#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 30th October 2014

•October 30, 2014 • 39 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly

Previously on The Judge 13:

#F1 Features: GP2 or back of the F1 grid?

#F1 History: 1988 – Ayrton Senna wins his first Formula 1 World Championship

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….


OTD Lite: 1988 – Senna wins first title

Mr E – the mischevious old man

Hulkenburg settled and waiting big team chance

Fernandes – Big teams have too much money


OTD Lite: 1988 – Senna wins first title

senna_champ

Ok, I couldn’t resist, but if you want to read more… click here

To know and to act are one and the same. Tomorrow’s battle is won during today’s practice. Control your emotion or it will control you.

The Samurai Jackal

Top

Mr E – the mischevious old man

Even at 84 years of age, Bernie Ecclestone has a mischievous side to him. Whilst the business of making money dominates his every thought, he is not shy when it comes to stirring up a hornets nest.

With both Ferrari and Renault championing the relaxation of the freezing regulations to assist parity between the engine manufacturers, Mercedes has quite obviously taken the opposing view.

With Jean Todt seemingly in terror of making any decision which would enhance the pinnacle of motor-sport, it is left to the Octogenarian to inject a little humour into the proceedings.

“The thing to do is to freeze the Mercedes engine but not the others,” stated Mr E. “That would make sense but it won’t happen. I was saying the other day, that if Renault improved their engine and Ferrari and Mercedes gained similar amounts then it would be status quo.

“Hamilton and Rosberg would still be racing between themselves as they are competitive men who want to win but it would be better if they were fighting with other teams.”

Top

Hulkenburg settled and waiting big team chance

Nico Hulkenburg remains many peoples choice as the most under-valued driver on the grid. On countless occasions his name is offered in connection with many of the top teams and yet he never seems to get the break to prove his ultimate ability.

Ferrari held serious talks with the Hulk during the summer last year before ‘texting’ him to say his services wouldn’t be required. As reported on TJ13 several weeks before the announcement of Kimi Raikkonen being signed by Ferrari, speculation centred on Hulkenburg being in the prime seat to replace Felipe Massa.

In actual fact he was lined up in the event that Alonso chose to leave Maranello for pastures new.

Speaking of his re-signing for Force India for 2015, Nico offered a sage point. “It is great to have a stable environment for a change and not have to change teams. The contract renewal was in fact very easy to complete.”

Since his debut in 2010, the German driver has changed teams every year but his focus remains on the future: “My day in a top team will come, but until then I will do my utmost and enjoy my work.”

Top

Fernandes – Big teams have too much money

According to Tony Fernandes, there is no place in Formula One for teams like Caterham. He also mentioned something that we at the chambers have been suggesting for a number of weeks – specifically that one of the grandees was potentially looking to purchase Caterham.

Speaking on Sky Sports News, TF spoke about why he had turned his back on F1.

“People can blame whoever, but the big teams are as much at fault as anyone. The gap has become way too big and it’s money. And so I thought, ‘Well, I can’t compete’. But I can compete at QPR; I can compete at Air Asia.”

“The sport has to examine itself as well. Ultimately we couldn’t carry on and we would have eventually gone into administration anyway or closed down the team.”

As administrators moved in last week, Fernandes admitted “There are people who want to go racing, for different reasons and Caterham has everything there to do it.”

“There may even be teams within F1 who want a second team – a Red Bull/Toro Rosso situation. So we’ll give it maximum support but it’s not something I want to get involved in anymore. You’ve got to immerse yourself in it. Racing’s over for me.”

His final rebuttal highlighted the commitment needed to run a successful F1 team : “Unless I give up and become a Ron Dennis – scary thought.” Although by Ron’s own standards his complete focus hasn’t delivered success yet either.

Top

#F1 History: 1988 – Ayrton Senna wins his first Formula 1 World Championship

•October 30, 2014 • 8 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Carlo Carluccio

Have you ever sat with your feet in a stream and watched the current swirl around your toes? The clear cool water skipping over small pebbles and moving inexorably towards a destination unseen? This was the effect that Senna had on millions of people; a force of nature that could not be denied.

Ayrton SennaIt seems scarcely believable that over a quarter of a century has passed since I switched on the TV at 5.00am to watch Ayrton Senna win his first World Championship. It seems unfathomable that he was taken a mere five and a half years later, leaving behind a legacy that to this day, feels strangely unfulfilled.

Twenty six years ago, a Grand Prix didn’t have the blanket coverage we enjoy today. The internet was still to be introduced to the public and the only methods to find out how qualifying had progressed was to either be present at the event or look up the results on a teletext service.

In 1988, with McLaren enjoying a season of domination, it would have been shocking to find anyone but a McLaren on pole. With that in mind, and with eleven pole positions already to his name, it would have been just as shocking to find anyone but Senna on pole. Prost had achieved it twice, in France and Portugal and Gerhard Berger had claimed the pole in Britain. Otherwise it was a place reserved for the mercurial Brazilian.

Yellow text on a black background merely confirmed the facts, Senna was on pole from Prost but there was no depth to the story, that had to wait for the weekly race report in Autosport magazine.

Napolean, De Gaulle, Balestre and Todt have a chequered history when it comes to balance and rational behaviour. Before the Japanese race, Balestre took the extraordinary step of sending a letter to Mr Kume, the President of Honda, and released it to the press.

“…all over the world eyes will be riveted on the Japanese and Australian Grand Prix, the results of which will be decisive for the drivers. We should make every effort to ensure utmost technical objectivity reigns over these two competitions and that equipment (car or engine) of equal quality be made available to the two drivers of the McLaren team, for otherwise the image of the World Championship, present and future, would be tarnished. I thank you in advance for helping the FIA to achieve this end by giving the necessary instructions to all the Honda technical executives who may play a part on these two forthcoming events.”

Alain Prost

The implication was that Honda had been providing inferior specification engines to his countryman and that was why Senna was beating Prost. It was a highly provocative move by Balestre, one that was designed to aggravate Senna and upset Honda. It worked and Honda was furious.

Mr Kume was cold in his response. “Honda Motor Company Ltd sees fairness as the highest requirement of its philosophy for conducting business, and sets this quality as an ideology in its corporate dealings. For the last two races, Honda will continue to supply identical engines which will allow the drivers supreme examples of their skills, as we have always done in line with our basic ideology.”

The final paragraph read: “Finally I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for consistently performing your important role as president of FISA.” The irony was completely missed by the arrogant President.

If Balestre was blatant with his nationalistic bias, at least it was understandable. What was more cynical was the bias of supposedly professional journalists and their subtle, repeated personal agendas.

Senna had irked the British press at the end of the 1985 season when he forced Lotus to not sign Derek Warwick for the subsequent season. His reasoning was that Lotus did not have the infrastructure or budget to support two number ones.

Senna would come to be known as the most ruthless individual that ever raced; yet the club that was so offended by his antics is unofficially christened ‘The Piranha Club’ and has demonstrated fierce ambition regardless of any outcome to others.

Warwick understood the reasoning and never had a problem with the decision, “At the time I understood what he was doing even though it destroyed me, it’s my belief he that he did it for the right reasons – and that was for him. We spoke about it afterwards, he apologised but said it was, he believed, the right reasons for him and the team. With history behind us, you have to say it probably was. He wasn’t afraid to face me, no.. he wasn’t afraid to face me.”

When the campaign failed to get Warwick reinstated, the fans and the press were livid and set out to destroy him. The press would systematically highlight Senna’s ruthlessness in a Machiavellian light and insinuate that he was fearful of an equal team-mate. Senna may not have shown it but he was deeply hurt by the accusations of cowardice. His relationship with the British press never returned to normal.

Their jingoistic response was based around the fact that Senna had 1) refused Warwick – Britain’s number one driver – a significant career opportunity and 2) attacked Lotus which at the time was – historically – the most successful British team and an institution; suggesting they couldn’t run two cars equally.

Lotus_97T

I offer, as evidence, Nigel Roebuck’s own words in his qualifying report for the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in October 1985.

“I have, I know, gone on about Senna and Lotus. To do otherwise would be to give a false impression of how Brands was last Friday and Saturday, of how one man dominated, psychologically and otherwise”

By contrast – barely three years later – Roebuck’s reporting of the Japanese Grand Prix barely concealed his abhorrence for Senna and the journalists blatant support of his “friend” Alain.

Friday 28/10/88

“Alain was not feeling great. ‘I slept for an hour last night, no more than that. I should have taken a tablet but the later it got, the more I was afraid to. In case I was drowsy in the morning’. Prost went on, ‘ I went the wrong way on set up this afternoon too. As it got cleaner, the track surface changed and we altered the settings to cope with it. Obviously, we went the wrong way, but tomorrow has to be better in all ways.’ he concluded.”

“And Ayrton was quite happy with his car. Indeed, some said, he nearly smiled as he talked about it.”

Saturday 29/10/88

“Prost was on a quick lap, but Stefano Modena declined to let him through. Alain backed off, it was to be the first of many frustrations for him – which must have been further increased when Senna came out, found a clear lap and went quicker than before. Ayrton was now under 1:42, the only man to do so. Prost, in fact, was the only other driver under 1:43.

Prost, though felt it was still his for the taking – if he could find an unhindered lap. Right at the end of the session he did. It was clearly an exceptional lap, obviously his fastest so far, maybe the pole. Into the final chicane, out of it and the stopwatch looked right. But over the line it was still 0.3 away from pole…

‘My fault’ Alain admitted, as he always does, ‘That was my only absolutely clear lap all day, and I was sure I could take the pole. It was good all the way round until I accelerated down to the finishing line and got second instead of fourth. Stupid!  Still I know that I’m competitive for tomorrow. My only problem was with the pop-off valve which was cutting in a bit early’. His humour was good.”

“Senna, by contrast, may have been on pole position yet again, but wore his usual po-faced and bored expression. The face of so much modern professional sport and remarkably unattractive and graceless too. ‘My first set of tyres was badly out of balance, so I only went hard on the second’, he commented. Had his quick lap been clear? ‘Yes’ A babble of conversation our Ayrton.”

Sunday 30th October 1988

Images from Japan tumbled through the cathode ray tube settled in the corner of the room whilst muted voices whispered as the household slumbered upstairs. Despite Japan being the home of state-of-the-art electronics, the cameras seemed to have been smothered in a thin film of sandy Vaseline and whilst the captured frames are not sepia toned, there was an element of nostalgia in the live satellite broadcast.

They say the camera never lies, but that morning the colours of F1 were subdued, the reds didn’t carry the same aggressive violence they held track side. The fluorescent oranges of the Marlboro branding were lifeless and the whites looked as though they were fabricated from Lotus Blossom petals.

Was this a Hollywood special effect to make the drama feel historic in nature? It felt as though we were being honoured a glimpse of a pre-ordained coronation that would become our memories.

As the cars came round to the grid, Senna pulled up on the right hand side of the grid. He adjusted his visor slightly to prevent misting and focused on his start procedure.

“You must think of everything in that enormous turmoil at the start of a race, it is a totally unreal moment, it is like a dream, like entering another world.”

The voices increased in pitch as the red light illuminated and as they changed to green Senna launched and practically stopped. The movement suggested a learner driver judging a biting point but this was the best in the world… surely not!

“I thought it was over for me right then.” He waved his arms frantically to warn the pack behind: “Stalling was my fault,” he said, “and partly a very sharp clutch”. 

After a run of four victories in the mid season he had crashed out in Italy, finished sixth in Portugal and fourth in Spain. Was this the pressure finally affecting him? Yet something guttural kept suggesting this wasn’t the end of the chapter merely a final test to be overcome.

Suzuka is one of the few circuits in the world that has a decline from the start-line. In the days before sophisticated electronic transmission and anti stalling technology, a driver could bump start an engine. His car began rolling forwards and he had just enough momentum to bump start the engine. It caught, died again and finally caught properly. Senna was on his way but engulfed by cars swarming around him. He would enter the first corner in fourteenth position.

His astonishing presence of mind allowed for a combination of it all to last barely four seconds. Whatever pressure had been felt before was replaced by the racer once more.

By the completion of the first lap, Senna was up to eighth. Prost was nine seconds up the road and cruising. Senna was taking the type of chances that were his hallmark and passing the cars that stood between him and Prost.

