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Michael Andretti: "Ron Dennis and Bernie Ecclestone conspired to make me look bad"


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#1 BetaVersion

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:12

It's not only Schumacher/Benetton that are involved in this kind of ex drivers making controvertial claims about the teams and etc.


Michael believes Dennis and Bernie Ecclestone conspired to make him look bad.

"The international appeal of the CART series was strong in the mid-nineties and Bernie was worried about our series," Michael says. "I think I was used as a tool. I think Bernie and Ron were in it together. I think they wanted to discredit me because I was one of the big guys in Indy cars and they wanted to make me look like a wanker so they could say we couldn't make it in Formula One. That's what I believe happened.

"They were all in it together. They were all making millions, hundreds of millions of dollars. They were all in business together. Racing is secondary in Formula One. Nobody really cares about what's going on the racetrack. It's unbelievable!"

Adds Michael: "We tested in Spain the day after the race that year and both me and Ayrton were within a tenth of a second of each other and were running times that would have put us on the front row. Ayrton had qualified third and I was about 20th. So I was saying, 'I'm not doing anything different. How can this be?' And they were saying, 'Oh, Ayrton doesn't test that fast.' And I said, 'But our times are quick enough today to be on the front row.'."

Michael swears that a key McLaren team member deactivated his car's active suspension system for qualifying that weekend.

"Someone shut my beacon off in qualifying," he insists disgustedly. "I know who it was--a guy who didn't want me there at all. He shut my beacon off and those were all active cars and my car was just lost. The ride heights were changing and it was downshifting in the middle of the corners and I qualified 16th or something. That night Ron said, 'I want you out of the car after the race.'

"I finished sixth in the race. I passed Barrichello on the last turn on the last lap to get in the points and Ron called and said, 'I want you out of the car.' We fought from race to race. That was the sixth race and I made it all the way to Monza fighting to stay in the car. And finally they put Mika (Hakkinen) in who never was quicker than me in testing."


http://www.gordonkir...t_is_no361.html


:eek:

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#2 Tonka

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:21

Michael swears that a key McLaren team member deactivated his car's active suspension system for qualifying that weekend.



... and he's still working at McLaren - ask Lewis Hamilton.



(Runs away)




#3 LiJu914

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:22

Drivers complaining they were disadvantaged after being dominated by their teammates is nothing really unique.

Michael Andretti didn´t even stay in Europe during the 93-season and instead decided to fly in for every single race...

He has no one to blame but himself.

Edited by LiJu914, 13 November 2012 - 22:25.


#4 Longtimefan

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:24

Utter rubbish, I remember 1993 vividly.

Andretti was abysmal, Ayrton said to Jo Ramirez 'He never takes the same line into a corner' staggered by how inept he was.



#5 TifosiUSA

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:31

I never thought Michael Andretti had a fair shake in F1...

#6 Risil

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:38

Thanks. :up: So what we're saying is that Michael Andretti was Spiesed?

(The race Andretti's talking about, where Mclaren had switched off his active suspension in qualifying, was the French Grand Prix. His fastest race lap was only a tenth off Senna's, so he's not talking total bull here.)

As Kirby notes, there's a lot of bitterness there but also quite a few specific statements and some backup from Emerson Fittipaldi, who's got no motive for dishonesty. I don't think it necessarily amounts to a conspiracy (if the shenanigans started after the Spanish Grand Prix, that gives Mclaren a few races to decide that Andretti wasn't worth the gamble) but adds some colour to what we all understand was a pretty toxic atmosphere in F1 at the time.

#7 Fastcake

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:47

No I don't believe his claims. The only plausible bit would be Bernie trying to make CART look bad, but McLaren wouldn't pick up a driver just to sabotage them.

#8 Myrvold

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 23:00

The part about CART being big and so on, fits. However, why do something like that, when Mansell went straight from F1 to CART, and won. And then, JV came over in 96, and did amazing. CART hadn't started the decline yet in 96.

#9 BackmarkerUK

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 23:07

I like to imagine what Ron's thought process would have to be like to make this true.

"We'll employ Michael Andretti, which will cost us a bit, then make him look bad on purpose, because **** CART. Mwahahaha!"

Presumably he sabotaged Juan Pablo Montoya for the same reasons.

#10 Atreiu

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 23:09

Why did it take almost twenty years to be revealed?

#11 dgsg

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 00:04

Fixed; "I am a tool".

#12 engel

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 00:27

I think his son had said roughly the same things 3-4 years ago, although the angle wasn't so much about Bernie and Ron trying to discredit Michael and indycar, it was more along the line my dad was expensive, Ron wanted to get rid of him to put the cheaper Hakkinen in the car blah blah.



