: JH - Nicola Larini: 5-0 (100% to JH)
1997: JH - Gianni Morbidelli: 8-0 (100% to JH)
1997: JH - Norberto Fontana: 4-0 (100% to JH)
1998: JH - Jean Alesi: 6-10 (38% to JH)
1999: JH - Rubens Barrichello: 3-13 (19% to JH)
2000: JH - Eddie Irvine: 3-13 (19% to JH)
2000: JH - Luciano Burti: 1-0 (100% to JH)
excluding team-mates with less than 8 races against Herbert, we can list them in terms of qualifying record against Herbert:
Michael Schumacher 94%
Heinz Harald Frentzen 81%
Rubens Barrichello 81%
Eddie Irvine 81%
Jean Alesi 62%
Mika Hakkinen 42%
Alessandro Zanardi 22%
Pedro Lamy 0%
Gianni Morbidelli 0%
This places Zanardi well below the standard that others achieved in qualifying contests with Herbert. Perhaps Herbert got slower, but he still easily outqualifed rookies. We can assume that Zanardi improved, perhaps as much as Hakkinen did in the years since they were both outqualified by Herbert, but Ralf Schumacher was to be his team-mate in 1999, a driver well above Johnny Herbert in qualifying ability.
In modern F1, qualifying is vitally important because overtaking is so difficult. If Zanardi was CART champion in 1998, despite being outqualified by his team-mate 12-7, he must have been very good at overtaking. However Patrick Head has said Zanardi's greatest weakness with the F1 car was under braking in the slow-speed corners, so he could hardly hope to overtake his way to glory in F1.
Just like the stars of modern F1, Zanardi had his chance in the early 1990's. He started by taking the seat of Michael Schumacher at Jordan in 1991, then went on to replace Mika Hakkinen at Lotus in 1993, only to find that his team-mate Herbert outqualified him 14-4 and got the opportunity to drive for the World Championship Benetton team. Zanardi then spent a year racing touring cars, then 3 years dominating CART, before coming back to F1 as a much improved driver.
However, the drivers who stayed in F1 during the years 1995-1998 had also improved, perhaps in other ways to Zanardi. In particular, experienced F1 drivers knew how to setup for the high pressure of 1-hour qualifying, where they only had 4 timed laps, quite unlike CART where the lack of tyre warmers means longer qualifying runs. Experienced F1 drivers knew how to work with engineers on the peculiar difficulties of a F1 car. They also had the whole of 1998 to acclimatise to the edgy performance of grooved tyres. It must be remembered that in 1999, Williams were working with Bridgestone for the first time, and could not have designed their chassis with a good knowledge of Bridgestone performance.
Zanardi was not coming to Williams as a rookie; he was expected to perform at a very high level. However, he didn't perform to expectations, so they had nothing to lose and simply replaced him with a rookie.
Posted 11 May 2001 - 09:59
Originally posted by Spunout
"Zanardi had no less than 9 retirements, vs. one driver error."
Zanardi had 8 retirements. One of those (9) was when he ran out of fuel. His radio had stopped working and Williams crew was showing him an order for pitstop via board but Zanardi was concentrated on fighting with Diniz and he missed it three times (during three laps). Therefore it was mainly his own fault.
How can you be certain that this was his own fault? Is this your opinion or do you have knowledge to support that it was mainly his fault. If Alex thought his radio was working and was waiting for his crew to call over the radio that it is time to come into the pits, then this situation could have happened easily and how could this be his fault? The team would known that the radio wasn't working when they radioed him to come in and he didn't respond. If he doesn't know that the radio had a problem, then it would only be normal for him to be caught up into his fight with Diniz and not expecting messages on boards flashed from the pits.
Posted 11 May 2001 - 15:53
Posted 13 May 2001 - 17:31
A judgement will be posted within seven days.
Posted 25 May 2001 - 09:53
From the statements by Alex Zanardi himself, presented to the court by Billy, we can read that he himself feels responsible for his lack of performance. Zanardi mentions two reasons for this. First of all, he was unable to develop the car as quickly as his rivals, because the quick deterioration of the tyres. This is a factor the team cannot be held responsible for. Zanardi's teammate Ralf Schumacher was able to develop his car, using the same tyres as Zanardi. Only between the first two rounds of the season, the team can be held responsible, since both drivers were unable to test at all because Williams was carrying out major redesigning of the back end of the car. This, however, hindered Schumacher as much as Zanardi. Yet Schumacher went on to outclass Zanardi.
The other reason Zanardi gives for his lack of performance, is that he didn't pressure any people to improve the car in the way he wanted it, instead believing they must be right and he must be wrong. This could be explained as the team inability or unwillingness to develop the car to Zanardi's best interest. However, by Zanardi's own acclaim, he didn't stick to his ideas. Now if a driver can't or won't express his ideas about improvement to his mechanics, they can't carry out the development to his wishes.
A third point, which in a way is connect to both other points, is dedication. For Zanardi, this meant doing everything possible to adapt to the new situation called Formula One. This includes preparation, something which according to Patrick Head, as quoted by Mario, was severely lacking. Head put the laid back attitude of Zanardi forward as the most important reason why things between Zanardi and Williams didn't work out, comparing Zanardi's relaxed preparation for Formula One to the determination of Jacques Villeneuve's preparation.
So far, everything speaks against Zanardi. However, there's the matter of the chassis. From what Billy quoted from the Autocourse annual, we can see that Zanardi used the same chassis almost the entire season. If the team would have knowingly kept Zanardi in this same chassis, while the chassis was the actual problem, that would speak for Zanardi. However, no evidence was brought to this court to prove this point and except for those very close to the team, this couldn't have been expected. Whether Williams put Zanardi in a chassis of which they knew trouble would come, will probably never be known to the public.
Considering the evidence presented to the court, we can only conclude Alex Zanardi himself is to blame for his lack of performance and the resulting dismissal. However, it should be noted that it was Williams who hired him. They should have known Zanardi's character and decide before signing him, whether he'd fit in their culture.