Prost had a gear selection problem, of course, but despite being in the greatest machine on the track which had dominated the season, he was “controlling the pace, taking care of the fuel

As Stirling Moss once said, “You’re either a racer or you’re a driver and there’s a big bloody difference. Drivers are easy to find, racers aren’t.”

Senna completed the second lap in sixth place, he passed Boutsen for fifth on the third lap and surged past Alboreto for fourth the next time through. He was now twelve seconds from the leader.

Berger gave up his third place on the eleventh tour and with a light drizzle falling, Senna began making in roads into Prost’s lead. The Gods had smiled on their favoured son because there was nobody on earth that could match the Brazilian in slippery conditions. Senna was truly inspired relying on his instinct, reactions and improvisation to close an eleven second gap to two seconds within two laps.

As they came to complete the twenty seventh run through 130R, Prost had hesitated on the main straight behind the Rial of De Cesaris. He remained behind, into and through the chicane and ran wide on to the kerbs. He had caught his wheels on the damp kerbing which pitched his car into a slide, his correction and obvious release of throttle was sufficient to lose momentum to Senna.

Afterwards, Prost would moan about his gearbox and the press gratefully blamed it in support. It was also quite obvious that the press office was disappointed that Senna won..

It was here that history took place. Prost moved to the centre of the circuit to pass the back marker and Senna ran along the wall and assumed the lead of the race.

Prost would again report gearbox issues after the race, yet with ten laps to the finish he began closing down the gap to Senna: 5.4, 4.1, 3.4, 2.9, 1.5… and then the rain started once again. Ayrton put it beyond any doubt and pulled away once more.

Two laps from the end, the rain had returned heavier than before and he pointed to the sky demanding the race be ended. The officials did not react and he had to wait till the completion of the fifty-first lap.

Out of the chicane he came, punching the air – with both hands – again and again in celebration as he crossed the line. He looked upwards thanking God.

Then he slumped back in his seat, his head against the headrest and the tension gave way. The tears seen through the visor seemed more than just joy, it was as if they were the culmination of a life’s desires and the fulfillment of a destiny. The world would never be the same again.

I still can’t believe that it’s over. I love to win. That is why I joined McLaren and Honda, I wanted to be in a winning car. The fact that Alain Prost was in the team made no difference at all.

How do I feel? At the moment I can’t take it in that I’m World Champion, but I feel as if I have lost a great weight off my shoulders. The race was amazingly hard because of the circumstances right from the start: through the traffic and slippery conditions. It was a fantastic race really. Until today, I have always said my best drive was at Estoril in 85 – my first win. But not anymore, this was my best.

Reginaldo Leme of Brazilian TV asks, “You were so focused on your goal that you sacrificed many friendships on the way up, you shoved people aside. Now that pressure is off, will it be different?” The answer was fresh tears running down his face.

Fuji TV set up a video recorder with a recording of the race in his room in the Suzuka Circuit Hotel. That night, alone and in darkness he relived the thoughts and pictures “of the greatest race of his life.

Gordon Murray, the 1988 McLaren MP4/4 designer was interviewed by Christopher Hilton some years later.

Q: Did you go to the championship decider in Suzuka?

A: Yes

Q: Was he wound up before that?

A: He was pretty wound up but I say again he could handle it. I used to talk to him for hours and hours and hours. I loved working with him. He was a much more complete driver than Prost was.

Q: Thats a very controversial statement.

A: Well, I think he was and I worked with them both.

Q: For Senna to win at Suzuka has to be one of the great drives.

A: Oh yes, absolutely.

Why was Ayrton Senna special? What ingredient made the world take notice so early in his ascendancy? What was it about this man that transcended the very sport he considered his personal fiefdom? Which unwritten rules would be redefined to describe his other worldly talents?

Many questions have been presented and no real tangible answer has been provided. It is hardly surprising because Senna himself was continuously growing and learning about himself before his death. The thirst for knowledge indicates a desire for growth and if the subject is still growing, all answers are by definition merely temporary.

This was a man when aged twenty two, racing in Formula Ford 2000, had the self confidence to turn down paid Formula Three drives with Formula One contracts attached, from Ron Dennis, Peter Warr and Bernie Ecclestone, so as to leave his future options open. Quite unlike the current method of taking on talents and paying for the very best equipment until they have reached the summit. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are two that immediately spring to mind.

Then there was the first F1 test with Williams at Donington in 1983. The car had previously been around the track in 61.7. Senna had beaten this on his eighth lap and lowered it to 60.1 within 23 laps. He then walked away thanking the Williams team for the experience.

Quantum physics has become fashionable in the twenty first century and various sources describe the science simply, as all energy in the universe being vibrationally connected to everything else.

There could possibly be some truth in this esoteric belief and explains why people were not indifferent to this individual. There was a tangible human quality to him that people could feel and warm to, and children – perhaps the most discerning judges of character – absolutely adored him.

Maybe this is why the Japanese idolised him. His racing prowess was beyond question, as was his charisma and enigmatic personality. In Senna they recognised the mythical spirit of their own samurai. The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen influenced the samurai culture and Zen meditation became an important teaching due to it offering a process to calm one’s mind. Senna read the bible extensively and would use this in his quest for inner knowledge and peace.

The origin of the word ‘genius’ dates back to ancient Rome and yet to this day, 2,000 years later, we still have no precise definition of what constitutes a genius.

It is said that there is but a fine line between madness and genius and surely this would be an appropriate description of Ayrton Senna.

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” - Schopenhauer

Ayrton Senna

#F1 Features: GP2 or back of the F1 grid?

•October 29, 2014 • 10 Comments

Brought to you by Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

Since 2010, when three new teams were released into the wild world of Formula One, little progression has been made by drivers at the back of the grid towards the front.  They have seen 21 drivers pass through their ranks (8 HRT, 9 for Caterham/Team Lotus and 6 for Virgin/Marussia – with Pic and Chandhok driving for more than one team) at the back of the field. Most have paid for their seats and none have progressed from the rear-gunning rides to bigger and better things in F1, apart from Daniel Ricciardo who had the might of the Red Bull young driver programme behind him.

With this in mind, it begs the question of whether ‘racing’ for one of the new teams actually helps your career?  Having recently won the GP2 title, it would seem the future is bright for Jolyon Palmer.  The publicity and plaudits given to the man from Horsham would surely bring him to the forefront of a team principal’s driver shopping list, although recent history would show this is not strictly the case.

Year 1st 2nd 3rd
2012 Davide Valsecchi Luiz Razia Esteban Gutierrez
2013 Fabio Leimer Sam Bird James Calado
2014 Jolyon Palmer Felipe Nasr* Stoffel Vandoorne*

*still to be confirmed

Above are the last three years of GP2 winners, runners-up and third placed drivers which shows just how indirect the route to F1 is.  Only Esteban Gutierrez has made it into a full-time seat thanks to his Mexican money, while the rest have found it difficult to break into the premier series.

Davide Valsecchi was famously snubbed by Lotus in 2012 despite being their test driver. Heikki Kovalainen was taken on for the final two races and failed to score a point.

James Caldado was the test driver for Force India in 2013, before being replaced this year.  He has instead followed the racing path in the World Endurance Championship for Ferrari.

By the end of 2013, Sam Bird had spent 3 years competing in GP2. This year he has tried his hand at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the World Endurance Championship and most recently the Formula E Championship competing for Virgin Racing.

Luiz Razia has been set to take a seat at Marussia, replacing Timo Glock in 2012, until his cheque was lost in the mail. So close, yet so far for the Brazilian who has now been lost from European motorsport fans as he has followed a career in the Indy Lights Series, racing for SPM.

Breaking the mould

Other drivers who did not finish in the top 3 have recently made it into the top level of motorsport. Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson finished in 4th and 6th positions in 2012 and 2013 respectively.  Given their relative lack of success, perhaps they are not the best drivers to judge. However, they have both had their chance to showcase their talents and advance to a drive further forward on the grid.

Fabio Leimer was not mentioned in the list above with good reason.  He is one driver who opted against the typical route into the sport.  He wanted to achieve a drive on his talent alone, not on his bank account. The driver who, in 2011 had reportedly spent $16,000,000 on his motorsport career thanks to his backer Rainer Gantenbein, decided that running at the back of a Formula One race was less beneficial than competing in GP2.

Gantenbein said back in 2011, “I regard it as an investment. It would be great if some money would flow back to me if Fabio makes it to Formula One. We had some talks with Virgin and HRT, but I prefer to give him a third season in GP2.”

Actions speak louder than words, as they say with this one being no different.  The rejection of Formula One’s backmarkers screamed the message from the rooftops of the opinion the ‘new’ teams are held in.

Hardly camera shy - Leimer celebrates his 2013 Championship

Hardly camera shy – Leimer celebrates his 2013 Championship

Skip forward 3 years where Leimer has found the paywall many drivers face impossible to penetrate and $14 million has not been enough to break into the premier tier of racing.  Leimer could not afford the $28 million which Sauber were quoting a drive at – as the heavy backing, from Carlos Slim, of Esteban Guteirrez allows them some stability.

With Giedo van der Garde promising “many millions” for a 2015 seat, Leimer does not have a chance of holding out for a seat.  Gone are the days of Minardi being afforded the privilege of choosing the drivers they think will have the most chance of succeeding, now forced to take on drivers that can help to pay the bills.

Gantenbein spoke about F1 this year saying, “It’s a bottomless pit.  At some point you have to pull the plug.”  As noble as it was to refuse Virgin and HRT for the 2012 season, perhaps it lacked a taste of the reality that drivers nowadays face – if a driver is not linked to a young driver programme of one of the front running teams, they will be required to bring money with them.

F1 is “sick

The current culture of the sport is “sick” according to Gantenbein, who sees the sport’s pay driver syndrome as an endless vacuum of investment which leads to little.

Freshly crowned GP2 champion, Palmer, has said on a few occasions he is confident of a race seat next year.  Comma Oil has sponsored Jolyon, as well as PalmerSport, MSV, 3663 and Comtact, although how long they will be able to provide him with the required level of backing is questionable.

The £1.8 million of sponsorship required for GP2 is a long way short of the £10 million plus for F1.  Palmer would be required to hit the ground running and prove his worth within a very short time frame in order to remain there.

Given what has been described above, he would be better following the route Alex Lynn has done.

On the verge of winning the GP3 title, he is currently sitting very comfortably.  Following his 2013 Macau GP victory he approached Helmut Marko and asked to be inducted into the RB young driver programme.  He was duly accepted and now receives the backing of the energy drinks giant.  This path into F1 is much more direct and guaranteed route which could pay dividends in the future.

Alex Lynn on the podium for his 2013 Macau GP victory

Alex Lynn on the podium for his 2013 Macau GP victory

Only time will tell

If Palmer were to sign with one of the backmarker teams, then managed to impress one of the teams further forward enough to warrant a contract then I will be proven wrong, but for the moment I can say with some confidence that trundling around at the back of an F1 grid does very little to aid your career.

Few team principals will be heard talking about how in demand Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson are – or at least not on their driving skill alone.  Being part of a young driver programme/academy and competing in a lower series is far more conducive to furthering your career than paying for a drive at the back of the grid.

Rather than becoming just another statistic, racing in a different series would be preferable for any young driver – as we have seen many do with Formula E.  The bottle neck of young drivers currently vying for positions within the sport means waiting for a seat will be necessary, as the driver congestion is set to continue until prize money distribution changes.

I hope, perhaps in vain, that both Leimer and Palmer are given their opportunity to impress at the top level, although it seems that, for the moment at least, this is merely wishful thinking.

 

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 29th October 2014

•October 29, 2014 • 76 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly

Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….


Breaking News

OTD Lite: 1995 – Schumacher closes Benetton chapter

Marchionne officially begins his tenure at Maranello

The staggering cost of competing in F1

Prost doubts Renault can catch Mercedes in 2015

Williams memories from the USA

Haas, the F1 drug begins to take effect


Breaking News

London 13:35

FIAT Chrysler are to sell 10% of Ferrari via an IPO to new investors. The rest of the business will be distributed to the shareholders of FIAT Chrysler, though not through a corporate related structure.

The news was announced by FIAT CHRYSLER CEO and new Ferrari President, Sergio Marchionne.

Marchionne stated, “Following our acquisition of the minority interest in Chrysler earlier this year, the transformation of Fiat and Chrysler into FCA was completed earlier this month with our debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

“As we move forward to secure the 2014-2018 Business Plan and work toward maximizing the value of our businesses to our shareholders, it is proper that we pursue separate paths for FCA and Ferrari.”