#13 BoschKurve

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 00:28

He's likely corrected about Bernie manipulating Tony George to ultimately destroy the CART threat F1 was facing. CART never recovered from the whole thing, and F1 went on to make more money than most would have dreamed of.

As far as Ron Dennis goes...let's just say, the nickname I once heard about him called "Ron the Con" is quite fitting. Especially in light of his claims he knew nothing about Nigel's information in 2007.

#14 BoschKurve

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 00:30

The other thing I would say that he is right about is that F1 is a business. They are out of touch with the fanbase at large, but they can afford to when the sources from which they gain their money do not rely on the fans.

#15 halifaxf1fan

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 00:43

He's likely corrected about Bernie manipulating Tony George to ultimately destroy the CART threat F1 was facing. CART never recovered from the whole thing, and F1 went on to make more money than most would have dreamed of.

As far as Ron Dennis goes...let's just say, the nickname I once heard about him called "Ron the Con" is quite fitting. Especially in light of his claims he knew nothing about Nigel's information in 2007.



Nothing would surprise me when it comes to the likes of Dennis and Eccelstone. If credibility is considered at all then Andretti's story must be seen as being closer to the truth.

#16 RedOne

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 00:51

The other thing I would say that he is right about is that F1 is a business. They are out of touch with the fanbase at large, but they can afford to when the sources from which they gain their money do not rely on the fans.


So if the fans stopped watching they would still be making money?

#17 Zippel

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:01

The part about CART being big and so on, fits. However, why do something like that, when Mansell went straight from F1 to CART, and won.


Andretti doing bad and Mansell doing well was in the same year so from that stand point it makes sense....


And then, JV came over in 96, and did amazing. CART hadn't started the decline yet in 96.


...Yet that's an interesting point. Bernie helped in trying to get JV into F1, encouraging Frank to take him on. If he did do the dirty on Andretti, would he be so confident at the end of 95 that Indycar/Champcar was no longer a threat?

#18 Tsarwash

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:03

"I finished sixth in the race. I passed Barrichello on the last turn on the last lap to get in the points and Ron called and said, 'I want you out of the car.' We fought from race to race. That was the sixth race and I made it all the way to Monza fighting to stay in the car. And finally they put Mika (Hakkinen) in who never was quicker than me in testing."

That article is cut together quite badly. It doesn't seem to follow a good sequence of events, but throws quotes together in a sort of correct order. At any rate, Andretti has got confused because the race that he was talking about is France, which was the 8th race.

#19 Risil

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:06

Why did it take almost twenty years to be revealed?


Because it's not much of a revelation, probably. "Ron Dennis didn't like me and maybe when I had an active suspension failure it was turned off deliberately" isn't exactly Spygate 2007 stuff. But the fact that him, Emmo and Little Al all say the same thing is significant, if only because it shows another side to the F1 personalities and teams we pay such dewy-eyed tributes to.

Edited by Risil, 14 November 2012 - 01:09.


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#20 Tsarwash

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:09

And Frankly, that whole article seems to be just a bit one dimensional; F1 is really shit and bad and full of wankers, and US drivers will never do well there because they are discriminated against, while American racing series are really lovely, and all the drivers race hard but respect each other as friends and are best of mates and everything, why would any American driver want to go over to the cold, evil and worst of all, European F1 ?

#21 Risil

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:23

why would any American driver want to go over to the cold, evil and worst of all, European F1 ?


Why wouldn't they want to? Fame, fortune, challenge. For Michael the additional motive of living up to his family name.

As for the article's one-dimensionality, this isn't Kirby spin or Andretti and Unser justifying mediocrity. Emmo speaks truth:

"In Formula One," Fittipaldi wrote, "they are ready to destroy a guy as soon as he makes one mistake. If you make it in the door to F1 you must be prepared for this aspect. Formula One is a very hard-headed form of motor racing. The American mentality is different and it's one of the reasons I enjoyed Indy car racing so much. In F1 they are always looking at who is going to replace this guy or that guy next year. If a young guy is off the pace, for whatever reasons, they will soon be saying something is wrong with his mind, that he can't do it anymore.

"There is a lot of bull like that in Formula One. There is a lot of talking behind peoples' backs. It takes the smallest thing and they will start calling somebody a wanker. They'll say that somebody else is too old, too set in his ways to do it any more. If you are not hard-headed enough in Formula One, they will destroy you very quickly."


It's easy saying something trite like "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen", but you've got to wonder where all this Piranha Club-ism got Formula One. After all, CART in the late 90s had Andretti, Franchitti, Zanardi, Moore, Tracy, De Ferran. Formula One had Michael Schumacher.