This will mean Ferrari will become a completely separate legal entity, It is believed via the distribution of shares, the Agnelli family will retain about 30% stake in the business though their voting rights will be greater than this.

It is as yet unclear what will happen to the intellectual property and brand image rights, which were stripped away from Maranello and are owned by an overseas subsidiary of FIAT. This is where Ferrari makes most of its profit.

OTD Lite: 1995 – Schumacher closes Benetton chapter

michael-schumacher_1520533cMichael Schumacher secured what would be his last ever F1 victory in any livery bar red at the Japanese Grand Prix on this day. His nineteenth win for Enstone brought his championship to a close as he prepared for pastures new. His final tally for the year would read as nine victories – matching the record set by Nigel Mansell in 1992 but it could have been higher if not for some bruising run ins with Damon Hill that year.

In a similar manner to Vettel joining the Scarlet team, nobody could fully understand why Schumacher was leaving a winning outfit and joining a perennially under-achieving team other than the lure of vast amounts of money. Whilst Vettel has an appreciation of the history of the sport, Schumi never did.

Speculation amongst the media was that Michael had tired of having his name associated with a corrupt regime at Benetton – but most likely his manager Willy Weber knew exactly what a Ferrari title win could mean to his legacy and bank balance.. and yet when Schumacher left the Maranello factory after his first days work there, it was late in the evening and he spoke of feeling the hair on his neck stand up – Ferrari gets to you in the end.

“A warrior is worthless unless he rises above others and stands strong in the midst of a storm.”

The Samurai Jackal

Top

Marchionne officially begins his tenure at Maranello

Sergio Marchionne arrived in Maranello yesterday to begin the turnaround of the Ferrari team. He had been to a press presentation in Milan at the Balocco track as Alfa Romeo unveiled the new Giulietta Sprint and then made his first formal visit to the Scuderia.

Taking control of a rudderless team, he has settled in a new office within the compound and will be a weekly visitor to the factory as he strives to place Ferrari back at the top. The recent poor showing at Monza left the bespectacled boss “raging with high blood pressure”

He met the heads of the various departments and with Team Principal Marco Mattiacci in attendance repeated his desire to see Ferrari back at the top. Although he officially took over the Presidency back on October 13th, he has started to realise the breadth of the problems afflicting the team.

The new 2015 car, which was codenamed 666, is now beginning to deliver better ‘points’ in down force measurements and when compared to the current F14-T it has larger side pods  – suggesting a more aggressive power-plant is installed requiring more efficient cooling.

Of course, the team is not optimistic in their pursuit of Mercedes in 2015, but confidence is slowly creeping back into the squad and there are some development parts that will be tested over the remaining three races.

It will be fascinating to see whether one of the most impressive automotive industry executives ever, can empower the Scuderia to move beyond its current malaise. Given the wonders Marchionne worked with the dead duck that was FIAT, you’d be a brave person to risk your shirt betting against that he’ll deliver in Formula 1.

Top

The staggering cost of competing in F1

With Marussia and Caterham having entered administration in the last seven days, the next two teams that are carrying heavy debt is Sauber and Lotus with £22m and £64.9m respectively. Even Williams, currently third in the world championship has declared losses of £20m for the first six months of 2014.

Last year, Martin Whitmarsh warned F1, “I fear that we will have a crisis and then we will have to get real and sort it out. I cannot see, in their shoes ( the smaller teams ) how you can construct a sustainable business model”

Around the same time Bob Fernley, Force India’s deputy team principal said that CVC had been “a disaster” for the sport. “I think they have done an absolutely awful job. In my view they are the worst thing that has ever happened to Formula One. They have done nothing whatsoever for the sport.”

When one considers they have made an estimated $8.2bn from the investment back in 2006 and the teams have to split an annual prize fund of around $750m it’s not impossible to see why the teams that Luca di Montezemolo branded a joke in 2010 have all disappeared.

Autosport received a copy of a letter that Caterham, Marussia, Sauber and Force India sent to Jean Todt detailing the expense of F1 which didn’t include driver salaries, hospitality and marketing.

Hybrid power system $28 million

Gearbox and hydraulics $5 million

Fuel and lubricants $1.5 million

Tyres $1.8 million

Electronics $1.95 million

IT $3 million

Salaries $20 million

Travel and track side facilities $12 million

Chassis production/manufacturing $20 million

Wind tunnel/CFD facilities $18.5 million

Utilities and factory maintenance $2 million

HR and professional services $1.5 million

Freight $5 million

TOTAL $120.25 million

Of course this is merely the average cost, Mercedes according to some have spent four times as much this season.

Times are tough.

Mclaren have chosen to forgo the revenue from a 1 year title sponsor whilst they await Honda and that Williams has sold its title to Martini for significantly less than the going rate 10 years ago.

Then there are plenty of teams whose livery is but sparsely unadorned with cash paying sponsors. Perhaps it is time that Mr. Todt, woke from his slumber and regulated F1 to reduce costs – as did his predecessor Max, who by the day is looking a preferable choice of FIA p[resident.

The problem is, Jean Todt is an ex Team Principal of Ferrari – who during his tenure had eye watering annual budgets in excess of the GDP of some medium sized sovereign states. It is therefore most unlikely Monsieur Presidente will arise from his Louis XV four poster bed and embrace the reality of ‘the real world’ in which mere mortals do indeed dwell.

Top

Prost doubts Renault can catch Mercedes in 2015 (GMM)

F1 legend Alain Prost doubts struggling engine supplier Renault can catch dominant Mercedes in 2015. Having faltered at the start of the new turbo V6 era, Renault – whose prominent F1 partner is the outgoing world champion team Red Bull – can upgrade its 2014 engine to the tune of 48 per cent under the existing ‘freeze’ regulations.

But Mercedes’ rivals are arguing for the ‘freeze’ to be further relaxed.“It will be hard for them (Renault) to catch up with Mercedes,” quadruple world champion Prost, a Renault ambassador, told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

“But it also depends on whether there is a change in the development timetable (the engine freeze) by the FIA. A total freeze as it is now is synonymous with stagnation,” Prost argued. “But just opening up everything is too expensive. A good compromise is needed. We should not make a final judgement about Renault until next year,” he added.

At the same time, Prost thinks it is understandable that Renault fell behind Mercedes just as the rules changed so dramatically, given Red Bull’s run of title domination at the end of the V8 era. “It was almost inevitable that Mercedes would start with an advantage,” he said.

“Last season I was saying that it would be hard to beat them as they started developing much earlier. Renault was always defending a world title in the last years,” Prost explained, “while Mercedes was able to concentrate fully on the new project.”

TJ13 comment: The Renault brand ambassador speaks of a Renault that seriously underestimated what the Stuttgart manufacturer was willing to invest, not only in man hours over the last three years but also a spend double that of Renault and Ferrari.

Renault appear to have been complacent believing that the FIA would grant them favours – as in the past – and allow 2014 development beyond the initial homologation date back in February.

Whilst we may believe it is ridiculous that a new technology has restraints against it and the other manufacturers cannot close the gap, but it would have been the same if Ferrari or Renault had produced the dominant engine.

Possibly the most misleading part is the assumption that Renault were fighting on two fronts – developing both the V8 and V6 engines. For some years there had been a development freeze on the V8 engines. Of the engine manufacturers pre-2014, Mercedes were considered the most powerful, and perhaps Renault the most frugal but Renault were twinned with Red Bull.

Of course Renault is using the four-time F1 champion to posture on their behalf, but before every fan walks away in despair, ‘unfreeze’ or ‘no unfreeze’ – Mercedes should be affected by the law of diminishing returns.

Put simply, using state of the art current technology, if Mercedes have designed an engine that is 90% delivering what is achievable given its architecture, then most likely they have a smaller number gains left to make – relative to Renault and Ferrari.

Top

Williams memories from the USA

Courtesy of Martini Williams Racing.

For large views, click on the pictures – you can then scroll 1 by 1 through these fabulous photographs

top

Haas, the F1 drug begins to take effect

Before we start, FOR THE RECORD, this author would seriously love to see a USA backed F1 team running and being successful in F1.

Yet Haas F1 is ploughing a tough furrow by basing its operations in the US of A. If we park up the issues of travel, which are immense, the big question is whether Haas F1 can attract enough experienced F1 engineering talent to make a real go of producing an F1 car that is competitive.

It is beyond doubt that even by assembling even the most brilliant scientists the USA has to offer, without the data from competing in F1 for years, were Haas F1 be forced to build their own car to the current regulations – it would be a fail.

Experienced F1 engineers, designers and race strategists is something Haas will struggle to get in sufficient quantities to relocate to Charlotte, but this will be no problem; because Haas has been told the regulations which force teams to predominantly produce their own cars are proposed for change.

If this change transpires into reality, The NASCAR team owner may indeed benefit from being an F1 customer team – the like of such are not present in the sport. of Formula One.

However, following the departure in 2008/09 of a number of big manufacturers from the Formula One, Bernie and the FIA promised three new entrants that things were about to change. Budget caps would be introduced and the cost of competing in F1 would be significantly reduced to accommodate their meagre budgets.

‘Lies, lies and damned lies’ has been proven to be the epitaph, for HRT, Caterham and Marussia.

So, let’s be clear. At present Haas F1 must produce predominantly their own car until the regulations re: bought in components are in actuality altered.

Haas F1’s business plan is built upon this regulatory change being enacted and just like HRT, Caterham and Marussia is at present on a promise – that things will be different.

Despite all this uncertainty, Mr. Haas appears to be getting a ‘fix’ already from the F1 drug of eternal promise.

USA today reports, “In early September, Gene Haas was at a trade show in Chicago when he realised how much his decision to start a Formula One team already was paying off”.

An ebullient Gene Haas said, “I’ve got all kinds of people wanting to take their pictures with me. That’s never happened before. … It was insane the number of people coming by saying, ‘Great to know you, great to know you’re involved in Formula One.’ Everybody sees we’re aligning ourselves with ultimate motor sports project.”

Even in the NASCAR garage, most of the drivers now are shaking my hand,” Haas asserts. “I think they’re interested. They say, ‘We’d like to see what that Formula One stuff is about.’ I say, ‘Sure, come on over.’ I think they have a natural curiosity.”

Be not mistaken. Gene Haas is going for this project in earnest. He’s opened a new 125,000-square-foot building to house Haas F1 and has recently signed Adam Jacobs, the former sports marketing manager for beer giant Anheuser-Busch

“It’s a great opportunity to develop and launch a global brand in an organization led by someone as driven and accomplished as Gene Haas,” said Jacobs in a press release. “With strong support and leadership already in place, Haas F1 Team is clearly positioned for success. I look forward to helping shape the ways we achieve that success on and off the racetrack.”

What’s for certain, if Haas F1 fails to succeed in Formula One, it won’t be because of small minded thinking or a lack of ambition.

However, Formula One throughout history has demonstrated its inability to accommodate new members into its exclusive club. At times this has been though ineptitude and on other occasions via intransigence – and with the sport once again in crisis, accommodating the needs of others is the last thing on anyone’s mind.

 

#F1 Circuit Profile: 2014 – United States, Austin, Circuit of the Americas – Round 17

•October 28, 2014 • 18 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 ‘Track Profile Specialist’ Alistair Hunter

Formula-One-US-Grand-Prix

This weekend, arguably the most important racing series in the world finds itself in one of the most important countries in the world. The series is – obviously – F1, and its destination is the United States of America.

The race will be the 64th Formula One race to be held in the United States, in addition to being the 36th edition of the United States Grand Prix and the third to be held at the Circuit of the Americas.

History

Formula 1 has had a long history with the United States, starting from the very first season in 1950. 42 years after the very first United States Grand Prix was hosted by the Savannah Automobile Club in 1908, the 1950 Indianapolis 500 counted as the third round of the World Championship, and continued to be on the calendar until after the 1960 season. Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio and Rodger Ward were the only drivers to compete in the Indy 500 as well as other championship events in the same season in 1952 and 1959 respectively (the latter most notably entering a midget car into the 1959 United States Grand Prix).

Speaking of the 1959 US Grand Prix in Sebring, that was when the first World Championship race took place to Formula One rules, and it was won by Bruce McLaren in a Cooper TF1. The following year F1 visited California, before attempting to make itself at home at Watkins Glen (fairly successfully), Long Beach, Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas, Pheonix, and the road course at Indianapolis.

Formula One was lured to Texas through Tavo Hellmund and Red McCombs’ negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone, and the satisfaction of officials in Travis County. At a track which has many corners loosely inspired by legendary circuits across the globe and designed by Hermann Tilke, the inaugural event was deemed to be a success, with the track providing good racing and overtaking opportunities.

Circuit Characteristics

Austin GP Circuit Characteristics © FIA

Form Guide

Like Sebastian Vettel last year, Lewis Hamilton has stepped up his game and hit form at the right time. Even though it would take some serious bad luck for Nico Rosberg not to be in contention for the championship in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton’s streak of four consecutive victories for the second time this year have meant that he has accelerated away from his nearest rival.

Mercedes are fairly dominant constructor-wise, with Red Bull the only other team to record a victory this year. Odds are that this situation won’t change at any point in the near future, but hey, there’s always 2015. (Unless you’re Caterham or Marussia… Nah, too soon. Here’s hoping they stay).

tj13TV presents – A lap of COTA with Lewis Hamilton

Circuit of The Americas with Pirelli

©Pirelli P Zero SoftThe Circuit of the Americas in Texas is one of the newest venues on the Formula One calendar, having been inaugurated only in 2012. The medium and soft compounds are nominated here for the first time (with the hard and medium chosen for the last two years). This versatile selection of compounds for 2014 is designed to cope with the varying demands of the track, which takes in three long straights, but also a number of more technical corners.

These include the long Turn 1 – a constant radius hairpin that puts plenty of energy through the tyres – as well as other fast direction changes, reminiscent of Silverstone or Suzuka. With 20 corners and impressive differences in elevation, Austin is a very busy lap with some unique challenges, such as an uphill braking area after the start that makes it difficult to find the correct braking point. In combination, this all makes for an exciting track that both drivers and spectators enjoy immensely.

The United States Grand Prix also marks the start of the final sequence of back-to-back races of the year, with the teams then heading straight to Interlagos in Brazil, where the same medium and soft tyre nomination has been made.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPaul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:As is the case for every automotive manufacturer, America is a key market for Pirelli. So we are very pleased to be heading back to Austin, which is a great city to spend time in as well as a fantastic place to race. With the track surface now three years old, it has become more mature and should theoretically offer better grip than previous years.

The medium and soft tyres are expected to put us on track for a two-stop race, although we will have to confirm our projected data after free practice. A lot will depend on the weather. Even though the race takes place in November, warm but variable conditions are still likely, so thermal degradation will be an important factor. How much that influences wear and overall degradation with the new generation of cars this year – and therefore the race strategy – is something we will only find out when we get there.

On both previous occasions, the winning strategy has always been a one-stopper: also because the race comes relatively late in the season, by which time most teams have developed a good understanding about how to get the most out of the tyres.

Jean Alesi © PirelliJean Alesi, Pirelli consultant:Austin is above all a really exciting circuit for drivers. There are good possibilities to attack and to overtake under braking for Turn 1, and also through the esses, where a number of different lines are possible. Plenty of overtaking opportunities normally ensure a good grand prix; this track is far from boring.

The variation in temperatures is another important factor: last 2 years it was definitely cold in the morning, but hot when it came to qualifying. That makes getting the tyre into the right operating window an additional challenge for the drivers and teams in America.

The circuit from a tyre point of view

Pirelli P Zero Medium WHITEThe three long straights tend to cool down the tyres, making the braking areas critical, as tyre temperature will have dropped slightly. This also then affects the turn-in into fast corners, as the compound has to get back up to temperature very quickly.

The medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures. The soft tyre by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures. There was an extremely variable range of track temperatures throughout the US Grand Prix weekend last year, from 18 to 37 degrees centigrade.

The mixture of straights and corners require a compromise in terms of downforce, placing a strong emphasis on mechanical grip from the tyres. As well as the long Turn 1 and fast changes of direction in the early part of the lap, Turn 11 also places heavy demands on the tyres. The driver starts braking as the car is turning into the corner, creating an uneven distribution of forces on the rubber.

The winning strategy last year was a one-stopper. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel started on the medium compound and then pitted for the hard tyre on lap 27. The top 12 finishers all stopped just once.

tj13TV presents – COTA with Pirelli

COTA and Brembo

Brembo and COTA

* Turn 12 is considered the most demanding for the braking system.

The Austin track can be considered to have a medium demand on the braking system with the drivers using the brakes for about 14% of the time on each lap, but it is characterised by two very sudden braking sections. The T12 turn is worth a mention. It is one of the most demanding of the season in terms of dissipated energy (about 2673 kW) and one of the most sudden for the driver with a G force of -5.5 Gs.

Memorable Moments

1959 – Stirling Moss led away but retired after five laps, and Bruce McLaren took the lead on the final lap to become the youngest man at the time to win a Grand Prix; the previous leader Jack Brabham ran out of fuel and managed to push his car over the line for fourth place and a World Drivers Championship.

2002 – Notable for having the closest finish in a F1 race since timing to a thousandth of a second was introduced, with Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello attempting to set up a dead heat, but only succeeding in lifting the Brazilian driver to the top step of the podium by 0.011 seconds (interestingly, I think that record for the closest finish at Indianapolis was beaten by the fantastic finish to the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 this year, go and check that out).

2005 – One of the wonderful races that comes into the category ‘notable for what happened away from the track’. Due to tyre failures, only six drivers started the race due to safety issues. Needless to say, the crowd were not pleased. Schumacher won, with Barrichello second, Tiago Monteiro in third to become the most successful Portuguese driver by points scored, Narain Karthikeyan finished fourth to achieve his only points finish and the only one for an Indian driver, while Christijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher scored their only career points finishes in fifth and sixth.

2012 – After qualifying on pole position, Sebastian Vettel looked on course to win, before having his progress interrupted by HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan, who was unable to move out of the way of the German driver for a short period, which allowed Lewis Hamilton to come up and complete a DRS-assisted overtake later in the lap, in what would be the race-winning overtake.

Support Races

Ryan OckeyIn the 2014 Ferrari Challenge North America, Ricardo Perez leads the standings by 38 points from Ryan Ockey, with two rounds to go. At the last round in Watkins Glen, Ockey had two third place finishes, while Perez could only finish on the podium once. After this round in Austin, the series will conclude with a round in Abu Dhabi.

Despite having one less win than his nearest challenger, Earl Bamber is leading the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup by five points from Kuba Giermaziak, the only other driver in mathematical contention for the title. This weekend will be the final round of the series, and the only double header on the calendar.

 

Previous Results

Year Driver Constructor
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2012 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 28th October 2014

•October 28, 2014 • 79 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly

Previously on The Judge 13:

The FIA and FOM share the blame equally for failing #F1 teams

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….


OTD Lite: 1930 – Birth of a visionary money making leviathan

Indian brothers make ‘serious’ offer for Marussia team

Toto Wolff prioritises the manufacturer teams

2014 US GP – Equal smallest grid in a decade

London High Court announces Caterham debts of £16.2M (UPDATE 14:19 GMT)

Marussia brake-by-wire being investigated by FIA

Ferrari drivers and cars

Airlifting stricken cars on circuit was tested by the FIA

COTA claims annual economic benefit to Austin is $900m

Massa face exchange

The mystery of the Caterham cleaner revealed


OTD Lite: 1930 – Birth of a visionary money making leviathan

As a Scorpio born on October 28th, you are known for your ambition, passion and cool nature. Outwardly you are calm and may even appear calculated to others. This outer reserve is the opposite of your inner workings, which is greatly passionate and this drives you to get all you want from life. Highly ambitious, you will work tirelessly to achieve your goals, but your drive and people skills create a variety of options for you to explore. Your ambition will be well-suited for a career in business or media.

20130718bernie-ecclestone-1Who said that horoscopes were hocus pocus? On this day, Bernie will possibly take time out from his ambitions of running the world or from having countries around the globe kissing his wrinkled derrière whilst enjoying immunity from public prosecution.

Bernie may well be sat simply with his friends… associates and just playing a round or two of monopoly.

In dutiful servitude, proffering the drinks and nibbles, will be the the BBC and Sky F1 broadcasting teams, as they revel in his omnipresence, before publishing copy that would shame the internal Russian media system.

Satire aside, Mr. E is responsible for galvanising a rag tag and bobtail bunch of petrol heads into a global sporting phenomenon that they claim ranks alongside the Olympics and the World Cup.

Yet greed and power appear to have transformed what could have been an outstanding sporting legacy into a cynical epitaph. Chin chin Bernie..

I have a high art, I hurt with cruelty those who would damage me.”

The Samurai Jackal

untitled

 

Happy Bernieday

Top

Indian brothers make ‘serious’ offer for Marussia team

Baljinder Sohi and Sonny Kaushal, the Indian steel billionaires have made an offer which has established them as ‘serious’ in the eyes of the Marussia Administrators, FRP Advisory LLP.

The offer is to fund the team to the end of the season, and depending on the monies received from FOM, settle the outstanding creditors – not in full – but to a percentage of what they are owed.

Currently, Marussia by finishing 9th in the F1 constructors’ championship, stand to earn just over $60m. The debt in the business is reputed to be $46m.

This would see the brothers then double the balance of cash remaining having paid the creditors in part.

The figure of a £55m ($88m) – cited by the Telegraph – is an offer made by the brothers to the Administrator and is based upon $44m remaining from the cash in and the debtor’s being settled, with a further $44m being added to fund the team for 2015 from the brothers.

The Administrator has made a counter offer, which is being considered.

Sohi claimed today, “We are very close to a deal, but it has to be the right price. We have put in a serious offer and we will see what happens.” $16m was the estimate of the difference between what the Administrator requires and what the brothers originally offered.

Time is short because the team are funded to the 31st October, however, if a buyer is not found by then, the Administrator will be forced to declare the business no longer ‘a going concern’.

Top

Toto Wolff prioritises the manufacturer teams

An interview with Toto Wolff scheduled for publication in Friday’s Financial Times, the Mercedes boss for many will reveal the current ‘newbie’ attitude in Formula 1 towards the smaller teams.

“We have a certain responsibility to the rest of the field, but this cannot be our main objective. We have seen in the past more than 100 F1 teams that have come and gone. It’s good that in the past the commercial rights holder has tried to take care of the very loyal, important teams for F1.”

“It is clear that Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams those guys have been around or ever and they have healthy business models. It’s clear that you are trying to put more emphasis and priority on keeping those teams in the sport than teams that have just come in, where it is unclear what the shareholders’ purpose is, what the shareholders’ targets are, whether funding is a bit of a struggle from year to year.”

“But I think this is how F1 has always been. It hasn’t changed massively (compared) to the past.”

The problem with Wolff’s view which appears to support the idea of fewer teams going forward in F1 and a sport only made up from those who have the best financial backing is that this process of natural selection will always eliminate those who are toward the rear of the grid.

Kill off Caterham and Marussia, maybe Sauber and Lotus too, and we can have the super teams all competing with 3-4 cars each and there is no fear of a team running into financial disaster.

Yet when the current smaller teams are gone, it will mean the likes of Force India are at the back of the pack. Their sponsors and backers may then get sick of coming last and decide, enough is enough.

Even were F1 a sport filled with rich manufacturers spending hundreds of millions each a year – someone will finish last in the constructors’ championship. The result is predictable, because just as in 2008/9 when we saw the wealthy corporate entities like Honda, Toyota and BMW leave Formula 1, this will happen again.

So what then if one of the BIG FIVE has a poor year, finishing always at the back – there comes a time when even these vast empires of wealth can’t compete – and they leave.

Wolff’s short sightedness borders on absurdity. In Autosport, Ross Brawn said in November 2013, “We’re not a supporter of customer cars, we think the identity of the teams is important, the fact that the teams design and build their own cars is important”.

Two factors may be contributory to the demise of Caterham and Marussia. As James Allen noted, this was the year the V6 turbo arrived and engine prices to all teams skyrocketed.

Further, as TJ13 suggested in last nights post, The FIA and FOM share the blame equally for failing #F1 teams the FIA granting new F1 racing licenses, diluted the value of any goodwill value that Marussia and Caterham had in terms of permission to race in Formula 1.

King of the F1 world, Toto Wolff, only knows success and glory. Yet had he spent a few years working for another team, even Ferrari, he’d tweeting a slightly different melody than one which embodies the message.. ‘survival of the fittest’.