#22 BoschKurve

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:33

So if the fans stopped watching they would still be making money?


Does F1 make money from ticket sales at races?

They couldn't care less who shows up at the race so long as FOM gets their fee.

Empty seats everywhere in Bahrain, Korea, and India. They still get paid regardless.

Edited by BoschKurve, 14 November 2012 - 01:57.


#23 Tsarwash

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:33

Because it's not much of a revelation, probably. "Ron Dennis didn't like me and maybe when I had an active suspension failure it was turned off deliberately" isn't exactly Spygate 2007 stuff. But the fact that him, Emmo and Little Al all say the same thing is significant, if only because it shows another side to the F1 personalities and teams we pay such dewy-eyed tributes to.

Mate, that's proper tin foil hat stuff. That really is. So Ron Dennis deliberately sabotaged one of his drivers chances, just to help Bernie show that Cart was worse then F1 ?


#24 Tsarwash

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:34

Does F1 make money from ticket sales at races?

They could care less who shows up at the race so long as FOM gets their fee.

Empty seats everywhere in Bahrain, Korea, and India. They still get paid regardless.

No, it's 'they couldn't care less'. What you are saying is the exact opposite of what you mean.


#25 RedOne

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:37

Does F1 make money from ticket sales at races?

They could care less who shows up at the race so long as FOM gets their fee.

Empty seats everywhere in Bahrain, Korea, and India. They still get paid regardless.


What about those 500 million+ viewers around the world?

Edited by RedOne, 14 November 2012 - 01:39.


#26 Risil

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:40

Mate, that's proper tin foil hat stuff. That really is. So Ron Dennis deliberately sabotaged one of his drivers chances, just to help Bernie show that Cart was worse then F1 ?


Calm down, I was saying that Michael's conspiracy isn't very plausible. He's probably got that kind of thing on his mind because he feels guilty about what happened to Randy Bernard.

The actual, concrete allegations he makes, amount to not very much except that Mclaren were a pretty horrible team to drive for, and some personnel really wanted to get rid of him. Little Al found Patrick Head to be similar, and Emerson Fittipaldi says that in his experience they're all a bunch of assholes.

I'm certain that Ecclestone wouldn't have missed an opportunity to weaken CART, and given that the likes of Williams and Mclaren were after the same multinational sponsors, they had a bit to gain from making CART stars look bad. But this article isn't proof of anything sinister. Certainly not as sinister as the kind of thing Michael was getting up to as a team owner this year.

Edited by Risil, 14 November 2012 - 01:42.


#27 BoschKurve

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:53

No, it's 'they couldn't care less'. What you are saying is the exact opposite of what you mean.


Typos do happen.;)

#28 BoschKurve

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:58

What about those 500 million+ viewers around the world?


One of the things the F1 fan survey from a few years back, mentioned people were interested in technology.

What have we gotten?

Something moving ever closer to a spec-race that locks every aspect of development save for aero, which really who cares about it?

#29 Kyo

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 02:29

It really doesn't add up. Andretti was usually 1.4s slower than Ayrton in qualifying. In Spain he was 1.6s behind and in France (the race that someone supposedly shut his beacon off in qualifying) he was the usual 1.4s slower. Taking in account that he was only a rookie it's not really that bad. Prost that was Prost was usually 0.7s slower...

#30 MattPete

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 02:36

IIRC, there was something funky about Michael's car during some of the races -- the active suspension kept "acting up". I seem to remember that there was one episode where the suspension went to full droop, causing the car to jump up in the air.

#31 discover23

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 02:40

Nothing would surprise me when it comes to the likes of Dennis and Eccelstone. If credibility is considered at all then Andretti's story must be seen as being closer to the truth.

Agree. As far as I am concerned M. Andretti was a very talented race car driver.


#32 Zippel

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 02:50

This is how it all should have gone down:

http://en.wikipedia....orld_GP#drivers

#33 repcobrabham

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 04:29

those pseudonyms are awesome - as is the nugget that '(it was) known in Japan as Nakajima Satoru: F-1 Hero'

#34 teejay

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 04:31

There must of been motives to remove Michael, but when you refused to spend time in Europe with the team, you also added to the ammo. Easier to paint him in a bad light too. "oh hes lazy, flys home etc etc"

Michael was a damn good driver. The Andretti curse (not really - he just committed to a decade with Newman Haas when they made bad technical choices) makes his career (which is fairly good anyhow) much worse than it could of been. He was fast. His testing times against Senna were better than Mika's.