Top

2014 US GP – Equal smallest grid in a decade

With eighteen cars set to take the start of the U.S GP it will be the lowest number of starters since the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix when BAR were completing their two race ban for technical infringements following that year’s San Marino Grand Prix.

Of course many will site the 2005 US GP at Indianapolis as the lowest number with just six reacting to the startline lighting gantry but it’s often forgotten that the cars all assembled on the grid. Due to a dangerous design inherent in the Michelin tyres, all teams that ran on the French rubber were advised to withdraw. At the end of the green flag lap, they all followed pole sitter Jarno Trulli’s Toyota into retirement.

Of course stifling boredom followed but Ferrari’s Jean Todt was never going to allow changes to the circuit – to accommodate the Michelin runners – in a year that the Scuderia were handicapped by tyre regulations. Max Mosley supported his stance and placed the blame squarely on the French tyre manufacturer’s shoulders.

Either way, a historic day for Minardi as they finished with both cars in the top 6.

Top

London High Court announces Caterham debts of £16.2M (UPDATE 14:19 GMT)

With Caterham having applied for administration last week, the London High Court has shown a list of around 400 crediitors that the racing team owes monies to. The Anglo-Malaysian team is shown to have debts totalling £16.2 million with the prinicpal amount being against Renault which stands at about £7.4M. The unpaid bills are for the provision of the French company’s V6 Turbo engine as used by Caterham this season.

In addition to the aforementioned, there are the following: £754,090 to the Total oil company; £711,134 to  Dell Computer’s; £111,281 is owed to McLaren Applied Technologies and the last significant debt is for £20,942 which is outstanding to Formula One and Events Hospitality Services, a service company headed by Bernie Ecclestone.

Other smaller creditors include the Haymarket Media Group which are publishers of many retail magazines including Autosport. The Group was set up in the 50’s and remains privately owned by former Tory Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine.

And it all began with a pack of lies from a Charlatan who had no intention of ever concluding a transaction with Fernandes.

Here is a letter provided to TJ13 from one of the creditors. It was sent to them days after Kolles announced he was ‘taking over’.

untitled

 

The FIA needs to ensure better corporate governance and scrutiny is placed upon team owners and the financial state of the teams. At present they rely on Bernie’s Autumn annual guestimate of the F1 competitors financial health.

Further, to protect employees and creditors – it would not be difficult for the FIA to regulate that any transfer of an F1 team’s ownership mid-season must be done via external independent Insolvency Practitioners. This would prevent in the future the kind of scams as pulled by Colin Kolles.

Further, it would ensure that team owners take their responsibilities to their staff and to the sport in which they chose to compete more seriously. This in turn would prevent the apparent whimsical fashion with which Tony Fernandes treated his Caterham F1 team.

Top

Marussia brake-by-wire being investigated by FIA

Autosprint carried an article yesterday that the FIA informed Marussia that they were to investigate their brake-by-wire system immediately following the Japanese Grand Prix.

In simple terms it’s a device that automatically compensates for the lack of sensitivity that the drivers experiences whilst it is harvesting energy. As the driver applies the brakes the electric motor absorbs the kinetic energy being produced. The brake-by-wire installation consists of a control unit and actuators but Marussia manufacture their own design rather than use the one produced by their engine partner – Ferrari.

Eye witnesses have declared they saw no braking effort made and there were no tell tale marks left which would show any application of them before the accident. It has to be taken into account that they would have proven ineffective on wet grass but it has triggered the FIA to request that Marussia check the operation of their system in certain conditions.

The collated evidence is to be provided to the panel of experts that have been assembled by the FIA, which includes Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali and Mekies Laurent who was a former chief engineer for Toro Rosso.

Top

Ferrari drivers and cars

As part of our commitment to social media, we occasionally bring to your attention the efforts of other like minded F1 fans, who may not (yet) be part of the TJ13 circle of love.

Here’s an offering from @diehard_f1_fan who you can also find on faceboob and google+

untitled

Similarly… continuing the horse/ass theme…

untitled

top 

Airlifting stricken cars on circuit was tested by the FIA

Air Zermatt believes they have had a workable solution to car extraction from the circuit following accidents. The Swiss aviation company suggests that F1 cars should be recovered by a helicopter.

In 2005, in conjunction with the FIA, Air Zermatt ran tests at the 2005 A1 GP in Dubai.

The recoveries were successful and would prevent the scenario where Jules Bianchi hit a land based recovery vehicle.

“The [Bianchi] accident could have been avoided with our rescue system”, claimed Air Zermatt’s Jürgen König to Swiss publication Blick.

One of the reasons this solution was not pursued, was because it was argued that the safety of the marshals was not reflected in what was an expensive solution.

Further, those of a more cynical inclination, may believe that the use of helicopters for vehicle recovery – would also make it too transparent when weather conditions were unfit for helicopter use.

top

COTA claims annual economic benefit to Austin is $900m

untitled

Circuit of The Americas (COTA) generated $897 million in economic impact to the Austin area in 2014, according to a study prepared by New York-based Greyhill Advisors.

The analysis represents all COTA events, activities and annual operation for FY 2014, defined as October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014. The time period captures one full cycle of COTA’s major annual events, including the 2013 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, 2014 MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas and ESPN’s 2014 X Games, as well as track rentals, and concert and events at Austin360 Amphitheater.

The full report, available here, was commissioned by Circuit of The Americas.

“COTA has turned out to be much more than just a racetrack,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “It’s a job creator, a revenue generator, and a destination for quality, year-round entertainment. These benefits to taxpayers result from racetrack construction that was solely funded by private investment. I commend COTA for its positive impact on our community and its contribution to Austin’s emergence as an international city.”

According to the report, there were 1.1 million attendees across all COTA events in FY 2014, leading to $731 million in economic impact. An additional $166 million is attributed directly to COTA operations.

Over the course of the year, COTA hosted six motorsports and other major sporting events, 18 concerts and 110 track rentals and other events.

Formula 1 generated $507 million in economic impact for the Austin metropolitan area

All other major sporting events, including ESPN’s X Games, generated $161 million in economic impact

Concerts and events at Austin360 Amphitheater generated $49 million in economic impact

Track rentals and other miscellaneous events generated an additional $14 million in economic impact

COTA’s annual activities and operations combined to support 9,100 jobs in the Austin metro region representing $306 million in annual payroll for Austin-area workers. Direct visitor spending injected into Austin area business establishments such as restaurants, bars, hotels and retailers totaled $423 million.

“COTA is a thoughtfully designed facility that has helped Austin successfully compete for and host events that put our city in the global spotlight,” said Bob Lander, Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO. “We attract over 21 million visitors annually – three times as many as only a decade ago. Tourism has a substantial impact on the Austin economy providing nearly 54,000 jobs and $6.2 billion in direct traveler spending. World-class facilities like COTA greatly enhance our ability to attract new international audiences and markets that widen our spectrum of business.”

Since it was announced in 2010, COTA’s cumulative economic impact on the Austin metro area has been $2.8 billion, with an average annual impact on the Austin area of nearly $700 million per year, according to the report.

Included in the cumulative impact was construction of COTA’s 1,500-acre campus, which supported more than 7,100 jobs representing $350 million in annual wages. The economic impact from construction was $918 million, the report said.

“We built COTA to be a part of the economic and cultural fabric of Austin,” said Circuit of The Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein. “We’ve created a place where Austinites can enjoy world-class sports and entertainment, and it’s gratifying to see the enormous benefit to local businesses big and small.” (Source: COTA)

top

Massa face exchange

Felipe is having some fun here… tweeted, “face exchange”… Look closely

untitled

top

The mystery of the Caterham cleaner revealed

TJ13 was the first to question the sacking of Colin Kolles father from the board of Caterham Sports Ltd and the appointment of Constantin Cojocaru – previously the cleaner at the company. That said, he is well liked by the staff and nick named ‘Mario’.

Having contacted Tony Fernandes PA, Shelley, to inform her of the accusations being made against Fernandes by Kolles side kick Manfredi, she began following the mailing list of thejudge13. Presumably it was there she saw the story of Constantin Cojocar.

Interestingly, as part of his eventual rebuttal to Kolles, Tony Fernandes mocked the appointment by Kolles of ‘a cleaner’ to the board of Caterham Sports ltd.

Yet no one was certain from where Cojocaru had emerged. Of course he was made the stooge director when Kolles decided to place the Caterham business into voluntary administration.

Racecar Engineer have revealed who in fact Cojocaru is; a 52-year-old former Steaua Bucharest footballer who played for Romania’s best team for two seasons. His career high was in the 1988 European Cup (Now the Champions League) semi-final with Benifica when he replaced team mate Dan Petrescu for the final 14 minutes of the game.

Having been friends for some time, the relationship between Cojocaru and Popescu appearsd to have broken down, as Racecar Engineer discovered in an interview Cojocaru gave to Romanian sports website Prosport.

“I came to England in August to find work, cleaning or working in a warehouse” says Cojocaru. “I left Romania because I had financial difficulties there. I had bills to pay and as the Chief of a bus depot in Brasov I was paid less than 200 pounds a month. After I finished my career as a footballer everything was grim. I had no money and nobody wanted to help me starting a coaching career.

“My former room-mate during training camps, Gheorghe Popescu, promised to help me but he didn’t. The only one who really helped me was George Becali (the currently imprisoned former owner of Steau Bucharest). I told him: ‘Gigi, help me please. I’m hungry.’ Every time he offered me money. Finally I gave up. I was ashamed to ask him any more help.”

“An Italian [or Spanish waiter], a kind of an owner here at Caterham recognised me as a former football player. He told me: ‘It’s absurd for you to clean the floors, you are a known footballer. From now on you are a director here!’ And I was appointed as executive director at Caterham Sports Ltd.”

The rest is history. Though Caterham staff TJ13 spoke to on the first day they were locked out of the factory, complained the toilets were never the same following Cojocaru’s promotion.

Clearly, Constantin is enjoying his new work and is a faithful servant to the man who gave him his big break.

“I represent the interests of Kolles, he offered me this chance. There are some serious problems here. I have to remain here right now I have no other choice. Once you enter the game you have to play it. Right now I’m in Germany, in Munich, at the main company who bought the team headquarters.”

Mmm. Constantin….. yes you are at Colin Kolles Munich base…. and maybe you should check the paperwork for that alleged acquisition…..  just in case you signed for it huh?

Still, this tale is much like the Eddie Murphy story, “Trading Places”. And for Constantin, let’s hope it all ends well…

The FIA and FOM share the blame equally for failing #F1 teams

•October 27, 2014 • 17 Comments

Breaking News: 21:43 GMT – TJ13 exclusive

Baljinder Sohi and Sonny Kaushal, the Indian steel billionaires have made an offer which has established them as ‘serious’ in the eyes of the Marussia Administrators, FRP Advisory LLP.

The offer is to fund the team to the end of the season, and depending on the monies received from FOM, settle the outstanding creditors – not in full – but to a percentage of what they are owed.

Currently, Marussia by finishing 9th in the F1 constructors’ championship, stand to earn just over $60m. The debt in the business is reputed to be $46m.

This would see the brothers then double the balance of cash remaining having paid the creditors in part.

The figure of a £55m ($88m) – cited by the Telegraph – is an offer made by the brothers to the Administrator and is based upon $44m remaining from the cash in and the debtor’s being settled, with a further $44m being added to fund the team for 2015 from the brothers.

The Administrator has made a counter offer, which is being considered.

Sohi claimed today, “We are very close to a deal, but it has to be the right price. We have put in a serious offer and we will see what happens.” $16m was the estimate of the difference between what the Administrator requires and what the brothers originally offered.

Time is short because the team are funded to the 31st October, however, if a buyer is not found by then, the Administrator will be forced to declare the business no longer ‘a going concern’.

—————————————————————————————————

As did Caterham, now Marussia have requested ‘the Administrator’ take charge of the team’s finances, as they are clearly close to or indeed insolvent. It is not clear which of the Marussia legal entities is/are included, however, FRP Advisory LLP have been appointed as the firm to administer proceedings for the racing entity that is Marussia and now a period of fact finding and analysis will ensue.

The Administrator will now attempt to establish the monies owed to creditors and the assets which may underwrite some of this.

Further, given the future cash flow of Manor Racing Ltd, the decision will be made whether the company can run whilst a buyer is sought, or whether a wind up and sale of assets is required.