But he is not the first nor last guy to get thrown under the train for underlying reasons.

A shame, he could of been Mika had things panned out better.

#35 Ferrari_F1_fan_2001

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:02

Drivers complaining they were disadvantaged after being dominated by their teammates is nothing really unique.

Michael Andretti didn´t even stay in Europe during the 93-season and instead decided to fly in for every single race...

He has no one to blame but himself.


That is irrelevant. If my wife and kids and family are on the other side of the planet why would I want to unsettle them by moving them away from their existing lives, schools, friends etc so I can concentrate on my career?

How often have you seen Schumacher's family or missus at race tracks? You hardly see her.

#36 garoidb

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:26

...Yet that's an interesting point. Bernie helped in trying to get JV into F1, encouraging Frank to take him on. If he did do the dirty on Andretti, would he be so confident at the end of 95 that Indycar/Champcar was no longer a threat?


Maybe he wanted to get a star attraction away from Indycar. JV only did two seasons there. Michael Andretti was a much more established Indycar driver.

Also, of course, by then Mansell had returned to F1, leaving Indycar.

For Ron Dennis, getting Mika in the car alongside Ayrton would make a lot of sense. I'm not sure he would care too much about Indycar.

#37 ensign14

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:36

But the fact that him, Emmo and Little Al all say the same thing is significant, if only because it shows another side to the F1 personalities and teams we pay such dewy-eyed tributes to.

Not quite. Fittipaldi merely talks the usual Piranha Club stuff. And Al Jr is an alcohol abuser who was arrested for beating up his girlfriend while living in a mobile home less than a decade after his test with Williams which Nigel Roebuck, some years back, said had been described to him by a Williams team-member as an embarrassment. I wouldn't consider his brain to be the most effectively wired right now.

As far as Andretti goes, "driver has worst season of any McLaren driver ever and decides it's not driver's fault". Stop the presses.

#38 packapoo

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:39

I never thought Michael Andretti had a fair shake in F1...


Probably didn't.
What he'd displayed showed wasn't worth further time being wasted.

#39 David Lightman

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:45

BBC2 filmed The Team in 1993 and it was clear fairly quickly that Andretti wasn't properly committed to F1 and it's no wonder the team wanted Mika in the car as soon as possible.

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#40 The Kanisteri

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:16

I remember 1993 Michael Andretti destroying his car and others in first lap or second lap almost every race. Maybe he is Maldonados and Grosjeans great idol.

Or do he claim Ron and hencemen radio controlled his car into others?

#41 LiJu914

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:25

That is irrelevant. If my wife and kids and family are on the other side of the planet why would I want to unsettle them by moving them away from their existing lives, schools, friends etc so I can concentrate on my career?

How often have you seen Schumacher's family or missus at race tracks? You hardly see her.


The point was:
He wasn´t committed enough to F1 to survive next to the best driver of the grid. It´s just poor preparation to arrive one day before the first practice sessions jet lagged, to have little contact with the team between the races, to miss out most of the testing opportunities after the start of the season and so on.

Regarding pure talent Michael Andretti couldn´t possibly be as bad as it looked in 1993, he didn´t do enough to overcome his problems. He was so poor, it made you believe Ayrton could walk over water. When Hakkinen finally took over, one could see that the McLaren was a far better car than it appeared to be before.

Edited by LiJu914, 14 November 2012 - 09:12.


#42 Risil

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:33

That is irrelevant. If my wife and kids and family are on the other side of the planet why would I want to unsettle them by moving them away from their existing lives, schools, friends etc so I can concentrate on my career?


Didn't Mario successfully race in F1 while living in Pennsylvania?

#43 as65p

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:36

The point was:
He wasn´t committed enough for F1 to survive next to the best driver of the grid. It´s just poor preparation to arrive one day before the first practice sessions jet lagged, to have little contact with the team between the races, to miss out most of the testing opportunities after the start of the season and so on.

Regarding pure talent Michael Andretti couldn´t possibly be as bad as it looked in 1993, he didn´t do enough to overcome his problems. He was so poor, it made you believe Ayrton could walk over water. When Hakkinen finally took over, one could see that the McLaren was a far better car than it appeared to be before.


It wasn't as black and white as that. The car did make a performance jump already in Monza (look at Andrettis perfromance there, Senna masked it on the day by crashing into Brundle), so when Mika entered he found a much better car than Andretti had through the middle part of the season. And then look again beyond qualifying, where Hakkinen impressed: in the races he was left standing by Senna, not that different to Andretti.

Mind you, I still think Andretti is talking crap, and/or maybe it's an extremely poor article.