Despite re-registering the team’s head office to a street in Dublin at the time Crimea was annexed, the man behind the scenes providing the cash to keep the show on the road was in fact, Andrey Cheglakov apparently kept the ship afloat due to the desire to see Marussia race in Russia. Then again it may be that Andrey was in fear of Putin’s wrath should the “Russian” F1 team fail to appear on the Sochi grid.

Questions are now being asked whether Cheglakov has pulled the plug and also whether Marussia even have an engine contract for 2015 with Ferrari. The new bosses in Maranello have indeed questioned the value over supplying engines to teams which merely run at the back of the grid.

It is believed that Cheglakov has already funded Marussia F1 to the tune of £185m ($296m) and now believes that simply, enough is enough.

Geoff Rowley, a partner in the firm FRP Advisory had this to say today. “Whilst the team has made significant progress during its relatively short period of operation, the highlight of which included securing two constructors’ championship points in the current F1 season, the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment.

“With the existing shareholder unable to provide the required level of funding, the senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long term future, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available. Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place the Company into administration.

“With the Marussia F1 Team now in administration, the joint administrators have assessed that, given the current financial circumstances of the Group, it is not viable for the Marussia F1 Team to participate in the next race, the 2014 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, due to take place this weekend in Austin, Texas.”

As to the future, “The Company will continue to operate while the joint administrators assess the longer term viability of the Company in its present form.

“Following Austin, there are two further rounds of the 2014 championship remaining, in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi, and the team’s participation in those races will depend on the outcome of the administration process and any related negotiations with interested parties in what is a very limited window of opportunity.

“No redundancies have been made following the Company’s entering into administration and all staff have been paid in full to the end of October. The ongoing staff position will however be dependent on whether the Company can secure new investment in the limited time available.

“We remain highly focused on engaging with interested parties.”

We have debated here at TJ13 the value of an F1 racing license of teams in difficulty. As yet the best answer proposed described its worth as a ‘lottery ticket’ in the game of scoring a championship point.

The same is true of Formula 1 teams. What value do they have?

Fundamentally, the value of anything is related to its ability to function and do as it was intended to do – Is it then ‘fit for purpose’?

The purpose of a Formula 1 team may appear obvious at first glance and its ultimate objective be ascribed to winning. Yet, clearly this is not the case for all teams within the sport..

Whilst there may be a number of reasons for the teams at the wrong end of the grid to enter and remain in Formula 1 – a billionaire owner’s ego, a ‘race team’ from another category’s desire to ‘have a go in the BIG time’ – the reality is, that for teams like Caterham and Marussia, their goal from year to year is in fact to survive.

Hence the value of the team is its ability to do exactly this, and when they fall into administration with debts greater than assets together with the fact that their cash flow is too weak to support a skeleton operation, the value of the team is practically zero.

Caterham look to be finished, despite reports to the contrary. They will finish 11th this year and receive no prize money or 2015 entry funding grant. The value of their business to any deluded potential investor is just a touch more than the administrator can recoup from the sale of the assets at auction.

Marrusia have a little more chance of survival. If the bottom of the constructors’ championship table remains the same, then Manor Racing will receive around $64m in prize money, appearance fees and the share of the TV rights (TJ13 calls entry grant funding – essentially for teams placed 1-10).

It may be that having not incurred the cash flow implications of travel to the Americas, the current management can battle through until this year’s payment is received, to survive another year.

The prospect for a buyer of Marrussia is still dependant on the level of debt which has accumulated in the company. The debts allegedly stand at around $46m, so any prospective buyer will wish to pay as little above this as possible because they will have to find the bulk of the cash to fund ‘the F1 dream’ once again.

There are reports that a pair of English born Indian billionaire brothers are interested in acquiring Marussia. The numbers quoted by the daily Telegraph are misleading, though it appears Baljinder Sonhi and Sonny Kaushal are considered to be of ‘serious’ intent.

The paper reports the deal is £10m ($16m) short of making the ownership switch a reality, and Sohi claims, “We are very close to a deal, but it has to be the right price. We have put in a serious offer and we will see what happens.”

Max Mosely explains the problems facing any new entrants into the sport of Formula 1. “It’s not a fair competition any more,” he said speaking to the BBC. “The big problem is that the big teams have so much more money than teams like Caterham and Marussia and in the end, they were bound to drop off – and they may not be the last.”

This happens because it is nigh on impossible for the smaller teams to find the income required to go racing for year on year. Therefore they either rely on a benefactor or they increase their levels of debt to those which eventually become unsustainable.

In the end, even the most egotistical billionaires get bored of writing cheques for millions each year to merely trail around at the back of the field – so they one day just pull the plug. This means a team in this position is now ‘not fit for purpose’, and when that is the case – they go bust.

One simple solution, is for FOM to ensure the Caterham’s and Marrusia’s of this world can afford to complete a season without being too reliant on billionaires and large funding from sponsors.

If this can’t be done by a budget cap, then the FIA in conjunction with FOM should reduce the income the bigger teams receive from the sport proportionately.

The English Premier League is one of the most successfully market an run sports globally. TV revenues are way in excess of those paid to Formula 1 and the funding of the competitors should be a lesson the the world’s premier racing series.

This was the distribution of funds for the season 2013-14.

Premier League TV & Prize Money Breakdown Between 20 Clubs
NO# TEAMS MERIT MONEY TV MONEY SHARE LIVE MATCH FEE TOTAL
1 Manchester City £24.0m £55m 25*£750k=£18.7m £97.7m
2 Liverpool £22.8m £55m 28*750k=£21.0m £98.8m
3 Chelsea £21.6m £55m 24*750k=£18.0m £94.6m
4 Arsenal £20.4m £55m 25*750k=£18.7m £93.4m
5 Everton £19.2m £55m 16*750k=£12.0m £86.2m
6 Tottenham £18.0m £55m 23*750k=£17.3m £90.3m
7 Manchester United £16.8m £55m 25*750k=£18.7m £90.5m
8 Southampton £15.6m £55m £7.5m (10 matches) £78.5m
9 Newcastle United £14.4m £55m 14*750k=£10.5m £79.5m
10 Stoke City £13.2m £55m £7.5m (5 matches) £75.7m
11 Crystal Palace £12.0m £55m £7.5m (10matches) £74.5m
12 West Ham United £10.8m £55m 15*750k=£11.3m £77.1m
13 Swansea City £9.6m £55m 13*750k=£9.7m £74.3m
14 Sunderland £8.4m £55m 13*750k=£9.7m £73.1m
15 Aston Villa £7.2m £55m 15*750k=£11.3m £73.5m
16 Hull City £6.0m £55m £7.5m (9 matches) £68.5m
17 West Brom £4.8m £55m £7.5m (8 matches) £67.3m
18 Norwich City £3.6m £55m £7.5m (9 matches) £66.1m
19 Fulham £2.4m £55m £7.5m (7 matches) £64.9m
20 Cardiff City £1.2m £55m £7.5m (7 matches) £63.7m

Here the bottom club received 65.1% of the monies awarded to Manchester City, who won the league. Or put another way, the winner only received around 50% more than the last placed club.

In Formula 1 the bottom placed team receives around 10% of the highest remunerated and the gulf from last to first – as a mark up – is over 1000%.

Of course this status quo has come about because FOM have encouraged political support from the bigger teams and for this Bernie et al have have feathered their nests in particular of Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Williams.

Further, to add value to the smaller teams permission to race in F1, the FIA could restrict the field in the sport to 11 or 12 franchise owners. These franchises can be traded and this route should be the ONLY way a new team owner can enter the sport.

Earlier this year, TJ13 advocated this course of action when the FIA approved the entry of Haas and probably that of Forza Rossa too. By approving new teams over and above the 11 competing in 2014, the FIA merely undermined the value of the racing licenses held by Marussia and Caterham, reducing their worth to potential buyers.

Thus, the power to resolve the issue of the failing smaller teams is within the grasp of the FIA. They could act unilaterally as Max Mosley did, when he slapped a parc ferme regulation on the F1 cars following qualifying – which rendered useless the qualifying engines which the teams refused to relinquish.

Under an FIA approved franchise system, prospective new owners would in effect compete to buy the racing license of a smaller team, thus creating a goodwill value in their businesses.

Then Caterham, with a mere £12m of debt, may be considered an attractive option for a buyer, who may have to pay significantly more for a Force India or Toro Rosso should they lose out to someone competing with them for the acquisition of the green team.

As usual, the FIA, FOM and the larger teams are so utterly self indulgent, that solutions like fairer distribution of funds and a franchise system will inevitably fail to be considered, let alone enforced.

This has been crystal clear to knowledgeable F1 fans recently, when they consider whether the FIA can even administer its own safety regulations properly… breath and holding – are here, not mutual bedfellows.

And as in 2008/9, Formula 1 lurches once more toward a period of grave uncertainty, because those who should know better, can’t see the wood from trees – from which came – their own finely crafted mahogany desks.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 27th October 2014

•October 27, 2014 • 115 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly

Previously on The Judge 13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Yes!!! Man DID land on the moon….

#F1 Features: Booing and Boo Punishment

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 5th: Mercedes


OTD Lite: 1963 – Jim Clark – A legend wins in Mexico

Alonso in deadlock with Ferrari over contract

Lotus already prepared for 2015 debut

Minardi – Critical of current Formula One business model

F1 set for three-car teams as more risk collapse

F1 is safe

Qualifying farce in Austin

Kamui Speaks

Comment of the day


OTD Lite: 1963 – Jim Clark – A legend wins in Mexico

Jim Clark. Two words that when combined, makes any aficionado of Grand Prix racing dissolve into monochromes, as they remember delicate low slung cars being driven with the soft touch of an artist. On this day in history, Clark’s victory in Mexico would equal the record – of six victories in a season – that Juan Manuel Fangio had set in 1954. The Scotsman would also win the last race to take the record to seven by year’s end.

Yet in the last decade or two, we automatically assume that domination is achieved by a great car, irrespective of the talent behind the wheel. Watching Vettel winning constantly was to believe that his car was the dominant factor. Yet if this were true, why did Mark Webber not consistently finish as runner up?

Jim Clark dominated with the 25 because the combination of driver and car was supreme. The results of his team-mates prove that the car was not the world beater we always assume it was.

Jackie Stewart: “He was so smooth, he was so clean, he drove with such finesse. He never bullied a racing car, he sort of caressed it into doing the things he wanted it to do.”

“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world” – The Samurai Jackal

Top

Alonso in deadlock with Ferrari over contract

An intriguing rumour has appeared in Spanish publication ‘Marca’ about a possible reason for the delay in Ferrari announcing the signing of four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Currently, the Scuderia drivers entered for next year’s championship stand as Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. The tense situation between the Italian giants and the Spaniard appears to be in deadlock because although Ferrari keep placing deadlines for Fred’s departure he just lets the dates slip by.

Marco Mattiacci received a cool reception from the Asturian when he first joined as a replacement for Stefano Domenicali – yet within months the frostiness had thawed a little with Fernando praising progress within the team structure.

Over the summer the Spanish Samurai began making noises that he wanted to remain with Ferrari because that was where his heart was and anyway, there was a penalty to be paid if he wanted to leave. Sergio Marchionne and Mattiacci made it clear that they would waive the sum and he was free to do as he wished.

In Suzuka, following the Red Bull announcement that Seb was leaving the Milton Keynes squad, Marco and Fernando had a heated altercation and Alonso made it clear he was not going to leave the team so easily. Initially the media thought he had asked to leave the squad something which he later denied.

It appears that he is, in fact, in no hurry to leave the Maranello concern and take up a tenure elsewhere which could be far riskier; therefore his departure is nowhere close to being settled. The Scuderia have assured Vettel that the contract he has signed still stands but first they have to dispatch one of their drivers. The announcement could come in Austin, possibly Brazil or even be delayed until December.

Part of the problem is that to offload the Asturian, Ferrari would need to pay him an estimated €50 million as recompense for the next two contracted seasons – which has similar undertones to what happened when they decided to force Kimi out in 2009 to make way for, ironically, the Spaniard and the Santander sponsorship.

Without doubt, Alonso is recognised as one of the toughest competitors on the track but it remains to be seen how he measures up to one of the toughest business leaders in the corporate world – Fiat-Chrysler boss – Marchionne. Although if the teams have to run three cars…

Top

Lotus already prepared for 2015 debut

Unlike 2014 when Lotus took the decision to miss the first of the winter test sessions, the team is very advanced in their preparations for 2015.

After enduring an abysmal 2014, the fresh impetus of running the leading Mercedes Power Unit has galvanised the Enstone team as they lay the foundations for their upcoming new car.

Lotus will be running a new nose in Austin free practice as has been decreed by the change in regulations for next season. Technical Director, Nick Chester has confirmed that it will only be for evaluation purposes and to get some feedback of the aerodynamic data.

“It will be a design that will feature on the E23 as it hasn’t been optimised for the current E22- it will be an interesting comparison.

Since the Hungarian GP “all resources have been directed towards the E23 and we are starting to build the first chassis. The transmission has been signed off and we will begin constructing that too. We have spoken with Mercedes about the unit’s cooling requirements and the installation of the engine.

“Mercedes have been really professional and our working relationship is great. Next year I will have been at Enstone for twenty years and we have always been powered with Renault engines. There are differences between their working practices but to be honest changing manufacturers for next year is far less complicated than it was from the V8 engines to the V6’s for this season. It is an exciting time working through the different solutions.”

Top

Minardi – Critical of current Formula One business model

As ever, Giancarlo Minardi offers a quite unique viewpoint on the current situation that is facing Formula One. As a much respected member of the F1 community and a former team owner, his voice carries a certain authority and whilst at times people compare him unfairly to BBC pundit Eddie Jordan, his wisdom rarely fails to encompass many people’s feeling about the state of the sport.

The ex-Faenza boss writes a column for Minardi.it and this week he offers his feelings in regards to the financial problems that have afflicted the two newest teams that have had to go into administration and how it is a ‘bonus’ to avoid having to travel to the American continents because Bernie has allowed them to.

“It’s a bad blow for F1 and it is a shame these two teams and the four lads driving for them will be missing. The changes in regulations have brought a heavy financial burden on these teams that were already struggling – yet it seems very strange that Marussia who currently lie ninth ahead of Sauber and Caterham – after the points they scored in Monaco with Jules Bianchi – have taken the route to administration. Points at the end of the year become money from the television rights which would make life far easier.”

Ignoring the top teams, all others are not finding life easy. Then again the powers-that-be should have counted to ten first before making decisions about new power units and double points to avoid finding ourselves in the situation where teams welcome the ‘bonus’ of not participating at a round of the pinnacle motor-sport.”

“The FIA needs to take more control too. It is ridiculous what is happening with Caterham. How can you have rescuers who turn up and disappear just as quickly as a soap bubble.”

“I don’t like the idea of three car teams but if it has to be adopted then it should be used to bring on young talent. But what is of more concern is the declining TV viewers. Could it be that the calendar is too busy? Twenty races means twenty weekends in front of the television and maybe these days that is too much.. because even the truly passionate fans are losing interest in the sport…”

The rules on customer cars at present do not allow as Ecclestone has suggested, one team providing a car ‘good to go’ to a customer. Further, only Ferrari and Red Bull are likely to run a third car at present, so if one more team were to fail, 18 cars in Melbourne would be the smallest F1 field since 1966.

Top

(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

F1 set for three-car teams as more risk collapse

F1 risks sliding into crisis and having to reinvent its very DNA as struggling backmarker teams begin to succumb to collapse. HRT folded in 2012, and now F1’s two other newest teams Caterham and Marussia are in the throes of financial administration.

Organisers of next weekend’s US grand prix look set to welcome just 9 teams to an 18-car grid, unprecedented since BAR-Honda was banned for a time almost a decade ago. “It’s a fantastic sport,” departed Caterham founder Tony Fernandes said on Twitter at the weekend. “Bernie (Ecclestone) has done an amazing job but it needs to relook at itself.”

And former HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan added: “F1 just too expensive and completely unsustainable for minnows.” Max Mosley, the former FIA president who warned of a looming crisis in F1 years ago, quietly pointed a finger at his successor Jean Todt. “It seems that the chickens have come home to roost,” Mosley is quoted by The Times.

For now, F1 and its race promoters will have to cope with a diminished grid as big teams are promised at least two months notice before having to field three-car teams. Dipping below 20 cars is the trigger for the three-car stipulation, giving Ecclestone a buffer so as not risking his contractual promise of at least 16-car grids to the big-paying race promoters. But with Caterham and Marussia looking set to fall, it now appears possible F1 will lose even more small-sized independent teams, particularly after the sport baulked earlier this year at introducing radical cost-cutting or even a cost cap.

“Formula one is not so great that it cannot fail,” Sauber team boss and co-owner Monisha Kaltenborn is alarmingly warning, according to Italy’s La Stampa. It is not only the Swiss team that is worried. Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport claims that Force India needs to make an engine payment to Mercedes by Monday or risk joining Caterham and Marussia in missing the US grand prix.

And Force India deputy boss Bob Fernley admitted more teams are in danger of collapse. “We’ve had three new teams since 2010, and all three have collapsed,” he told the Telegraph. “The writing was on the wall from the beginning. Only five teams have a say in the running of formula one — we’ll lose more teams if we carry on like this,” said Fernley.

If the F1 grid keeps diminishing, three-car entries are inevitable. Auto Motor und Sport said Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren are lined up by Ecclestone as first in the queue to start supplying third cars. If any of that trio declines, Mercedes is reportedly the next in line. Ferrari and Red Bull have apparently already given Ecclestone the green light, while McLaren for the moment is hesitating, perhaps due to uncertainty about who should pay for the third car — Ecclestone or the team.

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko told Sport Bild he does not see a problem. “We have the capacity at Milton Keynes, and it would also solve our luxury problem of having too many good drivers for too few cars,” he said.

And Karthikeyan, who only drove for backmarker teams in his F1 career, thinks the slowest cars will not be missed. “18 cars in Austin,” he said, “but sadly no one will miss the absentees once the opening lap is completed without incident. That’s the truth.”

TJ13 comment: It is a misnomer to suggest that F1’s DNA is two car teams. Ignoring the pre-war Grand Prix era that was predominantly led by national teams and manufacturers, since the 50’s when the term Formula One was first introduced there have been multiple car teams competing in F1.

Ferrari in the 50’s entered multiple car entries in races and world championships, as did Alfa, Maserati and Mercedes. Of course these are all huge manufacturing companies and they would dominate motor-sport but by the time of the 60’s Cooper, Lotus and other manufacturers would enter multiple cars and this continued through to the mid 70’s.

It was only with the signing of a piece of paper in 1982 – The Concorde Agreement – that F1 became two car teams with every team having to design and build their own cars.

Il Padrino stated in 2010 that these three new teams made F1 a joke and they would struggle. Of course the likes of Richard Branson used the media to portray Luca Di Montezemolo as an antiquated leader and the new bosses embraced the promised budget-capped F1 – which never came to pass.

Team Lotus, Tyrrell, Brabham, Ligier, Brawn and many others account for a great number of Grand Prix victories between them but they have all disappeared from the F1 landscape – representing just a chapter of the sport. So when Karthikeyan states that no-one will miss these minnows, he is absolutely right.

Top

F1 is safe (GMM)

An experienced F1 recovery vehicle driver in Brazil has defended his Japanese colleagues in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s horror crash. Brazil’s Globo Esporte says Rafael Ricciardi has been driving the vehicle charged with removing stricken cars from the Interlagos circuit near the pit exit for four years running.

Marussia racer Bianchi is fighting for his life after striking a nearly identical vehicle at Suzuka during the recent Japanese Grand Prix, but Ricciardi insisted: “Have no fear, everything is safe. Formula one will never be 100 per cent safe.

What happened in Japan is just part of the risk of racing. In terms of the rules, there was no problem, the procedure that had to be done was done. What happened (with the actions of the marshals) in Suzuka was right,” he said.

“An accident never has one cause, it is always a combination of circumstances. Formula one will never be 100 per cent safe,” Ricciardi added.

 TJ13 comment: TJ13 readers may ponder the timing of this individual’s comment and further who may have prompted its media coverage.

However, the technology we will see to protect the “mini sectors” (up to 20 per circuit) under caution in Austin, has been in use all year. Clearly, the new action which will be taken to protect these cautioned sectors taken at the USA GP clearly demonstrates Charlie Whiting does not think – “everything is safe”, otherwise we would merely see the status quo continue.

Certain WMSC rules are enshrined to bring incremental safety, and are in no way within the Sporting Code for whimsical reasons.

If these rules are ignored, then the incremental risk of disaster is inevitable.

So far TJ13 has highlighted 2 substantive breaches by Formula 1’s regulators of the World Motor Sport Council’s bible – the Sporting Code.

Firstly, the enforcement measure used to penalise F1 drivers during the 2014 season – of a 0.5 second slower through the mini sectors than their personal best under double waved yellows – is a woeful and inadequate representation of the regulation as stated by the WMSC. “Slow down… and be prepared to stop”.

Secondly, serious questions must be asked as to why the race was running when Bianchi crashed. F1 cars can only be on track in any session, if a recognised hospital with a trauma unit is within 20 minutes by either road or helicopter from the on track medical centre.

The F1 FIA employees with responsibility to ensure this happens stated that at 10 am on Sunday morning in Suzuka, they believed the journey time to be 25 minutes. This was sufficient in their view to run the race.

The actual journey in the ambulance for Jules was either 32 minutes or even 37 minutes – depending on which source who attended the Sochi FIA briefing you believe.

Whether this affected Jules or not is irrelevant. The real question of why the cars were racing at all is one which must be addressed.

The 20 minute rule in the 2014 Japanese GP, was in fact a measure of the prevailing weather conditions – which both affected the transfer time for the ambulance to the hospital and also the appropriateness of the conditions the drivers faced as they raced on track.

top

Qualifying farce in Austin

The reason why F1 requires at least 20 cars, may become apparent in what could become a qualifying session of farcical proportions.

Adam Cooper implies he has been informed by ‘a source’ that once the stewards in Austin are informed they have only 18 cars, they will turn to the rule book to adopt the appropriate qualifying elimination protocols.

However, none are laid down for 18 cars, so Cooper suggests he has been given ‘the nod’ that it will be 4 cars eliminated in Q1 and four in Q2.

Sebastian Vettel is about to change his entire PU for a new one, the 6th of the year. He stated n Sochi he would not run in qualifying in Austin, but would fit the all new PU and as the regulations state, then start the race from the pit lane.

The regulation which sees incremental grid penalties for each a 6th component of the PU is introduced will encourage all teams requiring to take a 6th component for the Power Unit – to go the whole hog and fit an entire new PU instead and start in the pit lane.

This avoids a total of 30 place grid penalties being applied which could be apportioned over 2 consecutive races.

Further, by not qualifying, Vettel can set up his car for a higher top speed in the Austin race, just as he did in Abu Dhabi 2012 – when the team chose to break the parc ferme regulations rather than start from the rear of the grid.

So, if another 3 cars follow the Vettel route on this, then once again Q3 would become redundant. We are now presented with the likely farce that will see just one car being eliminated at the end of the first session of qualifying.

top

Kamui speaks

Here is the latest comment from Kamui Kobayashi on his facebook page.

“Unfortunately, due to team’s situation, I will not able to race in United States GP and Brazilian GP. I am very sorry for the fans looking forward those races. While I am carefully observing the situation, I will evaluate possibilities and make best choice for my future.”

top

Comment of the day

As a second team goes under in #F1

 

untitled

 

Pitpass.com remarked, “Surely, a “let them eat cake” moment for #F1″

top

#F1 Features: Booing and Boo Punishment

•October 26, 2014 • 34 Comments

Brought to you by Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

Now four races on from the eruption of boos that resonated from fans at Spa-Francorchamps on 24th August.  The first lap collision was a shift in the tectonic plates between the pair, with the resulting tsunami drenching the media around Europe and further afield.  The subsequent waves that followed, as with a seismic wave, were smaller and less potent but still posed a threat to harmony.

Nico Rosberg, a racing driver programmed as all others are – to race without sentiment to others – firmly believed he had done nothing wrong.  As Lewis had clearly forced him to brake to avoid collision earlier in the season in Bahrain and had pushed him wide in Hungary, he believed enough was enough.  Rightly or wrongly by Nico, the onlooking spectators, who had shelled out their hard earned cash to watch the Grand Prix, vented their displeasure by booing the German.