#44 ali_M

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:47

The point was:
He wasn´t committed enough for F1 to survive next to the best driver of the grid. It´s just poor preparation to arrive one day before the first practice sessions jet lagged, to have little contact with the team between the races, to miss out most of the testing opportunities after the start of the season and so on.

Regarding pure talent Michael Andretti couldn´t possibly be as bad as it looked in 1993, he didn´t do enough to overcome his problems. He was so poor, it made you believe Ayrton could walk over water. When Hakkinen finally took over, one could see that the McLaren was a far better car than it appeared to be before.


There is at least one other side to the story and what we got here is an article commenting on one side of the story. A story that took place approx 20yrs ago.

I suspect there is a lack of insight on the parts of Al Jr and Andretti, especially Al Jr who was treated so abruptly by Head. I'm not saying that Andretti doesn't likely have a point, but there are likely other reasons for him to have been treated in that way, and as usual, he'll be reluctant to admit those or have insight into any factors which would have reflected badly on him.

Additionally, he's making these comments on the background of F1 making its way back into the US with the Texas GP and another potentially in the works. This poses a potential threat to the IndyCar Series' current popularity and fan base. They'll take the opportunity to be particularly harsh and one-sided about their experiences.

#45 Peat

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:54

BBC2 filmed The Team in 1993 and it was clear fairly quickly that Andretti wasn't properly committed to F1 and it's no wonder the team wanted Mika in the car as soon as possible.



Give over, it's TV ffs. Nothing you see on TV is without a slant. Pretty sure that if they let a film crew follow them around for a year, Mclaren would insist on some kind of editorial input.

#46 Peat

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:56

If he did do the dirty on Andretti, would he be so confident at the end of 95 that Indycar/Champcar was no longer a threat?


Because the IRL had already been formed and was going to start in 1996. It was logical that they (CART & IRL) would both suffer and Bernie knew it.

I have no evidence that Bernie and Tony George ever spoke, but it wouldn't suprise me if he encouraged TG's delusional fantasia.


#47 LiJu914

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:57

It wasn't as black and white as that. The car did make a performance jump already in Monza (look at Andrettis perfromance there, Senna masked it on the day by crashing into Brundle), so when Mika entered he found a much better car than Andretti had through the middle part of the season. And then look again beyond qualifying, where Hakkinen impressed: in the races he was left standing by Senna, not that different to Andretti.

Mind you, I still think Andretti is talking crap, and/or maybe it's an extremely poor article.


Slightly offtopic but:
Regarding Monza: The starting postions look "as usual" til that point of the season. I can´t remember how the race exactly unfolded, but looking at the results and all the retirements, it´s not really surprising Andretti finished 3rd.

Regarding Hakkinens races: "Not that" different? Sorry but at least his pace was distinctly better than Andrettis. In Estoril he wasn´t far away from Senna until both retired (sure, Senna stuck in traffic, but Andretti still was dropped in these situations throughout the season). In Suzuka he finished ahead of a Williams - i doubt Andretti would´ve ever done that. In Adelaide HAK hit brake problems pretty early on and eventually retired . so not much say about his race performance.

Ps. But you´re still right, that the McLaren also had improved. E.g. most of the season Senna was far away from the Williams cars in qualifying and often enough also behind MSC, but in Suzuka both McLaren´s were just 2 tenths shy of Pole and in Adelaide Ayrton even took it convincingly (with Hakkinen being virtually on par with both Williams). It would certainly be way too complimentary to claim the jump in performance was just a pure result of both drivers pushing each other...

Edited by LiJu914, 14 November 2012 - 09:04.


#48 Steve99

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 09:00

Interesting comments, but they hardly ring true. Surely Bernie wanted a US driver - especially an Andretti - in F1? Quite why he would be bothered about CART is beyond me.

#49 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 09:08

For every Indy Champ in F1 there's been an Indy chump. For every Andretti Sr there has been an Andretti Jr, for every Fittipaldi a Bourdais, Montoya a Speed, Villeneuve a Zanardi etc. Sour grapes from Michael.

#50 SparkPlug

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  • Joined: January 10

Posted 14 November 2012 - 09:10

In the recent past a lot of these number 2 drivers have come out with excuses for their lack of pace compared to their teammates. I think these are just that : excuses. For whatever reason, Andretti was not good enough to cut it in F1. Maybe the characteristics of F1 cars in the early 90s, particularly the Mclaren may have been completely different from the CART cars he was used to, making it too much of a learning curve.

I do not understand why a top team would sabotage their own car when millions are at stake, not to mention the shame incurred on the entire team, on having a driver crash into everyone and be as slow as the backmarkers in the race.