They had been denied what could have been an epic battle between the title contenders, at a circuit where the Mercedes car was in a class of its own.  Furthermore, the higher proportion of British fans there naturally aligned their support towards British driver meaning Nico was made out to be the bad guy in the very British film that Formula One is.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no problem with people showing their unhappiness at a scenario like this, providing it is not pre-meditated. Be it a rugby, football or cricket match, the fans have a right to voice their opinion in just the same way as the accredited media do – although, one group does not have a publication behind them, as they are limited to that moment in time or on social media later.

Personally, I would not have booed as the Rosberg-Hamilton collision was a racing incident and nothing more.  Of course, I was disappointed that the show was cut-short, but that is just the luck of the draw.

The part that I could not excuse was that of Rosberg as he felt the need to group those deep tones ringing from below that podium.  Defining those who made noise as “British fans” frustrated and disappointed me.

The Mercedes duel in Bahrain which has proven to be pivotal

The Mercedes duel in Bahrain which has proven to be pivotal

I came, I booed, I conquered

Two weeks later it was the turn of Monza to host the next scene of the ‘film’.  I was fortunate to experience this first hand, watching from a grandstand on the pit straight for the race day.  As is customary with many races, Monza not excepted, fans flood down onto the tarmac when the race has finished to view what is a very unique podium.

I watched as the drivers emerged onto the post above. Of course, Massa was greeted by a chorus of cheers at what was in effect his former home, however, the same cannot be said for Rosberg.  It’s important at this point to mention that what you saw on TV was not representative of what those present witnessed.  The boos echoed much louder live than the FOM sound mix fed to the world.

When Nico emerged above I booed.

To group all fans together in such way was ridiculous and most importantly, unjust. With one utterance of “They are British fans, so I do understand”, I was thrown in with those who showed their dismay in Spa. For this reason, and this reason alone, I booed him.

Jean Alesi, as others have in the past, tried to silence the crowd, but to little avail – and to what good reason did he have for doing so? I wanted to show my frustration at those comments and did so at the only opportunity I had.

The Monza 2014 podium, where Rosberg was met by boos once more

The Monza 2014 podium, where Rosberg was met by boos once more

Boo Punishment

It was only at the weekend of the Japanese Grand Prix that Rosberg talked publicly about how it had affected him. If there was any vindication needed for fans booing this was it.  It was a sign that the fans did make a difference to the drivers who circulate the various tracks around the world.

Had I been in Singapore as well and had Rosberg been on the podium I would not have booed, as ‘boo punishment’ had been served as far as I saw it.  Not for a moment am I condoning those who accused Rosberg of cheating or brought up some outdated nationalistic stereotype to support this argument, but when Rosberg grouped those booing with others who were not, I was too included.

It is a great shame that we did not get to see the reception for Rosberg on the podium in Singapore.  A nation with a stronghold of expat support, Vettel had heard the boos to receive him just 12 months previously.  He famously made the joke saying “They’re on a tour, they go around on a bus”, mocking them to the point of ridicule.

He said away from the heat of the moment that he was “hurt” by the reaction of the crowd, as one would expect.  However, he held his tongue from retaliating at the time.

“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

As a fan of the sport, I hold no grudge towards Rosberg as everyone says and does things they regret after. He is only human.  It’s important to remember that this is the first time in his career that he has been presented with the opportunity to win a World Championship – something that Hamilton did not take at the first time of asking, even though he had been both literally and metaphorically in the driving seat. It was Lewis who beached that car in China and nobody else.

I’m pleased that Nico has not been booed since. He has been a protagonist in an incredible year of racing that has provided me with hour upon hour of excitement. Formula One crowds have shown themselves to be forgiving as is the case for Vettel, who has recovered his reputation somewhat, ironically by not winning.

Should Rosberg ever find himself in this situation again he will hopefully have learned that it does you no favours to tongue lash those beneath you. Take the boo punishment with humility and give the fans something to cheer about next time instead.

In the same vein of making ridiculous statements, Hamilton’s “I’m the hungriest” punchline from prior to the Monaco weekend brought a wry smile to many in the F1 world.  Rosberg scoffed at the claims that Hamilton could break him down mentally, although it appears from Rosberg’s recent demeanour that the fans have – at least to some extent.

So while the claim of being hungriest due to their respective upbringings carries little weight, I would go as far to say that in the heat of the moment transmitting on the world feed it prepares Hamilton better for not saying something that may alienate himself to a large cohort of F1 fans.

Rosberg will be richer for these experiences next season, so providing the two are still teammates, I am relishing the battle between the two in what will most likely still be the strongest car and powertrain package.  There may still be three races to go this year, but those aside, roll on 2015!

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 5th: Mercedes

•October 26, 2014 • 13 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: BlackJack’sBriefs

As with my series on drivers, I started with the Wiki ‘List of Formula One Constructors’ and quickly reduced 136 to 43 eligible constructors by removing the Champions, and those hopefuls who failed to last beyond two or three seasons, and also those who only competed before 1958. [See Part-20 - Intro for details.]

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

Ross-Brawn-01-Ww5th

Mercedes

It might be debatable whether Mercedes are entitled to a place in this list, after their successes in the 30’s, and again in the 50’s, but the Constructors’ Championship was not introduced until 1958 (when it was won by Vanwall) and so, as far as I am concerned, they are eligible.

Others tend to hang on (unrealistically, I feel) to a team’s ‘heritage’ and therefore, as the present-day Mercedes team came directly out of the 2009 Championship-winning Brawn team, that should also disqualify them from consideration here.

But they are here, so I obviously disagree with these two sentiments. First, the only connection between the present racing team and the previous teams is the name of the company, Mercedes – the three teams are quite separate entities… and anyway, were previously not eligible… so they must be, now.

Secondly, the 2010 Mercedes racing team was not the same team that Ross Brawn steered to the 2009 Championship. There were several people who have worked for both teams, and both teams were housed in the same buildings but, as far as I am concerned, they were not, and are still not, the same team, any more than they are the same team as the previous Honda… or BAR… or Tyrrell teams. And Tyrrell did win the Championship… so should that disqualify the present Mercedes team…?

In 2011 two teams were entered in the GP series as Lotus, and yet neither had any connection with the real Lotus team of the 60’s. In 2010 the BMW Sauber team had no connection with BMW, who had withdrawn from F1 at the end of 2009. The name didn’t change to avoid Sauber losing TV-rights money.

You are free to disagree with me – I shan’t be upset.

30's-50's-W

2010

So… Mercedes bought a 45% stake in Brawn, along with Aabar Investments buying a further 30%, and renamed it Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team, and their first act was to assert their ‘German-ness’ by releasing Button and Barrichello (who moved to McLaren and Williams, respectively) and bringing in Rosberg (from Williams), and Schumacher, from retirement. At the same time Mercedes sold back their 40% share of McLaren.

During their first season Rosberg scored three podiums which helped Mercedes attain 4th place in the Championship. Schumacher scored three 4th places… and was also penalised for dangerous driving after pushing Barrichello towards the pit-wall in Hungary.

During the winter Mercedes and Aabar purchased the remaining 25% of what had been Brawn.

2011

This history is too recent for me to need to remind you of what happened. I’m sure, also, you will all have your own views on what happened, and why… Most people seem to consider Rosberg was pretty much superior to Schumacher again, though they both performed less well than in 2010, leaving Mercedes still in 4th spot overall but with far fewer points.

2010-01-W

2012

Maintaining the same driver line up for the third consecutive year Mercedes put their cat amongst the other pigeons by adopting the McLaren ‘F’duct’ principle and developing it to also affect the front wing, when the rear-wing DRS was activated.

Prior to the first race in Australia Mr Whiting declared the Mercedes system legal. Red Bull and Lotus (the ‘Renault’ one…) asked the FIA to review this decision. Just before the next race, in Malaysia, the FIA simply reaffirmed their previous stance: that there was nothing illegal, and Mercedes raced on. At the third race, in China, Lotus filed a formal protest which was unanimously rejected by the stewards who claimed: Mercedes had sought clarification of their device from the Technical Dept. and it had been deemed permissible…

Does it seem possible the FIA was mainly justifying and defending its own original opinion on the matter, and was not actually considering the protests…? If they had agreed with the protesters they would have lost face (at the very least) with Mercedes. And you can imagine what Ross would have done about that…!

In the European GP Schumacher managed to get himself back onto a podium, and also recorded fastest lap in Germany… but Rosberg had already gone form Pole to Win in China, and a podium in Monaco, and later took fastest laps in the European and Italian GPs… but… Mercedes dropped to 5th place behind the more consistent Lotus Renault team.

Rosberg’s win was his first, Mercedes’ first for 57 years (when their other team had raced with Fangio and Moss, etc.), and the first win for a ‘German’ driver (Ho, ho, ho…) in a German car since Hermann Lang’s victory in the 1939 Swiss GP – a 1, 2, 3 for Mercedes (with also Caracciola and von Brauchitsch), followed by the Auto Unions of Muller and Nuvolari.

At the end of the year Schumacher bowed out (laughing all the way to the bank…) to be replaced by the previously announced Lewis… who had been courted by new non-executive director, Niki Lauda.

2013-01-W

2013

After three years the Mercedes Board seemed to be getting impatient so the musical chairs started, followed by the knife-throwing act. Ross recruited Aldo Costa from Ferrari, Geoff Willis from the collapsed HRT team, and Bob Bell and Mike Elliott from Renault. Then long-time Vice President of Motorsport, Norbert Haug was eased into an early retirement… to be replaced by Toto Wolff, latterly Executive Director at Williams, who also ‘bought’ 30% of the Mercedes team.

Toto became a shareholding executive director (commercial) who quickly snatched Paddy Lowe away from McLaren, to become executive director (technical), and these two were joined by Niki Lauda as… er… non- executive director… By the end of the year the upshot of this was an unsurprising resignation/retirement announcement from Ross Brawn.

Despite numerous set-backs, Mercedes now showed themselves to be a major player, as did Rosberg, who had not apparently bowed to Schumacher, for three years… and certainly had no intention of now moving over for ex- Champion, Hamilton. Rosberg took two wins, at Monaco and Silverstone, while Hamilton took three 3rd places, before taking his first win for his new team in Hungary, followed by another podium at Spa… while Nico went on to take two more podiums, and 6th place in the Championship, while Lewis edged ahead to 4th overall. Lewis also scored five Poles, to Nico’s three.

Together they helped put Mercedes in 2nd spot, but way behind Red Bull, and only 4pts. ahead of Ferrari.

lauda-wolff-01-W-12014

This list of twenty constructors was compiled during the 2013-14 winter break and does not take into account any results of the current season. It seems pretty obvious that, by the end of this year, Mercedes will no longer be eligible – but they were, last winter…

[NB: and that was written of course before Sochi and as we all expected is also out of date...]

At the time of writing it is clear all is not well at Mercedes. When Toto came onboard, to replace ousted Haug, and then Brawn, he declared the position of ‘Team Principle’ was out-moded, and the likes of Brawn as being in sole charge were over. In it’s place Mercedes has installed a Roman-like triumvirate: Wolff, Lowe, & Lauda. Wolff seems to ‘support’ Rosberg, Lauda ‘supports’ Hamilton, and Lowe supports… er… himself…?

There were two main triumvirates in ancient Rome, designed to prevent one man assuming king-like supremacy which, in both cases, were reduced to one man effectively assuming king-like supremacy… and this, for a while, virtually brought Rome to its knees.

If, as appears to be the case, Wolff and Lauda are rarely in full accord, it is possible for either man to court the support of Lowe, to effect a two-man take-over but… they could both fail, and leave Lowe as top dog… At the moment they look more like the Marx brothers…

But… remember Lowe was originally courted by Toto for Williams… but, when Toto got his feet under the Mercedes table, it didn’t take Lowe too long to see where his bread was buttered… so, could Lauda already be standing on a risky-rug…?

Try Googling Toto: he has more fingers, in more pies, than most people have fingers… and the bigger they come, the harder they etc., etc… It’s not over, until it’s over, or until the fat one sings… and this Mercedes Management Mess is far from over.

logo-01-W-4


Previously:

6th Hesketh

7th Porsche

8th March

9th Jordan

10th Shadow

11th Toleman

12th Toyota

13th Alfa Romeo

14th Sauber

15th Arrows

16th Stewart

17th BAR

18th – Surtees

19th – Lola

20th – Dallara

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 14,497 other followers